WHAT IS THIS THING CALED “SAVED”?
An inquiring mind that recognizes there must be more to life than mortality needs to make every effort to understand this word. He must ask not only understand what saved means; but also, what he is being saved from and what he is being saved to. Men of various religions have introduced a variety of mysterious answers that one must search at a fountain of truth; and not depend on the opinions of man. There was no confusion in the days of the early Christian Church. “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” (1 Cor. 14:33) An earnest inquiry must search the truth as it is given in the Bible.
Uncovering the truth of any matter requires finding reliable sources of information that we can trust and have confidence. This study will use the Bible as the primary source of data with other historical evidence.
The Apostle Paul reminded his son Timothy. “For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the SAVIOR OF ALL MEN, specially of those that believe.” (1 Tim. 4:10) Jesus also taught: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:16) “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)
Obviously, Jesus had reference to MORE THAN ONE EVENT CALLED SAVED. One applied to all men and the other to believes—saints of God and members of the Kingdom of God. Before we can have a full understanding of the difference in the use of the term saved, we must understand man in eternity.
This creation began with the organization of Jesus as a spirit by the Father. There are worlds and creations without end in the Universe. Jesus—as God of this creation in subjection and liaison with the Father—organized all the other spirits. “In the beginning [of this creation] was the Word [Jesus], and the Word was with God [the Father], and the Word was God [of this creation]. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 ALL THINGS WERE MADE BY HIM; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1)
After the earth was prepared for habitation by man, his spirit was united with a physical body. “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Gen. 2) Adam was immortal at this time; as was Eve after him. They were commanded not to eat of a forbidden fruit. “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Gen. 2:17) When they violated this law of God and ate of this fruit, it changed the chemistry of their bodies and they became mortal. “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Pet. 3:8)
Adam lived 930 years, his son Seth 912, his son Enos 905, his son Cainan 910, his son Mahalaleel 895, his son Jared 962, his son Enoch was taken into heaven when he was 365, his son Methuselah lived 969 years and died the same year as the flood, his son Lamech 777, his son was Noah lived 950—600 before the flood and 350 after the flood. Adam lived 930 years to see the days of Noah’s father. All died within a thousand years; although their lifetime lasted close to the thousand years. After the flood, the bodies of man became polluted and their lifespan decreased considerably. By the time of Abraham, his lifetime was 235 years. Abraham lived with Noah and his son Shem for thirty-nine years.
At the death of mortal man, the spirit departs from the physical body and returns to the spirit world. ‘Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God [Jesus] who gave it.” (Eccl. 12:7) It is necessary to make a distinction between the Father who is God over all creations; and Jesus who is God of this creation. Here is a preliminary judgement. The spirits of the saints of God are taken to the bosom of Abraham; and all other to the spirits in prison—erroneously called hell–to await the resurrection.
All would have to remain as spirits for eternity; unless a man–not a god–was to live without sin. Adam understood this fact. When the Lord cursed Satan, He noted that one day a man would defeat Satan by living a perfect life. “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Gen. 3:15) “…it shall bruise thy head” was realized with mortal death. “… thou shalt bruise his head” was realized when Jesus lived a perfect life without sin; and the Father had to resurrect Him from the grave—giving Him an immortal physical body. “Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh.” (Rom. 1:3)
THIS COULD BE CALLED THE FIRST TIME MAN IS SAVED. Those who do not believe in God must accept a belief contrary to millions of witnesses: that they are only mortal bodies; and therefor when that body dies, their existence ends. What a sad belief. I can understand their belief with all the confusion in Christianity; but, it fails under the microscope of truth. For these, there can be no good or evil; and no hope after mortal life.
Man—in every civilization—has recognized life after death. Many have had near death experiences when the spirit has left the body and then returns. There have been other occasions when the spirit leaves the body for a time. “The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones.” (Ezek. 37:1) “So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness.” (Rev. 17:3) During the three days Jesus body lay in the grave, He went in the spirit to preach the gospel to the spirits in prison. “18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” (1 Pet. 3)
There is a mountain of evidence to prove our true being—our spirit—continues after death. These have been seen of men in all parts of the world. Consider all the witnesses of Jesus both in the spirit before He was resurrected; and with a physical body after His resurrection. This was a most significant event to visit with Jesus after His mortal death. This has left an impression like that of the Passover and deliverance out of Egypt. Thousands have given their lives for a better resurrection. Millions more have been martyred for this belief.
