Who is Going to Heaven?

I have been asked a lot lately if I believe that”everyone is going to Heaven?” and the question always confuses me. I talk a lot about the Kingdom of God present and the whole world already being reconciled to God so we have the authority and power to release sins or retain them….But, I never talk about Heaven. Why do people so quickly go there? We don’t talk about Heaven much in our prayers or sermons, we talk about “The Kingdom come on earth just as it is in Heaven…”

But, when it comes to Jesus being the Savior of all mankind; people being “in or out” they automatically switch gears and start thinking about Heaven. But, Jesus didn’t talk about anyone going to Heaven…ever….

Seriously, think about it. The one time people often think Jesus talked about Heaven was when Jesus said ~ “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one cometh unto the Father buy through Me.”

Because he had said that he was going to prepare a “Place” for them ~ 2“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places (not mansions); if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.”

This was all before the Cross! The place Jesus prepared for us was IN HIM. Read Ephesians 1 and count more than 10 times that Paul said something to the effect of how God put us “In Christ”. Colossians 3 clearly declared that those who were crucified with Christ on the Cross were raised up with Him and ~”3For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”

We aren’t going up to Him in Heaven. God has already raised us up with Him in the heavenly places! (Ephesians 1:3 & 2:6)

This Gospel isn’t about people going up to Heaven; it’s about Heaven coming down to earth! Every believer is literally already with Christ in Heaven! (In our spirit man).

So where did we get the idea that the Gospel is about going to Heaven someday? Is it Scriptural?

 

Not according to the Bible.

 

THE NEW TESTAMENT WRITERS ~

Matthew, Mark Luke and John: Consider that Jesus never once mentioned anyone going up to Heaven. Never once!

Out of all the times the Gospel was recorded being preached in Acts; no one said anything about “Going to Heaven” someday. None.

When Paul articulated the Gospel in his most detailed letter to the Romans; he never once mentioned life in Heaven. Not one time!

These 6 books are the entire foundation for Christianity’s beliefs (at least that’s the theory). Wouldn’t we expect to see multiple mentions of an afterlife in Heaven?

Yet, there is not one mention.

1st and 2 Corinthians? NO. 

Galatians, Ephesians and Colossians? No, no and no.

1 and 2 Thessalonians? No,  There are a few verses that may have been taken that way but, once read in context are easy to refute. *See Below*

1st and 2nd Timothy? No and no.

Titus? Nope.

Philemon? No.

Hebrews? A big no! In Hebrews 12, he said ~

22But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, 23to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect…”

We have already come to Mt. Zion, the Heavenly Jerusalem … and the Church who is enrolled (registered) in Heaven! Just like Ephesians 1 &2 and Col.3; we are already in Heaven in Christ!

James? No.

1st and 2nd Peter? No, no. 1 Peter 1:4,5 is clarified by 1:9 & 13, 5:1 (presently coming down)

1st, 2nd and 3rd John? Not even close.

Jude? No.

That leaves us with the last and most complicated…The Revelation of Jesus Christ. Negative. This extremely symbolic book is focused on the reality of Heaven coming down to earth in that generation. This prophecy was a promise to that generation of believers that God’s Kingdom was very soon coming to them. That is the Beginning of the book and the end. However, it’s too in depth to complete in this blog, so it will have to wait until the next one.

Just consider the first promise from God in Revelation that could seem like it spoke about “Christians going up”.

Rev.3:12 ~ “12He who is overcoming — I will make him a pillar in the sanctuary (Temple) of my God, and without he may not go any more, and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, that doth come down (present tense) out of the heaven from my God — also my new name.

If they were promised to become literal pillars in a literal natural temple…first off that would be a really boring existence. Secondly, that Temple (and the people/pillars in it) would be coming down from Heaven at that time!  The verb tense was not future but present tense.

Because just like Galatians 4 and Hebrews 12 made very clear; they were already in the New Jerusalem because it was a spiritual place. It simply means to be In Christ.

 

 

 

*I know that Thessalonians needs to be covered. Consider 1 Thess.4  ~

13But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.

