This Wicked and Perverse Generation

O-Jerusalem-1

 

This page is merely a list of the 25 times that Jesus used the word “generation” in the Scriptures. Every single reference was to the Jews living at that time. Out of these 25 times all but one was prophesying “gloom and doom”. For these 24 times, the context was always before the Cross (which took place around 30AD) and it was always used negatively towards those unbelieving Jews.

All verses were taken from the NASB. If you click on the Book and Chapter number, it will connect you to the Book and Chapter. If you click on the Verse number, it will take you to the parallel of 30-some versions of the Bible for that exact verse.

 

MATTHEW ~

 

Matthew 11:16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children…”

Matthew 12: 39″But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet…”

Twice in Matthew 12:41 & 42 ~41“The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. 42The Queen of the South will rise up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.”

Matthew 12:45“Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation.”

Matthew 16:4“An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” And He left them and went away.”

Matthew 17:17And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.”

Matthew 23:36Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.”

Matthew 24:34“Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”

 

MARK ~

 

Twice in Mark 8:12″Sighing deeply in His spirit, He said, “Why does this generation seek for a sign? Truly I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.”

Mark 8:38“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Mark 9:19″And He answered them and said, “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him to Me!”

Mark 13:30“Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”

 

LUKE ~ 

 

Luke 7:31“To what then shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like? 

Luke 9:41″And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.” 

Five times in Luke 1129-32″As the crowds were increasing, He began to say, “This generation is a wicked generation; it seeks for a sign, and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah. 30“For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. 31“The Queen of the South will rise up with the men of this generation at the judgment and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. 32“The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.”

Twice in Luke 11:50-51 “so that the blood of all the prophets, shed since the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, 51from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the house of God; yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation.”

Luke 17:25“But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.”

Luke 21:32“Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place.”

 

If you made it this far, you probably noticed that many of these are repeats within the different authors. You may also be wondering about the one other occasion that Jesus mentioned “generation”. Here it is ~ Luke 16:8 “The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. “

 

That is every occasion that we have recorded of Jesus using the word “generation”. Based on this overwhelming evidence, who do you think he meant when he said ~

Matthew 23:36Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.”

Matthew 24:34“Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”

 

 

 

**I have since added this beautiful summary by Dr. Jonathan Welton **

• This generation never responded correctly to God: Matt. 11:16-19; Lk. 7:31-34

  • When this generation came to demand a sign, Jesus didn’t submit to their demands: Mark 8:11-12
  • This generation was called wicked, adulterous, sinful, unbelieving, perverse, warped and crooked: Lk. 11:29; Mk. 8:38; Matt. 17:17; Mk 9:19; Lk. 9:41; Phil 2:15
  • The Queen of Sheba would’ve condemned this generation: Matt. 12:42; Lk. 11:31
  • Even the men of Nineveh would’ve condemned this generation: Matt. 12:41; Lk. 11:32
  • As Jonah was a sign of judgment to Nineveh, Jesus was a sign of judgment upon this generation: Luke 11:30
  • Jesus would suffer many things and be rejected by this generation: Luke 17:25
  • This generation would not pass away until all the curses of Matthew 23 would come upon this generation: Matt 23:34, 36
  • This generation wouldn’t pass away until the destruction of Jerusalem had occurred: Mark 13:30; Lk. 21:32, Mt. 24:34
  • All the sin and bloodshed of the Old Testament would be charged against this generation: Luke 11:49-51
  • After Jesus swept Jerusalem clean spiritually, Jerusalem became seven times worse in that wicked generation leading up to the 70AD destruction: Matt. 12:43-45
  • Peter pleaded with his audience to save themselves from the corruptness of this generation: Acts 2:40

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Signs of the Times

Why didn’t the Apostles flee the persecution from the religious leaders? Acts 7 details how Stephen was the first martyr after the Lord’s death, resurrection and ascension. According to Acts, the young church appears to still have been staying within Jerusalem at that point. It was only a few years after the Lord’s Ascension in the mid 30’s AD and that was all about to change.

Acts 8:1,3 ~  1Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him (Stephen) to death.
And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles… 3But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison.”

That was the day that started a great persecution. Interestingly, all of the believers fled Jerusalem except the Apostles! Why?

Fleeing persecution would’ve seemed like the logical thing to do. The rest of the church did. Yet, the rest of the church was almost entirely new believers. Most of them were people that gave their lives to the Lord after his Ascension. Maybe they did not remember (or even know) the words of Jesus like the Apostles did. After all, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John would not be written for a few decades. It’s important to remember how much Jesus emphasized to the faithful 11 that they abide in his words and keep his words. Immediately before he went to the Cross in John 13-17, he gave them very profound promises that not everyone else heard. Let’s recall some of the words of Jesus to shed some light on this mystery…

 

 

WHAT SHOULD THEY DO ABOUT PERSECUTION FROM THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS?

 

Remember immediately before “The Olivet Discourse” when Jesus rebuked the religious Jewish leaders and warned them about the destruction of the Temple? Consider one of the things he prophesied to them at the end of his “8 woes” warning ~ “You serpents, you offspring of vipers, how will you escape the judgment of Gehenna?”34Therefore, behold, I send to you prophets, wise men, and scribes. Some of them you will kill and crucify; and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city…” (Matthew 24:33,34)

Around 30 AD about a week before the Cross, Jesus prophesied that they (those religious leaders listening) would kill some of his Apostles. At this point, he was not speaking to his disciples. Surely they were listening, but they were not being addressed. The Religious leaders alive at that time were the ones being directly spoken too.

