The Story of Salvation – from Old to New

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I am often shocked at how little most Christians understand about salvation. In particular, it is alarming the disconnect many have between Old Testament teaching and New Testament teaching and the lack of understanding of the important role of the former in the story of salvation. Many are content to simply parrot off a few basic things about being saved and accepting Christ without fully understanding the meaning of what they have in Christ.

Such a superficial understanding of God’s word not only limits your understanding of salvation but also your knowledge of God’s character. In order to live in full victory as a Christian it is important to understand the relationship you have with God and the role Jesus Christ played in securing that relationship for you.

In the following I give a brief overview of the Bible, the story of salvation.

The first Adam & the end of man’s closeness to God

God created man and gave him dominion and authority over the earth through the first Adam in The Garden of Eden. God had a direct relationship with Adam and walked and talked with him. Adam knew God first hand. When Adam disobeyed God by eating the forbidden fruit he lost this direct relationship with God because sin came into the world through that disobedience. Secondly, he lost his dominion and authority and gave it over to Satan, who had tricked him into eating the forbidden fruit. Now man no longer knew God in a close and personal way. Man’s sin separated him from God.

God chooses a people to reveal himself to again

God had to find a way to get himself into that close relationship with man again. But he could not do so because man’s sin was a barrier. So God chose a special group of people as his means of getting man to know him and his ways again and re-establishing that relationship. Through the separation of Abraham from his people, God established the nation of Israel as his chosen people. They were the people God would reveal himself to in order to re-establish an intimate relationship with man.

God said to Abraham in establishing this agreement or covenant:
“And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.” Genesis 17:7 (KJV)

The Law of Moses to unveil sin and allow communion with God

Thus, God started revealing himself to Israel. One key aspect of this revelation and getting man to understand God and his ways was to reveal to man where he had gone wrong. It was to reveal to man what was acceptable before God and what was not. It was the revelation of sin. Man had to understand what sin was. Hence, God instituted the Law of Moses. The law was an indication to man of what sin was.

Consider your own laws in your country. If the law says it is illegal to smoke marijuana then smoking it is a crime or sin. But if the law says it is ok to smoke it then it is no longer a crime or sin. Thus the law is said to have revealed what sin was before God by showing man in clear terms what God considered acceptable or not. So the knowledge of sin came through the law.

“…for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Romans 3:20

But the law served a second purpose and that was to enable man to perform certain rituals that made it possible for man to be “right” before God and thus able to approach God to a certain degree, though not as perfectly as in the Garden of Eden. So all the rituals of sacrifices, offerings, repentance and so on served to create an environment in which man could have a relationship with God and to know God more intimately. God could dwell with man as long as man satisfied the requirements of the law.

The Law of Faith through Jesus Christ

But this was not a perfect way as there was still a barrier between man and God. Only the priests could approach God and even then not all of them. The ultimate solution was the second Adam, Jesus the Christ, a Jew. The first Adam broke our relationship with God, but the second Adam re-established it. Jesus fulfilled the law by being sinless before God and taking the place of our sin offering, according to the law. But unlike the annual sacrifice that had to be made under the law, Jesus sacrifice only had to be made once for all. In doing so, he gave each one of us as Christian’s direct access to God. We could once again have that close and intimate relationship with God without having to go through an earthly priest as Christ is now our high-priest.

“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” 1 Corinthians 15:22

One big requirement for us to have this relationship is faith. Thus the Law of Faith was brought by Jesus to replace the Law of Moses. It entails that if we have faith in Christ and believe that he was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins (what separated us from God) and the fulfilment of the Law of Moses, then we can have access to God. We can have right-standing or righteousness before God.

“Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” Romans 3:27-28 (KJV)

Christ’s victory is yet to be perfected

In short, Israel was the nation God chose as a means of getting man to know him again and to understand his ways after the fall in the Garden of Eden. Through them, this close relationship with God is now possible for all.

But it is not complete yet because Christ is yet to return and destroy all his enemies and all the works of Satan. Secondly, he will return to give us spiritual bodies that are without the sinful nature we inherited from the first Adam.

“It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body…And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” 1 Corinthians 15:44 and 49 (KJV)

This will usher in a new era in which we will now be back to a Garden of Eden scenario where God will no longer be hidden from us and sin will be forgotten totally. Our initial relationship with God will be fully re-established.

Who is a Jew?

Thus, you cannot separate Christianity from Judaism because without the latter and the Law of Moses, Christianity through the Law if Faith is not possible.