THE SPIRIT OF MAN IS SAVED AFTER MORTAL DEATH. The account of Lazarus is a good lesson in life and eternity. “20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into ABRAHAM’S BOSOM: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in HELL he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a GREAT GULF fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.” (Luke 16)
This brings up the subject of heaven and hell. In short-term, the bosom of Abraham could be called heaven. The REAL HEAVEN is the earth itself. “But the meek [righteous] shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” (Ps. 37:11) The earth is to be restored to its original paradisiacal glory when Jesus returns; and become the habitation of saints of God. “Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3)
There will be two centers of the Kingdom of God: (1) in the land of Zion, and (2) in the land of Canaan. The centerpiece or city land of Zion will be New Jerusalem; and in Canaan Holy Jerusalem. “11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. 12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is NEW JERUSLEM, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.” (Rev. 3)
“2 And I John saw the holy city, NEW JERUSALEM, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” (Rev. 21) The original city of God in the days of Enoch was near the center of America. They will return shortly before the return of Jesus.
“10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the HOLY JERUSALEM, descending out of heaven from God… 12 And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel… 24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it… 18 And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass… 25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. 26 And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. 27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.“ (Rev. 21)
Here is the REAL HEAVEN: the earth in its paradisiacal glory. At the time of the first resurrection, this will be the inheritance of saints of God. “7 He that overcometh [by obeying God] shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Rev. 21)
THE FIRST DECREE ON SALVATION FROM THE CATHOLIC CHURCH WAS: “Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic faith. Which faith, except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.” (Creed of St. Athanasius) Who can believe in a god that cares only for a very small segment of the world population?
What of all who never hear the gospel? Are they to “perish everlastingly”? The only promise in the Bible is to the seed of Abraham and to gentiles that are properly adopted into the seed of Abraham. The truth is that every person that lives on the earth in mortal life must hear the gospel of Christ and be given an opportunity to enter the Kingdom of God. During the three days that Jesus’ mortal body lay in the grave, He went in the spirit to the spirits in prison—erroneously called hell. This is not a place of fire and brimstone. That was a doctrine of paganism. Fire would have no effect on a spirit. There will be great emotional distress for those who had an opportunity to know the true God of Israel and obey the gospel of Christ and failed.
This is simply a place for the spirits of man that knew not the true God and obeyed not the gospel of Christ to reside until the resurrection. Jesus opened a dispensation of the gospel to them.
“18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” (1 Pet. 3) Why did Jesus preach the gospel to the spirits in prison? “For, for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” (1 Pet. 4:6)
There is a basic law of God that applies to entering the Kingdom of God; and sharing in the blessings of those believe and obey. “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5) Not even Jesus was exempt from this law. Those who accept the gospel in the spirit world—when there is a prophet of God on the earth—will be baptized for the dead through a living proxy. “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?” (1 Cor. 15:29)
Jesus noted: “2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14)
HERE IS THE FINAL FORM OF BEING SAVED. All will be judged according to their works in the flesh. “4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years… 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” (Rev. 20)
The mansions which Jesus mentioned are the degrees of glory in the resurrection. “40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption.” (1 Cor. 15)
Imagine a mansion like the sun compared to the moon and stars. Those who inherit the CELESTIAL GLORY are those that were members of the Kingdom of God and endured faithful to the end of mortal life. “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” (Matt. 10:22) It is not until the resurrection that a person can be truly saved in eternity. Not even the Apostle Paul considered himself saved in mortal life. “12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3)
Those who were not valiant in keeping the word of God and those who accept the gospel in the spirit world will inherit the Terrestrial Glory in the resurrection. It is a glory like the moon compared with the sun. Those who fail to obey the will of God after the thousand year Millennium will inherit the telestial glory. Those who are resurrected into the celestial and terrestrial glories will inherit the earth. We are not told where the location of the telestial glory. The name itself implies a distant place. It is compared to the stars both in glory and in abundance. Man has always resisted truth; even during our spiritual estate. “Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth : men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.” (2 Tim. 3:8)
The inheritance in the first resurrection is more wonderful than the human mind can comprehend. We are given some information about this time. “3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Rev. 21)
“21 And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: 22 And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains [kingdoms] of Israel; and one king [Jesus] shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: 23 Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwelling places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God . 24 And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. 25 And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever. 26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. 27 My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28 And the heathen [gentile] shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.” (Ezek. 37)
The curses that God has placed on the earth since Adam will be removed. “Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:21) Consider the conditions on the earth during the thousand year Sabbath of Creation.
