Category Archives: Biblical Studies

The Restoration of the Kingdom of Israel: A Missing Part of the Gospel (Part 1)

DID YOU KNOW THERE ARE PARTS OF THE GOSPEL THAT MOST PEOPLE HAVE NOT HEARD, PARTS THAT FULLY INTEGRATE THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS? Why have these parts NOT been openly discussed and connected to the Gospel all these years?  And did you know that parts of the original gospel message were deleted to make Christians more acceptable to the emperors of Rome?   This is a presentation of that undiscussed material.  (Note: The first part of this series, I entitled: “Why Do Christians Have a Problem with the Bible?” in which we discussed three myths mainstream Christians popularly teach about God’s law and the reasons for this.)

THE GOSPEL AND THE RESTORATION OF THE KINGDOM

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus proclaims and teaches “the gospel of the Kingdom of heaven” or “the gospel of the Kingdom of God.”  For example, in Mark 1:14-15, we read,

Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the KINGDOM OF GOD is at hand: REPENT and BELIEVE THE GOSPEL (Emphasis Mine)

Notice that the content and focus of what Jesus clearly identifies as “the gospel” is “THE KINGDOM OF GOD.”  The word “gospel” comes from an Old English word that means “good news.”  So this begs the question, “What is the ‘good news’ about the Kingdom of God/Heaven’?”  We will answer this question by the end of this second part of the study.  Notice in Matthew’s parallel to this verse, we read,

From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, “Repent: for the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN is at hand.” (Matthew 4:23; Emphasis Mine)

Matthew uses the phrase “THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN” from the Hebrew malkhut hashamayim, and Mark uses the phrase “THE KINGDOM OF GOD.”  Mark understands his Roman audience and knows if he uses “heaven,” instead of “God,” they will imagine their own Roman pantheon of gods in the heavens, so Mark just comes right out and says “THE KINGDOM OF GOD.”

The kingdom of God/Heaven is the heartbeat and pulse of all that Jesus did and taught during his years of ministry.  To misunderstand the centrality of this message to the life and teachings of Jesus is to misunderstand what Jesus’ life and message was really all about.  This message should be part of the basic understanding of every Christian, but it’s sadly the least understood.

Many people believe that the phrase “the kingdom of God/Heaven” originated during the time period between the Old and New Testament with the ancient sages and teachers of Israel.  I’ve heard others say that this phrase was coined by the Pharisees, but that Jesus came along and gave it His own unique “twist.”  Although who “coined the phrase” can be debated, the concept of God’s KINGDOM did not begin during this intertestamental period, but it’s seen throughout the Old Testament Scriptures.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE KINGDOM’S EARLY HISTORY

The concept of the Kingship of God is seen throughout the Bible from beginning to end.  For example, if we were to ask the question, “What is the overall topic of the Bible?”  I would say, “It’s about the building and establishment of God’s KINGDOM here on earth.” So contrary to what many people have been taught, sin and redemption are the Bible’s secondary theme, not its primary one.

The first specific reference we have to God’s KINGDOM is found at the end of “the song of Moses” in Exodus 15: “The LORD shall reign forever and ever” (15:18). The context of this statement is a POLITICAL ONE, not a RELIGIOUS ONE.  God’s KINGDOM had just defeated the most powerful military KINGDOM of that time, the Egyptian army.  And after watching the defeat of this army by God drowning them in the Red Sea, Moses breaks out in song, which culminates in this praise of God’s KINGSHIP.

We see throughout the Exodus and the life of Joshua, God’s rule and reign as KING over Israel.  However, during the Judges, we see Israel’s rebellion against the KINGSHIP of God in their lives, for as the Bible states, “every man did WHAT WAS RIGHT IN HIS OWN EYES” (Judges 17:6; 21:25).  Then under the last judge, but the first of the prophets, Samuel, we see Israel for the most part living under God’s KINGSHIP, but near the end of his life, the people wanted a human king.  This upset Samuel, but God told him to do what the people wanted, “for they have not rejected you, but THEY HAVE REJECTED ME, that I should NOT REIGN over them” (I Samuel 8:7; Emphasis Mine).  God then instructs him to anoint Saul as King.

With the anointing of Saul, we see God continue to rule and reign over Israel, not directly as before, but through three branches of government: the King, the Prophet, and the High Priest.  In order for someone to be in one of these three governmental positions, they had to be ANOINTED WITH OLIVE OIL by either a priest or a prophet.  Samuel was both.  After which, they were an ANOINTED ONE, or “MESSIAH” (or in Greek christos or “CHRIST“).  Saul, unfortunately, did not obey God on a number of occasions, and so God tells Samuel to anoint David as king.  And it is under his rule and reign that Israel really begins to flourish.  It is also with him that God enters into covenant with David, and He promises him,

…I will raise up your seed after you, which shall be of your sons, and I will establish his KINGDOM.  He shall build Me a house, and I will establish His throne forever.  I will be His Father, and He shall be My Son: and I will not take My mercy away from Him, as I took it from him that was before you: But I will settle Him in My House and in My KINGDOM forever: and His THRONE shall be established forevermore.  (I Chronicles 17:11b-14)

This passage is extremely important in understanding aspects of the New Testament. Notice that this future “SON OF DAVID” would build God a house, and God promises that He would establish HIS THRONE forever, and that God Himself would be HIS FATHER, and that this “SON OF DAVID” would be HIS SON.  Also, that God would not take His mercy (steadfast love and grace) away from Him.  But that God would establish HIS KINGDOM FOREVERMORE. 

During David’s reign, he wrote many of the psalms that’s in the Bible.  Many of these talk about God and His KINGDOM.  But when he was getting close to death, David gathered the people together to announce his successor, His son, Solomon.  He said,

And of all my sons, (for the LORD has given me many sons,) He has chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of THE KINGDOM OF THE LORD over Israel.  And He [God] has said to me, “Solomon your son, he shall build My house and My courts: for I have chosen him to be MY SON, and I will be HIS FATHER.
(I Chronicles 28:5-6)

God’s covenant with David is crucial in understanding the Messiah as “the son of David,” as well as “God’s Son” and God being “His Father.”   Beginning with Solomon, every male descendant of David had the potential to be GOD’S SON, but they failed in this expectation, because they fell into sin.  However, with the Immaculate conception of Jesus in the New Testament, we see how God would both keep His promise to Abraham, as well as His promise here to David, in that He was, and lived up to the expectations of God in being, HIS SON.

What’s also important about this passage is the phrase “THE KINGDOM OF THE LORD.”  Again, we should note that the context in which this phrase is used is POLITICAL, and not a RELIGIOUS one.  Solomon is being announced as being the next King of Israel, and his position as “king” (a POLITICAL ONE) is subordinate to “THE KINGDOM OF THE LORD” (Heb. malkhut YHVH), likewise presented here as a POLITICAL ONE, which rules and reigns over the nation of Israel, as well as all other nations.

Also, after the Babylonian captivity, Jews stopped using the covenantal name of God, YHVH (translated as “THE LORD“), and started using evasive synonyms for His name, like “Power,” “Heaven,” “the Name,” or “God.”   So the phrase “THE KINGDOM OF THE LORD” (Heb. malkhut YHVH) here in I Chronicles 28:5 becomes in the New Testament “THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN” (Heb. malkhut hashamayim) or “THE KINGDOM OF GOD.”

After Solomon’s death, his son Rehoboam takes the throne.  However, when the people come to him and ask him to lighten the taxes off of the people, because they were being taxed to death under Solomon to pay for the building of the Temple, as well as his many other building projects, he ends up telling them, “No,” and that he was going to be even tougher than his father.  This results in the KINGDOM OF ISRAEL splitting into TWO KINGDOMSTHE KINGDOM OF ISRAEL (consisting of 10 Tribes; also called EPHRAIM), and THE KINGDOM OF JUDAH (consisting of 3 tribes).   The Kingdom of Israel was the NORTHERN KINGDOM and the Kingdom of Judah was the SOUTHERN KINGDOM.

From this moment on, both kingdoms were on and off in their obedience to God.  We read about the kings of these TWO KINGDOMS from 1 Kings 12 to the end of 2 Kings, and another presentation of this same time period is seen from I Chronicles 10 to the end of II Chronicles.  We also read about in the writings of the Prophets whom God sent to these TWO KINGDOMS to turn the people away from their lives of sin and idolatry to a renewed relationship with Him as THEIR KING.

However, the NORTHERN KINGDOM OF ISRAEL is eventually attacked by Assyria in 722 B.C., and most of its people were taken into captivity.  They were scattered throughout the empire, assimilated there, and became lost to history.  They became known as “the lost 10 tribes.”  And then, 136 years later, in 586 B.C., the Babylonians invaded the SOUTHERN KINGDOM OF JUDAH, destroying Jerusalem and the Temple, and taking the people captive into Babylon.  All of this history is necessary backdrop if we are to properly understand the prophecies of ISRAEL’S RESTORATION, and the gospel writings of the New Testament, including those of Paul.

THE PROBLEM CAUSED BY CHRISTIANITY’S DIVISION OF THE TWO TESTAMENTS

By Christianity dividing and separating the OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS, and telling us that “the Old Testament is no longer relevant,” that “it has been done away with,” that “the New Testament is an entirely DIFFERENT DIVINE PROGRAM than the Old Testament,” and that “Christians should not use it for their own value system or go back to it in their understanding of God and the gospel” has clearly been detrimental. Because of this division and separation, many of us Christians have grown up with an erroneous view of “the gospel of the kingdom,” “the church,” and our role within the overall plan of God.  We have been taught to view the KINGDOM strictly as a “SPIRITUAL KINGDOM,” rather than an actual KINGDOM, that’s POLITICAL, HISTORICAL, SOCIAL, CULTURAL, and yes, SPIRITUAL.  God’s KINGDOM has its own WORLDVIEW, and it’s own VALUES AND BELIEFS.

Many of us have grown up with the idea that we are first Americans who are Christians, living the American dream until we die, and then believing we will go to heaven.  This is a very different mindset than the biblical one, which is to see ourselves as citizens of God’s KINGDOM, who happen to live in the United States (or wherever you are living), serving the needs of our KING and His KINGDOM, until the return of our KING, or until we come into His Presence at our death.

So although we may not see God’s KINGDOM in its full manifestation yet here on earth (this will happen when Jesus returns), but this does not mean that it’s NOT a PHYSICAL KINGDOM somewhere else NOW.  People who have been allowed to gain a glimpse of heaven all report that it is a PHYSICAL PLACE.  They report things they SAW, HEARD, SMELLED, TASTED, and TOUCHED.  What we call “Heaven” is in a parallel dimension that co-exists with our own (what is commonly called “the spiritual realm”), and it is a PHYSICAL KINGDOM there.  And one day soon, Jesus will return and complete the establishment of HIS KINGDOM here on earth.  He’s NOT coming back to continue a RELIGION, but to finish establishing a KINGDOM.

THE RESTORATION OF ISRAEL – THE COMING PROMISED RESTORATION OF THE NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN KINGDOMS

Throughout the writings of the prophets, God promises that one day that He is going to restore and reunite the NORTHERN KINGDOM and SOUTHERN KINGDOM again into ONE KINGDOM under ONE KING, MESSIAH.   In Ezekiel 37, for example, God prophecies concerning the coming RESTORATION OF ISRAEL.   Ezekiel writes,

The word of the LORD came again to me, saying, “And you, son of man, take for yourself one stick and write on it, ‘For JUDAH and for the sons of Israel, his companions’ [the Southern Kingdom] ; then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of EPHRAIM and all of the house of Israel, his companions’ [the Northern Kingdom].  Then join them for yourself to one another into ONE STICK [ONE RESTORED, REUNIFIED KINGDOM], that they may become ONE in your hand,

When the sons of your people speak to you saying, ‘Will you not declare to us what you mean by these?’  say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of EPHRAIM, and the tribes of Israel, his companions [THE NORTHERN KINGDOM]; and I will put them with it, with the stick of JUDAH [THE SOUTHERN KINGDOM; THE JEWISH PEOPLE], and make them ONE STICK [ONE RESTORED, REUNIFIED KINGDOM], and they will be ONE in My hand.  The sticks on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes.

Say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; and I will make them ONE NATION in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and ONE KING [Jesus] will be King for all of them; and they will no longer be TWO NATIONS and no longer be divided into TWO KINGDOMS.  (Ezekiel 37:15-22; Emphasis Mine)

This is the “GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM” proclaimed by Jesus and His early disciples.  The GOSPEL (“good news”) was that with the coming of the Messiah [Jesus] that God would begin the process of restoring and reunifying His people.  In addition, the Messiah Jesus Himself was giving the invitation for people to come and to become a part of the newly RESTORED and REUNIFIED KINGDOM OF ISRAEL (called “THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN” or “THE KINGDOM OF GOD“) and to join in the PROCESS of establishing His KINGDOM here on earth.

For example, although the parable of the PRODIGAL SON (Luke 15:11-32) is used to talk about people being away from God, and God’s love for us, which is a surface-level view and understanding of the parable, but we need to understand that the parable has has a much deeper meaning than this.  In telling this parable, Jesus is speaking with the Pharisees and scribes, representatives of the SOUTHERN KINGDOM OF JUDAH.  [“Jew” being a shortened, abbreviated form of “Judean,” or one from the Southern Kingdom]

In the parable, a certain man [GOD] has TWO SONS [TWO KINGDOMS].  The YOUNGER SON is THE NORTHERN KINGDOM OF ISRAEL, and the ELDER SON is THE SOUTHERN KINGDOM OF JUDAH.  In the parable, the YOUNGER SON [NORTHERN KINGDOM] goes off into a far land [just as the NORTHERN KINGDOM was taken away into captivity into far and distant countries], but after awhile, he decides to return.  Jesus is saying that He is going to be bringing the NORTHERN KINGDOM back as God promised.  But in the parable, the ELDER SON [SOUTHERN KINGDOM] is upset when the father [GOD] receives the YOUNGER SON [NORTHERN KINGDOM] back, and he refuses to go into the celebration [THE RESTORED, REUNIFIED KINGDOM], so the father goes out to speak to him.  But in the parable, we never hear the response of the ELDER SON [JUDAH].  Jesus has told them through the parable what He is about to do, and He leaves it up to Israel [THE ELDER SON] to decide how they are going to respond.

