Isaiah 26:19 (Your Dead Shall Live)

Isaiah 26:19
Your Dead Shall Live

“Your dead shall live;
Together with my dead body they shall arise.
Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust;
For your dew is like the dew of herbs,
And the earth shall cast out the dead.” Isaiah 26:19

Isaiah 24-27 is referred to as “Isaiah’s Apocalypse.” There is judgment, woe, and death recorded there, but there is also restoration and life. Scholars argue over the context and whether the words are referring to an actual resurrection, or whether they are being used figuratively when speaking of enemies in a conflict.

For example, the words, “Your dead shall live,” could be speaking of actual dead, or it could be speaking of the state of Israel – in a dead condition and sorely needing revival.

The next words, “Together with my dead body they shall arise,” are more complicated. The words “Together with” are inserted and immediately give an impression not necessarily intended. The Hebrew reads “my dead body they shall arise.” Thus, it may be two separate clauses – “My dead body” and “they shall arise.”

In other words, “My dead body” is a singular construct and thus it would refer collectively to the dead of the Lord. Then as individuals “they shall arise,” being third person plural, would refer to each individual of that body arising. But what does it mean?

Again, this could be figurative language speaking of Israel in a hopeless condition but being spiritually revived – as in the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37. Or it could be referring to the actual dead of the Lord being brought back to life.

At the end of Isaiah’s apocalypse, in Isaiah 27, it refers to the great trumpet being blown that will bring Israel’s outcasts back to the land. That is echoed by Jesus in Matthew 24:31. Both speak of a time of great trouble for Israel, a time of hiding for the Lord’s people, and then a time of regathering of the people.

Having said that, there is no reason to not take this in both a literal and a figurative sense. Israel, as a nation, is seen as a template of what God does in Christ for the individual believer. As elsewhere, the words then could have a twofold significance.

The point and purpose of the coming of the Messiah is that of restoration and life. There is a problem that needs fixing, we cannot fix it, and the Lord sent Christ Jesus to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

Text Verse: “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.” 2 Corinthians 1:20

The day before typing this Resurrection Day sermon, after a long day of church, video editing, and so on, I was sitting at the table having dinner when Sergio emailed me and asked about this particular verse from 2 Corinthians. He said, “I’m not sure what it means in context. I’ve heard pastors take it out of context.” At first, that seems contradictory.

But he knew what they were saying was out of context, even if he couldn’t put his finger on what the correct context was. As I had lamb chop all over my fingers, and as I was wiped out from the day’s work, I simply punted and sent him the link to my 2 Corinthians commentary.

Five minutes later, he excitedly emailed back citing my commentary, “Christ is the incarnate answer to the promises of God.” He then said, “Woooooooooowwewww. It makes ALL the sense in the world now!!!! I have tears understanding this verse now!!!” His use of accompanying emoticons was quite impressive.

He then said, “All the pastors (and recent famous worship songs) I’ve heard made this verse about ‘me’ and ‘us.’ But it’s all about Christ! Fulfilled in Him!!!!”

With that, I really wanted to know what someone else had said about the verse to get him so inquisitive at 1am Israel time. His answer was –

“He said (paraphrase): ‘what’s your purpose in life? What’s your motive? It’s important to establish one! Paul’s purpose was to share the gospel amongst the nations while being imprisoned… but we are free. So, our purpose is to have eternal life, get better life, and get God’s promises for us. The promises of Yes, and Amen, and the spirit.”

With that, I called the analysis “minty bubbles.” They taste good, but they have no substance. The sad part was that he said it was a discipleship video for young believers.

The next morning, Sergio said he was still thinking about the verse from the night before. My response was, “Me too. The minty bubbles are not completely wrong, but they have come at the idea in the wrong way. If they are treating the reception of the promises as being first directed to us, it is a self-centered doctrine. If we acknowledge that all promises of God are fulfilled in Christ, then it is Christ-centered. The secondary reception is us. Obviously, there would be no need to send Jesus if we didn’t exist. But the purpose is not for us to be exalted or blessed apart from Christ. Rather, it is for us to exalt God because He did this for us through Jesus. We are the recipients, but the purpose is the glory of God.”

Whether Isaiah’s words immediately speak of a spiritually dead condition of Israel or not, they convey a literal truth that God has done something in the world of which we are the recipients of that effort.

It is true that there would have been no need for it to have been done if we didn’t exist. But the purpose of the doing wasn’t so that we would have abundance and prosperity. Rather, the purpose of what He has done is first and foremost to bring glory to Himself. The good that we receive is not the purpose, it is the result.

Today is Resurrection Day 2021. But Resurrection Day is a day that comes after Good Friday. There would have been no resurrection without Christ’s death first. And there would have been no need for Christ’s death if we weren’t already separated from God.

Let us remember this. What God has done is because we are in a pit, God promised to get us out of that pit, and God sent Jesus to make that possible. To God be the glory. This is a truth that is to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. Sadness at the Graveside

Regardless as to whether Isaiah’s words are to be taken figuratively, literally, or both, the fact that we could even debate them tells us that we have an understanding of what it means to die. And of that which results from death.

Taking the words and analyzing them from a negative perspective shows us this. In saying “Your dead shall live.” It means that something is dead. If we are talking about something that is dead, we are – by default – referring to something that was alive.

We don’t talk about rocks being dead. They were never alive, and so we don’t speak of them in that way. When someone says, “My car died,” it means that it has stopped running. It is not in the state it was intended to be. Such is the case with people. We are alive, and then we die.

To say “your dead” signifies a close and personal connection to the dead. If someone in Bolivia dies, there is nothing close and personal to us, unless we are from Bolivia. We wouldn’t say to a person from Czechoslovakia “your dead” when referring to the dead guy from Bolivia.

When the Lord, through Isaiah, says, “Your dead shall live,” it is confirming that there was a personal connection to the dead. If you take the Bible as the truth of man’s history on the earth, then you know that death was never the intent for people.

God created man for a particular purpose. In the Genesis narrative, when did He create the man? Was it on the first day? The second? The third? No. When God created man, it was on the sixth and final day of His creative effort. And not only did He do it on the sixth day, He did it at the end of the sixth day – after creating the land animals.

Man was the crowning aspect of the creation, the finishing touch. Everything was prepared for him first, and then the Lord God worked the dust, formed the man, and called him to life.

Chapter 2 of Genesis immediately began with –

“Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.” Genesis 2:1, 2

Only after stating that does it go back and fill in the information left out of Chapter 1. God created man on the sixth day, and then it says that He, the Lord, planted a garden in Eden and placed the man there.

The word used in Genesis 2:15 is yanakh. It means to lay down, set, and so on. It is from the same root as nuakh, or to rest. The verb, being causative, signifies that the Lord “rested” the man in the garden.

It then says that he was rested there for a purpose. Most translations say that the action was so that man could “tend and keep” the garden, but that is not the intent at all. Such a translation causes a gender discord between the verbs and the object of those verbs.

Also, if the man was rested in the garden, it would make no sense to have him tend the garden. This is especially so for two reasons.

The first is that man was created on the sixth day. The seventh day is a day of rest and that day, according to Hebrews 4:3, continues on forever. God worked and then rested. The second reason is that the man’s responsibility was not to the garden, but to God.

The man was not rested there to tend and keep the garden, but to worship and serve the Lord. This is the purpose of the Sabbath. The seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord. In Exodus, the Lord provided the manna for the people, and they were to rest, not work.

This was to recall to their minds the rest that man had lost. God created man at the end of His week of work. He rested the man in the garden after the work was complete. The relationship was to be one of worshiping and serving the Lord in intimate fellowship.

My friend Kyle picked up on this while watching the Genesis sermon and helped me to expand on it for this sermon. It is in this state of rest that man was to live. As it was in fellowship with God, the intent was that it was to be forever. But intent and result are not always the same. The Lord gave the man a choice, a garden of delight and life, or the knowledge of good and evil, and death.

The very fact that death was an option means that the other option was not just life, but life without death. One tree was law – “You shall not eat of its fruit,” while the other tree was grace. It was simply there in the garden with no prohibition attached to it.

Man chose life under the law by choosing the fruit forbidden by the law. But as Paul tells us, “The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law” (1 Corinthians 15:56). And the word confirms that. The Lord said to the man –

“In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:19

So, there is what Isaiah is referring to. The man was taken from the dust and he became a living being. The man would return to the dust, because he was no longer alive. In saying, “your dead,” he was noting that they were once alive. In saying they “shall live,” he is indicating that this state of death would end.

The Lord then says through Isaiah: nebelati yequmum – “my dead body; they shall arise.” The people of the Lord are “His dead body,” meaning His body of people who have died.

That is a stated fact, but it doesn’t explain how they became His dead body. That is a completely separate part of the matter, and it also goes back to the Genesis narrative. The man failed to accept the grace, and instead he opted for the law, meaning disobeying it.

The serpent deceived the woman, calling into question the truth of the Lord’s word. But it was in the act of eating the fruit of the tree, the fruit forbidden by the Lord – meaning in violating the law – that death resulted. The law was given, violating the law was sin, and death was the inevitable consequence. As Paul says in Romans 3:20, “by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

If the Lord had put the tree in the garden and said nothing about eating its fruit, then they could have eaten it and not died. It isn’t the fruit, but the violation of the law, that brought the death. As this is so, then it cannot be by the law that life can come.

When Isaiah says “my dead body” while referring to the people of the Lord, it cannot be by the law that they became His dead body, only that they became dead by the law. So how did they become His, if not by law? The answer is introduced in the curse upon the serpent –

“And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:15

The Lord promised that the Seed of the woman would come to correct the matter. Shortly after that was stated, and after the Lord told the man that he would toil the ground until he returned to the dust, the account says –

“And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.” Genesis 3:20

The man was told that he would die on the day he ate the forbidden fruit. He then was told that he would toil all the days of his life until he returned to the dust. Obviously, and putting two and two together, he was able to grasp that he was already dead in one sense, and then he would also die in another sense because he was alive still.

Thus, “death” has more than one meaning. As this is so, then “life” has more than one meaning as well. In calling His wife Eve, he was acknowledging this.

Her name is Khavah, “Life.” Abraim, in analyzing the name, says, “The name Eve denotes the collectivity that is common to the behavior of living things.” In this, they translate her name Symbiosis. There is a commonality to the life that would come through her.

In other words, Adam had come to understand that the life that he had lost would be restored. He did this while standing there as a living, breathing man. And therefore, he could not have been thinking of physical life at all, but of the spiritual life that he had lost. This was his “death” that occurred on the day he ate of the fruit.

But he had believed what the Lord said concerning One who would crush the serpent. In his belief, it then says –

“Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21

The clear implication is that this action by the Lord was in response to the man’s naming of His wife. There they were, dead. And yet, he called her “Life.” Not because of the life they possessed, but because of the life that they would possess.

Adam believed, and the Lord covered the man’s nakedness. As these were garments of skin, it means the Lord took an animal and slayed it in order to cover him. A transfer was made. An innocent died, a guilty one was covered – all because of a simple act of faith.

The Lord was, at that time, showing what pleased Him. He was also showing in typology how He would come to cover all who pleased Him, meaning by their faith. However, there are consequences for our actions, even if our sins are covered. In His sentence upon the man, the Lord had said that he would toil for his food until he returned to the dust.

But the garden is a place of rest, not toil. And in the garden is the tree of life by which man can eat and live forever. Because of these things, the man was driven out from the garden to abad, or work, the ground. It is the same word that was used of his purpose in the garden, but with an entirely different context. He was to worship and serve the Lord, now he would serve the ground.

The rest, in the place of rest, was removed from him because he was removed from it. From this point on, everything in Scripture is, in one way or another, given to reveal how man would be returned to that lost rest in the place of rest.

Adam, though destined to die, had found the way to life. The narrative then immediately went from the account in the garden to the two sons of Adam and Eve. With very little in the narrative to explain why things turned out as they did, a contrast is set between the offerings the two made to the Lord.

The Lord accepted the offering of Abel, and he rejected the offering of Cain. However, there is enough said that the author of Hebrews explains what the difference between the two was. It wasn’t the type of offering, but the attitude behind the offering. Of this, he says –

“By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.” Hebrews 11:4

The offering of Abel was one of faith. This is what made the offering more excellent. It was a hope-filled offering anticipating the life that was promised to his parents. Cain’s offering lacked this, and it was rejected.

From there, Hebrews 11 lists one person after another from one biblical account after another. And each time he does, he introduces him or her with the words, “By faith.” The deed or act they did is placed secondary to the idea of it being a deed or act of faith.

It is this, then, that distinguishes the people of God from all others. And it is those who died in faith that are collectively called “my dead body” in Isaiah 26. It is of this group of whom it then says, “they shall arise.” They are alive because of faith, even if they are dead in the body.

Someday, their bodies will arise because the Life is in them, and that is because they have believed the word of the Lord, meaning the Seed of the woman will come to accomplish His work. It is this simple hope that gives life, even in a body of death.

We know this is the case, and that it is not by a particular genealogy, that the life is granted. It is true that a particular genealogy was selected in order to bring in the Messiah. But being a part of that genealogy or not has no bearing on whether one is truly of the Messiah.

We know this because the line through which the Messiah comes is through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But from Jacob, it is only through Judah that He would come. And yet, all twelve sons of Israel possessed the same hope, even though they were not all in His direct genealogy.

And we also know it is so because at times in the narrative, people are brought in from outside of the twelve sons of Israel, and they also possessed that same hope. Some of them were even brought directly into the line of the Messiah through marriage.

And we also know it so because Job was not of this genealogy at all, and yet, his record of interaction with the Lord, and the faith he possessed, assures us that he too possessed the same life as those of faith in Israel. As he himself said –

“And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
27 Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!” Job 19:26, 27

Only a person with a complete lack of understanding, or a personal bias against such a notion, would argue that Job is not included in the collective described as “my dead body.” Indeed, when they arise, Job will be among them. It is the hope in Messiah that makes it so. Job’s faith made him a son of God.

It is the amount of available revelation that sets the boundaries of this saving faith. One cannot have faith in a false Messiah. As the revelation of God concerning Him is increased, it is the responsibility of the individual to accept what has been presented and believe it.

This is why the Jew who has rejected Jesus will not be saved. God has provided the increased revelation, this has been rejected, and his trust is in something other than the Lord’s provision. On the other hand, Job’s understanding of the promise was far more limited. He had the word passed down from Adam until Noah, and then from Noah down to him.

As limited as his understanding was, it was enough. He sought after God, knowing that God had a plan and a purpose for him because of the promise. He had faith in that promise, and by faith the Bible calls him a son of the God, meaning the true God.

This is the pattern set forth for man to be saved, and faith in the promise is the expectation. There may be sadness at the graveside for those who mourn their dead, but for those who have lived in faith, they shall rise. For those who mourn and yet know this, it is a mourning of temporary loss, but also of hope-filled anticipation. Because of Messiah, there is a day coming when there will be a blessed reunion.

Your dead shall live; they shall rise to life again
My dead body will not be lost; they shall arise
To them, life I give, the faithful sons of men
The gift without money and without cost, even a glorious prize

Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust
You shall rise again when I make the call
Because in My Son, you placed your trust
No more shall you be covered by death’s terrible pall

For your dew is like the dew of lights, reinvigorating the soul
And the earth shall cast out the dead
You shall receive heavenly rights; you are entered on the scroll
The days of dust are gone, replaced with beauty instead

II. To the Glory of God

As we opened, I told you about Sergio’s inquiry concerning 2 Corinthians 1:20. He seemed almost dejected about what he had heard from others. The reason this was so is that they had made the plan of God me-centered.

That is fine if you want the Bible, and indeed your life, to be all about you. But if it is all about you, it is actually a sincerely vapid existence, and a truly miserable hope you have. Sergio caught onto this, and so it caused an internal conflict.

The promises of God are to us, but they are realized in Christ. He is the incarnate answer to the promises of God. When Sergio saw the clarity of what Paul is conveying, he was moved to tears.

One can see the contrast between Cain and Abel. Cain, like that pastor Sergio cited, would have been elated at the news that God’s promises are realized in him. Abel, on the other hand, like Sergio, would have been appalled. “Me? That’s why I’m bringing this offering to You! It’s not about me, but about my hope in what You have promised.”

Abel had a hope beyond his earthly life. It was a hope of rest in the place of rest that his parents had once known. Someday, his hope will be realized. As Isaiah says: haqitsu v’ranenu shokene aphar – “Awake and shout for joy, dwellers of dust.”

It takes the reader right back to Genesis 3 once again –

“In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:19

The man from the dust would return to the dust. Likewise, so would all who follow him. But for those who lived in faith, that state would not be final. In the curse upon the serpent, he was told that he would eat the dust. But despite this, he would not prevail over the faithful who had returned to the dust.

The hope of Messiah is that the bonds of death would be broken. Those the earth had reclaimed would be brought forth once again to shout aloud in joy. If you think about it, it is right that man is born, lives, and dies in this hope. Generation after generation it is so, telling us that when our renewal comes, it is because of what He has done, not what we have done.

If it were because of our deeds, the ground could not hold us. But it does. Even for two thousand years it has. Death has continued to reign, and the dust continues to receive more. And yet, those who hope continue to hope.

