Tuesday, August 14, 2018

God's Plan of the Ages - 13

Yahshua, the Lord of the Ages

It has already been shown that Christ's reign over the creation is temporal, for the creation itself will encompass ages, but not eternity. The apostle Paul in his letter to the saints in Corinth states:

I Corinthians 15:25
For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.

In the sentence preceding the verse above, the apostle tells us:

I Corinthians 15:24
Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when He
has abolished all rule and all authority and power.

There will come a time at the end of the ages when Christ gives all things back to the Father. The Greek word translated as "hands over" in the verse above is ‘paradidomi.' Strong's Concordance defines the word in the following manner.

To surrender, i.e yield up, intrust, transmit:

When the kingdom is handed over to God the Father, the reign of Christ will be at an end. When all things have been reconciled to the Father, and the entire creation is rightly related to God, there will be no more need of any rule, authority, or power.

Young's Literal Translation of the Bible reveals the sense of this verse more accurately.

I Corinthians 15:24
Then — the end, when he may deliver up the reign to God, even the Father, when he may have made useless all rule, and all authority and power.

What will be the need of a ruler when all things are submitted fully and completely to the Father? There will be no more need for correction, for punishment, for reward, or judgment. Perfect love, and obedience to Yahweh, will permeate the creation. What a marvelous accomplishment the Son will have achieved! Yahshua will  present to the Father the creation in a state of perfect righteousness and peace. There will be nothing left that is out of harmony with the will and character of Yahweh. An enemy will not be found anywhere in creation, whether in heaven or on earth. Sin will have been thoroughly purged, and death will be no more. All will be life, and peace, and righteousness at the conclusion of the Son's rule and the end of the ages.

This work of reconciling the creation to the Father goes on apace. Right now Yahshua is leading a firstfruits company to enter into a condition of complete Sabbath rest. There are ages in which this work will continue. Looking at the rebellion, sin and chaos of this present world system, the fullness of Christ's work at the end of the ages is difficult to envision.

Centuries before the birth of Christ, Yahweh restored a remnant of His people to the Holy Land. Yahweh indicated to the captives of Judah and Jerusalem who had been carried into Babylon (confusion) that the appointed time had arrived for them to return to Zion. Only a remnant of the people heeded Yahweh's invitation. In this remnant we see a pattern for God's work today.

Yahweh tasked those obedient sons with rebuilding the Temple. The work was truly great, and the laborers were few. It was a monumental task just to get the foundation of the Temple laid. The prophet Zechariah writes of this event.

Zechariah 4:8-10
Moreover the word of Yahweh came to me, saying, "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; His hands shall also finish it. Then you will know that Yahweh of hosts has sent Me to you. For who has despised the day of small things?"

As we look at the work of God at this present time on the earth, we are seeing only a remnant who are yielding their lives (souls) to the rule of Yahweh. Even among those who call themselves Christians, the actual number of disciples of Christ is very small. In the Gospel of Luke we read of Christ being asked about the number of those being saved.

Luke 13:23
And someone said to Him, "Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?"

It was surely apparent to the person asking the question that only a small percentage of the Jews were turning to Yahshua and heeding His words. Among the religious leaders, the numbers were small, and of the entire nation we read that a partial hardening had occurred. Yahshua did not deny that at that time only a few were being saved. He urged those listening to Him to strive to enter through the narrow door.

At this time, in this age, there are only a few being saved. The vast majority of men continue to experience separation from the life of Christ. They have not yielded their lives to the Father. They have not entered into the Sabbath rest which Paul defines in the following manner:

Hebrews 4:10
For the one who has entered His rest has himself ceased from his own works, as God did from His.

Sabbath rest is a cessation of all independent action; it is the end of all human initiative. Sabbath rest is knowing the Father's will and doing it. There are just a few entering into this rest at this time. We live in a day of small things, but such a day is not to be despised. That which has begun as a very small work will grow until it encompasses the entire creation.

In the book of Daniel, we read of the prophet interpreting a dream for the King of Babylon. The dream portrayed all the great kingdoms of the earth. At the end of the procession of earthly kingdoms there came a new, divine kingdom. It was represented by a stone that was formed without hands. This was a divine work. The stone is Christ. He is the stone that the builder's rejected, but has now become the chief cornerstone. Daniel speaks of this stone to the King of Babylon.

Daniel 2:34-35
You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

Christ's work, of shattering the nations and establishing the rule of God throughout the creation, has just begun. It is in its infancy. Yahshua is establishing the kingdom of God inside the lives of a firstfruits group of men and women at this hour. These will be the first to be resurrected. They in turn will share in the work of reconciling the remainder of the creation back to the Father, both things in the heavens and on the earth.

Revelation 20:6
Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

I Corinthians 6:3
Do you not know that we will judge angels?

When Christ's reign has accomplished its full purpose, all things will be reconciled to the Father. Then Christ will hand the kingdom over to the Father. There will be no more need of rule, or of a ruler. Christ will reign to the end of the ages, then time itself will be no more as all things are summed back up into the Father.

When God's plan of the ages is understood, the error of proclaiming Christ to be an eternal king, and his kingdom to be forever, becomes apparent. The men tasked with translating the King James Bible did not understand the ages of God, or the end of all things. Even if they did perceive these things, the king's edict to not interpret the Scriptures in such a way as to upset the orthodox view of the church would have constrained them.

When King James of England authorized a group of scholars tocreate a new English translation of the Bible, he gave them fifteen rules to guide them. These rules were printed in the front of the early King James Bibles. Among these rules are the following guidelines.

1. The ordinary Bible read in the Church, commonly called the Bishops Bible, to be followed, and as little altered as the Truth of the original will permit.
2. The names of the Prophets, and the Holy Writers, with the other Names of the Text, to be retained, as nigh as may be, accordingly as they were vulgarly used.
3. The Old Ecclesiastical Words to be kept, viz. the Word Church not to be translated Congregation &c.
4. When a Word hath divers Significations, that to be kept which hath been most commonly used by the most of the Ancient Fathers, being agreeable to the Propriety of the Place, and the Analogy of the Faith.
14. These translations to be used when they agree better with the Text than the Bishops Bible: Tyndale's, Matthew's, Coverdale's, Whitchurch's, Geneva.

It was points number 3 and 4 which have caused the greatest harm to this translation. The king was in effect ordering that the orthodox views of the Church of England should be supported by the translation. Not only could the Greek word translated as church not be changed to the word congregation, but the Greek word baptizo could not be translated at all. The meaning of the Greek word is "immerse," but the practice of the church was to sprinkle. To get around this obvious contradiction, the translators did not translate the word at all. They transliterated it, which is to simply keep it in its original Greek form with only a slight alteration for English reading. Thus baptizo was rendered as baptize, and the church could interpret this word any way they desired.

Obviously, the teaching of the church in 1611 supported eternal torment. The concept of the reconciliation of the entire creation was rejected by the Church of England, and the understanding of the ages and the temporal reign of Christ was not embraced. Therefore, to not upset the orthodox views of the church, the scholars working in this translation were not permitted to translate the Greek word aion as age. Instead, they erroneously interpreted it to mean for ever, or eternal.

To this day we have many erroneous renderings of the Scriptures that have led multitudes of Christians to false conclusions. Consider the difference in understanding the church might have today if they were taught out of an accurate translation of the Bible. Observe the difference in understanding that arises from the following two translations of the same verse.

Revelation 11:15
And the seventh messenger did sound, and there came great voices in the heaven, saying, 'The kingdoms of the world did become [those] of our Lord and of His Christ, and he shall reign to the ages of the ages!'

Contrast this literal rendering with the words of the men who produced the King James Bible.

Revelation 11:15
And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

In the Greek original it is recorded that Christ must reign to the "aions" of the "aions." This cannot be for ever and ever, for the day will come when Christ shall hand over the kingdom to the Father, and all rule will be abolished. It is a great tragedy that the church has not understood the Scriptures, nor the power of God. They see this present age in which a fraction of all mankind profess belief in God and in His Christ, and they believe this is the consummation and end of Christ's work of reconciliation. They are convinced that all who die separated from Christ and God must forever remain that way. What great error this is. It leaves the majority ofthe creation forever separated from the Father, eternally tormented in hell.

In this fallacious view of the church, Christ does not reconcile all things to the Father. Yahshua does not fill all in all, and there is no end to Christ's rule where He hands over a perfected creation to the Father.

Rulers are established for the purpose of punishing evildoers and rewarding the righteous. This is what the apostle declared in the letter to the Romans.

Romans 13:3-5
For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake.

These words accurately describe the function of Christ's rule. Christ is a minister of God to you (and all creation) for good. He will both punish the wicked and reward the righteous.

Revelation 22:12
"Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done."