This meaning of the parable is missed by Christians because of their insistence of dividing and separating the two testaments, instead of what they should be doing, which is viewing and understanding the New Testament from the framework, content, and context of the Old Testament, which is what God intended and how Jesus and His early disciples viewed it as well.

WHAT ABOUT THE CROSS?

Some may be wondering, “If the focus of the gospel preached by Jesus and His early disciples, then where does the cross fit in?”  The cross was (and continues to be) a necessary part of God’s plan too.  But we miss the KINGDOM CONNECTION by dividing the Old and New Testaments.  Jesus’ death on the cross was not only for the purpose of liberating us from the captivity of sin, as well as to pay the penalty for our sins (JUSTIFICATION), as well as provide the basis for our REGENERATION (New Birth), ADOPTION, and SANCTIFICATION, but it also provided the basis and means for God to begin the PROCESS of RESTORING and REUNIFYING the people and KINGDOMS of ISRAEL. The NATIONAL (or KINGDOM) aspect of God’s plan of SALVATION is an important, fundamental part of the gospel message that has been largely omitted by the Christian church since the mid-to-late second century, A.D.

In fact, have you ever wondered why Paul, such a highly trained Pharisee, was sent out to the nations?  Because that is where God had driven the descendants of the NORTHERN KINGDOM, as well as where the majority of the JEWISH PEOPLE were (only 2% of Jews at the time lived in Israel).  God was reaching back into the nations and calling back His people.

IS THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM ONLY FOR ISRAEL – NO!

Does this mean that the Gospel and the Kingdom are only from those who made (and continue to make) up the tribes and Kingdoms of Israel?  God’s covenants have NEVER EXCLUDED those from the nations (non-Jews) from becoming a part of God’s people.  In fact, from the time of Abraham on, God’s plan has included both Jews and non-Jews.  The non-Jews in the Old Testament are called “strangers” or “foreigners” or “gentiles,” who attached themselves to Israel, and then became a part of the Kingdom of Israel.

For example, there were the non-Jews that came out with Abraham (Genesis 12:5), there was the “mixed multitude” that came out with the children of Israel from their slavery in Egypt (Exodus 12:38), and there were other non-Jews, like Rahab, Ruth, and even Doeg, a soldier in King Saul’s army, who became an intricate part of the people and KINGDOM of Israel.

And by the time of the New Testament, there were many non-Jews or “gentiles” who had attached themselves to the Jewish people, attending synagogue, obeying many of the commandments, including following the dietary laws, the times of prayer, etc.  Many of them, though, had NOT gone to the extent of completely converting and getting circumcised.  These non-Jews were called “God-fearers,” or what is translated in our New Testament as “those who fear God.”  For example, consider the following references:

Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, “Men of Israel, and YOU THAT FEAR GOD, give audience.” (Acts 13:16)

Men and brothers, children of the stock of Abraham, and WHOSOEVER AMONG YOU FEARS GOD, to you is the word of this salvation sent.  (Acts 13:26)

As we can see, the “God-fearers” were a normal part of the synagogue life and worship during the time period of the first century, A.D., the time period of the New Testament.  And a more popular “God-fearer” known to most Christians was Cornelius, the Roman centurion.  In Acts 10:1-3a, we learn the following about him.

There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, a devout man, and ONE THAT FEARED GOD with all his house, which gave alms to the [Jewish] people and prayed to God always.  He saw a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day...

Cornelius is identified as a “God-fearer” or translated here as “one that fears God with all his house,” and he maintained a certain level of obedience to God’s laws.  We learn here that he “gave alms to the people,” most likely the Jewish people, and we learn that he was in prayer during the “ninth hour of the day” (3 pm).  This was one of the three times a day that most Orthodox Jews spent in prayer.  For example, in Acts 3:1, it says,

Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the HOUR OF PRAYER, being THE NINTH HOUR.

Cornelius maintained many of the same beliefs and practices of the Jews, including what times of the day he spent in prayer; however, he was NOT considered “a convert” to Judaism, since he had not been circumcised, even though he did follow many of the same laws and practices of the Jewish people.  Therefore, Cornelius was NOT a pagan or someone who had no knowledge or understanding of the Scriptures, particularly God’s law, contrary to how he is often presented within the church.

Consequently, the idea that the Old Testament is about the Jews, and the New Testament is about Jews and non-Jews is NOT TRUE.  Although the gentiles (or non-Jews) are not part of the dominant discussion in the Old Testament does NOT mean that they were NOT there.  Also, just because THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM includes Gentiles (or non-Jews), we also need to remember that it is an intricate part of God’s promises to ISRAEL and the JEWISH PEOPLE.  And by dividing and separating the two testaments, we are omitting a part of the gospel that Jesus intended His people to hear and to understand.  Consequently, as Paul writes, “it is to the JEW first, and also to the GREEK (or non-Jew)” (Romans 1:16c)

THE RESTORED KINGDOM OF ISRAEL IN PAUL’S WRITINGS

Paul, in his epistles, needs to distinguish two groups within the nation of Israel: those who were not part of the RESTORED KINGDOM OF ISRAEL, which alludes to simply as “ISRAEL” and those who are part of the RESTORED KINGDOM OF ISRAEL (that would be made up of people from three groups of people:

  • the NORTHERN KINGDOM,
  • the SOUTHERN KINGDOM, and
  • GENTILES (NON-JEWS)

And most of the time, Paul did not use the term “KINGDOM,” like Jesus did, I believe because he did not want people to think that they were to have the same type of relationship with MESSIAH (CHRIST) as people had with the emperor of Rome.  So he used many other titles, such as ‘EKKLESIA [“church”], BODY OF CHRIST, the BRIDE OF CHRIST, IN CHRIST and ONE NEW MAN to indicate the intimacy that we are to have with our KING.

To be part of the RESTORED and REUNIFIED KINGDOM OF ISRAEL, both Jews and non-Jews must accept the Messiah Yeshua/ Jesus Christ, the One chosen and anointed by God by a priest and prophet, John the Baptist, to be His KING, PROPHET, and HIGH PRIEST over the RESTORED KINGDOM.  [Note: the term “Messiah” from the Hebrew or “Christ” from the Greek, again refers to the “son (or descendant) of David” who would be chosen by God and given the anointing, not of ONE governmental office, but He, and He alone, would walk in ALL THREE governmental offices: Prophet, Priest and King at the same time; thereby, constituting Him as “THE MESSIAH” or “THE CHRIST”]. 

And so when we fail to look at the New Testament from the framework, content and context of the Old Testament, then “THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM” preached by Jesus and His early disciples is not properly understood.  And the cross, as I said earlier, was a NECESSARY PART of this process, for it dealt not only with humanity’s sin issues, but it also has become the doorway into the KINGDOM and has provided the basis and means for God to begin this RESTORATION PROCESS (or what Christians have traditionally called “the Church Age” is, in fact, God continuing to build and extend the KINGDOM, He began with ABRAHAM, ISAAC, and JACOB).  Thereby, keeping His promise to Abraham: “In you shall ALL the families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:3).  So has God changed His program in the New Testament?  Not at all.

In this next article, we will look at what happened to the Gospel message between the 2nd – 4th centuries, AD.

 

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WHAT IS CHRISTIANITY’S PROBLEM WITH THE BIBLE? (Part 1/3)

Even though this study is a bit long, it is well worth your time and study.  It will deepen your knowledge of the Bible and the plan of God among His people and the world.

MANY PEOPLE MAY NOT BE AWARE THAT CHRISTIANITY HAS A LONG, CONTINUING PROBLEM IN HOW TO LOOK AT AND UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE, BUT THEY DO.   I should say right up front that I believe that Christianity has it RIGHT about the basics of JESUS’ life: He was born of a virgin, He lived a sinless life, He proclaimed the Gospel and taught His disciples to do the same, and then He was crucified under Pontious Pilate, rose again on the third day, ascended up into heaven, and then sent back the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, and as a result, the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit are for all believers today.

Those things we have RIGHT, but the problem comes with our mainstream view of the Bible as a whole, the relationship between the Old and New Testament, and even about the relationship between the Law and the Gospel.  Different denominations have their own views and ideas about each of these, but how many of these “views” actually reflect the Bible as a whole?  How many of these “views” are man-made, and how many can actually be found in the Bible?

I can remember listening to a well-known, popular TV minister 40+ years ago as he talked about God’s law as being “legalism,” “bondage,” and as a “curse.”  He even thanked God for delivering us from the law.  But at that moment, God checked my spirit, and told me that what I had heard was wrong.  I then asked myself the question, “What’s his hang up with God’s law?”  Since then, this erroneous attitude of his and other ministers (in churches and on TV) and evangelists in regard to God’s Word has flooded the mainstream American church, and we are now feeling the results of what has been reaped in American society (Did you actually believe the world wasn’t also listening?).

For those who don’t know me, I grew up in a small Pentecostal Church of God congregation until I was twelve, and then my parents changed over to the Assemblies of God.  I have literally heard thousands upon thousands of sermons during my lifetime, but when it comes to God’s laws, and the relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament, the evidence of Scripture does not support the traditional Christian view.  In fact, when hearing someone speaking against God’s Law, or the Old Testament as a whole, I really wonder if they’ve ever taken the time to actually read it.

CHRISTIANITY’S FALSE PRESS

There’s many things that Christians claim about God’s law and commandments, as well as the Old Testament, which I find no evidence to support.  In fact, there are many traditions taught in the church which have no biblical basis.  For example, that the fruit Adam and Eve ate which caused their fall was an apple (even though the fruit is never identified in the Bible), or that only two kinds of every animal went into the ark (actually two pairs of the unclean animals went into the ark, but seven pairs of the clean animals went into it), or that there were three kings who came to see Jesus as an infant at His birth in the manger (even though the New Testament calls them “wisemen,” not kings, and they came to the “house,” not the manger, to see the “young child,” not the infant).

This is why Christians need to start studying the Scriptures for themselves, instead of only relying on someone else to tell you what it says.  How else are we to know when we are being taught “a man-made tradition,” as opposed to what is actually taught in the Bible.  And after studying the Law and the Old Testament now for several years, and also listening to many ministers and TV evangelists, I often wonder, “What Law are you reading?”

For example, they say that God gave the Law to prove what horrible sinners we are, but I don’t see that in the Old Testament at all.  What I do see is God wanting to bless us, but our desire to rebel keeps getting in the way.  For example, check out this passage in Deuteronomy:

O that there were such an HEART in them, that they would fear Me, and keep all My commandments ALWAYS, that it might be WELL with them, and with their children FOREVER!  (Deuteronomy 5:29)

Can you hear God’s broken heart here?  Why is it breaking?  Because He wants to bless us, He wants things to go well for us, but the thing that keeps getting in the way of us being blessed by Him is the condition of our hearts.  Our HEARTS – that’s the problem – NOT the commandments!

Where does it say in here that God gave us these commandments to show us what miserable, horrible sinners we are?  Where does it say that the ONLY way we can keep these commandments is if we are “PERFECT“?  Again, when one reads through God’s law, as well as the whole Old Testament, you will not find these attitudes anywhere.  And so many of the problems we Christians have regarding God’s law really comes down to what people have taught us about it and how we’ve been taught to interpret and understand our own Bible.

MYTH #1:  YOU HAVE TO BE PERFECT TO OBEY THE LAW

The first myth that Christians teach about God’s Law is that you have to be morally perfect to keep it, but this isn’t true; you just have to be obedient.  For example, did you know that in the Law itself, there is evidence that God DID NOT INTEND for people to be morally perfect to obey His commandments?  I mean, think about this, if we have to be morally perfect to keep God’s law, then why does He allow for divorce (Deuteronomy 24:1-4)?  If we have to be morally perfect to keep His commandments, then why does God set up the cities of refuge where people can go if they accidentally kill someone, and not suffer any retribution for what they have done (Numbers 35:6-34; Deuteronomy 4:41-43; 19:1-13)?  If we have to be morally perfect to keep His laws, then why does God give the children of Israel “a make-up day” 30 days after Passover, if they can’t observe it on time (Numbers 9:6-14)?  And, of course, the biggest clue that God did not intend for people to be morally perfect to keep His commandments is the whole sacrificial system.  It’s very existence is textual proof that God was fully aware that the people He was giving these commands to were NOT morally perfect people, and the inclusion of these elements only prove that He made allowances for their moral imperfections.  In fact, NO WHERE in the law or, even, the whole Old Testament does God EVER SAY that obedience to these commandments would make one perfect, NO WHERE! 

Keeping the commandments, in fact, does NOT make us perfect – just OBEDIENT!  And OBEDIENCE to the commandments does NOT result in us dying and going to heaven (another myth), but in being BLESSED here on earth by God! (check out Deuteronomy 28:1-14 for a sample of the promised blessings for obedience.)   I am not saying that heaven is a myth, only the idea that keeping the commandments will result in God having to take people to heaven.  None of the blessings of God deal with what happens to us after we die; they only deal with what happens to us here on earth during our lifetime.

