"ARISE" is a journal to be published on a quarterly basis. Its aim is to serve as a vehicle for the expression of the Body Of Christ as it relates to present truth. The articles provided are mostly from those of us fellowshipping in the Tampa, Florida area. "ARISE" also publishes pertinent articles of similar concern from those abroad consistent with our general purpose and calling. So now receive the word with all readiness of mind and examine the scriptures every day to see if it is really as we say.
This eighth issue of "ARISE" features:
I. "The Principle Of Opposites " is an excellent study comparing
God-centered verses man-centered
teachings. The intent of the article is to point the reader to God, reminding us to not look to a man or a doctrine but rather to always look to Jesus. This wonderful teaching has been prepared by Tom and Margaret Watson. They live in Three Rivers, MI and have a young daughter - Sarah.
II. "What Do They Mean - Are You Saved?" comes from the ready inspired
hand of Brother Elwin Roach. His article provides us with good foundational
truths and insight into "Salvation". He
and his wife live in Alamogordo, NM and are faithful and able ministers of the Word.
III. "The Concept of Circularity" continues to present us with excellent thoughts where everything shall ultimately find its fulfillment in the Lord Jesus Christ. Dr. Jack Jacobsen writes with clarity and precision on the concept of judgment and the church. Brother Jack and his wife Marjorie live near Minneapolis, MN. They will be in New Port Richie, FL for the first several months of 1995.
IV. "God's Love Towards All" continues our Christianity 101 teachings with a basic principle regard- ing the love of God and how it relates to all of mankind. Contrary to popular doctrines, we find that God's love is far greater than man's tradition.
V. "The Repenting of God" continues to provide us with keen revelation regarding the repentance of God. This lesson is provided by a very good friend, Brother Romeo Corsini. He and his wife Christine along with their three darling little girls reside in the Tampa (Brandon), FL area.
VI. "The Prism", is yet another inspired poem given to us by Lori Inge. She and her husband Michael Ray Inge are very able ministers of the Lord and travel across the country teaching the Body of Christ. They reside in Ft. Myers, FL.
VII. "The Last Supper" art work on the back side of the journal is given by a close friend and good Brother, Chuck Yex. He and his wife Morida live in the Orlando (St. Cloud), FL area. They have a beautiful little girl named Moriah.
We pray that these articles serve as an inspiration and offers a path of discovery to know the Lord Jesus Christ in a more intimate and deeper way. As epistles known and read of all men, respond to that inner call and let our walk be the demonstration of what we truly believe in our hearts!
We recently returned from a wonderful trip as Frank Sextro, Romeo Corsini and I spent a few days visiting Brother J. Preston Eby and his wife Lorain in El Paso, TX. The church that meets there serves as a wonderful example to all. What a refreshing time! ****** I am very pleased to announce as of December 17th, the lovely and enchanting Melissa Payne will be henceforth and forevermore known to the world as my beloved wife. What a time of rejoicing! ******
In His Service
Timothy D. Carroll
"ARISE" is free to all as God's way is "Freely you have received,
freely give". The mailing address is listed on the front cover for those
interested in receiving the journal on a regular basis. Additional copies are
available upon request. Notification of change of address is appreciated.
The Principle Of Opposites
The principle of opposites can be stated in various ways: There are two kingdoms. The Kingdom of Light and the kingdom of darkness. The Kingdom of Understanding and the kingdom of ignorance. The Kingdom of the Spiritual and the kingdom of the natural. The Kingdom of Reality and the kingdom of appearance. The Kingdom of the Permanent and the kingdom of the temporal. The Kingdom of Life and the kingdom of death. There are two men. Jesus and Adam. One is born of the Spirit and one is born of the flesh. One is Heavenly and one is earthy. One is Celestial and one is terrestrial. One is Free and one is in bondage. One is Life and one is death. There are two trees. The Tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Both trees are in the midst of the garden. One tree you are permitted to partake of and one tree you are forbidden to partake of. Partaking of one Tree is life and partaking of one tree is death. One tree is union and one tree is division. One tree is singleness and one tree is duality.
You are either dwelling in Light or dwelling in darkness. You are either abiding in Jesus or abiding in Adam. You are either following after the Spirit or you are following after the flesh. You are either living and moving and having your being in the Spirit or you are living and moving and having your being in the flesh. You are either sowing to the Spirit and reaping life or you are sowing to the flesh and reaping corruption. You are either being Quickened (Made Alive) or you are abiding in death. You are either partaking of the Tree of life or you are partaking of the tree of death. Either your eye is single (looking only unto God) or you are seeing double (the knowledge of good and evil). You are either single-minded (the mind of Christ) or double-minded.
The list could go on and on. As you can see, in each of the examples, one is positive and one is negative. We are not ministering condemnation. Our focus is on God, the positive. The principle of opposites exposes the negative that the Light of the Truth may shine forth and the darkness be dispelled. As we will come to see, darkness (the negative realm) is only a deception. It does not really exist. The subject matter is vast and overlaps in many areas. We will begin with a broad view and break it down in the articles to come.
Gal. 5:16-18 "This I say then, walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are CONTRARY the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law." That word "contrary" is antikeimai, #480 in Strong's, and means to lie opposite to. The Spirit and the flesh lie opposite to each other. This same word is used in I Timothy chapter one providing a list that are "contrary", or lie opposite to "sound doctrine." As we will see, this principle carries over to reveal that the false teaching of man is directly opposite to the Spirit-revealed truth.
I Cor. 2:14 "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." "Know" is ginosko, #1097 in Strong's and signifies to be taking in knowledge, to come to know, recognize, understand, or to understand completely. Vine's Theological Dictionary of the New Testament adds, "As distinct from aisthanesthai, ginosko emphasizes understanding rather than sensory perception." Natural man cannot understand the things of God because they are spiritually discerned. That word, "discerned", is anakrino, #350 in Strong's, and means to investigate. Only the Spirit of God can investigate the things of God and reveal them unto us so that we may truly understand them. The Word of God bears this out. "But God hath revealed them unto us BY HIS SPIRIT: for the SPIRIT SEARCHETH all things, yea, the deep things of God." (I Cor. 2:10) And Jesus Himself told us that, ".....He (The Holy Spirit) shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance....." (John 14:26) "Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual." (I Cor. 2:13) Comparing with, is sunkrino, #4793 and means to join fitly, combine. There is so much here in these verses. Let's look at them in two other translations and then we will move on. I Cor. 2:7-14, Amplified Bible reads, "But rather what we are setting forth is a wisdom of God once hidden from the human understanding and now revealed to us by God; that wisdom which God devised and decreed before the ages for our glorification, that is, to lift us into the glory of His Presence. None of the rulers of this age or world perceived and recognized and understood this; for if they had, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory. But, on the contrary, as the scripture says, what eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and has not entered into the heart of man, all that God has prepared -- made and keeps ready -- for those who love Him, that is, for those who hold Him in affectionate reverence, promptly obeying Him and gratefully recognizing the benefits He has bestowed. Yet to us God has unveiled and revealed them by and through His Spirit, for the Holy Spirit searches diligently, exploring and examining everything, even sounding the profound and bottomless things of God -- the divine counsels and things hidden and beyond man's scrutiny. For what person perceives, knows and understands, what passes through a man's thoughts except the man's own spirit within him? Just so no one discerns, comes to know and comprehend, the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have not received the spirit that belongs to the world, but the Holy Spirit which is from God, given to us that we might realize and comprehend and appreciate the gifts of divine favor and blessing so freely and lavishly bestowed on us by God. We are setting forth these truths in words, not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Holy Spirit; combining and interpreting spiritual truths with spiritual language to those who possess the Holy Spirit. But the natural, nonspiritual man does not accept, welcome, or admit into his heart the gifts, teachings, and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly and meaningless nonsense to him. He is incapable of knowing them -- of progressively recognizing, understanding and becoming better acquainted with them -- because they are spiritually discerned, estimated, and appreciated."
