Monday, 21 September 2009

How can we live the abundant life? John 10:10

I have come that they might have life and might have it in abundance. - John 10:10

The key to living the abundant life promised by Christ is in recognizing the original lie to which Satan has enslaved all mankind. (John 8:44) The lie is that we humans are an independent self. This was the original lie in the Garden of Eden and it is a lie that is embedded in our consciousness from birth. (Genesis 3:5) From birth we view ourselves as independent creatures. To view ourselves as self-sufficient independent selves is the original sin. This sin gives birth to all kinds of sins, the works of the flesh. The Law of God exposes this sin. After much struggle in trying to keep the Law Paul finds the impossiblity of keeping it in his own self effort, thereby exposing the illusion of an independent self. At Romans 7: 21 Paul says, “I find, then, this law in my case: that when I wish to do what is right, what is bad is present with me.” Here is the key to understanding the ultimate delusion of Satan.

The “I” here is Paul thinking of himself as an independent self, responsible and self sufficient. This deluded “I” thinks that by self effort it can be righteous. When I wish to do what is right. I wish. This is the independent self asserting itself. Instead of recognizing that I am a dependent creature who depends on the Creator for my righteousness, I wish to do what is right. This is the sin. I wish. I the independent self am asserting myself. Then I find what is bad is present with me.

Therefore the key to vicory is to not operate out of this false illusion, that we are independent selves.

The mindset from which we operate determines how we act. Romans 6:6 says that the old man was impaled with Christ. When we believe that we died with Christ on the torture stake we realize also that we are now in union with him in his resurrected life. Operating out of this consciousness, that we are always in union with Christ is the key to a victorious life. We are a branch of the Vine. We are members of his Body of which he is the Head. We are joined to him, connected to him in our spirit. He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:17) When we operate out of this consciousness, that we are in union with Christ, then we are minding the spirit. However, if we operate out of the lie, the illusion that we are separate from Christ, that we are an independent self, then we are minding the flesh. (Romans 8:6) The result will be what Paul discovered earlier.

A person who is minding the flesh is one who thinks he is separate from Jehovah. He views Jehovah and Christ as someone distant in a heaven up there. He has a divided consciouness. He does not operate out of the consciousness of his union with Christ. A person who minds the spirit is one who believes in the reality of his union with Christ. (John 17:21) And when operating out of the consciousness of that union flows all his actions. Life flows out of that union. Out of his inmost part streams of living water flows. (John 4:14; 7:38) He has passed over from death to life. (John 5:24) He lives the abundant life.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

What is the anointing of the spirit? - 2 Corinthians 1: 21, 22

Paul says to the Corinthians, But he who guarantees that you and we belong to Christ and he who has anointed us is God. He has also put his seal upon us and has given us the token of what is to come, that is, the spirit, in our hearts.(2 Corinthians 1: 21, 22)

The Bible talks about God’s spirit being “poured out” or “coming upon” individuals, like Samson, David, Zechariah and so on. (Judges 14:6; 15:14; 1 Samuel 16:13; 2 Chronicles 24:20) However, what is the difference between this ‘pouring out of spirit’ and the “anointing” of spirit that was available after Jesus?

Whereas the spirit poured out upon the early prophets was an outpouring to accomplish specific tasks, the anointing available after Jesus is the indwelling spirit, the spirit living permanently inside us, and it is available to every single person who puts faith in Jesus Christ. While there might be an outward manifestation of this anointing in some believers, as was the case with the 120 disciples at Pentecost, this anointing is available to anyone identifying themselves with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. (See article: “What is the meaning of your baptism?”)

Paul says to Timothy: “This fine trust guard through the holy spirit which is dwelling in us.” (2 Timothy 1:14) This spirit dwells, or lives inside a Christian. In other words, when a person puts faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, and that he also died, was buried and raised with Christ, then God’s spirit begins to operate in him from within.

What is needed on our part is to believe that Christ’s spirit is living within us, working in us, operating from within because we have died with Christ and been raised up with him. Paul says: “I am impaled with Christ. It is no longer I but Christ living in me.” (Galatians 2:20)

Anointing is our living connection with Christ, our union with Christ, the life of Christ operating within us, available to all because of our faith in our death, burial and resurrection with Christ. It was only made available to Christians after Christ was resurrected.

Now on the last day, the great day of the festival, Jesus was standing up and he cried out, saying: "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. He that puts faith in me, just as the Scripture has said, 'Out from his inmost part streams of living water will flow.'" However, he said this concerning the spirit which those who put faith in him were about to receive; for as yet there was no spirit, because Jesus had not yet been glorified. (John 7:37-39)

That this spirit was an internal force, bubbling up from within the person, implanted there by God as a result of hearing the Good News and putting faith in it was further confirmed by Jesus’ own words at John 4:14 “Whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty at all, but the water that I will give him will become in him a fountain of water bubbling up to impart everlasting life."

