GRACE AND THE NEW COVENANT
GRACE AND THE NEW COVENANT Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Christianity is founded on a Rock. The Rock is Christ, slain to make an atonement for our sins, risen to guarantee salvation for all who place their trust in Him. On this sure foundation has been built an assortment of errors and myths that have made Christianity a religion that bears little resemblance to the new covenant.
An age of moral horrors soon is to engulf the world. The assortment of myths and errors we term the Christian religion will be weighed in the balances and found wanting.
God is calling out of the churches (not out of the buildings but out of the errors) a holy, warlike remnant of saints. They will proceed to establish their lives according to the Scriptures. They will be more than conquerors throughout the age of moral horrors and will encourage and assist many who otherwise would be swept away into the darkness.
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GRACE AND THE NEW COVENANT
For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. (John :17)
We Christians may understand the Law of Moses but it appears that in some instances we may not understand the grace and truth that came by Christ.
We Gentiles have made a religion of Christianity. This is error number one. There is only one Divine salvation, one revelation of God to man. The Divine revelation was given to Abraham and then to the patriarchs. The same revelation, not a different revelation, continued through the Lord Jesus Christ.
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; (Hebrews 1:1,2)
We understand, therefore, that biblical Judaism and biblical Christianity are the same religion—if we wish to term Divine revelation a religion.
In biblical (to distinguish it from Jewish commentaries) Judaism we have the forms of the Kingdom of God. In biblical Christianity (to distinguish it from the potpourri of errors and myths that accompany Christian theology and liturgies) we gain understanding of the forms of Judaism and we find eternal life through them.
For instance, the blood-stained altar of Judaism is the form of which the cross of Calvary is the life-giving fulfillment.
The lampstand of Judaism is the form of which the Holy Spirit is the fulfillment.
The booth of Judaism is the form of which the dwelling of the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit in the believer is the fulfillment.
We have made Christianity a religion that competes with all other religions, including Judaism. Perhaps this is why we cannot understand new-covenant grace. Perhaps this is why we have gone far afield in our thinking until the original revelation no longer is recognizable.
Judaism and Christianity are one and the same—the same God; the same Holy Spirit; the same Prophets. The Old Testament reveals God to us Christians. (What would we do without the twenty-third and ninety-first Psalms?) The New Testament reveals the meaning of the people, things, and events of the Old.
Apart from the Old Testament, Christians have no foundation on which to build, no prophecies of the future, no types and shadows to help us understand the abstractions of the spiritual Kingdom of God. Apart from the New Testament, the Jews are left with forms which cannot fully meet the needs of people, such as the blood of animals as an atonement for sin (today they do not even have this), and also with unfulfilled prophecies concerning Christ and the Kingdom of God.
Christians have Christ and the blood atonement. The Jews have neither.
The Jews have a book, the Old Testament as we term it, filled with forms and symbols. But apart from Christ they do not have the spiritual fulfillments of these numerous types and shadows. They have no Lamb of God to deliver them from Satan, the Pharaoh of this world. But according to the Prophets the Jews will have Christ in the time to come. God has not forgotten His people!
Whether the Jews or Christians like the idea or not, they constitute one revelation, one covenant of God with man.
The Holocaust cuts deeply into the sensibilities of the true Christian because the Jews are God’s chosen people. May it one day be true that Calvary will cut deeply into the sensibilities of the true Jew—the Jew who is circumcised in heart and not just in the flesh.
The reason we Christians do not understand new-covenant grace is because we are defining grace apart from the statements of the Old Testament. Until we see our salvation as the fulfillment of the words of Jeremiah, Isaiah, and other Jewish Prophets we will continue to heap error upon error and myth upon myth as we keep accommodating the Christian Gospel to the philosophical currents and human desires of our time. We are not anchored in the Prophets!
The Prophet Jeremiah gave his pronouncements during a very difficult period. The Israelites had made the Lord so angry with their wicked practices He was ready to destroy Jerusalem and hand over His people to the Babylonians.
During this time Jeremiah had the unpopular task of informing the inhabitants of Jerusalem that they already were defeated. God was commanding them to turn themselves over to the Babylonians and that He would take care of them in Babylon.
At the same time the Lord, looking ahead to Christ and the Divine salvation, promised the Jews that He would provide a new covenant for them and return them to the land of Israel.
Of course the Israelites had no way of understanding the depth and breadth of the new covenant—that it would involve the crucifixion of their adamic nature and the birth and development of Christ in their inward man, climaxing with the resurrecting of their physical body and the clothing of it with a body from Heaven that is free from the chains of sin and death.
It is well for all of us, Jews and Gentiles alike, to keep in mind that the fulfillment of any of God’s promises always is far, far beyond any marvelous wonder we could conceive.
If we Gentiles would understand the new covenant we must realize it is made only with Israel. We must become, through Christ, an integral part of Israel before we are eligible to partake of the new covenant.
Also, we must realize that the new covenant is a response to the wickedness of God’s chosen people and its purpose is to forgive their sins and cleanse them from all unrighteousness. God was displeased with the rebellion and uncleanness of His people. God issued a new covenant designed not only or even primarily to forgive the sins of Israel but to remove their wicked ways.
When the grace of the new covenant is seen as an unconditional unforgiveness not requiring godly behavior, the purpose of which is to make Gentiles eligible to reside forever in Heaven, then what we have is a myth, not the fulfillment of the prophecy given by the Prophet Jeremiah. There is absolutely no foundation for such a viewpoint in either the Old Testament or the New Testament.
Let us look briefly at what Jeremiah stated, remembering that what God is declaring is the new covenant, the only covenant, the Christian covenant. All else is the vain imaginations of people.
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: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Jeremiah 31:31-34)
The new covenant, the Christian covenant, is made only with the house of Israel and Judah, that is, with the royal priesthood. It is not made with the people of the world.
The new covenant supersedes the Mosaic covenant because the Jews could not or would not remain faithful to the Mosaic covenant.
The new covenant is the eternal law of God put in the mind of the worshiper and written in his heart.
God will be their God and the Israelites will be God’s people, as a result of the new covenant.
Every member of God’s Israel will know the Lord for himself or herself.
