Monday, July 30, 2018

God's Plan of the Ages - Part 8

Lord of the Living and the Dead

A key doctrine that the saint in Christ must understand and receive in order to grasp Yahweh's plan to restore all creation to Himself is that Christ's work of reconciliation does not stop at the grave. A great many Christians have been taught, or have in some manner concluded, that when a person dies their fate is sealed for eternity. If an individual died separated from God, it is assumed that they must remain forever estranged from God. It is this belief that man has only one shot at being reconciled to God that forms the foundation for the grotesque doctrine of eternal damnation.

The prevailing teaching in the church today is that the majority of men and women from all ages, including the present time, are lost. They will die in their sins, never having come to know Christ as Savior and Lord. Because the majority of mankind did not receive Christ while they were alive on the earth, it is taught that they must be cast into the lake of fire for eternity. Even after billions of years have passed, it is taught that these tormented souls will have no possibility of ever escaping from torment, or being reconciled to the Father.

Such doctrines defame God, painting Him with an image of a severity so extreme that it beggars the imagination. The church teaches that Yahweh's wrath is greater than His love. How could it be otherwise if Yahweh will never relent of tormenting lost souls, even after they have endured punishments and suffering far in excess of the length of their earthly lives? According to the prevailing doctrine of the church, a person could spend a million lifetimes in Hell and not be any closer to being released, for it is taught that there is no opportunity for repentance or reconciliation beyond the grave.

Having been shown by the Spirit of Christ the error of the doctrine of eternal torment, I am bold enough to say that the god most Christians have envisioned in their minds is a cruel tyrant. This cruel tyrant in no way resembles the true and living God. Hell and the lake of fire do exist; There is punishment and suffering awaiting those who sin; Yahweh is to be feared, but He is not going to subject any part of His creation to eternal torments.

If you find such a statement hard to bear due to the persistent proclamation of a message of eternal torment, I encourage you to review again what has been presented thus far in this book. The goal of Christ's reign is to reconcile "all things" to the Father. Christ must reign until He fills all things; until He has subdued every enemy under His feet. This subjection is not merely that of a conquered foe where Christ stands with His foot upon the neck of the rebellious in heart. What the Bible declares is that a full reconciliation must take place, attended by repentance and confession of the righteousness and power of God.

Some in teaching on the subject of the universal reconciliation of all men do err by climbing out of one ditch only to be cast headlong into the ditch on the other side of the road. Some deny that there is any punishment of sinners after this life. Such a conclusion ignores a wealth of Scriptures that declare otherwise. When one considers the whole counsel of the word of God, and have rightly divided it, they will perceive that Yahweh will indeed punish sinners. Many will be cast into the lake of fire. Yet, the wrath of God will come to an end when every man has repented. Yahweh takes no pleasure in punishing the wicked. What He finds pleasure in is a repentant heart.

Ezekiel 18:21-23
"But if the wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed and observes all My statutes and practices justice and righteousness, he shall surely live; he shall not die. All his transgressions which he has committed will not be remembered against him; because of his righteousness which he has practiced, he will live. Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked," declares Yahweh God, "rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?"

When God judges a people, we see a manifestation of His righteous wrath. However, the wrath of Yahweh is always temporal. He does not remain perpetually angry at anyone.

There are certainly Scriptures that seem to contradict such a conclusion. There are many Scriptures that speak of God cutting men off forever, of never showing them forgiveness, even of blotting out entire nations from the earth. If we were to view these Scriptures in isolation, we could certainly arrive at a doctrine of eternal damnation, or possibly of annihilation. When the entire counsel of the Scriptures is considered, it is revealed that the mercy of God will triumph over judgment in the end.

Following is one passage, if taken out of the larger context in which it is found, would appear to prove the doctrine that says God will reject some men forever. After Moses had delivered the Law of God to the Israelites, he then spoke of the punishment that would accrue to that man who disregards the Law of God by spurning those curses and judgments pronounced by the Law.

Deuteronomy 29:19-21
It shall be when he hears the words of this curse, that he will boast, saying, "I have peace though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart in order to destroy the watered land with the dry." Yahweh shall never be willing to forgive him, but rather the anger of Yahweh and His jealousy will burn against that man, and every curse which is written in this book will rest on him, and Yahweh will blot out his name from under heaven. Then Yahweh will single him out for adversity from all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant which are written in this book of the law.

Moses then proceeds to pronounce a similar judgment upon the entire nation of Israel if they should forsake Yahweh and His law.

Deuteronomy 29:22-28
Now the generation to come, your sons who rise up after you and the foreigner who comes from a distant land, when they see the plagues of the land and the diseases with which Yahweh has afflicted it, will say, "All its land is brimstone and salt, a burning waste, unsown and unproductive, and no grass grows in it, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which Yahweh overthrew in His anger and in His wrath." All the nations will say, "Why has Yahweh done thus to this land? Why this great outburst of anger?"  Then men will say, "Because they forsook the covenant of Yahweh, the God of their fathers, which He made with them when He brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods whom they have not known and whom He had not allotted to them. Therefore, the anger of Yahweh burned against that land, to bring upon it every curse which is written in this book; and Yahweh uprooted them from their land in anger and in fury and in great wrath, and cast them into another land, as it is this day."

These judgments of God have actually been poured out. There were people, and even an entire land, upon whom Yahweh brought the most severe judgment. Yahweh refused to pass over the sins of His people. They did not find forgiveness. They were delivered into the hands of their enemies. They experienced slaughter, famine, pestilence and disease. Their wealth was looted, and those who remained were taken captive into foreign lands.

Yahweh did make the land of Israel a wasteland like unto Sodom and Gomorrah. The people were blotted out as a nation. Their country was taken from them. They were dispersed among the nations. We know, however, that Yahweh's wrath did not burn perpetually against His people. Though He demonstrated that He would not overlook their sins, and He proved willing to punish the evildoer, in time He showed His forsaken people mercy onceagain. The passage continues with the following words:

Deuteronomy 30:1-6
So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all nations where Yahweh your God has banished you, and you return to Yahweh your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons, then Yahweh your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where Yahweh your God has scattered you. If your outcasts are at the ends of the earth, from there Yahweh your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you back. Yahweh your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. Moreover Yahweh your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love Yahweh your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.

Is this not a marvelous thing? Yahweh in His wrath strikes a people, but in His mercy He restores them to Himself. Yahweh promises that He will take the rebellious people and circumcise their heart. He will remove ungodliness from the heart of man and write His law where there was only rebellion. This is what brings pleasure to Yahweh - restoring the rebel who has come to repentance.

In the passage we just viewed, Yahweh compared His judgments upon Israel to the judgment that befell Sodom. You may ask, "Certainly the judgment of Sodom was final, was it not? There is no room for repentance for those who died when God rained fire and brimstone upon them, is there?" The prophet Ezekiel reveals that Sodom will indeed be restored. Ezekiel, as did Moses, compares Yahweh's judgment upon His people to that of Sodom. Ezekiel affirms that not only will Yahweh put away His wrath toward Judah and Jerusalem, restoring them to Himself, He will do the same for Sodom and for wicked Samaria.