Then in next chapter, in the middle of the actual “Olivet Discourse”, Jesus warned the soon-to-be Apostles that the religious leaders would kill some of them. It’s important to notice that all of “The Olivet Discourse” was spoken directly to the Disciples in response to their questions regarding his warning in the previous chapter. (See Matt.24:1-4 for context)

Matthew 24: 9“Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.” (Also see John 15:18-25John 16:1-4 for his warnings to the faithful 11 during the “Last Passover Supper”)

Doesn’t sound very promising does it? Yet in all of this, they were not instructed to flee. Not yet, at least…

 

 

 

WHAT ABOUT TRIBULATION FROM THE WORLD?

 

Also tucked away within the middle of the “Olivet Discourse” was Jesus’ warning that they (the soon-to-be Apostles, that were currently listening to his words) would be persecuted by the worldly leaders. Interestingly, there was an order to Jesus’ prophesy. For whatever reason, neither Matthew nor John recorded this, but Luke and Mark provided unique insight.

Mark 13:9 A ~ So be on your guard. You will be handed over to the councils and beaten in the synagogues…” 

First ~ The councils (Jewish) and synagogues. We saw this against Stephen in Acts 7 , but also specifically the word council was used in Acts 5:17 -27 . when Peter was imprisoned, miraculously released, brought before the council and publicly beaten.

Recall the words of Jesus, to the religious leaders in Matt.23:34 “Therefore, behold, I send to you prophets, wise men, and scribes. Some of them you will kill and crucify; and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues…”

These prophecies were so accurate it’s amazing. But it gets even more profound when we finish the last half of Mark 13:9, which I began to quote from above. ~ “So be on your guard. You will be handed over to the councils and beaten in the synagogues. On My account, you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them.” 

After they would be handed over to the councils and beaten in the Synagogues, they would stand before the worldly rulers. Watch as we see that, once again, Acts confirmed this prophecy happened (even in the exact order) as Jesus had declared.

Church historians agree that this took place in the early 40’s AD. Acts 12 ~1It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. 2He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. 3When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. 4After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.”

So everything was beginning to go down exactly as Jesus prophesied. Yet, nowhere in Acts do the Apostles flee Jerusalem! Because, there was one crucial element that all 3 synoptics agreed on. Immediately after the warning about persecution from the Jewish leaders and the worldly leaders, all 3 declared the same thing would happen! But first, Let me again emphasize, that all 3 recorded these words after Jesus’ prophesied they would be persecuted by the Jewish leaders and stand before the worldly leaders. ~

 

 

WHAT WAS THE SIGN TO FINALLY FLEE?

 

Matthew 24:15 ~ “Therefore when you shall see ‘the abomination of desolation,’ having been spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place—the one reading, let him understand— 16*then* those in Judea, let them flee to the mountains”

Mark 13:14 ~ “So when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”

 

The final warning sign was “the abomination that brings desolation” (as Daniel 12:11 had prophesied). Yet, once again, Luke had a slightly different vantage point concerning the same event. Please understand that I am not undermining their varied perspectives, but attempting to bring unity by adding clarity. ~

Luke 21:20“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near.21“Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city…

Matthew and Mark said the sign to flee was “the abomination of desolation”. Luke said the sign of Jerusalem’s “desolation” was when the city was surrounded by armies. I am sure that you have heard just as many weird teachings that I have concerning “The Abomination of Desolation” in our future. Yet Jesus made it very clear to them that all of this would go down in their lifetime.

Matthew 24:34 ~“Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”

In Matthew thru John, Jesus was recorded using the word “generation” exactly 28 times. 27 of those times were rebukes or warnings directly towards those people living at that time. Here is a list that I have taken the time to personally compile of those 27 times. You will have to read the surrounding verses for yourself to better consider the proper context.

The Truth is that the Apostles clearly believed Jesus’s words, even when the rest of the church did not!

The Apostles endured the predicted persecution from the Jewish leaders and did not flee Jerusalem. They defied the worldly leaders and did not flee. Yet, they had all fled before Rome sacked Jerusalem in 70 AD. Why?

Because according to Luke and the Apostles actions, the abomination of desolation was understood to be connected with the Roman armies surrounding Jerusalem. John Wesley, was among many other Christians who have studied these events within Scriptures and ancient writings to reach the same conclusion. These included Clement of Alexandria (150-215 AD), Eusebius (263-339) Athanasius (296-372), Augustine (379), Chrysostom (379), Jerome (347-420), and Remigius (437-533).

According to Secular and Christian history*** it is believed that the Christians fled Jerusalem when many abominations occurred Rome attacked first attacked Jerusalem in 66AD. Rome inexplicably retreated after only 2 months of battle according to Josephus. But Rome returned and 3.5 years later (yes, 42 months or 1,260 days for those of you who recall specific times frames referenced in Daniel and Revelation). Jerusalem was finally overcome and destroyed by Roman armies and Jewish zealots. The harlot was burned from within and from without.

Not all of the Christians believed Jesus’ words at first. Some fled at the first sign of persecution. But the Apostles obeyed completely to the end. Even to “The end of the Age”. They faithfully declared the end of the age and destruction of the Temple “in their generation” and God proved himself faithful because it happened within 40 years (one generation) of Jesus’ words.

 

 

 

 

 

LINKS AND CREDITS ~

***FLIGHT FROM JERUSALEM In this link we see that many Christians throughout church history are aware of this truth. Names like ~ John Gill, Thomas Newton, Charles Spurgeon, Charles Finney and John Lightfoot. Adam Maarschalk goes into even more detail here.