And, of course, OBEDIENCE to anything doesn’t just happen.  It must be LEARNED and PRACTICED, and when we fall, we get up and continue to LEARN and to PRACTICE it.  This is true of ANYTHING that one sets out to learn.  MASTERY OF ANYTHING takes time learning it, practicing it, and patience as we continue to learn and to practice it.  So why do we view our obedience to God’s laws and commandments differently than we do anything else?  Because that’s how we’ve been taught to view them in the church.  But unfortunately how we’ve been taught to view them is NOT what we see taught in the Old Testament ANYWHERE!   So ask yourself, on what are people basing this erroneous view that we have been taught regarding God’s Law?

Also, God’s desire here is that His people would “keep ALL [His] commandments ALWAYS,” so ask yourself, “Why would He send Jesus to earth to do away with the very thing He wants His people to keep ‘ALWAYS’?”  Why would Jesus die to do away with the Word of God?”  Again, this idea just doesn’t make any sense when we actually spend time reading and studying the Law and the rest of the Old Testament.

MYTH #2:  IN THE OLD TESTAMENT PEOPLE WERE SAVED BY THE LAW.

Another common myth that Christians teach is that in the Old Testament, people were saved by the Law.  This is also not true.  If God’s purpose in giving the law was for the purpose of salvation, He would have given it to them while they were still slaves in Egypt, and told them, that if they could keep these commandments, then He would deliver them from slavery, BUT that is NOT what He did. Instead, He delivered (or “saved”) His people from slavery FIRST, and THEN He led them to Mt. Sinai where He gave them His commandments. In the footnote of Exodus 20:1-17 of the Apologetics Study Bible, it states the following:

God and Moses perceived obedience to the laws, NOT AS A WAY OR PRECONDITION TO SALVATION, but as a GRATEFUL RESPONSE of those who had ALREADY BEEN SAVED.  God did not reveal the law to the Israelites in Egypt and then tell them that as soon as they had measured up to this standard He would rescue them.  On the contrary, BY GRACE ALONE, THROUGH FAITH they crossed the Red Sea to freedom.  All that was required was belief in God’s promise that He would hold up the walls of water on either side and see them safely through to the other shore.

The Decalogue (10 Commandments) begins, not with the first commandment, but with a preamble: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery” (v.2; Dt. 5:6).  Obedience to the Decalogue or any other law has NEVER BEEN INTENDED AS A WAY OF SALVATION BUT AS THE APPROPRIATE RESPONSE TO SALVATION ALREADY RECEIVED.  (115; Emphasis Mine)

So as we can see, people in the Old Testament WERE NOT SAVED by the keeping of the law (contrary to what the majority of Christians often say or teach), but the Law was their God-given RESPONSE to His salvation.  Consequently, the mainstream Christian belief that the law was used for salvation purposes in the Old Testament is not at all true.

MYTH #3:  YOU HAVE TO OBEY ALL OF THE LAW, BECAUSE IF YOU GET ONE WRONG, THEN YOU’VE BROKEN THEM ALL.

This third myth about the Law is based on an erroneous understanding and misapplication of James 2:10: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”  On the surface, this seems to support what traditional, mainstream Christianity teaches, but when you place the quote back into its original context, we discover a very different story.

James wrote this statement to ENCOURAGE MORE OBEDIENCE TO THE LAW, NOT LESS, AND DEFINITELY NOT TO PROVE THAT THE LAW COULD NOT BE KEPT.  James here is arguing that the PREFERENCE that these Jewish believers are showing to the rich believers over that of the POOR believers is a VIOLATION OF THE LAW; therefore, in order to KEEP THE LAW, they need to treat ALL people EQUALLY in their meetings (James 2:1-9).  Obviously, if James was trying to get them to OBEY GOD’S LAW, then he isn’t using it to say that the Law can’t be kept; however, this statement of James 2:10, along with what he is trying to accomplish by using it, also proves that James did NOT believe that the Law ended at the cross, nor did he believe that God’s Law could NOT be kept.

Christians have traditionally used this same statement in James 2:10 to say the EXACT OPPOSITE of what James is saying.  He used it to ENCOURAGE OBEDIENCE TO THE LAW, but Christianity has turned it around and uses it to DISCOURAGE OBEDIENCE TO THE LAW, and even use it to try and argue that IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO KEEP GOD’S COMMANDMENTS.  This clearly demonstrates the habit of many people (Christians and non-Christians alike) – and this is one of many examples – of people taking things out of CONTEXT in order to back up and support their own denominational beliefs or personal views, such as, in this case, that CHRISTIANS ARE NOT REQUIRED TO OBEY GOD’S LAW, which was clearly NOT the point that James was making here.  

Furthermore, I would argue that many Christians and TV ministers VIOLATE this same teaching of James by themselves showing PREFERENCE to the rich evangelists and TV ministers who they support and invite to their churches, as well as to those within their congregations who give more in their tithing, than they do to those poor ministers, evangelists and believers within their congregations.  I have even heard more than one TV minister/evangelist say that “unless you have money, a lot of money, you cannot help anyone.” How sad!

PROBLEMS THAT CAUSE THESE MYTHS AND MISINTERPRETATIONS

The following are three of the main problems that lie at the root of these continuing myths, misinterpretations and misunderstandings of God’s Word.

ONE MAIN PROBLEM – THE REMOVAL OF THE NEW TESTAMENT FROM ITS INTENDED CONTEXT

One main reason for Christianity’s traditional misinterpretation, misunderstanding, and misapplication of the Bible is because they remove the New Testament from its intended context, the Old Testament.  It is quite clear from the numerous quotes, references, and allusions to the Old Testament Scriptures found in the New Testament that the foundation, framework and context of properly understanding it [the New Testament] is the Old Testament.  But rather than viewing and understanding the New Testament from the perspective of the Old Testament, Christianity divides and separates the two Testaments, and erroneously teaches that the New Testament, in fact,  REPLACES the Old Testament.

And not only has the New Testament REPLACED the Old Testament, they say, but they teach that the two Testaments are, in fact, “two entirely different Divine Programs,” none of which is true.   The New Testament further molds, shapes, modifies and develops parts of things in the Old Testament, but IT DOES NOT REPLACE the Old Testament.  Nor has all of the Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament been fulfilled.  There are 800 Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament.  Jesus fulfilled 300 of them in His first coming, and He will fulfill the other 500 prophecies in His second coming and during His 1,000 year reign on earth (called “the Millennial reign”).  So how can Christians say that the Old Testament, or even the Law, has been fulfilled when, in fact, there’s a great deal yet that has NOT been fulfilled?

ANOTHER MAIN PROBLEM:  VIEWING THE BIBLE THROUGH THE LENS OF RELIGION, RATHER THAN THE LENS OF A KINGDOM

Traditionally, another problem within Christianity has been their continual view of God, the Bible, the Gospel, and the Church through the lens of RELIGION and not through the lens God intended – a KINGDOM.  For example, throughout the Scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation, we see the foundation and development of God’s Kingdom here on earth.  The giving of the law was part of God establishing His Kingdom within the lives of the people He had “saved” and “redeemed” from their slavery in Egypt.  They were supposed to be His “role model nation,” so that other nations around them would see the great blessing and intimacy they enjoyed with God, and that they too would want to become part of God’s Kingdom (Deuteronomy 4:5-8).

Obviously, then, God’s laws and commandments were NOT intended ONLY for the Jewish people, but for all of humanity.  Of course, the problem we see in the Old Testament is that the sin nature took control of what was to be God’s “role model KINGDOM” and made it into a RELIGION, where people could take control and decide for themselves what was right and wrong, believing, in fact, that they could mix their RELIGION with the things the other RELIGIONS around them believed and practiced.  This mixture of RELIGIONS, of course, led to the continuing battle against idolatry, violence and sexual practices that were clearly forbidden by God.

And even during the Babylonian captivity when Israel began to be obedient to the commandments, and NOT engage in these same vile practices, the belief and view of the Law as a RELIGION continued, so that by the first century, A.D., the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, etc., had fully developed their RELIGIOUS view of what God, the Torah, Israel and the land was all about.  However, Jesus was not about endorsing this RELIGIOUS view of God and His KINGDOM.  Instead, He wanted to return people back to a KINGDOM view of things, rather than a RELIGIOUS view.  For example, Jesus proclaimed NOT the “RELIGION OF GOD,” but “THE KINGDOM OF GOD.” For example, in Mark 1:14-15,

Now after that John was put into prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the KINGDOM OF GOD is at hand: REPENT ye, and BELIEVE THE GOSPEL.

Clearly here, Jesus identifies the Gospel message as about “the KINGDOM OF GOD,” and our response to this message is that we are to REPENT and BELIEVE THE GOSPEL.  This message stirred up the people of Israel and put Jesus into direct conflict numerous times with both the RELIGIOUS and POLITICAL leaders of His day.  Why?  Because the concept of KINGDOM and RELIGION are in direct opposition to one another, and the preaching of any other KINGDOM than the KINGDOM (or EMPIRE) of ROME was considered by ROME to be an act of treason.

Although Jesus and His early disciples preached the KINGDOM message, in spite of the persecution, historical Christianity though, from the 2nd century, A.D. onward, began to move away from KINGDOM and back into RELIGION, and since the mid-to-late 2nd century, A.D., it has continued to view Jesus, the Gospel, the Church, and the New Testament as a RELIGION, which came to be called “Christianity,” and NOT from the perspective of an actual KINGDOM.

For example, in a RELIGION, people choose what they want to believe and what they don’t want to believe, what is right and what is wrong.  We see in the various denominations them deciding what parts of the Bible is for today and what parts aren’t, what they believe is appropriate worship, attire, instruments, etc., in the church, and what’s NOT.  However, in contrast to this, in a KINGDOM, the one who decides what is right and wrong, what is appropriate or not appropriate, or what parts of the Bible is for today and what isn’t is NOT the people, but the KING (God).  The people in the KINGDOM are to do what the KING says to do, NOT create their own version of what they feel is more comfortable for them to do.  And according to Jesus, what part of the Law or the Prophets has God, in fact,  “annulled” or “done away with”?  NOTHING.

Think NOT that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy but to fulfill.  For verily I say unto you, Till HEAVEN AND EARTH PASS [AWAY], one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. (Matthew 5:17-18)

When will any part of the law or the prophets, i.e., the Old Testament, pass away or be deleted?  Not until HEAVEN AND EARTH PASS AWAY.  Why?  Because these were the two witnesses who God called to witness His covenant with Israel at Mt. Sinai, and until these two witnesses pass away, God CANNOT REMOVE OR DELETE any part of His covenant.  Consequently, when Christians teach that the Law is not for today, they are in direct contradiction to what the Bible actually teaches, since it was not God’s law, but our sins, the penalty of our sins, and the law of sin and death that was nailed to the cross of Christ, NOT God’s law and commandments.

ANOTHER MAIN PROBLEM: CHRISTIANS IGNORING THE PROPHECIES CONCERNING THE COMING KINGDOM

A third problem with the way Christians view the Bible, specifically God’s law, is that they look back to the cross, which THEY SHOULD DO, but they FAIL TO LOOK AHEAD to the coming Millennial reign of Christ, and to adopt doctrines repeatedly taught in the Bible that are CONSISTENT between these two points in time.  If they would study the Old Testament, they would discover that it actually has more to say about the coming rule and reign of Christ than the New Testament.

For example, they would learn that the New Testament is NOT the last or final covenant that God is planning on making with humanity.  There’s at least one, maybe two, more covenants prophesied by God that He is going to make with Israel and, of course, with each covenant, there comes more Bible.  Consequently, the Bible is done as far as we’ve received from God so far, but in reference to God’s word for humanity over all, that is up until the time of the New Heavens and the New Earth (Isaiah 66:22; Matthew 5:18; Revelation 21-22), there’s more Bible yet to come.  For example, the next covenant will be made with Israel when Jesus returns and establishes His kingdom here on earth for 1,000 years.

CORRECTIONS CHRISTIANITY NEEDS TO MAKE

So based on this first part of the study, then, there are certain changes and corrections that Christianity needs to make in order to begin to properly understand and view the Bible as a whole.  For example, we need to —

  • STOP taking verses and passages out of CONTEXT, simply to satisfy our own denominational views and to begin to consistently follow the RULES AND GUIDELINES OF HERMENEUTICS on how the Bible should be interpreted and understood;
  • STOP viewing the Old Testament and New Testament as separate “Divine Programs,” but to view the New Testament from the foundation, framework, and context of the Old Testament as God intended, since after all, He gave us the Old Testament BEFORE He gave us the New Testament; and
  • STOP viewing God, Jesus, the Gospel, the Church and the Bible as a whole through the lens of RELIGION, and begin to look at things through the lens and perspective of a KINGDOM, which is an entity that’s political, social, cultural, historical, and spiritual with its own worldview and values and belief system that’s been given to us by God Himself.  We are NOT to adopt the world’s system, but God’s.

Now if we could begin to do these three things, it would greatly help to reduce the amount of division, misinterpretation, misunderstanding, myths, and error that we see within the Christian church.  For example, when the United States is under attack, the conflicts and divisions among Americans fall to the wayside and we join together in unity to fight our “common enemy.”  In the same line of thinking, Christians are divided by their church and denominational doctrines and practices, but imagine what would happen if we began to focus on us being part of God’s KINGDOM, and what teachings and practices of God’s Kingdom that we see REPEATEDLY TAUGHT from Genesis to Revelation.  Many of our so-called divisions and disagreements would likewise fall to the wayside.  After all, “out of the mouth of two or three witnesses, a thing shall be established.”

Now in the second part of this three-part series, I want to look at the restoration of Israel and the coming covenant that God is going to make with the people and nation of Israel during Christ’s (or Messiah’s) Millennial reign, and how all of this fits together with the gospel of the Kingdom taught by Jesus and His early disciples.

