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The Truth Shall Make You Free



CHAPTER XXI

THE CHURCH OF FREEMEN

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THE gates of hell did not prevail against Jehovah's greatest Martyr, "whom God hath raised up, having loosed the sorrows of hell, as it was impossible that he should be holden by it." (Acts 2: 24, Douay) "Whom God raised up, loosing the pangs of death, inasmuch as it was not possible for him to continue held fast by it." (Roth.) This strengthens the declaration made to his disciples by Christ Jesus: "And upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16: 18) After his resurrection he announced: "Behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death." This gives promise to his disciples that, as his soul or life was not left a prey forever to hell or the abode of the dead, likewise the souls of his faithful followers would not be abandoned for ever to the grave. Christ Jesus has the power to release from "hell" and "death", and he declares: "Every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day."  — John 6: 40.

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The Rock upon which the church is founded is heavenly. It is Christ Jesus. Forty days after his resurrection to life as a heavenly "new creature" he ascended to heaven, not immediately to begin reigning, but to sit at God's right hand of power and build his church. (Acts 1: 1-9; Hebrews 10: 12, 13; 12: 2) His Father, Jehovah, is himself the great heavenly Rock, upon which all creation rests: "Proclaim the name of Jehovah: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. The Rock, his work is perfect." (Deuteronomy 32: 3, 4, A. R. V.) Jehovah's Son, Christ Jesus, is "the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power". As to this Son and his important place in the heavenly organization Zion Jehovah said: "Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone of sure foundation: he that believeth shall not be in haste." (Hebrews 1: 3; Colossians 1: 15; Isaiah 28: 16, A. R. V.) Upon himself as Anointed King and Son of the living God, Christ Jesus builds his royal organization, the church. The apostle Peter, who believed in the "Rock", boldly proclaimed to enemy and to church alike that Christ Jesus is the Foundation, The Rock, upon which the church of Christ is built.   — Acts 4: 8-12; 1 Peter 2: 3-10.

"Church" means a congregation called out from the world for God's purpose, and as such the congregation of the twelve tribes of Israel under Moses as prophet was a "church". (Acts 7: 37, 38) The first members of the church built

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on Christ Jesus were taken from the "church" of such natural Israelites, or from "Israel after the flesh". On the other hand, all members of God's church in Christ become a new creation and hence are spiritual Israelites, "the Israel of God." (1 Corinthians 10:18; Galatians 6:15,16) When Jacob, whose name God changed to Israel, blessed his twelve sons before his death, he left twelve foundation pillars upon which that typical nation of Israel might rest. When Christ Jesus was laid as the Foundation Stone in Zion he also raised up twelve foundation pillars for the organization of his church, namely, his twelve apostles, of whom Peter was one. This is symbolically pictured at Revelation 21:14: "And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." (Galatians 2:9) The final number of the heavenly church will be only 144,000, according to God's decree. Because they were foreshadowed by the faithful of the twelve tribes of Israel, therefore the church of God is likened to twelve tribes of 12,000 members each. (Revelation 7:4-8; 14:1, 3) They are under a "new covenant", mediated by the Greater Moses, Christ Jesus. The new superseded the old law covenant made with natural Israel. —Hebrews 8: 6-13.

Christ Jesus, when on earth, did not put salvation of human creatures first and frantically try to convert the world. He confined his preaching and activities to the nation of Israel and told his disciples then to do likewise: "I am not sent

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but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Matthew 15: 24; 10: 5, 6) Had a sufficient number of the Jews abandoned the "Jews' religion" and displayed faith in God's Word and turned to Jesus about whom God's Word prophesied, the entire body of the church would have been selected from among the Jewish nation. The Scriptures, however, foretold that it would not be so, but that the houses of Israel would stumble over Christ Jesus as the Bock and only a remnant of natural Israel would accept him and be built into the church upon Christ. The Lord Jesus foreknew this by means of the prophecies, and said to Peter: "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:19) How, then, did Peter use the two keys?

