Why do things happen?
Is everything random?
If you take the view of evolutionists, who believe in a creation without a creator, everything that happened is random.
If that what the Bible teaches?
Well, certainly not.
And are rules that God gave, like the Ten Commandments simply random laws God imposed on people or are the Ten Commandments intended for good.
Is there a cause for every effect?
What does the Bible teach?
A related sermon is also available: Cause and Effect: Two Trees, Two Ways.
The Bible teaches that the universe did not randomly appear:
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
3 Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.
6 Then God said, "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters." 7 Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day.
9 Then God said, "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear"; and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
11 Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth"; and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 So the evening and the morning were the third day.
14 Then God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; 15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth"; and it was so. 16 Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. 17 God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
20 Then God said, "Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens." 21 So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth."
23 So the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
24 Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind"; and it was so. 25 And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth."
29 And God said, "See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. 30 Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food"; and it was so. 31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day. (Genesis 1:1-31, NKJV throughout unless otherwise indicated)
Light did not randomly occur. Day and night did not randomly occur. The earth did not randomly occur. The division between dry land and water did not randomly occur. Grass, herbs, and fruit did not randomly occur. Sealife did not randomly occur. Birds did not randomly occur. Terrestrial life did not randomly occur. Human beings did not randomly occur.
Let me add that if life had randomly occurred, it would have quickly died. For some details, watch the video Quickly Disprove Evolution as the Origin of Life.
There is a cause for every effect.
Notice also the next day of God's creation:
1 Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. 2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. (Genesis 2:1-3)
So, the seven-day week, with the seventh-day being the Sabbath was also not random.
God blessed the Sabbath day over two thousand before the Ten Commandments were given to Moses on Mt. Sinai.
The late Pastor-General of the old Worldwide Church of God, Herbert W. Armstrong, taught:
There are two ways of life. And humanity has been living one of those two ways. There are only two philosophies of life, only two ways that we could be living.
One really is the way of out flowing love — away from self — outflowing. And that is, of course, that is the way of love first to God and secondly to neighbor. That is the way of love which is out flowing, not incoming, which would be, not love, but lust.
Now the opposite of that way and the transgression of that way of life I like to call, 'get.' So I like to simplify these terms — the two ways of life: one I like to call, 'give,' just four letters, a little four-letter word that is a very good word — 'give,' and the other is, 'get.'
The one is love, as I say, it's cooperation; it is humility; it is wanting to help your neighbor as yourself; it is sharing and giving and helping and cooperating.
Now the world has chosen the opposite way which I like to term, 'get,' just the little three-letter word: G-E-T, get. And that is the way of, 'I love me; I don't care about the other fella.' (The Two Trees Only Two Ways of Life, Part 1 of 2 radio broadcast).
The Bible shows that God planted a garden and then gave Adam some instructions:
8 The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. 9 And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:8-9)
So there was one tree that was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the other tree was the tree of life. Those were both real and symbolic trees. The tree of life, also mentioned in Revelation 2:7; 22:2,14, essentially symbolized the Holy Spirit--the second spirit that man needs to add to the spirit already within him (Romans 8:2-9). And that Spirit provides the impregnation of the very life of God until we become actually, eventually shall become God beings (see also What is Your Destiny? Deification? Did the Early Church Teach That Christians Would Become God?).
15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." (Genesis 2:15-17)
We have all eaten of that tree in a sense, and all will die (Hebrews 9:27). That doesn't mean you'll die today, but you are going to die. Since a thousand years is as a day to God (Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8), that is the 'day' Adam died--he did not live to 1000 (he lived to be 930 years old per Genesis 5:5).
This information about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was also conveyed to Eve. And Satan the devil was aware of this:
1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?"
2 And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'"
4 Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. (Genesis 3:1-7)
Adam and Eve disobeyed God. One tree looked good to Eve. In other words is they took to themselves the knowledge of what is good and what is evil. They decided for themselves what is the way to go -- what is the right way to live. Humanity has fallen into that way ever since.
