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The Cutting Edge Gospel: Faith December 7, 2013

Posted by Henry in The Cutting Edge Gospel.
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So then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Rom 10:17

In order to repent one must first have faith in the saving Grace of God through Jesus Christ. This faith however comes when the gospel is preached and the word of God is heard.

Faith by definition is, “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Heb 11:1).”

Though we cannot physically see the end of our life we believe in Christ’s death and resurrection that at the end of life we too will be resurrected to be with Him in glory if we abide in Him.

It is important to understand that before faith came there was the Law which acted as a schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ by the justification through faith (Gal 3:23-24). Does this mean that the Law is no longer important? Scripture tells us that without Law there is no sin so the purpose of the Law is to convict man of sin because sin was in the world before the Law came into being (Rom 5:13). The problem however is that one (except Christ) could keep the Law and as such no one could be justified by the Law (Rom 3:20, Gal 2:16). But thank our God that Jesus came to fulfill the Law so that the righteousness of the Law may be fulfilled in us who walk by faith in Him.

1There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 5For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (Rom 8)

Related Posts:

The Cutting Edge Gospel: Repentance

The Cutting Edge Gospel: What is the Gospel

The Cutting Edge Gospel: What is the Gospel? March 11, 2013

Posted by Henry in The Cutting Edge Gospel.
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The Cutting Edge Gospel: What is the Gospel?

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Heb 12:4)

What is the Gospel? The Gospel essentially is the good news of salvation first spoken of by the Old Testament prophets and which was delivered and fulfilled by our Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel calls us to repent and to turn away from our sins so that in the fullness of time we will be saved from eternal damnation. In a world full of many voices and many messages even in the church, the Gospel can sometimes be hard to pin down precisely. However, Paul speaking to the Corinthian church summarizes the Gospel in the following verses of 1 Cor 15:

1Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

Since Christ died was buried and resurrected we too can one day be resurrected to eternal life if we believe this Gospel message, repent of our sins and live a life of faith in Jesus Christ.

The Law of Christ March 16, 2012

Posted by Henry in Matters of the Faith.
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One of the things I have come to realise when engaging with other Christians is that they sometimes do not know with absolute certainty whether we are to follow or observe everything that the Bible teaches or not. If you are unsure about this matter then chances are you are also unsure about the Gospel.

All scriptures are profitable for doctrine and for reproof but likewise all scriptures should be read and taken in context. The truth is that one can take the very words of the Bible and deceive you with it and this is because not everything in it is required of the Christian to observe. For example, under the Mosaic Law an eye for an eye was endorsed. Should we as Christians today practice recompensing evil for evil? Absolutely not! But we look instead at what Christ says – He says for example, “love your enemies”; “do good to them that hate you”; bless them that persecute you and despitefully use you”; and so forth. So it is clear that we are not required to follow all that the Bible teaches otherwise we would be in confusion. Some teachers however, when they are teaching on a particular subject, like to place their words under the banner of, “The Bible Teaches” to give weight to their claims. As a result they are able to weave together teachings from both the Old and New Testaments (Covenants) under the same heading but this can result in deception if one is not careful. So then if we are not required to follow everything the Bible taught does this mean that God has changed, though scripture declares He changes not? No, but rather God purposed to change the law which He first instituted in Israel (Jer 31:31-33, Heb 8:8-11). The law was merely a shadow of what God had before ordained even from the beginning of time.

Today, and since the days of the early church, God’s law is no longer written upon tablets of stones but rather it is now written upon a believer’s heart. We must understand the point that the previous covenant was made with Israel alone and therefore those who were outside of the commonwealth of Israel could not benefit from it. God changed the law however so that we who were outside, cut off without a hope, can now be engrafted with Israel to inherit salvation (Rom 11:17). This is the reason why the law has changed and the Levitical priesthood made defunct. Christ’s priesthood now replaces the old priesthood and consequently the change in the priesthood necessitated a change in the law (Heb 7:12). So what is this new law in Christ? Here it is in black and white:

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (Joh 13:34) KJV

Can it really be that simple? If you are still not convinced have a look at the following verses:

The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself. (Gal 5:14, also Matt 7:12) NIV

Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Rom 13:10, also Jam 2:8) NIV

By the grace of God we have been set free through faith in Christ Jesus (Rom 3:20-24). We do not need to attempt to observe a single work of the law – not tithing, not first fruit giving, no sacrifices, offerings, circumcision, feast days, holy days – none of them. To attempt to do so is to fall from grace (Gal 5:4). Friends, know the truth and the truth shall set you free (Joh 8:32).

