David is prominent in the Old Testament, especially the book of Psalms. I love David and God’s teachings to him! He said in Psalm 32 the following:
“Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty”.
When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat! Finally, I confessed all my sins to you, and stopped trying to HIDE my guilt. I said to myself, I will confess my rebellion to the Lord, and you forgave me! ALL my guilt is gone! Therefore, let the godly pray to you while there is STILL TIME, that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment. For you are My Hiding Place; You protect me from trouble, You surround me with songs of victory!”
Hallelujah what a Savior! Amen!”
Was David a sinner? No, he wasn”t. David was a Saint! Does David sin after being saved by God’s grace, Yes! Why? He still lives in a body that has sin dwelling in it called the Flesh! David had a new heart, a new soul and a new spirit. God saved Him by His grace.
Yet, David had many personal sins during his lifetime. The fact is, salvation is FROM the penalty of sin, but sin still dwells in our flesh. That part of us is not born again! We struggle with sin. We do not wish to sin!
In the Garden of Eden when God called Adam and Eve to account for their sin, what took place? GOD came and found them. God came and called them. God killed a Lamb and shed its blood and took its skin and put it over their bodies to cover their nakedness.
One of the lessons for us in this is God is the one who grants mercy and grace. He did so through the shed blood of an animal which pointed to the Lamb of God (Jesus) who was to come and shed His blood for His peoples’ sin. Adam and Eve did not even blink an eye. They didn’t do anything. They were worked ON by God alone for His glory alone!!
The same today. God calls. God grants us faith and repentance. God grants us mercy, grace, and a new birth, covering us in Christ’s blood. He puts us into Christ and into eternal life never remembering or holding us accountable any longer for any sin whether it is past, present or future.
David was saved, redeemed, justified by faith, regenerated (made alive unto God), had God in his daily life, had the Holy Spirit, for no one can be saved and not have the Holy Spirit abiding within them!
In other words, we get a new identity. Sinners are turned into Saints.
In no way am I advocating sinless perfection. Our flesh or our fallen or old man, which ever phrase you prefer, still produces sin. When we do, we bring those sins to the light and confess them, but not in the sense that they have NOT already been forgiven. Jesus died ONCE for those sins (past, present, and future). No re-crucifying Jesus again, and again and again by acting like you haven’t been forgiven. You have. The O.T. High Priests had to sacrifice the lambs daily, but Jesus sacrifice was once. It is finished. We have been born again. We are new creations.
Paul called us Saints. Peter called us Saints.
Even though we are new creations, we still live in unregenerate, fallen bodies and sin dwells in them.
We confess those sins to the Lord and to each other when need be, but those sins are forgiven. David confessed his sins to the Lord, but David also knew he was forgiven.
The Word teaches us not to hide our sins, but to bring them to the Lord, to the light, and confess them. As a Saint, hiding such sin brings guilt, shame, and difficulties in our lives, until we confess openly we have failed the Lord.
But, remember always, those sins are already forgiven. When we confess them we are agreeing with God that we need to seek to slay sin, stop sin, and walk in the Spirit with Him!
We don’t we start begging God to forgive us of our wretchedness. We confess and thank Him that He has hidden them under His blood and never to be remembered again. The idea of being laden down with sin and failures, and thinking we are wretched, terrible, awful sinful wicked people is to “smear” God and His message and Jesus’ finished work done for us on the cross. We are not under wrath, not under condemnation, not under shame and disgrace, not under sin’s power, not under Satan’s control. We are not to be depressed, or shamed, or feel lostbecause we sinned.
Let us agree with God that we are His righteous saints. His righteousness had been IMPUTED to our account. He lives within us and we are in Him and He in us.
The Scriptures tell us God’s heavy hand of discipline was on David until he confessed his sins.God didn’t leave him when he sinned. God didn’t leave him when he did not confess. Instead He made sure David did confess. God was always with David, as He is with us. If we try to hide our sins and not confess them, He will make a way for us to do so.
David could have been perfectly obedient for a 1000 years, but that would have not made him a bit better in the site of God than He was after confessing, for he already had ALL of his sins forgiven, PAST, PRESENT, and FUTURE.
Yes, David was disciplined by the Lord. Yes, he grieved the Holy Spirit. Yes, there were consequences for his sins, especially within his own family.
But, knowing we are not under condemnation and all our sins have already been forgiven at the Cross spurs us on to serve Jesus even more and love Him even more. This is AMAZING GRACE.
Christ is in us, and we are in Him. We Abide in Christ and He abides in us! He always LOVES us, with never a lapse in that LOVE!He never leaves us and He in fact, keeps us in the faith. We can’t go in and out of fellowship with God, for He is always there.
Do you believe the word of God on this?
Lamar Carnes – A fellow believer in the journey of life on planet earth! Praise be unto God (the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost)! Amen! Selah! Maranatha!
CHURCHES: Hillside Fellowship – Spring Branch, Texas – Pastor Dave Tooker – One of God’s choice servants and congregations in the USA in my opinion. This is me and my wife’s local church and we recommend it to all. Even if you do not or are not able to attend, please follow the sermons on the website as often as you can and be blessed.
Lifegate Church – 395 Lifegate Ln., Seguin, Texas 78155 – email@example.com. or lifegateseguin.com Pastors: Joshua Jordan; Bob Odum; – Sovereign Grace Church/Expository Preaching; School all grades! I highly recommend this Church and the School!
Austin Stone Ministries – Austin, Texas
The Village Church – Fort Worth, Dallas, Texas Area
Redemption Bible Church – New Braunfels, Tx. Pastors Blair Cushman; Cade Hennessee; ARCC – San Antonio, Texas – Pastor Michael McCracken San Antonio, Texas; -High Pointe Baptist – Austin, Texas – Dr. Juan Sanchez; Currey Creek Church – Pastor John Free – Boerne, Texas
Writers – Theologian’s; Ministers
Pastor Dave Tooker;John Piper; J.I. Packer; Wayne Grudem; Matt Chandler; Matt Carter; John Reisinger; Charles Spurgeon; John Bunyan; George Whitfield; Alistair Begg; Duane Spencer; Thomas Watson; John Gill; Blake White; Gary Long; A.W. Pink; D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones; Juan Sanchez; Steve Lawson; Douglas Moo; Edward Hills; Dean John Burgon; John MacArthur
The Holy Bible (NKJV; Amplified Bible; NLT; NASV)
New Morning Mercies – Paul D. Tripp
TULIP – Duane Spencer
Bondage of the Will – Martin Luther
All books by: John Piper; R.C. Sproul; John Bunyan; A.W. Pink; Blake White; Charles Spurgeon; George Whitfield; John Reisinger;Martyn Lloyd-Jones; S. Lewis Johnson; Matt Chandler; Charles Spurgeon; J.I. Packer; John Gill; John Owen;Jonathan Edwards
ANY BOOK EXPOSING THE FOLLOWING HERESIES OR MISUNDERSTANDINGS RELATING TO THE CHURCH AND ISRAEL:
Mormonism; Seventh Day Adventism; Arminianism; Works Salvation; Roman Catholicism; Baptismal Regeneration; Covenant Theology; Dispensationalism; LEGALISM; DEISM; SINLESS PERFECTIONISM; Identity of A Believer(Saint or Sinner); Judaism; Islam; Christian Science; Jehovah Witnesses; Social Justice (Social Justice IS NOT the Gospel, but Justice is a by product of redemption and good works by the believer; Woke; BLM Marxists; Antifa Marxist/Fascists/Socialists; All Religious movements outside of Christianity; and many more!
Writings on Eschatology (Doctrine of Last Things)
Classic writtenin 1878: The Parousia – James Stuart Russell
Preterism (Some aspects left uncertain, but the basic premise about many future events which have already happened such as AD70 event when Christ came down in Judgement upon Israel is absolutely excellent. Using this along with Josephesus, a Jewish Historian who lived at that time will bring much needed revelation about what the Bible teaches about the end times scriptural teachings, running alongside of the “soon to happen” coming back of Christ to Judge Israel as a nation and remove her from her position having failed God and rejected the Messiah Jesus.
Some popular concepts about end times:Premillennialism; Pretribulationism – Premillennialism; Amillennialism; Postmillennialism; Preterism (ALL OF THESE VIEWS HAVE SERIOUS KNOTS OR ERRORS WHICH CAN BE CLEARLY IDENTIFIED BY A STUDENT OF THE WORD. END TIMES TRUTHS AND MORE CLOSER TO THE TRUTH WOULD POSSIBLY BE A MERGING OF SOME OF THE PRETERIST VIEWS ESPECIALLY ON 70 AD regarding Christ coming judgment to “that particular generation HE was living with and speaking to, etc. AND SOME ASPECTS OF AMILLENNIALISM. SO, SOME CORRECTING IN BOTH, POTENTIAL ERRORS OR REAL ERRORS will bring us to a more Biblical posture.)Preterism fails to realize and see the very END of END TIMES teachings which have yet not been fulfilled. Such as: a new heavens and a new earth wherein dwells righteousness; sin no longer existing; disease no longer existing, death no longer existing, Actual presence of Christ being with us on Earth not existing as a Throne on earth, His visible presence on earth, etc.!
He is certainly in us, and with us all the time, but NOT visibly as recorded in the Bible as He will be! So on and on we could speak of the Preterist errors on this end of end times concerning Christs coming back. They think Christ came back in 70 AD as the final fulfillment of Christ coming back to earth! Not so! He did come BACK in 70 AD in Judgment and many miracles and great things took place during that time along with a total destruction of Jerusalem and Israel as a nation. Not to speak of the Roman Empire being judged by Christ also.
So, in that sense Christ came the 2nd time back, but HE is still to come back the Next or 3rd time and set up a everlasting kingdom with His bride, burning up the earth and making it new, and the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven in which we all shall live with Him after the resurrection and translation of the saints in our new spiritual bodies which now we do not have, and the Preterist doesn’t know what to do with their teachings since we don’t have such yet and people still die every day.
Jews and Muslims especially during this period of time and down through history also, have considered the Holy Scriptures being wrong because of the knots or errors of the current last day teachings by the church, but using the word of God and also ‘help’ from the Preterist and Amillennial views, AND Christs’ word the events would be for those hearing His words at that moment, along with Josephus the Jewish historian, would STOP their mouths quickly, for such promises of Christ’s return soon, and very soon, and “this generation (Christ time of ministry) promised to experience the judgment in 70AD is clearly a unlocking moment showing God’s word is inspired and is true.)
THE FOLLOWING IS A REPRINT OF A LETTER SENT BY THE LATE JOHN REISINGER TO THE LATE DR. R.C. SPROUL. EXCELLENT UNDERSTANDING AND READING OF THE ISSUES AT HAND!
Saturday, September 10, 2016
An Open Letter to Dr. R.C. Sproul by John G. Reisinger
Dear Dr. Sproul:
For many years I have benefited from your ministry. Your books present the reality of our sovereign, gracious God and his amazing love for undeserving sinners in clear, biblically accurate language. We have used your videos in Sunday School classes and youth groups and have encouraged many others to do the same. I was, therefore, greatly disappointed, but given your unreserved commitment to Covenant Theology, not at all surprised by your unjustified attack on New Covenant Theology in general and two other men and me in particular. Your magazine, Tabletalk, of September 2002 carried five articles against ‘antinomianism.’ One of those articles, “The Death of the Decalogue,” by Richard Barcellos, applied the odious label of theological antinomian to Tom Wells and Fred Zaspel, co-authors of the book New Covenant Theology (page 55), and to me (page 16).
