Tuesday, December 31, 2013

God Views Us in Christ

Reconciliation and sanctification, two different judicial transactions, God is no longer imputing the sins of the world, unto the world, because he imputed those sins to his son. God has reconciled the entire world; believers and non-believers alike to himself through what his son accomplished.

Now, we need to be placed into God’s son, so that we can have his son’s righteousness attributed freely to our account. Total abandonment of any notion that our performance is connected by any means or in any manner to our righteous standing IN Christ.

Our performance would never cut it, not before we were born anew, and not after, we need to allow God’s power to take up residence with us, but we do not control this power, as if it were some universal force; rather, we have access to this power that is dwelling within us.

We need to cease attributing our righteous standing before God to our performance and keep our mind focused solely on how God views us IN Christ, that is what grace-life is all about, and we will be victorious in that God’s power can now produce it’s fruit in our life. When God raised Jesus from among the dead, it was God’s stamp of “pain in full” on the invoice of our sin debt.

We could not get right with God in a million life times of trial and error, we could never make ourselves right with God; God had to do what we could not do. Now believing sinners can be certain that in Christ, they are justified. The simple message of Paul’s gospel is total payment for sin, accomplished by Christ’s total sacrifice.

According to Paul, we have how much forgiveness, total forgiveness! If we want God to view us today, we got to be in his son. How can we get into his son, and have all of his righteousness freely imputed to our account? By simply taking God at his word concerning what his son accomplished for us, it is as simply as that.

When God says he is satisfied with what Christ did for our sins, when Christ died for them, all our sins were all future. It is a son issue on our part, not a sin issue, in order to receive the gift of salivation. The resurrection of Christ is not only a historical event that we look back to with satisfaction and joy; it is the greatest event in history.

One of the most disturbing things is someone unable to express confidence about whether they can know if they will have eternal life or not. The very power that raised Jesus from among the dead is available to us; we were baptized into Jesus Christ with this power. Faith is taking God at his word concerning what his son accomplished on our behalf.

God did all the giving; we do only all the receiving. God knows what his son accomplished on our behalf where all of our sin debt is concerned and he is satisfied that all of that sin has already been judged on his son, leaving no judgment for us where our sin is concerned.

Justification is a legal act, wherein God deems the sinner righteous on the basis of Christ’s righteousness. Justification is not a process, but is a one-time act, complete and definitive. Justification is a legal term which changes the believing sinner’s standing before God, declaring us acquitted and accepted by God, with the guilt and penalty of our sins put away forever. 

In our position in Christ, now we can bear fruit unto God, but it is only in our position in Christ, not through this fleshly body in which we dwell. Only when we come to see ourselves as God sees us and are able to fully appreciate and understand who God has already made us to be and who he’s made us to be in Christ, can we become in our behavior what he wants us to be in that aspect of our lives. 

We need to be less interested in trying to become something, or trying to do something, and we need to become a whole lot more interested in learning about who we already are, that is the key. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013


Far too many believers are feeling dirty, worthless and ashamed of themselves; shame is a silent, but deadly disease that pollutes the lifeblood of many believers faith. As a result, we feel unclean and therefore unworthy to approach God and have the living and intimate relationship that he wants to have with us.

Shame prevents us from intimacy with God because it makes us feel unworthy and distant from him. God’s standard is nothing less than perfection and none of us measure up, if we did or we ever could measure up sufficiently righteous for heaven through our performance, we would not have needed a savior at all.

For it is God’s grace, not our striving, that makes us accepted and acceptable. It is God’s performance through Jesus Christ, not our trying hard to perform, that eradicates our shame. Some of us spend most of our life giving up.

We are tired, burned out, disillusioned, depressed, addicted to something. People around us feel frustrated by the huge disparity between our capabilities and our performance. They either pep talk us concerning our value, or shame us for not performing.

No one can have a close relationship with us; we push people away physically and emotionally, and push God away. We are the ones in families, churches, and society that people take care of-for a while, until we are given up on because of our lack of response.

For all the performance-based people around us, we are simply bad for public relations. Once in a while we find ourselves in an environment that shames us for being so defective, then we start trying harder, but it does not last for long, we are simply out of gas to start with, we merely survive.

The goal of most believer’s life has been to become disgusted enough with ourselves to try hard enough, so that we can finally win God’s approval. Statements like these, “I always thought that in order to do what God liked, I had to do what I hated,” or “I thought if I could just hate myself enough, ignore my feelings and drives, that God would finally like me,” these characterize the lives of tired believers who do not know who they are. 

The truth Paul has proclaimed in all of his epistles is we could not get right with God in a million life times of trial and error. We could never make ourselves right with God; God had to do what we could not do for ourselves.

Yet many believers spend their entire existence unsuccessfully trying to be someone other than who they really are, paying lip service to the idea that we are accepted because of God’s grace, the struggle for acceptance on the basis of works is epidemic, but the greatest travesty of all, is the lack of understanding about our new identity in Christ.

Jesus was indeed faithful, he allowed himself to be crucified, he bore our sins there, the entirety of the sin debt of the world. Jesus died there for our sins, he was buried and on the third day God raised him from among the dead, having completed all that was necessary to accomplish our total and everlasting justification in the eyes of Almighty God.

It would be disastrous enough if the reason people did not understand who they are was simply for a lack of information, and the truth is that there is an absence of teaching concerning our new identity and what it means to be new creations in Christ. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Greatest Display of God's Power

The person who does not know what death is does not know either what resurrection is. In order to take the resurrection seriously, we must also take death seriously. The Christian belief in the resurrection of the body did not arise from philosophical speculations or wishful thinking like the notion of the immortality of the soul.

It arose from the conviction that such an event had actually already taken place with the resurrection of Jesus from among the dead. The resurrection is proof that Jesus is who he claimed to be, and that his sacrifice was pleasing to God. As long as Jesus lay in the tomb, he was just another tragic religious figure who suffered a martyr’s death.

In fact, Paul tells us that the resurrection is the greatest display of God’s power ever to be demonstrated, nor can it ever be surpassed. Our decree of judicial perfection in the eyes of God comes not through Jesus’ death for our sins, but through our union with Jesus’ resurrection life.

Paul’s statement that Jesus’ resurrection was “the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep,” the expression “first fruits” has little meaning for today’s urban dwellers. In Bible times, it had a rich meaning because it referred to the first produce of the harvest, which was offered in sacrifice to God to express gratitude for granting a new harvest.