 

Thanks to Dr. Jonathan Welton at Welton Academy for clearly teaching this. Also for his free E-book “Raptureless” for introducing me to Preterism. Click here for the Link to “Raptureless”

Thanks too Adam Maarschalk and “Pursuing Truth” for his extensive research and articulate teachings at AdamMaarschalk.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lies of Satan

Garden of Eden - Fall of Man

 

We know that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He called the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth that will guide us into all truth. John also wrote that The Holy Spirit teaches us only what is true and there is no lie in him. Conversely, Jesus called Satan the father of lies because everything he says is a lie. Jesus said that Satan has been a liar from the beginning. (God did not create him a liar, because God cannot lie; but at some point in the beginning, Satan must have chosen to be a liar.)

It’s this foundation of Satan’s lies that I want to explore. I believe that we all “hear” with our “spiritual ears” lies from the devil everyday and are not even aware of it most of the time. Is it possible that anytime we entertain criticism of another believer; we are actually engaged in a conversation with the “accuser of the brethren”?

My point is not to overemphasize the voice of the devil because Jesus, the Word of God, is the Good Shepherd and we are his sheep. Jesus said that his sheep will 1. Hear his voice 2. Know his voice 3. Follow him (his voice and not merely a book). I simply want to highlight a few of Satan’s favorite lies that are attempts to prevent us from doing so.

 

WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

 

Have you ever done something controversial and heard an authority figure challenge you with the question “Who do you think you are?!?” Challenging the believer’s identity is one of Satan’s most frequent tactics. It’s an attempt to undermine the core of the person’s being and replace it with an inferior identity complex.

Consider the very first temptation recorded towards Jesus, immediately after his baptism of the Holy Spirit. It’s important to always build on what God says; so we will start from the words of the Father as he blessed the Son and the Holy Spirit rested on him.

Mark 1:9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.10Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; 11and a voice came out of the heavens: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”

God the Father declared openly that Jesus is his beloved Son. The same is true of you because God has qualified you and transferred you out of the kingdom of darkness into the reign of his beloved Son! 

This is a foundational truth about you; just as it is about Jesus and the deceiver immediately attacks it! (Next verse) 12Immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness. 13And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan…

Mark did not describe the actual temptations, but Matthew recorded the first two starting with three very devious words ~3And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

Even Jesus’ faith was attacked by the devil. In this case, it was Jesus’ faith in the words of God spoken by the Father about his identity. But, satan didn’t openly question the Father’s words; he did it subversively. His attack against our identity is a covert operation. Satan could’ve said ~ “You are not the Son of God.” But that would’ve be to obvious, so Satan challenged Jesus to prove who he was by his works instead of faith.

The truth about who you are is not based on what you do. That may be the way the world considers truth, but in the Kingdom, our identity is based on who God says we are, even in spite of what we do. We are sons of God because of faith and not because of works.

 

“Don’t try and find your destiny before you find your identity. If you do, you’ll try to find your identity in your destiny.” —Norm McLeod

 

 

ARE YOU CERTAIN OF GOD’S WORDS?

 

This lie is closely associated with the previous lie because we cannot be established in our true identity if we are uncertain of God’s message about us. This is what Satan assaulted in the Garden.

First, what God had said ~ Genesis1:16The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die…”

Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

Not only did the deceiver question whether they had really heard God’s voice, but he threw a twist on God’s words. Surely Satan knew exactly what God had said, but he wanted to do more than tempt them. He wanted to deceive them concerning “what” God had truly said, so he added to God’s instruction. God told them not to eat from one certain tree and Satan added the idea that God may (or may not have) told them to eat from any of the trees.

So the father of lies tried to create doubt about 1. Whether God had actually spoken to them. 2. Whether they had truly heard God clearly 3. Regarding what exactly God had instructed.

Satan’s tactics haven’t change much, have they? All of these lies are like branches of one deceptive tree. They all bear bad fruit in our lives when we function according to any of these ideas. However, I believe none of them are the root problem. The source behind all of these lies that Satan desires to build on is actually the true character of God.

 

GOD IS NOT GOOD ~

 

If you think about the lies that Satan whispered, they all have this one subversive theme woven into their core. They question the goodness of God.

At Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness~ “Does God truly love you like a Son? You haven’t even done anything yet! Prove you are God’s Son by doing something.”

In the garden ~“Did God really make this entire garden and restrict you from eating it’s delicious fruit? Surely, God lied about you dying! God is holding back from you guys because he wants to keep the best for himself. He doesn’t want you to be as awesome as he is, but if you disobey him; you will be…”

Every single temptation that the liar has ever concocted really attacks the truth concerning the good nature of God. The truth is that God is good and all he does is good!

Because God is love. Whenever something in life challenges the goodness of God, ask him to show you his goodness in it. When Moses asked to see God’s glory, God did so by letting his goodness pass before him. Moses never saw God, but in that moment it’s like Jesus (God in the flesh) walked past Moses. Jesus said that if we have seen (perceived) him, we have seen/perceived the Father.

According to Jesus, that was his very purpose. Jesus revealed what the Father is truly like. The truth about God’s nature is that He is just as good as Jesus was.

Always was and always will be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Communion or Condemnation?

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I grew up in a fundamental Evangelical Christian church that took Communion once a month. The only passages that I actually remember concerning the Sacrament were from 1 Corinthians 10,11. The focus every time that we came to the Lord’s Table was on “examining” ourselves and confessing our sins. It was always a very somber time without any joy, but plenty of condemnation.

I believe it’s important to clarify something about these passages. Paul was not articulating what we would think of as “Communion Doctrine Basics”. Paul had already delivered his Communion teaching to them in person (1 Cor.11:23) and in his letter, he was addressing some very specific problems that they had, within their church.