 

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THE MAIN FOCUS OF THE GOSPEL IS THE KINGDOM – NOT THE CROSS

It may surprise many people to discover that the cross is not the “full or complete gospel,” but it is the doorway into the gospel preached by Jesus and His early disciples, “the gospel of the Kingdom.”  The cross is how we gain entry into the kingdom, but it is not the destination point.  Also the cross is our example for us to follow.  Jesus said,

If any man will come after Me [or follow Me], let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.  (Matthew 16:24-25; Mark 8:34-35; Luke 9:23-24]

In fact, in Luke 14:27, Jesus comes right out and says, “And whosoever does not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple.”  Even though there are many reasons why Jesus died on the cross, we still have a cross that we are also to bear in our daily lives.  Jesus will not bear our cross for us, as some ministers would like people to think, but it is a cross we are to bear as we follow His example of how we are to live.

THE CROSS – NOT THE MAIN FOCUS OF JESUS’ MINISTRY?

But Jesus did not start talking about His own death, or the need for us to bear a cross for over three years of His ministry.  During the majority of His earthly ministry, the focus was not on the cross at all, but on “the kingdom of heaven” or “the kingdom of God.”  Think about this: The disciples had been sent out two-by-two for at least two, maybe three years, preaching the very gospel that Jesus preached, and yet when Jesus does start talking about His death, the disciples are in shock!  In fact, Peter even rebukes the Lord for suggesting such an idea (Matthew 16:23-24).  Obviously, then, the cross was not the main focus of what Jesus and His early disciples had been preaching.  Up to that point, it had not been part of His gospel.

The gospel that He preached focused on the Kingdom – not the cross.  The gospel is God’s invitation for us to become an active part of His Kingdom.  Many people may hear the phrase “the kingdom of heaven,” and they think it refers to heaven, but it doesn’t.  It means the same thing, in fact, as “the kingdom of God.” God’s Kingdom is something we see throughout the Bible, from beginning to end.  It did not begin in the New Testament.  In fact, Paul writes that Abraham was the first to hear the gospel of the kingdom (Galatians 3:8).  Obviously, then, if Abraham was the first to hear its message, it did not begin in the New Testament, but with Abraham himself.

You see, God did not intend to create a religion through the crucifixion and resurrection, but to fulfill a promise that He had made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to open the way into His Kingdom for all people, Jew and non-Jew alike.  Consequently, when we focus solely on the cross, and not on the Kingdom, we miss the point and purpose for the cross.

A BRIEF OF THIS SERIES

In this three-part series, we have been examining a belief that Christianity has traditionally had about what happened at the cross.  There are many who teach that when Jesus died on the cross, He actually nailed the law of God to the cross.  However, if you remember in the first part of this study, we examined Colossians 2:12-23 to examine if the text truly states that Jesus “nailed the Law of God to the cross.”

However, what we discovered was that Jesus DID NOT nail God’s Law to the cross, but our sins and the penalty of our sins.  Therefore, Colossians 2 does not, in fact, state what many Christians, pastors, ministers, evangelists, and even missionaries say that it means.  But what about Ephesians 2:15?  Does this verse prove that Jesus nailed the law of God to the cross?  But before answering this question, we need to give some background information.

THE IMPORTANCE OF A WHOLE BIBLE PERSPECTIVE

To understand this verse in context, we must understand the gospel of the Kingdom proclaimed by Jesus and His disciples, including the Apostle Paul.  Most Christians do not understand that to properly understand the New Testament, including the gospel, we must understand it within the context of the Old Testament.  This is why the Old Testament was given first and why it is so important, because it sets up the foundation, framework, and context in which the New Testament is to be understood.  The problem is that much of Christianity tries to understand the New Testament, including the gospel, apart from the Old Testament, which only results in misinterpretation, misunderstanding and error.

THERE’S MORE TO THE OLD TESTAMENT THAN THE FALL

When it comes to salvation and the gospel message, there’s more to it in the Old Testament than just the creation and fall of man; however, when you hear the gospel being presented by Christians, you wouldn’t think so.  This issue, though, is not new to Christianity; in fact, it goes back to almost its very beginnings.

Now what I found interesting in my research is that in the oldest Christian creeds, the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed, there’s not even the mention of the fall of man. But in the sermons of Paul in the New Testament (Romans 5, for example) and later, the early Church Fathers, it is highlighted on, but not in these creeds.  Instead, they begin with a statement that paraphrases Genesis 1:1, and then goes right into the New Testament, as if the Old Testament has no importance whatsoever in regard to what our core beliefs should be.  The following is a comparison of the beginning of these two creeds.

THE APOSTLES CREED

THE NICENE CREED

 I believe in God, the Father Almighty,Creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

 

We believe in one God,The Father, the Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth,Of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,…
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried.  On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

As we can see, it moves from God being the Creator right into Christ and the New Testament.  Now in “The Nicene Creed,” there is one other line that references the Old Testament, and that deals with the Holy Spirit (further down than what’s shown).  In this creed, in its description of Him, it states, “He has spoken through the prophets.”  Other than this, again, this is the extent of what it has to say about the Old Testament Scriptures.  Both creeds in their entirety can be seen on Christianity Today’s website, Christian Bible Studies, in the article “The Nicene and Apostles’ Creed: A close look at these two creeds define what Christians believe” by JoHannah Reardon (30 July 2008).  And even now, among mainstream Christianity, the Old Testament plays little relevance to salvation and the gospel message.

CHRISTIANITY PREACHING “A PARTIAL GOSPEL”?

By preaching a message based almost solely on the New Testament, except for Genesis
1-3, Christianity has ended up preaching a partial gospel, rather than the full gospel. Now, there are many ministries which call themselves “full gospel,” but their beliefs are still based primarily on the New Testament and, therefore, they are not really full gospel.  To put it simply, a gospel that’s not based on the WHOLE BIBLE is NOT full gospel.

WHAT IS “THE KINGDOM OF GOD/HEAVEN”?

As I mentioned earlier, the main focus of Jesus’ ministry was “the gospel of the kingdom.” In fact, this was the heartbeat and pulse of all that Jesus died and taught.  For example, in the beginning of His ministry, Mark summarizes Jesus’ message as –

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.  (Mark 1:15)

A parallel to this verse is seen in Matthew 4:17, it reads,

From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Notice that Mark uses the phrase “the kingdom of God,” but Matthew uses “the kingdom of heaven.”  They are just two ways of saying the same exact thing.  Also notice that in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus calls this message about the kingdom of God “THE GOSPEL.” And when you research these two phrases, you will discover that researchers will say that the phrases “kingdom of heaven” and “kingdom of God” are not found in the Old Testament, and that the Pharisees are the ones who began using them.   However, this statement that they are not found in the Old Testament implies that these phrases represent a different concept than what we find in the Old Testament Scriptures, which is not true.

The first reference to God’s Kingdom can be found at the end of the song of Moses in Exodus 15, “And the LORD shall reign forever and ever” (Exodus 15:18).  But later, when the last judge and first prophet Samuel was old, the people asked for a human king to reign over them.  This upset Samuel, but he prayed to the LORD for the people, who then told Samuel,

Hearken to the voice of the people in all that they say unto you: for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.  (I Samuel 8:6-7)

Samuel then anointed Saul as king, but then when Saul kept being disobedient to the LORD, He told Samuel to anoint David.  And throughout the Psalms, many of them written by David, the kingship of God is proclaimed.  For example,

Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my KING and my God: for unto You will I pray.  (Psalm 5:2; Emphasis Mine)

The LORD is KING forever and ever: the heathen are perished out of His land.  (Psalm 10:16; Emphasis Mine)

Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the KING of glory shall come in.  Who is this KING of glory?  The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.  Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the KING of glory shall come in.  Who is this KING of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the KING of glory.  Selah.  (Psalm 24:7-10; Emphasis Mine)

But it was near the time of David’s death, that he announced to the people that God had chosen Solomon to be the next king over Israel.

Yet, the LORD, the God of Israel, chose me from all the house of my father to be king over Israel forever.  For He has chosen Judah to be a leader; and in the house of Judah, my father’s house, and among the sons of my father He took pleasure in me to make me king over all Israel.  And of all my sons (for the LORD has given me many sons), He has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of THE KINGDOM OF THE LORD over Israel.  (I Chronicles 28:4-5; Emphasis Mine)

The phrase translated into English as “THE KINGDOM OF THE LORD” is the Hebrew malkhut YHVH.  After the Babylonian exile, evasive synonyms were created for the covenantal name of God (YHVH), so instead of using His covenantal name, they would use these words instead, such as “heaven,” “the power,” “the name,” or “God.”  So “the KIngdom of YHVH” became “the kingdom of heaven” or “the kingdom of God.”

So is Israel “the kingdom”?  Israel is part of the Kingdom, but it is not the Kingdom itself. Notice what David said:  “He has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of the Kingdom of the LORD OVER ISRAEL.”  If God’s Kingdom were Israel, those last two words would not be needed.  Therefore, God’s Kingdom involves more than the nation of Israel. It actually involves BOTH the created physical universe, which includes the earth, the nations, and the people and nation of Israel, AND the invisible universe, or what is commonly called “the spiritual realm.”  So this brings us then to the next question, “What else do we need to know about the Kingdom?”

ONE KINGDOM BECOMES TWO

After Solomon dies, his son Rehoboam takes the throne.  However, when the people ask that the heavy tax load be lightened, Rehoboam refuses, which results in a split in the kingdom, forming “the kingdom of Israel” (the northern kingdom) and “the kingdom of Judah” (the southern kingdom).   These two kingdoms end up continuing to rebel against God and worshiping idols.  After centuries of warning them to repent, God “divorces” the northern kingdom (Jeremiah 3:8), and He uses the Assyrians to remove them from the promised land, a picture of removing them from His Kingdom.  However, God did not divorce the Southern Kingdom of Judah.  He did have them taken into captivity for 70 years, but He did not give them a “certificate of divorce” as He did with the northern kingdom.

GOD’S PROMISE TO RESTORE THE TWO KINGDOMS INTO ONE

Throughout the writings of the Hebrew prophets, God promises after divorcing the northern Kingdom (the kingdom of Israel; also called “Ephraim”) to restore them back again into one kingdom with the southern kingdom of Judah.  We see, for example, in Ezekiel 37:19-22,

Thus says the LORD God; Behold, I will take THE STICK OF JOSEPH, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with THE STICK OF JUDAH, and make them ONE STICK, and they shall be ONE in mine hand.  And the sticks whereon you write shall be in your hand before their eyes.  And say unto them, Thus says the LORD God; Behold, I will take the CHILDREN OF ISRAEL [the NORTHERN KINGDOM] from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them ONE NATION in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and ONE KING shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more TWO NATIONS, neither shall they be divided into TWO KINGDOMS any more at all:

God’s promise is that one day, He would restore the NORTHERN KINGDOM back together again with the SOUTHERN KINGDOM, and He would make them ONE KINGDOM, ONE NATION, again under ONE KING [Messiah].  And not only do we find this promise of restoration in Ezekiel, but also in Hosea, as well as many of the prophets.

In the book of Hosea, God has Hosea give Gomer’s three children names that prophecy regarding God’s divorce of the northern kingdom of Israel.  Her first child, a son, he names Jezreel, for God says,

for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel [the northern kingdom] (Hosea 1:4)

And then, Gomer’s second child, a daughter, God said to name Lo-ruhamah, because –

for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel [the northern kingdom]; but I will utterly take them away.  But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah [the southern kingdom], and will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen.  (Hosea 1:6-7)

And then, Gomer’s third and final child, God told Hosea to name Lo-ammi because God’s message to the northern kingdom of Israel was –  “for you are not My people, and I will not be your God.”  (Hosea 1:9)

And yet in spite of this, Hosea prophecies to the northern kingdom of Israel,

Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, “Ye are not My people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.  Then shall the CHILDREN OF JUDAH [the southern kingdom] and the CHILDREN OF ISRAEL [the northern kingdom] be gathered together, and appoint themselves ONE HEAD, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel.  (Hosea 1:10-11)

And later on, He prophecies,

For the CHILDREN OF ISRAEL [the northern kingdom] shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim:  Afterward shall the CHILDREN OF ISRAEL [the northern kingdom] return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their King; and shall fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter [or last] days.  (Hosea 3:4-5)

What is the promise?  That God is going to restore the two kingdoms back together again into one nation under one king, Messiah.  This is “the gospel (good news) of the kingdom” proclaimed by Jesus and His early disciples, that the time had arrived for this process of restoration to begin.  So what were the Jews to do?  “Repent and believe the good news.”

if we look at the context in which the atonement of Messiah [Christ], Isaiah 52:13-53:12, and even the promise of the New Covenant [or Testament] is given, Jeremiah 31:31-34, we will find that BOTH of them are given in the same context as the promise of the restoration of Israel.

The Promised Restoration of Israel
(Jeremiah 30:1 – 31:30)
The Promised Restoration of Israel
(Isaiah 48:12 – 52:12)
The Promise of the New Covenant
(Jeremiah 3!:31-34)
The Promise of the Atonement through Messiah (Isaiah 52:13-53:12)
The Promised Restoration of Israel
(Jeremiah 31:35–33:26)
The Promised Restoration of Israel
(Isaiah 54:1 – 55:13)

This is also why the disciples asked the Lord prior to His ascension, “Lord, will You at this time restore again the kingdom of Israel?” (Acts 1:6)  They understood the Kingdom concept, the connections, but what they didn’t understand was that bringing the northern and southern kingdoms back together into one kingdom would not occur all at once, but over a long period of time.  The northern kingdom had been scattered throughout all the nations of the world, and at this point, they had been scattered and sifted among the nations for at least 700 years.  Finding them would not be easy, so in asking the question, the concept was right, but the timing was off.   Therefore, to understand the Atonement or the New Covenant apart from the restoration of Israel is to remove it from its immediate context; and thereby, opening the door to misinterpretation, misunderstanding and error.

MISSING PIECES OF THE GOSPEL MESSAGE?

