Passover Preparation

Sermon by Bill Goff

February 24, 2007

With Passover and the days of unleavened bread fast approaching, it’s time to begin speaking in season. The spring feast days come early this year. Before we know it, it will be time to begin deleavening our homes once again as we prepare for the upcoming Holy Days. And rightly so, because we are commanded to do just that as we are told in Exodus 12:19 and Exodus 13:7

Passover is the most solemn and important day of the year for a Christian, for a follower of Christ. This is the time to renew our commitment that we made with our Creator at our baptism. Back then we made that required outward sign and took that plunger under the water at our baptism, stating that we believe that Jesus is our Lord and Savior. We also made a commitment to God at that time that we would strive to change from our old sinful way of life and begin to walk this earth in a new way, a godly way, His way.

Last year at this time I spoke on the importance of preparing our minds for the upcoming Spring Holy days.

Today, I want to continue along those same lines. Answering our calling brethren is not a onetime event.

Answering our calling starts at baptism, but it doesn’t end there. Answering our calling is an ongoing process. It takes time to become a good and faithful servant, one who will inherit an incorruptible crown at the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

In the book of Matthew we are told.

Mt:25:21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

Our opportunity to be a good and faithful servant is now, and time is of the essence.

We in God’s church need to be utilizing those talents that we all have been given by our Creator. They are not something to be taken for granted, or left to go stagnant.

There is a very important and sobering verse in the book of Matthew concerning our calling. It has to do with the wedding banquet that each and every one of us in God’s church have been called to attend. But before we go to that verse, let us understand something that is very important.

The church of God, the called out ones of God, have not been called to attend this great wedding banquet as guests, but as the bride.

Yes, the church has been called to be the bride of Christ.

Let us keep this high calling of ours in mind as we read this sobering verse.

Mt:22:14 Many are called, but few are chosen.

Not everyone who has been called will be chosen.

When it comes to the wedding, there is much preparation that the bride needs to be doing to make herself ready for that day.

Rv:19:7: Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.

Now our God, the one who has called us to this wedding has given us His Holy Days to teach us of His plan and to lead us into perfection. A bride always wants to be ready, completely cleaned up and properly dressed for her wedding day, and she puts all of her efforts into being completely ready for that day.

Passover is the day that we have opportunity to renew our agreement with God. It’s a time when we need to evaluate ourselves and make sure that we are still on the correct path, headed in the right direction and making progress towards our goal.

If we are not, then we need to turn around and change our ways. Let us remember:

Rom:2:11 For there is no respect of persons with God.

We need to be careful brethren. Many of us in God’s church get a sense of security by attending and fellowshipping with a particular church group or organization. But that type of security can sometimes be a false sense of security.

There are hundreds of splinter groups out there. And many are claiming to be the only true church of God.

Some call themselves the “Philadelphians”, others the “vibrant church” or “living church”. Etc. etc. But are all of these the true church of God? Don’t be fooled by any of the clever names or eloquent speakers.

Attendance in any man made organization does not grant anyone entrance into the Kingdom of God, nor qualify them to be the bride of Christ And don’t be fooled or intimidated by the strict hierarchal type of government that some of those organizations have, where they try to keep you in their tight grip and want you to be accountable to them and their self appointed lieutenants.

Do we realize that type of organization, with its lording over the brethren, is hated by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Jesus told both, the church at Ephesus and the church at Pergamos, that He hates that type of control. The lording over the brethren is known as the “Doctrine of the Nicolaitans”

Rv:2:15: So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.

If you dissect this word “Nicolaitans” you will find that it means Power over the laity. That brethren, is

NOT the type of government that Jesus wants in His church. That type of government produces only bad things like bickering, backbiting, envy and strife. The correct type of Government that Jesus wants practiced in His church is found in John chapter 15. It’s a one on one relationship with Him, and it’s the type of relationship that produces something good, something that all of us need to be producing, fruit. Good Fruit

Jn:15:5: I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

Now God does give us apostles; and prophets; and evangelists; and pastors and teachers, but not to lord over us, and not to come between our Creator and us, but to unite us, and help perfect us.

