Posted by: biblestudyseattle | November 24, 2019

Two Salvations

Here is a very excellent article about the initial two salvations from the bible students of central Ohio:

What we regularly hear preached as the Gospel is only half of the story of salvation. An examination of this topic has proven that there is actually good news (Greek definition) in a fuller sense than most Christians have ever dreamed! 

In Galatians 3:8 the Apostle Paul makes an astounding statement: “…foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.” That the Gospel message was presented in the Old Testament is not a generally appreciated concept, however, at the core of traditional Judaism is a belief based upon this Gospel preached to Abraham.

This belief is basically that Messiah will come and bless all humanity through Abraham’s children or seed. This blessing will include not only the living, but in addition, through resurrection, all those who have died. What a beautiful Gospel—promising that all mankind would be blessed! Gen. 12:3, 22:15-18

The traditional Christian teaching of the Gospel sees only a heavenly resurrection which is offered only to believers in Christ, while all others are condemned. The teaching of Judaism is more compassionate and encompassing—including all men in a resurrection here upon the earth. The concepts of Judaism and traditional Christianity are both partially correct, but each separately is incomplete.

Judaism received its belief from God’s own prophets, and we would indeed be presumptuous to ignore that testimony. Jesus, who was a Jew, never disputed the Gospel as preached to Abraham. Still, we must also acknowledge that Jesus taught that only faithful Christians will go to heaven. These two versions of the Gospel are not inharmonious. Judaism never learned about the Christian half of the Gospel, and Christianity forgot about the Judaism half, but both of these are true. By rightly dividing the word of truth, we learn that, to accept the complete Gospel message we must accept both versions.

We have found that the Gospel in its entirety is summarized in God’s promise to Abraham: “…I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore… and in thy seed shall all nations be blessed…” (Gen. 22:18) What does this mean? Notice that it involves two distinct and separate parts: 1. Abraham’s seed, and  2. all nations of earth.

The Apostle Paul defines this seed of promise: “If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.” (Gal. 3:29) This is the key to our understanding. It states that faithful Christians are counted by God as being Abraham’s seed or children. It also states that because of this they become heirs according to the promise. What promise? The promise was that the seed would bless all others. Thus, if faithful Christians are the seed, God’s eventual purpose for them is to bless all the nations of the earth, both the living and the dead. Herein is the harmonious concept of the two versions of the Gospel: 1. those who go to heaven will 2. bless those here upon earth!

Both halves of the Gospel are required for scriptural harmony. Acts 15:14-17 clarifies this point: “God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name [the heavenly seed or stars of heaven]…  After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof [the earthly seed or sand upon the seashore], and I will set it up; that the residue of men [all the nations of the earth] might seek after the Lord…”

God’s plan of salvation is in progressive stages. The first half of the Gospel offers salvation now to the heavenly seed—true Christians who will comprise the Church. The second half offers salvation through this heavenly seed to the remainder of mankind—all the nations of the earth. The first of these nations will be the earthly seed of Abraham, the nation of Israel. Jesus confirms this thought in Luke 22:28-30: “Ye [the faithful disciples] are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

Paul also mentions two opportunities for salvation in 1Timothy 4:10 where he says “…we trust in the living God who is the Savior of all men, specially of those that believe.” It is clear that Paul still had in mind the seed and all men as being the two parts of the Gospel because he says that salvation is: 1. for all men, and 2. especially for those that believe.

The New Testament states that the resurrection will be a two stage process. The Church of Christ will receive the first resurrection to heaven. (1 Thess. 4:16, Rev. 20: 5, 6) The second resurrection, to God’s kingdom on earth, will be accomplished by Christ and his Church when they raise the remainder of mankind from the grave to a period of education and then judgment. God “hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained [Christ]; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised him from the dead.”

As death came by the first Adam, so life comes by Christ, the second Adam. Everything that mankind lost through being in the first Adam is to be restored to those who believe into the second Adam. “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 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.” (1Cor. 15:20-23) When awakened, with the advantage of experience with evil, which Adam lacked, those who thankfully accept the redemption as God’s gift may continue to live everlastingly on the original condition of obedience. Perfect obedience will be required, and perfect ability to obey will be provided under the righteous reign of the Prince of Peace.

Here is the salvation offered to the world. Many have adopted the erroneous idea that God placed our race on trial for life with the alternative of eternal torture, whereas nothing of the kind is even hinted at in the original penalty. Death, not eternal torment, was the penalty for sin.