God will forget the sins of those who come under the new covenant.
But isn’t it true that anyone, not only a member of God’s elect royal priesthood, can repent of his sins, put his trust in Jesus, be baptized in water, and thereby be saved into the Kingdom of God when it appears? This is true and it is a covenant of salvation that God has made with mankind. But when we are referring to the Church, the royal priesthood, God’s elect whether Jewish or Gentile by race, then the covenant, as Jeremiah prophesied, is made with Israel and Judah.
The writings of the Apostles are addressed primarily to the Church, to God’s elect, to His Israel whether Jewish or Gentile by birth. The salvation begins by saving us from Divine wrath and finishes by creating us in the image of the Lord Jesus and bringing us into untroubled rest in the Father through Jesus.
So we see that there is a basic covenant of salvation from wrath that is made with all flesh—God is not willing that any perish but that all be saved from wrath. But during the Church Age the emphasis is on the bringing of the Body of Christ, God’s Israel, to the perfection that will make it possible for the Body to assume the many roles and responsibilities designated for the sons of God and brothers of the Lord Jesus.
The prophecy of Jeremiah is repeated in the New Testament.
For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. (Hebrews 8:7-12)
The Book of Hebrews is one long exhortation to Christians to not stop at basic salvation but to press forward to perfection, to the rest of God. The rest of God is that position in which we have ceased living our own life and are totally committed to the Presence and will of God in all that we do. It is the eternal Sabbath, the land of promise, an acknowledgment by us that God has finished the creation and is resting and our sole responsibility and task in life is to press into that rest.
Let us think a little bit more about what Jeremiah declared, for his words enable us to understand new-covenant grace.
And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me. (Jeremiah 33.8)
This reminds us of a New Testament passage:
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (I John 1:7)
The whole book of First John shows us that through the blood of the cross we receive not only forgiveness of sins but the removal of sins so that we walk righteously before God and keep all of His commandments. The great error of our day is that we view new-covenant grace as forgiveness apart from the removal of our sinful nature. In today’s preaching there is very little writing of the law of God in our mind and heart, only forgiveness. This is not the new covenant!
Again, from Jeremiah:
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The Lord our righteousness. For thus saith the Lord; David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel; (Jeremiah 33:14-17)
The Man who will sit on the throne of the house of Israel is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let us think about the expression, "The Lord our righteousness." It is here that the great confusion in Christian thinking occurs. The Lord our righteousness could be interpreted to mean the Lord is righteous and we become righteous by identification with Him. This is a logical conclusion but totally destructive of the moral strength of the Kingdom of God.
If it were true that The Lord our righteousness means that the Lord is righteous and we are righteous only by identification with Him, then the greater portion of the writing of the Apostles in the New Testament is unnecessary. If the only or even primary righteousness that we have is that which comes to us by identification with Christ, then the Lord has saved us in our sins but not from our sins. This would be an incomplete redemption.
Think of the consequences of such a position for the Church of God? The members are still worldly, full of lust, and directed by their own self-will. They cannot be distinguished from the world by their thinking, speech, or actions. They are adulterers, fornicators, and addicted to pornography. They have no intention of laying down their life, taking up their cross, and following Jesus. All of their righteousness proceeds from their identification with the Righteous One.
This is what is preached today. This is why the members of the Christian churches, to a great extent, are worldly, full of lust, and disobedient to God. It is an error of monumental proportions and it has destroyed the Christian testimony.
If "The Lord our righteousness" does not mean we are righteous by identification with Christ, what then does it mean? It means we become righteous with His righteousness because the Spirit of God slays our wicked adamic nature and creates Christ’s Substance and Virtue in its place. There is a new creation in which all things are of God.
What a vast difference there is between the two concepts! One gives us a legal righteousness with no real change in our personality. The other offers total transformation such that we are changed from an adamic man to a life-giving spirit, having been formed in the moral image of Christ and brought into untroubled union with the Father through Christ.
These are not the same concept. Be clear in your thinking. Only one of the two will change you into the image of Christ. The other is a kingdom in word only.
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. (Romans 8:29)
The words of Jeremiah sound foreign to us because of the myths and errors that have accumulated in Christian theology and liturgies. Is there any place in the New Testament, other than the Book of Hebrews, where we find the same orientation of the Christian Gospel to the people of Israel?
And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. (Luke 1:31-33)
Notice the emphasis on "his kingdom." There is no teaching in either the Old Testament or the New that we are destined to go to Heaven to live forever. The emphasis of both Testaments is on the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom that comes to earth from Heaven. The concept that we are saved to live forever in Heaven, while it may be the most prominent teaching of Christianity, is totally in error. It is a an unscriptural myth.
But wasn’t Abraham looking for a heavenly city that has foundations? Yes, he was. That city is the new Jerusalem, the home of the spirits of righteous people made perfect. The new Jerusalem will one day be placed on the new earth. The new Jerusalem was not created to exist forever in the spirit world.
For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. (Hebrews 13:14)
We Christians are looking for a city to come to earth in which we shall live forever, not a city to which we will go and live forever in the spirit realm.
Abraham apart from us cannot be made perfect. When all the elect have been made perfect, then the new Jerusalem will descend from the new sky to be located forever on a high mountain of the new earth.
The idea that the purpose of the Christian Gospel is to admit us to Heaven so we may live forever in the spirit realm is false. The purpose of the Christian Gospel is to change us so we may have fellowship with God. The Gospel has nothing to do with going to Heaven to live forever. There certainly is a Heaven where God, Jesus, the saints and holy angels are in the present hour. But all of this is coming to the earth as soon as the necessary preparations have been made.
People may think they would enjoy remaining as a disembodied spirit in Heaven forever, but when they see the Glory of God covering an earth from which the curse had been lifted they soon would change their mind.
Again, the emphasis on the Jewishness of the Gospel:
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. (Luke 1:68-75)
The above prophecy given by the father of John the Baptist is a perfect representation of the purpose of God in the Christian Gospel.
Salvation is raised up in the house of God’s servant, David.
The Christian salvation is the redemption that has been announced from the beginning by God’s Prophets.