Thus, the first fruits, which were brought to the Temple, were seen not as mere hope of a new harvest, but as its actual beginning. Jesus’ resurrection, then, is “the first fruits” in the sense that it has made the resurrection of believers not a mere possibility, but a certainty. 

God planned that his son become sin for the world which his son did indeed become, but when it comes to being made the righteousness of God IN Christ, what response is necessary in order for a person to be made the righteousness of God by being placed INTO CHRIST? BELIEF in what God’s son accomplished where sins are concerned is that required response, it is very simple when we understand the difference in Reconciliation and Righteousness. 

Not everyone has been baptized into Christ even though Christ, by himself, purged his or her sins when his blood dripped on God’s Ark. If Christ purged only the sins of believers, then Christ did not become a ransom for all, faith in what Christ accomplished where your sins are concerned is the requirement to be placed into Christ and have Christ’s test score placed on your paper.

Paul wanted to be found clothed in the righteousness that comes from being placed INTO Jesus Christ rather than to be found wearing the righteousness that came from his performance. Paul knew that the righteousness related to his performance would never measure up to the level of God’s righteousness.

The reality of reconciliation is the good news that Satan would gladly give up his pitchfork to keep people from believing today, and he has been very successful through what Paul calls “ministers of righteousness” in doing that very thing.

Satan only needs to focus on today to keep people in a lost condition is The Reality of Reconciliation, he does not need to go any further than that. If Satan can keep that glorious truth hidden by blinding people's eyes to it through a message that keeps sin on the table of God’s justice where that sin has already been put away, that turns Paul’s glorious gospel into a not so glorious gospel after all! Many people are living in their minds today with probation rather than salvation. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Alexander's Dream

There have been many attempts to equate this man of sorrows with all kinds of figures. Early on, Yeshua’s followers saw Yeshua as the suffering servant of Yahweh in Isaiah. New Testament writers specifically borrowed passages from Isaiah, particularly in chapter 53, when constructing their narratives of Yeshua, taking those verses and using them in describing his story.

So Yeshua is depicted as the innocent and righteous servant who suffered for the sins of others. In the teachings of Paul, however, you have a different use of these verses. Christians, generally, are identified as the servant who suffers with and for Yeshua. Isaiah chapter 53 wasn’t talking about a remote Nazarene teacher and charismatic healer who would live more than five centuries later.

The servant is Israel herself, the punishment that Israel suffered even if excessive-that punishment isn’t meaningless, it will lead to redemption. Israel will be healed by her wounds. Israel’s suffering is serving a purpose in the divine plan, it’s necessary. Israel needs purification and redemption and that will prepare her for a new role in world history.

The Babylonian Empire was itself defeated by the Persians under the leadership of Cyrus-Cyrus of Persia. Cyrus manages to establish the largest empire in the Ancient Near East to date, a huge empire. Unlike other ancient empires, the Persian empire espoused a policy of cultural and religious independence for its conquered subjects and Cyrus gave the Israelite exiles permission to return to Jerusalem and reconstruct the temple.

Many of the exiles returned to this now Persian province and they exercised a fair degree of self-determination. The building doesn’t proceed smoothly and that’s due largely to the hostilities of the surrounding communities. The Samaritans offer to assist in the project of reconstruction. Their offer is rejected, and as a result the Samaritans, insulted, persuade the Persians that this is a bad idea. Rebuilding a potentially rebellious city is a bad idea, and the Persians listen to them and they order the rebuilding stopped.

Along comes two prophets, they urge the continuation of the building. A Persian official objects, the Israelites appeal to the new Persian Emperor Darius. And they ask him to search through the court records, look for the original authorization by Cyrus-we have been authorized to do this. Cyrus’ edict is found. Darius agrees not only to enforce it, but to honor Cyrus’ obligation to supply money for the rebuilding.

This is under Persia imperial sponsorship, and Darius will honor the obligation to supply money for the rebuilding and to procure sacrifices as well. The temple is finally dedicated and a Passover celebration is celebrated in the sanctuary. The post-exilic period following is also known as the Persian period, at first, but the Persians won’t rule for long.

The prophet Ezra may have unified Israel around a common text, but he didn’t unify them around a common interpretation of the text. So that widely divergent groups now, in the Persian period and as history moved into the Hellenistic period, widely divergent groups will claim biblical warrant for their specific practices and beliefs.

Alexander the Great defeated the Persian Army, which at that time controlled all of Asia Minor, modern Turkey, and had even threatened to control Greece. Alexander defeated the Persian Army in Asia Minor at Granicus, the Battle of Granicus. That put Alexander and his Macedonian Army in charge of both Greece and Asia Minor. When Darius II died, who was the king of the Persians, Alexander himself took on Darius’s title, which was Great King.

After defeating the Persians again, Alexander pushed his army all the way to the Indus River in India, he wanted to go all the way to the Ganges River, but his army forced him to turn back. Alexander was not yet 33-years-old when he died in Babylon of a fever. Alexander had been educated by Aristotle, when he was young, and so he had adopted Greek language and Greek literature and a lot of other Greek ways.

What Alexander had wanted to do was to take all these different peoples, who spoke different languages and had different customs, and use a Greek layer to sort of unite his empire overall. Now Alexander didn’t really care about the lower class people so much. So they could just still live in their villages and out in the country and do their farming and speak their own local language.

But if one was going to be elite-Alexander wanted to establish cities throughout his empire that would be actually Greek cities, and he wanted to have the elite people all be able, at least, to speak Greek. In fact this whole dream of Alexander-and it was a very self-conscious, propaganda campaign and a cultural campaign on Alexander’s part. Alexander wanted to make one world; the first time in history, a dream of making all of his empire basically universal, a dream of a universal vision, for one world, under one kind of culture, one kind of language.

Basic structures are part of any kind of Greek city in the Ancient World. And what Alexander and his successors did was they took that basic Greek structure, and they transplanted it all over the Eastern Mediterranean, whether they were in Egypt or Syria or Asia Minor or anyplace else. One can travel right now to Turkey or Syria or Israel or Jordan or Egypt, and one can see excavations of towns, and it’s remarkable how they all look so much alike, because they’re all inspired by this original Greek model of the city.

Alexander and his successors Hellenized the entire Eastern Mediterranean, and that meant, every major city would have a certain commonality to it. It would have a certain koine to it; that is, a Greek overlay, over what may also be there, the original indigenous kind of cultures and languages. Then a high priest named Jason, brought Alexander’s dream to Jerusalem in 175 B.C.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Predestined for Glorification

We cannot earn salvation, and we can never lose salvation, because salvation is based not upon what we do, or promise to do, but upon what Christ has already done for us! What an astounding truth to ponder and really come to understand; a gift declaration of righteousness to those who could never gain that declaration through performance.