In the New Testament, an Expanded Translation, "But we speak God's wisdom in the form of a mystery long hidden but now revealed and understandable, that wisdom which is kept secret which God foreordained before the ages in the view to our glory, which wisdom not one of the rulers of this age has known in an experiential way, for had they known it, in that case they would not have crucified the Lord of the Glory. But even as it stands written, the things which eye did not see nor ear hear and which did not arise within an individual's heart, so many things has God prepared for those who love Him, for to us God the Father revealed them through the intermediate agency of His Spirit. For the Spirit is constantly exploring all things, even the deep things of God. For who is there of men who knows the things of the individual person except the human spirit of that aforementioned individual person which is in him? In the same manner also the things of God no one has known except the Spirit of God. But as for us, not the spirit of the world system did we receive but the Spirit who is of God in order that we might come to know the things which by God have been in grace bestowed upon us, which things also we put into words, not in words taught by human philosophy but in words taught by the Spirit, fitly joining together Spirit - revealed truths with Spirit - taught words. But the unregenerate man of the highest intellectual attainments does not grant access to the things of the Spirit of God, for to him they are folly, and he is not able to come to know them because they are investigated in a spiritual realm."
Let's consider some of the opposites God shows us in His Word. "........the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men." (I Cor. 1:25) But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound (#2617, to put to shame) the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought (#2673, reduce to inactivity, render inoperative) things that are...." (I Cor. 1:27-28). James 3:14-15 reads, "But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish." "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." (James 3:17) Matthew 19:25-26 ".....who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, with men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible." Matthew 20:16 "So the last shall be first and the first last....." Mark 10:42-44, Amplified Bible "....their great men exercise authority and dominion over them. But this is not to be so among you; instead, whoever desires to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wished to be most important and first in rank among you must be the slave of all." Luke 9:24 "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for My sake, the same shall save it." John 12:25 "He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal." II Cor. 4:18 "....we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen....".
Once again, we could go on and on. Some of the opposites we will be studying in this series are: light verses darkness, including satan the deceiver; the Kingdom of Heaven -- do we enter by birth or by death; does the Bible teach the coming of the Lord or the departure of the church; predestined of God or the free will of man; and many others. Once again our focus in this paper is God-centered verses man-centered. The Bible is full of the principle of opposites. The nature of these opposites is revealed to be dependent upon one's viewpoints. Do you have God-centered perspective or a man-centered perspective? I do not hesitate to tell you there are many man-centered "gospels" being taught all over the world today, and many of them in the Name of the Lord.
The Spirit and the flesh are opposite. Although I believe that sound doctrine is important, the key, beloved, is being God-centered rather than being man-centered. Doctrine cannot save you. Do not put your trust in a doctrine. "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His Righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matt. 6:33)
How do you seek the Kingdom? By seeking the King of that kingdom. It ALL depends on our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. There are many who profess to know Christ who have never entered a personal relationship with Him. They may know about Him, but they do not know Him. Seek Him, make Him your treasure and you will be brought into the truth. He is the Truth. Put aside man's ways. He is the Way. Man is always seeking attention. Just as years ago, they thought the earth was the center and everything revolved around the earth, man wants to be the center of attention. Man views everything as to how it relates to him, and that is directly opposite to the truth. We now know that the sun (SON) is the center and it all revolves around the Son. Everything has to be viewed as to how it relates to God. The scripture says seek ye first the kingdom of God and His Righteousness. Man-centered teaching is the opposite of the truth. Man has you in bondage to all kinds of rules and regulations to establish your own righteousness and earn your way into the kingdom. The truth? "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12:32) There is nothing you can do to obtain salvation.
Man has, through his natural "wisdom", misread and misinterpreted the Word of God. His ego and self-centeredness result in self-exaltation and humanistic teaching and viewpoints. Man thinks too highly of himself. The carnal mind and the Spiritual mind are opposites. "Never overestimate yourself or be wise in your own conceits." (Rom. 12:16 Amplified Bible) Par Heautois, (conceits) #1438 in Strong's, literally means in yourselves. Romans 12:3 says, "For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." I Cor. 4:6-7 "....that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another. For who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?" And II Cor. 3:5 states, "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; BUT OUR SUFFICIENCY IS OF GOD; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life."
"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." Prov. 14:12 The viewpoint of natural man is distorted. In II Corinthians chapter 3, we learn there is still a veil upon the mind and heart of the natural man, which veil is done away in Christ. As we saw earlier, natural man cannot understand the things of the Spirit. Verse 18 states, "But we all, with open (unveiled in Amplified) face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." The carnal mind is veiled, and it sees a distorted image of the glory of the Lord and they change the image of God to fit that distorted image. This results in lifting up and worshipping man instead of God. Romans 1:21-23 "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things." Verse 25, "Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator...."
The remedy is in II Cor. 3:16, "Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away." We need to lose our minds and gain the Mind of Christ. Repentance can be defined as a change of mind, not a one-time change, but a progressive change from the time we are reborn until we attain the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. As stated, above, we are changed into the same image from glory to glory. It is a process. Philippians 2:5 states, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." Colossians 3:2 says, "Set your affection on things above." That word, affection is #5426, phroneo and means to think, to be minded in a certain way. The Amplified Bible says, "And set your minds and keep them set on what is above -- the higher things." II Cor. 10:5 reads, "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity EVERY THOUGHT (Noema) to the obedience of Christ." Noema, #3540 in Strong's, means perception, design, thought. The word, imaginations, is logismos, #3053 and means reasonings. Our reasonings must be cast down and every perception made captive to the obedience of the Christ. "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." (Rom. 8:6).
When we are spiritually minded, Christ is lifted up, man thinks humbly of himself, and we recognize that we can do nothing apart from God. God, not man, is glorified. When we gain that God-centered perspective, we realize that God is in control and that we can let go and let God. We need to rest in God and let Him work through us. Religious man takes God by the hand and says, "Okay Lord, let's build this, let's start this program, let's witness to this person, etc. etc." And then wonders why God does not move. We have it backwards, beloved. The flesh and the Spirit are opposites. GOD IS IN CONTROL. GOD STARTED IT, EVERYTHING IS FOR GOD, GOD IS BRINGING IT ABOUT ACCORDING TO HIS PLAN AND PURPOSE AND DESIRE, AND HE WILL FINISH IT.
I Thes. 5:24 (Phillips) "He who calls you is utterly faithful and He will finish what He has set out to do." As Ray Prinzing writes: "It does not read, He will finish what you have set out to do. We do not make the plans, and then ask Him to bless them. HE gives the calling , and then He supplies the resources for its fulfillment. It is HIS PURPOSE, and He is both the Author and the Finisher of our faith. And truly we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Eph. 2:10) Therefore, we have come to this settled and firm persuasion concerning this very thing, namely that He who began in you a work which is good will bring it to a successful conclusion right up to the day of Jesus Christ. (Phil. 1:6) He is doing a work in His people that is sovereignly His -- He starts it, He continues it, He completes it. The creature started nothing, continues nothing, finishes nothing." - endquote.
Man thinks he is in control. Man thinks he has a free will to do whatever he wants. Let us look to the Word of God to see that the truth is exactly the opposite. We have already used many verses that illustrate God's control. The Bible is full of them. We cannot go into all of them here. It would take volumes and volumes. Ask for the study entitled, "God is in control." There are many scriptures in that study as well. We are stressing this because when we know that God is in control, we can get our eyes off of ourselves and our own limitations and truly believe that all things are possible, because they do not depend on us.
What has happened from the beginning up to today is exactly the way God planned it, and He continues to bring His plan to pass. Adam and Eve's sin was not a surprise to God. It was the way He planned it. Rev. 13:8 tells us Jesus is "......the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Before sin entered, God had made the provisions for it. Again, in I Peter 1:19-20, "But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you." Man will tell you that you have to do good works for God in order to be one of His people and "go" to heaven. Eph. 2:8-10 "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, WHICH GOD hath BEFORE ORDAINED that we should walk in them." The Amplified Bible says, "For it is by free grace (God's unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ's salvation) through your faith. This salvation is not of yourselves -- of your own doing, it came not through your own striving -- but it is the gift of God; not because of works, not the fulfillment of the law's demands, lest any man should boast."