The cross was not about just “the forgiveness of sins,” so when people died, they could go to heaven.  There’s a lot more to it than that.  Jesus death on the cross accomplished many things:

  • His death on the cross paid the price for our sins, and the penalty of our sins; thereby, providing forgiveness of sins, and freeing and liberating us from the power and control of sin in our lives, and therefore, allowing us to to receive the Holy Spirit and live sanctified, holy lives before Him.
  • His death on the cross fulfilled the promise that God made to Abraham in Genesis 15, thereby moving the foundation and entry point of the Abrahamic covenant from a promise made in a vision to a concrete historical event: the death, burial and resurrection of Messiah [Christ].
  • His death on the cross secured the land of Israel for the Jewish people, and the people returning from the northern tribes forever.  It is no longer based on a promise, but on the death, burial and resurrection of Messiah [Christ].
  • His death on the cross provided the means through which God could keep His promises to the northern and southern kingdom to bring them back together again into one nation, one kingdom, under one King, Messiah.

Salvation is BOTH INDIVIDUAL AND NATIONAL.  However, the message that traditional Christianity teaches is only INDIVIDUAL, they have dropped the message of the SALVATION OF NATIONAL ISRAEL or they see this as something that will happen AFTER “the Church Age.”  But what Christians call “the Church Age” is really God reaching into Israel and the nations, and drawing to Himself and to His Kingdom, THREE GROUPS of people:

  • Those from the Southern Kingdom of Judah (the Jewish people);
  • Those from the Northern Kingdom of Israel;
  • Those from the other nations of the world (the non-Jewish believers).

And it is these three groups that God is bringing together to formulate ONE NEW KINGDOM, the KINGDOM OF YHVH, or what Jesus calls in the New Testament, “the Kingdom of God” or “the Kingdom of heaven,” or what Paul calls “The Good Olive Tree” (Romans 11:24) or “the One New Man” (Ephesians 2:15).

God has not forgotten His promise to His people Israel.  He has been busy trying to bring them back to Himself through the centuries, in spite of the fighting, division, and persecution of Christianity towards Judaism and the Jewish people.  Nor has Christians been the only ones to persecute the Jewish people, the Muslims have also had their hand in this as well.

So as you can see, without a thorough understanding of the Old Testament, then we really do not properly understand the New Testament, the gospel itself,, or what God is trying to ultimately accomplish since the Old Testament gives us the foundation, framework and context for understanding what we read in the New Testament.

 

 

And as we will see, in the last part of this three -part series, the restoration of Israel is also the backdrop for properly understanding Ephesians 2.

 

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WHAT HAPPENED TO HOLINESS?

CHRISTIANS SAY THEY WANT A NEW REVIVAL, A NEW OUTPOURING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, but many of them are not willing to leave their sinful behaviors behind and to begin seeking deep intimacy with God and to walk in His holiness in their daily lives.  Think about it, if you have no intention of changing your life and to begin walking in holiness, then why should God baptize you in His Holy Spirit?  God doesn’t just give His Spirit to be giving His Spirit.  He does things for a reason.  God is a Holy God, and He needs a Holy environment in which to freely move and dwell.

A DECEPTION IN THE CHURCH

But there are those who preach in our churches today that we are hidden in Christ, so God does not see our sins. This is a deception, a half-truth.   Yes, our lives are hidden in Christ (Colossians 3:3), but not our sins.  Don’t you see that something that is only half-true is also half a lie, and is in reality a DECEPTION.  And there are many Christians in the world today who are being DECEIVED.

This doctrine is just one of many examples of people taking the Scriptures out of context. Because just two verses later, we are commanded to

consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, [lustful] passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.  For it is on account on these things that the wrath of God will come, and in them you also ONCE WALKED, when you WERE living in them.  But now you also, put them ALL aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you LAID ASIDE THE OLD SELF with its EVIL PRACTICES. (Colossians 3:5-9)

Think about this: If we and our life of sin is hidden in Christ, as these ministers erroneously teach, then why are we commanded to “consider the members of our earthly” bodies “dead” to these things? The fact is that our sins are not hidden from God. He can see them in ALL their SINFUL UGLINESS.

Also notice that Paul said, that this was what they WERE (past tense) like when they “ONCE WALKED” in them. This was no longer their lifestyle.   They quit living this way, and started pursuing intimacy with God and a life of holiness.

WE NEED HOLINESS TO PREPARE FOR CHRIST’S RETURN!

Jesus is coming back for His church, a “spotless” Holy Bride. Therefore, we need to return to a message of Holiness. Our apathy towards sin has opened the door for the current situation in America. We’ve opened the door of the church to sin, abominations, all in the name of “tolerance,” “diversity,” and “love.” But biblical love is being faithful and true to God and ALL HIS WORD.  It does not try to “do away with,” “annul” or even re-write or re-explain passages of the Bible because it contradicts the morals or “Political Correctness” of the Day.   The Church was supposed to change the culture, but instead, in today’s world, the culture is changing the Church.  And God is NOT Happy or Pleased.

GOD’S CALLING ON ALL HIS PEOPLE

From the beginning, the calling of God upon all those who are His people is that they be “a nation of priests and a HOLY nation” (Exodus 19:6; I Peter 1:15, 16; I Peter 2:5, 9). But today, there are many who call themselves “God’s people,” but they are not walking in this Divine calling.  God did not call us to a life of extravagance, materialism, moral compromise, or to embrace the ways of the world, but He called us to be a holy people who walks and lives in holiness.  Holiness, according to God’s definition, not our own.

ASA MAHANN & CHARLES FINNEY

It was the Holiness movement of the 19th century that emerged out of the Methodist church.  It was during this movement that Asa Mahan, the President of Oberlin College, for example, experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit in 1836.   Many people may say, “I’ve never heard of Asa Mahann,” well, neither had I until I came across this account doing some research about the Holiness Movement.  But Mahan believed that it was this experience that cleansed him from the desire and inclination to sin.  Charles Finney also believed that this experience of being baptized in the Holy Spirit would provide the solution to those who claimed to experience conversion, but then slipped back into their old ways of living.  This occurred during what became known as the Oberlin-Holiness Revival.

This Holiness Movement was spreading across America, but it came to a temporary lull as a result of the American Civil War (1861-1865).  But it was also because of this movement that many people joined the fight against slavery and became abolitionists. And it was also this movement that set the stage for the later Pentecostal movement.

ABOUT THE BEGINNING OF THE PENTECOSTAL MOVEMENT

We need a return back to the message of Holiness that set the stage for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that happened to Asa Mann in 1836, and at Bethel Bible College in Topeka, Kansas, on Jan. 1, 1901, when Agnes Nevada Ozman, a 30-year-old student of Charles F. Parham, was baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues as the Spirit gave the utterance (like in Acts 2:1-4). It was shortly after this when others there at the Bible College, including Charles F. Parham, was likewise baptized in the Holy Spirit.  It was Charles Parham who formulated “the theological definition of Pentecostalism by linking tongues with the Holy Spirit’s baptism” (Larry Martin, The Topeka Outpouring of 1901, p. 8).
Charles Parham later took a group down to Houston, Texas, with His “Apostolic Faith” message, and it was while they were there that William Joseph Seymour, an African American Holiness evangelist, heard this message about the baptism in the Holy Spirit, believed it, and then after accepting a pastoral position in California, but then didn’t work out, opened instead a mission on Azusa Street in Los Angeles. From there, this new “Pentecostal experience” happened again, and then spread quickly across the country.  And it was in the beginnings of the Pentecostal movement that Holiness again was preached and taught.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE “HOLY”?

Now I’ve heard Christians say that no one can be holy, but that is because they don’t understand what holiness is.   They think the word “holy” means “pure,” but the word “holy” means to “be distinct, different, other than.” God is “holy,” because He is “distinct, different, other than” anything that we know or have experienced within this world.  And as His people, we are called to be “holy,” to be “distinct, different, other than” the people that are around us.
If we are living by the same standards, morals, and beliefs as unsaved people in America, then how are we being “holy”? We should be reflecting God in our lives to others, not reflecting ourselves or the American culture.  And just because “holiness” was abused by people in America during the 1930s-1960s, thinking that it just meant dressing a certain way, women not wearing pants or having their hair a mile-high in a bun on their head, or even just mentally agreeing with a certain list of do’s and don’ts, it doesn’t mean that holiness is wrong or bad; instead, it just means that people didn’t understand what it is, just like today.
Holiness does not begin by us not doing certain things.  It begins the moment His Holy Presence comes to live within us.  It is His Holy Presence in us that should result in changing who we are, how we think, how we speak, and how we act.  Holiness is a condition of the heart.  God says in His Word, “BE HOLY,” It does not say, “DO HOLY.” Holiness begins with God coming to live in us and transforming us.  It begins on the inside of us and then moves outward; it does not start on the outside and move inward.  This was the problem with the Pharisees.  They thought as long as they did certain things and didn’t do other things, then that is what made them “holy.”  But Jesus told them, “You blind Pharisee, first clean the INSIDE of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may be clean also” (Matthew 23:26; Emphasis Mine).
Think about the Burning Bush in Exodus 3. Moses saw the burning bush and went aside to check it out. When he got there, God spoke to him and told him to “take off your sandals, for the ground you are standing on is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5).  Ask yourself, what did the ground do to become “holy”? Obviously, it could not do anything, because it is dirt. But one moment it was ordinary dirt, and then the next moment, it’s “holy ground.” What made the difference? God did. The ground was holy because when God showed up and was there on that piece of ground, the ground became something “distinct, separate, other than” the other ground around it.
And the same is true of everyone who is a true believer of Jesus Christ.  Before being transformed by Christ and the power of God’s Spirit, we were like everyone else.  But now, afterwards, we are a “holy people,” because we have God living in us.  It is His Presence in us that makes us “holy.” For example, in Exodus 33:16, Moses is interceding for the people of Israel after the golden calf incident (Exodus 32:1-10), and Moses is asking God to reveal “His ways” to him, “that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight” (Exodus 33:13).  Moses is desiring intimacy with God.  The word “know” here doesn’t mean “know about,” but to “know intimately,” “to be close.”  God responds by saying that He’ll be close to Moses, but not to the people.  Moses then says,

 If Your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.  For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people?  Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, MAY BE DISTINGUISHED FROM ALL THE OTHER PEOPLE who are upon the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:15-16; Emphasis Mine)

 What is it that distinguishes us today as “God’s people”?  Is it that we meet in churches?  Is it that we call ourselves “Christians”?  No, none of these things distinguish us as “God’s people.”  What distinguishes today, as it did during the Exodus, is the Presence of God in our lives.  Without His Presence, we are no different than any one else.

And just like the tabernacle of old, we have to provide Him with a “holy place” to dwell and a “holy environment” to move and flow through.   That’s right, we have a role to play in our holiness.  Didn’t Jesus tell the Pharisees, “to clean the inside of the cup and of the dish”?  Notice, He didn’t say, God would clean it for you, but He told them to “clean it.”  I was told by a Pentecostal minister, that God is the “super” and we are the “natural,” and it is only when we work together with God that we experience the “supernatural.”  If we don’t join in the process, then ultimately we will “grieve the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 4:30), and even worse “quench the Spirit” within us (2 Thessalonians 5:20).

Remember, ALL of God’s word, including God’s laws and commandments, are needed to teach us God’s definition of holiness and how to live that holiness out in our day-to-day life. The book of Hebrews tells us that “without holiness, no one shall see the LORD” (Hebrews 12:14).  I pray that all those who call themselves “Christians” will repent and seek God, and return to a lifestyle of Holiness before it’s too late.

 

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MESSAGES FROM GOD TO HIS PEOPLE

The following are a sample of the messages that God has spoken to my wife, Karen, over the past couple of years.  God has verified His words to me through my own research and study of the Bible, and other ways as well.  Many have looked at our teachings and wondered where we are getting our ideas.  Most of it has come from what God has told us and from my study of the Scriptures.  I have placed here some of God’s thoughts regarding His Torah, His Word, and His commandments.  So rather than hearing my own study and research, you can read what we were told by God Himself.   If you would like to read more about what God has told us, you can go to my wife’s blog at KarensShofar.wordpress.com.

YOU NEED TO BE HOLY

“Just remember I tell you the truth.  You cannot, and won’t, be one of My disciples, if you keep carrying on the way that you do.  For I am telling you the truth.  Because I cannot, and will not lie, because I am God Almighty, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, this day and for all of eternity and forever.  I am a Great Big God, and I can and will love you always, but even I have My limits.  Because I am God, I need for you to be holy as I am holy, for a vessel that’s not purified and cleansed in water and My blood can not ever come into My Presence or My Father’s Presence.”

WHY DO YOU PROFANE MY NAME?

“My heart breaks to see My creation treat Us the way that you do.  You take what we have made Holy, and profane and blaspheme Our name by doing and eating what We have told you in Our Word that which is not kosher and not fit to eat nor consume with your mouth.  Why is it that you don’t care, My children?  You say you love Me, but you’re very far from Me, says God Almighty, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  I ripped My heart in My Holy of Holies place that day, because My Son had just died for you.  My heart hurt so much for what I saw My only begotten Son go through.”

I DID NOT BRING THE TEMPLE SYSTEM TO AN END

“How ludicrous you think that I have done away with My sacrifices and offerings.  I did what any good Jewish father would’ve done if one of their children would’ve died.  My people knew exactly what happened.  They weren’t in the dark.  Why do you think they wanted to have My tomb guarded?  They realized I was their true Messiah and they didn’t want Me to get away.  But little did they know that death couldn’t hold Me down.  For if they really truly believed who I has said I was, they would’ve known that, but they didn’t want to believe because they loved living in sin and taking from My true followers all that they could, in order to make their lives miserable and as hard as they could.”