Ezekiel 16:49-55
"Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it. Furthermore, Samaria did not commit half of your sins, for you have multiplied your abominations more than they. Thus you have made your sisters appear righteous by all your abominations which you have committed. Also bear your disgrace in that you have made judgment favorable for your sisters. Because of your sins in which you acted more abominably than they, they are more in the right than you. Yes, be also ashamed and bear your disgrace, in that you made your sisters appear righteous. Nevertheless, I will restore their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, and along with them your own captivity, in order that you may bear your humiliation and feel ashamed for all that you have done when you become a consolation to them. Your sisters, Sodom with her daughters and Samaria with her daughters, will return to their former state, and you with your daughters will also return to your former state."

Is it not an amazing testimony that Yahweh will restore even Sodom? That city in which God could not find five righteous will be shown mercy. Indeed, Christ said that the judgment of Sodom would be less than the judgment of certain cities of Israel, for Sodom did not receive the witness that Israel received.

Matthew 11:23-24
"And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you."

There is a parable in which Christ revealed that the wicked would be punished, but none would be punished eternally.

Luke 12:42-48
And the Lord said, "Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But if that slave says in his heart, ‘My master will be a long time in coming,' and begins to beat the slaves, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and assign him a place with the unbelievers. And that slave who knew his master's will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more."

Although this parable is specifically addressed to believers, it reveals a truth of God's kingdom. Some who are wicked receive few stripes, and some many. There are none who receive unending stripes. If the sin of those who knew to do right is worse than that of those who did not, then how can Yahweh punish disobedient believers for a limited duration, while punishing unbelievers eternally? Did not the believers have more truth and a greater witness while choosing to act wickedly? If these believers "share a place with the unbelievers" then is it not logical to conclude that there are none who will receive unending stripes?

Sodom is like that servant that did not know his master's will, and he acted wickedly. Israel is that servant that knew the master's will and still chose wickedness. This is why Christ said it would be more tolerable for Sodom than for the cities of Judea in the day of judgment. Those to whom much is given have much required.

Do not Christ's words regarding Sodom reveal that her punishment is not eternal? How could the punishment of Sodom be "more tolerable" than that of Bethsaida if the punishment was endless? Even in the Law of Moses we find that punishments had limits set to them.

Deuteronomy 25:1-3
"If there is a dispute between men and they go to court, and the judges decide their case, and they justify the righteous and condemn the wicked, then it shall be if the wicked man deserves to be beaten, the judge shall then make him lie down and be beaten in his presence with the number of stripes according to his guilt. He may beat him forty times but no more, so that he does not beat him with many more stripes than these and your brother is not degraded in your eyes."

Yahweh's punishments are meted out. Yahweh's wrath is only for a moment. His love for that which He has created leads always to a renewal of mercy.

Isaiah 54:4-8
"Fear not, for you will not be put to shame; And do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced; But you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. For your husband is your Maker, whose name is Yahweh of hosts; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, who is called the God of all the earth. For Yahweh has called you, like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, even like a wife of one's youth when she is rejected," says your God. "For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment, but with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you," says Yahweh your Redeemer.

The words above were addressed to Israel. Yahweh calls Israel His "firstborn" (Exodus 4:22). As such, Israel serves as a type and shadow of how Yahweh will deal with all the nations. Yahweh chose Israel to be a nation holy unto Him. Israel strayed often, forsaking Yahweh and serving other gods. Israel became filled with murder, adultery, and all forms of corruption. This led to Yahweh forsaking Israel in His wrath, but His wrath lasts for a brief moment. Soon Yahweh's everlasting lovingkindness once more was manifested and He took Israel back to Himself. What Yahweh did for Israel, He will do for all nations.

Two of Israel's greatest enemies were the nations of Egypt and Assyria. Both of these nations incurred the wrath of Yahweh. This wrath will have an end. Even Egypt and Assyria will receive mercy. Yahweh will transform these nations which formerly scorned Him into worshipers of the one true God. They will worship Yahweh alongside Israel.

Isaiah 19:22-25
Yahweh will strike Egypt, striking but healing; so they will return to Yahweh, and He will respond to them and will heal them. In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrians will come into Egypt and the Egyptians into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians. In that day Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom Yahweh of hosts has blessed, saying, "Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance."

Israel may be Yahweh's firstborn, receiving the inheritance, but Egypt is also God's people, and Assyria is the work of God's hands. Nineveh was the capital of Assyria. In the book of Jonah we read of God instructing the prophet to go to Assyria and proclaim judgment against them that they might repent. Yahweh did not want to destroy Nineveh, for He has compassion on all His creation.

Jonah, however, did not share Yahweh's burden to see all nations reconciled to Himself. Jonah wanteds Nineveh to be destroyed, so he fled from Yahweh. Yahweh prevailed over Jonah and the prophet proclaimed judgment against Nineveh. The entire city repented. Even the king donned sackcloth and proclaimed a period of fasting and prayer to Yahweh. Yahweh relented of the judgment, but Jonah was displeased. Yahweh spoke to Jonah the following words:

Jonah 4:11
"Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?"

Should not God also have compassion on Sodom, on Egypt, on Assyria, and on those who perished in the flood of Noah?

I Peter 3:19-20
He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark...

As Christians, we need to cast off the false doctrine that states that the mercy of God does not pass beyond the grave. Christ's work of reconciling "all things" to the Father will not be thwarted by something as inferior to Him as death. Christ is Lord of both the living and the dead.

Romans 14:9
For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

Acts 10:42
And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead.

(See also II Timothy 4:1, I Peter 4:5)

Yahshua told those Jews gathered together to hear Him what must be heard even by those who had died.

John 5:28
"Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice..."

In this account from John's gospel Christ is speaking of the resurrections to come. He states that some will be resurrected to life, others to judgment. It is this judgment that Christ referenced when He said that some would receive few stripes, and others many. Those who are resurrected to judgment must experience the lake of fire. As we have seen in previous chapters, the lake of fire is also called "the second death." It cannot continue forever, for "the last enemy to be destroyed is death." When the wrath of God has been fully spent; when every enemy has repented and sworn allegiance to Yahweh; when even Egypt, Assyria, and Sodom have become worshipers of Yahweh, then death will be no more.

Christ did not say that "some" who are in the tombs will hear His voice. He said that "all" must hear His voice. Does not such a declaration lead us to marvel? Tragically, many Christians refuse to accept this truth. Christ will reconcile ALL those who have died back to the Father. The waters of death will roll back all the way to Adam. Christ will provide a "merciful covering" for all who were born of Adam.

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...

Who are the first to be made alive? It is the firstborn. There is both a natural firstborn, and a spiritual firstborn. The nation of Israel is Yahweh's natural firstborn. They must be the first nation to go through the pattern of death, burial and resurrection. They are the first to know the wrath of God, and will be the first nation to wholly turn to Yahweh in repentance and become worshipers of Yahshua.

Romans 11:26-27
And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins."