As surely as Jesus died for all, they must all have the blessings and opportunities which he purchased with his own precious blood. Hence we should expect blessings in the Millennial age upon all those in their graves as well as upon those not in them. It is because of God’s plan for their release that those in the grave are called prisoners of hope. Zech. 9:11, 12

Enlightenment on the subject of the true Gospel and the hope it brings sheds light on frequently asked questions:

1. Why did God create the earth and mankind? God created men and angels because one of His primary attributes is love. True love generates the quality of giving. Therefore he formed the earth to be inhabited (Isaiah 45:18) by perfect human beings who would love and serve Him freely and to whom He would freely give blessing and life. This creation was not in vain. There will be harmony throughout all of God’s creation when God’s plan is complete. His word will “not return unto Him void but it shall accomplish that which He pleases…” Isaiah 55:11

2. What is God doing in the earth today? At present, the Lord has one primary plan being carried out at two levels. His ultimate goal is to bring all who have ever lived into harmony with Him again. One part of accomplishing this goal is to permit evil to have full sway in the earth so that man will be fully able to see its painful results. Eccl. 1:13; 3:10

While this evil is being permitted, God is accomplishing the other aspect of his plan—developing the Church of Christ. Having found too few Jews faithful at the first advent to constitute this Church, God is now “visiting the Gentiles to call out a people for His name.” (Acts 15:14) These are experiencing a special testing which will prepare them to implement the resurrection of all others and to rule and teach them with righteous judgment. This people for His name will be those who have faithfully suffered with Christ. “For if we suffer [with Christ] we shall also reign with him…” These will be “priests of God and of Christ and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” (Rev. 20:6) This reigning will be for the purpose of teaching and blessing all the nations of the earth. What a prospect! This is the very reason that James says God is selecting a people for His name: that “after this… the residue of men might seek after the Lord.” (Acts 15:13-18) During Christ’s reign of righteousness, mankind will be capable of making a free and intelligent choice between good and evil—having experienced both.

3. What is the Gospel? There are two primary scriptures which explain the term Gospel. When the angel appeared to the shepherds at Jesus’ birth, he declared: “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11

Acts 3:19 states that God “shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things [all that was lost in Adam], which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” Thus, these two scriptures summarize the Gospel message—good news to man that God’s original plan has not failed, and that mankind will be restored to life and receive God’s blessings eternally on a perfected earth. This is all to be accomplished by the promised seed.

4. Will the faithful of old be resurrected to heaven or earth? John the Baptist died before Jesus gave his life for the world. Jesus stated in Matthew 11:11 “among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Our Lord’s own words are stating that John will not be included in the first or heavenly resurrection!  (Rev. 20:6) No, John instead will have part in a future resurrection right here on the earth.

In fact, before the ransom sacrifice of Jesus, all of the ancient faithful were not offered, nor did they ever receive, a heavenly resurrection. They all looked forward to the Kingdom of God here upon the earth, with Jerusalem as its capital and Israel (the earthly seed) as the nation from which all blessings would flow to other people.

Acts 7:5 clarifies this point that the promise made to Abraham was earthly: God “promised that He would give it [the land] to him for a possession.” Although this promise is even now in process of fulfillment to Abraham’s natural descendants, Israel, yet Abraham had not received the promise himself: “… none inheritance in it [the land], no, not so much as to set his foot on.” Abraham will return from the grave in the earthly resurrection to receive the inheritance that was promised to him.

This blessing cannot be fulfilled until the still higher heavenly promises concerning Christ and his Church are fulfilled. The Apostle Paul states of Abraham and all those of faith who lived before Christ: “These all died in faith, not having received [the fulfillment of] the promise, God having provided some better thing for us [the true Church], that they without us should not be made perfect.” Heb. 11:13, 39, 40

5. Are all not Christian now lost forever? Certainly not! The purpose of the Church is to bless all those who are outside of the Church! God is not dealing with the world in general now. He is merely choosing out from among them those who will become members of the Church. After the Church is completely chosen and she becomes the bride of Christ during his second advent, then “the Spirit [Christ] and the bride [the Church] say Come; and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Rev. 22:17

