TRUE MINISTRY

In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul tells the Corinthians, “I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chase virgin to Christ”. ~ v.1-2

Do you understand what Paul is saying here? Paul was an apostle of Christ, a true minister of the gospel, and his desire for the Corinthians was to present them to Christ as a pure virgin.

It is within this context that Paul says the following:

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.~ 2 Corinthians 11:3-4

Some ministers (regardless if they realize it or not) are actually bewitching the people rather than seeking to present the people as a pure virgin to the Lord. Ministers are not called to make ministry about themselves, and those who do minister “another Jesus, another spirit, and another gospel.”

There is only one husband, and the church is his bride and no one else’s. For this reason every minister should be regarded as steward in God’s kingdom as Paul tells the Corinthians in his first epistle:

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. ~ 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 (ESV)

Finally, Consider also the words of the apostle Peter

So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. ~ 1 Peter 5:1-4 (ESV)

The words of Peter are in harmony with those of Paul’s. Ministers are called to be faithful  servants of Christ stewards in his Kingdom, with the motivation to present God’s people to Christ as a pure virgin.

May God grant to his church humble ministers who know their calling in truth.

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THE TRUTH ABOUT SPIRITUAL WILDERNESS

Sometimes allegories can be taken too far, and such is the case with the teaching that says that God sends his children, and even the church at large, into “wilderness seasons” to accomplish a divine purpose.

The New Testament, which is the authority for doctrine regarding the Christian life, instructs us to enter into the holiest (the presence of God) by the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:19). The book of Hebrews also tells us to come boldly to the the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in the time of need.~ Hebrews 4:16

Both of those text from Hebrews are given within the context of Jesus as our great high priest, who ever lives to make intercession for us.

There are times in all of our lives when we experience unpleasant circumstances that can make us feel as if God is has forsaken us. It is in those times that we learn to trust God and walk by faith, rather than our circumstances.

God “never” withdraws the fellowship of his presence to send us into a wilderness experience to test us. God redeemed us by the blood of Christ and has called us into the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ ~ 1 Corinthians 1:9. In 1 John 1, the apostle John tells us that our “joy is made full” by our fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

The real truth is, sometimes we drift away from personal fellowship with the Lord, and only when we begin to have difficulty in life do we wake up and realize we have drifted away from the fellowship we once enjoyed with the Lord.

In the book of James, we are instructed to draw near to God and he will draw near to us. In the context of this statement James says the following: “Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?” ~ James 4:5

The Amplified Bible gives a much clearer rendering and reads as follows: “The Spirit Whom He has caused to dwell in us yearns over us and He yearns for the Spirit to be welcome with a jealous love.”

Oftentimes we become preoccupied with other things and judge God’s blessing in our life by our circumstances. Rather than allowing the peace of God to rule in our hearts as Paul instructed the Colossians, we become ruled by our circumstances, and by and by we drift from the Lord and become more carnally minded in our thinking and our approach to life.
When this happens, we are no longer ruled by God’s peace. Instead, we are ruled by our feelings and emotions. This is why we need to be “renewed in the spirit of our mind”. ~ Ephesians 4:23

When we are renewed in the spirit of our mind, rather than being ruled by the carnal desires of the flesh, we open our hearts to the Holy Spirit who ministers to us the joy of true fellowship with God.

How can we say that God has sent us into a “wilderness experience” when the New Testament tells us God’s Spirit yearns for us to fully welcome him in our hearts?

When we become preoccupied with carnal things like the audience to whom James was writing, we allow sin to have place in our lives (our thoughts and actions) and we become double minded, and it is in that place that we begin to wonder where God is.

From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. ~ James 4:1-4

James is not talking to the world in the text above. He is talking to Christians who have drifted from the Lord and are preoccupied with their carnal lusts rather than the things of God.

While we are wrapped up in the desires of the world, and consumed in the lust of our flesh, the Holy Spirit earnestly yearns over us with a jealous love to be fully welcomed in our hearts.

James instructs his audience to draw near to God and adds the promise, “and he will draw near to you”.

However, that which is often missed is how James instructs his readers, who had drifted from God, to draw near to God. James says, “cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”

When our affection for God begins to grow cold, we become double minded and it is in that place that we begin to wonder where God is.

The truth is, God is right where we left him, waiting like the father of the prodigal son in the story given by Jesus, desiring for us to return to fellowship with him.

There is nothing in the New Testament that supports the idea that God leads his any of his children, or his church at large, into wilderness seasons where we feel forsaken.
The writer of Hebrews expounds on the wilderness experience of the Israelites in contrast to the Christian life of “resting in faith” to which we are called. God did not call us to walk in a spiritual wilderness. He called us to enter into rest (from the wilderness experience) through faith in Jesus.

In scripture, the wilderness is associated with sin. If fact, the Bible calls it the “wilderness of sin” (Exodus 16:1; Numbers 33:11,12).

The wilderness is called the wilderness of sin because it was the place where the children of Israel provoked God in their disobedience.

7.Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice,

8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation IN THE WILDERNESS:

9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.

10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.

11 So I swear in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)

12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. ~ Hebrews 3:7-13

If you feel like you are in a wilderness, I have good news for you. If you will but turn your heart towards the Lord, and cry out for his mercy and grace, asking him to cleanse you from any sins you have permitted to take root in your heart and life, he will meet your right where your are.

God is not leading you into a wilderness, rather he wants to lead you out of the wilderness. He is a loving father and he longs to show you mercy and grace, and for you to experience the joy of fellowship with him, as you allow the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ to rule in your heart.

WAS JESUS MADE TO BE OUR LITERAL SIN, OR OUR SIN OFFERING?

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Paul’s reference to Christ being made sin for us is derived from the Old Testament motif of the sin offerings. The sin offerings were offered to make atonement for sin.