As a Christian, I often say to people that I am a Jew. Most laugh, but to God that is what we are because Christianity is a continuation or build-up from Judaism. Judaism is not only the foundation, but the walls upon which Christianity stands. Without it there would be no Christianity. If you doubt this consider that the Bible is over two-thirds Old Testament (Judaism) and only the rest is New Testament. Thus, you cannot be a complete and powerful Christian without understanding your foundation.

Consider what Paul says about who a Jew is:
“For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” Romans 2:28-29 (KJV)

He is saying, you are a Jew if you have repented (circumcision of the heart) and not by following the law (letter). He is referring to repentance and accepting Christ.

Indeed the Bible says we as Christians are part of the “commonwealth” of Israel.

“That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:12-13 (KJV)

Embrace Old Testament teaching to  fully understand God’s plan

Therefore, Christians ought to embrace Old Testament reading as much as New Testament. More so given that unveiling and understanding prophecy that is relevant to these end times as we prepare for Christ’s triumphant return requires a delicate marriage of Old and New Testament scripture.

The Mystery of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount

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Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is one of the most challenging and misunderstood teachings of Jesus. The full sermon is outlined well in Mathew, chapter 5. It is challenging because it says things like if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; if you even look at a woman lustfully you have already sinned without having to commit adultery.

These are hard teachings and an ideal that no man can ever attain. So the question that arises is “why would Jesus give such a hard teaching that he knows very well no man can adhere to?”

Not to destroy, but to fulfil the law

The answer lies in the passage itself. Let us look at it in some detail. After giving the attitudes that we as believers should aspire to such as meekness, poverty of spirit, hunger and thirst for righteousness, purity of heart, peace-seeking and so forth and their attached blessings, or the “beatitudes” as they are often called, Jesus says something very revealing:

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” Matthew 5:17 (KJV)

That is the key to understanding the passage. Jesus came to fulfil the law. What follows is examples of him fulfilling the law. He goes on to say that we need to aim for a righteousness that goes beyond what was the accepted standard at the time of the Pharisees and scribes, who probably followed the law most diligently at the time, though not perfectly:

“For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:20 (KJV)

In other words, unless our righteousness is beyond the law, we cannot be righteousness enough for the Kingdom of Heaven. But how can one be righteous beyond what the law prescribed? What follows is Jesus explaining exactly that:

The legal standard versus Jesus’s standard

“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” Matthew 5:21-22 (KJV)

Pay attention to how Jesus describes what is the prevailing situation versus what he thinks should be:

YE HAVE HEARD IT WAS SAID BY THEM OF OLD TIME (i.e. according to the law or according to the legal standard)…BUT I SAY UNTO YOU (i.e. according to me or according to my standard)

Jesus is saying that the law says this, but I say that, the law has a certain standard but I have an even tougher standard. What Jesus was saying whenever he said “I say unto you” was tougher than what the law prescribed. It was an ideal that was beyond what the law required.

Who gave Jesus the authority?

First we have to ask: what authority did Jesus have to say the law was not enough or to bring up things that go beyond the law. The Jews treasured the law as passed down by Moses and any man that questions it was questioning God and Moses. It was thus unfathomable to question it. It is recorded in Acts the word of Moses himself saying of Jesus:

“This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. Acts 7:37 (KJV)

The people that were present to hear the words of Jesus on the mount were astonished at his teaching “For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes (Mathew 7:29).”

Thus, Jesus had the authority to declare these things about the law, as it had been given him of God. He had the authority to show a better way than the law. But he did not have the authority to break the law. He himself was still subject to the law.

Who could achieve anything better than what the law required?

Secondly, who could achieve things beyond what the law required, who could be so pure as to never think a lustful thought and never sin? Well, the only man who lived a pure life before God and satisfied God enough to be a sacrificial lamb without blemish – JESUS HIMSELF.

Jesus was saying the law demands this, but I have gone beyond that. Yet, he was not saying so to be boastful but rather to illustrate an important point; which is that there is a more perfect way than the law, a better way than the law.  This way was illustrated by Jesus’ own pure life.

This point is emphasised by Paul in Romans:

“For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh” Romans 8:3 (KJV)

The law could never destroy or get rid of sin, but Jesus did. What Jesus was saying then was that “This is the law and I have fulfilled it, not only by doing everything the law requires of me, but by going beyond it and showing you a more perfect way.”

In Hebrews, Paul goes on to say that the law was but a shadow of the things to come:

“For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.” Hebrews 10:1 (KJV)

So the law was the shadow, and Jesus was the image, or the “real deal”. That is why he was the fulfilment of the law.

