For me, being a big fan of consistency, Covenant Creation solved so many problems.
I knew that Universalism wasn't taught in the scriptures even before I understood Preterism. I just could not see it anywhere......except for the handful of passages which equate the "all in Adam" to the "all in Christ". Which also equate the "one man's trespass for all" to the "one's man's act of righteousness for all". Taking the traditional Genesis creation view absolutely demands Universalism. If Adam was universal and all were in him, then the same is true of Christ today. No two ways about it.
But, if Adam was covenantal and not universal in scope. If Adam was a distinct person called out and given light who then was cursed when he sinned and all of his descendants received that same curse even though they didn't sin according to the likeness of Adam....
Well the story becomes much clearer. All those in Adam's lineage died and all those in Christ's shall live. As in Adam all the Covenant men died so also in Christ all the Covenant men shall live. Just as Adam's sin brought death to all the Covenant men so also Christ's act of righteousness brings life to all the Covenant men.
Covenant Creation also solved the "Heaven & Earth" dilemma for me too. As a Preterist I knew that the heaven and earth that we saw destroyed in Revelation wasn't literal and that is was imagery for something greater and more important. It was the destruction and the passing of the Old Covenant and the Covenant people associated with that Covenant.
So I was being dishonest and inconsistent with my Genesis views as a Preterist. Why would Genesis creation be any different than Revelation de-creation? Why would Genesis speak about the beginning of the literal physical cosmos as in mountains, lakes, hills, clouds etc, and be somehow connected to the end of the story which was about the destruction of a people and a Covenant? It just didn't make sense. Trust me, I am on board with the natural to spiritual theme in the scriptures. 100%. But, starting with mountains at the beginning of the book and then magically ending up with people at the end of the book, just isn't my idea of a consistent hermeneutic.
So needless to say, Covenant Creation has filled in countless blanks and has really tightened up the story for me. Preterism did that significantly 4 years ago and now Covenant Creation has taken that even further thankfully.
But of course like with anything in life, there will always be haters. Haters who just hate because it's the thing to do. Some people call them trolls online. Others call them too stuck in tradition. But what's most surprising is the amount of Preterists who are against Covenant Creation.
They are so on board with Covenant DE-creation at the end of the story, but yet so opposed to carrying that same hermeneutic to the front. The same hermeneutic that I see people claim has really taken their biblical understanding to a new level (Covenant Eschatology). Yet to not apply the opposite of that, which is Covenant Creation, is a tragedy.
Covenant Creation has worked it's way through many of the objections just like Preterism has done. Yet most people are unaware of these conclusions because they are afraid to dive in. Just like anything else, new studies are coming out and showing how the way people traditionally understood Genesis may not be exactly what the author, or God, had in mind.
But there is one passage, one argument, that seems to always come up from the most vocal of critics of the Covenant Creation view.
The critics know that we who affirm Covenant Creation, also for the most part anyway, believe that the bible only speaks of TWO Heaven & Earth's.
The Old Heaven and Earth & The New Heaven and Earth
Just like Revelation 21:1 says...
"And I saw a NEW heaven and a new earth, for the FIRST heaven and the first earth did pass away, and there was no more sea."
Only two heaven and earths mentioned there.
The Old Heaven and Earth and it's mode of existence was Law. Law, Laws, and more Laws.
The New Heaven and Earth and it's mode of existence is Grace. Amazing Grace.
This began when Adam sinned. He was immediately placed under the bondage of Law which Paul calls the curse of the Law. That bondage was linked to the Old Heaven and Earth all the way throughout the Old Covenant and their journey through the generations. Now, of course the Covenant was passed onward and was established and continued with different heads and with different modifications etc. For instance at Sinai when the laws increased which also brought "an increase of sin" according to Paul.
Paul even goes as far in Galatians when referring to the two Covenants, in speaking of the bondwoman vs the freewoman. Bondage verses Freedom. He uses Sinai as the prime example because of course he is speaking to Israelites but in no way does this exclude all those prior to Sinai who were still in bondage none the less because they were also under Law. We see Cain and Abel sacrificing to God with rules on how to do so. We see God command Noah to build an altar and sacrifice to Him as He would establish His Covenant with Noah after the flood subsided. The Laws were always there. Long before Sinai. This was the bondage and as Paul called it, the curse of the Law. As Paul said "the WHOLE CREATION was groaning" with those garden of eden birth pains that were placed upon them by God when Adam sinned. That includes everyone from Adam forward. Bondage did not begin at Sinai.
But those who oppose Covenant Creation try to use the passage in 2 Peter chapter 3 to refute the view. Some cling to this passage with all they got. I will admit, I have heard only a couple somewhat satisfying explanations of the passage to date. It's a tricky one because the way it's worded can mean a couple things. But just the other night I sat down to really take a look at the passage that seems to be the number 1 go to passage for anyone anti-Covenant Creation and low and behold, I feel that the answer came to me. It now seems so clear.
I am going to start by quoting the NKJV of the passage that is used against the view. Then from there I am going to quote the same passage from Young's Literal Translation and I want you to see something that should leap out of the page at you once it's pointed out.
Here is the NKJV version....
"For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men." 2 Peter 3:5-7 NKJV
Now, at first glance and even at second and third glance, this passage makes it seem like we are looking at a total of 3 heaven and earth's in scripture. They arrive at this conclusion by examining and looking at the way it is worded and especially focusing on the word "but". They believe this passage shows the following:
Heaven & Earth #1- From Adam to Noah
Heaven & Earth #2- From Noah to AD70
Heaven & Earth #3- From AD70 onward today
Now, if you can't see how they get that, please go back and read the passage. I have always said the passage is tricky myself. It's no surprise that there is much confusion on it. But now check this out. Check out the literal translation of the passage and read it carefully....
"for this is unobserved by them willingly, that the heavens were of old, and the earth out of water and through water standing together by the word of God, through which the then world, by water having been deluged, was destroyed; and the present heavens and the earth, by the same word are treasured, for fire being kept to a day of judgment and destruction of the impious men." 2 Peter 3:5-7 YLT
Do you see what I see? It's pretty exciting stuff. If you don't see it, here is my verse by verse commentary of the YLT translation through my interpretation. My comments are in parenthesis below each verse...
"for this is unobserved by them willingly, that the heavens were of old, and the earth out of water and through water standing together by the word of God..."
(Now, first thing we need to see is that the "heavens were of old and the earth" is speaking about the "Heaven & Earth" of that day. Of Noah's day. Well, we know that Heaven & Earth represents Covenant and those who are in Covenant with God. It's how "heaven" and "earth" connected. So if Heaven and Earth represent Covenant people here, go back and read the passage above with that in mind and then come right back here...
Still not getting it? Ok try it this way. I am going to split the verse up to make my point...
"for this is unobserved by them willingly, that the heavens were of old, and the earth................. out of water and through water standing together by the word of God."
In Noah's day, what was brought "OUT OF WATER" and what was brought "THROUGH WATER"???
The Heaven & Earth was! The Covenant People were! Noah and his family were brought OUT OF WATER and THROUGH WATER.
The rest of the passage says that they came out of that water "STANDING TOGETHER BY THE WORD OF GOD."
Who came out from that WATER judgment STANDING TOGETHER BY THE WORD OF GOD? Noah and his family did! The "heavens and earth" did! It was by the word of God that they survived that flood. Just as God gave them "His WORD" that they would come through the flood, that is exactly how it happened.)
Next portion of the passage reads..
"through which the then WORLD, by WATER having been deluged, was DESTROYED;"
(Now, I don't know about you, but how does one equate the "Heaven & Earth" that I just showed above as Noah and his family to the "world" that was destroyed by water? You cannot!
THE WORLD was destroyed by WATER the passage says. But guess who was saved "OUT OF water" and "THROUGH water"? The Heavens & Earth that God called out. God's Covenant people. Noah and His family.
The "heaven & earth" of this passage is absolutely NOT the same as the "world" that was destroyed by water. The "heaven & earth" of old was brought THROUGH that water and preserved.)
The last portion of the passage reads as follows...
"and the PRESENT heavens and the earth, by the same WORD are treasured, for fire being kept to a day of judgment and destruction of the impious men."
(People when they see the word "present" automatically assume "new heaven and earth!" But no no no.
The "present heavens and earth" simply means the Old Covenant people living during Peter's day. That's all. This has nothing to do with a totally new Heaven & Earth. At all. All Peter is saying is that the "present" heaven and earth or the "present Covenant people" BY THE SAME WORD (the same guaranteed word that God promised Noah with) were being reserved for fire and the day of judgment and destruction.)
Now I know that is a lot to think about but let me try to summarize what the passage is saying again and then I will quote the passage so you can read it again and think about it for a moment.
The passage in a nutshell is saying that the heaven and earth of old (the Covenant people) were brought OUT OF water and THROUGH that water (the flood) and were kept standing by the word of God. (by the promise of God)
The passage then says that through which the "then WORLD" was destroyed by water. Not the "heaven & earth" as some suggest. But simply "the world". Everything they knew. Everything they were. Their whole mode of existence. Their "world" was destroyed by the flood.
The passage concludes by saying that "the PRESENT heaven and earth" (the present Covenant people alive in Peter's day) were being reserved for fire on the day of Judgment when Christ would come to judge those who pierced Him. This in no way demands a new heaven and earth at the flood. In fact, this just demonstrates that the "heaven & earth" was carried on from generation to generation and "the present" "Covenant people" were reserved to fire and it was assured by the same word of the Lord that assured Noah would come OUT OF and THROUGH the flood waters.
Now, take a look again at the passage and see if you can now see what Peter is really saying...
"for this is unobserved by them willingly, that the heavens were of old, and the earth out of water and through water standing together by the word of God, through which the then world, by water having been deluged, was destroyed; and the present heavens and the earth, by the same word are treasured, for fire being kept to a day of judgment and destruction of the impious men." 2 Peter 3:5-7
I trust that you see clearly now that Peter was in no way speaking of a so called second of three "heaven & earth's" here in this passage.
As one last little bonus passage that ties in nicely with this, I would like to look at 1 Peter 3:20 where Peter is yet again speaking of Noah and that same flood scene. It reads...
"when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved THROUGH WATER."
Do you see what I see there? The same exact reference to being saved "THROUGH WATER"
But this time in 1 Peter 3, Peter says "Noah and his family" as opposed to when he said "the heavens and earth of old" in 2 Peter 3.
The Greek word used in both passages is "dia" and it means "THROUGH".
Noah and his family, the old heaven and earth" were saved OUT OF and THROUGH water while the rest of the world, the known world around them, perished. In that same way and by the same word of God, the heaven and earth that was present in Peters day, was reserved for fire on the day of judgment.
2 Peter chapter 3 does not in any way shape or form affect the Covenant Creation framework. In fact, it does nothing but support it.
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The Coming of Christ signified, represented, and finalized all of the eschatological promises in the bible.
Without a fulfilled Coming of Christ, literally nothing is finished. In fact, pretty much everything that people claim to possess today, they do not possess if Christ has not come.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ to the world has already taken place. This was the grand event which would occur in the unseen realm according to Paul the Apostle. Paul taught about things "unseen' and "invisible". Paul taught "spiritual truths to those who were spiritual". Paul let us know that things eternal were unseen. He said things that were seen were temporary. It makes very little, if any sense at all to assume that these are visible, physical, natural, tangible truths that Paul speaks of with all of the proof Paul gives us that his whole focus was on spiritual and unseen realities.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ would take place "soon" after the book of Revelation was written. The things which were written in it were "about to take place" and "at hand" according to no less than 20 different passages in the letter. His Coming took place at the very moment in history that Christ and all of His apostles and prophets predicted it would.
To miss this most important fact is perhaps one of if not the most unfortunate scenario in my honest opinion. For a Christian, who loves the Lord with all their heart, to miss this wonderful truth that releases people from religious fear and bondage and catapults them into joy and peace all while causing ones faith to soar even higher than before, is too bad. It's unfortunate. Not because they are less of a child of God or anything like that, but because they'll never get to experience that feeling of clarity and that feeling of overwhelming excitement when you realize that God fulfilled His promises and we are experiencing that blessing right now and it will continue for all time. Most won't ever know that feeling because of fear.
But back to the subject at hand.
The Coming of Christ signified, represented, and fulfilled the remainder of the promises of God once for all time. These included:
-The Resurrection out from Hades
-The Judgment of Mystery Babylon
-The Saints inheriting the Kingdom
-The Kingdom being available for inheriting for all time
-No more Death/Eternal Life for those in Christ (spiritually speaking)
-The New Heaven & Earth Consummated
-The New Jerusalem coming down and it's gates being opened
-"That which is perfect" had come
Christ is both "The King" and He is also our spiritual promise land, "The Kingdom" as well.
We are "in" Christ and He is "in" us.
If this event, the Second Coming of Christ, has not yet occurred, then neither have the 8 things listed above. Impossible based upon what the bible says.
So everyone who believes they go straight to heaven today at death....without a fulfilled Coming, we don't. We go to Hades to await the resurrection which occurs at the same time as the Coming. Everyone who believes they have eternal life today....without a fulfilled Coming, we don't. Eternal life would come at the last trump, when the dead were raised first and those who are alive will be changed in the twinkling of an eye. It would be at that time that death would be swallowed up and immortality would be put on according to Paul.
For those who think Mystery Babylon is Rome or America or whatever flavor of the month is going around nowadays....if Mystery Babylon wasn't Old Covenant Jerusalem, then we have no dwelling with God today. For the new declaration that God would now dwell with men came in Revelation 21 in the events AFTER Mystery Babylon was destroyed. If that grand event is future to us, then so is God beginning His dwelling with man.
The biblical consequences of a still yet future coming are tremendous and they are devastating to the claims of the Christian today.
But briefly I want to consider Revelation chapter 1 and a few passages from that chapter.
Revelation chapter 1 begins with John revealing that the events that he is writing about, God revealed to him. God revealed these details because "the time was near". What's interesting is that we remember Jesus saying only God knew the time and not even He knew it. Here we are in the opening verses of Revelation and we are told that God sent this message on down to John to warn that the time was drawing close.
In verses 1 & 3 John makes sure the recipients understand that the events were "shortly to take place" and "the time was near." Then, in verse 7 we read about the Coming of Christ. How "every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him and the tribes of the earth (land) will mourn over Him."
We know from countless passages elsewhere that universally sounding words usually refer to local areas almost every time. Those who pierced Him were the Jews and nobody else had "tribes" that we would be aware of besides Israel. The word for "earth" is actually translated "land" and the mourning over Him was in direct fulfillment of Zecharia's prophecy about the judgment that would fall of Jerusalem in her last days. Not our last days.
Then, in verse 13ff John sees the Son of Man and describes Him like this...
"clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace..."
So John first sees the vision of Jesus Coming to judge the Jews where they would weep and mourn over the One they crucified and pierced. Continuing on in that same description of that same event, John begins describing what Jesus was wearing and how He looked when He came.
John then describes what Jesus would say when He came. He would say "Do not be afraid for I am the first and last..." and so on. John then writes this about what Jesus was coming with....
"And I have the keys of Hades and of Death" verse 18
Now, everyone knows that keys unlock things. Without keys, we can't drive our cars, lock and unlock our homes, and so on. Well, without the keys to Hades and Death, guess what isn't unlocked yet? Guess what isn't "defeated" yet?
Hades and Death.
Jesus was coming to unlock Hades and defeat Death. It would be at that time that the saying would finally be true...."O' Death where is your sting? O Hades where is your victory?"
According to Paul (more times than I can list here), the resurrection out of Hades and the conquering of Death, would occur when the Lord returned. He wrote this in 1 Thessalonians 4...
"For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first."
So remember how the Coming of Christ in Revelation 1 was Him coming with those keys to Hades and Keys to Death? Well, Paul says that those who were alive reading that letter in Thessalonica would be changed AFTER the dead were raised from Hades.
So if you assume that you are the ones Paul is referring to who would be alive and remain until the Coming of the Lord, then that means the dead must rise BEFORE you ever get your inheritance. It's plain as day.
Furthermore, Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 says that at the last trump the dead would be raised AND THOSE LIVING WOULD BE CHANGED TO IMMORTAL.
Not a moment sooner would immortality come then when the last trump blew and the dead were raised. Most people believe the last trump is still future and if so, the dead have not been raised yet. That means that you and I do not possess eternal life yet because remember, those living when this takes place receive it after the dead are raised.
The point of this study was to shed a bit of light on just how important the Second Coming was to God's redemptive plan.
Apart from that being fulfilled, we are just in some parenthetical period of time floating and waiting for literally every promise to occur. It could be 50 years. It could be 5000 years. It could be 5 million years. Nobody knows.
Thankfully though, we know that God doesn't lie and Jesus was not some confused maniac who promised His return within one generation of when He walked and within the lifetime of those standing there before Him, but never came through on that promise.
He has come. The Kingdom is open. Eternal life is ours today. Death is defeated. Hades has been destroyed.
We are redeemed.
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That two horned, two winged, red skinned, pitch fork toting, fire breathing, sin loving demon himself. That omnipresent demonic being who somehow gets billions of people in all different continents to do bad "stuff".
This is certainly a topic that stirs up lots of emotion. Many people are fascinated with this mystical character and have an extremely hard time even so much as considering that perhaps this character isn't actually what they think he is.
Matthew chapter 4 will be the focal point of the study, although there will be many other references as well.
In order to try to keep this study from turning into a 30 page document, I won't get into all the instances where we read about a "satan" or a "devil" but I will say that what I share here in regards to Matthew chapter 4, can be backed up many places elsewhere as well. This is not just a one section conclusion. I will offer ample amounts of scriptural proof elsewhere but I believe in brevity and simplicity so in order to somewhat hold to that in this study, I chose to limit my references.
So the chapter we will look at briefly is Matthew chapter 4 when the "tempter" took Jesus up to the high peak and tried to bribe Him. The chapter begins like this...
"Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil" Matthew 4:1
The Greek word for "devil" here is G1228 "diabolos".
Most people when they come to the word "devil" in the scriptures, are trained to just automatically assume the description I gave above. That two horned son of a gun! However, the biblical definition of this word and the 3 ways that it is used in the bible are very different. They are as follows:
1) one prone to slander, slanderous, accusing falsely
2) a calumniator, false accuser, slanderer
3) METAPHOR applied TO A MAN who opposes the cause of God, may be said to act the part of the devil & side with him
So based upon the biblical usages of this word, and how they are defined, we can see that there is really nothing that would firmly suggest that this is a mystical creature. In fact, it seems more likely that this is a man or a person who slanders, accuses falsely, and who acts like a "devil". Metaphorically speaking.
But let's continue on in the chapter.
The tempter (devil) comes to Jesus and in verses 5 and 6 we read...
"Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down."
Now it seems to make sense that whoever this tempter was, he was a figure of high authority and high rank. Perhaps even the High Priest. Remember, Jesus was causing a great deal of discomfort and problems for them. They were constantly meeting and trying to figure out ways to suppress Jesus who was stirring up the masses and going against the grain of their religious practices. Jesus was also loosening the religious grip that they had on the people.
One might say that Jesus was even "binding the strongman so that He could plunder the strongman's goods." The message Jesus came preaching was a message of turning from that system of dead works and believing in Him. Jesus was removing the people from that system of death and giving them life.
But back to verses 5 and 6 which state that the "devil" (which we showed above could very easily mean "a man") took Jesus into "the HOLY CITY" and set Jesus on the top of the Temple.
Now, who would have access to the Temple in such a way as this? Why would this mystical creature take Jesus to Jerusalem, the Holy City? Doesn't it make more sense that this was a prominent figure who had authority in that day? Perhaps a High Priest?
As a quick side note, consider that the "slanderer who falsely accused" fits beautifully with the pushers of the Law and those who were full of dead mans bones. How was a person accused of anything in those days? By the Law. But that is another topic.
As we continue on into the chapter we read this...
"Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Matthew 4:8-9
As I have been showing for years now, in the bible when universally sounding terms such as "all" and "world" and "earth" and "all flesh" etc are used, they pretty much NEVER mean literally all people or literally the entire world.
These people had absolutely zero concept of globe as we know it today. They had no clue about China. They had no clue about anything other than what they knew which was their known localized area. The Roman Empire and surrounding regions. That was their whole "world".
Like in Luke 2:1 when we read that "a decree went out from Caesar that ALL THE WORLD should be taxed".
Did Caesar decree that people in China should be taxed? Of course not. This was just the language used to represent their entire world. Everywhere they were familiar with, would be taxed by Caesar.
So when the "devil" (who was a man) took Jesus up to the high mountain and they looked out at "ALL THE KINGDOMS OF THE WORLD" and he offered to give them to Jesus if Jesus would worship him, this was nothing more than a man of high authority and rank, taking Jesus who was a complete thorn in this man's side, and trying to bribe Him so that Jesus would sort of, go away.
If you look up the meaning of the words used for "fall down and worship me", you'll see that one of the biblical usages of this was basically reverence for another man. Specifically listed is the Jewish High Priest or those in High authoritative positions.
Let's not forget that Jesus was basically rebelling against all of those high authorities. Whoever this man was, he was doing all he could to stop the rebellion and get the people "back in check". But with that said, he still wanted to be respected by Jesus which is why he asks Him to fall down before him in reverence.
Now, the last passage we will look at here is verse 10 which reads as follows...
"Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you,[d] Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” Matthew 4:10
Now normally I remove those little blocked in letters from my verse quotes, but here it is of utmost importance so I left it there.
The term there "AWAY WITH YOU, SATAN!" is actually the same exact term that we find here in this exchange...
"Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”But He turned and said to Peter, “GET BEHIND ME, SATAN!" Matthew 16:22-23
So in this passage we have Peter, (a man) trying to thwart God's plan by trying to stop Jesus from dying on the cross. Jesus rebukes Peter for it and says "GET BEHIND ME, SATAN!"
Well, the same exact Greek word is used in Matthew 4:10 when Jesus there said to Satan, "AWAY WITH YOU, SATAN!"
The word is G5217 "hypago" and it means: to go away, withdraw oneself, or depart from there.
So Jesus in both places, uses the exact same words to demand that they depart from Him.
In Matthew 4:10 Jesus says "Get behind me Satan!" to this man who was trying to thwart God's plan.
In Matthew 16:23 Jesus says "Get behind me Satan!" to Peter who was trying to thwart God's plan.
Same exact word used in both spots.
So then why are we so quick to assume that the "Satan" who tempted Jesus in Matthew 4 was a mystical 2 horned demonic being? If we know for a fact that "Satan" in Matthew 16 was Peter the apostle, then why can't the "Satan" of Matthew 4 also be a man?
Seems very likely that it indeed was.
This whole concept goes along very nicely with our constant reminding of how the "prince of the age" and how the "ruler of this world" etc was being cast out and about to be destroyed back in that day. Or how the "present form of the world was passing away" according to Paul in that day. That world was the Old Covenant world. Paul said the following...