If it were merely God’s promises fulfilled in us, they surely would have been fulfilled by now. But being God’s promises fulfilled in Christ, every soul that is added to those who will rise only increases the glory. Someday the call will be made, and those in the dust shall awaken.

Isaiah describes how this will happen, saying, ki tal oroth talekha – “for dew lights your dew.” It is a poetic way of saying that the dew that settles upon those dead is like the dew that comes in the morning. When the completeness of the light shines forth, everything is nourished by this morning dew, and it is brought to vigor.

In the same manner, a time is coming when life will be suddenly and completely reinvigorated into those who dwell in the dust. They will reanimate in a new form and come forth. Paul describes the two states as they were and as they will be –

“The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.” 1 Corinthians 15:47-49

This change will be so sudden and so abrupt because of the reinvigorating power of Christ that Isaiah continues with the words, va’arets rephaim tapil – “and land ghosts will overthrow.” It is a poetic way of saying that the place where the dead are will be cast down and defeated. That is again reflective of Paul’s words –

“For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So, when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’
55 ‘O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?’” 1 Corinthians 15:54

This is the promise, and this is the wonder that we anticipate each year as we celebrate Resurrection Day. But before we finish, we need to remember that in order for Christ to come forth from the grave, He first had to go to the grave.

Adam disobeyed God. Through this, sin entered the world. And death came through that sin. From there, the Bible reveals that death spread to all men, because – as Paul says – all sinned. In other words, because we were in Adam when he sinned, we bear the guilt of Adam.

This is true in several ways. It is true legally because Adam is our federal head. He is the first man from whom all other men come. Just as the leader of a nation represents his citizens, so Adam represents all who come from Adam.

It is true potentially. It says in Genesis 5 –

“And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth. After he begot Seth, the days of Adam were eight hundred years; and he had sons and daughters. So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years; and he died.” Genesis 5:3-5

We have no idea how many children Adam had. It could have been 10 or it could have been 150. All were potentially in him and all that were born actually came from him. In the same way, any normally functioning person could have any number of children, or they could have no children. Every person who comes after someone is potentially in that person, and any number of possible people could come from that same stream.

And it is true seminally. Acts 17:26 says, “…and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth.”

Again, in Hebrews 7, Levi is said to be in the loins of Abraham, and that because he was, he paid tithes to Melchizedek through Abraham even though he wasn’t yet born, and even though he wouldn’t come for three more generations. He was seminally in his father before he ever existed.

Because of these things, all of us are in Adam in these three ways and thus we all bear his sin in these ways. We are born spiritually dead – as we saw from the account of Cain and Abel.

There is a disconnect between us and God, and there is a sentence of condemnation hanging over our heads from the moment of our conception. It is a sentence that is merely waiting to be executed. (John 3:18)

As this is so, something external needs to be introduced in order for the sentence to be changed from condemnation to restoration. The way that external correction came about was for God Himself to unite with human flesh in the Person of Jesus. He did this in the womb of Mary.

As His father is God, He did not receive Adam’s sin. He was born qualified to cover our sins, just as the innocent animal’s skin covered Adam and Eve of their nakedness.

Further, Christ Jesus was born under the Law of Moses – the covenant God made between Himself and the people of Israel. In that covenant, He stipulated that the man who did the things of the law would live by them. Christ already had life in Him, but being born under the law, He had to fulfill that law.

This is what the gospels then record. The Son of Man was born without sin, and He lived out the law without ever sinning, proving Himself not only qualified, but capable. He did what we could not do because the sin already existed in us.

And then, in fulfillment of the law, He died. In other words, as He had no sin, and as He committed no sin, the law found its completion in Him. In its completion, it ended, and a New Covenant replaced it. It is the Christ covenant.

It is the fulfillment of what was promised. It is what Adam anticipated when he named his wife “Life.” It is what Abel anticipated when he made his offering. It is what Job hoped for when he sat and spoke with those with him.

Christ Jesus gave up His life so that we could be granted what we could not otherwise possess. In His death, God provided an atonement – a covering – for sin. And that covering is offered in the exact same manner for us as it was for those in the past, meaning by faith. Adam had faith and was covered. That was only a type of what God would do in Christ.

Now, in Christ the final, full, and forever covering of sin is granted for those who simply believe. Though it has been two thousand years, God is still imputing to His people the same righteousness in the exact same way. And with each person who accepts the premise and is saved, the glory to God increases.

Sergio asked about Paul’s words concerning Christ, “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.” The answer is that God’s promises are fulfilled in Christ. From there, and only from there, do those promises then belong to us.

Jesus Christ is the answer to the problem that plagues us. His death is the remedy for our condition. In His burial, He bore our sin into the grave. And His resurrection is the proof that it is so. The atonement is made, the sin is expiated, the life is granted, and eternity lies just ahead for those who will – by faith – accept the premise and receive what God has done through Him.

This is the love of God that is found in Christ Jesus, and this is the grace of God that says, “I have done the work so that you may enter My rest.” Please be wise and receive this wonderful gift of life and restoration. May it be so, and may it be today.

Closing Verse: “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.” 1 Corinthians 15:20-23

Next Week: Deuteronomy 15:12-23 So hard to imagine, and yet it is true… (The Lord Your God Redeemed You) (48th Deuteronomy Sermon)

A Celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

This is the gospel which was preached to you
It is also the one you received and on which you stand
It is the gospel of salvation, providing life that’s new
And which will carry you to the promised Holy Land

What is delivered to you is what was before received
That Christ died for our sins according to God’s word
He was buried and He rose, and so we have believed
And many witnesses testify to this message you have heard

Now, if Christ is preached that He is risen from the dead
How can some among you say the resurrection isn’t true?
If there is no resurrection after Christ was crucified and bled
Then our faith as well as yours is certainly askew

And if so, we are found false witnesses of God
Because we have wrongly testified of this mighty deed
And our faith is futile, no heavenly streets we’ll trod
And we are still dead in our sins; fallen Adam’s seed

Even more, those who have fallen asleep in the Lord are gone
And we are the most pitiable creatures
———-the world could ever look upon

But indeed, Christ is risen from the dead
He is the Firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep
And as death came through one man, Adam, our federal head
So, Christ will make all alive; our souls He will keep

But there is an order to the Resurrection call
Christ was first, the pattern for the rest when He comes
When He does, He will make a shout out to us all
And we will rise as if to the sound of heavenly battle drums

Then comes the time, when He delivers the kingdom to the Father
When all rule, authority, and power have come to an end
The last enemy to be destroyed is death, never more to bother
Then the Son will to the Father eternal rule extend

But you ask, what will we be like after our time of sleep?
After we have been buried in corruption’s pit so deep?

Our body is sown in dishonor, but it will be raised in glory
It is sown in weakness, but raised in power – the resurrection story

The first man Adam became a living being, it is true
The last Adam became a life-giving Spirit, life to me and you

And as was the man of dust, created so long ago
So are those likened unto him, also made of dust
And as is the Man, the Lord from heaven, you know
That we shall bear His image for eternity just as we’ve discussed

Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God
Nor can corruption inherit that which is incorrupt
Be we shall all be changed, and so, heavenly streets we’ll trod
In the twinkling of an eye, the change will be abrupt

When the last trumpet sounds, we will be taken to glory
We shall all be changed, completion of the gospel story

Where O Death, O where is your sting?
When Christ our Savior, us to Himself does He bring

Where O Hades, O where is your victory?
When Christ translates His children to eternal glory

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin the law
But thanks be to God who gives us victory through our Lord
My beloved brethren be steadfast in all you’ve heard and saw
And cling confidently to God’s eternal word

Know for certain that your labor is not in vain
Be of good cheer, Christ is coming again

Hallelujah and Amen…

Luke 1:1 (Those Things Which Have Been Fulfilled Among Us)

Luke 1:1
Those Things Which Have Been Fulfilled Among Us

“Blessed is the Lord God of Israel,
For He has visited and redeemed His people,
69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us
In the house of His servant David,
70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets,
Who have been since the world began,
71 That we should be saved from our enemies
And from the hand of all who hate us,
72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers
And to remember His holy covenant,
73 The oath which He swore to our father Abraham:
74 To grant us that we,
Being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
Might serve Him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.
76 “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest;
For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,
77 To give knowledge of salvation to His people
By the remission of their sins,
78 Through the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us;
79 To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.”

The world is filled with fanciful stories about events which may or may not have actually occurred at all. Or, if they did happen, how much embellishment has been added on to what really happened? It’s almost impossible to look back on the Iliad and not question what is recorded there by Homer.

The date of the events of the Iliad goes back to the 9th century BC. However, the earliest existing manuscript is from around 400-415 BC. That is a gap of about 450 years. And more, there are only 1900 known ancient copies. And yet, it is taught in colleges around the world as an authoritative narrative of historical events.

When we hear of the Gallic Wars of Julius Caesar, we assume we are hearing exacting history of events which were minutely recorded and detailed for us. But the events that occurred were in the years 58-44 BC. And yet, the earliest manuscripts that we possess are from the 9th – yes the 9th – century AD. That is a gap of 900 years. From this period, there are about 250 copies.

Despite this extremely limited number of documents, which are close to a thousand years after the events occurred, we teach what is contained in them as if it is reliable history.

But from the same scholarly sources that teach these events as literal history, come cries of “unreliable” when they speak of the events of Scripture. And yet, of the Greek New Testament manuscripts concerning events which took place from the turn of the millennium until about AD70, the earliest known manuscript – the John Rylands fragment – dates to early or middle second century AD. That is within a few short years after the death of the Apostle John.

Further, it was found outside of Israel, meaning what it says had to be taken there at an earlier date. That first known document is then followed by almost 6000 Greek manuscripts. Also, there are over 18000 non-Greek manuscripts dating as far back as 30 to 300 years after the events they record.

Thirty years is within one lifetime of the events that are recorded. If one is to accept Homer’s Iliad or the Gallic Wars of Julius Caesar as authoritative, how much more should the writings of Scripture be held as accurate and reliable! Additionally, because of the immense body of available manuscripts, errors between manuscripts can be easily identified.

What we possess in the New Testament is reliable, it is sure, and it is trustworthy. But what we possess in the New, speaks in the same sure manner concerning the Old…

Text Verse: “Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.” Luke 1:1-4

Luke is a historical figure. We don’t just possess his writings which make a claim that somewhat parallels the other synoptic gospels. Rather, he is referred to by Paul in the book of Colossians as his companion. He is also written about outside of Scripture as well.

As far as Luke’s writings, the events he mentions, the places they occur, and the details that he includes in his writings are so accurately recorded, that what he says can be used today to identify specific locations by their surrounding characteristics. His writings are meticulous in the extreme because he was a meticulous man.

When Luke refers to those things which have been fulfilled among us, it is because they were written about, in advance, and then what occurred was seen to have come to pass. This is what Zechariah was speaking of when he spoke of the holy prophets who have been since the world began.

Luke obtained the eyewitness testimony of the people that saw these things, and then he lines up what they saw with what Scripture prophesied about. Thus, we have an unbroken succession of events which seamlessly tie the two testaments into one grand story of an Individual who was prophesied would come to save the world.

Such marvelous things encompass what we now call “the Christmas story” and they are to be found in God’s superior word. And so, let’s turn to that precious word once again. And may God speak to us through His word, and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. A Problem to be Resolved

To understand the Christmas story, and why it is important for each of us, we must be schooled on why the coming of Christ was needed in the first place. Without that, we have just another story of a conquering hero. We find them in the movies all the time:

A nation is in subjection to another nation, the people long to be freed from their overlords, a champion rises up from among them and casts off the shackles of oppression, and the hero’s life is recorded as an example of bravery and courage. William Wallace, or Braveheart, immediately comes to mind.

Unlike William Wallace, however, the Hero of Scripture didn’t just arise out of the stream of time and suddenly break onto the scene without any foreknowledge of His coming. Rather, His coming was eagerly anticipated since the very beginning of man’s time on earth. And not only was He anticipated, He was promised. And not only was He promised, His coming was prophesied – in detail.

The first time this was so was right at the beginning. There is God, there is His creation, and in that creation is the central focus of what is created – man. Everything else is centered on this one being which is set apart from all the other beings in Scripture.

We know about angels, but they aren’t the focus of the narrative. They are mentioned in relation to the narrative about man, not the other way around.

We know about the stars, but the location of the stars is mentioned in reference to the earth, not the other way around. And on the earth, the life which is created is spoken of in general terms, with the exception of man. All other life is prepared in advance of man, showing that man is the purpose for that other life to exist – meaning in relation to man, not the other way around.

When the man was created, it was as if he was an expected guest. The preparations were ready, the home was fit for his coming, and then he was brought into his home. But being brought into a home means that there is a home to be brought into. And a home doesn’t prepare itself. Likewise, man didn’t create himself. Rather, there is an Authority over these things who determined how they should be.

Because there is One in authority, it is His call as to how things should be. With all of the attentioned-focus on man, there should have been a great attention directed to the One who created the man, and there should have been an obedience to Him – if for no other reason than that He did the creating, much less that He did it with such care.

But it is hard to know what abundance, beauty, and delight are without knowing what lack, ugliness, and unhappiness is. Without knowing the latter, we cannot really appreciate the former. For those of us who feel well today, it’s just a state that we accept. But for those of us who have just gotten over feeling really crummy, feeling well is pretty great.

We appreciate God’s gift of feeling well much more when we have the knowledge of the opposite fresh on our minds. The man lacked this, and so when he heard the first recorded words that were ever spoken to him, he couldn’t appreciate them –

“Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’” Genesis 2:15-17

First, he couldn’t appreciate what it meant to be commanded. Law was given, but what is law anyway? Without knowing the purpose or the consequences of law, there is no reference by which to appreciate the command. And simply being told what the consequences are, without knowing what they mean, doesn’t give us any more understanding of them than before we heard them.

The man was alive, but that was a state he became without ever having been dead or having seen the state of death in another. Therefore, the words “you shall surely die” had no understood meaning because there was no reference to understand them. “I wasn’t alive before, but I have no idea what that was like.”

It is said in Hebrews that “it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” The man hadn’t heard this, but even if he had – “Oh, okay.” With a shrug, he would simply go on without any idea at all of what that meant.

And more, the Lord could have heaped up a thousand commands and said, “You are to do these things,” and it would have made no difference than the giving of that one command. Without an understanding of right and wrong, or the resulting punishment, lack which resulted from it, and so on, a right determination about obedience could not be made.

But, despite this being true, it does not excuse his disobedience. The man didn’t create himself, and he did not place himself into the home that was prepared for him. He was under an obligation which should have been understood, if he just took the time to contemplate the matter.

Chapter 2 of Genesis sees the man given implicit authority over the animals because it was granted to him to name them. But it also reveals, through that fact, that he had intelligence. To give a name implies that he was able to form a name in order to give it.

After that was done, the Lord God – the Creator – then gave the man a woman to be his own. In the naming of her ishah, or “woman,” there is an understanding that he is an ish, or a man. And this implies that there was language instilled in him to form these names, and the other names that he had given to the animals. He didn’t form the language. Rather it existed before he did.

Because this is so, he was both given the rational ability to think concepts through, and to develop new ideas which form what is logical and what is illogical. In other words, he was without excuse if he was to disobey the command of the Lord, even if he didn’t understand the consequences of the command.

However, thinking logically is hard work, and understanding theology, if it is proper theology, is as well. The man lived in a land of delight, his needs were cared for, and he apparently didn’t need to think on such things.

The chapter ends with the words, “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” They had no idea of what it meant to be ashamed, and so they were not ashamed. It was a sinless world; a world without death.

Of course, the world where we now live is not a sinless world, and it is not a world free from death. Quite the opposite is true. Things changed, and that was because of a single incident of deception. The man did the one – the only – thing that he was told to not do. He ate of the fruit.

The very next words of the record show us that a great change immediately took place –

‘Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.” Genesis 3:7

A knowledge they previously lacked now belonged to them. They were unashamed, and suddenly they were ashamed. To correct the matter, they covered themselves. But the record is specific. They didn’t just use leaves to do so. They used teenah, or fig leaves.

From this point on, the fig takes on a particular meaning in Scripture based on what is seen here. The fig signifies a spiritual connection to God, or the lack of it. This is seen, for example, in the words of Jesus in Mark 11 –

“Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. 13 And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 In response Jesus said to it, ‘Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.’” Mark 11:12-14

Jesus was making a theological point concerning the place where He had left the day before, and where He immediately returned to the next day – the temple. Jesus’ cursing of the fig tree was a parable of the ending of the temple rites and the law as God’s means of restoration with Him. The spiritual connection of the law was to be severed.

He was taking us back to Eden. The man and the woman had tried to make a spiritual reconnection through the leaves of the fig to what they had lost, but it was too late. God rejected that, He cursed the serpent, the woman, and the man. Death entered the world through the act, and then came the judgment.

The spiritual reconnection could not come through their efforts. The fig leaves were insufficient to restore what had been lost. But while standing there, covered in their own unsuitable works, the Lord spoke out words of promise via His curse upon the serpent –

“And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:15

The new master of the realm, the serpent, would be defeated through the Seed of the woman. It is absolutely certain that this is a promise of the coming Messiah. The man and his woman stood there, dead in their sin and destined to die in their bodies. The Lord had just said to the man that he would return to the dust from which he had been taken, but the promise of life, even from their state of death, was made.