The rule of Christ is declared by the Scriptures to be temporal. He will rule UNTIL all enemies have been brought under subjection. Christ will administer wrath, but not eternal wrath, for His rule is only until the end of the ages. Being instructed out of faulty translations, and not studying carefully to discern where error has entered in, the church has been led to adopt many false doctrines about the punishment of the wicked. Following is the King James rendering of a verse out of Matthew's gospel.

Matthew 25:41
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.

It is easy to perceive how saints can be led astray through faulty translation work. If we accept the rendering of the translators who worked on this version of the English Bible we would certainly conclude that the devil and his angels will be subjected to "everlasting fire." Contrast this with the following translations of the same verse.

Matthew 25:41
Then will He say to those at His left, "Begone from me, with the curse resting upon you, into the Fire of the Ages, which has been prepared for the Devil and his angels."
(Weymouth Translation)

Matthew 25:41
Then he will say to those on his left "Go from my presence, accursed, into the aeonian fire which has been prepared for the Devil and his angels."
(Twentieth Century New Testament - 1904)

Matthew 25:41
He will then also say to those at his Left hand, "Depart from me you cursed ones into that aionian fire which is prepared for the adversary and his messengers."
(Emphatic Diaglott)

Matthew 25:41
Then will he say unto those also on His left hand: Depart from me, accursed ones! Into the age-abiding fire which hath been prepared for the adversary and his messengers.
(Rotherham's Emphasized Bible)

Matthew 25:41
Then shall he say also to those on the left hand, Go ye from me, the cursed, to the fire, the age-during, that hath been prepared for the Devil and his messengers;
(Young's Literal Translation)

If we accept the testimony of the Scriptures that declare Christ's rule to be temporal, to be concluded at the end of the ages, then we can judge no translation as accurate or faithful to the original thought of the authors that speaks of eternal punishment. The thought in the minds of the original writers was that the fires of hell and the lake of fire are limited to the ages of the creation.

Andrew Jukes, an English minister, authored an excellent book on this subject in 1867. It is titled The Restitution of All Things. Mr. Jukes considered the various instances and combinations of the Greek word aion in the Bible. His comments are worthy of consideration.

(NOTE: Every scholar knows that the expressions, "ages," "to the ages," "age of the ages," and "ages of the ages," are unlike anything which occurs in the heathen Greek writers. The reason is, that the inspired writers, and they alone, understood the mystery and purpose of the "ages." They, or at least the Spirit which spake by them, saw that there would be a succession of "ages," a certain number of which constituted another greater "age." It seems to me that when they simply intended a duration of many "ages," they wrote "to the ages." When they had in view a greater and more comprehensive "age," including in it many other subordinate "ages," they wrote "to the age of ages." When they intended the longer "age" alone, without regard to its constituent parts, they wrote "to an aeonial age"; this form of expression being a Hebraism, exactly equivalent to "age of the ages:" like "liberty of glory," for "glorious liberty," (Rom. viii. 21,) and "body of our vileness," for "our vile body." (Phil. iii. 21.) When they intended the several comprehensive "ages" collectively, they wrote "to the ages of ages." Each varying form is used with a distinct purpose and meaning.)

At any rate, and whatever the future "ages" may be, those past (and St. Paul speaks of "the ends" of some,) are clearly not endless; and the language of Scripture as to those to come seems to teach that they are limited, since Christ's mediatorial kingdom, which is "for the ages of ages," must yet be "delivered up to the Father, that God may be all in all." (Compare Rev. XI. 15, and 1 Cor. XV. 24.) And the fact that in John's vision, which describes the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gives Him, our Lord is called "Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending,"(Rev. xxi. 6.) seems to imply an end to the peculiar manifestation of Him as Kingand Priest, under which special offices the Revelation shews Him, offices which, as they involve lost ones to be saved and rebels ruled over, may not be needed when the lost are saved and reconciled.

Would it not have been better therefore, and more respectful to the Word of God, had our Translators been content in every place to give the exact meaning of the words, which they render "for ever," or "for ever and ever," but which are simply "for the age," or "for the ages of ages;" and ought they not in other passages, where the form of expression in reference to these "ages" is marked and peculiar, to have adhered to the precise words of Holy Scripture? I have already referred to thepassage of St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Ephesians, which in our Version is rendered "throughout all ages, world without end," but which is literally, "to all generations of the age of ages." (Eph. iii. 21.)... It is, therefore, a matter of regret that our Translators should not have rendered them exactly and literally; for surely the words which Divine Wisdom has chosen must have a reason, even where readers and translators lack the light to apprehend it.

The "ages," therefore, are periods in which God works, because there is evil and His rest is broken by it, but which have an end and pass away, when the work appointed to be done in them has been accomplished. The "ages," like the "days" of creation, speak of a prior fall: they are the "times" in which God works, because He cannot rest in sin and misery. His perfect rest is not in the "ages," but beyond them, when the mediatorial kingdom, which is "for the ages of ages," (Rev. XI. 15.) is "delivered up," (1 Cor. xv. 24.)...

The words "Jesus Christ, (that is, Anointed Saviour,) the same yesterday, to-day,and for the ages," (Heb. xiii. 8.) imply that through these "ages" a Saviour is needed, and will be found... It will I think too be found, that the adjective (aionios) founded on this word, whether applied to "life," "punishment," "redemption," "covenant," "times," or even "God" Himself, is always connected with remedial labour, and with the idea of "ages" as periods in which God is working to meet and correct some awful fall. Thus the "aeonial covenant," (Heb. xiii. 20.)... is that which comprehends "the ages," during which "Jesus Christ is the same," that is, a Saviour; an office only needed for the fallen, for "they that are whole need not a physician."
[End Excerpt]

At this time, only a remnant discern God's plan of the ages, and the preeminent role that Christ has been appointed in it. Yahshua must reign until He has wrought a full reconciliation of the creation to the Father. This labor will occur within the period of time bounded by the ages that Yahweh has established by His own counsel. Christ is therefore the Lord of the ages.

When the final age of the ages has come to a conclusion, then Yahshua will deliver the Kingdom up to the Father. All rule will be abolished, and the ages of Sonship will be at an end. The Father will be all in all.

Marvelous are the plans of God! His work among the creation will in the end be found to be perfect, complete, and all-encompassing.

Revelation 11:15
The seventh angel blew his trumpet; and there followed loud voices in Heaven which said, "The sovereignty of the world now belongs to our Lord and His Christ; and He will be King until the Ages of the Ages."
(Weymouth Translation)

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

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

Saturday, August 11, 2018

God's Plan of the Ages - Part 12

Mythology and the Bible

In the preceding chapters of this book I have labored to show forth through the Scriptures Yahweh's plan to reconcile all things in the creation to Himself through Christ. The rule of Christ must continue UNTIL He has accomplished a full and perfect reconciliation of the creation.

Ephesians 1:22-23
And He (God the Father) put all things in subjection under His (Christ the Son's) feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

I Corinthians 15:27-28
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.

Seeing that these things are declared in plain speech in the Scriptures, how is it that the majority of the body of Christ have not understood or accepted the reconciliation of all things to the Father? Where did the abominable doctrines of eternal torment arise from which leave a majority of mankind and one third of the angels forever separated from God?

The apostle Paul prophesied that in the latter days men (in the Church) would not endure sound doctrine. He declared that they would turn aside to myths and fables. The doctrine of eternal torment is a myth. Those familiar with Greek and Roman mythology will recognize the origins from which the church's doctrines arose. Centuries before Christ's birth the Greeks believed in a place of the dead called Hades. Far below Hades was Tarturus, a place of unending torment and suffering.

One of the Greek myths related to a king named Tantalus. King Tantalus transgressed greatly against the gods. As punishment he was imprisoned eternally in Tartarus. Tantalus' punishment for his actions was to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches. Tantalus was gripped with hunger. The desire for the fruit so close at hand was maddening. Whenever Tantalus reached for the fruit, the branches would rise, keeping the fruit just beyond his grasp. Likewise, Tantalus was tortured with thirst. Whenever he bent low to drink from the pool of water in which he was standing, the waters would recede out of his reach.

Another Greek myth told of King Sisyphus. Sisyphus boasted that he was more clever than Zeus, the chief of the Greek gods. Zeus punished Sisyphus by imprisoning him in Tartarus. King Sisyphus was given the task of rolling a large boulder up a hill that came to a sharp peak. As soon as the boulder reached the top, it would roll back down the other side. The process had to be repeated continually. Thus Sisyphus was doomed to an eternity of frustration.

A third Greek myth tells of King Ixion, who was another to transgress against the gods. King Ixion lusted after Zeus' wife Hera. Ixion sought to ravish Hera even in the presence of her husband. As punishment, King Ixion was bound to a flaming wheel representing his unbridled flaming lusts. He was forever tortured upon this wheel in Tartarus.

