The Pagan Path

Those who wonder are not lost; they are trying to awaken! 'The Sleeper must awaken!'

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Baptism of John-RV

Baptism did not originate with John the Baptizer,as is clear from the Pharisees' reply to John's answer that he was not the Christ: "Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, or Elijah, or the Prophet?" Why did the Pharisees ask John this follow-up question? I think that the Bible tells us why, in the Old Testament.

By the way ,did you know that the word baptize is not found in the Old Testament? Which begs another question; how did the Pharisees know that Christ would come baptizing, unless they knew what it was?

I think that, traditionally, the most notable Old Testament passage in this respect is Isaish 52. In verse 15 ,it says, "He shall sprinkle many nations.......". Another passage they might have had in mind is Ezekiel 36:25-27. Also,where God says,in Joel,chapter 2, "I will pour out My Spirit on ALL flesh....." God tells us, "the simple ones", to "Turn at My rebuke. Surely I will pour out My Spirit on you......." In the book of Proverbs, chapter 1, verse 23. In the book of Isaiah, He says,in chapter 44, verse 3,"I will pour water on him who is thirsty..............I will pour My Spirit on your descendants...........".Isaiah 45:8 says "Rain down you heavens, from above, and let the skies pour forth righteousness............".

I think that they understood from passages like these (for there are others) that the Messiah,or Christ, would come baptizing, or pouring out gifts. I think that they,along with most, misunderstood just exactly what form that gift would take, for they understood these symbols to speak of physical things, when truly, they were meant to be discerned Spiritually.

Looking at I Peter 3:18-21, but particularly at verse 21, Peter tells us that "there is also an anti-type which now saves us; baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh,but the answer of a good conscience toward God),through the resurrection of Jesus Christ". Going backwards now, to verse 20, Peter tells us that, "eight souls (or individuals) were saved through water". Now, some people might take this to mean that the baptism that Peter talks about "saving" us, in verse 21, is water baptism; but remember that the baptism in verse 21 is the anti-type(or reality) of the type,in verse 20.

Some will argue, saying, "Christ was baptized with water" .Let us look at that for a minute; in Matthew, chapter three, starting at verse 13, "Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, 'I need to be baptized by You,and are You coming to me?" I think John (through the Holy Spirit) understood somewhat,because I don't think that he was arguing about who should baptise whom, per se, but I think he realized that while his was a baptism with just water, Jesus' was a baptism "with the Holy Spirit and fire".
"But Jesus answered and said to him,'Permit it to be so now,for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.' Then he allowed Him." Why would Jesus say this to John? Let us go back to the Old Testament and see if we can throw any light on the question.
In Exodus 29:4, God tells Moses, "And Aaron and his sons you shall bring before the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and you shall wash them with water." He goes on to say that THEN they are to be clothed with their priestly garments. (Also see Ex.30:20,40:12,Lev.8:6) I think this (again,through the Holy Spirit) should give us a fairly clear picture of why Jesus would tell John that his baptism of Him would "fulfill all righteousness".

This may open another whole subject(??), but,in the Second book of Kings, chapter 5, is the story of Naaman (a Gentile) who was instructed by the Spirit, through his maid, to seek healing through Israel's prophet. In verses 10-14, we are told how Elisha told him to wash himself (or dip) seven times (the number of perfection) in the Jordan river, and although he balks at first, finally does what he was instructed and is healed of his disease.

Before we go into the New Testament, let me make a few commments about Christ's baptism by John. It was, I believe, a priestly baptism in the form that we just read about in Exodus and Leviticus, not a Christian baptism as we know it, "in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (else as my daughter jokingly suggested,it be "in the name of the Father, Yourself, and the Holy Spirit), but seriously, why do I bring this up? To show that Christ put no more importance on water baptism than "to fulfill all righteousness", which He has done for us. Yes, you can argue Matt.28:19 and there may be something there, but neither Mark or Luke put baptism as a requirement for discipling the nations (Mark mentions it in 16:16, but I believe that he is talking of the "one, true baptism"(Mark 1:8). There are many more examples to look at in the New Testament, of "water baptism", but we will comment on just a few more before we wrap it up with I Peter 3 and Genesis 6 and 7.

In the Gospel according to Mark, chapter 16, Christ says, "he who believes and is baptized, shall be saved............", which seems, in context with Matthew 28:19, to imply water,and not Spirit, baptism.
We go now to Acts, chapter 8, verses 26-39. I will make just a few comments on this; (And remember; in this passage, we are still under the Old Covenant economy (or system), and all the Scripture that would have been readily available, would be our Old Testament,or the Hebrew Scriptures) As the Ethiopian eunuch (or officer) was reading through these Scriptures and not quite getting it, Philip (again,at the instruction of the Spirit) came along side, and explained the Gospel of Jesus Christ (to which the Hebrew Scriptures pointed) to him more fully. Now, the Scriptures don't tell us at this point whether Philip told him also to receive water baptism, but the eunuch asked for water baptism, whether because of what he had read in the Hebrew Scriptures, because he had heard that a prophet (John) in Israel was baptising for the remission of sins, or because Philip told him he should. I tend toward the first reason.
Next, in chapter 16 of the same book, in verses 14-16, Lydia was baptized by water as a matter of course (Matt. 28:19). Following immediately after this,Luke records how Paul and Silas were set upon by the religious (and other) men of the city and eventually wound up in jail where God gave them opportunity to share with them the Gospel of Jesus Christ (verse 32).
We all know the story of how Paul and Silas are miraculously freed of their chains, and how the Philippian jailor comes nigh unto taking his own life.
When he is 'awakened' to his senses (yet again, by the Holy Spirit), he asked Paul and Silas that most famous (and humbling) of questions; "Sirs; what must I do to be saved?"
Notice that Paul only tells him "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,and you shall be saved..................", not, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,be baptized and you will be saved". Scripture does'nt record that Paul said anything to him about being baptized, although it does record, in the next verse or so, that he and his family were baptized, most likely with water.

I want to backtrack here a little and talk of the apostle Paul's baptism (as it were,by fire); I think we're all pretty familiar, to some extent, with the story of Paul's conversion, but for our subject we will touch a little on verses 17-18 .Ananias told Paul that he (Ananias) was sent that "you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit".Then,in verse 18,Luke records that he "arose and was baptized",again, I believe, talking about water, rather than Spirit baptism. That IS an arguable assumption though, because of the symmetry of these two verses; in verse 17, Ananias says "that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit", then in verse 18, we see that "he received his sight at once and he arose and was baptized. Notice the symmetry here; "receive your sight"/"he received his sight", and "be filled with the Holy Spirit"/"he arose and was baptized". Interesting paralells there,but I'm not sure I want to open that can of worms right now.
Time constrains us,but here are some verses and passages that you can look up on your own: Acts 1:5-2:4 ,2:38,41, 8:12, 10:47,48, 11:16, 18:8, 19:3-5, 22:16(I must make a commment here; this is a furthur relation of Paul's conversion "experience", but here he records Ananias as telling Paul to "be baptized,and wash away your sins (I think he means this figuratively) calling on the name of the Lord", Romans 6:3-5, I Corinthians 1:13-17, 10:2, (which I will comment on later) ,12:13, Galations 3:27, Ephesians 4:5, Colossians 2:11-12, and I Peter 3:21.
And now for my remarks on the I Peter 3 reference, to wrap things up, starting in verse 18, Peter describes the anti-type; baptism of the Holy Spirit, which is compared to the "water baptism" that Noah and his family received while in the ark. I Corinthians 10:2 describes another "type" of spiritual baptism that the children of Israel underwent while miraculously crossing the Red Sea "on dry ground".

by God's grace,
Charles Shank

The Grace of God's Election V. 2- or "Grace by Election"

No doubt,you've heard people talk about "Election by Grace"; well, I'd like to talk about the grace that God shows us through His "Unconditional Election".
First of all, I think it would behoove us to look at the Websters New World Dictionary for the meaning of the word "grace".
4. Disposition to grant something freely; favor; goodwill. 5. Mercy; clemency. 1. in theology; a.the unmerited favor and love of God toward man, b.divine influence acting in man, c.the condition of a person thus influenced.
I think we should also do well to look at the Hebrew and Greek words for "grace" in the Old and New Testaments.
Of the two Hebrew words used for "grace", the first, "chen", used in every application but one, means basically, kindness; favor, and comes from another word, "chanan" ,which means to bend,or stoop, in kindness to an inferior; to favour, bestow...........
The second Hebrew word, "techinnah", used only once (Ezra 9:8) means graciousness (because of) entreaty, supplication.
The Greek New Testament also employs two different nouns for the word "grace". The first, and most widely used, is "charis" ,meaning "the divine influence upon the heart, and it's reflection in the life. The second word, used only once (James 1:11) "euprepia", means good suitableness.