“6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” (Isa. 11)
It must be remembered that the only people God recognizes as His are the saints from Adam to Abraham and the seed of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. Here are the promises of God. “And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God : for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.” (Jer. 24:7) There are no promises for the Gentiles. Spiritual blessings are offered to gentiles with an “if.” They can become the adopted seed of Abraham only by obeying the gospel of Christ as administered by one holding authority from God. “27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Gal. 3)
No one can claim to be a minister of God without being called of God and ordained according to the law of God. Not even Jesus was exempt from this law. “4 And NO MAN taketh this honour [of the priesthood] unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron [by revelation]. 5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he [the Father] that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. 6 As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” (Heb. 5) Not even Jesus was except from the law of God.
Jesus made it clear that only those called of God by the spirit of revelation and ordained by one holding that office of the priesthood has authority from God to administer the saving ordinances of the gospel. When Jesus was ordained a prophet like unto Moses, He received the highest office of the Melchisedec Priesthood. This is the priesthood that administers in spiritual affairs. The Aaronic/Levitical Priesthood was instituted under Moses and is a priesthood over temporal affairs. Adam was the first to receive this priesthood. It was lost to Israel about 400 years before Jesus. It was restored through Jesus.
Holding this highest office, Jesus called and ordained all the other offices of that priesthood. Only a member of this priesthood holds authority from God to baptize with water and the spirit. “11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists [high priests]; and some, pastors [elders] and teachers; 12 FOR the perfecting of the saints, FOR the work of the ministry, FOR the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 TILL we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” (Eph. 4)
This anointing was continued with the Apostles. “22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.” (Acts 1) The Apostle Paul reminded his son Timothy: “Neglect not the gift [of the priesthood] that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.” (1 Tim. 4:14)
Some have thought to minister in the gospel without a proper calling and ordination; professing the calling by Jesus of the eleven Apostles to take the gospel to the gentiles applies to them. An empty claim. “14 Afterward he appeared UNTO THE ELEVEN as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. 15 And he said unto them, Go ye [the Apostles and those anointed by them] into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16) If the claim of Evangelicals is true, any person could elect to preach in the name of God.
Every government has a proper mode of becoming a representative of that government. Try going out and representing yourself as a police officer. If caught, you would go to prison. Those who illegally think to represent God on earth without a proper calling will find themselves with the spirits in prison. These are anti-Christs. The term “Christ” means anointed or ordained. There were even many in the days of the Apostles that began to misrepresent themselves as ministers of God. “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” (1 John 2:18)
We have established two of the most important subjects to man. First, we have uncovered what the word “saved” means. Second, we have learned that to represent God on earth, a man must be called by the spirit of revelation and ordained/anointed by one holding that authority. The most important thing we can learn by those called of God is the identity of God. “36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment.” (Matt. 22) It is impossible to have gospel faith—which is an assurance by God—that leads to salvation without a correct understanding of the attributes, character, and perfections of God.
Jesus will soon return, “8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” (2 Thess. 1) This punishment is the result of not obeying the greatest commandment ever given to man.
What happens to all those that have died without obeying the gospel of Christ and being circumcised in the heart? “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ.” (Col. 2:11) There will be an opportunity for progression into eternity. Man will always have a free moral agency. Those of the celestial glory will administer to those of the terrestrial glory; and those of the terrestrial will administer to those of the tellestial glory. Never lose hope! Hope is lost when there is no love and no gospel faith.
HAVE CHRISTIAN CHURCHES HAD A CORRECT KNOWLEDGE OF GOD? Confusion entered the Christian Church even before the death of the apostles. “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.” (2 Thess. 2:7) “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” (1 John 2:18)
We are told: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (1 Thess. 5) How do we prove the truth of the meaning of “saved”? “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isa. 8:20)
God never had a people on the earth that He recognized as His own without a prophet to stand at the head and maintain communication with Him. A correct knowledge of God is obtained only by revelation from Him. The Apostle Peter could not even have a correct understanding of Jesus with personal revelation. “15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 16) Those who deny revelation deny the testimony of Jesus. “…worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Rev. 19:10)
When man turns to his own arm for wisdom, communication with God is lost. “1 Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” (Isa. 59) Let us look at the history of the Christian Church to uncover whether their understanding of God is correct.