I have no doubt that your sincere concern is for the truth of the gospel. I believe that you, like my friends and me, are concerned to help the people of God to be more holy in their lives. The articles in your magazine make it clear that we disagree on the specific message that will best reach that goal.
We welcome all open discussion on the subject of law and grace. We are especially grateful to you for clearly defining, in the article by Morton Smith (pages 8-10, 54), what was historically considered antinomianism. We can only wish you had used that definition consistently throughout the entire issue instead of having it discarded for new and different definitions, especially the definition used by Richard Barcellos. In another article, “Dispensing with the Law,” by Keith Mathison (page 11), Dispensationalism is labeled as antinomian. If you agree with Mathison’s position, we can only wonder why you have Dr. John MacArthur, a man openly committed to Dispensationalism, and therefore, according to Mathison, an antinomian, as a speaker at your conferences. I have read nearly everything that MacArthur has written and I have not found any explicit or implicit antinomian statements despite the fact that he is an avowed Dispensationalist. Since I am not a Dispensationalist, I am not defending Dr. MacArthur on partisan grounds. For Mathison to automatically label MacArthur, or anyone else, an antinomian just because he is a Dispensationalist is wrong. Granted, a Dispensationalist disagrees with the Covenant Theology of the Westminster Confession of Faith on some points relating to the law of God, but since the Confession is not equal with the authority of Scripture, this does not automatically make Dispensationalism equal to being an antinomian, or against the Law of God. Rejecting Covenant Theology’s view of law and grace and rejecting the Law of God itself are two different things.
I agree with you that true antinomianism is a heresy and a failure by church leaders to label it as such is a sin against Christ and his Church. If Mathison is correct, then it would seem you are duty bound to condemn John MacArthur as an antinomian. However, to either falsely accuse someone of this heresy, or to use an inaccurate definition when labeling someone an antinomian is also a sin against Christ and a fellow believer. Morton Smith, on page 10 of Tabletalk, quotes a work entitled Antinomianism Discovered and Confuted by Thomas Gataker, a member of the Westminster Assembly, that lists six marks of antinomianism. Not a single one of the six things on that list are true of Tom Wells, Fred Zaspel or me. One of the six could conceivably apply, but only if our view was misunderstood. The other five are far off from our convictions. Your magazine’s articles, especially the one by Barcellos, that use our name in print, rest their case on two major points. First, we disagree with Covenant Theology’s view of the Sabbath (as does John MacArthur, and as did Calvin, Luther, James M. Boice, and others), and second, we believe Christ is a new lawgiver who, in revealing more fully and completely the character of God, not only raises the Law of Moses to a higher and more spiritual level, but also gives the church some new laws.
I do not at all enjoy writing in a public forum against a fellow believer whom I deeply respect. However, since you chose to use that setting to criticize me as a proponent of New Covenant Theology, I felt it appropriate to respond in kind.
Let me clearly spell out my view of the Ten Commandments. I ask you to show me what I believe that deserves your condemnation of me as an ‘antinomian’ heretic. Please show me where I am anti-law in any sense whatever in my understanding of the Ten Commandments. Apart from viewing the Sabbath as a ceremonial law, I hold to the same set of ethical standards, raised to an even higher level, than Covenant Theology holds. At the end of the day, I think the most that can be consistently claimed is that New Covenant Theology, as I understand it, is antinomian only because it presents the Sabbath as a ceremonial and not a moral law. The nature of the Sabbath commandment is the crux of the entire case. To be consistent with the basic charge against me, you would also have to charge Luther, Calvin, James Montgomery Boice and John MacArthur with antinomianism since none of them were or are Sabbatarians.
Here is my view of the Ten Commandments, compared with that of Covenant Theology. Please show me where my view is antinomian.
One: Do you believe and teach that a Christian is duty bound to obey the first commandment – “No other gods” – see Exodus 20:3. I believe and teach the same thing. Breaking that commandment was, is, and always will be a sin. I cannot possibly be an antinomian, or ‘be against the first commandment.’ (See also Acts 14:15 and 1 Cor. 8:6.)
Two: Do you believe that a Christian is duty bound to obey the second commandment – “No idols / images” – see Exodus 20:4-6. I also believe and teach the same thing. Breaking that commandment was, is, and always will be a sin. I cannot possibly be an antinomian, or ‘be against the second commandment.’ (See also 1 John 5:21 and 1Cor. 10:7).
Three: Do you believe and teach that a Christian is duty bound to obey the third commandment – “Don’t take God’s name in vain” – see Exodus 20:7. I also believe and teach the same thing. Breaking that commandment was, is, and always will be a sin. I cannot possibly be an antinomian, or ‘be against the third commandment.’ (See also James 5:12).
Four: Do you believe and teach that a Christian is duty bound to obey the fourth commandment – “Keep the Sabbath” – see Exodus 20:8-11. I believe and teach that Christ himself is our Sabbath and we “keep Sabbath with God” when we truly rest in Christ’s finished work of atonement. See our booklet, The Believer’s Sabbath (Frederick, MD: New Covenant Media, 2002). I believe the Sabbath was the ceremonial sign of the Mosaic covenant (Exod. 31:14-18).
Five: Do you believe and teach that a Christian is duty bound to obey the fifth commandment – “Honor your parents” – see Exodus 20:12. I also believe and teach the same thing. Breaking that commandment was, is, and always will be a sin. I cannot possibly be an antinomian, or ‘be against the fifth commandment.’ (See also Eph. 6:1-3).
Six: Do you believe and teach that a Christian is duty bound to obey the sixth commandment – “No murder” – see Exodus 20:13. I also believe and teach the same thing. Breaking that commandment was, is, and always will be a sin. I cannot possibly be an antinomian, or ‘against the sixth commandment.’ (See also 1 John 3:11-15 and Rom.13:9).
Seven: Do you believe and teach that a Christian is duty bound to obey the seventh commandment – “No adultery” – see Exodus 20:14. I also believe and teach the same thing. Breaking that commandment was, is, and always will be a sin. I cannot possibly be an antinomian, or ‘against the seventh commandment.’ (See also Eph. 5:3-7 and 1 Cor. 6:9, 10).
Eight: Do you believe and teach that a Christian is duty bound to obey the eighth commandment – “No stealing” – see Exodus 20:15. I also believe and teach the same thing. Breaking that commandment was, is, and always will be a sin. I cannot possibly be an antinomian, or ‘against the eighth commandment.’ (See also Eph. 4:28).
Nine: Do you believe and teach that a Christian is duty bound to obey the ninth commandment – “Don’t bear false witness” – see Exodus 20:16. I also believe and teach the same thing. Breaking that commandment was, is, and always will be a sin. I cannot possibly be an antinomian, or ‘against the ninth commandment.’ (See also Col.3:9 and Eph. 4:25).
Ten: Do you believe and teach that a Christian is duty bound to obey the tenth commandment – “No coveting” – see Exodus 20:17. I also believe and teach the same thing. Breaking that commandment was, is, and always will be a sin. I cannot possibly be an antinomian, or ‘against the tenth commandment.’ (See Eph. 5:3-7)1
Dr. Sproul, can my view, as expressed above, in any sense whatsoever, be considered against law in general or against the Ten Commandments in particular?
The catch question that is often posed is this: “Do you believe that the Ten Commandments written with the finger of God upon the Tables of Stone are the rule of life for a Christian today?” Our reply is this: “We believe that the Ten Commandments, as they are interpreted and applied by our Lord and his apostles in the New Testament Scriptures, are a real and essential part of our rule of life.” According to Morton Smith’s stated definition (page 10), the very most that I can be called is a 1/10 antinomian. The heart of the issue with New Covenant Theology and myself concerning the Ten Commandments boils down to whether the Fourth commandment, the Sabbath, is an eternal, unchanging, moral law, or the ceremonial sign of the covenant God made with Israel at Sinai (Exod. 31:14-17). As I understand it, the Sabbath alone is your real point of difference with New Covenant Theology. That one commandment alone is our only point of disagreement.
We feel we have much biblical evidence for our view. Exodus 31:16 specifically states that to keep the Sabbath was to actually keep ‘the covenant.’ “The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant,” and both verses 11 and 17 state that the Sabbath was the sign of the Mosaic covenant. It is vital that we recognize that the Sabbath, like circumcision, the ceremonial sign of the Abrahamic covenant, was indeed the ceremonial covenant sign of the Mosaic covenant. To violate the ceremonial sign of a covenant was to disown the entire covenant. This is why both signs, circumcision and the Sabbath, even though ceremonial in nature, carried the death penalty for violation. Within the context of marriage, the worst thing I could do would be to take off my wedding ring, throw it at my wife, and walk out. That one act would be a deliberate and total rejection of our entire covenant relationship. That is exactly what the man did who ‘merely’ picked up a few sticks on the Sabbath. He threw the wedding ring in God’s face. That is what Moses was doing by not having his son circumcised. He was refusing to wear the wedding ring.
A particular day of the week cannot be intrinsically holy, in the sense of moral purity, any more than a spoon, an article of furniture, certain clothing, or a piece of land can be holy. The Most Holy Place ceased to be holy in any sense the moment the veil of the temple was rent from top to bottom. Everything that God in any way associates with worshipping him was always prefixed with the word holy. However, in most cases, the connotation of the word ‘holy’ is “separated unto God” and not “morally pure.” Holy days, including the seventh-day Sabbath, are in the same category as the Holy Place, holy garments, holy ceremonies, holy altars, holy furniture, etc. None of these things reflect the eternal, ‘moral’ character of God.
Dr. Sproul, please explain why your magazine labels New Covenant Theology as antinomian when we not only affirm just as strongly as you that the Christian is not only under clear objective ethical commandments in the New Covenant, but we also insist those New Covenant laws are even higher than those written on stone. How is it possible for our belief in a higher law to be turned into anti law? Your September issue of Tabletalk condemns us as heretics simply because we believe that our Lord Jesus Christ is a true lawgiver in his own right and, as such, gives higher and more spiritual laws than anything Moses ever gave. Why do we deserve the odious label of antinomian simply because we believe that Christ replaces Moses as the new lawgiver in exactly the same way he replaces Aaron as High Priest? Our view is completely consistent with the teaching of Hebrews 3:1-6. What is anti-law about binding a Christian’s conscience to obey the higher demands of grace found in the Sermon on the Mount and the Epistles? How do we in any way demean either Moses or the holy Law of God by insisting that the law of God under the New Covenant demands a higher and deeper spiritual response than that given through Moses? Does progressive revelation not in any way apply to ethical behavior? Do you really believe that law can demand more than grace? Why must the highest, fullest, unchanging standard of moral conduct that God ever gave be those laws written on the stone tablets of the Covenant (Deut. 9:9-15 and Heb. 9:4) that God made with Israel? Why do you insist that Moses must be the greatest lawgiver; the giver of the ‘eternal, unchanging, moral law of God,’ and Christ merely be the greatest exegete of that law that God gave Moses? If the Sermon on the Mount is really no more than the greatest Rabbi’s true exposition of the Ten Commandments, then would it not be correct to call that sermon “the Talmud of Jesus?” How is it unbiblical for us to insist that Christ is a greater lawgiver than Moses? How are we in anyway demeaning either Moses or the holy Law of God in any way by exalting Christ over Moses as the new Lawgiver?
