THE GREATEST LIE EVER TOLD
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
The numerous passages of the Epistles that warn us concerning the consequences of sin are often preached to the unsaved, but none of them was written to unsaved people. Unsaved persons are already dead in their sins. It is the Christians who will lose their eternal life, who will slay their own resurrection, if they continue to live according to the lusts of their flesh.
But what do we hear from pulpit and pew? You will not surely die!
Then the serpent said to the woman, You will not surely die. (Genesis 3:4)
“You will not surely die.” The emphasis in the Hebrew is on the word “die.” You will not die of a certainty. There is a question whether you actually will die! “The soul who sins shall die,” the Scriptures declare (Ezekiel 18:4). Why is Satan so anxious to persuade us Christians that it is not certain we actually will die when we disobey God? No doubt it is because he himself has been sentenced to eternal death in the Lake of Fire. Since then, he has been attempting to rally the angels, and mankind as well, in an effort to overturn the sentence of God against himself.
“You will not certainly die.” We hear it all the time today. For this reason or that reason, you will not surely die! The New Testament writings state clearly and emphatically that the Christian believer who continues in sin will not inherit the Kingdom of God, but will die spiritually.
Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. (John 15:2)
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
Romans 6:23 (above) was written to people who had believed and had been baptized in water.
For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:13)
envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:21)
For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. (Galatians 6:8)
how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, (Hebrews 2:3)
but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned. (Hebrews 6:8)
Where does the cloud come from that prevents Christians from seeing what is written plainly in the Scriptures? The passages above were written to Christians. Today they are preached to the unsaved regularly and vigorously, but they were not addressed to unsaved people. Unsaved persons are already dead in their sins. It is the Christians who will lose their eternal life, who will slay their own resurrection, if they continue to live according to the lusts of their flesh.
But what do we hear from pulpit and pew? You will not surely die. The Scriptures, the Word of God, state that believers in Christ will die spiritually if they do not choose to live righteously. But the Christian theologians, reflecting Satan’s attitude toward God and His Word, cry out in one accord, “You will not surely die!”
The Scriptures teach clearly and emphatically that the Christian redemption is always conditional, is always an opportunity.
Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? (Romans 6:16)
Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” (II Corinthians 6:17)
Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. (Revelation 2:5)
The theologians hasten to proclaim: “Salvation is unconditional. You cannot destroy your relationship with God by your behavior. You will not surely die!” What is the source of this blindness? The Scriptures state that we Christians, like the Israelites, will die in the wilderness if we do not continue serving the Lord.
But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. (Jude 1:5)
The Christian theologians announce: “There is nothing you can do to injure your redemption. Once you ‘accept Christ’, you are saved for eternity. This is because redemption is not dependent on your moral behavior.” What is the origin of this deadly misunderstanding, this inability to comprehend the explicit Word of God?
The holy Scriptures assert that the righteous must press forward in faith at all times or else they will draw back to destruction. To be saved, we must “endure to the end.”
And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 10:22)
But we are not of those who draw back to perdition [destruction], but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. (Hebrews 10:39)
Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; (II Peter 1:10)
Christian teachers declare that those who want to be saved need only make a mental and verbal assent to the facts of redemption (facts the demons know only too well; James 2:19), and having made such an assent, they never again will have a reason to be concerned about their position in God. This is antinomianism, an ancient heresy. There is poison here! We have noticed that once Bible students are exposed to current Christian teaching, they are no longer able to comprehend the Old or New Testament Scriptures.
There is a spirit associated with Christian doctrine. Once this spirit enters the mind and spirit of the believer, he or she no longer is able to perceive what is written. This spirit presents an abstract redemption that removes the believer from the real world and places him in a special realm shielded from judgment. The Divine salvation becomes an arbitrary act of God designed for elect Gentiles (or for whoever chooses to believe) and cannot be made void or injured in any manner for eternity. The Divine redemption, it is conjectured, is utterly independent of the moral character and behavior of the believer.
This is the greatest lie ever told. Every book in the New Testament contradicts it.
The divinely inspired Word of God proclaims that faith can live only in works of righteousness.
Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:17)
Christian teachers take the stance that faith is an abstraction, existing alone and not dependent on our behavior. We are saved by faith alone, it is claimed, in direct contradiction of James 2:17 in the written Word of God.
The truth is, abstract faith is not faith at all, but is mental assent. Works of righteousness, godly actions, are the very life of true faith. “The just shall live by faith” means the righteous think, speak, and act by faith in God rather than by faith in their own ability. “The just shall live by faith,” an expression that originated in the Old Testament and is repeated three times in the New, does not mean we go to Heaven on the basis of a mental assent to the theological facts of redemption. In fact, Hebrews chapter 11 is the illustration of “the just shall live by faith” because it describes works of obedience to God, not mental assent to theological facts.
Why are we of today insisting that if Christians continue to walk in the flesh, they will not certainly die? This is the greatest lie ever told, and it has produced moral desolation in the churches of Christ.
As a result, the governments of the so-called Christian nations are moral wastelands. The only moral guidance available to civil government is the light coming from Christ-produced godly behavior and teaching of the Christian churches. But we have wrested Paul’s doctrine of grace to mean that godly behavior, while desirable, is not a crucial aspect of our salvation. The result is, our lampstand has been removed from its place. The government has only our “imputed righteousness” to rely on for moral guidance, and since imputed (legally ascribed) righteousness cannot be observed, the government has no moral light to follow.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
“That they may see your good works.”
- “But I am saved by faith and do not need to practice good works.”
- “This was written to the Jews.”
- “It really means that if people would accept Christ, they would be saved.”
- “If you stress righteous behavior, you are guilty of preaching works. You are guilty of ‘legalism’ (the current epithet applied to righteous, holy behavior). You are a Pharisee.”
What other ways do we have of making the Word of God of no effect? The manner in which Divine grace is presented today is the greatest lie ever told.
When the author received Christ, Ephesians 2:8,9 was emphasized as a “key passage” to memorize.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8,9)
Why wasn’t the following verse included as part of the “key passage,” since it reveals the outcome of Divine grace?
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
We have been “created in Christ Jesus for good works.” Why wasn’t this important aspect included? It was not included in our early instruction because it exposes the satanic lie that clouds Christian thinking.
We are not implying by this statement that those who led us to the Lord were attempting to harm us, or that today’s preachers and teachers are deliberately destroying the moral character of the believers. It is true, rather, that in the process of “cleansing the temple” today, the “Book of the Law” has been found in the trash of tradition. It is time, therefore, for all of God’s people to repent. We have been deceived!