Beginning in Romans, where we find Paul giving an explanation of "the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16) in chapter 11, he explains that, while Old Covenant Israel as the land and it's inhabitants (national) is about to pass away (Hebrews 8:13), God has not forsaken His special People, those Children of the Promise, the elect from before the foundation of the world. (Romans 9:8-9, Genesis 18:10, Hebrews 4:3)
This is not even to say that God gave up on His original Purpose, and chos another people (Romans 11:1), but has merely broadened our horizons (Isaiah 49:5,6, Matthew 12:18-21, Acts 9:15, 13:46-48), by instituting a better covenant (Hebrews 7:17-22), which put no distinction between Jew and Gentile (Galatians 3:28).
II Thessalonians 1:3-5, I think, points out that it is by the righteous judgement of God (His Grace) that "our faith grows exceedingly,and our love abounds toward each other", which fact is attested to by numerous others (II Chronicles 1:11,12, Job 10:8-12, Psalm 85:7, 119:27-29, Acts 11:18 (Acts 10), 14:3, Romans 15:5,6, Ephesians 3:14-19, II Timothy 1:16-18 ,Revelation 3:21)
As these testify,and these are only a few of those who so testiify; it is clear that the writers of Scripture realized that it is only by God's Grace that we are even able to keep His commandments!

In Matthew 24:22, the time of tribulation is shortened "through grace" for the sake of God's elect.
In Luke 24:35, Christ "opened their understanding that they might comprehend the Scriptures".
In Acts 8:31, even the Ethiopian eunuch understood this, to some extent, when he replied to Phillip, "How can I (understand) unless someone guide me?".
In Acts 15:7, Peter told the council at Jerusalem,that God "chose.........that by my mouth, the Gentiles should hear the Gospel and (should) believe!"

Now, by shewing forth "election", I'm not saying that because we are "elect", we can go out and live any old way we want to (Romans 6:12); Paul indeed admonishes Timothy, along with ALL his readers to, "Be diligent to show yourselves approved before God.............."(II Timothy 2:15).
Peter admonishes us to "be even more diligent to make your calling and election sure......."(II Peter 1:10)
The apostle John urges his readers to "not love in word or tongue only, but also in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the Truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him". (I John 3:19)
Paul, in his second letter to the Corinthians, says "Examine yourselves,as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves............Do you not know yourselves,that Jesus Christ is in you?-unless indeed, you are disqualified".(II Corinthians 13:5)
The Webster's New World Dictionary definition of the word "disqualify", is "to make unfit or unqualifed; disable". "To make or declare ineligible. "The KJV uses the Greek word "Adokimos", which means,"unapproved,i.e., rejected, by implication worthless (literally or morally).
He tells the Church at Thessalonica to, "Test all things, hold fast what is good."(I Thessalonians 5:21)
I think James wraps it up best, when he says, "Thus also, faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."(James 2:17)
Unconditional Election,or, Election by Grace (through faith), is not to say that we have no responsibility to work, or be diligent, in our Christian life; On the contrary, it says, along with the apostle Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians "But God,because of His great love with which He loved us,even when we were dead in trespasses made us alive together with Christ (by grace are you saved)".(Ephesians 2:4,5)
Isaiah 1:18-20 says, "Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord, though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool."(see also Psalm 51:7)If you are willling and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken."(see also Genesis 2:16,17, Deuteronomy 30:15-18, I Samuel 12:20-25 ,Isaiah 66:4)

Why did God love us,even when we were in total enmity and rebellion against Him?

Deuteronomy 7:7,8a says "The Lord did not set His Love on you or choose you because you were more in nummber than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you,and because He would keeep the oath which He swore to your fathers................."(see also Deuteronomy 12:1-11).
David says,in Psalm 23, "He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His Name's sake". (Psalm 23:3)
Isaiah 43:25 says, "I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake". (read also verses 26-28)
Isaiah writes, "In His love and in His pity He redeemed them, and He bore them and carried them all the days of old".(Isaiah 63:9b)
Ezekiel wrote, in speaking of God's case against Israel, "But I had concern for My Holy Name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations wherever they went. Therefore say to the house of Israel,'Thus says the Lord God", I do not do this for your sakes, O house of Israel; but for My Holy Name's sake..........."(Ezekiel 36:21-22a)
Ephesian 1:3-6 says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him in love, having been predestined to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His Will, to the praise of the glory of His Grace, by which He made us accepted in the brethren". (see also Romans 3:21-24)
In his second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul writes, "But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren, beloved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit, And belief in the Truth, to which He called you".(II Thessalonians 2:13,14)
Paul tells Titus, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done,but according to His Mercy He saved us, through the washing (I Peter 3:21) of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit".(Titus 3:5)
In John's first letter,he says "I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you, for His Name's sake". (I John 1:12)

So it seems, by these few examples, that God acts in Grace and Mercy when we are in rebellion against Him (which is "as the sin of witchcraft", which we are in until He gives us a new heart; Ezekiel 36:25-27) for,
"the sake of His oath....."(Deuteronomy 7:7,8a)
"for His Name's sake.............."(Psalm 23:3)
"My Own sake....."(Isaiah 43:25)
"in His love and pity............"(Isaiah 63:9b)
"to the praise of...........His Grace."(Ephesians 1:6)
"for the obtaining of the glory.....of Christ."(II Thessalonians 2:13,14)
"according to His Mercy............."(Titus 3:5)
"for His Name's sake".(I John 1:12)

In the book of Exodus, when, because of the golden calf, God threatened to destroy the chidren of Israel, Moses prayed God that He would "relent from doing this evil", he said, "Why should the Egyptians speak and say, "He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth', and 'Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore, saying.......................'(Exodus 32:7-14 )
Little later, in the book of Numbers, when He threatened to disinherit them, and make of Moses a nation greater and mightier than they, Moses pleaded with God, "Then the Egyptians will hear of it, for by Your Might You brought this people up from among them, and they will tell it to the people of this land(Canaan), they ( Canaan) have heard that You are among these people;..................Now if You kill these people as one man, then the nations............will speak, saying, 'Because the Lord was not able to bring this people to the land which He swore to give them, therefore He killed them in the wilderness'." ( Numbers 14:11-20 )

I think we can safely say, from the manifold witness that we have in Scripture, that it is not from (because of) any goodness in ourselves (Isaiah 64:6, Philippians 3:8,9 ), but for His Own sake, whether so that His name would not be trampled on (Exodus 32:7-14, Deuteronomy 7:7,8a, Isaiah 43:25 ),because of His love and mercy ( Isaiah 63:9b, Titus 3:5 ), so that He might receive the glory (Ephesians 1:6 ), or for His Own Name's sake (Psalm 23:3, II Thessalonians 2:13,14, I John 2:12b ); this actually follows along with the first reason I gave, but I figured I'd put it down anyway.