"However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the RULERS OF THIS AGE, who are COMING TO NOTHING. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the RULERS OF THIS AGE knew; for had they known, they would not have CRUCIFIED THE LORD of glory." 1 Cor 2:6-8
Do we see how much the focus is on the rulers of that age? The higher ups that were in power? They had so much control and they were so corrupt that essentially they were the very "Satan" themselves. The very opposition to Christ, personified. But yet 90% of believers, when they read "the ruler of this age" they immediately think "DEVIL WITH HORNS". This had nothing to do with a devil with horns and everything to do with the High ranking authorities of the Old Covenant who, as Paul said, CRUCIFIED THE LORD.
Perhaps this is why in Revelation we read this about them when John addresses the believers who were being persecuted...
‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan." Rev. 2:9
John is speaking of nobody else here besides the Jews who were persecuting the believers. Who else would "say they were Jews" besides Jews? They were very proud and vocal about being Jews but John draws back to what Paul said about how a true Jew isn't one outwardly but rather one inwardly who's been circumcised in the heart. John follows that same theme by saying that those who say they are Jews aren't really the true Jews in the heart, but rather they are a "synagogue of Satan".
In other words, they were the enemies of Christ. The opposition of Christ. The false accusers of the brethren. The slanderers themselves. John was not saying that they went to a synagogue and the two horned devil came in and they all worshiped him. They were simply, the opposition to Christ. The enemies of Christ.
Jesus said this about the "ruler" of that "world" and how the time had come for him to be cast out. He said...
"Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the RULER OF THIS WORLD be cast out." John 12:30-31
The Greek word for "rulers" used is G758- "archōn" which literally means- a ruler, commander, chief, leader.
This was no doubt, a person of high rank that was being cast out. The "world" was the Old Covenant world of Judaism and everything that came with it. That was all about to come crashing down to an abrupt end when the Temple was burned down.
Another passage that shows this connection...
"Nevertheless, many even of the authorities (RULERS- archon) believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God" John 12:42-43
How powerful is that one? Same word "archon" used for the word "authorities" there. We see that many of the rulers of that world believed in Jesus but because of their fear of the PHARISEES, they did not confess their belief because why? They were afraid they would be put out of the synagogues and they loved the glory that came from man more than the glory that came from God. Are you starting to see that this "ruler that was going to be cast out" was nothing more than the High Priest or corrupt and defiled men that were in charge of the Old Covenant system of works? It all points straight there.
Another interesting example is found here..
In John 17 Jesus says this about the "world" that was coming to an end but yet that had some of His sheep still within it...
"I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours....I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from THE EVIL ONE." John 17
Now I know what you are saying...look, it says the EVIL ONE! That MUST be the devil or satan! But not so fast!
In the original Greek, the word "one" is non existent. It is not there at all. The passage actually reads...
"That you keep them from the evil." or "that you keep them from evil"
There is no personification in that text. None whatsoever. The Greek word used for "the evil" is ponēros G4190 and it means the following:
full of labours, annoyances, hardships, pressed and harassed by labours bringing toils, annoyances, perils; of a time full of peril to Christian faith and steadfastness; causing pain and trouble.
So Jesus was praying that God would keep His sheep away from trouble and hardships and perils and tribulation. He was NOT praying that He would keep them away from some boogyman devil. Sorry, it's just not there.
Last passage for now to show the same theme. Jesus said...
"I will no longer talk much with you, for the RULER OF THIS WORLD is coming. He has no claim on me" John 14:26-30
Again, same word "archon" used for ruler of this world. Meaning a man who was in charge, commander, leader, authoritative position.
Who came for Jesus? Did not the High Priest call for Jesus on the night of His arrest? This is what John records..
"Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons." John 18:3
There's your answer. This ruler of the world that Jesus said was coming for Him, was none other than the arrest that was about to take place at the orders of the high authorities. Paul said that their battle was "against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."
The rulers and authorities there is simple. Right back to what we've been saying all along here. The powers and the spiritual forces of "evil" in the "heavenly places" seems to refer to some mystical demon right?
As I just showed a few paragraphs prior, most times when the word "evil" was used in their culture, it had little to do with wicked spirit beings and way more to do with just "bad things" "negative things" "sin" "hardships" "annoyances" "perils" "pain" and so on. Evil to them was basically anything "bad".
It was not a spiritual being floating around in the sky causing people to do certain things or act certain ways. For instance, one of many examples is Paul in romans 5:8 when he writes..
"But sin by the law produced in me all manner of evil desires."
Did the law produce wicked spirits and demons here? Or was Paul saying it produced BAD desires?
In Romans 12:9 Paul says to "abhor EVIL and cling to what is good"
Was Paul saying to abhor spiritual demons and cling to what is good? Or was he saying to abhor bad things and cling to what is good?
In Romans 12:17 it says "repay no one EVIL for EVIL"
Was Paul saying "repay no one mystical spirit for mystical spirit"? Of course not. He was saying don't repay someone badly because they treated you badly.
In Romans 12:21 it says " Do not be overcome by EVIL but overcome EVIL with good."
Was paul saying "don't be overcome by the demon spirit but overcome demon spirits with good?"
Nope. Paul was simply saying do not be overcome by wickedness but do good instead.
The word "evil" most times simply refers to bad or wicked acts and things.
So when Paul above said that they fight against "evil in the HEAVENLY PLACES", he was simply referring to the LEADERS and the AUTHORITIES in high positions. That's what "HEAVENLY places" means.
"HIGH UP" positions of authority = "Heavenly places"
We see the same concept in Isaiah 14 when Isaiah saw Lucifer falling from "heaven" when he saw the vision of the king of Babylon falling from "power". This is THE ONLY time we see Lucifer mentioned in the scriptures. Everyone always speaks of Lucifer as being the devil but man nothing could be farther from the truth of what that chapter is speaking about. Lucifer was the "morning star" which "fell from heaven". Again, going back to the cosmic language that was common in their day. Simply meant that the King of Babylon was going to fall from power. A "STAR" (King) falling from "HEAVEN" (power)
Lucifer has NOT A DARN THING to do with some 2 horned devil. Not even in the slightest way.
Anyways I have derailed enough but I wanted to just link some other portions to my theory on Matthew chapter 4 to show that this isn't just a one section concept. It's everywhere.
To me, it all fits wonderfully within the context of the High Priest, the Pharisees, the Temple, and the Law.
The "devil" or "satan" was the opposition. The opposing force to what Christ came to do. Ultimately, at the climax of the story, this opposing force killed Him. They hung Him on a cross.
He ascended to heaven to sit at the right hand of God until His enemies were made a foot stool. His enemies were those who had previously had Him killed. On them would all the righteous blood fall when the judgment came at the hands of the Roman armies less than one generation later. (Matthew 23 & 24)
If this study bothers you, that's ok. To me it makes a ton of sense and I feel as though I linked plenty of scriptures to make a strong case (and trust me, there are many more). I know not everyone will agree. Sometimes tradition is too strong and people can't get past it, but we should at least be open and humble enough to consider challenging information that is presented to us.
Anyways, if you are upset about this article, I am sorry. The devil made me do it.
Thanks for reading guys. If you've enjoyed it please give it a like below and feel free to share.
I know we have all had experiences. But what if you never had any experiences to go by? What if all you had to go by was what God’s word says? Would you be able to make a case for the gifts being active today in the New Eternal Covenant? You might be surprised that the answer is actually no if you hold to the fulfilled view of the scriptures. Not looking for a 400 comment debate here. I am just sharing how I arrived at my conclusion from a biblical view.
The first thing I want to mention is what the New Testament saints were all looking ahead and looking forward to. We know that they all seemed to anticipate something BIG happening very soon.
Jesus Himself promised numerous times that He would return within the first generation and within the lifetime of the saints who stood before Him around the year AD30. Paul and the other apostles all follow suit and set the expectation for a first century fulfillment of this BIG thing. John writes Revelation and says 12 times in the opening and closing chapters that “ALL” the events inside the book “were about to take place.”
So, what was this BIG event?
Well, it was the Coming of the Lord to gather His people into Himself. He wasn’t coming in ways that could be seen as He told the pharisees. After all, He Himself is the Kingdom and He was returning to gather the saints into that Kingdom. Into Himself. (Ephesians 1:10-13)
But let’s list off a few of the phrases used in the New Testament for describing this BIG event that they were looking forward to. We hear it described as…
“Going from partially clothed to fully clothed” (2 Cor. 5)
“longing to put on our heavenly dwelling” (2 Cor. 5)
“When that which is perfect comes” (1 Cor. 13)
“When the Day dawns and the Morning Star rises in our hearts” (2 Peter 1)
“The dead will rise, and we shall be changed” (1 Cor. 15)
“Death will be swallowed up” (1 Cor. 15)
“Til we come to the perfect man and the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4)
“Becoming a man, putting away childish things” (1 Cor 13)
The point here is that from these few examples (and there are MANY more) we can see a theme. The theme is that they were awaiting this Coming of the Lord. He would come and change them in the twinkling of an eye. It would be at that moment that death would be swallowed up. They would be changed to immortal. They would inherit eternal life. They would put on the Perfect Man. They would be fully clothed. They would put on their heavenly dwelling, which is Christ. And so on. From that moment forward, when a person is made new today, they instantly inherit the Kingdom....in the twinkling of an eye.
But now that we have that foundation understood, let’s look at the gifts and how they fit in.
Paul writes to the Corinthians and most of the letter is correction about things that they were doing wrong. They had a lot of issues. Paul is trying to straighten them out and give them Godly advice on how to conduct themselves. They were gifted above all other churches in that day. They had many spiritual gifts but they were abusing them big time. We don’t hear much about these gifts in the first 11 chapters other than in chapter 1. Look what Paul says…
"I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all UTTERANCE and all KNOWLEDGE, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, EAGERLY WAITING FOR THE REVELATION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, who will also confirm you TO THE END, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” 1 Cor. 1:4-8
Now, few things to note. First we can clearly see that they had been gifted heavily by God. Paul even mentions tongues and knowledge in this passage. But Paul also says that they came short in no gift as they EAGERLY AWAITED THE REVELATION OF JESUS. He also says that Jesus would confirm them until or "to the end".
So that may not be very important to you but it is to me. This ties in nicely with what we will see shortly and it proves how the gifts were given as a transitory vehicle to take them to the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. They were blessed with the gifts AS THEY WAITED FOR HIS REVEALING. As they waited for their inheritance and their perfect clothing and perfect fullness in Him.
Paul then skips over the next 11 chapters without really even mentioning the gifts. He goes on correcting their ways about other topics. But then he returns in chapter 12 and lists the different types of gifts that the Spirit had poured out on them in that day.
Take special note of the list and its variety of offices. When we come to the next chapter, we will notice that when Paul lists the gifts again, he doesn’t list them all. Why? Well, Do you need to list off every single item when you’ve already just listed them? Or would your audience understand that you are just mentioning a few of the items but your point is that the entire group of items are being referred to? I will get back to this but for now, Paul in chapter 12 writes…
"There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” 1 Cor 12:4-11
So Paul lists off literally every gift there. Remember this. This is chapter 12, one chapter before chapter 13, and Paul exhausts himself by listing off each gift for them. Then at the end of chapter 12 he writes…
"Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you A MORE EXCELLENT WAY.” 1 Cor 12:29-31
So Paul ends the chapter by saying he would show them something even BETTER than all of those gifts that he just mentioned. He then continues by writing…
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.” 1 Cor 13:1
So it seems like the “better way” has to do with love. He says it doesn’t matter what type of gift you have, if you don’t have love, it’s all meaningless. He continues..
"Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, THEY WILL FAIL; whether there are tongues, THEY WILL CEASE; whether there is knowledge, IT WILL VANISH AWAY. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But WHEN THAT WHICH IS PERFECT HAS COME, then that which is in part will be DONE AWAY” 1 Cor 13:8-10
Now, pretty clear right? But yet many people struggle here. The Greek words used for the “will fail” and the “cease” and the “will vanish away” are all definitively meaning to TERMINATE, TO RENDER INACTIVE, TO PASS AWAY. There is no question here on that. (See another study I did in the comments for more on the Greek)
People will say that Paul was just saying that the partial form of those gifts would pass away when the perfect came. But no! This does not work! Why would Paul say in one sentence that they will TERMINATE AND BE DONE AWAY WITH, if he was going to follow that up and in the very next sentence and say that they would actually increase from partial to full? Makes NO sense whatsoever! Paul was clearly saying that the gifts would CEASE! When?
When that which was perfect came.
Remember what that was? It was just another way of describing the same exact thing they were all looking for in the near future back in their day. It was right at the door. It was the perfect inheritance and perfect clothing in the Perfect Man.
But why would Paul only list tongues, prophecy, and word of knowledge here? Doesn’t this leave the door open on the other gifts like healing etc to still be around today? Not at all and here is why…
When I tell someone that I bought a bunch of fruit, I might initially start out by listing each fruit type. Let’s say I list off 12 different fruits. Later on in that same convo with the SAME PERSON, I bring up the fruit again. Am I going to repeat EVERY, SINGLE, fruit that I literally just listed off to him minutes prior? Of course not! I am going to summarize and list maybe 2 or 3 of them so he gets the point. But he will understand that I am speaking of the entire group of fruits.
Paul uses this same tactic here. He had just gotten done not even 1 chapter earlier listing off every gift in detail. He doesn’t need to list all of them again for the Corinthians to get his point. His point was that all of that childish stuff would vanish away when Christ returned to perfect them. If there is any doubt, look what he says next…
"When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I PUT AWAY CHILDISH THINGS. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face” 1 Cor. 13:11-12
What else could Paul be speaking of putting away there? Clearly, without any doubt, he is speaking of the gifts. The temporary childish gifts that they had been abusing. They only saw dimly at that point. But when Christ would return to gather them into Himself and cloth them with immortality, they would see Him face to face. They would reach the full stature and the fullness of Christ. THE PERFECT***MAN****
("man" or "maturity" as opposed to childish)
Now, if we need more proof of this we can go to Ephesians chapter 4 and see what Paul writes there. He writes…
"But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.” Ephesians 4:7-8
So what do we see there? We see Christ ascending to Heaven and leaving gifts with men. Pretty consistent with His promise that He would send “the helper” to them while He was gone.
But what’s the common theme again? His leaving and coming back.
If He was leaving them gifts while He was gone, what type of affect would His return have on those gifts? Doesn't it make sense that they would vanish when He returned? Seems like the gifts were again nothing more than a transitory vehicle to carry them to the revelation of Jesus Christ just like Paul wrote in 1 Cor. chapter 1.
But then Paul writes this to the Ephesians…
"And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, ***UNTIL*** we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, TO A PERFECT MAN, to the measure of the stature of the FULLNESS OF CHRIST; that we should NO LONGER BE CHILDREN, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ” Ephesians 4:11-15
So Paul lists the gifts again and says that they were for the EQUIPPING OF THE SAINTS *****UNTIL**** they came to the knowledge of the Son of God and to a PERFECT MAN and the fullness of Christ. Where they would no longer be CHILDREN, but would put on the Perfect MAN, Jesus Christ.
Again, when did this happen?
All scripture points to the Coming of the Lord in ad70. Jesus Himself says it, Paul says it, all apostles say it, John in Revelation says it. Remember the list I listed at the beginning? That was just a few examples of the same thing that they were all looking for within that first century generation.
Does this not match Paul’s 1 Cor 13 words perfectly? In that letter he told them that when the Perfect came, the gifts would cease and they would put away the CHILDISH things.
In his letter to the Ephesians, he tells them that the gifts were only until they entered into the Perfect man and the fullness of Christ and once they had that, they would no longer be CHILDREN.
I will end it here because it is getting too long but the point is that I believe the gifts have gone away because I believe the bible. Not my experiences. I believe that the arrival of the Perfect Man and the entering into that Perfect Man, our heavenly habitat, our righteous clothing, etc was the moment when the spirits of just men were made PERFECT. (Hebrews 12:23)
By the way, the word for "perfect" there is the same word Paul uses in 1 Cor. 13 to describe that which is perfect...teleioō. ;)
Today, nothing but faith, hope, and love remain. The greatest of those is love.
If you've enjoyed the study please be sure to like it and share it if you would like. Thanks guys.
Do you ever see a preacher or teacher on social media and wonder how he or she got so many followers and likers? I sure do.
It seems to be a trend as of late, especially with the daily increasing of fulfilled theology believers, that Universalism is on the rise. All our lives we have been taught a fear based message of turn or burn. We sat in the church and agreed with it becuase it was all we knew. But then all of a sudden a better bible interpretation came along and things started to make more sense. Suddenly the passages that we all once struggled to understand, began falling into place rather nicely. The fulfilled view, what some call "full preterism" absolutely does this for us.
However, this view can also be very dangerous. I understand now more than ever why many people are against it. Although I could never deny that the view is indeed the correct one, I can see where the problems arise.
In the hands of someone who is understanding the bible through the flesh, it can be very dangerous. People can read things like "death has been defeated" and thrust that onto all of humanity rather than understanding that the whole point was that death was defeated for those who are in Christ and only those. Jesus said "he who believes in me shall never die". This is your defeat of death in a nutshell but yet that can be taken, twisted, and applied to everyone.
Jesus said "unless one be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God". The word see can mean to physically see something with the eyes but it can just as easily mean to understand or to perceive something with the mind. Unless a man is given a new heart and new eyes by the Spirit of God, he cannot begin to even fathom the true Spiritual things of God.
Now am I questioning the salvation of those who claim to be men and women of God? No, because it is never my place to do so. Only God knows the hearts of men. However, I will say that the bible is also a book. It is a story of God's plan. It has very real physical elements to it. It ties in with real physical historical events. I don't believe that you need the Spirit of God to be able to formulate and begin to see the story and how it falls into place. However, I do believe you must have the Spirit of God in order to understand how we today, fit into that story.
To many people seem to take an all or nothing approach. Meaning that either God saved none or He saved all. But what they are failing to realize is that the New Testament and what we read there, is simply the BEGINNING of the eternal blueprint. It was the start. It wasn't some 40 year period that would come to an abrupt end and then start something totally new again. It was the revealing of the true and better way. The eternal plan of God centered around His Son and faith in His work alone for the remission of sins and eternal life.
In this article I am going to be looking at eight different passages that Universalists tend to cling to in order to uphold their position. I will focus solely on the main ones that I personally see a lot and I hope to bring some clarity regarding each one. My aim is to show that what they say about these passages isn't exactly as clear as they would have you believe.
It has been my experience on social media that when you confront the proponents of this view with the hard facts, you usually end up getting either blocked or removed from their friends list. That to me is very telling. My desire is not to debate. I truly hate being involved in debates because 99% of the time nobody changes their position and people end up angry. The good thing about social media is that we can all share what we learn and those who want to consider can consider. Those who don't, don't have to. They can just keep scrolling right on by. :)
In the New Testament alone we can probably dig up and find no less than 500 passages (perhaps much more) that clearly and strongly state that faith in Jesus is the way back to the Father and the way of salvation. In Hebrews chapter 11 alone, we have the word "faith" mentioned 25 times. All different people of God throughout the ages being shown as having faith. Interestingly enough, Hebrews is basically outlining the new and better Covenant made with God. The whole focus is on faith. Hebrews isn't outlining the Old Covenant but rather it is saying that the Old was vanishing and what was new was coming into full bloom very soon. Again, with the focus always centered on faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
When you have 500+ references to something, you tend to think that it is important and true. The Universalist position often quotes 5-10 passages and says that these are enough to refute the 500 that say the complete opposite of what they are suggesting. Where would anyone take 10 over 500? What court would be able to look past 500 peices of evidence in order to focus in on just 10? Nobody in their right mind would. Yet this is what is done in this movement.
Universalism is a feel good and loving message no doubt. But is it what the bible truly teaches? People always say that God never changes. Yet in the Old Testament we see Him wiping away masses of people because of wickedness. Destroying them off of the face of the earth because of sin. We see a small remnant who had faith and were counted as righteous all throughout those days. Yet we are told that sin and wickedness is no more and God will now tolerate any and every act of man no matter how wicked or evil it may be.
A feel good message is an attractive one. It attracts masses. That is why these teachers have boatloads of followers. They have hundreds of people amen'ing and liking and sharing their all inclusive messages. Ask yourself a question though....
Did Jesus have boatloads of followers? Did everyone amen and like His message? Was He loved by all and hated by none?
The answer is a resounding NO!
Now on the flip side these teachers have boatloads of followers, they are liked and loved by all, and they are hated by none because their message doesn't cut to anyones heart to convict of sin. The gospel is offensive the bible says. Yet not a single thing that these people preach can offend anyone at all!
If you don't see a problem with this, something is wrong. We have the TOTAL opposite of what we saw with Jesus and His Apostles going on all around us and some of you are getting sucked right in.
"If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you" John 15:18
"Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" John 16:33
1) "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive" 1 Corinthians 15:22
This passage seems to be the holy grail of Universalism. Whenever the position is presented this is without question the most cited passage in their argument. But did you ever notice that they never go any further than what I just quoted above? It usually just stops right there.
Many people love to say "context is king" but yet when the context defeats their theory, you will notice that context is usually left out. What do I mean by that? We will get to that shortly but first I want to call your attention to just "WHO" the "all" is here in this passage.
Paul opens up the chapter talking about the risen Christ and how that he (Paul) is the least of the apostles. But there seemed to have been some in the Corinthian church group that were DOUBTING THAT THEIR WOULD BE A RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD. Look what Paul writes early on in the chapter...
"Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?" 1 Cor. 15:12
We have to keep CONTEXT in mind now going forward from here. Paul is addressing the concerns that these people have about there being NO RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD.
So WHO are the subjects here?
THOSE WHO HAVE DIED AND ARE AWAITING THE RESURRECTION AT THE END OF THE AGE!
This is very important to keep in mind! If you forget this point going forward you will no doubt drift into a universal understanding of the passage in question! Let's continue reading the chapter and NOTICE that the subject is still the same! The subject here is still THOSE WHO ARE DEAD. Paul continues..
"But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up--if in fact the dead do not rise" 1 Cor. 15:13-15
Again, who is Paul STILL speaking about here? THOSE WHO ARE DEAD AND HAVE FALLEN ASLEEP IN CHRIST!! He continues...
"For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished." 1 Cor. 15:16-18
Has Paul yet swerved away from the subject in question? Has he yet to speak of anyone other than THOSE WHO HAVE DIED IN CHRIST? NOPE! Let us continue...
"If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead." 1 Cor. 15 : 20-21
Any wavering from the subjects yet? NOPE!! Still talking about "THOSE WHO HAVE FALLEN ASLEEP"! Now let's get to the good part...
"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming." 1 Cor. 15:22-23
Now, remember at the beginning I mentioned how they usually don't quote verse 23. They typically end it at "so in Christ all shall be made alive". Well why is it important to follow it all the way through verse 23?