Throughout the Old Testament the word atonement was used to convey the idea of reconciliation, sanctification, consecration, and forgiveness. This is the context which surrounds Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 5.

Literally, Paul is telling us that Christ was made to be the offering for our sins, and that is how we are reconciled to God. Christ was made to be our sin offering not our literal sin.

Throughout the Old Testament the words sin and sin offering are translated from the same Hebrew word “chattath”. One writer pointed out that chattath is translated as sin offering 118 times, and translated as sin 168 times.

In Hebrews 10:6, the writer of Hebrews speaks of the sacrifices for sin. The words “sacrifices for” have been added by the translators of the KJV for clarity. Literally, Hebrews 10:6 says: In burnt offerings and sin thou hast had no pleasure.

However, we know that the author is not referring to sin but to the sin offerings instead. We know this because of the context and we also know this because Hebrews 10:6 is a quote from Psalm 40:6 which says the following:

Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.

The Greek word “hamartia” which is used in Hebrews 10:6 to reference to the sin offering, is also used in 2 Corinthians 5:21 in reference to Christ being made sin for us.

It should also be of importance to us that the apostle Paul was a Jew who had come to know Christ. The things which Paul taught about Jesus were rooted in his scholarly understanding of the scriptures. Paul most assuredly would have thought through the scriptures as a Jewish scholar and would have understood Christ’s death and resurrection in view of the scriptures. Paul tells the Corinthians the following:

I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures… ~ 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

Paul certainly understood Christ’s death in view of the Old Testament scriptures and did not have to teach contrary to the Old Testament’s motif when he speaks of Christ dying for our sins. Paul spoke of Christ’s death in view of the precedent set forth within the sacrificial system because those sacrifices foreshadowed Christ.

Jesus is our Redeemer, and he died for our sins as one who was pure and holy. There is no precedent in scripture which would indicate that the offerings for sin were made sinful with the sins of the people, which is how 2 Corinthians has been interpreted by some. Instead they were to be offered as unblemished sacrifices which were holy to the Lord.

Leviticus 6:25 says, “Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, saying, this is the law of the sin offering: In the place where the burnt offering is killed shall the sin offering be killed before the LORD: it is most holy.

Leviticus 22:21 tells us that the sacrifices which foreshadowed Christ had to be perfect in order to be accepted.

Christ was perfect. He was without sin. He knew no sin;. There was no spot or blemish in him. He died for our sins as a perfect and holy sacrifice, accepted by God.

Jesus Christ died as an unblemished lamb whose blood is pure and holy. The scripture says we were not redeemed with corruptible things, instead we were redeemed with the precious blood of Jesus Christ as from a lamb without spot or blemish (See 1 Peter 1:18-19). The teaching of the Bible is that our redemption is by virtue of the blood of Jesus.

Jesus is, was, and always will be holy, pure, and just. The apostle Peter declared that he is the holy and just One which the people rejected (Acts 3:14). Peter also declared that he is the prince of life and that the grave could not hold him because God would not allow his holy one to see corruption. (See Acts 2:24, 27; 3:15)

The Bible tells us that we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:5-10). It was in his body that he bore our sins (1 Peter 2:24) and it was his flesh that he gave for the life of the world (John 6:51) so that he could redeem us by his precious blood. ~ Ephesians 1:7

WHAT IS THE UNPARDONABLE SIN?

Can a person who has deliberately, willfully, and by a conscience decision walked away from the Lord, ever be restored to him again?

This is a serious question which needs to be answered, because there are those who at one time walked with the Lord, who turned away from God, and who now believe there is no longer any hope for them.

I recently had someone in this situation write me, expressing that they wake up every day with depression because of their decision to walk away from Jesus so many years ago.

This dear soul is the reason I am addressing this matter, and make no mistake about it, there are others out there who feel very much the same way. What you are about to read is intended to help them, as well as equip my fellow Christians with an understanding of the teachings of scripture, so that they can help others  as well.

When Jesus made the statement regarding the unpardonable sin it was aimed at the hardened, and unrepentant Pharisees who despised Jesus and wanted to put him to death. The Pharisees were not merely speaking out of poor judgment.

The Pharisees were leaders within the religious ranks of Israel, and those among them to whom Jesus was speaking, were hell bent on destroying him. Their speaking against him was an intentional effort to smear the reputation of the Son of God because they hated him so much. In their hatred for Jesus, they intentionally spoke evil against the work of the Holy Spirit, in and through Jesus.

In 1 Timothy 1:13, the apostle Paul referred to himself, before his conversion, as a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and an injurious man. He than adds: but I obtained mercy, because I did it IGNORANTLY in unbelief. 

The unpardonable sin, is not a sin that can be committed in ignorance, or accidentally. Nor is it a sin which is committed by those who are overly tempted, or who draw back from walking with God because they are unwilling to live a consecrated life, etc.

The difference between Paul and the Pharisees whom Jesus rebuked in the gospel accounts, is that Paul blasphemed (against Jesus) because he was zealous for God according to the Law. The Pharisees, on the other hand, were power hungry religious leaders. Their blasphemy was a display of their hatred for God and that hatred was aimed at God’s Son, whom God had anointed with his Holy Spirit.

They were leaders claiming to see! 

39 And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.

40 And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?

41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth. ~ John 9:39-41

When the gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are examined closely, we find that the Pharisees, to whom Jesus gave such a stern warning, rejected Jesus, not out of ignorance, but as leaders within Israel. They willingly rejected the testimony of the God, whom they claimed to represent, when God through the Holy Spirit spoke to them by His Son.

When Jesus appeared to Paul at the time of his conversion, Paul humbled himself and said: Who art thou, Lord? The Pharisees, whom Jesus warned in the gospels refused to humble themselves in the presence of Jesus.

