Can the un-saved do good works?

The ability to do good works before salvation

Ps 14:1-3 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
2 The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.
3 They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

David’s contention is that the fool (the wicked) are corrupt and filled with abominable works. When the Lord looked down, He found that there were none who sought after Him. But there were indeed those who did seek after God: David, himself, was a man after God’s heart. What David was referring to was the fact that no one of their own accord sought after God. God reaches out to us, first, and then we are able to do good.

John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

There are several ways in which people come to understand goodness from God.

• God’s Word gives understanding:

Ps 119:130 The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.

• Jesus, Himself, gives light and understanding.

John 1:9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

• God’s Work gives understanding

Rom 1:18-20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

All of this enables man by nature to do things contained in the Law and be able to live in a civilized society, holding each other accountable.

Rom 2:14-15 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

The problem is not whether one has the ability to do good works, but why those works are unacceptable.

Our good works when we were under the Law were unacceptable because we had no standing

When we were lost in our sin, we did not have standing to offer anything to God. Our good works were tainted by our sinfulness.

Isa 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Standing is a legal term as to who is allowed to stand before a court to speak. If someone causes damage to another person, I would not be allowed to make a claim for any damage since I was not the injured party; I would not have standing. If a murderer who would offer a poem to a mother whose child he had just murdered, all the well wishes in the world would not make that poem acceptable to that mother. The murderer would not have standing to offer anything. If, on the other hand, he were forgiven by that mother, his offering could be received with grace.

Although we are not perfected until the resurrection, we have standing before God through Christ.

To be free from the Law means simply to be from the condemnation of the Law. It does not mean to be rid of the Law. Paul argues that as in the case of a marriage is no longer in force after the death of a spouse, the law is no longer in force when the sentence of death has passed from us and has been executed against Christ.

Rom 7:1-6 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?
2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.
3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.
6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

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The Sins of the Fathers

There are two separate cases that deal with the children’s liability for the sins of a parent. The first case is based on the Second Commandment in Exod 20:5-6 and the second case is based on the statutes for civil litigation in Deut 24:16.

Exod 20:5-6 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Deut 24:16 The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.

In the case of the commandment, there are two types of people who will be affected by the sins of the fathers: those generations who hate God because of the influence of the fathers and those generations who love him in spite of the influence of the fathers. “Them that hate me” and “them that love me” are not referring to the fathers who sin, but the generations that proceed from the fathers. The impact is spiritual where both repentance and blessing as well as rebellion and judgment are equally available for the generations that follow. The commandment offers hope for a limit of the effect of our forbears’ sins to three or four generations as opposed to thousands of those who love Him. No one is judged for the sins of the fathers. Only the generations will be judged who carry forward the sins of the fathers.

Num 14:17-18 is based on Exo 20:5-6 which Moses refers only in part – “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.”

Num 14:17-18 And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my Lord be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying,
18 The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.

In the case of the civil statute, the limitation is for judgment for damages done and is part of a list of judgments. The effect is based on the sin of the individual.

Jeremiah and Ezekiel correct the misapplication of the Second Commandment and emphasize the correct application of the civil statute. The phrase used in each is “The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” This concept is based on the idea that the iniquity of the fathers will be visited upon the childrent unto the third and fourth generation. Jeremiah and Ezekiel both correct the understanding for specific sin and its punishment based on the idea of how the children should not be punished of the violations of the fathers. They point out that the subsequent generations will not be affected if they repent of the father’s sin. By implication, if they continue on in their sin they will be judged.