We know this because immediately after the pronounced curse upon the man, the very next words say, “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20).

The man, though now spiritually dead, and destined to die – meaning he lived in a body of death, now named the woman he had been given – Khavah, or “Life.” Though they stood before the Lord dead, he had believed the promise that the bringer of death would be destroyed. If death was destroyed, life would come.

The naming of the woman “Life” was an act of faith, and in that act, a covering was given –

“Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21

Something died in order to cover their shame. Blood was shed, and it was not done so by the man. Rather, it was the Lord who did it, and thus it was an act of grace. Further, it was the Lord who clothed them with this substitutionary animal. There was no active participation on their part. They simply received what the Lord had provided. This is what the text indicates.

In this one chapter, and actually in very few verses of that chapter, and many of them following one directly after the next, the entire basis for the redemption of mankind is given. The theology of what is presented in the Genesis 3 narrative will never be diverted from.

Man fell, man is fallen, man cannot correct the matter, the Lord will intervene, the Lord – through His grace – will accomplish the necessary sacrifice, the Lord will provide the necessary covering for the restoration with that sacrifice, and it will be based on a simple act of faith by the man. Everything in Scripture concerning salvation after this point will be based on that notion, and it will support that typology.

I shall put enmity between you and the woman
An on-going battle through lengths of ages
Your seed, the unregenerate human
Who against me reviles and rages 

But there shall come One, a Promised Seed
Who will crush your head for what you have done
Your days are numbered so take you heed
In my mind the battle is already won 

Jesus is coming to make all things new
This word is faithful and it is true

In the cross, a victory you will assume
A victory – yes – but not for you
After His cross and after His tomb
He will arise and make all things new 

Man’s redemption will have been wrought
By the Seed of the woman, My own Son
With His blood He will have bought
The right to man’s soul, the victory won

II. Promises, Covenants, and Dispensations

Despite the pattern of redemption being set in the manner in which we just saw, there are innumerable things which will seem to deviate from it as the story of Scripture unfolds. But such is not the case. Quite often, those things which seem like deviations – such as the Law of Moses – are detailed lessons and learning tools to more fully understand and/or appreciate this simple message of hope.

A Messiah is coming, and He will make all things right again. Eve knew this and the joy of having her first child is highlighted by an implicit belief that she through he – this child named Cain – would be returned to paradise because she believed that he was the promised Messiah.

That proved to be a wrong assumption, and she went into a state of miserable acceptance of that fact with the coming of her second son, Abel. His name, Havel, means “Breath.” It is the vaporous breath that disappears as it is exhaled. Eve was despondent and the name reflects her state.

And, so sad was the plight of this family, so ingrained in them was the death which infected Adam, that these first two recorded births into the stream of human existence turned into a point of not simply waiting for death to come, but actively bringing it about. Cain killed his brother and the miserable state of man apart from God was highlighted by the act.

However, and despite this, a careful recording of the names of certain men born after Adam is made. Due to the length of man’s lifespan, and the years between Adam and one of those named men – Noah – there could have been millions, or possibly hundreds of millions (or more) people on the earth by the 1656th year of the world. And yet very few names are recorded during all those years and among all of those humans.

In this, we can see that this limited line, and this particular record, is very important. And it becomes especially so when we read in Genesis 6 that “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).

This is a world which had gone from its first short dispensation into its second. Man had gone from innocence to conscience. There is no specific direction given to man. There were no divine laws recorded. It was simply a time in which man was given to live as he saw fit, but with the understanding that he was in a very short line of humans from their first father, Adam.

And more to the point, the lifespans of man at that time meant that many alive by the time of the flood were born while Adam was still alive. If anyone wanted to know if the story was true, all they need to do was go ask him or one of his direct sons. They had the information they needed.

Would man use that knowledge wisely? No. By the time of Noah, there was no hope and no remedy except to destroy that which had made itself worthless through wickedness. But the careful detailing of that one particular line of Adam is a note of hope in an otherwise dreadful world.

From the tenth in that line, Noah, would come a new world of men with divine commands and a covenant – the Lord would never again destroy the world by flood. But there were expectations levied upon man, and the Lord promised that He would hold man accountable for his actions. Thus, came the dispensation of government.

It is a dispensation which continues to this day in the world at large. God established the nations and the peoples of the world. He gave them their languages and they are to live within those confines.

But during this long-running dispensation, the Lord was still working towards the coming of Messiah. For the nations to have hope, there must be a Hope of the nations. Even if man has forgotten that the promise was made, somewhere – instilled deep within him – is the knowledge that it must be so.

However, to continue the plan without distraction and without manipulation by the nations of the world, the Lord called only one man to continue carrying on this hope. Why would He do this? He has done it because of Genghis Khan, Adolph Hitler, and Joseph Stalin – and because of innumerable others like them. Man looks to man for his hope, and nations look to their leaders for their salvation.

But salvation is of the Lord. That pattern has already been set. And it is not by the works of man but by faith in the Lord. And so, while the nations continued with their own conquests, raising up their own leaders and false messiahs, the Lord called Abraham out of Ur and to a land that He would set before him.

In his calling, he was given a promise, with him was made a covenant, and through him came another dispensation based on the promise. In the Lord’s dealings with Abraham, he was given a sign – that of circumcision. But the circumcision came after the promise, not before. The circumcision was only a sign of the covenant. The covenant is one based on Abraham’s faith in the promise.

To understand the life of Abraham, and to grasp why the selected stories of his life which are recorded in Scripture are there, is to look into the mind of God. It is to see and understand in picture and typology the continued unfolding of the plan of redemption and the hope of Messiah – meaning the Child of Christmas – that goes back to the fall itself.

The dispensation of promise is a dispensation of looking forward to the Promise. When Abraham was told to take his only son and sacrifice him, it was to make a picture of what God would do. When the wood for the offering was laid upon his son Isaac to carry, it was to make a picture of what Christ would do – carrying the cross ordained by His Father. When a ram was provided by the Lord in place of Isaac, it was given to show us what would come about in our salvation – substitutionary atonement. And, the spot where these things took place was to let us know where Christ would die.

These are only a few details of one short story out of many chapters of stories of the life of Abraham, and each of them – names of people he interacted with, names of places he went to, and on and on – all of his life was used to provide us hints and clues of the Promise that would come from this dispensation of promise.

But the types and pictures didn’t stop there. When Abraham was gone, the promises, the covenants, and the dispensation continued with Isaac and with Jacob. Every story, every act, every harvest, and every conflict that is recorded is given to show us what God was doing and how He would do it.

In the life of Jacob is an entire panorama of the story – from Adam to Messiah, and throughout the all of time’s set dispensations. And they are all given to show us that it is centered on the Promise – the coming Messiah, the seed of the woman, the Child of Christmas.

This included the family matters of Jacob – the acquisition of his wives, the births and naming of his twelve sons and one named daughter, the ordeals that those children went through and the conflicts they faced, and so on. When Joseph was sold off to slavery in Egypt, it wasn’t merely a story of loss for Jacob, but a story of what God would do in Christ.

When Jacob’s eldest, Judah, through many various life events finally ended up sleeping with his own daughter in law – without even knowing it was her – it was to give us a typological picture of what God would do through Jesus Christ in the redemption of the world, and the assurance that we possess because of it.

None of these stories is without a reason, and the reason for every one of them is to show us details of what God would do in the sending of Messiah. When Zechariah prophesied concerning God’s holy prophets who have been since the world began, it was because men of God had been prophesying both through their writings and through their actions, as directed by God, that there were things which would be fulfilled in this coming Child of Christmas.

In the movement of Jacob and his family to Egypt, pictures are made. In the death and burial of Jacob, pictures are made. In the years of captivity, pictures are made. Time, and the lives of these people, were marching towards an inevitable meeting with Messiah, and each recorded detail is especially given for that one reason.

And then, after many long years in Egypt, the bondage of the people was great. They were under a harsh taskmaster, and they yearned for freedom. When the time was right, He sent them a deliverer.

The next major figure of the plan was Moses, but though He anticipates Christ, he does so in a different way – not in the promise, but in how the promise is obtained. And it is not in how it is obtained by man, but how it is so obtained for man.

The Lord, through Moses, delivered Israel out of Egypt, but He brought them to Sinai, not to Canaan. In bringing the people to Sinai, a new dispensation came into focus – that of Law. Everything about their time there was given for this purpose. There was the lawgiver, there were the implements, rites, rituals, and commandments which came through the law. And surely, without understanding the reason for the law, the words bog down in tedium, and the mind is overwhelmed with detail.

The laws are restrictive, and they bind the people with a heavy load. If one law in Eden brought such disaster upon the world, what would come of those who were cast under the long oppressive shadow of this law? And how could life come from such a body of death? The Lord said it was possible, but only through an impossible allowance.

In the middle of the seemingly unending laws of the book of Leviticus, and in a chapter that deals heavily with sexual morality, the Lord said –

“You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 18:5

It is a promise, but it is a promise based on law. Thus, it is a promise based on obedience. And because it is based on obedience to law, if an infraction arises, then the promise is nullified.

A person will live in the performance of the Lord’s statutes and judgments. Therefore, logically, one will not live in his failure to do them. But this is where the words of Zechariah, which he prophesied at the time of John’s birth, become relevant again. He said –

“And to remember His holy covenant,
73 The oath which He swore to our father Abraham:” Luke 1:72, 73

Zechariah does not appeal to the Covenant at Sinai and the Law of Moses. Rather, he appealed to “His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to our father Abraham.” It is what is explained by Paul in Galatians 3 –

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
15 Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it. 16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. 17 And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. 18 For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise. Galatians 3:13-18

What is it that Messiah would do? He would come to fulfill the promise and to keep the covenant to Abraham which was confirmed by God in Christ. In other words, the covenant to Abraham was a covenant of the understanding that Messiah was coming and that He was coming through Abraham.

And so why then did God give the law to Israel? It was to keep Israel as Israel. It was to confirm them as the Lord’s people until the coming of Messiah. And how would they know that He had come? First, He would fulfill the many types and pictures which anticipated Him.

Secondly, He would fulfill the prophesies which foretold of Him and of His coming. And thirdly, in Him would be life. The law said so –

“You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 18:5

When One did the things of the law, He would live. The promise stands. But before He would come, the law would work out its purpose fully. The time of the law was the time of the conquest. It was the time of the judges. It was the time of the kings. And it was the time of the prophets continuing their call.

They proclaimed the word of the Lord to the people of Israel, progressively telling them a bit more with each new revelation about the promise of Christmas to come.

He is coming. Messiah is coming. He will be from the tribe of Judah. He will be from the house of David. He will be born in Bethlehem. He would come before the destruction of the second temple, and so – in fact – before that even took place, He would have to be born.

The timing is so precise that it’s hard to believe anyone could miss it. He would begin His ministry four hundred and eighty-three years after the decree of Atarxerxes to Nehemiah to restore and rebuild the walls around Jerusalem. If that is when He began His ministry, then He would obviously be born at some point before that.

With all of this information available, it was simply a matter of waiting and watching as history slowly unfolded until that right moment. It came as prophesied. Luke 2 bears witness that Simeon was told he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

Likewise, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, an aged woman who stayed constantly at the temple knew He had come, and she announced it to “all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” The matter was not secret outside of the temple, nor was it secret outside of Jerusalem.

Nor was it a secret outside of Israel. Matthew records that wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, having known He had come by the sign of “His star in the East.” Those who were outside of the law and still living under the dispensation of government were aware of His coming.

When they came seeking Him, they went to Herod the king. Herod, in turn, gathered together the chief priests and the scribes and asked them about it. Their answer was that He would be born in Bethlehem. It was written, and they knew – in advance – that it would be so. If they knew this, then they knew what Daniel said as well.

It was Micah, a minor prophet, who had prophesied concerning the birthplace. It was Daniel, a major prophet, who had prophesied of the time of His coming. The timing could not be missed. The end of the four hundred and eighty-three years was not far off at that point.

The Hope of Israel, and – indeed – the hope of the nations had come. Nobody disputed that He was coming, even the Samaritan woman in John 4 anticipated Him. When He passed through her area and stopped to talk to her, she said –

“I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.” John 4:25

It wasn’t as if one woman in one town of Samaria happened to know this. Rather, the implication from her words is that it was such common knowledge that even one woman in one town of Samaria would know it. In other words, everyone anticipated it.

The Christmas story that we read every year is the story of God’s entrance into the stream of humanity. It is the anticipation of all people to some extent. Some actively hide it. Some purposefully deny it. But all people are aware of the fact that something is wrong, and somehow it will be made right, and that God has told us that it would happen.

Some cultures still have a sense of God’s plan, but it is marred and obscured through years, additions, changes, and twistings. But the underlying concepts are there. The only properly transmitted and maintained revelation of it, however, was through Israel.

And the law of Israel was given to keep Israel together. It was a bind which protected them so that His coming would be unmistakable. But that law was not a means to an end for the people of Israel. It was a guard for them, and it was to be a tutor to them so that when He came they would realize it and receive Him.

In the coming of the Christmas Child was the coming of One who could, in fact, keep that law – that IMPOSSIBLE body of law. “You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the LORD.” The Man, the Messiah, did the things of the law. He kept His Father’s words and commandments, and He prevailed over them.

Because He never sinned under the law, He embodied what the law represented. And because He embodied that, when He died, the law – in Him – ended. It died with Him. Paul says as much –

“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” Colossians 2:13-15

In that state, meaning as the One to fulfill the law, thus embodying it, God now offers peace to those who come to Him through Christ. The precepts of the law included substitutionary atonement. In other words, the sacrificial system of Israel included the precept that an innocent animal could die in place of a human. The sin of that person was transferred to the animal, the animal was slain, and the sin was forgiven.

However, this was both only a picture of what God would do in Christ, and it was a temporary measure until the coming of Christ. This is certain, because if a person committed the same sin ten minutes later, another animal would be required, demonstrating that the atonement was temporary and ineffective.

Even the annual offering of Israel on the Day of Atonement was temporary. This is because it had to be repeated year after year. This was, then, only a lesson that was intended to lead the people to Christ. His fulfillment of these types and shadows of the law means that His death – which they only anticipated – is the full, final, and forever means of restoration with God.

Apart from Him, no sacrifice, offering, or deed will do. But in Him, every requirement of God is met. The Babe in the manger was sent to perform a mission and to, as Zechariah says, “give the knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins.”

The nakedness and shame of Adam is covered over by the Person and work of Christ under the law. The death which man has experienced because of sin is swallowed up in life because of the coming of the Christmas Child. One might say we are saved through the law, but that is only because of Christ’s perfect obedience to it which is then imputed to us.

For those in Christ, we now live in the dispensation of grace. And the reality of the hope of Messiah is extended to all. Those who are under the law are given freedom from the law in Messiah. Those who are under government are given a new hope in Christ. Those who awaited the promise to Abraham now have the Promise of God in Jesus.

The simplicity of the gospel message is found wrapped up in a little Child, born to a virgin in a small town in the land of Judah known as Bethlehem – the House of Bread. “I will accomplish the work; I will bring forth salvation; I will send my Son to bring you back to Me. Trust in Him – the Bread of Life – and receive the life which is truly life. Here is My Gift and My Present to the people of the world. His name is JESUS.”

Closing Verse: “And now the Lord says,
Who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant,
To bring Jacob back to Him,
So that Israel is gathered to Him
(For I shall be glorious in the eyes of the Lord,
And My God shall be My strength),
Indeed He says,
‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob,
And to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles,
That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’” Isaiah 49:5, 6

Next Week – Deuteronomy 10:1-11 Moses is in the sweet zone, the Lord’s anger is reversed… (Two Tablets of Stone Like the First) (34th Deuteronomy Sermon)

The Zeal of the Lord of Hosts

Unto us a Child is born
A time to rejoice and not to morn

Unto us a Son is given
The One to lead us from death to a’livin’

And the government will be upon His shoulder
Every eye will see Him; every soul will be His beholder

Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom’s realm
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever – He at the helm
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this

And His name will be called Wonderful
The Counselor and Mighty God is He
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, pure and white as wool
Of the increase of His government and peace, no end shall we see

Do not be afraid, for behold
I bring you good tidings of great joy
Which will be to all people, forever told
The wondrous story, the birth of a Boy

For there is born to you this day
In the city of David, a Savior, it is He
Who is Christ the Lord, to whom heaven’s hosts obey
The Messiah has come, and now you may go and see

And this will be the sign to you:
You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes
Lying in a manger, a glorious view
The Christmas Child whom our Heavenly Father bestows

A Child like no other has come to dwell among us
He shall lead us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake
And His name is called out, His name is JESUS
Come, and of the Heavenly Child partake

He is God’s gift and heaven’s treasure
He is Immanuel – God with us
And He bestows upon us grace without measure
The Christmas Child, our glorious Lord Jesus

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

He Brought Us out From There That He Might Bring Us In

He Brought Us out From There
That He Might Bring Us In

“Then He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in, to give us the land of which He swore to our fathers.” Deuteronomy 6:23

In the late 1990s, I worked in the wastewater business, just down the road here in Gulf Gate. I was the lead operator of the plant owned by Florida Cities Water Company. It was a private company, which owned wastewater plants throughout Florida, and it ran them well. Private industry can make a good profit off of such things while paying well and giving great service to their customers at low costs.

