"Is it really so that God said you must not eat
from every tree of the garden?" (Genesis 3:1)
God's commandments are always clearly stated―they are never ambiguous, because our obedience involves our very life. (Deut. 30:19,20) When we disobey, we can never plead ignorance―that we did not know, or failed to understand his command. Take for example Jesus' letters to the Seven Congregations in Asia Minor, as recorded for our benefit in the apostle John's book of Revelation. Although the revelation, as a whole, was presented to John in signs, yet, those seven letters are clear and explicit, plain for anyone to understand and act upon. (Rev. 1:1; 2:1-3:22) An even more compelling example, although far removed in time from us, is found in the command that God laid upon Adam. It behooves us to pay close attention to it, for it has great significance for God's people today.
This is the command which Jehovah gave to Adam: “From every tree of the garden you may eat to satisfaction. But as for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will positively die.” (Gen. 2:16,17) Could God have stated that command any simpler? Then, why, as we all know, did Adam disobey? Simply put, he chose to disregard God's command, because of the situation that had arisen.
To briefly recount: Adam's wife Eve, when she was away from her husband, was approached by a powerful spirit creature, posing as a serpent, who proceeded to question Eve about God's command regarding eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and bad. He asked her: "Is it really so that God said you must not eat from every tree of the garden?" Eve replied correctly: “Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat. But as for eating of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You must not eat from it, no, you must not touch it that you do not die.’” At this the serpent said to the woman: 'You positively will not die. For God knows that in the very day of your eating from it your eyes are bound to be opened and you are bound to be like God, knowing good and bad.'” The serpent not only contradicted God's clearly stated command and the consequence for disobeying, but he also claimed that it would prove beneficial for Eve. Eve was deceived, and so she ate from the forbidden tree. Later she gave some to her husband, who accepted it from her hand and also ate, in defiance of God's clearly stated command. (Gen. 3:1-6; Rev. 12:9)
In pronouncing sentence upon those three rebels, Jehovah at the same time held out hope for Adam's yet unborn offspring, namely, that of raising up in his own due time a Saviour―the promised Seed, by means of whom God would deliver mankind from the condemnation of sin and death that they would inherit from Adam. The promised Saviour proved to be God's only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who said about himself: "For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life." (Gen. 3:14,15; John 3:16; 1 Cor. 15:22; 1 John 3:8)
We can receive from God the everlasting life that Adam lost for himself and for us. How? By "exercising faith in God's only-begotten Son" Jesus Christ. What exactly is involved in "exercising faith" in Christ Jesus? Jesus himself tells us: "I have come down from heaven to do, not my will, but the will of him that sent me... For this is the will of my Father, that everyone that beholds the Son and exercises faith in him should have everlasting life, and I will resurrect him at the last day... I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the wilderness and yet died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that anyone may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread he will live forever; and, for a fact, the bread that I shall give is my flesh in behalf of the life of the world."