This spirit is poured out into us – inside us. It lives in us, and it is grafting us to Christ, as we keep growing in faith. “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit.” Becoming “one spirit” with Christ would mean a person has no consciousness of self, but of another life within him, that of Christ. (1 Corinthians 6:17) The spirit in us makes our bodies the temple of the living God. (1 Corinthians 6:19)

The spirit would also teach people from within, requiring no outside assistance, as Jesus explained in John 14:26 “But the helper, the holy spirit, which the Father will send in my name, that one will teach you all things and bring back to your minds all the things I told you.”

And John also said at 1 John 2:27 “And as for you, the anointing that you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to be teaching you; but, as the anointing from him is teaching you about all things, and is true and is no lie, and just as it has taught you, remain in union with him.”

Paul says to the Corinthians, But he who guarantees that you and we belong to Christ and he who has anointed us is God. He has also put his seal upon us and has given us the token of what is to come, that is, the spirit, in our hearts.(2 Corinthians 1: 21, 22)

He said further: “For you are shown to be a letter of Christ written by us as ministers, inscribed not with ink but with spirit of a living God, not on stone tablets, but on fleshly tablets, on hearts.” (2 Corinthians 3:3)

Anointing of the spirit is the grafting of us into Christ, making us one with him. The book of Zechariah explains this union. “And the angel who was speaking with me proceeded to come back and wake me up, like a man that is awakened from his sleep. Then he said to me: "What are you seeing?" So I said: "I have seen, and, look! there is a lampstand, all of it of gold, with a bowl on top of it. And its seven lamps are upon it, even seven; and the lamps that are at the top of it have seven pipes. And there are two olive trees alongside it, one on the right side of the bowl and one on its left side." (Zechariah 4:1-3)

Zechariah did not understand the meaning. So he questioned the angel. “And I proceeded to answer and say to him: "What do these two olive trees on the right side of the lampstand and on its left side mean?" Then I answered the second time and said to him: "What are the two bunches of twigs of the olive trees that, by means of the two golden tubes, are pouring forth from within themselves the golden liquid?" So he said to me: "Do you not really know what these things mean?" In turn I said: "No, my lord." Accordingly he said: "These are the two anointed ones who are standing alongside the Lord of the whole earth." (Zechariah 4:11-14)

In the vision that Zechariah sees, the seven bowls have a never-ending supply of oil. Why? Because they are connected to the very source of oil, the two olive trees.

So anointing has to do with being connected to the source of the spirit, Christ himself. A person could have an outward manifestation of the spirit, but if he does not by faith get strengthened in his inner connection with Christ, he would be like those foolish virgins who ran out of oil. However, the discreet virgins were those who had oil in their receptacles. (Matthew 25:1-12)

So the question arises, what then is the manifestation of the spirit that some have received? The Scriptures clearly show that at Pentecost, there was an outward manifestation of the anointing. However this anointing is not necessarily always accompanied by some external manifestation, either tongues, healing or prophesying such as at Pentecost 33 CE. Today some claim that only those who have had such an “experience” with God, or an outer manifestation are truly anointed. That would be strange, since in the first century, that didn’t happen to many who put faith in Christ. Outward manifestations of spirit were usually in those on whom the apostles laid their hands. Luke reported in Acts 8:12: “But when they believed Philip, who was declaring the good news of the kingdom of God and of the name of Jesus Christ, they proceeded to be baptized, both men and women.” So then in Acts 8:14, “when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they dispatched Peter and John to them; and these went down and prayed for them to get holy spirit. For it had not yet fallen upon any one of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

These people had had no external baptism of spirit when Philip preached the Good News to them! They had no “experience” with God, such as is claimed by some today, nor had they received manifestations of the spirit – it was simply within them. That was enough. “Then they went laying their hands upon them, and they began to receive holy spirit.” (Acts 8:17) Only when one of the apostles “laid hands upon them” did people “receive” a visible, or outer manifestation for a specific purpose.

Paul encountered a similar incident with believers when he went to Ephesus. Luke wanted to show that Paul had equal authority with the 12 apostles. So he reported on an event that took place in Acts 19:1-6: “In the course of events, while Apollos was in Corinth, Paul went through the inland parts and came down to Ephesus, and found some disciples; and he said to them: "Did you receive holy spirit when you became believers?" They said to him: "Why, we have never heard whether there is a holy spirit." “And he said: "In what, then, were you baptized?" They said: "In John's baptism." Paul said: "John baptized with the baptism in symbol of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus." On hearing this, they got baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul laid his hands upon them, the holy spirit came upon them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.”