The answer is because Paul is concluding his thought! He is saying that there would be an order of those who were going to be made alive! The first to be made alive was Christ Himself! He was the firstfruits of the resurrection. He Himself. This was already a past event when Paul wrote it. Which is why Paul lists Him first by saying "Christ the firstfruits" AND THEN or AFTERWARD....."THOSE WHO ARE CHRIST'S AT HIS COMING"
Now I hope you are following me here. This passage actually has NOTHING to do with anyone other than THOSE WHO HAD FALLEN ASLEEP AND WOULD BE RAISED IN THE RESURRECTION. Do you see that clearly? I sure hope so. Context is EVERYTHING. Sure we also read later about those who were alive and remained and how they would be changed to immortal, but the point is that regarding the "ALL" will be made alive passage, we need to keep it in context. That context is solely pertaining to those who were DEAD AND WAITING IN HADES FOR THE RESURRECTION.
Paul shows this clearly by saying "THOSE WHO ARE CHRIST'S, AT HIS COMING".
Again clearly showing that this passage has nothing to do with anyone AFTER His Coming. The "all" there has nothing to do with anyone AFTER the Coming of Christ.
The phrase "those who are Christ's" shows a distinction. Christ had His people. He had His remnant.
When we compare this to the resurrection scene in Daniel 12 we see how clear this matches up! Daniel saw the resurrection out of Hades and he saw some being raised to eternal life, and some being sent to eternal shame and contempt. Again, CLEARLY showing a distinction which matches Paul saying "THOSE WHO ARE CHRIST'S".
This passage in no way, no shape, no form can be used to portray all of humanity.
2) "My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world"
1 John 2:1-2
Most universalists that I know are also preterists. They understand that context is important but they also contradict themselves a lot. On the one hand they acknowledge that many times terms like "all" "world" "every" etc have very limited scopes to them but at the same time they sternly reject this concept when it comes to their doctrine. Let's examine one of their "go-to" scriptures...
"My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the WHOLE WORLD." 1 John 2:1-2
The letter is written here to Jewish believers. In it John tells THEM (Jews) that He is the propitiation for THEIR (Jews) sins, but He is ALSO the propitiation of sins for the whole world! Why would John write this?
It's simple. The entire New Testament shows enmity between Jews and Gentiles. The Jews, even the believing Jews, had a hard time letting down their pride and ego. Paul in his letters works hard to explain that God is the God of the Gentiles as well. In Romans he concludes that all are under sin. The Jews were just as guilty as the Gentiles and the Gentiles were just as guilty as the Jews. There was none righteous, no not even one.
The Jewish believers were prone (with good reason) to taking the approach that they were Gods chosen people and that no other nationalities could partake of His blessings which came through faith.
John stops them dead in their tracks and says basically, "Hey listen fellow Jews! He is not only the Savior of us Jews! But He is the savior of the whole world as in all nationalities of people can come!"
This isn't rocket science and if we read the rest of this chapter we can see CLEARLY that John makes it known that this is the case by writing things like...
"If anyone loves the world the love of the Father is NOT in Him."
"They went out from us because they were NEVER part of us"
"Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does NOT have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also."
1 John 2:22-23
We have to understand the bible as a Jewish book. The mystery that Paul and others were revealing was that God had opened up His plan of redemption NOT ONLY TO JUST THE JEWS, BUT TO THE WHOLE WORLD!
You will see this language used often! What seems universal in scope actually has nothing to do with every person but rather it pertains to the all inclusiveness and availability to all nationalities of men. God had dealt solely with the Jews up until that point. Paul and others were trying to get them to understand that the exclusivity had come to an end. There was no more wall in between them and the rest of the world when it came to accessing the Father.
3) "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself" John12:32
If we are going to be students of the word, we must let our interpretation be consistent or at the very least we must consider that there could be a couple of meanings to seemingly universal language. What do I mean?
Well for instance, there are numerous places in scripture which use universal language but yet the universalist would deny that it is universal in scope. I will list some examples...
A) "And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed." Luke 2:1
Does anyone suggest that the entire world was taxed by Caesar? Of course not. We know that it was universal in the sense of the local area. The Roman Empire was taxed.
B) "And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh"
Anyone who understands what took place in the last days, understands that the pouring out of the Spirit was very limited in scope. When the men at Pentacost starting speaking in tongues, were there men there who were confused about it? The Spirit was poured out on some but not all. Was the Spirit poured out on the Jews who persecuted the believers? Of course not! Was the Spirit poured out on the Roman soldiers who attacked Jerusalem? Of course not! But wait a minute....
Didn't the text say literally "I will pour out my Spirit on ALL FLESH?"
How come nobody holds that to strict literal application? How come we understand the "ALL" there to mean just those who were being saved? We must be consistent. The "all" here is VERY limited and had nothing to do with literally all people everywhere.
C) "If indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister." Colossians 1:23
Paul wrote this around maybe AD55-60. In an era when travel was a long and grueling process and there was no phone or email to communicate. But yet he says that at that time the gospel had ALREADY been preached to "EVERY CREATURE UNDER HEAVEN". How? How so?
Everyone is in agreement that there is a very limited scope to that passage and that Paul was just getting the point across that he had preached the message to many people but yet why not consider the same interpretation principle elsewhere? Do you see the inconsistencies?
In some places we automatically apply a very limited scope but in others, with the same types of phrases used, we automatically assume it is universal.
D) "Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen." Rev. 1:7
Again, not to beat a dead horse here but most universalists understand this to be referring to every eye OF THAT DAY. Clearly we know that not every eye saw His return but rather the tribes of the land saw Him coming in judgement on Jerusalem just as He promised He would before that generation passed. They mourned over this. Why apply a limited scope here but not consider it elsewhere when the same words are used?
The point is that these terms need to be looked at in a consistent manner. It seems as though the authors of the bible used universal terms to describe very limited concepts. We still do this today. We still say "everyone knows my business" or "I ate everything". Do we speak literally as in literally every person or literally every single bit of food everywhere? Of course not!
The passage quoted above was said by Jesus TO JEWS.
We must keep in mind that this is a Jewish book and the story pertains mainly to Jews. The "world" as in all nations would be included in this new plan. This new mystery that God was revealing. Again, not meaning all humans everywhere, but rather meaning all NATIONALITIES of humans everywhere. The constant breaking down of the barrier wall between Jew and Gentile is everywhere in the New Testament. This was the "mystery of the dispensation of Grace" Paul called it.
So when Jesus says "I will draw all peoples (or all men) to myself" He is not saying literally every person but rather all TYPES of people to myself. People from all groups.
The Greek word is "pas" G3956 and according to the LXX Blue letter Bible it has two biblical usages...
1) Individually as in each, every, all
2) Collectively as in some of all types
There is no doubt that in this case, Jesus is referring to definition #2. This is backed by the countless places where we read that faith is mandatory. Just prior to the passage above Jesus said...
"He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor." John 12:25-26
Jesus wasn't contradicting Himself. He wasn't saying in one breath that those who didn't follow Him would lose their life and then in the next breath saying that those same people would be saved regardless. That makes no sense.
The answer is that He was speaking to Jews who again were prone to differentiating themselves from the rest of the nations based on their ego. "I will draw all types of men to myself" is what the Lord was saying.
4) "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved" John 3:17
This passage again is a go-to. But just like the ones mentioned above, the quoter of the passage typically stops short before getting the full contextual picture. When reading this passage above on its own, it seems as though God didn't send His Son to condemn the world but rather to save the world. But let's read the same passage and include the next passages that directly follow it and notice how the message changes....
"For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed." John 3:18-20
When we read the passage in full, the message really changes doesn't it? We have one passage that sounds like all is good and God didn't send Him to condemn the world. But then He follows that up with 4 passages that say the complete opposite. He who does not believe is CONDEMNED ALREADY the Lord said.
We must be sure to read passages in their entire and proper context. It is astonishing how the universalist can place so much importance on this concept and yet ignore it so blatently at the same time.
5) "even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life" Romans 5:18
Here is again one of the passages which seem to suggest that the death of Christ resulted in the justification of all men. Again as I showed in #4, the word for "all" here is the same G3956 "pas" and it can have 2 meanings biblically. It came mean all is in every single person or it can also mean all is in some of all types of people.
For me though, whenever I seem to be confused on something, I stick to the context and dig there. Usually we find the answers. Such is the case with this passage as well. Let's look at what Paul clearly states both before and after the "all" men passage. He writes before...
"For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many." Romans 5:15
The Greek word for "many" is G4183 "polys" and it only has one meaning and that is: "many or much"
Let's also take a look at what else Paul said BEFORE he used the word "all" in verse 18...
"For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ"
Nothing really universal sounding there either. Now, let's take a look at what Paul writes directly AFTER the "all" passage in verse 18...
"For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous." Romans 5:19
Again, the word "many" is used. Big difference than saying "all".
So we have 3 passages which state that "many" would be made righteous and we have 1 passage that uses the term "all" which as we demonstrated previously, the Greek word has a couple meanings and often CANNOT be understood as literally all men everywhere.
6) "For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all." Romans 11:32
Another go to passage here. But again it absolutely blows my mind how context is ignored yet again.
Paul is writing to Gentiles here about physical Israel.
WHO is the subject of this entire chapter? ISRAEL IS THE SUBJECT! Look what Paul writes in the beginning of the chapter...
"I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew" Romans 11:1-2
He then goes on to refer back to the days of Elijah when Elijah cried out to God that he was alone and there was no other righteous ones left. He writes.....
"Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, “Lord, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life”? But what does the divine response say to him? “I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal." Romans 11:2-4
Paul is speaking about the fact that there would be a remnant saved from Israel and he compares that to the days of Elijah when there was a remnant reserved in his day. Look what Paul writes next...
"Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace" Romans 11:5
He takes this remnant idea and develops it further by saying that Israel's total rejection isn't final and how God would save some of them. "SOME OF THEM". He writes...
"For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh (Israelites) and save some of them"
Again, do not lose focus of WHO the subject here still is. We are still talking about ISRAEL IN THE FLESH!
Paul continues writing and talks about the root and the branches and how just because they (Gentiles) were grafted into the tree, doesn't mean that the natural branches (Jews) couldn't also be grafted back into that tree. Again, Paul is working to BREAK DOWN ANY DIVISION between Jew and Gentile. He is letting them understand that there is NO DISTINCTION ANYMORE.
But again, WHO is the subject here? Is it not still ISRAEL IN THE FLESH leading up to the end of the age? It sure was.
Paul wraps it up by writing...
"even so these (Jews) also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you (Gentiles) they also may obtain mercy. For God has committed them (Jews) all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all." Romans 11:31-32
But wait, didn't Paul just a few verses before this say "if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them"?
How is it that the "some" automatically turned into "all"? It did not.
Consider this point which also shows the limited scope of the word "all" here...
Paul wrote this at least 20 years after Pentacost. Who were the first to be saved at Pentacost? JEWS right? Yes the Jews were the first to be filled with the Spirit and sealed. But look what Paul wrote 20 years later...
"For God has committed them (Jews) all to disobedience" Romans 11:32
How could this LITERALLY MEAN ALL JEWS if in fact we know that MANY Jews had already been saved and sealed many years before this was even written?!
Clearly here, the "all" is limited in scope yet again!
But most importantly, the Universalists who apply this passage to people post AD70 do so with no basis whatsoever. Paul's entire focus was on ISRAEL IN THE FLESH. Some of the last generation of Jews would be saved prior to the Coming of the Lord to bring destruction upon the city and to usher in the eternal Spiritual Kingdom.
7) "For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe" 1 Timothy 4:10
I am sure we have all heard this passage used as a proof text for universalism. It is certainly one that seems to "suggest" a universal salvation for all mankind. But have you ever asked a universalist the following question...
"If God is the Savior of all men, ESPECIALLY OF THOSE WHO BELIEVE, then what advantage does the believer have over the non-believer?"
I personally have asked a few this question and each time it is avoided and left without any attempt at an answer. The reason is because there is simply NO ANSWER.
If those who believe are considered SPECIAL or FAVORED above those who don't believe, then in what way is this so? After all this is exactly what the passage says. It says that God is the Savior of all men, especially or SPECIFICALLY those who believe.
The same word for "all" is used here again. The Greek word "pas" G3956 which again, has two meanings biblically. One being "some of all types".
What did God entrust Paul with revealing besides the true gospel? He was entrusted to reveal the "mystery of the dispensation of Grace" (Ephesians 3:1-7) Paul wrote that the main focus of this mystery was...
"that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel" Ephesians 3:6
So do you understand why Paul was so quick to use terms like "ALL MEN"?
He was bridging the gap between Jew and Gentile. Working hard to break down that wall of division and let them know that the blessings of God were now available to all men. ALL NATIONALITIES OF MEN!
This passage from 1 Timothy chapter 4 shows nothing more than the fact that all are now redeemable due to the sacrifice of Christ, but redemption is specifically applied to those who trust in Christ.
8) "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself" 2 Cor. 5:19
Another passage that is used often and the last one we will look at in this article is this one from Paul's 2nd letter to the church at Corinth.
Paul writes that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. But again, most times if not all times, the universalist will stop short and not continue on to grasp the full context. Let's read this passage and continue to get Paul's full message....
"God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Cor. 5:19-21
Now, let's use common sense here. If all was done and the entire world as in all humans everywhere were already redeemed and reconciled because of Christ's death, why would Paul be "PLEADING WITH PEOPLE TO BE RECONCILED TO GOD" through Christ?
Seems rather pointless to plead for something you already possess eh?
The context of this chapter proves that again this is a letter written to believers who had received the Spirit of God as a pledge or as a sign of their coming inheritance....
"Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee."
2 Cor. 5:5
Did everyone receive that Spirit as a guarantee? Do I really even need to ask that question?
Just as there were in the days of Elijah, there was also a remnant that had received the Spirit in the last days too.
In order to ever truly understand what seems to be a bit contradictory, we need to apply consistent hermeneutics throughout our studies. If the word "all" can be used in limited ways in many places, we must always take this into consideration and not ignore this when it comes to passages that may go against our theory.
We must remember the nature of Paul's message and what was entrusted to him to teach. That being the mystery of the dispensation of Grace. Grace was going to be opened up and dispensed to all nations. No longer would there be any exclusivity to the Father. No longer would the Jews alone partake in the blessings of God. That was being opened up to ALL MEN. Being made available to ALL MEN through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Will you continue to reject the 500+ passages that demand faith in the risen Lord in order to cling to your small selection of passages that you interpret in a very biased way?
I believe that salvation is completely of the Lord and that no man will come to the Father unless the Father draw Him. This was not just a first century thing. This applies today. We are made willing in the day of His power.
Call me whatever you want but I still 100% believe in the new birth. Without which it is impossible to even understand the Kingdom of God and how it is a present and on-going reality today and will be forever.
I often hear people who doubt the new birth today sarcastically ask "How is someone born from God today?"
Which to me speaks volumes. Again, I am not one to judge a mans heart but if you are asking that question to begin with, something is just not right.
Thanks for reading the article guys. If you enjoyed it please be sure to like it and share it. God bless.
Although many people do not care to label their belief system with a single word, it is still appropriate to do so when discussing certain doctrinal beliefs. Such is the case with what is called Universalism.
Universalism is the belief that all of humanity is already redeemed. There are various forms of Universalism such as the idea that all religions lead to the same place and also Christian Universalism which believes that Christ's death brought all of humanity back to God in one shot.
There are those who believe that some will experience that reconciliation here while living on the earth and some will experience it after they die at some point in eternity. There are those in the position who believe that faith was only necessary for the final wicked generation that Jesus and the disciples preached to before the end of the Old Covenant Age in AD70. There are numerous beliefs under the Universalist umbrella just like there are numerous beliefs in any other doctrinal position.
In this article I will be addressing mainly what I call Christian Preterist Universalism (CPU)
CPU sees all bible prophecy as already having been fulfilled at the Coming of the Lord at the end of the Old Covenant Age in AD70 to destroy the Temple, to raise the dead out of Hades, and to consummate the Kingdom of God. I am fully in agreement with this. There is no doubt that these events have already been fulfilled based on what scripture says.
For the sake of argument we are going to define "CPU" with the following 4 points....
1) Christ's death redeemed every single person back to God except for that last wicked generation that Jesus and His disciples preached to repent and believe the gospel.
2) Everyone born after the ressurection in AD70 (the start of the New Heaven and New Earth) is already Born of God.
3) There is no more sin in the world because the law is gone.
4) Faith is not required at all and one way or another, God will redeem everyone.
Now of course this definition does not fully define all of the Universalist positions. There are probably CPU's reading this and thinking that they don't believe each of those 4 points. I am not intending to place every Universalist into this 4 point box. However, I do feel it is a good general description of what many CPU's believe. If you are a Universalist and your beliefs differ from what I just listed above, please give the article a chance and I trust that the overwhelming body of evidence will end up addressing any additional beliefs that you may or may not hold to as well.
This article will be lengthy. There is no way that I could have written this in a condensed and short way and cover what I feel is the overwhelming amount of biblical proof against the position. I only included what I thought was necessary even though there is much more that could have been said.
Please only read the article if you have enough time to read it in its entirety. (approx. 15-20 minutes)
Couple things to note before we begin:
The first thing I would like to say is that I am not your typical church going/by the book, Christian. I am a full preterist which as you know means that I affirm that the whole bible and all of prophecy has been fulfilled. I believe it was all fulfilled in AD70 at the Coming of the Lord in judgement upon Jerusalem and upon the Old Covenant system as a whole. That was the end of the Old Heavens and Old Earth aka the Old Covenant. This was when the dead were raised up from Hades and the living remnant of believers were changed to immortal so that both would enter into ONE new eternal unshakeable Kingdom.
I also do not believe in the modern day view of hell. I reject the idea of eternal conscious torment as I do not find it to be a biblical concept. I do not attend a regular church at the moment and have experienced much resistance, rejection, and hostility from orthodox Christians for my views. I do attend a weekly bible study and also a church service on the last Sunday of each month with some fellow full preterist Christians if I am not on the road traveling for my job. The point here is that I am not your run of the mill Christian. I honestly couldn't care less about creeds and traditions. I have no motive to reject Universalism. Accepting the view wouldn't affect my life in any way, shape, or form. The truth is that if I believed it was taught in the bible, I WOULD BELIEVE IT, NO PROBLEM WHATSOEVER.
I have come into contact with some Universalist proponents (mainly Christian Preterist Universalists) through social media over the last couple of years and I have to first say that I really like the people who I have met. They have a passion for God and for sharing things about Him. The one thing that I can truly say is that they really love people. Perhaps more than most church folk that I have met over the years. They have a real passion for life and I do admire that. This article is not done for self glorification nor is it done to degrade or belittle any of my Universalist friends. It is my sincere hope that maybe one of them would read the evidence I will present and will take some time to consider if what they are teaching others is actually true.
I also hope that this article helps those who oppose full preterism. There is a false assumption out there that if someone is a full preterist, they also must be a universalist. This is just not true. In fact, out of the roughly 1000 or more full preterists that I am connected with both in the cyber world and personally, I can honestly say less than 5% are universalists. I hope that the evidence I present will help demonstrate why we do not hold to the universalist viewpoint.
Lastly, my aim is to present many different angles and scriptural objections to the CPU position. I will come at it from all sorts of ways using the scriptures. There won't be any specific order to it. I trust that by the end of the article you will see that there is an overwhelming abundance of proof against the position and that the proof used to support the universalist position is actually very small in comparison. I ask that you please take the time to carefully and logically think about each of the points I present. They will be thought provoking and I believe you will see the issues with each and every one when held up to the "Christian Preterist Universalist" (CPU) paradigm.
Please remember that I am a full preterist so my approach comes from this perspective.
"FOR IN ADAM ALL DIE, EVEN SO IN CHRIST ALL SHALL BE MADE ALIVE"
CPU's place high importance on context and audience relevance. However, they seem to miss a crucial point when reading these letters in the New Testament.
WHO WERE THE LETTERS WRITTEN TO?
WERE THEY WRITTEN TO EVERYONE BOTH BELIEVER AND UNBELIEVER? NO!
The epistles were written to BELIEVERS! To those who had already received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as their sign of the coming inheritance which would come when the Lord returned at the end of the Age.
Yes we read about these disciples preaching to unbelievers BUT the actual letters themselves are very exclusive! They are written to BELIEVERS!
When you are speaking to a group of people, you probably use the word "all" a lot. You probably say "all of us" or "everyone" etc. But you are smart enough to know that even though you are using universal terms such as "all" and "everyone" there is still a limitation on who you are speaking about. You aren't speaking about literally "ALL HUMANS EVERYWHERE" but rather you are speaking about "ALL HUMANS WITHIN THE GROUP".
We need to remember this when reading the epistles. These are letters written to BELIEVERS.
For instance when Paul writes...
"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive." 1 Corinthians 15:22
Is Paul not writing to believers here? Of course he is! Paul is simply saying that anyone in Christ shall be made alive. He is NOT included unbelievers into this group. I could paraphrase what He said by saying...
"Even so all those in Christ shall be made alive."
Same exact thing. There is a distinction there. It is referring to only those IN CHRIST.
Now I know you are probably doubting that but look at the VERY NEXT VERSE....
"But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming." 1 Corinthians 15:23
Now read all of it in one flowing breath....
"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming"
THOSE WHO ARE CHRIST'S!
Do you see that? Paul says, "even so in Christ ALL SHALL BE MADE ALIVE BUT EACH IN HIS OWN ORDER...FIRST CHRIST, AND THEN THOSE WHO ARE HIS, AT HIS COMING"
There is NOTHING universal about this passage. At all.
"THOSE WHO ARE CHRIST'S" clearly shows that this is a distinct group separate from the rest.
Furthermore, since this passage is used very often as a proof text for CPU, let's logically consider this a bit more....
I BELIEVE THIS FOLLOWING POINT IS SO POWERFUL THAT I ASK YOU TO PLEASE REALLY THINK THIS ONE THROUGH AND I TRUST YOU'LL SEE THE PROBLEM HERE....
In Daniel chapter 12 we read about the "time of the end" when the great tribulation, resurrection, and judgement would occur. Daniel is looking ahead to these events and look what we read about what would happen at the future resurrection (future to Daniel)....
"And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt. Daniel 12:2
Now let's think about this...
Clearly here we see a clear separation that was going to take place AT THE RESURRECTION. The just would receive life and the unjust would receive contempt.
When did Paul write the words... "as in Adam all men die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive"?
He wrote this BEFORE the resurrection actually took place did he not? YES HE DID.
Therefore, NOBODY had been brought up out of Hades yet when Paul wrote these words. This separation of the just and unjust HAD NOT YET OCCURRED WHEN PAUL WROTE THIS.
Do you see a HUGE PROBLEM here?
Paul is speaking ABOUT THE RESURRECTION!!
The CPU says that literally "all" humans would be made alive in Christ. But this GOES TOTALLY AGAINST WHAT DANIEL PREDICTED ABOUT THE COMING RESURRECTION!!!
Daniel clearly shows there would be a SEPARATING OF THE JUST AND UNJUST AT THE RESURRECTION!
Therefore, this ABSOLUTELY PROVES that the "ALL" who would be made alive in Christ, was limited to THE RIGHTEOUS. It did NOT include the unrighteous because we are told clearly that they would be sent away to everlasting contempt.
Think about this long and hard. This is absolutely FATAL to a universal salvation argument!
