Thursday, June 25, 2009
Friday, April 25, 2008
This scripture is sadly used to promote three incorrect teachings. First- that “judging our brother” means we cannot tell anyone that their actions are wrong. Second- that ALL people will stand before Christ for judgment. Third- that our appearance before Christ is like that described in the previous chapter of the judge pronouncing the judgment “from the bench.”
To briefly dispel the first two: One- judging a person (which we are prohibited from doing) is a completely different thing from judging a person’s actions. The Bible clearly directs us to declare sin to be sin, and to help our brothers to understand and overcome it. Two- clearly from the context of the chapter, including verse 8 above, “we are the Lord’s,” the “all” means born again Christians shall stand before Christ in this event.
As for the third false teaching, which perhaps is the most critical- it involves the very concept of a judgment seat. We know that the New Testament was written in the Greek language. The phrase “judgment seat” here is the translation of the single word- bema. This word means a “step.”
However by the time that Paul wrote this letter the word had developed a long history in Greek culture, for the word “Bema” came to represent a structure.
Below is a picture of the Bema in the Pnykx in Athens, Greece, built about 300 years before Christ.
Bemas like it had two very common usages, one of which you may recognize from looking at the picture. The first use was the speaker’s platform for the assemblies of the citizens. The Bema above was the place where the Assembly of Athens met. The second use is the judge’s stand where the winners of the athletic games were presented with their awards. The awards stands where the athletes receive their medals today are virtually identical to this.
So then, what actually takes place at the “judgment seat” of Christ?
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:10
Remember from Chapter 6 that those of us who are born again and regenerated are made one with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. We thereafter share HIS righteousness, and have ALREADY been found “not guilty” of sin and condemnation. It is here that Jesus comes for His own and gives us the rewards we have earned in our life in Him.
Where does the Bema of Jesus Christ take place?
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1Thessalonians 4 :13-18 (NASB)
The Lord Jesus will return for His Church and take us up to be with Him in Heaven. This is what is known as the “Rapture.” The world will be left wondering and making excuses for how all believers disappeared in an instant.
While that is taking place, we will be receiving our rewards from Jesus “in the air.”
Thursday, December 13, 2007
“I’m basically a good person and I try to keep the ten commandments.”
We have now learned the true meaning of salvation. Being born again we are forever joined in spirit with God and thus permanently assured of our place with Him in heaven.
Yet... people will still return to this concept of qualifying in some manner through a judgment process weighing their good and bad deeds to determine (again!) their eternal destiny. If this were true it would mean that God is fickle and places us under double jeopardy.
The reason for returning to this idea of “everyone” having to go to some future Judgment is that many churches still teach this doctrine. In this way “Christian“ societies have transferred it to literature, popular culture, to the very psyche of Christendom.
The idea of judgment has become such a basic concept that people often focus on it more than on the outcome. Some who question the existence of hell still speak of the judgment. Others say, “It doesn’t matter what I do. I’m going to hell anyway.” This because of their sins of the past (some in fact truly great, some due to never going to church, along with its many requirements). This has been greatly enhanced by whatever contact they have had with Christians incessant preaching against sin.
We can learn the truth we need to overcome this false teaching of the Judgment Day, where all people, Jews, heathens, Christians, believers of any other religion, atheists and agnostics must stand before God and give an account, by studying the TWO principal judgments Scripture relates to us.
The clear understanding of each can then remove us forever from any future concern so that we may stand firmly in our knowledge of our PRESENT already judged (and declared righteous) condition.
The two Judgments will be discussed individually in the following two chapters:
1. The “Judgment Seat” of Jesus Christ.
2. The “Great White Throne” Judgment related in the Revelation.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
1. You, sir, are a hypocrite
2. You, sir, have no idea just how hypocritical they truly are.
re 1: All people are hypocrites. It is the natural condition and it is only built upon and developed by daily life and the education we receive through dealing with others.
No honest person can deny such a truth about themselves.
re 2: People entering the church to escape their lives of sin are then confronted with a world of knowledge unknown outside, a world which magnifies their sin and hypocrisy.
Roman 7: 5, 7, 8
5 For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.
7 What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, "YOU SHALL NOT COVET."
8 But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead.Of course, Paul is writing these things in the context of teaching the total freedom from them in Christ through grace.