It is not the result of what any one can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself. For we are God's own handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, born anew, that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us, (taking paths which He prepared ahead of time) that we should walk in them -- living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live." And Hebrews 4:3 tells us that ".....the works were finished from the foundation of the world." Man will say, "I have decided to follow Jesus." God says, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you...." (Jhn 15:16) Rom. 8:29-30 states, "For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified." Ephesians 1:4-11 reads, "According as HE HATH CHOSEN US IN HIM BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: HAVING PREDESTINATED US unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of HIS WILL, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein HE HATH MADE US ACCEPTED in the beloved: in Whom we have redemption through HIS blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of HIS grace; wherein HE HATH ABOUNDED TOWARD US in all wisdom and prudence; having made known us to us the mystery of HIS WILL, according to HIS GOOD PLEASURE which HE hath purposed IN HIMSELF: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times HE might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him. In Whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the PURPOSE OF HIM Who worketh ALL THINGS after the counsel of HIS OWN WILL." It is because God works all things after the counsel of His own will that Paul can say, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to HIS PURPOSE."
Man thinks it depends on the will of man. "Well, I chose God, if they don't choose God, it's their problem. They had the same chance as me." Rom. 9:10-18 Amplified Bible reads, "....Rebecca conceived two sons under exactly the same circumstances by our forefather Isaac. And the children were yet unborn and had so far done nothing good or evil. Even so, in order for further to carry out God's purpose of selection (election, choice), WHICH DEPENDS NOT ON WORKS OR WHAT MEN CAN DO, BUT ON HIM WHO CALLS THEM, it was said to her that the elder son should serve the younger son. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated, held in relative disregard in comparison with My feeling for Jacob. What shall we conclude then? Is there injustice upon God's part? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and I will have compassion (pity) on whom I will have compassion. So then God's gift is not a question of human will and human effort, but of God's mercy. It depends not on one's own willingness nor on his strenuous exertion as in running a race, BUT ON GOD'S HAVING MERCY ON HIM. For the scripture says to Pharaoh, I have raised you up for this very purpose of displaying My Power in dealing with you, so that My Name may be proclaimed the whole world over. So then HE HAS MERCY ON WHOMEVER HE WILLS (chooses) AND HE HARDENS -- MAKES STUBBORN AND UNYIELDING THE HEART OF -- WHOMEVER HE WILLS."
Judas was also chosen by God to betray Jesus. Proverbs 16:4 says, "The Lord hath made all things for Himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil." "A man's heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps." (Proverbs 16:9) Isaiah 45: 7 "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things." Revelations 17:8 "....and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world...." These verses can obviously be used to teach on other subjects. Remember our subject is God-centered verses man-centered. These verses show that God is in control. As you begin to study, the Lord will open up more and more verses to you that illustrate His complete sovereignty. You will be amazed at the difference between man's teaching and the Spirit-revealed truth.
A man-centered viewpoint is truly opposite of a God-centered viewpoint. The intent has not been to confuse anyone. The intent is to point you unto God. He is in control. He has called you, He is equipping you with what you need and He will enable you to fulfill the purpose that He has planned for you. Look to Jesus. Do not look to a man or a doctrine. Look only to God. Get your eyes and mind and heart off from everything else and seek Him. It all depends on Him. May the Lord bless you.
............. Tom & Margaret Watson
What Do They Mean - Are You Saved?
It is not uncommon for complete strangers to approach you and ask that invading question, "Are you saved?" Have you ever wondered just what they really mean? It could be various things, depending on the influence of their religion. Respond next time by asking them, "Saved from what?" Their answer most likely will revolve around the idea of not having to go to a fire-burning hell forever after you die. This is the accepted view in most religious circles. Their mind-set harbors eternal damnation in hell for those who die before "getting saved," and they have as many ways to get saved as there are churches. It is no small wonder that there is so much confusion on the subject of "salvation".
Salvation is one of the most common teachings of the Church, but the majority of the people do not even know what it is to be saved, or what it is they are saved from. There is more to salvation than escaping hell, or having fire insurance, as some call it; and the way to salvation is not always what religion teaches. They use truck loads of scriptures, but so did the super-religious Pharisees of Jesus' day. They kept the letter of the word and followed the ten commandments like no one had ever done. They were masters of religion, but this did not stop Jesus from admonishing them. He was not impressed with their dogmatic zeal, for it was nothing but a show of godliness that was void of life. He said, "You search and investigate and pore over the scriptures diligently, because you suppose and trust that you have eternal life through them. And these [very scriptures] testify about Me! And still you are not willing (but refuse) to come to Me, so that you might have life" (Jn. 5:39-40 Amplified).
When Jesus spoke He used very simple words, so simple that even a child could understand, but intelligent people still get confused when they read the things He said. Due to men's ignorance of spiritual matters, salvation is beginning to look like one of the most misunderstand subjects of al time, but there is a good reason for it. In order for anyone to understand anything about God, they must first be BORN OF GOD. Until a person is born of God, which is FROM ABOVE, even the most basic things concerning Him cannot be understood. You see, it is like one kind of animal not being able to communicate with another kind. For instance: a cat cannot understand the language of barking dogs. A dog cannot understand the language of chattering human beings. And human beings cannot understand the language of God. Before anything can really understand the language of anything else, it must be born into that family. Whatever the creature might be, it is born with the ability to learn and understand the language of its own species, but they are lost when it comes to understanding any other than their own. There is no difference with the higher things of God. Neither dogs, cats, cows, worms, nor men can understand much of anything about God. They can observe His wonders, and enjoy His blessings, but as far as knowing God and understanding Him, they must be born of Him before this can ever be. Jesus must have had this in mind when He said, You can't even see the Kingdom of God unless you are BORN FROM ABOVE (Jhn 3:3).
The apostle Paul said the same thing when he wrote the following verses: "For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except by the Spirit of God. When we were born from above, we did not receive the spirit of the world that we once had, but it was the Spirit which is of God. This was so we could understand what God has freely given us; and this is what we speak, not the words taught from human wisdom, but the words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not understand or accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. HE SIMPLY CANNOT UNDERSTAND THEM, FOR THEY ARE SPIRITUALLY DISCERNED" (I COR. 2:11-14, ERV).
Salvation is the beginning of a Royal Path of Life and is the most basic thing concerning man and God's relationship to him. Even though it is basic, it is still a mystery, and without the Spirit of Christ to show us, even this first step into this Royal Path cannot be understood. It is foolishness to the natural man. It matters not whether it is the deep things of God or it is one of His simple mysteries, they will both be out of reach to those not born of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
Concerning God's "simple" mysteries, let us pause for a moment and reflect upon one of this country's greatest inventors, George Washington Carver (1859-1943). He was a simple man, born a Negro slave, and died an honored professor at Tuskegee Institute, Alabama. The following sheds some light on the small things when God removes the veil from them:
Carver made many discoveries, but one of the most intriguing was probably that of the lowly peanut. During the Great Depression of the 1930's he was praying one day and asked God for some understanding of His great mysteries. He first asked if He would reveal to him the mysteries of the universe. God whispered to his soul and told him the mysteries of the universe was much too vast for him to grasp. "Ask for something smaller," God impressed upon his mind. He then asked about the mystery of this beautiful planet called Earth. God responded again and said, "The Earth and its mysteries are too high for your mind to reach. Ask about something smaller." He then came down a little lower in his thinking and questioned God about mankind. The answer was somewhat the same, "You have still asked for something that is so great that your mind would only become confused if I revealed such mysteries to you. Ask for something yet smaller." It was then that the frustrated Carver said, "Well, what about the peanut? Is that too big for my simple mind?" God spoke to him once more and said, "Even the peanut will be a mystery too great for you to fully understand, but it is closer to your size. I will, therefore, unlock a few of the mysteries of the peanut to you."
With God as his guide and source of inspiration, Carver began his journey into the tiny peanut. Over 300 mysteries from that little nut were unlocked. Out of it he made things that ranged from instant coffee to soap to ink. Not only did God quench his thirsty mind, but his discoveries helped the southern states to recover from the Great Depression. Things like this is what can happen when a man will step down from his lofty throne of pride, and humbly listens to the voice of God's Spirit. When His Word, that which was hidden and so unapproachable becomes simple, Proverbs 8:8-9 is then fulfilled: "All the words of My mouth.....They are plain to him that understands...." The problem comes only when understanding is lacking, and this type of understanding comes from no other source than from God.