2) Daniel chapter 12
In Daniel chapter 12 we read of the "time of the end". We can clearly see in the first few verses that the great tribulation on Daniels people, the resurrection, the judgement, and the saints inheriting the Kingdom, would all take place during this "time of the end". As we get further down in the chapter we are told that all of these events would be fulfilled when the power of the Jews was shattered over a period of 42 months. This as we know, already took place at the end of the Old Covenant when the Lord returned in Judgement to usher in the new eternal age just like He promised He would (Matt 16:27-28, Matt 10:23, Matt 24:34). It happened exactly as Daniel the prophet predicted over 42 months and it resulted in the total shattering of the Jewish economy and the end of the Old Covenant once and for all. All 4 of the end time events I underlined above were fulfilled at this point.
I want to focus on the resurrection though. CPU believes that everyone is now redeemed. But as we saw in point #1, look what Daniel 12 says about where the unrighteous would go at the time of the resurrection...
"And many of those who sleep inthe dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." Daniel 12:2
Where did the unrightous go at the resurrection? Were they given everlasting life? No. They were sent to SHAME AND EVERLASTING CONTEMPT. Big difference in the two destinations.
Now some CPU's might argue that humanity wasn't totally redeemed until Christ came. But this is fatally inconsistent! If we understand the purpose of the Kingdom coming to earth we can start to sort this out.
Jesus told His disciples to pray for the Kingdom to Come. He told them it would come so that His will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. He was coming to gather the RIGHTEOUS DEAD with the RIGHTEOUS LIVING into ONE NEW EVERLASTING KINGDOM.
Does it make ANY SENSE WHATSOEVER that God would cast away the UNRIGHTEOUS DEAD into eternal contempt but yet accept all of the unrighteous living into His Kingdom?
Again, consistency is key! Why would God raise up the UNRIGHTEOUS DEAD out of Hades and cast them into eternal shame and contempt but yet turn around and redeem all of the UNRIGHTEOUS LIVING and let them enter into His Kingdom?
We are speaking of the SAME KINGDOM! Not two different Kingdoms! The Kingdom members would exist in Heaven and on Earth.
If the reason why the Kingdom was coming to earth was so that HIS WILL would be done ON EARTH JUST AS IT IS ALSO DONE IN HEAVEN, do you see a problem? I sure do.
Who was in heaven after the resurrection took place according to Daniel the prophet? ONLY THE RIGHTEOUS! The unrighteous were not in heaven as I just showed from Daniel chapter 12.
So why would God split the unrighteous away from the righteous of those already dead but yet not split the unrighteous from the righteous on earth IF INDEED the whole point of His Kingdom coming to earth was so that His will would be done on earth THE SAME WAY IT IS DONE IN HEAVEN?
Jesus said He would separate the SHEEP FROM THE GOATS and the WHEAT FROM THE TARES!
3) Isaiah and the New Heaven and New Earth
In Isaiah chapter 65 we read about the coming New Heavens and New Earth. Isaiah is looking ahead and predicting the time when Old Covenant Israel would be suffering and would weep and would starve and thirst. He then compares that to New Covenant Israel who would rejoice and would not be hungry and would not thirst. He plays one off of the other and he says "the former things will be remembered no more....FOR BEHOLD I CREATE A NEW HEAVENS AND A NEW EARTH". He is speaking of God's new Covenant and His New Covenant people.
But what do we read will still be present in the New Heaven and the New Earth? Take a look....
"No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed." Isaiah 65:20
Wait a second here. I thought according to CPU there is NO MORE SIN in the New Heaven and New earth? Why would Isaiah say that in the coming New Heaven and New Earth that the "SINNER WOULD BE ACCURSED"?
Clearly life would go on the same way and sin would still be present along with death and regular every day living activities in the New Heaven and New Earth.
I trust I don't need to go any further on this point but let's look just a couple verses later and see what else Isaiah says about life in THE NEW HEAVEN AND NEW EARTH...
"for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands." Isaiah 65:22
Now why would there be a "chosen people" in this New Heaven and New Earth if everyone is already redeemed? The word used here is "bachiyr"- H972 and it literally means "chosen, choice one, chosen one, elect (of God)". To me, this clearly shows a distinction being made between God's chosen people and all of humanity.
4) Preaching AFTER the cross?
CPU says that the death of Jesus on the cross redeemed all humanity. If this is the case, why would Jesus and the apostles and disciples spend the next 40 years AFTER the cross preaching faith and repentance? If it was already done and secured, what is the point? Why not just forget about it because it was already settled anyway? But on the contrary, they preached unto death. It was their entire life. It was their only focus in life above all things.
CPU would argue that it was only necessary for that last generation of Jews to believe the gospel and repent. I cannot begin to even fathom how anyone could come to such a conclusion. Did not the gospel message go out to Gentiles too? Did it not go to Rome? Did Paul not preach to the tribe on the island of Malta at the end of Acts? This island is 50 miles south of Italy. They had nothing to do with the last generation of Jews! The message of faith went out to all people, not just the last generation of Jews.
A leading proponent of the CPU position on Facebook, who since has blocked me so he can no longer see my posts, wrote the following statement a couple of weeks ago. I copied it down so I could quote it. He wrote....
"The term "born of God" denotes all peoples born after the resurrection (AD70) other than those Jews who rejected Him when He came to the Jews of that last generation."
Does this sound correct? To me it sounds terribly flawed.
He is saying that anyone born after the resurrection (which both he and I agree was in AD70 at the end of the age) is automatically born of God.
But what about the MILLIONS of people on earth who were born before AD70 and were still alive to live through AD70? What about all of the people that Jesus and the disciples preached faith and repentance to that survived the AD70 destruction? What about everyone who was not killed during the destruction? What about the hundreds of thousands of people who were taken captive by the Roman armies? These same people heard the same gospel message in the years leading up to the destruction and they didn't believe. They lived through it though. What about humanity all over the world during that time?
What am I trying to get at?
WHERE DO WE DRAW THE LINE AND MAKE THE DISTINCTION OF THE STARTING POINT WHEN ALL HUMANITY WAS SAVED? THERE HAD TO BE A STARTING POINT RIGHT?
CPU's say that everyone born after the resurrection in AD70 is already "born of God". Where and when did this exactly start? Would you have to have literally been born from the womb after AD70 in order for this to occur because MILLIONS of people lived during those years and they were born before AD70 and died long after AD70. So where and when did this new process begin?
What about a Roman mother and father who had a 5 year old child at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem? Were all 3 of them redeemed? Technically none of them were born AFTER the resurrection like this proponent of CPU says is needed to be redeemed. According to him, they would NOT be born of God because they weren't literally physically born after AD70. Did we have unredeemed people living along side of redeemed people based solely on when they were born? This seems ridiculous but yet it is what many believe. I trust that you see this MAJOR inconsistency.
5) Only the Jews in Jerusalem needed to be saved from the coming wrath upon their city.
Another CPU leading proponent once said the following:
"Nobody needs to be saved today. Salvation referred to being saved from the destruction of Jerusalem that would come at the end of the Mosaic age."
The word "salvation" or "save" is used a number of ways in scripture. This I will agree with.
It is indeed used in regards to the coming destruction of Jerusalem. For instance when Peter said "save yourselves from this wicked generation!" Clearly here he is speaking of the destruction that was coming upon the Jews.
There was also another usage though. Take for instance Acts chapter 16 where we see Paul and Silas travel to Macedonia which was a Roman province north of Greece. This province would have nothing to do with the destruction of Jerusalem at the end of the age. Yet look at what we read...
"Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them." Acts 16:10
Also we read about a certain slave girl who was possessed with the spirit of divination also in Macedonia...
"This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” Acts 16:17
Why would a girl far from Jerusalem need to hear the gospel of SALVATION if it was only required that the Jews of that last generation believe and have faith? What was she being "SAVED" from?
Also in the same chapter we read of the Roman prison guard...
"And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:30-31
Why would this Roman prison guard need to be "SAVED" if this "salvation" was only pertaining to escaping the destruction of Jerusalem?
The "salvation" is the reconciliation back to God the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ. Eternal reconciliation which prevents eternal death. Those who are "reconciled" or "saved" will forever be in the presence of God. Those who are not, will perish and return to the dust from where they came.
6) The seal of the Holy Spirit only came to SOME!
We have to understand that during the last days when the message of faith and repentance was going forth throughout the land, God was pouring out His Spirit as a seal of promise. Did everyone receive this seal of promise? Absolutely not!
The CPU would say that only the Jews needed to believe the gospel in that last generation but what about the fact that the Holy Spirit was falling on the Gentiles too? God was not only giving the promise to the Jews who believed, but also to the Gentiles who heard and believed too! Did all Gentiles receive this seal of promise? Absolutely not!
At Pentacost, Peter refers back to Joel the prophet and says that what Joel predicted was coming true in Peter's day! Look how Peter words it...
‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh," Acts 2:17
He said "ALL FLESH". Did God pour out His Spirit on literally ALL FLESH? Absolutely not! Only those who believed received the baptism of the Holy Spirit which was a seal of inheritance. It assured them that they would be changed to immortal at the Coming of the Lord at the end of the age. (1 Cor. 15) We MUST understand that the word "ALL" is often times used to represent "the entirety of a specific group" and not literally all as in every single person.
The point here is that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was indeed THE SIGN that you were redeemed and born of God. Not everyone received it! Not even close! A very select number, a remnant received it. BOTH JEW AND GENTILE RECEIVED IT! This told them that they would inherit the promise. That is why Paul said...
"In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance UNTIL we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory."
Remember, this letter IS NOT written to everyone. It is written to BELIEVERS who had heard the gospel, BELIEVED THE GOSPEL, and were given the seal of the Holy Spirit as the promise of their coming inheritance.
7) The New Jerusalem
In the end of the book of Revelation we read about the New Jerusalem. As we know, this New Jerusalem represents the bride of Christ. It is a picture of His New Covenant people. It is a picture of God now dwelling with His people. We as believers are the Temple of God now.
The CPU believes that after the New Heaven and New Earth came, there was no more sin. But keeping in mind that this is a picture of the New Heaven and New Earth, look what John writes....
"Then I saw a New Heaven and a New Earth.........To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death." Revelation 21:1 &6-8
Remember, this is AFTER Jesus says "IT IS DONE!" in verse 6. Clearly we see faithless, detestable, murderers, sexually immoral etc EXISTING AFTER "IT IS DONE".
The CPU says that everyone is part of this New Jerusalem now. There is nobody who is excluded.
If this is true, then why do we read the following when we read about the New Jerusalem...
"But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb'sbook of life." Revelation 21:27
Clearly there are those outside of the New Jerusalem who won't ever enter in!
In the New Jerusalem we see the river of life and the tree of life and we are told that the tree has leaves.
"The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." Revelation 22:2
Why would any nation need healing if all are redeemed? The CPU would say that everyone is already made perfect because of Christ's death. Yet, how could anyone need healing if they are already perfect? This is a picture of broken and alienated humanity in need of restoration with their Creator.
8) The unpardonable sin
CPU says that there is no sin in the New Heaven and New Earth. As I demonstrated above in Isaiah chapter 65, there are clearly still accursed sinners in the New Heaven and New Earth. There are also clearly still "chosen ones" called out from the totality of humanity in the New Heaven and New Earth. But what about the unpardonable sin? Look what Jesus said about that...
"And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come" Matthew 12:32
Jesus was speaking during the Mosaic Old Covenant Age. He is speaking about a sin that won't be forgiven both in the Mosaic Age AND in the AGE TO COME. What age is that? That is the New Covenant age. The New Heavens and New Earth. Again, clearly showing that sin still exists. Also showing that "forgiveness" will be ongoing in the New Heaven and New Earth.
9) Romans chapter 3
I actually heard a CPU once say that Romans was written solely to Jews. This couldn't be further from the truth. Clearly Paul is writing to the church of Rome which is made up of both Jew and Gentile. There are numerous references to both groups in the letter. It is obvious in some places Paul is speaking to the Gentiles and also to the Jews in other places. Look what Paul says about all of humanity...
"What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” Romans 3:9-12
Seems abundantly clear that Paul was trying to make the point that both Jew and Gentile are sinners and fall short of the glory of God.
Now remember, Paul is writing to both Jew and Gentile here and take a look at how powerful this next portion of the same chapter is....
"But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it-- the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." Romans 3:21-26
Paul says three times in this one passage that it is by faith. He also says that there is NO DISTINCTION between Jew and Gentile when it comes to sin. All have sinned and fall short. According to CPU, the only ones that needed to believe and repent were the Jews of the last generation. But yet the gospel went far and wide to Gentiles as well and Paul here tells us there is no distinction. I trust you see how the argument that faith was only needed for the last generation of Jews falls terribly short.
10) Without faith it is impossible to please God
There is no doubt that faith is literally everywhere in the bible. It is the central theme. But have you ever read Hebrews chapter 11 and noticed all the times the word "faith" is used? Perhaps more than other other chapter in the entire bible. The author is speaking about Noah, Abraham, Moses etc and he is detailing their faith. The word "faith" is used 25 times in the chapter. Look what the author says about faith...
"And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." Hebrews 11:6
The entire chapter is all about FAITH. But look at how the author ended chapter 10...
"But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul" Hebrews 10:39
Now remember, this is just prior to the end of the Old Covenant. The author says that what was growing old and waxing away was ready to vanish and be replaced by something far better. He speaks about the two Covenants.
THE ENTIRE BOOK OF HEBREWS IS COMPARING THE OLD IMPERFECT COVENANT TO THE NEW ETERNAL PERFECT COVENANT!
THE AUTHOR IS INTRODUCING THE REASONS WHY THE NEW COVENANT IS FAR SUPERIOR! HE IS STRESSING OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN THAT FAITH IS THE CENTER OF IT ALL!
It is written within 10 years of the destruction of Jerusalem and yet the author still says that "without FAITH it is IMPOSSIBLE TO PLEASE GOD."
Why would the author stress this point so much if within a few years, faith was going to be pointless? If faith would become unnecessary at the resurrection which we know occurred in AD70, why wouldn't the author make mention of it? He doesn't. Instead his whole focus is on FAITH.
CPU's will flat out say that faith is not needed today. I personally have read this on social media and even have a screen shot of someone who said it. Clearly the author of Hebrews, along with every other NT author was not in agreement with this concept that faith wouldn't be needed once the Old Covenant Age ended.
11) Behold He is a New Creation
CPU would have us believe that everyone is a new creation and has their part in the New Jerusalem. I have shown above how Revelation makes this view impossible as there are still those outside of the gates of the city. But what about the following passage...
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation." 2 Corinthians 5:17-18
If anyone be in Christ he is a new creation, the old has passed and the new has come. Doesn't this represent a change? Doesn't this represent newness of life? Of course it does.
This is what happens when we are brought into the Kingdom of God and given New Life in Christ Jesus. Things change for us. Some people may have a more radical change than others, but the changes are evident indeed. To think that murderers, rapists, terrorists, child molesters, etc are all New Creations in Christ Jesus is just insanity.
We as believers have been given the ministry of reconciliation. The death of the Lord Jesus Christ was powerful enough to redeem all who come to Him in faith.
There are many beliefs regarding God's Sovereignty and how a person is actually saved. Some believe that there are a certain number of elect and some believe that anyone can come. I tend to fall somewhere in the middle now even though I once held strictly to the doctrines of Calvinism. Since understanding Full Preterism, my stance on predestination has been challenged slightly. However, whatever your belief on God's Sovereignty is it doesn't matter. The death of Christ was powerful enough to reconcile all men if all men would believe. This is why Paul wrote the following....
"For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe." 1 Timothy 4:10
Is there not a distinct advantage to believing shown here? He is the Savior of all men, ESPECIALLY those who believe. If all men are already redeemed, what advantage would believers have over non-believers?
12) Faith comes by hearing
Paul in Romans chapter 10 writes...
"Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him." Romans 10:12
Again, no distinction. Whoever BELIEVES.
He also writes...
"How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?”So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Romans 10:14-17
Do you see how important it is to share the gospel of peace? To exhort people to believe in Jesus and to share the Word of God? It is crucial! This is how people BELIEVE!
As we showed above, "it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God without FAITH".
Paul did not say to preach the gospel of peace only up until the Coming of the Lord in AD70.
13) What is the Kingdom of God?
The bible says the following about the Kingdom of God...
"for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" Romans 14:17
If the Kingdom of God is righteousness, joy, and PEACE in the Holy Spirit, then does everyone have these fruits? Does a murderer, rapist, terrorist, child molester, God hating atheist, have these fruits?
But yet the CPU says they are in the same Kingdom as those of us who have experienced the peace from God.
14) Why did the Kingdom of God come to earth?
When the Lord instructed His disciples to pray He told them to pray like this...
"Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven."
Assuming everyone is already in the Kingdom today as the CPU position claims, what does this say about God's will? If the purpose of the Kingdom of God coming to earth was so that HIS WILL would be done ON EARTH the same way it is done in Heaven, what does that say about His Kingdom?
It says that His Kingdom is one of murder, rape, lies, cheating, wickedness, terrorism, pornography, drugs, war, violence, hate, and on and on.
If everyone is already a partaker of His Kingdom then all of those who commit such wicked acts are doing so based on the will of God. Can you truly accept that?
Remember, the Kingdom of God was coming so that His will could be done THROUGH THE KINGDOM on earth. He would bring healing, joy, peace, and righteousness through the Kingdom. People could enter in and find rest. But again, if everyone is already a member of this Kingdom, these Kingdom traits are complete nonsense because wickedness runs rampant today.
"The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." Galatians 5:22-23
What fruits do these so called Kingdom members exhibit that match these fruits of the Holy Spirit?
We are told that the man who strapped a bomb to his chest and blew up 100 innocent people is now in heaven because he was redeemed and a member of the Kingdom already. Yet, he exhibited nothing that would show that he was a member of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus said you will know them by their fruits.
He did not say "You will know them by their fruits up until AD70".
15) Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess
CPU's like to use this passage as a sort of text proof for an afterlife reconciliation. They say ...
"see it says right here that every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess therefore it must mean literally everyone at some point in eternity since clearly people die without bowing and confessing in their lifetime."
This wording is found in a couple places in scripture. In Romans 14 we read the following..
"But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: "As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.” Romans 14:10-11
Clearly here we aren't looking at a universal reconciliation scene. Paul is writing about judgement and how we shall all stand before God. It is a picture of God's ultimate authority. It in no way depicts every human being being redeemed to God.
We also read of this same concept in another portion of scripture....
"Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philipians 2:9-10
How is this showing universal reconciliation? To me, it is simply showing again the Authority of Jesus Christ as the name above all names. The judgement of each person occurs at the judgement seat of Christ. To read universal reconciliation into these passages is totally unjustifiable. The knee bowing and the tongue confessing symbolizes that the King is the supreme authority over ALL. It is appointed for men to die once, then comes the judgement.
16) Abraham was a man of faith
We read the following about Abraham...
"For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." Romans 4:3
It was always by faith.
We then read...
"And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised." Romans 4:11-12
Abraham is the father of ALL THOSE WHO BELIEVE both Jew and Gentile. He is the father of all those who walk in the steps of the faith which he (Abraham) walked in.
We then read...
"Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written,“I have made you a father of many nations") in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did" Romans 4:16-17
Clearly this faith was going to secure the promise to all of Abrahams seed. Not only the Jews but also the Gentiles.
"Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification." Romans 4:23-25
Again, the righteousness is imputed to THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN JESUS.
17) Who is blessed?
"And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying “In you all the nations shall be blessed." Galatians 3:8
The Gentiles would be justified by faith it says. Look what Paul says right after...
"So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham." Galatians 3:9
Those who are of FAITH are blessed.
18) Crying out "Abba Father!"
Paul, writing to both Jews and Gentiles at the church of Rome writes the following....
"But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness." Romans 8:9-10
Paul says that if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, HE IS NOT HIS.
Seems strange that Paul could make such bold statements if only 10-20 years later, EVERYONE would have the Spirit of Christ in them as the CPU position claims. Look what else Paul writes about the promise of the Spirit...
"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God," Romans 8:14-16
Why would Paul need to make this distinction if everyone was going to be sons of God anyway? But rather, he says "for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, THESE are sons of God". Clearly making a distinction.
He says that THEY (not everyone) but THEY (The believers in Rome) received the Spirit of adoption which caused them to cry out "ABBA FATHER!". The Spirit of God bears witness with our spirits telling us that we are one of His Children.
The same thing happens today! There is nothing different!
I lived 27 years mocking Jesus and hating God. Until He knocked me on my knees one morning and I cried out to Him to save me. He answered radically and powerfully and I was changed INSTANTLY.
Guess what else INSTANTLY happened that day? I began crying out "FATHER!" I knew He was my Father and I knew I was His son. But not a moment before that did I know this. Why? Because I had not yet received the Spirit of adoption. I had not yet turned to Him and believed.
Now I am not saying it has to happen that way for everyone. God works His will in our lives differently for each of us. However, I can assure you that there are countless believers who can recognize their lives before and after coming to Christ. There will be drastic differences in their lives before and after they met Him and were adopted into His Kingdom. They were made into "A NEW CREATION".
Are they perfectly sinless in this life? ABSOLUTELY NOT.
But are they perfectly righteous IN CHRIST? ABSOLUTELY
This my friends, still happens all over the world, every minute of every day. The Kingdom grows and has no end. (Isaiah 9)
19) Universalists say that since death has been defeated there is no more death for anyone.
Yet what they fail to recognize again is audience relevance!
For whom is there no more death?
FOR THOSE INSIDE OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
Who was changed to immortal at the Coming of the Lord? THE BELIEVERS WERE. Those who received the promise of the Holy Spirit as a deposit of their coming inheritance. NOBODY ELSE.
The righteous dead were raised from Hades and brought into the Kingdom of Heaven while the righteous living were changed to immortal to join them in this ONE NEW ETERNAL KINGDOM.
The no more death DOES NOT apply to those outside of the gates of the New Jerusalem.
Jesus said "He who BELIEVES in me SHALL NEVER DIE"
There is your "NO MORE DEATH".
If you are IN Christ, there is NO MORE DEATH.
This is NOT universal.
20) John 3:16
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
1)Those who believe receive eternal life
2)Those who do not believe will perish. Not burn forever in conscious torment, but perish. Cease to exist. Go back to the dust from which they came.
Jesus did not say...
"He who believes in Me up until the resurrection in AD70 will have everlasting life but then after that belief is not required."
Faith was required all the way back in the book of Genesis and it still is today.
21) Such will not inherit the Kingdom of God
Paul says the following...
"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God" 1 Corinthians 6:9
I don't see any place near or around any of these scriptures which show that this ended in AD70. Paul doesn't say...
"adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, drunkards will not inherit the Kingdom of God UNLESS it is after AD70 then everyone will inherit it."
NO! Nothing has changed!
Universalists forget the context and the recipients of these letters were ALL BELIEVERS. The benefits that we read that are being given to "ALL MEN" are given only to "ALL MEN IN CHRIST".