But the outsider only sees the sin. And unfortunately the churches are constantly beating the poor Christians and anyone else within earshot with the Law.
How strange! That which is known to cause sin is what is the primary focus of all of these people- those inside and those outside.
But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.
How about releasing some more prisoners of sin?
Preach Christ, crucified and risen, the grace we have been given to be free, and the Spirit He will give us to lead us into all truth.
Yes, I am a hypocrite. A hypocrite set free and most anxious to let you know how you also may be free.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
The means of salvation is by being "born again." This is known as regeneration. It is the work of the Holy Spirit.
He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:5
The process of regeneration, or "new birth," causes the spirit of man and the Spirit of God to be joined together. Because this joining is with God the Holy Spirit Himself, this resulting ONE nature is everlasting. The spirit of man and the Spirit of God are forever "one spirit."
But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
1 Corinthians 6:17
Here lies the very heart of salvation. All of our understanding is built upon it.
From the time the Holy Spirit enters and regenerates a person forward they become ONE Spirit. The Bible no longer distinguishes between the sprit of man and the Holy Spirit within him. That is not to say that man is in any way God, or that the Holy Spirit is in any way contained within man's body.
Once joined, there is never again the possibility that the person may be separated from God.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38,39
It is through this oneness with God that the life in Christ is experienced. It is through this oneness that the Christian obtains the absolute assurance of his salvation and eternal destiny.
No rules of religion will ever be able to accomplish this joining together or "regeneration."
No rules of religion will ever be able to cut off man's spirit from God. No sins committed by the Christian in his body or mind can cause a split in the one spirit now at the root of his new nature.
When the person who has been born again dies his body returns to dust, but his spirit is freed to join with Christ where He is in heaven, seated at the right hand of God.
It is fair to ask if God has any requirements at all. That is, whether He created the universe and man, and then simply let them loose to run throughout time on their own while He sat back and watched. In fact, there are some people who say that very thing. They are known as Deists.
God has revealed His plan for mankind.
He has shown in progressively clearer and ever more detailed ways who He is, and what it is that He desires. He has had people live out their lives as examples, each one showing a different aspect or fuller view of God's complete plan. He has provided an account of these things in the Bible.
In the Bible the lives of these people, and the acts and edicts of God, are recorded for all succeeding generations to see and gain understanding.
As previously covered in the discussion of religion, the central element in this revelation was the need for the sacrifice of a life to atone for or "cover" sin. Sin which kept man apart from a sinless and holy God.
Some of the Bible accounts illustrating this include:
Adam and Eve - After they had committed their sin, they covered themselves with leaves. God showed that more than a plant was needed to cover up their sin. God replaced the plant coverings with the skins of animals to give Adam and Eve a "cover" for their nakedness before Him. (Genesis 3)
Cain and Abel - Cain offered plants, Abel offered animals. God accepted Abel's sacrifice and rejected Cain's. (Genesis 4)
God gave Moses the Law in which was set forth the Day of Atonement- On the set day each year, the high priest went into the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle and sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice upon the Mercy Seat. So each year the sacrifice was made to cleanse the people of their sins from the previous year.
In the Old Testament the Bible records the Law. There it contains rules of life and the requirements given by God for the sacrifice which was to be done every year on the Day of Atonement to remove the sins of the people. Following on through the Old Testament the prophets revealed how God would provide a man who would be perfect and without sin to redeem His people from the penalty of sin.
The New Testament reveals that man to us. Not just a man, but God Himself, Jesus Christ. The Gospels tell us how Jesus came and announced Himself, and then offered Himself on the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world. They also reveal His resurrection from the dead, the proof that all He had said was true. After His resurrection, and His ascension into heaven to take His rightful place at the right hand of God, He sent the Holy Spirit into the world in His place.
Jesus went to the cross, taking upon Himself the sins of mankind. (Ephesians 2) The book of Hebrews was written to Jewish believers to show that what was done in the Old Testament was a type, that is, a symbol of what Jesus would do for those who put their faith in Him. It explains clearly how Jesus fulfilled perfectly those things required in the Old Testament laws.