If the little peanut contains so many mysteries, but cannot be understood until God unlocks them, we can know also that the simple thing called SALVATION can never be understood until it is revealed by God as well. Even though salvation is so simple and easily obtained, there are many people who fail to understand enough about it to be lifted from the GREAT DEPRESSION of their own bankrupt lives.
Before God revealed the mystery of the peanut to George Washington Carver, the peanut was good, it was delicious, and it filled the bellies of many. However, until some of its mysteries were revealed, there was no real deliverance in the southern states, and it is no different with being saved. Every person who has been born of the Spirit has partaken of salvation, it has been as simple as eating a peanut, but not many of them have had its mysteries opened to them in order to be delivered from those things that bring so much sorrow and suffering. Many thousands are still missing the riches of Life, and it is often due to not understanding what salvation is all about. If there is really more to be known about this simple truth, a truth that is priceless, we want to know what it is. What then remains hidden?
WHAT ARE WE SAVED FROM
"If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus....thou shalt be saved" (Rom. 10:9). There is that one driving force taught from the pulpits cross the nation and around the world, that being saved, like we mentioned earlier, is to escape the eternal damnation of hell; but like every thing that concerns spiritual matters, carnal minds always miss the mark of truth.
To begin with, if we expect to know anything about anything, don't you think we should understand what it is that we are attempting to understand? If we want to look into the mysteries of rock, shouldn't we first identify our object of interest, knowing at least that it is a rock? Would it be wise to know that it is not a clod of dirt that perhaps resembles a rock? Once this basic thing is established we are not as likely to come up with so much false information. Now then, what does the word SAVED mean, and what is it exactly?
The word SAVED simply means to be DELIVERED and PROTECTED. Contrary to myth, it does not carry the thought of being delivered and protected from some future event, unless the context of the verse suggests otherwise. Most often, salvation scriptures having to do with the soul deal with things pertaining to the immediate present, or at lest a foreseeable future. They speak of being DELIVERED TODAY: from the heartaches and pitfalls of life, from despondency, frustration, and futility; from senseless wranglings of life, turmoil, and dark days of loneliness. This salvation spreads its healing wings and delivers hurting souls from every weakness and bondage of Adam's carnal nature. It delivers them from false humility, a lying tongue, pride, dishonesty, inordinate lusts, from greed, hate, wrath, vices, bad habits, addictions, and the list goes on. Whatever it is within an individual that is a product of fallen man, especially those things that gender futility and despair - the life of Christ within shall deliver him from it. And please know this - it is not something they have to wait for. Jesus did not come to be a Savior someday in the unseen future. He is a Savior today - right now! "If this is so," some may ask, "How can we make it work?"
SALVATION BY WORKS?
Salvation by works? Who ever heard of such a thing? "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God: NOT OF WORKS, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8-9). Mankind has tried to save himself for at least 6000 years, but without success. One of the greatest pitfalls to humanity is people believing that before they can be saved they must "DO SOMETHING" in order to gratify an angry God. First off, God is not in need of gratification; and secondly, He is not mad because you or anyone else fell into the stormy sea of life and are drowning. But He has thrown in a Lifeline, Jesus, and is telling you to take it into your life and be Saved by it. Not many in the church or the world know it, so in their delusion try to escape this imagined angry God by trying to appease Him. This so-called "appeasing" is done in a number of ways, called WORKS, but there are four things that pretty well sum up their futile efforts: 1) follow the TEN COMMANDMENTS the best you can is one way; 2) DO GOOD to those who do good to you is another; 3) LIVE A FAIRLY WHOLESOME LIFE; and 4) GO TO CHURCH every Sunday for the rest of your life, just to make sure God will be pleased. The fact is, no one is appeased but themselves. They feel good when they set aside what they really prefer doing and do what they believe will please a God they don't know, but have only heard horror stories about.
When viewed from the human perspective these activities may not be bad in themselves; for it is better to do good than evil. But concerning the salvation of the soul there are some problems here. If human labor is what people rely upon to "BE SAVED," then the death of Jesus was in vain and totally unnecessary For you see, He died to wipe away ever sin, and then rose to give us His Life. If they insist, however, on their own efforts to deliver them from the bondage of sin and death, they will eventually find themselves in another pit of hopeless despair. Regardless of the many efforts, and the pomp of men's religious rituals, none of them have ever been the path that leads to Salvation. Those of religious institutions, as well as everyone else, have tried them all, and failed in every one of them. You would think people today, as "smart" as they are, would have learned something from the past, but not much has really changed from the day when Adam and Eve attempted to better themselves by doing it their own way rather than God's way.
Regardless of His warnings about danger, like many teenagers, they were determined to do it their way. Their way, of course, was to eat the poison fruit from their tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It was the fruit that the lying serpent said would make them wise. For 6,000 years mankind has continued experimenting with that deadly dish of doing it the way they think is best. They have tried everything in the book to be wise without God. Some reason in their intelligent minds that God doesn't exist at all, or that he is some sort of ambiguous energy force that carnal minds can tap into and use to their own advantage. More than a few imagine Him being such a God of love that He turns a blind eye to our sin and doesn't care what we do. Others view Him as a terrible God of anger, and when they think they may be running out, they try to at least please Him in some fashion in order to escape the wrath to come. They don't want to go to hell, so they are hoping to get a ticket to heaven once they die, not realizing heaven is a realm within themselves, and they don't have to go to the grave to live in it. They have tried every religious doctrine and ceremony imaginable. They have worked countless hours, days, and years, trying to earn their way back to a good standing with their Creator before they die. The list is endless.....
Israel begged Moses to get a law from God so they could follow it to the letter, assuming this would do the trick. God granted their request. He gave them ten qualities of His own nature as a guideline - THE TEN COMMANDMENTS. But this served only as a mirror of their frailty, as people who could not save themselves. The commandments revealed to them that it was impossible to live up to a law that was contrary to their fallen nature. Not one man was successful in fulfilling the law of commandments. They failed completely for 1,500 years; and to this day, no one has been able to live a life that is contrary to their carnal humanity. No one was able to live a victorious life beyond earth's heavy load. It was literally impossible until the indwelling Spirit of Jesus Christ came. He was and still is the answer to every one's inability's and shortcomings. Although He is their answer, being so hardened and self-willed, most are seemingly determined to live by the law, even if it kills them - and it does. Like their parents before them, Adam and Eve, they so often choose to do it their way, rather than that of God's; and God's way is by the power of the law of Life that is found in Jesus Christ. The way is simple, but many are making it complicated and continuing on in the way of many works. Nothing has changed.
Along with the works of the law for meriting salvation comes the sister deceptions of using that good-old human effort of doing the best they can: DOING GOOD to those who are good to them, or even doing good to those who aren't so good to them, and LIVING A FAIRLY WHOLESOME LIFE. These works should work, so they think. They reason that no one can be faulted for doing the best they know to do. The fact is, there really isn't anything wrong with their human logic and many good works, except they are human in origin, and God counts them as filthy rags (Isa. 64:6).
You see, God is not looking for some human being who can "act Godly." Acting comes as a result of training, of discipline, of memorizing, and doing it by rote or habit. Acting comes when circumstances arise and we react to it according to how we have been conditioned. A monkey can be dressed in a black three-piece suit and trained to act Godly, but does his training make him godly? I don't think so. A parrot can be trained to speak Godly, but does his manner of speech make him Godly? I think not. A parrot can memorize and quote scriptures upon command, but does his scripture quoting make him Godly? Absolutely not. None of this acting makes the monkey or parrot Godly, and neither does any of the acting we do make us Godly. Acting only makes hypocrites, nothing more.