Before his ascension to heaven Jesus said to his disciples: "It behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things." (Luke 24: 46-48; Acts 1: 7, 8) Ten days after his ascension the witnessing began on the day of Pentecost, at Jerusalem. Jesus had said aforetime to his disciples: "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to

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give you the kingdom"; and he took his then faithful apostles into the Kingdom covenant with himself. (Luke 12: 32; 22: 28-30) At Pentecost it was due time for other Jews to be given the opportunity to be taken into the covenant for the kingdom of heaven. How would this opportunity be opened up to such Jews ? By the "key of knowledge"; and this knowledge would be imparted by preaching. —Luke 11: 52; Acts 2:21; Romans 10:11-17.

On the day of Pentecost heaven let loose the opportunity, and Peter used the first 'key of the kingdom of heaven' and let loose. That day, while the apostles and other disciples were assembled together in Jerusalem a sound came from heaven, and God's spirit or invisible force was poured out upon the faithful disciples. They were begotten by the Father's power and were anointed for the Kingdom by his spirit. This definitely was their commissioning to preach or bear witness to the Kingdom. Due to the demonstration made by all those disciples' speaking in foreign languages, a crowd of Pentecost celebrators from many lands and tongues gathered outside. Then Peter, the receiver of the Kingdom keys, rose up and preached to them Christ the King, and concluded, saying: "For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on any right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and

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Christ." (Acts 2:34-36) So starting off the Kingdom witness, Peter used the first of the "keys", and thousands were that day admitted into the Kingdom privileges. "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." Then they engaged in house-to-house preaching activity, being well received by the people. —Acts 2: 41,46,47.





The prophecy of Daniel 9: 26, 27 indicates that a half of a week of years, or three and a half years, passed after this Pentecost. During that time the conversion to Christianity was restricted to Jews and Samaritans, as Jesus had said: "Be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem,

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and in all Judaea, and in Samaria," before going to the uttermost parts of the earth. (Acts 1: 8) For that length of time heaven bound the Kingdom privilege down to these and away from the Gentile nations in general; hence Peter was bound from any use of the second of the Kingdom "keys".

The time limit was at last reached. Down till then only a remnant of the Jews, together with some Samaritans, had acted on the Kingdom opportunity. Then heaven loosed the privilege to the Gentiles, and Peter was released from restrictions for this service. Forthwith he used the second key. Did God send him to Rome to use it? No; but to an Italian who had been converted from heathenism to faith in Jehovah God and who was living in Caesarea on the Mediterranean seacoast, about seventy miles from Jerusalem. God sent him a vision of an angel who bade Cornelius to send for Simon Peter, who was then at Joppa not far away. Just about the time that Cornelius' messengers arrived God sent a vision to Peter showing that the way was now open for other nations than Jews, and so Peter returned with the messengers to Cornelius' home. Then Peter preached to him and his assembled kinsmen and friends concerning the Christ or Anointed Jesus: "And we are witnesses of all things which he did, . . . And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify . . . through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins,"  —Acts 10:1-43.

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Did heaven confirm what Peter was doing with the second "key of knowledge"? "While Peter yet spake these words, the holy spirit fell on all them that heard the word. And they of the circumcision [Jews] that believed were amazed, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the holy spirit. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God." Thereafter Cornelius and other Gentile believers were baptized, not with John the Baptist's baptism, which was for Jews, but "baptized in the name of Jesus Christ". (Acts 10:44-48, A.R.V.) Thereby believers from among the Gentiles were taken into the covenant for the Kingdom. Now Peter had finished his exclusive work with the "keys of the kingdom of heaven". There was no need for him to have a successor to such work, and God has not appointed or raised up any successor. The door remains open to the Gentiles. —Acts 14: 27; 1 Corinthians 16: 9.

Why did Jehovah God use Simon Peter and visit these non-Jews with his Kingdom favor? After Peter, or Simeon, had made a report on this the apostle James said: "Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name." (Acts 15: 7-14) That is the purpose of the "new covenant", namely, to take out and bring forth such a people. The Christians from among the Gentile nations as well as those from among the Jews must be together a "people for his name", that is, God's name, which is Jehovah. There

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was now no racial or national distinction; all must be one in Christ their Head, an undivided church, without schism. "For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office; so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another." (Romans 12: 4, 5) "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. 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. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Galatians 3: 27-29) "Wherefore, henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh [before being resurrected as a spirit], yet now henceforth know we him no more [after the flesh]. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." —2 Corinthians 5:16,17; also 1 Corinthians 12:12,13,18, 27.

