What’s the purpose in Christ revealing himself to the world?

Part of the answer lies within the question itself; to reveal to the world the Son of God whom they’ve rejected or have not seen. Yet it goes deeper than that. Aside from the obvious purpose to redeem his saints, the firstfruits of salvation, Christ also comes to seal (mark) a faithful remnant from the descendants of Israel, the 144,000 spoken of in Revelation 7. That leaves two large groups of people who are not expecting his appearance that Christ comes to confront:

  • The disobedient of Israel and Judah who’ve been cut off from the root of the olive tree which is Christ our Lord (Romans 11)
  • The disobedient Gentile nations

To get a general glimpse of this purpose, we can enumerate some of the many scriptures that focus on Christ’s return. In this case we’ll note those scriptures that impact these two groups.

ScriptureParaphraseImpacts
Daniel 2:44-45Establish an everlasting kingdom.Humanity
Daniel 7:9-14Establish his kingdom upon the earth . . . an everlasting dominion which shall never pass away.Humanity
Zechariah 14:1-15Usher in the “Day of the Lord” to fight against those gathered against Jerusalem and IsraelJerusalem, Israel
Isaiah 31:4-9The Lord comes down to fight for mount Zion, to deliver, rescue, and help in JerusalemIsrael, Jerusalem
Matthew 13:41-43The final judgement upon the worldHumanity
Matthew 24:27,29-30To reveal himself to the world, who will see him coming in great power and glory.Humanity
Jude 1:14-15Come with tens of thousands of his saints to execute judgment and to punish all who are ungodly.Humanity
Revelation 1:7Come and reveal himself to all, even those who pierced him, and all nations of the earth shall mourn over him.Humanity
Revelation 19:11-21He returns on a white horse in righteousness
He judges and makes war
To smite the nations and rule with a rod of iron
To execute the wrath of Almighty God
Humanity
Revelation 22:12Coming to repay each according to his workHumanity
Christ’s Goals at his Return for Israel, Jerusalem, and the World

Clearly these are not in any particular order, and represent some of the things Christ will accomplish upon his return. Let’s start with the most relevant to the question.

Matthew 24:27,29-30
27 “For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

So significant is the visual appearance of our Lord, that preceding it is a great earthquake which will darken the skies, the sun, and the moon, and shake the earth like a fig tree shaken by a gale-force wind (Revelation 6:12-14). With the backdrop of the heavens darkened, the glorious appearance of our Lord, brighter than lightening, appears for all the world to see.

For those who’ve been looking for their Lord’s return, this is the fulfillment of their hope for glory; the glory of their Lord displayed, and the glory which he brings for them (2 Thessalonians 2:13-15; Colossians 3:4; 1 Peter 1:3-9). But is the glory of our Lord intended only for these firstfruits of salvation? What of the rest of humanity, the two groups remaining? We’re probably certain from our expectations of judgment upon the disobedient and wicked, what the Lord intends for the world. But is that viewpoint a complete one? Not if we consider a broader context.

In Christ’s prayer to the Father before his death, he speaks of the unity for those God has called to himself, to see and receive the Son of Man as the Son of God. Yet in that prayer, deeply immersed in the will of the Father, is another realization often overlooked. (Fourth Gospel 17)(1)

Fourth Gospel 17:20-26
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

In this prayer of our High Priest a contrast is drawn between those whom God has called to know him and the world which doesn’t know him. Those called by God to know him are called into a unity with Christ that ultimately leads them to dwell in the fullness of Christ and his glory through the resurrection of the dead (1 Corinthians 15:16-19,42-50).

If we read more intently, we can see that these firstfruits of salvation (2 Thessalonians 2:13) are not the only intended recipients for the knowledge of who and what God is in Christ. The firstfruits of salvation are simply the first example of this reality. We’re told who the secondary recipients of this knowledge will be:

  • so that the world may believe that you have sent me (vs 21)
  • so that the world may know that you sent me (vs 23)
  • and that you did love them, the chosen, just as you loved me (vs 23)

Clearly the destruction of the disobedient and wicked brought through God’s wrath is not the primary goal, but the revelation of God in Christ is. Christ’s judgment of the nations begins when he establishes his kingdom on the earth, a kingdom with no end. The disobedient and wicked in the world must come to realize that Christ’s righteous judgment, which leads to life eternal, is only true for those willing to surrender to God’s will and Christ’s Lordship personally. For many, that realization will only come on the other side of death, when they are resurrected to mortal life and confronted with Christ’s righteous judgment. This is when the books are opened. (Micah 4:1-5; Romans 5:18-21; 8:32; 16:25-27; Revelation 20:11-13)

God’s Plan for Israel

The plans God has for Israel as a people are extensive, so we won’t go into much depth in this article, but we can focus on a few highlights. The primary focus, however, is God’s intention to fulfill his promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’s descendants in spite of their unfaithfulness. He remains faithful even though they did not. This is one of the methods God will use to reveal the truth about himself, so that they too will know who alone is the Lord.

 A Time of Correction 

To get an understanding of where that plan is at now and how the appearance of Yeshua, the Christ, relates to it, we can start with Luke’s account of Christ’s warning to the rulers and authorities in Jerusalem of their pending fate. Their rejection of the Messiah sealed their fate for millennia to come. In addition, Yeshua was well aware of the change he was bringing to the nature of Godly worship (Fourth Gospel 4:21-26), and how the physical forms of worship were insufficient to the spiritual result God intended. The pending destruction of the temple in A.D.70, proclaimed by their Messiah (Mark 13:1-2; Luke 21:5-6), is just the beginning.

Luke  21:20-24
20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, 22 for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. 23 Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

There are several points Christ makes about his plans for Judah (this people) that we don’t want to overlook. They involve the scope of correction for Judah and Jerusalem, and when that correction comes to an end.

  • These are days of vengeance to fulfill all that is written
  • Wrath against this people
  • They will fall by the sword
  • They are led captive among all the nations
  • Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles

Note the important range of time that Christ gives for this correction; from the time the temple is destroyed until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. Though a remnant of Israel and Judah have been called into Christ, the majority remain, what the apostle Paul calls, enemies of the gospel due to unbelief (Romans 11:17-24,28).

To discover more about the plans Christ has for Israel, when the times of the Gentiles ends, and its relationship to the mystery of God, read my recent book –
The Rapture Question: An Unfiltered View

Paul also clarifies that Israel as a whole, if it does not remain in this state of unbelief, can be grafted again into the olive tree that is rooted in Christ our Lord (Romans 11:11-12,15,23-24). This understanding comes from the promises made to them as God’s chosen people. Promises which God intends to fulfill in spite of their disobedience.

To Lead Israel & Judah to Repentance

Israel and Judah’s disobedience became the means by which God would open the pathway to righteousness through faith in Christ to the Gentiles. That serves to unite the two through their disobedience (Romans 9:30-33; 11:28-31). More importantly it will unite them together in God’s grace – For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all (Romans 11:32).

To lead disobedient Israel and Judah into repentance, there are a couple of realizations they will need to come to see, and the Lord will lead them to see it:

  • Your idols cannot save you (Jeremiah 2:26-28; 10:11)
  • Your salvation is in the Lord your Righteousness

For the religious leaders in Jerusalem and Judea of Christ’s day, their own oral tradition had become an idol, leading them further from the truth of God, preventing them from embracing the Messiah sent to them (Matthew 5:20-38; 21:23-27,42-46; Fourth Gospel 5:18,37-47).

Even before their time, God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah of a future time when they shall serve the Lord their God and David their king, but only after they’ve been disciplined.

Jeremiah 30:8-11
8 “And it shall come to pass in that day, declares the Lord of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off your neck, and I will burst your bonds, and foreigners shall no more make a servant of him. 9 But they shall serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.

10 “Then fear not, O Jacob my servant, declares the Lord,
    nor be dismayed, O Israel;
for behold, I will save you from far away,
    and your offspring from the land of their captivity.
Jacob shall return and have quiet and ease,
    and none shall make him afraid.
11 For I am with you to save you,
declares the Lord;
I will make a full end of all the nations
    among whom I scattered you,
    but of you I will not make a full end.
I will discipline you in just measure,
    and I will by no means leave you unpunished.

Yet the Lord intends good for them after they’ve recognized their sin, and he will make them prosperous again in their own land.

Jeremiah 23:5-6 (Jeremiah 33:14-16)
5 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’

This will lead to the return of dispersed Israel and Judah to their own land from the many nations where the Lord has driven them; a greater exodus than that from Egypt.

Jeremiah 23:7-8 (Jeremiah 30:3; 32:37-38)
7 “Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when they shall no longer say, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ 8 but ‘As the Lord lives who brought up and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’ Then they shall dwell in their own land.”

To Give Israel & Judah a New Heart 

There is a time yet future when the Lord will be the God of all the clans of Israel and Judah, and all their cities shall dwell together in peace. The Lord will watch over them to no longer pluck up and break down, but to build and to plant (Jeremiah 31:1-30).

Yet the blessing of the Lord will not stop there, for he intends to go beyond the covenant he made with their forefathers, and make with them a covenant which leads to eternal life in Christ, their Messiah.

Jeremiah 31:31-34
31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Israel and Judah will no longer endure the shame of the nations because the Lord will turn their shame into honor and glory (Joel 2:18-27), and they will be an example to the nations at a time when the Lord our Righteousness rules (Isaiah 49:22-23; 66:18-23; Joel 3:17-21).

God’s Plan for the Nations

In an effort to redeem his name among the nations, God repaid Israel and Judah with wrath (Ezekiel 20:33-39; Luke 21:22-24), but in the end he will have mercy on them (Ezekiel 20:40-44). Ezekiel goes so far as to record repeatedly the connection between God’s redemption of Israel and the restoration of his name among the nations.

Ezekiel 36:22-28
22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. 23 And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. 24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

In cleansing Israel from her ungodliness and restoring her amidst his favor, God will demonstrate to the nations the faithfulness of his covenants, not only with Israel, but with all humanity. It seems a reasonable question to inquire as to why God is concerned about his name among the nations if his final judgment upon them is destruction?

Ezekiel 39:21-24
21 “And I will set my glory among the nations, and all the nations shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid on them. 22 The house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God, from that day forward. 23 And the nations shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity, because they dealt so treacherously with me that I hid my face from them and gave them into the hand of their adversaries, and they all fell by the sword24 I dealt with them according to their uncleanness and their transgressions, and hid my face from them.

If we recall from our Lord’s prayer prior to his death (Fourth Gospel 17), he was reflecting God’s will when he claimed who the secondary recipients of the knowledge of the Father would be:

  • so that the world may believe that you have sent me (vs 21)
  • so that the world may know that you sent me (vs 23)
  • and that you did love them, the chosen, just as you loved me (vs 23)

By showing his willingness to correct his disobedient, chosen people, God also confirms his faithfulness in forgiving their sin when they acknowledge it, and more than that he will pour out mercy and grace with abundance in this life, and hope for their future. It doesn’t take a converted heart to recognize the example God is setting for the nations in his treatment of Israel (Ezekiel 36:21-28,33-36; Isaiah 62). It’s a necessary process as his son, Yeshua, leads the world into the truth and knowledge of God (Fourth Gospel 17:6-26).

Ezekiel 37:24-28
24 “My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes. 25 They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children shall dwell there forever, and David my servant shall be their prince forever. 26 I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. 27 My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28 Then the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”

To achieve this feat of leading the nations to obedience to God, Yeshua will repeat a similar process with them that he has with Israel:

  • To correct the nations by avenging the blood of the saints and the oppression of Israel
    (Isaiah 14:1-11,22-23,24-27; Isaiah 34)
  • To break the pride of the nations and lead them toward repentance
    (Psalm 9:11-20; Isaiah 2; 13:9-22; 24; Jeremiah 25:15-38)
  • Make the Son of God known in all the earth
    (Psalm 67; 110; Isaiah 41; 42:1-9; 52:13-15)
  • Redeem the earth and his people
    (Isaiah 25; 42; 45:18-25; 49:6; Jeremiah 3:17-18)

All this God will accomplished when the Lord rules upon the earth (Psalm 22:27-31; 46:6-10; 47; 96; 98; 102:12-22).

Conclusions

The work of God in Christ was first to redeem all humanity through his death and resurrection. The work that remains isn’t one of judgment for the sake of vengeance, but for the completion of the kingdom to be handed over by Christ to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:20-26). Sin has been resolved, so that when our Lord returns it will be to complete his work to lead Israel and the nations into obedience to God. This involves humbling those who would oppose God, yet always providing the opportunity for repentance (Revelation 2; 3; 8; 9; 14)

Romans 16:25-27
25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.



There is much more to learn about each of these topics and links have been provided to related articles. Those tagged with Read more lead you to related channel questions and their basic answers. Those tagged Discover more are part of a more in-depth study program. Any tagged with Learn more address methods, processes, and resources which can aid your approach to learning. All are free resources to assist you in gaining a more unfiltered view of God’s word.

To discover more about what the work of God in Christ Jesus tells us about the fall of Adam, look for my coming book –

The Mystery of God in Christ Jesus: the New Creation from Beginning to End

Presuppositions

At the close of each article, the relevant presuppositions that support it will be cited. This enables the reader to gain a clearer and deeper understanding of the context. To learn more about presuppositions, see the About page.