We are perfected in Christ

Hence he could even say in ending that passage “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48

We know that of ourselves, perfection is impossible in our current “body of sin”. But in him, through Christ’s righteousness and free gift of salvation, we are perfect, because when we accept him as our Lord and Saviour the father does not see us with our flaws, but sees Christ in his perfection in us.

In due time, when all shall be revealed, we shall put on perfection, when our bodies will be made anew and the sinful nature permanently removed from us.

 

Christ’s Second Coming – Exposing The Myths & Lies

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Friends, let us look at scripture and learn what it teaches about Christ’s second coming.

I take much of this from Revelation, in particular the sequence of the SEVEN SEALS, SEVEN TRUMPETS and SEVEN VIALS.

Allow me to explain plainly what these seals, trumpets and vials signify. The Seven seals were set in motion when Christ rose from the dead and defeated death (See Revelation 5). As far as I can tell, we are somewhere on the 5th seal because at this point the saints of God who were slain ask God how long it will be before their deaths are avenged (Rev 6:10) – no surprise therefore that many mock and say Christ has been returning forever and nothing seems to be happening.

The Seventh seal ushers in the seven trumpets, which are the beginning of God’s judgment upon the earth. During the trumpets we have disasters and calamities striking the earth (hail, fire, destruction of trees, fish and so on) from the first to the sixth trumpet. Some of these calamities are the same ones that are unleashed during the seven vials that follow, only at a smaller scale, a sort of warning if you like of what is to come. Those that know the scriptures and believe will recognise these signs as God’s final days in which men can repent (Rev 6 – 10 or so).

God says he will shorten those days for the elect’s sake:

Mark 13:19 – “For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be. And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.”

The seventh trumpet is important as it marks Christ’s return and first resurrection of the righteous. The unrighteous are resurrected in the second resurrection much later on. At this trumpet the righteous (alive and resurrected) meet Christ in the air and the unrighteous are left behind to face God’s full wrath (the seven vials).

Two things to note in this which rapture teachers miss:

  1. a) The righteous DO live through a period of great tribulation (the first six trumpets) and
  2. b) the unrighteous are left behind to face God’s judgement and punishment and will not be given another opportunity to repent during that time.

With that overview, let us look at some specific features of Christ’s second coming:

  1.  Christ’s second coming shall not be in secret. In this regard the teaching of a secret “rapture” of the elect is totally false and misleading. When Christ returns everyone shall know he has returned. He will have with him all his saints (see verse point number 2 below). Those that remain on the earth when he returns because they did not believe will see him, they will know with certainty that he came and to their horror, that they were left behind and have no further hope for repentance. They will face the horrifying reality that now all that remains is God’s wrath on them (the seven vials).

SCRIPTURES TO SUPPORT THIS:

Hebrews 9:28 – “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”

Matthew 24:27 – “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”

Revelation 1:7 – “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

  1. Christ’s return shall not come as “thief in the night” to the elect. It shall only come as a surprise or unexpectedly to those that are not waiting for it – those that are not saved and therefore not looking out for it nor reading the signs of the times.

SCRIPTURES TO SUPPORT THIS:

1 Thessalonians 5:2 – “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.”

  1. Christ shall return with ALL his saints. That includes you if you are a believer. This is so because at Christ’s return all that are saved and alive shall be caught up in the air to meet him. Those that are dead but righteous at the time will be resurrected (the first resurrection, the second, which happens 1,000 years later is for those that are not saved).

SCRIPTURES TO SUPPORT THIS:

1 Corinthians 15:51 – “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,  in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

1 Thessalonians 3:13 – “To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.”

1 Thessalonians 4:15 – “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

  1. The seventh trumpet in Revelation marks several things. Firstly, the resurrection of the righteous dead, secondly the end of time as we know it, and lastly and most importantly, the second coming of Christ.

SCRIPTURES TO SUPPORT THIS:

1 Corinthians 15:51 – “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

Revelation 10:5 – “And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:  But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.”

1 Thessalonians 4:15 – “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

You see from all these scriptures then that anyone claiming that Christ has returned, such as Haile Selassie and so on, is teaching false things. Christ warned us of this:

Matthew 24:24 – “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”

This tells us also plainly that ALL will see that Christ has returned without a doubt.

Know this for a fact…when Christ returns you will know, whether you believe or not! It is our duty as Christians to prepare by meditating on scripture, especially prophecy, praying and watching.

Revelation 22:20 – “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”