The purpose of the Gospel is to save us from our enemies so we can serve God without fear.
It is God’s will that we walk before Him in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life.
Here you have the true Christian Gospel. It is fundamentally of the Jews, and it is designed to deliver us from Satan and his demons so we can serve God without fear in holiness and righteousness.
All Christian theology, all Christian worship services, should reflect the purpose of the new covenant, which is that the members of God’s elect, God’s priesthood of which we converted Gentiles are an integral part, serve God each day without fear in a holy, righteous manner.
In your mind, how does this concept compare with what you perceive concerning the Christian Gospel?
Now let us think about some of the errors and myths that have become part of the Christian Gospel. If we had insisted on viewing our Gospel as a fulfillment of the utterances of the Hebrew Prophets we would not be in the theological confusion of today.
The interpretation of Paul’s teaching of "grace" to mean the Divine salvation consists of the forgiveness of all of the believer’s sin, past, present, and future regardless of how the believer behaves. Defining grace as a perpetual covering for sinful behavior is at the root of many of the errors of today.
The father of John the Baptist declared that the Hebrew Prophets announced the Divine salvation that is in Christ. However, one could never find in the Prophets the prediction of a change in God such that He was ready to forgive Gentiles (or Jews either) of all their sins and then not require that they behave righteously! The very idea is so foreign to the Old Testament Scriptures that we would have to view this fantasy as a special intervention of God never envisioned by the Prophets.
But this cannot be because the New Testament in several places reveals the inseparable connection between the old covenant and the new; between the Prophets of the Jews and the Apostles of the New Testament.
And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, 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 13:32,33)
But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: (Acts 24:14)
And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: (Acts 26:6)
Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: (Romans 15:8)
And so on, and on, and on. To maintain that the new covenant, the Christian Gospel, is a special Divine forgiveness directed toward Gentiles to bring them to Heaven apart from any moral transformation of their personality, that new-covenant grace is unconditional and permanent such that morally unchanged people dwell in the Paradise of God forever—or worse yet, govern the nations of the earth as royal priests, has no basis in the Prophets of the Old Testament or the Apostles of the New.
The doctrine of unconditional grace applied to a heavenly Gentile Church is so unscriptural, so illogical, so destructive of all God has planned for mankind, that it should be abandoned at once by every minister of the Gospel.
The Prophet Jeremiah would not recognize a new covenant that promised unconditional forgiveness to Gentiles for the purpose of bringing them to the garden of God to live forever in bliss.
The doctrine that salvation is unconditional, meaning that once an individual makes a profession of Christ he never can be lost to the purposes of God whether or not he obeys the Lord’s commandments. This error is closely related to the first. It is so different from the Old Testament account that one indeed would have to view the new covenant as a change in the way God deals with people.
There are several incidents in the Old Testament where God blessed people and then later had to bring severe judgment upon them. We think of the Jews wandering an additional thirty-eight years in the wilderness until a generation died. This incident is treated in the New Testament as a warning to believers that if they do not press forward in the Lord they also will experience the anger of God.
But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? (Hebrews 3:17)
I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. (Jude 1:5)
Eli, the high priest, is another example.
Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. (I Samuel 2:30)
The Divine principle is summed up as follows:
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. (Ezekiel 18:24)
A change in this principle would be a change in God. If we as a Christian abide in Christ, pray, study the Scriptures, meet with fervent believers, give, serve, covet the gifts of the Spirit that we may minister, and put to death the lusts of our flesh, we will live.
If we then ignore Christ, cease to pray, neglect the Scriptures, forsake the assembly of the saints, hoard our money, live in the appetites of the flesh, we will die spiritually. We will slay our own resurrection. We will never inherit the Kingdom of God.
The current teaching that no believer will be punished at the Judgment Seat of Christ, that we should reverence God but not fear Him, that once we make a profession of Christ we never can have our name blotted from the Book of Life, and similar teachings are all coming from Satan. "Thou shalt not surely die." It is the same voice. The same lie. It will have the same results—unbearable agony followed by certain destruction.
Every one of God’s ministers should throw on the dung heap this terribly destructive doctrine. It is the very opposite of the history of Israel and the prophecies of Jeremiah. It is worse than a myth or error. It tells the disobedient, the rebel, the adulterer, the covetous, he shall live and not die. It presents a false picture of God. It creates moral havoc! It is weighed in the balances and found wanting.
Millions of the Christians of our day are heading toward an angry Christ unless God in His goodness sends such suffering that they turn from their wicked ways and seek the Lord.
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (II Chronicles 7:14)
American Christians do not take this Scripture too seriously because they have been taught they will go to Heaven whether or not they humble themselves; whether or not they pray; whether or not they seek God’s face; whether or not they turn from their wicked ways.
The watchmen are not warning the sinners in Zion. The sinners will die in their sin but their blood will be required at the hands of the ministry.
Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life: (Ezekiel 13:22)
When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. (Ezekiel 3:18)
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Romans 8:13)
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)
Are you one of those who believe we can ignore the warnings of the Prophets `and Apostles and still live in God’s sight? I hope you are not!
The view of Divine grace as an alternative to righteous behavior rather than what it is—the means of enabling us to practice righteous behavior. In the Book of Romans the Apostle Paul spoke of the fact that God has replaced the Law of Moses with His salvation given through the blood of Christ. When Paul mentions "works" he is referring to the works of the Law of Moses.
Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:20)
We Gentiles, not having a background in the Law of Moses, have interpreted the text of Romans to mean God has replaced godly behavior with salvation through the blood of Jesus. We are having Paul contrast godly behavior with salvation through grace.
The Apostle Paul would never contrast godly behavior with salvation through grace. The very purpose of Divine grace is to produce a new creation that practices godly behavior.
Can you imagine the Lord telling Jeremiah He was going to furnish a new covenant in which the Jews could continue in their ungodly behavior and then go to Paradise to live forever? Can you see we have concocted a fairy tale that has no relation to the Prophets? The present-day doctrine of unconditional grace reflects a total ignorance of the Holy One of Israel. God would never tell the Prophets He was going to provide a new covenant with Israel in which the people were not required to serve God. How ridiculous! How utterly reprehensible!