Eventually, as always seems to be the case with intrusive government, Sarasota County decided they wanted a monopoly on the wastewater business within its borders. They already had several plants which they owned and operated. The service was not as good, the pay was not as high, and the cost to the customers was higher – all in all, it was a typical government project.

Seeing how much Florida Cities made in profit, the county greedily wanted to take them over as well so that it could be added into their profits for the commissioners to spend as they wished. And so, they eventually dug their hands into Florida Cities and forced them to sell off their Sarasota plants.

Having spent nine years, four months, and fifteen days in government service in the United States Air Force, it was obvious what was coming – waste, incompetence, and frustration for anyone who desired to do an honest day’s work while watching those around him take advantage of the system to do as little as possible.

Knowing what was ahead, and before the transfer to the county, I left that employ and headed to Alaska to mine gold for the summer. The location I went to was on the Fortymile River a bit south and east of Fairbanks, and directly on the US/Canada border.

The spot is so remote that the nearest town, Chicken Alaska, which had a year-round population of nine, was up the river seventeen miles, and then a four-hour drive away. If you Google the location, you can delight yourself in the remoteness of the land and the beauty of the spot. There are bears, beavers, and mosquitoes in abundance.

There, at the claim working from day to day, one would not know if the rest of the world had collapsed, gone into nuclear war, or been destroyed by pestilence. There were no radios, there was no internet, and there was no way to contact the outside world apart from an emergency beacon if someone was in need of immediate medical attention.

For me, I was brought out of a situation of impending doom, and into a place of beauty, riches, and delight – not heaven, but compared to staying on with Sarasota County, it was close to paradise. For the residents of Gulf Gate and the employees who stayed with the county, the service went down, the utility prices went up, and the pay of Sarasota County became the standard.

Text Verse: “…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

After coming home from Alaska, I did various jobs. One was working right across the road from my house, restoring an old motel on the island. The travel to work took all of ten seconds, I worked alone, and the pay – though not great – was enough to make the day worth the work.

After a while, I started a retail business just down the road from here and enjoyed a couple years of that. During the time there, and through the Lord’s sure hand of Providence, my heart was turned toward Him, and a hunger for the word of God, the Holy Bible, consumed me.

Eventually, I had to close the store. I could no longer sell Buddha’s and other things people would take home and pray to. It bothered me to even put the key in the door each morning. But what to do when you have a wife and two children?

At that time, I got a call from Siesta Key Utilities Authority – the wastewater plant on the island I live on, and one which I had worked at in high school. My old boss said he needed to fill a position and he wanted to interview me.

I said, “Thanks Art, but I never kept up my license, and so I can’t be an operator.” He said, “We already checked. Your license doesn’t expire for thirty more days. If you come in, we will pay for the necessary courses, and for the renewal of your license.”

As incredible as it seems, the Lord had directed the events of my life to get me out of one sore spot, and to lead me into a good job, with good pay, and which was right down the road from my house. While there, Art eventually retired, and I took over as the lead operator of the utility. It was a sweet deal, great hours, amazing pay, a company car, and the best crew one could imagine working with.

However, the company was under obligation to be transferred – lock, stock, and barrel – to… Sarasota County on a set date which had been agreed upon many, many years earlier. I was asked to stay during the transfer, which I did, but eventually I left the keys on the desk one day and told them it was enough.

You see, the service went down, the utility prices went up, and anyone who desired to do a good job was left to do it alone. Not all county employees are this way, but it is the norm. The one who desires to do an honest day’s work is the exception. With the transfer of the utility complete, I left there, finished my degree at Southern Evangelical Seminary, and was ordained as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ on 24 January of 2010.

For me, I was brought out of a situation of impending doom, and into a place of beauty, riches, and delight – not heaven, but compared to staying on with Sarasota County, it is close to paradise.

I. And He Brought Us out From There

Today is Resurrection Day, 12 April 2020. The world is in turmoil, pestilence – real or imagined – fills the land, and the anxiety and stress level of the people of the world is exceedingly high. This isn’t just in our own nation, but it permeates much of the world.

Normally, to be a missionary in an isolated part of the world would be considered something only the hardiest and most dedicated souls would venture out to do. Like going into the middle of nowhere to mine gold, it may be that they have no contact with anyone for extended periods. But today, it seems that a such a choice is not only the smart one, more so – it seems like the wise one.

To be taken out of our present distress, and to be placed in a location where none of this is even considered, would be a delight and a relief. Like my time on the Fortymile, some of our missionaries are simply living their lives, sharing their knowledge of Jesus Christ, and have very little care about how the rest of the world has devolved into a state of near lunacy.

To them, those things are behind and are forgotten as they reach forward to those things which are ahead. For those of us who are sequestered away in our homes, we are living in a new reality which seems to consume our very existence.

In this, we have a choice. We can be fearful, selfish, anxious, and stressed, or we can – as mature and faithful followers of Jesus Christ – submit to Him, place our trust and hope in Him, and stand faithfully on the knowledge that He has brought us out.

For those who have followed the sermons from Genesis through until Deuteronomy, the patterns have become increasingly clear as God continually weaves the lives and events of real human beings, who really existed, into the model and plan of redemption which He has revealed – and which He continues to reveal – in the stream of human existence.

Using Israel as a template, or pattern, for what He would do in and through Christ for humanity, God brought this particular group of people out of the bondage of slavery under a harsh and brutal taskmaster and unto Himself. The redemption of Israel from Egypt is a type, or picture, of the redemption of man from the bondage of sin and the control of the devil to the freedom of God in Christ.

But Israel wasn’t just brought out and granted entrance into the Promise. That would have been insufficient to meet God’s goals and purposes for humanity. As He says in Isaiah –

“And now the Lord says,
Who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant,
To bring Jacob back to Him,
So that Israel is gathered to Him
(For I shall be glorious in the eyes of the Lord,
And My God shall be My strength),
Indeed He says,
‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob,
And to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles,
That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’” Isaiah 49:6, 7

No, what the Lord God did in, through, and for, Israel is only a small part of what He had determined to do for all of the people of the world. He brought Israel out of Egypt as a typological foreshadowing of His bringing us out from the power of the devil.

But God didn’t just bring Israel out of Egypt. He brought them out of Egypt and to Himself at Mount Sinai. It is the fulfillment of a promise made to Moses there on that same mountain. Moses was uncertain of his abilities, and he was fearful of the appointment –

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
12 So He said, “I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” Exodus 3:11, 12

The Lord said that he would bring them out, and He did. He kept His word and Israel was redeemed from the bondage. In this, He brought them to Himself, carrying them along until they arrived at the sacred mountain. When Israel arrived, however, they quickly realized the terrifying nature of this awesome and holy God.

In presenting to them the basis of His law, the Ten Commandments, the people were terrified. The reason must be two-fold, although we normally only consider one aspect of the event –

“And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. 19 And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice.” Exodus 19:17-19

During this terrifying display, the Lord thundered forth His commandments to the people – You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy. Honor your father and your mother. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness. You shall not covet.

From the intensity of the display, and at the giving of the word, the people’s natural and obvious response is recorded –

“Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. 19 Then they said to Moses, ‘You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.’” Exodus 20:18, 19

This is the obvious, and first, reason the people were terrified. The splendor of the Lord was too great for them to behold and listen to. Relief was needed, or they would die. But there is a second reason they should have been terrified, and it is the reason for the display of the Lord in the first place.

It is because the word of the Lord, the demand of the law, and, therefore, the expectation of what would occur if the demand of the law was not met, was now a reality to them. The law cannot be separated from the Lawgiver. The former is an absolute and perfect revelation of the latter. The nature of the Lawgiver is revealed in His law.

If Israel was terrified of the sight which they beheld, which was only a mere demonstration of His power, then how much more terrified should they have been of the words which issued forth from Him!

The words were not merely a demonstration of His power, they are an exact reflection of His nature. To violate His word is to come under His judgment. The power on display was to alert them to this, and to bring them to understand what the consequences of violating His nature would then be – “What you have seen at the giving of My word is terrifying, because I am terrifying when you violate My word.”

Israel had been brought out of a terrible bondage. The yoke they bore was heavy and it afflicted their bodies until their bodies were broken and cast away while others would come and assume the burdens they could no longer bear.

But Israel had been brought into actually a greater bondage than they had left. They had been brought under the yoke of the law. The taskmaster they were now to serve would not merely break their bodies, consigning them to the pit of death, but it would break their souls, consigning them to the pit of hell.

If it were not for provisions within the law which accompanied the giving of these Ten Commandments – which form the basis of the law – none could have been saved. No not even one. But in the law came mercy. The Lord gave Israel a system of sacrifices to atone for their wrongdoings, and to provide remission of their sins.

These provisions were offered through the Lord’s grace, and through His grace alone. The people had agreed to the covenant, in advance, and they had done so without any such provision agreed to at that point.

In Exodus 24:7, at the renewing of the covenant, and before much of the law had been brought to the ears of the people, the word says, v’yomeru kol asher dibber Yehovah naaseh v’nishma – “And they said, all that has said Yehovah, we will do and we will hear.” The promise to do came before the promise to hear. Israel had agreed to their own new, and more comprehensive, bondage.

Thus, any infraction of the law is the fault of the people and is deserving of the entire weight and penalty of the law. Thus, any atonement for, or remission of, the sins of the people is then – by default – an act of grace. They would receive what they did not deserve. It would further be an act of mercy – they would not receive what they did deserve.

The bondage of Israel was complete at that time, even if the scope of it was not understood. But freedom within the law was also revealed – a lamb for this sin, a goat for that sin, and a bull for this sin. There were grain offerings and fat offerings. There were offerings at certain times of the day, and there were offerings for certain days.

The whole system was set up to provide relief from the terror of the bondage that the people were in. And of all of these sacrifices and offerings, they together culminated in several special offerings – that of the red heifer and that of the Day of Atonement.

These, and any other particular offerings, were given for particular reasons and for special release from the burden of the law. Through them, the Lord would bring them out of the bondage they were in. But each of these special offerings required something exceptional as well. They required faith.

For the Day of Atonement, it says in Leviticus 23:28, 29 –

“And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God. 29 For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people.” Leviticus 23:28, 29

On this momentous and august day, which came each year, they were to do nothing but rest and afflict their souls. But this was totally up to them. They would be scattered throughout the land of Israel, and for many, nobody but they alone would know if they had actually refrained from work and food, and if they had also actively afflicted their souls.

In other words, this Day of days was a day of faith. It would be between their hearts and God. Would they come by faith in their minds to Jerusalem and accept the atoning sacrifice which was being made for them? Or would they continue on in their own futile attempts at pleasing God and/or just living life without regard to Him, ignoring His word, and trusting in their own supposed righteousness?

Likewise, with the sprinkling of the water of purification from the red heifer, the person had to stand and allow himself to be sprinkled. The word used there for the action is not the normal word for sprinkling that was found elsewhere in the same passage.

Rather, the word zaraq, a scattering, is used. It is the scattering which is caused by a sprinkling. And more, in the Hebrew the word is passive, not active. A more literal translation would say something like the person “received as a scattering on him.”

To be purified, the person had to receive what was to be done. It could not be obtained by self, but it had to be imparted by another; no works of his own were involved.

Each sacrificial allowance was given to Israel to bring them out of the bondage they were in. If the requirements of the rite which accompanied the sacrifice or offering were met, release from the infraction of the law was realized in the person.

In this, then, the Lord could say, “I have brought you out.” He didn’t need to provide these avenues of release, and being a codified law, only these avenues of release were acceptable. The parameters of the law are found within the law, not within any change or addition to it by the recipients of the law.

It is an important point to understand. When a covenant is made, and when the parameters are set, no man may add to it, and no man may annul it, except as defined within the covenant itself.

With this understanding, the law – though providing release for individual infractions – remained a bondage to the people, even in their times of release. How is this? It is because the provisions of the law were only as good as the committing of a new infraction.

The requirements of the law still stood, and for each new infraction, a new and separate release was required. And more, the annual Day of Atonement was just that. It was annual. It implied that none under the law had met the demands of the law. Though the Lord would bring them out from the infractions, He did not bring them out of the bondage of the law. At least, not through their actions under the law.

However, He was not only able to bring them out of their infractions, but He was also able to bring them out of their bondage. This is what the message of Scripture speaks to, and it is what all of Scripture is directed to. The Lord would bring them out, and it was for a reason. That reason was that He might bring us in.

I have brought you out, My beloved redeemed
The burdens of the past are no more
Please do not doubt, as if I had schemed
To only bring you to a closed Door 

Rather, you have been brought out, and I shall care for you
Each step of the way is a step with Me at your side
Trust that I will do what I have promised to do
As on eagle’s wings you now currently ride 

You shall be carried through to the end
And on a day that I have set for you
For your soul I will send
And through the Door, I will carry you through

II. That He Might Bring Us In

The Thursday before typing this sermon, I said to Berk Carrico, before Bible study, that I wanted to present something to you all that was different than a normal sermon.

Rather than pick apart a passage which obviously looks to Christ and which could then be used to deepen your theology, I thought that the state of the times we are living in necessitated a word to you that would build you up and give you confidence before the Lord and in your own hearts and souls.

Berk excitedly quoted Deuteronomy 6:23 because it was fresh on his mind from having read it that day, “Then He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in, to give us the land of which He swore to our fathers.” In his usually excited way, he then repeated, “He brought us out, that He might bring us in.” Yes, that will do. Thank you, Berk.

The Lord didn’t just bring Israel out of Egypt in order to bring them into another permanent form and type of bondage. No, the law is merely an incidental step on the way to bringing them in. But into what? The answer is, “Their inheritance.”

Canaan was the immediate promise and the Lord would fulfill what He had promised. But, for any who have followed the sermons on the books of Moses, Canaan is not an end in and of itself. It is not the true goal. Rather, it is only a picture of something far more expansive and glorious.

The author of Hebrews tells us this. He goes through several chapters of discourse concerning God’s promised rest. He cites the 95th Psalm which spoke of Israel’s rebellion in the wilderness –

“Today, if you will hear His voice:
“Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion,
As in the day of trial in the wilderness,
When your fathers tested Me;
They tried Me, though they saw My work.
10 For forty years I was grieved with that generation,
And said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts,
And they do not know My ways.’
11 So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest.’” Psalm 95:7-11

It was a rebellion that brought about a denial of entry into Canaan for that entire generation. Only when all those who had rebelled were dead, would Israel enter the land. But in his citation of the Psalm he wisely, and carefully, again notes David’s first words, “Today, if you will hear His voice.”

If David speaks of entering the Lord’s rest, and if he lived hundreds of years after Israel entered Canaan, then Israel’s entering Canaan could not have been an entrance into His promised rest. As He says –

“For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day.” Hebrews 4:8

Joshua did bring Israel into Canaan, and yet Joshua did not bring them into the rest. Therefore, the promise of entering His rest must have still stood, and Israel must still have remained in bondage at that time. One plus one will always equal two in proper theology.

And so how can one enter God’s rest? The law was intended to bring life. As Moses said to the people after finishing his final discourse, and just before ascending Mount Nebo to die, he specifically told them –

 “Set your hearts on all the words which I testify among you today, which you shall command your children to be careful to observe—all the words of this law. 47 For it is not a futile thing for you, because it is your life, and by this word you shall prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to possess.” Deuteronomy 32:46, 47

Moses said that through obedience to the law life could come. In its fulfillment, one could expect life. It is a truth that the Lord had told them almost forty years earlier –

“You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 18:5

But we have already seen that no man could do the things of the law. It is clearly implied in the Day of Atonement rites. One MUST observe the rite because the person had offended the awesome, terrifying, and glorious Lord who had spoken out the law which they had broken.

But more specifically, and to the point at hand, every person who was under the law died. With one exception, Elijah, who was taken to heaven for a set purpose, all of them died. But the law promised that the person who did the things of the law would live. And yet, they all died.

The testimony to the people’s failure stands as a witness against them. Were it not for the mercy of the Lord, they would not only have died, but they would have perished as well. But even under the law, the promise of life for those who died under the law is seen. That is found, for example, in Daniel 12. There the word says –

“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,
Some to everlasting life,
Some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Daniel 12:2

The hope of the redeemed of Israel is the hope of man’s promise – everlasting life. The Lord had brought them out to bring them in. And the Lord through the giving of His Son, has brought us out so that He may bring us in.

God’s promise of life, however, did not come at a small cost. Rather, it came in the giving of His Son for us. Though man in general could not meet the demands of the law, a Man in particular could. He was to be a special Man, a perfect Man – a Man without sin.

The Lord God Himself, united with His own creation to bring about what He had purposed. The Holy Spirit overshadowed a young Jewish girl, and in her womb, God united with humanity. Thus, the child is fully God, being born of God, and fully Human, being born of the seed of man.

