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The two deaths
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It is written in the Bible that we should beware of the second death.
He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches; he that overcomes shall not be hurt of the second death.
And death and hell were cast into the Lake of Fire. This is the second death. And whoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the Lake of Fire.
What’s the difference between the two deaths, and which one did Christ die?
The fact that there are two deaths is well established in the Bible by the use of the word "second". Jesus told us that the first one is really a "sleep", a loss of consciousness from which we can be awakened. This was illustrated three times for us during the lifetime of Christ on earth – first with a young girl (Matthew 9:23-25), then with a widow’s son (Luke 7:12-16), and last of all with a friend who had been dead for four days. Because their deaths were used as special illustrations for us, they eventually died the first death again!
This is how it works:
1Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.2 (It was that Mary which anointed the LORD with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) 3 Therefore his sisters sent to Him, saying, "LORD, behold, he whom You love is sick".4 When Jesus heard that, He said, "This sickness is not to [the second] death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby" . . .
11These things said He: and after that He said to them, "Our friend Lazarus sleeps; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep".12 Then said His disciples, "LORD, if he sleep, he shall do well".13 Howbeit Jesus spoke of his death: but they thought that He had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.14 Then said Jesus to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead".15 "And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent you may believe; nevertheless let us go to him . . .
21[When they got there] Then said Martha to Jesus, "LORD, if You had been here, my brother had not died.22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever You will ask of God, God will give it You".
23Jesus said to her, "Your brother shall rise again".24 Martha said to Him, "I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day".25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live ..."
41Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up His eyes, and said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.
42And I knew that You hear Me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that You have sent Me".
43And when He thus had spoken, He cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth". 44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus said to them, "Loose him, and let him go".
Such deaths as the one Lazarus suffered are caused by accidents, sicknesses, old age, and murders – things which are out of our control. But the second death is not like that: it will be permanent because it is chosen deliberately and God must respect this decision.
These sad words confirm this:
"For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved[from the second death]. He that believes on Him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name [the character] of the only begotten Son of God [don’t misunderstand this, read on].
"And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness[the darkness of death] rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that does evil hates the light [of life], neither comes to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that does truth comes to the light [comes willingly to the judgment], that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought [performed] in [the power of] God". John 3:17-21.
Thus we see that while life is the inheritance of the acceptors of God’s grace, death is the portion of the rejecters of it. Moses declared to Israel, "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live: that you may love the LORD your God, and that you may obey His voice, and that you may cleave to Him: for He is your life ..." Deuteronomy 30:19-20.
The death referred to in these scriptures is not that pronounced upon Adam, for nearly all mankind have suffered the penalty of his transgression. It is the "second death" that is placed in contrast with everlasting life. A few, yes, only a few, of the vast number who have peopled the earth will be saved unto life eternal, while the masses who have not perfected their characters in obeying the truth will choose the second death. That’s why it is written, "For the wages of sin is[the second] death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our LORD". Romans 6:23.
For example: Jesus cried, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kills the prophets, and stones them which are sent to you, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not[let Me]! Behold, your house is left to you desolate. For I say to you, You shall not see Me henceforth, till you shall say, ‘ [It is the truth that] Blessed is He that comes in the name of the LORD’." Matthew 23:37-39. But then it will be too late!
Open to the eye of Jesus was the history of nearly two thousand years of God's special guardian care granted to the representative people. There was Mount Moriah, where Isaac the son of promise, an unresisting victim, had been bound on the altar – emblem of the offering of the Son of God. (Genesis 22:9.) There the covenant of blessing, the glorious Messianic promise, had been confirmed to the Abraham the father of the faithful. (Verses 16-18.) There the flames of the sacrifice ascending to heaven from the threshing floor of Ornan had turned aside the sword of the destroying angel in David’s time.(1 Chronicles 21.) All were fitting symbols of the Saviour's sacrifice and mediation for guilty men.
Jerusalem had been blessed of God above all the earth. The LORD had "chosen Zion," He had "desired it for His habitation." Psalm 132:13. There, for ages, holy prophets had uttered their messages of warning. There priests had waved their censers, and the cloud of incense, with the prayers of the worshippers, had ascended before God. There daily the bodies of slain lambs had been offered, pointing to the Lamb of God’s dedication. (Exodus 29:38-39.) There He had revealed His presence in the cloud of glory above the Mercy Seat. (Exodus 25:21-22.) There rested the base of that mystic ladder connecting earth with heaven (Genesis 28:12; John 1:51) – that ladder upon which angels of God descended and ascended, and which opened to the world the way into the holiest of all. Had Israel as a nation preserved her allegiance to the living God, Jerusalem would have stood forever, the elect of God. (Jeremiah 17:21-25.)
But the history of that blessed people was a record of backsliding and rebellion – a fitting representation of the whole world. They had resisted God's grace, abused their privileges, and slighted their opportunities. Although Israel had "mocked the messengers of God, and despised His words, and misused His prophets" (2 Chronicles 36:16), He had still manifested Himself to them, as "the LORD God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth" (Exodus 34:6). Notwithstanding repeated rejections, His mercy had continued its pleadings for centuries.
Now however, from the crest of Olivet, Jesus looked upon Jerusalem. Fair and peaceful was the scene spread out before Him. It was the season of the Passover, and from all lands the children of Jacob had gathered there to celebrate the great national festival. In the midst of gardens and vineyards, and green slopes studded with pilgrims' tents, rose the terraced hills, the stately palaces, and massive bulwarks of Israel's capital. The daughter of Zion seemed in her pride to say, "I sit a queen and shall see no sorrow"; as lovely then, and deeming herself as secure in God's favour, as when, ages before, the royal minstrel sang: "Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion . . . the city of the great King." Psalm 48:2. In full view were the magnificent buildings of the temple. The rays of the setting sun lit up the snowy whiteness of its marble walls and gleamed from golden gate and tower and pinnacle. "The perfection of beauty" it stood, the pride of the Jewish nation.
What child of Israel could gaze upon the scene without a thrill of joy and admiration! But other thoughts occupied the mind of Jesus. "When He was come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it." Luke 19:41. Amid the universal rejoicing of the triumphal entry, while palm branches waved, while glad hosannas awoke the echoes of the hills, and thousands of voices declared Him king, the world's Redeemer was overwhelmed with a sudden and mysterious sorrow. He, the Son of God, the Promised One of Israel, whose power had conquered death and called its captives from the grave, was in tears, not of ordinary grief, but of intense, irrepressible agony.
His tears were not for Himself, though He well knew where His feet were tending. Before Him lay Gethsemane, the scene of His approaching agony. The sheepgate also was in sight, through which for centuries the victims for sacrifice had been led, and which was to open for Him when He should be "brought as a lamb to the slaughter." Isaiah 53:7. Not far distant was Calvary, the place of crucifixion. Upon the path which Christ was soon to tread must fall the horror of great darkness as He should make His body an offering for sin for the whole world. "Wherefore when He comes into the world, He says, ‘Sacrifice and offering You would not, but a body have You prepared Me: in burnt offerings and sacrifices[of animals] for sin You have had no pleasure [no result]’. Then said I, ‘Lo, I come (in the volume of the book [the Old Testament] it is written of Me,) to do Your will, O God’. Above [before] when He said, ‘Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin You would not, neither had pleasure [or result] therein’; which are offered by the law; then said He, ‘Lo, I come to do Your will, O God". [This means] He takes away the first [the animal sacrifices], that He may establish the second [His sacrifice]. By the which will [God’s] we are sanctified [taught] through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all". Hebrews 10:5-10.
"Forasmuch then as the children[of God] are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same [flesh and blood]; that through [His] death He might destroy [in the minds of His people] him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage". Hebrews 2:14-15. This was His mission.
Yet it was not the contemplation of these scenes that cast the shadow upon Him in this hour of gladness. No foreboding of His own superhuman anguish clouded that unselfish spirit.
He wept for the doomed thousands of Jerusalem – because of the blindness and impenitence of those whom He came to bless and to save. He wept because its destruction was a forerunner of the end of the entire world. He wept because all mankind were "dead in trespasses and sins", spiritually "dead" while walking on the earth. Ephesians 2:1. They had physical life only because of the universal gift of mercy which He had bestowed upon the race in the Garden of Eden in order to give them time to choose.
The Majesty of heaven in tears! The Son of the infinite God troubled in spirit, bowed down with anguish! The sight filled all the inhabitants of heaven with wonder. That scene reveals to us the exceeding sinfulness of sin; it shows how hard a task it is, even for infinite power, to save the guilty from the consequences of transgressing the law of God. Jesus, looking down to the last generation, saw the world involved in a deception similar to that which caused the destruction of Jerusalem. The great sin of the Jews was their rejection of the physical Christ the Son of God; the great sin of the world will be their rejection of the law of God, the picture of His character.
The precepts of God will be despised and set at naught. Billions in bondage to sin, slaves of Satan, doomed to suffer the second death, will refuse to listen to the words of truth in their day of visitation, and instead will accept the power of death wielded by the enemy. Terrible blindness! Strange infatuation!
But not for all!!
Enoch developed a righteous character, and the result was that he was translated to heaven without seeing the first death. When the LORD shall come the second time, there will be some who will be translated without seeing that death, and we need to know if we will be among that number. We need to know if we are wholly on the LORD’s side – partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust[2 Peter 1:4] – not by trying to make a clear path for our feet where we shall have no trials or difficulties to meet, but by placing ourselves in right relation to God and letting Him take care of the consequences.
Enoch was a special character and many look upon his life as above what the generality of mortals can ever reach. But Enoch's life and character, which were so separate that he was translated to heaven without seeing death, represent what our lives and characters must be, if, like Enoch, we are to be translated when Christ shall come. His life was what the life of every one may be who closely connects with God.
Through the Spirit God revealed to Enoch that the world would be destroyed by a flood, and He also opened more fully to him the plan of redemption. By the spirit of prophecy He carried him down through the generations that should live after the Flood, and showed him the great events connected with the second coming of Christ and the end of the world. Why?
Because Enoch had been troubled in regard to the dead. It had seemed to him that the obedient and the disobedient went to the grave together, and that that was their end. He could not see the life of the just beyond the grave and he wanted to know, so he asked! Therefore in prophetic vision he was instructed concerning the death of Christ, and was shown His coming in glory, attended by all the holy angels and a group of humans, to collect His people from the grave. He also saw the corrupt state of the world when Christ should appear the second time -- that there would be a boastful, presumptuous, self-willed generation, denying the only God and the LORD Jesus Christ, trampling upon the law, and despising the atonement. He saw the righteous crowned with glory and honour, and the rejecters turning from the presence of the LORD, and being destroyed by fire.
This is what is written about him:
"And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, ‘Behold, the LORD comes with ten thousands[10,000] of His saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him. These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaks great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage". Jude 1:14-16.
"And Enoch walked with God: and[one day] he was not [on earth anymore]; for God took him". Genesis 5:24. "By faith Enoch was translated [into heaven] that he should not see [the first] death; and was not found [on earth], because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God". Hebrews 11:5.
A few in every generation from Adam have resisted many of the deceptions of Satan and stand forth as noble representatives of what it is in the power of man to do and to be, when Christ can co-operate with human efforts. However, Enoch and Elijah are the only fully correct representatives of what the race might be through faith in our LORD Jesus Christ. Satan was greatly disturbed because these noble, holy men were untainted amid the moral pollution surrounding them, perfecting righteous characters, and accounted worthy for translation to heaven. As they had stood strong in moral power, in noble uprightness, overcoming his temptations, he could not bring them under the dominion of death. All he could do was triumph that he had power to overcome Moses with his temptations, and that he could mar his illustrious character and lead him to the sin of taking to himself the glory which belonged to God. It was this that led to his death. Numbers 20:12; Deuteronomy 31:1-2, 14; 34:1-7.
But Moses was not long left in the grave. "Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil[because] he disputed about the body of Moses, durst [dared] not bring against him a railing [argumentative] accusation, but said, ‘The LORD rebuke you’." Jude 1:9.
"The Archangel Michael, who went to the mat with the Devil as they fought over the body of Moses, wouldn't have dared level him with a blasphemous curse, but said simply, "No you don't. God will take care of you!" Jude 1:9 (The Message version.)
Enoch walked with God for three hundred years after the birth of his first son (Genesis 5:22), but today it is often the shortness of time which seems to be urged as a motive to seek righteousness. Should it be necessary that the terrors of the day of God be held before us in order to compel us to right action? Enoch's case is before us. Hundreds of years he walked with God. He lived in a corrupt age just before the Flood, when moral pollution was teeming all around him; yet he trained his mind to devotion, to love purity. His conversation was upon heavenly things. He educated his mind to run in this channel, and he bore the impress of the divine, like all Christians. His countenance was lighted up with the light which shines in the face of Jesus.
Enoch had temptations as well as we. He was surrounded with society no more friendly to righteousness than is that which surrounds us. The spiritual atmosphere he breathed was tainted with sin and corruption, the same as ours; yet he lived a life of holiness. He was untarnished with the prevailing sins of the age in which he lived. So may we remain pure and uncorrupted. He was a representative of the saints who live amid the perils and corruptions of the last days, and for his faithful obedience to God he was translated. (Hebrews 11:5.) So, also, the faithful, who are alive and remain at the second coming, will be translated. They will be removed from a sinful and corrupt world to the pure joys of heaven.