Jer 31:29-31 In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.
30 But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.
31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:

Ezek 18:1-32 The word of the LORD came unto me again, saying,
2 What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge?
3 As I live, saith the Lord GOD, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel.
4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.
5 But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right,
6 And hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, neither hath defiled his neighbour’s wife, neither hath come near to a menstruous woman,
7 And hath not oppressed any, but hath restored to the debtor his pledge, hath spoiled none by violence, hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment;
8 He that hath not given forth upon usury, neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, hath executed true judgment between man and man,
9 Hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord GOD.
10 If he beget a son that is a robber, a shedder of blood, and that doeth the like to any one of these things,
11 And that doeth not any of those duties, but even hath eaten upon the mountains, and defiled his neighbour’s wife,
12 Hath oppressed the poor and needy, hath spoiled by violence, hath not restored the pledge, and hath lifted up his eyes to the idols, hath committed abomination,
13 Hath given forth upon usury, and hath taken increase: shall he then live? he shall not live: he hath done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him.
14 Now, lo, if he beget a son, that seeth all his father’s sins which he hath done, and considereth, and doeth not such like,
15 That hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, hath not defiled his neighbour’s wife,
16 Neither hath oppressed any, hath not withholden the pledge, neither hath spoiled by violence, but hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment,
17 That hath taken off his hand from the poor, that hath not received usury nor increase, hath executed my judgments, hath walked in my statutes; he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live.
18 As for his father, because he cruelly oppressed, spoiled his brother by violence, and did that which is not good among his people, lo, even he shall die in his iniquity.
19 Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live.
20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.
21 But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
22 All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live.
23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?
24 But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.
25 Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?
26 When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die.
27 Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.
28 Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
29 Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the Lord is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? are not your ways unequal?
30 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.
31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.

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Lest vs. Lest

Isaiah is charged to preach to Israel and by doing so, cause them to grow resistant to God’s warnings –

Isa 6:9-12 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.
10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes;

There is a condition placed upon the judgment: the judgment would be removed if they see, hear and be converted in contrast to those who shut their ears and eyes –

lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.

The condition of heaviness was to last until an exile should occur –

11 Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate,
12 And the LORD have removed men far away, and [there be] a great forsaking in the midst of the land.

That God did not intend to reprobate Israel is indicated by the fact that He did not do it. After Isaiah started preaching there were times of revival and repentance. If God had indeed made them reprobate then repentance and revival would not have been possible. Lest is best understood as unless they, not in order that they not.

The Hebrew of Isaiah has פֶן pen– (Strong’s 6435) from פָנָה pânâh (Strong’s 6437) meaning “to remove, take away, turn, lest” but also “until” which gives an alternative sense here that their healing is prevented “until” they “hear, see and understand”.
studylight.org

Not only does ‘unless they repent’ make better sense here, it is made clearer in the New Testament.

Matt 13:13-15 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Mark 4:11-12 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:
12 That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.

Luke 8:10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.

John 12:38-40 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?
39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again,
40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.

Matthew has the most extensive quote of Christ where Jesus identifies that Isaiah 6 is being cited. Mark does not include the entire quote of Isaiah. Luke only records a brief summation of the quote in Isaiah. John does not quote Christ at all, but gives an interpretive statement involving Isa 53:1 and the ultimate end of those who reject Christ.

The Matthew and Mark quotations reflect the actual statement of Christ; Luke and John are interpretive statements. What makes the difference in our understanding of the quote from Isaiah is the use of the word mēpote (μήποτε, Strong’s 3379) and not hina mē (ἵνα μή, Strong’s 3363).

Mēpote indicates the idea of unless, or else, perhaps. It is formed from , not, and pote, at some time. is the negative particle used with verbs in the subjunctive mood indicating doubt or the possibility that something might or might not happen. This is compared to ou, which is the negative particle used with verbs in the indicative mood indicating that something did not happen.

Mēpote is used in contrast to hina mē (that not). If the meaning in order that not is intended, the much stronger hina mē is used which does indicate intention that something not happen.

Consider the case of mēpote found in 2Tim 2:24,25 where it indicates possibility –

2Tim 2:24-26And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

If…peradventure is mēpote. Unless God gives an opportunity to repent, they will oppose themselves. Mēpote, (lest) cannot mean that we teach to keep someone from experiencing repentance. The false argument would be:

Isaiah Paul
1a. Preach 1b. Teach
2a. lest (mēpote) they be converted 2b. lest (mēpote) God give them an opportunity to repent
3a. Interpretation: to keep them from being converted 3b. Interpretation: to keep them from repenting

The understanding of Paul and Isaiah are parallel. Statement 3b does not make sense if we assume that mēpote means in order that they may not. We know from Paul that teaching is done so that repentance is possible. If 3b is wrong, so also is 3a. Since Isaiah, as quoted in Matthew and Mark, has the same construction, the idea is that people will get harder and harder unless they repent and be converted.