**We see these problems listed in 1 Cor.11:17-31 

  1. They were divided at the Table and not united. (V.18,19)
  2. They were acting gluttonous and not sharing (V.21,22)
  3. They were shaming the poor (V.22)
  4. They were not discerning the body (V.29-31)

 

It’s this last point that I want to focus on because misunderstanding it used to corrupt The Lord’s Supper for me. We could analyze what Paul was saying about discerning the body within the context of Corinth and that would be fruitful, but I want to go back to the foundation of Communion. The words of the Word, Jesus himself and what he said about the Sacrament and the Body.

 

 

THE LAST PASSOVER SUPPER ~ 

We know that Jesus initiated “The Lord’s Table” immediately before the Cross, at the Passover meal. Jesus introduced the Eucharist as “my body” and “my blood”. I agree with the Protestant reformers that the Roman Catholic church was (and is) mistaken to take these words literally, but there is still profound truth unveiled when we refer to it in this manner.

Jesus declared that “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.” in Luke 22:20. Matthew 26:28 recorded it this way ~ “For this is My blood of the covenant, being poured out for many, for forgiveness of sins.”  They both mean the same thing because one of the main aspects of the New Covenant is that God “remembers our sins no more…”

But, there is more detail given in John that I have never heard associated with “The Lord’s Table”. I believe when given in light of what Paul and Hebrews later say about the Body of Christ, it will add a lot of clarity to what Jesus was conveying to the faithful 11 Disciples.

Judas was included in the foot-washing and even the bread of the Table before Jesus excused him and gave the “cup of the blood”. So Jesus said in John 13:10b,11 “you are clean, but not all of you.” 11For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, “Not all of you are clean.”

*Clean is the same word as pure. Like when Jesus said “Blessed are the pure in heart…”

Why was Judas unclean? Simply because He no longer believed in Jesus (John 6:64). When Jesus later described the truths behind the unity that He was establishing, he made it very clear why those remaining 11 were clean.

John 15 “3“You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.”

Judas was unclean because he did not receive Jesus’ 1st Word. From John 1-John 12, Jesus articulated very clearly, over and over again what his 1st Commandment was.

“Believe.”

If you examine John 1-12, you will see that is the only thing Jesus ever asked of anyone and he said it almost 100 times! Judas demonstrated his lack of faith when he left to betray the Lord.

It was only at that point that Jesus gave the Cup and the single New Covenant Commandment and explained the most profound mysteries ever written on pages to his remaining faithful few.

For sake of brevity, I must skip most of it and focus only on the Communion/Body aspects.

John 15:3-5 ~ 3“You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

This is equivalent to Christ being the Head of the body language that Paul used so many times. Jesus was conveying to those who partook of the First New Covenant Communion that they were connected to him. He had made them clean. He had connected them to him. “Stay connected in love”.  (Abide in my love paraphrased)

 

DISCERN THE CLEAN BODY~ 

 

Jesus did not instruct the disciples to examine themselves for sin and confess it all “under the blood” so God could forgive them. Jesus gave them the blood for forgiveness and told them to partake of it. Believing in Jesus’ words allowed them to receive forgiveness and revealed to them that He had cleaned them!

Remember that all of this forgiveness, cleanliness and unity in Christ’s body was immediately before the Cross! At the same time that Jesus was calling them his purified branches, he was prophesying that they would all leave him! (John 13:36-38)

Jesus didn’t give them Communion because they had forsaken all sin…he gave them communion as they were about to embrace sin and forsake him! Because “The Lord’s Supper” is all about remembering what Jesus has done and not remembering what we have done. To focus on our sin during the Lord’s Supper is to ignore the Cross. We are not even supposed to remember the Cross in light of our sin, but remember the Cross in light of God’s love. Don’t think about your sin “causing Jesus to be crucified on the Cross”, think about Jesus causing your sin to be crucified in Himself on the Cross!

Some Christians seem to think the Cross was because their sin was separating them from Jesus, but Jesus was revealing that the Cross separated us from our sin and connected us to him!

Consider Paul’s take on the clean and pure body of Christ within the context of Marriage in Ephesians 5 ~ 25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,26so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word”

The language is clearly connected to Jesus’ words in John 15. This is not some future event that the church is sitting around, twiddling their thumbs waiting to happen. Jesus has sanctified us once and for all through his body on the Cross! (Hebrews 10:10,14)

Perhaps an aspect of “discerning the body correctly” for us today, would be to remember that Jesus has purified us and joined us to him! What if we focused on those truths and their implications while we partook “in remembrance of him”?

The author of Hebrews described in many ways how inferior the Old Covenant way of bloody animal sacrifices was versus Jesus’ “The New and Living Way”. In Hebrews 10, it is written about how Jesus had replaced the old ~ 9then He said, “BEHOLD, I HAVE COME TO DO YOUR WILL.” He takes away the first (Old Covenant) in order to establish the second (New Covenant)10By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

 

….19Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,20by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful!”

 

Religion tries to convince us that we need to sanctify ourselves to “get connected to God” and yet Jesus revealed that he has cleansed us and He has connected us to God. This is God’s will. Only believe.

I can’t help but mention John 6, where Jesus clearly pointed forward to the Communion and the Cross. He had just surpassed Moses’ “bread from Heaven” experience and the the Jews were totally worked up. John 6: 28Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” 29Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”

Please read John 6:26 through the rest of the chapter and consider Jesus’ words in John 6:63,64 ~ 63“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. 64“But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him.

 

 

 

**Thanks to Stan Newton’s book “Kingdom Communion”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kingdom Building

We enjoyed a gorgeous week at Outer Banks with my in-laws. Our kids love playing with their 2 cousins in the surf and sand; while my brother-in-law and I often build them sand structures for amusement. In case you think this is another Biblical teaching about “building on the sand versus the Rock”, it’s not.