We have a choice to make, as Moses records in Deuteronomy 30, "I call heaven and earth today as witnesses against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore, choose life.........................that you may love the Lord your God............" ( Deuteronomy 30:19,20 )
As Joshua said, in Joshua 24, "Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and truth, ...........................and if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day, whom you will serve................" ( Joshua 24:14,15 )

I will try to show further now, that it is truly not we who work, but that God works in us, and through us.
( Philippians 2:13, 4:13, I Thessalonians 2:13 )

I'll start off with John's record of Jesus' reply to His followers when they asked, "What shall we do that we may work the works of God?" (John 6:28 ) Our Lord's reply was, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him Whom He sent". I believe that Jesus said it this way (not directly answering their question) for a Purpose, and I will attempt to show that He was not just saying that, to do the works of God, they must believe in Jesus as the Messiah, but in fact, it was the work of God that they were able to believe in Him Whom He sent!
Paul told the Church at Philippi, "He Who has begun a good work in you will complete (continue) it till the Day of Jesus Christ"
( Philippians 1:6 ), so what Paul is saying here, I believe, is that God is the one who starts the work in our hearts in the first place!!!
(see also Isaiah 26:12, Romans 5:8, Philipppians 2:13, Hebrews 4:6 )
Paul wrote to the Church at Corinth, "But by the Grace of God,I am what I am.........." ( I Corinthians 15:9, 10 ).
Let me ask a question here.........what was Paul, according to the previous verse?
According to verse nine, Paul was "the least of all apostles...............because he persecuted the Church of God". Is Paul saying here that it was God's Plan, or Purpose, for him to persecute His Church "till the fulness of time had come" and God stopped him in his tracks ( Acts 9 ), or is he merely saying that , although he did what he did, by God's Grace, he no longer persecuted, in fact, was enjoined with that very Church?
I think I would prefer the former explanation, and I believe that the Scriptures support such an explanation. He continues in his next letter, by saying, "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God", and, in the next chapter, "Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart."(II Corinthians 3:5, 4:1)
I believe that Paul was reaffirming to the Corinthian Church that, even though (or because ) he had this ministry, God was his sufficiency (strength) and showed him mercy ( daily ) by not allowing him to lose heart ( which we all would if not for being indwelt by the Holy Spirit).
As he said, in his letter to the Romans, "So then, it is not of him who runs, but of God Who shows mercy." (Romans 9:16 )
And now, for the flipside of all this, in John 8:43, Christ says, in response to the Pharisees, "Why do you not understand My speech; because you are not able to listen to My Word."
The KJV renders the latter part of this verse, "even because you cannot hear my Word." (see also John 10:26-28 )
The verb "hear", in the Greek, "akouo", means "to hear, (in various senses ); give ( in the ) audience ( of ), come ( to the ears ), ( shall ) hearken, be noised, be reported, understand."
God told the prophet Isaiah to "Go, tell this people, 'Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive'".
He further told him to " make the heart of this people ( national Israel ) dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return, and be healed." ( Isaiah 6:9,10, also 44:18 )
I think these verse, among others, show that God's Election works both ways; for example: Paul repeats a passage from he Old Testament Scriptures, ( the only Scriptures, by the way, that he had to work with ), "For this Purpose I have raised you( Pharoah) up, that I might show My power in you, and that My Name might be declared in all the earth".( Exodus 9:16, Romans 9:17 )
Again, this shows that He acted so that, "My Name might be declared........",or "for His Own sake". ( Isaiah 43:25 )

Paul reasons with the Roman believers, in chapter 9, verses 13-24, that, as our Creator, God has every right to do things the way He does (read also Isaiah 45:9, 10, Jeremiah 18:1-6), and also, because He is our Sovereign, He does this for His Own glory (verse 17 ), and because He loved us from the foundation of the world ( Ephesians 1:4, II Timothy 1:9, Hebrews 4:3 ).
Romans 9:11-13 at first may seem a bit harsh, even unfair (Ezekiel 18:20-25 ), but if you read further on, to verses 15-18, and then especially verses 21-23, (which idea comes from Paul's reading of the Scriptures ( Jeremiah 18:4-6 ), I believe that you will see that as THE omnipotent (ALL-powerful ) God, He has the prerogative to do as He wills with His Own creation, just as the potter has the prerogative to do what he wants with his own pots, or vessels.

John tell us, in THE Revelation, "All who dwell on the earth will worship Him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." ( Revelation 13:8 )
I think that John here observed that, not only would those who were not chosen before the foundation of the world worship Him when they saw Him in His Glory, but that Jesus had been slain (as the Lamb ), in the Everlasting Covenant, before He ever created the worlds.

To quote a famous blues singer, "Now that really blows your mind !"

Now, as I've said before, being elect does not mean that we can live as we lust to, for, as Paul tells the Roman believers, " For we know that the law is spiritual, but I (in my flesh ) am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice, but what I (in my spirit ) hate, that I do. If, then, I (in my spirit ) do what I will not to do, I agree with the law, that it is good. But now, it is no longer I (in my spirit, the new man ) who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me, (that is, in my flesh ), nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me (my spirit ), but hot to perform what is good, I (my flesh ) do not find, For the good that I (in my spirit ) will to do, I (in my flesh ) do not do; but the evil that I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law ( principle ), that evil is present with me (my flesh ), the one (in spirit ) who wills to do good. For I (in my spirit ) delight in the Law of God, according to the inward man
( Spirit ). But I see another law in my members ( flesh ), warring against the law of my mind (spirit ), and bringing me into captivity to the law which is in my members ( flesh ). O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body (the old man) of death?
I thank God (HE has )-through Jesus Christ, our Lord! So then, with the mind ( Spirit ), I serve the Law of God, but with the flesh, the law of sin." ( Romans 7:14-25, parenthetical statements mine )
This IS a fairly lengthy, and hard to understand passage, but I think it is well worthy of our perusal, again and again!

Now,what may seem a bit confusing, is what Paul says in the previous chapter; "What shall we say then ? Shall we continue in sin, that grace might abound ? Certainly not ! How (why ) shall we, who died to sin, live any longer in it ?"( Romans 6:1, 2 )

Why does Paul tell them that they should not "live in 'it'" anymore, and then in the next chapter, tell them that he himself is a sinner, and that basically, "he" can't help himself? I must admit that I have struggled with this passage myself, but what I think Paul here, is admitting about himself, and telling his readers, is that he (they ) can't do it on their own, that we need God's Holy Spirit to be able to do the "good that we will to do".
by the Grace of God,
Charles Shank

I believe

1. I believe and trust in the One, True, Eternal God, the great I AM; Who always has been, and always will be.
This One, True God exists, to and from eternity, in three distinct, and yet, inseparable Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
(Exodus 3:14, Deuteronomy 6:4, Proverbs 8:22-31, John 14:9-11, Titus 3:5, I John 5:7*)

2. I believe that this One, True God, in all three persons, created the worlds*, and that nothing in His creation happens without His all-powerful Hand.
(Genesis 1:1-2, Job 1:6-12, Isaiah 45:7, Romans 9:1-29, 11:32-36, Galations 4:4, John 1:1-3)

3. I believe that the Father sent His only begotten Son to the earth, when, as prophesied in Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit came upon the virgin, Mary, who bore, of her own flesh and body, our Lord Jesus Christ.
(Genesis 3:15, Isaiah 9:14, 9:6, 61:1, Luke 1:26-39, John 1:14, Hebrews 2:17)

4. I believe that this Seed, Jesus Christ, born according to the flesh, suffered a normal* human existence, until He was crucified, in our stead, as our propiation, and bore all the punishment which we, as covenant-breakers, justly and naturally deserved.
(Isaiah 53:2-6, Luke 2:21-51, John 11:49-50, I John 4:9,10, Daniel 9:4-19, Hebrews 4:15)

4a. I believe that, in God's Eternal Covenant, this once-for-all sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, was ordained before the worlds were formed.
(Genesis 1:26, John 1:1-3, Genesis 3:15, Revelation 13:8, Isaiah 53:10, I Peter 1:20)

5. I believe that this one, final sacrifice was sufficient to cleanse us from all blood-guiltiness, and to fit us for the Kingdom of Heaven.
(Isaiah 53:4-12, Psalm 51:7-12,II Corinthians 12:9, Hebrews 7:25-27, II Thessalonians 1:5)

5a. I believe that salvation is a free gift of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to all who believe, through the atoning life and death of Christ, the Son, on the earth and on the cross, and by the influential work of the Holy Spirit upon our hearts.
(Psalm 3:8, 37:39, Acts 4:12, Romans 1:16, John 3:3-6, 6:63, Luke 24:32, Acts 2:37)