So only when the 12 apostles or Paul laid hands upon a person would they receive some external manifestation of spirit. Why was this done? Paul himself explained in 1 Corinthians 12:7: “But the manifestation of the spirit is given to each one for a beneficial purpose.” Many such as the Ethiopian eunuch did not receive any external manifestations of the spirit in the first century.

Some were given an external manifestation, others were not. Yet all were sons of God, “anointed.” How? Paul again says in Galatians 3:26, 27: “You are all, in fact, sons of God through your faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” And again in Romans 8:14: “For all who are led by God's spirit, these are God's sons.”

The whole reason that Paul had to write to the Corinthians was precisely because they were doing what some are doing today – they were focused on “gifts of the spirit,” external signs, an “experience” that proved that they were God’s sons. But the reality was that all had an anointing which is received by faith, because it is the internal spirit that flows out of a person. And every single person can have that through faith in Christ. As Paul had to point out, just because some had gifts, they were being fleshly, putting a great emphasis on outward manifestations rather than being concerned about their inner union with Christ. Here was a congregation full of people who spoke in tongues and prophesied and yet had all kinds of problems. They did not discern their inner union with Christ. Which is why Paul asked them, Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?” (1 Corinthians 6:15) Apparently they didn't know. He had to tell them that “he who is joined to the Lord in one spirit.” He asked them, “Do you not know that you people are God’s temple, and that the spirit of God dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16) And again, “What! Do you not know that the body of you people is the temple of the holy spirit within you, which you have from God?” (1 Corinthians 6:19) So a person could have an external manifestation of the holy spirit, be able to speak in tongues and prophesy and yet not know that his body is a member of Christ, that he is joined to the Lord, that his body is the temple of the holy spirit within him.

So anointing is a fact based upon our faith and not on our emotions or feelings. It is an objective fact that we should believe in. When people are focused on having some external event or experience to say they are “anointed,” then they are repeating the mistake of the Corinthians, and they have forgotten what Paul said in Hebrews 6:1: “For this reason, now that we have left the primary doctrine about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying a foundation again, namely, repentance from dead works, and faith toward God, the teaching on baptisms and the laying on of the hands, the resurrection of the dead and everlasting judgment.”

All Christians need to take to heart and exercise faith in Jesus’ own words at John 15:1 – 6: "I am the true vine, and my Father is the cultivator. Every branch in me not bearing fruit he takes away, and every one bearing fruit he cleans, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Remain in union with me, and I in union with you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it remains in the vine, in the same way neither can you, unless you remain in union with me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He that remains in union with me, and I in union with him, this one bears much fruit; because apart from me you can do nothing at all. If anyone does not remain in union with me, he is cast out as a branch and is dried up; and men gather those branches up and pitch them into the fire and they are burned. ”

All then who exercise faith can have the spirit bubbling within them to impart everlasting life. It is not the privilege of a few 144,000. (See the article “Who are the 144,000?)

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Who make up Spiritual Israel? Galatians 6:16

For neither is circumcision anything nor is uncircumcision, but a new creation is something. And all those who will walk orderly by this rule of conduct, upon them be peace and mercy, even upon the Israel of God.” Galatians 6:15, 16

In order to understand who make up spiritual Israel or the Israel of God, we need to first understand who the Seed of Abraham is and how nations bless themselves through this Seed? (Genesis 22:18)

When the Bible refers to Abraham’s Seed, it is not speaking only about 144,000 individuals. Nowhere does the Bible give that hint or make that suggestion. That is simply an assumption. The Jews made a similar assumption. They assumed that the Seed of Abraham referred to all the Jews. In the first century, the Pharisees believed that they were the Seed of Abraham, and that through them all the nations would be blessed. They would traverse land and sea to make a proselyte, to make a person of the nations a part of Israel, and thus believed that they were fulfilling Jehovah's promise to Abraham that all the nations would be blessed through the Seed. But the problem was that the Jews themselves were under a curse, under the curse of the Law. (Galatians 3:10, 11) So they only made a proselyte a subject for Gehenna. (Matthew 23: 15)

Notice how Paul shows that the assumption the Jews made was wrong. He says in Galatians 3:16:

Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. It says, not: “And to seeds,” as in the case of many such, but as in the case of one: “And to your seed,” who is Christ.

Paul’s argument is that the word “Seed” is singular not plural, that it does not refer to many, the Jews, but to one person, the Christ. So the question is, how is Jehovah’s promise to Abraham fulfilled, that nations will bless themselves through Christ, the Seed?

When people put faith in Christ, and come into Christ, they then become part of the ONE Seed.

That is what Paul says in Galatians 3:26-29,You are all, in fact, sons of God through your faith in Christ Jesus (which is expressed by their water baptism). For all of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one person in union with Christ Jesus. Moreover, if you belong to Christ, you are really Abraham’s seed, heirs with reference to a promise.”