My brother-in-law, Derek and I are very different with our own unique styles. Derek’s way of building for the kids was to dig holes, build “pools” and construct a tunnel. The kids loved it!

However, I spent much of my time creating in an entirely different manner. My nephew and I built large foundations for a city with walls and castles that we laid with a variety of plastic buckets and sand molds. It was extremely time consuming and tedious, but we found it rewarding. (Actual picture below)

 

IMG_2042

 

After a few hours when I was finishing up one of our biggest projects, I felt a twinge of jealousy as my daughter was really having fun with Uncle Derek’s project. Suddenly, the idea crossed my mind that I wanted his tunnel to collapse. I quickly realized it was a lie and renounced it and then the Lord began to speak to me about Churches and ministry…

 

SELFISH OR SELFLESS AMBITION ?

Who are we ministering for?

If we are truly “building” for the King and the Kingdom, we desire our brothers and sisters to also succeed. Churches and ministers are not in competition with each other because we are not supposed to be trying to create something “big” or “great” for our name, but His Name. We are on the same team.

Think of the world like a giant beach and our legacy is like the sand castles we build for our kids.

Firstly, there is plenty of room for us all to build as big or as little of a “sand castle” that we want to build. Actually, we are supposed to be filling the “beach” with His Kingdom and no single Church or ministry will ever be big enough to do that alone.

It’s going to take every family building their own structures, in their area and in their own time. God set this Kingdom up so that it functions like a body that needs every part operating at full capacity in coordination with all of the bodies members. We all have a unique sphere of influence. And we all have different giftings and callings.

Secondly, there is plenty of sand. There is no shortage of resources as we build God’s Kingdom because “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness of it.” He owns all things because everything was created by him and for him! He is currently filling everything with himself. We don’t need to compete with our neighbor for funds, congregants or followers. When our neighboring ministry succeeds, we don’t fail.

The Kingdom increases! When the Kingdom increases, we all increase; even if we can’t perceive how because we are all a part of the same growing body of Christ! When the body grows, every functioning member grows along with it!

The truth is that we are all building something for our children; whether natural or spiritual. We give our entire lives, our beings to growing God’s Kingdom and when we die; only what was done without selfish motive will remain. If our motive is for the increase of our own name, we may build something huge that appears to be great, but it will not honor the Lord.

We can have all of the spiritual giftings in the world, but if we do not operate in love; it will profit nothing. Love does not seek it’s own. Love is not a feeling, but a completely selfless motive. Love does not desire to outdo another, but desires it’s neighbor to also succeed.

If we get wrapped up in a competitive attitude with surrounding churches or ministries, we have crossed over on to the opposing team. The sad part is that the very people that we are jealous of may be the very people we should be cooperating with. One of the most basic ways the enemy causes division is by introducing selfishness where there should be selflessness.

As soon as we let it be about us, it’s no longer about the Lord. God doesn’t desire increase for you and failure for your neighbor. That’s how the enemy wants us to think. But God wants to increase the entire Body! Only the enemy desires that the Body of Christ ever experiences failure. But love always builds up.

If we begin to listen to ideas that have selfish intentions, we cannot cooperate with what God is doing. It’s time that we set aside our agendas and seek firstly and foremost the Kingdom of God.

 

 

 

Kingdom Building

We enjoyed a gorgeous week at Outer Banks with my in-laws. Our kids love playing with their 2 cousins in the surf and sand; while my brother-in-law and I often build them sand structures for amusement. In case you think this is another Biblical teaching about “building on the sand versus the Rock”, it’s not.

My brother-in-law, Derek and I are very different with our own unique styles. Derek’s way of building for the kids was to dig holes, build “pools” and construct a tunnel. The kids loved it!

However, I spent much of my time creating in an entirely different manner. My nephew and I built large foundations for a city with walls and castles that we laid with a variety of plastic buckets and sand molds. It was extremely time consuming and tedious, but we found it rewarding. (Actual picture below)

 

IMG_2042

 

After a few hours when I was finishing up one of our biggest projects, I felt a twinge of jealousy as my daughter was really having fun with Uncle Derek’s project. Suddenly, the idea crossed my mind that I wanted his tunnel to collapse. I quickly realized it was a lie and renounced it and then the Lord began to speak to me about Churches and ministry…

 

SELFISH OR SELFLESS AMBITION ?

Who are we ministering for?

If we are truly “building” for the King and the Kingdom, we desire our brothers and sisters to also succeed. Churches and ministers are not in competition with each other because we are not supposed to be trying to create something “big” or “great” for our name, but His Name. We are on the same team.

Think of the world like a giant beach and our legacy is like the sand castles we build for our kids.

Firstly, there is plenty of room for us all to build as big or as little of a “sand castle” that we want to build. Actually, we are supposed to be filling the “beach” with His Kingdom and no single Church or ministry will ever be big enough to do that alone.

It’s going to take every family building their own structures, in their area and in their own time. God set this Kingdom up so that it functions like a body that needs every part operating at full capacity in coordination with all of the bodies members. We all have a unique sphere of influence. And we all have different giftings and callings.

Secondly, there is plenty of sand. There is no shortage of resources as we build God’s Kingdom because “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness of it.” He owns all things because everything was created by him and for him! He is currently filling everything with himself. We don’t need to compete with our neighbor for funds, congregants or followers. When our neighboring ministry succeeds, we don’t fail.

The Kingdom increases! When the Kingdom increases, we all increase; even if we can’t perceive how because we are all a part of the same growing body of Christ! When the body grows, every functioning member grows along with it!