Admittedly this can sound like Jesus was bringing dead people back with him from Heaven, which would mean that the dead in Christ were in Heaven. However, we need to let the following verses clarify what Paul meant and not our own pre-conceptions.

 

15For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.16For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.18Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus (those who were already dead) Because the dead in Christ would rise first as the Lord descends. Notice that the dead were not coming down from God. Jesus was coming down (v.16a) and then the dead in Christ would rise up (16b) and all who were alive would rise up and meet the Lord in the air!

The dead were going to rise, which means they were not expected to come from above but from below. Paul clearly believed the dead were down and not up.

Paul wrapped it all up by stating that because of that either way, they would always be with the Lord.

This does not mean that the dead will be in Heaven. It means that wherever we do go when we die; the Lord is there. Remember; God is omnipresent.

 

NO HEAVEN?

 

I am not saying that Scripture proves no one will go to Heaven! Scripture simply doesn’t ever indicate that we will. My point is that “going to Heaven” is clearly NOT the message of the Gospel. Maybe God, doesn’t even want us to know…Let’s just stop spreading a Gospel that’s contrary to the truth that we do know!

The Good News is and always has been about the Kingdom of God on earth!

Let’s not get so focused on going to Heaven in the future that we neglect the Kingdom of God present.

 

The entire point of this is merely a reminder of what Jesus and the N.T. writers did declare about the Gospel. Heaven? Not a major theme. Kingdom of God on earth? Absolutely, the entire point!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Baptism of The Cross

1

 

When we were born-again, we participated in the Resurrection of The Lord Jesus Christ from the grave. We were not merely saved to experience “the Life of the Ages” someday. Our “old man”, “sinful nature” or “spirit man” literally died with/in Christ, was buried in his grave/baptism and was raised to new life in His resurrection! This is the foundation of all Christianity and it is a great mystery.

 

One recent question that I have been wondering is regarding whose faith caused this? Did it become true when I believed or did I believe because it was true? Did it happen 2,000 years ago and I recently believed or did me believing cause it to happen 2,000 years ago?  This raised some seriously Calvinistic thoughts that I reject. John Calvin literally believed that Jesus Christ did not truly die for all mankind. That wretched doctrine is so flimsy that I’m not even going to quote verses that refute it. (2 John 1:1,2 & John 3:16 & 2 Cor.5:14)

 

This death of Jesus Christ was often referred to as “Baptism and circumcision” because those O.T. types were fulfilled in the life-work of Jesus.

Jesus spoke of the Cross this way ~ “I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is finished! (Luke 12:50)

It’s from that perspective that I explore “The One Baptism”.

 

ONE BAPTISM ~

 

Ephesians 4 ~ 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”

This verse is way to profound for me to fully understand. let alone try to explain! But, the “One Baptism” seems to directly correlate to “The One Lord, the one faith, the one body, etc…”

Jesus was the One Lord and he lived by The (one) faith.

Is it absurd to believe that the One Baptism was not what we did but, what he did? Not just as a substitute but vicariously? Not only for us but in us and therefore as us?

Paul expounded on Christ’s circumcision/death/baptism/burial in Colossians 2.

8See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. 9For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; 11and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions.”

Notice the clear connection between circumcision/death and burial/baptism? Notice how often it’s expressed as something He did and it wasn’t in us but in Him! Even more interesting that there is never any mention of our faith having anything to do with this reality! Yes, we need to believe to access the true promises of God that are fulfilled in Christ but, does believing God’s promises are fulfilled make them fulfilled?

Or did Christ fulfill God’s promises and our believing merely accesses what He has already accomplished?

 

THE BAPTISM ~ 

 

Paul said it this way in Romans 6 ~ ”

3are ye ignorant that we, as many as were baptized to Christ Jesus, to his death were baptized? 4we were buried together, then, with him through the baptism to the death, that even as Christ was raised up out of the dead through the glory of the Father, so also we in newness of life might walk. 5For, if we have become planted (most versions say united) together to the likeness of his death, [so] also we shall be of the rising again; 6this knowing, that our old man was crucified with [him], that the body of the sin may be made useless, for our no longer serving the sin; 7for he who hath died hath been set free from the sin.