22) Proclaiming His name
Why would God give only a remnant of people the desire and passion to proclaim His name if everyone was already a child of God? According to the bible, if we are His, the same Spirit that brought Christ from the dead lives in us. That same Spirit is a Spirit of witness. A Spirit to tell people about Him and to proclaim His goodness. If murderers and workers of wickedness possess this same Spirit, what does that tell you?
God always used men as His voice piece to call other men back to Him. He used men in the days of old to get people to repent and turn. Nothing has changed.
23) Not under the Law anymore
Romans as we discussed earlier was written to both Jew and Gentile believers. There is absolutely no denying this fact. The CPU would say only the Jews had the Law and therefore this is why they needed to repent and believe and be forgiven in that last generation. As I have showed extensively, this view just doesn't hold up to any form of scrutiny both biblically and logically.
If the Gentiles were never under any form of moral law in the first place, why does Paul go to such great lengths to condemn falling back into sin when writing to them in the book of Romans? Notice all the talk of sin here...
"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." Romans 6:1-4
How could one continue to SIN if they were never able to sin in the first place?
Paul and the other NT writers all preached GRACE, yes indeed! They actually preached HEAVILY about grace. HOWEVER, do you notice that they always backed it up with a STERN warning NOT to fall BACK INTO SIN?
He also writes...
"knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, (BELIEVERS) reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:6-11
Again, speaking to Gentiles in his letter he writes that they should no longer be slaves to sin. He also refers to them (BELIEVERS) who have died "with Christ" and he says that since Christ dies no more, they too will live with Him and die no more. Here is again the concept of "no death" for all those IN CHRIST. This has nothing to do with EVERY SINGLE PERSON. This is a limited group and cannot be applied to anyone outside of Christ.
Look what Paul says next...
"What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!" Romans 6:15
Clearly there is still the possibility to sin even though these believers are under grace! Paul tells them that grace is not an excuse to sin! Paul does not say...
"Don't sin up until AD70 because sin is still counted against you but once AD70 comes there will be no more sin."
At the time Paul wrote these letters we must recognize that the Kingdom had already began in its infancy. It was being introduced and would come in its fullness at the end of the age. The "GRACE" that Paul preached and the same "GRACE" that CPU's preach today, WAS ALREADY IN ACTION back when Paul wrote these letters.
Clearly though, there was still SIN running alongside of that Grace that Paul preached about.
Paul CONDEMNS those who say that GRACE IS AN EXCUSE TO SIN! (Romans 6:1)
Paul in his letter to the Romans makes it clear that they were not under a "Law System". However, he makes sure that they know that they DO HAVE A MORAL LAW written on their hearts.
Grace forbids them (and us) to live immoral and sinful lives.
Three times in the letter Paul wants them NOT to become SLAVES OF SIN. He says doing so is "death".
Paul taught that the Roman believers weren't under the Law but that grace condemned immorality.
The CPU position would disagree with Paul because they claim that there is absolutely no law, no sin, and no moral right and wrong under the new age of Grace. What they forget is that Paul was ALREADY IN THE AGE OF GRACE when he taught this. The "already but not yet" period had already well been established and they were in its transition phase.
Whatever Paul was teaching then and there, was a sneak peak into the New Eternal Covenant System that God would fully consummate at the Coming of the Lord.
24) God is the same yesterday, today, and forever
We hear this all the time and we believe it. Yet, the CPU position would have you believe that God has changed and has changed in a dramatic way! Look at what the author of Psalm chapter 5 has to say about Gods character....
"For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness,
Nor shall evil dwell with You.
The boastful shall not stand in Your sight;
You hate all workers of iniquity.
You shall destroy those who speak falsehood;
The Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
But as for me, (BELIEVER) I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy;
In fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple.
Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies;
Make Your way straight before my face.
For there is no faithfulness in their mouth;
Their inward part is destruction;
Their throat is an open tomb;
They flatter with their tongue.
Pronounce them guilty, O God!
Let them fall by their own counsels;
Cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions,
For they have rebelled against You.
But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;
Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them;
Let those also who love Your name
Be joyful in You.
For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous;
With favor You will surround him as with a shield."
Do we not clearly see a distinction between the righteous and the wicked here? This theme is carried all the way throughout the bible, from cover to cover with no wavering whatsoever.
25) "The Savior of "The Whole World"
1 John 2:2 says...
"And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world."
Now this sounds like a Universal salvation doesn't it? But often times all we have to do is read a little further in the chapter to get the full picture and what we will see is that again Christ's death was sufficient enough to save the whole world but salvation cannot be obtained without faith. Let's read what John writes just after this passage...
"Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked." 1 John 2:3-6
We read also in the same chapter...
"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him" 1 John 2:15
We also read in the same chapter...
"Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also" 1 John 2:22-23
The question I have for CPU's is this....
Does anyone deny the Son today? Does anyone deny the Father today?
Clearly the answer is a resounding YES.
Do I need to go any further?
WHAT WE READ IN THE NEW TESTAMENT LETTERS IS THE BREAKING FORTH OF THE NEW COVENANT.
IT WAS NOT ONLY THE END OF THE OLD COVENANT BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY IT WAS THE BEGINNING OF THE NEW COVENANT OF GRACE!!
We read extensively about the perfect Grace that is available to all men through faith in Jesus. We also read about the sin that still exists and should not overtake us and should not be excused because of this same Grace.
Remember, THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF THE NEW COVENANT.
Paul and the other authors were giving us a glimpse into this New Covenant.
Can you imagine the reaction of the recipients of these epistles if indeed it was true that at AD70 faith would no longer be required? Basically it would be like saying this....
"You guys have to pick up your cross, believe, deny the flesh etc BUT EVERYONE WHO IS BORN AFTER AD70 CAN JUST EAT DRINK AND BE MERRY BECAUSE IT'S ALL FINISHED FOR EVERYONE! NO WORRIES!"
What would those first century saints have said to this? What a RAW DEAL!
Of course, they understood the epistles the way they were intended to be understood so they would not have had this kind of reaction.
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek."
Faith has always been the activator of our redemption. Nothing has changed. God is still the same God as He was back in the days of Adam and Eve and right on up to our day today.
The sacrifice of His Son on the cross was sufficient and powerful enough to save all men but that reconciliation cannot be received until we receive His sacrifice and believe in Him.
I do not believe that all Universalists have bad intentions nor do I believe that all Universalists are lost. As stated earlier, I believe many of these people really do love the Lord and have truly been given His Spirit so that they cry out Abba Father. However, I do wholeheartedly believe that their understanding of reconciliation between man and God is flawed.
We have to remember context when reading the scriptures. We have to remember that the letters are written to those ALREADY INSIDE OF CHRIST. The authors speak in a universal sense because of this very fact. When speaking to a limited audience, we don't need to always specify that we are not speaking of every human on the entire planet. It is generally assumed that the context is limited to those whom we are speaking to. Same concept applies in these letters.
I hope that you would receive this in the way it was intended. Sometimes it is hard to make your point without using some direct and often sometimes harsh comparisons.
As I stated earlier, if Universalism was in the bible, I would believe it. Case closed. I do not fear the opinions of men nor do I hold orthodox beliefs to any esteem.
I am fully confident that reconciliation is brought about by one way. His name is Jesus.
Just like the Gentile prison guard in Acts chapter 16 said to Paul...
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved"
Nothing has changed.
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If the title of this article shocks you, don't worry, it should.
All throughout our lives as believers we have for the most part been taught that salvation was received and inherited at the cross. Although it sounds like it is correct and it sounds realistic, the truth is that the bible actually does not teach this. In fact, it is overwhelmingly clear that the saints that were alive after the cross were all still looking ahead to the day that they would receive their salvation.
To put it rather simply...
The Coming of the Lord brought the inheritance. The Coming of the Lord raised the dead into heaven and gathered the living remnant into the Kingdom simultaneously.
We say these words all the time....."HE SAVED ME!"
The truth is, if Christ has not yet returned, then NOBODY has obtained salvation. Salvation was the result of the Kings return to fully cloth His saints in perfection and to fully establish His Kingdom on earth.
My goal is to demonstrate this using nothing but scriptures written AFTER the cross and after Christ's ascension into heaven. I will use scriptures from a variety of books just to prove that this is well documented from numerous inspired authors. Let's start with Peter. Written decades after the cross of Christ, look what he writes...
"Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." 1 Peter 1:5
he also writes...
"Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:" 1 Peter 1:9-10
So right off the bat we see Peter speaking of this salvation that was going to be "revealed in the last time". But the majority of pastors today teach that they had already had it at that time.
Now I know what you may be thinking. You are thinking that perhaps Peter was just talking about when these saints would die. It would be when the died that they would receive their salvation. What you will see as you progress through this article is that this just cannot be so. It is abundantly clear that salvation as a whole, wouldn't be applied to anyone and wouldn't be received by anyone, until the Lord returned to end the Old Covenant Age.
Let's read on and see what Paul had to say about it in his letter to the Romans. Again, remember this is written decades after the cross.....
"…for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed." Romans 13:11
he also wrote...
"...even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body." Romans 8:23
Again, we see this written many years after the cross and it is clear that their salvation was getting closer. It was "nearer" then, then when they had first believed. They were still "waiting for the adoption" Paul says. When we are brought into the Kingdom today, we are adopted in right? Of course we are! But back then, Paul says "we are WAITING FOR THE ADOPTION". It hadn't happened yet because when this letter was written, the Old Covenant age was still coming to a close and the Lord had not yet returned.
Again after the cross, Paul in Ephesians writes...
"In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory." Ephesians 1:13-14
Again, they were given the Holy Spirit as a sign or a deposit of their inheritance. They would have that until the "redemption of the purchased possession". They had not received their redemption yet. They were given the Holy Spirit as a sign that they were safe, they were His. But again, the actual finished product would not be inherited until the Coming of the Lord.
To the Philippians after the cross Paul writes...
"Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." Philippians 2:12
They were working it out because they hadn't yet received it. How many times have you heard someone these days say that we are "totally secure in Him and our salvation is secure! Nobody can pluck us from His hand!" Yet at the same time they say "we have to work out our own salvation".
The first century saints were working it out because they hadn't yet received it. You and I today, when we are brought into His light, we are in. There is no if's about it. Does this make it ok to sin? BY NO MEANS! - said the Apostle Paul
True Grace gives a person the ability to walk pleasing to God. Are we going to be perfect and commit no sin? OF COURSE NOT. However, when you are in Him, you are made perfect because of His perfection. You are fully clothed today. Whereas the first century saints who were still looking ahead to the inheritance were called "partially clothed" by Paul when he wrote...
"For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life."
2 Cor. 5:4
The author of Hebrews, decades after the cross writes...
"Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" Hebrews 1:14
"So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin for salvation." Hebrews 9:28
How can the author say that they "shall be heirs of salvation" if they already had it? Impossible.
Secondly, how powerful is Hebrews 9:28? It can't be anymore clear! The cross was the payment for sin but his Coming would bring salvation. His coming was for salvation!
Writing to believes after the cross Paul writes to the Thessalonians...
"But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation." 1 Thessalonians 5:8
Hoping for a salvation they already had? Or a salvation that was coming?
In Acts chapter 3, after the cross, look what we read...
"That your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ.. whom the heavens must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." Acts 3:19-21
Again this was after the cross and yet their sins would not yet completely be blotted out until the Coming of the Lord Jesus. Jesus even spoke of their redemption in His discourse when He said....
"And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth NEAR." Luke 21:28
Jesus was speaking about the armies surrounding Jerusalem in this chapter. He even says it. He also encapsulates everything He predicted as going to happen within that generation. It would be happening before some of the men listening to Him there would die. He says "when you see these things happen, look up for your redemption draws near". How could their redemption be drawing near decades AFTER THE CROSS if it was finalized at the cross? Makes no sense!
Now I know the one verse you are thinking of. The thief on the cross. I mean after all, that was at the cross and Jesus did say to him "today you will be with my in paradise".
But did you know that the word for paradise is G3857 "paradeisos" and the definition of this word as used in the bible actually means....."the part of Hades which was thought by the Jews to be the abode of the souls of the righteous and Godly until the resurrection?"
To a Jew in that day, the word "paradeisos" would have represented Hades or Abrahams Bosom.
We know that this must be what Jesus was referring to because the resurrection of the dead can be exhaustively proven to have taken place at the detraction of Jerusalem at the end of the Old Covenant age.
Many people deny the already but not yet principle that we see in the New Testament writings. This is a tremendous mistake. Every redemptive concept that we read of, has an already but not yet theme to it. They had already received the deposit of their inheritances but yet they were still waiting to receive the finished product. If you earn a $5000 bonus from your employer and it is going to be paid to you in 60 days, is it by rights yours? Of course it is! It is as good as done! Legally that money is yours! However, you have to wait 60 days to receive it. Would you speak to your spouse about the money as if it was already yours? OF COURSE YOU WOULD! You'd probably even talk about what you're going to spend it on. Why? Already but not yet! It's a done deal! You are just waiting for it!
The resurrection, salvation, immortality, etc. Every one of these concepts is consistent. It was as good as done at the cross. When they received their deposit promise of the Holy Spirit they were assured they would inherit the promises when the Lord returned. Complete perfection would not come until the Lord came to bring it.
If the Lord has not yet returned, then nobody has obtained salvation.
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We always hear people in the church today say that "we are sealed with the Holy Spirit". Exactly how true is this though?
When examining Paul's letter to the church of Ephesus, we see something that should really catch our attention. He is explaining to them the redemption that they had in Christ, through His blood. He says that through His blood they would receive forgiveness of sins which He lavished upon them according to the riches of His grace. He goes on to say....
"In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory." Ephesians 1:11-12
Now we are going to get to the part where we read about this "sealing" of the Holy Spirit. In the futurist camps, the "sealing" is still ongoing today. They are looking ahead and waiting for the Day of the Lord. However, a proper understanding of the end of the age and what would occur when the Lord returned (past tense) will quickly prove that this ongoing "sealing" view is just not correct. Look what Paul writes next....
"In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory." Ephesians 1:13-14
Did you catch that? It is extremely important to understand.
Paul said that at the moment they believed in Christ, they were given a guarantee of their soon to come inheritance. They were given the promised Holy Spirit who came and "sealed" them.
Now remember, this was written after the cross. Keep that in mind and consider the very next words that Paul writes....
"who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory." Ephesians 1:14
This was after the cross and they had not yet received their inheritance. What was their inheritance? Their inheritance was immortality. It was eternal life. It was the fullness of their salvation which would come when the Lord returned to gather them into Himself and to be King of His Kingdom. They had not yet received that.
According to Paul when writing to the Corinthians, it wouldn't be until the Lord returned, that they would be changed to immortal. It would be at that point that death would be swallowed up. (1 Corinthians 15)
The promise of the Holy Spirit was a deposit to guarantee that they would receive the inheritance. It was proof that they were His. It was proof that they were a child of God and they would inherit their place in His Kingdom when He came for salvation. It caused them to cry out "Abba Father".
Sin was dealt with at the cross but salvation would be inherited at His return. Which is why the author of Hebrews writes...
"so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation." Hebrews 9:28
In Paul's second letter to the Corinthians he writes...
"Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee." 2 Corinthians 1:21-22
Again, it was a guarantee. They were waiting for their inheritance.
When the Lord would return to bring His Kingdom, the saints would put on immortality and officially be clothed in perfection. They would put away childish things and would now come to the full stature of maturity as they were brought into the Perfect Man, who is the very Kingdom Himself.
They were partially clothed at the cross but wouldn't be fully clothed until He came. That is why Paul wrote...
"For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life." 2 Corinthians 5:4
The New Jerusalem was seen coming down as a bride after the temple fell at the end of the age. This coming Kingdom would bring perfection and immortality to the saints. This was "that which is perfect" that Paul spoke of in 1 Corinthians chapter 13.
I believe that the deposit of the Holy Spirit that was given to them was the partial and the "childish" version of what was coming. It was given to them while they waited for the arrival of the perfect. This is why Paul emphatically stated in 1 Corinthians 13 that "when that which is perfect comes" then all the miraculous gifts such as tongues, prophecy, etc would cease. He uses emphatic language that can only mean to cease.
Whatever form or fashion that the Holy Spirit was given in that transitional period, it was given as a deposit until the Lord returned and clothed them all in His perfection. They were changed in the twinkling of an eye at that moment. The same thing that happens to a child of God today when they are made new.
Jesus ascended and He sent the helper to comfort them until He returned. The form of the Holy Spirit which we see operating during the transitional period was a transitory vehicle to take the saints to the Revelation of Jesus Christ.
Christ has since been revealed to the world and He continues to reveal Himself to the world day in and day out.
How is that "sealing" different than today you ask?
Today, when we enter the Kingdom, we instantly have possession of our inheritance. We are instantly made eternal. We instantly put on immortality when we are resurrected into Christ. Hades has been cast away and is no more. Death has been defeated in Christ. He who believes shall never die.
The first generation believers were still waiting until the Coming of the Lord which would happen before some of them died. (Matthew 16:27-28) It would be at that point that the Morning Star would dawn in their hearts and they would be clothed in perfection forever.
Today, we are instantly gathered into the Kingdom, which is Christ.
It's a great time to be alive.
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Most of us are very familiar with this parable that Jesus gave. It is found in Matthew chapter 13 and basically like most of His other parables, He is speaking about the Kingdom. He compares the wheat (good seed) with the tares (weeds). Symbolizing the righteous and unrighteous.
The harvest would be the final scene of this parable when the reaper would come and SEPARATE the just from the unjust.
We see this same language in Revelation chapter 14 when the angel says....
"“Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” Revelation 14:15
But back to the parable of Jesus.....
Jesus gives the parable and then he actually explains it further and says...
"The harvest is the END OF THE AGE, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the END OF THE AGE." Matthew 13:39-40
So we know that the weeds (the unjust) were going to be burned up with fire in judgment. But what about the just? (aka the wheat) What would happen to them at the end of the age? He tells us...
"Then the righteous will SHINE LIKE THE SUN IN THE KINGDOM of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear." Matthew 13:43
Now, keep that in mind and let's go to Daniel chapter 12.
Daniel chapter 12 is the ultimate time indicating passage in scripture in my opinion. It helps us to pull everything back into context. It answers so many questions. It is easy to understand and it honestly CANNOT be placed in our future based on the historical facts that we know about the 42 month destruction of Jerusalem at the end of the age ending in ad70.
In the first 3 verses of Daniel 12 we see the great tribulation, the resurrection, the judgment, and the saints inheriting the Kingdom mentioned. A few verses later, someone asks when all of those things would be fulfilled. The answer comes and is actually sworn by God. The answer is that "it would be for 42 months, and when the power of the holy people is completely shattered, ALL THESE THINGS WILL BE FINISHED". We know that happened already so of course all of those things mentioned are fulfilled...But what is the point in regards to the parable mentioned above?
Well look at this verse in the beginning of Daniel chapter 12 and you're going to notice something very similar to what Jesus said..
"At that time.....many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt...."
Do you see what I see? That right there is the separation of the wheat and tares/ the just and unjust
Jesus also referred to this elsewhere as the separation of the sheep from the goats.
But look at this....
Remember earlier when we quoted the parable of the wheat and tares and Jesus said this....
Then the righteous will SHINE LIKE THE SUN IN THE KINGDOM of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear." Matthew 13:43
Now, check this out from Daniel 12. I am going to start at verse 1 and go straight through verse 3 and I want you to notice THE EXACT SAME LANGUAGE THAT JESUS USED TO DESCRIBE WHAT WOULD HAPPEN AFTER THE WHEAT WAS SEPARATED FROM THE TARES......
“At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise (the wheat/just) SHALL SHINE LIKE THE BRIGHTNESS OF THE SKY ABOVE; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever." Daniel 12:3
If you don't understand what I am trying to demonstrate, here it is...
Daniel in chapter 12 when predicting "the time of the end", looks ahead to the future and sees the resurrection of the dead out of Hades. He then sees them judged. He says that "some would go to everlasting life and some to everlasting contempt".....that right there is your wheat and tare separation.
Now, the last thing Daniel sees is those who are "wise" which is his way of referring to the wheat or those who were righteous. They enter into the Kingdom to do what? "TO SHINE LIKE THE BRIGHTNESS OF THE SKY ABOVE". What gives the sky brightness? The sun!
Now remember, ALL of this was going to be FINISHED once the 42 month tribulation on the Jews was finished. We know FOR A FACT that this was finished exactly as predicted in the year AD70.
Jesus in His wheat and tare parable says that after they are separated, the wheat (or the righteous) would "SHINE LIKE THE SUN IN THE KINGDOM"
Daniel in his vision sees the resurrection take place out of Hades. He sees the righteous and the unrighteous judged and then split which is the same separation as the wheat and tares. He then says that the righteous would "SHINE LIKE THE BRIGHTNESS OF THE SKY ABOVE".
BINGO!! DIRECT CONNECTION.
Since we know Daniel 12 is NO DOUBT fulfilled and since we know that Jesus is basically just drawing off of Daniel's vision, then what do we know for sure?
WE KNOW THAT THE SEPARATION OF THE WHEAT AND THE TARES WAS ANOTHER WAY OF DESCRIBING THE END OF THE AGE RESURRECTION AND JUDGEMENT AND SPLITTING WHEN THE RIGHTEOUS WOULD ENTER THE KINGDOM LIKE ANGELS AND WOULD SHINE FOREVERMORE!
THIS MY FRIENDS, IS A PAST EVENT.
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I am sure most of us are already aware but for those who may not be, the word "Hades" is used in scripture to represent the "place of waiting" where souls went upon death prior to the opening up of the Kingdom of God. (See the resurrection and the righteous dead shining forth forever in Daniel 12)
"Hades" is a Greek term used to represent the underworld and the abode of the dead. The New Testament use of "Hades" builds on its Hebrew parallel, "Sheol", which was the preferred translation in the Septuagint.
In the Hebrew Old Testament, Sheol was the word used to describe the place that both the ungodly and the Godly would go upon death. It was a place of waiting. For instance in the Old Testament we catch glimpses of Sheol in passages like...
"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom."
"But you, God, will bring down the wicked into the pit of decay; the bloodthirsty and deceitful will not live out half their days. But as for me, I trust in you."
"“I will deliver this people from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction? “I will have no compassion"
In the Greek New Testament we see the same concept but we see this place being called "Hades" which is the Greek translation. For example...
"he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption." Acts 2:31
"And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it" Matthew 16:18
On and on we see these examples throughout both the Old and New Testaments of this place of waiting where the dead would go until the resurrection was to take place. But now if you stop and think about what the mainstream belief within Christianity is today, you'd notice something very important. I say "mainstream" because there are some (some) who believe slightly different but again the majority view is presented below. Here are two things that most Christians believe today....
1) Jesus has NOT yet returned
2) Our dead loved ones who have died as believers are now present with the Lord in heaven.
So Jesus is still coming in our future and also our loved ones who have died believing in Him, are presently NOW in heaven. Do these two points blend? Or do they contradict one another completely?
When we examine Daniel chapter 12 we see the following events very clearly. Take a look....