It tells us that after Jesus offered Himself on the cross He entered into the Heavenly Temple. As the perfect High Priest who Himself was without sin, He there poured His own blood upon the Mercy Seat. This sacrifice met the need to once and for all time cleanse those of us who believe in Him of all of our sins. (Hebrews 9)
He then chose the Apostle Paul. Paul was to be the one to explain all of these things to us in this completed state. The things which were revealed to Him by the Glorified and Risen Christ.
There is one book which the person interested in knowing the truth regarding religion should know. That book is the Book of ROMANS. Most questions raised by honest searchers pertaining to God, man and salvation are explained in this book. (Of course this means in the context of knowing the whole Bible!)
It is the book of Romans which was the key element in sparking the Reformation. Martin Luther felt this book was so important that it should be memorized by every Christian.
In order to truly understand Christianity one must know this book.
The closing chapter on Revelation is The Revelation of Jesus to John the Apostle. In this, the last book of the Bible is recorded the things which will come to bring about the completion of God's dealings with His creation and with man.
Not until Christ returns will there be more to know and be said.
Throughout all history mankind has had an ingrained desire to relate to God.
Cain and Abel were the first two people born. They felt that desire, so they performed the first acts of "religion." (Genesis 4)
Religion is the attempt to worship God by performing some act.* Cain and Abel made offerings. Many older religions revolved around various offerings or sacrifices to the many "gods." These offerings were made for many reasons- to appease the gods, to thank the gods, to make them happy, to bribe them into helping the people, or to meet the gods' desires for "victims."
After God gave the Law to the Jews, religion became more and more the practice of keeping regulations of lifestyle. The religious scholars began interpreting the meaning of the laws and making regulations to insure that none of the laws were broken. In time those regulations grew to far outnumber the law (called "the Torah"**) given by Moses in the first five books of the Bible.
These rituals and regulations became the primary focus of the Jewish religion. This practice has been repeated in some Christian churches who have added rituals and regulations to the truth of the Bible and create the Christian "religion." Others have taken the Bible and mixed it with the pagan ideas of God and life to create new religions.
That is what the main thrust of religion remains to this day. People "do" things in order to approach God; or to please God; to become "like" God; some even supposedly to "become God."
Those people who believe in "the Judgment Day" do the things they think will weigh in their favor when God judges them, weighing the good and the bad to see whether they should go to heaven or to hell.
It was through the Bible, and the Law given to the Jews that the one true God explained the reason for sacrifice. That reason is Sin. Sin is the wrong that people do. The wrong which separates them from a pure and holy God. God provided a means for removing that sin. That means of removal was the sacrificial substitution of an innocent life for the life of the sinner.
Those who are raised in a "christian" cultural environment are indoctrinated into the concept of a Judgment of all people by God when they die. Religion says that the decision made for either heaven or hell is based upon how well the person has managed to adhere to and accomplish the rules and regulations that have been laid down.
It is in that context the person brings up the claim, "I'm basically a good person, and I try to keep the 10 commandments."
An honest review of this statement shows it to be at best an admission of ignorance. The person does not really have any idea what he should have done and is simply hoping for the best. It can also be seen as an acknowledgement of awareness of personal sin and failing to meet the requirements of holiness that would befit a relationship with a holy and pure God. Thus:
"I am basically a good person, and I try to keep the 10 commandments."
Isn't this really saying "I am not really (100%) a good person, and I haven't actually kept the 10 Commandments" (not to mention the 600+ other commandments given)?
Let's be honest, doesn't every single one of us have to admit this?
Through learning the true nature of salvation a person can move from this position of hopeful ignorance to one of solid knowledge. As a result we come to understand that the hopeful claim quoted above is completely irrelevant when it comes to the determination of our eternal condition.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. NASB
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.
He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. KJV
The New American Standard Bible and the King James Versions are presented here side by side simply to point out the concepts of "judge" and "condemn." In the chapter on JUDGMENT we will come to understand the fact that these two ways of translating this verse are both exact, and true.
Meanwhile you may reflect upon how they do indeed promise that the "hopeful claim" is truly irrelevant in relation to any judgment of the Christian.
*Remember this definition of "religion." It is important to know that religion is not the way to heaven. We will see that God wants us to have a relationship with Him, not to practice some religion for Him.