  1. The grace of God is greater-than the sin of humanity (Romans 5)
  2. God and his Christ are involved in a redemptive work for humanity
    1. A key method in God’s redemptive work involves the offering of reconciliation, redemption, and salvation to eternal life – all through belief in Yeshua as the Son of God.
    2. Entering into belief in the Son of God we leave behind the state of being under God’s wrath, which exists to humble the proud and correct the deceived. (Fourth Gospel 3:36; Romans 1:18-32; 9:21-23; Isaiah 2:6-22)
    3. All will have the opportunity to receive God’s righteous judgement and be led into the truth of Yeshua, the Christ, but some will not surrender to truth. (1 Corinthians 15:22-26; Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:11-13; Fourth Gospel 12:44-50; Romans 2:12-16; 11:32; Revelation 20:14-15)
  3. God’s redemptive work on humanity’s behalf is to save them from the second death, not the first death.
    1. The death spoken of in God’s command to Adam – in dying you shall surely die does not refer to spiritual death, but the second death – which results in separation from God and from which there is no hope of resurrection.
      (Genesis 2:16-17; Fourth Gospel 3:14-21; 5:24; 6:40; Romans 5; 6; 1 Corinthians 15:19; Hebrews 9:25-28; Revelation 20:6, 14-15)
  4. God is not calling the entire world to repentance at this time – the time of the Gentiles. (Luke 21:23-24)
    1. It is only given to some to hear and believe (Matthew 13:10-13; Mark 4:10-12; 1 Corinthians 1:22-24; Ephesians 1:3-6; 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10)
    2. The elect of God are a subset called out of the world (Matthew 24:22,31; Romans 1:1-6; 8:28; 1 Corinthians 1:1-2)
    3. Some are created as vessels of dishonor at this time (Romans 9:14-15, 20-24; Luke 23:35)
    4. God’s elect are the first to be saved. Those who are the firstfruits are not the only ones who will be led to obedience in Christ. (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 1 Peter 1:1-2; 2:9-10; Ephesians 1:11-13; Romans 8:23,29; Hebrews 12:22-24; James 1:17-18; Revelation 20:4-6)
    5. Israel’s descendants will receive the new covenant that leads to everlasting life after Christ sets up his earthly kingdom. (Jeremiah 31:31-33; Ezekiel 11:17-20; Joel 2:1, 28-32; Romans 11:11-15, 25-27)

Footnotes:

  1. Due to the dispute over the authorship of the Fourth Gospel, traditionally attributed to John, I will refer to this book as the Fourth Gospel. I have concluded on the side of such authors like J. Phillips (ISBN13: 978-0-9702687-3-0) who has shown conclusively John could not be the sole author and instead attribute primary authorship to Lazarus – the disciple whom Christ loved.

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How is eternal life inherited, Don’t we already have immortality?

This is a challenging and difficult question to approach in a simplistic manner. The subject of an immortal spirit in man has numerous presuppositions associated with it. Entire books have been written arguing the two primary viewpoints. Rather than try to address all the aspects of this topic, I will simply review a couple of scriptural references that bring out some characteristics that can’t be ignored by proponents on either side of the argument. This gives the reader someplace to start their own investigation into the depths of the truth brought to the world through the work of Jesus Christ, our savior.

A Simple Question

Let’s begin with a young man who asked Jesus the same question, as recorded in Matthew 19. Jesus had been teaching in the region of Judea where he would encounter primarily other Jews (Israelites) familiar with Judaism.

Matthew 19:16 (ESV) Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?

There are a couple of presuppositions associated with this question that we must consider. First, note the young man, clearly an Israelite (vs 20), was asking in the context of a works-based theology – what good deed must I do? The young man expects to gain it by his own efforts. This is consistent with the thinking and teaching of Judaism in Christ’s day.

Second is the young man’s expectation toward eternal life. He recognizes that eternal life (immortality) is something to be inherited, not something one already possess. It’s almost certain that the young man would have heard Christ’s teaching on the kingdom of heaven previously. Perhaps a teaching suggesting that a person can enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5), or the admonition to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Matthew 6), or a more recent admonition to humble oneself like a child if one seeks to be great in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18, 19). Either way, the idea of a glorified or eternal salvation was not a traditional teaching in Judaism, which makes the young man’s question genuine.

The idea of a glorified salvation where one inherits eternal life, what a Christian refers to as the new creation in Christ, was a revelation of the mystery of God manifested to the world in the work of Christ our Lord. It was not an expectation in Judaism. Though the scriptures clearly teach otherwise, Israel, and the Jews especially, focused on the kingdom and the salvation that accompanied it as a collective national matter.(1) Restoration of their national prominence was fundamental to their thinking.(2) This was especially evident in the relationship of Christ and his disciples. The Jews expected one thing from their Messiah, but were shown something altogether different.

Interested in the scope, origin, purpose, and fulfillment of the Mystery of God? Discover more.

Continue in Mathew 19 to see how Christ responds to the young man.

Mathew 19:17-22

  • First, Christ defers the adjective good to his Father alone. This indicates the good needed to have eternal life rests only with God who gives it.
  • Christ then begins with something the young man would understand, the law of Moses; do not steal, do not murder, etc.
  • The young man, though he has kept all these things, recognizes they are insufficient to attain immortality, and seeks to know what more he lacks.
    • This is a genuine perspective, looking beyond the law.
    • On another occasion Christ rebukes the Scribes and Pharisees for not seeking beyond the law, thinking it was in the scriptures they would find eternal life (Fourth Gospel 5:31-40).
  • Then Christ transitions to those things that would ultimately lead the young man to eternal life;
    • Let go of your trust in material wealth
    • Come and follow me

The first thing Christ suggests might seem obvious, but why have the young man come and follow Him as a means to gain eternal life?

Does Christ offer what you already possess?

Yeshua, the Son of Man, offers the young man the only solution, or way, to attain eternal life and immortality – Christ himself. He makes this very clear as recorded in the fourteenth chapter of the Fourth Gospel(3), where he claims – I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Christ alone was begotten and born from the seed of God. He came from heaven. Christ alone has been resurrected to glory and has ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father (Fourth Gospel 3:5-8, 13).

This same inheritance is what Christ promises and entrusts to those faithful and trusting in him, through the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, which leads them to eternal life (Colossians 1:11-14, 15-23).

It is only in Christ Jesus, the source of eternal life that we are called out of the domain of darkness, which only leads to death, and are transferred into his kingdom of life everlasting (Colossians 1:12-13).

The Contrast between Death and Life

The Apostle Paul, throughout his writings, does an excellent job of contrasting the two states that interest humanity most; the state of death which enslaves us all, and the hope for the future state of eternal life and immortality in Christ Jesus (Hebrews 2:10-15; Titus 1:1-3; 3:4-7).

And nowhere is this contrast better enumerated for us than in 1 Corinthians 15.

1 Corinthians 15:20-22, 34-36
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame…. 36 You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.

My observations:

  • Death came by one man – Adam
  • Eternal life (immortality) comes by another man – Jesus Christ
  • This is essential knowledge of God
  • Death is part of the transition to eternal life

1 Corinthians 15:42-47
42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.

My observations:

  • Eternal life (immortality) is not inherent in the natural which dies. It is perishable.
  • Eternal life comes through, not just death, but the resurrection.
  • What is sown on earth is perishable, but it can be resurrected imperishable.
  • The natural (mortal) body, the man of dust, a living being, comes first.
  • The spiritual, heavenly man, only comes later at the resurrection.

1 Corinthians 15:48As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.

My observations:

  • The man of dust is the earthly man, mortal and perishable (dies) (vs 42, 44, 54)
  • Jesus Christ is the heavenly man, similar to those dwelling in heaven, imperishable

1 Corinthians 15:49-50
49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. 50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

Paul shows quite convincingly that we now bear the image of the earthly man of dust, mortal and perishable. Through Christ and the resurrection we shall also bear the image of the heavenly man, because the earthly man who is flesh and blood cannot inherit the heavenly kingdom of God.

Christ, who is the imperishable one, ultimately swallows up death for the perishable ones (1 Corinthians 15:51-55). This is the will of God.

Want to dig deeper into when Christ delivers this inheritance to his faithful chosen? Discover more.

Conclusions

The whole promise of the good news of the kingdom of God is manifest in Christ our Lord. He is the source of eternal life and immortality, and it is only through him and his resurrection do we attain it. The contrast throughout all of scripture, old and new, is between death for those made from the dust of the ground and the hope of immortality made available to all in the work of Yeshua, the Christ. That work comes through death, and is manifested for his faithful servants at the resurrection of the firstfruits of salvation (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14). Blessed are those who have a part in the first resurrection (Revelation 20:6).



There is much more to learn about each of these topics and links have been provided to related articles. Those tagged with Read more lead you to related channel questions and their basic answers. Those tagged Discover more are part of a more in-depth study program. Any tagged with Learn more address methods, processes, and resources which can aid your approach to learning. All are free resources to assist you in gaining a more unfiltered view of God’s word.

To discover more about what the work of God in Christ Jesus tells us about the fall of Adam, look for my coming book –

The Mystery of God in Christ Jesus: the New Creation from Beginning to End

Presuppositions

At the close of each article, the relevant presuppositions that support it will be cited. This enables the reader to gain a clearer and deeper understanding of the context. To learn more about presuppositions, see the About page.

  1. God is proactive and purposeful in all that he does (Matthew 13:34-35; Ephesians 1:3-14; Hebrews 1; 1 Peter 1:18-21)
  2. God is faithful and will fulfill in those called and chosen what he has already completed in Christ (Fourth Gospel 1:9-13)
  3. Faith, which is a gift of God, is the basis of the hope of salvation for all those committed to the Lord. (Romans 11; 1 Peter 1; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; Jude 3)
  4. Christ’s work results in a new creation (Fourth Gospel 3:1-21; Romans 8:28-31; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Galatians 6:14-18)
  5. God’s redemptive work on humanity’s behalf is to save them from the second death, not the first death. (Genesis 2:16-17; Fourth Gospel 3:16-21; 5:24; 6:40; 17:1-3; Romans 5; 6; 1 Corinthians 15:19; Hebrews 9:25-28; Revelation 20:6)

Footnotes:

  1. The Lion of Judah, Rabbi Kirt A. Schneider (pg 145)
  2. Jeremiah 50:17-20; Ezekiel 34:25-31; Daniel 2:44-45; Zechariah 10
  3. Due to the dispute over the authorship of the Fourth Gospel, traditionally attributed to John, I will refer to this book as the Fourth Gospel. I have concluded on the side of such authors like J. Phillips (ISBN13: 978-0-9702687-3-0) who has shown conclusively John could not be the sole author and instead attribute primary authorship to Lazarus – the disciple whom Christ loved.

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When is the inheritance promised to the saints delivered?

This question reaches to the core of some very challenging presuppositions, and the answer is vital to every Christian desiring to be faithful to our Lord and Christ. So to begin, let’s see how scripture defines and characterizes the inheritance we seek. We can begin in 1 Peter 1.

1 Peter 1:3-5 (ESV)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Here are my observations:

  • Our living hope comes through the resurrection of Christ, a resurrection from the dead.
  • The inheritance we hope for is an imperishable one, undefiled and unfading. The language is similar to the Apostle Paul’s in 1 Corinthians 15:24-49.
  • It is kept in heaven and guarded faithfully.
  • To be revealed at some future time. Does this mean it’s not revealed at our death?

Let’s continue to see what Peter is saying.

1 Peter 1:6-7, 13
6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

My observations:

  • Any suffering we experience now will result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Christ.
  • Likewise the fullness of God’s grace is not experienced until then also (Matthew 24:29-31; Mark 13:24-27; Luke 21:25-28; Revelation 6:12-17).

We can see that he clarifies, and even repeats, that the full grace associated with our inheritance doesn’t come about until the revelation of Jesus Christ. He also clarifies exactly what we can expect at that time.

1 Peter 1:8-9
8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

So the salvation some claim today as being received when we die, contradicts what Peter is saying here. He makes it very clear that our expectation of inheritance should be focused on the return and revelation of Jesus Christ, not before.

He finishes up the chapter in the same tone with respect to our inheritance. Here he’s contrasting the perishable seed of Adam, from which we all descend, with the imperishable seed of God, in which our hope is based (1 Peter 1:21-25). The perishable seed is:

  • Like grass that withers
  • Like flowers that fall and die
  • Yet the word and promise of God remains and is trustworthy; to complete the new creation in us what He’s already done in Christ.

The implication from Peter’s letter is that our inheritance, the imperishable salvation of our souls, occurs when Christ appears to the world. Though not consistent with current traditional or denominational Christian teaching, which insists your inheritance of salvation is acquired at death and each believer ascends into heaven, one is forced to ask if what Peter claims is consistent with New Testament scripture?

Look to the Gospel Preached

When we look to the gospel preached in the first century, we see a different focus from what is preached today. Yet it is to the original authors of the scriptures that we must look, since the insight they gained from experience and revelation from Christ, provides a more unfiltered view of the work of God in Christ for us and in us.

 Peter’s  Message

When delivering the first gospel message, Peter outlines clearly the process of death and resurrection exemplified in Christ. We can see this outlined in Acts 2.

Acts 2:22-39

  • This Jesus, though crucified and killed, God raised him up from the dead
  • Through resurrection, he gained victory over death, and in immortality he could no longer be held by death’s grip.
  • King David prophesied this:
    • David’s mortal flesh dwelt in hope – of what?
    • That his soul, his mortal life, would not be left in the grave. David foresaw God’s Holy One.
    • God will not let his Holy One, the Messiah, see corruption in the grave
    • Through this Holy One is the path to life (everlasting life)
    • Those who ultimately dwell in his presence are full of gladness
  • King David died and is buried. His body did see corruption in the grave, but his hope is in the Holy One.
    • David did not ascend into heaven at death (vs 34)
    • This is consistent with the claim made by Christ himself – No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.
  • King David foresaw the resurrection of Christ
    • That the Holy One was not abandoned to the grave
    • That He would not see corruption (in the grave), being the Son of God (1 Peter 1:3a).
    • God raised him from the dead
  • King David did not ascend into heaven at death, nor has any man
    • Yet the resurrected Lord sits at the right hand of God
    • Until such time that his enemies kneel before him
  • This Jesus is both Lord and Christ

According to Peter’s understanding and expectations for the Messiah, Yeshua the Christ was delivered up according to the plan and foreknowledge of God that Christ would attain victory and power over death for all (vs 23-24, 37-39). In this Peter shows that the significance of Christ is in his resurrection.