The emphasis on the goodness and love of God to the exclusion of the severity of God. Nothing in the prophecies of Jeremiah would indicate that God is love and not wrath. In fact, the good news of the new covenant is always presented against the backdrop of dire predictions of wrath.
Therefore thus saith the Lord; Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the Chaldeans, and into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and he shall take it: And the Chaldeans, that fight against this city, shall come and set fire on this city, and burn it with the houses, upon whose roofs they have offered incense unto Baal, and poured out drink offerings unto other gods, to provoke me to anger. (Jeremiah 32:28,29)
Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: And they shall be my people, and I will be their God: And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul. (Jeremiah 32:37-41)
Behold, in the above passage, both the severity and goodness of the Lord. God is speaking here of the new covenant, of the one new man, Jew and Gentile, in Christ. Notice that God says He will put His fear in our heart. But modern teaching is stealing our crown by saying there is no need to fear the Lord. Will we repent and turn away from this evil doctrine?
The view of the Judgment Seat of Christ as a kind of sports award banquet in which all participants receive some kind of award but no believer is punished. The change of the Judgment Seat of Christ into an awards banquet is fairly common in Christian teaching. It is a complete misunderstanding of the Judgment Seat.
God has warned us in the Bible that there is coming a Day of Judgment. The unsaved have invented the fantasy of evolution to prove there is no God and thus no Day of Reckoning. The Christians have invented unconditional grace to remove from the believers the fear of the Day of Judgment.
If we had any idea of the terror of the Judgment Seat of Christ we would flee from such a perversion of truth.
Here is the truth: the most important issue a believer faces is the day of resurrection, for it is after this that he will be judged and rewarded.
The physical body of every person who has lived on the earth will be raised on the last day and stand before Christ. Then the consequences of his behavior on earth will clothe his resurrected frame as a robe, or house from Heaven. We will reap in that day precisely what we have sown.
The individual who has cooperated with the Spirit of God in the transformation of his inward nature will be clothed with a glorious body of eternal life and glory.
The individual who has not cooperated with the Spirit of God but has continued in his unchanged way, walking in his worldliness, lusts, and self-will, will be clothed with corruption and death.
This is an inviolable law. No mercy, no grace, no belief in Christ—nothing can alter the Kingdom law of sowing and reaping.
The Apostle Paul was striving, at the end of his days, to attain to the out-resurrection from the dead. He warned us to be thus minded. To attain to the out-resurrection is to be clothed with incorruptible resurrection life and to rise to meet the Lord Jesus at His coming. The teaching of today is that every believer will rise in the first resurrection, but this is not true. Only the blessed and holy members of the royal priesthood will be clothed in white and rise in the first resurrection. It is a goal, a mark worth pressing toward, as did the Apostle Paul.
Jeremiah did not know of the first resurrection. But he did understand that it is God’s will to bring back His elect to the land of Jerusalem. So it is true that those who attain to the first resurrection from the dead will return with the Lord Jesus and rule with Him from the city of Jerusalem.
Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all. (Jeremiah 31:12)
The concept that Heaven, the spirit Paradise, is the eternal home of the saved and that the purpose of the Divine salvation is to bring us to Heaven to live forever in a mansion. How this myth started we have no idea. It is not found in the Old Testament or the New Testament. Here is a thesis waiting to be developed by a candidate for a doctorate in theology: at what point in Church history did theologians present eternal residence in the spirit paradise as the goal of redemption rather than participation in a Kingdom that is to come to the earth? This viewpoint may be a reflection of early Gnosticism which teaches that matter is evil and spirit is good.
The goal of the new-covenant grace is to conform the believer to the image of the Lord Jesus in spirit, in soul, and, at the Lord’s coming, in body; and also to bring the believer into untroubled rest in the Father through Christ.
As soon as these two goals have been attained the believer is qualified to serve as a living stone in the eternal Temple of God; as a member of the Wife of the Lamb; as a brother of Christ; as a judge of men and angels; and in all the other roles and responsibilities of the royal priesthood.
The Hebrew Prophets spoke of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, the everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:6,7)
During the Church Age the Lord has been calling out and training the nobility of the Kingdom. Those who suffer with Christ will govern, as Paul says.
To ignore the two Scriptural goals and the consequent areas of service and to present the goal of the Divine salvation as eternal residence in the spirit Paradise is to completely misunderstand the new covenant.
Because the Gospel of the Kingdom has been assigned an incorrect goal the work of the Gospel is performed inefficiently. Most of the resources of the Christian institutions are directed toward the gaining of new believers. The result is multitudes upon multitudes of spiritual babies who represent no threat to the kingdom of Satan and are of little use to the Kingdom of God. They still are part of the problem rather than of the solution. The problem has to do with the performing of God’s will in the earth.
A wiser use of money and energy would be to assign part of the resources to evangelism and part to building up the believers into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. What good is it to keep on adding babies if they are not being brought to maturity, when the goal is to construct a nobility that is able to govern the creation of God?
It is as though all of the health services of a nation were directed toward the birth of babies and virtually no attention was paid to any other form of health need or education. It seems to us that the present effort to increase church membership without an accompanying emphasis on spiritual maturity is not coming from the Holy Spirit of God.
There is no emphasis in the Prophets on acquiring large masses of people but much emphasis on righteous, holy behavior. Almost always the significant work of God was performed through one person. The nation of Israel, on the other hand, was backslidden most of the time.
Which is better: to have five people who are growing in the image of Christ and pressing into God’s rest, or five thousand spiritual babies living in the appetites of the flesh and soul who continually are fighting among themselves? All of us would probably agree that five mature sons of God are more likely to install God’s Kingdom in the earth than would be true of five thousand babies. We believe this! Let’s act on our belief!
What is the goal anyway? Is it to bring God’s Kingdom into the earth or is it to collect thousands of people in a building?
Jeremiah stood virtually alone, resisted by most of the people of Israel—even after the fall of Jerusalem. The names of the Jews of that day are buried in the dust of history. Jeremiah remains as a Prophet, a righteous man, the voice of God for his generation.