I WANT TO BRING MY TORAH BACK TO MY CHURCH

“I do want a close relationship with all My people from all around the world.  How is it to be done, if My people who are called by My name don’t follow the call that I God have called and shown them to do?  Be strong.  I do not wish to bring harm or disharmony among My children, but what I do wish to do is to bring back to My church what they have robbed from Me and took from My heart, says God Almighty.”

“I want for all My children to walk in Torah [God’s Law] and to be led by My Spirit, and to delight in all of My Torah and precepts, says God Almighty. Yes, and I’ll say it again, My child, I, who am King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I change not. I love all of you, My children.  Trust Me and your Father to have your best interest at heart. I am not trying to be mean or harsh, but I am a holy God, and I will not, nor cannot, be amongst unholy detestable things.”

“Why does this hurt you so much?  Why do you not care about My heart, says God?  Why doesn’t it bother you or make you sick to your guts to follow such heathenistic ways that are detestable in My eyes, says God Almighty.  I will say this again, because you, My children, are a bunch of proud, prideful, stubborn people, who choose to obey man over God.  I do not want My name on anything that is unholy or that comes from an unholy background or custom, says God Almighty.  Just like the Seleucid Greeks fought the battle against Judah, and they profaned My very Temple and Holy Place with unkosher pigs.  I hate that you don’t care about My heart and would rather please men and your bellies, says God Almighty.”

“If My so-called children would just listen up and observe My Sabbaths and My Feasts/ Festivals, I would just love to lavish My love upon them and show them My mercies that are new every morning to the setting of the sun at night.  Oh, how I love My Church, My so-called Church of today.”

I AM THE LIVING TORAH

“Choose life over death, My children.  My church is dying because of their disobedience to the Torah, which is Me.  I am the very life and breath.  I am the Living Torah that My Father has set Me to be.  I walk with you every day, says God, if you would just dare to open Me up and draw life from My very pages.  Why do you not see this?  I kept telling you if you believe what Moses has written down about Me, you will know and understand Me, and know that I am the very One you are looking for.”

I HAVE NOT CHANGED

“Reach for Me, seek Me, and know that I have not changed anything I have written down in My Torah.  Believe Me not because I say this, but believe Me because I have the proof in My Torah/words to back up what I have spoken, says God Almighty.  Keep My words, keep My sayings, keep everything, jot and tittle.  Don’t take away, don’t add, not one yodh (letter) or dot, says your Lord God and Savior.  Amen.”

“Trust Me, Obey Me, Follow Me, Keep my Commandments , Keep My Torah , Keep my whole Torah/Scriptures for they are life and breath and food to all that are hungry and starving for more of Me, says the Lord God Almighty, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  I said I come quickly and very soon.  Are you gonna be ready for My soon arrival or are you gonna be left behind, says God Almighty?  I say this again and again, DO NOT take away from My Words nor add to them .  If you do, My children, My creation, there will be no place for you in Heaven where I have been preparing for you since the time that I have left you.”

“How many times do I keep repeating Myself to you, My people, My children, who say they are walking in My ways but are acting like the one I kicked out of heaven over 6,000 years ago because he thought he could be greater and replace Me, His Creator and Lord of Lords and King of Kings, says your Almighty God.  How dumb he was to think that My creation could one day rule the world.  How ridiculous you all are today, living your lives and taking Me for granted, assuming you can do whatever you want and won’t lose your free gift of salvation.”

MY WORD AND I ARE ONE

“Drink of Me, says God, and you will never thirst again or lack for any good thing.  Trust Me, says God, and know that all things will work out for good to those who seek Me, My Torah, and has My words, says God Almighty, because My words, My Torah, and I are one and the same.  You take away My Torah, My Holy Scriptures, and you have taken Me away.  You cannot pick and choose what you want to believe.  All of My words are “Yes” and “Amen.”  Not one of them is better than the rest.  They all, I say, have an importance to them.  I say, Do not take anything from the beginning or the middle away.  It is all valid and important for you today, My children.  The Old Testament is just as valid as the Newer Testament.”

ABOUT THE SABBATH

“I want you to tell My children that this is My Sabbath and that is My day, says God, and that it is My very heart and soul; it is who I am.  It is My very heart and soul and breath of who I am wanting you to walk in and study My Torah and to proclaim it amongst My people, says God.  I love you all, and I so desire that you love Me also, says God.”

“Yes, My Sabbath is one of My holy days that I have set up from the very beginning, and how dare any one of you to throw it to the curb because you think it isn’t important any longer.  How foolish some of you are today and have been for such a long time.”

I AM A HOLY GOD, QUIT TESTING ME

“I love you, My children, with a love that’s so very perfect, but like I said before, I am a holy God and cannot, and will not, live amongst an unholy and wicked people.  Don’t keep testing Me, says God Almighty, because I can, and will, remove you from Me, says God.  If I can remove My people Israel from amongst the tree which they were birthed into, how much easier will it be for Me and My Father to uproot and cut you off My Church, who has been grafted into it, by and through Me, who had bled, died and arose and ascended back to My Father in Heaven once and for all.”

THE MEANING OF THE TEARING OF THE TEMPLE VEIL

“My Son has accomplished what I had set for Him to do, and it is finished.  He has opened the gateway, so that Jews and gentiles can both come to Me because of the rent and split of My robe and tallit (prayer shawl) in My very Holy Tabernacle.  That very moment when My Son took His last breath, My heart also took its last breath, and it pained Me so hard that I split My very heart of who I am from the top to the bottom to show you how much that I love you, My people.  The veil, My heart, the very source of who I am, who I was with your fathers, which I was a fire by day and a cloud of smoke by night in the wilderness.  This is Me, says the LORD God Almighty, I change not and can’t change because I am that I am, says God.”

“I ripped the veil from top to bottom because that was My sign for My people Israel.  They knew exactly who My Son was and what an evil and perverse people they had become by crucifying the One and Only Lamb of God who came to bring light and love into a sick and dying world.  They tried to kill the One they proclaimed to be seeking after, but when I did come and I didn’t look like they had perceived Me, they called Me cruel and vicious names, and also called Me, “a son of Beelzebub.”  They were caught up in so many legalistic doctrines of their father, the devil, that they who thought they were doing right had become blind and could not see.”

“They were so blinded by their doctrines of men, just like you, My Church, is today.  Don’t keep continuing in your self-righteousness and unholiness, says God Almighty, because I love you so very much and desire My Church, both Jew and Gentile, to become One as I am to My Father is One.  My very heart yearns for you, My children.  Don’t stay lost in your sins.  Repent and do your first works over again, so that our hearts can relight that once relationship I hungered so very long ago to have with Adam and Eve in My Garden.”

THE COMMANDMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN DONE AWAY

“You say, My Church, that they [My commandments] have been done away with, but I say, ‘No, how can that be because I am still here.  You do away with My Torah, My commandments, then I do not exist,’ says God.  I love My people, but you are so lost to Me, not lost to where you aren’t Mine, but lost to where I’m about to spit you out in disgust.  Remember, My Church/people, I do not like sin or can live where it is, so choose you this day if you are going to serve God or manna.”

“My dying on the cross didn’t do away with My Torah or any of the things you so think that it did. I came to bring you life and life more abundantly.  I did this so you could have a place and a home with Me and My Father for all of eternity because we love you so very much and want for you and your families to have a relationship with Us.  I made a promise with your father, Abraham, when I walked through the pieces while I put him in a deep sleep, and I kept My end of the bargain, like I keep all My promises to a thousand generations.  I took care of the sin issue on the cross.  I did not do away with My very own words I spoke at the very beginning of creation which was and is Myself, and I didn’t do away with the words I spoke to Moses up on the mountaintop and had written on the tablets of stone with My very own finger.  How stupid such nonsense you people have become.”

THE CHURCH’S BLINDNESS TO GOD’S TORAH

“Believe that I am with you and that I will never leave you alone.  I come quickly, says the Lord, and many that say that they are Mine will be turned away because of their misconceptions of Me and My Torah.  Keep following Me and keep following My Torah.  Keep My words and follow them because they are life and breath to those that do.”

“I have not come to demolish any one of My sayings in the Torah.  They are Me.  Why would I destroy Myself?  That is nonsense.  They have Me so confused.  They don’t have ears to hear or eyes to see because they are blinded by their own foolishness.  If they would only pray to Me and ask Me to give them wisdom to know what is right and true and lasting and to have good judgment and self-control, I would be so happy to give them the understanding so that none should perish but have everlasting life.”

“The problem is that they are too much into themselves and what they can gain, ‘the name it and claim it’ message, that they have become so blinded and cannot see where they have gone astray.  In the meantime, they are leading millions away from Me, and My heart aches.  I have given each and every one free choice to decide what they want to believe, so this is out of My hands.”

I AM NOT YOUR GENIE IN A BOTTLE

“For I am a jealous God, and I choose to be served by you as you call out to Me for daily help and survival.  You ask Me for things on a regular basis like I’m some genie in a bottle at your beckoning call.  I don’t mind you asking Me for things as long as your are doing what My Torah, My very word, is telling and showing you what to do.”

“The problem is that most of you are just ‘naming it and claiming it,’ and that angers Me, and I am fed up to the top with all of you, to tell you the truth.  Just follow Me, and you will not fall to the wayside or curb, and you will find My gift of everlasting life and the fountain that will never run dry, says the Lord God Almighty.”

ABOUT THOSE WHO ARE TRYING TO DESTROY MY TORAH

“A lot of folks are trying so hard to do away with My Torah and My commandments.  They are blinded by Satan, so that they won’t see what I have for them.  Because as soon as the blinders come off My people’s eyes, they will come running back to Me, seeking My face like never before.”

“I tell you the truth, My words do not, and will not, be destroyed by people who do not, and will not, covet My Torah, which gave them life everlasting through believing in Jesus My Son.”

“I am sick and tired of the church today and all of these TV evangelists who spread such lies about Me, says God.  They take My word and use it to benefit their pockets, and it will benefit them for a time, but there is coming a day that this will be a BIG eye opener for many millions.”

YOU NEED TO STUDY MY TORAH, MY WORD

“But remember, you have to be reading My Manual, the Torah, My Scriptures, and studying it too, says God, because this is the one clause that is necessary for My Holy Spirit to have.  He will be your Helper, not your genie in a bottle.  You have to do your part and then He will do His part.  Come on, don’t be lazy people and want everyone, including God Almighty, to do everything for you.”

CHOOSE ME AND MY WAYS

“The world likes to replace Me with every whim and doctrine, but that doesn’t please Me, says God Almighty.  Choose Me, says God Almighty.  Choose Me, says God, and don’t abuse Me either, says God.  I am not like a child’s story that you get from one of your unholy days that you set up to replace some detestable pagan holiday, and try to attach My name to the front of it, and think I will be okay with it.  Not so, My people.  I would rather you to be hot or cold, rather than lukewarm because this makes Me sick and want to puke you up and vomit you out of My mouth, says God.”

“My children, if that is what you say you are to Me, shape up and start acting that way.  Stop listening to everything that everyone is telling and teaching you and listen to My servants today.  They are not lying to you like you have been told.  They are My children who I have raised up for such a time as this to proclaim My truths that the church and religious leaders have been lying to you, for such a very long time.  Oh, there are others, but you think they are false teachers because they go against the flow of your own doctrines taught to you from your religious leaders and your religious zealots of times past.  The Roman Catholic church is a very big part of it, and they don’t even deny it.  You say, it is fine; after all, we are building God’s Church, but that is just another lie from the enemy.  You just keep teaching and preaching fallacies.  You put My name amongst the heathen gods and bring the Easter bunny and Santa Clause, and think it is so cute to take pictures of them with your children as they bounce them upon their knee and tell lies to them while you watch and smile.”

“MY PEOPLE ARE PROFANING MY NAME”

This message was given to my wife from the Lord on Saturday, October 31, 2015, Halloween night.  In order to understand the Lord’s feeling about the holidays celebrated by the Church, I felt you should read the entire message that He gave to her.  The information on the holidays He likewise confirmed to me through various means, including my own study and research.

This message begins with the impressions and thoughts that the Lord was giving to her.

“God expects for us, and desires for us, to humble ourselves and to cleanse ourselves from all unrighteousness and to be holy and anointed, set apart from the likenesses of the world.”

Then the message shifts.  It was after this that the Lord began to speak to her through the Holy Spirit.

“I do not want My people to be dabbling in the things which I have said were unclean and unholy.  How can I, a Holy God, be among the things that are unholy?  My people, you are profaning My name and causing Me to want to take you and remove you from My Holy Presence.  I cannot, and will not, I say keep dwelling among a people who do NOT covet the same holy things that I covet.

“Yes, I have in My commandments which I gave to Moses on Mt. Sinai, which says to not covet what is not yours, says God Almighty.  These wicked holidays that you are claiming to be yours are detestable in My eyes, says God Almighty.  How can you not see this in the Word of God that I have given you as a manual to understand the very heart of Me, says God.  I DO NOT WISH for anyone of My children to have anything to do with the things of this world.  I will go farther than this, I can’t continue in a relationship with you because you are grieving the very Holy Spirit that has come to be your Helper and to be your Guide.

“Don’t profane My name and say you are trying to take something bad and turn it into something good for the sake of the church.  That is not true! says God.  You are doing it because you don’t care about hurting Me, says God.  If you cared about Me, you would see that I detest all the things that you’re trying to push Me into.  I do NOT accept what you have done, and I don’t want anything any more to be involved or put My name to that which is unholy and unacceptable to what My word teaches.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the Aleph and the Tav, and last but not least, the Bright and the Morning Star, says God Almighty.  Why can’t you get this?  Why is this so difficult for you?  My word is so clear a baby can get it and understand it.  Why don’t you care?  Why don’t you want to know Me?  Why am I just an escape for you?  Don’t you love Me?  Why don’t you love Me?  I am your Father, the Bridegroom, I have done only good things for you, My dearly beloved children.  I want to call you Mine, but you are growing so cold, and I can hardly sense your presence anymore.  I long for you.  Yes, I am God, but you are the ones who need Me, and how is that going to happen if you are so lost and hard of hearing to where our relationship falls apart?