8And if we died with Christ, we believe that we also shall live with him…”

Interestingly, Paul spoke to Colosse about the importance of not being deceived in this matter and to Rome about their perceived ignorance. Have I been unknowingly deceived all of this time? Was the “One Baptism” (of Christ) the same as “The Baptism” and actually the baptism of all mankind?

Immediately before the Cross, Jesus said ~ 32And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw  (literally drag) all to Myself.” 33Now He was saying this, signifying by what death He was about to die.” (John 12)

Did Jesus actively drag everyone to himself in his baptism of death?

When did I die and join him in his death? When I believed and was baptized or when He believed and I was baptized into His death?

13If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.”

These verses have been following me for months…I can’t get away. It’s like a Holy Ghost “haunting”. I may be out of my mind but, I am beginning to believe that the Gospel declares that All have already died in the Lord Jesus Christ!

I honestly don’t know if this is madness or glory. I only know that I am obsessed with the Cross of the Lord and his love. The Truth of the Gospel and nothing less.

I truly believe the Spirit of Truth will guide us into all the Truth of the Scriptures.

Only believe.

Whose Life is it Anyway?

Resurrection. What a wonderful victory Jesus demonstrated over hades, the grave and death.

What does it mean for us? How does it apply in a practical way to our Christian life? The Gospel is always practical. Notice how Jesus used earthly parables concerning the Kingdom of God that was coming upon them:

“The Parable of The Sower” ~  The Kingdom of God is like: A man sowing seed in the dirt. Some seeds take good root and respond well to the elements of nature and thrive. Others do not and die.

“The Parable of Leaven” ~  The Kingdom of God is like: A woman that mixed yeast into here dough until it spread throughout the entire loaf.

“A Banquet Feast” ~ The Kingdom of God is like: A great feast prepared by a rich King. Many people were invited to come eat and drink but, refused. The King sent his servants to invite everyone else instead.

 

The Bible often used Earthly descriptions concerning our Heavenly reality.

The purpose of the parables was not to show us what the afterlife would be like but, what the Kingdom of God coming to earth (at that time) would be like.

It was about life on earth, not in Heaven.

 

Jesus also clarified the idea of “The Resurrection”. When the religious leaders challenged him, they attacked doctrinal ideas of their enemies through their questions ~

Matthew 22:23On that day some Sadducees (who say there is no resurrection) came to Jesus and questioned Him,24asking, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘IF A MAN DIES HAVING NO CHILDREN, HIS BROTHER AS NEXT OF KIN SHALL MARRY HIS WIFE, AND RAISE UP CHILDREN FOR HIS BROTHER.’ 25“Now there were seven brothers with us; and the first married and died, and having no children left his wife to his brother; 26so also the second, and the third, down to the seventh.27“Last of all, the woman died. 28“In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had married her.”

  29But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30“For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31“But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God:32‘I AM THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” 33When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at His teaching.

Luke recorded his answer this way ~

34Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, 35but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; 36for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. 37“But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the burning bush, where he calls the Lord THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB. 38“Now He is not the God of the dead but of the living; for all live to Him.”

Jesus did not allow them to deny the existence of “The Resurrection” (Notice this perhaps very intentional term) but, he clarified “The Resurrection”.

What if his point was that The Resurrection was not physical but, spiritual? Bear with me because I am sure Pauline ideas are popping up right not. But, consider that Jesus never clearly talks about a physical resurrection of all our bodies….

That’s a good place to pause.

 

RESURRECTION QUESTIONS ~ 

 

Let’s start from scratch. Let’s deconstruct all previous myths about a guaranteed future resurrection of the body for the sake of this discussion. We are not throwing out the possibility of a future bodily resurrection completely; just throwing out the idea that is what Jesus, Paul and John articulated. Do you see the difference? It’s a matter of questioning the timing of a bodily resurrection.