I am especially grateful that your magazine made the real bottom line issue so crystal clear. After condemning my view as “more dangerous than explicit antinomianism” (I find it hard to believe that is possible), Barcellos then clearly states his own definition of antinomianism. He plays games with the words ‘against’ and ‘anti’ and then says the following. The emphasis is mine.
In other words, although NCT may not be against law in an absolute sense, if it denies that the moral law of the Old Testament is the moral law of the New Testament, and if it replaces the moral law with another, then it is antinomian on two counts. (page 15 )
Barcellos could not possibly have stated the heart of the issue more clearly. His position, as yours, grows out of his unconditional commitment to the perpetuity of the Decalogue or Tables of the Covenant. To change in any way the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments (Exod. 34:28), written on the Tables of the Covenant, the Decalogue (Deut. 9:9) is, in Barcellos’ eyes, to be antinomian. What an admission! It does not matter if ‘changing the law’ means raising it to a higher and deeper level, it is still antinomianism. It does not matter that our Lord himself raised the standards. Even that is immaterial; it is still antinomianism. In other words, the actual content of the law we preach may be built upon and go past the laws written on the stone tables, but that makes no difference, we are still antinomian! The fact that we changed, even by raising to a higher level, the “unchanging moral law of God” justifies Barcellos in accusing us of being worse than the worst of Antinomians. It does not matter what law we used to replace the law of Moses, even if we use the very law of Christ himself, we are still antinomian. Our teaching that Jesus Christ has raised the law of Moses to a higher level is heresy simply because we have dared to believe and teach that the Sermon on the Mount makes higher and deeper demands upon the children of grace than the Decalogue. We have dared to say that the law of Moses is not the highest law that God ever gave. We insist that our Lord’s law is higher than the law given to Moses.
When Barcellos declares that anyone who “replaces the moral law with another…is antinomian,” he is laying it all on the table. He is dogmatic that the Decalogue gives us the highest revelation of the moral character of God that has ever been given. We reply, no, our blessed New Covenant prophet goes past Moses and gives us a higher revelation of God’s moral character. Barcellos does not care if we replace the laws written on stone with the laws given us by our Lord himself; we are still more dangerous than explicit antinomians like Agricola. If believing that the sovereign grace of God and the authority of Jesus Christ our new Lawgiver demand a higher and deeper spiritual response than the law of Moses, then we plead guilty to the charge of antinomianism. In the name of Christ our New Covenant prophet, and, we trust to the glory of God and the good of his church, we will continue to insist that our Lord replaces Moses as God’s lawgiver over the church in exactly the same way he replaced Aaron as High Priest. We only ask that those who condemn us realize the true grounds upon which we are being condemned. We are labeled and condemned as ‘against law,’ not because we are at all opposed to any law, but solely because we believe the higher law of Christ replaces the Law of Moses. Barcellos has written a book entitled In Defense of the Decalogue. A response to that book could well be entitled In Defense of Jesus Christ, the New Lawgiver. The Barcellos quotation cited above demonstrates how these two titles define the heart of the issue.
Let me say again, I am grateful that your magazine has clarified the issues. The bottom line has nothing to do whether we believe in clear, objective, moral absolutes. We preach those as clearly as you do. The question concerns whether Jesus Christ is merely a true, full, and final interpreter of Moses or whether he is a new lawgiver who replaces Moses in exactly the same way he replaces Aaron as High Priest. Is he only a scribe, even the greatest of all scribes, or is he a true prophet who gives new and higher laws? That is the real issue.
Barcellos introduces his article in Tabletalk with a quotation from Ernest Kevan:
“The main object of the moderate Antinomians was to glorify Christ; but, failing to understand the true relationship between ‘law’ and ‘grace,’ they extolled the latter at the expense of the former.” (page 14)
I am sure there were some people who may have been guilty of Kevan’s charge. However, I also think that Tabletalk’s attempt to glorify Moses and his revelation of law has been at the expense of the greater glory of Christ and his new and higher revelation of law.
If Covenant Theology’s position that Jesus never changed any of the laws written on the Tables of Stone is true, we should not be able to find one unambiguous example where Jesus clearly and definitely changed one of the Ten Commandments. We can show more than one such instance. Before doing that, we may legitimately ask if Covenant Theology has indeed changed one of those unchanging laws. We might ask, “Where does any New Testament writer command that the seventh day Sabbath be changed to the first day, and observed for a totally different reason than the two reasons given in the two different versions of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5?” We must remember that an example does not constitute a commandment, especially when we are considering (1) changing one of the ‘eternal, unchanging, moral laws’ of God written in stone, and (2) that the particular commandment that we are changing is no less than the specific sign of a covenant document. When we read in the New Testament Scriptures of the furor that was created by the Jews because the apostles taught that circumcision was no longer necessary, can we possibly believe that the apostles could have changed the holy Sabbath of God from Saturday to Sunday and the Jews would have never said a word of protest? I submit that if the apostles had changed God’s holy day, the Jews would have created havoc and yet there is not a single word of that problem mentioned in the New Testament! Why? Because the New Testament does not command a change of days. The grounds upon which this is done are purely circumstantial and in reality, arbitrary.
Let me show some instances where Christ, the new lawgiver, changes one of the Ten Commandments written on stone. As stated earlier, one example only is necessary to refute the basic premise of the position you are not only defending, but are using as the grounds to condemn New Covenant Theology as heretical.
The seventh commandment says, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exod.20:14). We believe that commandment is just as binding on us today as it was when it was written on stone. However, we also believe that Jesus clearly changed the definition of what constitutes adultery. Under the Law of Moses, divorce was possible under different rules than it is for a Christian living under the new laws of Christ based on grace. The old rules allowed divorce for reasons other than adultery. Actually, they allowed divorce, according to some commentators, almost at the whim of the man. Here is what the Law of Moses says about divorce and remarriage.
1. If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house,
2. and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man,
3. and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies,
4. then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the LORD. Do not bring sin upon the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance. (Deut. 24:1-4 NIV)
All agree that “something indecent” in verse one could not be, or even include, adultery. That would have been punished with death. Under the Mosiac law, remarriage after divorce for “something indecent” was not considered adulterous. In Matthew 19:1-9, Jesus said the Law of Moses in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 concerning divorce was given because of the hardness of men’s hearts. It would also seem it was designed to protect women against that hard-heartedness. Regardless, it is clear that Jesus is saying, “In my kingdom, I am raising the standard and redefining adultery. ‘Something indecent’ is replaced with marital unfaithfulness as the only grounds for divorce.” Later on, Paul will make another change and add another ground for divorce (I Cor. 7:12-15). Both Jesus and Paul changed the definition of adultery as it had been expressed in the seventh commandment, and detailed in the explanatory correlating material. Jesus specifically forbids precisely what Moses allowed. This is in no way a contradiction. The old rules, or Law of Moses, were fine for hard-hearted sinners who lived under a covenant based on law, but members of the new kingdom of grace are not hard-hearted sinners as were most of those under the Old Covenant. Every person in the New Covenant has a heart of flesh; both God’s will and God’s love are written on those hearts (Heb.8:7-12; 10:15-17). That is the very greatness of the New Covenant based on grace over the Old Covenant based on law.
We might ask if the Old Covenant believer had Deuteronomy 24:1-4 ‘written on his heart’? One thing seems certain; he did not have Matthew 19:1-9 ‘written on his heart.’ It cannot be denied that there are clearly different rules under the Law of Moses and under the law of Christ concerning divorce and remarriage, and both sets of rules could not be applicable to the same person at the same time. Divorce, adultery, and re-marriage had different laws, or different canons of conduct, under the Old and New Covenants. I am aware that this proposition is impossible within the system of Covenant Theology. Just as there is one Covenant of Grace and one redeemed people under that one covenant, so there must also be only one unchanging canon of conduct for that one people. If there are two different canons of conduct, one for Israel and one for the church, and I have just demonstrated that such is the case, then Covenant Theology is without a foundation in its view of law and grace.
The second change in the seventh commandment (as expounded in Deuteronomy 24) concerns the legitimacy of allowing a man to remarry a woman after he had divorced her. Under the Law of Moses that situation was not allowed under any circumstance. The very same thing is not forbidden in the New Covenant under which we live. It is obvious, in this case, that what was “detestable in the eyes of the LORD” under the Old Covenant is not detestable to him under the New Covenant.
A third change to the adultery commandment concerns polygamy. Under the Law of God given to Moses, polygamy was not considered adultery. In fact, the Law of Moses actually mandated that a man had to sleep with both wives if he took a second wife (Exod. 21:10, 11). I think any honest person will admit that a change from a law allowing, even if we make it a reluctant tolerance, polygamy to a law insisting on monogamy alone (Eph. 5:22, 23) is more than just a surface change in the definition of adultery and marriage. John Murray clearly saw this problem, and because he was an extremely honest writer, frankly admitted what was at stake. He wrote his treatise on ethics attempting to prove that Polygamy was just as sinful for David as it would be for us today.2 If that cannot be proven, and it surely cannot, then there are two canons of conduct, one for Israel and one for the Church, and Covenant Theology loses its foundation.
I repeat; if Covenant Theology’s position concerning the absolute “unchanging” character of the Ten Commandments as written on the Tables of Stone is correct, I should not be able to produce one clear specific change to a higher level in any of those commandments. I think I have done that without question. I also repeat that we insist that Christ is not in any way contradicting Moses as if Moses were wrong. Contrasting and raising a law to a higher level is not a contradiction. Laws to govern unregenerate rebels are not always the same as laws to govern regenerate saints.
In your own article “To the gallows with Moses!” you quote Johannes Agricola: “His full statement was this: ‘Art thou steeped in sin, an adulterer or a thief? If thou believest, thou art in salvation. All who follow Moses must go to the Devil. To the gallows…'” (page 5). If Agricola had changed the tense of his verbs to read, “If you will truly believe, you will come into salvation” he would have been preaching the gospel. However, his statement as it stands is the epitome of antinomian heresy because it teaches that a person can willingly live in sin and still be a child of God. Likewise, if he had said, “All who follow Moses in the hope of being saved by their obedience to him must go to the Devil”, he would have been telling the truth. Your readers, by implication, have every reason to believe that Wells, Zaspel and I believe the same thing as Agricola. However, we have preached, and will continue to preach, the absolute necessity and certainty of the final perseverance of the saints. We disagree with Agricola just as strongly as you do. You unjustly malign us by innuendo.
Your caricature of antinomianism by using a parody of a great hymn again lumps us into the same camp as Agricola:
Free from the law, O blessed condition; We can sin all we want And still have remission.
If your parody is indeed the “theme song of antinomianism” (page 6), then I have never met a true antinomian. All the New Covenant people with whom I associate would, like you, totally reject the philosophy set forth in your parody. However, we would also unashamedly sing from grateful hearts the original words of the hymn you choose to use for your caricature.
Free from the law, O happy condition, Jesus hath bled, and there is remission; Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall, Grace hath redeemed us once for all. (P.P. Bliss 1873)
If that hymn is talking about justification, and it most certainly is, then it proclaims the gospel in all of the purity of sovereign grace. It presents the blood of Christ our Lord as the sole grounds of remission of sin. This is precisely the point that Paul drives home in Romans 3:20-31. To mock that hymn is to mock the very gospel itself. Where is the theological flaw in this hymn that praises God’s grace alone for full, free and forever justification?
