Tuesday, 02 April 2013
God’s Rebuilding Project
From Ruins to Righteousness
Isaiah 61:4 – 62:2
There is something both incongruous and fitting about that title. The expected word after “ruins” might have been “rebuilt”, not “righteousness”. But the very fact that the metaphor seems jarring points out just how different this new kingdom is: It is a spiritual kingdom. The main excellence of this kingdom, the main distinguishing mark, is true righteousness. In this sense it is totally different, not only from the earlier Zion, but all other earthly kingdoms. It is something truly new.
But there is also continuity. It is a kingdom with roots in the past, already fore-typed unmistakably in earlier times. The best features of the old Kingdom of Israel were sure prophecies of the better Zion that was to come. Christ assured His disciples that they, once well-taught, will be “like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”1
4. And they shall rebuild the old ruins,
They shall raise up the former desolations,
And they shall repair the ruined cities,
The desolations of many generations.
“They shall rebuild”. And who is “they”? The same ones who “mourn in Zion”, vs. 3. “Blessed are the mourners”. 2
Notice the continuity here. This is a “rebuilding”, a “repairing” of “former desolations”. The enlightened Jerusalem Counsel (Acts 15) , having heard of Paul’s recent missionary successes, understood this to be a “rebuild[ing of] the tabernacle of David”, Acts 1515-17.
5. Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks,
And the sons of the foreigner
Shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.
It is easy to misunderstand these verses as being adversarial, as if the Gentiles are forcefully subjugated into an unwilling cooperation. But this is not the intent of the passage. This nothing other than the Gentiles, the middle wall of partition having been taken down through Christ, entering into the blessings of God’s people. It is Japheth living – at long last – in the tents of Shem. 3
More to come later…
1. Matt. 13:51 - 52. Notice that the disciples were asked if they understood "all these things". The entire seven parables, not just the last one, seem to be in view.
Jesus, having just expounded seven Kingdom parables, questioned His own disciples whether they understood what He had taught. They responded, “Yes”.. This is what prompted Christ’s comment above.
The question could also very fittingly be addressed to today’s disciples: Do we understand these things? Many today don’t, because the teaching of these seven parables is not often taught as they should be. If we do not understand these things – the basic nature of the Kingdom – we cannot bring out of our treasure things both old and new, seeing that we are not able to distinguish the old from the new. This is one of the core errors of modern Dispensationalism.
2. Matt. 5:4. Several places in Scripture we have God working wonderful blessings through great hardship and sorrow. We must through many tribulations enter into the Kingdom of God. Saints of all ages, not just the dedicated Jews of the Old Testament age, go through the “Valley of Weeping” in order to arrive at Zion. God’s “strength is made perfect in weakness”, 2 Cor. 6:9.
“As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
They make it a spring;
The rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
Each one appears before God in Zion.”
3. Genesis 9:27.
< K A T A R G E O >
a word often mistranslated
KATARGEO, a very interesting New Testament word, has not fared well at the hands of well-meaning translators.
Here are all twenty-seven occurrences (including some in passive) of the word in the New Testament, twenty-five or twenty-six* being in Paul's writing. The words in italics show the various ways this word has been translated in the NKJV. Notice that in 1 Cor.13:8 the word occurs twice, translated two different ways.
Luke 13:7 Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’
Rom. 3:3 For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect?
Rom. 3:31 Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.
Rom. 4:14 For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect,
Rom. 6:6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
Rom. 7:2 For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband.
Rom. 7:6 But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.
1 Cor. 1:28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,
1 Cor. 2:6 However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.
1 Cor. 6:13 Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
1 Cor. 13:8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
1 Cor. 13:10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
1 Cor. 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
1 Cor. 15:24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.
1 Cor. 15:26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.
2 Cor. 3:7 But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away,
2 Cor. 3:11 For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.
2 Cor. 3:13 unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away.
2 Cor. 3:14 But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ.
Gal. 3:17 And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect.
Gal. 5:4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
Gal. 5:11 And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased.