We don’t know that all of eternity will be like. Just like the Jews had a glimpse into the coming Age, after the Mosaic; we have a glimpse of the age following this one. Just because we question the idea of the Gospel speaking about a literal bodily resurrection at the end of this age does not mean that we throw the idea out completely.

I believe there is much more to come in future ages that we know little or nothing about.

Eternity is not about us sitting on clouds in Heaven (in physical bodies no less…). We will not be playing harps and singing to Jesus on a big throne for 8-10 hours a day before heading back to our “golden mansion” to relax for a few hours, get some sleep and repeat the next day.

Let’s keep the idea of a future, literal bodily resurrection as a possibility for a future age but, not the point of the Gospel of the Kingdom. Can we throw out the bath water but keep the baby as we consider a non-literal interpretation of “The Resurrection” that Jesus mentioned?

 

RESURRECTION FACTS ~ 

 

Back to Jesus’ words ~

1.Jesus is The Resurrection.

I find it interesting that He did not say ~ I am the First Resurrection… but, He said “I am The Resurrection….” As if from His perspective their is not a first and a second separated by a literal 1,000 year period (Rev.20) but, there is One and only One Resurrection and it’s Him. Maybe,  more accurately…it’s IN Him.

2. No Marriage in The Resurrection.

First, isn’t it interesting that none of the NT writers ever recorded The Resurrection with the word “at”, as though it were an event. They always wrote “in” as though it were more than an event but, a reality. Kind of like “In Christ”. Secondly, since there is no marriage and we will be “like angels”; how will we multiply and fill the earth? What about all of the OT promises prophesied about our children/descendants?

There are so many promises for our children that modern Christianity has pushed into the future “Millennium”but, according to Jesus: we will not be marrying or having children IN The Resurrection. Since Rev.20 clearly links “The First Resurrection” with the “Millennium”, we need to consider the very real possibility that none of those OT promises can literally apply to what Jesus called “The Resurrection”.

I know this can make a person’s head spin. I have slowed down in my writing to talk to the Lord, taken a break and come back because it’s not an easy idea to challenge. But, the crux of the matter is that Jesus made it clear that “in The Resurrection” (and therefore “Millennium”) the partakers will not marry. Will not reproduce. They will also be like angels ….

 

3.Immortal, like angels  ~ 36for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.” Luke 20

Isaiah had promised that the people in the “New Heaven and New earth” would live and die but, 100 years would be considered young. (Isaiah 65:20)This same passage also promises that people will have children.

But, “In The Resurrection” the partakers will not die. They will not have children.

 

 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

 

Consider ~ Revelation never once talks about a Resurrection of the body. The “First Resurrection” was clearly the Believer’s “Souls” and not body. 

When we read these passages, we should notice how we think. John linked “The Resurrection” with “sitting on thrones” and “Reigning with Christ” for “1,000 years” but how much of that is literal? Because he linked those ideas with us “being Priests”.

Remember what “being a priest” would have literally meant to them. Spending a lot of time inside a physical Temple, performing tedious washing rituals and sacrifices twice a day…There can never be a literal Priestly role without the washings and literal sacrifices. There would be no purpose. It would be the most boring existence on earth.

Honestly, most of the promises to the “over-comers” in Revelation are extremely boring and uninteresting if taken literally.

There is not and never will be another literal priesthood in a physical Temple that pleases God. Who wants to resign their future to a thousand year period literally sitting on a throne next to millions (billions?) of other believers circling Jesus on the extremely crowded Temple Mount?

Yawn. What a boring reward that would be. Seriously, how much better is God’s promise than that lame existence?

I don’t want to get stuck in this sarcastic mode, making fun of literal interpretations of spiritual truths that can only be interpreted spiritually though. But if we interpret God’s heavenly promises according to earthly wisdom, we are going to miss out on the High calling of revealing his glory in the earth!

 

 

The point was that Revelation 20 is the most detailed account of what must be “The Resurrection of the righteous/ The First Resurrection” and “The Resurrection of the unrighteous/ The Second Resurrection”. These were talked about throughout the N.T. and probably even in Daniel’s prophecy. However, Revelation makes no specific mention of a “bodily Resurrection”.