"At that time Michael shall stand up,
The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people;
And there shall be a time of trouble, <-------(Great tribulation)
Such as never was since there was a nation,
Even to that time.
And at that time your people shall be delivered,
Every one who is found written in the book.
And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, <----(Resurrection)
Some to everlasting life,
Some to shame and everlasting contempt." <------(Judgement)
Clearly we see from that short passage that Daniel is looking ahead to the end of the age and the resurrection and judgement. No question. Now let's read on to see if we are told when it would occur....
A couple verses later Daniel sees two angels and one of the angels asks the other how long it would be until these "wonders" were finished. The wonders being the great tribulation, resurrection, and judgement. Here is what is said...
“How long shall the fulfillment of these wonders be?....
Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished." Daniel 12: 6-7
The answer is clear. The "time, times, and half time" is 42 months. All scholars everywhere agree on that point. (year+2 years+ half year= 42 months)
The destruction and siege of Jerusalem lasted 42 months from ad66- ad 70.
He also says that when the power of the holy people was completely shattered, ALL WOULD BE FINISHED. Who were the holy people when Daniel wrote? The Jews. This happened. The end came in ad70. For the most part all Jews were either killed or taken captive. Jerusalem and everything that it was, was laid to rubble. The only ones to escape were the Christians who heeded the warning of Christ when He instructed them to flee to the hills of Judea when they saw the armies coming.
So clearly again, we ABSOLUTELY CANNOT place the resurrection of the dead out of Hades, ANY FURTHER past ad70 when the "power of the holy people was completely shattered over 42 months". If you want to try and prove how that can fit in our future, by all means good luck. There is no "holy people" who's power is going to be shattered in our future. The Christian age is a victorious and never ending eternal age. Christians will not be losing their power over a 42 month period in our future. Hate to break it to ya but it's just not in the bible.
Now, with all of that said and keeping in mind that Hades would be emptied once that 42 months of tribulation was finished, how does this connect to the Coming of the Lord?
Well look what Paul wrote to the members of the church of Thessalonica....
"For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first." 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17
Did you see that? First Paul states clearly that some of those whom he was writing the letter to, would still be alive at the Coming of the Lord. Seems to match what Christ said perfectly about His Coming. But what about the timing of the events....
Paul links these two events undoubtedly together....
1) The Coming of the Lord
2) The raising of the dead out of Hades
Both events were going to happen at the same time in history! What does this emphatically mean then?....
It means that since we can positively place the resurrection of the dead out of Hades at the conclusion of the 42 month destruction at the end of the Old Covenant age in ad70, then WITHOUT QUESTION, ....this is also the time that the Lord returned.
Which by the way matches perfectly to all of His imminent first century predictions of His return. (Matt 16:27-28, Matt 10:23, Matt 24:34 etc)
Furthermore, those who hold to a future second coming, (which would actually be a third coming) would have to biblically prove why He would need to return. Since the whole point of His Coming was to raise the dead and gather them into One Eternal Kingdom on earth and in heaven where He would rule as King in the hearts of men on earth. Why would He need to come again if everything was accomplished at His true second coming? (Hebrews 9:28)
But enough about that. Are you ready for the grand finale? Here it is....
In the VERY END of the book of Revelation we read about Hades. Remember now, this scene is AFTER ALLLLLLL OF THOSE CRAZY WILD "END TIME" EVENTS HAVE BEEN FINISHED.
What does John see in his vision and what does he write? He writes...
"Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire." Revelation 20:11-14
Now couple things to take note of there.....
1) Do you see the exact same thing we saw in Daniel 12? The Book of Life being opened, the dead being raised from Hades to either eternal life or eternal condemnation. Again, Daniel 12 is your time barrier. You cannot place it any further than ad70 because of Daniel 12. No way, no chance, no how.
2) What happened to Hades at the end of the passage? John says "HADES WAS CAST INTO THE LAKE OF FIRE." Symbolic for destroyed forever and never to be needed again.
Therefore, what do we know for a fact?....
1) We know for a fact that Hades was going to be emptied at the end of the 42 month tribulation on the Jews.
2) We know for a fact that when Jesus returned was also going to be the same time that Hades was emptied.
3) We know for a fact that Hades was destroyed after it was emptied.
What logical conclusion can be drawn from these 3 facts?
The book of Revelation and all of it's events have been fulfilled. Hades being destroyed is the very end.
Why was Hades destroyed? There is no need for it anymore. The Kingdom was opened up at the Coming of the Lord and it would finally be available for the righteous dead to exit Hades and enter in.
The unrighteous who die today, perish immediately. While the righteous who die today enter into God's eternal presence immediately. Hades is no longer a place of waiting because it has been done away with.
If you believe that believers go to Heaven immediately today when they die, then by default based on what the bible clearly and emphatically teaches, Hades is gone and the Lord has already returned.
Today, "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord".
2 Corinthians 5:8
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When I first became part of God's Kingdom I would read the bible and wonder about certain things. One of them was the whole issue of giving away all of your possessions. After all, everyone today claims we are living in the last days. The bible clearly says that the disciples of Christ back in the days of Acts would sell all of their stuff and bring the money to the feet of the Apostles. They would also give away all their stuff to the poor. They were provided for by God with whatever they needed, so they literally gave all their possessions away. I always wondered why nobody today does this? We have so many possessions yet no Christians give them all away EVEN THOUGH THEY SWEAR WE ARE IN THE LAST DAYS.
Today I just want to look at a few texts. The article will focus on showing that the reason why these people were getting rid of everything was because a terrible judgement was approaching and was going to destroy everything they owned. Here are just a few examples with some commentary...
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal." Matthew 6:19-20
Jesus tells them not to collect treasures on earth where rust would rot and where thieves would steal. When the Roman armies came in they ravaged the city and stole all the goods. Remember the example Christ gave of them "not knowing what hour the thief would come?" Another text to look at...
“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?....Even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." Luke 3:7 &9
John the baptist comes preaching the message of "REPENT FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS AT HAND". He then calls the Jews who gathered around him, "BROOD OF VIPERS!" and he tells them to "FLEE FROM THE WRATH TO COME!" He then says something that couldn't be more clear. He says that "NOW THE AX IS LAID AT THE ROOT OF THE TREES". This is judgement language. The judgement was drawing near. When a lumberjack lays his ax by the root of a tree, what is he preparing to do? Chop it down. Same concept. Another text...
"Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days." James 5:1-3
Here James again calls out the rich men who have collected items and he says their corrosion will be evidence against them because THEY (not you) have laid up treasures in THOSE (not these) last days of the Old Covenant prior to it's destruction.
How many of you out there are married? I am sure you love your spouse very much. You probably take pride in being married and carefully tending to that bond you have with your spouse right?......
Now, I want you to read the next passage from Paul carefully. Notice what he says. Keep in mind that if we are still in the same "last days" as they were back then, then this recommendation still applies to YOU just as much as it applied to THEM. Paul writes....
"Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife.....Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that. This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away." 1 Corinthians 7:27-31
Man, those are powerful words. If they are to be taken literally today then Paul is basically telling you that you shouldn't marry if you are not married. He is also telling you that if you have a wife, you should live AS THOUGH YOU DON'T HAVE ONE! HUH???? How in the world does that even make sense? Live as though you don't have a wife, even though you do?
Wait a minute, I think I get it....
Paul said "THE TIME HAS GROWN VERY SHORT" and "THE PRESENT FORM OF THIS WORLD IS PASSING AWAY".
Now it makes sense. Their whole "world" as in everything they knew, was about to pass away. It wouldn't be long until all those whom they knew and cared about would be slaughtered by the Romans. It wouldn't be long until their homes and all their possessions were either stolen or burned with fire and destroyed. Now it makes perfect sense. audience relevance.
Paul wasn't saying that they should neglect their wives entirely or in any sense like that. He was just stressing the point that the time was approaching when the judgment would arrive. He wanted them to be Kingdom minded and do the Kingdom business above all else. They were to get the message out to as many as they could before judgment came.
This makes a lot of sense because we read in the end of Revelation that the time had drawn so close when John was writing, that he actually instructs the believers to just allow the wicked to remain wicked. The time had arrived for judgement. Look what he says...
"And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy" Revelation 22:10-11
Look what Peter said in Acts....
"And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” Acts 2:40
Why would Peter tell them to save themselves from THIS (not ours, but theirs) crooked generation? Look what was going on in Acts chapter 4....
"Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles, a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet." Acts 4:32-37
Again we see these same people that Peter just told 2 chapters earlier to save themselves from the wrath which was going to come upon that generation. These people are selling their HOMES and laying the money at the feet of the apostles. Selling their LAND and giving it all to those in need. This matches perfectly to what Jesus said when He predicted the judgement that was going to fall upon THAT generation....
"Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation." Matthew 23:32-36
Again we see that language when Jesus is speaking to the Jews..."BROOD OF VIPERS!" Can He be any clearer here? Clearly the judgement was coming upon THEM, not us. They would be judged for the vengeance of all the righteous blood that they'd shed from all the way back to Abel and all the way up to the end of the age with the slaughtering of Christ and His apostles and disciples. He assures them that all these things would come upon "THIS GENERATION". (Not our generation today 2000 years later)
The point here is this...
If one is going to make such bold claims as to say we are "FOR SURE LIVING IN THE LAST DAYS" then at least be consistent with that belief. At least do what they were doing back then 2000 years ago. At least sell your homes and your land and give that money to those in need. They hold to the belief that the last days started when Peter made that declaration in Acts 2. Therefore if they were giving everything away back then, then we should too.
We can understand the bible as a COVENANT book and rightly divide it.
We can accept the fact that the "last days" were the last days of the Old Covenant and would be the "last days" of the Jewish economy and world, as THEY knew it. It would all come to an end at the Coming of the Lord at the end of the age to put away the generation that crucified the Lord of Glory. He would return as King in His Kingdom and gather both the righteous dead and the righteous living into One New Spiritual Kingdom. This Kingdom will never stop growing for it is the way God brings His will to earth because He now dwells in men.
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For those of you who are unaware, there is a small (and I mean small) group of "bible students" who believe that the bible speaks solely of Israel in regards to Soteriology. They believe that salvation was only available for the Jews and that it stopped at the AD70 Coming of the Lord and didn't extend any further than to the people of Israel. In a nutshell, to summarize, God is done dealing with humans post AD70 in regards to calling them out of darkness and into His light and bringing them into His eternal Kingdom.
Now I usually don't even get involved in things that I consider to be so far from the truth because it's just not worth my time but I figured I would do one article on the topic and then move on. It may be slightly longer than normal because I want to use some good scripture to back it up but I hope that you'll read it and find encouragement from it as well.
Although there are numerous places I could pick from, I will stick mainly to Acts chapter 10.
We all know the story of Cornelius. A Gentile who lived in Caesarea and was a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment. Let's read a little about him before going any further....
"There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!” And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?” So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter." Acts 10:1-5
So right away we notice that this man is not a Jew. He is a gentile of Italian descent. He is told in a vision by God that he must send men to Joppa to visit Peter and to have Peter come back to him (Cornelius) to preach. As we continue on in the chapter we see Peter on the roof praying and he see's a vision too. Let's continue reading....
"The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him,“Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again." Acts 10:9-16
So Peter see's all these unclean beasts descending down to the earth on a great sheet. God tells Peter that what He has made clean, Peter must not call unclean. What is God doing? He is setting the stage for the revelation that Gentiles (those called "unclean") would also be included in the redemptive plan of God. It would not be only for the Jews as they had probably thought up until that point. As we progress we see the men Cornelius sent arrive at Peter's house and they ask him to come and visit Cornelius to preach to him and his family. Here is the exchange....
"And they said, “Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you.” Then he invited them in and lodged them. On the next day Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him." Acts 10:22-23
Peter then arrives to Cornelius and opens his mouth to preach to them and he says many things. But look what he first says....
"Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him." Acts 10:34-35
How much clearer can it be? Peter shuts down Israel Only in just 1 verse. Speaking to GENTILES he says that God shows NO PARTIALITY. But in EVERY NATION whoever fears Him is ACCEPTED BY HIM. He then goes on to say many things about Jesus. One being....
"And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” Acts 10:42-43
WHOEVER BELIEVES. ALL NATIONS CAN RECEIVE REMISSION OF SINS.
Lastly we see the scene where the believing Jews witnessed the Holy Spirit fall on the Gentiles and we read...
"While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also." Acts 10:44-45
Paul and Barnabas were also specifically given a task by God to bring the good news to the Gentiles. We read in Acts 13 Paul and Barnabas saying....
"For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth" Acts 13:47
Now, I know you are all thinking that it really can't be much clearer than that right? But yet we still have this small group of what we call "IO" (Israel Only) out there and they adamantly deny salvation to anyone past AD70.
One of their arguments comes from the wedding parable. They will say that since the wedding occurred at the end of the age when the Lord came back to destroy the Temple and gather His people together, there cannot be anymore marriage. It was done and finished at that point. The wedding was the grand culmination of all the redemptive events. But wow how fatally and terribly flawed this viewpoint really is!
When a man marries a woman, what happens? Do they cease to exist after the wedding? Is that "the end" of it all? Or is that "THE BEGINNING"?
The man and woman go on to have a life long bond and grow together and they multiply and have children and their family grows and continues growing.
While yes the wedding did occur at the end of the Age (symbolically), this was JUST THE START of God's eternal people. From that point onward, the Kingdom has been producing sons and daughters.
IT NEVER ENDS!
At the end of the book of Revelation God shows the gates to the New Jerusalem (which is THE KINGDOM OF GOD) and those gates "NEVER CLOSE". They remain open. The "tree of life" exists within the city. The leaves of that tree of life GO OUT INTO THE NATIONS TO HEAL THEM. Guess who those leaves are? If salvation and healing ended at AD70, what nations are being healed?
This is why Paul could state emphatically in his letter to the Ephesians...
"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21
Let me share something with you about me that you may not know. Up until age 27 I was a die hard atheist. You couldn't tell me otherwise. I HATED GOD. Anytime anyone would mention Jesus to me, I would react in such a hateful and mocking way. I was truly the dictionary definition of a person who despised Christianity. Never once did I pick up a bible on my own other than when I was a young boy being dragged to church by my parents. But guess what happened?
On the morning of March 2nd, 2011 totally broken and totally hopeless and feeling like I was ready to give up, something happened to me. I was in a hotel room out in Coronado Bay, CA. Looking out over the water I began crying. Weeping over my life and what it had come to. Weeping in pain like I'd never felt before. True heartfelt guilt over all the sinful things I had done and over all the times I had done people wrong in my life.
After about 10 minutes of tears pouring out of my face, without any reasoning whatsoever, I was drawn to the foot of my bed. I knelt down. I lifted my hands up. I looked up with tears pouring and I cried out to God these exact words....
"GOD SAVE ME PLEASE!"
Do you know what happened?...
"The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18
That is EXACTLY what happened. A verse written thousands of years ago, happened to me, in the year 2011 as I cried out to God.
Instantly my pain was GONE. Instantly I was overwhelmed with unspeakable joy. Instantly my heart was at peace. When I say "instantly" I mean "INSTANTLY". There was no 10 minute period in between. This didn't gradually happen. I didn't heal gradually over the next 3-5 days. INSTANTLY AS IN LESS THAN A HALF OF A SECOND IT WAS GONE.
I cried tears of joy for HOURS. For days, weeks, months, and even still today when I speak of that moment, I get choked up. Why? Well because God heard my cry and answered me from the heavens. He changed my heart and changed my life. But do you know what happened to me instantly when He answered my cry? Do you know what I KNEW FOR A FACT?....
I knew SOMEHOW, that Jesus Christ is Lord and that it's through HIM ALONE that men can be restored to their Creator.
What's the point of sharing that with you?
Think about it. These folks claim salvation is done. God is done dealing with us. God isn't concerned with anyone other than Israel back in bible days. But how fatally wrong!
It is my honest and sincere belief that those who hold this view, have never tasted the goodness of God and are certainly not restored to Him through the work of Christ. They cannot even fathom present day redemption and restoration because they've never experienced it. They are NOT children of the Most High God. Hence why their bible studies lead to such a poor conclusion. They are not understanding the ways of the One true God.
They don't understand that when Jesus instructed His disciples to pray this....
"Thy Kingdom Come, thy will be done, on EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN." Matthew 6:10.....
He wasn't saying "I am going to bring my Kingdom to earth at the end of the age just so that I can END IT ON EARTH AT THAT SAME TIME.
He is CLEARLY saying that this would be when it would be fully CONSUMMATED to it's perfect form here on earth. The King would return to rule in that Kingdom, THROUGH the hearts of men.
How else would God's "WILL be DONE on EARTH?" It would be done through men.
That was the whole point of the Kingdom coming. You don't fully establish something just to shut it down at the same time. Makes no sense.
But again these people don't have Spiritual eyes. Remember that a person really can't even fathom these things with those spiritual eyes given by God....
"The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Cor. 2:14
They can't even see it. They are book smart so they somewhat understand the "what, when, where, how" of the story but they can't insert themselves in because they themselves currently are not in the story. They totally miss the "who" of the story. Perhaps soon they will be able to include themselves in the story, hopefully.
But ask them to explain how someone like myself could go from God hating, to God loving in less than 1 second and in "the twinkling of an eye" and could literally feel the power of God remove all my guilt and all my pain, and they can't give any good answer.
I am not the only one. I am sure many of you reading this today have had similar experiences with the One true God of the Bible.
God is still in the business of calling us out of darkness and adding to His ever growing everlasting eternal Kingdom. He will always be in that business.
Just as righteousness was obtained through faith hundreds of years before the cross, so it is also obtained the same way today hundreds of years after the cross. The cross was just that. It was the crossing point where Jesus laid His life down to bridge the gap between God and His creation. To bridge the gap again between Heaven and Earth.
Believe on Jesus today, and be saved!
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In Matthew chapter 24 we read the account of Jesus giving the signs of what to look for before the end of the age would occur. Jesus goes through a whole list of things that would take place such as wars, famines, earthquakes, scoffers, etc. He says that people would even be coming out and saying "Look Jesus is there!" or "Quick go here because Jesus is there waiting!" Makes sense because after all Jesus did promise them He would return before some of them died so naturally people would be on high alert waiting for Him to return. They would certainly be getting anxious after decades have passed and you can understand how they would be easily deceived about something like that. About this Jesus says...
“Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be." Matthew 24:26-27
Jesus addresses these coming false claims by saying "For as lightning comes from the east to the west, so also will be the Coming of the Son of Man." In other words, He is saying "I will NOT be in the desert and I will NOT be in the inner rooms." But as we get a little further into His discourse He says the following...
"So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place"
So Jesus lists all of these things and then ENCAPSULATES THEM ALL under the statement that "THIS GENERATION WILL NOT PASS AWAY UNTIL ALL OF THESE THINGS TAKE PLACE".
The word "generation" is G1074 "genea" which literally means "the whole multitude of men living at the same time", "group of men" "current group of living men". etc.
This word is used over 20 times in the New Testament and never once is it used to represent anything other than the generation of people living at that time.
We hear of terms like "generation upon generation" or "generationS to come". Clearly these are in the ongoing and plural form. But Matthew 24:34 is much different. Now, had Jesus said "THAT generation will not pass away..." then you'd have an argument because it is in the future tense. However, He does not. It is in the present tense. "THIS GENERATION"
So clearly we see that the generation of people alive at that time would not pass away until ALL of what He described in His Olivet Discourse would be fulfilled. Just two verses later He says....
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only."
So basically what He is saying is that the current generation wouldn't pass away before all of it was fulfilled HOWEVER, no man knows the exact time of the end. Not even the angels know. The only One that knows is the Father. God.
Now, I like to refer to the Olivet Discourse as the simplified narrative of the End of the Old Covenant. Jesus describes in detail how it would all end.
I also like to refer to the book of Revelation as the "Olivet Discourse on steroids." Why? Well because it is describing pretty much the same events. It's the same narrative of the End of the Old Covenant, however it is LOADED with symbolic and metaphorical details. It is a much more in depth look at the "last days". The book of Revelation is "THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST".
What does the word "revelation" mean?
Well, it means "a surprising and previously unknown fact, especially one that is made known in a dramatic way." and also it means "the divine or supernatural disclosure to humans of something relating to human existence or the world."
Now, with that definition of the word "revelation" in mind, let's take a look at the very FIRST verse in the entire book of Revelation.....
"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants -things which must shortly take place" Revelation 1:1
There is your answer.
"The revelation of Jesus Christ, "WHICH GOD GAVE HIM".
God revealed it to Him so that He could then reveal it to the angel who would then reveal it to John. The "revelation of the Coming of Jesus Christ" was revealed by God. It would be the revealing of Jesus Christ as King of His Eternal Kingdom where He would dwell within His creation forever. HE WOULD DWELL WITHIN MEN! (Rev 21:3) It was said to be taking place SOON after John received the revelation. It was right at the door.
It is almost as if God has a sense of humor. Everyone is looking at the book of Revelation trying to figure out what it all means and when it all will occur in our future. Yet, in the VERY FIRST VERSE OF THE ENTIRE BOOK, God gives John the answer. He tells him that the time is closer than ever.
So the next time someone says that "nobody knows the day or hour" and points to our future, just show them this passage right smack dab in the first verse of the entire book of Revelation.
God revealed it to them.
The day and hour that was spoken of by Jesus back around ad30, had now drawn near and was literally "about to" take place which is why God sent the message down to be revealed to his people through John's letter.
IT WAS THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST COMING TO BRING HIS KINGDOM TO EARTH AND DWELL FOREVER WITHIN MEN.
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Every time we open our eyes lately it seems as though we are hearing of another shooting or violent racism related things on the news. Anger and rage, hatred and horror seem to be on the rise around us.
But as a Christian and as someone who has been transferred into the Kingdom of Light, you do have a choice.
Have you ever met a person who no matter what, always seems to have bad news from the world? It's like they wait for the 5pm news each night and take notes of all the wickedness in the world. I would bet that many of these same people are also those who claim to be children of God and members of His spiritual Kingdom now.
The truth is that yes violence exists. Hate exists. But it always has.
I am sure most of us who are reading this right now have "ok" lives. We have what we need for the most part and we eat everyday. For the most part most of the people that we know, are not persecuted daily. They are not being tortured and killed. Most of the people we know are doing ok. However, if you were to go back even a few centuries and all the way back to biblical times and even before, things were not always as good. Life was hard. The sufferings of those days were often too much to survive through. Leaders and tyrants killed at will. Wars were rampant. Your freedom, if you could call it that, was limited to say the least. The point is, considering the fact of how many BILLIONS of humans now exist, it could be much worse. We are just unfortunate enough to have to have it plastered in our faces morning noon and night in the age of technology where people hear about events before they even occur. The media pushes their own agenda on us from all angles. We hear what they want us to hear.
But I want to look at a quick passage and an important word in that passage regarding the Coming of the Lord to bring His Kingdom and open it up forever. The passage is...
"Then we who are alive and remain (first century thessalonian church members) will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord."