Does that mean that once we are saved, we can just go out and do anything we want to do; live anyway we want to live and still be saved? Self-sanctification is sitting at the core in a negative way in the mindset of the person who is posing that question.

Paul proves that question to be just the opposite. Grace is a much greater motivator. It is the love of God that constrains us, not fear that God is going to strike us dead, or allow us to be a part of the second death if we perform what we should not be performing, or do not measure up through our performance.

Are people set apart as holy in God’s sight because of their lack of sin, or are people set apart as holy in God’s sight because he has joined them to his son? God has a purpose for those who believe, by placing the believer into his son.

God did not predestinate us to believe, he predestinated us to be conformed to the image of his son, because he knew who would believe. Should we just go out and sin all the more now that we know that God’s grace is given to us as a gift simply when we believe his son died for our sins, and put those sins off the table of God’s justice.

We must understand that God has predetermined to glorify us. In fact, God has predestined us to that glorification. To predestinate simply means to decide and decree in advance the destiny of something.

The natural man has his mind tuned in only to the channel of his own human perspective; satisfying the lust of his flesh; the lust of his eyes; and the pride of life. If something is not logical to the natural man’s way of thinking, he refuses to believe it, whether God said it or not, he wants to remain in his comfort zone.

God is not giving out his righteousness as a reward to those who are sorry for the past, and who promise to do their best in the future. At the point of our belief in what Christ accomplished where our sins are concerned, we are as closely associated with Christ as anyone could be, we are joined to him.

What an ingenious salvation plan, to take someone else that is righteous and join us to that person, therefore what is Christ’s is ours! It is a gift, a declaration of rightness with God, and this comes totally apart from that unrighteous person’s production. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Our Hope

As believers, we do not possess the life that Jesus got when God raised him from among the dead as an inherent quality any more than we possess God’s righteousness as a property in our own nature. Just as in the midst of our sinfulness, we are righteous, so in the midst of our self-evident mortality, we are going to get the life God gave to Jesus.

In John 5:26, Jesus was “to have” that life that God has within himself, Jesus never had that kind of life before, he was to have it. In 1 John 1:1-5, Jesus indeed got that life, his disciples testify he got that life he was telling them he was going to get.

As a result of our being sealed in Christ, we are what we are not. In ourselves, we are not righteous and not immortal, but in Christ, we are both righteous and immortal. The fact that the living saints will meet with Christ at the same time as the sleeping saints indicates that the latter have not yet been united with Christ in heaven.

Paul was not concerned about a ‘state’ which exists between death and resurrection, but for a relationship that exists between the believer and Christ through death. This relationship of being with Christ is not interrupted by death, because the believer who sleeps in Christ has no awareness of the passing of time.

Paul did not think the question of the status of the person between death and resurrection was a question that needed to be considered. The reason is that for Paul, those who die in Christ, their relationship with Christ is one of immediacy, because they have no awareness of the passing of time between their death and resurrection.

Paul explains that both the sleeping and living believers will be united with Christ, not at death, but at his coming for his body of believers in this age of Grace. Paul never alluded to the conscious survival of the soul and its reattachment to the body at the resurrection, that is a notion totally foreign to Paul and to Scripture as a whole. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Yahweh's Sanctuary

In contrast to the land, Yahweh’s sanctuary can be purified for moral impurity by means of a special sacrifice. The blood of the animal, the blood of the sacrifice is the key to the whole ritual. Blood, the blood that courses through one’s veins, represents the life force; the Noahide covenant, you may not spill human blood. And you may not eat animal flesh that has the lifeblood in it, because the blood is the life and that belongs to Yahweh, that’s holy. So the life force is holy, and the life force is in the blood; Leviticus 17:11, repeats the blood prohibition, and  then it offers a rationale. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have assigned it to you for making expiation for your lives upon the altar.” Yahweh assigned it to them to use in sacrificial practices. It is the blood as life that effects expiation, purging and atonement. The blood of sacrificial animals is assigned by Yahweh as a detergent, if you will, to cleanse the sanctuary of the impurities that are caused by the sinful deeds of the Israelites. Purification of the sanctuary was believed to be critical to the health and the well-being of the community. If the sanctuary is not purged of impurity, it can become polluted to the point when Yahweh is driven out entirely. The purification offering acts on the sanctuary, not on the offerer. It purges the sanctuary of the defilement that is symbolically; it has symbolically suffered from the offerer’s state of ritual impurity or sinfulness. Once the sanctuary is purged, the offerer has settled his debt, he’s repaired the damage he caused. He’s fully atoned, and Yahweh is no longer repelled by the impurity that marred his sanctuary.

Matt. 27:51, the earthquake that fractured the rock opened a fissure that ran down through 20 foot of solid rock into a cave and cracked the stone lid on top of a black stone volt where the Ark of the Covenant lie hidden inside, pushing the lid aside. John 19:34, the blood of Jesus ran down through that crevice and dripped onto the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant that was hidden by God and the prophet Jeremiah, right under where they crucified Jesus, 620 years earlier when the Babylonians destroyed Salomon’s temple. The Greek word used for “the cross” on which Jesus was put to death is “stauros,” which denotes an upright pale or stake. It never means two pieces of timber placed across one another at any angle, but always of one piece alone. There is nothing in the Greek of the New Testament even to imply two pieces of timber. The blood of Jesus would do no good for the Israelites dripping on “stauros!” The issue with God today is the son, not sin; because the blood of Jesus dripped on “stauros” or  dripped on “the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant?”

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

After the Body is Lifted Off the Earth

After the Body of Christ is lifted off the earth, the whole period of the Day of Yahweh is called the final meeting of the ages, or the Greek word “sunteleia”; but, the crisis in which it culminates is called the end of the age, or the Greek word “telos.” These two Greek words are rendered “end” in the New Testament, but the use of these two words must be carefully distinguished.

Sunteleia denotes a finishing or ending together, or in conjunction with other things. It implies that several things meet together, and reach their end during the same period; whereas telos is the point of time at the end of that period. The sign of the telos is the setting up of “the abomination of desolation” spoken of by Daniel the prophet.

Thus the telos, those who endure to this, the same shall be saved, and will be among the overcomers specially referred to in these seven letters during the Great Tribulation; to whom these promises are made, and to whom they peculiarly refer.

The Great Tribulation, which is the central subject, but Daniel is not permitted to do much more than make known the fact of the Great Tribulation out of which Daniel’s people, the Israelites were to be delivered. The particulars and the circumstances of that day, were not to be made known at that time by Daniel.