Jeremiah 3:17-19
"At that time they will call Jerusalem ‘The Throne of Yahweh,' and all the nations will be gathered to it, to Jerusalem, for the name of Yahweh; nor will they walk anymore after the stubbornness of their evil heart. In those days the house of Judah will walk with the house of Israel, and they will come together from the land of the north to the land that I gave your fathers as an inheritance. Then I said, ‘How I would set you among My sons and give you a pleasant land, the most beautiful inheritance of the nations!' And I said, ‘You shall call Me, My Father, and not turn away from following Me.'"

What a glorious day it will be when Yahweh restores all Israel to Himself! Israel will then serve Yahweh as priests, leading the nations to repentance and restoration to the God of all creation. Israel has not thus far received this call. Like Jonah, Israel has fled from the call of God upon their lives. They have not desired to see the nations restored to the favor of Yahweh. Israel has manifested the attitude seen in the elder brother to the prodigal son. When the father was rejoicing that his son who had been lost had been restored to him, the elder brother was angry.

Luke 15:25-30
"Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.' But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.'"

The attitude of the elder son is detestable. He is angry because his father is merciful. So too were the Jews incensed at the idea that the nations should be reconciled to God. They wanted to be exclusive. Their hearts were selfish. They did not share the burden that the Father has for the prodigal nations. Contrast the attitude of the elder son with that of the father.

Luke 15:20-24
"So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.' And they began to celebrate."

How remarkable is the love of God! He does not delight in the death of the wicked. He desires repentance and restoration. Reconciliation is what He takes pleasure in. What the natural seed has done in showing scorn at the mercy of Yahweh toward the nations, the church has also done. There are multitudes within the body of Christ who are offended when they hear it declared that the goal of Yahshua's reign is to reconcile all creation back to the Father. This reconciliation includes both the living and the dead.

There is an interesting passage found in Paul's letter to the church in Philippi.

Philippians 2:9-11
Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Yahshua every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Yahshua Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Who are those "under the earth"? Is it not the dead? Christ testified plainly that those who were in the grave would hear His voice. The father's words to the elder son in the parable of the prodigal form a parallel to the words Yahweh spoke to Jonah.

Luke 15:32
"But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found."

Jonah 4:11
"Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?"

Yahweh is ever having to defend His mercy to mankind, for man is far less merciful that his Creator. When David was given a choice between falling into the hands of men, or into the hands of God for judgment, he wisely chose God.

II Samuel 24:14
Then David said to Gad, "I am in great distress. Let us now fall into the hand of Yahweh for His mercies are great, but do not let me fall into the hand of man."

David reveals in these words that man is not as merciful as Yahweh. The attitude of the elder brother to the prodigal has ever been present in the hearts of men. Is it any wonder that Christians today fall short of the mercy of God, proclaiming that those under God's wrath must endure eternal torments, never to be reconciled to Him. Nevertheless, the testimony of Scripture is certain. Yahweh will restore all things to Himself through Christ.

When we rightly divide the word of God we find that Yahshua's work of reconciliation does extend beyond the grave. Those in the tombs must hear His voice. Christ descended into Hell and preached to the captives held since the days of Noah. Yahshua is Lord of both the living and the dead.

Did not Christ call Lazarus forth from the grave? So too will He call out to many who have perished and been buried. Those in the grave will hear His voice. Before the reign of Christ is fulfilled all who are "under the earth" will join in confession and worship of God. Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Yahshua Christ is Lord; Lord of both the living and the dead.

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Friday, July 27, 2018

God's Plan of the Ages - Part 7

Crossing the Jordan

Most Christians have a very fuzzy understanding of the resurrections of man. Many believers imagine that there will be only one resurrection of the dead. The types and shadows of the Old Testament that Yahweh ordained to show forth truth pertaining to the resurrections are largely neglected by the church today. It is the rare minister who spends time instructing the body about these things, demonstrating to them what the shadows of an earlier epoch are pointing to.

Yahweh has revealed in the Old Testament, through types and shadows, that there will be three resurrections, three ingatherings of men from the earth. As different groups are brought to maturity, they will be gathered to God, each in his own order. The three resurrections are not only revealed through types in the Old Testament, they are shown forth in plain speech in the New Testament. The following Scripture reveals that there will be more than one resurrection.

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...

There will be a total of three resurrections. Yahweh does all things with great order and design. The number three is a very significant in the Scriptures. E.W. Bullinger, in his book Number in Scripture, shares the following about the importance of the number three.

In this number we have quite a new set of phenomena. We come to the first geometrical figure. Two straight lines cannot possibly enclose any space, or form a plane figure; neither can two plane surfaces form a solid. Three lines are necessary to form a plane figure; and three dimensions of length, breadth, and height, are necessary to form a solid. Hence three is the symbol of the cube - the simplest form of solid figure. As two is the symbol of the square, or plane contents (x2), so three is the symbol of the cube, or solid contents (x3).

Three, therefore, stands for that which is solid, real, substantial, complete, and entire. All things that are specially complete are stamped with this number three.

God's attributes are three: omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence.

There are three great divisions completing time - past, present, and future.

Three persons, in grammar, express and include all the relationships of mankind.

Thought, word, and deed, complete the sum of human capability...

Three kingdoms embrace our ideas of matter - mineral, vegetable, and animal.

When we turn to the Scriptures, this completion becomes Divine, and marks Divine completeness or perfection. Three is the first of four perfect numbers.

*Three denotes divine perfection;
*Seven denotes spiritual perfection;
*Ten denotes ordinal perfection; and
*Twelve denotes governmental perfection.

Hence the number three points us to what is real, essential, perfect, substantial, complete, and Divine.
[End Excerpt]

If there were only one resurrection, it would lack the marks of being "perfect, substantial, complete, and Divine." To bring the creation to a perfect and complete state Yahweh has determined that there must be three resurrections. We need go no further than the first chapter of the Bible to see resurrection depicted, and to find it related to the number three. As Yahweh moved to re-create the earth, the narrative of Genesis tells us that on the third day God caused the earth to arise out from under the waters. Prior to this the waters covered all things.

Genesis 1:9-13
Then God said, "Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear"; and it was so. And God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good... And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.

On the third day we see the first pattern for resurrection. The land arising out of the water stands as a symbol of man arising out of death. Man's flesh was formed of the dust of the earth, and throughout Scriptures we see man passing through, or arising from waters, serving as a sign of death and resurrection. Baptism serves as a figure of the same.

Romans 6:3-5
Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Yahshua have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection...

Baptism serves as a parable of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, and of those who become one with Christ. As we are put beneath the waters, we symbolically die to our old Adamic life that is enslaved to sin. As we are brought up out of the water, we are resurrected to newness of life in Christ. This resurrection was foreshadowed as early as the first chapter of Genesis as the earth from which man's flesh would be formed arose from its watery tomb. This happened on the third day, even as Christ rose from the grave on the third day. The number three is inseparably linked to resurrection.

(The three resurrections of man will be addressed more specifically later. At this time I will take a more general view of resurrection while bringing out certain truths.)