This seems fitting when we look at the example set forth in Christ, the firstborn of many brethren. At what point in the work of Christ did he ascend into heaven?

  • Was it in the midst of his suffering?
  • Was it at his death?
  • Was it during his burial, being in the grave for three days?
  • It was after his resurrection to glory!
Paul’s Message

The Apostle Paul provides a similar example in Acts 13. Though the rejection of the gospel message by the Jews is consistent (and prophetic), Paul was certain it was a necessary step (vs 26, 46-47). What we should find compelling is the response of the Gentiles – the unbelievers who did not know God. They were not considered the people of God, and whose only context for knowledge of God is what they might have heard through association with the Jews.

Acts 13:47-49

  • Paul first clarifies the underlying purpose to which he is committed – the good news of the gospel (vs 30-33).
    • This “begotten Son of God” is made a light for the Gentiles
    • That God may bring, and they therefore receive, salvation to the ends of the earth

And how did the Gentiles respond?

  • They began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord
  • And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region

What was the word of the Lord that they heard from Paul?

Acts 13:26-32 – First many witnessed to the work God did for us in the man, Jesus the Christ

  • He is the fulfillment of the message of salvation (even among the Jews, though they did not recognize him)
  • Though innocent, they put him to death
  • After his death they buried him in a tomb
  • But God raised him from the dead
  • And he appeared to many around Jerusalem, and these are his witnesses
  • This is the good news that God promised to their forefather. He has fulfilled it.

The word that these Gentiles heard was of the faithfulness of God in the death, burial, and resurrection of this man, Jesus. This is the redemptive work of God. Paul then goes on to answer – who is this man Jesus?

Acts 13:33-39

  • This man, Jesus, is the Son of God
  • Begotten by God
  • Though he died he did not see corruption
  • God promised this through his servant David
  • David himself is dead and buried, and saw corruption
  • But he whom God raised from the dead did not see corruption
  • It is through this man, Jesus, that forgiveness of sins is proclaimed
  • Everyone who believes is given freedom (reconciliation)

Later, Paul contrasts the current reality of mortal mankind and death which has power over them, with the eternal life that Christ has accomplished through his sacrifice and resurrection to eternal life. The entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 15 is dedicated to the subject. What Paul makes clear is that without the resurrection of the dead there is no hope for humanity. They will all perish.

1 Corinthians 15:12-18
12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.

The Message of Scripture

Is this resurrection from death to immortal life the consistent theme throughout scripture? A review of the New Testament reveals nearly three dozen references supporting this same concept introduced to the world by men of faith. I’ll provide a sampling of these.

Fourth Gospel 6:40(1) (41-51)For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

Romans 6:4-5, 8-9
4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.

2 Corinthians 4:11-14
11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you. 13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.

Philippians 2:16holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

Philippians 3:10-11, 20-21
10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Colossians 3:3-4
3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Titus 2:11-13
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

Hebrews 9:15, 27-28
15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.

27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

1 Peter 1:3-9, 13
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. . . . 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 5:1, 4
1 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: . . . 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Conclusions

When faced with the overwhelming evidence of the work in Christ for us and in us, which is to be completed at his return and appearance in glory to the world, one has an obvious choice to make. Do we continue in the traditional and denominational teaching of salvation delivered at death and our ascension into heaven to dwell with Christ, or do we accept the clear teaching of the first-century disciples of Christ?

This was the challenge I was faced with many years ago, and I encourage all those faithful in Christ to invest the time to dig deeper. Does this answer all the challenging questions relating to what happens at death and our hope of glory? No, but it does lay the foundational presupposition from which these other questions must be viewed and answered. Fortunately, God has given us his Holy Spirit to serve as a guide.


Presuppositions

At the close of each article, the relevant presuppositions that support it will be cited. This enables the reader to gain a clearer and deeper understanding of the context. To learn more about presuppositions, see the About page.

  1. God is proactive and purposeful in all that he does (Matthew 13:34-35; Ephesians 1:3-14; Hebrews 1; 1 Peter 1:18-21)
  2. God is faithful and will fulfill in those called and chosen what he has already completed in Christ (Fourth Gospel 1:9-13)
  3. God and his Christ are involved in a redemptive work for humanity.
    1. A key method in God’s redemptive work involves the offering of reconciliation, redemption, and salvation to eternal life – all through belief in Yeshua as the Son of God.
    2. Entering into belief in the Son of God we leave behind the state of being under God’s wrath, which exists to humble the proud and correct the deceived. (Fourth Gospel 3:36; Romans 1:18-32; 9:21-23; Isaiah 2:6-22)
    3. All will have the opportunity to receive God’s righteous judgement and be led into the truth of Yeshua, the Christ, but some will not surrender to truth. (1 Corinthians 15:22-26; Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:11-13; Fourth Gospel 12:44-50; Romans 2:12-16; 11:32; Revelation 20:14-15)
  4. God’s redemptive work on humanity’s behalf is to save them from the second death, not the first death. (Genesis 2:16-17; Fourth Gospel 3:16-21; 5:24; 6:40; 17:1-3; Romans 5; 6; 1 Corinthians 15:19; Hebrews 9:25-28; Revelation 20:6)

Footnotes:

1) Due to the dispute over the authorship of the fourth gospel, typically attributed to John the brother of James and author of the Book of Revelation of Jesus Christ, I have concluded on the side of such authors as J. Phillips (ISBN13: 978-0-9702687-3-0) who has shown conclusively John could not be the sole author and instead attribute primary authorship to Lazarus – the disciple whom Christ loved. I will therefore refer to the book as the Fourth Gospel.

The Kingdom of the Father

This article continues the series by describing the third phase of Christ’s kingdom-building process, what scripture calls the Kingdom of God. Most Christians will recognize early that this is the core of the gospel message Christ brought first to Israel and Judah, and then to the Gentile nations. In the previous articles (Do You See the Three Kingdoms? and What is the Kingdom of Priests?), we saw how the kingdom Christ spoke of exists in various stages; the kingdom which is amongst us, Christ’s future earthly kingdom, and the glorious kingdom to be delivered to the Father. This article will focus on the last of the three – the culmination of the work of Christ.

Christ’s Revelation to Paul about the Kingdoms

Let’s continue in 1 Corinthians 15. Recall that in this part of Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church Paul is discussing the essential nature of the resurrection from the dead to the work of Jesus Christ. As we’ve shown previously, the resurrection from the dead to eternal life is a key promise included as part of a mystery for those who will inherit the kingdom of God (vs 50).

The mystery Paul is referring to is called the Mystery of God. Discover more.

1 Corinthians 15:20-26 (ESV throughout)
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

Let’s focus on just one of the things to be achieved before Christ hands his earthly kingdom over to the Father; in Christ shall all be made alive. We’ll see that this is a necessary part of the process.

All Made Alive in Christ

We know that the inheritance of those called into Christ and the new covenant is glorification; eternal life. And this glorification comes through resurrection.

1 Corinthians 15:42-50
42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. 50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

Paul is describing a unique resurrection of the dead, a resurrection to glory in the Spirit for those who’ve received the Spirit of God. This is why he proclaims that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

But as we saw in the previous article about the kingdom of the Son, there is an order and progression to the resurrection of the dead (vs 23). At Christ’s appearance at the end of the tribulation, he first redeems his faithful servants who’ve died and are buried, and they ascend into the heavens(1) (Matthew 24:30-31; Mark 13:26-27; Luke 21:27-28).

Immediately after their resurrection, any of Christ’s faithful servants who are alive at the time are changed from mortal to immortal (vs 53-54) in the twinkling of an eye as the command of Christ goes out like a trumpet blast to his angelic host (Matthew 24:30-31).

Yet these are not the only ones to be redeemed at his return. As Christ intervenes on behalf of Jerusalem and Judah, he will bring 144,000 of the descendants of Israel with him. These also have been redeemed as firstfruits of salvation, and will serve the Lord during his earthly reign (Revelation 7:1-8; 14:1-5).

These two groups comprise those spoken of in Revelation 20, who’ve been seated on thrones with authority to judge. They will be priests of God and of Christ, and will reign with him for a thousand years in his earthly kingdom (Revelation 20:4-6).

But notice an important characteristic of their resurrection – Over such the second death has no power. As inheritors of eternal life (immortality) and the glory of our Lord, death no longer has any hold or power over them. So they inherit the kingdom of God in the manner described in 1 Corinthians 15, but do so at the beginning of Christ’s earthly reign – at his appearance and arrival to earth at Mount Zion.

The Resurrection to Judgment

We’re told in Revelation 20:4-6 that the rest of humanity’s dead did not come to life until after the thousand years were ended. Little detail is provided, but an outline is given later in this chapter:

  • A great white throne is revealed and Yeshua the Christ sitting to judge the nations (Fourth Gospel(2) 5:21-23)
  • All the dead, great and small, were brought back to life, mortal life(3).
  • They were all judged out of the books of God’s word, that they might consider what they’ve done.
  • If anyone’s name is not written in the Book of Life, they are cast into the lake of fire.
  • This is the second, and final death.
  • Death and Hades (the grave) are also cast into the lake of fire and destroyed. This indicates they no longer serve a purpose in God’s will and purpose for humanity.

The Kingdom of the Father

Notice the outline Paul provides in 1 Corinthians 15 and its similarity to Revelation 20.

1 Corinthians 15:24-26

  • Christ is going to deliver a kingdom to the Father
  • Notice that occurs at the end (of the age)
  • But only after doing some things first:
    • Christ will reign in heaven and on earth
    • Destroying every rule, authority, and power that opposes God
    • Until he has put all God’s enemies under his feet
    • The last enemy he will destroy is death

As a result of Christ’s righteous judgment, any of these resurrected to mortal life(3) who surrender to Christ will find their name written in the Book of Life. Though it’s not detailed here in Revelation 20, it should be clear the glorified end that awaits those willing to repent.

At the end of Christ’s earthly reign we see all that he set out to accomplish for the Father fulfilled. Christ will succeed in putting all God’s enemies under his feet. This will take two possible forms:

  • As a life willing to kneel and surrender to the will of the King
  • As ashes burned up in the lake of fire

The end result will be the countless millions of glorified children, led into obedience to Christ through faith and the grace of God poured out on many.

Revelation 21:1-4 (ESV)
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

At this point, there is a new heavens and a new earth – and the kingdom of God comes down out of heaven. This is the kingdom Christ spoke of when he said to Pilate – My kingdom is not of this world. This is the kingdom Paul spoke of when he said – flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

The Kingdom of God in Three Phases

Conclusions

Our goal in this series of articles was to show the relationship between, what only appears to be, three distinct kingdoms. Clearly they are one kingdom, the Kingdom of God, distinguished only by how they are made manifest to the world. First the preparatory stage of the new creation – building a body of faithful believers into a kingdom of Christ-centered leaders. Once fully redeemed they will rule with him in his earthly kingdom for 1000 years. This too is a preparatory stage for the Kingdom of God – leading the world, once deceived to the point of death, into the truth and life that is in Christ Jesus. At the dawning of a new age with a new heavens and new earth, the glorified earth becomes the centerpiece of God’s realm, the place from which he will rule all things seen and unseen.

This is truly the good news of the kingdom of God which Yeshua brought to the world (Luke 4:17-19, 43).

There is much more to learn about each of these topics, and links have been provided to related articles. Those tagged with Read more lead you to related channel questions and their basic answers. Those tagged Discover more are part of a more in-depth study program. Any tagged with Learn more address methods, processes, and resources which can aid your approach to learning. All are free resources to assist you in gaining a more unfiltered view of God’s word.


Presuppositions

At the close of each article, the relevant presuppositions that support it will be cited. This enables the reader to gain a clearer and deeper understanding of the context. To learn more about presuppositions, see the About page.

  1. God is proactive and purposeful in all that he does (Matthew 13:34-35; Ephesians 1:3-14; Hebrews 1; 1 Peter 1:18-21)
  2. God is faithful and will fulfill in those called and chosen what he has already completed in Christ (Fourth Gospel 1:9-13)
  3. The grace of God is greater-than the sin of humanity (Romans 5)
  4. God and his Christ are involved in a redemptive work for humanity.
    1. A key method in God’s redemptive work involves the offering of reconciliation, redemption, and salvation to eternal life – all through belief in Yeshua as the Son of God.
    2. Entering into belief in the Son of God we leave behind the state of being under God’s wrath, which exists to humble the proud and correct the deceived. (Fourth Gospel 3:36; Romans 1:18-32; 9:21-23; Isaiah 2:6-22)
    3. All will have the opportunity to receive God’s righteous judgement and be led into the truth of Yeshua, the Christ, but some will not surrender to truth. (1 Corinthians 15:22-26; Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:11-13; Fourth Gospel 12:44-50; Romans 2:12-16; 11:32; Revelation 20:14-15)
  5. God’s redemptive work on humanity’s behalf is to save them from the second death, not the first death. (Genesis 2:16-17; Fourth Gospel 3:16-21; 5:24; 6:40; 17:1-3; Romans 5; 6; 1 Corinthians 15:19; Hebrews 9:25-28; Revelation 20:6)

Footnotes:

1) Our resurrection and glorification follows the model of that set by Christ. Christ died and was buried in the tomb (grave), and three days later was resurrected. It was not until after this resurrection that he ascended into heaven (Fourth Gospel 20:1, 11-18). Christ was given the privilege of not seeing corruption in the grave because he was the Son of Man from above (Fourth Gospel 3:13). We, however, do not get that privilege. Like King David, we are of the dust and mortal (Acts 13:36-37; 1 Corinthians 15:53-54). Our ascension into heaven, like Christ’s, comes after our resurrection, not before.
2) We adhere to the belief that the authorship of the Fourth Gospel has been misrepresented. Typically this authorship is attributed to John the brother of James and author of the Book of Revelation of Jesus Christ. I have concluded on the side of such authors like J. Phillips (ISBN13: 978-0-9702687-3-0) who has shown conclusively John could not be the sole author and instead attribute primary authorship to Lazarus – the disciple whom Christ loved. Due to this, I will refer to the book as the Fourth Gospel.
3) We can conclude the mortal nature of the resurrection of the dead, great and small, because their judgment can result in the second death. Those previously resurrected to immortality were no longer subject to the second death; it has no power over them.