You mention how the Reformers correctly sought to qualify the truth of justification by faith and protect it against antinomianism. They said:
“Justification is by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone.” Luther, in keeping with the epistle of James, argued that saving faith is a fides viva, a living faith that always yields the fruit of good works. (page 6)
Tom Wells, Fred Zaspel, I and all of our New Covenant friends have been faithfully and fervently declaring that very same thing for many years; even using those exact quotations. No one has fought ‘easy-believism’ and empty professions of faith any harder than we have.
I would like to believe that it was not the intention of Tabletalk to label us as true antinomians, but the facts seem to show otherwise. Barcellos wants to eat his cake and have it too. He first admits that we are not “morally antinomian” and then further also admits that we are not “typical antinomian.” However, he then says that New Covenant Theology is “more dangerous than explicit antinomianism” (page 15). So he actually labeled us as holding an even more heretical antinomianism than the worst of the explicit antinomians described in the rest of the articles. We are even more dangerous than Johannes Agricola. Unless you and Barcellos have adopted a very extreme ‘carnal Christian’ doctrine, your readers have absolutely no reason to believe that you consider those who hold to New Covenant Theology as truly converted.
Your magazine accepted and printed an article that publicly labels us as more dangerous than ‘explicit antinomians” which means we are outside the camp of true orthodox Christianity. I believe this draws a false line in the sand. An open discussion of issues involving law and grace, especially as they relate to the Sabbath, is long overdue. The September 2002 issue of Tabletalk has raised the issue, but does not promote such a discussion. You may, with the use of false labels, help to widen the present gap and create even more divisions among believers and churches. Surely this is not the outcome either of us would desire.
We have received many reviews of the Wells / Zaspel book, New Covenant Theology. Nearly every one, even those from people within your own camp, are far different responses than that expressed by Barcellos in Tabletalk. We would welcome your own opinion, based on your personal reading of the book. Perhaps you would agree with Barcellos, but it is just as possible that you would express a far different sentiment. It might, at any rate, open the door for further discussion.
Following are five quotes that contribute insight into Tabletalk’s view of antinomianism. These quotes clearly demonstrate John Calvin, Martin Luther (along with most early Reformation Churches) John MacArthur, Colin Brown, James Mongomery Boice all consciously rejected the Westminster Confession of Faith’s view of the Sabbath. In no sense whatever am I suggesting that any of these men would agree with my understanding of New Covenant Theology. What I am saying is that every one of these men deserves the odious label of antinomian if they are judged by the standard that was used to judge me. They all clearly affirm that our blessed Lord dropped one of the laws, the Sabbath, that Covenant Theology considers to be a part of the ‘eternal, unchanging, moral law of God.’ It is clear that Christ viewed the Sabbath as no longer in force but as fulfilled in Himself. As the new Lawgiver, he had every right to do so.
One: R.L. Dabney, an avowed Sabbatarian, in his Systematic Theology, gives a clear and honest statement of Luther’s and Calvin’s views of the Sabbath.
We find that, in theory, almost all Protestants now profess the views once peculiar to Presbyterians and other Puritans … (p. 366). The historical fact, of which many intelligent Christians are not aware—that the communions founded at the Reformation, were widely and avowedly divided in opinion as to the perpetuity of the Sabbath obligation. A number of the Reformation churches, including some of the purest, professed that they saw no obligation in Scripture to any peculiar Sabbath observation (p. 366). The second opinion [that the Sabbath is a moral commandment and not ceremonial] is that embodied in the Westminster symbols, and, to the honor of Presbyterianism be it said, first avowed in modern times, even among Protestants, by that party in England … (p.367)
On pages 368–371, Dabney shows that the Mennonites, Lutherans and Anglicans were all non-sabbatarian. He then says:
[Calvin’s] views of Sabbath-observation are substantially those of Luther. (p. 372)
On the whole, it may be said that the Protestant Churches of continental Europe… properly speaking, have never had the Sabbath; for it has only been to them a holy-day, ranking no higher than Christmas or Easter. (p. 373)
Two: John MacArthur’s view.
The MacArthur N.T. Commentary, MATTHEW 8-15, by John MacArthur, Jr., (Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, 1987).
Sabbath observance was at the heart of the Jewish legalistic system, and when Jesus violated the traditions as to how that day should be honored, He struck a raw nerve. (p.280)
But that law [Sabbath commandment] is the only one of the Ten Commandments that is non-moral and purely ceremonial; and it was unique to the Old Covenant and to Israel. The other nine commandments, on the other hand, pertain to moral and spiritual absolutes and are repeated and expanded upon many places in the New Testament. But Sabbath observance is never recommended to Christians, much less given as a command in the New Testament.
When Jesus began His ministry, the Old Covenant was still in effect and all its requirements were binding on Jews, the special people of that covenant. Jesus observed every demand and met every condition of Scripture, because it was His own Word, which He came to fulfill and not destroy (Matt. 5:17).
Because the Lord of the Sabbath had come, the shadow of His Sabbath rest was no longer needed or valid. The New Testament does not require Sabbath observance, but rather allows freedom as to whether or not any day is honored above others … The Lord’s Day is not the “Christian Sabbath,” as it was considered to be for many centuries and still is in some groups today. (p.287, 288) Three: From: The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, edited by Colin Brown, Vol. 3, (Zondervan).
Sabbath observance is strongly emphasized in both versions of the Decalogue, though a slightly different form and with a different reason suggested. (p. 405)
The Sabbath was to be kept holy, because Israel was a redeemed people. The Deuteronomic version then includes a second reason for its observance. Creation and redemption are both [equal] motives for its observance, the one for all men, the other for Israel. (p. 405)
Galatians 4:10. Paul is addressing Gentile converts who now, after their conversion, are turning to a scrupulous observance of Jewish ritual, special days, new moons, feasts and the yearly observances [and weekly] enjoined in the Levitical regulation [note in Leviticus 23 that the weekly is the head of the list]. They are taking on themselves the Jewish law. Paul will not countenance a reversal to Jewish practices for Gentile Christians. (p. 410)
Colossians 2:16. Here Paul argues that the Jewish law (the legal demands) were canceled in the death of Christ (v. 14), and therefore the Jewish food regulations and religious calendar are not binding on the Christian. Included in this ritual was the Jewish sabbath observance. These observances, Paul claims, pointed to a spiritual reality fulfilled in Christ. (p. 410)
There remains one other passage bearing on the sabbath. This is Hebrews 4:9: “there remains a keeping of sabbath [sabbatismos] to the people of God.” Here the rest typified by the sabbath is seen as the rest of the heart, provided in Christ (cf. Matt. 11:28) as realized partially now and finally in the life to come. (p. 410, 411)
Four: J.I. Packer and the Reformer’s view of the Sabbath.
A Quest for Godliness, by J.I. Packer, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1990).
First, however, we must fill in the historical background of our study.
The Puritans created the English Christian Sunday—that is, the conception and observance of the first day of the week as one on which both business and organized recreation should be in abeyance, and the whole time left free for worship, fellowship, and ‘good works.’ This ideal was never generally accepted by continental Protestants [Luther’s and Calvin’s view – JGR]… ( p. 235)
James I’s Declaration of sports (1618) laid it down that apart from bull-and bear-baiting and bowls, all the popular games of the day might be played on Sunday after church. In fact James hereby ‘simply reiterated what had been the law of the State and the Church since the early days of the Reformation’… (p. 235)
Against this background of history we now turn to the Puritan teaching itself.
1. The meaning of the Fourth Commandment (Ex. 20:8-11). Here the Puritans advanced on the Reformers. These latter had followed Augustine and medieval teaching generally in denying that the Lord’s Day was in any sense a Sabbath. They held that the Sabbath, which the Fourth Commandment prescribes, was a Jewish typical ceremony, foreshadowing the ‘rest’ of a grace-faith relationship with Christ. (p. 236)
Packer then proceeds to show “the Puritans, however, corrected the [Reformers] inconsistency.” (p. 237)
Five: Dr. James Montogery Boice’s View:
Dr. Boice, in the April 1994 issue of his Bible Study Hour monthly magazine (pages 38-45) reviews the three basic views of the Sabbath. After stating the Sabbatarian view, Dr. Boice acknowledges that the “Westminster Confession of Faith takes this view, calling the Lord’s Day the ‘Christian Sabbath'” … There is no question that this was the view of the English and American Puritans. It is held by most Reformed churches today.
Dr. Boice than gives his own view which is “Sunday Worship as a new ‘Lord’s Day:'” This view holds that the Sabbath has been abolished by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and that a new day, the Lord’s Day, which has its own characteristics, has replaced it … This is my view also.
Are differences on this matter divisive? Yes, in some cases. Speaking of my own denomination only, it is worth pointing out that the most serious conflicts within the Presbyterian Church of America, which is a conservative denomination, are between those who insist on a strict adherence to the Westminster Standard, with its Sabbatarian view, and others who hold to the Standards more loosely … In our denomination there are people who would like to get pastors such as myself excluded, because we think this is a non-essential matter on which the Westminster Confession of Faith has gone beyond what ought to be required of anyone.
Dr. Boice then gives his reasons for rejecting the “Sunday worship but as the Sabbath” view and accepting the “Sunday worship as the new ‘Lord’s Day.'” He shows how the first view can easily lead to legalism and the second view can lead to libertinism, and then warns against both dangers. The context in which Dr. Boice is discussing the whole Sabbath question is Christian liberty as set forth in Romans 14:5, 6. His conclusion would be ‘vile heresy’ to anyone who adheres, without reservation, to the creeds.
Let me say that I do not believe you are “breaking the Sabbath” by eating out on Sunday, playing ball with your children, going to a football game or even-horrors of horrors-going to a movie. When my wife and I lived in Switzerland we used Sunday evening for evangelistic work, and that sometimes included taking our non-Christian friends to movies. But even though the right approach is not legalism, surely you can see that you are somehow missing the boat if Sunday is not a day of spiritual refreshment, an evangelistic opportunity, hours of genuine worship, and a time of joy for you. If going to church is something you want to get over with quickly, I would almost rather have you think of Sunday in a legalistic fashion.
It is interesting that Dr. Boice pleaded for tolerance and acceptance because there are sincere Christians who hold both views. It is even more interesting that Dr. Boice realized that the strict Sabbatarian view of the Westminster Confession finds it essential, in most cases, to make its view of the Sabbath a test of fellowship. Tabletalk’s readers could infer from the September issue that its authors and editor would fall into the camp that labels any view but that of classical Covenant Theology as antinomianism. We would echo Dr. Boice’s plea for tolerance and acceptance, and above all urge all involved to openly discuss the biblical data instead of sticking an undeserved label on those who disagree with a creed.
1 I am indebted to Pastor David Frampton for the above. It was taken from his tract, “Me, An Antinomian? You Must be Kidding!” (Frederick, MD: New Covenant Media).
2 Principles of Conduct, by John Murray, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI, pages 14-18.
Copyright 2004 John G. Reisinger
II. VIEWS OF THE LOCAL VISIBLE CONGREGATION OR ASSEMBLY OF CHRIST!
It is clear that the Bible in the N.T. reveals that the visible assembly or congregation is called the “called out ones by God Himself unto His Son Jesus into Salvation and given a command to take the Gospel to all the nations”!