We take it therefore that the opening of the seals of this 7-Sealed Book is the enlargement and development of the Book of Daniel, describing, from Yahweh’s side, the judgments necessary to secure the fulfillment of all that he has foretold. However, there is something more in this 7-Sealed Book then the mere continuation of Daniel’s prophecies, but there must be that which calls for all these judgments and requires the putting forth of all this power.

If this 7-Sealed Book has to do with the whole subject of prophecy, with its causes, and not merely with its consequences and its end, then it may well take us back to the beginning when man was driven out from Paradise, when Adam forfeited his inheritance; and the promise of a coming Deliverer and Redeemer was given.

Who has the right to redeem the forfeited inheritance, the lost Paradise? Satan is in possession of this world now, and as such Satan was able in a peculiar way to tempt him who had come to redeem it, in the only lawful way in which it could be redeemed. Who is worthy, who will act the Goel’s (or Redeemer’s) part for man and for Israel, and recover his lost estate.

This 7-Sealed Book was given to the one worthy to open the seals, in connection with such a transaction for a much weightier Redemption of Creation, both by unanswerable right and unequalled might. For the Goel was an avenger as well as a redeemer.

The themes which form the whole Books subject: The removal of the curse from creation, the redemption of the purchased inheritance, the ejection of the great usurper; and all accomplished through the payment of the redemption’s price by the merits of the promised coming Deliverer, and the putting forth of redemption power.

But the payment of the price is only one part of the work of redemption. If the price be paid and there be no power to take possession and eject the holder, the payment is in vain. And if power be put forth and exercised in casting out the usurper, without the previous payment of the redemption price, it would not be a righteous action.

So that for the redemption of the forfeited inheritance, two things are absolutely necessary, price and power. What ought we to look for as the first thing which has the end of the “many days” and “the time of the end”? The price has been paid in the shedding of the precious blood of the promised Deliverer; and now, the necessary power is to be exercised so as to secure all its results, in wresting the inheritance from the hand of the enemy by ejecting the present usurper, and forcibly taking possession.

We see this power put forth in the Seals, Trumpets, and Bowls, which fill up the active judgments of Yahweh in accomplishing this, and which end with the coming of the promised Deliverer himself. As the 7-Sealed Book begins to be opened, six seals are separated off from the seventh; as though to point out to us that the seventh is not immediately consecutive on the sixth, as the other seals are consecutive one on the other, the sixth seal evidently carries us forward to the time of the end.

The Day of Yahweh will be a prolonged period; it must not be confined to “seven years,” as is so often done. These events may occupy a period of thirty-three years; and if to these we add the seven years of the last week of Daniel, we have a period of forty years. Matt. Chapter 24, “What shall be the sign of your coming, and of the sunteleia of the age?”

Jesus describes four of those seals, and adds, “All these are a beginning of sorrows.” This fixes these first four seals as the “beginning” of the sunteleia of the Day of Yahweh. This “beginning” may be spread over some years before the Great Tribulation, proper, comes on. Not one of these seals has yet been opened, nor can any period of history be pointed out in which these first four seals have been in operation simultaneously. 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Body is Not in the Book of Revelation

As we read the letters, which are addressed to us through the Apostle Paul; and, on turning to the Book of Revelation, in chapters two and three we are at once conscious of a striking change. We find letters suddenly removed from the ground of “Grace” to the ground of “Works”.

The Book of Revelation contains a record (by vision and prophecy) of the events, which shall happen in the Day of Yahweh, after the Body of Christ shall have been removed from the earth. The whole Book of Revelation is concerned with the Israelite, the Gentile, and the Earth, but not with the body of Christ.

There will be a people for Yahweh on the earth during those eventful years, who are believing in Christ as the Messiah, who know nothing of him as the Savior. Will not these need special instruction? The Pauline letters will of course be of use as an historical record of what will then be past, just as we have the record of Israel’s history in the Old Testament now.

Yahweh indeed, has provided for their instruction, and warning, and encouragement, in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation. Right at the beginning, they are the first subjects of Divine remembrance, provision, and care.

Their needs must be first provided for, before anything else is recorded of the things which John saw; and there they will find what is specially written for their learning. We may so read them now, ourselves, and apply them, so far as we can do so consistently with the teaching for this dispensation of grace, contained in the Pauline letters.

Applying these thus, we leave the full and final interpretation for those to whom it will specially belong hereafter. If these “churches” are future assemblies of Israelite believers on the earth, after the Body of Christ has been caught up to meet Jesus, then all is clear, consistent, and easy to be understood.

The real difficulty is created by attempting to read the Body of Christ into the Book of Revelation, where it has no place. As to the “seven lamp-stands,” ought not this expression at once to send our thoughts back to the one golden lamp-stand of the Tabernacle, one lamp-stand with seven lamps, indicative of Israel’s unity in the Land and in the City.

Here, the scattered condition of the nation is just as distinctly indicated by the fact that the seven lamps are no longer united in one lamp-stand. The nation is no longer in the Land, for Jerusalem is not now the center; but the people are “scattered” in separate communities in various cities in Gentile lands.

So that just as the one lamp-stand represents Israel in its unity, the seven lamp-stands represent Israel in its dispersion; and tells us that Yahweh is about to make Jerusalem again the center of his dealings with the earth. We find nothing in our Pauline letters that fits into what is said to these assemblies.

But those readers will be at once be reminded of the various stages of their own past history, and they will find in almost every sentence some allusion to the circumstances in which they will find themselves as described in these letters in the Book of Revelation. They are written to the People supposed to be well-versed in the history of the Old Testament, and well-acquainted with all that had happened to their fathers and had been written for their admonition.

Instructed in the past history of their nation, they will readily understand the relation between the testings and judgments in the past with which they are familiar, and those similar circumstances in which they will find themselves in a yet future day. As we read these letters, the references to the Old Testament in the seven letters correspond with the historical order of the events, so it is with respect to the promises contained in these letters.

While the historical events connected with the rebukes are carried down from Exodus to the period of the Minor Prophets, the promises cover a different period; commencing with the period of Eden, and ending with the period of Solomon. The subjects of the rebukes follow the order of the departure of the People from Yahweh. Their decline and apostasy is traced out in the historical references contained in these letters.

But when we turn to the promises, then all is different. Thy proceed in the opposite direction. The order, instead of descending from Israel’s highest ground of privilege (Exodus) to the lowest stage of destitution (Minor Prophets), the order ascends from tending a garden to sharing his throne. The seven promises are all intensely individual, there is no corporate existence recognized as such.