“A later writer commenting on the schisms and dissentions by which the church was rent in the latter part of the first century—the period immediately following that of the apostolic ministry, says, ‘It will easily be imagined that unity and peace could not reign long in the church, since it was composed of Jews and Gentiles, who regarded each other with the bitterest aversion. Besides, as the converts to Christianity could not extirpate radically the prejudices which had been formed in their minds by education, and confirmed by time, they brought with them into the bosom of the church more or less of the errors of their former religions. Thus the seeds of discord and controversy were easily sown, and could not fail to spring up soon into animosities and dissensions, which accordingly broke out and divided the church’” (Mosheim, Ecclesiastical History, Century I, Part II, chap 3:11)
The foundation of any religion is found in its belief of God. Israel was unique among religions; as they recognized only one God. This was understood by saints of God since Adam. “4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.” (Deut. 6) Jesus well understood this truth. “And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord.” (Mark 12:29) “15 Which in his [Jesus] times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; 16 Who only hath immortality.” (1 Tim. 6) The true and living GOD OF ISRAEL IS MONOTHEISTIC.
One of the most significant changes in Christianity came under the unbaptized, pagan Roman Emperor CONSTANTINE—the founder of a new so-called Christianity. “The Church in 324 had to remind Constantine of the empire he had inherited in 306—a seething caldron of contention and rivalry, with doctrinal differences, even schisms, defined by regional loyalties. Bishops vied with each other for influence, and worshippers openly disagreed on the meaning of their worship. In addition to the Donatists, there were Docetists and Manichaens and Arians with their cat’s cradle of disputes about ways in which Jesus was man or God… The unity of the empire—under himself—was to him the absolute political virtue.” (James Carroll, Constantine’s Sword, p. 186)
He took control of Rome by killing all adversaries. He murdered his wife, his first-born son, his cousin and hundreds more. In the early fourth century, he stood as head of the Council of Nicaea and adopted pagan doctrines into what has been erroneously termed Christianity. This has always been a way evil men sought to control the minds and actions of others. God gave man a free moral agency. Man has thought to take that away.
THE GOD OF CONSTANTINE WAS THE POLYTHEISTIC GOD OF PAGANISM. Constantine worshiped the polytheistic Trinitarian sun god—a three in one god. The Creed of St. Athanasius—became the foundation creed of Catholicism whether called Catholic or Protestant. In reads in part: “But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one: the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son; and such is the Holy Ghost. The father uncreate, the Son unreate, and the Holy Ghost uncreate. THE FATHR INCOMPREHENSIBLE, THE SON INCONPREHENSIBLE, AND THE HOLY GHOST INCOMPREHENSIBE.”
Let us observe how the pagan Trinity became a part of the new so-called Christianity of Constantine. “The Christian trinity is of Egyptian origin, and is as surely a pagan doctrine as… martyrs and virgins, intercessors in heaven, gods and demigods, and other forms of faith which deface the greater part of modern religions.” (Ancient Pagan and Modern Christian Symbolism, Thomas Inman, p. 13)
“As seen in Constantine’s originating piety, that supreme deity would have been associated with the sun, and pagans would have recognized, with reason, their own solar cult in such Christian practices as orienting churches to the east, worshipping of ‘sun day,’ and celebrating the birth of the deity at the winter solstice [Dec. 25, the birth day of the sun god].” (James Carroll, Constantine’s Sword, p. 183)
The latter day prophet James J. Strang wrote in the Book of the Law of the Lord concerning the True God: “24. And, as by their faith, these three gods are one and the same god, it follows that the Lord God Almighty, uncreate, incomprehensible, and eternal, became a Priest unto himself, and offered himself a sacrifice unto himself, to make propitiation unto himself for sins against himself, and became a mediator between himself and his rebellious creatures; and has risen from the dead, though he alone hath immortality, and ascended on high, where he has received all power from himself, and sat down at his own right hand; where, with his human body, flesh and bones, and all that pertains to the perfection of man’s nature, raised to immortality and everlasting life, he “is the express image of the invisible God,” (Col. i, 15. 2d Cor. iv, 4,) “and the express image of his Father’s person,” (Heb. 1, 3,) who has not any such body or any part of it, and is nevertheless the same identical person with himself.