But this union came about through a person bound under the constraints of the law. The very bondage which Israel stood under is the bondage to which God subjected Himself to. The Child – Jesus – was born under the law, but without the limitations of other men.

With God as His Father, He was born without sin. And thus, He was qualified to fulfill the law. No other man was, because all were already born with sin. Jesus, however, had no such constraint on Him. Being qualified to doing so, however, He still had to prove Himself capable.

The demands of the law had to be met, perfectly and entirely. But Moses said, “He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in.” The process had been initiated, and so the process must come to its completion.

This is the purpose of the gospels. They are given to show that not only did Christ come, but that He came for us. Whether the world at large is under the law or not, the world at large will be judged by the law. The reason this is so, is because the law is God’s standard.

The same holy God who spoke forth the Ten Commandments will have all flesh stand before Him for judgment. The demand of the law – perfection – will be the standard, and those who fail to meet that demand will be removed from His presence, forever.

One can perish apart from the law, or one can perish under the law, but the law reflects the nature of God. This is what Christ came to fulfill – God’s standard. And this is what He did. Jesus Christ was born under the law – without sin. Jesus Christ lived under the law – as testified to in the gospels – without sin. And Christ died under the law – without sin.

The terrifying display of God, which Israel begged to no longer hear, came from God who is truly angry at sin. The anger of God, for the sin of the world was directed to His own beloved Son. Not because He had sinned, but because you have sinned; we have sinned. Jesus Christ’s death was not for Himself, but for us.

In having accomplished this, the law was fulfilled. The terms of the covenant were met in Him, and thus the penalty of the law ended in Him. How can we know that this is so? It is because of what the Lord said – “which if a man does, he shall live by them.” And it is what Moses repeated – “it is your life.”

If Jesus Christ had not done the things of the law, He would be in the same place where all the multitudes of Israel who came before Him still are to this day. He would have remained in the pit of death and corruption. But such is not the case.

The reason we are here today, is because this Man – born under the law, who lived under the law, and who died because of the law – came out of the grave, proving He fulfilled the law. In Him is life because He embodies the law. In His death, the law died with Him.

As He embodies the law, then He embodies all of the law, including the Day of Atonement, and the purification of the red heifer. He is the Day – our Day – of Atonement. And, He is the Water of Purification – our source of cleansing from sin. And as both of those had to be accepted and received by faith, so does the cleansing and atonement of Christ.

God does not make salvation difficult for us, but the terms of the New Covenant are set and cannot be procured in any way other than how He has determined. One must believe what God did in Jesus Christ, He must receive that offering by faith, and He must receive it apart from any personal merit. We come with empty hands and we procure what God has done.

This is the marvel of Resurrection Day. It is the day where the hope of man – since the moment of the fall of our first father – is realized. The Lord God brought Israel out in order to bring them in. And along with Israel, He said –

“It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob,
And to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles,
That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.” Isaiah 49:7

The whole world has the Door opened to them for the forgiveness of sin and for the purification of all unrighteousness, if they will just but believe. If they will just reach out and receive.

Have I left you after the work I have begun?
Would I abandon you after only a part of the way?
What would be the point in the giving of My Son
If I were to abandon you now? Tell Me, I pray 

I have not brought you just part of the way
To then leave you wandering in a wilderness
Believe the past words when I did say
That I will bring you in, and your soul I will bless 

The Door lies yet ahead, but it remains ever open to you
Because you started in faith, believing in My Son
And through that Door, I shall see you through
I shall complete the task. Yes, it shall be done

Have faith in Me when things are rough
The end for you is secure; your faith is enough

III. Not Just Part of the Way

The Lord God said that He had brought Israel out that He might bring them in. We then saw that the land He promised to bring them into was not the promised Rest of which He had spoken. Like the law itself, it was only a step on the way to the promise.

Paul, in the book of Galatians, says that the law was a tutor to lead us to Christ. God brought Israel into the law to teach them (and us!) of our desperate need for Christ. In coming to Christ, the Promise is found, and the Rest is realized. That is stated explicitly in Hebrews 4:3 with the words, “For we who have believed do enter that rest.”

If you have trusted Jesus with your eternal soul, the victory is won, and the battle is complete. The promise is realized. Oh! How joyfully we sing of the great redemption, of the blood, and of the cross. We rejoice in the mighty working of God, so sure of our salvation and of the glory which lies ahead.

And yet…

How fearful are you today? How anxious are you of the events surrounding you? How discouraged are you at being shut up in your home, unable to go out, lacking toilet paper because someone who cares less about others than he does about the backside of his own body has, through hoarding, deprived you of this temporary comfort?

Who is it that has pains in his body, and who questions the Lord’s goodness because of it? Who is it that says the Lord must not love him because his dog was killed? Which one of us will question God’s goodness when his finances are lost through the current crisis, or because a hacker came online and cleaned out his account?

Is there someone here who wonders why God so unfairly allowed the coronavirus to come and steal away his life of ease instead of taking him out at the rapture. The nerve of God to leave me like this! Who would talk this way? Who would think this way?

Is the rest of your life, after the victory you have received, supposed to be one of luxury, ease, and paths of rose petals? The Lord God has brought us out so that He may bring us in. He didn’t say that He would start bringing us in and then stop short along the way.

Why would God go through four thousand years of preparation, of meticulous recording of human history, of working through Israel and the law, and of the giving of His Son – think of it! – the giving of His Son to bring us out, just to fail in bringing us in?

Are we so faithless in ourselves that our faith will get us to Christ, but not to truly dwell in Christ? We started in faith; shall we now expect sight? We have the word; shall we now demand more?

Rather, the victory in Christ is a victory which asks us to trust that what happens to us is not out of His control. It is a victory which belongs to us as an inheritance and it is both ours, and it must be waited upon.

We have come here today to celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ – giving God the glory for what He has done. But we diminish that glory every time we allow our personal circumstances to stand above the significance of what Christ did for us.

When we lose hope because of some worldly affliction, pain, trial, sadness, pestilence, or famine, we are putting the test of this world above our faith in the next. Let us remember always that the Lord – our Lord Jesus Christ – brought us out, so that He might bring us in.

He took the terror of the law, with all of its associated punishments for disobedience, upon Himself. He took all of God’s wrath concerning all of the sin in human existence upon Himself. And He died so that we could meet the demands of the law in Him and thus… live.

The sin-debt is paid, the pardon is granted, and the everlasting life has begun. It isn’t that it will start some nebulously placed day in our future. No, it has begun – right at the moment we received Jesus Christ. The joys of eternal life apart from this present life may be yet ahead, but the JOY of eternal life – even during this life – should ever be with us.

Don’t lose heart, don’t be fearful, don’t be discouraged, and be anxious for nothing. But rather, “in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6, 7)

Each of us is bound to suffer. Each of us is bound to mourn. Each of us is bound to be burdened in heart and in soul. But each of us is to remain hopeful and hope-filled through those things. This, rather than diminishing the glory of the cross of Jesus Christ, will add to its glory.

God sent His Son on a mission of love and mercy, and God now asks you to remain faithful to the pronouncement you made when you first called out to Him to receive the Gift and to be called into His brilliantly glorious light. God has brought you out, so that He might (and indeed will) bring you in.

Have faith, be encouraged in the Lord, and be filled with the peace and calm of life in Jesus Christ – to the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Closing Verse: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8, 9

Next Week: Deuteronomy 1:34-46 When done there, a new direction will come, happy and fresh… (Many Days in Kadesh) (5th Deuteronomy Sermon)

A Celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

This is the gospel which was preached to you
It is also the one you received and on which you stand
It is the gospel of salvation, providing life that’s new
And which will carry you to the promised Holy Land

What is delivered to you is what was before received
That Christ died for our sins according to God’s word
He was buried and He rose, and so we have believed
And many witnesses testify to this message you have heard

Now, if Christ is preached that He is risen from the dead
How can some among you say the resurrection isn’t true?
If there is no resurrection after Christ was crucified and bled
Then our faith as well as yours is certainly askew

And if so, we are found false witnesses of God
Because we have wrongly testified of this mighty deed
And our faith is futile, no heavenly streets we’ll trod
And we are still dead in our sins; fallen Adam’s seed

Even more, those who have fallen asleep in the Lord are gone
And we are the most pitiable creatures
———-the world could ever look upon

But indeed, Christ is risen from the dead
He is the Firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep
And as death came through one man, Adam, our federal head
So, Christ will make all alive; our souls He will keep

But there is an order to the Resurrection call
Christ was first, the pattern for the rest when He comes
When He does, He will make a shout out to us all
And we will rise as if to the sound of heavenly battle drums

Then comes the time, when He delivers the kingdom to the Father
When all rule, authority, and power have come to an end
The last enemy to be destroyed is death, never more to bother
Then the Son will to the Father eternal rule extend

But you ask, what will we be like after our time of sleep?
After we have been buried in corruption’s pit so deep?

Our body is sown in dishonor, but it will be raised in glory
It is sown in weakness, but raised in power – the resurrection story

The first man Adam became a living being, it is true
The last Adam became a life-giving Spirit, life to me and you

And as was the man of dust, created so long ago
So are those likened unto him, also made of dust
And as is the Man, the Lord from heaven, you know
That we shall bear His image for eternity just as we’ve discussed

Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God
Nor can corruption inherit that which in incorrupt
Be we shall all be changed, and so, heavenly streets we’ll trod
In the twinkling of an eye, the change will be abrupt

When the last trumpet sounds, we will be taken to glory
We shall all be changed, completion of the gospel story\

Where O Death, O where is your sting
When Christ our Savior, us to Himself does He bring\

Where O Hades, O where is your victory
When Christ translates His children to eternal glory

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin the law
But thanks be to God who gives us victory through our Lord
My beloved brethren be steadfast in all you’ve heard and saw
And cling confidently to God’s eternal word

Know for certain that your labor is not in vain
Be of good cheer, Christ is coming again

Hallelujah and Amen…

John 16:19-22 (Your Sorrow Will Be Turned Into Joy)

John 16:19-22
Your Sorrow Will Be Turned Into Joy

A few weeks before I typed our sermon for today, a friend, Chris – who is a Navy Seal – and who attends online – sent an email concerning his thoughts on our state before God. I got his permission to use it for the introduction to our sermon today. Other than amending it in some areas of clarity or style for a sermon, and some punctuation, it is just as he sent it to me:

“God not only created the possibility for Adam to sin by putting the tree in the garden, but He also made Satan knowing what he was, and all he would do to mankind. It begs the question, is a test given where the outcome is known or predestined before you give it really a test?

He not only created the test but He tanked it on purpose if you truly think about it. It is common for anyone to ask the question, “Why create man?” (We tend to be self-centered after all). But then why even Satan? God knew he was going to be a murderer and the father of lies before He even created him.

Why would a teacher give any test if he already knew the result, and in reality added conditions that would knowingly cause them to fail? And, anyone having to take it would inevitably be the worse for it? Unless, there is a purpose outside of how we responded to the test, to set a condition that provides improvement of the student whereby he is, in fact, ultimately better off than in the first state.

Understanding some of the nature of God – He is infallible, knows everything before it happens, and works all things to good for those that seek Him, we know that the fall had to be by design. We know Adam was made to praise, worship and glorify God, but was the intent ever to do that in a[n originally] sinless state?

I would have to say no…based on the reasoning above. It could not have been if God created Satan, and us, knowing we would fail. Our worship and praise, or the Glory God receives, has to be greater somehow in-lieu-of our fallen state (and after glorification).

We are then a work in progress to be perfected for His intended purpose in His perfect timing. The simple fact we can even be saved glorifies God through Jesus’ selfless subservient act. God’s intended end-state for us would have to be far better than the first to make it worthwhile to create Satan, and then us knowing our choices in advance.

God does not make mistakes, and He knows the end from the beginning. Those that are His are made perfect in Christ. We will be made perfect at least in God’s ultimate purpose for us, after He comes again. This leads me to this thought:

What’s better? To walk with God like Adam or Enoch, or have Christ in us, which was the intent for man all along? I would argue we can have a closer relationship now, than we could ever have had simply walking with Him?

Jesus’ prayer was for us to be one… Christ is in the Father and the Father is in the Son, we are all one in the Spirit according to His word, and we are in Christ as Christ is in us. Would that have even been possible if our spirit hadn’t died? We could walk with Him, but would we be in He and Him in us?

What’s the difference? I think it is because now we can start to know the mind of God as He reveals Himself through His Spirit in us, not to us. Our spirit is now renewed and we are made a new creature. Not the old brought back again; new and wholly different in Christ.

Was that the intent all along? To develop a condition of perfect union between God and man? Subservient to Him, but with a heart for true love, praise and worship in the realization we were once two – separated from God, but now God is in us? Not that we are God, but we are in God and God is in us because of Christ and through Christ who would not have died if we never sinned. The perfect communion is by design, not an afterthought.

If this is, in fact, the case, we can then know Him better in some ways than any man or angel could ever do, even before the fall. Think about it…Nobody has seen the Father but the Son (according to Jesus’s own words). That included Adam who was sinless, right?

Because Christ is in us, we are told we will be able to walk boldly in His presence because what [God] sees is His Son in us. What a gift, I can’t begin to fathom what that means. But, I do know this… it was by design right from the start, the perfect will of God is manifest in us eternally. We move in relation to Him from sinner to saint – to the glory of God. Amen! Chris.

Text Verse: “Remember the former things of old,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like Me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things that are not yet done,
Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
And I will do all My pleasure.’” Isaiah 46:9, 10

In a part of my response to Chris, I mentioned “contrast,” saying, “We can’t really know good unless we experience bad. We can’t appreciate food until we get hungry. We don’t have an idea what feeling normal is like until we get sick. Contrast is what allows this. For Adam and Eve, there was nothing to contrast their state to.”

When man was in Eden, he had everything he needed, but there was – as there is in each of us – a desire for more. In giving the law to Adam, it set the desire for more to take hold and destroy him. Satan knew this, and he used it to bring about the fall of man. Adam didn’t look at the forbidden fruit in its proper context, which is from his position as the created before his Creator.

First, as the Creator, God had a right to set the boundaries. Secondly, having been created, Adam is a finite being and therefore, could not, by default grasp the infinite. Third, in looking at the created fruit which the Lord had forbidden him to eat, he failed to take into consideration that God is the Source of the fruit. If the fruit could satisfy in some measure, as the account says it did, then how much more could the Creator Himself satisfy!

Look at anything in this world which brings us some measure of pleasure. All things find their source in God. And yet those things that we find pleasure in can cause us harm or even kill us. As the proverb says –

“Have you found honey?
Eat only as much as you need,
Lest you be filled with it and vomit.” Proverbs 26:16

How did Solomon know this? Well, he could have been told it by his mother, and taken her word at face value. Or, he might have figured it out by watching others eat too much honey and seeing the results. Or, he may have overindulged in it himself. No matter which, it was the experiential knowledge of someone that made it known. And that was based on the contrast of “before and after.”

In God, there is a process which is bringing us as a species from one state to another. We need to go through this process in order to appreciate what we have obtained, but we also need to go through this process in order to come to a state where it is even possible to appreciate it. It is a fact that there is a devil, and that he really works out evil in this world. It is also a fact that we suffer through all kinds of troubles, trials, pains, ills, woes, and disappointments. People use these things as an argument that God is incompetent, unable to accomplish anything good, and etc. It goes on and on, and it fails to see the big picture.

But with the word written – His superior word – we can know, and trust by faith, that God has a plan, it is being worked out, and its end goal is glorious. We will have the knowledge of this messed up world, and we will also have the knowledge of what God did for us to redeem us out of it. These are truths which are to be found in His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

John 16:19-22

“And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17

They are marvelous words which stir our soul. We thirst and there is a Fount from which we can drink. But, unless we first thirsted in death, we would not know what it means to drink of, and to possess, the water of life.

19 Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, “Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’?

Jesus is here referring to a puzzling statement that He earlier spoke to those with Him. In John 14, He said –

“A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” John 14:19-21

In John 16, He repeats a portion of that thought, knowing that the disciples didn’t understand His words, but they had a desire to know what He was talking about. They wanted to ask Him what He meant, and He preempts them, but He doesn’t precisely answer their question.

In His words, “A little while, and you will not see Me,” He is referring to His coming death and subsequent burial. “You see Me now, and if you think that will continue, you would be incorrect. You won’t see Me.”

We can look back on His words and understand what He meant, but the words are enigmatic enough that anyone hearing them for the first time would wonder what He was talking about. It simply isn’t a normal way of speaking unless a special thought is being conveyed.

In His continued words, the enigma only increased, “And again a little while, and you will see Me.” This statement actually only complicated something that He had already said to them. Earlier in John 14, He said –

“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” John 14:2-4

It was obvious to them that the two statements were not speaking of the same event. He was going to prepare a place, but there was also a time when they wouldn’t see Him, and then they would see Him again. This is what caused them curiosity, and it is this which He explains. But even in explanation, He doesn’t give specifics…

20 Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament,

The words that He will not be seen by them is explained with their being brought to a point of intense sorrow. It is not an explanation in the sense of filling in details of what is unknown concerning the previous verse. Rather, it is an explanation which provides details of what they will experience in the time ahead. It is comparable to what one might say when planning a surprise for someone –

“Big things are coming for you in the days ahead!”