Just like Jesus.

This is seriously worth considering.

 

I’ve got to wrap this up. It’s going to have to continue in the next blogpost. I will present the verses (mostly Pauline) that challenge the idea of this “spiritual resurrection” because there are definitely some that seem to clearly indicate a physical resurrection. Hopefully by that time, the Lord will have revealed it but, I don’t have all the answers 🙂

*Note for next blog ~ Acts 4 “1And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, 2greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

Little Decisions. Big Results.

I just made a seemingly tiny decision that has huge implications. In the short term, it may seem like no big deal…but in the long run, I believe it will be very rewarding.

Our 5 year old Grace really loves to color, draw and paint. What 5 year old girl doesn’t? I am always very intentional to compliment and praise about her “artwork”. I use very uplifting words and make it a point to save them for Mommy to see when she comes home from work.

But the artwork begins to pile up. Like everything else in life; space and time are limited so I eventually end up facing a decision. Just like Christmas and birthday cards ~ “How long do I keep this?”

Today, I found myself holding 2 small pieces of paper with her first “real paintings”. They were seriously good for a 5 year old with no real training. The colors and shapes were actually inspiring and one even reminded me of what some modern abstract artists may sell for a small fortune. There I was just tossing them into the trash can and that same thought struck me again ~ “How can I throw these away?”

Too late. They were in the trash. I started to methodically return to my busy schedule of cleaning house…just like a heartless machine.

Wait a minute! I’m not heartless. It’s not too late. I can change this now!

 

I quickly rescued them from their smelly new residence among coffee grinds and more coffee grinds. I had made my decision.

I will not throw out my little artist’s “masterpieces”. I will not crush my daughter’s hopes and dreams of creating something beautiful.

Am I being overly dramatic? Maybe.

Or…maybe I just made a choice to value my daughter’s creations. Maybe I just saved her future from being thrown into the trash by choosing to demonstrate my belief in her treasures. If I continue to throw away her creative work now and for years to come…how will she ever be convinced that her efforts are valuable?

Seriously. That should be very thought-provoking.

Our children learn what we demonstrate; not what we say. What we do speaks volumes louder over what we try to teach them.

What if by choosing to buy a “scrap book” and take the time to work with her, adding each piece of art to it; I gradually inspire faith and hope in her.

Faith and hope in her ability. Instead of continual disappointment by throwing them away day after day and year after year…

I’m taking a stand. A stand against myself. A stand against the so-called practical side of me that “is too busy”.

I’m standing up for my little girl’s future.

We are going to “scrap book” her artwork. She can choose what she wants to do with it. But, I’m done throwing away her vision.

Her dreams and imagination are valuable to me.

 

 

**I started writing this at Daniel’s nap time. Half way through my writing, Grace walked over looking for something to do. I had already set out a 200 piece foam Christmas “Santa’s workshop” that I wanted nothing to do with. A 200 piece Lego castle set? That would’ve been a completely different story!

It was supposed to be for 6 year olds and up but, would have been impossible for her without my help. So, I set aside my writing and the profound book on God’s Covenant for 2 hours to work with her on it. It was totally worth it….It will be even more worth it decades from now…

 

Lord of All or Lord of Some?

Who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords? By the way some Christians talk about eternal conscious torment in a “Lake of Fire” and a future destruction of the planet, I wonder if they subconsciously believe the satan is…

 

Seriously, we need to reconsider our perspective of the Lord Jesus Christ. Is he a Lamb or a Beast?

 

In “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”, the Beast was the one who forced people to worship him or be killed. Is that how Jesus reigns? I have heard people say things like ~ “Well, the first time he came as a Lamb but, he is returning like a lion!” That sounds really powerful and seems true but, it’s actually not Scriptural.

Did you know that “Revelation” refers to Jesus the Lamb over 30 times but, Jesus the Lion only once? Consider the point behind that one Lion reference in context. By which I mean, actually read the next verse…

5and one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”

      6And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain…” Rev.5:5,6a

The Lamb will not be a Lion. The Lion was the Lamb! The Lion already overcame but, he overcame as a Lamb! Immediately before Jesus gave himself to the Cross he said ~ 32Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

The Lion laid down his divine rights, and overcame the world as God’s Lamb.