Jesus is the Head member of the church. The other members constitute the church body. "And he is the head of the body, the church." (Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:22,23) To the members of Christ's church-body it is written: "That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory." (1 Thessalonians 2:12) Since God's kingdom under Christ is heavenly and flesh and blood cannot inherit it, how may human creatures find entrance into it?

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By the following steps outlined in the Scriptures:

Being conceived in sin and shapen in iniquity and being hence under condemnation from birth on, there must be a making right or justification of the human creature first, to relieve him of divine condemnation. This is accomplished after the human creature shows his faith, not only by believing in Jehovah as God and in Christ Jesus as the ransom sacrifice for sins. Additionally he must confess to being bought by Christ Jesus' sacrifice and must make a full and complete consecration of himself to God, to be His and to do His will forever. The believer symbolizes his consecration by baptism in water. The opportunity being open for the Kingdom and also a part with Christ Jesus in the "covenant by sacrifice", Jehovah God justifies the human creature and counts him as possessing the right to human life. That human life right, however, is at once sacrificed that the consecrated one may be taken into the "covenant by sacrifice". God begets the justified one by his Word (symbolized by water) and by his spirit, and thus brings that one forth as a spiritual son of God. This acknowledged son of God manifesting faithfulness, God calls him to the Kingdom and takes him into the covenant for that Theocratic Government and then anoints him with his holy spirit. By such anointing the consecrated one is baptized into the "body of Christ".

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If you will read the scriptures below1 in their order you will see for yourself that the above is the Scriptural order.

All thus anointed are in line for the Kingdom. Although yet in a body of flesh, they are a "new creation". They must now copy their Head and King Christ Jesus and bear witness to God's kingdom in the manner he did. They must maintain their integrity toward God and keep covenant with him through all the suffering of reproaches and persecution, even unto death. They are not "saved" to life eternal as soon as they believe and start following Christ Jesus, but only after proving faithful to death. They must give all diligence to make their calling and election sure. If before death they turned aside and proved unfaithful, they would prove deserving of everlasting destruction. But for them to endure faithfully to the end means their ultimate salvation. The Scriptures of truth listed below prove these facts correct.2

Such are not yet immortal; otherwise they could not keep the "covenant by sacrifice" and die the death of faithfulness and be made conformable to Christ's death. By their integrity and loyalty till death they have a part with Christ Jesus in the vindicating of his Father's name. Therefore God will give "to them, who

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by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life."  —Philippians 3:10,14; Romans 2: 6,7.

When do they receive immortality? Those who die before the setting up of the kingdom of God and the coming of the King to the temple must sleep in death, unconscious, inactive, awaiting those events. First at the arrival of the King at the temple for judgment do the sleeping members of Christ's body or church receive the "crown of life". Speaking of the resurrection of the church-body the apostle Paul writes: "It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. . . . Behold, I shew you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory." (1 Corinthians 15: 42-54) The members of Christ's body are given a spiritual resurrection, to heavenly life in the spirit, in the Kingdom.

The remnant thereof who are yet on earth in the flesh when the King comes to the temple must fulfill the covenant by sacrifice by faithfulness to death. However, they do not sleep in death, but are instantly "changed" into the heav-

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enly likeness of their present King and Head. (1 John 3:2; Colossians 3:1-4) The "gates of hell" do not prevail against God's church on the Rock.

The apostle Paul warned that immediately after his death a falling away of men from the true faith and into religion would occur. The apostle John warned of the same effect of Satan's work. (Acts 20:29-31; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3; 1 John 2:18-23) The apostle Peter said of such ones: "Promising freedom to them, they themselves being all the while slaves of corruption; for by whom one hath been defeated, by the same hath he become enslaved." (2 Peter 2:1-3,19, Roth.) It was even so. Less than a hundred years after John died there arose a man named Tertullian (A.D. 155-222), who taught there is a trinity of three persons of one substance in one God. So centuries after him a religionist wrongfully inserted the text at 1 John 5:7 to give seeming Bible support to such a doctrine.1 Then Augustine (A.D. 354-430) used his powerful influence to fasten the pagan doctrine of "immortality of human souls" upon the religious congregations, contrary to the Bible doctrine of Christ's ransom sacrifice. On such basis other blasphemous errors were introduced and adopted, such as eternal torment of souls in a fiery hell, Purgatory, prayers for the dead, the mass, etc.



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