The truth is that we are all building something for our children; whether natural or spiritual. We give our entire lives, our beings to growing God’s Kingdom and when we die; only what was done without selfish motive will remain. If our motive is for the increase of our own name, we may build something huge that appears to be great, but it will not honor the Lord.

We can have all of the spiritual giftings in the world, but if we do not operate in love; it will profit nothing. Love does not seek it’s own. Love is not a feeling, but a completely selfless motive. Love does not desire to outdo another, but desires it’s neighbor to also succeed.

If we get wrapped up in a competitive attitude with surrounding churches or ministries, we have crossed over on to the opposing team. The sad part is that the very people that we are jealous of may be the very people we should be cooperating with. One of the most basic ways the enemy causes division is by introducing selfishness where there should be selflessness.

As soon as we let it be about us, it’s no longer about the Lord. God doesn’t desire increase for you and failure for your neighbor. That’s how the enemy wants us to think. But God wants to increase the entire Body! Only the enemy desires that the Body of Christ ever experiences failure. But love always builds up.

If we begin to listen to ideas that have selfish intentions, we cannot cooperate with what God is doing. It’s time that we set aside our agendas and seek firstly and foremost the Kingdom of God.

 

 

 

Pleased by Blood?

Was God ever pleased with blood sacrifices?

I realize that many Old Covenant Scriptures seem to indicate that our Loving Father delighted in blood offerings but consider some of the very last Scriptural insight ever given from the Holy Spirit ~

 

6In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hadst no pleasure:

Jesus was recorded speaking ~

7Then said I, Lo, I am come (In the roll of the book it is written of me) To do thy will, O God.

8Saying above, Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein (the which are offered according to the law)…” Hebrews 10

This “new” revelation had actually been given through David and other prophets throughout Israel’s history but, apparently not understood. Do we truly understand it today?

BACK TO THE BEGINNING ~

We probably agree that God does not any longer desire bloody offerings but, do we impose our perspective of the Old Covenant (Moses and the Levitical Priesthood) on our understanding of the other Genesis accounts?

Consider that Scripture has not one account of the Lord actually requesting anyone to follow through with blood offerings before Moses and “The First Passover”.

Not Adam, Cain and Abel, Noah or Abraham were ever told to follow through with bloodshed. Seriously.

I’m going to very briefly articulate a few points within these stories and assume that you are familiar with the basics of these recorded accounts. You may have to unlearn what you learned through Sunday School, Church, etc…I did. You also will probably have to study the Scriptures (at least the Book of Genesis ~ which means ” The Beginnings” for yourself and intentionally listen for any single instance of the Lord requiring follow through of bloodshed.

THE FIRST FAMILY ~

After Adam and Eve sinned, God responds ~ “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.”

It is true that most scholars decided to conclude that the Lord killed an animal and made garments from the skin to clothe them but, that is not what the Hebrew Text says. Some versions have actually added words to the text because of their preconceived bias but, that’s not a good idea.

NLT ~ “And the LORD God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.” The ISV and GWT unfortunately do the same.

I believe this mistranslation and wrong understanding has laid a bad foundation. Truth be told, the original text says nothing of “how” God made the “garments of skin” or even “what” he made them from. The Hebrew word is the same used when God created “in the beginning” , so we have no reason to assume that God “made” these garments of skin from an animal.

Along come Cain and Abel, who have never been given a Mosaic understanding of “sacrifices”.  According to Scripture, Cain may have invented the idea of “offering” something to God because ~ “In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel ALSO brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions.” Gen.4:3,4a

Cain started it and Abel followed. I was always taught growing up that Cain’s was unacceptable because it was not a bloody lamb. However, that is not stated anywhere in Scripture! Actually, “Faith chapter” that follows multiple chapters of minimizing literal sacrifices, offerings and “Priestly ministry” boldly revealed the reason Able’s was accepted!

“By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings…” Hebrews 11:4A

It was faith and faith alone that approved Abel before God!

If people want to assume that God was pleased with Abel’s because it was bloody, they add to Scripture. Without repeating their error, I would like to suggest that maybe Cain killed Abel because he made the same assumption.

Consider that Cain may have had no animal to offer (he was a tiller of the ground) and since it “seemed” that God was pleased with a bloody sacrifice; maybe (just maybe) Cain thought that he was making an even better offering to God by sacrificing his brother! Just a thought…

ENOCH THE RIGHTEOUS…BY FAITH ~

We know that Enoch walked with the Lord because God was pleased with his faith but, there is not one mention of Enoch ever sacrificing a single bloody offering! (See Gen.5)

The next verse in Hebrews 11 ~ ” 5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.” 

No blood required. Not even in the Old Testament!

Why?

“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Heb.11:6 Remember this chapter followed immediately on the heels of multiple statements in Hebrews 10 that “God took no pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices” (Think blood!)

NOAH, THE PREACHER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS ~ 

After Noah obeyed the Lord’s first instructions to gather 2 of every animal, The Lord gave him some more…

1Then the LORD said to Noah, “Enter the ark, you and all your household, for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time. 2“You shall take with you of every clean animal by sevens, a male and his female; and of the animals that are not clean two, a male and his female;3also of the birds of the sky, by sevens, male and female, to keep offspring alive on the face of all the earth.” Gen.7

More literal translations record Gen.7:3 this way ~ “Also of the birds of the sky, seven and seven, male and female, to keep seed alive on the surface of all the earth.”

We know now that clean animals were later used for sacrifice and secular history tells us that ancient cultures at that time may have had similar thought but, God had never required it until the time of Moses.