A true minister of God will always be concerned about your spiritual wellbeing; and will always treat you as a brother. A true minister of God (A true servant) is one who is always led by the spirit of God. Absolutely nothing in Christ’s service is left to mere human judgment or selfchoosing.

Even an apostle was not permitted to choose his place of service.

Acts:16:7: After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. 8: And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.

God places the members in His church “As it hath pleased Him” 1Cor:12:18. That includes all the members.

And Paul makes the purpose for these servants very clear:

Eph. 4:12: 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:

14: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

It is our obligation to prove who these true men of God are, and to make sure that the ones we are associating with are not leading us astray in any way.

1Jn:4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

2Cor:11:3: But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. V. 4: For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

Further along, in V.13: For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

14: And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed (Transforming himself) into an angel of light.

15: Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

Brethren, when the disciples came to Jesus privately, asking Him questions concerning the end of the age, and what shall be the sign of His coming, The very first thing that Jesus told them was:

Mt:24:4: Take heed that no man deceive you.

Now why am I bringing all this up in a message concerning preparation for Passover?

I am bringing this up brethren because we are living in the time when Jesus is about to complete the building of His church.

Do we realize that brethren? We are not living in the time when Jesus began to build His church; that was 2,000 years ago. We are living in the time when He is about to complete it.

It’s a time when we need to be at one with our God and at one with one another in His church the body of Christ. After all, there is only one church, only one Lord and only one Spirit.

But understand something, our main concern is to be at one with God. Then whoever else is at one with Him will also be at one with each other. (That time is coming brethren, and it’s not far away.)

The church of God, the one Jesus began building a long time ago, is very much maturing, and nearing its completion.

Try to realize brethren, how Solomon’s Temple was made of stones that were completely cut and shaped at the quarry. Before they were assembled at the Temple sight. 1 Kings6:7. Every detail concerning the building of the physical Temple pertains to and has much significance concerning the Spiritual Temple, the church. It was only a matter of time before the stone cutting and chiseling and sanding of the physical temple stones that were being prepared, came to an end. Then once the stones were completely ready, they were carried off to another place where they were erected into the finished Temple.

We are those stones, and the quarry is this world where we are presently living. If we want to be part of the Temple, the Temple where we have been offered by Jesus to sit in His throne with Him when it is assembled, we need to allow ourselves to be complete, completely shaped and formed and ready to be brought to the temple sight to be assembled.

We need to be sure that we are part of that one true church, and that one spirit, because the church age is nearing its completion and soon to be over.

We are living in the time when Jesus is not only going to finish the building of His church, but He is also going to present it to Himself. And in case you are not aware of it, our God is a perfectionist. He is not going to be presenting a confused; disorderly and divided group of individuals who are pretending to be His church. He is going to be presenting to Himself a glorious church, one without spot or wrinkle.

Eph:5:27: That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Now please understand something very important.

We will not be part of His glorious church that He will be presenting, if we are following any man, no matter who the man is. If we are following and trusting in man, we will only be cursed.

Jer:17:5: Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.

That statement In Jeremiah 17:5 is very clear. And similar ones are found in many other places throughout the Bible concerning following men. Like psalm 146. Remember that one brethren? We sang it every week’ “Put Your Trust Not In Mortals For In Them Is No Help.

Do we understand why God tells us that we cannot trust man brethren? Not any man! It’s because man is corruptible. Man can always go astray. If your following a man, you better brace yourself, because it’s just a matter of time before you end up in the ditch.

We have not been called to end up in any ditch brethren. We have been called to be Kings and Priests in the coming Kingdom of God.

We are first fruits. First fruits are unique. They are planted first, they grow first, and they are picked first.

They are the wheat; and soon to be Mature, Ripe and Ready for picking.

That is the condition that each and every one of us needs to be in NOW brethren, mature, ripe and ready for picking.

Now there are hundreds of leaders out there throughout the different churches of God. But there is only One Leader out there who can bring us on to completion brethren. There is only One Leader out there, who can have us matured, ripe and ready for picking.