Eph. 2:15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,
2 Thess. 2:8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.
2 Tim. 1:10 but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,
Heb. 2:14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,
I realize that, at this point, this seems to be just a tedious word-study. But follow along please, when we go a little further in this article I will hopefully demonstrate - among other things - that:
1. The choice of words translators employ to render the exact same word (though in different tenses) reveals more about their theology than the actual meaning of the text, and
2. When these twenty-seven occurrences are rendered more faithfully it will make clearer a more consistent interpretation of the texts.
Yes, I know that one single word may have various shades of meaning. But I maintain that a reader or translator of a text should always at least consider consistency of meaning before he allows his personal viewpoint to subtly suggest ways to nuance the sacred text. And that is exactly what is going on here, I believe, with KATARGEO; an a priori assumption of futurist eschatology biasing the translator away from the straightforward impact of these verses.
This will be demonstrated later when we get down to particulars and inconsistencies of some of these verse quoted above.
The first problem, I have noticed, is unwarranted variation on the part of translators when they come to this word. In many cases words are chosen that are not at all accurate. Other times the translators are plainly inconsistent, using two different words for this one word.
First, the variations. The King James Version translates KATARGEO, in all its forms, as:
abolish, cease, cumber, destroy, do, effect, fail, loose, nought, pass, put, sever, vanish, void. Yet the reason for using this considerable spread of words comes from without - from the translators perception of what ought to be in the text, not what is plainly signified. A futurist, for instance, expects Jesus to come with visible fire, clearly dealing with His enemies. Thus we have 1 Cor. 15:4:
"Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power."
But the real meaning becomes clear when we maintain consistency, keeping other KATARGEO passages in mind. Consider these from the same epistle, 1 Cor. 1:28 and 2:6:
"and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,"
"However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing."
Just who are these rulers? They are the spiritual leaders of the Jewish age. Hardened in their antipathy toward their Messiah they were to feel the force of this word we are studying. They were coming to nothing, made irrelevant, rendered useless. They have lost all real power. Their rule is abolished.
But here is the point that is overlooked: 1 Cor. 2:6 and 1 Cor. 15:4 describe the very same event, the "rulers of this age" have their power "put to an end". Their "kingdom" that Christ delivers to the Father is the theocratic Jewish Kingdom, now obsoleted by the Kingdom of God. Spiritual Zion** now replacing Geographical Zion.
Inconsistency in translation is perhaps most notable in 1 Cor.13:8:
Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
KATARGEO appears twice in this one verse. Can you guess which one? Read it over and give it your best shot.
Did you guess "fail"? Well, you are half right. Unbelievably, the two "fails" in this one verse are from entirely different words (PIPTO, "to fall", and KATARGEO). The second "fail" is our KATARGEO.
Also "vanish away" is the second appearance of KATARGEO. Now two questions come to mind:
1. Why did the translators needlessly limit themselves, rendering two different Greek words with the same English "fail"?
2. Why did the translators see fit to vary the same Greek term in the same verse into "fail" and "vanish away"?
I can only surmise, along with the previously mentioned theological preconceptions, a concern for Paul's style.
But I would rather have the Bible's at times admittedly inelegant style, with all of its occasional unstylistic repetitions (as here) and seeming non-sequiturs to find out what the Spirit of God is actually saying. Amen?
This is the whole purpose of studies like this, to peel away needless editorial meddling in order to get to the Truth.
The next step is for me to group the usages of this word according to category in order to move on to what these verses are actually saying, not just how they are currently misconstrued. This will take a little more time and will be a separate article.
In all of these studies of mine please don't think that I see myself as infallible. I have been wrong many times on the past. But usually my errors have come from relying too much on books and authors. The slower but safer approach is always to carefully sift over the Biblical text, especially the Greek, at the same time keeping up a personal neutrality concerning the tenets being investigated.
I appreciate any and all insight from fellow lovers of God and His Word. What a wonderful blessing it is to be digging into this Word of Life!
The second article on KATARGEO is found here:
Katargeo and the Covenant
* Depending on whether one holds to the Pauline authorship of Hebrews. This writer does.