5b. I believe, that God, in His Eternal Covenant, as the Scripture says, predestined for adoption as sons that Remnant which He chose for His Own special people, before the worlds were formed.
( Romans 8:28-30, Galatians 4:5, I Kings 19:18, Ephesians 1:3-11,II Thessalonians 2:13, Matthew 25:31-34, II Timothy 1:9 )

5c. I believe that we must agree with God that we are in need of Christ's atoning work on the earth and on the cross to save us from the consequences of our sins, but that the "new heart" must first be given, before we "will" agree.
( Romans 10:10-15, Isaiah 64:6,7, Philippians 3:8-11, Psalm 51, Ezekiel 36:25-27,11:19,20, Colossians 1:9, Titus 3:5, Genesis 3*)

6. I believe that Christ, the Son, died, that He was forsaken by God the father, that His physical body was buried in the grave, and that after three days, He rose again, in His physical body* along with many of the saints who had fallen asleep, and ascended, in a cloud, to the Fathers right Hand, at which time He began His reign, which according to Scripture*, will last forever!
( Matthew 27:46, Psalm 22, Luke 23:50-55, 11:51, Psalm 16:10, John 2:19-22, Matthew 27:52,53, Acts 1:9-11, Daniel 7:13,14, Revelation 20:4, 22:1-5, Hebrews 8:8-12, Isa. 60:19,20 II Peter 1:11 , )

7. I believe He returned to that same wicked generation, as the Scriptures prophesied, to judge apostate* Israel, and to open the way for the new and better covenant, in the destruction of the Jewish Temple and the changing of the covenant economy.
( Matthew 10:23, 16:28,Matthew 24, 26:64, Luke 17:20-37, Isaiah 1:25,26, 5:24, John 4:19-24, Hebrews 7:18-22, 8:1,2 )

8. I believe in one baptism; that of and by the Holy Spirit, and with fire*.
( Ephesians 4:5, John 1:26-33, Luke 3:16, Psalm 66:11,12 )

9. I believe in a spiritual communion of the saints ( Christ's Body ), by means of fellowship and worship of the One, True God, in Spirit and in Truth.
( Matthew 18:20, Acts 20:7, Romans 14:17-21, Leviticus 26:12, John 4:23,24 )

10. I believe that, as time goes by, sanctified ( Spirit-led ) man will increase in knowledge of the One, True God, and in righteousness, and that, finally, all knees will bow before God, and acknowledge Him as Lord and Creator.
( II Corinthians 9:10, Isaiah 9:7, Colossians 1:9,10, Philippians 2:10, Isaiah 45:23, Revelation 13:8 )

by God's Grace
Charles Shank

1*. questionable, this portion not found in certain older texts.
2*. universe
4* common to all human beings.
6*. His human body, I believe was reanimated when He rose from the tomb, but shed when He ascended to the Father.* Luke 19:12-27
7*. their rejection of Christ was the final "straw" ( read Josephus' "Antiquities" for more info ).
8*. trials, tribulation.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

so, you think English is easy?

You Think English is Easy???

Read to the end . . a new twist to an oldie

Can you read these right the first time?

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.

2) The farm was used to produce produce.

3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

4) We must polish the Polish furniture.

5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.

6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present .

8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

10) I did not object to the object.

11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row

13) They were too close to the door to close it.

14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.

15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Let's face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither fromGuinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all That is why, when the stars are out, they are visib le, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

PS. - Why doesn't "Buick" rhyme with "quick"

You lovers of the English language might enjoy this .

There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is"UP."

It's easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP? At a meeting, why does a topic come UP? Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report?

We call UP our friends. And we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver, we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car. At other times the little word has real special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses. To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed UP is special.

And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP. We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.

We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP! To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4th of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions. I f you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more. When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP. When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP .

When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things UP.

When it doesn't rain for awhile, things dry UP.

One could go on and on, but I'll wrap it UP, for now my time is UP, so........... it is time to shut UP.....!

Oh . . one more thing:

What is the first thing you do in the morning & the last thing you do at night? U-P

A Spiritual Body

A Spiritual Body

What does Paul mean, in I Corinthians 15:44, by saying that, “there is a natural body and there is a spiritual body.”?

There have been several different theories as to what Paul meant by this. One is that Paul is speaking here of a 'special', physical nonetheless, body that we will be clothed with in Heaven, another is similar; that, at physical death, we will be 'further clothed' with our 'habitation ( or dwelling ) from heaven'.
Up until about a week ago, I would have been fairly comfortable in purporting this second view, although not at all the first; but now think, upon further examination, and illumination, I believe, from the Holy Spirit; that all Paul is talking about here, is the spiritual 'change' that we undergo, at the moment of 'Immaculate Reception'!
In other words, I have now come to believe that the 'spiritual body' that Paul talks about in I Corinthians 15 is 'merely' the opposite of the 'natural man, or body, that he speaks of in chapter 2 of the same book, or letter!

As we look at the Greek word psuchikos which is translated 'natural' throughout Paul's letter; we see that, while it does have more of a 'physical' meaning, or connotation; in the context, especially of verse 14 of chapter 2; it doesn't make much sense to apply the literal, 'physical' meaning; otherwise, none of us would have any hope of understanding anything of a spiritual nature, while we are in this 'tent'!

On the other hand, and this is part of my reason too, for crying 'Context, context!'; the Greek word pneumatikos, translated 'spiritual' here, and everywhere else in the Greek New ( er ) Testament that the word is found; speaks of the 'change' of nature that occurs when an individual receive Christ into his 'heart of flesh', as Ezeekiel recounts in Ezekiel 36:26.

When Paul says that 'it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body', I don't think that he is speaking of separation from our spirit, or life-force ( Ecclesiastes 12:6,7 ), but rather of our dieing, in Christ, to our 'old man', or, our 'carnal nature'.

Jesus also speaks to this effect, in the third chapter of John, when He told Nicodemus, who thought that Jesus was saying that, to enter the Kingdom, you had to be physically reborn; that 'unless one is born of water ( the natural birth ) and the Spirit ( Matt. 3:11 ), he cannot enter the kingdom of God.' Jesus had to further clarify, with this statement, to make clear in Nicodemus' mind that He was NOT talking here about a physical, but rather, a spiritual 'change'!

I think that many of us ( me included, for all of my adult life, up until a few weeks ago ) have affixed this same 'natural' conclusion to the 'change' that Paul speaks of in I Corinthians 15:52, et al. Some would argue, and believe me; I've thought about this, that the 'spiritual' change had already happened to those pre-AD70 saints. Well; yes and no; the book of the Acts ( or the history of the genesis of the institutional church ) has a lot to say on this matter, but for the sake of time and space, we'll just look here at a few references from Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians, and from Peter's first epistle.
Paul tells the Thessalonican believers that “we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede ( go before-where? ) those who are asleep”.
Peter tells the recipients of his first letter that, 'you are being built up a spiritual house................. '( John 14, II Corinthians 5 )

I think, and I'll not touch much on whatever else the 'transition period' between 33 and 70AD may have been, or meant to those who were alive at the that time; that this so-called 'transition period' was, not only what I like to call 'the changing of the guard', or the period of inauguration of the New ( er ) Covenant; but, more than that, a time of purification by trials and testings of His special people ( I Peter 2:9 ), not unlike it's typification under Moses in the 'wilderness, before they were allowed to enter the Promised Land, which, itself was a type of Heaven, or, the Rest ( Hebrews 4 ) that we now enjoy in Christ!

Going back to our main thesis; we notice, in verse 49 of I Corinthians 15, that Paul tells them that 'as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall bear the image of the heavenly Man' ( an interesting note on this passage; the Majority text, upon which the Authorized Version is largely based, replaces the last part of this verse with, 'let us also bear the image of the heavenly Man' )
I've already discussed with several people that I believe that the 'image of God in which He created Adam, or man; was the ability to have dominion; so, if that is the case; is the 'image of Christ' here in I Corinthians, the same as the 'image of God' in Genesis 1? Has God re-created man ( II Corinthians 5:17 ) in His image, so that we could fulfill His purpose in making man in the first place?