“You have not sought Me in a very long time.  You are becoming, or should I say are, so cold.  If you were lukewarm, it would be better because then I would spur you out of My mouth and be done with you, says God Almighty.  My Spirit is a very good thing.  I, your God, only gives good gifts to His children who seek for Me.  I love My children who do not hide from Me, but who delight in Me and do all that I tell them to do.

“My words are life to those who find Me and seek Me with their whole hearts, says God.  But such words can also be death, My people, if you do not heed My word / Torah / commandments.  I desire for you to search your hearts, minds, and souls and set forth on a new path, says God, and show Me your fruit that you say you have gotten by following Me.  You are always saying that you trust Me, but now I am throwing it back in your face.  You show Me and prove yourselves to Me, says God!  Because I am so fed up with a wishy-washy people who are just trying to fit in with this world of pukiness and unrighteousness, says God Almighty, your soon coming King.

“Get your bags and pack, My true believers of My Torah, because I love you, says God.  My true believers know what I mean by ‘get your bags packed’.  Yes, do I have to tell you too?  I’m talking about getting your hearts and minds set on the very life that I spoke to you from the beginning of time in the book of Genesis.  I’ve spoken the world into existence with words, the very Word that I AM.  It was Me from the very beginning until the very end.  I change not.  I remain the same today as I did then.

“Why is this so hard for you, My Church, to see this?  I have sent a life boat and a Savior to your rescue.  Reach out, grab ahold of Me.  Trust Me, Obey Me, Teach what I have given to you, My holy commandments.  I have not changed My mind, My children.  You have decided for yourselves to change My mind for Me.  I say stop profaning Me, stop trying to change Me.  I have chosen you, not you Me.  You need all of Me, says God Almighty.  I need for you to be holy, set apart, because you say you are My Bride, and the only way possible for that to be is if you start searching your hearts today and repent from all of your wickedness towards Me, My children.

“Time is short, and I am not pleased with how our relationship is doing.  You, My people, so-called children, have already turned your backs on Me and profaned My holy name.  You have prostituted yourselves to many other gods and still you say you are Mine.  Don’t you get what this does to a relationship when a partner cheats on the other?  It brings such bitterness and resentment, which ends in hate and then to death, which is DIVORCE.  The word I hate, says God.  I have only allowed it because of the hardness of your hearts.  I permitted it, but not because it was what I wanted for you.  Amen.”

 

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DID JESUS NAIL THE LAW OF GOD TO THE CROSS? (Part 1 of 3)

DID JESUS NAIL THE LAW OF GOD TO THE CROSS AND BRING IT TO THE END?  The traditional Christian interpretation of two passages, Colossians 2:14 and Ephesians 2:15, is used to prove that the law of God was nailed to the cross with Christ at His death; therefore, none of the laws in the Old Testament are valid, we are taught,  anymore for any Christian.  However, when we look at these passages in context, as well as take them back to the original Greek, we discover that the traditional interpretation and understanding of these verses are, in fact, a misreading and a misinterpretation of these texts.  In this first part of this study, we will examine Colossians 2:14.

 

EXAMINING COLOSSIANS 2:14

>>WHO WAS THE AUDIENCE?

The book of Colossians was written to the Christian congregation at Colosse.

>>WHAT WAS THE PROBLEM?

Epaphras, a native of Colosse, came to Paul in prison with the news of how things were going in the area, but also news of a heretical group who had gained a foothold within the church.  This heretical group was GnosticsGnosticism is a word derived from the Greek word gnosis (or “knowledge”).  Gnosticism was a religion of syncretism with Hinduism as its root core.   Syncretism often takes place when foreign beliefs are introduced to an already existent belief system and the teachings are blended. The new, mixed religion then takes a life of its own. “What is Religious Syncretism?” Gotquestions.org).

Gnostics would search different religions to mix with their already growing mixture.  But at its ultimate core is basic Hinduism.  For example, basic Hindu teaching is that Brahman (the Supreme Spirit in Hinduism) is all things, and all things are part of Brahman.  Ultimately, with the right teacher (think “guru”), and enough “insight” (or special teaching) and ascetic practice, the person can discover and experience the form of Brahman within them (called atman), and in that discovery, the person can finally experience “freedom” or “liberation” from the continuous wheel of reincarnation (or what Hindus call moksha).

Gnosticism, much like Hinduism, teaches that within each individual is “god,” but people don’t know it, so with the right teaching or instruction, including asceticism, we can come to know and experience the “god” within ourselves, but rather than experiencing “freedom from reincarnation” (as Hinduism teaches), Gnostics teach that one will experience “salvation.”  In essence, then, Gnostics believed that salvation is not found outside of ourselves in God and Jesus Christ, but it’s found within each individual.   And this syncretic belief system, Gnosticism, was a problem for the Jews and for the early Christians.

Consequently, then, the Christians at Colosse were NOT struggling with a sect of Jews who were trying to convert them to their form of Judaism, but they were struggling with a group of NON-JEWS (or GENTILES) who were very heavily involved in GNOSTICISM.

 

BURIED & RISEN WITH CHRIST

To properly understand Colossians 2:14, we need to examine it within context, so I want to examine Colossians 2:12 – 23.  Beginning with Colossians 2:12, we read,

Buried with Him in [water] baptism, wherein also you are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who has raised Him from the dead.

In this verse, Paul again reminds these believers that their old life died with Christ and has been “buried with Him in [water] baptism.”  The sins that once controlled them no longer has any hold or control over them.  But not only did their old life “die” with Him, but “you are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who has raised Him from the dead.”  Just as the Spirit of God raised Jesus from the dead, so He raised them as “new creations” in Christ when they came up from the waters of baptism to walk in newness of life.

Paul then continues this same idea in the next verse.

And you being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, has He quickened [made alive] together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses. (Colossians 2:13)

We’ve not only been raised in newness of life, but God has also forgiven us from all of our trespasses of sin.

WHAT WAS “BLOTTED OUT” AND “NAILED”?

It is here in verse 14, we come across one of the passages that’s traditionally been used to prove that Christians are no longer required to obey God’s Laws.

Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross.

Now it is important to remember that verse 14 is a continuation of verse 13.  In verse 13, it was our “sins” and “the uncircumcision of [our] flesh” that was “forgiven.”  So logically, since verse 14 is a continuation of verse 13, then what is being “blotted out” is “our sins” and “the uncircumcision of [our] flesh,” not something different.

THE HANDWRITING OF ORDINANCES

The phrase “handwriting of ordinances” is the English translation of the Greek phrase cheirographon tois dogmasin.   The first word cheirographon is a compound word made up of two parts, cheiro (hand) and graphon (to write), or as it is translated here, in its simplest sense, “handwriting,” or more accurately, “a handwritten document.” However, other than Colossians 2:14, the Greek word cheirographon does not appear in the Bible, nor is it used anywhere in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, called the Septuagint.  Consequently, we cannot use the Bible to interpret the Bible in this case.

However, when we move outside of Scripture, we discover that the word cheirographon is used in extra-biblical Greek documents.  From these documents, we learn that the term is a legal term that’s used to refer “to the written evidence of a person’s guilt in a courtroom.  It is the written record of a person’s crimes – the laws he has broken and the penalty he owes for his law-breaking.” (Botkin).   Using Dr. Daniel Botkin’s explanation, we could imagine the scene in this way.

John X has committed several crimes.  He has been arrested and brought to trial.  He is now standing in the courtroom, and in the middle of the courtroom, called tou mesou in Greek, there is the space where the prosecuting attorney stands and reads the cheirographon, the document with John’s crimes, the day and times he committed them, the locations of the crimes, and even the witnesses and evidence that the prosecutor has to prove that John, in fact, undeniably did commit these crimes.  In addition, this document is recognized as a valid legal document both by the judge and John’s own attorney as being valid, accurate and true.   Therefore, there’s absolutely no doubt that John X is, in fact, guilty and deserves the penalty for those crimes.

Each of us is “John X.”  We have transgressed the laws of God, and one day we will stand in the courtroom of God, to stand trial for our sins [or crimes] against God and His Kingdom.  In our culture, when we break the law, it is called “a crime,” but in God’s Kingdom, when we break one of God’s laws, it is called “a sin.”  So “crime”and “sin” are really synonymous terms.  In our culture, when we commit a “crime,” we would be called “a criminal,” but in God’s kingdom, when we break one or more of His laws, rather than using the word “criminal,” the Bible uses the word “sinner.” Therefore, a “sinner” is a “criminal” in the eyes of the Judicial system of God and His Kingdom.

The prosecuting attorney, “the accuser of the brethren,” Satan, will stand in the tou mesou (“the middle”) of the heavenly courtroom, and he will present his cheirographon to God, our Judge.  Everyone there will know that this is a legal, accurate and valid list of every sin (or crime) against God we have ever done during the course of our life.  And that we are indeed guilty of each and every one that’s being listed, and that we deserve the penalty demanded for each of these sins, which is “the Lake of Fire” and eternal separation from God (Revelation 20:11-15).

However, if we have placed our trust and faith in Christ, and have continued to faithfully serve Him during our lives, then Jesus Christ, who is our Advocate, Mediator, and High Priest, will stand up, and say, “But the sins (or crimes) that ‘John X’ has committed, I have all ready paid for by My death upon the cross and by My resurrection.”  And because the penalty has been fully paid, God, who is our Judge, will dismiss the case and tell the Prosecutor, the Adversary Satan, that his cheirographon that was “against us,” and “which was contrary to us” is now inadmissible and can no longer be used.   It will be removed from the hands of Satan, for it was “nailed to the cross,” proclaiming Christ’s victory over sin and Satan.

The article “Colossians 2:14 and the ‘Handwriting of Requirements’,” by Grace Communion International Church adds to this understanding of Cheirographon by noting,

The meaning becomes more clear if we notice that cheirographon is singular and dogmasin is plural.  It is the cheirographon, the note of debt [the list of our sins], that was [singular] against us, which was [singular] contrary to us.  And He has taken it [singular] out of the way, having nailed it [singular] to the cross.”

So what was “nailed to the cross” was the cheirographon, the singular note [or document] that contained the list of our SINS and the JUST PENALTY OF OUR SINS, which Jesus took upon Himself for us, AND NOT GOD’S LAW, which follows naturally from what Paul states in verse 13.

The author of another website, fogwhistle.ca, however, makes a rather interesting point about the word “ordinances” (Greek dogmasin):

God’s laws, ordinances, instructions, and commandments are mentioned many, many times in the Greek Old Testament (the Septuagint) that was used by Greek-speaking people of Paul’s day.  But how many times does the Septuagint use the word dogma (or any of its forms) when referring to God’s laws or instructions?  Never.  Every occurrence of dogma in the Old Testament refers to man-made decrees or rulings.  Usually it’s the decrees of pagan rulers.

Was Paul ignorant of the Greek Scriptures?  If Paul was referring to God’s law, he could have easily used one of the same Greek words that is frequently used in the Greek Old Testament to refer to God’s law such as nomos, entole, krima, dikaioma, or rhema.  But Paul didn’t use any of these words.  Instead Paul used dogma, a word that was never used in the Greek Old Testament to refer to any of God’s laws or instructions.

I think the question here is an interesting one.  If Paul was using the word “ordinances” to refer to God’s law, then why didn’t he use one of the multiple terms he could have used from the Greek translation of the Scriptures.  Why did he use a word which is not found in the Bible?  My guess, at this point, would be that none of these other words are used in a courtroom scenario; however, again, this would be a guess.

The author of the commentary written for BibleTools.org, Earl L. Henn (1934-1997), also believed that it was the “written document” that was nailed to the cross, not “the ordinances.”  He gives the following historical example,

only two objects were nailed to the stake of crucifixion: 1) the condemned person and 2) an inscription naming the crimes for which he was being punished.  Thus, when Jesus was crucified, only His body and Pilate’s inscription (“This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews”; see Matthew 27:37; Mark 15:26; Luke 23:38; John 19:19) were nailed to the cross.”

Pilate’s inscription, “the writing that was against Jesus,” in this case was written in three languages, “Hebrew, Greek, and Latin” (John 19:20), and it was nailed above His head while He hung there upon the cross.  Interestingly, the author of the article “Colossians 2:14 – What was Nailed to the Cross?” on the website fogwhistle.ca, likewise goes back to the example of the cross.

If we allow Scripture to interpret Scripture as we should, Col 2:14 would be interpreted to say that it was some man-made handwritten document that was nailed to the cross.  We can confirm this in the story of Christ’s death as recorded in the New Testament Gospels.  There we find that a man-made handwritten document actually was nailed to the cross.  It was the placard written in three languages that stated the “crime” of which Jesus was accused and that was placed on the cross by Pilate’s order.

That kind of placard is what Paul was evidently referring to in Col 2:14 – the personal placard listing my crimes that belongs above my head on my cross at my own execution.  Jesus took that placard of mine and put it on his cross.  Jesus paid the penalty for the crimes listed on my placard.  I have been redeemed.  Justice has been served and the law has been satisfied (not abolished).  Jesus took your placard too.

 

Whether the “written document,” “placard” or “sign” that was supposed to be upon our own cross listing all of the crimes against God we have committed, Christ has removed it from us by placing it upon His own cross, and paying the debt of sin and the penalty of sin for us as our substitutionary atonement.  And it is for this reason that Paul then writes in verse 15,

And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

Jesus triumphed over all the “principalities and powers” through His death on the cross for our sins and the penalty of our sins.