Each one of the seven promises commences with the same words, “to him that overcomes.” Such phraseology is foreign to the Pauline letters. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Day of Yahweh

After Yahweh gave up on the nations, Yahweh experiments with a single individual of believing; Abraham’s believing withstands many a trial. Yahweh is the owner of the land, Abraham was called to. Yahweh is empowered to set conditions or residency requirements for those who would reside in it, like a landlord. Yahweh is seeking replacement tenants who are going to follow the moral rules of residence that Yahweh has established for his land. Yahweh’s promise to Abraham is formalized in a ritual ceremony called a suzerainty covenant. The patriarchical covenant, which is a covenant in which a superior party, a suzerain dictates the terms of a political treaty usually, and an inferior party obeys them. The arrangement primarily serves the interest of the suzerain, and not the vassal or the subject. So Yahweh is making a land grant to a favored subject, and there’s an ancient ritual that ratifies the oath. In this kind of covenant, the parties to the oath would pass between the split carcass of a sacrificial animal, as if to say, that they agree they will suffer the same fate as this animal, if they violate the covenant. Abraham cuts sacrificial animals in two, and Yahweh, but only Yahweh, passes between the two halves. Only Yahweh seems to be obligated by the covenant, obligated to fulfill the promise that he’s made. Abraham doesn’t appear to have any obligation in return. In this case, it is the subject, Abraham, and not the suzerain, Yahweh, who is benefited by this covenant, and that’s a complete reversal of this ritual ceremony. Their is a moral justification for the grant of land to Abraham, the current inhabitants of the land are polluting it, filling it with bloodshed and idolatry. And when the land becomes so polluted, completely polluted, it will spew out its inhabitants. That process, Yahweh says, isn't complete; so Abraham's offspring through Isaac, they are going to have to wait, the lease isn’t up yet.

Abraham is obedient to Yahweh in a way that no one has been up to this point, but ultimately, the model of blind obedience is rejected, too. When Abraham prepares to slaughter his own son, Yahweh sees that blind believing can be as destructive and evil as disobedience, so Yahweh relinquishes his demand for blind obedience. The only relationship that will work with humans is one in which there is a balance between unchecked independence and blind obedience, and Yahweh seems to finally have found the working relationship with humans that he has been seeking since their creation, with a man named Jacob. When Jacob undergoes a change in name, Israel, meaning one who wrestles, who struggles with Yahweh; Yahweh and humans lock in an eternal struggle, neither prevailing, yet both forever changed by their encounter with one another.

Yahweh’s salvation of his people from Egypt, not the Christian sense of personal salvation from sin; that’s anachronistically read back into the Hebrew Bible. It’s not there. Salvation in the Hebrew Bible does not refer to an individual's deliverance from a sinful nature. This is not a concept that is found in the Hebrew Bible. Salvation refers instead, to the concrete, collective, communal salvation from national suffering and oppression, particularly in the form of foreign rule of enslavement. Remember Jacob’s sons; Joseph’s betrayal by his brothers, his decent into Egypt, set the stage, not only for the reformation of his brothers’ characters, but for the descent of all of the Israelites into Egypt, so as to survive widespread famine; threat of famine is overcome by the relocation to Egypt. Yahweh says to Jacob, “I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I myself will also bring you back.” So in short, there seems to be a plan afoot. Israel’s descent to Egypt sets the stage for the rise of a pharaoh who, didn’t know Joseph, and all that he had done for Egypt. And this new pharaoh will enslave the Israelites, and so embitter their lives, that their cry will rise up to heaven. Yahweh as Israel’s redeemer and savior, is Yahweh’s physical deliverance of the nation from the hands of her foes. But the physical redemption of the Israelites is going to reach its climax in the covenant that will be concluded at Sinai.

Yahweh’s redemption of the Israelites, is a redemption for a purpose, for at Sinai, the Israelites will become Yahweh’s people, bound by a covenant. The covenant concluded at Sinai is referred to as the Mosaic covenant. The Mosaic covenant differs radically from the Noahide and the patriarchal covenants, because here Yahweh makes no promises beyond being the patron or protector of Israel; and also, in this covenant, he set terms that require obedience to a variety of laws and commandments. The Mosaic covenant is neither unilateral, it’s a bilateral covenant, involving mutual, reciprocal obligations, nor is it unconditional like the other two. It is conditional; the first bilateral, conditional covenant. If Israel doesn’t fulfill her oblations by obeying Yahweh’s torah, his instructions, and living in accordance with his will, as expressed in the laws and instruction, then Yahweh will not fulfill his obligation of protection and blessing towards Israel.

Vehement denunciation moral decay and social injustice of the period, leading up to the fall of the northern kingdom and southern kingdom of Israel. A prophet criticizes the sins of the nation, he is critical of everyone, the middle class, the government, the king, the establishment, the priesthood; they’re all plagued by a superficial kind of piety. Amos, and all the prophets, the idea of covenant prescribes a particular relationship with Yahweh, but not only with Yahweh; also with one’s fellow human beings. The two are interlinked. It is a sign of closeness to Yahweh that one is concerned for Israel’s poor and needy. The two are completely interlinked. Amos denounces the wealthy. He denounces the powerful and the way they treat the poor. The crimes that are denounced, are crimes that are prevalent in any society in any era. The crimes that are denounced as being utterly unacceptable to Yahweh, infuriating Yahweh to the point of destruction of the nation, are the kinds of crimes we see around us everyday, taking bribes, improper weights and balances, lack of charity to the poor, indifference to the plight of the debtor. Injustice is sacrilege, the ideals of the covenant are of utmost importance. These prophets are called the standard bearers of the covenant, harking back to the covenant obligations. And without these, without the ideals of the covenant, the fulfillment of ritual obligations in and of itself is a farce. Morality is not just an obligation equal in importance to the cult or religious obligations, but that morality is perhaps superior to the cult. What Yahweh requires of Israel is morality and not cultic service. The prophets raised morality to the level of an absolute religious value, and they did so because they saw morality as essentially divine. The essence of Yahweh is his moral nature. Moral attributes are the essence of Yahweh himself, one strives to be Yahweh-like by imitating his moral actions. The prophets insisted that morality was a decisive, if not the decisive factor in the nations’ history; Israel’s acceptance of Yahweh’s covenant placed certain religious and moral demands on her.

