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Query for the Month
Next up-date: November 1st 2013 (God willing).
Previous "Queries" are available. Click here to access.
Some perpetual questions ....
Do you know the difference between the "love"
that is of Christianity
and the "love" that is of the world? Click here to find out!
Click on the link for a good book on the character of our God which you can download for free and share amongst your friends. It's called "Light through Darkness" and is one of the best books on this subject that I have ever read!
(when you get to the site just click "cancel" and it will let you in. Then click "order" to obtain a copy. )
In the meantime, try this site. And here's one where you can read it online.
Here's another great site on the character of God written in a way that's very easy to understand.
In this reply the old-fashioned words of the KJV have been modernised, and in some instances, the man-made punctuation has been altered for greater understanding. Some of the comments are adapted from books in my library. No recognition is given because they are not intended as authorities, but are used because they express my understanding clearly. All the ideas expressed in this article, right or wrong, are my own.
Jesus answered and said to him [Nicodemus], “Verily, verily, I say to you, Except a man be born again, he cannot [even] SEE the kingdom of God”. Nicodemus [thinking physically] 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?” Jesus answered, “Verily, verily [truly, truly], I say to you, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot ENTER into the kingdom of God [for] that which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit[ual]”.
There are many and varied explanations of this experience, but what is the Biblical one?
Because there are so many mixed up and distorted accounts of the plan of salvation and redemption around the professed Christian world today, God has given us the Old Testament sanctuary and its service types to help make the covenant clearer.
(The Bible uses the word “saved” in the sense of a beginning,
and a continuation,
leading on to a finality – three different ways.)
Here Paul sets it out for us:
“For we would not, brothers and sisters, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that [there] we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: but we had the sentence of death in ourselves [the warning] that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raises the dead: who delivered [redeemed] us from so great a death [at the rebirth], and does deliver [redeem us every day from new threats]: in whom we trust that He will yet deliver [redeem] us [at the resurrection]”. 2 Corinthians 1:8-10.
It starts first of all in the life of an individual, IN HIS OR HER HOME, for every one who will be saved has been rescued personally DURING THEIR LIFETIME. No one was saved in the sanctuary, or in a group, or “by faith” in a past or future event as some teach.
Nor is anyone saved today because they belong to a church or an organisation.
Everyone who is saved is so by a personal experience with the Son of God. From Adam to the last sinner this is so. Each one has met his or her Creator at some time in their lives and been born AGAIN – that is, changed from being a “sinner” into being a “saint” (a person being sanctified). Paul’s experience tells us that.
3 And as he [Paul] journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4 and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why persecute you Me?” And he said, 5 “Who are you, LORD?” And the LORD said, “I am Jesus whom you persecute [through My saints]: [but] it is hard for you to kick against the pricks [of conscience]”.
6 And he trembling and astonished said, “LORD, what will you have me to do?” And the LORD said to him, “Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told you what you must do”. [Today we would go to our Bible.]
Not all have had such an illuminating experience, of course, but in essence, this is what happened to them.
This was also illustrated in the passover service of the sanctuary.
In that ritual system, the picture of salvation involved using the body and blood of a lamb, AFTER all the males in the family had been circumcised. This circumcision normally occurred on the eighth day after birth for a Hebrew born into the family, or any time in between for adopted members, or at the last moment for a foreigner in a specified period near the passover ritual time.
9 And God said to Abraham, “You shall keep My covenant [agreement] therefore, you, and your seed after you in their generations.
10 “This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your seed after you; every man child among you shall be circumcised. 11 And you shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token [a sign] of the covenant between Me and you. [Abraham was circumcised when he was 99 years old!]
[“And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money (i.e. adopted), every male among the men of Abraham's house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said to him. And Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son. And all the men of his house, born in the house, and bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised with him”. Genesis 17:23-27.]
12 And [from then on] he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of your seed. 13 He that is born in your house, and he that is bought with your money [regardless of age], must needs be circumcised [for the bought one has become part of your family]: and [the sign of] My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.
For the foreigner who wanted to partake of the ritual of the Passover, and who made that choice as the preparations for it were being undertaken, the following applied:
43 And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance [rules] of the passover: There shall no stranger [non-Jew] eat thereof [ordinarily]: 44 but every man's servant [regardless of race] that is bought for money, when you have circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof [for he is a part of your family by the redemption price you paid for him or her].
45 [But] a foreigner and a [daily] hired servant shall not eat thereof.
46 In one house shall it be eaten; you shall not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall you break a bone thereof. 47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it.
48 And when a stranger shall sojourn with you, and will [wants to] keep the passover to the LORD, let all his [family] males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be [treated] as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. 49 One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and to the stranger that sojourns among you. 50 Thus did all the children of Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.
51 And it came to pass the selfsame day [the first passover day], that the LORD did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies [hordes, or tribes].
Before any part of physical redemption from Egypt could begin, these verses show that there had to be a removal of a portion of the physical body to represent a removal of a portion of the spiritual life as an entrance into the spiritual release! This can occur from soon after birth to just a few days before the Passover meal, for the lamb was chosen and set aside on the 10th day, but not eaten until the 14th.
1 And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying,
2 This month shall be to you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month [the beginning] of the year to you [the beginning of a new life].
3 Speak you to all the congregation of Israel, saying,
In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them [choose] every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for a house: 4 and if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next to his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.
So the first step for the present-day enquirer after salvation is to look to the historical Christ and learn all he or she can regarding that Person. From the 10th day to the 14th (representing a spiritual period) they can find out a great deal regarding the Son of man and His plans. Thus they are prepared to “eat the lamb” on the day they ask for the rebirth.