JESUS CHRIST That is why He is the Head of the Body.

That’s why it is imperative for us to be at one with Him, and to be looking to, and following Him.

The only one that we are to follow brethren is Jesus. Men are only to be imitated, and only if they are imitating God.

The King James version “incorrectly” uses the word follow in a number of verses that some men like to quote, and use to tell us to follow them.

Like where Paul says in:

1Cor:4:16: Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.

And

1Cor:11:1: Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

The King James Version incorrectly uses the word follow.

Some men like to quote this verse and tell us that we need to be following them.

Brethren, Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Greek word used in those verses is “mimetes” which means, “imitate”, not “follow”

There is a big difference between the word “imitate” and the word “follow” Webster’s New World College Dictionary renders imitate as to seek the example of, take as one’s model or pattern, to mimic, or resemble.

This rendering denotes becoming like Jesus, and could be used by Paul in that as long as he conducted himself in a Christlike manner, then those who saw his actions could learn by example. Ever see a small child imitate someone? What a big difference that is from follow.

Webster’s New World College Dictionary renders follow as to go along, to accept the authority of, to obey, yield to, or advocate the ideas, or opinions of those followed. Now this rendering has a completely different meaning than to imitate Paul as he imitates Christ. Paul was in essence being the example for others to see.

Where following him would get our eyes off Christ and on Paul (or any man) thereby the possibility of being deceived if the man would cunningly change the doctrine as many has in the past and will in the future. The one thing that God wants mankind to always remember and it’s the very thing that we always seem to forget, and that is, GOD IS SUPREME! God has never and will never give up or trust His authority or His people to any angle or man!

Nowhere in the Bible are we ever told to follow a man, but only to imitate man, AND ONLY IF THAT MAN IS IMITATING GOD.

Everywhere the Bibles uses the word follow (where the word means follow) it’s directed directly at Christ.

Mt:16:24: Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Mt:19:21: Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

Jn:10:27: My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

There are many many more places where we are told to follow Christ, but nowhere are we ever told to follow man.

The reason that much of the church is so divided at this time brethren, is because too many of its members are looking to and following too many men. Men who have many different ideas and different teachings, and agendas, and goals that are contrary to the Word of God.

The fruits of following men have lead many members astray, and have caused much confusion and disunity throughout the church of God.

Now Satan is the author of all of this, and what it has allowed to happen is a further sifting of the brethren.

Those who will not trust man, but put their trust and faith in God, have been growing in faith and knowledge.

But sad to say, those who have put their trust in man, and have been following men, seem to be quitestagnant and void of new truths and a better understandings of the Word of God.

Remember brethren; no man can lead us into all truth. That is not man’s department. Man is better at leading us astray.

On that last night before Jesus suffered and was crucified, He didn’t say that some man would come with all the truth. Did He?

Jn:16:13: Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

Jesus did not say that some man would come with all the truth. Jesus said that The Comforter, The Spirit of truth, would come and guide us into all truth.

This Comforter brethren, this Spirit of Truth, comes to us from God the Father Himself.

Jn:15:26: But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:

The important thing to realize here is that it takes obedience to the father for it to come to us. It takes obedience to God for Him to dwell in us.

We could go to many Scriptures here, but let me just use one for now to back my statement.

1Jn:3:24: And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

God is our true teacher brethren, He is the one who will lead us into all truth with His Holy Spirit. If we let Him If we look to Him. And most importantly, if we obey Him, by keeping His commandments, and statutes, and judgments, by walking the same way that He walks. Uprightly. That is our individual goal, and our united goal, to become like Him.

O, there are men out there that He sets in places to help us. But don’t just accept any man because he has some fancy title, or elegant speech.

We need to know who His true servants are, His true disciples.

The New Testament church was warned over and over about the false ministers that were entering into the flock. They were already coming in back then. We already read in 2 Corinthians 11 about some of them that Paul was trying to expose.

How about the apostle Peter? What did Peter say about false men entering in?

2Pt:2:1: But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who

privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

And let us not forget the account that the apostle John had with Diotrephes. Remember John was the Apostle of love and was very close to Jesus. But when Diotrephes entered in, he became the professed disciple who refused to recognize the authority of John as an apostle, and who loved to have the preeminence:

3Jn:1:9: I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.

