Friday, October 28, 2011

God's Plan of the Ages - An Orderly Reconciliation

Joseph Herrin (10-28-2011)





















One of the greatest stumbling blocks keeping Christians from embracing the testimony found in the Scriptures that Yahweh will reconcile all things to Himself through His Son is that we do not see all things reconciled at this time. The concept resident in the minds of many Christians is that only a few will be saved, while the majority of men from all ages will eternally remain separated from God.

If you have patiently considered the preceding chapters, you will have discovered that the Scriptures declare that Yahweh will reconcile “all things” to Himself through His Son. “Christ must reign until” He has accomplished the task of subjecting all things to the Father. Both experience, and the testimony of the Bible reveals to us that this reconciliation is not fully accomplished in this present age.

Hebrews 2:6-9
But one testified in a certain place, saying: "What is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that You take care of him?  You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, and set him over the works of Your hands. You have put all things in subjection under his feet." For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him.

Paul specifically speaks of Yahweh subjecting all things to man, “or the son of man.” One of the most common ways in which Yahshua referred to Himself was with the expression, “the Son of Man.”

Matthew 8:20
Yahshua said to him, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head."

Matthew 13:37
And He said, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man...”

Matthew 13:41
"The Son of Man will send forth His angels...”

John 8:28
So Yahshua said, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative...”

Eighty-four times in the gospel books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John we find Christ referring to Himself as “the Son of Man.” It is possible to understand Paul’s words in Hebrews chapter 2 to be declaring that Yahweh will subject all things under man, and there is truth in such a conclusion. However, to keep things simple I would suggest that we view Paul’s words as a declaration that God will subject all things under the feet of Christ, “the Son of Man.”

I would specifically call your attention to the following two statements.

For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him.


But now we do not yet see all things put under him.

Here is one more testimony of Yahweh’s intent to bring everything in the creation under subjection to His Son. As mentioned previously, this will not be a mere forced subjection where God’s enemies still hate Him and hold enmity in their hearts toward the Creator. Rather, it will be a complete reconciliation. Every enemy will be ashamed that he was ever incensed against God. Everyone who ever opposed God will testify, “Surely in Yahweh I HAVE righteousness and strength.”

This leads into the second statement. “But now we do not yet see all things put under him.” The apostle Paul was a steward of the mysteries of God. He understood that the day would come when all creation would be reconciled to the Father. That time is not yet at hand. There are ages to come before the “age of the ages” is reached and the reign of Christ has accomplished its ultimate objective.

The church has erred in not understanding the Scriptures, nor the power of God. The church teaches that a man’s condition when he dies a natural death will be his condition for eternity. If a man died without having been reconciled to God through Christ, it is assumed that the man must remain eternally separate from the Father.
This is an exceptionally harsh conclusion considering that many have lived their entire lives without ever having heard the gospel message.

The apostle Peter shares an extraordinary truth that has mystified many in the church. Peter writes that after Christ was crucified He went and proclaimed the gospel message to men who had died in earlier ages. It is specifically mentioned that Christ preached to those who died in the days of Noah.

I Peter 3:18-4:6
For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water... For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God.

There is much to reflect upon in these words of Peter. Let us patiently consider what he has written. First, Peter declares that Christ died “once for all.” Who does the word “all” include? In the next clause Peter tells us that “all” is synonymous with “the unjust.” All men born of Adam are sinners from birth. Only Christ is just.

Romans 5:18-19
So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.

Before passing on from these words in Romans, note both what has been accomplished, and what remains to be done. Through Christ’s death, burial and resurrection “there resulted justification of life to ALL MEN.” Who are included in the words “all men”? The same group described in the preceding clause, “through one transgression there resulted condemnation to ALL MEN.” Christ died to reconcile ALL MEN to the Father. This reconciliation is already accomplished in the sense that Christ’s sacrifice has been made for all men. Yet, the reconciliation also remains to be completed as we do not yet see “all things put under His feet.” Observe how Paul ends the passage above, “even so through the obedience of the One the many WILL BE MADE righteous.” This speaks of a future fulfillment.