Peter in fact in his epistle – 1 Peter 2:9 calls it and describes it as follows:
But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal Priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for He called you out of the darkness into His wonderful Light.”
My point is this; we are all members into one spiritual body which means there are no lost people existing in it at all, and regardless where we attend with others who congregate, if they profess the Lord Jesus Christ as the Messiah, Savior and Lord, and also, they have received the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ into their life by the new birth, I am immediately to be recognized as part of that body that is the “same” as I. I do not have to be ‘marked’ and ‘identified’ on some membership roll and have my name signed to so statement of faith or confession etc.! I am automatically by God Himself identified as part of the Body of Christ Jesus here on this earth which of course is a spiritual entity that exists but yet, human beings in a body of flesh also.
That in no way speaks against the local visible body having such items as Confessions of faith, Statement of Faith, or some form of membership roll identifying those who normally meet together at one specific location to carry out together the instructions of Christ regarding things relating to the ministry and discipling of the saints.
But however, it does say clear and loud, that no elders, ministers, deacons, or any other titled type person in the local assembly can deny me my spiritual rights and promises to conduct myself when I meet with other saints, any Biblical role I am to be engaged in even regarding my gifts given by the Holy Spirit which I should use and operate under their power.
I also know that the local assembly and those who direct and seek to lead the fellow saints and priests, should identify via consultation verbally with each other excatly what one adheres to regarding the faith, and also, examination of such ones. That is fine. Paul met with Peter and the Jerusalem church leaders on occasions and that is what they did regarding Paul, but Paul reminded us all that their designations did not mean that he was to be controlled and or forbidden to do anything they might suggest or he wasn’t considered one of them!! God has no favorites in the matter. God is the one who gives gifts, directs His people by the Holy Spirit and each should be on the same page when it comes to things like this if we have the Holy Spirit within who will certainly testify to such.
I have found sadly that some local congregations have leaders who have made it harder to get into their assembly than God and our Lord Jesus Christ did to get into the kingdom of God through the New Birth. Using tools they have developed and called them Statement of FAith or Confessions, they have added so much material to it even doctrinally, that no one can be a member and be honest because it is almost impossible that someone is in agreement on every issue stated. Certainly there are essentials we must all agree upon if we are to be considered a saved person, and know Christ, but other issues regarding the doctrine of last things, and perhaps even covenant issues regarding law and grace and the local assembly matters will mean many are not even close yet due to time and a persons own studies regarding their knowledge of such.
Let me give a few examples: I went to a local Church in a small city some years back and desired to identify myself with them and actually desired to use my gifts of teaching etc., in that body if I joined with them regularly. However, I disagreed with two issues in their Statement of faith which were; (1) No one could be a member of the body of Christ there unless they were 18 years of age. – Now you would think anyone could see that is not biblical. If a person is saved at 12 years of age they are automatically in the body of Christ spiritually and even visibly (local). I can see you may need to have a Constitution which will not allow young children to vote? on issues brought forth to the congregation just because such children would not understand and so the voting may be restrictive, but that is a matter which would NOT mean they are not bondified and real members of the body of Christ.
The second disagreement I had was with their statement saying, that unless you agreed with every detail of the Statement of faith you could not be in any area of service in that local assembly. I had a disagreement with their views regarding their dispensationalist ideas of the 2nd Coming of Christ and Israel’s role. Even though I stated I would express the local churches and/or Elder/Pastor views but would also like to express some aspects of disagreement and do so in a loving and caring and non divisive manner. But they would not allow such. So, I had to decline trying to be a part of the assembly and could not function using my gifts given by God to me! Two counts and I was out! I could be in Christ’s kingdom but not theirs. Those were NOT essentials of the faith at all.
FOCUS: In Acts 17:11, we read words given to Paul the Apostle by God the Holy Spirit regarding how individuals must approach the scriptures and messages given by others. It reads, “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”
This article is certainly not going to be a exhaustive writing on textual criticism but rather a very short word on some important aspects of proper Biblical interpretation and understanding of the scriptures to keep one from falling into traps and knotty problems which seem to bring about nothing but divisions and even heresy and ultimately apostasy if one is not careful.
First and foremost one has to believe that the scriptures are the very inspired, holy, sacred, total complete words from God Himself and not humanly developed. Either God gave these words to certain writers He chose, or they are a fabricated storehouse of man made fairy tales with no authority at all. In fact, if these are not God breathed words, we are wasting our time and are still in our sins and do not know the creator God at all.
But proof is in the pudding they say. God’s word can be confirmed as true and absolute, and that it changes the lives of human beings dramatically, and also the miracles and events were and are real that it speaks about. Enough proof exists down through history one cannot get around it all successfully. One can deny and hate the word of God, but that doesn’t change it at all!
Now let’s look at a few items which are usually not handled or brought forth when we exercise ourselves in the reading and study of God’s words.
I will just list a few major items to consider which usually are left on the table or not even thought of by anyone when they read the scriptures, even left out of the equation by Ministers, Professors, Teachers and the average saint in the body of Christ.
The following if not considered and understood will bring about a totally wrong final comprehension of what the Bible actually teaches and what God wants us to know:
Understanding the meaning of the term Israel.
An improper understanding of this term will create a totally wrong view of God’s Gospel message, in terms of who are the saved people and the ones composing the body of Christ. Also, not understanding this term and who and what is being identified by that term in context will introduce all types of concepts now regarded by Systematic Theological views which are purported to be proper Bible Doctrine.
Identification of what is hidden behind the term Israel is the key to proper comprehension of God’s Covenants and the entire doctrine of regeneration and also the doctrine of End Times.
In fact, if one does not know the following meaning of the words I will give they WILL NOT properly interpret the Bible narrative.
The term Israel is usually totally identified by most of us as the name given to Jacob and it became the name tagged onto the Jews and their various tribes. This is of course correct, however there is more behind this term than just a person or tribe of people.
A study of the term by Hebrew scholars will come up with this concept or meaning of the term: “He has become a Receptacle in which God can be received and retained.” In other words, the basic word points toward a Person who is known by terms which John the Apostle wrote in John 1. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word became Flesh and dwelled among us.” In other words, Israel is the ONE SEED promised who has Eternal Life and is our Savior namely Jesus! All things point to and end up with Jesus the Son of God the God/man!
Now let’s think about a very important thought we must keep in mind we are speaking, or teaching or preaching the word of God to to others, and specifically, when we are considering the SEED of Abraham. From Abraham of course we see the development of the usage of the term Israel and also the term SEED singular which is so important to unpack (seed singular not plural)!
There are 4 Distinct Seeds mentioned in the Bible which if we do not understand their distinctive meanings we will end up misinterpreting the Covenant of grace, and also the Doctrine of Last Things and even who the Church or body of Christ consists of!
Here are the four seeds of Abraham described and when you come to the Bible you must determine which seed is being spoken about, for making it just a normal usage of one word and one concept of such, will throw you off totally in proper Biblical revelation. Here are the seeds:
Natural seed: Includes all physical children of Isaac and Ishmael, jacob and Esau, Jews and Arabs.
Special Natural Seed:The nation, or children, of Israel, all of the physical seed of Jacob and his twelve sons.
Spiritual seed: All believers of all ages, David and Paul, Jewish and Gentile believers, you and me.
Unique Seed: Christ the Messiah and King!
I would recommend the book (small) easy reading: Abraham’s Four Seeds by John G. Reisinger available over most book outlets for your study on this and read the book over and over to you really get it. I have read it perhaps 10 times already. One can’t in any way get away from the truth and facts presented. In fact, this entire subject would destroy most denominational setups and bring the body of Christ together that is how important it is. It destroys Presbyterian Covenant theology, Dispensationalism which is held by most today even thought it was a newby on the block and came about some 1800 years after Christ on the doctrine of Last or End Times.
Understanding the Seeds will also prove beyond a shadow of a doubt the word of God places all Jews and Gentiles that God calls and saves into ONE body and there is NO future Temple built with sacrifices established anymore, and destroys any idea the local REAL body of Christ is seperate from the Israel of God but is the Israel of God itself because we are in the Israel of God (Real SEED singular) Christ!
Hope this creates some desires to study the word of God more carefully. Blessings to all!
All of us seek to look for life fulfillment where it will never be found. But that temptation haunts us every day of our lives. We major on horizontal focus rather than on vertical most of the time and we even ask creation to be our Savior and through it find fulfillment. But that is another illusion.
I think Paul David Tripp has it down very clearly the way we do such things. Notice his list, which of course is not exhaustive, but illustrates my point:
We attach our identity to the respect of another.
We draw too much of our sense of well-being from our physical appearance.
We think material possessions have the power to make us happy.
We attach our meaning and purpose to our achievements.
We ask our jobs to make us content.
We try to base our identity on our children.
We attach our sense of spiritual well-being to the “perfect” church.
We base our identity on our education.
We ask our spouses to make us happy.
We look to food and drink to satisfy and calm us.
We continually say, “If only I had _________, then my life would be ______.
We attach our identity to the luxury of our cars, or the affluence of our neighborhoods.
All of those things are not evil or wrong, but rather God has designed them to POINT us toward Him rather than to the creation itself. He is the ONLY ONE who can provide us with Life and that more abundantly. Signs are to point you to something else besides the sign.
So, all good things such as situations, locations, possessions, relationships, achievements, and creation which is beautiful, are blesings given by God alone, for those things can never give you what you need. Note John 14:6:
“I AM the way, the truth and the life”, Jesus said. So, we need to stop searching when the needs is already here and we need to look for it no where else for it isn’t there. Read also Psalm 115.
C.S. Lewis stated; “If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. …..it would seem to many that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
“That’s it! The enemy of Worship is not that our desire for pleasure is too strong, but too weak! We have settled for a home, a family, a few friends, a job, a television, a microwave oven, an occasional night out, a yearly vacation and perhaps a new laptop. We have accustomed ourselves to such meager, short-lived pleasures that our capacity for joy has shriveled. And so our worship has shriveled. Many can scarcely imagine what is meant by “a holiday at the sea” — worshipping the living God.Through long drinking at the broken cistern of mud-pie pleasures, many have lost almost all capacity for delighting in God “by John Piper in Desiring God page 99.
Let all of us repent and turn from such sin, and begin to worship by dancing, singing, praising, playing loud all types of musical instruments, shouting, engaging others with great happiness and praise to our Lord Jesus, and be “real” true worshippers. Let there be a Jubilee!Christ Jesus said God desires all of us to worship Him in spirit and in truth. Our spirit anchored in the word of truth the scriptures is absolutely essential. We do not enter into worship like it is ‘air’ and ’empty’ of doctrine and theology, but rather, with such for in doing so we find true worship exists for it is not only our ‘spirit’ but also with ‘truth”! Lack of scripture understanding and engagement produces or makes it dangerous as we enter into such worship, that the engagement will end up only on the outward demonstration and not reach God or Christ at all. Great care must exist in that we are to be in the word of God daily seeking Him and Loving Him to have true worship.
I shall never forget a gentlemen who has now passed away – a friend of mine, who was offended in the services we attended when someone raised their hands and praised the Lord. Of course, he would never do such a terrible thing as praising God with hands lifted and would never utter Amen out loud for that would be beneath his dignity and he would call it irreverence. However, today, I am absolutely 100% sure that God has corrected all of that and if he could come back he would be dancing in the aisle when songs of praise went up for Jesus!!!