One sin is singled out as being historically decisive for the nation. Other sins are punished, absolutely. But only one is singled out as historically decisive for the nation, and that is the sin of idolatry, particularly the idolatry of the royal house. The tragic history of the two kingdoms as essentially a sequence of idolatrous aberrations, which were followed by punishment. And this cycle continued until finally there had to be complete destruction. While it is certainly true that moral sins and other religious sins in Israel were punishable, it is really only the worship of other gods that brings about national collapse, national exile. Idolatry was what provoked Yahweh to drive the nation into exile. The prophets are claiming that the nation is doomed because of commonplace wrongs, because of bribe-taking, because of false scales and false weights that are being used in the marketplace. For the prophets, the national catastrophes are just punishment for sin, but not just the sin of idolatry, for all sins no matter how petty, no matter how venial, because all sins violate the terms of the covenant code, which is given specially to Israel. And the terms of the covenant-being vassals to the sovereign Yahweh means treating co-vassals in a particular way, and it is breach of covenant not to do that. The prophets were harking back to an older tradition, to ancient traditions about Israel and its covenant relationship, traditions according to which Israel’s redemption and election entailed moral obligations.

The prophets warned that unless they changed, the people were going to suffer the punishment that was due them. And, in fact, the people were very foolish to be eagerly awaiting or eagerly expecting what was popularly known as the Day of Yahweh. And so the prophets refer to the Day of Yahweh as if it were a popular conception out there in the general culture. It was a popular idea at the time that on some future occasion, Yahweh would dramatically intervene in world affairs and he would do so on Israel’s behalf. Yahweh would lead Israel in victory over her enemies. They would be punished. Israel would be restored to her full and former glory. And that day, the Day of Yahweh, in the popular mind, was going to be a marvelous day, a day of victory for Israel, triumph for Israel and a day of vengeance on her enemies. The people are very confident that this is going to be a day of light, a day of blessing, a day of victory. But the prophets, according to them, if there is no change, then this Day of Yahweh is not going to be some glorious thing that the people should be eagerly awaiting. It’s not going to be a day of triumph for Israel. It will not be a day of vengeance on her enemies. It’s going to be a dark day of destruction. It is going to be a day of doom, when Yahweh will finally call his own people to account. The prophets transformed the popular image of the Day of Yahweh from one of national triumph, to one of national judgment.

Israel's Program has Been Set Aside

What needs to be understood about the book of Acts is God’s everlasting account validating the partial blindness that had come upon that nation. With the stoning of Stephen, God validated having set Israel aside nationally. Were the Gentiles not supposed to be coming to Israel to learn about God?

Were the Gentiles not supposed to be coming through Israel’s rise as prophecy had proclaimed, but Israel had not risen! Israel had fallen. Israel had been blinded in part. Had the leadership of Israel repented, it would have started the next events on the prophetic calendar, namely the time of Jacob’s trouble; followed by the second coming of Christ.

This is what Jesus Christ meant when he said he gave Peter the “keys” to the Kingdom. Peter had the ability to “unlock” and “open the door” to the Kingdom, he proclaimed the message they had to believe. Jesus Christ gave himself a ransom for MANY. Who are the “many” spoken of here? Israel!

Israel’s sins were going to “be blotted out”; the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of Jesus, at his second coming. He was going to be their High Priest and King, sitting on the throne of David, ruling and reigning over the nation Israel. God raised him up in order for him to sit on that throne.

However, an open door does no good if no one walks through it, and that is exactly what happened. The leadership of the Nation did not walk through it. The Pharisees sat in Moses’ seat as the authority over the Nation. The kingdom program did not happen, but it certainly will in a day yet future, when God resumes the kingdom program, and sets Israel at the forefront again.

With Israel's earthly program being set aside, during this age of grace, no nationality enjoys special favor in the eyes of God; all must come alike to God today. God did not lift up the Gentiles, who had been without God, and put them on an equal or higher plain, than belonged to Israel.

He concluded Israel in unbelief, as he had previously concluded the Gentiles in unbelief, both of them down on the same level, so that he might have mercy on all, and that is where it is today, according to Paul. It is man who needs to be reconciled to God, not the other way around. God is already reconciled to us, where our sins are concerned. It is not a sin issue, it is a son issue. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Breastplate of Righteousness

What a marvelous plan God had for us! God has kept the fingerprints of the guilt-worthy off of the righteousness he designed for the guilt-worthy. The greatest determinant of our mental health and freedom is a true understanding of God’s reconciliation.

The insidious reality of Satan and his forces relentless assault of deception on our mind can keep us from experiencing maturity and freedom, because our past has shaped our present belief system and will determine our future unless it is dealt with. We have been tricked into believing that what we do makes us what we are.

We fail, so we see ourselves as failures, which only causes us to fail more. We sin, so we see ourselves as sinners, which only causes us to sin more. We have been sucked into Satan and his forces futile equation, and that false belief sends us into a tailspin of hopelessness and defeat.

It is absolutely vital that we put on the breastplate of righteousness, so that we can resist the persistent accusations of Satan and his forces, they never give up trying to get us down and keep us down by hurling one false accusation after another. Wholeness and meaning in life are not the products of what we have or do not have, what we have done or have not done, we are already a whole person and possess a life of infinite meaning and purpose because of who we are in Christ.

Our understanding of the identity that Adam had before the fall, that identity has been restored to us, that restored identity is the critical foundation for our belief structure and our behavior patterns. Many people that are of the body of Christ have obsessive-compulsive behaviors because of this relentless battle for their minds, and the battle for our mind can only be won as we personally choose truth.

A mentally healthy person is one who is in touch with reality and relatively free of anxiety. Rejoice in Christ always, in our minds is what this is all about, everything whether good or evil begins in the arena of our minds. Joy is a trust issue; joy in Christ for a believer is that of a state of mind independent of surrounding circumstances.

Rejoicing is the exhibit of that interstate of mind, because no longer do we have to strive to attain and maintain God’s acceptance on the basis of who we are and what we can do, no longer are our sins held against us, no longer does the death penalty for sin hang over us. Joy comes from an understanding of the grace of God, an understanding and appreciation of the resultant peace with God that we now have because of God’s grace.

Paul wants us to know at one point in time something was true, but now something else is true. Paul presented the evidence that all people of all time justly deserve the wrath of a perfectly just God, because people glorifies themselves by filtering everything they say and everything they do through that screen of self-protection, self-elevation, and self-gratification.

But now, as far as God is concerned, he loved mankind so much that he was willing to let his own son die for sinful people, and have his son pay all the penalties of their sins, forget their rebelliousness and overlook their hostility, while they were still sinners, still rebellious, and still hostile. God made up his mind to become completely reconciled to mankind before people made any signs of making peace with God.