In each of these myths we see that the Greeks adopted a belief that the worst transgressors would be cast into a place of eternal torment that was befitting their wicked deeds. This punishment was viewed as an act of vengeance by the gods that consigned men to Tartarus. The wrath of the Greek gods was never to be assuaged. The punishments would have no end.

The Greeks also taught that Hades, the god of the underworld, guarded the place of the dead and would never permit any who went there to depart. Hades was commonly pictured with a staff in his hand. He had a three headed dog named Cerberus who guarded the gates of Hell.

These Greek beliefs were carried over into the Roman Empire that followed. The church of Rome was corrupted as tares were sown among the wheat. Men like Emperor Constantine took unto themselves the highest position in the church, while granting the church freedom from persecution. Many Christians rejoiced that the centuries of persecution were ended, but they did not reckon on the destruction wrought upon the church by the introduction of false beliefs and doctrines by men who were devoid of the Holy Spirit.

The Roman Catholic Church adopted the practice of syncretism, the merging of the pagan beliefs of Rome's citizens with the doctrines of Christ and His apostles. Soon truth was abandoned and the original teachings of Christ and the apostles were no longer tolerated. Truth had been replaced with myths and fables. The apostle Paul accurately predicted the state of the church regarding these things.

II Timothy 4:3-4
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

It is from this embracing of myths and fables that the church came to believe in a place of eternal torment. Additionally, the Biblical view of Satan was replaced by a caricature that closely resembled Hades, the god of the underworld. Common depictions of Satan show him with a trident, a three headed pitchfork in his hands, guarding the gates of hell. Satan is commonly viewed by many Christians today as ruling over those who are cast into hell. Such a belief is foreign to the Scriptures. The Bible never suggests that Satan will have any rule or authority in hell. Whether Satan is being temporarily bound and cast into the abyss, or whether he is being cast into Hades (Hell), he will have no more authority than any other creature experiencing the wrath of God.

Revelation 20:1-3
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.

Revelation 20:7-10
When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison... And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night to the ages of the ages.

Some years ago I was invited to attend a drama being put on at a local church. The drama was performed by a sizeable ministry that sent out teams of actors throughout the nation to stage this play in a multitude of churches. The drama was called "Heaven's Gates and Hell's Flames." It consisted of a series of short acts depicting various people dying. Whenever a person would die without giving their life to Christ, a macabre scene would unfold. The stage would darken. Ominous music would play, and demons would appear to drag the terrified and shrieking victim off to hell as Satan stood by watching, pitchfork in hand, while laughing in a maniacal fashion.

I was disturbed by the reaction (or lack thereof) of the Christians in the audience. Not a single person I spoke with appeared to note that the play was a depiction of mythology, and the things portrayed found no support in Scriptures. The Bible nowhere pictures Satan and his demons dragging people into hell. Nor is Satan figured as the god of the underworld, or with horns on his head, or a pitchfork in his hand. All of these things derive from mythology. The belief that those cast into the lake of fire will remain there eternally is similarly derived from mythology. As has been testified previously, the lake of fire is synonymous with the second death. Death will not continue forever.

I Corinthians 15:25-27
For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For "He has put all things under His feet."

Isaiah 25:8
He will swallow up death for all time, and Yahweh God will wipe tears away from all faces, and He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For Yahweh has spoken.

Hosea 13:14
From the hand of Sheol I do ransom them, From death I redeem them...
(Young's Literal Translation)

II Timothy 1:10
The appearing of our Savior Yahshua Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

Revelation 21:4-5
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful."

In this book sound doctrine has been set forth, yet the majority of people in the church will not receive it. Paul testified that in the last days men would not "endure" sound doctrine. Since I began to teach these things in 2002 I have been blacklisted from prophecy sites. I have been refused communion by other saints, and denied opportunity to teach. Some have used their ministries to declare me a heretic and to caution their followers to have nothing to do with me. These very actions are what Paul was describing when he said men would not "endure" sound doctrine. They will not hear it. They will not permit sound doctrine to be taught. Having embraced myths and fables, their minds are closed to all else.

God's plan of the ages has been transformed into something that is a gross aberration from the original. Yahweh is shown to be angry forever, and His wrath to be eternal. Those cast into hell and the lake of fire are believed to never escape. The reconciliation of "all things" through Christ is denied by the church. The church does not perceive the end of Christ's reign to come when all things will be subjected to Him that God the Father might be "all in all."

The church fell into error centuries ago. Over time myths and fables have come to be regarded as sacred truth due to their long antiquity. When in more recent centuries men in the church have applied themselves to translate the Scriptures into English, the influence of the mythology of Rome held sway over their minds. The Bible translations adopted by the masses of Christendom have become impregnated with the myths of pagan people. Words were translated to convey that false belief that had been adopted as orthodox theology.

Nowhere do we see this more profoundly than in the confused and errant renderings of the Greek word aion and its variants. Consider the following examples showing the varied and inaccurate manner in which translators have rendered this word. All quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.

Ephesians 2:7
That in the ages (aions) to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

Colossians 1:26
Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages (aions) and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints...

Ephesians 2:2
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course (aion) of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.

Hebrews 1:2
Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds (aions);

Hebrews 11:3
Through faith we understand that the worlds (aions) were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

Galatians 1:4
Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world (aion), according to the will of God and our Father:

Ephesians 6:12
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world (aion), against spiritual wickedness in high places.

II Corinthians 4:4
In whom the god of this world (aion) hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

I Corinthians 2:6
Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world (aion), nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:

Luke 16:8
And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world (aion) are in their generation wiser than the children of light.

Mark 4:19
And the cares of this world (aion), and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

Mark 10:30
But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world (aion) to come eternal (aionian) life.

Luke 20:35
But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world (aion), and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage:

Hebrews 6:5
And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world (aion) to come...

John 9:32
Since the world (aion) began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.

These verses represent a fair sampling of the many ways in which the Greek word aion has been translated. In other places, the translators have rendered this same word as "eternity," "for ever," "for ever and ever," and "everlasting." Following are a few examples.

Ephesians 3:11
According to the eternal (aionian) purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord...

Hebrews 6:2
Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal (aionian) judgment.

Revelation 19:2-3
For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever (aions) and ever (aions).

Revelation 20:10
And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever (aions) and ever (aions).

Matthew 25:41
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting (aionian) fire, prepared for the devil and his angels...

Jude 6
And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting (aionian) chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

It is evident that in each instance the translators interpreted this word to mean what they thought it should say according to the beliefs they had adopted. In the original KJV Bibles that were released in the 1600s, the translators included a list of restrictions that King James of England had placed upon them. One of these instructions was that the Bible could contain no translation that would upset the orthodoxy of the Church of England. The Anglican Church taught a doctrine of eternal damnation, therefore the scholars working on the King James Bible had to conform their translation to this belief.

It is apparent that the translators were very inconsistent in the interpretation of this word. If the word aion and its variants mean eternal, everlasting, or for ever, then the word should make sense when interpreted this way in the other Scriptures in which it is found. In this, it fails the test. Consider how nonsensical the following Scriptures would be.

Ephesians 2:7
That in the eternities (aions) to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

Colossians 1:26
Even the mystery which hath been hid from eternities (aions) and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints...

Ephesians 2:2
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the eternity (aion) of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.

Hebrews 1:2
Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the eternities (aions);

John 9:32
Since the eternity (aion) began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.

It is quite obvious that the Greek word aion is not referring to eternity in these and many other verses. The Greek word aion refers to an age that has a beginning and an end. Its variants refer to ages, or as an adjective to that which is age-lasting, or age-abiding. J. Preston Eby in his writing The Savior of the World, shares the following:

And now in reviewing the Scriptures we have just quoted we note that this aion is something which has a king; it has princes; it is in darkness; it had a beginning; it has an ending; it is evil; it has wisdom; it has children who marry; it has cares. The aions we find were made by Christ, simply through His spoken Word, and we also find in Colossians 1:26 that the mystery of Christ in us, the hope of glory, has been hidden from these aions. Now, if AION means ETERNAL, consider how ridiculous the Word of God would be! The Holy Spirit would be found saying, "the mystery which has been hid from eternities;" "the mystery of Christ which in other eternities was not made known;" "in the eternities to come;" "You walked according to the eternity of this world;" "by whom also He made the eternities;" "the rulers of the darkness of this eternity;" "now once in the end of the eternities has He appeared;" "the harvest is the end of the eternity;" "since eternity began;" "in the eternities to come," etc. etc... Suffice it to say here that there have been "aions" in the past, there is this present "aion," and there are "aions" to come. And these all combined make up TIME, encompassing the whole of the progressive plan and program of God for the development of His creation.
[End Quote]

Laying aside the myths of Rome, let us now translate these passages consistently, using the word "age," or "ages" in these same Scriptures. At once, the confusion is resolved, and a consistent teaching regarding the ages of God comes into view.