“25. This is not the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Ye shall not bow down to the God of Babylon, for the God who spoke in Sinai, said, “Thou shalt not bow down unto, nor adore anything that thy imagination conceiveth of; but the Lord thy God only.”
“26. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, was not the offspring of adultery; nor was he born of woman; he was not carried about in a nurse’s arms, nor dependent on his mother’s milk for sustenance; he never died, nor did he cry to himself, and find no helper. (Matt. xxvii, 46. Mark xv, 34.) Eternal ages are but pulsations in his lifetime, and his might is omnipotence.
Constantine—without any authority from God—took it upon himself to stand at the head of the Christian Church. “Constantine fully understands himself by now as the ‘vice-regent of God,’ and, as is clear from what he did as soon as he defeated Licinius, he did not hesitate to act as such, especially against the ‘evil and unbelieving.” (Ibid. p. 187)
“Immediately upon coming to power as the sole ruler of the empire, but only then, Constantine asserted the right to exercise absolute authority over the entire Church. He did this despite the fact that he was not baptized, and, as was not unusual, would not be until shortly before he died.” (Ibid., p. 188)
“Thus, the now absolute and sole Caesar, demonstrating an authority no one had ever exercised before, summoned the bishops of the Church to a meeting over which he himself preside… Two hundred and fifty of them came. He would not let them leave until they had begun to do the Church what he was doing for the empire. This meeting was the Council of Nicaea, the first Ecumenical Council of the Church. It took place in 325… Those who dissented were exiled by Constantine. (More than one bishop–and most famously Athanasius [whose name the Trinitarian Code is named after], banished later–would serve out his exile in Trier. Christians still recite this [Trinitarian] formula today, as the Nicene Creed.” (Ibid., p.189)
Constantine changed the Sabbath of God to the venerable day of the sun god in 321. ‘”The retention of the old pagan name of Dies Solis, for Sunday is, in a great measure, owing to the union of pagan and Christian sentiment with which the first day of the week was recommended by Constantine to his subjects – pagan and Christian alike – as the ‘venerable’ day of the sun.” Arthur P. Stanley, History of the Eastern Church, p. 184
He changed the identity of God from the true God of Israel to the god of paganism. He changed the identity of Jesus from the seed of Abraham, the tribe of Judah, and the House of David to that of a demigod like the pagan gods. Not so! “Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh.” (Rom. 1:3) He made Jesus the bastard son of ghost.
“The rites and institutions, by which the Greeks, Romans, and other nations, had formerly testified their religious veneration for fictitious deities, were now adopted, with some slight alterations by Christian bishops, and employed in the service of the true God.” (Mosheim, Ecclesiastical History, Century 4, Part 2, chap 4:1, 4)
In 1517, Martin Luther rebelled against the Catholic Church in the “95 Thesis.” For this he was cut off from the Catholic Church. Others before him who did such were disposed of. Luther was a friend of King James. Turning from the Catholic Church, the Church of England was organized in 1534; and the Protestant Reformation began. The major problem is that you cannot reform evil into truth. Once truth is lost, it can only be restored through the source of all truth: God.
The complaints of Luther were over such evil practices of the Catholic Church like indulgence, the rich could buy their way into heaven, purgatory, and ninety-two other complaints. Protestantism continued to adopt the doctrines of the Catholic Church. He continued belief in the pagan Trinity; of which a part is the Virgin Birth.
This Church of England was the result of Luther’s rebellion. In the “Homily Against Peril of Idolatry,” first published about the middle of the sixteenth century, admitted of the great Christian apostacy. “So that laity and clergy, learned and unlearned, all ages, sects, and degrees of men, women, and children of whole Christendom– a horrible and most dreadful thing to think– have been at once drowned in abominable idolatry; of all other vices most detested of God, and most damnable to man; and that by the space of eight hundred years and more.”