Therefore, people from all the nations, not just the Jews, can come into Christ and thus become Spiritual Israelites. Unlike in Adam, the Old Mankind, there is no distinction made between male or female, slave or free, Jew or Greek. They have now become the New Mankind by becoming one with the Seed. This is how all the nations bless themselves through Christ, the Seed of Abraham. Thus all people who put faith in Christ and come into Christ by their faith become Spiritual Israel, not just 144,000 individuals.

Notice how the Spiritual Israelites, who are people from all the nations, who have blessed themselves by the Seed, are described in Revelation 7:9,After these things I saw, and, look! a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes; and there were palm branches in their hands. And they keep on crying with a loud voice, saying: “Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

Now notice no man was able to number them. That is exactly what Jehovah told Abraham when he gave him the promise. No one will be able to number his seed. (Genesis 13:16, 15:5) Jehovah also said to Abraham that he will be a father of a crowd of nations. (Genesis 17:4-6) So there were 3 promises.

  1. All nations will bless themselves through the Seed of Abraham. (Genesis 22:18)

  2. Abraham's Seed will be numberless, like the sand of the sea. (Genesis 13:16, 15:5)

  3. Abraham will be a father of a crowd of nations. (Genesis 17:4-6)

All these three promises are what are shown to be fulfilled in Revelation 7:9. A great crowd of people without number, like the grains of the sand of the sea, from all the nations, unite to the Singular Seed, Christ, by the their faith and become one with the Seed. The Great Crowd is the Spiritual Israel of God, who are the Seed of Abraham. They are people from all the nations who have put faith in Christ, the Seed and become one with him as Paul describes in Galatians 3:26-29.

Paul says in Galatians 3:7, Surely you know that those who adhere to faith are the ones who are sons of Abraham.

Who then are the 144,000? Just as among the Israelites, there was a Priesthood, similarly among the Spiritual Israelites there is a Priesthood.

The firstborn sons OUT OF each tribe of Israel were supposed to be priests of God and serve him in the Temple. (Numbers 3:11) Jehovah asked the whole tribe of Levi to substitute for the firstborn sons OUT OF each tribe of Israel.

That is exactly what we see also in Revelation 7. Notice how John describes the 144,000 in Revelation 7:4.

And I heard the number of those who were sealed, a hundred and forty-four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the sons of Israel”

They are taken OUT OF each tribe of Israel. This is how he continues to describe them in Revelation 7:5-8. They are the firstborn. They are the priests. So if they are the priests taken OUT OF each tribe of Spiritual Israel, the rest of the people seen from verse 9 onwards have to be the rest of the Spiritual Israelites. Hence Spiritual Israel does not refer just to the 144,000. All who put faith in Christ and express it by their baptism, and come into Christ are Spiritual Israelites. Notice how Paul refers to them in Galatians 6:15, 16,

For neither is circumcision anything nor is uncircumcision, but a new creation is something. And all those who will walk orderly by this rule of conduct, upon them be peace and mercy, even upon the Israel of God.”

All those who come into Christ have left Adam, the Old Creation. They were dead and buried under the waters of baptism and left the Old Mankind, left the Old Creation, and when they were raised out of water, they came into Christ, the New Mankind, and thus have become New Creation. ALL those who walk by Christ are the Israel of God. (To find out if the 144,000 are literal or symbolic, please see the article “Who are the 144,000?”)

If you look in Revelation 14:1, the 144,000 are seen with Jesus on Mount Zion. The physical Mount Zion was in the City of Jerusalem. Now if the 144,000 picture Spiritual Israel, why are they all on Mount Zion, the capital city? Who lives in the rest of the Promised Land? Do all Spiritual Israelites live only on Mount Zion? No. The 144,000 are part of Spiritual Israel, just as those who made up the Levitical Priesthood were part of Israel. The Great Crowd described in Revelation 7:9-17 is the Spiritual Israel of God. And as such they are part of the New Covenant. If they don't partake of the Bread and the Wine, they will not benefit from the Covenant. There is no such thing as observers. If observing was so important why didn't Jesus say that there would be observers. You cannot be a beneficiary of a covenant unless you are part of the covenant. A person who does not partake of the bread and wine with faith is showing utter disregard for the ransom sacrifice of Jesus. Jesus shed his blood and allowed himself to get tortured so that we can all live a victorious life today, free from the power and control of sin. It is not something to be looked forward to in the future.

Here is another question. Didn't Jehovah say to the people of Israel, when he made the Law Covenant with them, that they would become a kingdom of priests if the kept the Law Covenant? Yes he did.

But they didn't keep the Law. So the Law Covenant couldn't produce a Kingdom of Priests. But the New Covenant did. The New Covenant makes possible for the forgiveness of sins, making us all acceptable to Jehovah. It makes it possible for us to render sacred service in his Temple, in his presence before his throne.