Eph. 2:7  "in the ages (aions) to come."
Col. 1:26 "the mystery which has been hid from the ages (aions). "
Eph. 2:2  "you walked, according to the age (aion) of this world."
Heb. 1:2 "by whom also He made the ages (aions)."
Heb. 11:3 "the ages (aions) were formed by the Word of God."
Gal. 1:4 "deliver us from this present evil age (aion)."
Eph. 6:12 "the rulers of the darkness of this age (aion)."
II Cor. 4:4 "the god of this age (aion)."
I Cor. 2:6 "the wisdom of this age (aion)."
Lk. 16:8 "the children of this age (aion)."
Mk. 4:19 "the cares of this age (aion)."
Mk. 10:30 "the age (aion) to come."
Lk. 20:35 "but they that shall be accounted worthy to obtain that age (aion)"
Heb. 6:5 "and have tasted the powers of the age (aion) to come."
John. 9:32 "since the age (aion) began."
Eph. 3:11 "according to a plan of the ages (aions)."
Heb. 6:2 "and of age-abiding (aionian) judgment."
Rev. 19:3 "and her smoke rose up to the ages (aions) of the ages (aions).
Rev. 20:10 "tormented day and night to the ages (aions) of the ages (aions)."
Mat. 25:41 "depart from me, ye cursed, into age-abiding (aionian) fire."
Jude 6 "he hath reserved in age-abiding (aionian) chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day."

In a forthcoming chapter I will discuss further the meaning of expressions such as "the ages of the ages," and "the age of the ages." Note in this last verse that the aionian chains are "unto the judgment of the great day." The chains cannot be eternal if they serve a role that is limited in time.

The Bible has much to say about the ages God has allotted to creation. Before Yahweh ever began to create He had established a master plan for the ages. All would culminate in a great final age of the ages when all would be reconciled to the Father, when sin and death would be no more.

Myths borrowed from pagan societies are no substitute for truth. Though it be a remnant who are able to endure sound doctrine in this hour, let them hold fast the truth by proclaiming the fullness of the reconciling work of Christ, the Savior of the world.

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

Parables Blog: www.parablesblog.blogspot.com    

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

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

God's Plan of the Ages - Part 11

The Harvest Allegory

Before Yahweh ever began to form the creation, He had fully worked out the plan of the ages from the beginning to the end. Everything that exists, or will exist; every event that has occurred, and is yet to transpire, was planned before the creation began.

Isaiah 14:24
Yahweh of hosts has sworn saying, "Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand..."

Yahweh will accomplish all His good pleasure. Knowing that Yahweh has perfect and complete power to perform all His desire, and perceiving Him to be perfect in knowledge and wisdom, we are able to agree with Scripture's testimony that everything in the creation is accomplished according to a master plan that Yahweh established by His own counsel.

Ephesians 3:8-11
Unto me - the less than least of all saints, was given this favour, unto the nations, to announce the glad-message of the untraceable riches of the Christ, and to bring to light - what is the administration of the sacred secret which had been hidden away from the ages in God, who did all things create: In order that now, unto the principalities and the authorities in the heavenlies, might be made known, through means of the assembly, the manifold wisdom of God, - according to a plan of the ages which he made in the anointed Jesus our Lord.
(Rotherham's Emphasized Bible)

Those things God will do have been known from ancient times. Yahweh has set testimonies in His creation, among the heavens, and on the earth, to proclaim His will. Thousands of years ago Yahweh established a witness in the scriptures that He entrusted to man. The Law and the prophets give testimony to Yahweh's plan of the ages. Our Father has not neglected to provide a testimony of the resurrections of mankind. Even as plants mature and crops are harvested on the Earth, the day will come when mankind will reach maturity. The time of man's harvest will be at hand.

The Bible frequently uses a harvest allegory to show forth the resurrections of mankind.  The crops we grow arise from the dust of the earth even as man's flesh was formed of the dust of the earth.

Genesis 2:7
And Yahweh God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

We have previously observed Christ's parable where He compares men to both wheat and tares that are sown in a field and grow together. There are many more Scriptures that compare men to various types of plants that arise from the dust of the earth. Following is a small sampling of the great variety of Scriptures which employ this allegory.

John 12:24-25
"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal."

Psalms 1:1-4
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of Yahweh, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away.

Psalms 80:8-13
You removed a vine from Egypt; You drove out the nations and planted it. You cleared the ground before it, and it took deep root and filled the land. The mountains were covered with its shadow, and the cedars of God with its boughs. It was sending out its branches to the sea and its shoots to the River. Why have You broken down its hedges, so that all who pass that way pick its fruit? A boar from the forest eats it away and whatever moves in the field feeds on it.

Psalms 92:12-14
The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, he will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of Yahweh, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap and very green...

Isaiah 40:23-24
He it is who reduces rulers to nothing, Who makes the judges of the earth meaningless. Scarcely have they been planted, scarcely have they been sown, scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth, but He merely blows on them, and they wither, and the storm carries them away like stubble.

I Corinthians 3:6-7
I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.

A great many more Scriptures could be cited, as the comparison of men to plants is one of the most abundant analogies that Yahweh uses in the Bible. There are truths that we can glean (pun intended) as we look at men in this light.

One thing that is observable in the natural realm is that plants bear fruit at different times of the year. Even so, Yahweh has determined that men should come to maturity at different times which He has established by His own counsel. Every man must eventually arrive at a state of conformity to Christ so that Yahshua might "fill all things." However, this subjection of all men to Christ will occur "each in his own order."

When Yahweh sought to give a testimony of the resurrections of man in the Law delivered to Moses, He chose to use annual gatherings as the symbol to represent this matter. Three times a year Yahweh required that all males appear before Him at a place He would choose. These appointed times (moedim in Hebrew) serve as types of the three resurrections. Each of them occurred at a time of harvest. The three feasts and the harvests associated with them are:


Yahweh chose these three crops to reveal specific truths about those men who would attain to each of the three resurrections. Before I address what is revealed through these three types of plants, let us first establish the foundation upon which we can correctly conclude that the Feasts were intended as symbols of the resurrections of man.

When Yahweh delivered the Law to Moses, He did so to provide mankind with types and shadows that would give those with understanding insight into the hidden mysteries of the Kingdom of God.

Colossians 2:16-17
Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day - things which are a shadow of what is to come...

The word "festival" that Paul used here is a reference to the Feasts established by Yahweh. The apostle says that these "are a shadow of what is to come." The Law with its festival ordinances was given to Moses 1,500 years before Christ was born. It would be about 2,000 more years before a group of firstfruits sons would pass through death into life at the first resurrection. The hour is now close at hand. Those things that have been foreshadowed from ancient times are soon to take place.

In the details of the Feasts of Yahweh we can discern much about the character and timing of the three resurrections of man.

Deuteronomy 16:16
Three times in a year all your males shall appear before Yahweh your God in the place which He chooses, at the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover) and at the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) and at the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles)...

Appearing before God is symbolic of resurrection. Men were required by Yahweh to leave their dwelling places and journey to a place where they were to meet with Him. At each feast the men were to bring with them the firstfruits of that which was being harvested in that particular season.

Exodus 23:15
And none shall appear before Me empty-handed.

Each resurrection will be distinct in its character even as the three feasts, and the crops associated with them, were different. God looks for fruit in the lives of men. Christ told His disciples, "You shall know them by their fruit." Yahweh knows every man by his fruit. He knows those who are the barley crop. He knows those who are wheat. He also knows those who are grapes.

Passover, and by extension the first resurrection, is associated with the barley harvest. Barley is an early ripening crop. It matures in the spring of the year, being spared the heat and drought of the summer months. This is a parable. Those who attain to the first resurrection come to maturity quicker than the rest of the body of Christ. Because they gave themselves eagerly to pursue God's will for them of becoming like Christ, they will not have to experience the heat of the lake of fire, even as barley doesn't have to go through the heat of summer.

The Barley of Passover differs from the wheat of Pentecost in a very significant way. Barley contains very little gluten, while wheat has an abundance of gluten. Gluten is the component of grain that reacts with yeast to make the bread rise. Because barley lacks gluten it is often baked as an unleavened bread. This is a parable, for bread represents man's flesh and leaven represents sin.

The Last Supper was held during the Feast of Passover. During that meal, Christ took an unleavened loaf of barley bread and said to His disciples, "This is My BODY, broken for you." The bread had to be unleavened, for Christ was completely righteous, having never sinned.