Why it should be offensive to some Christians to hear that Christ will eventually reconcile all men to the Father is hard to comprehend. Many Christians are like the elder brother to the prodigal son. Rather than rejoicing that the lost has been found, and the dead has been brought back to life, there is anger that the Father should treat the offender with such love and mercy.

Returning to Peter’s words we find that Christ “died for sins, once for all.” The reason is “so that He might bring us to God.” This is reconciliation. Peter then tells the church that Christ went and “preached even to those who are dead.” Peter is not speaking merely of those who are spiritually dead. He is speaking of those who physically perished in past ages. Peter specifically mentions Christ preaching to “the spirits now kept in prison, who were once disobedient.” Peter says Christ preached to those who perished “in the days of Noah.”

What is remarkable about this passage is that it reveals that Christ’s work of reconciliation goes beyond the grave. Though men may die in disobedience, estranged from the Father, Christ will reach out to them beyond the grave. Yahshua’s work will not be complete until He has reconciled all things back to the Father.

When we understand the Scriptures aright, we discover that the reconciliation of all things will happen in stages. There is a definite order to the redemptive work of Christ. At this time we find that a firstfruits group of men are being reconciled to the Father. This firstfruits company are identifiable as disciples of Christ. These are ones who are accepting Christ’s invitation to “Come, take up your cross, and follow Me.” James, the brother of Christ and an elder of the early church, used the term “first fruits” when speaking of Christ’s disiciples.

James 1:18
In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.

Firstfruits are exactly what the name implies. They are not all the fruit. They are the first fruit. They are the first to come to maturity, the first to be harvested. In this age we are seeing some who are firstfruits being reconciled to God the Father through Christ. Eventually all men will be made alive in Christ, but there is a determined order for this restoration.

I Corinthians 15:22-28
For as in Adam all die, so also in the Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Anointed first fruits, after that those who are the Christ's at His coming, then comes the end (the remainder), when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.  The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For he has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, "All things are put in subjection," it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.

We have observed in the preceding chapters that there will come an end to the reign of Christ. Paul says this is when Christ “hands over the kingdom to the God and Father... For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.” Christ’s reign will have accomplished its purpose when there are no more enemies of God anywhere in the creation. “All things” will be “put in subjection” to Christ, and Christ will in turn be subjected to the Father.

In this book I have challenged the saints to test every Scripture being cited to see whether I have wrested an interpretation that is out of context, or have erred in what is shared. Hopefully, you are doing this. If you are, then you will note that the passage I cited above is rendered differently in the popular English translations of today. The difference is significant, and it leads to a distinctly different conclusion.

It is the responsibility of the saints to “examine all things carefully.” This examination of all things includes testing the Scriptures which have had handed to us by others to see if they have been translated accurately. The apostle Paul gave the following commandment to Timothy, and it is applicable to all who would arrive at the knowledge of the truth.

II Timothy 2:15
Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

The subject of this book is one in which a man will most certainly be led astray apart from manifesting due diligence in applying himself to the study of the word of God. In the series "Divorced From Truth" I shared the following:

It requires patient study to rightly divide the word of God. I know Christian men who have spent hundreds, and even thousands of dollars, upon some hobby. Men who are hunting, fishing, automobile, stereo, ham radio, sports, and bicycling enthusiasts have often spent a great deal of money, devoted great amounts of time, and educated themselves to become both knowledgeable and skillful in the area of their interest. Yet these same men will often argue that they are unable to manifest the same attention to the study of Scriptures.

People of God, we will pursue that which is important to us. Our actions reveal what is in our hearts. If a man will buy a fishing boat costing thousands of dollars, a truck to pull it with, equip it with rods and reels and bait and tackle, and spend the money for licenses and fuel; if he will read the fishing magazines, and study where the fish are, when they are feeding, what they are biting; if he will find others with similar interests and spend hours conversing with them, learning new things, and increasing his knowledge and skill, but will not apply the same devotion to study of the Bible, it is not because he is incapable, or does not have the time or the skills necessary. It is because he does not have the desire.