As Genesis 2:9 mentioned, there was another tree in the Garden of Eden--the tree of life. But Adam and Eve had not chosen to eat of that. Now God had told them about the way to live. The way of the tree of life--reliance on the Spirit of God that will give us spiritual knowledge so we can solve spiritual problems and troubles and evils. But they rejected that. That is why humans ever since have been unable to solve their problems.
And after they sinned, God decided that they could not have access to that other tree:
22 Then the Lord God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever" — 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. 24 So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:22-24)
There were two trees. One that appealed to lust, the other that must have had less appeal to Adam and Eve (more on the two trees can be found in the article The Two Trees: Only Two Ways of Life).
There are two ways of life. And humanity has been living one of those two ways. There are only two philosophies of life, only two ways that we could be living. The way of truth and the way of mixing truth with lies.
God's word is truth (John 17:17) and God's way is the WAY OF TRUTH:
30 I have chosen the way of truth;
Your judgments I have laid before me.
31 I cling to Your testimonies;
O Lord, do not put me to shame!
32 I will run the course of Your commandments,
For You shall enlarge my heart. (Psalms 119:30-32)
2 ... the way of truth (2 Peter 2:2)
The Bible shows that true Christianity was called THE WAY in the New Testament:
24 Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. 25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. (Acts 18:24-26)
22 But when Felix heard these things, having more accurate knowledge of the Way, he adjourned the proceedings (Acts 24:22)
It is also called "the way" in Acts 9:2, 19:9, 19:23, 24:14 and the way of righteousness in 2 Peter 2:21) This is "the way of salvation" (Acts 16:17).
Consider the following:
45 And so it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. (1 Corinthians 15:45-49)
6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6)
There is another way--the wrong way:
12 There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. (Proverbs 14:12)
25 There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. (Proverbs 16:25)
2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the hearts. (Proverbs 21:2)
The whole word has been deceived by Satan (Revelation 12:9) and tends to think that since there are many ways to look at the world, that there are more than two ways, or two trees, to pick from. But that in a spiritual sense is wrong: There is the WAY OF GOD and EVERYTHING THAT IS NOT HIS WAY.
Mixing false ways, then accepting them by calling them 'traditions,' as many who profess Christ do, is NOT acceptable to God (cf. ; see also Tradition and Scripture: From the Bible and Church Writings). Nor is teaching that salvation is available apart for Jesus:
8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: 9 If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, 10 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11 This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.' 12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:8-12)
Thus, the interfaith agenda is wrong (see Will the Interfaith Movement Lead to Peace or Sudden Destruction?).
Some people might say, "Well, what is the solution?" The solution is Jesus Christ and His way of life--which He will usher in with the millennial Kingdom of God with proper government and His laws. But they don't understand the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Jesus was the second Adam. But Jesus came with the spiritual way of life. Jesus Christ was born of the very Spirit of God through a human mother. And He taught the way of give (Acts 20:35). But the bulk of humanity that knew of Him, rejected Him when He was on the earth. His way of life is rejected by nearly all today.
We in the 21st century live in a time absolutely awesome progress. As prophesied, knowledge has increased (Daniel 12:4). People from 100 years ago would just be awestruck by the things that have been accomplished since this past century, including sending people to the moon and back, computers, the internet, etc. And it's all in the physical and the materialistic realm. It seems, like God stated (Genesis 11:6), like the human mind is limitless in the physical realm, but when it comes to spiritual things humans, without the true God, are helpless.
As far as the two ways go, one really, represented by the tree of life, is the way of out flowing love -- away from self -- outflowing. And that is, of course, that is the way of love first to God and secondly to neighbor. That is the way of love which is out flowing, not incoming, which would be, not love, but lust. The way of 'give.'
Most people think that they do need to focus on themselves.
And while we should have concern about ourselves (cf. Ephesians 5:28-29; Romans 13:9), is there a way to live that is better than others?
Some people believe that life is random. Circumstances randomly happen and that is just as it is.
Some people believe that either there is no God or He is capricious or random.
But that is not really what the Bible teaches. While time and circumstance do affect people (Ecclesiastes 9:11, ISV), there is a cause for each effect.