Some may feel that their good works, are not from acting, that they do good because it is in their nature to do so. Even so, our own goodness and righteous human nature falls far short of the righteousness of God, which is found only in Jesus Christ. As good as our goodness is, as good as our efforts are, as righteous as we might appear, let us be reminded that God counts our righteousness as filthy rags. No, dear reader, we will never justify ourselves by our own merits, regardless of how good they may be, or how well we might act. God is not amused or pleased by any of it.
Many may feel the same way as His disciples did after He told them how hard it is for a man to be saved by his own efforts. Matthew recorded this: "When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible" (Mt. 19:25-26).
To be continued..............Elwin R. Roach
The Concept of Circularity - con't
In the Greek, the word for "crisis" is "krisis". This word means, "a critical period of time, decisive moment, turning point or deciding time. In the New Testament, the word is used to denote "the deciding time, trial, or probation." When such a time arrives for any individual, class of individuals, or the world, it is a cause for great rejoicing and thanksgiving. There are many verses in the Bible which speak of the blessings which come from God's judgments. In Psalm 19:9, "The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." In Psalm 96:11-13, we read, "Let the heavens rejoice, and let earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord: for He comes to judge the earth with righteousness, and the people with truth." In Hosea 6:5, the prophet says, "Thy judgments are as the light." Nevertheless, from the perspective of some upon the earth, the Word of God, speaks of the Judgment Day as a time of great horror and dread. Often we have had the idea that there is only one judgment at the great White Throne; and there everyone, good and bad, Christian and non-Christian, will meet and be separated as sheep and goats. But it may help us to list a few of the judgments of God upon sin.
First of all, there was the judgment pronounced upon Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. That judgment has been operating ever since, and will continue to operate until the consummation. There was a special judgment in the Flood, and special judgment on Sodom. There have been judgments upon Israel - their captivities and their dispersion. Every time Israel had a judgment of God pronounced upon them, they were corrected and brought back to the faith of their father, Abraham.
The Christian, according to the Bible, will face three judgments. 1). We will be judged as sinners. 2). We are judged as His children. 3). We are judged as His servants. Judgment number one is past for every Christian. "Who His own self bare our sins in his own Body on the tree." (I Peter 2:24) What the Lord Jesus did 2000 years ago suffices for our salvation. We cannot add anything to the effectiveness of what Christ did for our great salvation. "For He has made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin." (II Cor. 5:21) "There is therefore now no condemnation (sin-judgment) to them who are in Christ Jesus." (Rom. 8:1) There is therefore no condemnation or judgment upon us for our sinful nature now because Jesus bore it already. God does not blame us for being born with a sinful nature, God tells us that this is our condition and that God has provided Himself with the Lamb (Jesus) and by His sacrifice upon the Cross, we are forgiven. It is God's Spirit Who makes this truth real within our conscience and gives us the assurance that we are forgiven and we are "adopted into His Family" by our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Number two, after God has received us through Jesus, we are "made like unto Him" by His work of correcting through judgments. The Bible makes it clear that, "....we are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." (Gal. 3:26) In Christ we have the standing of being His Children. (I John 3:2) But God desires that we become Christ-like in our state. And in order to make us so He brings us into judgment - son-judgment. The prodigal son was not son-like, but he was still a son. God's Word tells us, "For if we would judge ourselves we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." (I Cor. 11:31-32) That is, when we do wrong, if we recognize it and condemn it in ourselves, confessing it to God, that is the end of it. For all God wants is for us to recognize it. If we fail to confess it, God has to take us in hand and judge us Himself. That is, He chastises us. Chastise comes from a root word meaning chaste or pure. God wants us to be chaste and pure. In Psalm 26, David entreats God to judge him. "Judge me, O Lord; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the Lord...examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my heart." (Psalms 26:1 and 2) And in Psalms 139, David pleads again with God to "judge" him with these words, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalms 139:23, 24)
There is a clear statement of this truth of son-child judgment in Hebrews 12:5-11, "And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks unto you as unto children, My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you are rebuked of Him: For whom the Lord loves He chastened and scourges every son-child whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons-children, for what son is he whom the Father chastens not? But if you are without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then you are bastards and not sons. Furthermore, we have had fathers who corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits and live?....God chastens us for our profit, that we might be partakers of His Holiness. Now no chastening for the present seems joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them who are exercised thereby." A warning is given by the author of Hebrews in chapter 12, verse 12, "Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way, but rather let it be healed.....looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness spring up defile you and many be defiled." Some Christians, because of God's judgment, "give up" and "let their hands hang down". Instead of raising their hands in praise, they let their hands hang down in depression. Instead of walking in a new way with the Lord, they walk in defeat and discouragement. Instead of rejoicing in God's dealings designed to make them better, they fall into bitterness and rehearse again and again the sorry things which happened to them. They fail to see that all the things which God allowed them to experience, was for their ultimate good, intended to produce God-like character. Denouncing the chastening experience, they influence others with their bitter attitude.
Number three is the future judgment as servants. It is a reward for works, not a judgment on sin. Salvation is from sin. Reward is for service. If Christians understood the blessedness of the future reward for the service they render, they would gladly serve the Lord and His people now. "For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels and then He shall reward every man (person) according to his works". (Matthew 16:27) "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire (judgment) shall try every man's work (not his sin) of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he has built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire." (I Cor. 3:11-15) The future fire is on service. It is in this life that the believer endures judgment for his or her good. David had a problem with why the righteous suffer in this life and the ungodly seem to have good times. In Psalm 73:1 and following, we read, "Truly God is good to Israel....but as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.....They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men....Behold, these are the ungodly who prosper in the world; they increase in riches." The David sees the end of the ungodly as he says in verse 17 of Psalm 73, "Until I went into the sanctuary of God, then I understood their end (end of the wicked).
All of us will be judged! Mark 9:49, "FOR EVERYONE SHALL BE SALTED WITH FIRE, AND EVERY SACRIFICE SHALL BE SALTED WITH SALT." Peter saw the benefits which come to us who are God's in this age when he writes, 'And now, dear friends of mine, I beg you not to be unduly alarmed at the fiery ordeals which come to test your faith, as though this were some abnormal experience...." (I Peter 4:12, Phillips Translation) This is God's normal restorative way. "Even though at present you are temporarily harassed by all kinds of trials and temptation. This is no accident -- it happens to prove your faith, which is infinitely more valuable than gold, and gold, as you know, even though it is ultimately perishable, must be purified by fire. This proving of faith is planned to result in praise and honor and glory in the day when Jesus Christ reveals Himself." (I Peter 1:6-7 Phillips) This no accident, it is planned, and the result is that we are purified to shine forth as lights in this world and that as the salt of the earth, we keep our savor continually. There are no accidents in God's workings! Everything in our lives is divinely synchronized in perfect order. God is not the author of confusion. God is the Author of order, of peace, of completeness. In God, everything is beautifully working out a purpose, the end of which is full restoration, not only to its original state, but even into a higher dimension of excelling glory. We must never believe as Christians, that our trials are a harassment for they actually work not only to "prove" our faith, but to "improve" it.
Hebrews tells us that our God is a consuming fire. This is not to terrorize us, but is speaking of the ENERGY FORCE by which all the chaff is removed, that we might be restored into His kingdom. Do not fear the trials which may come your way as a child of the Most High. He will use all these things to purify, cleanse and thus make us into His light and salt in this world now. Also, there is a promise of blessing for the future. Paul says, "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us." (Rom. 8:18) During this gospel age, "they that are Christ's - the Church of the first born - the House of God" (I Peter 4:17 and Eph. 2:19) are having their judgment, trial or probation. Because we have had our judgments now, we are not in that group of which Christ spoke in John 5:24, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that hears My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me has everlasting life shall not come into judgment, but is passed from death into life."