Tithing Not a Matter of Salvation! Is that so? March 13, 2012

Posted by Henry in Tithing.
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There are those who consider extensive attention to the subject of tithing as a waste of time because it will not have any bearing on salvation. This may be true but may also be false depending on where you stand. Indeed there are some preachers who teach the church that they will NOT go to heaven if they don’t tithe. So what is the answer then – does tithing have a bearing on our salvation or not? This is the question I hope to explore in this blog entry.

I have already presented a number of articles on the subject of tithing under the Tithing category so I do not wish to reproduce what I already said in those entries here. The purpose of those posts was to scripturally establish the truth about tithing. However, there is an overarching point of those posts that many reading who simply read on the surface often miss. The point of those posts isn’t to divide people into camps of “anti-tithers” vs “pro-tithers” – I am NOT overtly concerned with how much one chooses to give to their church or the work of ministry. The overarching question however is this: Which gospel have you received and which Jesus have you had preached to you? Is it the gospel that says, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us… (Gal 3:13)” OR is it the gospel that says you have not been redeemed from the curse of the law and you are required to continue to observe it?” After all, if we continue to preach that one MUST observe tithing are we not saying that one is still under the law? If one is still under the law are we not saying that Jesus did not die for the sins of the world? Can one not see that tithing when preached in this way can cause us to be caught betwixt two places – being that we are either redeemed from the curse of the law or if we are not redeemed then must we continue to do the works of the law?

In speaking to the Galatians, Paul admonished them to, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” (Gal 5:1). The yoke of bondage here that Paul speaks of is the law. Lets look at what else Paul had to say about this in the following verses of Gal 5:

2Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. 5For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. 7Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? 8This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. 9A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. (Gal 5:2-9)

We could substitute the word “circumcised” here for “tithing” and it would have the same meaning. In other words, if we seek to observe the tithing law (one part of the law), Christ will profit us nothing for if we tithe according to the law we have become a debtor to the whole law (meaning that we owe it to ourselves and to God to observe the whole law); as a result we have fallen from grace. Is this now not a matter of salvation? For if you have fallen from grace then you shall perish. Looking at verse 9 we note Paul’s warning that a “little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” What this means is that this false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole dough.

In Gal 5:8 we read that this persuasion to observe a part of the law, circumcision in this case, does not come from Him (God in Christ) that calls you. In like fashion the persuasion to observe the tithe law does not come from God in Christ who calls us today to receive the free gift of salvation. It is interesting to note that this teaching of observing the tithe law (leaven) has now permeated the gospel and consequently the world wide church. With this “small” error creeping in, this has paved the way for other observances of the law such as first fruit giving, honouring holy days such has the Day of Atonement etc., to creep in also. One of the reasons why such teachings come about is because there are those who misunderstand what Christ said in Matt 5:17, that He did not come to destroy the law or the prophets but to fulfil them. Christ fulfilled the law when He declared on the cross, “it is finished” (John 19:30). Because Christ fulfilled the law, He established a new covenant in His blood so that we can now attain salvation by Grace through faith and not through the works of the law (Eph 2:8-10; Gal 2:16, 21; Gal 3:3).

Let me reiterate here what I have always said in the previous posts on tithing, there is nothing inherently wrong in volunteering 10 percent of your income to the work of ministry if this is what you have decided in your own heart. However, if you seek to observe the tithe law you are fallen from grace. Anyone who teach that one must observe the tithing law is preaching another gospel, and if another gospel another Jesus thus perverting the gospel of Christ (Gal 1:6-9).

On the basis of the scriptural evidence presented therefore it is clear that tithing is in fact a matter which pertains to salvation if it pertains to the observance of the law – the yoke of bondage which Christ has set us free from by His own blood. I will end with the following question that Paul posed to the Galatians:

3Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? (Gal 3:3)

Are you considering suicide? December 6, 2011

Posted by Henry in Matters of the Faith.
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One of the things I can never fathom is why a church goer should contemplate suicide or actually commit suicide. Is it because they have an incorrect view of God? Could it be because the church is not doing enough to help people overcome their problems? Could it be because individuals prefer to suffer in silence rather than to seek help in working through their problem? Are we living in such an insensitive and callous world where people prefer to suffer in silence because they are afraid or feel uncomfortable to approach a brother or sister for help when they are at their most vulnerable? Though not an exhaustive list these are just some of the myriad questions that one might ask in trying to glean some understanding as to why an active church goer should contemplate committing suicide.