The purpose of the preceding circumcision?
“And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart, and the heart of your seed, to love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, that you may live [forever]”. Deuteronomy 30:6.
Thus the first step is made by God just as circumcision was made by the parent.
He removes the “old life” to prepare us for the infilling of the “new”.
5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: you shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats [a secondary choice]: 6 and you shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month [full moon]: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening [between 3pm and 6pm on the thirteenth, to be eaten at the evening meal on the fourteenth, for the day begins at sunset.]
[Even though there were many physical animals it is always referred to as one, for it represents the Son of God. “. . . For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us . . .” 1 Corinthians 5:7. He is the Lamb that takes away [not forgives] the sin. John 1:29.]
7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses [or tents], wherein they shall eat it [making the sign of a cross].
8 And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs [vegetables] they shall eat it. 9 Eat not of it raw, nor sodden [boiled] at all with water, but roast with fire [to represent the Son of God’s fiery ordeal]; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance [all the edible portions] thereof.
10 And you shall let nothing [edible] of it remain until the morning; and [if for any reason some does] that which remains of it until the morning you shall burn with fire [it must not be eaten a second time, for we can only be born again once!]
11 And thus shall you eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand [clothed ready to travel]; and you shall eat it in haste [don’t linger over it]: it is the LORD'S passover.
Some of the blood of the sacrificial animal was splashed onto the entrance to the house in a special manner with a bunch of hyssop, to announce to any would-be destroyer coming near that place that it was under the protection of One who had died for its inhabitants, and that he must pass on. It was called the “pass over” because the LORD “hovered” over that family to protect the firstborn. (This action of the parents covered all the underage children in the house, for a normal “pass over” participant was at least twelve years old, although anyone can be granted the spiritual exchange of life at any age. Regardless of age, they all ate some of the lamb. See Luke 2:41-42.)
That first time they probably had the meal between 6-7pm and expected their freedom near midnight (Exodus 11:4), therefore there must have been a few anxious hours of waiting, and last minute preparations. They were told to be dressed ready to go on the road and this shows us that when we ask for deliverance from our old “life of sin” in our spiritual “Egypt” (called “justification”) we can expect a relatively quick response, followed by a period of learning called “sanctification”.
Any subsequent passovers in the lives of the Hebrews (it was observed once a year normally) were in the nature of remembrances or anniversaries of the effect of the first one, for we can only be “born again” once, just as we would normally only be baptised once.
“Now if we be “dead” [circumcised] with Christ, we believe that we shall also “live” [eating the lamb, or resurrected] with Him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dies no more; death has no more dominion over Him. For in that He died, He died to sin once: but in that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise reckon you also yourselves to be “dead” indeed to sin [once], but “alive” to God through Jesus Christ our LORD”. Romans 6:8-11.
However, each year there was a new bunch of teenagers waiting to experience the “death to self” ritual for the first time.
One day Jesus illustrated the passover meal in a new way to a crowd of followers, and was not surprised when most of them rejected His new explanation, for the spiritual meaning had been lost for ages.
53 “Then Jesus said to them, ‘Verily, verily, I say to you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood [this was normally a strictly prohibited action in the Law at any time, Leviticus 3:17], you have no [spiritual] life in you. 54 Whoso eats My flesh, and drinks My blood, has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. 56 He that eats My flesh, and drinks My blood, dwells in Me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father has sent Me, and I live by the Father: so he that eats Me, even he shall live by Me. 58 This is that bread which came down from heaven. [It will] not [be] as your fathers [who] did eat manna, and are dead: he that eats of this bread shall live for ever’. 59 These things said He in the synagogue, as He taught in Capernaum”.
In another place and time, the LORD gave the same meaning to His supper.
26 “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body’. 27 And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink you all of it; 28 for this is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins’.”
We should note here that at the time of the passover no one was asking for forgiveness of any particular sin or sins, but that each one was expecting a “deliverance” from THE POWER of (the slave master of) sin who up until that moment had controlled his or her daily life. The condition of sin-slavery and its remedy is well described in these words: “But I see another law [principle] in my members [my body], warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law [power] of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! WHO shall DELIVER me from the body of this death?” Romans 7:23-24.
After the “old man” (the old life) had been removed by “circumcision”, and they had “eaten” the life of the “new Man”, they were spiritually equipped to move out into the wide world of freedom. They were “born AGAIN”. Moses later told them, “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked [proud and independent]”. Deuteronomy 10:16. But of course, this means allow Someone to do this for you.
Before this “operation and ritual” they were called “sinner by compulsion”, and after it “righteous by choice”.
Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner.
1 Peter 4:18:
And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
We should note that the “old life” is not forgiven – it must “die”, but that’s another story.
Only after this ritual of the passover could such a “righteous” person approach the sanctuary building to confess and be cleansed of subsequent actions of sin. Only after a REMOVAL of the power of sin and in INFILLING of the power of the Son of God can a CHRISTIAN approach their High Priest in the prayer of confession.
Who wants to add (or subtract!) from these thoughts? I won't argue as I have stated,
but I will publish your Scriptures so that we may review all the words of God on the subject.
Next query. To be discussed from November 1st 2013,
Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such a High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the LORD pitched, and not man. For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer.
If the real sanctuary is in heaven and the Son of God is the High Priest of it, what sacrifices does He offer? There can be no killing of animals in heaven!!
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