The Pharisees, as well as the scribes and the lawyers, were so corrupt that they were keeping the people from entering the Kingdom of God.  When God, whom they were supposed to represent, walked among them in the flesh, rather than pointing the people to him, they taught them to despise him.

This is not a sin held to the charge of anyone who fears God, and desires to serve him.

Many years ago, when I was under a cloud darkness (spiritually speaking) I was fearfully tormented with thoughts that I had committed the unpardonable sin. Yet in that place of torment and fear, I determined that I was going to serve the Lord, even if I was condemned to hell; and I told Lord that very thing!

Only the Spirit of the Lord could have led me in such a proclamation! 

If there is any desire for God in a person’s heart, that desire is because of the conviction of the Spirit of God drawing them.

Jesus said, No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him ~ John 6:44. And, no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. ~ John 6:65. 

But what about those who have turned away from the Lord? Isn’t it an unpardonable sin to turn away from God once you have been saved?

The short answer is NO!

Please allow me to explain. First consider Hebrews 10:26-31.

26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:

29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.

31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. ~ Hebrews 10:26-31

This is a very sobering text, and one we need to understand correctly, or else things can get read into it that it doesn’t actually say.

Verses 28 and 29 are key to having a proper understanding, because despising the Law of Moses is the precedence for the punishment of those who do the same under grace.

According to the Law, the one who was worthy of death, could only be put to death at the testimony of two or three witnesses. Even if a person was worthy of death, they could not to be put to death on the testimony of one witness (Deuteronomy 19:15).

The author of Hebrews mentions the Son of God, the blood of the everlasting covenant, and the Spirit of grace in correlation to the two or three witnesses of the old testament.

This is very important because the sin being referred here is a deliberate renunciation of Jesus as the Son of God (the Messiah) just as the Pharisees who renounced his Messiah -ship and refused to believe that he is the Son of God.

Rejecting Jesus in this manner, consequently results in discrediting the saving power of the blood of the covenant, and causes a complete hardening of the heart against the Holy Spirit’s witness or testimony of the person of Jesus Christ.

This is not merely turning away from the Lord because of being overly tempted, or being unwilling to live a consecrated life.

Many who are backslidden still believe that Jesus is the Son of God, yet they are tormented with the thought of being damned forever because at one time they served God and drifted away from him, or at some point they deliberately turned away from him, or in of a moment of weakness, pain, sorrow, or being overly tempted: they said or did something which they now deeply regret.

Yet, they still believe that Jesus is the Son of God, they know he is the Savior of the world, and the precious lamb of God who shed his blood to redeem them. They struggle to overcome condemnation, fearing they have committed the unpardonable sin, but Jesus loves them. God patiently waits for them to return to him just as the Father of the prodigal son patiently waited for his son to return home.  ~  see Luke 15:11-24.

Many years ago, when I was under the torment that I had committed the unpardonable sin ( I wasn’t backslidden, but tormented because of my past), I had a life changing experience.

I had gone to work one morning and was struggling terribly. I prayed a simple prayer and cried out to God, asking for him to relieve me from work that day so I could go and pray. Not long thereafter, the manager came over where I and some other employees were standing. He asked, “Who wants to go home?” I gently raised my hand and he gave me the rest of the day off.

From there I went to a wooded area to pray. While I was there praying, I remembered that the place where I attended Bible study was kept unlocked and I could go there to pray, so I did. While I was there praying, I noticed a magazine from a ministry that would become a great blessing to me.

I picked it up and began to read it. In this article, the minister addressed the lies of the devil concerning the unpardonable sin, and how Satan uses this lie to bring people under condemnation. Towards the end of the article I remember reading a line that said something like this: “don’t let the devil bother you about this anymore.”

I knew God was speaking to me!

In this article the minister also shared truth about the blood of Jesus. That was the moment when a desire for a strong faith in the blood of Jesus was conceived in my heart, and that is where my personal journey of learning, and teaching about the blood of Christ, the cross of Christ, and our redemption in Christ actually began.

So the things I teach today about the cross are more than what I have studied. They are the result of my desperation for God. Early on in my journey of learning about the power of the blood of Christ, Hebrews 10:19 became the lifeline that sustained me. Hebrews 10:19 says, having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.

Through that one verse I latched on to the hope that if I had faith in the blood of Jesus, nothing could separate me from the presence of God. The same holds true for you!

Those who want Jesus in their life, but fear they have committed the unpardonable sin, have been lied to by Satan. They have been lied to about the character and nature of God. They have been lied to with scriptures which Satan twists to deceive many people.

Consequently they are deceived  into reading the Bible through the lens of a wrong interpretation of the unpardonable sin, rather than allowing the context and the whole counsel of scripture to rightly interpret that sin.

The Bible teaches us that God established a testimony in Jacob (Israel) ~ Psalm 78:5. Accordingly, the author of Hebrews appeals to the Law (God’s testimony in Israel) as the precedent for the sobering words in Hebrews 10, which also properly interprets the words of Hebrews 6:4-6.

This is why we should consider the words of God through the prophet Isaiah to backslidden Israel.

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have REBELLED against me. 

The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.

Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. ~ Isaiah 1:2-4

Notice the indictment against Israel. God literally calls the heavens and the earth to record, to behold this astonishing thing, namely, Israel’s turning away from his Master: they have rebelled against me. 

Think about that for a moment, and allow it to sink in: Israel had rebelled and turned away from God.

They not only turned away from God, but they did very wicked things in his sight. He indicts Israel of their sins, calling them (1) a sinful nation, (2) a people laden with iniquity, (3) a seed of evil doers, (4) children that are corrupters; and accuses them with FORSAKING THE LORD AND PROVOKING HIM TO ANGER. 