God has one-sidedly reconciled himself to mankind through what the death of his son accomplished; all sins and hostility are paid for as far as God is concerned. By removing the sin issue from the table of God’s justice, God effectively canceled Satan’s ownership of all mankind.

Those who put on the breastplate of righteousness know that we have peace with God, for a person to have to make their own peace with God would be nothing more than an exercise in futility, it could never be done. We could not make peace with God, to say that anyone could make peace with God, would be to limit God to his mercy, because grace is the foundation on which Paul’s entire ministry was built.

There is a glory that belongs to God’s grace, and it is to be praised on the bases on what God’s grace has accomplished. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Davidic Covenant

The moral and social bankruptcy of Israel at the end of the period of the judges at the dawn, or on the eve, of the monarchy, is Israel’s continued infidelity. A kingdom in which Yahweh is the king and the community is led by inspired judges in times of crisis-that structure, that institutional structure failed to establish stability, a stable continuous government. It failed to provide leadership against Israel’s enemies within and without. In their search for a new political order, the people turn to the prophet Samuel. Samuel warns of the tyranny of kings, the rapaciousness of kings, the service and the sacrifice they will require of the people in order to support their luxurious court life and their large harem, their bureaucracy and their army. The day will come, Samuel warns, when you cry out because of the king whom you yourselves have chosen; and Yahweh will not answer you on that day. The people won’t listen to Samuel, and they say quite significantly, no, we must have a king over us, that we may be like all the other nations, let our king rule over us and go out at our head and fight our battles. This is an explicit and ominous rejection, not only of Yahweh, but of Israel’s distinctiveness from other nations. And what, after all, does it mean to be a holy nation, but to be a nation separated out from, observing different rules then other nations. The king in Israel was not divine, or even semi-divine; monarchy is at best unnecessary and at worst it’s a rejection of Yahweh. Where the Mosaic covenant was contracted between Yahweh and the nation, the Davidic covenant is contracted between Yahweh and a single individual, the king.

The Davidic covenant is an eternal and unconditional covenant between Yahweh and the House of David, or the dynasty of David. Yahweh says that David and his descendants may be punished for sin. They certainly will be punished for sin, but Yahweh will not take the kingdom away from them as he did from Saul. Yahweh’s unconditional and eternal covenants with the patriarchs and with David do not prelude the possibility of punishment or chastisement for sin as specified in the conditional Mosaic covenant. The covenant with David, it’s a covenant of grant, it’s a grant of a reward for loyal service and deeds. Yahweh rewards David with the gift of an unending dynasty, in exchange for his loyalty.

Yahweh’s oath to preserve the Davidic dynasty, would lead eventually to a popular belief in the invincibility of the Holy City. The belief in Israel’s ultimate deliverance from enemies, became bound up with David and his dynasty. When the kingdom fell finally to the Babylonians, the promise to David’s House was believed to be eternal. The community looked to the future for a restoration of the Davidic line or Davidic king or messiah. The messiah simply means anointed, one who is “meshiach” is anointed with the holy oil, That is a reference to the fact that the king was initiated into office by means of holy oil being poured on his head. So King David was the messiah of Yahweh, the king anointed by or to Yahweh. And in the exile, Israelites would pray for another messiah, meaning another king from the House of David appointed and anointed by Yahweh to rescue them from enemies, and reestablish them as a nation at peace in their land as David had done. The Israelites hope for a messiah; it involved the restoration of the nation in its land under a Davidic king.

Had the leadership of Israel repented, but they stoned Stephen in Acts chapter 7, it would have started the next events on the prophetic calendar, namely the time of Jacob’s trouble; followed by the second coming of Christ. This is what Jesus Christ meant when he said he gave Peter the “keys” to the Kingdom. Peter had the ability to “unlock” and “open the door” to the Kingdom, he proclaimed the message they had to believe. However, an open door does no good if no one walks through it, and that is exactly what happened. The leadership of the Nation did not walk through it. The Pharisees sat in Moses’ seat as the authority over the Nation. The kingdom program did not happen, but it certainly will in a day yet future, when God resumes the kingdom program, and sets Israel at the forefront again.

What makes Paul’s good news unique and distinct? According to the secret that was revealed to Paul, Jesus Christ gave himself a ransom for all mankind: Jew and Gentile, not just MANY. It is man who needs to be reconciled to God, not the other way around. God is already reconciled to us, where our sins are concerned. Who are the “many” spoken of here? Israel! Israel’s sins were going to “be blotted out”; the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of Jesus, at his second coming. He was going to be their High Priest and King, sitting on the throne of David, ruling and reigning over the nation Israel. God raised him up in order for him to sit on that throne. Therefore, the issue where salvation is concerned today is not sin, but righteousness. The instance we take our stand with God, we are not only saved but sealed until the day of redemption of these earthly tents in which we dwell. Christ was delivered for our offences, and God raised him from among the dead for our justification, he was not raised to sit on a physical throne in these days, ruling over a physical nation called Israel, in a physical kingdom here on earth. The kingdom of heaven is not heaven, it is a kingdom designed in heaven, brought down to earth, and that is according to prophecy and has nothing to do with the revelation of the secret God kept to himself that Jesus Christ revealed to Paul. Our citizenship is in heaven, not earth. Our faith in the good news of Christ enables God to impute us with the faith of his son. Once we believe, and are sealed, it is not about us; our faith, but Christ’s faith.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Shoes of Peace

Instead of insisting on the unity of the mind, we need to preserve the unity by taking the initiative to be the peacemaker in our relationships. Most of the ground Satan and his forces gain in the lives of the body of Christ are due to unforgiveness, and we are warned by Paul to forgive others so that they cannot take advantage of us.

Forgiveness is difficult for us because it pulls against our concept of justice; we want revenge for offenses suffered. Bitterness and unforgiveness toward other believers is the most widespread stronghold that Satan and his forces enjoy, and if we do not let offenders off our hook, we are hooked to them, we need to let go.

Relationally, forgiveness is crucial to our maturity, it is the glue that holds the body of Christ together. Satan and his forces use unforgiveness more than any other human deficiency to stop our growth and our ministry of reconciliation, because the unforgiving believer is yoked to the past or to a person and is not free.

We do not forgive someone merely for their sake, we do it for our sake so we can be free, because unforgiveness is an open invitation to Satan and his forces bondage in our lives, we are of the body of Christ, and that is enough to bring us together in peace.

The shoes of peace become protection against the divisive schemes of Satan and his forces when we act as a peacemaker among believers, but we should not try to rationalize or explain the believer’s behavior, forgiveness deals with our pain, not another’s behavior.