"Therefore the Jews began contending with one another, saying: 'How can this man give us his flesh to eat?' Accordingly Jesus said to them: 'Most truly I say to you, Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves. He that feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I shall resurrect him at the last day; for my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. He that feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in union with me, and I in union with him. Just as the living Father sent me forth and I live because of the Father, he also that feeds on me, even that one will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. It is not as when your forefathers ate and yet died. He that feeds on this bread will live forever.'” (John 6:38-40, 48-61, 66)
Please consider the words of Jesus carefully, as quoted above! Read it, often, in your own Bible. To whom is he speaking? To whom do they apply? Jesus says, "everyone" and "anyone" who wants everlasting life. He is explaining what is involved, and what it means to exercise faith in him, in order to receive everlasting life. It clearly means more than simply acknowledging him as "Lord". (Luke 6:46; John 15:14) True, when Jesus spoke of eating his flesh and drinking his blood it shocked his listeners, for they did not understand; and many of his disciples were stumbled, "and would no longer walk with him". But later, on that final night with his apostles, after they had celebrated the Passover, Jesus instituted the Lord's Evening Meal with them, and he cleared up any confusion regarding the eating his flesh and drinking his blood, when he gave them the bread and the wine and said to them that the bread is his flesh and the wine is his blood; and then added, "Keep doing this in remembrance of me." (Luke 22:19,20; 1 Cor. 11:23-26)
Jesus had said earlier to the Jews and his disciples, "he that feeds on my flesh [the bread] and drinks my blood [the wine] remains in union with me, and I in union with him." (John 6:56) What can be said of anyone who disregards Jesus' command "to keep doing this in remembrance of me," and chooses not to eat of the bread and drink of the wine? In what way can it be said that this person remains in union with Jesus, and Jesus in union with him? Jesus said: "If you observe my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have observed the commandments of the Father and remain in his love." (John 15:10; 17:20-23) Therefore, If we do not obey, by eating of the bread and drinking the wine when celebrating the Lord's Evening Meal, we can have no sharing with Christ Jesus. And as Jesus clearly stated, neither will we have everlasting life. (1 Corinthians 1:4-9)
Our enemy, the "original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth", is actively seeking to get us to disobey God's clearly stated command, by deceiving us into believing that the command to partake of the bread and the wine does not apply to everyone―but only to a few chosen ones. He succeeded in getting Adam and Eve to disobey God; will he succeed in your case? We are warned to be on guard against his machinations. (Rev. 12:10; 2 Cor. 2:11; Eph. 6:11-13; Compare 2 Thess. 2:3,4, 9,10)
Consider the irony: In the case of Adam and Eve, God's command prohibited them from eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and bad, under the penalty of death―which the Devil denied and contradicted. On the other hand, in our day, Satan is again attempting to get us to rebel against God, by claiming the very opposite of what God has commanded us; telling us that we should not eat from the provision that reconciles us to God. Jesus said that eating his flesh and drinking his blood is God's means by which we are reconciled to him. It fulfills God's original promise of removing our inherited sin and death. (Rom. 5:6-10, 12, 18-21)
Does this cause you confusion as to what you should do? Is it because the command to partake is too vague? or is it because you have not settled in your heart as to whom you must obey?
Please consider this sobering fact: If anyone refuses to partake at the Memorial of Jesus' death, not only can he not be in union with Christ Jesus, but also he will lose out on the promised everlasting life―and neither can he receive the holy spirit now, which is from God to teach us and help us to worship the Father with spirit and truth. Jehovah says that if we refuse to listen to him, then neither will he listen to our prayers. (John 4:23,24; 12:47-50; Luke 11:13; See Food for Thought below regarding Proverbs 1:22-33) The Jews in Jesus' day, who were then still God's people, did not discern the time of their being inspected. They paid no attention to Jesus' warning, and thus they perished when the Romans destroyed their city and their form of worship. (Luke 19:44) We are in danger of making the same mistake if we ignore Jesus' words, for God's judgment will start with his own house. (1 Peter 4:17-19) If we wait until the last minute, so to speak, we will miss out. The apostle Paul explains that "as often as we eat this loaf and drink this cup, we keep proclaiming the death of the Lord, until he arrives." (1 Cor.11:26) We still have the opportunity to demonstrate that we are exercising faith in the Lord Christ Jesus, and that we are in union with him, at every annual celebration of the Memorial. Once the Lord has arrived, it will be too late. "In that day", Jesus will confess to them: "I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness." ―Matthew 7:21-23.
You are intelligent people. Look now and see for yourselves whether what I am about to say is true. When we ask the Lord’s blessing upon our drinking from the cup of wine at the Lord’s Table, this means, doesn’t it, that all who drink it are sharing together the blessing of Christ’s blood? And when we break off pieces of the bread from the loaf to eat there together, this shows that we are sharing together in the benefits of his body. No matter how many of us there are, we all eat from the same loaf, showing that we are all parts of the one body of Christ. ―1 Corinthians 10:15-17, Living Bible.