If you are reading this, and you have feared that you have committed the unpardonable sin, think about this for a moment in view of your past: Israel had forsaken the Lord and provoked him to anger, but as we will soon see, he still extended mercy to them.

God tells them their whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint (v.5), and likens them to Sodom and Gomorrah: Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah (.10).

God also rebukes them for their corrupt temple worship because of their sinfulness:

11 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight NOT in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.

12 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?

13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; IT IS INIQUITY, even the solemn meeting.

14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts MY SOUL HATETH: they are a trouble unto me; I AM WEARY TO BEAR THEM. 

15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I WILL HIDE MINE EYES FROM YOU: yea, when ye make many prayers, I WILL NOT HEAR; your hands are full of blood.

The indictment against Israel was severe. 

If we were to stop reading at this point, and interpret what happens next based on the indictment against them, we might come away with the conclusion that God was absolutely done with them, and that there was no longer any hope for them – ONLY DAMNATION!

Yet with all this, God says the following to them:

16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;

17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.

18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: THOUGH YOUR SINS BE AS SCARLET, THEY SHALL BE AS WHITE AS SNOW; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land… ~ Isaiah 1:16-19

Even though Israel had forsaken God and done very evil things in his sight – He still offered them MERCY! That is the truth about the Living God.

Those who are being lied to in their minds regarding the unpardonable sin, are being persuaded by Satan that God is not merciful.  Yet God IS MERCIFUL !

WILL THERE BE ANIMAL SACRIFICES IN THE MILLENNIUM ?

There are some who teach that when Christ returns there will also be a return to the offering of animal sacrifices for a thousand years. This assumption is based predominantly on Ezekiel’s temple vision (Ezekiel 40 – 48). Advocates of this theological view interpret Ezekiel’s temple vision as a literal future temple from which Christ will reign.

However, there is absolutely nothing in the New Testament to support such claims. In fact, such ideology undermines the finished work of Jesus Christ because the sacrifices that Ezekiel references include the sin and trespass offerings and are said to be for atonement. ~ Ezekiel 45:17 see also 42:13 and 45:23

Listed below are some objections to this theological view. 

1. A return to animal sacrifices would be apostate.

A return to animal sacrifices after coming to the knowledge of Christ was considered apostate at the time of the writing of the book of Hebrews, and is referred to by the author of Hebrews as dead works, from which we are cleansed by the blood of Christ. ~ Hebrews 9:1-14

Why would God reinstate the very things from which the writer of Hebrews says the blood of Christ has cleansed us?

2. The sacrifices of animals were carnal ordinances administered by a priesthood which has been annulled. ~ Hebrews 7:16-19; 9:10

The author of Hebrews expounds on the ministry of Jesus as High Priest in contrast to the priests who served under the law. He tells us that if Jesus were on earth he would not be a priest because those priests (who serve in the earthly temple) offer gifts and sacrifices according to the Law.

Christ’s ministry as high priest is through his blood in the Heavenly tabernacle (in the presence of God in the Heavens) and not in an earthly tabernacle or temple with the blood of animal sacrifices.

Jesus has been appointed priest forever and is mediator of an everlasting covenant which was established by his blood.

3. The sacrifice of animals could not open the way into the true holiest of all. 

Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing... ~ Hebrews 9:6-8

4. Animal sacrifices were imposed on the people until the time of reformation (until Christ came and secured our permanent redemption).

Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscienceWhich stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. ~ Hebrews 9:9-10

For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. ~Hebrews 7:19

5. Animals sacrifices served only as a shadow of good things which were yet to come and could not take away sins. ~ Hebrews 9:6-9; 10:1-4

The sacrifices under the Law were repeated over and over again and were a continual reminder that sin had not been permanently dealt with.

For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. ~ Hebrews 10:1-4

Notice that the author of Hebrews tells us that the sacrifices of animals “would not have ceased to be offered” if they could have taken away sins. However, it is not possible for the blood of animals to take away sin. 

6. Everything that Ezekiel saw was visionary in view of the pattern given to Moses.  

A careful examination of Ezekiel’s temple vision reveals that his vision was predicated on the instructions given to Moses for building the tabernacle and in accordance with the instructions given in the Law regarding the service therein.

When God gave to Moses the pattern for the tabernacle, God instructed Moses to make all things according to the pattern given to him: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount. ~ Hebrews 8:5

The tabernacle made by Moses, was only a type and a shadow of the true tabernacle in Heaven, and the service carried out in it was to be done according to the Law.

According to the book of Hebrews, Jesus is the high Priest of the true tabernacle in Heaven, and the author of Hebrews refers to this as the better and more perfect tabernacle not made with human hands.

It is in this tabernacle in the Heavens that Christ is enthroned as King, and mediates as High Priest of a better covenant.

The author of Hebrews tells us: For there is verily an annulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. ~ Hebrews 7: 18-19

The commandment referenced here, which has been annulled, is the command regarding the priesthood by which animal sacrifices were offered. This includes all the details regarding the priests and the animal sacrifices in Ezekiel’s vision, for those priests were to be ordained “according to the Law.”

7. The priesthood of Jesus will never include animal sacrifices.

The author of Hebrews tells us that if Jesus were on earth he would not be a priest because those priests offer gifts and sacrifices according to the Law.

Jesus was made priest by the call of God and not by the Law. Animal sacrifices were offered by those priests who were ordained by the Law, but Christ has obtained a more excellent ministry by which he is the mediator of a better testament.

Christ’s ministry as high priest is through his blood and not the blood of animal sacrifices.