I used the term “church goer” to differentiate between someone in the world and a Spirit filled Christian who one would not expect to do such a thing. This is not to say that I am not concerned about people in the world who may commit suicide. However, you would think that an active church goer would find strength in their religious beliefs and from their interactions with their church brethren compared to someone in the world with no religious leanings and therefore no concept of life and death. My reason for raising this topic though is that I know of church goers who have committed suicide and whenever I hear of such things my heart has been truly torn and I ask myself, why! Suicide is something you would expect to occur outside the church but not from someone in church. The reality however is that we live in very dark days when suicide has been increasing both among people in the world and people who arguably may be classified as Christians. Although suicide is a tragic experience both for the victim and their families I believe it is also preventable and this goes for both the non-christian and the church-goer alike.

I do not want to appear as to trivialise anyone’s experience but I believe that suicidal thoughts which leads to the final act is a product of deception. People who are or have been suffering from such thoughts have been deceived by the devil. The Bible says in 1 Pet 5:8 that “your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” As a result the said scripture says that we must be sober and be vigilant. A person having suicidal thoughts is not sober. I have good news for somebody however. Jesus says in John 10:10

10The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Though the thief comes to steal and destroy Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. There is no problem too great for God to solve. Jesus already made a way for you by dying on that cross at Calvary. This does not mean that you will not have troubles in this life but Jesus is there to take us through if we believe and have faith in Him. Jesus said in Matt 11:28:

 

28Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

If you are burdened, cast your cares upon Jesus and you shall find rest for your souls. Committing suicide is not the answer. Arguably if you do you are setting yourself up for a Christless eternity. Don’t allow the devil to deceive you but rather call upon the name of Jesus. Share your problems with someone else – don’t sit down and bottle up the pain and the anguish and allow the problem to fester. This only creates a window of opportunity for the devil to come in and start to put thoughts in your mind that if you end your life the pain and suffering will be over. But I tell you the truth today, the devil is a liar! Illnesses can be manifested in mind, body and spirit. If you are attending church therefore and you are sick in any of these areas approach the elders of the church for them to pray for you. The Bible says in James 5:

13Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. 14Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. 16Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

My friends you have a way out. Do not be deceived into thinking that suicide is the answer to your problems. No! I might not know what you are going through but someone knows – Jesus Christ knows. Christ is the answer and He cares for you. The Bible says in John 3:16-417

16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

You may have doubts and you may have fears but Jesus says, “I am the way the truth and the Life.” He also says in John 8:12, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” All you have to do is to seek Him and do not allow the darkness of this world to overtake you. Ps 30:5 says, “weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning.

13Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. (Rom 15:13)

The Gospel of Salvation – part 2 October 27, 2010

Posted by Henry in Matters of the Faith.
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This post is in continuation of a discourse between myself and Dave from over at “The Gospel According to the Gospel”. Link to Part 1 here.

Dave,

To continue where I left off last time, I want to look at what you said with regards to modern theologians holding to the view that there has been a dispensation of works (the Law) and a dispensation of Grace. Let me state categorically that I personally do not subscribe to this view. Indeed I hold to the view that there is and have been two dispensations in regards to the promise made to Abraham. The word dispensation being used in this context refers to a “religious epoch” or period of time. Consequently the first covenant lasted for a particular period of time – in that time period only Israel could benefit from the first covenant because it was given to them only. The following verses of scripture demonstrate this fact:

Eph 2

12That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 18For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

The second (or new) covenant was given to everybody therefore but first to the Jew and then to the Greek (or the Gentiles). In my view therefore the plan of salvation as embodied in the covenant promises made to Abraham was implemented in essence in two phases which I refer to as dispensations. Looking at Gal 3 and Rom 8 we see the duality of the plan of salvation:

Gal 3

23But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

 

Roms 8

3For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

In Rom 8:3 therefore we see that although we are no longer bound by the law, the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us through Christ Jesus.