1 Thess 4:17
The word that I want to focus on is the word "meet". They were going to be "caught up" to "MEET" the Lord in the air. Then from there they would always be with the Lord.
The word for "meet" is G529- "Apantesis"
It's main meaning in the scriptures as well as in the ancient world was to speak of a king or royal dignitary that was making a visit to a given city. As he got closer to the city for his coming (his "Parousia") the citizens of that city, being watchful for him, would, when his entourage was in sight, leave their city and go out to “Meet” (Apantesis) him. They would then escort him back to their city. They wouldn't leave the city but rather they would reside in the city with the king who had arrived.
The point is that this wasn't Christ taking living saints out of the world, it was Him coming to be with those saints IN THE WORLD. His indwelling presence would be with them. The relationship between God and man, or heaven and earth, would be restored. The temple of God would now be with men. (Rev 21:3) Jesus Himself, when praying to the Father said... "I do not ask that you take them out of the world" (John 17:15)
The Coming of the Lord was to raise the dead out of Hades, to change the living remnant to immortal, and to open up the Kingdom forever. He would gather together both the righteous dead and the righteous living into ONE Kingdom and they would "forever be with the Lord". They would be "caught up" or "gathered" together into an everlasting Kingdom. If you have been born of Him, He is with you now and will be forever.
Since His Coming, the Kingdom has been here on earth and God's true people continue to come into that Kingdom and dwell with Him. We read this about the Kingdom that is ours....
"Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken," Hebrews 12:28
"Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom" Isaiah 9:7
The apostles prayed "THY KINGDOM COME, THY WILL BE DONE, ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN"
When the Kingdom would come, it would allow God's will to not only be done in heaven, but also done on earth through His saints.
Now I know that there are many places in the world today where people, including and sometimes exclusively Christians, are being persecuted and are suffering. But remember, if you are IN Him, you can bank on at least 3 things in this life....
1) “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. " Matthew 15:18-19
2) "If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you" Matthew 15:20
3)"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
If you are IN Him and IN His Kingdom, you can expect possible persecution from the world but you already have overcome the "world". G2889- kosmos (literally meaning the entire world)
I would be willing to bet that if the same people who are struggling to eat and make ends meet in foreign parts of the world or right here at home, if they are truly members of the Kingdom, they have unexplainable peace and joy. It surpasses understanding. Why? Because it comes from above. It's the joy and peace that being in the Kingdom gives. Look what Paul said about the Kingdom....
"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Romans 14:17
Righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. That's what the Kingdom IS. Do you have that?
Are you full of joy and is your heart at peace? Do you desire righteousness through the midst of your struggles? If not, then why?
Are you bound under the weight of a religious system that prevents the full manifestation of that peace and pure joy? Unfortunately they exist everywhere. We need to be careful that we aren't stifling what the Lord promised would be part of our inheritance as part of His Kingdom. That is His peace, joy, and righteousness.
When you get up each day you have two options.....
1) Put your Kingdom glasses on
2) Put your World glasses on
If you are looking for the bad in the world and that's where your focus is, chances are that is all you'll see. You'll miss the entire Kingdom which is "in your midst" and "within you"(Luke 17:20-21)
If you make a choice to recognize that you are a member of His eternal unshakeable Kingdom, and that the same Spirit that raised Him from the dead lives in you, you will live life in peace. You will have joy. You will be covered in His righteousness.
Next time you want to dwell on the wickedness in the world, remind yourself of two things....
1) You've already overcome the world
2) Put your eyes back on the Kingdom wherein righteousness, joy, and peace exist.
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The sign gifts are perhaps one of the single most disagreed upon topics in Christianity today. On one side you have those who believe that the miraculous gifts still exist. On the other side you have those who say that they have ceased. I believe the following information should provide a solid argument for one side over the other.
This article will be longer than normal. I must provide enough proof for what I feel is the correct biblical teaching on the subject. I will say right off the bat that I do not intend to discredit or to offend ANYONE who claims to have had supernatural experiences with God, whatever they may be. I myself, if you read my home page intro, experienced first hand one morning in a hotel room the overwhelming and powerful presence of the Almighty Creator. It was that morning that I tossed my atheistic beliefs in the trash immediately. I am well aware that God is still VERY active and is still in the business of bringing those whom He calls into His everlasting light. Please again, do not take this as me doubting your experiences. I am solely going to make a case today based on what scripture says. That is all. I hope that this doesn't tarnish any relationships that I have been blessed to develop through the cyber world with any of you. I appreciate you all. Ok with that said, here we go.....
We are all aware of the portion in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 where we read about these sign gifts and miraculous gifts. This is sort of the "go-to" passage. But we need to set the context a little better to understand the overall message.
Paul was writing to the members of the church of Corinth and basically sort of reprimanding them for the way they'd been misusing the gifts. In 1 Corinthians chapter 12 Paul gives a rundown of certain gifts and certain positions that God has handed out. He makes mention of Apostles, prophets, tongue speakers, healers, etc.
But at the end of chapter 12 after going through all of those positions, he says this....
"But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way." 1 Cor 12:31
He tells them there is a "more excellent way". It seems as though Paul was saying that all of those positions that he had just mentioned were inferior to this "better way". His letter continues in chapter 13 and he begins speaking about LOVE.
He writes to them and tells them that all of the gifts God has given them mean absolutely nothing without Love. Tongues, the gift of word of knowledge, the gift of predicting the future (prophecy) all meant absolutely zip without love. It seems as though the members of this church were really abusing the special gifts that were bestowed to them.
Now we come to the passage that we all know so well. Paul says the following....
"Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away." 1 Cor 13:8-10
Now clearly there is a lot to define here. Let's just start by defining a few words and phrases so we can see what exactly is being said in that passage.
Paul speaks of "prophecies"- Greek word "prophēteia" meaning "that which is hidden or a discourse emanating from Divine Inspiration". He says regarding these prophecies that "they will fail". This phrase is the Greek word "katargeo" which literally means "to render inactive, to be done with, or to terminate".
Now we will look at what he said regarding tongues. He said "they shall cease". This phrase is the Greek word "pauo" which means " to cease, to desist, to come to an end".
Now we look at what he said about the gift of a word of knowledge like in Acts chapter 5 when Peter knew that Ananias and his wife were in a conspiracy to hold back a portion of the money. Paul says again that this gift "shall vanish away". Same Greek word above is used here "katargeo" meaning "to render inactive, to be done away with, or to terminate".
Paul says that at that present time they "know in part and prophesy in part". He is basically saying that they were not yet perfected. They were still immature. He then says something that has had many people wondering what he really meant. He says...
"But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away."
1 Cor. 13:10
Everyone wants to know what this "perfect" thing is. It would be when this "perfect" thing arrived, that all of those immature things would be done away with or be terminated. Before we attempt to answer that I want to look at Paul's next words immediately following that sentence. He writes...
"When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known." 1 Cor 13:11-12
Now there are some who believe that Paul was saying that when that which was "perfect" would come, it would be then that the sign gifts such as tongues, prophecy etc would come to full maturity. In other words, when Paul wrote this letter they only had the half sized version of the gifts but when that which was perfect would come, their gifts would increase to their full power. I truly cannot express enough that I wholeheartedly and firmly believe that this is a serious error. Why?
For starters Paul was reprimanding the church members for their foolishness and misuse of these gifts. He is comparing the gifts to acting "like a child". He even suggests that they are "childish things". But he says that when the perfect comes, it would be at that point that they would become full grown. Mature. Perfect.
As a child, I used to watch cartoons. I would get upset when I wasn't allowed to watch them and I would cry and throw a fit. This was my childish immaturity showing itself. Now that I am a 33 year old full grown adult, I no longer act like that. I no longer cry and throw fits when I can't watch cartoons. Those things have passed away. Why? Well because I have grown into maturity. When I became a man my crying didn't increase over cartoons. On the contrary my crying no longer existed over those cartoons. Paul was not suggesting that these childish and immature gifts that they were abusing would increase to full power when the perfect came. He was clearly suggesting that they would cease to exist and would be done away with.
Secondly and more importantly, we just defined all 3 phrases that Paul used to describe what would happen to the gifts. All 3 Greek words meant "to destroy, to be done away with , or to terminate." It is impossible for Paul to be speaking about anything other than the termination of the gifts themselves.
It makes no sense for Paul to say 3 times that these gifts were going to "be done away with and terminated" if he was only going to follow it up by saying that they would go from partial to full or doubled if you will.
The "partial" reference was made in speaking of "maturity". They were still "immature" They had only partial maturity but when "that which is perfect" would come, the childish things would fade away and they would be made perfect and complete.
Now, of course we need to biblically define and figure out what exactly "that which is perfect" is. If we can figure this out, then we can understand why and when the sign gifts were removed.
The term "that which is perfect" is Greek word "teleois" G5046 which means "completeness, perfection, full grown, mature, adult".
There are some who believe this is referring to when we see Christ come bodily. This absolutely cannot be the case 1) Christ is not returning bodily as we know the bible never speaks of this 2) the word "THAT which is perfect" cannot be referring to a person. "THAT" is not a he or she.
There are also those who believe this is referring to the written cannon. When the bible would be completed those things would fade away. First of all the holy scriptures would be completed long before it was actually put into a full book called "the bible". Secondly, this theory absolutely DOES NOT fit into the theme and flow of the message. I will show why this is the case shortly.
Now back to this "perfect" (Teleios). Where can we go to get some powerful scriptural evidence. We can go to the book of James, 1 Peter, but I am only going to use the book of Hebrews for this article because it is so overwhelmingly clear by that one book.
For anyone who has read and studied the book of Hebrews, it is easy to understand and see that the author speaks at length about the two Covenants. He compares the two Covenants. He compares the priestly work of the Old Covenant to the Priestly work of the New Covenant. He speaks over and over and over again about how the Old Covenant was flawed and imperfect but he speaks over and over and over again how the New Covenant is lacking nothing and is totally flawless because it is built on superior promises and it is sealed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ.
In the end of chapter 5 and beginning of chapter 6 we read this....
"For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection." Hebrews 5:13-14 and Hebrews 6:1
Now we see that the author uses the term "we who are of FULL AGE". Guess what this word is? It is the same word used for that which is "perfect". The word is "teleios".
The author also finished the portion by saying "let us go on to PERFECTION." Guess what word? Again, same word as that which is "perfect". The word is "teleiotes". Same exact meaning.
In Hebrews chapter 7 the author is speaking of the Levitical priesthood and how it couldn't make anyone "perfect". He says...
"Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek." Hebrews 7:11
The author uses the same word "teleiotes" in that passage as well when he refers to "perfection". Now think about this. If the author is comparing the Law to being UNABLE TO BE MADE PERFECT, and he is then contrasting that by speaking of Christ and the New Covenant, then what can we conclude? We can clearly conclude that he is saying that the New Covenant is PERFECT. This point is further established just shortly after when the author writes...
"for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God." Hebrews 7:19
The author again uses the same term with the same meaning for perfect here. He is clearly saying that the Law was imperfect but the New Covenant is perfect. We see this again shortly after when he writes...
"For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever." Hebrews 7:28
Again, same word for perfect. Clearly saying that the Old Covenant was weak. The New Covenant (Being IN CHRIST) means perfection.
Hebrews 9:11 reads...
"But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation."
Again, same word for perfect. Speaking of the New Covenant yet again.
Hebrews 10:1 reads...
"For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect."
Look at that one again. Same word again used for perfect. The law couldn't do it. The opposite of the OC Law is the New Covenant of grace.
Hebrews 10:14 reads...
"For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified."
Again same word there for perfect. The already but not yet principle is shown here. Christ had already made the offering of Himself and had perfected His saints forever. Yet the New Kingdom and the way into the Holy of Holies was not yet opened. It would be very soon after this letter was written though.
Hebrews 11:39-40 reads....
"And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us."
Speaking of those saints who died before them the author says that all those who had faith didn't receive the promise of being made "perfect" (same word again) without them. They would be made perfect together at the end of the age at the resurrection.
Lastly and emphatically, Hebrews 12:23-24 reads...
"But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel."
Now here we see clearly how the New Jerusalem would be where the spirits of just men would be made "perfect" (same word again). He says Jesus is the Mediator of the New Covenant where this "perfection" would exist. He says that they had already come to Mount Zion the heavenly Jerusalem. Here we see the already but not yet again because look at just a few verses later what he says...
"Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come" Hebrews 13:13-14
Clearly, it was so close that the author already speaks of it as a present reality but yet he also speaks of it as fast approaching and about to come. The New Jerusalem would come down as a bride at the destruction of Jerusalem to end the Old Covenant age.
Christ IS PERFECTION
The Kingdom of God IS PERFECTION
The New Covenant IS PERFECTION
The things which served a true purpose in the first foundational generation of the church would be terminated and would cease to exist at the coming of "that which is perfect".
Is there now any doubt about what that was?
Remember friends, this is not to take away from any experiences you may have had. I believe God is still in the business of healing and making miracles happen daily. But the scriptures should be our ultimate molding tool for our beliefs. It seems pretty straight forward that the Kingdom of God would bring perfection and in that New Eternal Kingdom only "faith, hope, and love would remain"
1 Cor. 13:13
If you are part of the Kingdom and are In Christ, you are now counted as PERFECT.
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I have heard a lot of unbelievers say that the bible contradicts itself.
Or could it be that the popular way that it has been taught has been a bit wrong? I mean after all, the bible does say "God is not the author of confusion" so clearly something isn't right. For instance take a look at what Jesus says here....
"But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come." Matthew 24:13-14
Now let's think about this. Jesus says that he who endures to the end shall be saved. He also says that once the gospel was preached in all the world, the end would come. But the end wouldn't be until the gospel was preached in all the world!....................right?
But did you know that Jesus spoke about this same "enduring until the end" another time also?
He speaks about this in Matthew chapter 10. It was at the time He was telling His disciples about the coming persecutions that they would go through. He sends them off as sheep among wolves to preach the gospel and to heal the sick and cast out demons. They were going out to fulfill the great commission. He says....
"And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes." Matthew 10:22-23
Notice something similar?
In both passages Jesus speaks of "THE END". He speaks about enduring until "THE END".
But yet in one passage He says that "the gospel would be preached in ALL THE WORLD...AND THEN THE END WILL COME."
In the other passage He says to the disciples, YOU WON'T FINISH PREACHING IN ALL THE TOWNS OF ISRAEL BEFORE THE SON OF MAN COMES.
Think about that.....did Jesus contradict Himself there?
In one passage He says the whole world would hear the gospel before the end. In the other He says not even all of Israel would hear the gospel before the end. How is this possible!?
Well, the answer is simple.
The "ALL THE WORLD" used there is NOT meant literally as in the entire planet. It is better translated as "in all the land" or " in the known land." (Greek word- oikoumenē)
It was a very specific geographical location. Hence why the Lord tells them to "flee to the hills of Judea" when they saw the end draw near and the armies surrounding Jerusalem. How are you and I going to flee to the hills of Judea if this is future to us? Should we hop a quick plane ride over there so we can obey His commands to get to the hills of Judea?
Jesus' intention was to make it known that His Coming (aka "THE END" of the Old Covenant Age) would happen relatively soon. In that generation (Matt 24:34) and before some of the men standing there died. (Matt 16:27-28)
The gospel would go out to much of Israel and even further. But it most certainly wouldn't reach all of Israel (Matt 10:23-24) and it most certainly had NOTHING to do with the entire world as we are told today.
There are no contradictions in the bible.
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There tends to be a little confusion about the Kingdom of God.
Slightly longer article today but I hope you'll stay with it so you can clearly see how everything comes together effortlessly by the end. No forcing and no presuppositions.
If you were to ask 1000 believers if they believe we are currently part of the Kingdom of God, I would bet just about every one would answer with an emphatic YES!
Now if you were to ask those exact same 1000 believers if they believe Christ has already come as He predicted He would, I would be willing to bet that roughly 950 (maybe more) would answer with an emphatic NO WAY!
But do these two beliefs fit and work together ? What if they didn't?
What if the Kingdom COULD NOT COME UNTIL CHRIST CAME?
When Jesus instructed His disciples to pray a certain way, He told them to begin it like this....
"Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven." Matthew 6:9-10
Take note of the fact that they were praying for the Kingdom to COME. It hadn't come yet. Even though Christ had told them it was "in their midst", He still emphatically placed the coming of the Kingdom at the end of the Old Covenant age. (ad70)
Let's skip forward for a moment to look at what Paul said in Ephesians chapter 1 regarding this Kingdom that was coming. He says.....
"Having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him." Ephesians 1:9-10
So here we have again the mentioning of this heaven and earth concept. Gathering together His people into One, in the dispensation of the fullness of times. Fullness of times!? Just another way of saying "the eternal age to come" or "Kingdom". Remember, it hadn't come yet when Paul wrote this.
But back to the prayer.....Christ instructed them to pray and ask for this Kingdom to come and to ask for His will to be done BOTH on earth and also as it is done in heaven. The only way this is possible is to have members of the Kingdom both on earth and in heaven. The Kingdom was going to involve heaven and earth. Physically dead and physically living saints. Jesus also said...
"Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosedf in heaven" Matthew 18:18
So we know for a fact that the Kingdom of God was something they were praying for. They were anxiously awaiting the arrival of this Kingdom when God would gather together His elect both dead and living into One new Kingdom. A spiritual Kingdom.
What do we know about what will happen at the time this Kingdom comes?
"I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom" 2 Timothy 4:1
There we see that Paul links His appearing AND His Kingdom as coming together. Happening at the same time.
The word for "appearing" is "epiphaneia" G2015 and it's main definition is - appearing, manifestation, glorious display.
Now, a lot of people want to cling to a false theory that epiphaneia MUST MEAN A PHYSICAL BODILY APPEARANCE. But the truth is that it does not at all have to mean this. In fact Thayers Greek Lexicon states that the ancient Greeks used to use this word when describing a manifestation of God's power or a stepping in of God to display His glory or power.
A couple of the top synonyms for "manifestation" are - SIGN and INDICATOR
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this "appearing" is most definitely a display of God's glorious power and wrath. His Coming and appearing would bring both salvation and judgement.
Same exact concept in Matthew 16:27-28 where Christ says they would "SEE" Him come before they died. The word for "see" there is " horao" G3708. This word has a few meanings but the main two meanings are 1) to see with the eyes and 2) to see with the mind, to perceive, know, understand or experience.
The "see" in Matthew 16:28 and the "appearing" in 2 Timothy 4:1 are THE SAME. This was a glorious manifestation that would be understood and known by all that it was the Coming of the Lord in great power to bring forth salvation and judgement.
But also take a look at what Paul said would happen at His appearing and His Kingdom.....
It would also be at that time that the judgment of the living and the dead would occur.
Let's examine quickly the words of Jesus again....
"For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. (<----THE JUDGEMENT) “Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” Matthew 16:27-28
IS THAT NOT CLEAR THAT THE JUDGMENT WOULD HAPPEN BEFORE THOSE MEN DIED? Jesus is also assuring that He would come in His Kingdom before those first century men standing there would die.
Quick recap so far:
So far we have the following 3 things that have been linked TOGETHER and would happen before some of those men standing there in the first century would die...
-His Kingdom Coming
When we examine this all against Daniel chapter 12 what do we see? Well we clearly see from Daniel 12 that the resurrection and judgement would occur "when the 42 month tribulation on the Jews was finished" We know for a fact this happened at AD70.
Now since Paul links the resurrection and judgement to His "appearing and His kingdom" in
2 Timothy 4:1 and since Jesus assures that the judgment and His Coming would occur before some of those men standing there died in Matt 16:27-28, then what do we know for sure?
We know FOR SURE, that the Coming of the Lord (which is also His appearing or manifestation) absolutely occurred at the end of the Old Covenant Age in ad70. This was when His Kingdom arrived. The living saints and the dead saints were gathered together into ONE new Kingdom so the will of God would be done on earth as it is in heaven.
We have the following two events:
1) The arrival of the Kingdom on earth
2) The coming of the Lord to usher in that Kingdom
You CANNOT have one without the other.
If the KINGDOM is here, then Christ THE KING, has come.
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Those of us who hold to a fulfilled view of the scriptures know this verse all too well.
This passage is very often used against us when those who disagree want to hit us with the so called "Knock Out Punch". However, they fail to realize that not only are they completely wrong about it being a crucial blow to our view but they also fail to realize that it actually PROVES our view completely. How so?
Well, the passage comes from Paul's 2nd letter to Timothy. At this portion of the letter Paul is instructing Timothy to tell the believers whom he (Timothy) was leading, to ignore useless babblings and false teachings. He tells them to be good dividers of the word. He also mentions two men who have been hurting the faith of some of the believers. These two men are going around telling people that the resurrection that was hoped for since the days of their fathers, had already happened. Let's read his words to Timothy....
"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some." 2 Timothy 2:15-18
Now there are a couple major points to consider and recognize here.
1) The first is the dating. This letter was written sometime around AD65-67 shortly before the Apostle Paul's death. He says his time of departure had come just a couple chapters later in this same letter. History says his death occurred in AD68. Now, it has been my belief all along that the resurrection and judgement were to occur at the Coming of the Lord, at the end of the Old Covenant Age when the Temple was thrown down and the power of the Jews was completely shattered. This fulfills TONS of prophecy including but not limited to Daniel chapter 12 when he speaks of "the end". We know this happened in AD70. So what is the point here?...
The point is that AT THIS POINT WHEN PAUL WROTE, THE RESURRECTION HAD NOT YET HAPPENED. It was close but not yet. Therefore, these two men Hymenaeus and Philetus were indeed wrong about telling people that it had already happened.
2) Here is where we have to stop and really think. Many futurists believe that the resurrection is still in our future. More importantly for this point, they believe that bodies will LITERALLY be brought up and out of graves. Can you imagine what that would look like to those who are alive at that time? Yikes! It would be like a Walking Dead Episode. But consider something...
How could Hymenaeus and Philetus convince ANYONE that the resurrection had already taken place IF IN FACT IT WAS TO BE IN THE MANNER THAT MOST FUTURISTS BELIEVE? In other words...
Clearly these 2 men had fooled and convinced some of those believers back then that the resurrection had already occurred. Paul said this was the case.
If I told you that all the bodies in the graves had already been resurrected LITERALLY, what would you do? You would go to the nearest cemetery to see if this was true. You would walk outside to see if there were people who were literally raised up. You would do some PHYSICAL investigation to see if my claims could be substantiated.
Clearly these first century believers DID NOT have the same concept of the resurrection that many futurists have today. Otherwise, they would have denied the claims of Hymenaeus and Philetus right off the bat. They would have known instantly that what they were saying was false because there were no PHYSICAL BODIES POPPING UP AND OUT OF GRAVES TO PROVE THEIR CLAIMS.
But instead, these 2 men were able to actually convince some believers that the resurrection had already occurred.
How could that have been so?
Well because the resurrection was always the hope of the dead being brought up and out of Hades, SPIRITUALLY.
It wasn't an observable event.
The King of the Kingdom said that the Kingdom wasn't coming in ways observable. (Luke 17:20) We need to let this fact help mold the rest of our "Kingdom related" beliefs.