8. Jesus is not the priest of God in Ezekiel’s temple vision. The sons of Zadok are.

Interpreting Ezekiel’s temple vision as a millennial temple is contrary to the teachings of the New Testament which reveals that Jesus has an eternal priesthood. The sons of Zadok, were of the tribe of Levi just as the sons of Aaron were, and in Ezekiel’s temple vision they are consecrated in the same manner in which Aaron and his sons were consecrated in Exodus 29 and Leviticus 8. They also wear the same priestly garments instructed for the priests in the law of Moses. The sons of Zadok are required to follow the same regulations which were given to the sons of Aaron.

Again, it is important to emphasize that the writer of Hebrews tells us that this priesthood has been annulled!

Furthermore, the New Testament teaches that believers in Christ Jesus are the holy priesthood ~ 1 Peter 2:5, and are called a royal priesthood ~ 1 Peter 2:9.

Revelation 1:6, and 5:9 in the KJV says “kings and priests” but a more accurate rendering is a “kingdom of priests.” Those who are redeemed by the blood of Jesus are the kingdom of priests who offer spiritual sacrifices to God well pleasing through Jesus Christ. ~1 Peter 2:5-9

Also consider that those who reign with Christ for a thousand years, and are part of the first resurrection are “priests of God.”

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. ~ Revelations 20:4-6

Are these priests who were redeemed by the blood of Jesus, and overcame the beast by their faithfulness to Jesus coming back to offer animal sacrifices?  A thousand times, no!

9. God never desired animal sacrifices. ~ Isaiah 1:11-14; Jeremiah 7:21-23; Hosea 6:6; Psalm 40:7-9; Micah 6:7-8; Psalm 51:18-19; Hebrews 4:10-9

Animal sacrifices gave God no pleasure because those sacrifices had no power to take away sins. On the contrary, they were a continual reminder of sin: But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. ~ Hebrews 10:3-4

The theology of a return to animal sacrifices would constitute a return to that which never truly pleased God and which God never truly desired. God’s desire is found in Jesus for Jesus fulfilled all the will of God by his perfect submission and obedience to God.

Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. ~ Hebrews 10:5-10

Jesus came as it was written of him in the volume of the book. The volume of the book is a reference to the testimony of Jesus within the scriptures. Ezekiel is a part of this witness. The temple which Ezekiel saw was given to provoke the generation of the Exiles to whom Ezekiel was a prophet and priest. It wasn’t something which was predicted some 2500 – 3000 years or more, into the future. The details in Ezekiel’s temple vision serve only as a type and shadow with regards to Christ. 

The theology of animal sacrifices in the millennium does not testify of Jesus. According to the actual details given in Ezekiel’s temple vision, there would be a building again of those things Christ destroyed if the priesthood according to the law with animal sacrifices were reinstated.

10. A temple that would have been but never was. 

Ezekiel was a priest by blood lineage and also a prophet. This temple vision was given to Ezekiel to make the people of Israel ashamed of their sins. ~ Ezekiel 43:10, 11

If Ezekiel’s temple would have been built it would have been a testament that Israel could overcome sin apart from the mediation of Jesus Christ, for it was the temple God would have given them to serve him forever! Israel would have served God, but in their own strength, because in this temple, they would have continued to be separated from the holy presence of God, of which the Jesus’s blood has now given us access.

And he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, nor by the carcases of their kings in their high places. In their setting of their threshold by my thresholds, and their post by my posts, and the wall between me and them, they have even defiled my holy name by their abominations that they have committed: wherefore I have consumed them in mine anger. Now let them put away their whoredom, and the carcases of their kings, far from me, and I will dwell in the midst of them for ever. Thou son of man, shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the patternAnd if they be ashamed of all that they have done, shew them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them. This is the law of the house; Upon the top of the mountain the whole limit thereof round about shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house. ~ Ezekiel 43:7-12

The temple in Ezekiel’s vision is a temple that would have been but never was because of the sins of Israel and their priests. Had Israel met the conditions which God set forth, the temple described in Ezekiel’s vision would have been forever, and not for a thousand years. ~ Ezekiel 43:7-10

11. God’s presence would be separated from his people. 

In Ezekiel’s temple, the Holy presence of God would have continued to be separated from the people, and particularly from the Levites because of their past sins. According to the New Testament, Jesus has removed the separation between God and his people and we now have unhindered access to God through the blood of Jesus. ~ Hebrews 10:19-22; Ephesians 2:13, 18

12. Why?

Depending on who you listen to, there are different conclusions reached as to “why” animal sacrifices would be offered in the millennium. Some proponents claim they will only be offered as a memorial, even though Ezekiel makes no such claim. In the temple vision given to Ezekiel, the sacrifices are offered for the same purpose for which they were given in the book of Leviticus: for sanctification, reconciliation, purity, and atonement for sins.

If we interpret Ezekiel’s temple vision as a literal temple for the service and worship of the Living God in the millennial, we have a millennium without the cross of Christ, without the blood of Christ, without the intercessory ministry of Jesus our Great High Priest, and without the message of the gospel.

Remember, Jesus is not the priest of God in Ezekiel’s temple vision. The sons of Zadok are. That one statement alone should end all debate on this topic!

One notable teacher on the topic makes the claim that sacrifices will be offered in the millennium to protect God’s glory in the temple. Yet, the New Testament teaches us that God’s glory is fully revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.

The author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is brightness of God’s glory and the express image of his person. Paul tells us in Colossians that all the fullness of the Godhead is present in Jesus.

Some claim that the sacrifices will be reinstituted as object lessons to teach the people living in the millennium what Christ has done in his death.  This rationale fails miserably when we consider that for 2000 years the gospel of Christ has been sufficient for leading men to salvation. How is it that suddenly when Christ is physically present in all of his glory, we will need animal sacrifices?

One has to wonder if those who teach that Ezekiel’s temple vision is a yet future and a literal temple, actually read the details given in Ezekiel’s temple vision.