The exhortations of many preachers of the Gospel are flattering and wishy-washy. They are not lifting up their voice like a trumpet and showing God’s people their sins. Christ was not sent by the Father to excuse or “cover” the behavior of God’s people. Rather, Christ was sent to destroy the works of the devil, to turn people from ungodly behavior to godly behavior.
Let us continue our discussion by examining several aspects of the current misunderstanding of God’s grace under the new covenant:
- Does God see the behavior of the Christian and judge it, or does He see Christ’s righteousness and holiness instead?
- What is the role of imputation (ascribed righteousness)? What are the limits of imputation?
- What is the new covenant?
- Precisely what is the Divine salvation (redemption)?
- Why would we be admonished to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12) if righteousness were imputed to us unconditionally and eternally?
- In I Peter 4:18, what does Peter mean when he claims the righteous are saved with difficulty?
- Why is it not true that Jesus has already “saved” us and that our motive for righteous behavior is that we ought to try to please Him in appreciation for what He has done for us?
- Who builds his house on the rock?
- What is the meaning of the parable of the sower? (Matthew 13:1-23)
- What is the purpose of the return of the Lord Jesus to the world?
- In what manner do both the Catholic and Protestant approaches to righteousness come short of the Glory of God?
Does God See the Behavior of Christians?
Does God see the behavior of the Christian and judge it, or does He see Christ’s righteousness and holiness instead? There is a Christian maxim that views grace as “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense” (g-r-a-c-e). The implication here is that Christ bears the cross alone, and all the believers can do as they please. There is an old hymn that takes issue with this concept (“Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone?”). The idea is definitely humanistic—well adapted to the wealthy “Christian” churches of the twentieth century. When the believer lies, does God judge the lie as sin, or is the truthfulness of Christ imputed (ascribed) to the individual? When the believer practices fornication (and some church members do), does God judge the fornication as sin, or is the moral purity of Christ imputed to the individual? In the sight of God, how does lying and fornication by Christians differ from lying and fornication by unbelievers?
This is an extremely important question. How you resolve it in your mind affects how you perceive the Christian redemption. What is your answer? What is the answer of the Scripture?
The New Testament teaches clearly and emphatically that the sin of the believer is judged rigorously. If the believer continues to practice sin, he may experience physical and spiritual weakness, sickness, premature death, and even spiritual death, according to the New Testament. For example:
But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. (I Corinthians 11:28)
To “examine” ourselves is to judge our own conduct regarding righteousness and unrighteousness.
For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. (I Corinthians 11:29)
Some of the Corinthian believers were not regarding the elements of the Communion service with the proper reverence. The rich were becoming drunk and the poor went hungry. The believers did not realize that the very elements of which they were partaking are to be regarded as the Body of Christ. Their attitude was reprehensible. Did God ignore their conduct and impute (ascribe) the holiness of Christ to them, or did He judge their conduct to be worthy of “lashes” (Luke 12:47)?
For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. (I Corinthians 11:30)
God revealed His displeasure with their behavior by sending weakness and sickness upon them. Some died prematurely because God judged that their actions warranted their removal from the earth.
For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. (I Corinthians 11:31)
God commands us to judge ourselves. We are to examine our behavior, resisting what is sinful and praying for strength to walk in righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God. We can see at a glance that the concept that “God does not see our behavior but only the righteousness of Christ” is wrong—terribly wrong! Fatally wrong!
But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. (I Corinthians 11:32)
If we refuse to correct our conduct, God will judge us in order to save us from being under the same condemnation as the world.
Revelation chapters 2-3, I John, Jude, plus many exhortations of Paul — these are a few examples of the numerous statements in the New Testament that demonstrate beyond all doubt that God indeed judges the sins of His people. The passage from I Corinthians (above) seems sufficient for the student who is willing to flee from the prevailing Christian error concerning Divine grace.
What, then, should be our attitude toward the sins we are committing? We are commanded to confess our sins, turning away from them with the Lord’s help. When we confess our sins with the purpose of turning away from them, God is faithful and righteous to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9). We wash the robes of our conduct and make them white in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14). We are to do this every day because we are living in a morally filthy environment.
We Christians do sin, and we are not to evade this fact by stating that God does not see our behavior. God sees every action we take. He hears every word we speak. He knows every thought we think. God’s plan of redemption through Christ is able to transform every one of our actions, our words, and our thoughts, until they are acceptable to Him. This moral transformation is the Divine salvation, the Divine redemption.
God is judging His household today. Swift and terrible judgment soon will fall on every nation in which the believers do not humble themselves, pray, seek God’s face, and turn from their wicked ways.
It is an error of monumental proportions to claim that God does not see the actions of the believer, but only the righteousness of Christ imputed to him.
What is the role of imputation? What are the limits of imputation? The ascribing (imputing) of righteousness (right standing with God) to whoever puts his trust in Jesus is taught by the Apostle Paul in the first five chapters of Romans. Paul, in the early chapters of Romans, is arguing against Jews. He was addressing those who knew the Law of Moses and were trusting in the works of the Law (particularly, but not exclusively, the Ten Commandments) for their redemption and righteousness in the sight of God. Paul spoke vehemently to the Orthodox Jews, warning them that God has given us His own righteousness through Christ, having declared all of mankind to be bound in sin. Paul explained that there is no longer a need to attempt to adhere to the statutes of Moses because God will ascribe true righteousness to the individual who believes in the Lord Jesus.
even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; (Romans 3:22)
The role of imputed righteousness is to remove the condemnation of sin from the believer so he may come to God for fellowship, and also for help as he seeks to overcome sin and self-will. Having put our faith in Jesus, we now, like the High Priest of Israel on the Day of Atonement, are permitted beyond the holy veil so we may present our needs before the throne of Him who dwells between the Cherubim of Glory.
Gentile teachers have made two tremendous errors of interpretation concerning Paul’s teaching of imputed righteousness:
- Gentile teachers, not realizing that Paul was contrasting faith in Jesus with the observance of the many facets of the Law of Moses, have concluded that Paul was contrasting faith in Jesus with godly behavior. The irony of this error is that godly behavior is the very thing the Lord came to establish.
- Gentile teachers believe that New Testament grace represents a change in God Himself. Not understanding the temporary, provisional nature of imputation, they are assuming that God no longer requires righteous, holy behavior on the part of His servants and will have continuing fellowship with people of unclean behavior on the basis of the blood atonement. This second error is worse than the first.