** More on the Spiritual Zion can be found in the articles on Isaiah, the first of which is here:
Written Feb. 19, 2011. Updated April 2, 2013.
Monday, 25 March 2013
This post has been newly revised and expanded. The original post of March, 28, 2009 (which I will leave in the archive) was written in the context of David Wilkerson's then recent misprophesying. This article is more focused on Hebrews itself, and its application to us.
"This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!"
Hebrews 1:1-3 and Luke 9:28-35
The Book of Hebrews is the epitome of the Old Testament focused through Gospel lens. Nowhere does this Gospel message come into sharper focus than in these opening three verses of the epistle.
Christ, Christ, CHRIST
A couple of years back I taught a Bible study on Hebrews and was especially struck during this prolonged look at that wonderful book with how central Christ is in our salvation. And how that all-importance of Christ in our lives actually crowds out and rids me of cherished notions I used to hold on to as Christian. Yes, I know that Christian readers might right now just skip over that sentence about Christ being central, as if I was stating the obvious. "Yea, I know all that. And...?"
But I am not stating the obvious. I am pointing out the overlooked. I mean that the utter, crucial centrality of Christ in our lives is something that is really neglected today: Many Christians are quite clear on what Christ did on the Cross. They have certainly heard enough sermons. And they are reasonably clear on how Christ will come for His own and take them to Heaven.
What is unclear is that great, turbulent in-between period from Calvary to Glory: How to live the Christian life, how to walk with joy, discernment and integrity in a very complex, dark world which Christ - we profess! - conquered? We read that Christ has conquered the world (John 14) and that without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5), but we are fearful as if He hasn't conquered - and we look for the Lord in all the wrong places. We forget that all the treasures we have are in Christ, and in His Word.
Well, one of the best ways to un-forget is to meditate on Hebrews 1:1-3 and to know in our hearts that Christ is the Beginner and Finisher of our faith, Alpha and Omega, Prophet, Priest, and King, and to know it in a practical way for our everyday life.
The Prophetical Last - and Lasting - Word: Christ!
Take a look at the first two verses of Hebrews 1:
"God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom He also made the ages (lit. "aeons")"
Have you noticed the following?
1.Prophecy, from the perspective of this verse, is a thing of the past. He spoke in a variety of ways through prophets in the past, but now He speaks to us by His Son (lit. in Son).
2. It is the "last days" that is specifically marked out as a time when the Son is speaking. This is the exact opposite of what many teach; They use the fact that we are now supposed to be in the last days to explain and justify people prophesying (in the specific sense of fore-telling).
3. The "last days" or "last times" may not be what you think it is. Every time these phrases are found in the Bible they are addressed to Jewish people. Don't take my word for it, look it up yourself. Paul, in writing to Gentiles, or speaking to them (as in Mars Hills) never mentions the term. (More on this topic later)
4. The ages were created through Christ. This refers not to planetary worlds (which would be out of context) but, considering the theme of this book, to the Jewish Age fading away into the Church Age. (A separate article is needed for this fascinating topic).
5. Most importantly of all, certainly for this series of articles, is the fact that all prophecy points to, and is completed in Christ. "The spirit of prophecy is Jesus".
Christ is our prophet for today, our King, our Lawgiver, our Priest... everything. Salvation - all of it, every aspect - is of the LORD.
Luke 9:28-35 relates the Transfiguration incident, a baffling event for the disciples. When Peter, John and James saw Jesus transfigured and Moses and Elijah talking with Him Peter blurted out "Let's make a shelter for all three of you!" But when the other two disappeared, leaving only Christ, God's point was made. There is no more need for Moses or Elijah, personifying the Law and the Prophets, for God's people. Christ is the One we need. To make absolutely sure of this point we have the voice of God telling them - and us:
"This is My beloved Son. Hear Him."
The Law which came through Moses, the kingship inherent through him, the priesthood of Levi, the prophetical mantle of Elijah - all pass over to Christ.