I've always looked at this next verse, as further reiterating the Scriptural idea that our physical bodies will not inhabit Eternity, or Heaven; but last night, I had yet another 'revelation'!
Paul tells his 'brethren', in verse 50, that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.”
With a surface reading of this verse, we might get the idea that I outlined above, but when taken in context with Paul's usage of the word 'flesh, especially in Romans 8; it takes on a whole new aspect!
Paul tells the saints in Rome that “those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

Well; I guess that does it! There's just no pleasing God until we 'shuffle off this mortal coil', right?
We should hope that that's not the case! I think that we can all agree that Paul is not saying here that those who are physically alive cannot please God, but rather that those who 'live after the flesh', or live to indulge our fleshly nature, are 'dead while we live'!
Paul clears this up in the next verse, when he tells them, “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you...........”

So, if Paul 'simply' means our sinful nature, here in Romans 8:8,9, by his use of the word 'flesh', why wouldn't he mean the same 'flesh' in I Corinthians 15?

The Greek word sarx, used in all but two instances by Paul, and translated 'flesh' in his letters; does have a literal meaning of 'flesh, as stripped off the bone', but also, according to my Strong's Concordance, a meaning of 'the human nature'.

For more instances, in Paul's letters, and otherwise, where 'flesh' doesn't necessarily mean 'flesh'; look at, Romans 7:5, all of chapter 8,13:14,I Corinthians 1:26, 5:5, II Corinthians 1:17, 5:16a, 10:2,3b, 1:13, Galatians 5:17,19,24, 6:8, Ephesians 2:11a, I Peter 3:18,21,4:1a,2,6, and II Peter 2:10.

There is more that could have been written here, but for the sake of time and space, and that God's Name may be glorified, and not my own, through His Word; I will end here, with the admonition to be a Berean, and search the Scriptures, 'to see if these things are so'!

In His Kingdom and service,
Charles Shank

Monday, October 23, 2006

Mercy and Not Sacrifice (A Broken and a Contrite Heart)

First of all, let me ask you this: what does He mean by a broken and a contrite heart? To me, this is saying that we, who are prone to set our hearts on things of this world (including people), need to come to Christ with a heart that has been broken by the world, and truly sorrowful for having placed our hope and trust in temporal, and not eternal things.

Luke 15:11-32 : This parable tells the story of what our Father in heaven did, and does for us(I Tim.1:15, Luke 15:20-24). As the father of the prodigal (wasteful)son, ran to his son, so our Father comes to us, in the form of His Son Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:9), and as the father in this parable killed the fatted calf, so our Father killed the Lamb, for our sins. We are born, or were born, sons of God, but, since the Fall(Genesis 3),we are born in sin, and living prodigally (wastefully), like the son in the parable, until the Father, again in the form of Jesus Christ His Son, comes to us (Ezekiel 36:25-27, John 14:6),and we come to our senses and are found worthy, through Christ, to be called sons once more.

Now, the second son, the one who stayed and was faithful (at least outwardly), I think can be likened to those who have their own righteousness(i.e. those who think that by obeying the letter of the law, they will be saved; Luke 18:10-14,18-21). Instead of trusting in our obedience to the law for our salvation, as the Pharisee in Luke 18:10-14, the rich young ruler in Luke 18:18-21,and the elder son in Luke 15:29 did, we should trust in our Fathers mercy to take us back into His kingdom, as did the father in our parable take his wayward son back into his household. Now, you may ask yourself why the elder son was angry, in verse 28. This is explained further, in verses 29 and 30, but I think we may also return to the Old Testament for the reason.

Turn to Genesis 4:1-16. This is a somewhat different situation, but I think it can be applied here as well. I believe that God accepted Abels sacrifice over Cains, not necessarily because of what he did or didnt offer, but in the attitude in which he offered (Psalm 40:6, Proverbs 21:3, Hebrews 10:5-9). Because of the way that Cain and the elder son acted (Genesis 3:5-9, Luke 15:28-30), we can surmise that their condition was present beforehand; that condition being sin. Just like Cain hated Abel because he did not think that Abels sacrifice was any more worthy of being accepted than his, so the elder son was angry and hated his younger, prodigal brother because he, although he had not been obedient all his life like his older brother (Luke 15:29), his sacrifice(Luke 15:18-19,Psalm 51:17) was accepted. So we see that the elder son was angry because his sacrifice of obedience to the letter of the law (verse 29) was not accepted, or so he thought, while his brothers sacrifice(Psalm 51:17, Luke 15:18-19) was, and because, in a way, he was a son of Cain, and his father before him, Satan! The Fathers response, in verse 31, is the same as Jesus response to the wayward disciple in John 12:4-8, and in His response to the disciples of John in Matthew 9:14-15, so let us take a lesson from this, and not be as the elder son, but make our sacrifice as God desires, as the Psalmist says in Psalm 51:17, and as the Apostle Paul said in Romans 12:1, a sacrifice of a broken and a contrite heart and a life of service to Him!

And finally let us thank and praise our Father in Heaven that He has come to us, who were dead, and made us alive in Christ, and sought us when we were lost, and now by His amazing grace, We are found!

We Will Not Have This Man...

[This is a paper that I wrote about 3-4 years ago.]

I Samuel 8:4-8, Matthew 2:1-18, Matthew 22:1-14, Mark 12:1-12, Luke 4:16-29, Luke 19:12-14, Luke 23:16-25, John 8:31-59, John 19:1-18

Here, in our first noted scripture passage, we have the first of many of Israel’s rejections of God as their leader. No, the people didn’t flat-out reject Jehovah as their King, but, as God points out later on in the passage, their asking for an earthly ruler was a rejection, not of Samuel, but of Himself. In another vein, turn with me to Exodus 32:1-8. This I think, shows what man will do when left to his own devices. It is our nature to want to see what we are following, as Aaron, knowing what the children of Israel sought, said “this is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt”. It is not in our weak human nature, to trust in something we cannot touch, feel, or see.

In the next quoted passage, we see recorded the events immediately following on the birth of our Savior. Now, granted, this does not say that the whole nation of Israel rejected God as their King, but “when Herod (one of a long line of Israelite kings who rejected Jehovah) heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him”, I think we can cite this passage as an example of the rejection of our God by Old Covenant Israel.

The next passage here cited, although a parable, is given by Jesus as an example of the kingdom of heaven, (wow, think of the ramifications of that!). He is saying here, in fairly plain terms, that the nation of Israel, “those who were invited, were not worthy”, and also, further on in the passage, “Many are called, but few are chosen”. Now who was first called but the Old Covenant nation of Israel?

In our fourth noted passage, we have yet another parable of our Lord, where He likens the kingdom of heaven to a vineyard. Here I think we can say, with no hesitation that the owner of this vineyard is none other than our Lord, entrusting His law and promises to the Old Covenant people of Israel, who, when He returned to gather His tithe of obedience, was rejected and killed (as per Mark 15:6-14).

In the fifth passage, we see recorded an instance of the rejection of our Lord by His own family and neighbors, who were so enraged by His proclamation of the Truth (that He was the promised Messiah), that "they thrust Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city stood, and endeavored to throw Him over the cliff!"

In this, the sixth passage, and the one from which I derived the title to this study, we find another parable, this one commonly called "The Parable of the Talents”. I would liken these “talents” to Jehovah’s giving of the law and promises to His servants, the Old Covenant children of Israel, who, while some cultivated their talents, the rest hid their talent under ”a bushel” per se. I think the crux of this passage is found in verse 14, “But His citizens sent a delegation after Him saying, ‘We will not have this Man to reign over us’”. After He had decided the judgement, He told His worthwhile servants to “bring those who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me”. In essence, this was God’s rejection of Old Covenant Israel, as the Pharisees shrewdly saw in the fourth passage that we cited.

In our seventh passage, we have the record of an event immediately preceding the crucifixion of our Lord. Here, the Roman authority even gives the people a second chance to accept their Leader, but even after this “second chance”, the people further incriminated themselves by saying, “away with this Man and release to us Barabbus”, and “let His blood be upon us and our children“!

In our eighth passage, here cited, we have yet another instance of the rejection of our Lord by His people, even “those Jews who believed Him”! In this passage, besides seeing that Old Covenant Israel was not necessarily the “children of Abraham”, we see that even when, or maybe because, Jesus offered to set them free, they again rejected the proffered gift, relying instead on the fact that “We have one father…”, but, because Jesus told them who their father really was, and because He again claimed His Kingship over them, they tried again to kill Him.