The Apostle Paul was inspired to right:
2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For each one shall bear his own load.
6 Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.
7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. (Galatians 6:2-8)
The above is telling us, not just to give to the ministry, but that reality matters. One should not deceive oneself and think more of oneself than is correct. All need to examine themselves. But Paul also was explaining that life is not random and that God will work matters out.
And if you are a Christian, you can be sure of that. Paul also wrote:
3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, 5 for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; (Philippians 1:3-7)
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
That does not mean that you will not face difficulties. The Apostle Paul did:
24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness — 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation? (2 Corinthians 11:24-29)
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:7-9)
All will work together for good if you love God.
Notice the following:
21 "Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 22 And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
24 "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household! 26 Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. (Matthew 10:21-26)
People will not get away with persecuting Christians--even though it may appear so in this age.
God's people can be affected by how others act:
1 Truly God is good to Israel, To such as are pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; My steps had nearly slipped. 3 For I was envious of the boastful, When I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4 For there are no pangs in their death, But their strength is firm. 5 They are not in trouble as other men, Nor are they plagued like other men. 6 Therefore pride serves as their necklace; Violence covers them like a garment. 7 Their eyes bulge with abundance; They have more than heart could wish. 8 They scoff and speak wickedly concerning oppression; They speak loftily. 9 They set their mouth against the heavens, And their tongue walks through the earth.
10 Therefore his people return here, And waters of a full cup are drained by them. 11 And they say, "How does God know? And is there knowledge in the Most High?" 12 Behold, these are the ungodly, Who are always at ease; They increase in riches. 13 Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain, And washed my hands in innocence. 14 For all day long I have been plagued, And chastened every morning.
15 If I had said, "I will speak thus,"Behold, I would have been untrue to the generation of Your children. 16 When I thought how to understand this, It was too painful for me — 17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; Then I understood their end. (Psalms 73:1-17)
Yet, we understand their end. Which is for the unrepentant wicked? They will become ashes:
1 "For behold, the day is coming,
Burning like an oven,
And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble.
And the day which is coming shall burn them up,"
Says the Lord of hosts,
"That will leave them neither root nor branch.
2 But to you who fear My name
The Sun of Righteousness shall arise
With healing in His wings;
And you shall go out
And grow fat like stall-fed calves.
3 You shall trample the wicked,
For they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet
On the day that I do this,"
Says the Lord of hosts.
4 "Remember the Law of Moses, My servant,
Which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel,
With the statutes and judgments. (Malachi 4:1-4)
There is a cause and effect. Those who truly remember God's law will have a better end.
Is there a way that leads to life?
Notice the following:
18 The wicked man does deceptive work,
But he who sows righteousness will have a sure reward.
19 As righteousness leads to life,
So he who pursues evil pursues it to his own death. (Proverbs 11:18-19)
The above seems to tie in with what Paul wrote in Galatians 6.
Notice also the following:
16 The labor of the righteous leads to life,
The wages of the wicked to sin. (Proverbs 10:16)
What is sin?
The Bible teaches the following:
4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (1 John 3:4, KJV)
So then, what is righteousness?
1 72 My tongue shall speak of Your word, For all Your commandments are righteousness. (Psalms 119:172)
Consider also the following:
15 "See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, 16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, 18 I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; (Deuteronomy 30:15-19)
Notice that the above specifically says to keep His commandments to live.
Some will argue that was only for the children of Israel. Yet, in the last book of the Bible, notice how Christians are identified:
17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12:17)
Various Protestant commentaries, misunderstand the above. Notice something from the Pulpit Commentary:
We may see in the description a reference to the Church of God, both Jewish and Christian. The members of the Jewish Church were they to whom "the commandments of God" were specially revealed, and Christians are they who specially "hold the testimony of Jesus."
No, there are not two groups of real Christians that way. The Apostle Paul makes this clear:
26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26-29)
ALL Christians are spiritual descendants of Abraham. To try to claim, like certain Protestants do, that those who are keeping the Ten Commandments at the end are Jewish Christians and that Gentile ones do not is misleading. The Book of Revelation makes it clear that all real Christians in the end keep God's commandments.