Now let’s turn attention to the issue of “works versus Grace”. There are mainly two issues here which are sometimes often confused and I will look at these in turn. The first issue relates to the fact that in the early church Paul (and other Apostles) was faced with a problem whereby the Jews who had now become followers of Christ (Christians) sought to continue doing the “works of the Law” and as such believed Gentile Christians should do likewise. An example of this can be seen in Acts 21:21-25 where Paul had to make it clear that he did not give any instruction to the Gentiles who believed (or required them) to observe the customs and practices which came down from Moses.  Paul had to deal with a similar problem in Gal 2:11-14 where he had to rebuke Peter for hypocrisy because Peter ate with the Gentiles but when circumcised Jews came among them he withdrew to “save face”. Paul therefore had to clarify in the following verse that man is not justified by the works of the Law but by the “new” faith that was given in Christ:

Gal 2

16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. 21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

The Jews therefore were making the Cross of Christ of none-effect by claiming that the works of the Law such as circumcision were still necessary. But these works as we have seen were not required particularly since the Law had been set aside by Christ death and resurrection.

Now the other problem relating to “works vs Grace” relates to the problem faced by the early reformers like Martin Luther. By the time of the Reformation the Roman Church had established a religions system which suggested that a man had to do “good works” in order to “earn” his salvation. Piety was defined in terms of “good works” that were deemed necessary for one to earn his place in heaven. As a result, the Roman Church believed and taught “justification by works” instead of “justification by faith”, which Paul preached. Often times therefore, when the issue of “works vs Grace” is spoken of, the two different types of “works” (“works of the Law” and “good works”) are often conflated without any distinction made. As a result we arrive at a crossroads where we say that a man is justified only by Grace and there is no need for works. The following verses of Eph 2 define salvation by Grace:

Eph 2

5Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved😉 6And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

In contrast to the teachings of the Roman church of justification by works, Paul writing to the Ephesians makes it clear here that salvation is by grace through faith only and not of ourselves. In other words we cannot save ourselves simply by doing what is considered “good works” because if we have “good works” yet not faith in Christ we or still lost. Is it correct to say then that because we are saved by Grace then there is no need for good works? I think this is where the church today has missed an opportunity by its complacency in neglecting to do good works. The key terminology Paul used is that salvation is by Grace THROUGH FAITH. In James’ exposition on faith in James 2:26 he makes it abundantly clear that faith, if it has not works is DEAD and dead faith cannot obtain Grace. Good works are therefore necessary for our faith to come alive in Jesus Christ! Can we therefore continue to juxtapose “Grace” against “works”? No! For salvation is BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH and faith necessitates works otherwise it is dead. Here is what James said:

James 2

18Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 21Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 22Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 23And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness:

There we have it! Justification by faith is in fact the same as justification by works (in the perfection of faith)!

The modern church to a large extent however would seem to have held on to the doctrine of “Grace alone” neglecting the fact that “good works” are necessary in the exercising of our faith. This is perhaps one of the main reasons why the power of God in confirming the gospel is not evident in most churches today.

The Gospel of Salvation – part 1 October 27, 2010

Posted by Henry in Matters of the Faith.
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The following write-up is in response to an invitation from my brother in Christ Glasseyedave (from over at “The Gospel According to the Gospel“) to enter into a deeper discourse about the nature of our Gospel. I thought I would present my responses here as well since they demonstrate my belief concerning the Gospel, and which I hope may be of benefit to someone also. Anyone wishing to follow the discourse may also link to it here: Changing the Debate.

Hi Dave,

I welcome your offer for us to enter into deeper discourse concerning matters of the Gospel. I am honoured that you should approach me with respect to entering such a discussion with you and let me say that I do not think you are being arrogant at all. In my view if we cannot break “bread” in this way as brothers in Christ then what is the point? I too get frustrated when I share things whether on my blog or elsewhere and people shy away from it instead of engaging me – if even to say that I am wrong. We can have a civilised discussion even if we disagree but hopefully by having a discussion we can together come to the knowledge of truth. However, let us be patient towards one another and let us look at the issues portion by portion. If we try to eat too much “bread” all at once they we might not be able to swallow.

In your post there are a number of different but interconnected issues so the first issue that I would like us to discuss is on the issue of the Two Covenants. I referred to the two covenants as two different dispensations but you contend that they are not so. But let me warn you though that when I use the term “dispensations” it does not mean that I subscribe to “dispensational theology” as I have not studied this or had it preached to me. I therefore try not to approach the scriptures with bias (particularly from previous learning) but try to allow the letter and the Spirit to reveal to me what they will.