In our ninth and final quoted passage, we see that the Roman authorities, although they found nothing incriminatory in Jesus, and were willing to let Him go with just a scourging, were nevertheless obliged by the people to hand Him over to be crucified.
This was the ultimate and final rejection of our Lord by Old Covenant Israel, when the people said “we have no king but Caesar”. ( I Sam. 8:4-8 )

Let us, as New Covenant Israel, not make the mistake of rejecting Him as did Old Covenant Israel, but let us rest in Him as our “All in All”, in His promises and in His blood!

Monday, October 16, 2006

A 'Focus on the Physical'-Extended Version

We saw, in the first installment, how a 'Focus on the Physical' was detrimental; in fact, I would venture to say; it was the biggest impediment ( physically speaking ), to the relationship between Israel and God.

We now come to the second, and final installment, wherein I will try to show how, as I hinted at in the first, it was, and is not, a problem associated only with national, physical Israel; but continued after the Biblical record was finished, and continues still today, not only among those of the dispensational camp, but in the Reformed ( including Presbyterian, Lutheran, etc. ), and even among the preterist camp!

First; I will try to show how those of the dispensational camp err, in much the same way, unfortunately, as those physical Israelites that are described in the Scriptures; in their own 'Focus on the Physical'!

I have not studied much in the way of 'A History of Dispensationalism', but from my dealing with those I know ( and love ) , I deduce that the main premise behind all, or most, of their theological 'wranglings' is the fact that, since the OT passages on the subject 'seem' to say that Christ would rule, on this earth, from a physical Jerusalem and this has not happened yet ( not that they can 'see' anyway ( II Kings 6:17 ), that those passages, including those in the New (er) Testament, must be speaking of a 'yet future' event, an event sometime in the near future, because we are now 'seeing' the events described in Matt. 24, and like passages, happening in our world today!

Let's take a look now, at some of these passages that 'seem' to say that Christ will rule from a future, physical Jerusalem ( which He is!-Rev. 11:15 ), or Zion.

Psalm 2 is the first of these that we'll look at; God says, in verse six, “Yet ( Hebrew-iteration or continuance ) have I set ( Hebrew-to pour out ( as a libation ), or to cast ( as metal ) My King on My holy hill of Zion”

I think that we can all agree that Christ is spoken of here, in the greatest sense ; but remember too that David, as a type of Christ, had already been set in the ( Holy ) city of Zion, in the primary, historical fulfillment of this prophecy ( II Samuel 5:7 ).
I don't want to get into a types and anti-types discussion here, but it seems to me that the physical types that were presented under the Old Covenant pointed toward, not only Christ, or, the Messiah; but to a spiritual anti-type ( I Cor. 15:45,46 ).

The second passage that we'll look at here, is Psalm 110, where David has recorded that famous portion of Scripture that Paul quotes in I Cor. 15:25, “The Lord ( God, the Father ) said unto my Lord ( God, the Son ), Sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies Your footstool.” He goes on, in verse two, to say, “The Lord shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion: Rule in the midst of Your enemies.”

Now this, as above, I think can be applied, somewhat, to David's kingship, for he did indeed, rule from Zion, in the midst of his enemies ( he was beset on all sides, if memory serves me! ), but unlike the previous passage, it's a little harder to see that, and indeed, I would venture to say that this passage is primarily speaking of the coming reign of Messiah: but you also can get a hint of the continuity between David's reign, and the reign of the coming Messiah, or Christ!
Our next passage, probably equally as famous, comes from Isaiah 2; from which I must quote a lengthier portion. Beginning with verse two, Isaiah records a word from the Lord; “Now, it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord's house ( John 14:2 ) shall be established on the top ( Hebrew-to shake; the head (as, most easily shaken ) of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow ( Hebrew-to sparkle,ie, to be cheerful-assemble ) to it.”
“Many people ( Hebrew-a people ( as a congregated unit ); a tribe ( as of Israel ) ) shall come and say, 'Come, let us go to the mountain of the Lord ( Psalm 48:1,2 ), to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.' “
“For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”
“He shall judge between the nations ( Hebrew-( in the sense of a massing ), a foreign nation ), and rebuke many people; They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
“O house of Jacob, come and let us walk in the light of the Lord.” ( Matt.5:14-16,
John 8:12, 9:5 )

Granted; in this passage, God does say that His house will be established on the top of the mountains ( which, in itself is interesting; because, how can you establish a house on the top ( singular ) of the mountains ( plural ), and that the word of the Lord will go forth from Jerusalem; but it also says, in the last verse of this passage, 'let us walk in the light of the Lord'. This reminds me of passages like I Corinthians 15:34, Ephesians 5:1-8,I John 1:7, and Revelation 21:23. John 14:2, I Peter 2:5, and Revelation 21:3, which tell us 'what' this 'house' comprises, and where it is!

For sake of time, I'll move quickly through the next example that 'seems' to say that Christ will rule from an earthly Jerusalem, or Zion.

I almost do this passage injustice, to move through it so quickly, because it is so clearly linked to the prophecy in Matt. 24; but, Isaiah 24:23 says, “then the moon will be disgraced, and the sun ashamed; for the Lord of Hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before His elders, gloriously!”

I am reminded, when I read this passage, of Joseph's dream, in Genesis 37:9,10. When Joseph told his dream to his father and brothers, his father knew exactly what he was talking about; “Shall your mother and I, and your brothers indeed come and bow down before you?” The latter part of verse 23; “He shall reign .......... before His elders.......”, immediately brings Revelation 4:10 and 5:6-10 to mind.

We'll just take a quick look at the next passage, Micah 4; because it's identical, up to verse 4, with a passage that I've already quoted, Isaiah 2: ; the difference being, of course, that verses 4 and 5 are reminiscent of Isa 65:20-23, Matt. 10:28, and Rev. 22:15, while 6 and 7 bring to mind the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ, and the parable of the wedding feast, in Matt. 22:1-14 and His remonstrances to His would-be disciples in Luke 14:12-14.
I don't want to go into too much detail here, but I think His point in these passages is just the same as His point all throughout Scripture, but especially in Deuteronomy 7:7,8. My purpose here is not to go into a lengthy exegesis on any certain subject, or passage in the Scriptures; but rather to simply show how these 'seemingly' physical sounding verses, all find their fulfillment in the reign ( present tense ) of Jesus Christ, in and through His Church, or, the New Jerusalem!

A quick look at Zephaniah 3:15-17, tells us that God ( Christ ) is in our midst, a fact that is echoed in Rev.7:15 and 21:3, and remember too, that Paul tells us, in Acts 17:24, that 'God ............. .does not dwell in temples made with hands', and that he prayed, in Ephesians 3:14-19, Paul told them that he prayed that God would grant that Christ may dwell in their hearts. Does Christ actually dwell in our hearts, or is it just something we 'say'?

Zechariah 2:10, and 11, speak to the same effect, when God says, in verse 10, “behold, I am coming, and I will dwell in your midst”. He reiterates this in verse 11, by saying ( and I must quote the whole verse here ), “Many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and they shall become My people; And I will dwell in your midst” This reminds me, instantly, of passages like Hosea 2:23, Isaiah 49:6, 60:3, and Gen. 12:2,3.

We now come to our final portion of Old Covenant Scripture here, Matt.24.

Whoah; you say; Matt. 24 is in the New Testament! That's true, but I think, that in the greatest sense, this passage is in the same genre as the passages that I quoted above, and the many that I didn't! I will spend a bit more time on this passaage, for, in my view, this is where our dispensational, and even our Reformed, brethren make their greatest ( some might even say, 'gravest' ) mistake! I'm going to quote just a few of the more key verses.