Let us gain perspective by this fact. Most of the hurrying to and fro of the church people of our day will not survive our own generation. Occasionally there may be an individual who is doing God’s will and who therefore will join the ranks of the eternal witnesses of God.
Lord, help us distinguish between the precious and the worthless in our day!
The division of the one Body of Christ into a Gentile church that will remain in Heaven and a Jewish kingdom that will govern the earth. Not only is the two-kingdom teaching totally unscriptural, it also is very damaging in terms of biblical interpretation. If we envision a Jewish kingdom on earth and a Gentile kingdom in Heaven, then we have to explain the several statements of Paul that emphasize the oneness of the Body of Christ.
There then would have to be two olive trees, and this cannot be. How could the Lord have two brides? Where does the new Jerusalem fit into this manmade scheme?
The idea of a Jewish kingdom on earth and a Gentile kingdom in Heaven is pure mythology. Jeremiah and the other Prophets would feel badly because they were not permitted to enter the fullness of glory that today is in Heaven. So would the Apostle Paul.
But the Gentiles would be even more chagrined when they saw the Divine Glory that is coming to Jerusalem as Christ takes His seat on the throne of David. They are required to remain in Heaven while the Throne of God is being established in Jerusalem.
Why do we not at once get rid of these ridiculous, illogical, unscriptural myths and preach the one Kingdom of God for a witness to all nations? The Christian churches are not nearly prepared for the age of moral horrors that is on the horizon, and part of the reason is that we do not understand new-covenant grace, believing it to be some sort of ticket that insures our entrance into Paradise when we die. New-covenant grace is the power that transforms the sons of Adam into sons of God so that soon they will be able to descend from Heaven with the Lord Jesus and drive Satan and all wickedness from the earth.
The view that the Lord will "rapture" Christians to Heaven so they will not suffer during the great tribulation or at the hands of Antichrist. Can you picture Jeremiah promising the elect that they will be spared tribulation by being caught up to Heaven to live forever in a mansion?
There are four great types in the Old Testament: the days of creation; the feasts of the Lord; the journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan; and the Tabernacle of the Congregation. Each of these types is made up of seven parts. Each of the seven parts reveals some aspect of the Divine plan of salvation.
In addition to the four comprehensive types there are a multitude of other types, symbols, and shadows, such as the restoration of the Temple and the surrounding wall, Gideon’s three hundred, the fall and final victory of Samson, and many more.
No type of the Scripture, no prophecy of the Scripture, portrays a pre-tribulation catching up of the believers in order to escape Antichrist and the great tribulation. Yet, as we have pointed out previously, those of us who are preaching today are supposed to be declaring that which was given to the patriarchs and prophets of Israel.
Those who teach the pre-tribulation rapture claim that the new covenant is a parenthesis in God’s work, a mystery not revealed in the Old Testament. But the New Testament itself declares that it is the fulfillment of that which was declared in the Old.
Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: (Romans 15:8)
And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ. (II Timothy 3:15)
Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. (I Peter 1:10,11)
We have also a more sure word of prophecy [the Old Testament Scripture]; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: (II Peter 1:19)
To claim that the new covenant is a special mystery not appearing in the Prophets of Israel is clearly contradicted by the New Testament itself.
God’s way, as Jeremiah knew well, is not to remove His saints from trouble but to deliver them in the midst of it.
The endless emphasis on the catching up of the believers with practically no mention of the resurrection. The resurrection of the dead is the central hope of the Scriptures and was declared by the Prophets. The ascension of the believers was never mentioned by the Prophets.
Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. (Isaiah 26:19)
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2)
The quality of our resurrection is to be the focus of our endeavors. We shall be clothed in the day of resurrection with the deeds we have practiced during our lifetime on the earth.
And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness [righteous deeds] of saints. (Revelation 19:8)
The saints will be clothed in their righteous deeds—righteous deeds that flow from Christ who has been formed in them.
The sinners will be clothed in their unrighteous deeds—especially the sinners who have made a profession of Christ. They knew to do good and chose not to. Therefore they shall be beaten with many lashes.
Paul’s mark toward which he was pressing was the out-resurrection from the dead, the resurrection to life and glory as a priest of God.
If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. (Philippians 3:11)
If there is no resurrection of the dead our Christian life is in vain.
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. (I Corinthians 15:19)
The current emphasis on the catching up of the believers, an emphasis out of all proportion to the importance placed on the catching up in the New Testament, has destroyed the doctrine of the resurrection. It is the resurrection that is the crowning act of salvation, not the catching up. And they are not at all the same thing. The resurrection to life and glory is the result of and the reward for a life of patient cross-carrying obedience. The catching up of the saints to meet the Lord in the air is the bringing together of the army of the Lord in preparation for the cavalry charge of Armageddon.
Jeremiah, knowing the Scriptures, would be aware of the resurrection. But he never would have heard of a "rapture" of God’s people to Heaven.
The current teaching that the commandments of the Lord Jesus found in the four Gospel accounts do not apply to Christians. Here is a deadly error. Christian teachers, being aware that the Lord Jesus preached righteousness, are teaching that He was speaking to Jews. Now that He has risen from the dead we need pay no attention to the words of Christ because we are saved by grace.
Yet if one will go through the epistles of Paul he will discover that Jesus and Paul taught the same need for righteous, holy behavior. How could it be otherwise? It was God in Jesus who gave the commandments found in the Gospels. It was God in Jesus in Paul who gave the commandments found in the Epistles.
Are we to refuse to obey Christ now that we are "saved by faith alone" (supposedly)?
What commandment of the Lord does not apply to Christians. That we love and bless our enemies? Paul taught the same. That we rejoice when we are persecuted? Paul taught the same. That we should live in a holy, righteous manner? Paul taught the same. That we should abide in Christ as He abides in the Father? Paul declared:
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
Jeremiah would have no problem with the teaching of righteous, holy behavior. He certainly would not understand a God who no longer required righteous, holy behavior of Israel!
The current teaching that the Book of Hebrews does not apply to Christians but to unsaved Jews. Again, this is an attempt to prove that Christians are not obligated to press forward to righteousness, to the rest of God.