Hard though it may be to believe, God says that those who reject Him reject also the second life which He offers them! "But he that sins against[rejects] Me, wrongs [hurts] his own soul: all they that hate Me love death". Proverbs 8:36. This is so, because although many will not acknowledge it, all life comes from God and to reject Him as a Saviour is to reject that life. The life we live now, for both the righteous and the rebels, is a temporary life, given so that we can make up our minds. That done, we will inherit that which we have chosen, a second life by being "born again" or a second death by dying again. The first death seals our choice, for after that we will not change.
We can begin the new life here today and continue it after the resurrection from the first death, or we can turn it down and be resurrected to the second death at the second resurrection – the choice is ours – during this lifetime. There is not another opportunity after the first death.(For more on this see Appendix A .) But some may say that because many die very young, as babies or children, before they have had time to choose, that this is not fair. Or that multitudes have died without knowledge of the truth. As far as the second notion is concerned, it is written, "That [the Son of God] was the true Light, which lights EVERY man [and woman] that comes into the world". John 1:9. This means that EVERYONE has had sufficient understanding to be able to choose, no matter where or when they lived, or how long. God takes all things into account. We are told, "The LORD shall count, when He writes up the people, that this man was born there. Selah". Psalm 87:6.
In reply to the first argument, God has told us that after the resurrection of such young rebels, He will give them time to grow up and confirm their choice. Notice that He will NOT BE ABLE TO give them another opportunity to repent because He does not make mistakes and any one who comes up in that resurrection, no matter at what age they died, will not change their choice. (He is ALWAYS anxious that we should choose life, so the opportunity is still there, but in the same manner, the rebels will ALWAYS choose rebellion even at that time and in those circumstances.)[See Appendix B.]
He tells us; "He that overcomes[himself] shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be My son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars [those who have chosen to retain these attributes as their way of life], shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death". Revelation 21:7-8. While the earth is wrapped in the fire of destruction, the righteous will abide safely in the Holy City. Upon those that had part in the first resurrection, the second death has no power. (Revelation 20:6.) While God is to the rebellious a consuming fire, He is to His people both a sun and a shield.
To all practical purposes the first death has the same effect upon sinners and Christians with a false understanding of the state of the dead, as it does for Christians who do know the truth. Just as Christians go to "sleep" and "wake up" to a resurrection at the second coming without realising that time (sometimes a great length of time) has elapsed since they died, so those who die expecting to be taken to heaven immediately will think they have just died and that Christ has come for them.
The sinners who come up in the second resurrection will also think that they have just died.
So what does it matter which doctrine we accept?
Because spiritualism is based on the deception that the dead are not really dead and can communicate with the living, only the truth will be sufficient to insulate believers in the last days from Satan's masterpiece of trickery.
Now to the second part of the question: which death did Jesus die?
The short answer to this is both!! Let me explain:
Speaking of Calvary it is written, "For He has 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.
Jesus told Nicodemus, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up [at Calvary]: that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life". John 3:14-15.
But is also written, "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him [Satan], whose names are NOT written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world". Revelation 13:8.
"If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 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". 1 Corinthians 15:19-22.
It is said that Christ died the second death – our second death – but He only remained in the tomb till the third day! It is said that He died from the beginning of the world, yet Calvary came 4,000 years later! It is said again that He died for ALL men, but rejecters die their own second death! How can we reconcile these differences?
Christ arose from the dead as "the first fruits of those that slept [the first death]". He was the antitype of the wave sheaf, and His resurrection took place on the very day when the wave sheaf was to be presented before the LORD. For more than a thousand years this symbolic ceremony had been performed. From the harvest fields the first heads of ripened grain were gathered, and when the people went up to Jerusalem to the Passover, one sheaf of first fruits was waved as a "Thank You" offering before the LORD. Not until this was presented could the sickle be put to the grain, and it be gathered into other sheaves, the first of many harvests. The sheaf dedicated to God represented the entire harvest. So Christ the first fruits represented the great spiritual harvest to be gathered for the kingdom of God. His resurrection is the type and pledge of the resurrection of ALL the dead in two separate resurrections, two different harvests. The first is described in Revelation 14:14-16 and the second in verses 17-20, a thousand years apart.
In the law it is written; "In the fourteenth day of the first month at even [after sunset on 13th] is the LORD's passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is [begins] the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD: seven days you must eat unleavened bread. In THE FIRST DAY [of the seven day period] you shall have a holy convocation [a sabbath rest day]: you shall do no servile [ordinary] work therein. But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD [on each of the] seven days. In THE SEVENTH DAY [of the period] is a[nother] holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein. And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, ‘When you be come into the land which I give to you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest: and he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the [first] sabbath the priest shall wave it’." Leviticus 23:5-11.
Today, as Christians we are told, "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new [clean] lump [of dough], as you are [now] unleavened. For even CHRIST OUR PASSOVER IS SACRIFICED FOR US. Therefore let us keep the Feast, not with old [physical] leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth". 1 Corinthians 5:7-8. Today we should keep the Feast in a spiritual way by recognising its place in the plan of redemption.
So there was a day in the middle of the first month (at full moon, which could be any day of the week) on which the "pass over" lamb was killed and eaten in the homes of the people. There was no confession of sins over it, only an expression of the need for help from the destroyer, an acknowledgement that we are all born spiritually separated from real Life, slaves in a spiritual Egypt, separated from the God of life. Jesus said, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly". John 10:10.
That day was a working day and the lamb represented the Son of God in His salvation work, for its blood was first sprinkled on the doorway of the house signifying His protection (the "pass [hover] over" from destruction). Then a portion of the animal was eaten by everyone in the "blood-protected" house, to become an element of each circumcised individual in the house as a picture of the exchange of their mortal lives for His eternal one. [For more on this thought go to Appendix C.]
Then, after that, we have a period from the 15th day of the first month to the 21st day (it commenced on the next day after the "pass over"). That first day, the 15th (it could be any day of the week also) was to be kept as a seventh day Sabbath would have been kept. It was ceremonial day to teach a great lesson of "resting" in God. The day following it, the 16th, required a special ritual before the harvest could begin. Only one sheaf of the harvest was gathered, although of course, the whole field was ready. This sheaf was brought into the temple and waved up in the air for all to see as the "firstfruits" of the new year’s crop.
In fulfilment of this acted prophecy, Christ died on "pass over" day, rested on the next, and arose as the "firstfruits" on the third day."For I delivered to 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.
So, not only was this death at Calvary a symbol of the second deaths of the righteous, it was also a symbol of the second deaths of sinners, for He died as a picture of His ability to bear the whole world’s sin! When talking to Nicodemus He told him, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw ALL men to Me. This He said, signifying what death He should die". John 12:32-33.
As we think of how Christ came to our world to die for fallen man, we understand something of the price that was paid for our redemption, and we realize that there is no true goodness or greatness apart from God. Only by the light shining from the cross of Calvary can we know to what depths of sin and degradation the human race has fallen through sin. Only by the length of the chain let down from heaven to draw us up can we know the depths to which we had sunk. Only by gazing at the cross can we realise what the "great gulf", the "horror of great darkness", looks like. Luke 16:6; Genesis 15:12. It was this that caused the sweat on our Saviour’s brow to look like blood in Gethsemane. Luke 22:44.
Death entered the world because of Adam’s transgression. But the Son of God gave of His life in the Garden that humanity should have another trial. He did not die to abolish the law of God, but to secure for us a second probation through the new birth. He did not die to make sin an immortal attribute; He "died" to show that He had the right to destroy the power of him "that had the power of death, that is, the devil". Hebrews 2:14.
If Christ died to save us from the result of sin, then He must of necessity have died the Christian’s second death, for that is where we were heading until we accepted the new life. At conversion He makes an exchange with us, His life for ours. He can do this because He is God.[For a study on the full gospel, check Appendix D.]
Then if He died the SECOND death He must have died permanently, right?
But He came out of the grave on the third day!! How can that be?
Was the human nature of the Son of Mary changed into the divine nature of the Son of God? No; the two natures were mysteriously blended in one person - the man Christ Jesus. In Him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. When Christ was crucified, IT WAS HIS HUMAN NATURE THAT DIED. Deity did not sink and die; that would have been impossible. Christ, the sinless One, will save every son and daughter of Adam who accepts the salvation proffered them, consenting to become the children of God, for the Saviour has purchased the right to ALL the fallen race with His own death.
This is a great mystery, a mystery that will not be fully, completely understood in all its greatness until the translation of the redeemed shall take place. But that need not stop us asking and expecting God to tell us as much as we can understand!
As mentioned before, although He died our SECOND death, He did not stay in the grave as the other partakers of the second death will do. How come?
The clue is in the words above: it was His HUMAN nature that died at Calvary, for God is eternal and immortal and cannot die as we do. It is said of Him, "... which in His times He shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and LORD of lords; WHO ONLY HAS IMMORTALITY, dwelling in the light which no man can approach to; whom no man has seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen". 1 Timothy 6:15-16.
So, is the SECOND death scenario at Calvary wrong? No, for the humanity of Christ was changed, in that as a Man He came forth from the first death, glorified.
But what about the PERMANENT part of the second death? Here’s where we need to look carefully at what He does when we are "born again". He makes a swap with us, in that He gives us a "portion" of His divinity for the whole of our sinfulness, that which is called "the OLD man". "Know you not, that so many of us as were baptised into Jesus Christ were baptised into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into "death": that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
For if we have been planted[buried] together [with Him] in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection: knowing this, that our "old man" is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is "dead" is freed from [the power of] sin [the second death]". Romans 6:3-7. So we can see that to be "born again" we must first have "died"!
It’s a spiritual experience – but also a literal one! No one can see it happen, but all can see the results of it. When asked about this, "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say to you, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said to you, ‘You must be born again’. The wind[like the Holy Spirit] blows where it lists, and you hear the sound thereof, but cannot tell where it comes [from], and where it goes: so is every one that is born of the Spirit". John 3:5-8.
Again: where is the permanent aspect?
In the divine part of Him! It was as the Son of Man (a human) that He died at Calvary – it was as the Son of God (a divine Person) that He died at the foundation of the world. That’s why it is written, "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him[Satan], whose names are NOT written in the Book of Life of the Lamb SLAIN FROM THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD". Revelation 13:8.
Because salvation is a personal experience, and each one must come to the Son of God and accept it, it has been available since the first sin was committed. In the Garden of Eden both Adam and Eve asked for it and had their fig leaves removed and replaced with lamb skins as a picture of it! Little by little, as others followed in their footsteps, the divinity of Christ has been transferred to humans and the load He has been carrying for them increased. In view of this, there were no sins confessed over the head of the pass over lamb, because there are no ACTIONS OF SIN confessed at the moment of conversion. What is required is an acknowledgement that the whole life is corrupt and needs to be changed.
[For more on confessions of sin actions, see Appendix E.]
In the sanctuary service all the CONFESSIONS of sins (with their penalties) are eventually transferred into the second room by a bullock’s blood, and from there disposed of onto the head of the scapegoat on THE Day of Atonement, via the high priest’s actions and the blood of the LORD’s goat. (Leviticus 16:1-34.) At that point they were forever separated from the high priest, who represents the Son of God.[Want more? See Appendix F.]
But what about the SIN CONDITION which He took at the pass over? That was never associated with the sanctuary in any form, so it is never cleansed from there. It is THIS "death" which remains in the Son of God for eternity – this is His "second" death, a "death" which only God can handle.
There is "a great gulf" fixed between Him and His Father for the rest of eternity!
That is the real price paid for the salvation of sinners.
He who had never been separated from His Father (or His Father from Him) decided to CHOOSE to endure the "second" death FOREVER in order to save some of Their children.
This was illustrated one day in the Old Testament when a prophet was told to go to a house "And speak to him[Josiah, the leader of Israel at the time], saying, Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the Man whose name is The BRANCH [they were looking at a crowned high priest, verse 11]; and He shall grow up out of His place [out of heaven], and He shall build the temple of the LORD [the redeemed]: even He shall build the temple of the LORD [1 Corinthians 3:16]; and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between Them both". Zechariah 6:12-13.
At the fall of Adam Christ had pleaded before the Father in the sinner’s behalf, while the host of heaven awaited the result with an intensity of interest that words cannot express. Long continued was that mysterious communing – "the counsel of peace" for the fallen human race. (Long in heavenly time, a split second for Adam), for the plan of salvation had been laid before the creation of the earth. Christ is "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Yet when the time came it was a struggle, even with the King of the universe, to yield up His Son to die for the guilty race. Oh, the mystery of redemption! The love of God for creatures who did not love Him! Who can know the depths of that love that "passes knowledge"? Ephesians 3:19.
[You should finish up with the thought in Appendix G.]
Our Saviour has experienced both the first and the second death.
It was as the Son of man that He died the first death at Calvary. That lasted for six hours. This was illustrate to our slow minds what was (and is) actually happening to Him as the Son of God and what will happen to those who experience the first death, for even the rejecters will be resurrected from that.
It is as the Son of God that He "dies" for those who accept His gift by giving them a portion of His life when they become converted with "a new heart". This has lasted already for some six thousand years. Thus all Christians, from the righteous Abel to the last sinner who accepts salvation, are saved from the second death in the same way, but He must bear that for them for eternity. Back to beginning
This study is available to download as a PDF file.