6. Will the Jews be saved? Israel as a nation has forever lost the opportunity of becoming the Church; but Israel never lost the opportunity for atonement with God in the earthly Kingdom. (Rom. 11:25-26) It is through the natural seed of Abraham, the Jew, that God plans to give His New Covenant to the rest of mankind. (Jer. 31:31-34) Israel is now reestablished as a nation among nations. Soon she will be the nation from whom the blessings will flow worldwide—for it is written that “Many nations shall come and say; Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord and to the house of the God of Jacob, and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths, for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” (Micah 4:2-4) Likewise it is said, “Many people and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to pray before the Lord… In those days it shall come to pass that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” Zech. 8:22, 23

7. When will these blessings be? At the birth of Jesus, the angels declared “peace on earth, goodwill toward men.” (Luke 2:14) But the world is certainly not experiencing, nor has it ever experienced, this peace and goodwill First come the troubles also termed birthpangs which will usher in God’s peaceable Kingdom on earth. “… I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; and I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come.” Haggai 2:6, 7

Our Lord taught his disciples to pray “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth…” (Matt. 6:10) Praise God that the complete Gospel, with blessings promised to the Christian, the Jew and the entire world is truly GOOD NEWS!
Posted by: biblestudyseattle | November 1, 2019

Three Sieges

Apparently Jerusalem was under siege three times by Nebuchadnezzar.  In 605 BC, 597 BC, and 587 BC.  It must have been a scary time.  70 years after the last siege, the temple was rebuilt and in operation.  Here is a decent article (although the 931 BC date for the dividing of Israel is wrong.  It should be 980 BC.)  https://www.preceptaustin.org/jehovah_shammah

 

Posted by: biblestudyseattle | October 21, 2019

Challenges of the early Christians

We sometimes overlook the challenges the early Christians had in convincing people that Jesus was the Messiah.  It is highly instructive for our time.  “As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ,”  Luke 3:15  I’ve never heard a sermon commenting on why the people were in expectation.  It was because of Daniels prophecy, “Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.  Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time.   And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing.”  Daniel 9:24-26

The annointed one here is Jesus.  The decree to rebuild Jerusalem was in 455BC, or thereabouts, so 69 weeks of years is 483 years, which is 29AD.  (Technically 454.75BC to 28.75AD).  Even if we quibble that is was 458BC, it’s still around the time John was baptizing.

But Jesus died.  How are you going to convince anyone that the Messiah who was supposed to conquer the world for good apparently died?  Did he fail his mission?  This was (and is) the stumbling block for the Jews.  Everyone wants a STRONG messiah, not a weak one.  Even now this is the case.  Everyone supposes Jesus will come with thunderbolts and dash the bad guys to pieces.  But first he will come quietly.  As a thief.  “Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”  Revelation 16:15  Then, he will privately reveal himself to the Jews.  “Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him. He cried, “Make everyone go out from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers.  And he wept aloud, so that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it.  And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence.”  Genesis 45:1-3  So it will be in a century or so.  Then, and only later than that does Jesus come in mighty power.  “Behold, a day is coming for the Lord, when the spoil taken from you will be divided in your midst.  For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped. Half of the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city.  Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle.  On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward.  And you shall flee to the valley of my mountains, for the valley of the mountains shall reach to Azal. And you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.”  Zechariah 14:1-7  This will most likely happen in the days of awe leading up to the great Day of Atonement several centuries from now.  

Posted by: biblestudyseattle | October 5, 2019

Dating Esther

Gerard Gertoux has some pretty neat papers on ancient chronology.  Here he dates Esther during the reign of Darius/Xerxes: https://www.academia.edu/8233800/Queen_Esther_wife_of_Xerxes_Chronological_Historical_and_Archaeological_Evidence

Posted by: biblestudyseattle | September 11, 2019

Beatitudes and Victors

Have you ever read the Beatitudes and thought that the meek get one gift, the peacemakers another, etc.?  Or are these describing different attributes of a saint and therefore all the rewards apply?  Similarly, if we take Revelation 2-3, we might see that different Christians through the Christian age get different benefits.  Or is it a composite of the overcomers that all the benefits apply?  To the church at Ephesus it says, “I will give the victor the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in God’s paradise.”  Revelation 2:7.  To the church at Smyrna it says, “The victor will never be harmed by the second death.”  Revelation 2:11.  To the church at Pergamum it says, “I will give the victor some of the hidden manna.  I will also give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name is inscribed that no one knows except the one who receives it.”  Revelation 2:17.  To the church at Thyatira it says, “The one who is victorious and keeps My works to the end: I will give him authority over the nations—and he will shepherd[t] them with an iron scepter; he will shatter them like potteryjust as I have received this from My Father.   I will also give him the morning star.”  Revelation 2:26-28.  To the church at Sardis it says, “In the same way, the victor will be dressed in white clothes, and I will never erase his name from the book of life but will acknowledge his name before My Father and before His angels.”  Revelation 3:5.  To the church at Philadelphia it says, “The victor: I will make him a pillar in the sanctuary of My God, and he will never go out again. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God—the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God—and My new name.”  Revelation 3:12.  To the church at Laodicea it says, “The victor: I will give him the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I also won the victory and sat down with My Father on His throne.”  Revelation 3:21