"Those who listen to me now will live under
divine protection" (Proverbs 1:22-33, The Voice)
You simple, naive people, how long will you love your feeble ways?
You simpletons, how long will you enjoy making fun of what you don’t understand?
You fools, how long will you hate learning what truly matters?
23 Turn to me and receive my gentle correction;
Watch and I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will share with you my wise words in order to redirect your lives.
24 You hear, but you have refused to answer my call.
My hands reached out, but no one noticed.
25 All my advice, all my correction, all have been neglected—
you wanted nothing of them.
26 So I will be the laughter you hear when misfortune comes, and it will come.
I will be the mocking sound when panic grips you—
27 When panic comes like a stormy blast,
when misfortune sweeps in like a whirlwind,
when sorrow and anguish weigh you down.
28 This is when they will call on me, but I will not respond;
they will be frantic to find me, but they won’t be able.
29 Because they despised knowledge of my ways,
and they also refused to respect and honor the Eternal,
30 Because they rejected my advice
and turned down my correction,
31 They will surely get what’s coming to them:
they’ll be forced to eat the fruit of their wicked ways;
they’ll gorge themselves on the consequences of their choices.
32 You see, it’s turning away from me that brings death to the simple,
and it’s self-satisfaction that destroys the fools.
33 But those who listen to me now will live under divine protection;
they can rest knowing they are out of harm’s way.
(Matthew 11:25,26; John 12:37-43; Revelation 7:9,10, 13-17)
"Your Father in heaven [will] give the Holy Spirit to
all who ask" (Luke 11:13,
The apostle Peter encourages us to "always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you," (1 Peter 3:15; TLV) Perhaps, as is true of so many of us, you feel inadequate when it comes to making a defense of your faith. You have a zeal for Jehovah and for sharing his word of truth―you study the Bible diligently, reading it daily; you underline the passages that are of special interest to you in order to find them quickly; and yet when you want to quote a chapter and verse, you can't remember where to find it. This becomes particularly frustrating when you are having a conversation with someone who is showing interest, but you are unable to provide the proof of God's word.
We need God's holy spirit to not only help us remember the scriptures and where to find them, but also to understand their meaning correctly. Jesus promised that God's holy spirit would be there to help us when we are called upon to explain our hope. He gave us this assurance: "Be on your guard! For there will be those who will betray you before their religious councils and brutally beat you with whips in their public gatherings. And because you follow me, they will take you to stand trial in front of rulers and even kings as an opportunity to testify of me before them and the unbelievers. So when they arrest you, don’t worry about how to speak or what you are to say, for the Holy Spirit will give you at that very moment the words to speak." (Matt.10:17-20, TPT)
We cannot worship Jehovah with spirit and truth on our own. We need his help! When Jesus was asked, "Who possibly can be saved?" he answered, "The things impossible with men are possible with God." (Luke 18:26,27; John 4:23,24; 17:17) If you feel that you are lacking God's holy spirit, don't hesitate to keep mentioning this in your prayers. Keep asking, yes, begging Jehovah to give you his holy spirit, and explain why this is so important to you. That is what Jesus encourages us to do, when he said: "So listen: Keep on asking, and you will receive. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened for you. All who keep asking will receive, all who keep seeking will find, and doors will open to those who keep knocking. Some of you are fathers, so ask yourselves this: if your son comes up to you and asks for a fish for dinner, will you give him a snake instead? If your boy wants an egg to eat, will you give him a scorpion? Look, all of you are flawed in so many ways, yet in spite of all your faults, you know how to give good gifts to your children. How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to all who ask!" (Luke 11:9-13, The Voice)
It is not possible for anyone to worship the Father with "spirit and truth" when he does not have God's spirit to teach him the truth. And what does Jehovah require from us? That we become familiar with the book of truth that he has provided to mankind by reading in it regularly. (Psalms 1:1-6) When you pray for Jehovah's help to teach you the truth of his Word on a certain subject, he will do so by recalling to your mind any relevant portion of the Scriptures that you have read. If you have not put forth the effort to get to know his precious book of truth, then how can his holy spirit draw your attention to the answer? You will not find the truth in any other book(s). For example, looking up selected scriptures on any topic in the Watchtower at the congregation meetings is not the same as reading the Bible. It will not help you when a scripture is taken out of context. (John 14:16-17, 26; 1 John 4:1, 6)