10: Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.

Diotrephes tried to act like a little Caesar. Pride and selfpleasing led to the dethronement of Christ. The word “preeminence” occurs twice in the New Testament. Paul speaks of Christ having the “preeminence” (Col. 1:18) Diotrephes substituted self for Christ.

Brethren, there are many “Diotrephes’” in the church of God today. They are not true disciples of Jesus, but impostors. This is why John tells us in 1Jn:4:1: Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God.

This is why we need to examine ourselves and make sure that we are following God, and striving to live by every Word of His and not being astray in any way from following man. If we have been blindly following men, and are doing things contrary to the Scriptures, then we need to repent of it.

Remember Jesus tells us that there is one sure way of knowing if they are His disciples or not:

Jn:13:35: By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

There is no love in lording over.

I bring this up at this time brethren, as we approach the Passover so we can better examine ourselves, and not

have any false concept of where the church of God truly is today. And how we need to be conducting ourselves in the church.

We need to realize that the church that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ began to build nearly 2,000 years ago has not changed locations.

Many men want us to think that their particular organization is where it is. Yet many of those different physical organizations have only caused division and confusion. And have brought into the church of God heresies, false teachings that the majority has gone along with because they have failed to:

1Thes:5:21: Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

And

2Tm:2:15: Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

There is only one church of God, and it’s not a physical organization, it’s a spiritual one. Membership is determined by our actions; by our behavior. Not by where we warm a seat on Sabbath morning.

O, it’s good to have a place to fellowship, and brethren to fellowship with. After all, Iron sharpeneth Iron.

Prov:27:17: Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

And how fortunate it is, if you can assemble with those of the same mind on Sabbath and be fed a good spiritual meal.

But, if you find yourself in an organization where you are controlled or restricted concerning what you want to talk about or study with your fellow brethren, and not allowed to think for yourself, you are probably in a group headed by one of those many “Diotrephes”. If so, then you better wake up and run for your life, NOW, while you still have time.

Brethren, we are approaching the end of the church age. Yes, the church age is soon to come to a close.

Do you realize that?

Do not think that the construction of the House of God, the building of the church of God that Jesus began to build nearly 2,000 years ago, will not come to completion, because it soon will.

There are many Scriptures that elaborate on that and we will discuss them in an upcoming sermon concerning the feast of Unleavened Bread and the counting to Pentecost.

Remember, God does nothing unless He reveals what He is doing first:

Amos:3:7: Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.

Our concern now brethren, as we approach the Passover is to be ready to partake of it.

We need to be sure we are looking to God. We need to be crying out to Him like David did, to clean us up and scrub us down. To show us our transgressions so we can repent of them.

What God is doing in us, is a big work. He is trying to totally change our nature. Trying to turn our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. That is not an easy task. We need to be sure that we are allowing Him to do that and not hindering the process, or restricting it.

We need to be sure that we are comparing ourselves to Jesus Christ. He is the one that we are to become like. He is our example to both imitate and follow.

He is the Chief Corner Stone that we must conform to. Not any man or any physical organization.

If we are focused on anything physical, we need to repent of it and become focused on the spiritual.

God is looking for us to worship Him and Him alone. And in a particular way:

Jn:4:23: But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

Truth is of utmost importance here brethren, because there are a lot of fables floating around the churches of God. There is much confusion concerning many issues.

We need truth brethren. It is truth that will separate one from era. And it is truth that will allow us to properly worship our God. And truth can only come from one place, His Word.

Jn:17:17: Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

Now every group out there will use this verse to try and make you think that they are preaching truth, but this

is where the Holy Spirit comes in. This is where each individual member has to study the Scriptures for himself and let the spirit of God, the Spirit of truth direct him. Just like we’ve been told by that man Armstrong from the beginning. I will quote him here:

“DON’T BELIEVE ME, BELIEVE YOUR BIBLE.”

Now we need to realize how important truth is to those in the church of God. It is very important for us to realize that “truth” and the “church” are inseparable.