So why do I say that there are necessarily two dispensations on the road to Salvation? Well namely because we have Two Covenants (I do take cognisance of the fact that salvation and fellowship with God also existed before Abraham as per Enoch, Noah etc). Under the Old Covenant though, the Lord purposed to carve out a people for Himself who would be an ensign to the rest of mankind. This people, Israel, were to be the oracles of God and who were to set an example in righteousness for the nations round about them. Of course it would not be wrong to say that this was God’s sovereign will through His Grace. Israel of course were inheritors of God’s divine favour and hence why they were God’s chosen people. Under this Covenant however, Jesus had not yet gone to Calvary, the Holy Spirit had not been sent to “comfort” the church and there was no “regeneration” of the spirit of man (no born again experience). Under the Old Covenant therefore it was the Law (as opposed to the Spirit) that convicted man of sin. Repentance and remission were thus obtained through ritual sacrifices, and of course it was God’s Grace to forgive Israel of their sins through the “mechanisms” of these practices, which were mainly symbolic. These things were a shadow of the New Covenant which God promised in Abraham.

In reference to the New Covenant therefore God promised to make Abraham the father of many nations. This promise we know was fulfilled in Christ when the promise of the Spirit [by faith] came to the Gentiles. Man thus was no longer circumcised in the flesh after the manner of Abraham but rather received the circumcision of the heart. It goes without saying therefore that the righteousness of God which was imputed to Abraham is the same righteousness that we who had been cut off without a hope (the wild olive tree) have been grafted into. The difference however is that the righteousness which was instructed by the Law is now instructed by the Spirit through the redemptive work of Christ on the Cross. Under the Old Covenant Christ was promised and hence the Old pointed the way to the New – under the New Christ was given. What the Old could not accomplish therefore [and this is significant] the New is able to accomplish. I would like to highlight a couple of verses from Hebrews 9 here although the whole chapter is worth reading:

8The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: 9Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that COULD NOT make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; [Emphasis added]

We see from the verse that the Old Covenant with it’s ordinances and sacrifices could not make those who preformed them perfect. Similar in Heb 8:7-13 we learn that if the Old was faultless there would not be any need for the New and the Old which decays is now ready to vanish away.

To sum up therefore, I contend that there has been TWO dispensations on the road to salvation – the first we called the Old Covenant which has now vanished away and the second which we call the New Covenant that was confirmed in the blood of Jesus Christ. If there aren’t two dispensations then we are saying that the Jews can continue to live under the Old Covenant (not recognizing it’s no more) and be saved. I think this is where the “works of the Law” are held as distinctly separate from “salvation of Grace” to say that the works of the Law cannot save you but only the Grace of God, which does not require works.

Defining Faith! October 11, 2010

Posted by Henry in Matters of the Faith.
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A lot of people struggle with understanding what faith is and how it works and I must admit that at one time or another I too struggled with this concept. But if we are to grow in Grace and develop our spiritual walk we must understand what faith is. The scriptures truly stated that without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6). So how do we define faith?

 The Bible defines faith as follows:

 “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”(Heb 11:1)

 To demonstrate this, we could say that faith is a conviction which underlies our inner belief in the salvation of our souls, through the redemptive work of Christ, which will be revealed in due time. Without faith therefore it would be impossible to believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the following verse demonstrates that it is the salvation of our souls that we receive at the end of our faith:

 1 Peter 1

7That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 8Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 9Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

 The question that most people would like to have answered however is how can one exercise their faith especially when met with difficult circumstances. It is important to note though that you cannot have faith in faith itself but you can only have faith in God as can be seen in the following scripture:

 6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Heb 11:6)

 In exercising our faith therefore we must believe that GOD IS. We can only trust God for our salvation if we believe that HE IS. If we do not trust God and believe in Him for our salvation then nothing else matters  – we will not be able to trust Him for anything else. This is the “secret” to having faith in God. It is nothing to do with using scriptures as an incantation or using a 7-point formula. This is where the Word of Faith movement has high-jacked many people’s faith. In Matt 17:20 Jesus demonstrated that if one has faith like a mustard seed they can move mountains. Jesus used the mustard seed to demonstrate that though it is so tiny it has the assurance of growing into a huge tree. Jesus is therefore saying that with such faith we can overcome obstacles but not we ourselves but through the power of God.