John Wesley, one of the founders of Methodism, writing about the loss of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, commented on the loss of the Christian faith. “The cause of this was not, as has been supposed, because there was no more occasion for them, because all the world was become Christians. This is a miserable mistake; not a twentieth part of it was then nominally Christian. The real cause of it was that the love of many, almost all Christians, so-called, was waxed cold. The Christians had no more of the spirit of Christ than the other heathens. The Son of Man, when He came to examine His Church, could hardly find faith upon earth. This was the real cause why the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost were no longer to be found in the Christian church–because the Christians were turned heathens again, and only had a dead form left.” (John Wesley’s Works, Vol. 7, 89; 26-27)
The Bible is clear that the gentiles would apostatize and return to their roots: paganism. It had already begun in the days of the apostles. “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.” (2 Thess. 2:7) The Christian Church continued to fall away from the true teachings of Jesus and the prophets; as we have already seen.
“11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: 12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.” (Amos 8)
“19 O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit. 20 Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods?” (Jer. 16)
“3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Tim. 4)
John the Revelator taught the Church of Christ would endure only for a brief time; and then would be lost for 1260 years. (Rev. 12:1-5). “6 And the woman [Church of Christ] fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days [1260 years]… 14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.. 17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed [priesthood of God], which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Rev. 12)
“5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months [1260 years]… 7 And it was given unto him [the church of Satan] to make war with the saints, AND TO OVERCOME THEM: and power was given him over ALL kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” (Rev. 13) “And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.” (Dan. 7:25)
The next question is when did this period of 1260 years of complete apostacy begin? The answer is found in the history of the Catholic Church. “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” (2 Thess. 2) Constantine did exactly this; but, he had no connection with the Christian church. He acted only as the Emperor of Rome. It was in 570 AD, when the Bishop of Rome thought to stand as God on earth; and as head of the entire church. “The pope is of so great dignity and excellence, that he is not merely man, but as if God. The pope alone is called most holy, divine monarch, and supreme emperor, and King of Kings. The pope is of so great dignity and power, and he constitutes one and the same tribunal with Christ, so that whatever the pope does seems to proceed from the mouth of God. The pope is as God on earth.” (Guiness, Romanism and the Reformation, pp. 25, 26)
We have only to add the 1260 years to 570 AD to discover when authority from God and the original gospel of Christ would be restored (not reformed). “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” (Rev. 14:6) It was necessary to restore the gospel for “every nation, kindred, and tongue, and people;” because it had been lost to all people on earth.
Exactly 1260 years after that fall, Joseph Smith claimed to have been called of God, ordained a prophet under the hands of angels, and organized the Church of Christ on April 6, 1830. The holy Melchisedec Priesthood was restored. The Kingdom of God was once again open to man. A true understanding of God, the gospel, priesthood, and the will of God was once more on the earth.
The gospel has always been given in dispensations—like that of Noah. The dispensation in the days of Jesus was the Dispensation of the Meridian of Time. It was given first to the Jews; as a closed dispensation. The apostles were instructed by Jesus not to take the gospel to the gentiles. After the Jews failed to live by the law of God and had Jesus crucified by Roman law, it was taken to the gentiles. The resurrected Jesus commissioned the Apostles to take the gospel to the gentiles. “15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16)
“28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. 30 But many that are FIRST SHALL BE LAST; and the LAST SHALL BE FIRST.” (Matt. 19)
The last dispensation is the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times. In this dispensation, the gentiles were to be first and the House of Israel last. The gentiles were to again reject the gospel; even as they had done in the previous dispensation. The major dispensation was closed after the six-day war in 1967. “And they [Jews] shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, UNTIL THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES BE FULFILLED.” (Luke 21:24) After the war, Jerusalem was no longer trodden down of the gentiles. Israel will now become the people of God. “37 Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: 38 And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” (Jer. 32)
All was not lost for the gentiles. There is still a rock of hope. Joseph Smith was commanded in the event of his impending death to appoint another in his stead. He did this with the Letter of Appointment to James J. Strang written shortly before his death. His successor had to be ordained under the hands of angels the same as Joseph to be valid. The same hour that Joseph was murdered—although 400 miles away—James J. Strang claimed to be ordained under the hands of angels to succeed Joseph in the prophetic office.