3/19/19 "I am the living bread that came down from heaven" has moved to: The Lord's Evening Meal―The Command to Partake
is no salvation in anyone else"
Jesus called the holy spirit our "teacher" and "helper". It is "the spirit of the truth, which the world cannot receive, because it neither beholds it nor knows it. You know it, because it remains with you and is in you." (John 14:16,17, 26; 16:7) Note that Jesus says the spirit "remains with you and is in you". The apostle Paul explains it this way: "Do you not know that you people are God’s temple, and that the spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you people are." (1 Cor. 3:16,17)
In ancient times, and under the old covenant, Jehovah "tabernacled in the midst of his people" ("dwelled among his people"; ESV); while under the new and better covenant God's people enjoy a much closer relationship with him, for God dwells within us by his holy spirit. (Exodus 29:45,46; Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 8:6-12) It is the truth of God's Word that sanctifies us, making us holy and acceptable to God. (John 17:17; 1 Peter 1:15,16) That is why it is absolutely necessary that we "worship the Father with spirit and truth", for any falsehood, or "inspired expression of error", or lies, will make our worship unclean and unacceptable. (John 4:22-24; Matt. 15:7-9; 1 John 4:1, 6)
We may ask: If we truly have God's spirit dwell in us and teach us, why then is there such a diversity in interpretation and understanding of the Scriptures among us, which is resulting in a great deal of confusion? This has led many to express the thought that everyone's opinion is equally valid, and that we cannot know the truth at this time. What they are really saying is that they do not acknowledge the power of God's spirit in our day. But if we truly have God's spirit dwelling in us, and teaching us, then surely we must be able to know and understand the truth, which should be reflected in our unity, oneness, and harmony of worship of the only true God. Especially when we know that anything apart from the truth is not acceptable to him, which would also render our worship in vain. Jesus tells us, "If you remain in my word, you are really my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31,32) Yes, we can know the truth! And from what will it set us free? It will set us free from false worship and the lies taught by the Devil, whom Jesus called a "liar and the father of the lie." We are Christ's disciples only if we remain in his word; and his word is recorded for us in the holy Scriptures. If we are inclined to look for God's truth elsewhere, then, yes, we are in danger of falling victim to the lies that the Devil teaches, as surely as the Jews rejected the truth that Jesus taught, on account of their false teachers, their religious leaders. (John 8:42-47) Keep in mind that in Jesus' day, the Jews were still God's people, in the covenant with him. Can the same happen to us, today?
Of course, we all well know that apart from Christ Jesus, "there is no salvation in anyone else, for there is not another name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved." (Acts 4:12; Rev. 2:14-16) This strictly means that we must not look to anyone as if our everlasting life can come from following someone besides Jesus. (Psalms 146:3) It is through Jesus alone that we are reconciled to Jehovah, not by means of any other person or group of men. "God recommends his own love to us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us...we are also exulting in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation." (Romans 5:8-11) Because we have been reconciled to God, we have his spirit dwell in us. We are his sons and daughters. (Zech. 2:10,11; 2 Cor. 6:16-18)
The Scriptures warn against the false prophets and false teachers who would make their appearance in the last days, posing a serious thread to God's people; just as was the case in the time of the Israelites. (Matt. 7:15-23; 24:23-25; 2 Peter 2:1-3) If we keep bearing in mind that apart from Jesus there is no one else that possesses any sort of special knowledge which would be essential for us to gain everlasting life, then we will be "stabilized in the faith" and on guard against being misled by someone's claimed special knowledge of God's prophetic word. (John 17:3; Colossians 2:3,4) If we belong to Jehovah, then we have his spirit which teaches us. The apostle Paul explains: "No one has come to know the things of God, except the spirit of God. Now we received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God, that we might know the things that have been kindly given us by God. These things we also speak, not with words taught by human wisdom, but with those taught by the spirit." In fact, we are told that the person who does not have God's spirit, that one does not belong to God. Such a man would become an easy prey to the Devil, who "walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone." (1 Cor. 2:11-14; John 14:15-17, 25,26; Rom. 8:9-11; 2 Tim. 2:19; Col. 2:8; 1 Peter 5:8,9)
if only you would actually pay attention to my commandments!"