This is also consistent with what Jesus taught:
21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' 23 And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' (Matthew 7:21-23)
Real Christians keep God's laws--His Ten Commandments. The Apostle Paul reported problems with "false brethren" (2 Corinthians 11:26; Galatians 2:4), and the Apostle John warned:
18 Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. (1 John 2:18-19)
Notice that two groups are mentioned in Revelation:
9 Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name."
12 Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.
13 Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, "Write: 'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.'" (Revelation 14:9-13)
One group followed the way of the world. The other, the way of God. Throughout history there have been two main groups of Christians: the true Christians and those that are not true (see Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups that Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries?--also check out the free online booklets Continuing History of the Church of God and Where is the True Christian Church Today?).
Jesus warned that most would go the wrong way:
13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)
Many today claim that keeping the Ten Commandments is either an unnecessary burden or they reason around keeping them (see also Mystery of Iniquity). But notice what the Apostle John wrote:
1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith. (1 John 5:1-4)
Many seemingly disagree as most who profess Christ will not truly keep the Ten Commandments--but that is evil (see also The Ten Commandments Reflect Love, Breaking them is Evil).
It should be pointed out, that like some today who improperly claim to keep the Ten Commandments, but instead have the mystery of lawlessness (see Mystery of Iniquity), Jesus condemned the Pharisees of His day because, although people thought they kept the Ten Commandments, they really did not (see Were the Pharisees Condemned for Keeping the Law or Reasoning Around it?).
But true Christians really keep them! Let me also add that Jesus told of several groups of true Christians and that they all kept the commandments (cf. Revelation 12:14-17; 14:12). More about those groups can be found in the following articles:
The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 from 31 A.D. to present: information on all of the seven churches of Revelation 2 & 3. There is also a YouTube video: The Seven Church Eras of Revelation. There is also a version in the Spanish language: Las Siete Iglesias de Apocalipsis 2 & 3.
1. The Ephesus Church Era was predominant from 31 A.D. to circa 135 A.D. The Church of James, Peter, Paul, and John, etc.
2. The Smyrna Church Era was predominant circa 135 A.D. to circa 450 A.D. The Church led by Polycarp, Melito, Polycrates, etc.
3. The Pergamos Church Era was predominant circa 450 A.D. to circa 1050 A.D. An especially persecuted Church.
4. The Thyatira Church Era was predominant circa 1050 A.D. to circa 1600 A.D. The Church during the Inquisition.
5. The Sardis Church Era was predominant circa 1600 A.D. to circa 1933 A.D. Discusses early history of the Seventh Day Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, and COG-7th Day.
6. The Philadelphia Church Era was predominant circa 1933 A.D. to 1986 A.D. The old Radio Church of God and old Worldwide Church of God, now the remnant of that era is basically the most faithful in the Church of God, like who hold to the beliefs and practices of the Continuing Church of God.
7. The Laodicean Church Era has been predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present. The Laodiceans are non-Philadelphians who mainly descended from the old WCG or its offshoots. They do not properly understand the work or biblical prophecies and will face the Great Tribulation if they do not repent. One video of related interest is 17 Laodicean Errors in Prophecy.
There is a cause for every effect.
But God did not leave us without instruction.
4 "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.' (Luke 4:4)
The right way of life to live comes from the word of God.
It is the truth in the word of God that sets true Christians apart from the world:
16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. (John 17:16-19)
Notice what Paul wrote:
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
The Bible is our instruction manual. It provides instruction in righteousness. It provides instruction in God's commandments and His way of life.
Let me add here, that contrary to what many religious leaders believe today, early Christians believed that they needed to keep the Ten Commandments (see The Ten Commandments and the Early Church).
The God's commandments teach us how to live:
28 ... You heard from heaven;
And many times You delivered them according to Your mercies,
29 And testified against them,
That You might bring them back to Your law.
Yet they acted proudly,
And did not heed Your commandments,
But sinned against Your judgments,
'Which if a man does, he shall live by them.'