Hebrews 4:15
For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

The disciples partook of this meal during the days of unleavened bread prescribed by Moses.

Exodus 12:15
"Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses; for whoever eats anything leavened from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel."

These days are called The Feast of Unleavened Bread, and they are part of the larger Passover celebration. The Feast of Unleavened bread occurs at the time of the barley harvest. The barley loaves represent not only Christ, but those overcomers in Christ who buffet their bodies and keep them under subjection. These ones do not permit their flesh to rise up in the presence of sin. They keep their bodies under the rule of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:24
Now those who belong to Christ Yahshua have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Wheat is harvested at Pentecost, and therefore corresponds to the second resurrection. Wheat contains an abundance of gluten. At Pentecost Yahweh gave instructions that the wheat presented to Him be baked as a leavened bread. Pentecost occurs fifty days after Passover.

Leviticus 23:16-17
"You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to Yahweh. You shall bring in from your dwelling places two loaves of bread for a wave offering, made of two-tenths of an ephah; they shall be of a fine flour, baked with leaven as first fruits to Yahweh."

It was not a random whim of God to instruct Israel to remove all leaven from their homes during Passover and to bake the barley as unleavened bread, anymore than it is a meaningless requirement that the bread at Pentecost must be baked WITH leaven. Yahweh is showing forth truth through means of parables. Those who do not rule over the flesh with its passions and desires, will be excluded from the honor of attaining to the first resurrection.

Because many Christians sow to the flesh, rather than to the Spirit, they must wait until a later resurrection to enter into their inheritance in Christ. God will not be mocked. Whether a person is a Christian, or an unbeliever, they will reap what they sow. Those Christians who walk in a manner unworthy of Christ will not only be excluded from being numbered among the firstborn of Yahshua, they will have to experience "apollumi" in the lake of fire, because they did not present themselves to God as "aliving sacrifice" in this present age.

Revelation 2:11
"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death."

Revelation 20:14
This is the second death, the lake of fire.

There is a parallel observed between the baking of the leavened loaves of wheat at Pentecost and the Christians who share a place with the unbelievers in the lake of fire. The action of the yeast in wheat bread continues to cause the bread to rise until the bread is placed in the oven and baked. The heat of the oven stops the reaction between the leaven and the gluten in the bread. Similarly, many Christians will only turn away from sin and learn righteousness as they go through the heat of the lake of fire.

The last feast of the year is Tabernacles, often called Sukkot, or the Feast of Booths. It is held in conjunction with the harvest of grapes. Grapes represent those men and women who have given themselves fully over to sensuality and have become the enemies of God. Even as the fruit of the grape can induce drunkenness, attended by an absence of self-control, so too are there many men and women who set aside all inhibitions and give themselves fully to a pursuit of selfish pleasure and ungodliness.

Romans 1:32
Though they are fully aware of God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them themselves but approve and applaud others who practice them.
(Amplified Bible)

These are the last to come to maturity. They are the last group from among mankind to be resurrected. They must experience the wrath of God in full measure. Having this introduction to the symbolism of the three feasts established by Yahweh, let us look once more at Paul's words to the saints in Corinth relating to Christ's work of subjecting all things to the Father.

I Corinthians 15:22-26
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. But each in his own order: the anointed first fruits (Barley/Passover), after that those who are Christ's at His coming (Wheat/Pentecost), then the remainder (Grapes/Tabernacles), when He delivers up 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 more one learns about the Feasts, the better able they may discern the relationship between the feasts and the resurrections as described by Paul in these words. At Passover the firstfruits offered to Yahweh were to be anointed with oil.

Numbers 28:17-20
On the fifteenth day of this month shall be a feast, unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days... You shall present an offering by fire, a burnt offering to Yahweh: two bulls and one ram and seven male lambs one year old, having them without defect. For their grain offering, you shall offer fine flour mixed with oil...

The fine barley flour of Passover was to be mixed with oil. This was "the anointed firstfruits." Paul says that these are the first to be resurrected. When Paul writes of those who are last to be resurrected, he concludes with the statement, " For [Christ] must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet." Grapes are harvested and then crushed under the feet of men. From ancient days, this was the method of extracting the juice from the grape.

Paul attaches to his words on the order of the resurrection the words "He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet." These words express the thought that the resurrection work of God among mankind will not be complete until the enemies of God are crushed and then reconciled to the Father. These will be last in resurrection. Like grapes which are trodden under the feet of man, the enemies of God will be trodden under God's feet, experiencing His wrath.

Isaiah 63:2-6
Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like the one who treads in the winepress? "I have trodden the wine trough alone, and from the peoples there was no man with Me. I also trod them in My anger, and trampled them in My wrath; and their lifeblood is sprinkled on My garments, and I stained all My raiment. For the day of vengeance was in My heart, and My year of redemption has come. And I looked, and there was no one to help, and I was astonished and there was no one to uphold; so My own arm brought salvation to Me; and My wrath upheld Me. And I trod down the peoples in My anger, and made them drunk in My wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth."

God's work among mankind will not be finished until all mankind has appeared before God. Each group of men must be harvested from the earth, "for as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. But each in his own order." The enemies of God, like grapes, will be harvested last of all. They must endure the wrath of God. Before the ages are concluded, all who were incensed with Yahweh will be ashamed. They will confess "Surely in Yahweh I have righteousness and strength."

Yahweh was very deliberate in choosing these three crops to represent the various groups of men to be resurrected. Not only are the three resurrections of man observed in the Old Testament in the feasts established by Yahweh, they are proclaimed all the way to the last book of the Bible. In Revelation chapter fourteen, all three resurrections are in view.

Revelation 14:1-5
Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads... These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. And no lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless.

In these words we see the overcomers in Christ. These are firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. They are the first to pass through death into the resurrection life of Christ. Later in this same chapter we see the next group to be resurrected.

Revelation 14:14-16
Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man, having a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand. And another angel came out of the temple, crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, "Put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe." Then He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped.

The harvest allegory is clearly being employed in this chapter. We have seen the firstfruits, now a second resurrection is occurring. The earth is being reaped. Those who have come to maturity must be gathered together to be presented before theFather. Immediately after this we see a third and final reaping of the earth.

Revelation 14:17-20
And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle. Then another angel, the one who has power over fire, came out from the altar; and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, "Put in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, because her grapes are ripe." So the angel swung his sickle to the earth and gathered the clusters from the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of God. And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses' bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles.

In this chapter we see a distinct parallel to Paul's words in I Corinthians chapter fifteen, and to the three feasts of Yahweh with their associated harvests. This chapter of Revelations begins with the firstfruits of Passover standing on Mount Zion with Christ. It ends with the grapes of Tabernacles being harvested and trodden underfoot. In between is the wheat harvest of Pentecost. John further elaborates on the enemies of God in this chapter.

Revelation 14:9-11
Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up to the ages of ages; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name."

Christ must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. How fitting it is that the Holy Spirit pictures these enemies as grapes. What marvelous design is seen in Yahweh's creation where the grape harvest is in the end of the year, long after the barley and the wheat have been gathered in. There is an appointed time for all things.

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

Parables Blog: www.parablesblog.blogspot.com    

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

Sunday, August 5, 2018

God's Plan of the Ages - Part 10

The Firstborn

As we continue to lay the foundations for understanding God's plan of the ages, the topic of sonship needs to be examined. Yahweh created man because He desired to have sons. One of the most common titles used to refer to God in the Bible is Father. In approximately 270 instances the Bible uses the word Father when speaking of Yahweh's relationship to man. In hundreds of additional occurrences men and women are called the sons, daughters, children, seed, and offspring of God.

The desire of God to have sons in His image, and after His likeness, was not to be immediately fulfilled upon the creation of Adam. Sin entered the creation and marred the image of man. The Earth would not see a son in the image of God until the appearing of Christ. Of Him, the Father testified:

Matthew 17:5
"This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased..."

Christ is the Firstborn Son of God. He is the express image of His Father.

Hebrews 1:1-6
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the ages; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels did He ever say "You are My Son. Today I have begotten You"? And again: "I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son"? But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: "Let all the angels of God worship Him."

Christ came into the world to fulfill the desire of Yahweh that He might have sons. Mankind needed a Savior. Man could not attain to sonship in his fallen state. Humanity needed to be set free from its slavery to sin. The righteousness and divine nature which man lacked needed to be imparted to him. The process of restoring fallen man to God was begun in earnest at the appearing of Christ. Christ made a way for many more brethren to stand before Yahweh as sons.

Romans 8:29
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren...