Later we will discuss these points:
1. Christ as Prophet, Priest and King found in these first three verses of Hebrews.
2. Every deviation in Christendom can be traced to losing sight of at least one of these three offices of Christ.
3. To know these offices, to trust in Christ as our Prophet, Priest and King is to have a strong safeguard against any grace-combatting wind of doctrine.
4. The Christian, as Christ's representatives on Earth, are to be Christlike in these three aspects: Prophets, priests, kings.
Now that last point, especially, requires careful qualifications. But it is found in Scripture. One of the main reasons why Christianity today is so anemic and marginalized - but we did it to ourselves! - is that we just do not know who we are and Whose we are!Christ our Prophet, Priest, King
But what does this mean?It is a shame that Hebrews is so often neglected by many Christians. They don't know what they are missing. I can't speak for others, but the reason why I had earlier read sparingly from it for a long time is because I thought it was mainly "Jewish stuff", written for those who came to Christ from a Jewish background. Well, yes and no. It is that - and much more. Hebrews not only leads Jews to Christ, it also makes the Old Testament come alive. It Christianizes much of the Old Testament.
Here again are the first verses of Hebrews, now including the third verse:
"God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom He also made the ages (aeons); who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,"
Did you notice that that last verse demonstrates, not only Christ's deity, but all three of Christ's offices?
He is our God: Christ is "the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person". He who sees Christ has seen the Father.
He is our Prophet: "upholding all things by the word of His power". He has the words of eternal life (John 6:63), and we live by every word that comes out of His mouth (John 6).
He is our Priest: "when He had by Himself purged our sins". "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."
He is our King: He "sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,"
One of the best, concise explanations of Christ in His three offices is given by Louis Berkhof (Systematic Theology. p.357, ):
"As Prophet He represents God with man; as priest He represents man in the presence of God, and as King He exercises dominion and restores the original dominion of man."
Do we believe in this strong, this powerful of a Savior? He not only is our Lord and Savior, but He has spoken to us (perfect tense, once for all, verse 1) as our Prophet, the very one promised in Deut. 18. He has cleansed us at Calvary, yet still intercedes as our Priest in heaven - Did you know that? (If you doubt this look at Heb. 7:24-25). And He is our King, overcoming our sin by His day-by-day grace. Our daily Bread of Life, the hidden Manna.
Because the only ones being anointed in the Old Testament were prophets, priests, and kings it stands to reason - and is verified by Scripture - that the Messiah ("Anointed One") would perfectly assume all three offices. That is exactly what He did. At the public revelation of His Messianic ministry, Luke 4:18-19, Christ reveals His mission, showing aspects of all three offices.
Yet the Jews rejected Him - in all three offices!
They rejected Him as Prophet, John 6:60. "This is a hard saying; who can understand it?"
They rejected Him as Priest, Heb. 10:29.
They rejected Him as King, John 19:14-15 and Luke 19:14. "We have no king but Caesar!", "We will not have this man to rule over us."
But before we are too hard on them, and on the unbelief of many of them, we need to add that many, very many, in Christendom have done -and are doing - the very same thing. Many, while professing belief in Christ as Savior, reject Him as Prophet, Priest, and King. All the unhealthy and dangerous doctrine in Christendom through the ages has come about because of rejection of one, two, or all three of these aspects of Christ's lordship.
Many reject Him as Prophet.
Christ was specifically promised to His people as the Prophet of Deut. 18. Some blatantly reject His prophethood by calling His veracity to account, and by denying Christianity in general. But others, while not denying that Jesus is prophet, believe also in prophets after New Testament times, after the close of inspired Scripture.
But they do this by ignoring certain safeguards in the Word itself. Rev. 22:18-19 warns against either adding to, or taking away from, the Word of God. To have a "word from the Lord" is to add to the other words from the Lord which were written down for all of us - the Bible. Or do we believe that God gives out His word in varying qualities: Inspired and semi-inspired? No, the Bible says that in Him there is no untruth and "all the promises of God are Yes and Amen in Christ Jesus".