These victory passages show that the overcomers have many rewards.  The first reward is eating from the tree of life.  This destroys the idea that Christians receive instant immortality at death.  Immortals do not need to eat.  The third reward is similar – the hidden manna, much like the manna that the Israelites ate while wandering about the wilderness with Moses – symbolic of the Millennial Reign.  The second reward speaks of escaping the second death, again in the Millennial Age.  The later rewards speak of reigning with Messiah and being a part of God’s temple.  This speaks of the Millennial Age and also the ages beyond.

Posted by: biblestudyseattle | September 9, 2019

Suffering

No matter who we are, we all experience suffering of one sort or another.  We all age and we all die.  No matter how saintly we are.  God wants us to experience this so that we will not choose death in Act 2 of our lives.  Once we’ve burnt our finger on the stove, we will be careful not to do that again!  In Act 2, God will grant us access to the trees of life if we repent and forgive.  “Then he showed me the river of living water, sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the broad street of the city. The tree of life was on both sides of the river, bearing 12 kinds of fruit, producing its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree are for healing the nations,”  Revelation 22:2

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates.  Outside are the dogs, the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.”  Revelation 22:14-15

Notice that only those that ‘wash their robes’ get to eat.  This means repenting and forgiving.  The evil ones will not be allowed to eat, leading to aging and eventually to second death.

Posted by: biblestudyseattle | August 19, 2019

Prophecy Everywhere

Some prophecy seems obvious, like Daniel or Revelation.  What is less appreciated is that large portions of the old testament are prophecy.  Some are of the opinion that all the stories are also prophecy.  Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, the Exodus, Ruth, Samson, Esther, Saul, David, Solomon, etc.; all these stories and more are prophecies.  Esther has a couple references to the third day, which pictures restitution in the third day from Christ – 3,000 years.

Posted by: biblestudyseattle | August 19, 2019

The New Creation

Six days of work followed by a Sabbath day of rest is the pattern for the whole bible.  YHWH sets the example.  “So the heavens and the earth and everything in them were completed.  By the seventh day God completed His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done.   God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, for on it He rested from His work of creation.”  Genesis 2:1-3  He has 7,000 years of rest before he starts creating anew, which is several centuries future to us.  In this regard, any christian restored to life in heaven now is not yet truly a new creation.  That must wait.  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”  2 Corinthians 5:17-18

“Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.”  Galations 6:15

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea no longer existed.  I also saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.

Then I heard a loud voice from the throne:

Look! God’s dwelling is with humanity,
and He will live with them.
They will be His people,
and God Himself will be with them
and be their God.”  Revelation 21:1-3

Posted by: biblestudyseattle | July 23, 2019

Storming Heaven

In the mid 1600s there was a schism in Russia over worship.  Reforms had been made which many did not like.  Disputes about instrumental music and making the sign of the cross with two or three fingers caused many to flee.  In fact, about 20,000 were burnt at the stake for keeping the old style of worship.  Did these people secure themselves a place in heaven?  Does God really care whether there’s instruments in worship or how many fingers one uses to make the sign of the cross?  No.  We cannot force God’s hand.  What really counts is the heart.  Paul says, “If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”  1 Corinthians 13:3.  Conversely, look at David.  He was an adulterer and a murderer.  Yet God is going to set him over all Israel and the world!  “‘My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees.”  Ezekiel 37:24  Or look at Paul.  He was a murderer.  Yet he became perhaps the greatest Christian.  Both Paul and David repented.  Rank in heaven is not primarily about giving one’s life to the flames.

Posted by: biblestudyseattle | June 23, 2019

Joseph’s bones

 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”  And Joseph made the Israelites swear an oath and said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.”  Genesis 50:24-25

Why did Joseph demand his bones be taken to Israel?  It’s probably prophetic of the resurrection where people’s bones will be returned to them.  Egypt is also symbolic of the worldly condition, and YHWH does not want us to stay there.

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