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The Kingdom of the Son

This article continues the discussion about the three manifestations of the Kingdom of God. The first article – Do You See the Three Kingdoms? provides an overview. The second article – What is the Kingdom of Priests? delves into Christ’s kingdom-building process in the current age with his called, chosen, and faithful body of believers. This third article continues from there and shows how Yeshua the Christ, after he returns to earth, will work to deliver a kingdom to his Father.

Let’s begin with a brief review of Paul’s outline for the work of Yeshua in his coming kingdom, and what he intends to achieve. Pick it up in 1 Corinthians 15:20-26.

1 Corinthians 15:20-26 (ESV throughout)
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

These seven verses are fundamental to Paul’s viewpoint of the gospel and the work that God the Father and Christ his Son are engaged in, a presupposition. For now let’s focus on what is said regarding the kingdom.

My observations:

  • Christ is going to deliver a kingdom to the Father
  • Notice that occurs at the end (of an age)
  • But only after doing some things first:

1) Christ will reign in heaven and on earth
2) Destroying every rule, authority, and power that opposes God
3) Until he has put all God’s enemies under his feet
4) The last enemy he will destroy is death (Revelation 20:14-15)

Next, Paul addresses those who belong to Christ. They too are referred to as the first; the first to hope and trust in Christ, the firstfruits of salvation. These are the elect of God who look to Yeshua and his return for the fulfillment of the promise entrusted first to them. (Ephesians 1:11-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:1,13-14; James 1:18)

The Purpose for Christ’s Reign on Earth

To grasp fully the reason behind Christ’s reign on earth, we need to delve into each of the four activities outlined above. For this article, we’ll focus on just the third one, taken from verse 25 – he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet (Isaiah 45:22-23). This will come in one of two forms:

  • as someone surrendered and committed to living under Christ’s rule, or
  • as ashes under the feet of those faithful to him (2 Peter 2:6; Malachi 4:1-3).

By recognizing the relationship between disobedience and being an enemy to the truth of God (Romans 11:25-32), we’ll see that another way of saying 1 Corinthians 15:25 is that Christ will lead all into obedience to God. Let’s look briefly at how this process works for those called into Christ now. In Paul’s introduction to the Romans, he points out that Christ’s goal for him is to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. He also clarifies that we come to that faith through God’s grace (Romans 1:1-7). Later in Romans 5, Paul outlines the contrast between the disobedience that existed since Adam, and how Christ’s obedience leads to righteousness for those who’ve surrendered to him.

Romans 5:17-19
17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. 18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

This disobedience is something we’re all guilty of, and a primary reason for God’s work in Yeshua the Christ. Though there is much wisdom here to delve into, let’s focus on the underlying goal in Christ’s redemptive work – by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. The fruit of that work is shown in those now called into Christ. They too were once disobedient, but have chosen to be slaves of Christ’s righteousness.

Romans 6:16-18
16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

Paul goes on, through the rest of his letter to the Romans, to detail the work of God in Christ. First for the benefit of those called, chosen, and faithful – both Jew and Gentile, but also for the disobedient in Israel. As he closes his letter, Paul goes so far as to suggest that God’s work in Christ will benefit the nations as well.

Romans 16:25-27
25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith – 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Though their respective paths from disobedience to obedience occurs at separate times, we’ll see as we continue that Yeshua the Christ will achieve this not only for those chosen now, but for the disobedient in Israel also. As Christians we should well understand the obedience that set Christ apart and that we’re called to imitate.

There’s more to learn about Christ’s called, chosen, and faithful. Discover more.

Christ Set Apart by Obedience

We should be well aware that God glorified his son specifically because he was willing to suffer for the redemptive work and will of the Father (Romans 5:19); he put the cross before the crown. Let’s look at one example, expressed by Christ himself, of what set him apart.

Fourth Gospel(1) 17:4-5
4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

If we read further in verses 6-14, he details some of that work:

  • I manifested your name to the people you called out of the world
  • I gave them your words of life
  • I have revealed to them your truth

It was Christ’s joy to do the will of the Father, and for this he is beloved of the Father (Matthew 17:5). From the very moment that he began his ministry, after demonstrating where his loyalty lies (Luke 4:1-15), he continued in the power of the Holy Spirit to do the Father’s will as outlined in scripture.

Luke 4:16-19, 43 – Christ is anointed by the Father

  • To proclaim good news to the poor
  • To proclaim liberty to the captives
  • To restore sight to the blind
  • To provide liberty to the oppressed
  • To proclaim the time of God’s favor
  • For this purpose he was sent into the world

The Firstfruits of Salvation are Marked by their Obedience

The work of the Holy Spirit indwelling within us leads one out of darkness and into Christ’s All this Christ has done and is now doing for his firstfruits of salvation (2 Thessalonians 2:13). They are called out of the world by God; called out of darkness and into his marvelous light.

1 Peter 2:9But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Yet before God’s calling, we too were the disobedient of the world, enemies of God.

1 Peter 2:10Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

So it was while we were enemies God’s grace came upon us, and we were reconciled through Christ, the source of our salvation.

Romans 5:6-11
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. . . . 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

What were the instruments Christ used to lead his called, chosen, and faithful out of darkness and into his glorious light? Was it not the grace and mercy of God poured out on us that we might abide in faith?

Romans 3:23-26 – God’s righteousness comes through faith

  • The righteousness of God has been manifested through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.
  • Though all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (believers) are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
  • It was to show God’s righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

This is precisely what we saw early in Romans 5:19 – For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Through the work of Yeshua the Christ, God is able to turn disobedience into life eternal by his grace and mercy.

Titus 3:3-7
3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

God’s plan for the new covenant isn’t restricted to just this current age. It’s also Christ’s work in his earthly kingdom to come. What he’s done and is now doing for the firstfruits of salvation (Romans 8:29-30), he also intends to do for Israel and the nations.

Romans 11:32 (NKJV) – For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.

Israel and Judah led into Obedience

Let’s not forget that as a people, the descendants of Jacob (Israel) were God’s chosen people. When he assembles them at the foot of the mountain, God reveals his underlying intent and purpose for redeeming the descendants of Jacob and gathering them as his people.

Exodus 19:1-6 (ESV)
1 On the third new moon after the people of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. 2 They set out from Rephidim and came into the wilderness of Sinai, and they encamped in the wilderness. There Israel encamped before the mountain, 3 while Moses went up to God. The Lord called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

God’s intent for Israel as a people was to continue in the covenant he made with their forefather Abraham. They were established by God, even before Abraham, to be his portion among the nations(2) (Deuteronomy 32:8-14). Through them God would fulfill his promise that Abraham’s descendants would be a blessing to the nations (Genesis 22:15-18). Those blessings were always contingent upon the terms of the covenant (Deuteronomy 28:1-14). This too was to be an example to the nations of the trustworthiness of God and the faithfulness of his word (Deuteronomy 29:24-28).

Yet Israel strayed from the path and from the covenant, and went after foreign gods who were not God. In response, God fulfilled his covenant with them and dispersed them among the nations as he promised (Deuteronomy 32:16,19-21). God would mete out to them the same disregard which they exhibited toward him(3). As his chosen people, they went after other gods. He, as their true God, would go after other people; the Gentiles (Romans 10:19-21; 11:11-12).

Now some would claim that Israel is rejected by God and has been replaced by the church. Yet this idea is contrary to Christ’s teaching and his revelation to Paul.

Romans 11:1-2a
1 I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. . . .

Paul goes on to show that, yes, some in Israel were disobedient and have been temporarily cut off from the tree, which is Christ, so that the Gentiles can be grafted in. However, they will be grafted back into the tree again if they do not continue in unbelief (Romans 11:11-24). As Paul shows, their disobedience results in salvation being offered to the Gentiles. If you read Romans 11 further, you’ll see that Paul confirms they will eventually be led into obedience.

Romans 11:28-32
28 As regards the gospel, they (Israel) are enemies for your (Gentiles) sake. But as regards election, they (Israel) are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as you (Gentiles) were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so they (Israel) too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. 32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

So clearly Israel’s calling is secure, and they will be led again into obedience which leads to life. What will be different is that the covenant to which they will be restored will not be the covenant made with their fathers at Sinai (Jeremiah 31:31-33; Hebrews 8). That leaves us desiring to understand the scope and timing of the promises made for their restoration. It’s interesting to note how this will begin with Israel (including Judah) receiving new shepherds.

Jeremiah 3:15-18
15 And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. . . . 17 At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the Lord, and all nations shall gather to it, to the presence of the Lord in Jerusalem, and they shall no more stubbornly follow their own evil heart. 18 In those days the house of Judah shall join the house of Israel, and together they shall come from the land of the north to the land that I gave your fathers for a heritage.

Jeremiah 23:3-8
1 “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. 2 Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the Lord. 3 Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. 4 I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the Lord.

5 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’”

7 “Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when they shall no longer say, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ 8 but ‘As the Lord lives who brought up and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’ Then they shall dwell in their own land.”

Clearly this level of restoration for all the descendants of Jacob (Israel) is yet future, to occur when the Lord returns to fight for mount Zion, to deliver, rescue, and help those in Jerusalem (Isaiah 31:4-9). What we want to understand is the process used to bring about the restoration of disobedient Israel. Fortunately, these unfulfilled promises have been spoken of by the prophets of old. For though the Lord extends wrath upon Israel and Judah for their disobedience, all Israel shall yet serve him in their own land (Isaiah 65; Ezekiel 20:40-44).

To see the process he’s using to lead disobedient Israel and Judah into redemption we can follow their response (in Joel 2) to the call to repentance made to Israel preceding the day of the Lord in Joel 1:13-20.

Joel 2

  • Joel introduces the Day of the Lord. Up until that time their correction has come in part from the nations, in part from the wrath of Satan, and finally the Lord himself will correct them. Ultimately this correction is not for their destruction but for their redemption; to lead them to redemption (Ezekiel 33:11, 17-19; 34:28-31; Jeremiah 3:6-12).
  • In the midst of the Lord’s correction is the call to repentance – to return to the God of their fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Israel will witness that the gods they’ve followed were not able to save them. (Jeremiah 3:11-14; Deuteronomy 32:19-39)
  • Yet the Lord is full of grace and extends mercy to his people. He will bring them back to their own land and bless them. This is the greater exodus spoken of in Jeremiah. (Jeremiah 3:14-18; 23:1-8; Ezekiel 34:11-24; 37:20-28)
  • Finally, the Lord will make a new covenant with them. With his Spirit he will write his law on their hearts; and they will be his people, and he will be their God. (Ezekiel 37:11-14, 22-28; Isaiah 61:5-11; 62)
  • All those who call upon the name of the Lord Yeshua will be saved. These the Lord will call from among the survivors (Joel 2:32).

So like the firstfruits of salvation, who now receive the grace of God and righteousness which leads to salvation through Christ, the disobedient in Israel and Judah will receive the new covenant in Christ.

Ezekiel 37:11-13
11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people.

Ezekiel 36:27-28
27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

Their introduction to the new covenant in Christ comes after his return to earth; after he’s established his kingdom on earth at Jerusalem; after he’s gathered the living remnants from all the nations; and after he resurrects to physical life the descendants of Jacob.

Conclusions

Our goal in this brief article was to show, in part, the purpose for Jesus Christ’s earthly reign of 1000 years; preparing a kingdom to be handed over to the Father. The challenge for Christ is the nature of that heavenly kingdom requires something other than flesh and blood to inherit it (1 Corinthians 15:50-55).

There’s more to learn about Christ’s work to redeem Israel. Discover more.

Many view scripture from the presupposition that this is the only day of salvation, and therefore conclude that all who are going to be in the kingdom of God must be “converted” to Christ before he returns. This presupposition doesn’t stand up to what is revealed in scripture. As the brief scriptural references I’ve cited concerning Israel’s future indicate, none of them have been fulfilled fully, and some indicate they occur after the Messiah sets up his rule on earth and personally rules over the house of Israel. Though the progress of the Jews has a role to play in God’s plan, it simply doesn’t satisfy the prophecies for the whole nation of Israel, of which Judah is only a single tribe. In addition, anyone that thinks it is Christ who is currently ruling the earth is seriously misguided (Fourth Gospel 14:28-31; 16:7-11; 18:36-37).

There is much more to learn about each of these topics, and links have been provided to related articles. Those tagged with Read more lead you to related channel questions and their basic answers. Those tagged Discover more are part of a more in-depth study program. Any tagged with Learn more address methods, processes, and resources which can aid your approach to learning. All are free resources to assist you in gaining a more unfiltered view of God’s word.