Preachers who turn babes in Christ from the simple Word with "God also saidthis..." cheapen the revelation of God and interrupt the growth of Christians who, instead of growing by the "sincere milk of the Word", 1 Pet.2:2, are being taught to listen to this "word from the Lord" and that "annointed message". Its no wonder so many do not grow up in Christ, and do not have their senses matured to discern good from evil, Heb 5:14!
All of this comes from not honoring Christ as our Prophet. Though we have Christ's words written, He still speaks those words to us everyday. The Spirit of Christ brings to mind, comforts and strengthens us with our daily Bread according to each day's peculiar need.
Many reject Him as Priest.
They either reject His priestly ministry at Calvary or in heaven, Heb.7:24-25; 8:1-2.
Those who reject - or find insufficient - His sacrifice at the cross try to add to their salvation by having some good works (just in case). The formal name for this in some denominations is "merit" or "supererogation", but the idea is the same: What if the hymn is not true? What if Calvary did not cover it all?
I have met a number of these restless, sad, jittery people (some, probably, true Christians) who seem to have "God-haunted" personalities. They talk much about sacrifice, hardships, judgment - but very little about joy and peace. They are often the ones who are judgmental against others who maybe, just maybe, have found a sweet, private fulfillment in the promise of Matt. 11:29, "and you will find rest for your souls."
One of the most powerful encouragements for me was to understand how Christ both ministered at Calvary for me and continues to minister in heaven for me. What an awesome savior we have.
Another way that many reject Christ as Priest is when they erect a whole system - as the Roman Catholics do - of priesthoods that the Bible does not require. There is one priestly mediator between man and God, but they have fatally convoluted this. The eternal Melchizedekan priesthood of Christ (Heb.6:20-7:21) leaves absolutely no room for any other priesthoods, priests, or sacrifices. It is all taken up in Christ.
Many reject Him as King.
Some do it out of sheer disbelief and unrepentent carnal addiction. They see no need for Christ or salvation or any of that "God stuff".
But there are others who are more subtle, trying to hold on to both a carnal life and godly hope. Very often they say things like "I have a problem in this area.", or "I'm still struggling with (blank)". While this is true of most Christians - who doesn't have struggles at different times? - there comes a time when that comment becomes disingenuous. Elisabeth Elliot confronted one person who said this, answering him,
"You aren't struggling with sin. You are putting off obedience."
I like that. That is strong, bitter medicine. But it has the ring of truth.
Think of this. Christ conquered sin. He conquered the world. If we are in Christ we can do all things through the one who strengthens us (Phil. 4:13). The "all things" certainly includes walking in the Spirit, loving God, loving our neighbors as ourselves, growing in grace. We work out our salvation in fear and trembling. He also makes us overcomers.
Christ is our King. He is stronger than Satan, or our sins, or the world.
If we sin, it is not Satan's doing, it is our doing. Mea culpa.
At that point we are denying that Christ is King. We are denying that Christ has come into this world, saving His own. This is not the faith of a Christian; it is a different spirit altogether. See John 4:1-4.
The next article, link here, explores just how we are to be prophets, priests, and kings. All three of these aspects of Christlikeness have been abused in the name of Christianity, yet the neglect of these truths is also to be avoided.
Next article: Prophets, Priests, and Kings
The Law: All or Nothing? Done Away or Still Today?
There is not a third, modified choice. Not according to Christ's Promise
Here is His promise:
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled." - Matt. 5:17-18
You may need to read this several times, slowly, to let the point of this article sink in. This point escaped my notice for many years. And I had read - and perhaps at some time even memorized - this passage, still not grasping Christ's powerful point.
The point of this passage is that there will never be a time when the Law will operate only partially.
For instance, there will never be a time when we are obligated to keep the Ten Commandments - without keeping every other lesser law (every "jot" and "tittle").
Yet, this is exactly what many do today. They erect a distinction between ceremonial law (for the Jews only) and the eternal law (binding on all believers). Quick quiz: What is the Greek word for "ceremonial", as in "ceremonial law"? How about the Hebrew word? There is none. The very fact that there is none demonstrates that this distinction is entirely man-made, not God-ordained.