The Scripture immediately condemns such a belief!
Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” (II Corinthians 6:17)
Permanent fellowship with God depends not only on the atonement made by the Lord Jesus, but also on our walking in the light of God’s will and holiness, on our coming out from the filthy practices of the world.
Christian teachers and preachers convey the idea that God has given grace as an alternative to godly behavior. Worse yet, they imply that this alternative is eternal. A thousand years from now, it is said, we still will be praising God for His “grace.” This means, apparently, that we still shall be bound in sin and self-will, but God will accept us anyway. If this were true, it would represent a change in God Himself, in His moral Nature. It would be the most disastrous of all catastrophes that possibly could overtake the creation. In this case, the Holy City would be holy by imputation, meaning that it was filled with malice, violence, filthy moral behavior, and every other abomination that previously had brought the wrath of God upon mankind. There would be no hope for those who are looking for “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”
Christian teaching is often incorrect in its presentation of Divine grace under the new covenant.
It is true that by our identification with Christ on the cross, we are legally free from the Law of Moses. But we are not free to live as we please; we are free only to be married to Christ.
Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. (Romans 7:4)
Marriage to Christ brings a far stricter control over our moral behavior than ever could be true of the Law of Moses.
We have a multitude of spiritual “singles” today who are married neither to Moses nor to Christ. They are without law of any kind, being a law to themselves. They shall be judged as evildoers. The Lord Jesus does not “know” them or those who are teaching them that their immoral, lawless behavior is acceptable to God.
The New Covenant
Precisely what is the new covenant, the new testament, the covenant that has superseded the Law of Moses? Someone who knew only current Christian teaching would suppose the new covenant consisted of God’s forgiveness of our sin so we can make our eternal home in Heaven. This model of redemption is incorrect in both method and objective.
God’s moral Nature is eternal. He never has changed and never shall change His desire for mankind. God desires that every person practice righteousness, love mercy, and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8). This expression sums up the Law and the Prophets recorded in the old testament of the Bible. There was a problem with the worshipers under the Law of Moses. The problem was that many Israelites did not practice righteousness, love mercy, or walk humbly with God. In fact, the envy in the personalities of the Law-keeping leaders of Israel caused them to demand the murder of Jesus of Nazareth.
Not being satisfied with people under the old covenant, God has created a new covenant. According to today’s preaching, the new covenant primarily is one of forgiveness, claiming that “because people are sinful, God has decided, on the basis of the suffering and shed blood of Jesus on the cross, to waive His requirement that people practice righteousness, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.” Sometimes it is actually stated that the commandments of the Lord and His Apostles are not to be obeyed. “God’s purpose in giving the commandments found in the New Testament was not that we would obey them, but to demonstrate that we must come to Christ and receive the grace of forgiveness.” Although this concept of the New Testament writings has been advanced for many years, it is utterly without foundation in the New Testament.
The problem here is that the teachers are making justification by faith the only aspect of the Divine redemption. They are ignoring the all-important works of sanctification and consecration. If forgiveness of sins and imputed righteousness are the only aspects of Divine grace, then the new covenant will never produce people in God’s image. It is a tremendous misunderstanding of the program and objectives of Divine grace. If this were true, it would mean that the new covenant is inferior to the old, because the old required godly behavior. God has admitted (it is assumed) there is nothing He can do to save people from their sins. He has decided to forgive them without attempting to change them. What an erroneous concept!
How does God’s Word describe the new covenant? First of all, let us point out the principal difference between the two covenants.
- Under the old covenant, sin was forgiven through the atonement made by the blood of animals.
- Under the new covenant, sin is forgiven through the atonement made by the blood of the righteous Jesus, and then removed from us as we fight against it with the power of the Holy Spirit working in terms of the authority of the blood of the cross.
The Mosaic covenant included forgiveness.
And he shall do with the bull as he did with the bull as a sin offering; thus he shall do with it. So the priest shall make atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them. (Leviticus 4:20)
The new covenant includes the forgiveness and the removal of the presence (power, compulsion, desire) of sin.
For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. (Hebrews 10:1)
For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. (Hebrews 10:4)
And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. (Hebrews 10:11)
“make those who approach perfect.” “could take away sins.” “can never take away sins.” It is clear from the Scripture that the old covenant made provision for the forgiveness of sin (Leviticus 4:20 above). The difference between the covenants has to do with the removal of the presence and consciousness of sin, with making the worshiper perfect in conscience and in behavior. The old covenant forgives. The new covenant forgives and removes sin.
- The Day of Atonement (in Leviticus chapter 16) describes the atonement made through the blood of the slain goat, and also the future removal of sin (not just the guilt, but the sin itself) from the camp by the leading away of the scapegoat. Forgiveness, and then removal.
- God’s grace under the new covenant includes the blood atonement made on the cross of Calvary, the body and blood of Christ given to us as food and drink, the indwelling and anointing of the Holy Spirit, the conception and development of the incorruptible Seed in us in the born-again experience, the gifts and ministries given by the Spirit to the members of the Body of Christ, and the Word of God written by the Apostles of the Lamb. There is no question that the Divine grace provided under the new covenant furnishes sufficient authority and power to remove the presence of sin from the Church, leaving it without blemish of any kind whatever. God’s grace is sufficient to perform what He has promised!
The new covenant is by no means limited to forgiveness.
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (Hebrews 8:10)
Does the verse above indicate that God has forgotten His Torah, His eternal Law? Is it not rather true that the new covenant is infinitely stricter in that it has moved the eternal law of God from tables of stone to the tables of the heart of man? In the light of Hebrews 8:10, does it appear to you that the new covenant is primarily one of forgiveness? Have we not been grievously deceived?
It is time to repent! We have been deceived by Satan. He has managed to destroy the Divine testimony in the “Christian” nations of today by perverting the teaching of the Apostle Paul concerning the role of the grace of God under the new covenant.
Precisely what is the Divine salvation (redemption)? What is the goal of salvation? The current model of redemption portrays the blood of Jesus as the means of keeping people out of Hell and admitting them to Heaven to live forever. While this is true in an elementary sense, it is so simplistic as to be seriously misleading.