Where are you in your worship? Do you throw it to the wind those inbred desires that wish to be unleashed as you would really like to do in the presence of Jesus and others? Or do you wish to turn from such unbiblical deadness and stop quenching the Holy Spirit and really begin to worship God in more ways than one!
Most folks think that worship stops when it moves from hearing the word of God, and singing a few hymns or praise songs. However, we must have our feelings, our emotions, our desires expressing how much we really do love Jesus and our Lord. To do otherwise is to deny what God has and can give us in this life today, worshipping HIM in spirit and in truth.
Check out David the chosen King of Israel, and what the Holy Spirit directed him to write in Psalm 150. Go thou and do likewise!!!How dare anyone deny or contradict the word of God and what He says to the saints about worship!!
People enjoy worship sport games, entertainment, and other various and different platforms of life, but when it comes to God and Jesus they wish to remain silent and keep in the background when if really saved and KNOW HIM,HE is calling us out of our shell of complacency and self-righteous pious attitudes, to enjoy Him and let it be seen with our very total being.
If you have the LIGHT of the world in you, do not put it under a Covering where no one can see it. For if we truly have Jesus in our hearts HE needs to be seen in our total conduct and our total humanity, expressing to the world that HE is in us!
Oh, yes, I know, you worry about others who are doing such and they are way off base doctrinally, or perhaps even living lives which are suspect, but who has called us to be a judge of others anyway, when we don’t know for one moment about what is going on in the hearts of others. Be careful, and not throw stones at others when we may have Stoney hearts that will not budge a inch for Jesus in exhilarating outward expressions of our emotions and feelings, which come from a heart and mind and soul of those who enjoy God and seek to please Him forever.
FUN OR FOLLY! THE KINGDOM OF SELF AND THE COSTUME KINGDOM!
As Christians, we must be aware of how the kingdom of self is a costume kingdom. Sin is so deceitful it does a amazing job of masquerading as the kingdom of God and our activities as good and godly.
Spiritual fakery is a major work and tool of God’s enemy and our enemy Satan. It produces spiritual blindness. It can be so insidious that we think it is just fine and we are not the least bothered by it.
“Bewareof false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”
These words of Christ show us that sin and the Devil enjoy looking like and pretending to be something they are not. In another place, we are told that Satan goes around pretending and posing to be an angel of light.
So, the kingdom of sin and self centeredness is a costume kingdom. All of this brings deep down inside spiritual confusion. So many times we think we are engaging in service to God or worshipping Him, when we are actually giving worship and service to some aspect of the creation, even including our own self who we make an idol. Idolatry is so common but yet so covered with the costume of fun and frivolity we can’t see for it blinds us.
In fact,this masquerading idol we allow to control us, has no power at all to deliver to our hungry hearts what Jesus our Lord alone can give to us. We desperately need God to give us insight about this and free us from our bondage to the little costume kingdom we have invented through sins deceptiveness.
Some examples of things that are really sinful idols but appear to fine are:
Focus on material things, but we pretend it is good stewardship.
Control, but we pretend it is a gift of God being exercised.
Anger, many times is just plain I didn’t get my way.
Self Righteousness Legalism, but we pretend it is a love for God’s law.
Think we are building God’s kingdom, but all the while it is our own power and abilities rather than God.
Fear of man, but all the while we think or pretend we are helping someone in need.
Selfish attention seeking but all the while we pretend it is about open real needs we have.
Judgmentalism and Criticism can pose as being devoted to honesty.
Theological pride can be thought of by us as devoted to God’s word and truth.
Lust can pretend it is just considering something beautiful in creation.
Gossip is a real bad one for we pretend we are prayerfully considering others and their needs.
Let us cast off these sinful fruits, and take off our masks and quit pretending but rather, confessing and forsaking such things and walk with God in the Spirit mortifying the deeds of the flesh.
THINK ABOUT THAT TODAY! LET US QUIT CLOWNING AROUND AND BE THE REAL THING IN CHRIST JESUS! SELAH!
Article written by Lamar Carnes with help from Paul David Tripp and his meditations!
Over the history of the assemblies of the Lord Jesus, called the body of Christ on earth, the people of God have been looking for the promised return of the Lord Jesus Christ who is the Creator and Sustainer of all things that exist! Will HE be coming soon? What are the ways or even the promises made by Christ that He will return? This article will touch on a few items about all of this.
The entire Bible has as its subject the person Christ Jesus the King, the Lord, the God/man, the Commander in Chief of Heavens Armies who was promised to come and be the Messiah or Savior of His people, the High Priest interceding for His people forever, the King who will rule and reign over them and the entire creation forever, and also, that He would come back down to planet earth in the same manner they had seen Him ascend back to heaven in the clouds!
Do the signs of the times speak about His soon return?
Is there anything preventing His return even today?
Since the Bible spoke of His very soon return to the people living during His period of time right before He left earth, was He wrong since He hasn’t come back for some 2000 plus years, or have we interpreted His words incorrectly?
UNPACKING BIBLICAL TEACHINGS ON HIS COMINGS AFTER HE LEFT PLANET EARTH!
SOME POINTS TO REMEMBER:
In Matthews Gospel and also the other Gospels we find words concerning how Jesus stated He would come back to ‘that generation’ of people living whom He was speaking to at that very moment. In fact, He stated that His next coming the judgment of Christ would be exercised upon them all including judgment for all of their killings of the prophets of God in time past, that is, they (the current generation) would have God’s punishment placed upon them due to their past fathers murdering God’s servants, etc.!
Also, moving into the Epistles of Paul and of Peter, including Revelation by the Apostle John, we find that Jesus was to come back real soon! So did He? Did He keep that promise?
Yes, He did! He came back in 70 AD and even the few years prior He began a work of Judgment upon the Jewish unbelievers and the nation. It was finalized in 70 AD. Christ came down into the area of the world where Jerusalem was and its Jewish inhabitants and the part of the Roman world which controlled that area. Christ, with His Holy Angels, came back in judgment which was so terrible, absolutely unheard of strikes which caused many signs and wonders upon the area of a magnitude never before seen in such a manner.
Jewish people killing each other, family members slaughtering each other, the Romans killingthem also, and being killed along with them in warfare. Blood flowed so heavily around the area it really was a land deep with blood all over the place. One needs to read the historian Josephus, a Jew who was considered one of the honest and dependable writers and person of the day, who wrote about all he could find and what he observed during this time. He even reports signs and wonders in the sky above, actual appearances of heavenly beings appearing to be in a warlike activity, not to speak of other miracles and signs that took place. Christ follower were warned ahead of time so they could flee from the area and escape the judgment that was to come and they did. So, Christ did come back as He promised but in judgment. However, there is still another coming which was promised and it has not taken place yet. That is the final last day of last days! That I would like to address in order to examine what scripture gives us about that time and what is going on prior to this last Coming of Christ.
THE LAST COMING OF CHRIST IS NEAR!
Much is written in the O.T. and N.T. about the last and final coming of Christ to planet earth. As you can see from what was shown in this article this would be the 3rd coming of Christ back to earth. There are many different matters which must take place prior to this event.
For instance, through out Pauls epistles, he gives us much information about the times and events going on prior to His last coming. Such things as people conducting their affairs as usual, but also, wars, rumors of wars, and conflicts and people filled with many sinful activities of life.
I direct you to the epistles of Thessalonians, Timothy, and even Peter in his epistles and Jude.
Paul speaks to Timothy in 2 Timothy chapters 3 and 4 (please read), that people generally will engaged in so many sinful activities the list is long. Selfish, conflicts, slander, hate, chaos, terrorism, sexual perversions, no love for others, haters of God and Christ, haters of the Lords people, persecutions, lying, murder, rape, etc., etc.! Plus we find out also in the epistles that there has to be a work of Satan whereby he raises up the Anti Christ (a single person), along with a False Prophet, and they will be working to deceive people who are living on this planet. It will be not only going on in the USA, but the entire world system of nations.
We must remember there are only two types of people living on this earth. One group is a group who is in the family of Satan and demons. They hate God, morality, Christ, and God’s chosen people. They also hate each other. The second group are those who are God’s and Christ’s chosen elect ones who follow Christ Jesus as King and Lord. People will have in their very families many times this mixed multitude and it is hard for parents or even children to realize that some of their own immediate family members may be like this, but it is very clear and the truth. Today, people do not wish to entertain the fact that Satan has human beings in his family and kingdom! But denial of or just not wanting to think about it doesn’t change the fact as it really is! So these two evil personages will come on the scene before Christ comes back and they will be working many miracles and deceptive things seeking to make a one world Government and a one world religious body, persecution and killing Christ and God followers and worshipping idols and even ONE person who claims to be God.
THE CURRENT AFFAIRS IN THE USA!
Presently, we find big signs that things like I mentioned above are taking place in our very country right now. The burning of buildings and properties, the burning of police cars and demanding we get rid of police departments so crime can continue without interruption and no accountability, the hate and the slander and the lies such as you see taking place against our President Trump has now gone on for almost 4 years.
Hate, persecution of the Churches and Ministers and members is going on stronger today than it ever has been in the USA! Governors and Mayors are persecuting the Lord’s people and forbidding worship and seeking to harm the body of Christ. These God haters keep executing their rules of evil over Christians and even Jews nowbreaking every law and rule our nation has against such actions.
I would argue that these are signs of the coming of the Last Day of Days upon this planet earth. God may bring a revival or an awakening to certain nations or peoples, but He also may bring the final Day of Judgment. We do not yet know which way it will go, but we know HE will certainly bring judgment or spiritual awakenings one or the other for sure.
In closing, I would like to encourage God’s people to remember these things:
Psalm 32:8 shows God’s promise to us, and reads, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”
So, to each of you saints of God, let us remember we are just as immortal as God is now because WE ARE IN HIM AND HE IS IN US! Nothing can happen to us unless God allows it to happen. We can’t change it for one minute. Even if we pray about a certain matter to change, God is still in charge and if He says yes and is positive about it to us, that was meant and decided to have been so before the world was even created because He had planned it that way.
What does this mean then? It means you can go forward in Faith, trusting in Him as you go and move through life and its events knowing that NOTHING will happen to you that God has not ordained to happen to you! So go forth doing what you do walking by faith, being joyful, happy, delighted in God, and Christ, dancing, singing, shouting, praising, playing instruments of music, witnessing, living for Jesus and fighting the good fight of faith and the enemies of the God also with the Word of God, rather than weapons of warfare of this world. That means we pay close attention to Ephesians 6. And also, 2 Timothy 3 and 4. Remember also God told us to not fear man, but fear Him! We don’t have to fear the possibility of thousands of terrorists for God will kill everyone of them before they harm us if that is in His will. We also will not get the Flu, a Virus, a plague ever unless God has ordained we have such. So go in faith and do not worry. Do not test HIM and be reckless, but do what is right and you will be just fine on God’s good green earth until He comes or we go to be with Him prior to that time. Remember HE is life eternal and we shall never die but live forever either here on planet earth and the translation or we go to Him ahead of that time and be clothed with a spiritual body until the resurrection. In any case we will be with HIM! Amen!
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
Where will we find an anchor and a hiding place as we go through life’s journey?
Life is filled with many mysteries!
There are things we just can’t figure out!