Isaiah Paul
1a. Preach 1b. Teach
2a. lest (mēpote) they be converted 2b. lest (mēpote) God give them an opportunity to repent
3a. Interpretation: they will be blinded unless they repent and be converted 3b. Interpretation: they will continue to oppose themselves unless they repent in the space God gives them

This is also consistent with the very concept of a parable – to enlighten, illustrate, and aid understanding. Christ spoke in parables because they don’t see, hear, and understand. He did this to help those who are darkened be recovered if they repent and are converted.

Matt 13:13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

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Rom 1:1-4 – An Outline of ch. 1-8

Rom1:1-4 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
2 (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)
3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;
4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:

Introduction to the epistle
We use formulas to greet each other – How do you do, How’s the family, Dear Sir, To whom it may concern, etc. We don’t really mean anything by them. As Paul began his greeting to the Romans, he did not merely throw together a few random, gratuitous spiritual polite remarks to begin a letter. Rom 1:1-4 forms an outline of ch. 1-8, a summary statement about the content of what is to follow. Paul referred to his call to the Gospel, but he quickly turns attention away from himself and onto the Gospel. Vs. 2 and vs. 3-4 form a definition that refers back to the gospel of God.

The Biblical foundation of the Gospel
Vs. 2 is a statement about the epistemological1 basis of the Gospel. The proof of the validity of the Gospel lies in the prophecies of Christ’s coming scattered throughout the scope of time and Scripture. There is no way that the various writers of Scripture with their differing temperaments and callings could have conspired to provide a scenario for the distant future to anticipate the time of the Christ. There is no way for Jesus to have manipulated the circumstances of His birth, life, and death to fulfill the prophecies.

The Gospel of the new birth
Vs.3,4 describe the coming of the Christ of prophecy. According to the Gospel, Jesus had a fleshly birth (vs. 3) and, in His resurrection, a spiritual rebirth (vs. 4). This is reflected in Christ’s conversation with Nicodemus:

John3:3-7 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

For us, the rebirth is in two phases – our spirit when we are saved and then completed in the resurrection of our body.

1Cor 15:35 But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?

1Cor 15:42-44 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

Since Jesus did not need a spiritual rebirth, He only had a rebirth of His physical body. Vs. 4 is usually interpreted to be a reference to a proof of Christ’s deity. This does not reconcile the verse with its context. Vs. 4 is not a reference to His eternal Sonship as God the Son. It is more in line with the sonship as a resurrected being described in Acts 13:

Acts13:22-23 And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.
23 Of this man’s seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus:

Acts13:29-33 And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.
30 But God raised him from the dead:
31 And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people.
32 And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers,
33 God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.

Acts 13:22-23 corresponds to Rom 1:3 (born of the seed of David) and Acts 13:29-33 corresponds to Rom 1:4 (rebirth of the body in the resurrection). This day have I begotten thee is not a reference to the eternal Sonship of Jesus, but the resurrection sonship. This is the sense of sonship in Rom 8 –

Rom 8:17-23,29 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

We are joint heirs with Jesus of the glorified body that will be revealed in us which we receive in the adoption, the resurrection of our body. This is how Jesus is the firstborn among the brethren. He does not have the status of being firstborn as in primogeniture2, but He is the first one who was resurrected from among the dead.

Vs. 3,4 form a summary statement of what follows in chapters 1-8.

  • Chapter 3 – Our birth physically
  • Chapter 4-5 – Our rebirth spiritually
  • Chapter 6-7 – Our sanctification until the rebirth physically
  • Chapter 8 – Our rebirth physically, the resurrection

1Related to the philosophy that investigates the origin, nature, methods, and limits of human knowledge.