Presuppositions

At the close of each article, the relevant presuppositions that support it will be cited. This enables the reader to gain a clearer and deeper understanding of the context. To learn more about presuppositions, see the About page.

  1. The election of God is not limited to Gentiles in this age only. It started with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel) and continues today. (Psalm 132:13-18; Galatians 3)
  2. The work of Jesus Christ and the will of God unites the faithful of the first covenant with the faithful of the new covenant (Ephesians 2; 3; Romans 5; 8; 9; 10; 11)
  3. Faith, which is a gift of God, is the basis of the hope of salvation for all those committed to the Lord. (Romans 11; 1 Peter 1; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; Jude 3)
  4. The grace of God is greater-than the sin of humanity (Romans 5)
  5. God and his Christ are involved in a redemptive work for humanity.
    1. A key method in God’s redemptive work involves the offering of reconciliation, redemption, and salvation to eternal life – all through belief in Yeshua as the Son of God.
    2. Entering into belief in the Son of God we leave behind the state of being under God’s wrath, which exists to humble the proud and correct the deceived. (Fourth Gospel 3:36; Romans 1:18-32; 9:21-23; Isaiah 2:6-22)
    3. All will have the opportunity to receive God’s righteous judgement and be led into the truth of Yeshua, the Christ, but some will not surrender to truth. (1 Corinthians 15:22-26; Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:11-13; Fourth Gospel 12:44-50; Romans 2:12-16; 11:32; Revelation 20:14-15)
  6. The divinity and supremacy of the Son of God – the creator and finisher of all things. He alone is given authority to judge in righteousness according to the will of God. (Fourth Gospel 1:1-5; Psalm 96:10-13; Isaiah 11:1-5; Acts 17:30-31; Romans 2:5-11; Revelation 5; 19:11-16)
  7. Based on God’s promise to offer the new covenant to all Israel after Christ returns and establishes his earthly kingdom, clearly this is not the only day of salvation. (Jeremiah 31; 32:37-41; Ezekiel 37:24-28; Zechariah 8; Romans 9, 10, 11)

Footnotes:

1) Due to the dispute over the authorship of the Fourth Gospel, traditionally attributed to John, I will refer to this book as the Fourth Gospel. I have concluded on the side of such authors as J. Phillips (ISBN13: 978-0-9702687-3-0) who has shown conclusively John could not be the sole author and instead attribute primary authorship to Lazarus – the disciple whom Christ loved.
2) The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible, Michael S. Hesier, Lexham Press – 2015
3) Barnes’ Notes on the Bible: God would mete out to them the same measure as they had done to him. Though chosen by the one God to be his own, they had preferred idols, which were no gods. So therefore would he prefer to his people that which was no people. As they angered him with their vanities, so would he provoke them by adopting in their stead those whom they counted as nothing. The terms “not a people” and “a foolish nation” mean such a people as not being God’s, would not be accounted a people at all, and such a nation is destitute of that which alone can make a really “wise and understanding people”, namely the knowledge of the revealed word and will of God.


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What are the good works we’re created for in Ephesians 2?

Let’s begin where the question begins, in Ephesians 2.

Ephesians 2:8-10
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Before I share my observations, let’s note that the author is drawing a distinction between two types of works; those that you can’t do, and those that you were called to do.

Those that you can’t do revolve around earning God’s grace or salvation. His grace and salvation are a gift through faith, they cannot be earned. Yet we see that there are good works that we, who’ve received God’s gift of grace and salvation, should perform. These good works were prepared beforehand by God, and they are to be the fruit of Christ’s workmanship in us.

My observations:

  • That we are Christ’s workmanship connects to what Paul refers to as a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).
  • This work in Christ, and the intended fruit of it, was conceived by God and prepared in advance.
  • This shows the proactive nature of God and his love for his children. It also shows an underlying purpose which he intends to fulfill; that in a future time he can reveal his love for us in Christ for the benefit of the world (Fourth Gospel(1) 17:20-23).

Let’s return to the good works we’re to walk in, and the focus of this article. Paul, throughout his letter to the Ephesians, characterizes the faithful life of those committed to Christ. In Ephesians 1 he begins by reviewing all that we’ve received in Christ (Ephesians 1:1-14), but at the end of the chapter, he begins to show what fruit those gifts in Christ should produce individually in our lives. I’ll summarize them below.

Ephesians 1:15-22

  • Faith, love toward the saints, and thanksgiving
  • The eyes of our heart enlightened
  • To know the hope we’re called into
  • To know the riches of his glorious inheritance which is promised to us
  • To know the immeasurable greatness of God’s power toward us in Christ

In chapter two, Paul then goes on to show some of the fruits in a social context, as it relates to the descendants of Jacob (Israel and the Jews).

Ephesians 2:11-22

  • To live in the unity and peace established between the circumcised (Israelites) and the uncircumcised (Gentiles)
  • Christ has removed the hostility which divides us
  • Both have access to the Father through the one Spirit
  • Together we are fellow citizens with the saints
  • Members together of the household of God
  • We are being built together into a dwelling place for God

Paul continues in Ephesian 3 to disclose some of the characteristics of the mystery of God, hidden for ages and revealed to him (Ephesians 3:1-13). He again concludes the chapter with how this knowledge should impact our lives.

Ephesians 3:16-19

  • You may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being
  • This strength enables us to endure the struggles necessary to produce the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)
  • To comprehend the breadth, length, height, and depth of God’s mysterious work in Christ
  • To be rooted and grounded in the love of Christ in all we do

Interested in the scope, origin, purpose, and fulfillment of the Mystery of God?
Discover more.

Paul then expands on the unity revealed in chapter two, and what that unity and new life should look like.

Ephesians 4:1-3, 13-17

  • Bear the fruits of your calling, the good works
  • Walk in humility and gentleness
  • Bear with one another with patience in love
  • Eager to maintain the unity in the Spirit in the bond of peace
  • Grow in the faith and knowledge of the Son of God
  • Do not be deceived, tossed to and fro by every type of doctrine
  • Speak the truth in love
  • Grow up in every way into Christ
  • Do not walk as the Gentiles do:
    • In the futility of their minds
    • Darkened in their understanding
    • Alienated from the life of God, due to ignorance and hardheartedness
    • They practice every kind of impurity

Ephesians 4:25-32

  • Speak the truth
  • Be angry, but do not sin
  • Set aside your wrath so that your heart doesn’t become hardened
  • Do honest work so that you’re able to share with anyone in need
  • Speak only that which is good, for building up others
  • Do not grieve the Holy Spirit with
    • Bitterness and wrath
    • Anger or slander
    • Or a malicious attitude
  • Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, and forgiving

By behaving and living in such a way, we show the fruit of Christ’s work in us, through the Holy Spirit, in which he completes in us his new creation. This is why Paul calls the work Christ is doing in us a “good work.” (Philippians 1:6)

We can also see that such conduct is pleasing to the Lord.

Colossians 1:10-12
10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

My observations:

  • Bear fruit in everything you do
  • The fruit being spoken of here is the character of Christ; love, joy, peace, patience, long-suffering, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)
  • In everything we do, our works should lead to these fruits, which are intended for the benefit of others
  • The fruits which are directly beneficial to us include:
    • Increasing in the knowledge and wisdom of God (Ephesians 1:16-17)
    • Being strengthened as we exercise patience in difficult circumstances with all joy
    • Giving thanks always to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light
    • By the fact that he has transferred you into the kingdom of his son; in part now, fully when he comes to set up his earthly kingdom, and eternally when he hands that kingdom over to his Father (1 Corinthians 15:22-26)

 Conclusions

This brief review shows us that the good works God has prepared for us to walk in consists of our entire life in Christ, no matter how long that time is. All that we do in response to his gift of grace and faith can lead to praise, glory, and honor to his Holy Name. It’s also our duty (Titus 3:1-8), and an expression of the work of the Holy Spirit to lead us into the maturity and character of our Lord (Ephesians 4:13-14).


There is much more to learn about each of these topics and links have been provided to related articles. Those tagged with Read more lead you to related channel questions and their basic answers. Those tagged Discover more are part of a more in-depth study program. Any tagged with Learn more address methods, processes, and resources which can aid your approach to learning. All are free resources to assist you in gaining a more unfiltered view of God’s word.

The following notes are taken from my book . . .

The Rapture Question: An Unfiltered View

Presuppositions

At the close of each article, the relevant presuppositions that support it will be cited. This enables the reader to gain a clearer and deeper understanding of the context. To learn more about presuppositions, see the About page.

  1. The election of God in faith is not limited to Gentiles in this age only. It started before Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel) and continues today. (Psalm 132:13-18; Galatians 3)
  2. The work of Jesus Christ and the will of God unites the faithful of the first covenant with the faithful of the new covenant. (Ephesians 2; 3; Romans 5; 8; 9; 10; 11)
  3. Faith, which is a gift of God, is the basis of the hope of salvation for all those committed to the Lord. (Romans 11; 1 Peter 1; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; Jude 3)
  4. God is not calling the entire world to repentance at this time – the time of the Gentiles. (Luke 21:23-24)
    1. It is only given to some to hear and believe (Matthew 13:10-13; Mark 4:10-12; 1 Corinthians 1:22-24; Ephesians 1:3-6; 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10)
    2. God’s elect are the first to be saved. Those who are the firstfruits are not the only ones who will be led to obedience in Christ. (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 1 Peter 1:1-2; 2:9-10; Ephesians 1:11-13; Romans 8:23,29; Hebrews 12:22-24; James 1:17-18; Revelation 20:4-6)
  5. Christ’s work results in a new creation (Fourth Gospel 3:1-21; Romans 8:28-31; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Galatians 6:14-18)
  6. The divinity and supremacy of the Son of God – the creator and finisher of all things. He alone is given authority to judge in righteousness according to the will of God (Fourth Gospel 1:1-5; Psalm 96:10-13; Isaiah 11:1-5; Acts 17:30-31; Romans 2:5-11; Revelation 5; 19:11-16)

Footnotes:

  1. Due to the dispute over the authorship of the Fourth Gospel, traditionally attributed to John, I will refer to this book as the Fourth Gospel. I have concluded on the side of such authors like J. Phillips (ISBN13: 978-0-9702687-3-0) who has shown conclusively John could not be the sole author and instead attribute primary authorship to Lazarus – the disciple whom Christ loved.

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What is the Kingdom of Priests?

This article continues the discussion about the three manifestations of the Kingdom of God. If you haven’t already, I suggest you begin with the article – Do You See the Three Kingdoms? Here, we’ll continue the discussion by looking briefly into the work of Yeshua the Christ and his kingdom-building process, beginning with the kingdom of the priests.

Christ’s Revelation to Paul about the Kingdoms

Let’s return to 1 Corinthians 15:20-26 where Paul indicates an order to the salvific work of Christ. Note the clarification in verse 23.

1 Corinthians 15:20-26 (ESV)
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

These seven verses are fundamental to Paul’s viewpoint of the gospel and the work that God the Father and Christ his Son are engaged in. Notice that when mentioning the order, Paul starts with the past work which is already completed; Christ the firstfruits.

  • Regarding the resurrection, Christ is the end of the argument for all those who deny it (vs 20).
  • As the Son of God, Yeshua would have preeminence in all things, especially the resurrection of the dead (Acts 26:22-23; Romans 8:29).
  • It was God’s intention, before the foundations of the world, that Yeshua would be the firstborn of his intended creation to ascend in glory, and only through him would many follow (Colossians 1:15-20; Hebrews 1).
  • Though he was called the second Adam according to the flesh, as regarding the new creation Yeshua the Christ is the first to be resurrected to glory (1 Corinthians 15:45-46; Colossians 1:19-22; Hebrews 9:11-12, 23-28).

Next, Paul addresses those who belong to Christ. They too are referred to as the first; the first to hope and trust in Christ, the firstfruits of salvation. These are the elect of God who look to Yeshua and his return for the fulfillment of the promise entrusted first to them. (Ephesians 1:11-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:1,13-14; James 1:18)

His kingdom is our inheritance

To understand the role of those referred to as the elect of God, we must look at the characteristics of their calling, their experience, and the various promises given to them. We’ll see that although there is a personal benefit for each called into Christ, the fruit they bear is not for themselves, but for the world. Let’s begin by looking at God’s calling and the inheritance we are promised. Paul provides a good overview from which we can start.

Ephesians 1:11-12
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

Colossians 1:12-14
12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

My observations:

  • It is according to God’s purpose that we are called to be the first to hope in Christ
  • This is intended to lead to the praise of his glory
  • He qualifies us to share in the inheritance of the saints
  • He alone has delivered us out of darkness and into his light

It was always God’s intention that those called to be faithful to his son would first be called and justified, then finally to be glorified with him when he returns in glory. In this he reveals a process.

Romans 8:29-30
29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

God calls us out of disobedience and we are saved only by his grace. And is this salvation only for ourselves? No. He preordained that together with Christ, we might be the first among many (Romans 8:23). First called, then justified in Christ, finally to be glorified with him (2 Peter 1:3-4).

To whom does he desire to show our justification and glorification to?

Ephesians 2:7so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

There’s more to learn about Christ’s called, chosen, and faithful. Discover more.

The Holy Spirit is our guarantee

The apostle Paul points to a part of God’s purpose in extending the gift of the Holy Spirit to some.

Romans 8:16-17
16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

It is by the Spirit of God that we are children of God (vs 14). If we are children of God, then we are co-heirs with Christ. He is the firstborn (resurrected to glory) of many brethren. Yet to follow Christ into glory, we must first suffer with him in the flesh.