“What does that mean?”
“Trust me, when they come, you will be delighted beyond measure!”

20 (con’t) but the world will rejoice;

This is generally taken to mean that those who came against Christ would rejoice at being done with Him. But this may not be the point of His words at all. It is true that the leaders of Israel probably felt smugly satisfied that the thorn in their side was eliminated, but the number of those who would feel this would be limited. The word is kosmos, and it signifies the world as in its arrangement. It is an ordered system.

In John 14:30, Jesus spoke of the “ruler of this world.” That is an obvious reference to Satan, and the power of darkness which he works out, such as through Judas. In the next chapter, Jesus says –

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” John 15:18, 19

It seems that Jesus is speaking of the world, ordered under its ruler who is Satan. This then is inclusive of those leaders who came against Him, but it is more involved than that. It is the order in which they walk and exist. It is the ordered state of enmity which exists against God through the rule of Satan. As Jesus had said to the Pharisees in John 8 –

“If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” John 8:42-44

This then is “the world” which will rejoice when He is gone. The devil, and all of the wickedness which permeates the world under him, will rejoice that God’s Messiah is defeated and that they have prevailed, gaining complete and permanent control over the sphere in which man exists. But Christ, the Light of the world, tells them now that the darkness of their sorrow will not be permanent…

20 (con’t) and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.

Jesus used three expressions of woe to describe their future state, translated as “weep,” “lament,” and now “sorrow.” The first two speak of audible expressions of lamentation and mourning. This third speaks of a more general type of pain and grief which affects the body and soul. It is the pall of great sorrow.

He tells them that these things will be replaced with the same joy that the world had expressed in their delight at His going away. They will exist in a state which is defined by joy. It is a state which Paul, one of the Pharisees who was included in the world of rejoicing in the removal of Christ, would someday express in a new and profound way.

The contrast is given so that for the ages of ages they could look back on what they once had, and see the difference between the two. In knowing the sorrowful lamentation, their joy could be complete in having put the sorrows behind – once and forever.

Paul’s smug and bitter fighting against the Lord, through the persecution of His people, would be replaced with the horror of what his actions meant, so much so that in Acts 9, at hearing the Lord’s words that his actions against the church were a direct attack against Him, it says that he was trembling and astonished.

For the next three days, blinded because of the vision, it says he neither ate nor drank. His was a mourning of the soul like the other apostles experienced, but on a completely different level. They felt the tragedy of loss; he felt the tragedy of having been responsible for that loss.

Before, he was too blinded to see the truth, and yet later, in his blindness, he sat there mourning over the truth he had missed, and thus the grief he had caused. What would be the end of it? As he sat there blind and grief-stricken, he also must have wondered what his fate would be. He had crucified the Lord, rejected the call to repent of that, and had destroyed His people. He must have been sure that a fate worse than that of Korah himself lay ahead of him. Eventually, though, the good news of glad tidings was extended even to him as is recorded in Acts 9:17, 18 –

“‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ 18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.”

Yes, the scales fell from his eyes, clarity of sight – never before experienced – filled his mind, and joy… joy inexpressible filled his life from that day on.

But without the contrast, there could not be the heartfelt expression of joy. Nor could the depth of his love for the Creator be so great as it was. The plan of God was set from before the foundation of the world. Man would be created, he would fall, he would fail the test, and then the next test, and then the one after that.

With each failure, man was being conducted on a road to a fuller understanding of glory, of intimacy with his God, and in what it means to understand the word LOVE in its fullest, deepest, and most profound sense.

Was God out of control? Is God out of control? Is there a purpose for the pains of life? Indeed – No, God was not out of control. No, God is not out of control. And, Yes, there is a purpose for the pains of life.

21 A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come;

This was ordained by the Lord in Genesis 3 –

“To the woman He said:

I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;
In pain you shall bring forth children;
Your desire 
shall be for your husband,
And he shall rule over you.’”
Genesis 3:16

It is right and fitting that the Lord pronounced this upon the woman, and it becomes obvious why He would make the connection to that particular event now, just prior to His crucifixion. The woman had been deceived and then had allowed that deception to coax her husband into sin. Death was the result of this, and so in giving birth, there would be the reminder of that state. She would be in pain as she delivered a physically living child who had inherited man’s spiritually dead state. In this, she would be in sorrow because her hour has come.

But this sentence upon the woman was no different than that of the curse which was levied upon the man. The Lord did not exempt Himself from any word of the curse upon Adam, and He did not exempt Himself from this pronouncement upon the woman as well.

Christ Jesus had to go through His own sort of labor pains and sorrow in order to bring forth children to God. But, in assuming this earthly life, carrying the weight of the law upon Himself, and going through the sorrowful labor pains of His passion, He then brought many sons to glory. This is what He looked forward to as He endured the heavy burden He carried.

Jesus now likens this same type of labor pain to His disciples around Him as well. They would have their own labor pains as they watched God’s plan unfold before their eyes. They would have sorrow they had never experienced before, but it would all be worth it in the end…

21 (con’t) but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.

When we witness to Jews, a real stumblingblock for them is the term “Christian.” There is such a wall of enmity built up by Jews concerning the term that it is almost impossible to break down, or to climb over. Since the early church, when the term was first used – and certainly as a derogatory term at times – and throughout the centuries as well, it has been a word of disdain to them.

“Christians” have hunted them down, “Christians” have destroyed them and stolen their possessions. “Christians” have been the great enemy of their existence. How does one find common ground when such a battlefield has always seemed to exist? And so, when dealing with a relationship with Christ, many believing Jews state that they are “completed Jews.”

It is a good analogy, and it bears a similar mark of truth to what the words of this verse are saying. The woman rejoices and no longer remembers the anguish because a human being has been brought forth.

Christ Jesus walked in a world full of human beings, but as He walked among them, He saw something that they couldn’t see. It is something we still can’t perceive today. Like a movie about zombies, Christ walked among the living dead. Something was missing from man that kept him from being a “completed man.” And this is true even with the first man, Adam. The record says,

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7

Adam was a living soul, and one that could potentially live forever. That is implied in the words of the Lord to Adam. But, as Chris noted in our introduction today, Adam was, like we are, a work in progress – to be perfected for His intended purpose in His perfect timing.

It cannot be said that Adam was already perfected in this way. He was perfect in his state of being, but not perfected in the ideal way that God intended. This is true because he lacked the knowledge of good and evil. This wasn’t a defect, but it was a lack.

The problem was, in order to fill that lack, fault would then result. God set it up this way. God placed the possibility of it before the man by forbidding that he eat of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. Man did, fault (or sin) entered the world, and the perfect life died, first spiritually, and then physically.

This, however, was the plan of God. In order to bring about the perfected man. Man (meaning all men) had to go through this ordeal. It is an ordeal which continued on for thousands of years, waiting for the perfect moment in God’s preordained plan, in order to bring about that which is superior, even to that which Adam experienced.

And that is why there was another tree in the garden, the tree of life. Man had access to that, and he was never forbidden from eating it, but once he sinned, access to that tree was removed. He was separated from God, expelled from the garden, and was destined to die.

Now, through the coming of Christ, in the death which atones for man’s sin, and in the covering His shed blood provides, we are granted access to God’s paradise, and thus to that tree of life, once again. In Christ, we become what even Adam wasn’t. He was created a perfect man, but he was not a completed man.

We now have something greater than he ever had. He had intimate face to face fellowship with God, but we have God residing in us, filling us, and a unity with God that even he lacked. And we have the knowledge of the extent that God was willing to go to in order to bring us to that state.

Adam could not have conceived of the love of God which existed. He may have been able to deduce what the Bible proclaims, that “God is love,” But he could not have grasped what that actually meant.

Only in the fall of man, and in God’s redemptive plans for man, can the depth of that love be truly seen and experienced. The disciples who sat listening to Jesus were told about it, but even they couldn’t imagine it. It was beyond their ability to comprehend…

22 Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice,

The sorrow Jesus speaks of here is one of perplexity leading to grief. When He says, “you now have sorrow,” it was a sorrow of anticipating whatever He was referring to. That state of sorrow would turn to the weeping and lamentation He spoke of in verse 20. And that sorrow would continue on until they once again beheld the Dayspring from on high who had come to visit them. After that day their hearts would rejoice…

*22 (fin) and your joy no one will take from you.

The Lord said that in that day, they would possess a joy that could never be taken from them. This has to be taken in the context for which it is intended. There is a state of joy, and there is the challenge of daily life.

The apostles faced trials, they got angry – even with one another, they were concerned in many ways, and they were not without fault, both in ordinary life and in doctrine. It is fashionable for some Christians to assume that because they have Christ, they can possess a joy which excludes any of those other negatives, such as trials, pains, frustrations, or even anger.

This is not what Christ Jesus was saying, nor is it a message later found in the epistles. Rather, the joy Christ is speaking of is a state of being that says to us, “Despite these things, you have a hope which transcends them and which will get you both through and beyond them.” That hope is referred to, for example, by Paul –

“I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, 26 the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. 27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:24-27

Paul spoke of sufferings and afflictions in which he rejoiced because of the hope which transcends the temporary light afflictions. It is, as he said, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” It is this hope of glory which establishes the state of joy.

Pains will come, deaths will continue, and the bodies will be covered over with the soil of the earth. But because Christ came forth from death, so will those who possess the hope of Christ and the promises He has made.

And those promises include becoming the completed man that God intended before He ever breathed the breath of life into the first man, the earthly man, Adam. Paul tells us of this wonderfully marvelous truth in 1 Corinthians 15:35-58.

We have gathered here today in celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is that moment in history which makes possible the very things that we have talked about, all too briefly, today. But we need to remember what the resurrection of Jesus means.

It means that He first died. Without His death, there would have been no resurrection. The world we live in is, as we have noted, one of pain, sorrow, trial, and death. But none of those things are without purpose, and God has not lost control. Rather, He is in complete control.

The measure of His love for us is not found in the level of comfort we experience, nor the amount of money we make or possess. The love of God is found in the plan, which He initiated, and which He has lovingly unfolded before our eyes in the stream of human existence. And it is highlighted by one defining act – the giving of His Son on the torturous tree of Calvary.

It is that alone which God has put on display and in which He has declared, “Through this, I will accept you unto Myself.” God has done the work, He has made the offer, and He will instill in you the same hope of glory that the saints of the ages possess, if you will simply reach out to Him, by faith, and be reconciled to Him through Christ’s shed blood.

My appeal you today is to do so. Come to the cross, be washed in the blood of the Lamb, and receive the gift of eternal life which God has placed before you. May it be so, and may it be today. Amen.

Closing Verse: Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29

Next Week: Numbers 19:11-22 Something for the cleansing of Israel the nation… (The Water of Purification) (37th Numbers Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and a purpose for You. Though Paradise was lost, He offers access to it once again through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So call on Him, and trust Him, and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

A Celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

This is the gospel which was preached to you
It is also the one you received and on which you stand
It is the gospel of salvation, providing life that’s new
And which will carry you to the promised Holy Land

What is delivered to you is what was before received
That Christ died for our sins according to God’s word
He was buried and He rose, and so we have believed
And many witnesses testify to this message you have heard

Now, if Christ is preached that He is risen from the dead
How can some among you say the resurrection isn’t true?
If there is no resurrection after Christ was crucified and bled
Then our faith as well as yours is certainly askew

And if so, we are found false witnesses of God
Because we have wrongly testified of this mighty deed
And our faith is futile, no heavenly streets we’ll trod
And we are still dead in our sins; fallen Adam’s seed

Even more, those who have fallen asleep in the Lord are gone
And we are the most pitiable creatures
———-the world could ever look upon

But indeed Christ is risen from the dead
He is the Firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep
And as death came through one man, Adam our federal head
So Christ will make all alive; our souls He will keep

But there is an order to the Resurrection call
Christ was first, the pattern for the rest when He comes
When He does, He will make a shout out to us all
And we will rise as if to the sound of heavenly battle drums

Then comes the time, when He delivers the kingdom to the Father
When all rule, authority, and power have come to an end
The last enemy to be destroyed is death, never more to bother
Then the Son will to the Father eternal rule extend

But you ask, what will we be like after our time of sleep
After we have been buried in corruption’s pit so deep
Our body is sown in dishonor, but it will be raised in glory
It is sown in weakness, but raised in power – the resurrection story

The first man Adam became a living being, it is true
The last Adam became a life-giving Spirit, life to me and you

And as was the man of dust, created so long ago
So are those likened unto him, also made of dust
And as is the Man, the Lord from heaven, you know
That we shall bear His image for eternity just as we’ve discussed

Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God
Nor can corruption inherit that which in incorrupt
Be we shall all be changed, and so, heavenly streets we’ll trod
In the twinkling of an eye, the change will be abrupt

When the last trumpet sounds we will be taken to glory
We shall all be changed, completion of the gospel story

Where O Death, O where is your sting
When Christ our Savior, us to Himself does He bring

Where O Hades, O where is your victory
When Christ translates His children to eternal glory

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin the law
But thanks be to God who gives us victory through our Lord
My beloved brethren be steadfast in all you’ve heard and saw
And cling confidently to God’s eternal word

Know for certain that your labor is not in vain
Be of good cheer, Christ is coming again

Hallelujah and Amen…

When the Church Began – Hyperdispensationalism: Why It Is Wrong

When the Church Began – Hyperdispensationalism; Why It Is Wrong

Hyperdispensationalism is also known as the Grace Movement or mid-Acts dispensationalism). It rejects water baptism, but yet it oddly keeps the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper, both of which were mandated by the Lord at the giving of the New Covenant. Hyperdispensationalism teaches two separate gospels, one for the nation of Israel, and one for the “Body of Christ,” meaning the church. It this correct? Anyone? No. Why? Because Scripture does not teach this, nor does it ever even imply it.

I mentioned what we would talk about tonight to Sergio and he went to read up on the subject, though speaking of ultra-dispensationalism, this quote fits very well with the heresy of hyper-dispensationalism. They are simply different forms of the same heresy, and their adherents possess the exact same attitude recorded here.

“…no hesitancy in saying that [ultra-dispensationalism’s] fruits are evil. It has produced a tremendous crop of heresies throughout the length and breadth of this and other lands; it has divided Christians and wrecked churches and assemblies without number; it has lifted up its votaries in intellectual and spiritual pride to an appalling extent, so that they look with supreme contempt upon Christians who do not accept their peculiar views; and in most instances where it has been long tolerated, it has absolutely throttled Gospel effort at home and sown discord on missionary fields abroad. So true are these things of this system that I have no hesitancy in saying it is an absolutely Satanic perversion of the truth” (Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth, chapter 1, Loizeaux Brothers, 1938).

One example of the teaching of hyperdispensationalism is provided by Steve Atwood in his sermon “When Did the Church (Body of Christ) Begin.” I don’t know the guy, and I don’t bear him any ill will, except towards his terrible doctrine. His sermon will be used as a basis and beginning for covering the major errors of this heresy. Why is it a heresy? It is because it teaches two gospels, not one. People speak of Calvinism as “heresy” all the time, and yet it is not. The difference? Bad doctrine will not keep someone from salvation.

Heresy is something that proclaims a false gospel, and it will – in fact – keep people from being saved. By proclaiming two gospels, when there is only one, they proclaim heresy. This doesn’t mean they are not saved, but their message can lead to another never coming to the truth of God in Christ, specifically the Jews, in this case. I have a text verse for you from Galatians 1 –

“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:6-9

The gospel of Jesus Christ is based upon the Person of Christ. In His completed work, there is one – and only one – New Covenant. When it says in Matthew 4:23 that “Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom,” it does not mean that there are two gospels.

It means that He is the Subject of the gospel. His work in fulfillment of the law, including His death, burial, and resurrection is the completion of the basis for the gospel. From there, that one, and only one, gospel message goes forth. The apostles are all clearly united in this message as will be seen as we continue.

The gospel, or Good News, is an extension of the work of Messiah. The Gospel of the Kingdom is one. That there is a literal, earthly, kingdom coming where Messiah rules among Israel does not divide the gospel; it is simply a part of the dispensational model, just as the same gospel was preached to Abraham beforehand as Paul notes in Galatians 3:8 – “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed.’” The gospel is that of Messiah in any dispensation. A literal kingdom on earth falls under that one gospel of Jesus Christ.

This is obvious on the surface because only in coming to Messiah will the Old Testament promises to Israel be brought about. It is faith in Messiah’s completed work which will bring Israel to the realization of those promises (See Zechariah 12:10-13:1). But, unlike the Gentiles, Israel is a corporate body as well as a group of individual people.

The promises of the kingdom for Israel are both for individuals and for the collective nation. This is obvious from verses such as Hebrews 4:3 which says, “…for we who have believed do enter that rest.” This is written by a Hebrew (certainly Paul) to the Hebrew people, and yet he admits that they who have believed have entered into the promised rest. However, in verse 4:9, speaking of Israel the collective, it says, “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.” There is one gospel being worked out in individual Jews, and that same gospel is to be worked out in the nation of Israel.

The entire problem with this false doctrine, this heresy, could be resolved with one simple teaching application. Anyone?