Christ did not go down to the local seminary, or university to choose His disciples, men who would later become the apostles of the church. He chose fishermen, a tax collector, a political zealot, and other common men. These men traded a passion for other things for a passion for knowing God. This led them to apply themselves with great devotion to new interests. We read of these men:

Acts 6:4
But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

These men did not reason that they lacked the ability to study the word of God in order to teach it accurately. They did not say, “I am a fisherman, not a Bible scholar.” They became Bible scholars, devoting themselves to its study and teaching, relying upon the Spirit of Christ to instruct them as they did so, and they were able to lay a foundation upon which the church of God could be firmly established.

There is no less need in this hour for men and women to manifest this same devotion to Christ and His word.
[End excerpt]

Paul was not among Christ’s original twelve apostles, and he is unusual in that he was a scholar of the Scriptures when Christ called him. Paul was raised according to the strictest sect of his people, the Pharisees. He was educated in the school of Gamaliel, a man renowned for Bible learning in his day. Paul did not rest on his laurels, however. After coming to Christ he continued until his last days poring over the Scriptures, studying them to gain understanding and knowledge of the things of God.

The last letter written by Paul in the Bible, recorded shortly before his death, was II Timothy. In that letter Paul gave Timothy the following instruction:

II Timothy 4:13
When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments.

Paul requested that Timothy bring him his books and parchments. Paul remained a student of the Scriptures all his life. We are the benefactors of his diligent and faithful study. We are also called to imitate his life. We must also “study” to show ourselves “approved unto God, a workman that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Let us then examine carefully this passage from I Corinthians chapter 15. Following are verses 22-24 from the King James Bible.

I Corinthians 15:22-24
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
KJV

Note that this translation, and many others who have followed the KJV, lists Christ as the firstfruits. This is apparently followed by a resurrection of Christians “they that are Christ’s at his coming,” and then we have the end. With such a rendering, it is no wonder that many Christians have concluded that there will be only one resurrection, and that none will be resurrected to live before God apart from those who are known as Christians in this age.

Translators are men and women just like you and I. Some do not even have the Spirit of Christ (I could share appalling stories of men and women working on modern translations that are homosexuals, feminists, and strangers to the Spirit of Christ.) These men and women introduce many errors into the translations. This is partially due to the translators’ lack of understanding of the concepts found within the Scriptures. Some errors are also introduced because a publisher, king, denomination, or some other guiding body, has given them instruction to not deviate from what is considered orthodox and acceptable doctrine. The history of Bible translation has some shining moments, but it also is attended by much darkness. The result is that there are no inerrant Bible translations today. The saint must study, and invite the Spirit of Christ to guide him or her, if they are to arrive at truth.

The apostle Paul understood, and taught, that there would be three resurrections of mankind. There will be three separate harvests of the fruit of the earth (man’s flesh was formed of the dust of the earth), before the work of reconciling all things back to the Father has been completed. These three resurrections correspond perfectly to the three feasts Yahweh instituted in the Old Testament. Each feast occurred at a time of harvest, and all men were to appear before Yahweh at the place He designated. This appearing before Yahweh three times every year served as a symbol of the three resurrections of mankind. (This will be addressed more fully later.)

The first resurrection corresponds to the first feast which is Passover. During Passover the Israelites were instructed by Yahweh to bring the firstfruits of the barley harvest before Him. In fact, Passover is broken down into three separate parts, one of which is called “the Feast of Firstfruits.”

Leviticus 23:9-13
And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before Yahweh... Its grain offering shall be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering made by fire to Yahweh, for a sweet aroma...’”

Note two things in these instructions. First, the firstfruits were to be brought before Yahweh. Second, the grain of the offering was to be mixed with oil. Oil is for anointing. This was the “anointed firstfruits.”

The translators of the KJV, and many other popular Bibles, have not understood the connection between the three resurrections and the Feasts of Yahweh. The result has been a distortion of the translation. In the New Testament, the Greek word rendered as “anointed” and the Greek word rendered as “Christ” are one and the same. Christ means “anointed.” When the translators interpret a passage they must determine whether the Greek word “christos” should be translated as “anointed” or translated as “Christ.” Following is a graphic of this passage which shows the Interlinear Bible. The Greek, and the English translation, appear side by side.
