15They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life. 16And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him. And the LORD shut him in.” Gen.7:15,16

Noah did everything correct going in! But, then things got shaky…

Notice the very specific instruction given to Noah. So specific that the Lord even changed the order of how they (the 8 people) were supposed to exit the Ark! * Credit due to Dr. Jonathan Welton in his book ~ “Normal Christianity”.*

15Then God said to Noah, 16“Go out from the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. 17Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh—birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth—that they may swarm on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.”

He told them to leave the Ark side by side, male beside female but, apparently they misunderstood or ignored that instruction.

18So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. 19Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by families from the ark.”

For whatever reason, God let that slide. But, Noah was just getting started with his blatant disobedience! (Please understand that I am in no means criticizing Noah, the righteous. Just examining his mistakes for the sake of articulating my point.)

Remember that the Lord had already made it very clear why he wanted Noah to take so many clean animals on the Ark.  1.) “To keep seed/offspring alive on the land” ~ Gen.7:3 & Reason # 2.)…”that they may swarm on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” ~ Gen.8:17b 

Yet Noah went his own way. ” 20Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.” Gen.8:20

God said the extra clean animals were for filling the land and yet Noah killed them. Did God take pleasure in his offering? It seems so. But why?

Based on Hebrews 10 & 11 we understand that is was yet again faith that pleased God. Maybe Noah even “offered a sacrifice of faith-filled praise”!

15Through him (Christ) then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Hebrews 13

But within the Lord’s satisfaction with Noah’s faith-filled offering (of praise?), the Lord seems to have recognized that Noah was actually imperfect.

21The LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done. ~ Gen.8

Interestingly, it’s only after Noah’s unrequested sacrifice that the Lord declared animals would fear man (Gen.9:2), man would eat animals (9:3), yet they were not supposed to consume the blood (9:4) and man’s bloodshed would be severely disciplined (9:5).

Is it possible that Noah’s sacrifice changed the way God intended their new life?

God established his covenant with even the animals (9:10) and immediately Noah became like Cain was…before Cain sinned. Noah became a tiller of the ground. (9:20)

Very interesting…

It gets even more interesting when we examine the life of Abraham and how God did not clearly ever require him to shed any blood! But, that blogpost will have to wait until another time. Hopefully that time, I can wrap this up with some practical applications for us within the New Covenant. As for now, hopefully this provokes some thoughts for reconsidering how you read the Scriptures. Be blessed!

The Commandments of Jesus

The Apostle John was the only writer in the NT that articulates “The Commandments of Jesus.” He was also the only author among the first 4 that did not record “The Sermon on the Mount”. I believe one reason may be because John’s writings were written last. John seems to have written immediately before 70 AD, possibly after Paul’s death and definitely a decade or more after Matthew and Mark. Matthew wrote his account after only about 2 decades of meeting Jesus. John wrote his almost 40 years after he began to walk with the Lord!

How much does a person grow in the Lord after an additional 20 years of relationship? *(Some scholars argue that John’s letters were written 60 years or more after Jesus!)

The point?

Maybe John more clearly articulated the New Covenant because the time of the Old being completely removed had arrived (Hebrews 8:13-9:10 & 2 Cor.3:7-11) and the New Covenant ideals needed to me decisively declared. Maybe John understood sonship better. John clearly had a profound revelation of what it meant to be loved by the Lord because he frequently referred to himself as “The Disciple whom Jesus loved.”

Does that mean Jesus loved John more than the others or that John received Jesus’ love more than the others? I believe it’s the latter. Consider Jesus words spoken to the faithful 11 in John 15:9 as evidence ~ “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: abide      ye in my love.”                                                                                                                   (plural)             (singular)

I used the KJV in this instance because it’s the only version that distinguishes the plural “you” from the singular “ye”. Jesus stated that he loved them all as the Father had loved him. Jesus didn’t love John more than Peter, James or the rest. Jesus loved all of his disciples with the exact same love that the Father had for him.

John received Jesus’ love more.

John laid his head on the Lord’s chest.

John knew how to abide.

Is it possible that John had greater faith?

 

HOW MANY COMMANDMENTS?

 

Matthew, Mark and Luke all emphasized faith to an extant. However, none of them even came close to articulating the faith like Paul had.

Did you know that none of the first 3 (Matt,Mk and Lk) recorded Jesus ever saying anything like “Believe in me to be saved”? Isn’t that the foundation of the entire message? Yet, in all of their accounts of the life and words of Jesus; none of them thought it was important to declare the most basic aspect of the Gospel? Very interesting….

Yet, the “gospel” of John records Jesus’ 1st Commandment “Believe” almost 100 times! Compare that to less than 30 times between the first 3. Basically, John emphasizes belief 10 times more than the others. John also emphasized love over 100 times more!

John’s First Epistle detailed the New Covenant Commandments as ~ 1. Believe. 2. Love.

23And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, even as he gave us commandment.” ~ 1 John 3:23

Because even the entire Law could be summed up in “Love”. (Gal.5:14 , Matt.22:40, Rom.13:10) However, the reality is that you cannot truly love without first believing because love believes. (1 Cor.13:7) The cart cannot go before the horse.

Faith always precedes love. We cannot love others with God’s perfect love until we believe in God’s perfect love. ~ The Holy Spirit

It’s really that simple to obey the New Covenant commandments because God doesn’t want slaves who merely obeyed for the sake of obedience; like in the Old Covenant. Paul wrote in Romans about a new obedience that he called ~ “The Obedience of the Faith”.

 

HOW NOW SHALL WE LIVE?

 

This is not an excuse to disobey. It’s a true definition of Christ-like obedience.

This is not a reason to neglect the writings of Matthew and the others. It’s also not an excuse to ignore the words of Jesus in the likes of “The Sermon on the Mount”. It’s merely an explanation of how.

This is how we live a “Sermon on the Mount” (SOM) lifestyle.