How are the dead raised? By God's action, or do they have some freedom of choice in this?
My initial response to this question is simply to quote what Jesus has to say on the subject.
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when[all] the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear [and respond] shall live". John 5:25.
When Jesus says, "Verily, verily" He is directing our attention to a very important truth, and here He is telling us that somehow the dead will make the choice by responding to His call. This makes sense in that if they were dragged out of their graves by the power of God then He would be using force on any of those who do not want to wake up at that time. This He cannot do, and although He misses His children deeply, He will patiently wait until they are ready. How do they hear when their bodies have gone? Obviously there is a power in His words which makes a connection. I don’t know how this works but I do know that He will not drag an unwilling person back to life.
But, as we know, Bible statements often need to be qualified by other statements, for, "precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little" for our complete understanding. Isaiah 28:10. And maybe this one does too.
Let us look at some of the verses describing death.
First, it is brought about by the power of the devil through temptation into sin. Our heavenly Father has no hand in this.
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same[flesh and blood]; that through [His] death He might destroy him that had the power of death [in their minds], that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
"For the wages of sin is[the second] death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our LORD". Romans 6:23
It is also called a "prison house", a place for sinners to be set free from, as in the commission given to Jesus.
[God wrote for Christ to read:] I the LORD have called You in righteousness, and will hold Your hand, and will keep You, and give You for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.
In a very clear description of what it is like in the grave, the wise man wrote:-
This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event[or situation common] to all. Yes, also the heart of the sons of men [the unsaved] is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to [unite with] the dead. For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they shall die [and can ask for forgiveness and cleansing before that happens]: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward [or the gift of grace]; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.
No portion in anything done under the sun. That means they do not know what is going on in this world. They "know not any thing" in this world because they are asleep, the long sleep of the dead. Those Scriptures which give the impression that we die and go straight to heaven or to be with the LORD, are based on the principle that we never know how long we have been asleep. Often we think we have just fallen off when it has been many hours. In the same way, when we die we will not know of the passage of time and will think we have just died and then woken up to the LORD immediately. So it will appear to us to be instantaneous.
But the LORD will know of the long time! He will experience the heart-breaking absence our death has caused to Him and His Father. He does not like being separated from His friends.
"These things said He: and after that He said to them, Our friend Lazarus sleeps; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said His disciples, ‘LORD, if he sleep, he shall do well’. However, Jesus spoke of his death: but they thought that He had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus to them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead’." John 11:11-14.
So He went to call him back. And that is what He did. He stood at the door of the cave and called.
"And when He thus had spoken, He cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus said to them, Loose him, and let him go". John 11:43-44.
He had called two other people before this episode with Lazarus. The first was the young daughter of Jairus and the other was the grown son of the widow of Nain.
"And He took the damsel by the hand, and said to her, ‘Talitha cumi’; which is, being interpreted, ‘Damsel, I say to you, arise’. And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment". Mark 5:41-42.
"And when the LORD saw her[the widow], He had compassion on her, and said to her, ‘Weep not’. And He came and touched the bier: and they that bore him stood still. And He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, Arise’. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And He delivered him to his mother". Luke 7:13-15.
In both of those cases He had spoken to the dead expecting them to hear His voice. And they did!
In the physical world, we normally wake when we have had enough sleep, although those of us who burn the candle at both ends have to have an alarm clock.
Or a friend who gives us a call!
And that brings us back to the original verse. Jesus told us that He will do just that – give us a call. If we love Him it will be no problem to roll out of bed and see what He wants.
In that first verse we looked at[John 5:25], did you notice that Jesus said, "the hour is coming, AND NOW IS, when the dead shall hear . . ."? He was explaining that when He came forth from the tomb on His resurrection morning there would be others who would join with Him. He knew from the Old Testament that He would stand at the entrance to His tomb and call. Here are the words He was to use:-
"Your dead men shall live, together with My dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, you that dwell in dust: for your dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead". Isaiah 26:19. There is power in His word – when He spoke it was so. "By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth". Psalm 33:6.
And we are told that many, but not all, of the dead saints in that area heard His call and came forth to eternal life. They spent the next six weeks or so speaking (and singing) with the living around Jerusalem and then went with Jesus into heaven at His ascension.
Here’s the story:
Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the Ghost[and died]. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened [at 3pm on Friday]; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after His resurrection [on Sunday morning], and went into the holy city, and appeared to many.
Wherefore He says, When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive[the margin says, A multitude of captives], and gave gifts to men.
It is a fact that the dead can hear the voice of God (because it is not of this world) and choose to respond to it. Not all the dead in that area or at that time were resurrected, nor will all the dead be resurrected in the resurrection which takes place just before the second coming.
"And many[but not all] of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt". Daniel 12:2.
Here we have an interesting thought. Both good and bad will come out of their graves at this time! Why? Because individuals in both groups want to see His second coming. They died with an intense interest in that event, and when the call is given that it is happening, that will be enough to make some leap out with joy, and drag others, albeit reluctantly, from their dusty beds.
"Jesus said to him[the high priest at His trial], ‘You have said: nevertheless I say to you, Hereafter shall you see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven’. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, ‘He has spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? Behold, now you have heard His blasphemy’." Matthew 26:64-65.
So Caiaphas will be one of the rejecters there to see it. When the second coming does take place a little while after this special resurrection, ALL the remaining Christians will jump up from their graves, but no more of the rejecters. None of them want to meet Him. In fact, the last sinners alive on earth actually choose to die rather than see His face, and this will include those who have lately come up in that special resurrection. Having seen enough, they will willingly die again!
Let’s look at that:
And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?"
Jesus continued His thought in John’s gospel with the words:-
"Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which ALL that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, to the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of damnation". John 5:28-29.
There are two general resurrections being spoken of here. The first when all the saints of God rise to join Him and the other when all the "rebels" shall do likewise. They are not at the same time for these resurrections spring from different motives.
It is written:-
And I saw thrones, and they[the redeemed] sat upon them, and judgment was given to 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 has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations[who have come up in the second resurrection at the end of the thousand years and] which are in the four quarters of the earth, [called] "Gog and Magog", to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. Ezekiel 38:1-2; 8-9.
Even at the very end of time, Jesus does not force the rejecters of His grace from their graves. He will call again and they will reluctantly crawl from their beds to see what He wants. Then they will be taken over by the deception that Satan has planned for them.
So the question is answered. It is the response of the dead that brings them out of the graves. As they hear the voice of the Son of God they must either decide to rise or turn over and resist. If they do the latter, then they may stay asleep until there is a call in which they are interested. At the final call they will come out to face the final deception.
Some comments on this point from my library follow:
Ellen White on the Resurrections
The long paragraphs have been broken up for easier reading and the emphasis has been supplied:
The Saviour continued: "What things soever He[the Father] doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise . . . As the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom He will." The Sadducees held that there would be no resurrection of the body; but Jesus tells them that one of the greatest works of His Father is raising the dead, and that He Himself has power to do the same work. "The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live."
The Pharisees believed in the resurrection of the dead. Christ declares that even now the power which gives life to the dead is among them, and they are to behold its manifestation. This same resurrection power is that which gives life to the soul "dead in trespasses and sins." Eph.2:1. That spirit of life in Christ Jesus, "the power of His resurrection," sets men "free from the law of sin and death." Phil.3:10; Rom.8:2. The dominion of evil is broken, and through faith the soul is kept from sin.
He who opens his heart to the Spirit of Christ becomes a partaker of that mighty power which shall bring forth his body from the grave.
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life."
Through the beloved John, who listened to these words, the Holy Spirit declared to the churches, "This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life." 1 John 5:11, 12.
And Jesus said, "I will raise him up at the last day." Christ became one flesh with us, in order that we might become one spirit with Him.
It is by virtue of this union that we are to come forth from the grave -- not merely as a manifestation of the power of Christ, but because, through faith, His life has become ours.
Those who see Christ in His true character, and receive Him into the heart, have everlasting life. It is through the Spirit that Christ dwells in us; and the Spirit of God, received into the heart by faith, is the beginning of the life eternal. BACK
The new world:
A reading of Isaiah chapter 65
First, God explains how He works in this world:
1I am sought of them that asked not for Me; I am found of them that sought Me not: I said, "Behold Me, behold Me" ["Look at Me", Hebrews 12:1-2], to a nation that was not called by My name [those who do not consider themselves Christians].
2[Yet] I have spread out My hands all the day to [pleaded with] a rebellious people, which walks in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts; 3 a people that provokes Me to anger continually to My face [because they claim to be My people];
[God’s "anger" is directed at Himself when He can do nothing.
We would call it "sadness".]
[yet they are those] that sacrifices in gardens [wherever they choose, not where I ask them to], and [a church that] burns incense [prays] upon altars of brick [manmade, instead of being natural as in Exodus 20:24-25]; 4 which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments [their churches have the dead buried in and around them], which eat swine's flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels; 5 which say [to unfortunates], "Stand by yourself, come not near to me; for I am holier than you".
These are a smoke in My nose [an irritation], a fire that burns all the day [because they profess Christianity but deny the power of it. Titus 1:16].
Then He tells us what He will have to do:
6Behold, it is written before Me:
"I will not keep silence[for ever], but will recompense, even recompense into their bosom 7 your iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together [at the same time], says the LORD, which have burned incense upon the mountains, and blasphemed Me upon the hills": therefore will I measure their former work into their bosom. ["Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof ."]
He is saying, "I will have to let you have the consequences of your actions one day". By the life and the death of Christ, the thoughts of men and women are brought to view. From the manger to the cross, the life of Jesus was a call to self-surrender, and to fellowship in suffering. It unveiled the purposes of men. Jesus came with the truth of heaven, and all who were listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit were drawn to Him. The worshipers of self belonged to Satan's kingdom. In their attitude toward Christ, all would show on which side they stood.
And thus everyone passes judgment on him or herself.
In the day of final judgment, every lost soul will understand the nature of their own rejection of truth. The cross will be presented, and its real bearing will be seen by every mind that has been blinded by transgression. Before the vision of Calvary with its mysterious Victim, sinners will stand condemned. Every lying excuse will be swept away. Human apostasy will appear in its heinous character.
Each will see what their choice has been. Every question of truth and error in the long-standing controversy will then have been made plain. In the judgment of the universe, God will stand clear of blame for the existence or continuance of evil. It will be demonstrated that the divine decrees are not accessory to sin. There was no defect in God's government, no cause for disaffection. When the thoughts of all hearts shall be revealed, both the loyal and the rebellious will unite in declaring, "Just and true are Your ways, You King of saints. Who shall not fear You, O LORD, and glorify Your name? . . . for Your judgments are made manifest." Revelation 15:3, 4.
Here is a sad truth that not many recognise – because rejecters have got into the habit of rejecting or neglecting God’s gracious calls to repent (each one has many, many opportunities over their lifetime), when faced with the final one at the first death, they are then "sealed" into that choice. There is no way that God can reach them after that for they die full of self worship!
He will be able to save a few, just a few:
8Thus says the LORD, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one says, "Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it": so will I do for My servants' sakes, that I may not destroy them all.9 And I will bring forth a seed [a remnant] out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of My mountains [the new world]: and My elect shall inherit it, and My servants shall dwell there.
10And Sharon [a very fertile area] shall be a fold of flocks, and the valley of Achor [the place where Achan and his family were killed for imperilling the Hebrews, Joshua 7: will become] a place for the herds to lie down in [it will become a place of peace], for My people that have sought Me.
11But you [the rejecters] are they that forsake the LORD, that forget My holy mountain [Sinai, where the Ten Commandments were given], that prepare a table for that troop [have great congregations], and that furnish the drink offering to that number [of false gods].12 Therefore will I number you to the sword, and you shall all bow down to the slaughter [death]: because when I called [you to salvation], you did not answer; when I spoke, you did not hear; but did evil before My eyes, and did choose that wherein I delighted not [you chose that which kills].
God’s protection is bound up in obedience. If we do as He says, then we are safe.
If we do our own thing problems arise.
Now He describes the conditions at the end of time:
13Therefore thus says the LORD GOD, Behold, My servants shall eat, but you shall be hungry: behold, My servants shall drink, but you shall be thirsty: behold, My servants shall rejoice, but you shall be ashamed: 14 behold, My servants shall sing for joy of heart, but you shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit.
15And you shall leave your name for a curse to My chosen: for the LORD GOD shall slay you, and call His servants by another name [Christian instead of Jew]: 16 [so] that he who blesses himself [by obedience] in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth; and he that swears in the earth shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from My eyes.
17For, behold [in the end], I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.18 But be you glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create [new] Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.19 And I will rejoice in [new] Jerusalem, and joy in My people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.
20There shall be no more there an infant of days, nor an old man that has not filled his days: for the [youngest] child shall die a hundred years old; but the sinner being a hundred years old shall be accursed [to the second death in the Lake of Fire].
Here God mentions that there will be one hundred years of growth after the second resurrection in which the youngest rebels will grow up and demonstrate that they want to live separately from God. This will ensure their second death because the living God is the ONLY Source of life – to separate from Him is to die.
The final result:
21And they [the righteous] shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. 22 They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of My people, and My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.23 They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.
24And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.
25The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw [grass] like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, says the LORD.
1Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in Me.2 In My Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
4And where I go you know, and the way you know. BACK
The Lamb & the Temple
29The next day John sees Jesus coming to him, and said, "Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world. 30 This is He of whom I said, After me comes a Man which is preferred before me: for He was before me. 31 And I knew Him not [before this]: but that He should be made manifest [identified] to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water".
32And John bare record, saying, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon Him. 33 And I knew Him not: but He that sent me to baptise with water, the same said to me, ‘Upon whom you shall see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptizes with the Holy Ghost’. 34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God".
35Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; 36 and looking upon Jesus as He walked [by], he said, "Behold the Lamb of God!"
37And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, "What seek you?" They said to Him, "Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwell You?" [We want to spend some time with You.] 39 He said to them, "Come and see". They came and saw where He dwelt, and abode with Him that day: for it was about the tenth hour [in the morning].
Thus it was John who identified the Son of man as the Lamb to us.
But it was the prophet/priest Ezekiel who was given the knowledge of the pattern of the sanctuary/temple and its purpose as a picture of the Son of God and His work. At the end of Ezekiel’s vision, he was instructed that all the people of God would benefit from examining the plan and the ceremonies in detail – so let’s do that here! (We can only guess at the impact his revelation must have had on the boy Jesus as He studied out His mission on earth.)
It is written:
10You son of man [Ezekiel], show the house [the wilderness plan of it is on page 34] to the house of Israel [the people of God], that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the pattern [Jesus Christ, that they may begin to SEE it.]
11And if they be ashamed of all that they have done [are repentant and willing to learn], show them the form of the house [again], and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof [the ways to approach God], and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof [the ceremonies], and all the laws [rules] thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them [by entering spiritually therein].
That was God’s plan for the Old Testament people. Because they failed in their understanding of what they were doing, and settled for believing that their earthly works were what God wanted (even re-building an inferior copy of the original temple after the exile in Babylon), He then directed the attention of Christians to these same details when their dispensation began. Not that they were to attempt to keep them literally, but that they should SEE the kingdom of heaven, and ENTER it, by faith, here on earth.
Therefore, it was written to Christians:
1 Corinthians 5:
6Your glorying [pride] is not good. Know you not that a little leaven [yeast] leavens the whole lump [loaf of bread]? [Continue to] purge out therefore the old leaven [of sinful behaviour], that you may be a new lump, as you are [now] unleavened [freed from sin’s power].
For even Christ our "Passover" is sacrificed for us[and He has set us free].
Therefore let us keep the Feast[of Unleavened Bread, Leviticus 23:6-8 ], not with old leaven [of slavery to sin], neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness [actions of sin]; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Few appreciate what the above statements really say, but if we allow the New Testament to open up the Old Testament ceremonies to our understanding, then they in turn will re-illuminate the gospel. Thus, when we teach the true gospel of Christ we have a circular system which continually expands. Unfortunately, this direction has been lost sight of for many centuries, but now the time has come again for it to be revived.
One day Jesus met a master teacher in Israel and spoke to him because he asked a question.
3Jesus answered and said to him, "Verily, verily, I say to you, Except a man be born again, he cannot [even] SEE the kingdom of God [on earth]". 4 Nicodemus [thinking literally] said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?"
5Jesus answered, "Verily, verily, I say to you, Except a man be born [baptised] of water and [baptised] of the Spirit, he cannot ENTER into the kingdom of God [on earth].6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said to you, You must be born again. 8 The wind blows where it lists, and you hear the sound thereof, but cannot tell where it comes, and where it goes: so is every one that is born of the Spirit". [Its effects can be seen and heard, but not the wind itself.]
9Nicodemus answered and said to Him, "How can these things be?" 10 Jesus answered and said to him, "Are you a master [teacher] of Israel, and know not these things? 11 Verily, verily, I say to you, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and you receive not our witness.
12"If I have told you earthly things [which you can see and experience], and you believe not, how shall you believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?"
Sadly, it seems that today we still have teachers like Nicodemus with us. There are many professed Christians who present a confused gospel which is not well-founded on the sanctuary and its ceremonials.
Their gospel is apparently based on the above sanctuary plan, and it teaches that "justification" occurs in the courtyard, "sanctification" in the first apartment, and "glorification" in the second apartment.
This is NOT what the Bible teaches through the ceremonies, and it appears to be based on the false assumption that the offering of a continuous burnt offering on the brass altar is somehow equivalent to re-birth.
We should be aware that, spiritually speaking:
A "sinner" cannot enter the sanctuary courtyard.
Lamb’s blood is NOT used inside the sanctuary building.
Only a Christian’s sins can ever enter the sanctuary,
for only a child of God can be forgiven.
A "sinner" (a child of Satan, John 8:44) becomes a "Christian" (a child of God, Galatians 3:26), through a process which is pictured in the act of being "circumcised" and eating the Passover "lamb" IN HIS/HER TENT. BACK
Appendix D quick return
The everlasting gospel
in the light of our personal experience
It all begins when we are born and take our first breath, thereby inhaling the breath of life from God. In this we follow our ancestor Adam. "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul". Genesis 2:7. It ends when the essence of life goes back to the God who gave it. "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit (the breath of life) shall return to God who gave it". Ecclesiastes 12:7.
In between is the opportunity.
When speaking to some unbelievers, the apostle Paul said,
26[God] has made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27 that they should seek the LORD, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us: 28 for in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, "For we are also His offspring [children]".
Another translation puts it this way:
Acts 17: (The Message version)
26Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living 27 so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. He doesn't play hide-and-seek with us. He's not remote; he's near.28 We live and move in him, can't get away from him! One of your poets said it well: 'We're the God-created.'
However, because we are now born with the rebellious nature that Adam established when he chose to exercise his right to free choice independent of God, once we exist we, like him, should die (physically and spiritually) "in the day[24 hour period] that you eat thereof". Genesis 2:17.
Of course, we won’t make the exact choice that he did, which was to join his wife in her transgression, an act of self-destruction on his part, for when she offered him the fruit, he accepted. Genesis 3:6. It is also written, "For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived[therefore he chose deliberately], but the woman being deceived was in the transgression".1 Timothy 2:13-14.
What we do at birth is just exist in that rebellious nature which causes death, both physical and spiritual. What does that mean to us? And why didn’t Adam and Eve die as God had said they would?
When Adam and Eve repented of their disobedience we can be sure that they wanted to be reinstated, and promised to be good from then on. But when the Son of God cried and told them that it was impossible because a major change had taken place in them, they thought it was hopeless. He explained to them that by their choice to disobey they had "mutated" their hearts of love and obedience into hearts of lust and disobedience, and this could not be reversed. He carried on to tell them that they now had a power within them which was much stronger than their desire to be good. It was giving them no choice, and they were its slaves.
No matter how hard they tried to resist temptation, eventually they would succumb to the desire to do bad things. In the end they would love only those bad things.
Then He gave them the same advice He gave to their son later.
6And the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you wroth [angry and rebellious]? And why is your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, shall you not be accepted? And if you do not well, sin lies at the door [of your heart]. And to [control] you shall be his [its] desire, and [yet] you shall rule over him [if you join with Me]".
The remedy He now suggested was a "heart transplant" which would give them back the ability to choose the right. A side effect of the "operation" would be that they would have to depend on Him for the "power" to fulfil their choice. They would have to agree to become "dependents" and be obedient for the rest of their lives. He said this because it is NOT actions of sin that kill humans spiritually, but the "iniquity (or principle) of sin" with which we are born, passed on from Adam.
David wrote, "Behold, I was shaped in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me". Psalm 51:5. By this he did not mean to accuse his mother of immorality, but was just stating the situation as it occurs for all of us. So it’s not that we have ACTED on our sinful nature, but that we POSSESS it, which is the problem.
It is not what we do, but what we are, which causes spiritual death.
What we do causes physical death.
If it were not for the intervention of our loving Father in heaven we would not exist for very long at all after birth. After Adam and Eve’s choice to be disobedient, which led to the sad state our world is in today, He granted permission for His Son to take from them the result which normally would have been the consequences of that rebellious nature. ("The wages of sin is death". Romans 6:23.) This gift of grace by the Son brought about a change in them into what we now call the "Christian" state, but which in the Bible is simply called "the righteous man or woman" as opposed to the "sinner".
1And the LORD said to Noah, "Come you and all your house into the ark; for you [only] have I seen righteous before Me in this generation".[At that moment Noah was the only obedient one while all the rest of the world ignored God’s plea. Noah’s family followed him, not God.]
31Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner".[There is to be a RESULT on earth for both groups.]
We should note that nothing was said about Adam and Eve trying to "be good" before they had the exchange, because that is impossible. They, like us, had to recognise the problem and come to the Master Physician to fix it. And the only way to SEE the problem was to respond to the "enmity" against sin which He gave them then, and which He gives us at birth. Genesis 3:15 and John 3:3. The only way to overcome it is to accept God’s offer and ENTER His kingdom. Verse 5.
To show this internal exchange in a physical way the Son of God took away their attempt at self-righteousness (the fig leaves), and clothed them each with the skin of a lamb. They originally had on robes of light such as angels wear, so now they were completely different, outwardly as well as inwardly.
They had been, as their Creator had said, "very good". Genesis 1:31. Then they became "very bad"; physically, mentally and morally, that is, in their "body, soul and spirit".1 Thessalonians 5:23. After their transgression they were aware of their nakedness (Genesis 3:7); they became fools who thought they could hide from God behind a tree (verse 8); and were so morally corrupt that they blamed each other, and even God, for their problem (verses 12 and 13)!
They were spiritually "dead" in "trespasses and sins" as are we all till we become born again.
1And you has He quickened [made alive and moving], who were dead in trespasses and sins: 2 wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience: 3 among whom also we all had our conversation [conduct] in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
4But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ, (by grace you are saved;) 6 and has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 that in the ages to come [for eternity] He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
8For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:
it is the gift of God.
But, coming back to our ancestors:
7And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons . . . 21 To Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
In an attempt to show them (and the others who were to come), the enormity of what they had done, each was told to take one of the lambs they normally frolicked with and kill and burn it, saving only the skin! The innocent must suffer for the guilty in the only way God could make it right, and the purpose of the sacrificial system instituted then was to show them what had happened to them, what they would have to do to the Son of God, and to prefigure what was to happen to the Son of man at Calvary. (God intended it to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but the reason this changed is not something we need to deal with here.)
When they saw what it was going to mean to the Son of God to repair them by taking out of them the principle (the law) of sin and death (the "lusting" heart) which they had created in themselves, and replacing it with the gift of a portion of His life, they were at first horrified, but then accepted when He explained there was no other way to remedy their condition. Ever since then, this removal and replacement has been the basis of the "everlasting" gospel. Revelation 14:6.
In this scenario was the first clear indication that God and His Son did not want their new creatures to die, either physically or spiritually. He would rather die in their place. And this is what He did. Because He had to take their "law of sin and death" onto Himself in the place of His own life, He began "dying" from that moment on. The "death" of the Son of God is not a definitive event, unlike that of the Son of man, who died in six hours.
So, it is written:
2 Corinthians 5:
20Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech [beg] you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be you reconciled to God.21 For He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him [if we will accept it].
Recognising this principle, the great evangelist in the New Testament wrote: "For the[infilling of the] law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from [by the removal of] the law of sin and death" for he, like John the beloved, knew that the Son of God had offered to become "the LAMB slain from the foundation of the world" and that Adam and Eve were the first to respond to His offer. Romans 8:2 and Revelation 13:8.
That solved their immediate problem and allowed Adam to live on for another 930 years before he wore out! Genesis 5:5.(We are not told when Eve died.) But their personal salvation didn’t affect their children (of whom Jewish tradition says there were 97 altogether), for righteousness requires very much an individual acceptance. It cannot be transferred from one human to another. We all need a heart transplant!
So what God did was to allow His Son to TEMPORARILY cover each and every child as it was born, and He has repeated this grace ever since. This is no more and no less than what He has done since sin first came into existence in heaven. Lucifer and his rebellious angels exist under the same condition. It is a state of universal grace in which all rebels are given an opportunity to accept the gift of salvation and be set free from their rebellious nature. This period is often called a "probationary time". Of course, God had to careful, for everything He does must be seen to be right and proper (just), and with no favouritism.
How well He has done this is reflected in the following words;
160Your word is true from the beginning: and every one of Your righteous judgments endures for ever.
7And I heard another [angel] out of the altar say, "Even so, LORD God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments".
What is not recognised by many is that this temporary covering has a finite limit!
So now we have a situation!
Right from birth the Son of God starts a battle with us. Can He get us to accept His offer before we cause our own physical death? The devil (and many of us) like to think that he takes a hand in the matter of death, but that is only indirectly, for death is "the wages[result] of [internal] sin". All Satan can do is influence our choices to make physical death come quicker. For instance, if he can get us to drink and then drive, the odds on an early death shorten dramatically. Or, if we are born to sick parents or other ancestors, we are likely to inherit their illness and die sooner than others. If we eat lots of fat then we will cut ourselves off before our "normal" time. And so on. So it’s a "race" – can He get us to accept justification before we die physically.
This is why the world is in the mess we see it in.
So we can see that we must all die because of sin – the difference is that some of us CHOOSE to "die" spiritually BEFORE our physical death.
This is what it looks like in a diagram.