Thus, the process, nature and purpose of judgment is made plain. Judgment begins at the "House of God". The head of that house (Jesus) is the first to pass through His trial (suffering, death and resurrection), and to "bring forth judgment unto victory." Then the members of the household, "the church of the first born" undergo their trial during this Gospel age, and "are made alive at His coming" (I Cor. 15:23) and are constituted "kings, priests and judges of the world" in the "ages to come". Then comes the general day of Judgment, the period of the world's probation, as it is written, "It is appointed unto men to die once and after this, probation of judgment." (Heb. 9:27) The house of God can now receive with thankfulness and even with joy, the trials which come to it, because of the knowledge that God's judgments will purify the individual believer and the Church as a community of believers. When was the Church the purest? In the first few centuries after enduring terrible persecutions from the Roman emperors, the Church was pure, evangelistic and vibrant in faith. When did the Church lose its "savor" and corruption set in? When it was made a state church under Constantine. Consequently, the Church and the world passed through an evil millenium from 500 to 1500 A.D., until the time of the Reformation under Martin Luther. Where is the purest Church today? In Europe, England or America? Rather is it not in China, Africa or Russia? Places where Christians had to suffer for their faith. Often, the pure Church exists where it has had judgment through persecution. Where do we find the strong saints today? In celebrated seminaries or among workers for God in the streets of Calcutta, in the ghettos of New York or in the work done in the poverty stricken cities of Mexico? Dear saint of God, welcome God's purifying fire of trials and tribulations, knowing that through these we enter the Kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22).
There are various judgments indicated in the scriptures which can be presented in convenient study: 1). The judgment of the world (in type) in Jesus Christ. "Now is the judgment of the world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out." "For the prince of this world comes, and has nothing in me." "Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged." (John 16:11) 2). The judgment of the saints is now. (II Cor. 5:10, I Cor. 3:15) If we will not judge ourselves then God will take over and judge us, so that we will not be judged with the world (I Cor. 11:31-32) 3). The judgment of the church. "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God." (I Peter 4:17). Right now Christ "as a Son is sitting over His own house, whose house you are." (Heb. 3:6-7) 4). The judgment of Israel during the next age. And Christ said to His disciples, "Verily I say to you, that you who have followed Me in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of His glory, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." (Matt. 19:29) 5). The judgment of the nations. "When the Son of Man shall come in His Glory, and all the Holy Angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory; and before Him shall be gathered all nations; and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats." This is a judgment unto an "age" correction. Greek word for punishment here is "kolasis", a "cutting off" of the blessings of the coming age. 6). The judgment of the world. "Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world? Know you not that we shall judge angels?" (I Cor. 6:2-3) According to these scriptures, the mature saints who go through their judgments now will qualify to be in that great company who, in cooperation with Christ, judge all men at the Great White Throne. We find that His judgment is an important phase of salvation. "It is appointed unto man once to die but after this a judging." (Heb. 9:27) We die with Christ now, accepting His crucifixion for us; then we begin to judge self-dying to our own ego daily. None escape this cleansing work within.
Paul wrote these words in Ephesians 3:3-6,9, about this New Entity that came at Pentecost. "By revelation He (Christ) made known unto me the mystery......whereby when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ. Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy Apostles and Prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the Gospel......and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world has been hid in God, Who created all things by Jesus Christ." This mystery, that had been hidden in times past, was revealed at Pentecost 10 days after the Ascension of the Lord. Israel of old could never conceive that God could ever include Gentiles into a spiritual family. The Church, somehow, had forgotten that God had chosen them in the past to be a "spiritual" nation to bear witness to the Gentiles. Instead of seeing their missionary possibilities, they hated the Gentiles. We see this in the case of Jonah who sought to avoid the call of God to go to Nineveh. Perhaps Jonah was concerned about the attitude his people might have toward him if he went to those "heathen dogs". How amazed and chagrined was Jonah when the people responded and repented of their sins -- and how surprised Jonah was when God then turned judgment away from the city and the nation. We can see why he pouted when he saw that God would receive and forgive a sinful Gentile people. With this "mindset" of the Jewish people, imagine their reaction when after Pentecost God led Peter to go to the Gentile house of Cornelius and preach the Gospel. We read that, "While Peter spoke these words (the Gospel), the Holy Spirit fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, 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. Then answered Peter, 'Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Spirit as well as we?" And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord." Acts 10:44-48. Then Paul dropped a "bomb shell" upon the Jerusalem church when he went out among the Gentiles in Asia Minor and established many Gentile-Christian Churches. None of these newly established Christians had to conform to "Jewish customs and practices". It took a major church convention to decide that these Gentile converts would only have to "abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood." Acts 15:20.
It was to the church at Ephesus that Paul tells how 'Christ is our peace', "Who has broken down the middle wall of partition between us (Jews and Gentiles); having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of One new man." Eph. 2: 14,15. Thus, the Church became a new Body of which Christ is the Head. Paul brings this out in I Corinthians 12:12-14 when he says, "As the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body (of Jews and Gentiles); so also is the Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free: and have been all made to drink into one spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.....that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another, now you are the body of Christ." Other terminology that Paul uses to describe this "mystery" the Church is the "spiritual temple". Paul speaks of this in Ephesians 2:19, "Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone; in whom all the building fitly framed together grows unto a holy temple in the Lord." Paul speaks of the Church as the Bride of Christ. "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it." Ephesians 5:25. In Revelation 19:7,8 we read, "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him (Christ); for the marriage of the Lamb is come and his wife has made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints."
The beautiful symbolism of the new revelation of the "hidden" mystery that Paul referred to.....the formation of the Church.....is seen in the Old Testament feast of Pentecost. Its fulfillment being many years later at the New Testament Pentecost. In the Old Testament feast of Pentecost, the first seven days Israel professed to offer sacrifices for other nations (Lev. 23:34-36). Thus, symbolically and prophetically Israel of old was including other nations in the New Testament Pentecost. On the 8th day of the Old Testament feast of Pentecost, the offering sacrifices were for Israel. On this 8th day, the priest would draw water from the pool of Siloam in a golden vessel and at the time of the morning sacrifice, pour the water mixed with wine upon the altar as the people sang with great joy. When Jesus saw the water being poured out, He spoke of Himself as the true living water in John 7:37 and following. This water of life would be poured out by Himself later upon Israel and the Gentiles beginning with the New Testament Pentecost. Pentecost would no longer be confined in a ceremony, but now in a Person, Christ Himself.
Also, during the time when the Old Testament Pentecost would be celebrated, the priest would take two leaven loaves of bread and wave them before the Lord. Since leaven in the Old Testament referred to evil, this waving of the two loaves would be a symbol of two sinful kinds of people, Israel and Gentiles being waved before the Lord. And at Pentecost of Acts 2, Jesus as our High Priest began to wave before the Father, two loaves, a loaf of Israel and a loaf of Gentiles who were "visited" by His Spirit and brought out as wave offerings to the Lord. If Israel could see beyond the symbol and ceremony, she would have seen that in the Messiah, Jesus, God was visiting the world with His Spirit in Christ to bring unto Himself offerings from both the Jew and Gentile to be exhibits of His Glory and Grace and then eventually making the separate loaves into One Loaf, i.e. The Church.
................ Dr. Jack E. Jacobsen
These lessons are intended to be basic, elementary, and entry level teachings to better understand the instruction of our Lord and truths of our Christian faith. It is with patience and comfort of the scriptures that we rightly discern between our soulish thoughts and our spiritual, confirming by holy script what the Lord has already spoken into our very hearts.
God's Love Towards All - con't
The writer to the Hebrews calls the doctrine of 'eternal' judgment an elementary teaching, yet I am surprised as to how many Christians are unwilling to find out or accept what the scriptures really say regarding this subject. Bible teachers speak of the love and mercies of God, then immediately teach of endless punishment and ongoing torture beyond human description; penalties unfit and unfair for the worst of offenders. They proclaim good news to all, yet follow with BAD NEWS for most people. Whether due to mistranslation; misinterpretation or whatever the reason may be, their lack of understanding and falsehood has caused many to agonize over the destiny of a loved one. I believe that the time is at hand to remove our heads from the sand and discern what is the Spirit of Truth and what is the spirit of error. God has winked at the times of our ignorance but now commands us to turn from our traditions to receive the word with all readiness of mind and to search the scriptures to discover whether these things are so.