 Having faith is not all about getting things from God, like houses, cars, jobs, money etc as the WOF proponents would have you believe but it is about trusting in God first and foremost for salvation and believing that He is able to fulfill all your needs. I have come to the understanding that you will NOT necessarily get from God what you set your heart on. For example, if you are jobless faith does not mean that you will get that job with a six figure starting salary but faith may mean that the Lord will provide you with a means to take care of yourself and family even though it may not be as illustrious as you imagined. Chanting a Psalm or confessing daily over a particular thing is NOT an exercise of faith but is rather an expression of unbelief. If you believe in God and pray and ask Him to fulfill your needs then all you have to do is just that. One of the important things to learn also is that the proving of your faith worketh patience (Jam 1:3) – which means that you should continue to believe and trust in God even if you have been waiting for a little while and He hasn’t shown up yet. Faith means that in the midst of despair when it seems that all is lost you continue to believe in God, in giving thanks and praising His name. Counting our previous blessings and remembering all that the Lord had done for us should also help to strengthen our faith that He will come through in the end, not according to our time but to His own perfect timing.

The Beast that was, Is not, Yet is! May 11, 2010

Posted by Henry in Eschatology & End Times.
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6 comments

Some of the popular views that abound concerning the end times “beast” that John prophesies of in Rev 13 assert that this beast having seven heads and ten horns will arise from Muslim nations surrounding Israel and as such they assert that the antichrist will be of Muslim origin. However, the purpose of this post is not to speculate on the identity of the anti-christ himself but rather to look at what scripture reveals concerning the “identity” of the beast. Indeed I have already put forward a post on the Identity of the beast but in this study I will attempt to look at some considerations that were not previously looked at.

As aforementioned, the Apostle John saw a “beast” rising out of the sea having seven heads and ten horns. This beast arises some time towards the end of the age and will continue until Jesus Christ returns. The interesting thing about this beast however is that it isn’t new but rather existed before, then for a time it didn’t appear to exist and then came into existence again. This is what the angel told John when he explained the meaning of the beast in Rev 17:

8The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. (Rev 17:8)

So if this beast existed before, which is denoted by the use of the past tense “was”, then there must be some evidence that points to its identity. Do the scriptures therefore give us any “clues” then as to the identity of this beast? Indeed it has. If we look at Rev 12 we shall learn beyond the shadow of a doubt exactly who or what this “beast that was” is.

3And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. 4And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. 5And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. 6And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. (Rev 12:3-6)

Here in this portion of scripture we see the same depiction of a beast with 7 heads and 10 horns except that this time it is depicted as a dragon but this is simply metaphorical. This is especially the case since we know that it was the dragon who gave the beast with the seven heads and ten horns his power, seat and authority (Rev 13:2). It goes without saying therefore that this beast of Rev 13 is the one and the same being depicted as a dragon in Rev 12:3-6, quoted above.  What we need to understand here though is that the woman in this scripture that was about to give birth, who the beast stood before to devour her child, is none other than Israel and the child in question was Jesus Christ, The Messiah, The Risen Saviour. So who then was this beast that was already in existence at the time of Christ’s birth and which sought to devour Him? The answer simply is Rome. In other words Rome was the ruling head of the beast and which sought to kill Jesus. If we recall from scripture, Matt 2:16, it was Herod the Roman surrogate King of Judea who issued the decree to kill all the male children from two years old and under. This was the dragon’s plan at work to devour the male Child and which is spoken of in Rev 12. It should be noted here that the beast is a world kingdom and at the time of Jesus’ birth Rome ruled most of the known world. This is therefore the beast that was and the future beast (world kingdom) will incorporate Rome as well. We know this because Rev 17:14 tells us:

11And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.

Here we see that the beast that was and is not is the eighth and is of the previous seven kings (or heads).

From what we have learn from the scriptures then, the beast cannot be led by Muslims nations although certain Muslim nations may very well be incorporated into it since we know that the beast is given authority over the whole world. But what should be clear is that the “beast that was” was led by Rome and must necessarily incorporate Rome when it arises to prominence again in the future.