**The first five books of the Bible collectively known as "The Torah" are: Genesis, Exodus Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy.
The book of Romans in the New Testament has a correlation to these first five books in that in it is given the doctrine establishing the basis of the theology of Christianity. It is for this reason that from the earliest days of the church it was placed first in the books of the New Testament after the Gospels and Acts, even though it was not the first book to be written.
Friday, August 10, 2007
When talking about the subject of salvation, it is very common to hear a person express their feeling in a way very similar to the quotation above.
The statement shows that most people understand the term "salvation" to be somehow related to the concept of "judgment." It is, in fact, a kind of preliminary defense used to express their hopeful good treatment in any such trial.
It is only to be expected that judgment is brought up since it is, after all, that very same judgment that the person is hoping to be "saved from."
Those who believe in this idea of judgment, and salvation as the hopeful outcome of it are victims of what Dr. Dwight Pentecost calls:
"a mischievous habit" that has led the Christian world to speak of the judgment as being one great event taking place at the end of the world, when all human beings, saints, sinners, Jews and Gentiles, the living and the dead, shall stand up before the great white throne and there be judged. Nothing can be more wide of the teaching of the Scriptures."
(quoted by C. I. Scofield in Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth, The Five Judgments, chapter 5)
Counteracting this "mischievous habit" (actually it is a Great Lie) will be a central goal of this study. The means of correcting it will be by presenting God's truths pertaining to the facts and mechanics of the Salvation Process.
That is not saying it is some kind of "scientific" explanation. It would not be rational to attempt to apply scientific principles to explain spiritual truths. The two are simply unrelated. Science is a part of the physical realm and can not explain the things belonging to the spiritual realm.
At the same time this is not principally an academic or theological explanation of salvation (called Soteriology from the Greek words for "save" and "word" or study). Hopefully it will be a very practical guide to understanding the truth about the great salvation that has been made available to us through the sacrificial work of Jesus on the Cross.
The study of Salvation will include such topics as:
Religion, Revelation, The Nature of Man, Salvation, Judgment, Faith, The Cross, Resurrection, and Heaven and Hell.
Read Exodus 20:1-17 to refresh your memory of the 10 Commandments.
Bible reminder tip: 10 (X) + Exodus (X) = 20 (XX)
Friday, July 27, 2007
Probably the most well known and loved verse in the Bible is John 3:16-
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
A simple verse with such great depth!
In spite of John 3:16 being the most well known verse, almost no one knows the verses following it.
17. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.
Now this verse is very nice. It tells us that Jesus did not come here to condemn people, but to save them. We are to be like Him in this way. As Christians our job is not to condemn people. A question comes up though when we think about the second part of this verse. - the world through Jesus is saved. And what of those who are not? And what about those who are relying on some other way? What is their condition? The next verse tells us:
18. He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
It seems that we started out on such a "good" note talking about "love" for the world, and not condemning the world. But we see it quickly turn more sober. We don't condemn the world- because they are already condemned.
Some people want to focus on the love part of these verses, and have a feel good religion where we "love everybody," and don't say somebody is wrong. But what does God want?
We know from the Bible he wants to save people. He wanted it so much that He allowed His Son to die a horrific death to provide the salvation and forgiveness we all need.
How do you think He feels about people who don't value that sacrifice? People who say "I am a Christian," but who don't believe Jesus was the Son of God. What about those who say he was a "great teacher" or "one of many great teachers" who show us "the way."
We don't have to guess at how He feels. The Bible is the Word of God. In the Bible He tells us everything we need to know about both life and eternal life. And we know already from v.18- they are condemned already. We don't have to condemn them. And it is not us who condemns when we tell them that they are.
To love a person does not mean to lie to them, "Oh no, your cancer won't kill you."
When I say to the wicked, "You will surely die," and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand."
"Yet if you have warned the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I iwll require at your hand. Ezekiel 3:18,19
Not everyone who says to Me on that day, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name and in Your name cast out demons and in Your name perform many miracles?"
" And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you: Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness". Matthew 7:21,22
I hear people say all of the time, "We are all God's children." But that is just not true.
Everyone is not a child of God. It is John again who tells us this:
But as many as received him, to them He gave the right to become the children of God, even to those who believe in His name. John 1:12
But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. Galatians 6:14