As we look at the types and shadows of the Old Testament we can determine when the first resurrection must occur. The types of the Old Testament also affirm the truth that all men will eventually be saved. A common type that Yahweh has given to us to show forth resurrection is the harvesting of a crop. Christ employed a harvest allegory in one of His parables to reveal the resurrection at the end of the age.

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
Yahshua presented another parable to them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?' And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!' The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?' But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn...'" Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field." And He said, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the Sun the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear."

In the book of Revelation, John also is shown images of angels reaping the earth, symbolizing the gathering to God of mankind.

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.

What is there on the earth that God desires to reap? Yahweh is not raising barley, or wheat, or grapes. He is raising up sons who will share His image and likeness. Christ compared men to wheat in the parable above. In another place, Christ compared men to fish that are drawn up in a net out of the sea. Yahweh harvests both that which is on the land and in the sea. (One sense in which this is to be understood is that God will save both the living  - those on the land; and the dead - those in the sea. Compare to Revelation 20:13) These illustrations are employed by Christ as symbols of both salvation and resurrection.

There is a very significant event in the Old Testament that combines the image of passing through water, and the imagery of harvest, into the same account. The event also marks an extremely important moment in the history of God's chosen people. We can accurately infer that it was intended as a parallel to equally important events in the kingdom of God.

After Israel spent forty years in the wilderness under the leadership of Moses, Yahweh raised up a new leader. Moses died and was buried without ever having set foot in the land of promise. Joshua was Yahweh's chosen leader to guide the people of Israel across the Jordan and into the land of their inheritance. The choice of Joshua was one of great design. This man bore the same name as the Messiah who would one day come and lead God's people into their spiritual inheritance in God.

Joshua's first act as leader of God's people was to prepare them to cross over into their inheritance. This action parallels the work of Christ Who has come to prepare men to enter into their inheritance in the kingdom of God. In order for men and women to be readied to receive a spiritual inheritance they must be consecrated unto God. They must be separated from the world and its defilements. They must be set apart as holy unto Yahweh. This work of consecration by the Savior of mankind is foreshadowed through Joshua as he prepared the people of God to enter into their inheritance in the land of Canaan.

Joshua 3:5
Then Joshua said to the people, "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow Yahweh will do wonders among you."

I trust you are familiar, at least in a general sense, with the story of the crossing of the Jordan. Israel approached the Jordan, and it was at flood stage, an annual occurrence. The Jordan stood as a great obstacle in their way. It had to be crossed in order to arrive at the land flowing with milk and honey that God had promised to them. Similarly, God has set an inheritance before the disciples of Christ.

Ephesians 1:18
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints...

Colossians 3:23-24
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance.

The natural inheritance of Israel was awesome. The land they were to inherit was exceedingly fruitful. A single cluster of grapes had to be borne on the shoulders of two men. The land was full of orchards and cultivated fields. There were houses to be possessed that the Israelites would not have to construct themselves. There was fantastic wealth to found among the treasures of the people they would drive out.

Deuteronomy 6:10-12
"Then it shall come about when Yahweh your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build, and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you eat and are satisfied, then watch yourself, that you do not forget Yahweh who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery."

These things serve as parallels to that inheritance Christ has prepared for the saints. It too is extraordinary. We are to possess dwelling places we did not build ourselves. These dwelling places will be the glorified bodies of the saints that Christ has gone to prepare for us.

II Corinthians 5:1-4
For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, age-abiding in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life.

It is glorified bodies that Christ was referring to when He told His disciples that He was going ahead of them to prepare a place for them. One thing stands in the way of our receiving these new and glorious habitations, even as the Jordan River stood in the way of Israel. We cannot receive our new bodies until after we have put off the old. Death is the obstacle in our way.

As the Israelites passed through the waters of the Jordan, surrounded on either side, they were symbolically passing through death in order to attain to their inheritance that Joshua (a figure of Yahshua the Messiah) was to give to them. There are many evidences provided in the details of this account that demonstrate that it was intended to serve as a parable of those things the saints must experience to enter into their inheritance in Christ.

The Israelites had been camped before the Jordan River in their tents for three days (three is related to resurrection).

Joshua 3:1-3
Then Joshua rose early in the morning; and he and all the sons of Israel set out from Shittim and came to the Jordan, and they lodged there before they crossed. At the end of three days the officers went through the midst of the camp; and they commanded the people, saying, "When you see the Ark of the Covenant of Yahweh your God with the Levitical priests carrying it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it."

Joshua led the Israelites to the Jordan, and Christ leads us to the disciple's cross. For three days the Israelites camped there, then Joshua told them to prepare themselves "for tomorrow Yahweh will do wonders among you." Can you think of anything more wondrous than to pass through death into life, and to receive the glorious inheritance prepared for the saints?

In the passage above we read of Joshua instructing the Israelites to focus on the Ark of the Covenant. In a previous chapter I mentioned that the Ark is a symbol of mankind. To be more specific, the Ark is a symbol of perfected man. The Ark was made of wood, but it was completely overlaid with gold, both within and without. This speaks of purity. The Ark contained the tablets of the Law, and this symbolized having the Law (rule) of God engraved upon the heart of man. Christ was the first man to fulfill the types and shadows of the Ark. He was both the Son of Man and the Son of God. He was entirely holy. He ever lived to do the Father's will.

As the Israelites prepared to cross the Jordan they were told to observe the Ark. It would be carried on the shoulders of the priests into the waters of the Jordan before them. In the same way, Christ is our forerunner. He has tasted of death for each one of us, and He is the first to enter into His inheritance. When we see Christ crucified, then we know that the time is near at hand for each of us to depart from our dwelling places and to follow after Him. We too must experience the death of the cross, or we cannot enter into our inheritance.

Romans 8:16-17
The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

A marvelous testimony is brought forth in this account of the crossing of the Jordan. The details of this event are pregnant with hidden meaning.

Joshua 3:3-4
And they commanded the people, saying, "When you see the Ark of the Covenant of Yahweh your God with the Levitical priests carrying it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. However, there shall be between you and it a distance of about 2,000 cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you shall go, for you have not passed this way before."

Why did the Father command that a distance be kept between the Ark and the next group of people to cross the Jordan? And why did the Father specifically determine that the distance be "about 2,000 cubits"? This is all by marvelous design. Christ must cross ahead of His brothers. Each cubit represents a year. It would be "about 2,000" years from the time that Christ tasted death and entered into glory until the next group to follow after Him would be resurrected into glory. Yahweh could have been very precise, but He has intentionally hidden the hour and the day from mankind. Therefore, He will tell us only that it will be about 2,000 years from Christ entering into His inheritance until a firstfruits group of overcoming Christians enters into their inheritance.

There is far more in the description of this crossing for us yet to glean. Consider the following details.

Joshua 3:14-16
So when the people set out from their tents to cross the Jordan with the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant before the people, and when those who carried the Ark came into the Jordan, and the feet of the priests carrying the Ark were dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of harvest), the waters which were flowing down from above stood and rose up in one heap, a great distance away at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan; and those which were flowing down toward the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off.