Hebrews 2:10-16
For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying: "I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You." And again: "I will put My trust in Him." And again: "Here am I and the children whom God has given Me." Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

This is the goal of Yahweh's plan of the ages. He will conform man to the image of Christ, and thereby bring many sons to glory. Yet, even as this work of redeeming fallen mankind and bringing forth sons in the image of God began with a single man, so too will we see the spread and fulfillment of this work accomplished in successive and ever larger waves. In the end Christ must fill all things, but in the outworking of this process He must first be formed in a firstfruits group of men and women.

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 firstfruits among His creatures.

The plan of God is to acquire for Himself a body of firstfruits and then to reconcileall of creation to Himself.

I Corinthians 15:22-23
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: The anointed firstfruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming, then the remainder, when He delivers up the kingdom to God the Father.

These firstfruits will be preeminent among their brethren. By being the first to taste of death and suffering through becoming partakers of the cross of Christ, they will obtain a place of honor. They will be known as the firstborn from the dead, the firstborn sons of Christ.

Revelation 14:4
These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. Notice the qualification given here. "These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes."

These are those who have accepted Christ's invitation to "Come, take up your cross, and follow Me." A lamb is a sacrificial animal. A lamb will go meekly and quietly to be slaughtered, not resisting the hand that guides it. So too will this be the attitude and character of those who will be the firstborn of Christ. They will humbly yield their lives to Christ, and present themselves as a living sacrifice. They will surrender to pass through many fiery trials and experiences that serve to reduce the Adamic man that a spiritual creation after the image of Christ might arise. Even as Yahshua embraced the cross, and was perfected through sufferings, these ones too will do the same and serve as a pattern and testimony for their brethren to follow.

These truths are observed in the types and shadows of the Old Testament. The firstborn male that opens the womb was reserved, set apart, as holy unto Yahweh.

Exodus 34:19
The first offspring from every womb belongs to Me...

This preeminence of the firstborn was not merely some archaic custom belonging to a patriarchal society. Yahweh does all things with great purpose and design. The emphasis on the firstborn is a pervasive theme throughout the Old Testament.

Exodus 13:1-2
Then Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, "Sanctify to Me every firstborn, the first offspring of every womb among the sons of Israel, both of man and beast; it belongs to Me."

Exodus 13:11-13
"Now when Yahweh brings you to the land of the Canaanite, as He swore to you and to your fathers, and gives it to you, you shall devote to Yahweh the first offspring of every womb, and the first offspring of every beast that you own; the males belong to Yahweh. But every first offspring of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, but if you do not redeem it, then you shall break its neck; and every firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem."

Every detail in the Law of God is significant. It was only firstborn males that were devoted unto Yahweh. We saw the significance of this in the preceding chapter. Man must rule over the feminine soul, taking upon Himself the masculine spiritual character of Christ. Only spiritual men will be counted as the firstborn of God.

Yahweh singles out donkeys as an exception to the law of the firstborn. This is due to what donkeys represent. The donkey is renowned for its stubbornness, whereas the lamb is known to be meek and yielding. It is a true statement that no man will ever qualify as a firstborn son of Yahweh unless he adopts the meek and submissive attitude of a lamb. Those who are stubborn must have their necks broken. Stephen,the first martyr of Christ, reproached the Israelite leaders for their stubborn resistance of God's work in their lives.

Acts 7:51
"You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did."

Both history and the Scriptures reveal that God had to deal with the Jews very harshly due to their stubbornness. A generation would not pass from the time Stephen spoke these words until Jerusalem would be destroyed and tens of thousands of Jews slaughtered. Yet, even among the Jews there was a remnant who humbled themselves, embraced the shame and suffering of Christ's cross, and qualified themselves to be firstborn sons.

The firstborn are considered holy unto God. They become His unique possession. They are accorded honor and glory above all others.

Luke 2:22-23
Now when the days of [Mary's] purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought [Yahshua] to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord")...

Colossians 1:18
And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

Although the above Scriptures are specifically speaking of Yahshua, there will be many who are the firstborn of Christ who will receive similar distinction and honor.The spiritual substance of the shadow of the firstborn is fulfilled in those who attain to the first resurrection. Both deal with birth order; first the natural, then the spiritual. Regarding those who attain to the first resurrection, we read that they too are considered especially holy unto God, and are blessed by Him.

Revelation 20:6
Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

Only those saints who attain to the first resurrection will be so honored. The apostle Paul spoke of his own earnest yearning to attain to this group.

Philippians 3:10-14
To get to know him, and the power of his resurrection and fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed unto his death, - If by any means I may advance to the earlier resurrection, which is from among the dead: Not that I have, already, received, or have, already, reached perfection, but I am pressing on - if I may even lay hold of that for which I have also been laid hold of by Christ Jesus: - Brethren! I, as to myself, reckon that I have, not yet, laid hold; one thing, however, - the things behind, forgetting, and, unto the things before, eagerly reaching out, With the goal in view, I press on for the prize of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus.
(Rotherham Emphasized Bible)

Paul understood that there is a premier resurrection from the dead. There is a prize to be contended for. The prize is to be numbered among the firstborn of Christ. Paul buffeted his body and kept it under subjection that he might not be disqualified. He ran the race as one who was not without aim, for he knew what awaited those who crossed the finish line first. Paul applied all diligence, all discipline, all focus and determined effort, in the pursuit of attaining to the number of the firstborn from the dead. If you and I have any inkling of what awaits the firstborn we will also be gripped by the pursuit of this high calling.

I Corinthians 9:24-27
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such away, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.

Paul clearly had something in mind here other than the common view held today by a majority of Christians concerning what awaited him in the afterlife, in the resurrection from the dead. Paul discerned that there was a prize for which to strive.

Paul was raised as a Pharisee. He knew the Law and the prophets. Paul discerned the types and shadows of the Old Testament. He discerned that something of a profound nature was foreshadowed in the laws of the firstborn and the laws regarding firstfruits. He wanted to be numbered among that elite company.

The Old Testament reveals the special significance of the firstborn male.

Genesis 49:3
Reuben, you are my first-born; My might and the beginning of my strength, preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power.

Reuben was the firstborn son of Jacob. In what is spoken of him we can discern the role God has chosen for the firstborn. What does it mean to be "preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power"? The word preeminent is defined as "surpassing all others."

Yahweh was showing forth through a natural type a profound truth of the kingdom of God. There will be firstborn sons of God, and there will be latter born sons. The firstborn will be preeminent among all others. Attaining to the number of the firstborn is a goal every Christian should strive towards.

The Bible reveals that receiving the honor and distinction of the firstborn was something that could be lost due to walking unworthily. The honor could be given to a latter born son who distinguished himself. Although Reuben was the firstborn son of Jacob according to natural birth order, the rights and privileges of the firstborn were lost to him and given to Joseph.

Genesis 49:3-4
Reuben, you are my firstborn; My might and the beginning of my strength, preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power.  Uncontrolled as water, you shall not have preeminence, because you went up to your father's bed; Then you defiled it - he went up to my couch.

Reuben had illicit sexual relations with his father's concubine Bilhah.

Genesis 35:22
It came about while Israel was dwelling in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine, and Israel heard of it.

Note: Yahweh changed Jacob's name to Israel.

Jacob declared that Reuben was "uncontrolled as water." This testimony reveals that he had no self-control. Water flows through the path of least resistance. It cannot restrain itself. It will always sink lower and lower, unless an outside force restrains it. This is the condition of sinful man. Man will debase himself unless restrained. Reuben could find nothing within himself to restrain his fleshly impulses. Even when he knew that his actions would bring great shame and dishonor to his father, this knowledge did not prove adequate to cause him to rule over his sinful desires.

Certainly there is in this a great parable for Christians today. There are many who are born again of the Spirit of Christ who continue to live carnal (fleshly and sensual) lives. Even though their lack of self-restraint and personal denial are dishonoring to the Father, they do not find within themselves the will to rule over their souls. They are unrestrained. They follow whatever course their soul and sinful flesh presents to them. In so doing, these ones are disqualified as firstborn sons. These ones will not attain to the first resurrection.

In Joseph, the eleventh born son of Jacob, we see another spirit. Joseph loved his father more than his brothers. When Jacob sent his sons out to tend the flocks, we find that Joseph remained at home with his father. There was a special bond and fellowship between them.

Genesis 37:13
Israel said to Joseph, "Are not your brothers pasturing the flock in Shechem? Come, and I will send you to them." And he said to him, "I will go."

Joseph was eager to do the will of his father. In like manner, those who will receive the right of the firstborn are eager to do the will of Yahweh. Joseph's brothers were envious of him and treated him shamefully. They sold him as a slave into Egypt. In Egypt Joseph faced temptation akin to that of his elder brother Reuben, yet Joseph's response was very different.