As stated in previous articles, there are a large number of statements in the Bible which clearly favor that God will ultimately save all men. Now this is not to deny the fact that sinners and wrong-doing require correction. Nor is it to suggest that sin is to be taken lightly or we can live with loose and immoral principles. It is, however, to say that the doctrine of eternal damnation or endless torment is foreign to God's Word if we accurately and fairly interpret it. This is a conclusion I state with satisfaction for I find both the witness of God's Spirit and holy script to prove it so. It is with this very understanding of truth that our hearts are further inspired with joy and happiness as we discover a deeper sense of love toward our Lord and God, thus working harmony with His will and fulfilling our quest to serve our Master.
God is determined and will have all men to be saved, His desires are not in vain. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. He is the Saviour of not only a few but all men and He died not only for a few, but all. He shut up all men unto disobedience in order that He might have mercy upon all. He is the satisfaction for not only our sins, but for the whole world. We also know that every tongue will be acclaiming and thanking that Jesus is Lord for the glory of God; that all men shall be made alive in Christ and that He will drag all men to himself. These are but a few of the insights we have studied in previous articles.
It is true that Jesus is triumphant and shall bring all back into the sheepfold, not one to be lost (Matt 18:12). The same God that is gracious in time will not turn and be monstrous and relentless in eternity. Beloved, God does not change, He is love now and forever and ever and ever. Nor does His love change towards His creation. His love is unchanging and eternal in all its ways. His love remains constant as a Creator towards His creation. And if one creature were to remain in hell, never to see their redemption, God would continue to love that creature, His love does not change, it is not conditional. And if He loves the creature, He must redeem it. Why? Because love demands it. He must eventually purge the creature from its sin and make it whole, else His love has failed. He cannot desert the works of His very own hands. Our love may retreat, but never shall the love of God.
On what authority does religion base their dogma that to die is to pass into a state beyond the reach of Christ's grace? Why then, I ask, did Paul make it a point to tell us that Christ preached the gospel to the dead? (ref. I Pet. 4:6) Supposedly, St. Gregory also taught that when Christ descended into hell, He liberated not some, but all the souls there in prison. I ask again, does not His cross span beyond the grave to reach even the dead? Is He not Lord of both the living and the dead? Paul made it very clear that "death is swallowed up in victory" (I Cor. 15:54). The victory of the cross will consume or devour death wherever it may be. Swallowed up of life, never to be an enemy anymore. Death cannot remain for any one soul in eternity, otherwise it is still an enemy. And if an enemy, then the last enemy that is death has not been destroyed. And if true, then Paul's words that 'death as the last enemy shall be destroyed' is false!
To consider the teaching of the Bible according to the popular or common view, we need to consider and explore further. It is with certainty that the many verses declaring the reconciliation of all men speak for themselves. They lead us to only one conclusion. Yet, what do we do with the several other verses which, on the surface, seem to contradict God's divine purpose. To these verses we now concentrate our efforts.
We have already reviewed in past articles the meaning of 'eternity', 'hell' and 'damnation'. Yet before we go on to search other scriptures, I need to re-emphasize some basic points regarding the idea of eternal life. Some have used the common objection that if the same Greek word translated 'eternal' is used to describe both life and punishment in Matthew 25:46, how can we affirm one as meaning eternal and the other as a period of time subject to end. To this charge, I provide the following response. The word 'eternal' in Matthew 25:46 means a term, interval or period of time, an age or an epoch. (An epoch is a particular period of time marked by distinctive features, events, etc.). Scripture clearly teaches that this word meant a period of time having a specific end to it. The Bible speaks of 'eternal' mountains, days 'eternal' and an everlasting or 'eternal' covenant; each having their own end or termination. (This was demonstrated in earlier journal editions). So, the everlasting or 'eternal' punishment referred to in this verse speaks of a correction process subject to the realm of time or the ages. The period would continue until the victim is converted or changed, until the crooked is made straight.
Now let us turn our attention to the phrase 'life eternal'. First of all, it is true that the same Greek word, 'aionios' is used for both punishment and life. It is also true that the bible clearly teaches this word to mean a duration of time subject to an end. So now the difficult question. "How can one mean eternal and the other mean a duration of time"? The answer, it doesn't! They both mean the same thing, it's the very same word. So, now some may ask, "Do you mean the life I have will end?" The answer is emphatically NO! The life will not end, it can not end, it is ETERNAL. Let me explain. Some translators have more accurately stated this verse, ".....to the life age-during'. We must first understand that the life itself is incorruptible and is therefore eternal or endless on its own merit. We could take the word 'aionios' away from this verse and still keep the meaning of endless. The true eternal quality is already inherent in the seed of Christ. Therefore, the phrase 'life eternal' really refers to an endless life subjected into the realm of time or a 'life during the ages' as some translations accurately interpret. I think the problem often lies in the fact that we have not been taught that the Bible says so little on eternity and so much on God's plan throughout the ages. Truly, He is the God of the ages, to be made known to all nations.
As suggested by a close friend as to when we are confronted by those opposing this teaching, he says, "ask them the simple question - would you be disappointed if the salvation of all men were true?'" So I ask the reader, if you are considered as one who defends the doctrine of eternal punishment, ask yourself this very same question. And if you answered, "yes", then perhaps your heart is waxed cold and your mind closed to what the Spirit of revelation would have you learn today. So I ask you, is this the right way to approach a matter? Are we not instructed to reason together? The affairs of the kingdom of God are serious matters. Again I ask, how can anyone use Matthew 25 to promote the doctrine of eternal damnation while the entire bible teaches the idea of eternity to mean an entirely different thing? Do we really want to know truth or are we determined to defend our traditions regardless of whether it is true or false? I would invite our opponents to substantiate their claims with accurate biblical evidence before they continue to cast stones, and to pray to God that they have not become enemies of the cross of Christ in their well-meaning but ignorant efforts. In past articles we have studied how the word 'damnation' is misleading and should be regarded as condemnation . We had discovered that the word 'hell' implies a sense of covering or the unseen. In fact, the historian Josephus said that the spirit of the prophet was called forth from 'hell'. We also studied the principles of eternity and found it to be a period of time. Several examples were used, including how the leprosy of Gehazi, as stated by Elisha as 'eternal', must obviously end at the time of death.
We now turn our efforts to the New Testament and continue to investigate whether there are any valid objections to the already clear and concise teaching that God will ultimately save all of mankind. We will start in the gospel of John with the words of Jesus. He said, "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." (Jhn 6:37). I would first draw your attention to the indisputable fact that ALL that the Father gives His Son WILL come to Him. It plainly says, everyone that is given shall come. It also goes on to say that Jesus will in no wise cast them out. The Williams translations says, "All that my Father gives to me will come to me, and I will never, no, never reject anyone who comes to me". Another translation says, "All that the Father is giving to Me shall be arriving to Me". I would remind you that Jesus also said, "No man can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me draw (or drag) him". Jesus went on and said, "And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing...". Once again, it is clear that He shall not lose none of those given to Him, or "lose nothing of all that He has given Me" (Diaglott 6:39). So I ask, what has the Father given Him? We turn to the gospel of John for our answer. Please read chapter 3, verse 35. It says, "The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand." Another translation says, "....and has given all into His hand". We read here that God has given not some but rather A-L-L into the hand of His faithful Son. And what did we read in verse thirty-seven? A-L-L that the Father has given to Him shall come! Praise the Lord, the fragments that remain will not be lost.
We now read the words of Jesus according to Matthew, "......for whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man exchange for his soul?" (chp. 16:25-26). We all would do well by taking heed to this warning, regardless of our doctrinal differences. What does a man gain if he profits the world and forfeits his life? The Williams translation says, "For what benefit will it be to a man, if he gains the whole world and loses his higher life?". Our worldly gains will benefit us none if we forfeit our life in the kingdom of God. This is indeed, a serious loss. To not experience the higher life, which is His life, should cause each of us to repent a thousand times. However, this verse speaks nothing of the subject at hand. Please show me where you read an endless or eternal loss, an endless or eternal torment, an endless or eternal damnation, an endless or eternal anything? Where is it, I ask.