That the writer of Hebrews was writing to Christians is revealed as follows:
Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ; (Hebrews 3:1)
If the writer was addressing members of the "heavenly calling," then he was speaking to all Christians—Jews and Gentiles alike.
A sincere, intelligent Christian should be able to see the error of distinguishing between Christian Jews and Christian Gentiles. Paul was adamant that Jews and Gentiles are one in Christ!
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:27-29)
Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; (Ephesians 2:15)
There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)
The teaching that God is finished with the physical land and people of Israel and the Christian Church is now the only Israel of the Kingdom of God. To believe this is to be ignorant of what both the Old and New Testaments have to say on the subject. Jeremiah of all people would have us know that God has promised to bring His chosen people back to the land and to bless them there.
Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion: And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the Lord, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the Lord: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more. At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart. In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers. (Jeremiah 3:14-18)
What does Paul the Apostle say?
For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. (Romans 11:25-27)
God has never forgotten the people of Israel or the land of Israel. When the Lord Jesus returns to earth He will establish His throne on the Temple Mount in the city of Jerusalem. God will pour out His Spirit on the Jews who are living there and they will be born again of the Spirit of God. They will look on Christ whom they pierced and will weep for Him as for an only Son.
There is only one olive tree. That tree is Christ, the anointed One of God. We Gentiles were grafted on that tree. But in the last days the physical people and land of Israel will be joined once again to the olive tree.
And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all. Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever. (Ezekiel 37:21-25)
Every word of the Prophets directed toward the physical people and land of Israel will be fulfilled to the letter. We believing Gentiles will be an integral part of Israel at that time.
There will be one olive tree, one new man, one fold, one Shepherd—Christ.
The understanding of the fourteenth chapter of John to mean the Lord Jesus is building houses for us in Heaven. "In my Father’s house are many mansions." What a long-standing tradition! Yet, the Greek term monai does not mean "mansion." Also, there is no other verse of the New Testament that speaks of us living in a mansion in the spirit Paradise, and important doctrines are not to be based on only one verse.
Jeremiah would not be familiar with the concept of the saints living in mansions in Heaven. It simply is a myth.
In the twenty-third verse of the same chapter of John the same Greek term translated "mansion" in verse two is translated "abode," which is a suitable rendering of the Greek noun. The context of John, verses 1-23, show that the Lord Jesus is speaking of the Father and the Son making Their abode (mansion) in us. The Father’s House is the Lord Jesus. The saints are many rooms that are being added to Christ.
The belief that all believers, all who have taken the "four steps of salvation," will receive the same reward. The concept of salvation by grace has led logically to the teaching that there are no rewards for living an obedient Christian life. If we are saved by faith apart from works, then how can we be rewarded? God’s grace saves us all on the same basis.
But the New Testament speaks of rewards in many passages, particularly in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation. To say there are no rewards for serving the Lord is to defy the Scriptures and also to destroy a prime motivation for struggling to be an overcomer.
In the case of many believers, if we remove the fear of punishment and the hope of reward, they will drift through life aimlessly. This is why the Spirit of God placed the fear of punishment and the hope of glorious rewards in the sacred text. Those who have removed the fear of punishment and the hope of reward from the Book of Revelation are in danger of having their name removed from the Book of Life.
We live in a demonic environment. It requires all the strength and will power we possess to press through each day to victory in Jesus. Very few of us would make the supreme effort if there were no fear of God to goad us and no hope of glory in Jesus to inspire us.
The fact is, we are going to be clothed with our works in the day of resurrection. We are going to reap precisely as we have sown. The New Testament is very clear in this matter. Those who teach otherwise are mistaken. They are false prophets and they need to repent and ask the Lord to help them preach the truth.
Continuing to preach a lie after we know the truth leaves us vulnerable to severe Divine chastening.
The doctrine that the overcomer, of Revelation, Chapters Two and Three, is the individual who merely has made a profession of belief in Christ. Because of the false concept that we are saved by faith apart from works of righteousness and therefore there is no reward for seeking the Lord, it is being taught that to qualify as an overcomer we are required merely to state our belief in the Lord Jesus.
But it may be noticed that Jesus made a statement common to each of the seven churches of Asia: "I know your works." If it were true that we are an overcomer merely on the basis of professing belief in Christ, then the repetition of I know your works is meaningless and superfluous.
The verse that is used to support the "overcomer by identification" doctrine is as follows:
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. (I John 5:4)
This does not mean that if we profess faith in the Lord Jesus we automatically have overcome the world. It means, rather, that if we will place our faith in the Lord Jesus, walking each day in Him, we will receive wisdom and power from the Holy Spirit to enable us to overcome our worldliness, our sinful lusts, and our rebellion, self-will, and desire for preeminence among the brothers and sisters.
To overcome is to wage a successful war against Satan, the lust of our eyes, the lust of our flesh, and the pride of our life—our self-will, self-love, and self-seeking. We know we have the victory when we cease loving the world, our sins, and our stubborn, arrogant self.
The Christian salvation is not in word and belief. The Christian salvation is in the power and demonstration of the Spirit of God.
The Prophet Jeremiah knew the reality of God, of sin, and of righteousness.
The interpretation of being saved "so as by fire" to mean that the fruitless believer will be rewarded and never scolded but that he will have a smaller mansion than more diligent believers. In actuality to be saved so as by fire will be a terrifying experience.
If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. (I Corinthians 3:15)
To be saved as by fire is to have the fire of God burn away all of one’s accomplishments, all that has been achieved during the individual’s lifetime on the earth. This happened to Lot, the nephew of Abraham. Abraham, on the other hand, had an abundant entrance into the Kingdom of God.
There will be the mental torment of opportunities for glory forever lost. There will be lashes, the chastisement due the disobedient servant. There may be long, long stays in lower levels of darkness while the person is instructed by the angels of God. There also may be a stripping of maturity such that the individual starts again as a child, at which time the individual’s memory will be removed so he or she may begin life anew.
The person was saved into the Kingdom of God, perhaps, as in the case of Lot, because of the prayers of a relative or friend. But there will be no robe of militant righteousness, no crown of eternal life and glory.