Genesis 39:7-10
It came about after these events that his master's wife looked with desire at Joseph,  and she said, "Lie with me." But he refused and said to his master's wife, "Behold, with me here, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, and he has put all that he owns in my charge. There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?" As she spoke to Joseph day after day, he did not listen to her to lie beside her or be with her.

Consider the situation in which Joseph found himself. God had given Joseph dreams when he was seventeen years old of being promoted above his brothers. Yet, Joseph found his experiences taking him lower, rather than higher. Joseph's brothers continued living as the free sons of a wealthy father, while Joseph was a slave in a foreign land. Joseph must have been tempted to believe that Yahweh had abandoned him. He might have given into self-pity, reasoning that there was little reason to resist the advances of this Egyptian woman. After all, he must have been very lonely in this foreign land, and here was one manifesting a desire to be with him, even if it was in an illicit manner.

Joseph did not give in to such unworthy thoughts. He remained faithful in his commitment to honor God, and to not defile his master's wife. Had he done so, he too would have been disqualified for the right of the firstborn. By manifesting self-control Joseph distinguished himself among his brethren. Self-control is at the very heart of that which is needed to qualify as an overcomer in Christ and attain to the first resurrection. The last of the fruit of the Spirit named, which encapsulates all the rest, is self-control.

Galatians 5:22-25
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Yahshua have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

To attain to the first resurrection, a Christian must overcome the sinful passions and desires of the flesh. It is only those who overcome who will be counted worthy of that resurrection. Joseph was elevated to the throne of Egypt. In a similar manner, those who distinguish themselves among their brethren will be granted to sit with Christ on His throne.

Revelation 3:21-22
He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

That which Reuben lost due to his lack of self-control, proved to be Joseph's gain. The Scriptures similarly warn believers today to not walk carelessly, and thereby let someone else take the crown that could be theirs.

Revelation 3:11
"I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown."

Joseph stands as a type of those who will obtain glory and honor above their brothers. He is a shadow of those saints who will receive a double portion and the birthright belonging to the firstborn.

Genesis 48:21-22
Then Israel said to Joseph, "Behold, I am about to die, but God will be with you, and bring you back to the land of your fathers. I give you one portion more than your brothers, which I took from the hand of the Amorite with my sword and my bow."

I Chronicles 5:1-2
Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (for he was the firstborn, but because he defiled his father's bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph the son of Israel; so that he is not enrolled in the genealogy according to the birthright. Though Judah prevailed over his brothers, and from him came the leader, yet the birthright belonged to Joseph)...

The struggle for the birthright is seen throughout the Old Testament, for it points to this most profound issue in the kingdom of God. There is an inheritance in Christ to be contended for, and only a remnant will qualify themselves for it. Jacob earnestly desired both the birthright and the blessing. His twin brother Esau was the firstborn, but he showed little regard for his inheritance. Esau forsook his birthright to satisfy the appetite of his flesh. For a bowl of pottage, Esau gave his birthright to another. Esau stands as a sign, and a warning, to Christians lest they too should forfeit their spiritual inheritance by putting the temporal fulfillment of their natural appetites above the will and pleasure of God.

Hebrews 12:15-17
See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God..., that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.

The apostle would not give such a warning to the saints unless there were those in the body of Christ who stood to commit a similar transgression. When the saints stand in judgment and see that inheritance that is reserved for the overcomers in Christ, it will be too late. There will be found no place for repentance though it is sought with many tears. The honor of being the firstborn of Christ will have passed beyond their grasp.

There are resurrections other than the first. All men will in their own order be resurrected to life in Christ. Nevertheless, there will be much that distinguishes the firstborn sons of God, and the latter born sons. The apostle Paul discusses the differences that will exist in the resurrection of the dead in the following passagefrom his letter to the church in Corinth.

I Corinthians 15:35-42
But someone will say, "How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?" You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish. There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead.

We see in this passage that Paul's subject is the resurrection of the dead. He is particularly pointing out that there will be differences of glory among those who are resurrected. Those who attain to the first resurrection will be preeminent among their brethren. They will be like the Sun shining in its strength. It is the Father's desire that His children contend for the prize of attaining to the first resurrection from the dead. In this will He be greatly glorified, that of a free will His sons laid down their lives to attain to that conformity to His own image and likeness that He has desired for them.

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

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Thursday, August 2, 2018

God's Plan of the Ages - Part 9

The Soul that Sins Must Die

Death stands between every man and an inheritance in Christ, even as the Jordan River stood between the Israelites and their inheritance in the land of Canaan. We know that every man experiences a physical death of his body. It is not this death that makes a person a disciple of Christ, otherwise all men would be judged now to be Christ's disciples. It is the death of the soul that is referred to when Christ invited men to "Come, take up your cross, and follow Me."

Because this truth has been so little understood, being rejected by the majority of Christians today, it needs to have much emphasis laid upon it. No man will enter into His inheritance in Christ apart from first experiencing death to his soul life. We can either embrace this death to the soul's rule over our lives now by yielding our lives wholly to follow Christ wherever He directs, or we will have our soul life destroyed in the lake of fire in the age to come. The necessity of dying to the life of the soul is revealed plainly in the following words of Christ.

Luke 14:26-27
"If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate... even his own life (psuche - soul), he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple."

The Greek word "psuche" is translated as "heart, life, mind and soul" in the KJV Bible. It is a word used to describe that inner life that guides and animates a living being. The soul is influenced by many external forces. Prior to being born of the Spirit, the greatest influence upon the soul is the flesh. The flesh expresses its cravings and desires to the soul. The soul in turn decides what response it will make to this input.

The natural man is completely dominated by his soul. He is daily choosing to fulfill the desires and needs of the body, whether for food, sex, comfort, pleasure, ease, excitement, peace, or a myriad of other passions. The life of Adamic man is dominated by the soul. It is a sensual life, and one devoted to self-gratification.

The life of Christ is different. It is dominated by the Spirit. The focus of the life of Christ is not upon self, but rather upon pleasing the Father.

John 6:38
"For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me."

While Christ was in the flesh He lived entirely for the will and pleasure of His Father. He never deviated from this focus. Because Christ was born of woman, He knew the influence of the feminine soul. Being born of the seed of the Father, He also had the influence of the masculine Spirit. This led to conflict within Christ's being to see who would have ascendancy. Would Yahshua walk as a pleasing Son by being directed by the Spirit in all things, or would He capitulate to the passions and desires of the soul?

This struggle was never seen more clearly than when Christ wrestled with drinking from that cup of suffering His Father presented to Him while in the Garden of Gethsemane. This cup contained the suffering of the cross, and death to the flesh.

Matthew 26:38-39
Then He said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me." And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will."

Christ's hour of wrestling in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives shows us clearly that struggle that all who would be conformed to Christ must experience. The details of this event also serve as a great parable. It was from the crushed flesh of the olive that the Levites obtained the oil used for anointing, and to light the candlesticks in the Temple. The olive tree serves as a type of Yahweh's people, and the individual olives are a type of individual saints. Our lives must be crushed if the oil of anointing is to be released from within. If we are to be lights in a dark world, we too must experience the crushing of the soul in our own Gethsemane experiences.

That Christ's suffering occurred on the Mount of Olives was chosen by great design by His Father. The word Gethsemane means "olive press." It is where the olives are crushed to obtain the oil from them. Christ was experiencing the crushing of His soul while in Gethsemane. He had to make the decision to deny His soul's desires, and to put the will and pleasure of the Father above all else. It is this death to the soul that is the hallmark of everyone who is a disciple of Christ.

II Corinthians 4:11
For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Yahshua's sake, so that the life of Yahshua also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

As the soul is crushed, the life of Christ is revealed in us. It is appointed to Christ's disciples to be the first among men to follow Yahshua through the waters of death. This was symbolized in the crossing of the Jordan by those priests who were first to walk into the waters of the Jordan as they carried the Ark of the Covenant on their shoulders.

Joshua 3:13
"It shall come about when the soles of the feet of the priests who carry the Ark of Yahweh, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan will be cut off, and the waters which are flowing down from above will stand in one heap."

As Christians, we are appointed to be priests of God.

I Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light...

There is much symbolized by the priests as they carried the Ark of the Covenant into the Jordan. The Ark was borne on the shoulders. The shoulders are symbolic of the place where authority and government rests.

Isaiah 9:6
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders...

As mentioned previously, the Ark is a symbol of perfected man. Christ is the original, for He is the first of a new type of man. In carrying the Ark upon their shoulders, the priests were providing a type and shadow of those men and women who would one day take Christ as their Head.