In fact, we simply aren’t able to understand and make sense of our life here on planet earth! Working to figure things out will only frustrate us and we will never find inner peace and rest. We can work day and night to figure it all out and end up exhausted.
Peace and rest is only found in the wisdom and grace of the ONE who has it all figured out and rules it all for His glory and our good.
We must trust God our Father, our Creator, and our Lord! And we can only come to the Father through the Lord…
On a casual usage of the term world, most consider it to be a term describing either the planet earth, or the population of humans upon the earth and all other aspects of this worlds system. But in this article I will seek to argue scripturally that the term “world” a translation from the Greek term Kosmos, has to be interpreted according to how God uses the term in Holy scripture by focusing on the context and subject matter being spoken of by God!
Setting aside habits, traditions, bias, or perhaps just our very loose way of using our English language in a more neutral manner is hard to do many times. But it must be done. Usage of our English grammar along with the actual meaning of a term in Greek is a essential procedure in getting the right thought, doctrine and theological meaning of a portion of scripture one is studying.
To study this appropriately we need to find a portion of the word of God which will be very helpful in showing how one can be easily influenced away from Biblical teachings using just a normal thought process we all have as we use the English term World! Let’s examine the term in the Bible which is found in John 3:16. Most of us are familiar with that verse of scripture and have heard certain explanations since childhood which usually stays with us into our adult age. It reads:
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”
As we look at and consider the term ‘world’, we must remember that the term “Kosmos” (world) is NOT used with a uniform significance in the New Testament. It is used in quite a few different ways. I will give a few examples to show this:
Kosmos is used of the Universe as a whole. – Acts 17:24 – “God that made the world and all things therein seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth.”
Kosmos is used of the earth. – John 13:1; Ephesians 1:4, etc.! “When Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should depart OUT OF THIS WORLD unto the Father, having loved His own which were in the world He loved them unto the end.” —- Depart out of this world signifies THIS EARTH. Also: “According as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world.” – Signifies before the earth was created – compare Job 38:4.
Kosmos is used of the world-system. John 12:31,’Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the Prince of this world be cast out — compare Matt. 4:8 and 1 John 5:19.
Kosmos is used of the WHOLE HUMAN RACE. Romans 3: 19 – “Now we know that what things the law says, it says to them who are under the law: that EVERY mouth may be stopped and ALL THE WORLD may become guilty before God.”
Kosmos is used of Humanity MINUS BELIEVERS: John 15:18 and Romans 3:6. “If the WORLD hate you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.” – Believers do not HATE Christ, so that “the world” here must signify the world of Un-Believers in contrast from believers who love Christ. Also, note: “God forbid: for then how shall God JUDGE the WORLD.” Here is another passage where “the world” CANNOT mean “you, me, and everybody.” For Believers WILL NOT be Judged by God – See John 5:24. So this is the world of unbelievers HE is speaking about.
KOSMOS is used of Gentiles in Contrast from Jews: Romans 11:12, reads, “Now if the fall of them (Israel) be the Riches of the World, and the diminishing of them (Israel) the Riches of the Gentiles; how much more their (Israels) fulness.” Note: The first clause is DEFINED by the latter clause. Here, again, “the world” cannot signify all humanity for it EXCLUDES Israel.
Kosmos is used of believers ONLY: John 1:29; 3:16, 17, 6:33; 12:47; 1 Cor. 4:9; 2 Cor. 5:19. I leave these verses for you to turn to and see what they say. Be careful and note exactly WHAT IS SAID AND PREDICATED OF ‘THE WORLD’ IN EACH PLACE.
So it is seen that Kosmos has at least 7 clear defined different meanings in the N.T.! So study of context, noting also what is predicated of the world in each passage, and note this, as one studies all scripture on any or all words!
The principle subject of John 3:16 is Christ as the Gift of God. The first clause tells us WHAT moved God to GIVE His only begotten Son. That was HIS great LOVE. The second clause informs us FOR WHOM GOD GAVE HIS SON, and that is for WHOEVER or better EVERY ONE who believes. While the last clause makes known WHY God gave His Son (His purpose), and that is, that EVERYONE that believes should not perish but have everlasting life.”
This verse has to do with God’s world of believers or God’s elect ones. In contrast to “the world of the ungodly unbelievers” – 2 Peter 2:5.
In 1 Peter 1:1, Peter is writing this letter to a particular people. It states “……I am writing to God’s CHOSEN PEOPLE….”. Note verse 2: “God the Father…..Knew you and chose you long ago, and HIS Spirit has MADE you Holy.
Verse 21, states, “……through Christ YOU have COME TO TRUST in God, it is because of Christ we have come to trust and then obedience takes place not because of us! Because of HIM and HIS work, i.e., His calling, drawing, opening up our eyes, heart, ears and spiritual abilities to engage in calling upon Him, repenting, having faith in Him, and walking with Him. In other words the NEW BIRTH HAD TO TAKE PLACE BEFORE ANY OF THE OTHER TAKES PLACE. A NEW ABILITY HAD TO BE GIVEN TO A LOST SIN BOUND PERSON AND ONE WHO LIVES IN DARKNESS AND UNDER THE CHAINS OF SATAN’S BONDAGE.
BOTTOM TAKE OUT LINE:
Christ Jesus was sent into the world (all meanings here because He came to the earth, lived in the world system, presented Himself to pagans and people of faith, etc.!) Scripture reveals to us HE came to LIVE a holy, sacred, righteous life without sin, and to be taken and killed on a Cross by the pagan unbelieving world of humans both Jews and Gentiles, and shed His blood on that Cross actually paying the penalty for HIS PEOPLE’S SINS, ACTUALLY ATONING FOR THEIR SINS AND NO ONE ELSE’S!
POINT: No one else’s because if It were for all people then ALL people would be saved and forgiven for all of their sins the biggest one being UNBELIEF! But, we know the Bible doesn’t teach that at all. People do go to hell, and people do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and have to pay for their own sin and punishment in hell and eventually the lake of fire. So, the Atonement was for the Lost Sheep, some were alive and followers at that moment, others had passed away in history past, and others in the future who will be saved and forgiven are included in this work of blood shedding and death on the Cross.
Also, Christ arose. If he had not risen from the dead we would all still be in our sins and nothing we are teaching and saying has any value ever. He arose, and now HE is seated at the Right Hand of God the Father making intercession for each of HIS SHEEP on a 24/7 basis throughout the rest of history. He also sent back the Holy Spirit to take His place in the actual body of the believers revealing and guiding them in their faith. Now, we are looking for His return to complete the following: Resurrect our bodies from the grave (all who have passed away), translate Christians into a new spiritual body if He comes in the air and we are still here, and then glorify all of us. Also, He will burn up the heavens above us and the earth beneath us and make it all new without any curse, sin, or evil or decay. Also, a New City will come down from heaven prepared for us in order for us to Live with HIM on planet earth which has been restored to perfection along with us. That is our hope today!! Maranatha!!
P.S. A thorough study of the teachings of scripture on Complete Depravity of the human from conception due to Adam’s fall in the garden of Eden is an essential doctrine that goes along with the teaching of this article due to its implications on ‘all’ humanity. Also, a study of the Definite Atonement made by Christ for HIS people is essential! Complete depravity does not mean a human being engages in the full extent the fallen nature and its fruits of sin, but it does mean people are as bad off as they could possible be until Jesus Christ saves them. Definite atonement does mean that Christ and His blood shedding and Cross work was not done with “hoping’ someone may be saved or with the idea that one could decide and make a personal choice to take it or leave it, as if it was a product on a market shelf. It does mean the blood did do what it was shed to do and His payment was made for actual sin and sins of HIS people and they WILL be forgiven and set free from the wrath and punishment they deserve. The Blood work did its work for His people and that is definite and cannot be otherwise. What God does He does perfectly and without any error and also without making happen what He desired it to accomplish.
I have been a Christian over 60 years. I have seen it all and I see an endemic problem that captures the mind and hearts of people, whether lost or professing believers. What is that? It is the idea that humans have the ability to rise up out of our jail cell, the home of our fallen nature, and defy the head of our family Satan, when we are lost and without Christ and God!
To even think we can by our own power and abilities rise up and shake off the power of Satan over us and make God save us is astounding, especially since the Word of God states otherwise.
An illustration which hopefully can create what the Bible teaches about the status of a human being from conception is as follows:
Human beings since the fall of Adam and Eve, are conceived in sin. That means they are as bad off spiritually as they can be, even though they may not act out in the worst way possible for being in such a state because God in HIS grace keeps them back from being as bad as they can be. Think of it this way; a person who is lost is NOT like a person floating on the water about to sink and drown and all we have to do is throw them a rope of hope so they can save their life. This is NOT a good illustration at all but in fact, an absolute false illustration of ones spiritual reality as a sinner on this earth. What would be more correct would be this: a person lost and without Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior, is not floating on a sea of water and drowning, but rather, he or she is on the bottom of the sea or lake, dead, drowned, not alive at all. They are bound by sin, controlled by sin, in darkness, separated from God and spiritually dead, in the family of Satan, and locked in chains and bondage in his jailhouse and doing his bidding! That is where people are until the Commander in Chief of Heaven’s Armies comes and rescues them!
The facts are that God in the Garden of Eden told Adam that if they ate of the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil they would die! They did. They died spiritually, meaning God was no longer their God and Lord and Master and they fell into darkness, the bondage of sin and Satan and immediately became members of Satan’s kingdom.
Immediately, they became cognizant of their sin, and God became someone whom they feared and sought to hide from. As we think on that scene, we see Adam and Eve hiding, recognizing something was wrong. They knew they were naked and they felt shame, and so worked hard to escape and hide from God, because they could “hear” God walking in the Garden.
Man today, knows there is a power above, but will not come toward Him, but rather, seeks to hide from Him and do his own thing which is to continue in sin and let Satan lead him. God states so clearly through the prophets and also through the Apostle Paul, that “No man seeks after God” (Romans 3:11; Psalm 14:1-3). That is a fact period! God said it so it is! No man seeks God!
Humans, consist of a soul/spirit and heart (innermost being of mankind) and a mind. Man has desires, wants, and, lusts as part of their DNA. Adam and Eve desires were holy and right until they sinned in the Garden of Eden and those good desires and wants and wishes turned into sinful desires and wants and wishes. Man’s entire being was corrupted by sin. We call it depravity and that depravity was total and not partial.
So, the above brings us to a discussion of the human will. I acknowledge this is a hot topic. But, it really is so simple if we put aside our emotions and think logically. What comes first? I contend our desires, our wants, our wishes, our lusts are the dictators which motivate the “will” to function, in order to carry out our desire, wants, and wishes. So, whatever our nature asks for our “will” will carry it out. Unbelievers act out of their sinful nature. They do nothing for the glory of God. The only things that may restrain them are their conscience, fears, culture, or the consequences of sin. So, those things control their will. For the believer, from the moment of salvation God starts changing our want tos and our desires through the Holy Spirit and the word of God. So, when temptations and sin rises up in us we call on the Spirit to give us strength to resist.
In other words, the will of man is NOT free and in control. It is our human desires that control our wills. The will obeys our desires, which can be good or bad. They can be holy or sinful. The strongest desire will control our will. It is not the other way around. The will doesn’t sit back and search out what it wants to do and then act, but rather, it is in bondage to whatever is the strongest thing that is presented to it. It will be either God’s will or the power of the flesh and sin. Our sinful nature is always seeking to express itself, but through the power of Christ within us we overcome it. That is why Martin Luther stated, “The Will is in bondage” for it is bound either by the power of the flesh and sin or by the power of the word of God.