13. Physical circumcision would be a necessity for relationship with God. 

Ezekiel’s temple is one in which physical circumcision is required to approach God ~ Ezekiel 44:9.

This is problematic, because Paul tells us: in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love ~ Galatians 5:6.

Paul also says, There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. ~ Galatians 3:28

The Law of Moses, which was physical Israel’s covenant, made a distinction regarding Jew and Greek, bond and free, male and female.

Under ancient Israel’s covenant with God, the sign of the covenant was in the male’s flesh, and not in the woman’s. Women did not have the same status as men under the Law of Moses, and neither did the slaves as the free.

If Ezekiel’s temple vision is a future millennial temple, we will have a millennial in which women do not have the same covenant status as men.

According to the apostle Paul, the old covenant which employed the temple service, the Levitical priesthood, and animal sacrifices, has no relevance now that Christ has come. All distinction regarding covenant status has been annulled. In Christ all the children of God are ONE!

14. The middle wall of partition would be erected.

In Ezekiel’s Temple Vision, the middle wall of partition which separated Jews and Gentiles (the circumcision and the uncircumcision), is still standing.  Yet Paul tells us that Jesus removed this middle wall of partition. If Ezekiel’s temple vision is a literal temple pertaining to the future, we now have a millennium in which Jews and Gentiles are no longer one in Christ, and the middle wall of partition which Christ remove by his death has been erected.

If this is so, then the finished work of Christ will be invalidated in the millennium. Paul says in Galatians, “if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.” A millennium with animal sacrifices would be a transgression against the sacrifice of Jesus Christ!

15. Christ and his finished work would be undermined.

If Ezekiel’s temple were truly a literal millennial temple as some claim, we now have a millennium in which (1) the finished work of Christ and the necessity of being born again is undermined. (2) The Levites bare the shame of their sin for a 1000 years, (3) God’s presence is unapproachable by anyone except the sons of Zadok. (4) Being accepted by the Lord will be dependent on the burnt offerings offered by the priests.(5) Being reconciled to God depends on animal sacrifices – thus the altar on which animal sacrifices would be offered becomes the source of reconciliation rather than the cross on which Christ died for our sins. (6) The Prince of Israel would have to offer sin offerings for his own sins.

In God’s kingdom, Jesus is the only prince. Does Jesus have to offer sin offerings for his own sins? Certainly not! The New Testament tells us that Jesus has no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15) and that is why he was able to offer himself without any blemish to God as the sacrifice for our sins. ~ 1 Peter 1:18-20; Hebrews 9:14

16. A rebuilt temple like the one Ezekiel saw would establish Old Covenant worship. 

The first testament, the Law, was dedicated by the blood of sacrificial animals, and the worship described in Ezekiel’s temple vision is based on the ceremonial rites of that testament.

In the New Testament, true worship is worship in spirit and in truth  ~ John 4:23-24.

Jesus told the Samaritan woman, “the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” ~ John 4:23-24.

The true worship mentioned by Jesus, which is characteristic of the New Covenant, cannot be found in Ezekiel’s Temple vision. All worship in Ezekiel’s temple vision is associated with the ceremonial regulations prescribed in the Law of Moses. 

New Testament worship, in spirit and in truth, is the kind of worship which God seeks from his people. This worship is made possible only by the New Covenant established in the blood of Jesus, for through the blood of Jesus we have been purified for our sins, and have been given unhindered access to the Living God.

For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. ~ Philippians 3:3

17. God’s resting place is not in man made temples.

In scripture, the temple which Solomon built was destroyed at the time of the Babylonian captivity, and Herod’s temple, which was the one standing in the time of Jesus’s earthly ministry, was destroyed in 70 A.D.

Both of these were destroyed because of God’s judgment against the apostasy of the nation. Even though this is revealed in the scriptures, some who claim that Ezekiel’s temple is a future millennial temple, also claim that it will be first inhabited by the anti-Christ, meaning it will be completely apostate before being indwelt by the presence of God. There is no precedent in the Word of God to support such theology.

Nowhere in scripture will you find a “rebuilt – man made – temple” of which the Lord Jesus Christ will return to fill with His Glory.

Jesus is the cornerstone which God has laid in Zion. He is the foundation stone of the true house of God which is built not by man, but by the Spirit of the Living God. The true house of God is built with living stones (1 Peter 2:5). These living stones are Jews and Gentiles who obey Jesus Christ and abide in Him.

For through him we both (Jew and Gentile) have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the LordIn whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. ~ Ephesians 2:18-22

The true temple of God of which Jesus is the foundation, and his followers are the building, is out in the open – loud and clear – in the New Testament: John 2:19-20; Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11; 1 Corinthians 3:16 -17; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:12-22; 1 Peter 2:5.

Jesus is the cornerstone, the foundation stone, of the true temple of God which is the body of Christ, and the New Testament is embedded with this truth.

All man-made structures (the tabernacle and the temples) in scripture, whether literally or in vision form, were only types and shadows of the true which is in Christ.

The writer of Hebrews tells us that while the first “man made” tabernacle was standing, the Holy Spirit was testifying that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest.  Jesus has entered and consecrated the true holiest of all in the Heavens and we are invited to come boldly into the presence of God by his blood.

The permanent resting place for God’s presence among his people is not found in a man made structure, but in a circumcised heart. Stephen testified of this truth in the book of Acts: Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things? Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. ~ Acts 7:48-51
 
The scriptures tells us that after the new heavens and new earth come, new Jerusalem will descend from above and in the New Heavens and New Earth there shall be no temple: a reference to man made structures. 
 
There is no harmony with the New Testament revelation of Jesus Christ and the ideology of another man-made temple with animal sacrifices.
 
Jesus is the foundation stone of the true temple which God is building with living stones (believers in Jesus Christ) and it is this temple that God himself inhabits by his Spirit.