2The custom of the oldest son in a family having greater inheritance rights than any of his siblings. Passages such as Col 1:15, Heb 1:6, and Rev 1:5 are better understood as references to the resurrection of Christ, not a right of superior standing. This is a better argument against those that claim that Christ was a created being.

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1Thess 5:9, 2Thess 2:13 – When Salvation is not Salvation

Deliverance as salvation
We talk about salvation so much as personal salvation when we become born again. There is another major kind of salvation as deliverance in the Millennium that easily is relegated to the background. There is a similar deliverance for the saints in The Rapture. Understanding this deliverance will make a critical difference in the interpretation of a number of Scriptures.

Ps 14:7 Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! when the LORD bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.

Ps 53:6 Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! When God bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.

Amos 9:11-15 In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old:
12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this.
13 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.
14 And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them.
15 And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God.

Jer 30:3,7-11,18,22-24 For, lo, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the LORD: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.
7Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.
8 For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him:
9 But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them.
10Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith the LORD; neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid.
11 For I am with thee, saith the LORD, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished.
18 Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will bring again the captivity of Jacob’s tents, and have mercy on his dwellingplaces; and the city shall be builded upon her own heap, and the palace shall remain after the manner thereof.
22And ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.
23 Behold, the whirlwind of the LORD goeth forth with fury, a continuing whirlwind: it shall fall with pain upon the head of the wicked.
24 The fierce anger of the LORD shall not return, until he have done it, and until he have performed the intents of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it.

Hag 2:6-9 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land;
7 And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts.
8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts.
9 The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.

The deliverance of Israel from their enemies is a common theme in the minor and major prophets. As seen in the Scriptures above, salvation as deliverance is a common understanding.

Deliverance salvation by the rapture

1Thess 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

1Thess 5:9 contains language that could easily imply that our personal redemption and salvation is something that has not been secured yet, that it is to be obtained some time in the future.  It could also be misconstrued to suggest that God has sovereignly selected some to escape the wrath of Hell.  Put together, this would suggest that one’s salvation is secure by God’s sovereign choice but that it doesn’t occur until the future, that we are not currently saved.

However, in the context of 1Thess 4,5 the wrath that is spoken of is that of The Tribulation. If we understand salvation as deliverance, not as personal redemptive salvation, then the interpretation becomes clearer. We are not going to experience the Tribulation but will be delivered from it in The Rapture. We have a similar passage in 2Thess 2:13-14

2Thess 2:13-14 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here, chosen to salvation is not a reference to God’s sovereign predestination to salvation. In the context of the problem of the Thessalonians, Paul is repeating what had been stated in 1Thess 5:9. Because we have been sanctified, or set apart, because of our belief in the truth, we are destined to be delivered and the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ – a resurrected body (See Eph 1:3-14 – The Security of Our Glorious Inheritance).

 

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Eph 1:3-14 – The Security of Our Glorious Inheritance

The first thing to do to interpret Ephesians 1:3-14 is to break it into three sections. Vs. 3 is a general statement of the blessing that we have because we are in Jesus Christ. Each of the three sections end in the phrase to the praise of His glory.

Although the word glory is sometimes used to speak of praising God, here, it is a reference to God’s divine glory. When we read of the brightness of His glory (Heb 1:4), the brightness is not His glory. In 2Thess 2:8 His brightness will destroy Satan. In Rev 1:14 white is from the word for light; the whiteness/brightness of His head and hair is not His glory. God consists of glory. The brightness comes from His glory.

Glory, here, is not just a synonym for praise; otherwise, it would be redundant to say to the praise of His praise. Just as Jesus had a glorious body in His resurrection, we will share that glory in the resurrection because we are in Him.

The three sections describe the ministry and plan of the Trinity in securing our glorious resurrection.