“Now, as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, 'Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?
Jesus begins His answer to their query by telling ( warning ) them of many 'portents' that will precede His coming; one of which is that 'this gospel of the kingdom must be preached in all the world ( Gen 12:3 ), as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come',
Jesus goes on to tell them that 'they' will undergo much tribulation from the 'world', but also reminds them, in John 16:33, to 'be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.'!
Then, in verse 27, Jesus begins to describe His coming, and in verse 29, when that coming would happen; “Immediately after the tribulation of those days ( mentioned in the previous paragraph and verses 15 through 22 ), the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give it's light ( remember Joseph's dream in Genesis 37? Also see Rev. 21:23 and I Cor. 15:36 ); the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken”
“Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heave ............... and they will see the Son of Man, coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory!”
Verses 22 and 23 are two of their ( Dispesationalists ) favorite verses to show that Christ must indeed , be coming soon, and that this is, what some term, the 'terminal generation' ( more on that in a bit ) .
Jesus told His disciples that when they saw the fig tree ( taken to represent the 'physical' nation of Israel ) putting forth leaves, then they knew that summer was close at hand; and that, when they see all these things ( 'gospel ..........preached in all the world', sun and moon failing, etc. ), know that it ( He ) is near-at the doors '!
( James 5:9 ) We now come, I think, to the hardest verse, if they're honest with themselves, to answer; 34!

'Assuredly I say to you; this generation ( Greek-a generation ( by implication ) an age-the period or the persons ) will by no means pass away till all these things take place.'
To make the Coming of Jesus future, the dispensationalist must 'wrangle' this passage, so that Jesus either said that the race ( Greek-genos ) of the 'physical' Jew would not die out till then, or that the generation that 'sees' these things will not pass away till Christ comes!

Ok, now a little commentary on 'the terminal generation': I think that I have clarified fairly well why I believe that the language of Mathew 24 ( in particular, verses 27-30 ) is not meant to be taken literally, in a scientifically precise way, but that Jesus was merely using the 'colorful' and hyperbolic poetry of the Old Testament prophets ( there are many more examples of this ) to show what was going to happen to Jerusalem, and 'all these', as would also be witnessed by 'some standing here' ( or there ).

I guess my question for those of the dispensational camp would be, "If Jesus, when referring to 'this generation'; was speaking of a generation thousands of years in the future, why would He give false hope to those in the first century, thus leading them to believe that they were, indeed, 'the terminal generation'?

Ok, enough 'picking on' the dispensationalists's: now; on to the Reformed Protestants!

The Reformed faith, for the most part, I believe, agrees with what we've discussed concerning the Old Testament passages; it's when we come to Matt. 24 that we must part ways, I fear!

One of the most popular views that I've heard, is that the disciples asked Jesus two separate questions in verse 3. ( I've heard that they might have asked three )

The only two possible questions that I could reasonably see, are; 'When will these things be?', and 'What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?'
Even if these were two separate questions, which I don't believe; Jesus answers any and all questions that they might have had, again, in verse 34!

“Assuredly ( no doubt whatsoever! ) I say to you, this ( present ) generation shall not pass away, till ALL these things ( verse 3 ) take place”.

It just boggles the mind, how some people can get past this verse!

Another argument that I've heard from the Reformed camp, is that Matt. 24 is split at verse 36, with the previous 35, in answer to the supposed first and third ( or maybe just the first ) question ( s? ) of the disciples, referring to 'these things' ( verse 2 ), and verse 36 through 51, speaking of the second (and possibly the third ) question. The problem that I see with this argument, is that verse 30, in the latter part, says that, 'immediately after the tribulation of those days ...........................they will see the Son of Man, coming on the clouds of heaven.'

However; it not being my purpose in this paper to present an apology for 'Fulfilled Eschatology, but rather to prove that the “Focus on the Physical” is back of most, if not all, error in the Church, up to the present time; I will stop there, for now, and 'focus' on why, I believe, that some 'preterist' brethren are wrong in their 'focus'.

At the time of this writing, there is a debate going on, within the ranks of 'preterism', about whether there was a 'physical', literal rapture of pre-AD70 saints, some of whom were still alive (John 21:22, I Thess 4:17, or whether the 'rapture' was, more or less, a 'merely' spiritual 'change' ( I Cor. 15:52, John 5:24-29 ).

I will acknowledge that there are 'some' passages that 'seem' to say that the saints who had 'fallen asleep' would be raise physically at Christ's coming; the most famous of these being I Thess. 4:15-17. which we will quickly review here;

“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede ( go before ) those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead ( Greek-a corpse ) in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

You could 'see' where this passage, along with some others, admittedly, could be taken to say that those first-century saints were physically taken up to be with our Lord; but there's where the problem comes in! It seems to me, that if we would make “we ............... will be caught up” to be speaking in a physical sense, then we must take Jesus' language in Matt. 24, et al, in a physical sense.

Jesus said, in John 5:24, “Most assuredly ( really, emphatically, no doubt at all! ), I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me HAS everlasting life, and shall not come into ( the ) judgment, but HAS PASSED from death into life.”
Interesting language here; “has passed from death into life', for the first-century believers had, at the moment of conversion, especially those who converted from the Jewish faith, went from being under 'the ministration of death' ( II Cor. 3:7 ) to being 'in' Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life!

I will not deny that something out of the ordinary DID happen, concerning a 'rapture' in AD70 though, because; where Jesus said in the next verse that 'the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.'( speaking, I believe of the Light, or Life that He brought to the world! ), He says, three verses later, that, “the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth, those who have done good, to a resurrection of Life, and those who have done evil, to a resurrection of condemnation ( Matt. 13:24-30 ), thereby making a distinction between what was going on at that time ( a 'spiritual' resurrection- this could also be taken as referring to Lazarus, 'whom Jesus ( physically ) raised from the dead' ), and something that would happen at the culmination of His Parousia, so that they 'would always be with the Lord'!
I think that Paul was reminding them, in other words, of our Lord's promise to Martha that 'he who lives and believes in Me, shall never die' ( John 11:26 )

What's interesting in the story of Lazarus' being raised from the dead, is that neither Jesus or John ever refers to Lazarus' 'dead' body as as 'a corpse', even though Jesus admitted to the disciples that 'Lazarus is dead'. while the apostle Paul, in Romans 8:10, says that our body is a 'corpse' because of sin!

More could be written on this subject, but I think that I will end by reminding all of my readers, that, whether they be dispensational, Reformed, or preterist with “A Focus on the Physical'; that I consider you all my brothers ( and sisters ) in Christ, or the Kingdom!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Lake of Fire

Hey y'all, I was preparing the second (and final) installment of 'A
Focus on the Physical' last night, and just happened to be reading in The Book of Revelation, and 'just happened' to notice something interesting about those who were consigned to the 'Lake of Fire', which is the second death.

Rev. 21:8 says that 'the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone; which is the second death'. Then, over in 22:15, John records that, 'outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolators and whoever loves and practices a lie.' Notice the similarities between the two?

Based on this realization, I would venture to say that Gen. 3:22-24 is the typification of 'The Lake of Fire' in the OT, interesting, huh?

Are all those 'outside' the boundaries of the New Jerusalem (as per Rev. 22:15), i.e., The Church catholic, or invisible, in the 'Lake of Fire'?

In Christ,
Charles Shank

Take It Easy

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Rick Mathes: A Simmering Volcano

America is in an epidemic of crime that is sweeping the inner-cities and playing on the young minorities to “join the family.” In St. Louis as well as in other major cities the majority of children are born to fatherless homes and ironically most black men killed are murdered by black men. And our prisons are disproportionately populated by a black population. And now the nation of Islam is sweeping up those that our educational system and racial prejudices have left behind. How can anyone be surprised that minority retribution is cloaking itself within the blessings of Allah? Dumbing-down is backfiring!

Financed by the white suburban addicts buying up all the “white” heroin and meth anyone can produce, these home grown terrorists are raping and pillaging their own neighborhoods as gang after gang hook up with radical Muslims that will not denounce their evil intentions. The silence of the American Muslim community is deafening. Is anyone awake? The volcano is about to explode.

Prisons are a breeding ground for those who have found violence, crime and drug dealing as a way out of the ghetto. When an inmate is released to society he returns to those “who will take care of him” and stands proudly as a parole that has “earned his stripes.” The young gangsters look up to him and all that he has learned while incarcerated by the “Department of Education.” (Or was that Department of Corrections?) The system doesn’t work and more of what doesn’t work, won’t work!