Also, the word teaches that Spiritual truths cannot be understood by an unbeliever. If they should read the word of God, they cannot understand the spiritual meaning of it. Without the Holy Spirit in them they cannot be taught Biblical truths and facts and understand them. It is all foolishness and something strange to them.
So, how does a person become a Christ follower and be saved from the wrath and judgment of God? What has to take place? Who starts the process and makes it happen? Is it the person who lives in bondage to sin? Is it the person who lives in darkness with no spiritual understanding? Is it the man or woman who figures it all out and knows how to be saved by doing some human work, like walking an aisle, raising your hand, signing a card? Is it the person “making” God come down to him and save him and forgive him of his sins?
God says NO! No man seeks after God. That is what God says!
So, how does it come about? Romans 9 and many other places throughout the Word tell us that GOD HIMSELF GRANTS MAN FORGIVENESS AND REPENTANCE AND FAITH. Faith comes through God bringing His word, the Gospel, to a person, which then produces the New Birth. That is, LIFE is given to the DEAD soul and spirit of a person. Then, due to God’s First Cause work of the New Birth, that person is enabled to choose Christ, call on Christ, believe and trust in Christ, repent of his or her sins, and ask forgiveness, and submit and worship Christ. Without God coming to us, and calling, drawing, and opening our hearts and minds and souls and spirits, making us ALIVE to God, we would NEVER come to Him. The Gospel is the power of God unto Salvation.
We would NEVER even desire to know Christ Jesus. So, it is BY GRACE ALONE, THROUGH FAITH ALONE, BY CHRIST ALONE, FOR THE GLORY OF GOD ALONE, WE ARE SAVED AND FORGIVEN AND FOLLOW JESUS.
It is all about God and Christ and the Holy Spirit doing their work in a wicked, evil, sinning unbeliever. Yes, we make a choice to follow Jesus, but He gives us the ability to make that choice. Our choice was first a divine work from God upon our dead innermost being which enabled in us a desire for Jesus.
Also, our choice was a guaranteed choice. When God through the Holy Spirit takes out our heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:25-27), so that we may know Him there is no way a guilty sinner is going to say, “No God, don’t do that. I don’t want to redeemed and spend eternity in Heaven with You. I will resist the Holy Spirit’s drawing. Not going to happen!
A crude example is this: Your vehicle may have a battery and a fuel tank, but if the battery has no power and is dead, and there is no gasoline in the fuel tank, it will NEVER start. It won’t respond no matter how many times you try to start it. You have to have gas in the tank and electricity in the battery or it won’t work ever! God has to place within us the power and ability to repent, trust in and believe and have holy faith or it will never take place.
God is a choosing God!! He could save all mankind if He so chose to do so. But He didn’t. Someone will say that this is because man makes the choice to be saved or not and not God. But, I hope we have seen that can’t be true. And you can’t use 2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” because then that would make humans more powerful than God. It would mean God is wishing for people to be saved and they are having none of it. This would mean God is not God! For the Bible teaches there is NOTHING that GOD can’t do.
Besides, that would be taking that verse out of context and misinterpreting it. Who is Peter writing to? The same people he wrote to in 1 Peter, the elect exiles. In 2 Peter, he tells them to make their calling and election sure. He is writing to saved people, the elect, they are the “you” and “any” and “all” of verse 9.
Here is another point. When Adam and Eve sinned they died spiritually AND BOTH WERE CONSIGNED TO THE WRATH OF GOD IMMEDIDATELY. God performed a sacrifice so He could pass over their sin until Jesus’ once for all sacrifice was made. AND SO VERY CHILD BORN TO THEM DOWN THROUGH TIME UNTIL THIS VERY DAY IS IN THE SAME SITUATION!
All humans are conceived in SIN and are under wrath and condemnation from God the Father. So, it is NOT just when they begin to think about things and make choices whether good or bad, but rather the opposite. They are born sinners.
That means that unless some outside source comes to their rescue they will have to be eventually sent to hell and the lake for eternal punishment. We were there in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. We all were represented by Adam. In other words, Adam acted on our behalf, and if we had been there we would have done the same thing he did. So, we need a helper, a savior, a God who will come and rescue us. That is what the Gospel does.
It is Jesus who sees dead people at the bottom of the sea of sin and comes to the rescue. He says to us, “LIVE” and we come alive. We are forgiven and made into the Children of God and we follow Jesus our Lord and Savior because of God’s choice and power not our own. A key verse of Scripture states, “11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:11-13).
In all this, we must address the justice of God. The holiness of God demands justice upon the whole human race for their rebellion. We are cosmic traitors. All people should be sent to hell for our rebellion. EVERY LAST ONE OF US DESERVES THE eternal punishment! The angels who fell have no Savior and they are consigned to the Lake of Fire.
But, GOD chose to save some humans, His supreme creation, made in His image. He has forgiven us and saved us from His own wrath and has given us to His Son Jesus as a love gift (John 17) and we are now called the sons of God, children of God, joint heirs of everything with Christ Jesus, new creations, priests of God, holy people and a holy nation.
THE ONLY question I am left with is, why me. I don’t deserve to be forgiven by a holy God. I am no better than anyone else. I am a sinner like all of us. Why save me? Nothing in me merits salvation. Why me and why all of us who are saved? Why not all? Why didn’t He save everyone? I can’t answer that. No one can answer that question. God acts according to His own good pleasure (Ephesians 1). His secret will covers the question. But, because we know His revealed will, we know what He wants us to know.
Romans 9 and Isaiah 64:8 tell us God is the Potter and we are the clay, and He says He does what He wishes and wills with those whom He has created. In doing so, HE CANNOT BE CHARGED WITH A WRONG. FOR THE LOST ARE JUSTLY CONDEMNED FOR THEIR SIN AND REBELLION, AND THOSE HE CHOOSES TO SAVE HAVE THEIR SINS PLACED ON JESUS WHO PAID FOR THEIR CRIME AGAINST GOD AND SO THEY GO FREE. THIS IS ALSO JUST AND HOLY FOR GOD CAN SHOW MERCY TO WHOM HE CHOOSES TO SHOW MERCY AND CAN’T BE CHARGED WITH WRONGDOING.
A human judge, or President, or ruler of a nation can make a decision and let someone be set free from jail or even a death sentence if they wish to do so. It is called mercy. He or she doesn’t do that for all criminals, but sometimes mercy is shown to some. If they can do that and be correct and right, God certainly can, but remember Jesus paid our price we owed for our sinful rebellion by shedding His blood and paying the price by dying for us, in that way we can be shown mercy.
God then transfers Jesus’ holy righteousness to our account making us acceptable to God.
THIS IS THE GOD WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH AND HE IS ALWAYS RIGHT IN WHAT HE DOES. HIS WAYS OR NOT OUR WAYS AND HIS THOUGHTS ARE NOT OUR THOUGHTS. SO BOW TO HIM AND REPENT OF CHALLENGING HIM AND HIS WORKS!
Don’t even think of saying that’s not fair, because we don’t want God to be fair! If he was fair, He would sentence all of us to hell and the Lake of Fire, because we deserve it. So God shows love, compassion, mercy and unmerited favor (Grace) to unworthy sinners whom He calls, draws, and brings to the Light granting them the ability to believe in Jesus and call upon Him for salvation.
Thank God we had our names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life before the foundation of the world, for if it were not done by Him, we all would perish. Thank God for these wonderful truths rather than call Him into question about anything! We are from the dust of the earth and only mortals, HE is GOD, so let God be God and quit trying to be God by thinking for Him!!
Our pride takes us all to destruction, so let it not be rising up in indignation, but rather, let us humble ourselves in thankful submission for our great God who loved us enough to die for us and rise from the dead giving us eternal life.
All my words can be substantiated by reading the Book of Romans, the Gospel of John, the book of Galatians, the book of Ephesians, the book of Genesis, and the book of Revelation. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to give you light to see God’s truth in His word. He will answer that prayer. TO GOD BE THE GLORY ALONE AND NOT MAN!
Everyone in the body of Christ has a theology and a doctrine. We all do! It is certain! So, to pretend we do not have a theology or a doctrine or teaching that we believe is right would be hypocritical.
Doctrine and theology is what the Bible is all about. Paul the Apostle stated to Timothy these words:”Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.” – 2 Timothy 4: 1-4
It sounds good perhaps to say, I don’t care what men say or write. I only depend upon the word of God and pay no attention to what a man may say! Now that sounds real pious, but that is NOT what the Holy Spirit told Timothy the the Apostle Paul in the above verses. God raises up prophets and teachers and ministers who are to preach and teach and write the whole counsel of God to the people of God so that they will grow spiritually and be directed by the word of God properly. God has faithful called and chosen ministers who do this and it is wise to follow them and grow in the word as God instructed us.
We all know the word is inspired of God, and we are to teach that word to others and it doesn’t leave its inspired status when a minister preaches and teaches it.
So, how do we know who is right and who is wrong when we hear different interpretations of the Scriptures?
Well, the Bereans searched the scriptures to see if what the Apostle Paul was teaching was actually taught in the word of God! Check out the word in proper context and use proper hermeneutical rules of interpretation. We do not have the actual Mss in Greek, so we use the reliable English translations for our spiritual words from God to us. That means then we must pay attention to proper grammar, the verb tenses, the adjectives, the nouns, and then we must know what actual words mean.
For instance, when God uses the term Israel throughout the Bible, we must remember there are 4 meanings of the term Israel used in the Bible. If one doesn’t know the different meanings and just uses the meaning they have heard most often, which most likely is Israel as a nation of Jews, they will interpret the scriptures incorrectly. You can’t interpret the Bible correctly if you get that one word wrong!
Now, this is what I mean. God gave four Seeds to Abraham which are translated as Israel throughout scripture. These 4 seeds are:
1. Abrahams natural seed: All of Abraham’s physical children.
2. Abraham’s special seed: The Nation of Israel.
3. Abraham’s spiritual seed: All of those through history saved by grace through faith, Jew or Gentile, which make up the body of Christ redeemed by the atoning blood of Christ which places them both into ONE body!,
4. The major SEED singular: Christ Jesus the Savior and Messiah and He is the Israel of God, the Lord from Glory!
So, these truths impact Bible doctrines. Like for instance: who is in the body of Christ, how did they get there, also passages relating to the Doctrines of Grace and Eschatology.
We all need to speed more time studying and meditating on the proper interpretation of the Scriptures.
For instance, did you knowthe English word for Church, is not a proper rendering of the Greek word ecclesia or ekklesia, which means called out ones. Called out by God reflecting the new birth.
The church is not a building, not a denomination, not something you can join by just signing up.
To be a member of the “called out ones” a person has to have a spiritual work done exclusively by God. He has to change the formerly dead spiritual human who is walking around like a Zombie, to a live born again saint destined for Heaven.
God calls them. God draws them to Himself through the word and the Holy Spirit and creates a New Creature who is alive unto God so they can immediately know and call upon Christ and confess Him openly as their Lord and God and Savior.
Christ alone builds His called out body and doesn’t teach we are to build His body. For His body is a spiritual reality not a physical reality. Believers may live in human bodies, but we are spiritual beings.
So, I hope you can see from these examples how important it is to teach and preach to others the word of God properly.