Every man and woman born into a society is expected to accept its standard of right and wrong. If he or she does this, they are considered by their families and neighbours to be "morally" good.
However, one society may consider one wife per man is correct, while another nation believes that he can have as many as he can support. One believes that all have the right to carry a weapon and defend themselves (under certain rules sometimes, such as no shooting in the back), while another abhors all forms of physical violence by its citizens and reserves this for a police force. And so on with stealing, lying and coveting. Those with one kind of a standard tend to congregate together, while wanting a separation from the other kinds. These are all counterfeits of Christianity which has its standard in all of the Ten Commandments.
When two societies consider a certain "value" in a different way, then we can get what men often call a "justifiable" war between them. Secession from the Union, and the desire to hold other men and women in slavery caused the Civil War in the United States. "Freedom" for ourselves and for others is a universal desire implanted by the Son of God at physical birth as part of His temporary grace.
While the "sinner" abides within the rules of his or her society, they can have a certain "peace" which the world gives them. They think of themselves as "alive without[outside of] the law". Romans 7:9. Jesus knew this "peace" and recognised its lower value than the heavenly one. He said, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you: not as the world gives, give I to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid". John 14:27. He knew that His Companion, the Holy Spirit, is at work in a special way on every person in this world who has not surrendered to the call to repent. (With the exception of a special few, of course, who have sinned against the Holy Ghost by refusing to listen to Him any more, or worse, believe that His voice proceeds from the devil. Matthew 12:31.)
This former group includes the arch rebel Lucifer and his followers, for they have adamantly refused to listen any more, and are in active rebellion. But, even after being totally rejected, the Son of God does not remove His protecting grace. He keeps that over us until we wear out, or are killed by violence or sickness, for He has no hand in separation from life. As the Son of man, Jesus healed many and even raised some from the dead, but they all died again later.
30Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, says the LORD GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions;
so iniquity shall not be your ruin.31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby you have transgressed; and make [receive] you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies, says the LORD GOD: wherefore turn yourselves [repent], and live you.
Our God is a very courteous Person and He will not force even the appeal for salvation where it is lightly regarded, so He waits and waits, trying gently now and then.
So life for the normal sinner goes on with only a few natural ups and downs within his or her society. While many are in this condition Satan gets their minds absorbed in entertainment and pleasure (or work), often highlighting national sports and rivalries, while the voice of the Spirit is relegated to the background. If these diversions are not enough, he also works from the other angle, and brings about wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes and floods in an endeavour to kill off as many as he can to spite the Son of God.
But the Spirit of God has many strings to His bow and He eventually gets through to each one with the offer of the "peace" that only He can give; not an external feeling, but an internal one, for He uses the Light that "lights every man that comes into the world". John 1:9. However, this is mostly received with shock, for He concentrates the sinner’s mind on the moral law of God, which goes far deeper than that of man.
One day Jesus tried to make this distinction clear to His followers, for one of His jobs was to "magnify the law and make it honourable". Isaiah 42:21.
27You have heard that it was said by them of old time, "You shall not commit adultery": 28 but I say to you, That whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.
Because mankind concentrates only on outward actions while God looks at the intent or condition of the heart as well, they can never harmonise.
What happens when the law enters into the sinner’s conscience? There is normally revived a desire to "do good" in God’s eyes, and an attempt is made to do so. Now a formula comes into action. So many steps towards righteousness – so many slides away from it! The problem, for the Son of God as well as the sinner, is that the progress is all downhill. For every three steps taken on a level plane there are five falling downward. The inevitable result is that the sinner becomes more and more aware of how far shorter of the ideal he or she is coming. This has two options – either give up and go back to the "peace" of the world – or, struggle harder. The latter has the effect of being in a quicksand – it will only hasten the end result, which is sinking to the bottom.
When the deeper aspect of the law of life is finally revealed to the sinner, it usually comes with an invitation to join a religious group. If accepted, the struggles then take place within a church system and are often considered normal Christian behaviour. I say, "Christian" because Christianity is the only religion which teaches that salvation from sin is required. Heathen religions teach that all that is needed is to develop the "good" that is already within, which will then beget suitable rewards. Backsliding merely defers the rewards or brings a punishment. (You will recognise that some heathen principles are already established in some professed Christian systems.)
But as sinners sink lower and lower into the morass, the Spirit also continually reminds them to "try harder", for it is only as they reach helplessness that they might consider an alternative. However, when they have sunk to that level many reject God’s offer, because they think they are looking at "a snake on a brass pole" and it requires great trust in God’s word.(Numbers 21:8-9.) All their training in life, and the advice of their friends, is to "try harder" even though it obviously doesn’t work! At this point many decide that the religion they are in is right, and they settle down into a round of ceremonials which helps to quieten their conscience. They will even argue that, "It’s impossible to be perfect" and say, "God accepts our best endeavours", so that they can give up the struggle.
The "ideal" would be for us to be to be convinced immediately that we need a Saviour (as Adam was), but our pride and independence usually cause us to struggle against such a revelation and we inevitably take time to accept. It can range from Matthew accepting at his money table (Matthew 9:9) to Nicodemus waiting three years (John 19:39). But, if successful, this is what happens.
1What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
3Know you not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection: 6 knowing this, that our "old man" is crucified with Him, that the body [or power] of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.7 For he that is "dead" is freed from sin . . .
11Likewise reckon you also yourselves to be dead indeed to [the power of] sin, but alive to God [and His power] through Jesus Christ our LORD.
So what can God do if we refuse the experience which underlies baptism?
He has only one weapon – His love as exemplified by Jesus on the cross at Calvary. If this doesn’t work then He is left without a righteous weapon, and can only use the fear that is in the person.
But He never gives up! So the Spirit keeps trying till the person dies, either physically, or spiritually by accepting the offer of justification.
If such a one dies physically without accepting the gift, then their fate is sealed. They will come up in the second resurrection and prove by a direct act of rebellion that God’s assessment that they do not want to live His way is correct. This final act of rebellion is described below.
7And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison [by the second resurrection], 8 and shall go out to deceive the nations which are [now] in the four quarters of the earth, [called] Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city [to attack it and God]: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
By entering into His presence without protection they cause a reaction of holiness against sinfulness similar to a nuclear reaction. Their structures begin to dissolve in a chain reaction.
12And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.
13And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour. [Even while disintegrating they will endeavour to kill each other!]
Against such determination God is helpless, and He and His Christians can only stand by as the sinners commit suicide and murder. Out of that "lake of fire" the Son of God will format a new world. Revelation 20:14."For, behold, the day comes, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that comes shall burn them up, says the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch[Satan and his followers, angelic and human.] But to you that fear [respect] My name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall [well protected]. And you shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, says the LORD of hosts." Malachi 4:1-3.
BUT . . .
If they accept salvation FROM sin (see Matthew 1:21) before physical death, then great things BEGIN to happen.
Immediately another "robe" is placed over them and they are accepted in the righteousness of the Son of God, and they are as described below.
10I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels [we are prepared for a wedding].
11For as the earth brings forth her bud, and as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the LORD GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.
This is what it looks like now.
Having "died" with Christ, they are "resurrected" with Him to a new life. Romans 6:5. Physically they appear to be the same, yet they are not! There is a light in their eyes, a spring in their step, and a consciousness of happiness which is not normally in the ordinary human. Mentally they still require much training, but now it is being angled in a different direction, for the things of this world have grown "strangely dim" in the light which streams from heaven. Now they are ready and anxious to use their lives in honouring God and His ways. Thus it is written:
1I beseech you therefore, brothers [and sisters], by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a LIVING sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.2 And be not conformed to this world [or its ways]: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Now the one-time "sinner" is a "saint" in the school of Christ.
So what has changed?
The body is much the same, growing older and weaker; the mind is expanding in the knowledge of God and His ways, and will continue to do so while it exists: it is the "spirit" or "character" of the person that has changed. Their "heart" is different. Speaking to His scattered people in Babylon in a physical way to illustrate the spiritual, the Son of God said:
16Therefore say, Thus says the LORD GOD; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come.
[Because His kingdom is not of this world, the Son of God calls us to leave the world and join Him. John 18:36.]
17Therefore say, Thus says the LORD GOD; "I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of [spiritual] Israel".
18And they shall come there, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the abominations thereof from there.19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh: 20 that they may walk in My statutes, and keep My ordinances, and do them: and they shall be My people, and I will be their God.
21But as for them whose heart [still] walks after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads [they will reap what they have sown], says the LORD GOD.
This "new heart" is one after the likeness of God’s heart. It is a willing and anxious heart to love and obey His rule of love.
Because God sees in a different way than we do, He could say of king David, when speaking to Solomon his son,
1 Kings 9:
4And if you will walk before Me, as David your father walked, IN INTEGRITY OF HEART, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded you, and will keep My statutes and My judgments: 5 then I will establish the throne of your kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David your father, saying, "There shall not fail you a man upon the throne of Israel" . . .
1 Kings 11:
4For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father . . . [so steadfastness of purpose is what God is looking for.]
[Speaking to Jeroboam, Solomon’s successor in Israel when the kingdoms split, God said,]
1 Kings 14:
8And [I] rent the kingdom away from the house of David, and gave it you: and yet you have not been as My servant David, who kept My commandments, and who followed Me with all his heart, to do that only which was right in My eyes . . . [To show what God meant by that statement, we are told;]
1 Kings 15:
5Because David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that He commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.[He never turned from the true God, sinning only in the way of the flesh.]
Now we have come to a very important point in the life of a Christian, and one that is so often not comprehended by him or her.
The "ideal" would be for us to accept His power at each temptation and rise steadily in His grace until we are using all of His righteousness (imparted) and living sinlessly (imputed righteousness covers unknown sins). And we could! But our pride and self-will are still with us and so at first we learn by slow increments – two up and three level. The "race" is still on! Thus it is written; "He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8. The margin has: "humble yourself to walk with your God" (i.e. get off your high horse and come down to His level) and the reluctance to do this is what makes the Christian walk so difficult.
We are changed in a moment from "sinner" to "Christian"; and are progressing in Christian thoughts while we continue to live in this world. We expect to be changed physically in a moment again at the second coming, as it is written; "Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep[die], but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).
WE ARE NOT NECESSARILY SINLESS WHILE LIVING IN CHRIST’S RIGHTEOUSNESS, but we are learning to be! It’s called "sanctification" which means the process of becoming holy.
What He has given us is the ability to choose the right because it is right. He is ever seeking to impress our hearts by His Holy Spirit that we shall be convinced of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment to come, but now He is working from the fact that we are on His side – we are reborn.
In this new situation we may place our will on the side of God's will, and in His strength and grace resist the temptations of the enemy. As we yield to the influence of the Spirit of God, our conscience will become tender and sensitive, and sins that we have passed by with little thought in the past, will become exceeding sinful in our sight.
9For I was "alive" without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I "died".10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be to "death". 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it "slew" me.
12Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
13Was then that which is good made death to me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
God calls upon us as Christians (i.e. His children) to oppose the powers of evil which are now outside of us. He says: "Let not sin therefore reign[again] in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield you your members [bodily parts] as instruments of unrighteousness to sin; but yield yourselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God". Romans 6:13-14.
The difference is that NOW when we are tempted we can CHOOSE to yield or not!
As a sinner we could not win – as a Christian we can, IF WE WANT TO.
Not in our own strength of course, but in His.(If we don’t choose to overcome then we are rejecting His power.)
How does it work? When we are faced with a temptation all we need to do is call out for our Saviour to save us, and He will move in between us and the temptation, and its lure will fade away. The temptation is NOT a sin; it is what leads to a sin. Jesus was tempted strongly after His baptism (Matthew 4) and He looked at them for a moment, but then called out to be saved, and was. "In the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears to Him that was able to save Him from death[sin], and was heard in that He feared; though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered". Hebrews 5:7-8.
When we do this we are "Sabbath-keeping" because Sabbath means "rest" and it is only be "resting" in Him that we can overcome.
Thus it is written:
14We are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast to the end; 15 while it is said, "Today if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation [in the wilderness wandering]". [Psalm 95:7-8.] 16 For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. 17 But with whom was He grieved forty years? [Psalm 95:10] Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom swore He that they should not enter into His "rest", but to them that believed not?
19So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
1Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His "rest", any of you should seem to come short of it. 2 For to us [in the New Testament] was the gospel preached, as well as to them [in the Old Testament]: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
3For we which have believed do enter into "rest", as He said, "As I have sworn in My wrath, if they shall [would only] enter into My rest" [Psalm 95:11]: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For He spoke in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, "And God did rest the seventh day from all His works". [Genesis 2:2.]
5And in this place again, "If they shall [would only] enter into My rest".
6Seeing therefore it remains that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: 7 again, He limits a "certain" day [of opportunity], saying in David [in the Psalms], "Today", after so long a time [about 500 years]; as it is said, "Today if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts [don’t reject Me]." 8 For if Jesus [Joshua] had given them "rest", then He would not afterward have spoken of another day.[It took that long to get the people to understand what a Sabbath rest really is!]
9There remains therefore a "rest" [the keeping of a Sabbath] to the people of God [today].
10For he that is entered into His "rest", he also has ceased from his own works, as God did from His. 11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that "rest", lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. 12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Anything else than this is an attempt at righteousness by works!