I mentioned already that the Israelites had to leave their tents in order to cross the Jordan. This is a strange detail to include in the Scriptures. It should go without saying that the Israelites only journeyed by exiting their tents. A man cannot travel while still staying in his tent. Such a detail appears to be superfluous if one views this account merely on a physical level as history.

This reveals an error of much of the church today. Many read the Old Testament as history, but do not study it to discern the hidden mysteries of this present age and the ages to come. The mention of the Israelites setting out from their tents is not a meaningless detail when one views this event as prophecy. These things were written for our benefit, and our instruction.

I Corinthians 10:11
Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

The events that happened to Israel in the wilderness serve as "types of us."

I Corinthians 10:6
And those things became types of us...
(Young's Literal Translation)

Yahweh is revealing that we must set out from our tents, we must lay aside these earthly bodies, in order to enter into our inheritance. We cannot ascend to glory apart from tasting of death first. We cannot receive new habitations, or dwelling places, aside from first putting off the old.

These things are not to be understood on a natural plane alone. There is spiritual truth in them. We must die to our natural Adamic life if we are to enter into our inheritance in Christ. No man can cross into his inheritance apart from first becoming a partaker in Christ's cross.

Matthew 10:38-39
"And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it."

Paul spoke of the old Adamic life as something that must be put off.

Ephesians 4:20-24
But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Yahshua: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Even as the Israelites had to "set out from their tents" in order to become possessors of new and glorious dwellings, so too must we put off the old man and put on Christ. This is how we consecrate ourselves prior to crossing into our inheritance. Our old nature must be crucified that Christ might be revealed in us.

Another detail of the crossing was that it occurred at harvest time. "For the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of harvest..." Harvests, as we have seen, are symbolic of God reaping the earth to gather men unto Himself. Yahweh, with great intent, determined that Israel must cross the Jordan at harvest time for their crossing was to serve as a symbol of resurrection.

In the account of the crossing, our Father has also given us another salient detail. If we see this account merely as history, the detail would mean very little. However, knowing that Yahweh is revealing mysteries through what is recorded for us, we are able to marvel at what is disclosed. We read:

The waters which were flowing down from above stood and rose up in one heap, a great distance away at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan...

The waters of death were rolled back all the way to Adam. This detail is a further testimony that Yahweh has provided salvation for all mankind. Adam's name means "man" and he is the first of our race. In Adam was contained the seed of every man who would ever be born (with the exception of Christ who was born of heavenly seed). Yahweh gives us this detail, indeed He caused the waters to flow back to the precise location of this city, to prophesy of His intent to provide life to every man born of Adam.

I Timothy 4:10
For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.

John 3:17
"For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him."

How wonderful is the plan of God! His work will not be complete until He reconciles all men to Himself through Christ. Consecrate yourselves! There is an inheritance to be entered into. We must follow Christ through death as we embrace the cross. Then we can emerge into resurrection life.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

God's Plan of the Ages - Part 6

The Merciful Covering

I appreciate the patience of those who are giving attention to this book. I realize that there are many questions in the minds of the saints, and many Scriptures they would like to have explained that appear to contradict those truths being shared. I have chosen to present the message of the reconciliation of the creation back to the Father in a particular order. I would first show forth through a wealth of Biblical sources the intent of Yahweh to restore "all things" to Himself. After this truth has been well established, then the sincere seeker of truth will be better enabled to consider the right interpretation and understanding of the many Scriptures that have been employed by others to declare a contrary doctrine.

For some, what has already been shared is sufficient to convince them that "Christ must reign until" He has "reconciled all things, whether in heaven or on earth, to the Father." Once one sees this truth in Scripture, they are able to conclude that those difficult Scriptures that give an appearance of teaching something contrary cannot in fact be denying what is taught plainly in so many Bible passages. The child of God may rightly conclude that there must exist a full and mature understanding of the Scriptures that removes all contradiction and brings forth a harmony among what has formerly appeared discordant.

The difficulties found in some Scriptures are resolved as Yahweh shines more light into what were previously darkened areas of our understanding. These difficulties will be addressed before the book is concluded. At this time I believe it is beneficial to continue to lay a foundation for understanding that full reconciliation of the creation as we look at some of the types and shadows Yahweh has given to us in His word to show forth this mystery. As it is revealed how thoroughly the reconciliation of all things through Christ is presented in both plain speech and through the shadows contained in Scripture, the saint will hopefully have any lingering doubts dispelled.

When one has been steeped for a long period of time in false doctrines espousing eternal enmity between God and His creation, and unending torments in the lake of fire, the process of being cleansed and delivered from that which has held our minds captive must necessarily be very thorough and patient.

When the Father first revealed to me the truth of the universality of Christ's redemptive work I entreated Him to show me in His word some verifying testimony that I had not heard proclaimed by another man. I wanted to be "taught by God." I asked Him for that wisdom that James enjoins the Christian to request from our Father.

James 1:5
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

My heavenly Father was pleased to answer my petition, and at once led me to consider what is shown forth in type through an experience of our first forefather. After Adam fell into sin, and his nakedness was made manifest, it became evident that a covering was needed to hide mankind's shame.

Genesis 3:7-11, 21
Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of Yahweh God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of Yahweh God among the trees of the garden. Then Yahweh God called to Adam and said to him, "Where are you?" So he said, "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself." And He said, "Who told you that you were naked?..." Also for Adam and his wife Yahweh God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.

To comprehend what is revealed through the act of Yahweh clothing Adam and his wife it is necessary to understand the "seed principle." At the time of Adam's transgression he did not yet have any offspring. The entire human race was "in Adam" in the form of his seed. In Yahweh's eyes there is no distinction between a man and his seed. They are viewed as one. The actions of Adam are truly the actions of all those who descended from him. What transpired in Adam's life has borne consequences in the lives of all men as surely as if the actions were their own.

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

These words of the apostle Paul reveal the great importance of the seed principle. Some may balk at the justice of God in attributing the sin of Adam to those who were yet unborn. Yet, who would say God is unjust, or unmerciful, by imputing the righteousness of Christ to mankind? The righteousness of Christ is imputed to us by the same principle as the sin of Adam. Those born of Christ are His seed.

I Peter 1:23
For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring Word of God.

By virtue of our being "in Christ" as His seed, everything Christ did is applied to our account. By virtue of being "in Christ" His righteousness becomes our righteousness, His death becomes our death, His resurrection, our resurrection.

Romans 6:5-8
For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin... Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him...

How have we become united with Christ? By faith we believe what God has testified, that we were "in Christ" when He fulfilled the righteousness of God, when He died and rose again.

II Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature...

I Corinthians 1:30
But by His doing you are in Christ Yahshua, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption...

This principle of God attributing to the seed, the actions of the forefathers, is observed very plainly in a passage from Paul's letter to the Hebrews.

Hebrews 7:9-10
And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.

Abraham paid tithes to Mechizedek when he returned from rescuing Lot from the three kings who had invaded Sodom and taken Lot captive. Paul states that Levi also paid tithes to Melchizedek, although Levi had not yet been born. Levi was three generations removed from Abraham, being the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham. What Abraham did was imputed to Levi, for Levi was "in the loins of his father." In the same way, all mankind was "in Adam" when Adam sinned. We were all "in Adam" when sin brought forth death.