18. Jesus is the final sacrifice for sins. 

As stated at the outset, the sacrifices that Ezekiel references include the sin and trespass offerings and are said to be for atonement. ~ Ezekiel 45:17 see also 42:13 and 45:23.

According to the New Testament, the sacrifice of Jesus is the final offering for sins, and there will never, ever, be another.

This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, THERE IS NO MORE OFFERING FOR SIN.  ~ Hebrews 10:16-18

19 THE NEW COVENANT AND THE WITNESS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

The author of Hebrews tells us that the Holy Ghost is a witness to us regarding the New Covenant, established by the blood of Jesus.

In chapter 8, tells us that Jesus is the mediator of a better testament, established on better promises (v.6). The better testament, or covenant, is the New Covenant God promised to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.

The reason the new covenant was promised is clearly stated: For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah… ~ Hebrews 8:7-8.

The fault that God found with them was that they “continued not” in his covenant, and this was the result of sin. Israel’s covenant with God had no power to end the dominance of sin over his people, therefore, God promised to make a new covenant.

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a peopleAnd they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. ~Hebrews 8:10-12

Though Israel was given the Law, the tabernacle, the priesthood, and the atonement sacrifices, God was not pleased because there was no true cleansing from sins,

For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. ~ Hebrews 10:1-4

The sacrifices on which the Old Covenant was established, and which were offered for sins, were a continual reminder that sin had not been permanently dealt with, and thus, there was no true reconciliation between God and his people.

Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercy seat; of which we cannot now speak particularly. Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing… ~ Hebrews 9:1-8

In contrast to the ineffectiveness of the first covenant, the author of Hebrews expounds on the new. He tells us, the Holy Spirit is a witness to us of the New Covenant, established in the blood of Jesus.

Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for allAnd every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. ~ Hebrews 10:9-18

Contextually, the putting away of sins and the once for all references in the book of Hebrews, have to do with the permanency of the finished work of Christ in contrast to the imperfect atonement sacrifices under the Law. Because of Jesus, the New Covenant is superior to the Old.

Though the first covenant was ineffective in taking away sins, God gave it to Israel to prepare the people for something much greater. It would serve as a foreshadowing of Christ, who was yet to come.   

But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. ~ Hebrews 9:11-12

At best, the old covenant could only serve as a foreshadowing of the new. T
he first covenant, established with the blood of animal sacrifices, was insufficient for the cleansing of sins. Therefore, it had no power to reconcile man to God.

Through his blood, Jesus has reconciled us to God. As our Great High Priest, he has given us unhindered access into the presence of the Living God, because his blood cleanses us from all sin.

Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. ~ Hebrews 10:19-22

This is the covenant, to which the Holy Spirit bears witness to our hearts!

 

THEY WENT OUT FROM US, BUT THEY WERE NOT OF US

In recent days there has been news of a former mega Church leader and author who has decided to walk away from Christianity. Consequently, some Christians have taken the position that this person was never a believer to begin with, and base their conclusion on a scripture from 1 John, which says the following:

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. ~ 1 John 2:19

The problem with this conclusion is that John is not referring to those who turn away from the faith because of deception, offense, unresolved questions, etc.

John is referring to seducers who are false teachers, false prophets, and even false brethren, who have an anti-Christ spirit. At first they may appear to be true ministers and brethren, but eventually who they truly are comes to light through their message and works which are contrary to Christ.

Below is 1 John 2:19 in context:.

Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They (the many antichrists) went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life. These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. ~ 1 John 2:18-18

THE LAST DAYS

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. ~ 2 Timothy 3:1

Notice that the time statement in this text is future from Paul’s perspective. 2 Timothy was written by Paul late in his life somewhere likely between 63-67 A.D. Paul does not place himself or Timothy in the last days of which he speaks but refers to the last days as yet to come.

In 2 Peter, the apostle Peter also speaks of the last days as being yet future:

This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts… ~ 2 Peter 3:1-3

Like Paul, Peter speaks of the last days as yet future from his perspective. It is believed that 2 Peter was written somewhere in the AD 60’s.

Peter goes on to remind his readers “that a day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day”. Peter then says “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise as some men count slackness…”

When Full Preterists claim that the time statements in the Bible prove that the coming of the Lord occurred in AD 70 they are placing God on their timetable and actually counting any possibility beyond AD 70 as “slackness”, but God is not slack concerning his promise as men count slackness.

Peter tells us that God is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

In the New Testament the phrase “last days” is found 5 times. Two of those references have already been mentioned.

The first reference is found in Acts 2 where Peter cites the prophet Joel, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh…” ~ Acts 2:17

Another reference is found in the book of Hebrews

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds… ~ Hebrews 1:1-2

Notice the contrast made by the writer of Hebrews. God spoke by the prophets in “time past”  but has spoken by his Son “in these last days”.

Joel, whom Peter cites in Acts 2 was one of the prophets by whom God spoke in time past. This reference of  time past was not a brief period of time, it was a long dispensation of many centuries of God speaking by the prophets. In like manner the description, “these last days”, also refers to a long period of time, namely the dispensation of the rule of Christ in the Heavens until his second coming.

The last days referred to by Peter in Acts 2, and the writer of Hebrews is a dispensation over a long period of time and not a generation only. When reading scripture we must consider the context when interpreting phrases like these.

Just because they mean one thing in one text doesn’t mean they are referring to the same in another.

In Paul’s reference in 2 Timothy and Peter’s reference in the 2 Peter, the last days is not a reference to a long period of time as it is in Acts 2 and Hebrews 1. We can see that from the context that each of these belong to.

In Acts 2, and Hebrews 1, the last days refers to a long period of time, In 2 Timothy and 2 Peter it refers to a time within a longer time – the last days within the last days.