I repeat, in this conflict of righteousness against unrighteousness, we can be successful only by divine aid. In every temptation our finite will must be brought into submission to the will of the Infinite; the human will must be blended with the divine. This will bring the Saviour to our aid; and every conquest will tend to the recovery of God's purchased possession, to the restoration of His image in our lives. Like the man Christ Jesus, we can say, "I can of My own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge[do]: and My judgment is just; because I seek not My own will, but the will of the Father which has sent Me". John 5:30.
And again, "When you have lifted up the Son of man[as your personal Saviour], then shall you know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father has taught Me, I speak these things. And He that sent Me is with Me: the Father has not left Me alone; for I do always those things that please Him". John 8:28-29.
Here it is again:
7Who in the days of His flesh [as the Son of man], when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears to Him that was able to save Him from death [through sin], and was heard in that He feared [listened]; 8 though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered; 9 and being made perfect [as a man], He became the author [example] of eternal salvation to all them that obey Him; 10 called of God a high priest after the order of Melchisedec.
While here on earth as the Son of man (not operating as the Son of God) Jesus lived, as all Christians should do, using the power of Another outside of Him which gave Him the victory. Thus the standard He lived on earth is the standard He expects from all of His Christians. The temptations that Christ withstood were as much stronger than ours as His nobility and majesty are greater than ours. But, having been tempted so strongly on every point, He is able to succour every one whom Satan is now tempting. And today it is our privilege to gain the victory over temptation through the merits of the crucified and risen Saviour, who is familiar with every trial of humanity.
The Son of man was assaulted at every step by the powers of darkness. After His baptism He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, and suffered temptations for forty days. Some have thought that Christ could not have had the same nature as us, for if He had, He would have fallen under similar temptations. But here they err, lowering Him to the level of an ordinary man’s nature who cannot help but fall. Christ came in the nature of a Christian, who has been raised above ordinary human nature by partaking of the divine nature.
Unless there is a possibility of yielding, temptation is no temptation. Temptation is resisted when a Christian is powerfully influenced to do a wrong action and, knowing that he can do it, resists, by faith, with a firm hold upon divine power. This was the ordeal through which Christ passed. He could not have been tempted in all points as we are tempted, had there been no possibility of His failing. Hebrews 4:15. He was a free agent, placed on probation, as was Adam, and as is every Christian man and woman. In His closing hours, while hanging upon the cross, He experienced to the fullest extent what we must experience when striving against sin. Without sinning Himself, He realized how bad a man may become by yielding to sin. He realized the terrible consequences of the transgression of God's law; for the iniquity of the whole world was upon Him. "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all". Isaiah 53:6. "For He has 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. The Son of God part of Him allowed the Son of man part to feel some of the weight of the accumulated sinful natures He had taken from sinners, and this killed Him.
2 Peter 1:
2Grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our LORD, 3 according as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that has called us to glory and virtue: 4 whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
If He did not have the Christian's nature, He could not be our example. If He was not a partaker of our human nature, He could not have been tempted as Christians have been. If it were not possible for Him to yield to temptation, He could not be our helper. It is a solemn reality that Christ came to fight the battles as a Christian man, in our behalf. His temptation and victory tell us that Christian humanity copies the Pattern; and is a partaker of the divine nature.
Now we have a new diagram:
The ladder, which is the entrance way to and from heaven, reaches from heaven to the lowest part of the earth. Christ descends to that point for us, and then lifts us to a midway point, the Rock, where He looks after us as we allow.
1I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry.2 He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a Rock, and established my goings.3 And He has put a new song in my mouth, even praise to our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.
12And he [Jacob] dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
13And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, "I am the LORD God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac . . . for I will not leave you, until I have done that which I have spoken to you of.
16And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, "Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not". 17 And he was afraid, and said, "How dreadful [awesome] is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven".
In Christ, divinity and humanity were combined. Divinity was not degraded to humanity; divinity held its place, but humanity, by being united to divinity, withstood the fiercest test of temptation in the wilderness. The prince of this world came to Christ after His long fast, when He was very hungry, and suggested to Him to command the stones to become bread. But the plan of God, devised for the salvation of man, provided that Christ should know hunger, and poverty, and every phase of Christian man's experience. He withstood the temptation, through the power that a Christian man or woman may command. He laid hold on the throne of God, and there is not a man or woman who may not have access to the same help through faith in God. Any man or woman may become a partaker of the divine nature; not a soul lives who may not summon the aid of Heaven in temptation and trial. Christ came to reveal the source of His power that man might never rely on his unaided human capabilities. As our "Husband" He has the right and the ability to overcome temptation for us.
But it’s not easy for us! If we would overcome we must put to the tax every power of our being. We must agonize on our knees before God for divine power, for the power of "self" is very strong. To keep His glory veiled as the child of a fallen race; this was Christ’s severe discipline, for He could not use His own God power to save Himself from temptation. To keep our humanity subject to the guidance of the Saviour, to stop doing our own thing and to listen and obey is our discipline, for we cannot save ourselves. To stay down at our level was not easy for Him – to stay up at His level is not easy for us. It is not temptation that we have to fight, but our own inclination to try and save ourselves – righteousness by works. (Like the independent women at Corinth we have to learn to be a "wife" and let our "Husband" lead. See 1 Corinthians 14:34-35.)
Christ came to be our example, and to make known to us that we may be partakers of the divine nature having escaped the corruptions that are in the world through lust. This is the gift of God. Satan did not gain the victory over Christ. He did not put his foot upon the soul of the Redeemer. He did not touch His head[stop Him] though he bruised His heel [made it difficult]. (Genesis 3:15.) Christ, by His own example, made it evident that a Christian may stand in integrity. We may have a power to resist evil – a power that neither earth, nor death, nor hell can master; a power that will place us where we may overcome as Christ overcame. Divinity and humanity may be combined in us.
That’s the "gift" we get when we are "justified".
"Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: that as sin has reigned to death[in the past], even so might grace reign through righteousness to eternal life [now] by Jesus Christ our LORD." Romans 5:20-21.
"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
God forbid. How shall we, that are ‘dead’ to sin, live any longer therein?" Romans 6:1-2.
While in this condition, we are being taught the "manners" of heaven, for we are going to a wedding.
1And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables, and said, 2 The kingdom of heaven is like to a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, 3 and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.
4Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, "Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come to the marriage." 5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: 6 and the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.
7But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. [There are only two public calls, although there are innumerable private ones.]
8Then says he to his servants, "The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. 9 Go you therefore into the highways, and as many as you shall find, bid to the marriage." 10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.
11And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment [which was sent out with the invitation].12 And he says to him, "Friend, how came you in here not having a wedding garment?" And he was speechless [had no excuse]. 13 Then said the king to the servants, "Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness".
There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.14 For many are called, but few are chosen [only those who wear their garment].
Remember Isaiah 61:10 52?
He has promised, "There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it".1 Corinthians 10:13. If we trust Him, then we should look for the "way to escape" and be victors.
If we are willing to live "by faith" in His word, then we too may overcome as He overcame, and receive His reward. He says:
20Behold, I stand at the door [of your heart], and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup [live] with him, and he with Me. 21 To him that overcomes [himself and chooses My way] will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne [right now]. 22 He that has a [spiritual] ear, let him hear what the Spirit said to the churches.
Once we have accepted the gift of the wedding garment, we ARE going upwards on our way to the wedding, and we ARE Christians, but sometimes we allow the call of the world to flatten out our endeavours and we stagnate for a while. "While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept". Matthew 25:5.
Unlike the Son of man, who, when tempted after His baptism replied with promises from God’s word, we tend to dally and even enjoy "the forbidden fruit" of this world’s "bread", the "presumption" that all will be well with us no matter what we do, or the adulation of those around us. See Matthew 4:1-11.
All this slows our progress down and could result in our Saviour losing the "race", which means that we will die and need to be resurrected.
We are NOT "lost sinners" in this condition, but are sinning Christians whose choices are leading to physical death, and who are spoiling God’s plan for the wedding.
Now our diagram looks like this:
The wisest man who ever lived made a wrong choice. He allowed his heathen wives to influence him so much that he built a rival place of worship for them.
1 Kings 11:
4For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not [always] perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. 5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians [sometimes known as the mother of God], and after Milcom [aka Molech] the abomination of the Ammonites [he liked young people being given to him].
6And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. 7 Then did Solomon build a high place [of worship] for Chemosh [the power god], the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before [in front of] Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon.
8And likewise did he for all his strange [foreign] wives, which burnt incense [prayed] and sacrificed to their gods.
[These gods are all personifications of Satan, the Baal (boss) god and his female counterpart. This change of worship is obviously very easy to do, and yet not easily recognised by the doer! Over and over again it is written that Israel "forsook the LORD and served Baal". e.g. Judges 2:13. And many professed Christians still serve a god of force today.]
9And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared to him twice, 10 and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded.
["Anger" is the word used when God cannot stop what is happening. The Bible is written as though He initiates punishment when angry, but it is really the result of what we have done, for we reap what we have sown.]
11Wherefore the LORD said to Solomon, "Forasmuch as this is done of you, and you have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you,
I will surely rend the kingdom from you[I will not be able to protect it], and will give it to your servant [Jeroboam chose to rebel against Solomon’s son]. 12 Notwithstanding in your days I will not do it for David your father's sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of your son.
13"Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to your son for David My servant's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake which I have chosen.[This is when Jeroboam split ten tribes away from Rehoboam, who was then left with his own tribe Judah, and Benjamin. 1 Kings 12.]
In the ceremonial law it is written that when a Christian steals, lies, swindles someone in a business deal, or even hits another person over the head with a weapon, they can be forgiven when they repent!! (Remember, Jesus said there is no sin which cannot be forgiven. Matthew 12:31.)
But it costs God. He needs a ram to show this, not a lamb!
1And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 If a soul sin, and commit a trespass against the LORD, and lie to his neighbour in that which was delivered him to keep, or in fellowship [business], or in a thing taken away by violence, or has deceived his neighbour; 3 or have found that which was lost, and lies concerning it, and swears falsely; in any of all these [types of things] that a man does, sinning therein: 4 then it shall be, because he has sinned, and is guilty, that he shall restore that which he took violently away, or the thing which he has deceitfully gotten, or that which was delivered him to keep, or the lost thing which he found, 5 or all that about which he has sworn falsely; he shall even restore it in the principal, and shall add the fifth part [20% interest] more thereto, and give it to him to whom it appertains, in the day of his trespass offering.
6And he shall bring his trespass offering to the LORD, a ram without blemish out of the flock, with your estimation [a fine], for a trespass offering, to the priest: 7 and the priest shall make an atonement for him before the LORD: and it shall be forgiven him for any thing of all that he has done in trespassing therein.
Yes, sometimes real Christians have done these things.
Jacob swindled his brother out of his inheritance, Genesis 25; Samson killed thirty men for their clothes, Judges 14; Abraham lied about his wife’s status to save his life, Genesis 20; and David committed adultery and murder as a result of passion, 2 Samuel 11. Noah, the only righteous man at the Flood, grew a vineyard afterward and got drunk, Genesis 9; Peter lied about his relationship with Christ, Mark 14:69-72; all the disciples ran away when Jesus was arrested. Mark 14:50.
We have the word of God that each of these men had experienced the change from "sinner" to "Christian". So why did they do these things? Because they chose to. It is regrettable, and they repented bitterly afterward, but they did them, and real Christians still do similar things today.
Many Christians of today have mistakenly believed that when they became reborn, they would then live a perfect life. They have been horrified and not a little ashamed to find out that although there was a "honeymoon" period at the beginning, and many besetting sins were put away, the settling into the Christian "way" soon revealed many other areas where they sinned. Some they knew about from the old life, while many were new ones revealed as new temptations came to them. But it is the old ones that cause a problem, for the tendency is to believe that we should be perfect when we first come to Christ. Yet Abraham told the same lie about his wife to the Philistine king that he had already told to the pharaoh of Egypt. Genesis 12:10-20; 20:1-18. Admittedly, there was about 25 years between the incidents, but they are identical. We should note that God said that Abraham the man of God would be able to pray for Abimelech the man of the world. Genesis 20:7 and 17.
Then, to cap it all off, Abraham’s son Isaac did the same thing to another Abimelech (the word is a title like pharaoh, I’m told), about 60 years after that! Genesis 26:1-11. I don’t need to go on with any other tales, I’m sure you’ve got the picture and you know from experience what I am talking about.
So our diagram gets to look like this:
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not trying to excuse these men, and neither did they excuse themselves – when confronted with their sins by the Spirit they repented and confessed their choices. They admitted to doing their own thing. They did NOT claim to have "fallen", or blame anyone else, or the circumstances. They owned up that they had CHOSEN to disobey "in that thing"! Leviticus 5:5.
Here are some typical prayers:
1 Samuel 12:
10And they cried to the LORD, and said, "We have sinned, because we have forsaken the LORD, and have served Baalim [many bossy gods] and Ashtaroth [the female principle]: but now deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, and we will serve You".
11And [Samuel said] "The LORD sent Jerubbaal, and Bedan, and Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and you dwelled safe".
2 Chronicles 6:
38[Solomon prayed] If [Your people turn away from You, and then repent, and] they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, where they [their enemies] have carried them captives, and pray toward their land, which You gave to their fathers, and toward the city which You have chosen, and toward the house [temple] which I have built for Your name: 39 then hear You from the heavens, even from Your dwelling place, their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive Your people which have sinned against You.
