Ralph BurgessText Box:



What were we taught about the way to salvation? Did the original Worldwide Church of God ever teach that a person would receive eternal life first, and then be forgiven for their sins? The answer is a resounding, No, No, No!  We were taught just the opposite, that forgiveness and reconciliation come first, and then eternal life. This is the correct view, and there is plenty of evidence to support it.


First, we know that a person is called by the Father with an opening of the mind to spiritual matters.  This person begins the process of repentance which leads to acceptance of the blood of Christ that atones for our sins, then to forgiveness through baptism, and finally receipt of the Holy Spirit, a tiny portion of eternal bread. This normal process is shadowed in the original Passover of Exodus 12. Ancient Israel placed the blood of a Passover lamb on their doorposts first, then went inside and ate the unleavened bread and roasted flesh of the lamb. The whole reason that the blood caused the Angel to pass over, is because Leviticus 17:11 tells us that it is the blood of a sacrifice, not the flesh that makes atonement for the soul. This is carried over to the New Testament in Hebrews 9:22, which teaches there is no remission of sin without the shedding of blood first. In fact, the book of Hebrews reminds us that the ancient High Priest could only enter the Holy of Holies if He carried the blood of specific sin offerings with him, yet he was forbidden by law to carry any flesh. The flesh was completely consumed at the altar, or was carried outside the camp and completely burned up. We understand that we personally can only approach the Holiest through Christ’s blood, which for us today is symbolized by wine, of course.


Okay, so at the annual Passover service, Baptized members, by tradition, partake of the symbols of Christ’s sacrifice by eating of the unleavened bread first then drinking the wine. We have done this because we assumed that the gospel writers agreed on the order, and therefore it just never dawned on us to question the order. The problem is that Matthew and Mark appear to agree, but we have a dissenter in Luke, and he describes a reverse order. The question is tough to solve since the Apostle John is silent on the subject.


It had become clear to this author that it was time to reconsider Luke’s account because of the abundance of evidence throughout scripture that the correct order is what Luke describes. If a person chooses to eat the bread first, then this is symbolic of receiving eternal life first, and afterward receiving reconciliation through the blood of Christ. This is contrary to everything we were ever taught, and violates the principal of Exodus 11, that it was the blood that caused the angel to ‘Pass-over’.


It is no different for those who are spiritual Israelites today. Drinking the Passover wine for us is like the blood on the doorposts of our ancestors.  It too offers reconciliation, or the blessing of being passed over for the death penalty, thus then earning the right to eat of the unleavened bread, the symbol of the ultimate sacrificial lamb and of eternal life.


As we continue to enlist the tenants of common sense and basic Biblical research without prejudice, the truth begins to emerge. Now is a good time to take a closer look at Luke chapter 22. In verse 17 Luke describes the dissemination of a portion of wine to each Apostle, and verse 18 is instruction related to drinking it. Then in verse 19 Christ gives a piece of unleavened bread to each with instruction for its use and the reason to do so.


In both Matthew’s and Mark’s accounts, the cup of wine was described as having been blessed, that it represented Christ’s own blood, and that this would be the final cup of wine Christ would ever drink prior to the Kingdom. This exact description is found in Luke’s account, but the meaning of the wine was not in the text at the time of the blessing and drinking, but after eating the bread, as if the author forgot to mention the meaning till later. This has confused many scholars, but the simple fact is that the wording after eating the bread is not found in many ancient manuscripts. We can verify by checking the New English Bible and the Greek English Bible as two examples. A very serious problem arises for those few scholars who insist that verse 20 may even be describing a second cup. First, there is no mention of a theoretical second cup in the other accounts, and more importantly, drinking a second cup would have made Christ a liar, since He said He would not drink any other wine after drinking the cup described in verse 18! No, I second the notion that verse 20 was likely added by some translators to try to reconcile the accounts, but they failed miserably.


 Now we can add to this what we know about the Messiah’s own blood and body as He became the ultimate sacrificial lamb. One of the first things that He faced was being beaten with a special whip that brought blood and bits of flesh with every lash. He also had a crown of thorns smashed down upon his head causing pain and bleeding.  His blood was poured out all over the ground, in His eyes, and on himself. Exactly like the original lamb of Exodus, Christ’s blood (now symbolized by wine) was poured out first, and then He gave his body (symbolized by the unleavened bread) on the stake.


I personally cannot take the symbol of eternal life before the symbol of reconciliation. Though we have two Gospel writers who appear to agree on a reverse order of the New Testament symbols, it is the opinion of this writer that the Bible offers much more evidence that the order of the symbols ought to be just the opposite. After all, the symbols are just that, visual portrayals of the two Passover events, the physical one in Exodus, and the other even more important one, the ultimate fulfillment as our Savoir became the Passover Lamb.


There are of course those who would argue that it makes no difference. That is the oldest argument in the book, and some confused individuals also apply it to the Sabbath. Many of God’s called out people have decided it makes no difference which day of the week to keep holy, so they keep Sunday instead. I am reminded of something said about worshipping in Spirit--- and in truth.


I believe that the two witnesses will teach this correct order when they come on the scene. This will cause some to reject them as false ministers. That will prove to be very dangerous.  This work is simply attempting to make such knowledge available to the scattered brethren prior to the time when these two prophets will arise. I will stress as I did in an earlier article that these two probably will arise from obscurity, and not from one of the corporate groups, likely similar to the way that Mr. Armstrong arose from outside the Church of his day.

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