We can obey the letter of the SOM without believing in God’s love. But, we cannot disobey the heart of the SOM when we believe in God’s love.

One way reduces children of God to a life of slavery. The Way inspires the children of God to a life of sons!

If God’s primary objective was obedience to a set of regulations; he would have invented robots. But God yearned for relational children, so he created us!

God doesn’t merely desire us to follow a set of rules. God desires relationship.

God wants us to stay in relationship with him through in everything!

16And we know and have believed the love which God hath in us. God is love; and he that abideth in love abideth in God, and God abideth in him.” ~ 1 John 4:16

Interestingly, the emphasis in this verse does not seem to be on the Presence of God. The emphasis is on love because ~ “love is the Presence of God.”

It’s that simple and yet that challenging. Because Ephesians 3:16-20 announced that God’s love in infinitely beyond our understanding. It’s probably a good idea to pray along the lines of Paul ~

16that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that ye may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man; 17that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18may be strong to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God.”

Profound. It seems that Paul was saying something like ~Believing and growing in the love of God increases the amount of God that we experience in life. God is infinite and so is love. Keep growing in faith and in love. The deeper you go into love, the more Christ fills your heart.

 

 

A Different Jesus?

treeoflife
In the garden, the Serpent deceived Eve. (2 Cor.11:3)
 4And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil.” Gen.3:4,5

These were the words of the Serpent; not the Lord God. Yes, they are Scripture but they are not the Words of God.

Consider how differently the promise from the Serpent was than the warning of Father God.

Genesis 2:16~ The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

God had warned mankind not too eat of the fruit because they would surely die. God never said anything about them becoming “like God, knowing evil and good” if they ate of the fruit. They were already created in God’s likeness! Eating the fruit did not make them more like God but, more like Satan!

Satan knew evil. God did now know evil. There has never been evil in our Father and there never will be!

What if “knowing good and evil” was actually the same thing that God warned them about? What if “knowing good and evil” was death to them?

For thousands of years, people may have thought that the Lord God knew evil but, did He? Did Jesus, the complete expression of the Lord, know sin? Not according to Paul.

2 Cor.5:21 ~ “He made the One not having known sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Since Jesus, the Word of God who was with and was always God, did not ever intimately know sin; it begs the question ~ “Did the serpent deceive us too?”

Did the Lord God, ever intimately know sin or evil? What if that was a root of the deception that had mislead mankind? What if sin and evil had never even entered the mind and heart of our loving Father? What if we projected our awareness of sin onto the Perfect God of love?

 

TO KNOW ~ 

This Greek word ginosko or “know” is equivalent to the Hebrew word yada, which is the intimate knowledge that transcends information. The quote from Gen.5 above is the first 2 uses of yada/intimate knowledge ever used in the Scriptures.

This has nothing to do with facts and information. Yes, Jesus understood that sin existed. He often even perceived it in people’s hearts before they spoke it during his life.

Yet, he did not become intimately acquainted with it. Consider how Genesis 4 immediately follows the opening of Adam and Eve’s eyes to sin and evil. The use of the word yada is very different than we often think of “knowing”.

Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain…” Gen.4:1

Did Adam just notice Eve and go shake her hand? “Hi, Eve…I mean…you. My name’s Adam, It’s nice to know you?” No. They had already met. Adam became intimate with Eve. Adam knew Eve according to the Biblical understanding of “know”; he experienced relationship with her.

Was God intimate with evil? Was there ever any darkness in God? Did God ever actually kill anyone or even command killing?

Look at Jesus. How did he treat his enemies? Consider his words on the Sermon at the Mount and apply them to your idea of God the Father; in the Old Covenant.

What if Brian Zahnd is correct? What if “The Cross proved that God would rather die than kill his enemies.”….?

What if God has never known that evil?

Are we going to believe what the deceiver said? Let’s remember what Paul said about the deception in 2 Cor.11:3 ~ But I am afraid, lest by any means, as the serpent in his craftiness deceived Eve, your minds might be corrupted from the simplicity and the purity in Christ.”

Has the mind of the church been corrupted from the simplicity and purity in Christ? Do we doubt that God was always and always will be as pure as Christ?

“He knew NO sin.”

Actually, it is more literally “He made the One not having known sin to be sin for us…”

Because everyone except God has known sin!

 

THE ONE

Jesus was often called “The righteous One” and “The Holy One” throughout Old and New Testament.  (Acts 3:14)

Jesus was the One that did not know sin. Was God divided back in the Garden? Did The Word (Jesus), The Holy Spirit and The Father part ways when they created the world? In Gen.1:1-3, we see God creating as the Spirit hovers and the Word speaks.

I believe the Trinity has always been One and always will be. Immediately before the Cross, Jesus affirmed that even though the 11 “faithful” disciples would leave him ~ “The Father is with me.” (John 16:32) According to John 14:17, The Holy Spirit was already with them too. 

If Jesus never knew sin, even in the flesh; how much more did The perfect Father and Spirit of Holiness not know sin? I know that’s an oxy-moron because you can’t “intimately know sin” less than not knowing it at all. But, the point remains that they surely could not and did not ever know sin or evil!

Could God really kill and still not know evil?

Let’s go back and continue in that verse from 2 Corinthians 11 ~ 3But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness, your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity and the purity that is toward Christ. 4For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or if ye receive a different spirit, which ye did not receive, or a different gospel, which ye did not accept, ye do well to bear with him .”

What if by attributing intimate knowledge of evil/sin to God; we entertain a different spirit and different gospel?

What if we misunderstood the simplicity and purity of God in the words ~ “God is light. In him is no darkness.” (1 John 1:5)

 

 

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!