There is a real Hell. There is a real Lake of Fire. There is a real Heaven inhabited by God the Father, Jesus, the saints, and holy angels and creatures of whom we know little or nothing. The purpose of the Christian redemption is not to make it possible for sinners to go to Paradise, to Heaven, in their sin. Sinners always are of Hell and will go to Hell when they die. The righteous always are of Heaven and will go to Heaven when they die. Jesus did not come to admit sinners to Paradise, for that would repeat the original problem of the garden in Eden. Jesus came to change sinners into righteous people so they can inherit eternal life, Paradise, and all the other wonders and responsibilities that await us in the future.
Jesus did not come to take the violent man to Heaven; He came to make the violent man peaceful and gentle. Jesus did not come to take the fornicator to Heaven; He came to make the fornicator morally pure. The Lord Jesus came to put Paradise in us.
But didn’t Jesus state that morally unclean people would enter the Kingdom ahead of the self-righteous? Yes, He did. Entering the Kingdom means that we have been delivered from moral impurity. Sometimes the fornicators and the robbers enter the Kingdom ahead of the religious people because the sinners see their need for Jesus, for His forgiving, cleansing authority and power. No individual is as spiritually bankrupt as he or she who sees no need of repentance and deliverance from worldliness, lust, and self-seeking.
The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Heaven is a place. The Kingdom of God is a relationship to God through Christ.
Today’s Christian doctrine is so confused, so erroneous, that making one’s eternal home in the spirit Paradise is presented as the goal of redemption. In actuality, the goal of salvation presented in the Scriptures is eternal life in the Kingdom of God, and the Kingdom of God is destined to be established on the earth.
The Lord Jesus did not come to change what we reap but what we sow. People will always reap what they sow. If we desire to enter eternal life in the Kingdom of God, we must sow righteousness. This basic law of the Kingdom can never be done away, not by grace, not by mercy, not by any other means. God does not change!
Salvation is moral transformation. This is what salvation is. It has no reference to Heaven. The statement “salvation is moral transformation” does not mean if we behave righteously we will be saved. It means, rather, that the righteous behavior itself is the salvation.
The purpose of salvation is not that we go to Heaven, but that we fulfill the many needs that God has, such as a temple for Himself, a bride for the Lamb, righteous priests and rulers to govern the nations of the saved, and several other roles and services. None of these roles and services can be performed by a human being until he or she has been changed into the moral image of the Lord Jesus and brought into complete, restful union with the Father through Christ.
Notice how redemption is described by the Holy Spirit through the father of John the Baptist:
To grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life. (Luke 1:74,75)
The above prophetic declaration could not be improved as a definition of the Christian redemption.
“Being delivered from the hand of our enemies.”
“Might serve him without fear.”
“In holiness and righteousness before Him.”
“All the days of our life.”
This is salvation. This is redemption. It has nothing to do with going to Heaven. In fact, the earth and its peoples will be the primary beneficiaries of the salvation created in the elect.
We are not being saved from the earth to Heaven, we are being saved from Satan to God.
to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me. (Acts 26:18)
To be redeemed is to be turned from darkness to light, from the authority of Satan to God.
Again we have a definition of redemption. It has nothing to do with going to Heaven but with being turned from Satan to God. We do not receive forgiveness of sins until we are turned from the power of Satan unto God.
The Christian salvation may be thought of as a journey. We commence in the image of Satan and have Satan’s spirit in us. We think the thoughts of Satan, speak the words of Satan, and perform the actions of Satan. By the time we reach the end of the journey, we are in the image of God and have God’s Spirit in us. We think the thoughts of God, speak the words of God, and perform the actions of God. This is what the Christian redemption accomplishes.
The Christian redemption includes forgiveness. But the forgiveness is a legal maneuver based upon the atonement made on the cross of Calvary. It is a covering that makes it possible for God to accept us while the transformation takes place. When the transformation does not take place, the fruit the Farmer is looking for does not appear, then we stand in clear scriptural danger of being removed from Christ. We have turned the grace of God into an excuse for immorality
Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. (James 5:7)
And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down. (Luke 13:9)
Salvation is moral transformation. To be saved is to be released from Satan and brought into holy fellowship with God. Salvation is a continuing process in our life. Salvation has a specific beginning, a specific divinely-guided program, and a specific conclusion. It has an alpha and an omega. Jesus is the Author and the Finisher of our salvation. He or she who endures to the end shall be saved. We cannot stop at one point on the journey and state we are eternally saved. Rather, we can say, “I have been saved from fornication, I have been saved from drunkenness, I have been saved from gossiping. I have been delivered from the control of the enemy and the Lord Jesus is helping me to worship Him and live for Him.” The righteous are saved with difficulty!
The part of us that has not as yet been redeemed from the hand of the enemy is still under the authority of the Lake of Fire (Revelation 21:8), except that Jesus keeps His protection over us as long as we are abiding in Him and submitting to His rebukes and deliverances. We must “work out” our salvation.
It is true that when we believe and are baptized, we are saved from destruction in the Day of God’s wrath. In this sense we can say, “I am saved because I believe in the Lord Jesus.” We can live in the assurance of sins forgiven.
It appears that what it means to be “saved” differs from person to person. Some people apparently experience a basic salvation and they are not challenged by the Lord to go further. Others, such as the Apostle Paul, are presented with a high “mark” (Philippians 3:14) that they strive to attain throughout their lifetimes. Some are destined to sit on the Lord’s right hand. They will be required to drink the cup of suffering of which Christ drank. To whom much is given, of him shall much be required (Luke 12:48). The Scriptures are clear that there is a variety of ranks and callings in the Kingdom of God. The Lord requires of us only that we grasp that for which we personally have been grasped (Philippians 3:12).
When we believe and are baptized, we are saved from the wrath of God. After this initial experience, we must seek the Lord daily that we may be transformed in personality. If we neglect to follow the Lord in the transformation and ministry He is requiring of us, then we are a disobedient child. In this case, we may or may not be saved in the Day of Wrath. If we are saved, it will be as by fire. Salvation by fire will not prove to be a joyous experience!
Because of our past experience as Christians, it is almost impossible to think of “being saved” as moral transformation. Perhaps our generation will never be able to think of being saved apart from going to Heaven. As long as we think in terms of eternal residence in Heaven as being the goal of redemption, confusing the place termed Heaven with eternal life and the Kingdom of God, we will never truly understand the Kingdom of God or the Christian salvation. Perhaps the children, the young warriors we are training now, will be able to make the conceptual leap from Heaven to the Kingdom of God.
Fear and Trembling
Why would we be admonished to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling if righteousness were imputed to us unconditionally and eternally?