Notice how the Great Crowd is described in Revelation 7:9, 15,After these things I saw, and, look! a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes; and there were palm branches in their hands.

That is why they are before the throne of God; and they are rendering him sacred service day and night in his temple;

Now what do you call people who are dressed in white robes and render sacred service in the Temple of God? Here is a clue. The word starts with the letter P. Yes, they are all priests too.

The New Covenant has made it possible for all humans from all nations to put faith in the Seed of Abraham and thus become the Seed of Abraham by their faith, thus blessing themselves, becoming Spiritual Israelites who can render sacred service to Jehovah in his very Presence.

Hebrews 10:14

How much more will the blood of the Christ, who through an everlasting spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works that we may render sacred service to the living God?

Is Christ the mediator between only 144,000 and God? (1 Timothy 2:5)

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5)

Mediator between God and Men

The context of Paul’s words from verses 1-4 clearly shows that “men” here means all mankind. Notice verses 1 and 2 - Paul asks that we pray for all sorts of men.

I therefore exhort, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, offerings of thanks, be made concerning all sorts of men (lit. “all men,”) concerning kings and all those who are in high station; in order that we may go on leading a calm and quiet life with full godly devotion and seriousness.

This raises a question - is it really acceptable to pray for all humans, since most do not accept God and Christ? Should we really give “offerings of thanks” for these people? Is that really acceptable? Paul’s answer comes in the next verse, verse 3.

This is fine and acceptable in the sight of our Savior, God,

Why is it fine and acceptable, to pray for such people, who have not accepted Christ, who do not know God, who might even lead immoral, dissolute lives? People Paul knew, “kings” and “those in high station” like Herod Agrippa, Felix? In verse 4, Paul gives the answer.

whose will is that all sorts of men (lit. “all men”) should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.

In verse 5, he continues, showing what God has done to make his “will” possible.

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all—this is what is to be witnessed to at its own particular times.

Since Christ is a corresponding ransom for all mankind, it is fine and acceptable to pray for all men. Paul’s usage of the expression “one God” is also telling. Paul shows Jehovah is the God and Creator of all mankind, not solely the Christians he is writing to. Christians should not make the same mistake the Jews do, considering Jehovah to be their God, but not of the whole world.

Paul is not talking about Christ being mediator of solely the 144,000 - that would work against the logic of the whole argument he has just made, and the context of his statement. Jesus is the mediator between all mankind and Jehovah. Of which covenant? The new covenant - but it is important to understand the new covenant is not restricted to the 144,000 - rather it applies to all mankind. This can be discussed in another post.

The 144,000 are “ministers of the new covenant” made with all mankind, just like Aaron and his sons were the ministers of the old covenant made with all Israel. (2 Corinthians 3:6) And just as Israel was baptized into Moses and later entered into the Law covenant (old covenant), people of all mankind enter into the new covenant when they accept Christ, are baptized in water, thus baptized into Christ, identifying with his death, burial and resurrection. The purpose of the new covenant is clearly stated – the forgiveness of sins of all mankind. (Luke 22:20, Matthew 26:28) The new covenant is different to the covenant for the kingdom that Jesus makes in Luke 22:29, 30 in which the 144,000 are kings and priests with Christ. (The number 144,000 is symbolic and refers to the conquerors from among the Body of Christ that is present on the earth. Please see the article Who are the 144,000?)

Friday, 7 August 2009

What is the New Covenant and who are the participants in it? Jeremiah 31:31

Look! There are days coming,” is the utterance of Jehovah, “and I will conclude with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah a new covenantJeremaih 31:31

The New Covenant is far superior to the Law Covenant - it does not simply replace the Old Covenant. The Law Covenant was just a shadow of the New one. In other words, by analyzing the pictures of the Old Covenant, we can grasp the New. (Hebrews 8:5)

The Law Covenant was between Jehovah and the nation of Israel – with the Levitical priesthood as a feature of it. (Hebrews 7:11)

The New Covenant is between Jehovah and all mankind - and the Melchizedek priesthood of Christ and the 144,000 is its feature.

Moses represented all Israel and went up to Mount Sinai to receive the Law Covenant. Jesus, as Son of Man, represented all mankind before Jehovah in the New Covenant.

If there was no Law Covenant, the Levitical priesthood could never have existed.

If there was no New Covenant, there is no question that the priesthood of the 144,000 could not exist.

For Israel, all of the people had to come into the Law Covenant first. Then, out of them, some were chosen (Levites) to be priests.