Forgiveness is agreeing to live with the consequences of another believer’s wrong, our only choice is whether we will do so in the bitterness of unforgiveness or the freedom of forgiveness.

Our need to forgive is not an issue between us and the offender, it is between us and God, and if we fail to speak the truth in love and manage our emotions, anger which turns to bitterness and unforgiveness is an open invitation to Satan and his forces.

Forgiveness is a choice, forgetting may be a result of forgiveness, but it is never the means of forgiveness, and when we bring up the past against others, we have not forgiven them.

Forgiveness does not mean that we must be a doormat to their continual wrongdoing, it is okay to forgive another’s past wrong, and at the same time, take a stand against future wrongdoing.

The shield of faith does not create reality; the shield of faith responds to reality, because forgiveness is a crisis of the will, a conscious choice to let the other person off the hook and free ourselves, though we may not feel like making this decision, but this is a crises of the will.

We put on the shoes of peace, because we are to forgive as we have been forgiven, and we must base our relationships with others on the same criteria on which God bases his relationship with us: love, acceptance and forgiveness. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Belt of Truth

We are more vulnerable to Satan and his forces deception than to any of their other schemes, because when they tempt us or accuse us, we can recognize it, but when they deceive us, we do not always know it, that is their strategy, to keep us in the dark.

We cannot expose their deception by human reasoning; we can only do it by the light of the truth, it is the only valid piece of the armor against the darkness of deception. It is critical that when we put on the armor of God, we start with the belt of truth, because the only thing big about Satan and his forces are their mouth, they are habitual liars.

When we put on the armor of God we are really putting on Christ, and when we put on Christ, we take ourselves out of the realm of the flesh, where we are vulnerable to attack, it is not wise for us to live on Satan and his forces level. Since their primary weapon is the lie, our belt of truth is continually being attacked. 

If they can disable us in the area of truth, we become an easy target for their other attacks. We stand firm in the truth by relating everything we do to the truth of God’s word, and when we learn to live in the truth on a daily basis, we will grow to love the truth because we will have nothing to hide. 

If Satan and his forces can deceive us into believing a lie, they can control our life in that area. God’s protection is that our role is not passive, God requires us to be active participants in the defense that he has provided for us. 

The belt of truth challenges us to be mentally active, not passive, because unlike our day-to-day emotions, which are the product of our day-to-day thought life, the emotional baggage from the past is always there. Years of exposure and experience in life have etched emotional grooves inside us, which produce a decided reaction when a certain topic is introduced. 

We may have grown up with a physically, emotionally or sexually abusive parent. We may have suffered through a painful relationship in the past: a broken friendship, the untimely death of a loved one, a divorce. When a present event activates one of those emotional grooves, we believe what we feel instead of believing what is true. 

Perceiving those events from the perspective of our new identity, which God sealed in Christ, is what starts the process of healing those damaged emotions, because we have the privilege of evaluating our past experience in the light of who we are now, as opposed to who we were then. 

We must learn how to resolve previous conflicts or the emotional baggage will accumulate as we continue to withdraw from life, the past will control our life as our options for handing it continue to decrease. Those who have had major traumas and have learned to resolve them by wearing the belt of truth know how devastating the past can be to present reality. 

When we do not understand the doctrinal truths Paul taught pertaining to our sealed position in Christ, we have no ground for success in the practical arena. When we get our eyes off our new identity, and try to produce in our daily experience the acceptance God has already extended to us, we will struggle, because Satan and his forces will try to convince us that we are an unworthy, unacceptable, sin-sick person who will never amount to anything in God’s eyes. 

We are saints whom God has declared righteous, believing their lie will lock us into a defeated, fruitless life, but believing God’s truth about who we are will set us free. It is imperative to our growth and maturity that we believe God’s truth about who we are. 

Our old pattern for thinking and responding to our sin-trained flesh must be transformed by the renewing of our mind, it is our responsibility to change our behavior by putting to death the deeds of the body. The battleground we face is in our mind, and Satan and his forces are at the heart of all sin, and deceive people into believing a lie. 

The most dangerous and harmful detriments to our growth is passivity, putting our mind in neutral and coasting, sitting back and waiting for God to do everything is not God’s way to maturity. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Body and Soul

God has a plan for heaven that pertains to you and I. That pertains to people today who will take God at his message through the apostle of the Gentiles, the apostle Paul. Satan and his forces are so obsessed with stealing Paul’s gospel, obsessed with keeping it hidden so people do not discover it.

As long as people do not discover Paul’s gospel, as long as they are steered away from the true gospel they cannot believe Paul’s gospel. Satan and his forces are playing a cover up game with Paul’s gospel, because they have a desire to keep people lost.

For example, Satan and his forces have deceived a great many people into believing a negative view of the body in contrast to the soul, and a concept of salvation as interior experience rather than total transformation. A great many people have been deceived into believing that their nature is dualistic, that is, consisting of a material, mortal body and a spiritual, immortal soul.

They generally envision a destiny where their immortal souls will survive the death of their body and will spend eternity in the bliss of heaven or in the torment of hell. These people have been taught that death is the separation of the immortal soul from the mortal body, so that the soul survives the body in a disembodied state.

By death, the soul is separated from the body, but a resurrection God will give incorruptible life to the body, transformed by reunion with the soul. Worst of all, dualism has given rise to the sadistic teaching that God makes the wicked suffer unending conscious torment in hell, which has been such a burden to the Christian conscience and such unnecessary offense to many seekers.

Dualism has done such a serious harm in weakening our blessed hope of Christ ‘s appearing and in distorting our understanding of our citizenship in heaven. The Bible never sees the flesh and the soul as two different forms of existence. Rather, they are manifestations of the same person, the ancient Hebrews could not conceive of one without the other.

The two are indissolubly connected because the body is the outward form of the soul and the soul the inward life of the body. The body and soul are an indivisible unity; people are seen from two different perspectives. The body is the physical reality of human existence; the soul is the vitality and personality of human existence.

“For the soul of every creature is the blood of it,” the phrase “every creature” suggests that the reference to blood apply to both humans and animals. We have here a most important insight revealed into the essence of human nature; soul and blood are identical.

The fact that a person consists of various parts which are integrated, interrelated and functionally united, leaves no room for the notion of the soul being distinct from the body and thus removing the basis for the belief in the survival of the soul at the death of the body. The first death is a temporary sleep because it is followed by a resurrection. The second death is permanent and irreversible extinction because there is no awakening.