I Corinthians 15:22
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.

Although we were only a seed, we were surely as much a part of Adam as an acorn is a part of the oak tree from which it falls. We cannot argue that if we had been presented with the same temptation in the Garden that we would have chosen differently. We were in the Garden. We were "in Adam." As his seed we were in perfect agreement with this first man, this root from which we all have descended. When Adam chose to disobey Yahweh, we were there with him also choosing disobedience. When Adam submitted to the beast for obedience, we were present with him.

A marvelous thing is revealed when we consider that we were also "in Adam" when Yahweh covered him with a garment made from skins. Not only were all Christians "in Adam," but all of mankind was "in Adam." When Yahweh made a covering for Adam and his wife, He did not just do so for Adam (whose name means ‘man'), but He did so for all those who were in Adam's loins.

We do not know the shape of the garment Yahweh fashioned for Adam, but we can conclude that it most certainly covered Adam's loins. A man is considered naked when his loins are uncovered. It is in the loins that the seed of man resides.Therefore, when Yahweh provided a covering for Adam, He also covered Adam's seed. This garment of skin serves as a parable of that covering God would later provide for the salvation of all mankind, which is His Son Yahshua.

Galatians 3:27
For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

We are told that Yahweh made garments for Adam and his wife from the skins of animals. Though we are not told what kind of animal it was, I would not be surprised to learn that the garments were made from sheepskins, or goatskins. This covering that God provided points to the sacrifice that would one day fully cover the sinful flesh of man and remove mankind's nakedness before God. To make these garments blood had to be shed. This points to the sacrifice of His Son.

What is present, but often missed in this account, is that in providing a covering for Adam (man), God provided a covering for all those who would be born of man. No one was left out in this act of mercy. All mankind was covered in Adam, and one day all men will be covered in Christ, for He must reign until He fills all things.

This leads to a second type also found in the Old Testament that relates to this covering Yahweh provided for Adam. This second type observed is the mercy seat that covered the Ark of the Covenant. The translators of our Bibles have chosen to call the lid atop the ark of the covenant a Mercy "Seat," possibly because the glory of God rested upon it. The term "seat" is misleading, however, for it was not designed as a throne, or chair. The Hebrew word the translators rendered as "seat" is "kaporet" which is literally translated as "covering." The Mercy Seat literally acted as a lid, or covering for the Ark. Mercy Seat is more literally and accurately translated as "merciful covering."

Every minute detail of the Tabernacle and its furnishings carried great symbolic meaning. The ark of the covenant represents mankind, Yahweh's chosen dwelling place. In the ark was placed the tablets of the Law. This is a parable of God placing His law in the heart of man. The ark, just like mankind, required a covering. The Ark, typifying mankind, was not complete without the mercy covering being placed upon it. This mercy covering is Christ, who gave His blood as a ransom for mankind.

John 12:32
"And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself."

Christ could not be our covering apart from shedding His blood, even as Yahweh could not make garments of skins for Adam and Eve apart from slaying an animal. Yahweh gave instructions for the High Priest of Israel to place blood upon, and in front of, the Ark.

Leviticus 16:15
Then he shall slaughter the goat of the sin offering which is for the people, and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat (merciful covering) and in front of the mercy seat (merciful covering).

This sprinkling of blood on the lid of the Ark served as a shadow of Christ sprinkling His own blood in the Most Holy Place in heaven after His crucifixion.

Hebrews 9:11-12
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

The blood of Christ is sprinkled on mankind that man might have the shame of his sin, even his nakedness, covered.

I Peter 1:1-2
To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Yahshua Christ and be sprinkled with His blood...

Observe the parallel between these two shadows from the Old Testament. After Adam sinned, God provided a covering for the man. This covering was made of animal skins, requiring the substitutionary death of an animal and the shedding of blood. In the Law, Yahweh instructed the High Priest, once a year on the Day of Atonement, to slay an animal and sprinkle its blood on the covering of the Ark of the Covenant. This blood was placed on the "Mercy" Seat, or covering, signifying that an act of mercy was taking place.

When God placed the covering upon Adam, He was symbolically covering all mankind, for all men were contained in the loins of Adam as his seed. Some may argue that such a type and shadow is inconclusive, for shadows are subject to interpretation, and this is true. The matter does not rest upon shadows alone, however, for the apostle John tells us in plain speech that God has provided a "merciful covering" for all men, not merely for those who are Christians in this present age. In the following passage John declares that Christ's atonement was not only for the church, but for the whole world.

I John 2:1-2
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Christ Yahshua the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

Many people stumble over the word "propitiation" in this verse, for it is not a word that we commonly use today. The word rendered as propitiation is the Greek "hilasmos" and is Strong's NT 2434. Strong's Concordance defines the word as "atonement, an expiator." An expiator is one who makes atonement for another. An expiator is one who "makes good."

The word for "Mercy Seat" in the New Testament is a form of the Greek word "hilasmos." This is Strong's NT 2435, "hilasterion," meaning "an atoning victim, or (specially) the lid of the Ark" (Strong's Concordance). We find this word used in the following verse.

Hebrews 9:5
And above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the Mercy Seat; but of these things we cannot now speak in detail.

Christ is declared to be the "hilasmos," propitiation, or expiator of man's sins. He is the one who "makes good" that which was not good.

II Corinthians 5:21
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Christ has become the "hilasterion," atoning victim, or lid of the Ark. He is literally "the Merciful Covering" for mankind. What we see in type through Yahweh clothing Adam, and all who are in Adam, and through the blood sprinkled on the Merciful Covering of the Ark, we find stated in plain speech by John. He Himself is the propitiation (merciful covering) for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

We see then that as far back as the Garden of Eden, immediately after the first transgression, Yahweh symbolically revealed that a merciful covering would one day be provided for all of mankind. We do not yet see all things reconciled to God, or all things subjected to Christ. The sacrifice has been made. The blood of Christ has been shed, yet we will not see all things summed up in Christ until the ages established by Yahweh have run their course and the reign of Christ has accomplished its goal of a complete restitution of all creation to the Father.

The word of God remains sure. What Yahweh has sworn by Himself, He will accomplish. All mankind will be saved, each in his own order.

Romans 11:32-33
For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all. Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! Hallelujah!

Heart4God Website:    

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

Saturday, July 21, 2018

God's Plan of the Ages - Part 5

All in All

Yahweh's plan of the ages is truly marvelous. To come into the understanding that God will not conclude His work among mankind, the angels, and all creation until He has fully and perfectly reconciled all things back to Himself through His Son opens the door to profound worship of our Creator. God's love, His mercy, His patience, and His longsuffering are revealed in their glorious depths.

I would revisit an expression that has been cited in the preceding chapters. Grasping the meaning of the apostle Paul's words has led me to deep consideration, not only of the all encompassing scope of Christ's reconciliatory work, but also to the perfection of the work that must be accomplished in each individual life.

I Corinthians 15:28
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.