Because it is difficult to actually see what this verse is saying, seeing that we are overly familiar with what we think the verse is saying, it might be helpful to try a different tack.
Let's try the mathematical word-problem approach. To solve a hard word problem it is often helpful to substitute values to gain insight into the problem. In Matt. 5:18 let us forget, for the moment, some phrases and replace them with different phrases. This way we will be able to see just what type of action is being described, and - more importantly - the actual duration of those actions. After all, this is the very gist of the misunderstanding of this passage.
Note that the substituted phrases are in brackets:
For assuredly, I say to you, till [Ned's prison sentence is completed], [not one day will pass without him wearing an orange suit and being a prisoner] till [he has served out the mandated punishment].
Consider poor Ned's case. He is laboring under a double whammy: Because he has a sentence to fulfill he has to wear that orange suit and, more importantly, he is imprisoned. When does relief come to Ned? When his sentence is completed. At that time - and exactly at that time, not a second sooner - he is free to dress as he pleases and to leave the prison. He is a new man! And here is the clincher: The place of Ned's incarceration - and where the records were all kept - burned to the ground! You might say that this addition is unwarranted from Scripture, but read on.
Application for us
Now consider our case. Mankind was laboring under sin and condemnation. Christ put an end to all this by his sacrifice on the cross. All of our condemnation, our incredibly detailed and discouraging rap-sheet, was nailed to the cross. And here is the clincher for us: Like Ned's case, the place where our guilt was perpetuated ("through the Law is the knowledge of sin", Rom. 3:20) was likewise destroyed. At the cross the Temple veil, that reminder of our estrangement from God, was already torn in half, top to bottom (God's initiative, not ours). At the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70 the only means of perpetuating and observing the Law was likewise destroyed. The elements (the STOICHEIA), the basis of our condemnation, likewise burned to the ground. Hallelujah! Peter tells us - twice - that the "elements will melt with fervent heat". What are these elements? None other than the foundational principals of the whole Law system, Gal. 4:3; Col. 2:8, 20. With the burning of the physical bricks and stones of the Temple there was an inexorable but invisible burning up of that whole system. We couldn't return to the Law if we wanted to.
But why would we even want to, seeing that it only ever condemned us before God, never commended us to God?
New Heavens, New Earth - right now.
When Ned was free from his sentence and condemnation he was a new man. By comparison, when we are free from our condemnation we were not only new creatures in Christ, but we were also , from that time on, in a new heavens and new earth.
If you don't believe me, go back to the original passage. At the very time when we were no longer under the Law and its condemnation, at that very time we are in the new heavens and new earth. We have this right now. We are not waiting for this still to happen in the future. The New Heavens and New Earth is the world of the new creature in Christ.
If we are not in the New Heavens and New Earth then we must still be under the Law - all of it, every jot and tittle. Under the Law and without place or means to practice the Law - in its entirety. We would be, of all men, the most miserable!
Eternal & Invisible
An objection might be raised: This does not look at all like the New Heavens and New Earth, not at all what I would expect. Well, the problem is in our perception. We have been taught a certain way. Look again at what the Bible says, not what man's teaching insists.
"We walk by faith, and not by sight." - 2 Cor.5:7
"we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." - 2 Cor.4:18
April 21, 2011. Updated: March 25, 2013.
Sunday, 17 March 2013
What's in a name?
Well, in the case of "Preterism", a whole lot.
It seems the birds of the air (clean and unclean) are nesting in its branches.
Some "Preterists" believe in universal reconciliation.
Some "Preterists" do not believe in Christ as God.
Some "Preterists" do not believe in the Trinity.
Some "Preterists" believe that Christ is God only in the sense that we are also God.
Some "Preterists" do not believe in sin today - or salvation.
Some "Preterists" believe we do not need to live by faith.
From such "Preterism" save us!
Maybe those Preterists among us who still believe what the Bible says need to find a new name for what we believe.
I rejoice in my Savior and in all the riches of His grace. Unmerited, unlooked-for, unexpected...Hallelujah! Oh, and "soon" meant "soon", and "kingdom" means "Kingdom".