The dead would be raised spiritually and those who were living would be changed internally and spiritually, to immortal. This would occur at the end of the old age and the start of the new.
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One of the most famous passages in the bible about the Coming of the Lord. Quoted very often to depict the level of judgment that God is going to pour out upon those who don't obey His gospel in the future. However, based on scriptural evidence, this judgement was a local judgement in the first century and this is a past event.
The passage comes from 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10. To set the context a little we need to understand that Paul was commending the members of this church for persevering through their tribulations that they were all going through for their belief and their following the Lord. He even looks FORWARD to the time when they would inherit the Kingdom that was coming. He says....
"that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer;"
(2 Thess 1:5)
So they were looking forward to that day. The same day Christ told them would come before some of them died. That day was the Coming of the Lord in His Kingdom to gather His saints and be glorified in them. (Matt 16:27-28) Paul continues on in his letter to the Thessalonians and says...
"since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you (Thessalonian church members), and to give you (Thessalonian Church members) who are troubled, rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Thess 6-8
Now since this had an immediate meaning to the recipients of the letter, we need to figure out who the ones were who were troubling the Thessalonian church members?
Who was persecuting them day and night. Who were the ones who did not want to obey the gospel? Who denied the Lord and His apostles and shouted out to crucify Him? Who was the subject of the parables when Jesus says that the Kingdom would be taken from them and given to a nation bearing fruit? Who were the ones who would receive vengeance from the Lord for slaying all the righteous ones from Abel all the way up to their present day? (Matthew 23)
It was the Jews. It can be no one else. The ones who would receive the full measure of His wrath was that first century "adulterous and wicked generation." (Matt 16:4, Matt 12:39)
"These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed." 2 Thess 1: 9-10
Paul says they would be punished with "everlasting destruction." This phrase in the Greek is "aionios olethros" which means " everlasting ruin or better yet "TO DESTROY FOREVER"
So Christ would destroy these wicked men and His vengeance would be poured out when He appeared in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired by all those who believe. The measure of their (the Jews) sin would be filled to the top. (Matt 23:32)
The whole point of Christ Coming was to establish His eternal Kingdom. It would be at this time that He would call up the righteous dead out of Hades and would gather them together into One body with the righteous living remnant. Both would be made immortal at this time. This is also when those dead in Christ would literally inherit the spiritual reality of the New Kingdom and shine forth forever
This is the meaning of " TO BE GLORIFIED IN HIS SAINTS".
Remember also, Paul wrote to this very same church group at Thessalonica in his first letter and said to them "we who ARE ALIVE AND REMAIN at the coming of the Lord" (end of 1 Thess 4) Clearly, these were events that Paul expected some of them to be alive to witness. Which makes perfect sense because Christ said the same thing. (Matt 16)
The Coming of the Lord was a two fold event....
1) It brought salvation and inheritance of the promise and immortality. LIFE
2) It brought flaming fire down and vengeance down upon all of His enemies in judgement. DEATH
That is why it is called the GREAT AND TERRIBLE DAY OF THE LORD. (Joel 2:31)
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If someone was told that Paul the apostle didn't possess immortality until the end of the age in AD70, they'd most likely disagree with the person who said this to them. However, upon examination of the New Testament scriptures, mainly from Paul himself, we can see that he had not yet inherited immortality. He would inherit it at the end of the age when the Lord returned in His Kingdom to gather both the righteous dead and the righteous living into one Kingdom. Into Christ.
The passage today comes from 2 Timothy. Paul writes...
"Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began..." 2 Timothy 1:8-9
Here we see Paul making mention of the gospel message and how it is the power of God. He makes mention of how God did it because of His own purpose and grace through Christ Jesus. He then says...
"and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do...." 2 Timothy 1:10-12
The fleshly appearing of Christ on earth to die on the cross was the beginning of the end. The end of the Old Covenant. Here is where we are going to see a prime and classic example of the "already but not yet" concept used numerous times in the New Testament writings in between the cross and the end of the age.
(For more on this see my recent article titled "already but not yet")
Paul said that Christ's appearance at the cross abolished (past tense) death already. But yet we also hear Paul say that the last enemy to be defeated would be death when Christ has put His enemies under His feet. (1 Cor 15) He speaks of this in the future tense in 1 Cor 15.
Both can't be true because Christ hadn't Come back for salvation yet when Paul wrote this letter. Unless of course you understand what basically all the authors of the New Testament did in their writings. They assumed the act was already finished because Christ had died on the cross and it was as good as done. However, the authors all made sure that we know that they still were looking forward to the Day when all of those inheritances would become their (and our) reality. They would receive the promise. But the key that I want to look at here is the next words from that passage I just quoted. Paul said...
"who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel."
Why is this important? Well, look at how he words it. He says "WHO BROUGHT LIFE AND IMMORTALITY TO LIGHT...."
To bring to light means to make it visible. To be able to see it. It was so close they could see it and touch it but it wasn't theirs yet. According to Paul it would be at the Coming of the Lord that they would be changed to immortal. (1 Cor 15)
The last line to look at today is Paul saying...
"But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.' 2 Timothy 1:12
What Day is Paul looking forward to?
Could it be the same day that would dawn when the "Morning Star would rise in their hearts" and they were changed to immortal? The same day Peter spoke of....
"And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts" 2 Peter 1:19
I have heard people refer to this as "The Eternal Day". I like that.
Christ brought immortality and life TO LIGHT at the cross. He paid the full penalty for sin there. But salvation was not inherited there. It was inherited at the Coming of the Lord. (Hebrews 9:28)
That's why (after the cross) Peter looking forward said....
"Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."
1 Peter 1:5
And why Paul (after the cross) said....
"…for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed." Romans 13:11
Or why Jesus when speaking about the destruction of Jerusalem at the end of the age told them....
"And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh." Luke 21:28
The inheritance of that immortality and life came at the end of the Old Covenant Age at the Coming of the Lord when the KINGDOM WOULD ARRIVE ON EARTH.
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Let's face it. The bible is a 2000-3500 year old collection of writings written over a period of 1500 years by multiple authors and written in a culture and in languages that we really aren't familiar with at all.
Often times we read wild vivid imagery and metaphorical apocalyptic imagery as literal when it is actually being used to portray something in the normal physical world. It's real easy to get swept away and before you know it, you have imagined up something that looks like the picture at the top of this article.
Such is the case with the "thief in the night" example given by Jesus on the Mount of Olives.
The question posed was when would the end of the age and His coming occur?
(2 events linked together)
He answers them and goes down a list of things to watch for and persevere through. There would be false prophets arising, scoffers mocking, trials, persecutions, death, and a bunch of other things that would occur leading up to that day. He then gives them an example that they would understand a little better. Something that they could really relate to. Jesus says...
"Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." Matthew 24: 42-43
Clearly we can see that Jesus is portraying His Coming as the thief coming. Just prior to that, Jesus had paused for a moment from listing the events and He warned them about roughly when they could expect to see His Coming and all of the things fulfilled. He said..
"Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place"
He wanted them to know that it was going to be relatively soon. That generation of Jews wouldn't pass away until all of what He was describing would take place. He even says "ASSUREDLY". This was a FACT. He then continues on for a bit more about what they can expect leading up to and at that time.
Now these things were said to them sometime around ad30. Anywhere from 20-30 years later, Paul writes his letter to the believers at Thessalonica. He is speaking to people who were alive back when Christ spoke before He ascended to heaven. He is also speaking to disciples that were made from those same people that sat at the feet of Christ. What does Paul say...
"But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night." 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2
Quick note...why would they know "perfectly" about this phrase? Well because they had already heard it from Jesus. Paul is just repeating what Jesus said and his listeners knew it. He continues....
"For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief." 1 Thessalonians 5:3-4
Again, more thief language referring to the Coming of the Lord. Also notice Paul refers to birth pains upon a pregnant woman. Where would that have come from? You guessed it. Just 20-30 years earlier when again describing His Coming and the end of the age, Jesus said this...
"All these are but the beginning of the birth pains." Matthew 24:8
The point of this is that we cannot assume that Paul was teaching them about a different future Coming of the Lord apart from the one Coming that the Lord spoke about and assured would happen before some of those men standing there would die. (Matt 16:27-28)
The thief example that Jesus is comparing His Coming to, is the exact same message being passed on from Paul 20-30 years later. It was another reminder to not forget He would come! The time was drawing closer and their "redemption was drawing near". (Luke 21:28)
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We have all heard about Christ being the root and we being the branches that were grafted into that root.
It's not that I disagree with that view, I just see it a little differently under the Covenantal context. Here is what I mean...
We know that "the Root" is used over and over again to represent Christ in the scriptures. For instance two examples...
Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed." Revelation 5:5
"“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the Root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star." Revelation 22:16
We know from Paul that the believers are the branches. The natural branches being the remnant of faithful Jews and the wild branches that were grafted in being the Gentiles. Both branches are grafted into the same Root, Jesus Christ. Couple examples from scripture...
"If some of the Branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive Root." Romans 11:17
"(To Gentiles), do not be arrogant toward the branches (Jews). If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you." Romans 11:18
"if the Root is holy, so are the Branches." Romans 11:16
But I want to suggest to you that maybe you and I are not the branches today. Maybe we are something else.
Maybe we are the leaves of the tree that go out for the healing of the nations.
You see, in that first foundational generation of the church, we had apostles whom the church was built upon. We had Christ the cornerstone. We are told many times how that generation, the last generation of the Old Covenant and the last wicked generation that would kill the Lord, was a special generation. It was foundational. It was the time looked forward to throughout all the prophets.
I believe that God grafted the remnant of believers into the Root (Jesus Christ) before He ended the Old Covenant age. So that when the age ended, you had Christ the Root and the remaining church as the branches.
We read at the end of Revelation after Old Covenant Jerusalem is thrown down that the New Jerusalem would be a city not made with hands that had no temple in it and had no need of light. The Lord was its temple and the Lord was its light.
There is also a river of life in this city and also a TREE of life. We read a little about the tree and then we see the purpose of that tree. That tree has produced leaves and it says....
"The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. " Revelation 22:2
Clearly there are still nations that are going to need healing when all this is said and done. Clearly this is not an end of the world perfect utopia being described here. There are still human beings on earth that are in need of healing and in need of restoration with their Creator.
That is why I believe that :
1) Christ is the Root of the tree of LIFE.
2)The first foundational generation of apostles and disciples were the branches of this tree. It was through them that the message of LIFE went forth to the coming generations. The first foundational branches bore the leaves.
3)The leaves are the spiritual sons of God. The tree of Life never dies and the branches will never stop bearing leaves. From that point forward the leaves continue to go out into the world to heal the nations generation upon generation, world without end. (Eph 3:21)
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This statement comes from the speech Christ gave on the Mount of Olives.
(Matthew 24, Luke 21, and Mark 13)
He had been speaking to His disciples and followers sometime around ad30 about the things they would go through in the coming decades before the end of the age. He tells them to look for certain signs of His Coming in judgement to end the age. He lists many signs and instructs them to persevere through the coming persecution and tribulation that they would experience.
We read a statement he makes in Matthew 24 and it says...
"But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come." Matt 24:13-14
Now the first word that really gets people confused is the word "world". Let's break that word down into its proper translation before we go any further...
The word is "oikoumene" G3625
This word is used in scripture typically to represent a portion of the earth. An area of land. The Roman empire and all the subjects of the empire. It's main usage does NOT represent the entire world as in cosmos. 2000 years ago these people had no clue about the world as you and I know it today. They had zero resources for global travel and no tv's to turn on at night to bounce over to the other side of the globe for 30 minutes. We see the same word "oikoumene" used here...
"And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the WORLD (oikoumene) should be taxed." Luke 2:1
Are we to understand this as Caesar taxing the entire world as in native Americans on the other side of the planet? Of course not. This was a specific area of the earth or land in which the Roman Empire would be taxed. Here is a good way to look at it....
world = known land
Now that we have established proper understanding of the word "world" in that it should be understood as local land rather than entire world, we need to take a look at other references to this gospel being preached. These references came years AFTER Christ gave this instruction on the Mount of Olives. Roughly 20-30 years later when writing to the believers at the church of Colosse Paul said......
"because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit." Colossians 1:6
How is it possible that in only 20-30 years, Paul had already preached the gospel "in all the world" as he said? Impossible of course. Paul never ventured any further than the Roman Empire but yet he says it had already been done. That is because it was a local area being referred to.
If I said to you "the whole world knows my business", what would you take that to mean? Does literally every single human in the world know my business? Including but not limited to eskimos and jungle tribes? The real meaning is simply that those within my known world, all know my business. To me, it seems as though it's the whole world because it everything I know. Everything I am. Same concept.
"if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister." Colossians 1:23
How could the gospel have literally been preached to EVERY creature under heaven in just 20-30 years. Every creature? Does this include animals? We have to make sure we understand CONTEXT or else we will get ourselves into sticky situations. More examples...
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed “Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world.” Romans 10:17-18
Again, to the end of the literal world in just 20-30 years? Paul stayed in certain towns for years before moving on to another place. How is this possible?
The point is that we need to recognize context.
There was a REAL and APPROACHING END that was coming fast. The goal was to preach the gospel to as many as they could in that localized area before that end would come. That end was the same end that would come before some of those men standing there died, Jesus said. (Matt. 16:27-28) The end was the end of Jerusalem and the scattering of them throughout the nations in judgement.
Now, does this negate the need to tell people about Jesus today? Of course not! If you are adopted as a son or daughter of the most High God, you're instructed to go out and heal the nations. (Rev 22) You are the "leaves" that are on the tree of life in the New Jerusalem. Those leaves go out and "heal the nations". That healing comes through the name of Jesus Christ and belief in what He did to bring restoration to the broken relationship between man and God.
The immediate application and context was for the first century believers to preach to the local "world" aka known land. They were to preach until the time of the end came. The end of that age. You and I live in the New Covenant age where all men can come and drink freely of His goodness.
Let's guide people into the city not made with hands, the New Jerusalem whose gates will never close where "men will worship Jesus Christ generation upon generation world without end." (Ephesians 3:21)
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The Second Death passage in the book of Revelation is one of those mysterious passages that really gets our mind working hard. It comes from chapter 20 and the picture above is typically what comes to mind when people try to imagine what it could be like.
The purpose of this article is not to define the nature of what the first death or the second death is (or was) but rather to work on the timing. There is one thing I have learned throughout my time in the scriptures and that is that the time statements really do tell the story. Being that it is a spiritual book which speaks the very mind of God, we need to focus sometimes on the things that are clear. Slightly longer article today but I trust it will help us set the record straight on some very important and challenging things.
Time trumps nature- what does this mean?
Lets say that I told you that "I will show up by 7pm". Now ask yourself from that short statement what exactly do you know for a fact? Well, one thing you DO NOT know is how I will show up. Will I show up in a car, truck, on a bike, walking, with a friend, etc. You don't know what by what nature I will show up in. But the one FACT that you DO know is that I will be there by 7pm. That is clear. You do know the timing. Therefore, you allow your understanding of the overall statement to be molded by the fact, not the uncertainty. You can speculate all you want about how I will show up but you'll never know until 7pm. You can however, bet your last dollar that I will be there by 7pm. Time trumps nature. This concept MUST also be applied in the scriptures if we are to ever see the true story break through.
Now let's check out a few passages to try and figure out just WHEN the 2nd death occurred or will occur. First we want to take a look at a couple portions from Revelation chapter 20 to set the scene a little.
Mystery Babylon aka Old Covenant Jerusalem has just been destroyed. John sees this in the vision and then goes into what he sees happening AFTER Jerusalem is destroyed. (I will be paraphrasing and summarizing this first portion) He says...
"Now when the thousand years have expired...satan will gather the nations for battle and they will gather in the land and surround Jerusalem, the beloved city. The devil is then cast in the lake of fire where the beast and false prophet already were." Revelation 20 :7-10
Now, we know that in the book of Revelation we often see the same event from different angles. Nothing different here. This is another angle of looking at the destruction of Jerusalem. The main theme of the letter is Old Covenant Jerusalem and her destruction. Her being "Mystery Babylon" the city where the Lord was slain. This is no different. It's fatal to just pluck something out of the entire theme, flow, and context of a book that was said to contain events that were all soon going to happen. John is basically going right down the line at this point in the order that he sees things happening. He saw the 1000 years ending, Jerusalem falling, the devil thrown into the lake of fire and then he looks and sees the following vision...
"Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire....
This is the second death." Revelation 20:11-14
Now, we have to stop and consider a few things here. First, we know that this is AFTER the destruction of Jerusalem and it's also AFTER the 1000 years have expired.
We also know that we have this vision which undoubtedly LINKS TOGETHER the following three events as happening at the same time in history....
1) The Resurrection
2) The judgement
3) The Second Death
If you can't see that, please go read it again. I underlined and enlarged all the key points so you can see clearly that this is a scene LINKING the resurrection, the judgement, and the SECOND DEATH all together.
Now, some might say "yea, but what about the First death, what is that!?"
Others might say "yea but what about the fire coming down on them, what is that?!"
But here is the point...
The passage above is THE SECOND DEATH. It's THE END. All of those other things CAME BEFORE THE SECOND DEATH. Now, I am not saying that they are irrelevant BUT we are dealing with time here in this article. Time trumps nature. If the Second Death can be shown to be a past event, then ALL of those intricacies that we question are also past events. So let's prove just that....
In Daniel chapter 12 we read about the time of the end. There was going to be ONE final corporate resurrection and ONE final corporate judgement at the end of the Old Covenant Age. I will quote the passage here and insert comments in parenthesis so we can all clearly see this...
"At that time Michael shall stand up,
The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people;
And there shall be a time of trouble, <-------(Great tribulation)
Such as never was since there was a nation,
Even to that time.
And at that time your people shall be delivered,
Every one who is found written in the book.
And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, <----(Resurrection)
Some to everlasting life,
Some to shame and everlasting contempt." <------(Judgement)
Does anyone deny these things? It is impossible and dishonest to do so. Now a couple verses later Daniel sees two angels and one of the angels asks the other how long it would be until these "wonders" were finished. The wonders being the great tribulation, resurrection, and judgement. Here is what is said...
“How long shall the fulfillment of these wonders be?....
Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished." Daniel 12: 6-7
The answer is clear. The time, times, and half time is 42 months. All scholars everywhere agree on that point.
The destruction and siege of Jerusalem lasted 42 months from ad66- ad 70.
He also says that when the power of the holy people was completely shattered, ALL WOULD BE FINISHED. Who were the holy people when Daniel wrote? The Jews. This happened. The end came in ad70. All Jews were either killed or taken captive. Jerusalem and everything that it was, was laid to rubble. The only ones to escape were the Christians who heeded the warning of Christ.
Now, here is where we link it together for the KO.
If the resurrection and judgement was going to be "FINISHED" at the time of the end in ad70
If the resurrection and judgement was linked to THE SECOND DEATH and would happen at the same time (Revelation 20)
Then we know for a fact, that the Second Death occurred at the end of the age.
Furthermore, if Hades was emptied at the Coming of the Lord at the end of the age, doesn't it make sense that it would be cast into the Lake of Fire (destroyed or done away with) at that same time? What's the point of keeping Hades around if nobody is waiting there?
One last point...
We also read about the second death that it would be the time when "they were judged, each one according to his works" Revelation 20:13
Now, if the second death is the time when each one is judged according to works and we position this at the end of the age, does it line up to what Someone else said just a few decades earlier...
"For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. “Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom" Matthew 16:27-28
Jesus said that. Jesus assured that the rewarding of works would occur before those first century men died. Therefore, we have conclusive evidence and multiple connecting scriptures that clearly prove that the Second Death occurred at the end of the age.
To me, the Second Death symbolizes eternal death. In Christ is found eternal life. Which by default means that outside of Christ is what? Eternal Death.
The reason why we see mention of this "Second Death" in Revelation is because we are dealing with the Resurrection out of Hades. This was what they had been waiting for all along.
All who were waiting in Hades had already died. They had already experienced a "first death".
At the resurrection they were raised. Some were raised to eternal life. But the others were sent to the Lake of Fire, which is the "second death". Meaning they were destroyed forever AFTER being raised.
Today, there is no Second Death. Why?
Because there is no Hades. As humans we either experience immediate life, or immediate death.
"He who believes in me, although he die, he shall live."
The Second Death was directly related to those who had died prior to the Coming of the Lord and who would be raised to life again, only to be destroyed once and foreall. That would be the start of the blueprint going forward.
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Those of us who understand that the "last days" as referred to in the bible is speaking about nothing more than the last days of the Old Covenant, also have the pleasure of being labelled a "scoffer".
I personally have been called "a scoffer that has come in the last days."
After all, the belief is that Jesus is coming "soon". Those of us who don't agree with that fit perfectly into the picture of those whom Peter warned would come in 2 Peter 3:4 saying “Where is the promise of his coming?" in the last days.
But clearly Peter was speaking to primarily the same audience that Jesus had spoke to just 30 years earlier or so. Peter was encouraging them because after all, Christ had PROMISED them that He would return before some of them died. (Matt 16:27-28) It makes perfect sense that after 30 years has gone by, these believers are getting a bit antsy. They are wondering when this would happen. They were also being mocked and laughed at by the majority of people who knew what they were told and knew what they believed but yet it hadn't happened yet. If I promised you that before you die I was going to give you a million dollars and 30 years have passed and I still haven't come through on that promise that you were really counting on, you'd be worried too.
During Jesus ministry around 30ad He warned those standing in front of Him that they would experience a lot of things before the end of the age and the destruction of the Temple.
They would be mocked, beat, dragged before councils, killed, laughed at, lied to, and on and on. Jesus says that it would be like the days of Noah when everyone was eating, drinking, laughing, having a great time, and then He would come as a thief.
Now we skip forward to the letter of Jude which was written sometime in the 60's. Writing to "the called" ones, Jude writes and warns them about certain men that were present at that time......
"Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ." Jude 1:3-4
We see clearly that these certain people were alive then and were causing some discord among the believers. Jude continues on in the first chapter and he compares these ungodly men to ungodly men of the old days like Sodom and Gomorrah. He even says "WOE TO THEM" in regards to these first century mockers. But look what he says just a few sentences later...
"These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit." Jude 1:16-18
Clearly, the mockers and scoffers were already THERE when Jude was writing to the believers. Jude was calling their remembrance back to what they were warned of 10, 20, 30 years earlier. The time had come. He wraps it up by saying...
"But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." Jude 1:20-21
These believers in the 60's were still "looking for" the Coming of the Lord which would bring them to the full realization of their inheritance- eternal life.
Remember, Paul also says that at the coming of the Lord the dead would be raised out of Hades and the LIVING WOULD BE CHANGED. Changed from mortal to IMMORTAL. This is the eternal life that they were "looking for" and it would come at the end of the age and the Coming of the Lord in His Kingdom.
The scoffers and mockers that were predicted to come were also predicted to come before that generation passed away. All of this fits perfectly into the coming of the Lord in AD70.
Ps...hate to break it to ya but we are not the scoffers in the last days! :)
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