A Review of the Olivet Discourse – Matthew 24 March 8, 2010

Posted by Henry in Eschatology & End Times.
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14 comments

There has been a lot of confusion surrounding the Olivet Discorse prophesies of Matthew 24 and one of those confusions reside in the assertion by mainly “preterists” that the prophesies Jesus spoke were to be fulfilled in the Disciples lifetime. However is it plausible that these prophesies could have been fulfilled in the Disciples lifetime? It is important to be able to understand this passage especially in relation to who Jesus was speaking and it’s implications for us today. The key to unlocking the passage though resides in verse 3:

 3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

 From the beginning of the chapter Jesus started out by relating to the disciples what would befall the temple in Jerusalem, in that it would be destroyed at an appointed time. Now the desciples proceeded to ask Jesus to, ”Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” There are three separate questions rolled into one here. First, when shall these things be, i.e., the destruction of the temple; second, what shall be the sign of thy coming; third, what shall be the sign of the end of the world? The two last questions are obviously interrelated however.

 Where confusion arises however is that in verse 34 of the passage Jesus said, “This generation shall not pass till all these things (everything He outlined in the previous verses including His return) be fulfilled.” Based on this verse, the assumption is therefore made that Jesus meant that the prophesies he spoke would be fulfilled in the Disciples lifetime. Some interpreters may wrongly claim also that Jesus only meant the destruction of the Temple would occur in “this generation” since we know with the benefit of hindsight that this occurred in 70 A.D. when the Roman general Titus sacked Jerusalem. But this ignores the fact that Jesus said “till all these things be fulfilled”. To “confuse” the matter Jesus told the disciples in John 16 that: 16 A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father. This again gives weight to the preterist’s arguments, if taken literally, that Jesus had to return in the Disciples lifetime. The first question to be answered therefore is what did Jesus mean by “this generation shall not pass”? Secondly, what did Jesus mean in John 16:16? Would the Disciples really see him after a little while and how long is a “little while”?

 In answer to the first question aforementioned I would venture to suggest that by “generation” Jesus meant the generation of New Testament believers – in other words the dispensation of the New Covenant constituting a “generation”. It is clear from scripture that there will not be another dispensation given to man in this life before the end comes. In verse 14 of Matthew 24 for example, Jesus said:

 14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

 Since “this generation” shall not pass till the end comes and the end cannot come until “this gospel of the kingdom be preached in all the world”, then “this generation” must necessarily mean the “generation” of the church age and not generation in terms of age groupings. To reinforce this point however we can look at an example from the Old Testament. In Gen 17 God made a covenant with Abraham pertaining to circumcision. Looking at verses 9 and 13 it says:

 9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.

 13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.

 We see here that the covenant of circumcision was to be an everlasting covenant in the flesh unto Abraham and his seed in their generations. However, was circumcision an everlasting covenant to this day and to the end of time or was it a covenant for the period appointed, i.e. their generations? To answer this we may look at Acts 21:20-21

 20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: 21 And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.

 If therefore the covenant made with Abraham regarding circumcision was meant to be everlasting why was Paul teaching the Jews not to observe circumcision? Clearly the covenant was appointed to the generation/s of that dispensation only and it was therefore everlasting to them.

 The other point of contention therefore is what did Jesus mean in John 16:16 when He said, “A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me”? Scripture tells us in 2 Peter 3:8 that a thousand years is like a day with God: 8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. It is also interesting to note that Peter said this when he warned that in the latter times there will be scoffers asking where is Jesus’ promised coming (see verse 4)? So then a “little while” to Jesus might be thousands of years to us. But if Jesus were to return thousands of years after the Disciples death why then did he say that they will see Him? The answer clearly is that those who died in Christ will be resurrected at His coming and so if they regain their life then they will of course see Him. John puts it this way:

 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)

 In summary therefore it is clear that when men misinterpret Jesus’ words they technically make His word into a lie and this is why we need to be careful how we read the scriptures and what interpretations we accept. Jesus sets out a chronology of the events that would precede His coming and He stated clearly that all these things will be fulfilled then the end comes. Evidently the end could have come around the Disciples lifetime because Jesus said no one knows the day nor hour of His coming, not the Son but the Father. So if He didn’t know it wasn’t unreasonable of the Disciples to expect His coming in their life-time. But with the benefit of history we know that all these things have not yet been fulfilled, though some have, but can occur at anytime into the future. One question I would like readers to ponder however is to put themselves in the Disciples shoes and ask themselves whether the Disciples felt from having heard Jesus’ words on the Mout of Olive, that they would be raptured before the promised tribulation.

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