For mankind today, all of them have to come into the New Covenant first, then out of them, some (firstfruits), the conquerors by faith, serve as priests. (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21)

This is the reason Jesus first made the New Covenant with his disciples, then later made the Kingdom Covenant – because the disciples wouldn't be able to be in the Kingdom Covenant if they weren't in the New Covenant first. (Luke 22: 28-30)

Why? Because of what the New Covenant actually accomplishes. It brings all mankind into Christ, and thus into an acceptable condition before the Holy God. Without this, Jehovah God will have no dealings with a person. Notice in Ephesians 1:3:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for he has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.

In Adam, all mankind have sin, guilt, and are cursed to die. We have no other inheritance. Therefore to qualify to receive any “spiritual blessing”, we must first leave Adam, and come “in Christ.” This is accomplished by the ransom, bringing us into the New Covenant, by our faith expressed through baptism. Once in this condition, until the second coming of Christ, all who have faith and overcome will be part of the “royal priesthood.”

So the New Covenant is not just with the symbolic 144,000. It is with all mankind. Anyone can come into it if they exercise faith and get baptized, identifying themselves with Christ's death, burial and resurrection. Then, if they have faith and overcome, they will be part of the symbolic 144,000, kings and priests of God.

Just as the Levitical priests were ministers or servants of the Old Covenant, the symbolic 144,000 are ministers or servants of the New Covenant. (2 Corinthians 3:6)

Where the Old Covenant failed to produce the kingdom of priests, the Law being written on stone tablets and therefore the Israelites being unable to live up to it in their power, the New Covenant does produce a kingdom of priests, because now the Law is written in our very hearts, with the resurrection power of Christ operating in us. (Jeremiah 31: 33, 2 Corinthians 3:3, 6)

Saturday, 4 July 2009

What is the meaning of your baptism? - Romans 6:3

Romans 6:3, “Or do you not know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

As we saw in our previous article “How are we delivered from the power of sin?”, we saw that in order to be delivered from the power of sin we need to believe that we were impaled with Christ. When Christ died we died with him. It is an act in the past. In Greek this is in the aorist tense, that is, it is an action finished once and for all. We do not have to put our flesh to death. Neither do we have to do anything to mortify ourselves. We just have to believe that this happened 2000 years ago. We do not have to screw up our faces and squeeze faith out of ourselves to believe that we died with Christ. It is a fact that you and I died with him, whether we feel it or not. Our death with Christ is an objective fact. If you try to feel it you wouldn't. A fact has to be communicated to you. And you have to be objective about it and believe it. Jehovah tells us this fact in the Bible. Once you know this fact, you believe. Jesus said you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. (John 8:32) In the context he was talking about freedom from sin. What is it that you and I need to “know” in order to be free from sin's power? We need to “know” that our old nature, the rotten nature we inherited from Adam, was impaled with Christ.

When we acknowldge this fact we get baptized. When we get baptized we agree with Jehovah that he was right in nailing us to the torture stake “in Christ.” He did something that we couldn't do ourselves. And because we are “in Christ”, we did it too. Just as we were all “in Adam” when Adam sinned, and had to take the consequences of his disobedience, so too we are “in Christ” and take the benefits of his obedience.

So going back to baptism, when we go under the water we identify with Christ's death and burial. Our baptism is a real death. It is not just symbolic. True, it is an outward expression of our faith in our death with Christ. But when we go down and are buried in the water, Jehovah identifies that with our real death with Christ on the torture stake. And then here is the awesome truth. When we come up out of the water, we now identify with his resurrection power.

Romans 6:4, 5,Therefore we were buried with him through our baptism into his death, in order that, just as Christ was raised up from the dead through the glory of the Father, we also should likewise walk in a newness of life. For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall certainly also be united with him in the likeness of his resurrection.”

Because we believe in our death, burial and resurrection with Christ, the holy spirit begins to make this death real in our lives. The outer man is put to death by the spirit and the inner man is renewed day by day. Death and resurrection power begins to operate in us. (2 Corinthians 4: 16)

Many of us got baptized without understanding the significance our baptism. It was no different back in the first century with the congregation in Rome. Notice what Paul writes to them in Romans 6:3, “Or do you not know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

Paul asks them, “Do you not know?” Apparently they didn't. We need to first know the truth. When we know this fact, this truth, we will be set free from the power of sin.

Notice how he continues in Romans 6:6, “Because we know that our old personality [our old nature that we inherited from Adam] was impaled with Christ, that our sinful body might be made inactive, that we should no longer go on being slaves to sin.

Now lets go back to Romans 6:3, “Or do you not know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

When we were baptized in water we were baptized into Christ Jesus. Now you are in Christ and Christ is in you. Everything that is attributed to Christ is now attributed to you. Jehovah views you now as he views Christ. Everything that Christ inherits you inherit. Everything that belongs to Christ belongs to you. Christ is chosen, you are chosen. Christ is holy, you are holy. Christ is a beloved child of God, you are a beloved child of God.