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; (Philippians 2:12)
But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. (I Corinthians 9:27)
There is a careless spirit of security that often characterizes the Christian spirit. This sense of careless ease views God as a kindly grandfather and “good old Jesus” (as someone described the Lord) as a “regular guy” who would never let Christians (especially Gentile Christians) suffer. The Lord Jesus, the High Priest of God, would say to this spirit, this “angel” of the Christian churches:
“You are in deception. You suppose that I have changed from the days of Noah, from the time of Sodom and Gomorrah, but I tell you that in the hour of My coming, the events shall be as in the time of Noah and of Sodom and Gomorrah.
“You have been deceived by the spirit of humanism that is filling the world, the spirit of man seeking to make himself God.
“You claim that God will not permit the saints to suffer. You understand neither the Scriptures nor the history of the Church nor your own day.
“You suppose that My grace is an excuse for your continued careless, sinful behavior. But I will bring every work into judgment and reward you according to your works.
“You are attempting to use Me in order to attain your own goals and desires. Do you not know that you are My slaves?—that I have purchased you with My own blood?
“The Scriptures command you to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, to pray that God will keep you from deception, to turn away from the world, take up your cross, and follow me. Do so.
“The suffering that comes upon you is My judgment of your sins. Its purpose is to save you from destruction.
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Don’t be arrogant, but fear the Lord. This is the beginning of wisdom.”
If salvation were unconditional, an eternal amnesty, then numerous passages of the New Testament would make no sense at all.
For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. (II Peter 2:20)
How can we deny such a statement? By claiming that II Peter is not part of the sacred canon, the fully inspired Word of God? And after we have eliminated this passage, what about the multitude of others that warn us to turn away from our lusts and to walk in the Spirit of God?
Saved with Difficulty
What does Peter mean when he claims the righteous are saved with difficulty?
Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved [is saved with difficulty], Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (I Peter 4:18)
A careful study of all of I Peter chapter 4 will reveal that it is speaking of the need to judge and remove sin from the Christian personality. This is in keeping with the concept of the new covenant as the Divine provision for removing our sin, for making the worshiper righteous and holy in behavior.
The theme of I Peter chapter 4 is that Divine judgment has begun in the household of God. The judgment includes fiery trials that test and purify the believers. We are not to be amazed at the suffering that comes upon us, but are to rejoice, realizing that the purpose of the Divine chastening is our redemption. So great is the wrath of God against sin, that the believers must be dealt with very severely. It is difficult to save from destruction even the most righteous individual.
The Jewish race has had its holocaust, and now the Spirit of God is beginning to gather the Jews from all nations where they have been dispersed and to install them in their own land. But the Gentile holocaust has not taken place as yet. It is coming soon. It will be far more terrible than what happened to the Jews.
tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; (Romans 2:9)
The Jewish nation has been chastised first because it is God’s family. We cannot imagine what will transpire when God begins to chastise the Gentiles! To redeem an individual requires the mortgage payment made on the cross, and then much fiery chastening as the sin is burned away. Zion is always redeemed with the spirit of judgment and of burning, with the baptism of fire.
Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, (I Peter 4:1)
Let us approach God with fear and trembling, being appreciative of all the fiery tests that come our way, in the confidence that God is dealing with us as sons. It is difficult for God to save even the righteous individual because the personalities of all people—righteous and unrighteous alike—are filled with lust, deceit, and rebellion against God. We are desperately wicked, and it is no easy task to save us from the moral pit in which we were born and in which we live.
Why is it not true that Jesus already has “saved” us and that our motive for righteous behavior is that we ought to try to please Him in appreciation for what He has done for us? Why is this commonly accepted reasoning false?
Those who teach and preach the abstract, mystical redemption we have mentioned, a salvation independent of acceptable moral conduct on the part of the worshiper, suggest we ought to try to be good. Their concept is that if God has been so kind as to overlook our wickedness through Christ and to give us the hope of eternal bliss in a mansion in the Paradise of God, then we ought to show our appreciation by godly behavior. This may be termed the “gratitude” model for pursuing the Divine redemption.
Think of it: we ought to show our appreciation by godly behavior! This is an ineffectual, powerless orientation to the Kingdom of God. What is incorrect in the “we ought to show our appreciation” approach to producing the new creation, the life-giving Bride that is to be married to the Lamb for eternity? “Showing our appreciation” is not the scriptural method of developing the unblemished Bride of the Lamb.
The implication of the “gratitude” model is that acceptable moral behavior is desirable but not an essential aspect of the Divine redemption. It makes moral behavior optional and not required.
In actuality, it is the transformation of our moral personality (as well as our body) that itself is the Divine redemption.
An assumption in the gratitude model is that the adamic nature can imitate the Personality of the Lord Jesus if it is willing to make the effort. The truth is, the adamic nature must be crucified if the process is even to begin! In order to produce the new creation in which the old things have passed away and all things have become new and are of God, all the elements of Divine grace must be employed. The Spirit of God, the atoning blood of Jesus, the body and blood of Jesus as our daily sustenance, and particularly the conception and formation of the incorruptible Seed in us, must all play their parts if we are to be transformed into the moral image of God.
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (II Corinthians 3:18)
Man cannot change himself! Only the Spirit of God can change us. Have we learned nothing in six thousand years? By no means are we able to lift ourselves by our own bootstraps. Our present environment is demonic, becoming spiritually darker each day. In addition, our flesh is filled with the spirit of sin. Also, our self-will vigorously rejects the idea that only the Lord Jesus has the right to sit on the throne in the depths of our personality. We want to be our own god and act as we please. We may desire to do good. But the demonic pressure is so great from within and from without that our good intentions last about as long as a wooden toy in a bonfire.
If we are to come to God with the desperation required to resist lust, to resist profanity, to resist violence, to resist occult practices, to resist spite, to resist gossip, to resist our romantic urges, to resist our desire to break out of the prison in which God has permitted us to be placed, then we first must be convinced that our conduct will have a direct effect upon our resurrection; that we will be clothed in our own conduct in the Day of the Lord (II Corinthians 5:10).
When an individual has been assured that no matter what he does, he will go to eternal bliss in a mansion in Heaven when he dies, he never will possess the inner fire, the fierceness, the determination that are necessary for the successful pursuit of the victorious Christian life. The promises of God are to the overcomer, the winner of the race!
The concept that all will receive the same reward, independently of their conduct, is from Satan. His purpose in this deception is to prevent the moral transformation of God’s people. Satan understands very well that the Presence of God will not remain with an individual who is disobeying God. It is the Presence of God that Satan fears. Satan fears the Godhead, not the religious striving of well-intentioned people.