The spirit of truth is unique to those called into Christ at this time, and it is not given to the world (Mark 4:33-34).

Matthew 13:10-13
10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.

He has put his seal on us as a mark of his promise, to fulfill in us what he has already completed in Christ our Lord.

2 Corinthians 1:20-22
20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. 21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

Leads us out of darkness and into light

The work of the Holy Spirit indwelling within us leads one out of darkness and into Christ’s glorious light. To us he is the perfect image-bearer of the Father, the one to emulate, and the firstborn of the new creation.

Colossians 1:13-15
13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

Paul’s prayer for the Colossians and for us is that we walk in a manner pleasing to the Lord; bearing fruit in good works and increasing in all spiritual wisdom and understanding of God’s will (Colossians 1:9-10).

It is the Spirit of God that leads us into this spiritual understanding.

Fourth Gospel(1) 14:15-17
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

By the power of the Holy Spirit, we can see and hear to follow in the way outlined by Christ, accept and live in the truth which is Christ, so that he might complete in us the same gift of eternal life the Father has completed in him (Fourth Gospel 14:6):

  • This is the desire of Christ in the will of God, to lead as many as the Father will call into the same glorified life (Fourth Gospel 17:1-4)
  • The Spirit of God is both the power and the guarantee by which he’ll achieve it (Romans 8:9-11)
  • It is the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit which leads to our future glory (Romans 8:23-25)

It is through Yeshua, the Christ (the way), that we’ve been promised the inheritance, having shared in his suffering we’ll also share in his glory (the truth), we are among the firstfruits of salvation to share in the glorified life to be revealed in him (the source of eternal life), and all this to the praise and glory of God and his Christ (Ephesians 1:11-14; Romans 8:16-17; 2 Thessalonians 2:13).

Rulers and Priests when the High Priest returns

Our hope lies in the return of our Lord, the light of the world. It is only then that we will experience the complete resurrection and the full transformation into the glorious light of his kingdom.

Colossians 3:3-4
3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Not only is he our life, but he is our High Priest as well, soon to be both King and Lord over all the nations. Those the Father has called out of darkness and into his marvelous light are the kings and priests who will serve with Christ in his coming kingdom.

1 Peter 2:9-10
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

These are the primary characteristics of those being called now by God. These characteristics not only describe the firstfruits of salvation it identifies the role we’re to play in the kingdom of the Son.

  • A chosen race
  • A royal priesthood
  • A holy nation
  • His own possession
  • God’s people

Conclusions

The inheritance we’ve been called into is not just for our benefit, but is intended to be a blessing to the whole world; a fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, that through the gift and demonstration of faith in him, all the nations of the world would be blessed (Galatians 3:7-9).

But there is a process to kingdom-building, and it begins with the King, whose example and preeminence clear the way for those who will follow as heirs of the glory given by God the Father. He calls the firstfruits of salvation (2 Thessalonians 2:13), first to share in the glory and the rulership under Christ Jesus, but also as an example to the many he will call in the earthly kingdom of the Son. That is where the nations of the world really meet their Lord and Savior, and it begins with the Lord’s own people, Israel.

See what God has in store for the descendants of Jacob (Israel). Read more.

There is much more to learn about each of these topics, and links have been provided to related articles. Those tagged with Read more lead you to related channel questions and their basic answers. Those tagged Discover more are part of a more in-depth study program. Any tagged with Learn more address methods, processes, and resources which can aid your approach to learning. All are free resources to assist you in gaining a more unfiltered view of God’s word.



To discover more about the plans Christ has for his body of believers, read my recent book . . .

The Rapture Question: An Unfiltered View

Presuppositions

At the close of each article, the relevant presuppositions that support it will be cited. This enables the reader to gain a clearer and deeper understanding of the context. To learn more about presuppositions, see the About page.

  1. God is proactive and purposeful in all that he does (Matthew 13:34-35; Ephesians 1:3-14; Hebrews 1; 1 Peter 1:18-21)
  2. God is faithful and will first fulfill in those called and chosen what he has already completed in Christ (Fourth Gospel 1:9-13)
  3. The grace of God is greater-than the sin of humanity (Romans 5)
  4. God and his Christ are involved in a redemptive work for humanity.
    1. A key method in God’s redemptive work involves the offering of reconciliation, redemption, and salvation to eternal life – all through belief in Yeshua as the Son of God.
    2. Entering into belief in the Son of God we leave behind the state of being under God’s wrath, which exists to humble the proud and correct the deceived. (Fourth Gospel 3:36; Romans 1:18-32; 9:21-23; Isaiah 2:6-22)
    3. All will have the opportunity to receive God’s righteous judgement and be led into the truth of Yeshua, the Christ, but some will not surrender to truth. (1 Corinthians 15:22-26; Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:11-13; Fourth Gospel 12:44-50; Romans 2:12-16; 11:32; Revelation 20:14-15)
  5. God’s redemptive work on humanity’s behalf is to save them from the second death, not the first death (Genesis 2:16-17; Fourth Gospel 3:16-21; 5:24; 6:40; 17:1-3; Romans 5; 6; 1 Corinthians 15:19; Hebrews 9:25-28; Revelation 20:6)

Footnotes:

1) Due to the dispute over the authorship of the Fourth Gospel, traditionally attributed to John, I will refer to this book as the Fourth Gospel. I have concluded on the side of such authors like J. Phillips (ISBN13: 978-0-9702687-3-0) who has shown conclusively John could not be the sole author and instead attribute primary authorship to Lazarus – the disciple whom Christ loved.


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What is the hour of trial brought upon the world?

This question is derived from a promise Christ makes to the Philadelphia church in Revelation 3. Let’s take a look at the reference.

Revelation 3:10-11 (ESV throughout)
10 Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. 11 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.

The lens we look through determines what we see

The answer one derives from the article’s title will depend primarily on what presuppositions are held about the two primary events to which the hour of trial might point; the Great Tribulation(1) or the Day of the Lord(2). These two events are primary candidates because they are both related to our Lord’s return, which is itself a key aspect of the Revelation of Jesus Christ to John (Revelation 1:1-7).

If you recall, Yeshua warned his disciples about the need to not be deceived regarding his future return (Matthew 24; Mark 13). As the time of his return approaches, the level of deception increases. The message of the Book of Revelation is to help those gifted with the Holy Spirit to hear what the Spirit says to the churches. It is in this way that those who hear the words of these prophecies are indeed blessed (Revelation 1:3). Those who hear and understand will not be deceived regarding our Lord’s return (Matthew 24:22-27; Mark 13:20-23).

Looking to Revelation 3:10-11, we can see that the judgment Christ is making is to the angel of the Philadelphia congregation. Theirs is mostly a positive assessment. The dispute over the hour of trial comes from those who see Christ’s claim to keep one from the hour of trial as a clear reference to the pre-tribulation rapture of the saints(3). From this perspective, Christ is coming for the church before the Great Tribulation begins to deliver them from wrath. Keep in mind this conclusion can only be arrived at from these three suppositions:

  1. That the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord occur at the same time
  2. That protection from God’s wrath means protection from all wrath
  3. The Hour of Trial is the Great Tribulation

Let’s address each of these in some detail. I’ve addressed them at length in other articles.

To begin to see the relationship between the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord: Read more.

  1. If one assumes that the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord are the same, then being saved from God’s wrath is essentially the same as being saved from Satan’s wrath.
  2. Scripture assures the faithful, who are reconciled to God, that they are exempt from his wrath. Through the reconciliation in Christ and continued repentance, his work in us can be completed and the purpose for God’s corrective wrath is no longer relevant. The exceptions we’re shown in five of the seven congregations of Revelation 2 and 3 are due to a failure to repent (Revelation 2:4-5, 14-15, 20-25; 3:2-4, 17-20; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

    It is important to understand the different purposes and focus of Satan’s wrath from God’s perspective. One purpose is intended to prove the faithfulness of God’s called and chosen, his elect. It’s a test of faith not unlike that of Abraham, Jacob or Daniel (Hebrews 11:1-3, 17-22).
    1. Will they remain faithful until the end? (Hebrews 12:1-2; 2 Thessalonians 1:9-12; Matthew 24:12-13; 1 Corinthians 10:13)
    2. Will they continue as children of the light or return to the dark? (Philippians 2:14-16; Ephesians 5:5-10; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-10)
    3. Will they love the work that Christ is doing in them more than their own lives? (1 Peter 1:3-9; James 1:12-13; Fourth Gospel(4) 6:27-29; 12:24-26; Mark 8:34-36; Revelation 2:25; 3:11)

      These are the fruits that Christ will harvest from his faithful followers when he appears in the clouds to cut short Satan’s wrath against them. As noted earlier, the rewards for bearing such fruit are abundant.
  3. While the Great Tribulation can certainly be called an hour of trial for the elect of God, the question remains whether it is the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth, spoken of here.

Using the lens of the Holy Spirit to see

A larger context for understanding these verses comes from the vision and the vision-giver who is revealing the things that have been, the things that are (at the time the vision was received), and those things yet to come (Revelation 1:19).

The perspective of the vision is a supernatural one, and involves an assessment of the seven angels (not men) who’ve been given oversight of these seven Gentile congregations. Because the seven angels appear to have oversight of their respective congregations, the assessment is addressed to each of them (Revelation 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14).

Though these seven Gentile congregations do not represent the entirety of the body of Christ, together they do represent a subset of the body being overseen by the seven angels which are in Christ’s right hand (Revelation 1:16, 20); again, a supernatural perspective. It’s reasonable therefore to expect that the oversight of these seven angels continues to this day.

The group of people being addressed are obviously those believers who’ve been called to repentance and into the light of Christ. These are to be the firstfruits of our Lord’s salvation. This assessment by the High Priest of the church is an expression of his righteous judgment over it. It includes praise, warning, encouragement, promises, and a repeated call to continued repentance. The subject of continued repentance is raised eight times within these seven church judgments. As every faithful Christian knows, repentance is not a one-time event, but an ongoing process of spiritual maturation. It is also a theme that reaches throughout the Book of Revelation and goes mostly unnoticed. That’s a story for another time.

When we look at the assessment of the congregation at Philadelphia, we’ll notice that it is one of two churches where further repentance is not required, the other being Smyrna. One should not conclude that there is no need for further repentance, but that the regular practice of repentance (a teachable and humble heart) is an ongoing part of their growth and resulting praise.

The key characteristic of the Philadelphia congregation is that even though they possess little power, they’ve kept the Lord’s word and have not denied his name (vs 8). It is precisely for this reason that the Lord makes the promise to keep them from the hour of trial.

  • You have kept my word and not denied my name (vs 8)
  • You have kept my word about patient endurance (quietly enduring)
  • I will keep you from the hour of trial (vs 10)
  • I am coming soon (vs 11)

By comparison, in addressing the other five churches which exhibit the need for further repentance, Christ clarifies where they are lacking so that they can repent.

So how can we know with any certainty what period of time this hour of trial is referring to? The clarification comes from the surrounding context.

Revelation 3:9Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie – behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. (Fourth Gospel 17:21b, 23b)

Revelation 3:12The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.

Both of these promises will only be fulfilled after Christ has returned with power and authority – his second coming. It is at his second coming when the faithful are redeemed from the earth; the dead rising first, then those alive at the time are changed. Those kept from the hour of trial are those being redeemed (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11). These are the elect whom the Lord returns for to cut short their tribulation (Matthew 24:22; Mark 13:20).

Conclusions

The logical and reasonable conclusion then is that the hour of trial occurs after the Lord returns and after he has redeemed his faithful from the earth. This is consistent with the unfiltered view of scripture we’ve seen thus far. Therefore, we can accurately conclude that the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth, is in fact the Day of the Lord. Since the unbelieving and disobedient in the world have a part in the deception occurring prior to Christ’s appearance, it follows that, for them, the hour of trial is not referring to the Great Tribulation (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12).



To discover more about what Christ’s kingdom-building process means for his body of believers, the faithful in Israel, and unbelievers in the world, read my recent book . . .

The Rapture Question – An Unfiltered View

In addition, verse 11 applies further encouragement for this conclusion. In it, Christ provides further instruction for those he has promised – I will keep you from the hour of trial.

  • I am coming soon. Encouragement for those patiently enduring the tribulation around them.
  • Hold fast what you have. You’ve kept my word and my patience faithfully. Continue to do so until I return (Philippians 2:14-16; Revelation 2:25).
  • Let no one steal away your crown. Remain faithful, humble, and teachable (the children of light). Let no one deceive you, thereby losing your promised place of authority (1 Peter 2:9-10; Revelation 5:9-10).

Finally in verse 12 we’re reminded, like those of the other congregations, the desirable rewards only go to those who conquer. However, ours is not a political or national conquering, it is a spiritual one; individually conquering the world through trust and faith in Christ our Lord. He will accomplish it in us. We need only stay focused, faithful, and in relationship with him.


There is much more to learn about each of these topics and links have been provided to related articles. Those tagged with Read more lead you to related channel questions and their basic answers. Those tagged Discover more are part of a more in-depth study program. Any tagged with Learn more address methods, processes, and resources which can aid your approach to learning. All are free resources to assist you in gaining a more unfiltered view of God’s word.


Presuppositions

At the close of each article, the relevant presuppositions that support it will be cited. This enables the reader to gain a clearer and deeper understanding of the context. To learn more about presuppositions, see the About page.