That is taking the book of Acts as it is to be rightly analyzed – as a descriptive account of history, not a book of prescriptive doctrine. Hyperdispensationalism fails to do this, and they fall into the same error as other major teachings, such a Pentecostalism, the Church of Christ, and countless others.

Just as Joshua is a historical record of what occurred in Israel, and not a book of prescriptions, so Acts is a historical record of what occurred. Using Acts as a prescriptive book of doctrine leads to confused theology, and it diminishes the importance of the prescriptive epistles which follow it.

Mr. Atwood begins his sermon by citing 2 Timothy 2:15,16 –

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.”

He then gives a chart of the breakdown of Scripture titled “Rightly dividing the Word of Truth 1:33.” Such a title is wholly unnecessary. Nobody in their right mind would purposefully wrongly divide the Word of Truth, and to post such a title immediately makes the claim that his way is that proper way, when in fact, he wholly misuses Scripture in the next 25 or so minutes.

At minute 1:48 he says of the four gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, that “the doctrine has to do with the nation of Israel.” This is true with the synoptic gospels. He is wrong concerning John. See 1 Corinthians 1:1 & 2 Video in our playlist.

This error is because he fails to understand the layout of Scripture which reveals the dispensational model, and that structure is formed based on the prophecy of Noah over his sons Shem and Japheth in Genesis 9. To explain that would take too long, but you can refer our study on 1 Corinthians 1:1 & 2 in the 1 Corinthians playlist. In short, it is based on Noah’s words which state that Japheth will dwell in the tents of Shem. What is that referring to? Watch the study, learn, and show yourself approved.

At minute 6:00, Mr. Atwood speaks of the Leviticus 23 Feasts, specifically mentioning “the presentation of the two loaves.” Ironically, if he understood the Leviticus 23 Feasts, and what the two loves picture, his entire theology would unravel right there. But instead, he says that “everything about Pentecost was Jewish” 6:13. Is that correct? Anyone?

That is one of the largest errors in the church today – among Hebrew Roots movement people, among reformed theologians, and among the likes of Mr. Atwood. The feasts are never called Jewish Feasts, nor are they called “Feasts of Israel.” They are called what? Anyone? “Feasts of the Lord.”

They were given, as the book of Hebrews says of all of the Leviticus sacrifices and rituals, as parables. Even the dietary laws of Israel, to the last word, point to the work of Messiah. You want to talk about rightly dividing the word. Go read or watch, and understand, the dietary laws of Leviticus 11 from our Leviticus 11 sermons! Give examples.

They only look forward to the work of Messiah, and thus the gospel of Jesus Christ. All of the Leviticus 23 feasts point directly to the work of Christ Jesus on behalf of the gospel. To understand the details of the feasts, verse by verse, and their fulfillment in Christ, please be sure to watch the sermons on the Superior Word YT channel. The fact that these were observed by Israel means nothing. Paul explains their purpose in Colossians 2:16, 17 –

“So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.”

Paul is saying that in relation to the church, and the church’s relation to Christ Jesus. So, obviously, the Feasts are not “Jewish” feasts, but pictures of what Christ would do for the Church in the one and only gospel – the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is evidenced by the hand of Paul. No, not Peter – but Paul – in:

1) 1 Corinthians 5:7 (Passover), “Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.”

2) 1 Corinthians 5:8 (Unleavened Bread), “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

3) 1 Corinthians 15:20 (Firstfruits) “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”

4) Ephesians 1:13 (and elsewhere – Pentecost) “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” Weeks, or Pentecost, is literally shown to be fulfilled in Romans 16:5 and 1 Corinthians 16:15 –

“Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ.”

“I urge you, brethren—you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia…”

The presentation of the two loaves is what those verses are speaking of – one a Jew, one a Gentile, and thus one gospel message. Mr. Atwood failed to take in the whole counsel of God, and he missed what those loaves he spoke of were pointing to.

5) 1 Corinthians 15:47 (Yom Teruah) “The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven.”

6) Romans 3:24, 25 (Day of Atonement) “…being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood.” 

7) 2 Corinthians 5:7 (Tabernacles) “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

The other feast of the Lord, the weekly Sabbath, is said by the author of Hebrews (who is Paul – see the opening statement to my Hebrews commentary) is also fulfilled (as Paul says in Colossians 2:16, 17) with the words, “…for we who have believed do enter that rest.”

All eight Feasts of the Lord are fulfilled by the Lord Jesus and are lived out in the one gospel for Jew and for Gentile – one gospel. They are not “Jewish” feasts. They are Feasts of the Lord, pertaining to the one, and only one Church which is the Body of Christ – Jew and Gentile. One gospel. Hyperdispensationalism fails the “rightly dividing the word” test.

Further, all of the sacrificial system of Israel, its dietary laws, and all other precepts are fulfilled in Christ – as revealed in the words of the apostle Paul, and they pertain to the one gospel of God, found in Jesus Christ. To gain understanding in these and to avoid the heresy of hyperdispensationalsim, you will need to go and watch all 52 of the Leviticus sermons.

And it needs to be understood that all of those feasts, and everything associated with those sacrifices centers on the Lord in their midst, Who is represented by the details of the tabernacle described in Exodus. In order to understand that, you would then need to watch all 105 of our Exodus sermons. In them, you will see the Lord revealed in one, and only one, gospel. But sound theology is not like heresy. It takes a lot of mental effort, and it is, in fact, hard work. Case closed. Hyperdispensationalism fails the “rightly dividing the word” test.

The next comment by Mr. Atwood that is of interest is found at minute 6:39, where he says while speaking of the Jews, “this church was a group of people saved based upon the gospel of the kingdom, that is repentance, water baptism and so forth.”

Mr. Atwood makes his claim based on his analysis from … of all things, the book of Acts. Can anyone in this congregation tell me how the book of acts is presented? Yes, it is a descriptive account of what occurred in the early church. It prescribes … nothing.

The fundamental error of almost all unsound New Testament theology is found in evaluating the book of Acts incorrectly. Pentecostalism? The book of Acts. The Church of Christ? The book of Acts. Hyperdispensationalism? Yes, the book of Acts. Mr. Atwood, and all hyperdispensationalists make the fundamental mistake of evaluating the book of Acts in a prescriptive manner. The book of Acts is 99.7236% descriptive. And the percent that is prescriptive is only prescriptive based on the words of Jesus which are found in the book, or words which are superseded at a later date when Paul’s writings were completed.

Mr. Atwood, as all hyperdispensationalists, fails to understand this, and he takes – particularly – Peter’s words out of their intended context because of this. The five main rules of hermeneutics are: Anyone? 1) Is it Prescriptive, 2) is it Descriptive, and 3, 4,& 5) Context, Context, Context.

In failing to maintain the intended context of the book, and in applying the words of Peter in a prescriptive manner, hyperdispensationalists run directly onto the heresy highway by proclaiming not one, but two gospels. That will continue to be revealed as we go on. When evaluating context, one needs to determine who speaking, to whom they are speaking, the reason (surrounding circumstances), etc. Hyperdispensationalists fail to do this and they thus destroy the context.

His next erroneous comment is at minute 6:55 – “…you are going to see that the church that Paul begins (that Christ begins with Paul rather) is something new; it is something altogether different that you find previous to the apostle Paul.” He states this because he has formed a hermeneutic which is based on a prescriptive reading of the book of Acts, and a misunderstanding of what Paul means when he speaks of the mystery which has been revealed to him.

Again, at minute 8:17, Mr. Atwood (speaking for hyperdispensationalists everywhere) says, “everything about Pentecost was Jewish; it was a Jewish feast day; it was the last days for Israel, not something new, not the birth of the church.” He says this after citing Acts 2:16, 17, and Acts 3:19

“But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams.”

&

“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”

He is incorrect. Joel was prophesying of a time when collective Israel was given the opportunity to accept or reject the work of Christ. It will again be revealed just prior to the return of Christ because – as Paul says, “Jews request a sign” (1 Corinthians 1:22).

The term “last days” is explained by the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3:1 as referring to the duration of the church age. The feasts of the Lord are not “Jewish.” They are “Messiahish,” to coin a phrase. Christ had just then been crucified, fulfilling the Feasts of the Lord and ushering in a New Covenant which includes Gentiles, and which is based on the one and only gospel – the good news of Jesus Christ.

And further, Amos is cited by James in Acts 15:16, 17. He first very clearly points out in Acts 15:15 that “God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name.” He then says –

‘After this I will return
And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down;
I will rebuild its ruins,
And I will set it up;
17 So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name,
Says the Lord who does all these things.’ Acts 15:16, 17

It is perfectly clear from this that they did not believe it was the “last days” for Israel. The context of Amos is that God would exile Israel while the Gentiles assumed the leadership role in the church. That is seen, perfectly clearly, in Amos 8:9, 10, which we will now read. They knew this was coming and they understood that the last days encompassed the entire church age, just as Paul indicates. They are in one accord, and there is one – and only one – gospel for Jew and Gentile. At minute 9:37, Mr. Atwood says, “What Paul had, the doctrine Paul had for the church, was not according to prophecy.” Then he cites Ephesians 3:1 – “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles.” He claims that prophecy is for Israel, but that the revelation of the mystery is for the Church which is the Body of Christ, meaning Gentiles.

But he fails to explain several things. First, Paul says that the mystery is revealed, as it says in Ephesians 3:5, “to His Holy apostles and prophets.” I have a difficult question for you – “How many apostles is Paul?” Anyone? Well, if you can count with one finger, then you know that it is a mystery revealed to more than one apostle.

The use of the plural indicates that all of the apostles had this revealed to them, and that is just what Peter and the others learned in Acts 10 & 11. The only difference between Paul and the other apostles – Peter in particular – is that they went to who? To the Jews. Paul was designated to go to the Gentiles. And that explains what the mystery is – another point that Mr. Atwood fails to grasp, and yet which is revealed by Paul, first in 1 Corinthians 2 –

“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
But as it is written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 2:7-10

He says the mystery was not known to the rulers of this age. This means both Jew and Gentile rulers – both participated in Christ’s crucifixion. This portion of the mystery was that Christ is God. If they had known this, they would not have crucified Him – obviously. But Christ had to die in order to atone for sins. If the mystery had been revealed, this would not have occurred. This isn’t a “Paul” mystery. It is simply a mystery which Paul explains. Thomas proclaimed Jesus “God” in John 20:28.

Secondly, Paul says – explicitly – that the gospel is the mystery in Ephesians 6:19. This is speaking of the one gospel of Christ’s incarnation, death, burial, and resurrection. That is the exact same gospel that Peter, James, John, and all other apostles proclaimed.

And thirdly, Paul explains what the mystery of this gospel is in Ephesians 3. This is not (not!) a complicated verse either. He says that the mystery which is revealed is “that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel.” In other words, there is one body, and only one. That is “the mystery – that Gentiles are included in the one body with the Jews.” It is not two gospels, but one.

Messiah’s work for Israel (of whom he is referring to) is the same as Christ’s work for the Gentiles. They are one, and only one, body because there is one, and only one gospel. Paul is simply the apostle to the Gentiles (Ephesians 3:8, etc) as Peter is the apostle to the Jews (Galatians 2:7) – bearing the same message.

This is evident first from 1 Corinthians 4, where Paul says, “Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” Who is Paul speaking of when he says “us?” Anyone? All one needs to do is to turn back one page and to the last verses of that chapter, to verse 4:1 –

“Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours: 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come—all are yours. 23 And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” 1 Corinthians 3:21-23

Who is Cephas? Anyone? Cephas is the apostle Peter. Paul, Apollos, and Cephas were all on the same page, they all were stewards of the mysteries of God, and they all proclaimed the same gospel. This is more evident from what occurs in Galatians 2:11-21, which we will now turn to and read.

Peter had a moment of failing in the flesh and he departed from the one, and only, gospel. That is what precipitated the Council of Jerusalem recorded in Acts 15 and which establishes one, and only one, church. Peter, after learning his lesson, went so far as to warn against hyperdispensationalists and their false teaching of two gospels when he said –

“Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” 2 Peter 3:14-16

No! Peter was on the same page, and he preached the same gospel, to the Jews as Paul did to the Gentiles. It is a gospel which has been twisted by many, including hyperdispensationalists – to the detriment of the body of Christ, which is the church – Jew and Gentile.

At minute 10:13, he says, “Listen, you cannot find in prophecy that there was going to be a time when God would save Jew and Gentile in one body by the gospel.” This is a hugely deceitful statement by introducing the words “in one body.” Christ’s work is for both Jew and Gentile. To divide what He has done, when it is explicitly said that He would save both Jew and Gentile through Christ is a poor way of analyzing what He promised, in advance. Further, if you simply take Mr. Atwood’s words and turn them around, you come to exactly the same conclusion:

“Listen, you cannot find in prophecy that there was going to be a time when God would save Jew and Gentile in two bodies by the gospel.” See, it doesn’t work that way either.

The reason is because that IS the mystery. That God was going to save the whole world, defeating the devil and bringing about salvation for all, through one gospel. That IS the mystery. Mr. Atwood, try Isaiah 42:1-9; 49:5, 6, which we will now read. In these verses, and elsewhere, He said He would save the Gentiles… He just didn’t say how. Now we know with the mystery revealed.

In minute 13:11, speaking of Paul, Mr. Atwood then says, “He brings in the gospel of God, the program has changed and today we are living in what is called a parenthetical program.” It is true that this is a parenthetical program – as revealed in rightly grasping the prophecy of Noah upon his sons, Shem and Japheth.

But it is wholly incorrect that Paul brought in the gospel of God. There is one, and only one gospel, brought in by Jesus. Paul simply revealed the same mystery in writing that the other apostles had to learn by experience and which they then confirmed in Acts 15.

In their conclusion, they cite the words of Amos 9, confirming that, in fact, the Gentiles are being take out as a people for the name of the Lord, and only then will Israel again be visited when they call on the Lord through the one – and only – gospel. This is why the focus goes from Peter (Acts 1-12) to Paul (Acts 13-28). In order to understand this, you need to understand how Noah’s prophecy sets the entire prophetic scenario of the coming ages and dispensations. Something hyperdispensationalists have no idea about.

Mr. Atwood then says at minute 14:41, “During that ministry, Peter was preaching exactly what Jesus Christ had taught him to preach. What was that? It was the gospel of the kingdom and it was the great commission.” In this, he is saying that the gospel of the kingdom is not the gospel of the church. This is entirely wrong as is evidenced by Acts 1 –

“Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:6-8

And this is exactly what they did, as the book of Acts reveals, in exactly that order – Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the end of the earth – in that order. The “kingdom” being referred to by the apostles, and which Jesus completely skipped over in His answer, is the literal, physical kingdom where He will rule among Israel after they have received the one and only gospel.

The mandate was not understood by them, obviously, because they had to almost be forced into speaking to Gentiles. And even after the Gentiles were received, they still couldn’t believe it, but they did accept it as it clearly says in Acts 11.

It was Paul, properly trained in Old Testament theology, who was able to properly communicate the message to the Gentiles. Not because of a different gospel, but because he had an understanding of the true, and only, gospel – the mystery of Gentiles being brought into the commonwealth of Israel. Again, go review Acts 10 & 11; and Galatians 2 – among other such passages).

At minute 15:30, Mr Atwood states that salvation of Jews is based on repentance and water baptism as is recorded in Acts 2:38. This is incorrect. He is taking those verses as prescriptive, and he is failing to account for the reason for Acts 2, 8, and 10. Again, to understand why these various accounts differ, one needs to watch the Romans 6:3-4 study in our Romans playlist.

Acts is a historical record, and it is not to be taken as prescriptive. There is one, and only one, gospel. The events at Pentecost required Peter’s statement for a specific reason. Anyone? They had just crucified the Lord, who was prophesied in their own Scriptures. They HAD to repent of this.

If you understand what the Greek word metanoeó means, to change one’s mind, you would understand that they HAD to repent. Baptism was required as a public acknowledgment that they were aligning with the Lord and against the leadership of Israel. It is the same reason why it says this in Luke 7 –

“And when all the people heard Him, even the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John. 30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.” Luke 7:29, 30

Peter’s words required repentance and baptism for exactly this reason. It doesn’t prescribe it for any Jew – not one – beyond that point. This is evident because in Acts 18:24-28 Apollos did neither and yet he had the Spirit based on faith, despite only knowing the baptism of John. Ooops. He then spoke to Jews in Acts 19:1-7, saying nothing of repentance, and he, in fact, argues against repentance because that was the purpose of John’s baptism.

But! He did baptize them into Jesus, after which they received the Spirit. None of these are prescriptive, all are different in what occurs, and each is given to reveal God’s working out the New Covenant differently based on the surrounding circumstances. The accounts are only historical and descriptive. Case closed. Hyperdispensationalism fails the “rightly dividing the word test.”

At minute 18:25, he says, “Paul was given a new gospel.” False and heresy. Paul’s gospel was spoken to both Jews and Gentiles. In Acts 13, he speaks only to Jews, and he gives the exact same gospel to them that Peter gave to them, summing up TO THEM (JEWS) that “everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:39). Ooops! The entire account can be reviewed in Acts 13:16-41. There is one, and only one gospel.