And they shrugged their shoulders,
Stiffened their necks,
And would not hear. (Nehemiah 9:28-29)
Why shall people live by God's ways?
Because they make sense. The Bible teaches:
97 Oh, how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
98 You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies;
For they are ever with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers,
For Your testimonies are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the ancients,
Because I keep Your precepts.
101 I have restrained my feet from every evil way,
That I may keep Your word.
102 I have not departed from Your judgments,
For You Yourself have taught me.
103 How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 Through Your precepts I get understanding;
Therefore I hate every false way. (Psalms 119:97-104)
113 I hate the double-minded,
But I love Your law.
114 You are my hiding place and my shield;
I hope in Your word.
115 Depart from me, you evildoers,
For I will keep the commandments of my God!
116 Uphold me according to Your word, that I may live;
And do not let me be ashamed of my hope.
117 Hold me up, and I shall be safe,
And I shall observe Your statutes continually.
118 You reject all those who stray from Your statutes,
For their deceit is falsehood.
119 You put away all the wicked of the earth like dross;
Therefore I love Your testimonies. ( Psalms 119:113-119)
163 I hate and abhor lying,
But I love Your law.
164 Seven times a day I praise You,
Because of Your righteous judgments.
165 Great peace have those who love Your law,
And nothing causes them to stumble.
166 Lord, I hope for Your salvation,
And I do Your commandments.
167 My soul keeps Your testimonies,
And I love them exceedingly.
168 I keep Your precepts and Your testimonies,
For all my ways are before You. (Psalms 119:163-168)
We get understanding of how to live from obeying God's commandments.
Jesus kept them:
10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. (John 15:10)
The Apostles Paul and John wrote:
1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)
6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (1 John 2:6)
Jesus was without sin (Hebrews 4:15)--Jesus kept the commandments (John 15:10).
The Ten Commandments give us principles in which to live.
Notice the Ten Commandments:
2 "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 "You shall have no other gods before Me.
4 "You shall not make for yourself a carved image — any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
7 "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
8 "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
12 "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
13 "You shall not murder.
14 "You shall not commit adultery.
15 "You shall not steal.
16 "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
17 "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's." (Exodus 20:2-17)
Humans should not put anything above God. They should not bow down to idols or blaspheme.
Humans do better if they rest physically every Sabbath and also grow spiritually by doing so.
Notice that verse 12 specifically says that the commandment to honor parents lead to a better life.
Who wants to be murdered, have their spouse commit adultery, have their goods stolen, be lied to, or to have others who want to take their possessions?
No one should.
The Bible explains that breaking God's sexual laws harms the body:
15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For "the two," He says, "shall become one flesh." 17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's. (1 Corinthians 6:15-20)
The Bible explains that tolerating sin in our lives leads to sickness and death:
28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:28-32)
The commandments are for our good. Our chastisement comes from God out of love so we do not have to be condemned with the world.
And, of course, God sent Jesus out of love:
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17)
1 Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, (Hebrews 2:1-4)
Every transgression will receive a just reward. There is cause and effect.
Do not neglect God's salvation. Live as God said to.
It was the teaching about cause and effect and the explanation of how the Ten Commandments were not just rules, but who they were for our good that helped persuade me that the Church of God was the correct church. I had been raised Roman Catholic, but stopped considering myself part of that faith after I read several pages of the Book of Matthew. I never understood the commandments before then. But while I attended a Protestant church for a time (called the Salem Bible Church), it did not seem to understand or properly teach the Ten Commandments or cause and effect. But the Church of God did. And later I realized that not only was the Church of God approach biblical, it also was consistent with what early Christians believed and taught.
10 I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)
Some seem to think that if they are Christians and keep the Ten Commandments that they should not have problems.
While God wants you to do well (cf. 3 John 2), He is more concerned with your spiritual development (Romans 8:28). Furthermore, Jesus also said:
23 ...If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father's, and of the holy angels. (Luke 9:23-26)
Our physical lives are not as important to God as our spiritual success.
Many are overlooking the fact that God is working with Christians in a way He is not working with the world:
12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people's matters. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.
17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 Now
"If the righteous one is scarcely saved,
Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?"