Jehovah cares deeply for all of his people—every single one of us. We are his sons and daughters, while he is our heavenly Father. What father does not show concern for his children? (2 Cor. 6:17,18; Gal. 3:26; Heb. 12:7-13) Indeed, we are "a people for his name", a "people who are called by my name, says Jehovah, who is doing these things." Yes, we belong to Jehovah for we are his "special property." (Mal. 3:17,18; Acts 15:14, 17)
That is not from men, but from God; for he is dealing with us as a Father does with his children. It means that he watches over us; he protects us; he provides us with our daily necessities; he listens to our prayers; he comforts us when we are depressed; and, of course, he instructs us. As he says: “I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit yourself, the One causing you to tread in the way in which you should walk. O if only you would actually pay attention to my commandments! Then your peace would become just like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea. And your offspring would become just like the sand, and the descendants from your inward parts like the grains of it. One’s name would not be cut off or be annihilated from before me.” (Isaiah 48:17-19)
Note how Jehovah fairly pleads with us to listen to him, to "pay attention to my commandments"; because he well knows the consequences we will suffer when we fail to listen to him, and to heed his warnings. The pain may come due to the natural chain of events that results from our bad action, or even neglect when love was called for; while other consequences may come upon us directly from Jehovah in the way of discipline, or even punishment, in the manner that we ourselves discipline a rebellious child. God tells us: "And I shall have to correct you to the proper degree, as I shall by no means leave you unpunished." (Exodus 34:6,7; Eccl. 8:11-13; Jer. 30:11; Gal. 6:7-9) When Jehovah disciplines us, even punishes us (the two are not the same), it is evidence that he still cares for us. See how he punished King David for his sin in connection with Bath-sheba, and yet he continued to love David and bless him afterward. (2 Samuel 11:1-12:14; 1 Kings 15:4,5)
Jehovah is not unreasonable. His commandments are not burdensome. "He has told you, O earthling man, what is good. And what is Jehovah asking back from you but to exercise justice and to love kindness and to be modest in walking with your God?" (Micah 6:8; 1 John 5:3) Have not all of us experienced, at one time or another, that not listening to Jehovah is the thing that becomes burdensome, for we soon come to suffer the resulting pain and sleepless nights, from which God does not shield us.
Jehovah does not treat anyone with partiality. He does not favor one person over another. He is a God of justice. Paul explains: "Do not be misled: God is not one to be mocked. For whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap; because he who is sowing with a view to his flesh will reap corruption from his flesh, but he who is sowing with a view to the spirit will reap everlasting life from the spirit. So let us not give up in doing what is fine, for in due season we shall reap if we do not tire out. Really, then, as long as we have time favorable for it, let us work what is good toward all, but especially toward those related to us in the faith." (Gal. 6:7-10) When we sow with a view to the spirit, and we are storing up treasures in heaven rather than on earth, as Jesus said we should, then we will also be blessed spiritually. The joy of holy spirit, that comes from God, is a joy that is far above any other; which has to be experienced in order to be able to appreciate it, for it is a joy that is unknown to the world. It results from being at peace with God. (Gal. 5:19-23)
Additional pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Food for Thought Index