At minute 18:34, he says, “Paul recognized that the nation of Israel was no longer God’s chosen people. In Romans 11, you see Peter is preaching to get Israel saved; Paul is preaching with the understanding that Israel is not going to be saved.” Then he cites Romans 11:13-15 and says, “Peter didn’t believe that the reconciling of them was going to be the casting away of the world. Peter believed that the salvation of them was going to be the reconciling of the world. … And Peter believed that had Israel been saved then they would go out as a kingdom of priests and evangelize the world, and they would carry out the great commission.”

This highly convoluted statement disregards what sharing the gospel is. Does anyone know what sharing the gospel is? Anyone? It is a priestly function. Thus, both Peter & Paul, and any other person who shares the gospel is performing a priestly duty. In Romans 15:16, Paul speaks of the grace given to him by God –

“…that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”

The word “ministering” is the Greek word hierourgeo. It means to minister as a priest. The NASB and other versions rightly translate this as “ministering as a priest the gospel of God.” In other words, the act of sharing the gospel is a priestly function. This dispels the hyperdispensationalist view that when Jesus refers to “having made us kings and priests to His God and Father,” it is only speaking of Israel. That is a false analysis based on their false gospel.

At minute 21:06 Mr Atwood says to “compare Acts 2 with Luke 24:47.” And, so we will –

“Then He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.’” Luke 24:46, 47

Atwood is saying that Jesus’ words of Luke 24:47 match Acts 2, where Peter says to repent, thus proving this is a different gospel. What does Paul say in Romans 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:9&10; 2 Corinthians 12:21; & 2 Timothy 2:5? Anyone? He says, “Repent.” Just because Jesus says that repentance and remission of sins is to be preached, does not mean repentance is required for salvation.

It is a requirement for right living after remission of sins. All preachers are to preach repentance because of the remission of sins. This is what Paul states in his epistles and it is in accord with Jesus’ words of Luke 24:47. “Repent” means to change one’s mind.

Peter was telling the people of Israel to change their mind about what they had just done to Christ. Any person who has been given the gospel and rejects it must – by default – repent of that in order to be saved. They “change their mind about what they have already decided upon.” Any person saved is expected to repent afterward of their sin. They will not lose their salvation if they don’t, but it is expected. 1 Corinthians 5 gives an example of someone who fails to do this.

At minute 21:59, Atwood says, “Today salvation is not by repentance and water baptism.” That is a fallacy known as a category mistake. Nobody who believes in salvation by grace through faith believes this. Rather, those things are mandated as acts of obedience. Paul mandates that we repent of sin, but it does not change our salvation if we do not.

Acts 15:10, 11, though not prescriptive, call the Gentiles “disciples,” and clearly refers to them as being on the same page and in the same gospel as those Jews in the council of Jerusalem. The mandate for baptizing disciples, given by Jesus after His establishment of the New Covenant and the ONE gospel of grace, stands. It is disobedience to the Lord to teach that Gentiles are not commanded to be baptized. It is not a salvific issue, but it is an issue of obedience to the Lord’s command.

Unfortunately, those hyperdispensationalists who are saved will lose rewards for failing to be obedient to the Lord’s command of baptism. And those hypers who teach this false doctrine will have to stand before the Lord and give an account for their false teaching.

Romans 2:4 says, “the goodness of God (meaning His grace) leads you to repentance.” Repentance is an expectation of salvation, not a requirement for it. As evidence of this, what was the response of the Jews who contended with Peter in Acts 11 when he explained why he went to Cornelius’ house in Acts 10? Anyone?

“Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.” Acts 11:18

Was there any note of repentance in Acts 10 at Cornelius’ house? No. None. Here, let’s read Acts 10:34-44. They heard the word, they believed, and they received the Holy Spirit. After this, they were baptized, according to, and in obedience to, the word of the Lord. Hyperdispensationalists not only mishandle the word, but they actively work against Christ’s prescription, which is to be baptized. That is the command of the Lord, to which their heretical teaching is disobedient.

At minute 22:08, Atwood laughingly says, “Today, you are not required to lay your possessions at the apostle’s feet.” That is an absurd and irrelevant comment. That was never required. Those who did so did it voluntarily, as explicitly stated by Peter in Acts 5:4. Case closed. In this hyperdispensationalism fails the “rightly dividing the word” test.

At minute 24:15, Atwood tries to divide the gospel of Paul from that of Peter. In 2 Corinthians 5:18 which speaks of the ambassadors of Christ and the ministry of reconciliation. Who is he speaking of? It is found in 2 Corinthians 1:19 – Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy. But who then does Peter refer to in 1 Peter 5:2? Silvanus.

Same message, same reconciliation, same ambassador. In 1 Peter 5:13, Peter then greets the people again – along with Mark. This is the same Mark who carried the same gospel with Paul and Barnabas, and who is cited by Paul in 2 Timothy 4:11, Philemon 1:24, and etc. Case closed. In this hyperdispensationalism fails the “rightly dividing the word” test.

As a summary of the nature of there being one, and only one, gospel, we see that the Church is the body of Christ as is made explicit in Ephesians 1:22, 23 –

“And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”

Ephesians 3 then demonstrates that the body of Christ is of the Jews, and Gentiles, and that they share in that same body –

“For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles— if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.” Ephesians 3:1-6

It is that simple. How anyone can miss that is utterly astonishing. It demonstrates a very, very poor handling of Scripture and a lack of scholarship on their part to put forth this heresy.

If one understands the structure of the book of Acts, following the hyperdispensationalist model, one would have three gospels (or more), not two as they claim, and not one as the Bible teaches. Acts 2, 8, 10 would imply THREE gospels using their lack of logic.

Hyperdispensationalism’s logic breaks down in Romans 10:9, 10. It is claimed by some of them that those verses apply only to Jews because Paul is speaking of Jews there. If that is so, then it contradicts what they claim about the supposed “gospel of the Jews” of Acts 2:38. Further, if it applies to both Jew and Gentile – (as it does!) and as is obvious from the singular pronouns used – then it still destroys their analysis. Again, hyperdispensationalism fails the “rightly dividing the word” test.

Hyperdispensationalism destroys any meaning of the words of 1 Corinthians 1:12, 13 –

“Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”

The answer is “No, Christ is not divided, nor is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul lumps himself in with all of the other apostles, demonstrating as clearly as can be seen, that they all proclaimed the same gospel. It is a gospel which includes the mystery revealed to them that Gentiles would be fellow heirs and of the same body with the Jews –

“Do we have no right to eat and drink? Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?” 1 Corinthians 9:4, 5

And again in 1 Corinthians 3:21-23 –

“Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours: 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come—all are yours. 23 And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.”

And again in 1 Corinthians 4:9 –

“For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men.”

The words of Galatians 2:11-21, that we already read, tie Peter, and what he was doing, in with the one and only gospel. Again, anyone who reads those verses, and who cannot make this connection, has absolutely no discernment in biblical context. There is one gospel, and only one.

The church started with the New Covenant. There is one covenant, and only one. The Jews simply missed it as a nation. But there is one church. This extremely bad doctrine tries to divide what happened with the Jews and what happened with the Gentiles. That is heresy. There is one church, and only one.

When they say that “prophecy belongs to the Jews, and the mysteries belong to the church,” they completely abuse Scripture in order to come to this conclusion, as we have seen. It is a failed system which arises out of a faulty hermeneutic, which comes out of an incorrect analysis of the purpose and meaning behind the book of Acts.

The stewards of the mysteries are the apostles, including both Peter and Paul as we saw in 1 Corinthians 4:1 and which is explained by the previous verses as Paul, Apollos, and Cephas (meaning Peter), and referring to all of the apostles.

The Land promise, and the promise of the Kingdom during the millennium, is to the Jews. That is correct, but that it will still be under the one covenant, is obvious on the surface. Christ died once, He ushered in one New Covenant, and His body is the church, of which is comprised of (as we have seen) both Jew and Gentile.

To say that what happened at the beginning with Peter and the Jews wasn’t a part of the church, is to say that they are not under the same covenant as we are.

Unfortunately, people look at what Jesus did as somehow only being effectual for one group or another – such as baptism only belonging to Jews. If that is so, then the Lord’s Supper (which predates the mandate for baptism and said nothing of the “nations”) is also only for the Jews. How absurd that is!

Paul outlines the same Lord’s supper in 1 Corinthians 11 that Jesus outlined in the gospels. It is almost word for word what Luke records in Luke 22:19 & 20. As that applies to the Gentiles, because it is recorded for the church in 1 Corinthians 11, then the mandate for baptism, which comes after the institution of the Lord’s Supper, and which is proclaimed from Jesus’ own mouth, also applies to the Gentiles. There is not one instance of a convert – Jew or Gentile – in the New Testament, who was not subsequently baptized after having received Christ Jesus – not one.

Another abuse of Scripture by hyperdispensationists is stating that Galatians 2 speaks of two different gospels. There it says –

“But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles).” Galatians 2:7, 8

That may be the worst hermeneutic yet. First, the words “the gospel” before the words “for the circumcised” are inserted. It is not in the original.

The Greek reads “…that I have been entrusted with the gospel of the uncircumcision, just as Paul of the circumcision.” There is one gospel with two heralds of that one gospel. Secondly, the reason for the division between Paul and Peter wasn’t for the proclamation of a second gospel, but that Paul’s ministry within the one gospel was to the Gentiles.  From my commentary on the book of Galatians –

“Having said this, it does not mean that Peter’s ministry was solely one of evangelizing Jews (as was noted concerning Cornelius above), nor was Paul’s ministry solely one of evangelizing Gentiles. There was also not a different gospel transmitted by Peter than that of Paul. Rather, there is, as the Bible scholar Lightfoot notes, “…a distinction of sphere, and not a difference of type.”

This is absolutely certain by Paul’s comments in Galatians as well as Peter’s comments in his second epistle which, for clarity of thought, we will again cite –

“…and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” 2 Peter 3:15, 16

There, Peter cites who? Paul! And when he does, he is in complete agreement with him. Hyperdispensationalism is pure poison.

Hyperdispensationalists use verses like Matthew 15:24 and Matthew 10:16 where Jesus told the apostles to not go to the Gentiles or to the Samaritans, but only to the lost sheep of Israel, to prove that there are two gospels. Does anyone know what the problem with that is? Anyone?

That is an entirely different dispensation (law) and it was for the set purpose of His first fulfilling the law which had been given to Israel. It has absolutely nothing to do with the gospel which could only come through the New Covenant in His blood. When hypers use that verse, they then introduce a contradiction into Scripture, because Philip was told to go to who in Acts 8? A Gentile. And Peter was explicitly told to go to who in Acts 10? The Gentiles. As is typical with hyperdispensationalism, it is a complete mixing of apples and oranges to come to a faulty, heretical, conclusion.

Hyperdispenationalists say that in Matthew that Christ told the disciples about how he must suffer and die and rise on the third day, and that in the very next verse says that it was hidden from them, it then must be that they did not know about the death, burial, and resurrection and so their gospel is different than Paul’s, because Paul’s gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection.

I’m not even sure if that deserves a response. It is such a ridiculous claim that only an infant in the faith could come up with it.

First, that was before, not after, Christ’s crucifixion. Of course they didn’t know what He was talking about.

Secondly, the very thing they state in this is the thing Peter later proclaims five times in both Acts and in his epistles as the gospel of Christ. In fact, in 1 Peter 1, Peter mentions the resurrection, the crucifixion, and what that means for the believer, and then he says explicitly, “Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you” (v. 25).

The problem with hyperdispensationalism, again, lies mainly with their abusive hermeneutics in regards to the book of Acts. It is the chronic problem with most denominations – they are using it as a PRESCRIPTIVE book. It is not. It simply DESCRIBES what occurred. If they cite Acts 2, for example, to say that the Jews are required to be baptized and repent for salvation, they have completely missed what is occurring.

That was a one-time statement, to Israel, for a specific purpose (which I explain in my Romans 6:3-4 study). Almost all denominations fail to take Acts as it is given, as a historical account of what occurred, and as a merely descriptive account. Anytime you listen to a preacher talk about Acts, ask yourself, “Are they citing Acts in this case as prescriptive?” If they are, you can toss that analysis right out of the commentary. In this, you will then stand approved in the context of what is being relayed.

Two more points and we will be done. When Paul says, “my gospel,” in Romans 2:16 and 16:25, that does not mean “a different gospel.” Paul is not claiming authority to the gospel, as if he is its author. Instead, he is claiming authority to it as the herald of the Author’s message.

His commission stands directly from the words of Jesus in Acts 9:15. There Jesus states to Ananais, “…he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.” This then places Paul in opposition to any false gospel (such as that of hyperdispensationalism). His word is the authoritative word of God as transmitted through him, just as was the word of the prophets of old. The very fact that Jesus said he was to bear His name before the children of Israel means that it is the same gospel which Peter proclaimed.

Romans 1:11 says Paul’s hope was to “impart some spiritual gift that you may be established.” He said this to Jew and Gentile. In Romans 16:25, he notes that it is the Lord who in fact is able to so establish them. And this is, as he says, “according to my gospel.” In other words, it is speaking of the doctrines which were set forth in Romans, written by him. This gospel is entirely Christ centered: We were predestined for salvation, because God foreknew us (Romans 8:29); our calling is of the Lord (Romans 8:30); salvation is of the Lord (Romans 10:9); justification is of the Lord (Romans 3:24); sanctification is of the Lord; this came through the work of the Holy Spirit who testifies to the work of Christ (Romans 15:16)); and glorification is of the Lord (Romans 8:30).

As I said, Paul speaks to both Jew and Gentile in that one epistle (see Romans 2:17 (Jew) and Romans 1:13 (Gentile), etc). Every one of these precepts belongs to both Jew and Gentile. It is one gospel and only one.

Finally, as Revelation ends the Bible, I will devote ten seconds to the hyperdispensationalist claim that “Revelation 1-3, and especially the seven letters to the seven churches) is not directed to the Gentile-led church which is under the Gentile’s gospel, but that it is directed to the Jew under the Jew’s gospel.” The claim is that all of the symbolism in those chapters is “Jewish” symbolism and has nothing to do with the church.

Yes, as nutty as that sounds, this is what they teach. I’ve already shown that Paul highlights all of the Feasts of the Lord, revealing that their fulfillment is in Him. I have shown that all of the symbolism of the dietary laws finds its fulfillment in Him. The same is true with every detail of what is found in Revelation 1-3.

It all points to Christ. He is what the ancient types looked forward to. That is why Moses was told concerning the details of the tabernacle and its implements, “And see to it that you make them according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain” (Exodus 25:40).

The reason for the Old Testament symbolism is because there is a heavenly reality to which those things pointed. That reality is Christ. To understand this, you will need to watch all of the Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers sermons, but you will have spent your time far more wisely than getting caught up in the ridiculous, heretical, anti-semitic teaching known as hyperdispensationalism.

The seven letters were written to seven Gentile churches, and they carry the symbolism of Christ that John revealed to them, just as Paul did in his letters.

I have a friend who has struggled with this heresy. When I explained to him that it is Christ’s fulfillment of these types and shadows in Christ, as Colossians 2:16, 17 says, which completes the Old Covenant and which is then revealed to all – Jew and Gentile – in the New Covenant, he said this –

“It’s like a light bulb went off Charlie after talking to you. It has to be one gospel that gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection, of Jesus Christ. And although the Old Testament foreshadows these things coming, even if the 12 apostles didn’t fully understand that gospel or see the gospel clearly it’s the same gospel that Paul was teaching. The only difference is that Paul had the further Revelation given to him as well as a few other things in his ministry such as the rapture but it’s the same gospel. Everything is summed up in Jesus Christ. It’s all about him. It’s his righteousness,… his shed blood, his fulfillment of everything. I understand this.”

Good job Mark! That is absolutely it. Paul’s revelation was simply that this gospel includes – in totality – the Gentiles. The others weren’t trained in the law, and thus they had no way to process this. This is why Paul was selected. He was a fully trained Pharisee that could make all of the connections that the other apostles lacked.

Today, you have been given a lot of information, and I am not going to address this issue again, in part or in whole. I simply got tired of people sending me one verse at a time and asking me to explain it for them. Scripture tennis is a pointless exercise. If you remember this one thing, you will be through with this ridiculous heresy – Acts is not a prescriptive epistle. It is a historical account of what occurred.

When someone preaches a sermon and they use the events of Acts in a prescriptive manner, then ignore what you heard. That person has improperly handled Scripture and you can reject his analysis. Stick to Paul during this dispensation, but remember that what Paul teaches in his epistles is in perfect harmony with the words of the other epistles of the other apostles. The church began with Christ completing the work set out for Him to accomplish.

When He sent the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, the church – the one and only church with one and only gospel – began, thus fulfilling that feast, the final Feasts of the Lord to be fulfilled. Each time a person comes to Christ, they receive the same Spirit that was given on that day. They have their Pentecost moment, and thus the church for them, as individual members, begins.

If you want a copy of this talk, it is available on the Superior Word website in written format, or I can email it to you as well.

I would ask two things of you before we close. The first is to study to show yourself approved, which includes leaving behind the heresy of hyperdispensationalism, and two, if you have never called on Christ through the one and only gospel, today is the day to do so. Call on Christ, and be reconciled to Him through His shed blood.