It’s precisely because Jesus gave up the royal power and authority of the Lion that he was given all authority and power in Heaven and earth!

Philippians 2:9For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus ~ (then in verse 11 Paul clearly quotes from Isaiah 45:23)

 23“I have sworn by Myself,
            The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness
            And will not turn back,
            That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.”

The words “sworn” and “swear” are derived from the Hebrew word for Covenant! He is not merely talking about a Beast-like fealty but, he is talking about salvation and adoration!

Consider the surrounding verses ~

22“Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth;
For I am God, and there is no other…..

24They will say of Me, ‘Only in the LORD are righteousness and strength.’
Men will come to Him,
And all who were angry at Him will be put to shame.

25“In the LORD all the offspring of Israel
Will be justified and will glory.”

It sure sounds like God believed his plan was a lot bigger than we have given him credit for.

 

 

WORTHY OF IT ALL ~

 

Paul was confident in the ability of God to accomplish his plan of restoring all things.

Paul preached the Gospel to the church of Rome in Romans 1-11 and then in chapter 12 begin exhorting the believers in practical matters. How many times have we read Romans and missed the end of the Gospel according to Paul? 

Romans 11 ~

31so these (Jews) also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to (Gentiles) you they (Jews) also may now be shown mercy. 32For God has shut up all (Jew and Gentile) in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.

      33Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR?35Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? 36For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

 

How can we miss the reality that God will show mercy to all? That all things (all things) are from God and going back to God? Maybe because we have a smaller view of God than we should….

Some food for thought ~

Ephesians 1 ~”9He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.”

22And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”

Ephesians 4 ~4There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”

2-3 years ago, these verses challenged everything that I thought I knew! And I still don’t fully understand things like ~ “How” and “when”? But, I don’t need to….I really want to and still seriously seek him about it. But, it’s enough for me to give him my “Yes.”

It’s enough for me to lay down my own understanding,  be like a child and simply believe.

Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Jesus came to save the world. Jesus did not fail. God is worthy of all things and He will receive all things.

25For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26The last enemy that will be abolished is death. 27For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. (The Father?) 28When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.

The end of the story is that God wins. Everything.

 

What About “All Things”?

a-ministry-of-reconciliation

John 1:1-3 says- “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; this one was in the beginning with God; all things through him did happen, and without him happened not even one thing that hath happened.”

I love how the YLT (Young’s Literal Translation) stresses that nothing happened without the Word, Jesus. Most versions say “nothing was made” and that is powerful but, this emphasizes the idea that there is no reality apart from Christ!

Too me it says; “everything in Christ is real and everlasting, but apart from Him; is only falsehood.” It’s as if anything that is not from the Spirit of God is really only a dream..it is so temporary that it basically doesn’t exist beyond the brief moment of the experience.

Recently, I have been consistently challenged by this and how Colossians 1 expresses this idea. Col.1:16-18 says:

because in him (Christ) were the all things created, those in the heavens, and those upon the earth, those visible, and those invisible, whether thrones, whether lordships, whether principalities, whether authorities; all things through him, and for him, have been created, and himself is before all, and the all things in him have consisted.”

Stick with me here! This is declaring more than John 1 did. It IS awesome that ALL THINGS were created through Him and for Him and have their being in Him but, there is more!

2 verse later in 1:20- “and through him to reconcile the all things to himself — having made peace through the blood of his cross — through him, whether the things upon the earth, whether the things in the heavens.”

Now, that verse did not fit my theology of “everlasting damnation and separation from God” (as if God is suddenly not omnipresent when it comes to judgement) but, it’s in the Bible. And it is confirmed by Ephesians 1:10-

in regard to the dispensation of the fulness of the times, to bring into one the whole in the Christ, both the things in the heavens, and the things upon the earth — in him.”

and seemingly in 1 Cor.15:28- “and when the all things may be subjected to him, then the Son also himself shall be subject to Him, who did subject to him the all things, that God may be the all in all.”