  1. God is proactive and purposeful in all that he does
    (Matthew 13:34-35; Ephesians 1:3-14; Hebrews 1; 1 Peter 1:18-21)
  2. God is faithful and will fulfill in those called and chosen what he has already completed in Christ (Fourth Gospel 1:9-13)
  3. God and his Christ are involved in a redemptive work for humanity
    • A key method in God’s redemptive work involves the offering of reconciliation, redemption, and salvation to eternal life – all through belief in Yeshua as the Son of God.
    • Entering into belief in the Son of God we leave behind the state of being under God’s wrath, which exists to humble the proud and correct the deceived. (Fourth Gospel 3:36; Romans 1:18-32; 9:21-23; Isaiah 2:6-22)
    • All will have the opportunity to receive God’s righteous judgement and be led into the truth of Yeshua, the Christ, but some will not surrender to truth. (1 Corinthians 15:22-26; Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:11-13; Fourth Gospel 12:44-50; Romans 2:12-16; 11:32; Revelation 20:14-15)
  4. The grace of God is greater-than the sin of humanity (Romans 5)
  5. God’s redemptive work on humanity’s behalf is to save them from the second death, not the first death. The death spoken of in God’s command to Adam – in dying you shall surely die does not refer to spiritual death, but the second death – which results in separation from God and from which there is no hope of resurrection.
    (Genesis 2:16-17; Fourth Gospel 3:14-21; 5:24; 6:40; Romans 5; 6; 1 Corinthians 15:19; Hebrews 9:25-28; Revelation 20:6, 14-15)
  6. Revelation 5 establishes Yeshua, the Christ, as the only one worthy to oversee the final events of the last days. He does this not just by his positional authority as the Son of God but also by his relational authority as the Lamb of God, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and the Root of David.
  7. There is no “gap theory” necessary to explain the end time prophecy of Daniel. The Seventy-Weeks prophecy speaks to the time of Christ(5)

Footnotes:

  1. The Great Tribulation, as defined in scripture, is the time of Satan’s wrath when the Beast Power rules the world with deception for 3-1/2 years prior to the return of our Lord. (Revelation 13, Joel 2:31; Matthew 24:29; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12)
  2. The Day of the Lord is the period of time immediately following his appearance in the sky, and results in the execution of God’s wrath upon the ungodly and the disobedient. (Isaiah 13:5-13; Joel 2:31; Matthew 24:29-31; Mark 13:24-27; Luke 21:25-28; Revelation 6:17; 8:6; 9:20-21; 10:5-7; 15:5-8; 16:1-21; 19:11-21; 20:1-3)
  3. The Rapture Question – second edition, John F. Walvoord, New Testament Doctrine on the Tribulation (pg 44)
  4. We adhere to the belief that the authorship of the Fourth Gospel has been misrepresented. Typically this authorship is attributed to John the brother of James and author of the Book of Revelation of Jesus Christ. I have concluded on the side of such authors as J. Phillips (ISBN13: 978-0-9702687-3-0) who has shown conclusively John could not be the sole author and instead attribute primary authorship to Lazarus – the disciple whom Christ loved. Due to this, I will refer to the book as the Fourth Gospel.
  5. Desolation of the Temple and Messianic Enthronement in Daniel 11:36-12:3, Jason Thomas Perry, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 54.3 (September 2011, pages 487,494-499)

Isn’t the Philadelphia church promised, by Christ himself, deliverance from the hour of trial?

This question is based on the promise of Christ to the Philadelphia congregation recorded in Revelation 3. We won’t argue the point as to whether the church being addressed is a subset of the body of believers over time, or the specific church in Asia Minor. Either way there is value in the admonition or correction the Lord provides toward his body.

You Have Kept, I Will Keep

Revelation 3:10Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.

Let’s address this by recognizing the elements of Christ’s promise:

  • You have kept my word about patient endurance
  • In turn, I will keep you from the hour of trial
  • There is an hour of trial coming upon the whole world to test them

Christ is surely reminded of his warning to his disciples regarding their treatment in the world. How they would be handed over to death and hated for his name’s sake. In all this tribulation they are encouraged to endure patiently. In this patient endurance they will secure their salvation (Matthew 10:16-22; Luke 21:16-19).

In Revelation 3, he is simply clarifying the basis for his promise; you have done your part to endure patiently, I will do my part and ensure your salvation. Though you have little strength, you have kept my word and have not denied my name (vs 8). The reward for such endurance and faithfulness is the promised inheritance (Hebrews 10:35-36; 2 Timothy 2:10-13).

This reward for endurance is consistent with the gospel message, by which those who are called into Christ and remain faithful are granted reconciliation with God and exemption from his wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:5-10).

To see the similarities between Christ’s promise here and that of 2 Peter 2,
Read more.

An Hour of Trial is Coming

Revelation 3:10 also states that there is an hour of trial coming upon the whole world to test them. The motivation for this is clear:

Isaiah 2:12For the Lord of hosts has a day against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up—and it shall be brought low;

For the nations of the world, the arrival of the King of Kings to the earth brings to a climax the wrath of Almighty God. The nations of the world have been deceived, and it is this spirit of deception which directs the nations to gather around Jerusalem for war, to a place called Har-Magedon (Revelation 16:12-16). Again mankind will be the willing pawn in a war between the gods. However, Christ will show that the will of God is not undone by the deceit of devils. The Light of the World has returned to the place from which he ascended millennia before (Acts 1:11). It is his purpose to lead the world into obedience and into his Father’s kingdom in the age to come (1 Corinthians 15:20-26). To do that he must first complete the correction brought upon the world through the wrath of God. To rule the nations he must first strike them down with the sword of his truth (Revelation 19:15); to repay each one according to his deeds (Revelation 22:12). The arrival of the King of Kings to earth to do battle signals the climax of that wrath (Revelation 14:1, 6-11; 16:16-18; 19:11-21).

Like King Belshazzar, who feasted and drank and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone in defiance of the army approaching Babylon, so the disobedient and ungodly continue to do today. God weighed him and found him wanting. He will do the same for the world. The same pride which doomed Belshazzar will doom the world as well (Daniel 5).

Isaiah 2:17And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled, and the lofty pride of men shall be brought low, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.

The Lord will share His Glory

Yet our Lord and Savior has called many to be the firstfruits of salvation and to share in his glory  on that day (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14). They need only hold fast and endure until the end (Matthew 24:13).

Revelation 3:11-13
11 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. 12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Conclusions

There appears to be a clear correlation between Christ’s promise to keep his faithful church at Philadelphia from the hour of trial and the promise of the gospel to exempt those faithful to Christ from God’s wrath upon a disobedient and prideful world. In a related article (CQ-9), I address the limitations associated with one’s exemption from all wrath. Exemption from God’s wrath is coexistent with our reconciliation to God obtained through belief in Christ. However, this promise of exemption from wrath only applies to God’s wrath, not the wrath of the world or those given charge over it. As a result, this makes one’s presupposition about the Day of the Lord a vital one.

To discover more about the plans Christ has for his body of believers and their exemption from God’s wrath, read my recent book . . .

The Rapture Question – An Unfiltered View

The gospel message is consistent in its proclamation about the need to endure tribulation in this world, that we might obtain a crown of glory in the next. This is exactly the process that our elder brother, Jesus Christ, exemplified for us; the cross before the crown (Romans 2:6-8; 5:3-5; James 1:1-4). The idea of suffering as a means to develop the mature character of Christ is exemplified through both testaments; the testing of one’s faith. God, in his goodness and righteousness, is always willing to reward such loyalty and patient endurance.

James 1: 12Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.


There is much more to learn about each of these topics and links have been provided to related articles. Those tagged with Read more lead you to related channel questions and their basic answers. Those tagged Discover more are part of a more in-depth study program. Any tagged with Learn more address methods, processes, and resources which can aid your approach to learning. All are free resources to assist you in gaining a more unfiltered view of God’s word.


  Presuppositions

At the close of each article, the relevant presuppositions that support it will be cited. This enables the reader to gain a clearer and deeper understanding of the context. To learn more about presuppositions, see the About page.

  1. God is proactive and purposeful in all that he does
    (Matthew 13:34-35; Ephesians 1:3-14; Hebrews 1; 1 Peter 1:18-21)
  2. God is faithful and will fulfill in those called and chosen what he has already completed in Christ (Fourth Gospel(1) 1:9-13)
  3. God and his Christ are involved in a redemptive work for humanity
    1. A key method in God’s redemptive work involves the offering of reconciliation, redemption, and salvation to eternal life – all through belief in Yeshua as the Son of God.
    2. Entering into belief in the Son of God we leave behind the state of being under God’s wrath, which exists to humble the proud and correct the deceived. (Fourth Gospel 3:36; Romans 1:18-32; 9:21-23; Isaiah 2:6-22)
    3. All will have the opportunity to receive God’s righteous judgement and be led into the truth of Yeshua, the Christ, but some will not surrender to truth. (1 Corinthians 15:22-26; Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:11-13; Fourth Gospel 12:44-50; Romans 2:12-16; 11:32; Revelation 20:14-15)
  4. The grace of God is greater-than the sin of humanity (Romans 5)
  5. God’s redemptive work on humanity’s behalf is to save them from the second death, not the first death
    (Genesis 2:16-17; Fourth Gospel 3:14-21; 5:24; 6:40; Romans 5; 6; 1 Corinthians 15:19; Hebrews 9:25-28; Revelation 20:6, 14-15)

Footnotes:

  1. We adhere to the belief that the authorship of the Fourth Gospel has been misrepresented. Typically this authorship is attributed to John the brother of James and author of the Book of Revelation of Jesus Christ. I have concluded on the side of such authors like J. Phillips (ISBN13: 978-0-9702687-3-0) who has shown conclusively John could not be the sole author and instead attribute primary authorship to Lazarus – the disciple whom Christ loved. Due to this, I will refer to the book as the Fourth Gospel.

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How do the examples of God’s deliverance relate to his work in Christ Jesus?

In a previous article, I outlined two of numerous motivations for God’s deliverance of Noah and his family as described in 2 Peter 2. Recognizing these motivations broadens our viewpoint on any deliverance God may provide for those he calls righteous. It shows the greater depth of why God delivers some, and illustrates reasons that are not simply to protect a chosen group from experiencing something negative. These two motivations were:

  1. Protecting the seed and the lineage of the future Son of Man
  2. Ensuring the connection between the first Adam and the last Adam (Jesus Christ)

In this article, let’s continue to look deeper into 2 Peter 2 and examine the other examples of God’s deliverance cited there. Rather than try to arrive at two possible conclusions due to the differences in the way some define the Great Tribulation, we’ll operate from the presupposition that the Great Tribulation is an expression of Satan’s wrath, and the Day of the Lord is an expression of God’s wrath. This prevents us from encountering contradictions as we seek to understand the work of Jesus Christ as it relates to God’s deliverance.

To begin to see the relationship between the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord: Read more.

Deliverance for Some, Prison for Others

In the examples provided in 2 Peter 2, Peter’s objective is not just to show how God is able to rescue the Godly from trials. It’s also to show his power to restrain the wicked sufficiently so that the whole world throughout time is not engulfed in wickedness.

2 Peter 2:9-10a (ESV throughout)
9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.

As we review each example Peter gives, it’s important to distinguish which of these motivations applies. The contrast in motivation points to distinct objectives behind the will of God.

2 Peter 2:4For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;

The example cited for the sinning angels hints to an underlying process and illustrates the certainty of God’s judgment:

  • The chains of darkness refers to being constrained. Those who’ve committed a crime are first charged, committed to jail, and await their trial and judgment by those with authority to judge.
  • They are held until future judgment
  • They are the first sinners Peter mentions in this group; sinning angels, the resulting flood upon the ungodly, followed by the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
  • It is recorded in the writings of Enoch, which Peter would have been familiar with, that these angels and their offspring were responsible for the rapid corruption of humanity which results in the judgment and flood by God(1) (Genesis 6).

2 Peter 2:5if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;

An obvious motivation for preserving Noah is his role and the example of righteousness he exhibits to the world. This example continues as a herald even today. As we well know, Noah and his family were exempt from God’s wrath and judgement applied to the ungodly. Let’s look further at God’s method of judgment.

  • For their part in the corruption of humanity, created to be God’s image-bearers, those of the ancient world are judged, and the payment for their sin is death (Romans 6:23).
  • They too are held in the darkness of the grave until a future judgment (Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:13) by the righteous judgement of Christ.

Part of Peter’s message in this chapter is to encourage those who are faithful to God and his Christ.

  • Just as exemption from God’s wrath is attributed to Noah, it is likewise attributed to those remaining faithful to our Lord until his return (Hebrews 11:6-7; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-7; Philippians 3:8-11).
  • Noah came through water and death, spending over a year in the ark(2) relying on God’s provision and exemption from wrath. Similarly we too come through death by water into the light and eternal life which is in Christ Jesus (Psalm 27:1; Fourth Gospel(3) 8:12; Romans 6).
  • Noah’s preservation through the flood speaks like a herald of God’s faithfulness toward those who acknowledge and are faithful to him.

2 Peter 2:6if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction [destruction], making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;

  • Here is yet another example of severe corruption of those God created to be his image-bearers, though their corruption occurs post-flood.
  • Their destruction was complete and utter, an example to any who would live ungodly lives (2 Peter 3:1-13)
  • Their prison, like the pre-flood ungodly, is the same – the darkness of death and the grave.
  • Like the pre-flood ungodly, their judgment is yet future (Matthew 10:14-15; 11:22-24)

2 Peter 2:7and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked

  • The deliverance of Lot did not come at the beginning of his stay in Sodom, but at the end of it. After Lot departed Abraham, he appears to have dwelt in Sodom for sixteen years.(4) Over that time Lot endured their wicked behavior, yet didn’t take part in it, nor did his family. Certainly this would have brought the wrath of some upon Lot and his family, just as they sought to do upon the arrival of Lot’s guests (Genesis 19).
  • The wrath Lot was to be delivered from was not the wrath of the wicked, but the wrath of God’s judgment upon those cities and the ungodly who dwelt there (Genesis 19).