Do the Scriptures invite us to try to behave righteously or do they command us to live righteously on the pain of destruction if we do not?
Please keep in mind that all of the following passages are addressed only to Christians:
Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? (Romans 6:16)
This means that if a believer, having been baptized in water, keeps on yielding to the urges of sin, he will die. This hardly could be considered a gentle invitation to live righteously accompanied by the assurance that eternal life already has been guaranteed regardless of compliance with God’s laws.
For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:13)
This means that if a believer keeps on living in the appetites of the flesh, he will die, slaying his own resurrection mentioned two verses earlier in Romans 8:11. This is not a suggestion that he try to be righteous, accompanied by the assurance that eternal life already has been guaranteed regardless of compliance with God’s laws.
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)
This means that if a believer continues to live in the lusts of the flesh, he will not inherit the Kingdom of God. None of these actions are permitted in the Kingdom. This is not a mild directive to try to resist sin, accompanied by the assurance that eternal life in the Kingdom of God already has been guaranteed to the believer regardless of obedience to God.
For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. (Ephesians 5:5)
This means that if a believer is immoral, unclean, or covetous, he will not inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. None of these behaviors are permitted in the Kingdom. This is not a suggestion that the believer try to show his gratitude for a Divine amnesty, accompanied by the assurance that eternal life in the Kingdom of God already has been guaranteed regardless of whether or not the believer persists in covetous behavior.
We could add many other passages, but these should be sufficient to give the reader a starting point from which to familiarize himself with the injunctions of the New Testament concerning sinful behavior on the part of Christian believers.
No! It is not true that eternal bliss is guaranteed upon our profession of Christ as Savior or that it is sufficient that we make an attempt to act righteously in appreciation of God’s love toward us. The gratitude model is an incorrect concept of the Christian salvation and will lead (and is leading multitudes) to moral chaos.
Can you imagine the Lord saying to us, “You could do better if you tried, but it really doesn’t matter because I am going to take you to Heaven to be with Me forever whether or not you live a life of victory over sin?” What does the Lord actually say, when speaking to a Christian assembly?
I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works. (Revelation 2:23)
In Revelation chapters 2-3, the Lord spoke the following phrase to each of the seven churches of Asia: “I know your works.” The Lord never rebuked His servants for their doctrine, neither in the Gospel accounts nor in Revelation. His concern is with our works.
But what about the thief on the cross? Did not the Lord admit him to Paradise apart from godly behavior? First of all, we know nothing about the events of the thief’s life that led to his request to be admitted to Christ’s kingdom. Second, the Holy Spirit did not place this incident in the Scripture in order to undermine and refute the commandments of the Apostles of the Lamb. The story of the thief on the cross reminds us that Christ is willing to rescue the perishing when they call on him. Its purpose is not to comfort careless, lukewarm believers with the idea they will be “saved anyway.”
So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. (Revelation 3:16)
Being vomitted out of the Lord’s mouth is not an illustration of the Divine redemption.
In any case, the Lord Jesus did not bring the thief into the Kingdom of God but into Paradise. The issue of the New Testament is not Paradise but the Kingdom of God.
House On the Rock
Who builds his house on the rock?
Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: (Matthew 7:24)
“…hears these sayings of Mine, and does them”. What does this verse mean?
Does it mean if I hear what Jesus says and believe He is the Lord, I will go to Heaven when I die? This is not what it states; this is not what it means.
Does it mean the Jews must keep the Lord’s commandments but the Gentiles are saved by grace and go to Heaven by grace? This is not what it states; this is not what it means.
Does it mean I ought to try to do good, but everyone knows that no one is perfect, and as long as we are in the world we shall sin? This is not what it states; this is not what it means.
Does it mean that God knows we cannot do what He says, and so we will go to Heaven if we trust in Jesus? This is not what it states; this is not what it means.
“…hears these sayings of Mine, and does them”. What does this saying mean? It means if we will put into practice the moral directives given in the Sermon on Mount (Matthew chapters 5-7), then when the storm comes, we and our family will remain secure. Our “house” will not be moved because it is founded on the Rock of the Word of the Lord.
If we are not able in our flesh to forgive our enemies, to leap for joy when we are persecuted, then we are to approach God in prayer, requesting assistance in our time of need. God shall, by His Virtue enable us to do what Jesus commanded.
If we call Jesus, “Lord! Lord!” and then do not do what He taught, He will say to us in that Day, “I never knew you. Go away from Me you evildoer.”
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. (Matthew 7:21)
“Does the will of My Father.” Does this mean that only the Jews are required to actually do God’s will? No, it means that every person who wants to please God must keep His commandments.
He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (I John 2:4)
The spirit of deception has so poisoned our minds that we cannot perceive what the Word of God states clearly. We keep contradicting the Word, making it of no effect as we attempt to force it into the mold of our manmade models of redemption.
Of particular danger is the model known as Dispensationalism. Beyond all doubt, Dispensationalism, with its severing of the Old Testament from the New, the severing of all previous covenants from the new, the severing of the Jewish elect from the Gentile elect, its teaching of a special coming of the Lord prior to the scriptural and historic coming of the Lord, its placing of a “Gentile Church” in Heaven, its view of the Christian Church as a special dispensation in God’s plan, a “mystery” not mentioned in the Old Testament, is totally destructive of coherent Bible interpretation. If a person were to sit down and deliberately attempt to render the Scriptures incoherent, to isolate the Jews from the Divine redemption, and to introduce moral chaos into the Christian churches, he would have a difficult time improving on the theological model termed Dispensationalism.
The Dispensational model of Bible interpretation implies that God does not know what He is doing. God attempts a certain way of dealing with man, and when that doesn’t produce the results He desires, He attempts a different way. The covenants of God from the creation of Adam are seen as disconnected efforts. Now God has abandoned all methods of improving fallen man and has decided to receive him in his wretched moral state. What a pitiful portrayal of God’s knowledge and power!
Perhaps I misunderstand the concept of Dispensationalism, but the above is what was presented to me when I first became a Christian.
God knew what He was doing before the creation of the world. In the beginning, God created all things through to the new Jerusalem. Then He rested. We are to enter that rest. The only reason God gave the Law of Moses was to keep sin in check until the promised Seed (Christ) should appear. It was never contemplated that the Law of Moses would produce the new Jerusalem, the Wife of the Lamb.
Parable of the Sower
What is the meaning of the parable of the sower?
Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: Behold, a sower went out to sow. (Matthew 13:3)
The parable of the sower means that the word of Kingdom of God is the divine seed from God that is sown in the heart of an individual. In some instances, Satan is able to snatch the seed away before it germinates. Such a person did not understand the word. Sometimes the seed falls on stony ground and its root structure is not adequate to support and nourish the plant in a time of drought. The heart of such a hearer is hard, so the seed may germinate, but in time of persecution or other trouble, the seed of eternal life will die from lack of depth. At other times the seed germinates, but then thorns grow up and choke out the growth of the seed. Such a hearer is occupied with money and the cares of life, so the divine seed of the Kingdom will be choked out and perish.
In some cases the seed is able to bear lasting fruit, varying in amount from person to person. Such an individual has an honest and good heart, referring to a basically honest adamic nature even though the individual may or may not have gone into sinful practices. In such people, the seed of the Kingdom can bring forth the lasting fruit of righteous behavior.
The thoughtful reader can perceive quickly how the parable of the sower invalidates the Christian formula—the concept of an abstract redemption that operates independently of a person’s behavior.
The parable of the sower demolishes another Christian tenet—the principle that all people are hopelessly wicked. By stressing the truth that all of us were born in sin and have a nature that sins and rebels against God, today’s teachers overlook the numerous verses in the Old Testament and the New that attribute righteousness to people. They would deny that the seed, the word of God, could ever fall into an “honest and good heart” because (they would claim) there is no person on earth who has a good inner nature.
And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. (Luke 1:6)
But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. (Acts 10:35)
Numerous verses in Psalms discuss the righteous and the wicked.
Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. (Psalms 1:5)
Christians in their haste to insist that there is salvation only through Christ (which is true) have developed simplistic doctrines that are not scripturally balanced. The overemphasis on the wickedness of man has caused Christian believers to ignore completely the many, many commandments found in the New Testament. The Christians are under the impression that any effort to live righteously is to be viewed with suspicion as “legalism.” “We are saved by grace apart from any works of righteousness.” How terribly unbalanced this assumption is! How great has been the moral desolation produced by an unbalanced presentation of Divine grace!
Jesus spoke no parable concerning going to Heaven when we die. Every parable of the Lord concerns the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven. This fact alone renders contemporary Christian theology irrelevant. The word of the Kingdom of God is a seed that comes from God Himself. Some people never understand it. In others, it does not find sufficient soil. In yet others, there are too many other interests competing for the individual’s attention.
Of the four kinds of ground mentioned in the parable of the sower, three bear no lasting fruit. The Kingdom of God is not formed in them permanently. What does this say concerning the hopelessly inappropriate discussion concerning “once saved always saved”?
In the fourth kind of ground, that of adamic personalities with integrity (without integrity no person can make a success of the Divine redemption), the believers bring forth the Kingdom of God in varying degrees. What is brought forth in the believer’s personality is Christ, the Kingdom of God. The new personality is Divine in nature. It is a new creation.
My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you, (Galatians 4:19)
“Until Christ is formed in you.” The saints in Galatia were saved and filled with the Spirit of God. Now the task was to form Christ in them, corresponding to the fourth kind of ground in the parable of the sower.
The parable of the sower is the most important of the parables of the Kingdom of God given by the Lord Jesus. When we do not understand the parable of the sower, it is impossible to comprehend the Kingdom of God—the Kingdom announced by John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus.
And He said to them, Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? (Mark 4:13)
Purpose of the Lord’s Return
What is the purpose of the return of the Lord Jesus to the world? The Christian churches are continuing in a misunderstanding concerning the return of the Lord to the earth. They suppose that the purpose of Christ’s coming is to catch up His Bride to Heaven. However, this is not the reason for the Lord’s return. The purpose for the Lord’s coming is to separate the righteous from the wicked in the earth, to deliver the wicked to judgment, and to reward and exalt the righteous. The meek shall inherit the earth.
Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! (Matthew 13:40-43)
Two are in the field. One is received [the meaning of the Greek term translated “taken”] of the Lord, and the other laid aside or forsaken. Two are working at the mill. One is received and the other is set aside. The division is not between the Christians and the non-Christians, but between the righteous and the wicked.
The Christian churches are hoping to be caught away to Paradise in order to escape the coming judgment. In actuality, it is the Lord’s will to prepare us now so we can stand in the hour to come, and not only to stand but also to reveal to the world the righteousness and holiness of the God of Heaven. We can do this only as we are transformed by His Divine Virtue.
For as the earth brings forth its bud, as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations. (Isaiah 61:11)
having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. (I Peter 2:12)
Catholic and Protestant Approaches to Righteousness
In what manner do both the Catholic and Protestant approaches to righteousness come short of the Glory of God? As we understand it, the Catholic approach to righteousness is to acquire merit by religious duties and to submit to specific priestly ordinances. The amount of merit gained determines the state of joy encountered after death. The concept is that if we will attempt to please God by obeying the Catholic Church, we can attain an improved position in the spirit realm after we die. The goal is eternal bliss in the spirit Paradise of God.
The Protestant approach to righteousness often is to virtually ignore our behavior, or to assign it a minor role, and to concentrate on a correct mental and verbal response to the theological facts of the Divine redemption. A belief in the facts of redemption is the Protestant definition of, “the just shall live by faith.” The goal is eternal bliss in the spirit Paradise of God.
It is apparent that many fine saints have come from the ranks of the Catholic and Protestant churches. How much richer would the harvest have been if the doctrine had been scriptural?
The Catholic model is to attain Paradise by human efforts to obey the ordinances of the Church. The Protestant model is to attain Paradise by unswerving belief in the facts of the atonement and the resurrection.
Both models are wrong. We do not know how or when the goal of salvation changed from the biblical Kingdom of God to eternal residence in the spirit Paradise. Early Gnosticism is one possible source of the change in objective from establishing the Kingdom of God on the earth to eternal residence in the spirit Paradise. Or, the source may have been the developing doctrine of the Catholic Church.
First of all, let us note that the goal of redemption is to produce sons who are in the moral and bodily image of the Lord Jesus and who are in union in Jesus in the Father. These sons will serve as servants of Christ in the various roles and responsibilities belonging to the ages yet to come.
Second, the method for producing such sons is for human beings to receive Christ by faith, to enter by faith into His death and resurrection, and then to follow Him closely as, through the Holy Spirit, He administers to us the several components of the Divine grace. As we respond to the Divine grace, a transformation occurs in our personality. We are changed from an adamic person to a life-giving spirit.