It has been estimated that at the rate of “black flight” from St. Louis, by the year 2037 the last porch light will go out. The city will be desolate and the suburbs will be the new battle ground. That won’t happen but we can’t ignore those that are left behind and the fractured families that are at the mercy of the militant Muslims that make “Osama bin Laden” look like “Mr. Rogers.”

American terrorists are finding their way into the Muslim community and masking their violence and crime with the blessings of Allah. The Koran points the way to a “better society” that excludes those who don’t believe (infidels). So all those unbelievers are the enemy and the victory must go to Allah no matter what it takes or who it harms in the process.

The fatal attraction is not in some far distant country, it is in our cities.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

A Focus On The Physical

This, I believe, is one of those long overdue papers, not just in the sense that I have been talking about writing it for a good while now (and this may come as a shock to some of my readers, while others it may not), but also because I have come to believe that it is one of the major discrepancies in the Church, over the ages!

This began long before, as some would argue, the Church ever began, in the Garden of Eden, with our first parents, Adam and Eve. Yes, we can hear the argument now; “ But Adam and Eve were tempted by the serpent (Satan?); that's why they fell; not because of some 'Focus on the Physical'! Let me explain myself; no one will disagree, I think, that God was actually, literally, 'in' the Garden; “And they heard the sound of the Lord God, walking in the Garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the 'presence' of the Lord God, among the trees of the Garden” (Gen. 3:8), so I think we can safely say, that although we all know that God is a Spirit, from other parts of Scripture, God was as surely 'present' there as Adam and Eve were! But, could Adam 'see' God? I don't think so! Some of you may have an inkling now, of where I'm leading with this: Do you think that Eve was 'enticed' by the serpent, just because he contradicted what they had been told; “in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die?" I think Eve was 'enticed' by the 'serpent' because he was something that she could 'sink her teeth into!'

Now, I purposely said it that way for several reasons, one of which I'll reveal; I believe that the fruit, that so ensnared the mother of us all, was part of this 'Focus on the Physical', of which I am speaking! The fruit (apple, pear, etc.), was something, along with the serpent, that she could 'see', and as we humans can all attest to, it's easy to believe in something that we can see; it's human nature! (John 20:29)

For our next example of a “Focus on the Physical' leading us astray; we turn forward several thousand years, to the Exodus. We all know of the story of the golden calf; you probably see where I'm going with this, but the golden calf 'came about' because of the peoples focus on things that they could 'see'. Moses, even though he would have explained to them that it was God, not he, who had led them out of captivity, and done so many miraculous things that they could 'see', was gone, for all that they knew, he could have died up on top of that mountain, where all those thunderings and lightings were taking place. So they asked Aaron, who should have known better (yes, he was focused on the physical as well, he was probably afraid that those people were going to kill him if he didn't do what they asked!), “Come, make us gods that shall go before us, for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him”, and 'forced' Aaron to make a 'god' for them, that they could 'see', although I don't really think that they had to 'twist his arm'!

For our next example of how a focus on the physical led to a big heap of trouble, we'll fast-forward another couple hundred years or so, to the time just before the (human) kings began to reign in Israel. Samuel was doing a pretty good job of being God's representative (remember Moses?) here on earth, but the children of Israel decided that they wanted a king that they could 'see', just like all the nations around them .

I will say this for them, they asked for another ruler because Samuel was getting old, and the judges that he appointed, didn't rule like he did, but I think that they were just used to the way Samuel ruled them, because God, who knows the heart, told Samuel, “they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them”.

Our next example, and I'll try to go rather quickly, and sparsely, over these, for sake of time; is found, just a few decades later, during the reign of David, and chronicled in II Samuel 24.

"And the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say; Go, and number Israel and Judah."

Now, in the first place; we could well ask, 'Why was the anger of the Lord aroused against Israel?'

Let's take a look at the previous chapter; what had happened in this chapter (23) that might anger the Lord? If you'll take a look at this chapter, you'll see that it is a listing of all of David's 'mighty men'; and what does David say about his 'mighty men? To 'cut things short' here, David says, of his house (hold); “He who rules over men, must be just, ruling in the fear of God.” (v. 3) This David says that he has from the Holy Spirit.

Although my house is not so with God, yet He has made with me an everlasting covenant.” (v.5) This is all well and good, because, even though we don't/didn't deserve God's grace, yet He established His Eternal Covenant with us!

But the man who touches them (of my house) must be armed with iron, and the shaft of a spear”; then David, or rather, his chronicler, goes on, listing David's 'mighty men', and along with this list; records the interesting story of what happened at the well in Bethlehem. I've always thought it interesting, why David would lay a guilt trip like that on his 'mighty men', and then refuse to drink, when they actually brought him what he wanted! Was David being self-righteous, like his 'son', Ahaz, quite a few years (generations) later (Isaiah 7:12), or was he 'testing' his men's loyalty, to see how far they would actually go in their service to him? I would say, probably yes, to both of these; but I would tend further to say that David was getting a little prideful in his 'mighty men'!

We all know what God has to say in the Scriptures, and there are many we could look at, about 'pride', but for sake of time and space, we'll just site one; Solomon later wrote, maybe thinking of this particular 'blunder' of his father's, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)

So, now that we've seen why the Lord might have been angered, yet again, with His People, Israel; we turn now to why this (numbering/census) might have caused the Lord to levy the punishment upon Israel that He did, later on.

There is no place in Scripture, that I could find, that expressly forbids the taking of census, or numbering the people; in fact, somewhat the opposite, as we see in Exodus 30:12, for the purpose of taxation; Numbers 1:2,3, for the purposes of war; Numbers 3:15, for the purpose of service; and etc.

So, how did David sin in numbering Israel? I think that David became prideful of all that the Lord had blessed him with, because they (his house) were something that he could 'see', and as I've said before, we humans have a 'natural' tendency to trust what we can 'see', rather than what we can't, necessarily, see! (II Kings 6:17, John 20:28)

We now turn to the New(er) Testament, for a few more Biblical examples of where a 'Focus on the Physical' had terrible, and long-lasting repercussions!

This should be fairly easy to figure out; from the beginning of their long, and somewhat scandalous, history, the children of Israel had a problem with this 'Focus on the Physical', as I've already shown, in but a few of the many examples that we have available in Scripture: and it didn't get any better as time went on. The Pharisees, part of the ruling-class of the Jews, while they did reject Jesus, as the Christ, or Messiah, partially because He was 'physical', and claimed to be 'The Son of God', at the same time (John 11:33); their, including the rest of the Jews, main reason for rejecting Him, was that His kingship, or Kingdom, was not 'physical; His purpose in Coming was not to set up an earthly, or 'physical' kingdom, but a kingdom 'within' the hearts of true believers (John 18:36, Luke 17:20,21)!

This problem, as you can probably see for yourselves, was a problem, not only within the hearts and minds of the Pharisees,, and then, the rest of the Jews; but also one that the disciples of our Lord, themselves, had a 'problem' remembering, even though they 'walked' (Gen. 3:8) with Him, personally! Philip even asked Him to 'show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us'; the disciples even had a hard time believing that He was Who He said He was! (John 14:8)

In another sense, Peter's “Focus on the Physical' got him into a world of pain, worse than the 'physical' pain that he feared, in his infamous denial of our, and his, Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ! (Matthew 26:69-75, Mark 14:66-72, Luke 22:55-72, John 18:25-27).

Lastly, Martha, when told by Jesus that her 'sleeping' brother, Lazarus,, would rise again, which he did (physically) come back to life, but I don't think that He was speaking of his (physical) rising, for Jesus then told Martha, “I AM the Resurrection”, and I think that He was saying, not only that those who come to the Father through Him would be resurrected, but that Jesus Himself was actually THE resurrection, those found 'in' Him would never 'see' death (John 18:26, 5:24) !

This little 'study' of the 'Focus on the Physical' throughout the history of Israel, is by no means comprehensive (in fact, to some of you, it may be quite incomprehensible!) of the amount of Scripture that speaks of this 'problem' which, I believe, has plagued the Church, or Israel, down through the ages, and more study could, and probably should, be done on this subject, but this will have to suffice for now!