There is a parallel observed between the priests of Yahweh carrying the Ark with wooden poles on their shoulders, and the disciple of Christ bearing the cross. Even as the priests entered the waters that signified death, the disciple must be baptized into Christ and take up his cross which is an instrument of death to the soul. Those who are true disciples have yielded the rule of their lives to Christ. They have removed themselves as head, that they might take Christ as Head. This is the meaning of the following words of John.

Revelation 20:4
And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Yahshua and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

Revelation is a book that conveys truth through signs. It is a book of parables. Those who would be Christ's disciples must hate their own souls. They must accede to the Lordship of Christ in a very real and practical manner, taking Him as their Head. No man can take Christ as Head while his own head is still ruling. John describes these beheaded ones as coming to life and ruling with Christ during the Millennium. This honor is reserved for the overcomers in Christ. It is for those who attain to the first resurrection, gaining the right of the firstborn of Christ.

Revelation 20:6
Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

Because these ones have surrendered to the death of the cross in this age, they will be spared from the second death in the next age. The second death is the lake of fire. Every person must experience death to the natural life in order to enter into resurrection life in Christ. There can be no resurrection apart from a death first taking place. We must die to that natural, Adamic life, ruled by the soul, in order to be resurrected into that new spiritual life found in Christ. This pattern is inviolable.

The Christian is not saved from death, so much as he is saved through death. It is by following Christ, taking up our own cross, and dying to self (that natural soulish life) that we are delivered from the kingdom of darkness and translated into the kingdom of light. It is by virtue of being born again of the Spirit of Christ, becoming a partaker of His divine life, that we find resident within our members the desire, and power, to deny ourselves, and yield our lives wholly to the Father.

Philippians 2:12-13
Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

Christians like to speak of salvation as something that Christ obtained for them at the cross. There are Scriptures that support such a conclusion. Once again, however, many Christians have fallen short of "rightly dividing the word of truth." They have not considered the whole counsel of the Scriptures. That which Christ has purchased for men and given to them freely, must be "worked out" in each individual's life. This is what Paul declared when he said "Work out YOUR salvation with fear and trembling."

Christ presents to men both a gate that they must enter by, and a way that they must walk. A man must enter by the gate AND follow Christ down the afflicted path, or they will fail to arrive at life.

Matthew 7:13-14
"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is afflicted (Greek "thlibo")  that leads to life, and there are few who find it."

Many of the popular English Bibles today translate the Greek word "thlibo" in this passage as "narrow," but that obscures Christ's meaning. This is a different word altogether from that used in the first part of this passage describing a "narrow" gate. The word used there is "stenos." Christ is describing two different things. Christ is the gate, or doorway by which all men must enter if they are to find resurrection life. There is no other name given under heaven by which men must be saved. Neither Mohammed, nor Buddha, not Krishna, nor the other thousands of gods named in this world will deliver men from sin and reconcile them to the Father. The gate is very narrow. Christ alone is the doorway to life.

John 10:7-9
So Yahshua said to them again, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved..."

These words of Christ are true, but they do not constitute His entire counsel and testimony. Christ declared that "the gate is small," but He also said, "the way is afflicted that leads to life, and few there are who find it." The goal is life; resurrection life in Christ. To obtain it all men must enter by the gate and walk the path appointed by God that leads to life. That path is afflicted. It is a path of suffering leading to the termination of the soul's rule over mankind. Man's soul has to be crushed. The cross must be embraced. Suffering must be endured in order for the self-life to lose its grip over man.

The Bible reveals that there are two methods by which the salvation Christ has provided might find its"outworking" in our lives. We can surrender to follow Christ by taking up our cross now, or we will be cast into the lake of fire which will similarly accomplish the work of bringing an end to the rule of the soul.

Matthew 10:28
"Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell."

The word translated here as "destroy" is not speaking of annihilation. It is not suggesting that men's souls will cease to be. Rather, it is a word denoting the subjugation of the soul in the same way that Christ intended when He said "He who would save his soul must LOSE it."

Matthew 16:25
"For whoever wishes to save his soul will lose (apollumi) it; but whoever loses (apollumi) his soul for My sake will find it."

The very same Greek word, "apollumi" is used in both verses.

Matthew 10:28
"Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy (apollumi) both soul and body in Hell."

As we look at these two verses side by side, we find that God has provided two methods by which the soul of man might experience "apollumi." The soul can be subjected to the rule of Christ in this age by yielding fully to Christ as Head of one's life, or the soul can be brought to this same place of subjection in Hell.

Please do not pass over what was just stated. It is a very critical matter. The process of "apollumi," diminishing and subjecting the soul to the rule of the Spirit, is the purpose of Hell and the lake of fire. This fiery purging and transformation in the next age accomplishes the same work as those fiery trials encountered by Christians who voluntarily surrender their lives by taking up their cross and following Christ in this present age.

We see in these words of Christ that Hell is not simply a place of torment for the adversaries of God as the church supposes. It is designed to accomplish that same work as the disciple's cross. It will bring an end to the rule of the soul. The saint can be spared the lake of fire if they will submit to the Headship of Christ now. The saint who rejects the suffering of the cross in this life, will most assuredly have to experience the lake of fire in the age to come.

Revelation 2:11
"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death."

These words are written to "the churches." The second death is the lake of fire. He who overcomes; he who works out his salvation with fear and trembling; he who embraces the cross now in this age; he who does not shrink back from the experiences of suffering Christ will lead him to, will not be hurt by the second death. The overcomers will attain to the first resurrection, and will not be cast into the lake of fire, for their names are recorded in the Lamb's Book of Life. All who are born again of the Spirit of Christ have their names recorded in the Lamb's Book of Life, but those who do not walk as overcomers will have their names removed.

Revelation 3:5-6
"He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life..., He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

This again is Christ's word to the churches. What happens to those Christians who walk unworthily of Christ, who do not experience the crushing of their soul life in this age, and who have their names blotted out of the Book of Life?

Revelation 20:15
And if anyone's name was not found written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

There is no entrance into that spiritual inheritance in Christ apart from passing through death first. The death of the soul precedes our entrance into the fulness of resurrection life even as the Israelites had to pass through the waters of the Jordan to enter the land flowing with milk and honey.

Yahweh reveals much through parables. The Law is full of arcane regulations in which few Christians today see any purpose or reason. Following is one seldom understood Law of God that bears much on this present subject.

Leviticus 12:2-5
"Speak to the sons of Israel, saying: ‘When a woman gives birth and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean for seven days, as in the days of her menstruation she shall be unclean. On the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. Then she shall remain in the blood of her purification for thirty-three days; she shall not touch any consecrated thing, nor enter the sanctuary until the days of her purification are completed. But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean for two weeks, as in her menstruation; and she shall remain in the blood of her purification for sixty-six days.'"

The woman who gave birth was judged to be "unclean" twice as long when she gave birth to a female child as when she gave birth to a male. From a completely natural perspective, such a judgment makes little sense. We must look to the spiritual truths signified in the Law to understand what is actually implied.

The soul of mankind is viewed as feminine. The apostle Paul in several places speaks of the Christian as being born of the "seed" of Christ. It is the female that receives the seed. As natural descendants of Adam, all men are dominated by the feminine soul, until they have Christ formed in them. The feminine soul must receive the seed of Christ in order for Christ to be manifest in our lives. Andrew Jukes, in his excellent book The Restitution of All Things, writes:

"For the woman is our nature, which if it receive seed, that is the word of truth, may bring forth a son, that is ‘the new man...' But if, instead of bearing this ‘new man,' our nature only bear its like, a female child, that is fruits merely natural, then it is unclean for a double period..."

Those Christians who protect the natural life, who remain soulish, will be judged as unclean in the eyes of Yahweh. Christ said "No man can be My disciple unless he hates... even his own soul." Those who in this life bring forth only the feminine, soulish nature will require a period of cleansing much greater than those who bring forth the masculine image of Christ.

The only way for Christ to be fully formed in any person is for them to yield to be led of God's Spirit. Whether you are male or female by natural birth, you become a "son" of God by submitting to the rule of the Spirit of Christ.

Romans 8:14
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

Those who receive the seed of Christ and yield their lives to the Spirit, subsequently progressing to have "the new man" Christ formed within them, will remain in their uncleanness a shorter time than those who continue to walk after the leading of the feminine soul. The first resurrection is for those who overcome the soul's rule in this age. The next resurrection will not occur until a further thousand years have past(Revelation 20:5). Some remain unclean, ruled by the feminine soul, much longer than others.

There is great reason to "work out our salvation with fear and trembling." That salvation which Christ has obtained for us must find its outworking in our lives if we are to be judged as clean before our Father. If we resist this process, refusing to embrace the cross, we will remain unclean for a much longer time. The end of the soul's reign that could have been accomplished in this life by taking up the disciple's cross will need to be completed in the lake of fire. "He who has ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

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