So whatever our dogma may be; we better not ignore these verses. Because when the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write 3 different times that “ALL THINGS” were created by God, through God, for God and will be reconciled IN GOD…I believe that He actually means “ALL THINGS!”

Is that impossible?

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matt.19:26

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” 2 Cor.3:18,19

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Eph.3:20,21

I almost forgot one amazing thing and had to edit/add this! We know that “God is love.” But, do we actually believe with ALL of our being that “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails!”

GOD BEARS, BELIEVES, HOPES AND ENDURES ALL THINGS!

Laying Hold of the Prize!

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We have probably all heard many times how Paul compared the Christian life to running a race and “obtaining the prize.“~

You know that in a race all the runners run but only one wins the prize, don’t you? You must run in such a way that you may be victorious/katalambano.” (1 Cor.9:24)
A  lot of versions translate 
2638 katalambánō  as merely “obtaining” or “winning” and yet there is even more to this word than “being victorious”. I have found that this word is used 15 times in the N.T. and has very diverse and interesting applications.

HELPS Words studies describes it: To aggressively take with decisive initiative and forcefully, firmly lay hold of…to comprehend it, apprehend it and make it your own.

I picture someone trying to scale a very tall tree trunk to reach some high branches. If you have ever done this; you know how you hold on to the tree with every muscle in your body that you can…fingers, hands, arms, elbows, legs, knees, feet, toes…Your entire being is completely fixed on resolutely seizing the prize! That’s katalambano to me.

“Katalambano” (however you say that) is intense, forceful and resolute. It doesn’t just obtain something; it violently seizes it and never lets go! Check out some of the ways it is used (every use is in “italics”)-

First the bad news: Demons can use “Katalambano”.
The first use of this word in the N.T. is in Mark 9:17,18 ~”And one of the crowd answered Him, “Teacher, I brought You my son, possessed with a spirit which makes him mute; and whenever it “seizes” him, it slams him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth and stiffens out. I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it.

-Religious leaders can use Katalambano.
John 8:3,4 ~”The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been “caught” in adultery, in the very act…”

-The last days were like “Katalambano”.1 Thess.5:3-5 ~ “While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would “overtake” you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day.

-Darkness can be likeKatalambano”.John 12:35 ~ “So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness “overtake” you.”

-Fortunately Jesus has the ultimate “Katalambano”! John 1:5 described Jesus, the Word and His light in the world ~ “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not “overcome” it.”
One of Paul’s most powerful prayers is that believers “may be able to “comprehend”  (He used this very same word!) with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” (Eph.3:18,19)

Interesting that this word is used for seize, overtake, overcome and comprehend…because comprehend makes it sound intellectual but this word is anything but intellectual. It’s powerful!

Finally Paul uses this awesome word 3 times when he describes his continuous pursuit for Christian maturity in Philippians 3 ~ “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to “make it my own”, because Christ Jesus has “made me his own”. Brothers, I do not consider that I have “made it my own.” But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

There is no quitting or ceasing. Even Paul stressed that he would not consider his race complete but; constantly, aggressively pursuing every aspect of Jesus in every area of his life! The reason that we can and will do this is because he has “violently seized” us for this purpose and made us children of light!

I believe that it is love we have been violently seized by and really knowing God (for God is love!) and being completed in his love is the high calling! Remember back in Ephesians 3 that fully “comprehending/seizing” the love of Christ is how we are filled up with the fullness of God! (Eph.3:18,19)

Don’t you want to be filled up with the fullness of God everyday?

I am reminded of Luke 16:16 ~ “from that time the gospel of the kingdom of God is preached, and every man entereth violently into it.

Demons, religion and a fear of “the last days” are all assaulting us constantly with this tenacious fervor but, Jesus’ light “overcomes” them all! The question is not: “will we “overcome” if we stay in the light?” The only question should be “Am I staying in the light” because staying in the light guarantees “overcoming”!

Our only victory is in His already accomplished victory! We rest in His love by faith and that faith overcomes the world!