These three words, "all in all,"convey the breadth and length and height and depth of Yahweh's plan. For a time I struggled to comprehend what these words "all in all" meant. It was like a light coming on when I read the passage with one of the words changed. I then perceived, by aid of the contrast, the apostle's meaning.

We have seen that this passage is speaking of the end of the reign of Christ. We are told "Christ must reign until..." In this passage, and others, we have also discerned that it was given to the Son by the Father to accomplish the work of reconciling all things in heaven and earth to the Father. Consider how vastly different Paul's message would be if we changed one word, and we did so in keeping with the orthodox belief of the majority of professing Christians today.

I Corinthians 15:28
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 some.

Does not this alteration of the Scripture accord well with the doctrine of the church in this hour of apostasy? By changing this one word we are able to discern, by contrast, what Paul was actually saying. Christ would not reconcile only part of the creation to His Father. He would reconcile ALL the creation to His Father.

Philippians 2:9-11
For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Yahshua every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Yahshua Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Paul presents a wonderful harmony whenever he touches upon this subject in his letters. Consider the perfect agreement in Paul's words to the saints in Philippi with his words to the believers in Corinth. Paul states that "every tongue will confess that Yahshua Christ is Lord." He further informs us that this confession will result in glory to God the Father. Yahweh would not be glorified if men or angels confessed that Yahshua Christ is Lord while harboring rebellion, resentment, and hatred toward the Son of God in their heart. The only way for such a confession to glorify the Father is for it to arise from a sincere heart expressing the truth of what is believed by the individual. Those who worship God must do so in Spirit and in truth.

The apostle conveys the same message of universal reconciliation of the creation to God through Christ to his Hebrew brethren.

Hebrews 2:8
For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him.

Christ must bring the entire creation into a full and complete subjection to the Father that Yahweh might be "all in all." If it were Yahweh's plan to save only part of the creation, then Paul would certainly have told us that at the end of Christ's reign the Father would be "all in some." To say Yahweh will be "all in all" is to declare that a complete reconciliation will take place. Nothing in the creation will be exempted.

Tragically, the church has come to deny not only that Christ will reconcile "all things" to Himself, they have adopted a very inferior view of the work of Christ in the life of each individual. The mindset I find everywhere throughout the church is that Christ will accomplish only a partial reconciliation in each life. The present conception of Christ's reconciliatory work could be expressed accurately by saying "God will be some in some."

If we say that Yahweh will be "all in all" then we are concluding that He will reconcile everything to Himself. Not only will all creatures be reconciled back to the Father, but there can be no part of any individual that has failed to come under subjection to the life and rule of Christ. Every man must become a wholly yielded vessel. There can be no sin, unrighteousness, or selfishness left in the heart of any person.Everyone must come to be a perfect and mature revelation of Christ. No darkness can remain. All must be light and life and truth.

The church today is content to fall short of such a complete reconciliation. Mankind likes his selfishness. He is satisfied to receive a promise of forgiveness and of heaven when he dies. Coming to a complete conformity to the Son of God is something that rarely enters the mind of Christians. If it does, such a thought is usually discarded as unrealistic, or not truly desirable. After all, the only way to be perfectly conformed to the image of Christ is to embrace the cross and die to self.

Nevertheless, the testimony of Scriptures and of the Holy Spirit is sure. Yahweh will not rest until He has brought every facet of our lives under subjection to the rule of Christ. We are called and destined to attain to the full and perfect character and image of the firstborn Son of God.

Ephesians 4:11-13
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we ALL attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the FULLNESS of Christ.

Christ must fill all things.

Ephesians 4:10
He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.

You and I are part of the "all things" that Christ must fill. The Son of God will not be content for any man or woman to surrender to Him only part of their life. There can be nothing left of the fallen Adamic nature.

Matthew 16:25-26
"For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?"

Without question, the majority in the church today do not wish to lose their natural lives. They are taught to pursue Your Best Life Now. The church is endeavoring to enjoy their good things in this life while eschewing the afflicted path that alone leads to life. The desires and passions of the soul are what guide and direct most Christians. The natural life is protected, and the disciple's cross is spurned. Consequently, Christ does not fill all things in His church. The saints remain immature, not attaining "to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the FULLNESS of Christ."

Paul said that in the last days men would not endure sound doctrine. Those in the church would turn aside to myths and fables and heap up to themselves teachers to tell them the things they want to hear. There is a reason that the church has embraced false doctrines relating to the reconciliation of all things to Christ. There is an appeal in these false doctrines to the carnal desires of the natural man. It is very costly to the natural man to attain to a mature conformity to Christ. We learn obedience through the things we suffer, even as did the Son of God.

Hebrews 5:8-9
Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of aeonian salvation...

Yahweh has determined that ALL must come to a conformity to Christ. Christ must fill all things. We must decrease that Christ might increase in us. Yet, the natural man is adamantly opposed to decreasing. The natural man seeks to protect his life.What man or woman wants to lay aside their desires, their dreams, their goals, their comfort and pleasures, in order that the will of the Father might be achieved? Christ was the first man to ever walk perfectly in choosing the will of the Father over His own soul's desire.

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

John 4:34
Yahshua said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work."

To be filled with the fulness of Christ, we can have no other mind than that which He had. We too must die to our own will and desires that we might fulfill the will of the Father. In essence, we must despise our own soul's desires and will in order to live for the pleasure of another. Christ said no man could be His disciple unless they hate their natural life, unless they hate their own soul.

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

There is only one path that will lead a Christian to that mature image of the Son of God. It is the way of the cross. A man or woman must yield their entire being to be directed by the Spirit of Christ. They must agree to go wherever Christ leads them, and to do whatever He asks of them. Christ has promised ALL who walk this path that there will be suffering, there will be persecution, a man's enemies will be the members of his own household. Christ has said that no man can be His disciple who does not give up all he possesses. We must be emptied that Christ might fill us.

At this time Christ is accomplishing the work of reconciling the creation to His Father. Yahshua has commenced upon an orderly reconciliation. He is beginning with a small number that will be firstfruits unto God and Christ. These ones are embracing the suffering of the cross. They are yielding their lives to follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These overcoming saints will be Christ's firstborn, attaining to the first resurrection. They will be preeminent among the creation. Only the firstfruits will rule and reign with Christ during the thousand years of His millennial kingdom. These will be participants with Christ in the work of reconciling the world to the Father.

There is a corollary truth to Christ subjecting all things to Himself. Those subjected to Christ must experience a perfect and complete yielding of their will and desires to Yahshua. Similarly, there is a parallel to Christ filling all things in that those who are filled must first be emptied. The more pliant, submissive, and yielding we are to Christ, the sooner we will make progress to maturity. Firstfruits are those who mature quickest. Of necessity they are the ones who die most quickly to the Adamic nature that Christ might be formed in them. If you would be among Christ's firstfruits, you must embrace the cross rather than fleeing from it.An age and an hour will arrive when Christ has accomplished the work of reconciling all things to the Father. The Father will then be "all in all." Every creature will be restored to fellowship with the Father, and Christ will fill every part of those creatures. The Bible testifies in a multitude of places that Yahweh has chosen to save all men.