The Greek word baptizo literally means to immerse into, to put into. So you have been immersed into Christ. You have been put into Christ and thus you have put on Christ.

Notice Galatians 3:27, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

Paul says this "baptism," or immersion into Christ, is an integral part of becoming a Christian. He often refers to God's act of placing believers into Christ. In 1 Corinthians 12:13 he says, "By one spirit we were all baptized into one body." This is why those who believe are called the body of Christ. In I Corinthians 1:30 Paul says, "It is due to God that you are in Christ Jesus." Jehovah God has baptized you, or placed you into Christ.

Now you have put off the old man, Adam, and put on the new man, Christ. Everytime you walk by these objective facts revealed in the Bible, about your position in Christ, and remain objective, keeping your focus on your standing in Christ, then you are walking in Christ. When you walk by your faith that Jehovah views you always as he views Christ you are walking in Christ.

However when you become subjective and are led by your feelings and emotions then you walk by flesh, you are walking in Adam. In Ephesians 4:22 Paul tells us to put off the old man. In verse 24 he tells us to put on the new man. However, in verse 23, the middle verse, he tells us how. By renewing the spirit of our mind. (Ephesians 4:23) Our mind is renewed by objective facts, truths that we need to believe in objectively. That is how we renew our mind. We refuse to be subjective, that is, we refuse to be led by our feelings, emotions or opinions. When we go from being subjective to being objective, objectively looking to our position in Christ, we renew our minds. Then we are living by the truth of our baptism.

We will discuss more about our position in Christ in another article.

Monday, 29 June 2009

How are we delivered from the power of sin? - Romans 6:6

Romans 6::6 says “We know that our old personality [lit, “old man,” the nature we inherited from Adam] was impaled with him, that our sinful body might be made inactive, that we should no longer go on being slaves to sin.

In our previous article "What did Paul mean by spirit, soul and body?", we saw what Jesus said about our worship, that we should worship Jehovah “with spirit,” not with our soul, that is, by Jehovah’s spirit working in our spirit, and “in truth” that is “in reality,” and not by mimicking “spiritual” acts with our soul. - John 4: 23, 24

But the question is how?

To accomplish this Jehovah has to:

  1. Remove the penalty for sins. Then he could put his spirit in us and regenerate our spirit making us God conscious again.

  2. Deliver us from the power of sin. To do this he has to get rid of our Adamic nature since that is where sin operates.

Did you notice the difference between sins and sin? Penalty for sins, plural and the power of sin, singular.

Sin is character; sins are conduct.
Sin is the centre; sins are the circumference.
Sin is the root; sins are the fruit.
Sin is the producer; sins are the product.
Sin is the sire; sins are his offspring.
Sin is the fountain; sins are its flow.
Sin is what we are; sins are what we do.

So Jehovah God has to not only forgive us our sins on a legal basis, he also has to remove the very nature of sin in us.

These are accomplished by one act. By Jesus' death on the torture stake. On the torture stake Jesus substituted for us and represented us, that is, he died for us, and in his death, we died with him. Both these aspects are important to understand. The first removes the penalty for sins, the other delivers us from the power of sin.

Removing the penalty of sins

When Jesus died on the torture stake he died for us. He shed his blood for us in order to remove the penalty for sins. He substituted for us. When we have faith in his death for us we have forgiveness of our sins. His blood removes the penalty for our sins.

Matthew 26:28

For this means my ‘blood of the covenant,’ which is to be poured out in behalf of many for forgiveness of sins.

Ephesians 1:7

By means of him we have the release by ransom through the blood of that one, yes, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his undeserved kindness.

Romans 5:8, 9

But God recommends his own love to us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more, therefore, since we have been declared righteous now by his blood, shall we be saved through him from wrath.”

When we accept God's forgiveness through the blood of Christ he declares us righteous. This is not just for a few chosen people. This is for all who exercise faith in Christ's blood. Our sins, past, present and future, are forever obliterated by his blood. Forgiven and forgotten. Never to be applied to us, ever. We receive carte blanche forgiveness. Forgiveness of our sins depends on Christ's blood and his blood alone. It does not depend on anything else.

Now when we put faith in this aspect of his death for us, then Jehovah God puts his spirit in us and regenerates our spirit. We have to believe that Christ's blood completely forgives all our sins. This is the first aspect of the Good News. The holy spirit of God is a free gift to be appropriated by anyone through faith in Christ's blood. The reproductive seed of God is then sown within us, regenerating our spirit. We will learn more about the holy spirit operating within us, regenerating us from within, in another article.

After we hear the Good News and put faith in Christ's blood we find we are cleansed. Forgiven completely. It's thrilling. But soon we find that something is terribly wrong. We increasingly find that even though we have been forgiven our sins, we are still under the power of sin.