The Bible tells us of two prophets of the last days and two works fulfilled by them. “Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph [Book of Mormon], which is in the hand of Ephraim [Joseph Smith], and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah [Book of the Law of the Lord], and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand.” (Ezek. 37:19) Joseph was of the seed of Joseph through Ephraim so he was of the proper genealogy to translate a book of the seed of Joseph. James J. Strang—being of the tribe of Judah—was of the proper genealogy to translate the most sacred book of Scripture: the Book of the Law of the Lord.
The prophet James translated and published the Book of the Law on Beaver Island in 1850. An expanded edition was printed in 1856, that included additional chapters given by inspiration to James; and notes by James. These additions are so rare they are not in the public arena. My father, Stephen West, made a new edition in 1949; but, that too is no longer available. A facsimile edition was made in 1991, by Richard Drew and John Hajicek. When I learned that edition was becoming unavailable, I converted the 1991 Edition to digital format and printed many new copies. It is available to earnest searchers of truth.
Joseph Smith was murdered on June 27, 1844, with the help of the Governor of Illinois. James J. Strang was his successor. When the people failed again to live by the law of God, James was shot on June 20, 1856, with the help of the US Government—the captain of the US Steamer Michigan. He was taken back to his former home near Burlington, Wisconsin, where he died on July 9, 1856.
During his ministry, James ordained L. D. Hickey one of the Twelve Apostles. One of their duties is to ordain High Priests. Apostle Hickey ordained Samuel Martin a high priest, who ordained Lloyd Flanders a high priest, who ordained me an elder on July 8, 1956.
THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS STILL OPEN. Although the major gentile dispensation is over, minor dispensations remain with ordinations to the Melchisedec Priesthood. John Hajicek is also an elder in Zion; along with those ordained by John and myself. There is a remnant of the Kingdom of God; even as prophesied in the Bible. “8 And the daughter of Zion [Kingdom of God in America] is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. 9 Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us A VERY SMALL REMNANT, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.” (Isa. 1) Jesus wondered if there would be any left. “I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Jesus, Luke 18:8)
“8 And thou, O tower of the flock [James J. Strang], the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem [July 8, 1850]. 9 Now why dost thou cry out aloud? is there no king in thee? is thy counsellor perished? for pangs have taken thee as a woman in travail. 10 Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go even to Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the LORD shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies.” (Micah 4)
There is still hope for those who seek to know God and obey the gospel. The gate into the Kingdom of God is open. Jesus advised us: “13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and FEW THERE BE THAT FIND IT.” (Matt. 7) You have found it. One could say the ball is now in your court. An inheritance on earth in the celestial or terrestrial glory can be yours. You could be resurrected when Jesus returns and enjoy the earth in its paradisiacal glory for a thousand years; and then for eternity. It is said “he who hesitates is lost.” I ask the same question that was posed to Saul/Paul. “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22z;16) No one knows what tomorrow will bring. Today is the first day of the rest of our lives.
The most terrible judgement ever to come upon the earth is on our doorstep. Jesus warned us: “21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” (Matt. 24) “And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.” (Rev. 16:18) John told us in Revelation of this desolation. Don’t forget that every prophecy by a prophet of God has never failed when its time came.
The prophet James J. Strang wrote: “22. The whole course of prophecy indicates that the nations of the world will not be converted to Godliness; but that they will increase in wickedness, and be destroyed. The day has not yet come, but is in the future, which ‘shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble,’ and shall be burnt up, leaving neither root [parents] nor branch [children]; when they that fear the Lord shall tread down the wicked, as ashes beneath their feet. (Mal. 4:1, 3)
“23. Paul assures us that the coming of Christ shall be ‘in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord.’ (2 Thess. 1:8, 9) Isaiah says, the earth shall be made empty, and few men left. (Isa. 24:1, 3, 6) Those days are days of vengeance, when Christ shall tread the wine press of the wrath of God, and the blood shall flow unto the horses’ bridles. (Rev. 14:20) As those times are approaching, the judgment is pronounced on Babylon, ‘Reward her as she hath rewarded you, and double unto her double, according to her works.’ (Id., 18:6) Then shall the Saints execute vengeance on the heathen. (Ps. 149:6, 7)” (Book of the Law, p. 213)
Here is a warning and a word of hope to the wise. You can be truly SAVED.
Yours with the help of our heavenly Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Samuel E. West
Senior elder in Zion
April 6, 2017