Eph 1:3-14 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

The ministry of the Father:
Create the plan

4According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
5Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
The ministry of the Son:
Execute the plan

7In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
8Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
9Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
10That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
11In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
12That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
The ministry of the Spirit:
Guarantee the plan

13In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

The ministry of the Spirit: Guarantee the plan

The easiest way to analyze this passage is to start with the work of the Holy Spirit in vs. 13-14. The Holy Spirit is given as a down payment guaranteeing future performance. What is guaranteed is our inheritance. The word inheritance is probably usually understood as all of heaven and earth in their purified state in eternity. In Ephesians, it is used to speak of a particular part of the inheritance – our personal inheritance. The redemption of the purchased possession that has to be completed in our inheritance is the resurrected body. This is amply evident from 1Cor 15 –

1Cor 15:35-54 But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?
36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:
37 And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:
38 But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.
39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.
40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.
42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.
48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

The Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence is the guarantee, or the security, for our future glorious resurrection state which will be to the praise of God’s glorious nature reflected in our new body.

The ministry of the Son: Execute the plan

In vs. 7-12 we read of how Jesus executed the plan of the Father to secure our inheritance. Vs. 10 speaks of the restoration of all things in a general sense, but then vs. 11 in a particular sense. Because we are in Jesus, we will be resurrected.

John 11:23-25 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.
24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

Jesus is the resurrection. It is not as though we have our own resurrection, but that we participate in His resurrection. We are joint heirs and glorified together with Christ and He is the firstborn among many brethren (Rom 8:17,29). By shedding His blood, we have been redeemed and justified (Rom 3:24), but that justification is completed by His resurrection:

Rom 4:24-25 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

The plan of God was to sacrifice Jesus Christ on the cross to give us redemption (vs. 7) so that in the end we might receive our inheritance in the resurrection (vs. 10,11). This future glorious resurrection state will be to the praise of God’s glorious nature reflected in our new body.

The ministry of the Father: Create the plan

Since the inheritance of vs. 13-14 refer to the resurrection and the inheritance of vs. 7-12 refers to the resurrection, it would be reasonable to expect some reference to the resurrection in vs. 4-6. Our predestined adoption is a reference to God’s plan for us to receive the resurrection.

It is here that many commentators miss the significance of the adoption. They commit an etymological error by assuming the root of the word adoption, to make a son, refers to becoming a child of God by the new birth. Paul defines the adoption in Rom 8, a related passage.

Rom 8:22-23 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

The adoption is the resurrection. Gal 4:5-7 speaks of the early installment of our resurrection in the spirit. This is how having the presence of the Holy Spirit in our spirit, He is the earnest of the rest of the body being raised in the resurrection.

God has predestined, or planned, our resurrection which will be to the praise of His glorious nature reflected in our new body.

Conclusion:

Because we are in Christ (vs. 3), The Father has predestined (planned) our resurrection (vs. 4-6), the Son has paid for us so we can receive our resurrection (vs. 7-12), and the Holy Spirit is the earnest that seals us until the rest of the purchased possession is redeemed (vs. 13-15). What this passage does not teach is that some were predestined to become saved, but that once we are saved (in Him), our resurrection is predetermined.

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Liking God…sort of…

Deut 6:5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

So many people will claim that they love God. Some will say they really do, or at least try to, love Him with all their heart. They certainly have feelings about God, but loving God is not just about mustering a passion for Him. The problem is that it is easy to like the idea of God but really love self, as opposed to loving God and surrendering self.

There are ideas that God and we might share coincidentally that are to our advantage. We believe that stealing is bad, as well as killing and a host of other sins. We believe that doing good to our neighbor is good. God believes the same thing. In a way,  God is lucky that we believe those things because then we will “obey” Him, but only because we happen to coincide with He believes. Because of this, we really love our selves. This shows up when there is something that we do not agree with God on. Then we cast Him aside and serve our selves. Sometimes it is a bit more sophisticated than that — we love a god of our own making, the god we imagine him to be.

To love God means to surrender our selves to Him. When we love Him and what He stands for we will happily obey Him even in the things that we don’t like personally. This is why hard times, trials, and tribulation often reveal whether someone sincerely loves God.

Matt 19:16-26 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?
26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

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