When we understand how Jehovah has freely forgiven our sins we begin to appreciate his love and undeserved kindness. We then think that we need to now straighten our lives and begin to do things for him. We are now concerned about serving Jehovah with all our strength. We try hard to live by Bible principles. We are concerned about our doing, not with our being; we are distressed by what we have done rather than by what we are. We don't really realize our nature, what it is that we have inherited from Adam. We don't realize that no matter how much we live by Bible principles, these only result in outward actions. They do not change our inner rotten nature that we have inherited from Adam.

Notice what Watchman Nee says: “At the beginning of our Christian life we are concerned with our doing, not with our being; we are distressed rather by what we have done than by what we are. We think that if only we could rectify certain things we should be good Christians, and we set out therefore to change our actions. But the result is not what we expected. We discover to our dismay that it is something more than just a case of trouble on the outside -- that there is in fact more serious trouble on the inside. We try to please Jehovah, but find something within that does not want to please Him. We try to be humble, but there is something in our very being that refuses to be humble. We try to be loving, but inside we feel most unloving. We smile and try to look very gracious, but inwardly we feel decidedly ungracious. The more we try to rectify matters on the outside the more we realize how deep-seated the trouble is within. Then we come to Jehovah and say, `Jehovah, I see it now! Not only what I have done is wrong; I am wrong.' The conclusion of Romans 5:19 is beginning to dawn upon us. We are sinners. We are members of a race of people who are constitutionally other than what God intended us to be. By the Fall a fundamental change took place in the character of Adam whereby he became a sinner, one constitutionally unable to please God; and the family likeness which we all share is no merely superficial one but extends to our inward character also. We have been "constituted sinners". ”

Romans 5:19, “For just as through the disobedience of the one man many were constituted sinners.....”. So we are sinners in our very constitution, in our very nature. So our nature has to be dealt with.

Delivering us from the power of sin

It is not enough to have my sins forgiven, I need to be delivered from its power, from its powerful clutches. So Jehovah has to strike at the root of our capacity for sin, in my very nature where it operates.

He has to get rid of our “self” where sin operates. By getting rid of our “self” the power of sin can be removed, and the process can begin whereby we can be constituted righteous, that is, we can be made righteous in our very nature.

Romans 5:19 continues, “likewise also through the obedience of the one person many will be constituted righteous.” He does this not just by his spirit regenerating our spirit as we saw earlier, but also by getting rid of our self, our sinful nature that we have inherited from Adam. How does he do this? This brings us to the second aspect of Christ's death. By nailing it to the torture stake with Christ.

Romans 6::6 says “We know that our old personality [lit, “old man,” the nature we inherited from Adam] was impaled with him, that our sinful body might be made inactive, that we should no longer go on being slaves to sin.

At Galatians 2:20 Pauls says: “I am impaled along with Christ. It is no longer I that live, but it is Christ that is living in union with me.”

Colossians 2:20 says, “Since you died together with Christ toward the elementary things of the world, why do you, as if living in the world, further subject yourselves to the decrees.”

2 Corinthians 5:14 says, “For the love the Christ has compels us, because this is what we have judged, that one man died for all; so, then, all had died.”

These scriptures make it clear that Jesus not only died for us, in his death we died with him. When Jesus died on the torture stake he also represented us. He not only substituted for us, he also represented us. Just as we were in Adam when he sinned, so that we were constituted sinners, we were also in Christ, so that when Christ died we died with him. How did we get in him?

1 Corinthians 1:30 says, “But it is due to God that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become to us wisdom from God, also righteousness and sanctification and release by ransom.”

Jehovah put us in Christ. So since we were in him, we died with him. When we put faith that we died with Christ, then sin loses its power over us. Sin has no more control over us. We are delivered from its powerful clutches. Yes, we do have the sinful nature, but it doesn't have any power over us. It is not that we are not able to sin; it is that we are able not to sin, and it is by simple faith in the fact, that we died with Christ.

When we put faith in the fact that we died with Christ, sin loses its hold over us. There is nothing we need to do but exercise faith. It is that simple. If only brothers and sisters would understand this truth about our death with Christ, they could be leading victorious lives.

Thus in the memorial, or the Lord's Evening Meal, Jesus used wine and bread. The wine symbolizes his blood, for the forgiveness of sins, to remove the penalty for sins. He wants us to remember that he died for us. The bread symbolizes the body of Christ, to remove the power of sin. He wants us to remember that we died with him. Thus it is vital to partake of these emblems in faith if we are to benefit from his blood and body, if we are to have our sins forgiven and the power of sin broken.

We will deal with this subject in detail later. But first we need to understand more about our position in Christ. What does it mean that we are in Christ? We will study this in our next article.

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