Let us not forget the Bible definition of the church as stated by the Apostle Paul in his letter to Timothy, because it has very much to do with “truth”

1Tm:3:15: But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

The church, the “House of God” is the “Pillar and Ground of the Truth”

That Word “pillar” means A firm, upright, separate support. And that word “ground” comes from the Greek word Hezomai, meaning = immovable; settled; stedfast.

Each and every one of us brethren needs to be immovable, upright pillars of truth.

If we are the true church, then we need to have the truth, and we need to be living the truth because they go hand and hand.

The word church means “called out ones” And it’s a process, because to answer that calling, one has to come out.

Come out of Babylon or confusion. And it takes the truth to do that. It takes being taught by Jesus Himself, and hearing Him, because He is the one with all the truth.

The letter Paul wrote to the Ephesians, is very similar in content to that of Colossians, both stress doctrine.

Chapter 4 speaks of a new way of thinking.

Eph:4:17: This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,

18: Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:

19: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

20: But ye have not so learned Christ;

21: If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:

Our eyes and our ears need to be focused on Jesus brethren. He has to be our teacher.

So no matter what position any of us have now, down here in this flesh, even if of different administrations, we have to be one body. And we have to allow our mutual Leader to lead us, because He is the One with all the truth.

We as the church need to be working together; we have been put into different positions for a reason. It takes many different stones of different shapes that will be assembled into His Temple.

But all are to have the same nature, the same character as the Creator. That is what He is building in us. His Holy righteous character.

We all need to realize that no man is the head of this body; Christ is the One and only Head. And brethren, Christ is alive and well. We need to pledge our allegiance to Him and not to any man.

Jesus is bringing His house to completion. And not by any physical might. He never did it with the mere might of physical men. He uses something else.

He is going to complete His church with the same hand He used to build the foundation. Zerrubbabel.

Zech:4:9: The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it;

And let us not forget what He said to Zerubbabel concerning how He would do it.

Zech:4:6: Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.

No man alone can lead us into all the truth. Man has not been given that position, and never will be. Don’t we realize that looking to a man as if he is the head of the church is idolatry?

As we approach this upcoming Passover, let us thoroughly examine ourselves concerning everything that we do. Making sure that it is according to the Word of God.

Our Creator is concerned with our walk. He’s concerned with the path that we are taking. There are only two paths out there that can be followed, and only one that leads to life.

Now that path that we need to be following, is a narrow path, a difficult path, but it is imperative for all of us to be on it to be true members of God’s church, the pillar and ground of truth.

We need to be less concerned with which group we consider ourselves belonging to and more concerned with walking in truth.

If there is anyone trying to get you to come along with their group, they are probably imposter’s brethren.

Be careful, test their spirit and see if they are of God.

Our deceiver is quite busy trying to make us fail, trying to deceive us into following error.

The true ministers of God are out there but they are not trying to lure you to come with them, they are trying their best to point us to God.

If they are true ministers of God they will be concerned with truth and will not be scared to look to the Scriptures for proof and reproof on any subject, so we will guard against error. And so we will “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:4:13”

We are approaching a time of great deception that will come upon the whole world and it is those who have a love of the truth that will weather the approaching storm.

We are admonished by the Apostle Paul in his second letter to the Thessalonians concerning the coming Day of the Lord:

2Thes:2:3: Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

4: 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.

Verse 9 tells us that there is one whose coming is “After the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

Brethren, truth is of up most importance to all the members of the church of God.

We need to come together in the church. Maybe may not together in one single physical group at this time, but together in Spirit and in truth.

Let us not be afraid to prove and reprove all of our ways to be sure that they are according to the Word of God, and not the traditions or fables of men.

And for those who like to flash their titles of deacons and elders and ministers around, they need to realize that those are not positions that are to be placed on pedestals, but position that can only be held by those who are truly servants.

Let us take the time to examine ourselves now, and repent of all of our ways that are contrary to the Word of God. And let us pray that the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth will guide each and every one of us into all truth as we prepare to take the Passover.

*Scriptures from the King James Version.

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