19 Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator. (1 Peter 4:12-19)
There is a reason:
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:2-5)
Trials come for a reason. They are not simply random. They are to help build character in us.
9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:9-10)
We need to develop self-control--something that Adam and Eve did not properly exercise in Genesis 2--the succumbed to lust. The Apostle Peter wrote:
2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:2-11)
There is one right way and we need to be diligent to one day enter the Kingdom of God.
Cause and effect--do good for we will reap in due season. Peter also wrote:
13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you are blessed. "And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled." 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3:13-17)
God has a fantastic plan for you and wants you to maximize your potential. You can accomplish more with God than you think.
Remember the Apostle Paul wrote:
10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:10-13)
And the same is true for you if you have the type of faith you should have (see also Faith for Those God has Called and Chosen ). Cause and effect: Jesus will strengthen those who submit to God's will.
But isn't just believing enough?
James addressed this when he wrote:
18 But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe — and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?
26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (James 2:18-26)
The demons believe.
They even pray at times.
Notice what happened when Jesus encountered a demonically-possessed man:
30 Jesus asked him, saying, "What is your name?"
And he said, "Legion," because many demons had entered him. 31 And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss.
32 Now a herd of many swine was feeding there on the mountain. So they begged Him that He would permit them to enter them. And He permitted them. 33 Then the demons went out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the lake and drowned. (Luke 8:30-33)
The demons practice the way of get. They prayed to get, not give. Jesus answered them, but they were not His. Simply calling on Jesus, without being serious about going His way (see also What Did Jesus Teach About the Ten Commandments?), is practicing the way of get, not the way of give.
Jesus warned that people who called Him 'Lord,' but practiced lawlessness, would not be saved--even if they did things in His name--see Matthew 7:21-23.
Properly keeping the Ten Commandments shows love towards God and our neighbor.
While some call those who believe this 'legalists,' it perhaps should be pointed out that not only did Jesus condemn lawlessness, He condemned the legalists who claimed to love God, but who did not actually keep the Ten Commandments as God wanted (see Were the Pharisees Condemned for Keeping the Law or Reasoning Around it?).
Jesus furthermore taught:
34 But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?"
37 Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:34-40)
Notice what the Apostle James taught:
8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well; 9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For He who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. (James 2:8-11)
Jesus also taught:
35 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' (Acts 20:35)
Jesus said there were two ways. Remember that He also taught that there was way that leads to life, and the way that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).
There is a cause for every effect.
Notice something that the Apostle Paul was inspired to write:
3 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, 4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, 5 useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.
6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
11 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. (1 Timothy 6:3-11)
Why is the "love of money" the root of all kinds of evil"? Because it is covetousness, something that the Ten Commandments teach against!
Notice that Jesus pointed out that the way of the world will lead to its destruction unless God intervened:
21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened. (Matthew 24:21-22)
There is a way that leads to death--and that often seems right to humans (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25)..
The Book of Revelation distinguishes between those who keep God's commandments and those that do not:
12 "And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last."
14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. 15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. (Revelation 22:12-15)
It is a lie to believe that God does not want His people to keep the Ten Commandments.
There is a RIGHT WAY. In the millennial kingdom all will learn about it:
30 Yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore,
But your eyes shall see your teachers.
21 Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying,
"This is the way, walk in it,"
Whenever you turn to the right hand
Or whenever you turn to the left. (Isaiah 30:20-21)
The millennium will be fantastic and productive because people will be keeping God's commandments (cf. Isaiah 2:3; Micah 4:2; see also Did The Early Church Teach Millenarianism?).
There were two trees in the Garden of Eden. There are only two ways of life--the way of truth and the other one.
There is a cause for every effect. Keeping the Ten Commandments is something that real Christians strive to do.
Obeying God leads to blessings in this life, and will also in the age to come.
A related sermon is also available: Cause and Effect: Two Trees, Two Ways.
Thiel B. The Ten Commandments: Cause and Effect. COGwriter (c) http://www.cogwriter.com/cause-and-effect.htm 2016/2017 0411
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