2 Peter 2:9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment,

  • The godly have surrendered to God’s will, to perform it and live it, even under duress.
    • They have no need for his wrath and correction unto death.
  • The ungodly however, have not submitted to the will of God. They are presumptuous and self-willed, walking according to the lusts of the flesh (vs 10).
    • They must endure God’s wrath and correction; the wages of sin is death.

Clearly the contrast Peter is making in this chapter is between ungodly living versus that of godly living. The one leads to destruction and death, and in some cases that death is brought about by God’s hand. It is later, in the future, that they will be delivered for judgment. Godly living on the other hand leads ultimately to God’s salvation and exemption from his wrath. The underlying purpose for the contrast between these two is not as obvious as traditionally held.

Deliverance of the Ungodly to Justice

To look further into what this contrast really means, we must consider the outcome intended for both groups. Let’s begin with the ungodly. On the surface, it appears that the ungodly are intended only for destruction. Yet when we step back and look first at the redemptive work of Christ, we can see that he lived, died, and was resurrected for these very same people.

Romans 5:6-11
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 . . . 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Let’s make some observations based on what Paul is describing here:

  • God showed his love for us through Christ’s death. For who – Christians only? No. Christ died for all humanity, for all lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane. (1 Timothy 1:8-11)
  • Paul reminds believers that they too were once enemies of God, but instead received mercy and are now reconciled through Christ (vs 10-11). (1 Timothy 1:12-17)
  • We must therefore remember that we are not unique among the ungodly, except in being called according to the grace of God (2 Timothy 1:8-10).

It would appear that from Paul’s letter to the Romans and many other epistles, there is a common thread that connects the godly (those believing in God and his Christ) and the ungodly (those in unbelief) – that is at one time we all dwelt in unbelief (Romans 5:12-21; 1 Timothy 1:12-17).

However, we can’t come to any conclusion about those who remain in unbelief without first fully understanding God’s fundamental will and desire for all humanity. Then we must consider the process being used to achieve it. There isn’t sufficient room here to walk thoroughly through each of these presuppositions, so a brief introduction to each will have to do.

  1. Having already established that the Lamb of God has removed the sin of the world, we can see it is consistent with God’s desire that all come to repentance and live (Ezekiel 33:11).
  2. An underlying and primary purpose for God’s judgment, as illustrated in his relationship with Israel, is the use of his judgment to lead the ungodly to repentance (Ezekiel 18:30-32).
  3. Death is not a barrier to God or the work he is doing in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:4, 16-23)
    • Those enslaved to sin, the ungodly, are destined for death, the wages of sin.
    • Those called into Christ have come through death also, but through Christ’s death, that they might enter fully into his righteousness and eternal life at his appearing (Romans 5:5-9; 2 Timothy 4:7-8; Titus 2:11-14).
  4. The distinction between those in Christ and the ungodly is that believers are currently being called by God, hear his word of truth, and respond to the gift of grace and mercy through faith (Romans 8:28; 1 Corinthians 1:1-2; 1 Peter 1:1-2; 1 Peter 2:9-10).
    • These faithful enter into Christ’s righteous judgment daily as they work out their own salvation in fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12-13).
    • This follows the pattern of Hebrews 9:27 – through accepting Christ and his death, they enter into his righteous judgment as they grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord, bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit as evidence of their repentance (Romans 5:5-9; 2 Peter 3:11-13,18; Matthew 7:18-20; Fourth Gospel 15:1-8,16; Galatians 5:22-24).
    • These faithful, called a kingdom and priests to our God, are only the firstfruits of salvation (Revelation 5:10; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; James 1:17-18). Those who are called the first are not the only.
    • Their salvation is not from the first death, but the second (Revelation 20:6). Many who died in Christ in order to live in Christ (Romans 6:7-8) still perished in the flesh and are buried. As it was for all the prophets and King David, so it is for Christ’s original apostles and all those who’ve believed from their words, they all died the first death (Acts 2:29-36; 13:36-37; Fourth Gospel 3:12-13).
  5. The ungodly don’t confront their Savior until the final judgment. It is only then, in the awareness of their resurrected physical life, do they consider taking the Lord at his word.
    • For some, this will be their first awareness of his truth. Yet all will be subject to the same righteous judgment, and all will need to choose whether to surrender to that righteous judgment or not (Revelation 20:11-13; Fourth Gospel 12:48; Romans 2, especially verse 16).
    • All will recognize his Lordship, but not all will voluntarily surrender to that Lordship. (Psalm 8; 72; Daniel 7:13-14; Micah 4:1-5; Matthew 13:41-43; Philippians 2:9-10; Colossians 1:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 1:7; 19:11-20:6)
    • The final outcome for those who wish to remain lawless and disobedient, the ungodly and sinners, or unholy and profane is death; their end is the second death (Revelation 20:14-15). From this death there is no hope of resurrection.

For many, grasping the first four points is not a great challenge. There is a logical coherence to it. This can be attributed primarily to the amount of discussion it receives in the scriptures. The fifth point, on God’s righteous judgment, requires one to dig much deeper into scripture and into their own presuppositions in order to grasp it fully. It will be the subject of future articles and books.

To discover more about Christ’s plan for his body of believers, their exemption from God’s wrath, and the role of Christ’s righteous judgement, read my recent book . . .

The Rapture Question An Unfiltered View

Those in Christ are a New Creation

The hope of all committed Christians is to share in the glory of our Lord at his appearing. Paul refers to this as a mystery, in that nothing like it has ever been considered before – For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality (1 Corinthians 15:50-57). Paul later refers to this complete reconciliation with God in another way.

2 Corinthians 5:16-19
16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

Note Paul’s focus here is on the new; a new creation. The form of this new creation is unlike the form of the original creation. The new is eternal, full of life and the Spirit (vs 1-5). In fact the Holy Spirit is the guarantor of our hope (Romans 8:14-17). Paul even goes so far as to outline the contrast between the old and the new in his first letter to the Corinthians.

Building an Everlasting Kingdom 

One confusing element of Paul’s discussion of the kingdom of God in 1 Corinthians 15, is that he spends very little time distinguishing between the multiple kingdoms to which he refers. Let’s take a look at what he does say.

1 Corinthians 15:20-26
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

Since most of the chapter, including this paragraph, develops around the contrast Paul makes between death and Jesus Christ as the source of life through the resurrection of the dead, he is showing a fundamental component of God’s work to establish an everlasting kingdom; the Godhead’s power over death. Though an enemy, called the last enemy, death will not hinder any from experiencing the reality of this first phase of the kingdom. Not only is Christ the doorway to life beyond the grave during the reign of his earthly kingdom, he’s the doorway to the final phase of that everlasting kingdom in the the age to come. All must pass through Christ and his righteous judgment in order to have any part in the eternal Kingdom of Heaven. With that in mind we can begin to see the need and purpose for what Paul describes must come first:

  • To establish the firstfruits of the new creation, a kingdom of priests to rule with Christ. This is one of the first things Christ does upon his return.(6)
  • To establish dominion over all the nations of the earth along with powers and dominions in heaven. Bringing into subjection all God’s enemies. Some will choose to take part in that new creation, others will not.(7)
  • Once that work is completed by the end of his 1000-year reign, this earthly phase of the kingdom is transformed and handed over to God the Father.(8)

Again we can see the focus of Christ’s work during this earthly kingdom is to do the Father’s will; prepare the world for the kingdom to come to a new heavens and a new earth. This is the end goal.

Conclusions

There is a process God is using to redeem the bulk of humanity from the necessary disobedience, destruction, and even deception to which they’ve been subjected to. Their redemption from sin and its result, death, is only one part of that process (Romans 11:32-36). The other involves his righteous judgment. Though Yeshua the Christ will execute God’s wrath upon a disobedient and wicked world, the destruction it leads to is not their final state (Revelation 8:1,6; 19:11-16). God’s righteous judgment will also be executed through Christ with the intent of leading all that are willing to obedience in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:24-26; Fourth Gospel 5:21-23, 26-29).



To discover more about what Christ’s kingdom-building process means for his body of believers, the faithful in Israel, and unbelievers in the world, read my recent book . . .

The Rapture Question – An Unfiltered View

The very same process of righteous judgment has been at work in all those called, chosen, and faithful of our Lord (1 Peter 4:12-17). They all began, whether Jew or Gentile, in the same state of disobedience. It was only by God’s grace that they should hear his word of truth and respond in faith (Ephesians 2:1-10). In that calling they had a choice as to how, or whether, they would respond. Those who surrender to Christ’s righteousness are promised eternal life.

Though developed over a longer period of time, this same process is at work in Israel’s past, present and future, with the same intent of leading the descendants of Jacob toward obedience in Christ. They too will receive God’s mercy, seek repentance, and be the recipients of a new covenant (Isaiah 59:20-21; Ezekiel 37:12-14; Jeremiah 31:31-34). Their example of divine redemption serves as an example for the world. The apostle Paul shows this clearly in his discourse on the relationship between the descendants of Jacob and the Gentile world in Romans 9, 10, and 11. It is there he concludes, with the most telling motivation on God’s part, regarding the work being done in Yeshua, the Christ.

Romans 11:32For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.


There is much more to learn about each of these topics and links have been provided to related articles. Those tagged with Read more lead you to related channel questions and their basic answers. Those tagged Discover more are part of a more in-depth study program. Any tagged with Learn more address methods, processes, and resources which can aid your approach to learning. All are free resources to assist you in gaining a more unfiltered view of God’s word.


Presuppositions

At the close of each article, the relevant presuppositions that support it will be cited. This enables the reader to gain a clearer and deeper understanding of the context. To learn more about presuppositions, see the About page.

  1. God is proactive and purposeful in all that he does
    (Matthew 13:34-35; Ephesians 1:3-14; Hebrews 1; 1 Peter 1:18-21)
  2. God is faithful and will fulfill in those called and chosen what he has already completed in Christ (Fourth Gospel 1:9-13)
  3. God and his Christ are involved in a redemptive work for humanity
    • A key method in God’s redemptive work involves the offering of reconciliation, redemption, and salvation to eternal life – all through belief in Yeshua as the Son of God.
    • Entering into belief in the Son of God we leave behind the state of being under God’s wrath, which exists to humble the proud and correct the deceived. (Fourth Gospel 3:36; Romans 1:18-32; 9:21-23; Isaiah 2:6-22)
    • All will have the opportunity to receive God’s righteous judgement and be led into the truth of Yeshua, the Christ, but some will not surrender to truth. (1 Corinthians 15:22-26; Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:11-13; Fourth Gospel 12:44-50; Romans 2:12-16; 11:32; Revelation 20:14-15)
  4. God’s redemptive work on humanity’s behalf is to save them from the second death, not the first death.
    • The death spoken of in God’s command to Adam – in dying you shall surely die does not refer to spiritual death, but the second death – which results in separation from God and from which there is no hope of resurrection.
      (Genesis 2:16-17; Fourth Gospel 3:14-21; 5:24; 6:40; Romans 5; 6; 1 Corinthians 15:19; Hebrews 9:25-28; Revelation 20:6, 14-15)
  5. The grace of God is greater-than the sin of humanity (Romans 5)
  6. Based on God’s promise to offer the new covenant to all Israel after Christ returns to establish his earthly kingdom, clearly this is not the only day of salvation.
    (Jeremiah 31; 32:37-41; Ezekiel 37:24-28; Zechariah 8; Romans 9, 10, 11)

Footnotes:

  1. Reversing Hermon – Enoch, the Watchers & the Forgotten Mission of Christ, Michael S. Heiser, 2017 – Defending Press
  2. Though Noah’s time on the water was 150 days (including the 40 days it rained [Pulpit Commentary] – Genesis 7:24), he spent additional time in the ark waiting for the waters to recede. From the date the rain started (600th year, 2nd month, 17th day of Noah) to the time God called them out of the ark (601st year, 2nd month, 27th day of Noah), it was one year and ten days they spent inside the ark (Genesis 7:11-12; 8:13-16).
  3. We adhere to the belief that the authorship of the Fourth Gospel has been misrepresented. Typically this authorship is attributed to John the brother of James and author of the Book of Revelation of Jesus Christ. I have concluded on the side of such authors as J. Phillips (ISBN13: 978-0-9702687-3-0) who has shown conclusively John could not be the sole author and instead attribute primary authorship to Lazarus – the disciple whom Christ loved. Due to this, I will refer to the book as the Fourth Gospel.
  4. Benson Commentary on 2 Peter 2:6
  5. By definition, inherit (verb) means to receive from an ancestor a right or title, descendible by law, at the ancestor’s death. Whereas to dwell (verb) means to live as a resident within the subject location. So the important distinction that needs to be made here is that an inheritance carries with it a legal right to, or ownership of, the object being inherited. For the subject of our discussion, that object is Christ’s kingdom on earth. Conversely, the idea of dwelling in Christ’s kingdom carries no sense of ownership or legal right of possession.
  6. Peter 2:9-10; Romans 8:18-23, 29-30; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; Hebrews 5:7-10; James 1:17-18
  7. Psalm 8; 72; Daniel 4; 7:13-14, 19-27; Micah 4:1-5; Matthew 13:41-43; 24:27,30; Ephesians 6:12-13; Philippians 2:9-10; Colossians 1:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 1:7; 19:11-20:6; 22:12
  8. Fourth Gospel 18:36; Luke 4:42-44; 19:11-27; 1 Corinthians 15:50; Revelation 21:1-4