(Click on picture for larger image)

In three of the boxes that I have drawn, we find the Greek word christos, which is Strong’s number 5547. Whenever Paul intended the word christos to mean “Christ”  he preceded it with the definite article “toon” (Strong’s 3588). The Greek “toon” is equivalent to our English word “the.” When Paul was speaking of the Son of God, he would write “toon christos” (the Christ.) When he was speaking of anointing, Paul would write christos. There would be no preceding definite article.

Looking at the graphic above, we find that in verse 22 Paul wrote, “in the Christ all shall be made alive.” In the last box above we find that Paul used the definite article again. He was once more referring to “the Christ.” Yet, in the second usage of the word christos above, there is no definite article. The words “aparchee christos” should have been translated as “firstfruits anointed,” or in more fluent English grammar, “anointed firstfruits.” (You may note the word “the” preceding “aparchee christos” with the number 9999 below it. The number 9999 indicates that this word is not in the original manuscript. It is a word that has been added in the English translation, but it has no corresponding word in the Greek.)

Compare now the KJV translation, with the corrected, more accurate translation of this passage.

I Corinthians 15:22-24
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
KJV

I Corinthians 15:22-24
For as in Adam all die, so also in the Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Anointed firstfruits, after that those who are the Christ's at His coming, then comes the end (the remainder), when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.

It is worth our time to study this passage patiently, seeking to “rightly divide the word of truth.” The context and focus of this passage is the end of the reign of Christ, the end of the ages. If we want to understand these subjects, then we ought to focus on passages that specifically address them.

Paul understood that Christ’s work of reconciliation would be accomplished in a precise order. He states, “For as in Adam all die, so also in the Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order.” We do not see all men reconciled to God at the same time. At this time, Christ is working to bring the anointed firstfruits to a full and complete reconciliation to God.

The Greek word translated as “order” can provide us some insight. It is the Greek word “tagma.” Strong’s Dictionary defines it in the following manner:

NT:5001
tagma (tag'-mah); from NT:5021; something orderly in arrangement (a troop), i.e. (figuratively) a series or succession:

What Paul is communicating is that Christ’s work of reconciling mankind back to the Father will be “something orderly in arrangement.” It will be conducted as “a series or succession” of works until all has been brought under subjection to the Father. First we will see the anointed firstfruits reconciled to God. Then we will see those who belong to Christ, but who were not firstfruits. Then comes the end, or the remainder, when those who were enemies of Christ are brought under subjection to Him.

There is an order to the work of Christ. This age is not the end of the reconciling work of Christ. It is merely the beginning. Christ will continue to rule, the saints laboring with Him as ambassadors, entreating all men to be reconciled to God the Father.

Are you sometimes daunted as you perceive the darkness covering the earth, and the gross darkness over the people? Do you perceive that the true disciples of Christ are indeed a “little flock” at this time? The Scriptures entreat us to “not despise the day of small beginnings” (Zechariah 4:10).

There was a day when a small remnant returned from Babylonian captivity to Zion. They were led of the Spirit to rebuild the temple. The task was great and their strength was small. There were many enemies, and the work progressed slowly. Many became discouraged and for a season they laid the work aside, but God sent prophets, and His Spirit to stir them up once more.

The present hour bears great resemblance to that time. Few are the remnant heeding the call to depart from Babylon. The work of building up a fit habitation for Yahweh from living stones proceeds slowly. There are many enemies, and our own strength is small. We are in the day of small beginnings.

Do not be discouraged. Do not think that this is all there ever will be. Do not listen to the voices of ignorance and unbelief that proclaim that the creation will never be restored to the Father, that righteousness will never reign over all. Yahweh has spoken, and He will perform it. What a day it will be when every knee bows before Him, and every tongue confesses that righteousness and strength are found only in Yahweh!

Heart4God Website: http://www.heart4god.ws   

Parables Blog: www.parablesblog.blogspot.com    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

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