Mark 3:28-29 reads, "Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation." Matthew 12:32 speaks of this same account, "And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come." Of these verses, we must take careful notice that there is no mention of an "unpardonable" sin, a sin never to be forgiven in eternity. Matthew states the sin would not be forgiven in this age or the age to come. If your translation says 'world' as does my King James bible, it is an incorrect rendering. Regarding the verse quoted in the gospel of Mark, hath 'never' forgiveness is the Greek word, aion, and should read, no forgiveness to the age. This is in accordance with the gospel of Matthew.
In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, we find the story of a rich man and a beggar, named Lazarus. (Please take time to read Luke 16:19-31 before proceeding.) First and foremost, we must realize that this is a parable. We can trace the story back to the words of Jesus in chapter 15, verse 3, "And he spake THIS PARABLE unto them, saying....". Remember that a parable is an allegory, an illustration used to point to what is real. In our story we find that the rich man was buried and found himself in 'hades' or the realm of the unseen, the word 'hell' and its common definition today is not used in the original Greek. The parable goes on to say that he was in torment. Rightly so, for the rich man was rewarded for his deeds and now finds himself in a condition immediately following his death. As we read the story, we see the rich man, (or who he represents since it's a parable), having a change of attitude. First, the rich man only cares about himself, never a peep about another person, including his five brothers. Then we read in the story how he had concern for his five brothers that they would not have to experience this same place of torment. As the great churchman Samuel Cox wrote regarding this story, ".....vital and hopeful germs of charity and spirituality have already been released and developed within him; and how can any torment, any discipline, which produces such happy effects, be enduring?" - endquote. Whatever this place of 'hades' is, we can see a CHANGE in the attitude of the rich man. Although there was a great gulf fixed in which he could not pass, it does not say that he cannot be rescued by the One who can pass, the One who has the keys of hades and of death. (I highly recommend the excellent book, titled 'Abraham's Bosom' by J. Preston Eby for an indepth 94-page review of this story). To suggest that this parable is evidence of an eternal hell-fire violates sound reason and systematic study. We believe in the good news of Christ and the fullest meaning of the scriptures. We openly declare "Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord"!!
The Repenting of God
Why is it so important to some believers that God exact vengeance on His enemies? I have heard many through the years declare that they are not concerned about those who reject them when they preach the gospel to them because in the end they will be condemned, that God will judge them to be unworthy of eternal life. It burdens me to hear such talk from ones who have tasted the great mercy of God, without whose free gift they themselves would know nothing to believe in. After all, unless it is God who reveals Himself to you, what? do you think yourself magician enough to come up with the concept of God on your own? From the pit of "hell" Jonah cried out his understanding (Job 2:9) "Salvation is from the Lord." If it were not God to lift him out of the pit, he would still be there, Jonah said. And this from a man who knew God and was running from God's presence. (Job 1:10) How much less does the unregenerate man know or understand God!
Psalm 111:10 states, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom".....Again, a dichotomy. Here I am in need of being wise for the purpose of fearing the Lord yet I must wait on the Lord to make me so. And until He does, the aforementioned "many" would condemn me to eternal torment because I would not be wise enough to know to accept what they would be preaching to me.
Jonah 4:11 says, "And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than six score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand.......?) How great is the mercy of God! That He should underscore that he "who knew his master's will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, shall receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. And from everyone who has been given much shall much be required;" (Luke 12:47-48)
"And He also told this parable to certain ones who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: 'Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, and the other a tax-gatherer. The Pharisee stood and was praying thus to himself, "God, I thank Thee that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax-gatherer. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get." But the tax-gatherer, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, "God, be merciful to me a sinner!" I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted.'" (Luke 18:9-14)
These two men were both Jews, for both were in the temple, praying to the same God. Yet, one was repenting and I know that it is the kindness of God that leads one to repentance. (Rom 2:4) For I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Matt 9:13) They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick. (Mark 2:17) The Pharisee in the above mentioned parable considered himself well; therefore, he ought to have been more caring about the 'sick' ones he was condemning in his addressing of God. Christ, having come and having crucified sin with Himself, rendered all people subject to Him, not just the Jews. (What is man that thou art mindful of him? Ps. 8:4) Indeed, He made all men covered by His blood. While we were yet sinners He died for us. We were worthy while sinners that Christ should deliver us from the bondage of sin. (There is none righteous, not even one. Rom 3:10) Grace has revealed it unto us. Have we any right to condemn those who have not received the revelation from God or who have not the discernment to know the goodness of God? How will they know the goodness of God if you who are enlightened declare as the Pharisee declared: I am glad I'm not like any of them! I am righteous! (Any righteousness we esteem for ourselves is as filthy rags. How can anyone take credit for any of it, but Christ?) Paul wrote to the Thessalonians to instruct them "that each of you know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; (I Thes 4:5) This is evidence that those who know God are the ones with the responsibility to live after His nature. Those who do not know God and live instinctively the things of the Law are a law unto themselves. They will be judged accordingly. (Rom 2) This does not entitle anyone else to make judgments about the eternity of the rest. No one but Christ died the perfect death; therefore the right to judge any man is no one's but God's. And I am certain that the death that Christ died was not as a risk but as a certainty. God would be poor at His perfection if He did anything without a plan but only on a whim. And He would be a failure to us all if in His plan, envisioned long before the foundation of the world, He did not include all of creation (......God our Savior, Who will have all men to be saved AND! to come to the knowledge of the truth....I Tim 2:4).
God has not changed His mind. From the beginning, He fashioned us out of His love, and, His love being eternal, we were guaranteed by that love that we would always be loved by God. What good would His love be if it did not mean that it was a purposeful plan to make us one with Him that we might share in His glory? If I was not a deliberate and calculated, planned intention, I do not want to have been a gamble. If I am a chance, then I choose to remain with my less 'lucky' fellowmen; after all, I am no more worthy than they to be saved. The only way to value the fulness of God's glory in me is to know that all men are in His will and that I am one with them. This does place an awesome responsibility on us as believers to be identified as children of God by our behavior and our practices. (.....but where sin increased, grace abounded even more, that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through Jesus Christ our Lord. Rom 5:20-21) The grace of God, then, abounds for everyone. This is not an "on second thought" for God. This is a calculated plan to keep that which is His. He provided grace for us throughout our growth.
(What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be! Rom 6:1-2) That is to say, Are we to be able to sin because grace covers us? God forbid, Paul declares. But it nevertheless is true that grace does cover us and well it should, else the sacrifice of Christ was weak. (And having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. Rom 6:18) Responsibility to behave the way that you have become comes with the commitment to being the child of God. One cannot fool God. (Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. Gal 6:7) What qualifies a man for the salvation of God? Is it how holy he is? Is it how little he sins? Is it how righteous he is? It is none of the above. What qualifies you is the righteousness of Jesus Christ, His sacrifice, His perfect sacrifice! And for this perfect sacrifice to take effect on our behalf, must we first accept it before it counts for us? Or is it applied to us directly because of what it is, namely, the propitiation for sin. (For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. Rom 3:23)
(And he made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; Acts 17:26-27) Did not Paul declare to the Athenians on Mars Hill when he discovered an empty altar with this inscription beneath it, 'TO AN UNKNOWN GOD', "What therefore you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you." And he proceeded to tell them about the very God they did not know, that He was their God. "For in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His offspring.'" Acts 17:23 & 28)
One scripture that brings into perspective just how we stand with God as His creation, all of us, is Matthew 10:30 - "But the very hairs on your head are all numbered." Who is counting? Surely not I! And not you! God is counting. And why should He know the number of the hairs on our head if it is not because He cares? Beloved, if you learn anything about God, learn that He is love and His love wins. Learn that He seeks to reveal Himself to you not so that you can reject Him and thereby receive His wrath; but so that you can know Him. In our relationship with God, He is the faithful one, the forgiving one, the patient one, the strong one, the one who does not give up on His partner. Is there anything too difficult for God? Can there be anyone so stubborn and hard and unrepenting that He can't win over? His wisdom is infinite. (Psalm 147:5) I shall never give up believing in His infinite mercy, even for my neighbor, for to cease believing that God will win him over is to forsake my own mercy! Glory be to God.
" 'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I WILL listen to you. And you will seek me and find me, when you search for me with all your heart. And I WILL! be found by you,' declares the Lord," Jeremiah 29:11-14.