Jeremiah lived to see the destruction of Jerusalem including the Temple, and the removal of the Ark of the Covenant. God’s promise was that Israel would be saved at a later date. But the salvation proved to be a flaming destruction of all that was cherished by the Jews.
The applying of the numerous warnings of the Apostle Paul, such as Galatians 5:19-21 and Romans 6:23, to unsaved people when they obviously were written to the believers in Galatia and Rome. We hear teachers of the Bible who profess to be fundamental in belief state that the warnings found in the Epistles are not directed toward Christians.
Toward whom are they directed? The unbelievers? The Epistles are addressed to the saints in the various localities, not to the unbelievers. Paul states clearly in many places that the believers who continue to sin will not inherit the Kingdom of God. If Paul were addressing unbelievers, which was not the case, he would be implying that unbelievers will inherit the Kingdom of God provided they do not walk in the flesh.
Truly, we are in need of a reformation of Christian thinking!
But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Ephesians 5:3-5)
Jeremiah knew of the stern warnings that God issues to those of His elect who continue in sin and rebellion against God. He lived to see the end result of ignoring those warnings. If Jeremiah were alive on earth today he would tell us to pay attention to the words of the Apostle Paul. He would not claim that God loves us so much Paul could not possibly be speaking to God’s own people!
The concept that the Christian must never suffer. Christ did all the suffering for us. This idea is so obviously unscriptural that it is amazing intelligent believers would accept it as truth. But it is a part of the understanding that to be a Christian requires only that we make the right profession of belief. Once we do that we are saved by grace and no other action is necessary.
Jeremiah indeed would wonder at the notion that God’s people are not supposed to suffer. Jeremiah suffered at the hands of his own people because he continually rebuked them for their ungodliness.
Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have neither lent on usury, nor men have lent to me on usury; yet every one of them doth curse me. (Jeremiah 15:10)
Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable, which refuseth to be healed? wilt thou be altogether unto me as a liar, and as waters that fail? (Jeremiah 15:18)
Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labour and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame? (Jeremiah 20:18)
Suffering plays an important role in the development of God’s rulers. If we suffer we will rule, Paul stresses.
The Apostle Peter claims that suffering is part of the process of making us holy.
Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. (I Peter 4:1,2)
To attain to the first resurrection from the dead we must share the sufferings of Christ.
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (Philippians 3:10)
It is through our suffering that the resurrection life of Christ is brought to other people.
Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. (II Corinthians 4:10)
Tribulation creates patience in us and teaches us obedience to God. Christ Himself learned obedience through the things He suffered. Paul learned that God’s power is perfected as we are weak.
The teaching that Christians are not to suffer but are to be raptured to Heaven before they face Antichrist or the great tribulation is unscriptural. God’s way, according to the Scriptures, is to enable us to go through the fire without being burned—like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
A modern doctrine is that Christians are to be rich in this world and they can use "faith" as a tool to acquire riches. But the Lord Jesus refused to turn stone into bread by the word of faith, teaching us we are not to attempt to use miracle-working faith apart from the express will and directions of the Lord. There are higher issues in the Kingdom than our personal desires.
"No person can serve both God and money," the Lord Jesus said. The Scriptures tell of Balaam, Gehazi, Judas, and Ananias and Sapphira. We have been clearly warned by the Apostle Paul to avoid the pursuit of riches.
And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (I Timothy 6:8-10)
The Scriptures could not be more clear on this topic, yet the love of money has kept many people from the Kingdom of God, just as it did the rich young ruler.
The new covenant prophesied by Jeremiah has as its goal the creating of righteous people. It says nothing about making them wealthy in the present world.
Christians are to imagine what they want and then speak the creative word that will bring their imagined object or situation into physical existence. The word of the Christian is totally different from the Word of God. God speaks worlds into existence. The believer cannot speak a grain of dust into existence.
But there has been teaching to the contrary!
The current faith-prosperity doctrine in some instances may be framed in harmless exhortations to maintain a positive, cheerful attitude toward God. But in other cases it may result in attempts to manipulate the physical environment by supernatural power. But it is not the supernatural power of God.
It is not God’s will that man at his discretion speak words of power, not yet at least. This would put man in control of the physical universe while he still is under bondage to an adamic soul and body. Imaging and speaking creative words are too close to the occult!
We are not to attempt to exercise supernatural faith in this manner. We are to call on the Lord. True faith is demonstrated when we place our trust in the Lord Jesus and ask Him to move on our behalf. There could be instances when the Lord then directs us to act in faith in some manner. But this is true faith, faith in the Lord Jesus, not faith in faith itself. There is a world of difference in these two approaches to miracles.
No part of the new covenant announced by the Prophet Jeremiah includes the idea that people are to have power to get what they desire by speaking creative words.
The challenging of us to "do great things for God." Nowhere in the Bible are we challenged to do great things for God. This is presumption. It is the challenge to leap from the gable of the Temple. It is soulish ambition in the things of God.
The "faith chapter" of the Scriptures is the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews. There is not one instance of aggressive faith in this chapter. The faith portrayed here is obedience to the revealed Word of God. True faith is a confidence in God’s goodness, power, and faithfulness such that we obey implicitly His every command.
There is no evidence whatever in the Book of Jeremiah that Jeremiah challenged God to do exploits. A careful study of the Book will reveal that true faith, the faith by which the people of God of every century have lived, is the faith of obedience to that spoken by the Lord.
When God called Jeremiah in the beginning, Jeremiah protested that he was only a child. After this, God gave Jeremiah an unpopular message, a message that aroused hostility. The concept of an aggressive faith that challenges God to perform some grand idea of the believer is foreign to the Book of Jeremiah.
Today we have thousands of Christians who believe that the role of the churches is to govern secular society and to force unsaved people to behave in a manner acceptable to the Christians. Christians are attempting to impose their will on unbelievers. They will fail and may bring intense persecution on all of us.
The proper role of the Christian in the present hour is to bear witness of the Kingdom of God that is coming to the earth. To attempt to govern now is to move outside of the plan of God for His Church.
In America the churches are demanding that the civil government repent. But God is speaking to the churches to repent.