I Timothy 2:3-4
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Christ is the Savior of ALL MEN.

I Timothy 4:10
For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.

Christ is especially the Savior of those recognized by God as believers in this age. Those who walk as overcomers now will not suffer loss in the ages to come. Blessed and holy are those who attain to the first resurrection (Revelation 20:6). Christ, as the firstborn of the Father, and the first to embrace the suffering of the cross, has received preeminence above the rest of creation.

Philippians 2:8-9
Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name...

Christ will in turn bring forth a firstfruits company of sons who will be preeminent among all those who follow. These ones must also experience "death on a cross." Yahweh will eventually fill "all in all." At this time, however, it is a remnant that are yielding to the cross, being emptied of self that they might be filled with the fulness of Christ. The ages will reveal that the way of reconciling every creature to God the Father will involve suffering. The soul must be crushed.

Mark 14:34
And He said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch."

None can escape this crushing. Christ is the forerunner. He is our pattern man. He embraced the cross and was judged to be perfect.

Hebrews 2:10
For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.

Christ surrendered to the path of suffering and was judged perfect. Yahweh would have all men to be perfect.

Matthew 5:48
"Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

This perfection, arriving at the mature stature that belongs to Christ, comes as we follow in His steps.

I Peter 2:21
For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps...

Being fully conformed to the image of Christ is what is implied in Paul's statement that God would be "ALL" in His creation. The Father has determined that this perfection will come to the entirety of His creation. Yahweh will not be "all in some." He will not be "some in some." Nor will He be "some in all." When Christ's reign has accomplished all for which it has been established, Yahweh will be "all in all."

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

God's Plan of the Ages - Part 4

An Orderly Reconciliation

One of the greatest stumbling blocks keeping Christians from embracing the testimony found in the Scriptures that Yahweh will reconcile all things to Himself through His Son is that we do not see all things reconciled at this time. The concept resident in the minds of many Christians is that only a few will be saved, while the majority of men from all ages will eternally remain separated from God.
If you have patiently considered the preceding chapters, you will have discovered that the Scriptures declare that Yahweh will reconcile "all things" to Himself through His Son. "Christ must reign until" He has accomplished the task of subjecting all things to the Father. Both experience, and the testimony of the Bible reveals to us that this reconciliation is not fully accomplished in this present age.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Before passing on from these words in Romans, note both what has been accomplished, and what remains to be done. Through Christ's death, burial and resurrection "there resulted justification of life to ALL MEN." Who are included in the words "all men"? The same group described in the preceding clause, "through one transgression there resulted condemnation to ALL MEN." Christ died to reconcile ALL MEN to the Father. This reconciliation is already accomplished in the sense that Christ's sacrifice has been made for all men. Yet, the reconciliation also remains to be completed as we do not yet see "all things put under His feet."

Observe how Paul ends the passage above, "even so through the obedience of the One the many WILL BE MADE righteous." This speaks of a future fulfillment. Why it should be offensive to some Christians to hear that Christ will eventually reconcile all men to the Father is hard to comprehend. Many Christians are like the elder brother to the prodigal son. Rather than rejoicing that the lost has been found, and the dead has been brought back to life, there is anger that the Father should treat the offender with such love and mercy.

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

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

When we understand the Scriptures aright, we discover that the reconciliation of all things will happen in stages. There is a definite order to the redemptive work of Christ. At this time we find that a firstfruits group of men are being reconciled to the Father. This firstfruits company are identifiable as disciples of Christ. These are ones who are accepting Christ's invitation to "Come, take up your cross, and follow Me."

James, the brother of Christ and an elder of the early church, used the term "firstfruits" when speaking of Christ's disciples.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These men did not reason that they lacked the ability to study the word of God in order to teach it accurately. They did not say, "I am a fisherman, not a Bible scholar." They became Bible scholars, devoting themselves to its study and teaching, relying upon the Spirit of Christ to instruct them as they did so, and they were able to lay a foundation upon which the church of God could be firmly established. There is no less need in this hour for men and women to manifest this same devotion to Christ and His word.
[End excerpt]

Paul was not among Christ's original twelve apostles, and he is unusual in that he was a scholar of the Scriptures when Christ called him. Paul was raised according to the strictest sect of his people, the Pharisees. He was educated in the school of Gamaliel, a man renowned for Bible learning in his day. Paul did not rest on his laurels, however. After coming to Christ he continued until his last days poring over the Scriptures, studying them to gain understanding and knowledge of the things of God. The last letter written by Paul in the Bible, recorded shortly before his death, was II Timothy. In that letter Paul gave Timothy the following instruction:

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

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

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

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

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

Translators are men and women just like you and I. Some do not even have the Spirit of Christ (I could share appalling stories of men and women working on modern translations that are homosexuals, feminists, and strangers to the Spirit of Christ.) These men and women introduce many errors into the translations. This is partially due to the translators' lack of understanding of the concepts found within the Scriptures. Some errors are also introduced because a publisher, king, denomination, or some other guiding body, has given them instruction to not deviate from what is considered orthodox and acceptable doctrine.

The history of Bible translation has some shining moments, but it also is attended by much darkness. The result is that there are no inerrant Bible translations today. The saint must study, and invite the Spirit of Christ to guide him or her, if they are to arrive at truth.

The apostle Paul understood, and taught, that there would be three resurrections of mankind. There will be three separate harvests of the fruit of the earth (man's flesh was formed of the dust of the earth), before the work of reconciling all things back to the Father has been completed. These three resurrections correspond perfectly to the three feasts Yahweh instituted in the Old Testament.

Each feast occurred at a time of harvest, and all men were to appear before Yahweh at the place He designated. This appearing before Yahweh three times every year served as a symbol of the three resurrections of mankind. (This will be addressed more fully later.)

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

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

Note two things in these instructions. First, the firstfruits were to be brought before Yahweh. Second, the grain of the offering was to be mixed with oil. Oil is for anointing. This was the "anointed firstfruits."The translators of the KJV, and many other popular Bibles, have not understood the connection between the three resurrections and the Feasts of Yahweh. The result has been a distortion of the translation.

In the New Testament, the Greek word rendered as "anointed" and the Greek word rendered as "Christ" are one and the same. Christ means "anointed." When the translators interpret a passage they must determine whether the Greek word "christos" should be translated as "anointed" or translated as "Christ."

Following is a graphic of this passage which shows the Interlinear Bible. The Greek, and the English translation, appear side by side.

(Right click on image to view larger.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Paul is communicating is that Christ's work of reconciling mankind back to the Father will be "something orderly in arrangement." It will be conducted as "a series or succession" of works until all has been brought under subjection to the Father. First we will see the anointed firstfruits reconciled to God. Then we will see those who belong to Christ, but who were not firstfruits. Then comes the end, or the remainder, when those who were enemies of Christ are brought under subjection to Him.
There is an order to the work of Christ. This age is not the end of the reconciling work of Christ. It is merely the beginning. Christ will continue to rule, the saints laboring with Him as ambassadors, entreating all men to be reconciled to God the Father.

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

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

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

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

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