LET NO MAN JUDGE YOU

Notice that the very next verse then states,

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: (Colossians 2:16)

This verse has traditionally been interpreted to mean the exact opposite of what this verse actually states.  The traditional church has used this verse to say that people cannot judge us for not doing these things, but that is not what this verse says.

Remember that the Christians at Colosse were dealing with Gnostics who were criticizing them for not living an ascetic lifestyle.  The word “therefore” means that they are to obey this command because of what Paul has just told them. They are new men and women of God, their old lives of sin have been forgiven by Jesus’ shed blood on the cross and through their identification with Him in the waters of baptism.

OPPOSING GNOSTICISM

Therefore,” Paul writes, “let no man judge you in eating and drinking.”  Gnosticism promoted asceticism, sometimes severe asceticism, and indulging in “eating and drinking” would have been highly criticized by such a group.  Consequently, they are not being “judged” for what they are NOT doing, but for what they ARE doing.   A better understanding of this verse would be,

Therefore, let no man judge you for eating or drinking, or in respecting of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: (Colossians 2:16)

So rather than being judged for NOT keeping these things, they are being judged by the Gnostics because they are keeping them.  This interpretation is in keeping with what we know of early church history.  The early believers, both Jew and non-Jew, were considered to be “a sect of Judaism” (Acts 24:5), although a “heretical group” (Acts 24:14), and they still continued to live their lives in obedience to the commandments handed down by God to Moses on Mt. Sinai.  And this the non-Jewish believers in Jesus did up until the 4th century, A.D.  It was the Roman Catholic Church who eventually stomped out obedience to any of the practices listed in the first five books of the Bible.  The Jewish believers never stopped obeying them.  Therefore, at this point in history, in which Paul was writing, the criticism and judgment would’ve been coming from the non-Jewish world for doing these things, particularly from the Gnostics.

Notice verse 17, “Which ARE a shadow of things TO COME; but the body is of Christ.”  There’s three important things to note here.

  1. Paul writes that these things in the law “ARE” – A PRESENT TENSE VERB, NOT PAST TENSE – this is important because it demonstrates that Paul did NOT see the Law as something ended, contrary to traditional Christian teaching, but as something that was still continuing.  Also, notice that these things are “a shadow of things TO COME” – FUTURE TENSE, NOT PAST TENSE – stating that the full meaning of these things are YET FUTURE, they were not completely fulfilled or completed by Christ in His first coming.  Again, this is contrary to what traditional Christianity teaches.You have to watch modern translations here, because they will use past tense verbs when, in fact, the Greek verbs are PRESENT and FUTURE TENSE, not PAST TENSE.
  2.   After “sabbath days” in the King James is a colon and then after “to come” is a
    semi-colon.  This clause, “Which are a shadow of things to come” is an appositive
    clause.  Its function is to provide added information to the word it is modifying, or
    telling us more about, which are these various things listed.  It is not part of the
    core statement.
  3.   The word “is” at the end of this verse, “but the body is of Christ,” is italicized,
    meaning that it is not in the original Greek text, but some later editor inserted it.
    Therefore, these two verses, as Ray Foucher, in the third part of his article
    “Colossians 2” could be better seen to mean,

Let no [individual] man judge you….. but the body of Christ.
Let no [individual] man judge you….. but rather the body of Christ.
Let no [individual] man judge you….. except the body of Christ.

In the book of Acts, we can see that instead of Paul allowing “individuals” to judge his presentation of the gospel, he returns to Jerusalem, and he presents his message to James and the other elders there, that his message may be “judged” by “the body of Christ.”  Therefore demonstrating that Paul followed his own teachings.   Consequently, the teaching that “the body of Christ” has replaced these practices from God’s law is, in fact, a misreading and misinterpretation of the text.

But in looking at more modern translations, look at how the modern translation has altered the text from what we’ve just seen:

Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day – things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.  (Colossians 2:16-17, NASB)

Notice that the indication the Colossian Christians are being judged FOR DOING these things has been removed.  In addition, notice the inclusion of the word “mere” which is not in the Greek text in order to demean or decrease the importance of these “shadows,” as well as changing the word “body” to “substance,” and the added editorial word “is” to “to.”  Thereby, completely changing the meaning of verse 17 from the original Greek.

Finally, I should add, that the word “shadows” was as close as Paul could get to the idea of an “image” or picture without violating God’s commandment about using any “images” with God.  In today’s world, we would say that these various elements from the law actually present us with “pictures” (rather than “shadows”) of Christ, who He is, about what He is like, and about His ministry (in His first coming, now in heaven, and in His return).

LET NO MAN BEGUILE YOU

Right after making this statement, Paul writes,

Let no man beguile [deceive] you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, (Colossians 2:18)

Again, we see another deception based on human opinions, not based on Scripture, since Paul these things came from their “fleshly mind,” not their “spiritual mind.”  He then continues by saying,

And not holding the Head [Christ], from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increases with the increase of God.  (Colossians 2:19)

AVOID GNOSTIC LEGALISM

And then he ends this chapter by asking why there are getting tangled up with the non-Jewish (Gentile) legalism of Gnostic asceticism.  He is not discussing the commandments of God at all here.  We know this because in verse 22, he even refers to them as “the commandments and doctrines of MEN,” not God.

Wherefore if you be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are you subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; which all are to perish with the using;) after the COMMANDMENTS AND DOCTRINES OF MEN? (Colossians 2:20-22)

Obviously, if we are dealing with “the world, and the “ordinances” are “the commandments and doctrines of men,” then we are not discussing God’s law at any point here.  But I find it sad that most Christians will use this passage as proof why they do not have to obey the commandments of God, even though they are not even being discussed here.  But interestingly, Paul does acknowledge one fact about Gnostic asceticism,

Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will-worship [as opposed to the worship of the Spirit], and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honor to the satisfying of the flesh.

Much of the benefits that come from this type of life is superficial, and are not of any eternal value at all.

CONCLUSION

Does Colossians 2 argue that the Law of God was indeed nailed to the cross of Jesus Christ, and that Christians are no longer responsible for keeping any of God’s commandments.  Absolutely NOT!!  Such an interpretation and application of this chapter is a complete and total misuse of Scripture to try and prove a point which this chapter does not make at all.  Rather than abusing the word of God for our own benefit, we should be learning how to properly interpret and apply its teachings to our lives.

 

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23 SINS THAT WILL KEEP YOU FROM GOD’S KINGDOM?

HELL IS REAL, AND ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE, THERE ARE 23 SINS THAT WILL SEND PEOPLE THERE AND KEEP THEM OUT OF GOD’S KINGDOM.    The idea that one can go forward to the altar, say the sinner’s prayer, and then go out and live any way one wants to, and still go to heaven, and not to hell, when they die is NOT scriptural.  It is a DECEPTION of the Enemy.  The Bible says that “…without holiness, no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).  Consequently, then, “without holiness, no man [or woman] shall” go to heaven, since in heaven, we will “see the Lord.”  Therefore, we must not only ask Jesus to forgive us of our sins, and be our Lord and Savior, but we must live holy, sanctified lives, if we are one day to inherit the Kingdom of God.

WHAT IS A “SIN”?

A “sin” is defined in the Bible as disobeying any of God’s commandments given to Moses during the Exodus, found in the first five books of the Bible.  Contrary to what many Christians have been erroneously taught, the New Testament does not contradict the Old Testament, nor does it “do away with it” or annul its teachings, but it builds upon, develops, and further elaborates what God has said in the Old Testament.  Doing away with the Old Testament is like yanking out the foundation and framework of a house and still expecting it to stand.  It just doesn’t work.

WHAT IS TRUE REPENTANCE?

According to the writings of the Apostle Paul, if anyone practices one or more of the following 23 sins, then they “will not inherit the kingdom of God” (i.e., go to heaven).  This is because true repentance is more than telling God we are sorry for our sins.  It also involves turning away from our sins, and beginning to walk in obedience to God.  If you “repent,” but then continue to practice one or more of these sins, then you have not truly repented, according to Scripture.

WHAT ARE THE 23 SINS?

The 23 sins are found in I Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-20, and Ephesians 5:5.  In all three of these passages, Paul writes that those who practice the sins listed in these three passages “will not inherit the kingdom of God,” and in Ephesians 5:5, he writes, that they will not have “any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”  And it should be noted that these three letters – I Corinthians, Galatians, and Ephesians – are letters written to Christian congregations, not to unsaved masses.  Paul is, then, warning these Christians that if they continue to practice these sins they “will not inherit” God’s Kingdom.

So what are these 23 sins?  I have divided them up into the following four areas: physical sins (sexual sins, physical addictions), spiritual sins, mental/emotional sins, and social sins.  The categories are not divinely inspired, they are just the best way I saw to group these sins together.

At the end of the list in I Corinthians 6, Paul says, “…and the like,” which means that this list of 23 does not include all the sins that will keep you out of the kingdom of God, but they are the ones that Paul specifically listed.

PLEASE HEED THIS WARNING:

It is not my intent here to bring judgment against anyone.  Instead, it is my intent to warn anyone involved in these sinful activities that you need to stop what you are doing, and to repent of these sins before it is too late.  Merely going to church, paying tithes, and going to church functions will not save you, so that you go to heaven, if you are still involved in doing one or more of the following sins.  Please take this warning seriously.

PHYSICAL SINS:

Sexual Sins.

  • ADULTERY (“cheating” or “having an affair”).  Adultery is defined as having an intimate relationship with someone other than your spouse.
  • EFFEMINATE (or CATAMITE).  An Effeminate or Catamite is defined as a boy or youth who is in sexual relationship with a man.
  • FORNICATIONFornication is a general term for any form of sex outside of the marriage bond, that includes sex between an unmarried man and a woman (called “hooking up”); adultery (sex with someone other than one’s spouse), beastiality (sex with animals) or incest (sex with one’s family members).
  • HOMOSEXUALITYHomosexuality is defined as sexual relations with someone else of the same sex or gender.
  • WHOREMONGERSWhoremongers is defined as either one who frequently consorts with or has sex with prostitutes (“a John”) or one who sells a prostitute (“a pimp”). 
  • UNCLEANNESSUncleanness is defined as “moral lewdness” or physical impurity, and could include sex with a woman during her menses (Leviticus 18:19; Ezekiel 18:6).

Physical Addictions:

  • LASCIVIOUSNESS.  Lasciviousness is defined as any uncontrolled indulgences of physical pleasures; this can include any physical addictions (food, sex, drugs, etc.).
  • DRUNKENNESSDrunkenness is defined as being intoxicated with some substance, usually alcohol or drugs.
  • FORNICATIONFornication comes from the Greek word porneia, and it’s the source for the English words “porn” and “pornography.”  Porn and pornography are not innocent pictures, but they are a form of sex that begins as mental/emotional images and fantasies that will harm the image and expectation of one sex with another, and if over-indulged, it can make one dependent on it in order to sexually perform.

SPIRITUAL SINS:

  • IDOLATRYIdolatry is defined as a servant of, or worshipper of, an image, a false god, or anything other than the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
  • WITCHCRAFTWitchcraft is defined as sorcery, witchcraft, or magic (literally or figuratively).

MENTAL/EMOTIONAL SINS:

  • COVETOUSNESSCovetousness is defined as desiring something that does not belong to you; dishonest gain, avarice or greed.
  • EMULATIONSEmulations is defined as  the stirring up of jealousy, envy, or malice in others, because of what we are, or have, or profess.
  • ENVYEnvy is defined as a feeling of discontented or resentful or ill-will longing aroused by someone else’s possession, qualities, or luck.
  • HATREDHatred is defined as a “heart” sin, and any hateful thought or act of hostility is an act of murder in God’s eyes for which justice will be demanded, possibly not in this life but at the judgment.
  • VARIANCEVariance is defined as the acts of anger that result in quarrels, strife, discord, or contention.  Variance often results in division, sects, divorce, and even church splits.
  • WRATHWrath is defined as an emotional outburst that’s violent and fierce, but short-lived.  It occurs stops as suddenly as it flared up.

SOCIAL SINS:

  • EXTORTIONExtortion is defined as the practice of excessively grasping or obtaining something through force or threats, such as money, valuables, or property.
  • HERESIESHeresies is defined as opinions held by individuals or groups that ran divergent from clear biblical teachings that resulted in divisions, schisms, and factions.
  • LIARSLiars is defined as a spurious witness, a bearer of an untrue testimony, a false witness.
  • MURDERSMurders is defined as the criminal, or at least an intentional, act if taking another’s life, i.e., homicide.
  • REVELLINGSRevelling is defined as people going wild without any moral restraint, such as in “wild celebrations or partying,” “rioting,” “orgies,” etc.
  • SEDITIONSSedition is defined as a forced or superficial commotion caused by a group of people, that rise up in opposition to law or the administration of justice, with the intent of overthrowing that authority, and resulting in disturbing the general peace of the area, land, or country. 
  • STRIFEStrife is defined as conflicts, arguments, quarrels, hatred between people.intrigue, faction, contention, contentiousness, strife
  • THEFTTheft is defined as stealing or taking something from someone without their permission.

SALVATION – NOT JUST ABOUT THE SPIRITUAL

God’s salvation is not just about who we are spiritually, but His salvation is for every area of our lives: Physically, mentally/emotionally, spiritually and socially.  The problem with Christianity is that it has restricted “salvation” to a “spiritual salvation,” rather than one that entails every area of our lives.  Another issue is that it is misleading people into believing that as long as you went down to the altar and said the sinner’s prayer that you are now set to go to heaven, even though you are involved in one or more of these above listed sins.  Please be advised, that this is not the case.  The Apostle Paul is clear that those who indulge or practice these sins “will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”

The time of Christ’s return and His judgment is quickly approaching.  Please repent, ask Him to be your Lord and Savior, and ask Him to help you stop these sins and change your life.  He will do it if you ask Him.

 

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