WE WILL ALL ANSWER TO GOD

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. ~ Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

There is a comfort in the judgment of God which will keep the child of God from straying from the truth. Every heresy which lures men in to worshipping a false Christ distorts or outright denies the day of reckoning.

The judgment of God is one of the most clearly articulated doctrines in all of scripture. Absolutely no one will escape the judgment of God.

Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deed… ~ Romans 2:1-6

One of the great errors which leads to heresies is the idea that the death of Jesus has eliminated the judgement of God. No where does the Bible teach this.

Every person will stand before God and give an account for his/her life.

For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. ~ Romans 14:11 

Paul includes himself when he says, “so then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”

The good news for the Christian is that we will not be condemned in that day if we have steadfastly kept our faith in Christ. This is ultimately what the term “saved” actually means.

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. ~ Hebrews 9:27-28

We are saved from our sins which would have condemned us in the presence of a Holy God had it not been for Jesus. God in his love gave his Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins so that we can be justified in his sight.

According the Paul, God has set forth Jesus as a sacrifice of atonement (a mercy seat) to justify us through his blood to declare his own righteousness. By this, God is just and the one who justifies those who believe in Jesus (See Romans 3:25-26).

This is wonderful news when we consider the fact that we do not have to wait until the Day of Judgment to be justified through Jesus. We are justified now by his precious blood and can live in confidence and fellowship with a Holy God who is our loving Father.

JESUS IS COMING AGAIN

Jesus is coming again.
 
The destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. was NOT the return of Christ (his second coming) which is witnessed to throughout the New Testament.
 
In 70 A.D., Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, enforced the promised judgment against the temple in Jerusalem and nation of Israel for their apostasy. In one sense of the word, it is correct to say that Jesus came in judgment. However, this was not his second coming or glorious appearing promised in the New Testament.
 
When Jesus returns, there will be the bodily resurrection of those who look to him for salvation.
 
With that said, to many Christian ministers completely ignore the events that unfolded at the end of the Jewish temple era. Yet it is a big theme in the New Testament. The destruction of Jerusalem was prophesied by Jesus and the apostles warned their fellow Jews of the impending judgment which was quickly approaching.
 
Some of the texts that are interpreted as unfulfilled prophecy actually apply to the (then) coming destruction of Jerusalem which happened in the first century. Yet this does not mean that all warnings of judgment in the New Testament apply to that time period, and that is where some make a terrible mistake in interpreting scripture.
 
Those who make the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple the center of their Biblical hermeneutic often go into error regarding other very important biblical doctrines.Those who go into such error claim that Christ has already come and everything is fulfilled.
 
On the contrary, Jesus hasn’t come yet. The resurrection of the just and unjust hasn’t happened yet. The final judgment of the entire world hasn’t happened yet.
 
Here is one thing that can help you understand scripture better, and better interpret prophecy.
 
Know that what God has done with Israel serves as a microcosm of his dealings with the nations. In Romans 3, Paul says, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” v. 19
 
The law was given to Israel, yet it was given so that “all the world” may become guilty. Many have a view Israel as a witness of God’s favor. Yet in the New Testament, it is Israel’s judgment from God that serves as a witness to the nations.
 
Every soul of man will answer to God and this is witnessed of in God’s dealing with the people of Israel. The salvation of the Jews wasn’t national. It was individual. Only those who repented and believed that Jesus is the Messiah would be saved from God’s judgment which was hanging over the nation.
 
In much the same way, Jesus is going to judge the nations. Only those who repent and believe in Christ will be saved in the day of his wrath.

LET NO MAN DESPISE YOUR YOUTH

Let no one despise you for your youth but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. ~ 1 Timothy 4:12
 
There are two ways that a young person could read Paul’s words to Timothy.
 
First, it could be read, “don’t let anyone despise you because you are young, you are equal with your elders in spiritual matters”.
 
Secondly, It could be read as Paul intended it, “don’t let anyone despise your youth, and this is the way to accomplish that: be an example of true Christianity in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”
 
There is a vast difference in these two approaches.
 
Being an example to the believers of true Christianity includes obeying everything which Paul told Timothy in this epistle. Not long after Paul tells Timothy to be an example, Paul says the following:
 
Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity. ~ 1 Timothy 5:1
 
If young people in their late teens and early to mid 20’s want to be respected as mature believers, they must learn how to relate with respect to their elders in the faith, and how to conduct themselves with all purity towards their their contemporaries.
 
When you are 18, 21, 25 years old, etc., you can have a lot of zeal, but no matter how much zeal you have, you still lack the life experience of those who have been walking with Christ for 25, 30, 40 years or more.
 
Many of those who are you elders have lived through the “zeal” you experience in your youth, and while zeal is a good thing to have, it won’t carry you for the long haul. When you are young, there are simply some things you do not know because you have not lived it yet. There is absolutely no substitute for life experience.
 
Next April, I will mark 40 years as a Christian in my life. I don’t have all wisdom or knowledge, but I have stumbled over a few things in those 40 years.
 
When I see a young Christian person who is respectful towards their elders, I see maturity and a young person who is on the right path.
 
If you are a young Christian and you do not properly respect your elders, you are going to struggle in your Christian faith.
 
You are not required to agree with everything an older Christian believes (being an elder does not mean they’ve got it all right) but you do need to have a respectful disposition towards those who have been in the faith much longer than you.
 
Paul did not instruct Timothy to not allow anyone to despise his youth by taking charge even over the old folks. Instead, Paul instructed Timothy to show the proper respect towards his elders as part of his being an example of the believers.
 
Not allowing anyone to despise your youth is not a stand alone statement. It is a statement that is qualified by how you live as an example, and one of the components of being a godly example is how you treat your elders, and conduct yourself towards your peers.