And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. (I Corinthians 15:45)
It is not a case of our living righteously and thus earning residence in the spirit realm. Rather, the Divine salvation working in us produces a new creation of righteousness and holiness. As we have stated before, it is the moral transformation that is salvation, that is redemption.
To be saved is to be transformed morally.
What are we saved from? We are saved from the authority and power of Satan.
What are we saved to? We are saved to the image of God, union with God, and fellowship with God in all of His programs and purposes. Salvation creates us in the image of God, makes us “male and female” (changes us from an independent entity into an integral part of Christ), produces fruitfulness in our personality, and establishes us as a ruler over the works of God’s hands. The four results of the Divine redemption are the fulfillment of the original fiat concerning man (Genesis 1:26-28).
We are not saved by works of righteousness we have done. Rather, Divine grace produces salvation, that is, works of righteousness that we do. If righteous, holy, obedient character is not being created in an individual, then we can state he is not being redeemed from the hand of the enemy.
The arguments concerning whether we are saved by faith or works, or whether having once been saved it is possible to be lost, become irrelevant in the model we are presenting.
How can one protest that he is saved whether or not he behaves righteously when it is righteous behavior that itself is the salvation and proof of the salvation?
We have eternal security, provided we continue to abide in Christ. But we must remember the attitude of the Apostle Paul who strove to keep his body in subjection so he would not be disqualified.
But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. (I Corinthians 9:27)
The meaning of the Greek term translated “disqualified” is unapproved; rejected; reprobate.
If someone protests, saying “Paul would be rejected, but he would still be saved,” our response is, this is to make eternal residence in a mansion in the spirit Paradise the goal of salvation. This is what the protester means by “still be saved.” But if one adopts the view that the goal is eternal service to God in His Kingdom, then to be rejected, unapproved, reprobate, disqualified, is seen to be an extremely undesirable fate.
All arguments relative to redemption become misleading and inappropriate when one is assuming that the goal is eternal residence in a mansion in Heaven.
We speak of being saved “as by fire” (I Corinthians 3:15). What does this mean? In terms of Kingdom theology, being saved as by fire means that much of our inheritance and much of our personality have been burned away. Our behavior has not pleased the Lord. Perhaps a godly relative has prayed for us and we have been admitted to the Kingdom of God. But, like Lot, our inheritance is impoverished and threadbare when it could have been a mountain of fire and glory. It is likely we shall begin life again as a small child. It is certain we shall not be a great mountain of fire and glory reigning with the Lord over God’s creation.
The Apostle Paul, knowing the terror of the Lord, warned the Christians of Corinth that each one of us shall be revealed at the Judgment Seat (Greek term, beema) of Christ.
For we must all appear [be manifested] before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10)
It is taught today that the beema is a kind of awards banquet in which participants receive recognition for their accomplishments. The truth is, the beema was a court where accused criminals were brought to trial. Jesus was brought before the beema of Pontius Pilate (Matthew 27:19). Every Christian will be exposed before the beema of the Lord Jesus Christ. He will receive from the Lord what he has done in his physical body, whether good or evil.
One principal reason why Jewish people have a difficult time accepting Jesus as Christ is that they cannot understand the Christian concept of Divine grace. The Jew is taught from birth that God requires righteous behavior. What is this “grace” that means you need not live righteously? Is God still the Holy Fire of Israel?
It may come as a blessing to the Jew who is seeking his Messiah to learn that the new covenant is much more demanding, in terms of righteous behavior, than is the Torah. Also, the new covenant provides the virtue, power, and guidance through which the righteous behavior demanded by the new covenant can be put into practice by the worshiper. No Jew under the Torah was ever required to present his body a living sacrifice to God. Yet, presenting our body to God as a living sacrifice is the reasonable service of worship of the new covenant (Romans 12:1). Now we have Christ Himself, the Son of God, who makes it possible for us to meet all His requirements. The new covenant is much stricter, but it also contains much more grace to produce the righteousness the Lord requires.
Hopefully the spirit of delusion we have been describing will never be permitted to enter the land of Israel to any great extent. The true Gospel of the Kingdom originated in the land of Israel and is destined to return to the land of Israel in the last days.
We are not suggesting in this booklet that an individual can reject Christ and enter the Kingdom of God on the basis of righteous behavior. This would be to contradict the Scripture. No person can knowingly reject Christ and find favor with God.
Neither are we implying that the weak believer should despair because he is not being successful in “saving himself.” Never allow yourself to become discouraged no matter how hopeless your case appears to be. The Lord will accept you and love you and bring you through to complete salvation as long as this is what you desire.
The Christians who are in danger are those who, in an attitude of smug complacency, are declaring that since they have assented verbally to the theological facts concerning the atonement and the resurrection of the Lord and have made the correct verbal profession, they are eternally secure in Christ, even though they are filled with worldliness, lust, and self-will. They are not humble of heart nor repentant. They shall suffer greatly during the coming age of moral horrors until they bow the knee to the Lord Jesus.
Also, the most wretched sinner, no matter what he may have done, can come to God through the Lord Jesus Christ and gain right standing with God. So great is the redemption provided through Christ!
It is absolutely and eternally true that if anyone knowingly rejects Christ, he comes under the judgment of God; and also that the worst of sinners can be received by God if he repents (i.e., turns from his wicked ways) and calls on the name of the Lord Jesus.
These are unchangeable, Divinely established facts. The very heavens and the earth shall pass away but God’s Word through the Lord Jesus shall never pass away.
Jesus gave us the Spirit of God so we would have power to bear witness of His atoning death and triumphant resurrection. By far the most important part of the witness the Lord desires is the evidence of Christ’s resurrection portrayed in the transformed moral behavior of the believer. The blood of the cross has released us from Satan’s authority. We are now qualified to fight in the Spirit of God against all the sin and rebellion found in the “body of sin” located in our personality.
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. (Romans 6:12)
People, including the Jews, are looking for the Presence of God in us. They desire to see Jesus. But what they are beholding is the malice and wickedness that always proceed from the adamic nature.
The current definition of “grace” assures us that we will not certainly die even though we continue in sin and disobedience to God, and that righteous and holy behavior are no longer necessary in order to please God. Consequently, there is no moral light for the world to see.
We have been deceived by the greatest lie ever told.
Who among us will humble himself, pray, turn from his or her wicked ways, and seek the face of the Lord?
(“The Greatest Lie Ever Told”, 3322-1, proofed 20230525)