7O LORD, righteousness belongs to You, but to us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries where You have driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against You.
8O LORD, to us belongs confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against You [this is repeated for emphasis].
9To the LORD our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against Him; 10 neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets.
11Yea, all Israel have transgressed Your law, even by departing [from You], that they might not obey Your voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against Him. [It is our fault.] 12 And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us, and against our judges [leaders] that judged [led] us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven has not been done as has been done upon Jerusalem.
13As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand Your truth.14 Therefore has the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all His works which He does: for we obeyed not His voice [and therefore rejected His protection, for that comes from obedience].
15And now, O LORD our God, that have brought Your people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and have gotten You renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly.16 O LORD, according to all Your righteousness,
I beseech You, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain. Because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people are become a reproach to all that are about us.
17Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and cause Your face to shine upon Your sanctuary that is desolate, for the LORD's sake.18 O my God, incline Your ear, and hear; open Your eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name: for we do not present our supplications before You for our righteousnesses, but for Your great mercies.
19O LORD, hear; O LORD, forgive; O LORD, hearken and do; defer not, for Your own sake, O my God: for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.
Notice that the emphasis in the prayers is that God will forgive, for that is His nature. I repeat what I said near the beginning of the article: it is not our acts of sin which are critical in God’s sight – it is whether we have the change of heart or not; do we have on the wedding garment which He has supplied. While ever we cling to our belief in the creative power of the Son of God we can hear the voice of God saying from heaven at our baptism as He did for Jesus, "This is My beloved son[or daughter], in whom I am well pleased". Matthew 3:17. It is we who need to be ashamed, not God, for we have let Him down.
Of course, Satan will try to convince us that we are not Christians if we do these things, but so long as we do not give up and walk out of the square of righteousness (even when it becomes an oblong as in diagram 6) we are safe. We will die, of course, before reaching the top, because all these acts of sin have slowed down our progress, but we will be in the first resurrection. We have the Son of God’s word on that. He said to the criminal on the cross beside Him who had done nothing but sin, "You shall be with Me in Paradise". Luke 23:43. And He says it to us, for He "remembers that we are dust". Psalm 103:14.
But we have let our Saviour down! We have not lived up to the destiny He had desired for us. Temptations possess a power which can be overcome only by the help that God can impart. But with every temptation we have the promise of God that there shall be a way of escape. Why, then, are so many overcome? It is because we do not put our trust in God. We do not avail ourselves of the means provided for our safety.
Each one has his or her own battles to fight, his or her own Christian experience to gain, independent in some respects from any other person; and God has lessons for each to gain that no other can gain for him. Our heavenly Father measures and weighs every trial before He permits it to come upon us. He considers the circumstances and the strength of the one who is to stand under His proving and testing, and He never permits the temptations to be greater than the capacity of resistance. If the soul is overborne, the person overpowered, this can never be charged to God, but the one tempted was not vigilant and prayerful and did not appropriate by faith the provisions God had abundantly in store for him. Christ never failed a believer in His hour of combat. The believer must claim the promise and meet the foe in the name of the LORD.
Fortunately, these words are written for those of us who choose wrongly, to comfort us:
1 John 2:
1My little children, these things write I to you, that you sin not [that’s the standard].
And[however] if any [Christian] man [or woman] sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 and He is the propitiation for our sins [when we confess them]: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world [if they would let Him].
3And hereby we do know that we know [experience] Him, if we keep His commandments.
4He that says, "I know him", and keeps not His commandments, is a liar [to himself], and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoso keeps His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we [by this we know] that we are in Him.
Sometimes there seems to be no difference in actions between saint and sinner. Of course there is, for those mentioned above are isolated cases, and the daily life can be quite different. In the Christian the countenance is changed. Christ abiding in the heart shines out in the faces of those who love Him and keep His commandments. Truth is written there. The sweet peace of heaven is revealed. There is expressed a habitual gentleness, a more than human love. The essence of it all is that the sinner has no choice in what he or she does, while the saint is deliberately choosing to disobey, like Adam!
The plight of the unregenerate sinner is clearly explained below.
15For that which I do I allow not:
for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
16If then I do that which I would not,
I consent to the law that it is good[but I am not].
17Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me.
18For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing [it is an evil thing]: for to will is present with me; but HOW to perform that which is good I find not [I don’t have the power].
19For the good that I would, I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
20Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me.
We can thank God that because of His wonderful Gift, we are no longer in that hopeless condition.
So why not be good? Why not keep His commandments?
Here are some reasons to be obedient – not necessarily in order of importance.
By living that way we give some evidence of the change within which even angels cannot see. It feels good to be good, and it slows down sickness and death. And it proves that God is right when He says that righteousness leads to right-doing. It produces people who can live together, as the redeemed will in the new world. And pure religion is, "To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world". James 1:27.
But the main reason should be to verify the Son of God’s word and prove Him right to the universe. It is He who is on trial – it is He who is being judged – and we are His witnesses. In the communication for this time an angel with the everlasting gospel is pictured as a representative of God’s people, and they are teaching the message of God’s own judgment.
6And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, 7 saying with a loud voice, "Fear [respect] God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
10You are My witnesses, says the LORD, and My servant whom I have chosen: that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He: before Me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after Me.11 I, even I, am the LORD; and beside Me there is no Saviour. 12 I have declared, and have saved, and I have showed [this] WHEN there was no strange god among you: therefore you are My witnesses, says the LORD, that I am God [the Saviour].
Since the beginning nearly all those who have been born-again have let God down!
He who has given us all things has not been repaid, except by two out of a multitude.
He needs us to show that sickness and death come from our choices and are not punishments inflicted by Him.
He needs some Christians who so love Him that they choose not to be separated from Him at all.
He needs some who will continue to walk with Him to the top of the "square of righteousness" and step off into heaven without dying.
He needs some who will love Him so much that they will remain constant no matter what happens around them.
He needs some who will remain "virgin" in the matter of loyalty until the time of the consummation of the "marriage".
These He will present to the universe as His "bride". Isaiah 62:5.
This is the purpose of the gospel.
"Thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our LORD Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 15:57. BACK
Saddest words on Christian lips are "I think ..." instead of "Thus says the LORD
..." because the former is based on our opinion, while the latter is the word of God.
The ritual of confession in
the Old Testament sanctuary service.
There is a great flaw in many of the gospels which are being preached today. This article is an attempt to rectify this.
When John stated, "Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world", he spoke of sin in the singular. John 1:29. So what did he mean?
In a description of the whole nation of God’s people, which is also a portrayal of the majority of the individuals in it, and a symbol of the whole world, Isaiah was told to write; "Why should you be stricken any more? You will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment". Isaiah 1:5-6.
This is a description of all those who are NOT connected to the God of life. It is a picture of the CONDITION of the individual, not of any of his or her ACTIONS of sins.
Only after partaking of the "pass over" ritual at home could a follower of the LORD come to the sanctuary and ask for forgiveness for an individual sin over the head of a goat!
27And if any one of the common people sin through ignorance, while he does somewhat against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which ought not to be done, and be guilty; 28 or if his sin, which he has sinned, come to his knowledge [consciousness]: then he shall bring his offering, A KID OF THE GOATS, A FEMALE [representing himself, not Christ] WITHOUT BLEMISH, for his sin which he has sinned.
29And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering [confessing THAT sin], and slay the sin offering in the place of the burnt offering [all the killings were done in the same place, on the side of the north]. 30 And the priest shall take of the blood thereof with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the [brass] altar of burnt offering [in the courtyard], and shall pour out all the blood thereof at the bottom of the altar [none of it is taken into the building].
31And he [the priest] shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat is taken away from off the sacrifice of peace offerings [as too dangerous for human consumption]; and the priest shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savour to the LORD; and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him.
32And if he bring A LAMB for a sin offering [a second choice], he shall bring it A FEMALE without blemish [the same ritual applies] . . .
25Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, This is the law [ritual] 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[very dangerous to handle]. 26 THE PRIEST THAT OFFERS IT FOR SIN SHALL EAT IT: in the holy place shall it be eaten, in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation [in a special room with cooking and dining facilities].
[The confessed sin is thus transferred to the officiating priest!]
27Whatsoever shall touch the flesh thereof shall be holy [dangerous to handle]: and when there is sprinkled of the blood thereof upon any garment, you shall wash that whereon it was sprinkled in the holy place. 28 But the earthen vessel wherein it is sodden shall be broken: and if it be sodden in a brass pot, it shall be both scoured, and rinsed in water.
29All the males among the priests shall eat thereof: it is most holy.
[A whole goat is too much for one man,
but the symbolism means that only one priest carries the guilt.
Although other priests could eat the flesh, it was to be treated with the greatest care,
for sin equals death! Romans 6:23.]
30And no sin offering, whereof any of the blood is brought into the tabernacle of the congregation to reconcile withal in the holy place, shall be eaten: it shall be burnt in the fire.
Because he now has the guilt (the death) of the sin, the priest who assisted in the confession must confess it as his own to be clean before he leaves the sanctuary.
3If the priest that is anointed do sin according to the sin of the people; then let him bring for his sin, which he has sinned, A YOUNG BULLOCK WITHOUT BLEMISH to the LORD for a sin offering. 4 And he shall bring the bullock to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD; and shall lay his hand upon the bullock's head [in confession and transfer], and kill the bullock before the LORD.
5And the priest that is anointed [another one] shall take of the bullock's blood, and bring it to [inside] the tabernacle of the congregation: 6 and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle of the blood seven times before the LORD, before the veil of the sanctuary [which separates the first room from the second].
7And the priest shall put some of the blood upon the horns of the [golden] altar of sweet incense [of prayer] before the LORD, WHICH IS IN THE TABERNACLE of the congregation; and shall pour all the blood of the bullock at the bottom of the [brass] altar of the burnt offering, which is [outside] at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
8And he shall take off from it [the body] all the fat of the bullock for the sin offering; the fat that covers the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards, 9 and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, which is by the flanks, and the caul above the liver, with the kidneys, it shall he take away, 10 as it was taken off from the bullock of the sacrifice of peace offerings: and the priest shall burn them [the dangerous bits] upon the altar of the burnt offering.
11And the skin of the bullock, and all his flesh, with his head, and with his legs, and his inwards, and his dung, 12 even the whole bullock shall he carry forth without the camp to a clean place, where the ashes are poured out, and burn him on the wood with fire: where the ashes are poured out shall he be burnt.
So it is the "priest" who confesses the sin as close as he can to God who is symbolically (sometimes literally) inside the building in the second room, and uses the blood as evidence of the "death" required by the sin. The surplus blood is poured down the drain around the brass altar out in the courtyard. He burns the dangerous pieces on the brass altar, then takes the remainder of the body outside of the camp and disposes of it – it has no value in this ritual – it is the "blood" – the symbol of death that matters.
So the transfer of the guilt (the death) associated with the sin is accomplished by the blood (life) of a male bull – a fitting picture of the Son of God when He gives us forgiveness for sins.
Never at any time is the blood of a lamb used inside the building. BACK
The Quiet Judgment
on the Day of Atonement
The ceremonies associated with the first Judgment
and the 2nd advent of Jesus
(Aaron represents Jesus - Hebrews 3:1; 4:14-16)
The yearly services (Sep/Oct)
1And the LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered before the LORD, and died.2 And the LORD said to Moses, "Speak to Aaron your brother, that he come not at all times [daily or haphazardly] into the holy place within the veil before the Mercy Seat, which is upon the ark [of the covenant]; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the Mercy Seat [the throne of grace]".
A special "day" of At-one-ment
30And the times of this [former] ignorance God winked [or closed His eye] at, but now commands men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day in the which He will judge the world in righteousness . . .
This "day" normally comes after death
27. . . as it is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment.
The first ceremony on the day of Atonement
3Thus shall Aaron come into the holy place [in his normal coloured clothes which have bells on them. See Exodus 28:33-35]. With [the blood of] a young bullock for a sin offering [for the forgiveness of sins], and a ram for a burnt offering [for the consecration of lives].
The second ceremony
4He shall put on the holy linen coat [which is all white with no bells], and he shall have the [white] linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a [white] linen girdle, and with the [white] linen mitre shall he be attired: these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on [for the special cleansing ceremony].
But before the second ceremony
5And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering.
6And Aaron [in his coloured clothes with the bells on them] shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house [in the daily forgiveness ceremony].
Jesus carries us in on His shoulders and heart
09And you shall take two onyx stones, and engrave on them the names of the children of Israel.10 Six of their names on one stone, and the other six names of the rest on the other stone, according to their birth . . . 12 and you shall put the two stones upon the shoulders of the ephod [the high priest’s garment] for stones of memorial to the children of Israel, and Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD upon his two shoulders for a memorial . . .
15And you shall make the breastplate of judgment with cunning [skilful] work . . .
17and you shall set in it settings of stones . . . 21 and the stones shall be with the names of the children of Israel . . . 29 and Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart when he goes in to the holy place [the second room], for a memorial before the LORD continually.
7And [after that] he shall take the two goats, and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 8 And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat. 9 And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD's lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering.
10But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall [later] be presented alive before the LORD, to make an[other] atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.