In some quarters the idea has been expressed that Christians are to use their gifts to set up the Kingdom of God now so that all will be ready for the Lord to return. According to the Scriptures, the present age will grow increasingly worse until the end. Then the angels of God will remove all wickedness and wicked people from His Kingdom. In that hour the saints of God will shine as the sun in their righteousness.
Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Matthew 13:43)
The greatest witness of all time will be given just before the Lord returns. But the Kingdom of God will not be established on the earth before the Lord Jesus returns from Heaven with His saints and holy angels. To teach otherwise is to invite presumption and destruction.
Jeremiah made no effort to fulfill the prophecies the Lord gave him. Jeremiah contented himself with bearing witness of the mighty promises of God. Meanwhile he obeyed the Lord in the directions given to him each day. Let us do the same.
On and on goes the list of myths and errors. But the churches will be purified during the age of moral horrors that is approaching. Then the Gospel of the Kingdom will be seen to be a response to the statements of the Hebrew Prophets, not a new religion unrelated to biblical Judaism.
The term "grace" has come to mean the perpetual forgiveness of the sins of the Christian whether or not he or she makes a success of victorious Christian living. We ought to try to do good, but if we are tempted and fall there is no real problem because we are saved by grace and not by works of righteousness we have done.
Let us look at several passages that employ the word "grace" and from them derive a more comprehensive definition.
And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. (Acts 4:33)
Grace as used here means the Presence and blessing of God.
Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. (Acts 11:23)
Grace means the Presence and blessing of God.
Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. (Acts 13:43)
Grace here would mean to continue to trust in Jesus for salvation, according to the doctrine of Paul, rather than in the Law of Moses.
Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands. (Acts 14:3)
Trust in the atonement of Jesus rather than the Law of Moses.
And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled. (Acts 14:26)
Presence and blessing of God.
But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. (Acts 15:11)
Trust in the Lord Jesus for salvation rather than in the Law of Moses.
And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. (Acts 15:40)
Presence and blessing of God.
And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: (Acts 18:27)
Trust in the Lord Jesus for salvation rather than in the ministry of John the Baptist.
But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24)
The term "gospel of the grace of God" as used here means all that Paul taught. Paul taught that we no longer are bound by the statutes of the Law of Moses. We have been set free from Moses so we may be married to Christ.
Being set free from Moses does not mean we are free to sin. Being set free from Moses means we are free to place our hope and trust in the Lord Jesus, meanwhile offering the members of our body as a slave to righteousness. If we offer our body as a slave to righteousness we will inherit eternal life. If we choose to serve unrighteousness we will die spiritually.
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? (Romans 6:16)
To continue with the definition of grace:
And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. (Acts 20:32)
Grace here refers to the Divine Virtue given to us to bring us to maturity in Christ.
By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: (Romans 1:5)
Divine Presence, blessing, and calling.
To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:7)
Divine Presence and blessing.
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ: (Romans 3:24)
Forgiveness of sins based on the atonement made by Christ on the cross of Calvary.
Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. (Romans 4:4)
Grace here means that God rewards us with righteousness through His sovereign goodness, not on the basis of the works of the Law of Moses. The context of the Book of Romans will reveal clearly that Paul always was contrasting Divine grace with the works of the Law of Moses, not Divine grace with godly behavior. Paul was arguing against those who were pressing the Law of Moses on the new converts.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8,9)
This verse often is used to prove that the Christian need not worry about righteous behavior because he is not saved by works. Again, Paul was referring to the works of the Law of Moses.
Ephesians 2:8,9 should never be quoted apart from verse 10. To quote 8 and 9 without 10 is to distort what is being taught.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
"Created in Christ unto good works." Created unto good works. God is creating us so we will walk in good works, that is, we will practice the godly behavior assigned to us from the foundation of the world.
We have seen that grace ordinarily refers to the Presence and blessing of God that we receive under the new covenant apart from obedience to the statutes of the Law of Moses. Part of the Presence and blessing of God is the forgiveness of our sins, the purpose being that we can begin life anew and, by the power and Virtue of God, begin to live in a righteous manner.
In its purest sense, grace is Christ. He is the Word of God made flesh.
Jeremiah would understand this definition of grace and would term it, "The Lord our righteousness."
Satan has achieved a mammoth victory. He has managed to separate God’s grace from righteous, holy behavior. This has been no small accomplishment seeing that most of the epistles of the New Testament, not to mention the Gospel accounts and the Book of Revelation, emphasize again and again that our God will never dwell with wicked people.
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (II Corinthians 6:14-7:1)
"Oh, but we are not wicked because of the grace of God! God sees us through the Lord Jesus (where is this statement in the Scriptures?).
"When I lie, God sees only the truth of Jesus.
"When I look at pornography God sees only the moral purity of Jesus.
"When I gossip and slander another Christian God sees only the holy speech of the Lord Jesus."
How will we ever escape from this monumental lie? It will require much suffering and tribulation if we are to escape the current teaching and begin to serve God in truth and faithfulness. The Christian churches and their leaders may not willingly give up the security they have found in believing that God does not see their sin. They may not willingly face the Holy Fire of Israel.
Enough suffering will drive many believers to the understanding that God is not the kindly old gentleman they have pictured. The sinners in Zion will be afraid in the days to come. The hypocrites will tremble. We shall be accounted as sheep for the slaughter. The Bride will be purified with the fires of Divine judgment. Enough tribulation will cause her to wash her robes in the blood of the Lamb in preparation for her marriage to Him.
We have been deceived. God in His love is sending truth to us in these last days. Let all of us who love Jesus turn again to the Lord. Let us humble ourselves and repent, turning from our wicked ways.
If we are willing to confess our sins and turn away from them, the Lord God will have mercy on us and we will stand before Him. If we are willing to guard the word of His patience He will keep us from spiritual destruction during the hour of temptation that is on the horizon.
Tremendous catastrophes will visit the earth from this time forward. Through it all the Lord Jesus will sit as King of the flood. Jesus has control of all. We need have no fear of anything except that we are displeasing Him in some manner.
Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. (Jeremiah 6:16)
Let us not be like disobedient Israel. Let us rather press forward into the rest of God, into that place of abiding in the perfect will of God through Christ.