The initial ceremony (of the day)
11And [before all this] Aaron shall bring the bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and shall make an atonement [of forgiveness] for himself, and for his house, and shall kill the bullock of the sin offering which is for himself.
12And he shall take a [portable] censer full of burning coals of fire from off the [incense/prayer] altar before the LORD, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the veil [into the second room]. 13 And he shall put the incense upon the fire [in the censer] before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover the Mercy Seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not. [Because of the bells on his clothes anyone outside may know where he is and what he is doing].
14And he shall take of the blood of the bullock [thereby in figure carrying the last confessed sins of the people INTO the sanctuary], and sprinkle it with his finger upon the Mercy Seat eastward [just in front of him]. And before the Mercy Seat [on the ground] shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times.
The second ceremony (this is done in silence)
15Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the veil [while wearing the silent white clothes], and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the Mercy Seat, and before the Mercy Seat.
16And [this time] he shall make an atonement [of cleansing] for the holy [second] place [in figure REMOVING the sins on to himself], because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in ALL their sins.
And so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation[the first room], that remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness.
This judgment is for the church
1 Peter 4:
17For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
A special time
17And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he [Aaron] goes in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel.
The altar of incense
18And [each time] he shall go out to the [prayer] altar that is before the LORD, and make an atonement for it; and shall take of the blood of the bullock [in the 1st - the polluting ceremony], and of the blood of the goat [in the 2nd - the cleansing ceremony], and put it upon the horns of the [golden] altar round about. 19 And [the last time] he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.
20And when he has made an end of reconciling the holy place [the 2nd room], and the tabernacle of the congregation [the 1st room], and the [prayer] altar, he [the "fit" man] shall bring the live goat [to the door of the tabernacle]. 21 And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him ALL the iniquities of the children of Israel, and ALL their transgressions in ALL their sins, putting them upon the head of the [scape]goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:
22And the goat shall bear upon him ALL their iniquities to a land not inhabited: and he [the "fit" man] shall let go the goat in the wilderness.
Another change of clothing for the second coming
23And Aaron shall come into the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall put off the [white] linen garments [of judgment], which he put on when he went into the holy place, and shall leave them there.
24And he shall wash his flesh with water in the holy place, and put on his [normal coloured] garments [so he can be heard again], and come forth [right out of the tabernacle], and offer his burnt offering [the ram], and the burnt offering of the people [the other ram], and make an atonement for himself, and for the people.
The ceremonies for the rest of the day
25And the fat of the sin offering shall he burn upon the altar.
26And he that let go the goat for the scapegoat shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward come into the camp.
27And the [bodies of the] bullock for the sin offering, and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the holy place, shall one carry forth without the camp; and they shall burn in the fire their skins, and their flesh, and their dung [offal]. 28 And he that burns them shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp.
The final cleansing
29And this shall be a statute for ever to you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourns among you. 30 For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from ALL your sins before the LORD.
31It shall be a [ceremonial] sabbath of rest to you, and [on this day in the future] you shall afflict [or search] your souls, by a statute for ever [as a picture of the Judgment Day for the church].
From generation to generation
32And the priest, whom He shall anoint, and whom He shall consecrate to minister in the priest's office in his father's stead, shall [also] make the atonement, and shall put on the linen clothes, even the holy garments [for this ceremony]. 33 And he shall make an atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make an atonement for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the [golden] altar, and he shall make an atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation.
34And this shall be an everlasting statute to you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year. And he [Aaron] did as the LORD commanded Moses.
Here is another way of seeing this scene:
The judgment scene
9I beheld till the thrones [the royal cushions], were cast down [or placed], and the Ancient of Days [the Father] did sit [in the second room], whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like the pure wool: His throne was like the fiery flame, and His wheels as burning fire.
10A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him: thousand thousands ministered to Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand [of angels Revelation 5:11] stood before Him.
The judgment was set[the court sat], and the books were opened . . .
13I saw in the night visions, and, behold, One like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days [in the second room], and they brought Him near before Him. 14 And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. BACK
Why did Jesus have to die?
It is written:
5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled [submitted] Himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross.
9Wherefore [for this reason] God also has highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is LORD, to the glory of God the Father.
The definitive answer as to why He died is in the following Scripture.
1 Corinthians 1:5:
1Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you have received, and wherein you stand; 2 by which also you are saved, if you keep in memory what I preached to you, unless you have believed in vain.
3For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ DIED FOR OUR SINS according to the Scriptures; 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.
In these verses we have the short answer, the "why".
But what of the when, where and how? For Jesus the Christ is both the Son of God and the Son of man.
It was as the Son of man that He walked on earth and did His miracles.
6But that you may know that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins, (then says He to the sick of the palsy,) "Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house." 7 And he arose, and departed to his house.
It was as the Son of man that He died at Calvary.
14And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.
40For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
It is as the Son of man that He will come the second time.
30And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
But what of the Son of God? Rebel angels and men recognised Him as the Son of God, but He did not want it spread abroad.
3And when the tempter came to Him, he said, "If You be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." 4 But He answered and said, "It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God’."
So He refused to do the action of the Son of God.
11And unclean spirits, when they saw Him, fell down before Him, and cried, saying, "You are the Son of God." 12 And He straitly charged them that they should not make Him known.
33[John the Baptist said] And I knew Him not: but He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said to me, "Upon whom you shall see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptizes with the Holy Ghost." 34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.
7And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a Voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son: hear Him." 8 And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves.9 And as they came down from the mountain, He charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead.
In His life on earth He wanted to be SEEN as a Christian man, not a God – a Christian under the guidance of the Spirit of God – a Christian being given the ability to do and say Christian things.
28Then said Jesus to them, "When you have lifted up the Son of man, then shall you know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father has taught Me, I speak these things.
19Then answered Jesus and said to them, "Verily, verily, I say to you, The Son [of man] can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do: for what things soever He does, these also does the Son likewise.
Of what benefit then is it to us that He is the Son of God?
8And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him [the dragon/beast], whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb SLAIN FROM THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD.9 If any man have an ear, let him hear.
Now we get to the heart of the matter.
It is the Son of God, an immortal Being, who is our Saviour. That which the Son of man did at Calvary was a repetition of that which He had already done in the Garden of Eden as the Son of God.
It was when Adam and Eve sinned and needed a Saviour that He stepped in and took the burden of their sin upon Himself. It was NOT the ACTION of sin that He took, for that can be forgiven – it was what came from that action that He removed from them – a sinful disobedient nature.
That’s why the unregenerate person says:
18For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing: for to will is present with me; but HOW to perform that which is good I find not.
This why the Son of God, the immortal Being who thought it not robbery to be equal with the Father, died! Philippians 2:8. He "died" as only a God can "die" and in so doing took upon Himself the evil of sin. When He removed the sinful natures from Adam and Eve there was left in them a vacuum which needed to be filled. So He took a part of His divine nature and gave it to them in exchange!
A life for a life! And at Calvary He was showing that through the Son of man.
When He took the sinful nature of Adam, He kept it in Himself as we keep the germs of disease. Because He is a divine Being, He can handle such a burden and contain it safely.
Then He repeated the operation for Eve.
And again for Abel.
And again for the next sinner who became a saint, (a person being sanctified).
This the Son of God has been doing since the foundation of the world, and is continuing to do today.
He has ALSO been forgiving and cleansing all those who come to Him in penitence for their subsequent actions of sin.1 John 1:9. The actions of the past life made before the exchange are not forgiven, they "died" with the "old man", for we are "crucified with Him." See Romans 6:1-6.
In Gethsemane as the Son of man He showed us in human terms what all this means to His divine nature.
A few quotes from my library:
Desire of Ages p686
He went a little distance from them – not so far but that they could both see and hear Him – and fell prostrate upon the ground. He felt that by sin He was being separated from His Father. The gulf was so broad, so black, so deep, that His spirit shuddered before it. This agony He must not exert His divine power to escape. As man He must suffer the consequences of man's sin. As man He must endure the wrath of God against transgression.
Christ was now standing in a different attitude from that in which He had ever stood before. His suffering can best be described in the words of the prophet, "Awake, O sword, against My shepherd, and against the man that is My fellow, saith the Lord of hosts." Zechariah 13:7. As the substitute and surety for sinful man, Christ was suffering under divine justice. He saw what justice meant.
Hitherto He had been as an intercessor for others; now He longed to have an intercessor for Himself.
But it was when sin began on earth that He became the Saviour.
Review & Herald, March 12, 1901.
As soon as there was sin, there was a Saviour. Christ knew that He would have to suffer, yet He became man's substitute. As soon as Adam sinned, the Son of God presented Himself as surety for the human race, with just as much power to avert the doom pronounced upon the guilty as when He died upon the cross of Calvary.
Testimonies Volume 6, page 392:
The power of Christ, the crucified Saviour, to give eternal life, should be presented to the people.
We should show them that the Old Testament is as verily the gospel in types and shadows as the New Testament is in its unfolding power. The New Testament does not present a new religion; the Old Testament does not present a religion to be superseded by the New. The New Testament is only the advancement and unfolding of the Old.
Abel was a believer in Christ, and was as verily saved by His power as was Peter or Paul. Enoch was a representative of Christ as surely as was the beloved disciple John. Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. To him was committed the message of the second coming of Christ."And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment upon all." Jude 1:14-15.
The message preached by Enoch and his translation to heaven were a convincing argument to all who lived in his time. These things were an argument that Methuselah and Noah could use with power to show that the righteous could be translated.
That God who walked with Enoch was our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. He was the light of the world then just as He is now. Those who lived then were not without teachers to instruct them in the path of life; for Noah and Enoch were Christians. The gospel is given in precept in Leviticus. Implicit obedience is required now, as then.
How essential it is that we understand the importance of this word!
The Son of man did not die of crucifixion, for that normally takes some time. The soldiers had to break the legs of the criminals to ensure that they died before the day was out. John 19:31-34. Jesus died of a broken heart because the realisation of the weight of sin caused a separation between Him and His Father.
46And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" That is to say, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
Desire of Ages 772.2
But it was not the spear thrust, it was not the pain of the cross, that caused the death of Jesus. That cry, uttered "with a loud voice" (Matt.27:50; Luke 23:46), at the moment of death, the stream of blood and water that flowed from His side, declared that He died of a broken heart. His heart was broken by mental anguish.[This is how] He was slain by the sin of the world.
It is not just for the forgiveness of sin that the Son of God and of man dies (it is a continuing sacrifice) – it is to bear our iniquity – at the moment of our personal salvation first, and then to give us the opportunity for forgiveness of actions of sin after that time. He grants us life AND light.
10Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief: when YOU shall make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. 11 He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge [His practical experience with us] shall My righteous Servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities.
Evil, as seen in the cross of Calvary, is an inner being within us, only capable of rejecting guidance, defying prohibitions, and persisting in its own way regardless of the knowledge possessed by the creature. This is why groups, such as states and churches, can sin in God’s sight.
The sinner is not wanting in knowledge, he or she is perverse in nature.
But after conversion it is a different story for the saint:-
1There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh [in sinful nature], but after the Spirit [in the Christian nature].
2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law [the principle] of sin and death [by the exchange].
3For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
5For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for IT IS NOT SUBJECT TO THE LAW OF GOD, NEITHER INDEED CAN BE.
8So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
While we are witnessing to His power here on earth we may make mistakes, or even deliberately choose to ignore His advice, but not because these are outside of our control. The standard is clear.
1 John 2:
1My little children, these things write I to you, that you sin not.
And[but] if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
It was the forgiven sins of Christians which were transferred in type in the earthly sanctuary services – it is the forgiven sins of Christians (and no others) which are transferred in fact, in the sanctuary in heaven.
Those forgiven sins were transferred first to the priest in the daily, then to the sanctuary, then to the high priest on the Day of Atonement, and then removed to the scapegoat (Satan) to whom they rightfully belong.
The Great Controversy, p88
Important truths concerning the atonement are taught by the typical service.
A substitute was accepted in the sinner's stead; but the sin was not canceled by the blood of the victim. A means was thus provided by which it was[forgiven and] transferred to the sanctuary.
By the offering of blood, the[Christian] sinner acknowledged the authority of the law, confessed his guilt in transgression, and expressed his desire for pardon through faith in a Redeemer to come [not a Saviour, for he already had that in the Passover service]; but he was not yet entirely released from the condemnation of the law.
On the day of atonement the high priest, having taken an offering from the congregation, went into the most holy place with the blood of this offering, and sprinkled it upon the mercy-seat, directly over the law, to make satisfaction for its claims.
Then, in his character of mediator, he took the sins upon himself, and bore them from the sanctuary. Placing his hands upon the head of the scapegoat, he confessed over him all these sins, thus in figure transferring them from himself to the goat. The goat then bore them away, and they were regarded as forever separated from the people.
May we all say "Amen" to that!
Our Saviour is both God and man.
It is as the Son of God that He dies for us by giving us a portion of His life when we become converted with "a new heart." Thus all Christians, from the righteous Abel to the last sinner who accepts salvation, are saved in the same way.
It was as the Son of man that He died a physical death at Calvary. This was illustrate to our slow minds what was (and is) actually happening to Him as the Son of God. BACK
To ancient SDA's ............ To "What's New?"
This study is available to download as a PDF file.
“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels”. BACK