Calvinism and Arminianism …A Commentary

Calvinism and Arminianism …A Commentary.
The subject of this commentary is what was written in italics from this link: 
http://www.calvinistcorner.com/tulip.htm 
The system of Calvinism adheres to a very high view of scripture and seeks to derive its theological formulations based solely on God’s word. It focuses on God’s sovereignty, stating that God is able and willing by virtue of his omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence, to do whatever He desires with His creation. It also maintains that within the Bible are the following teachings: That God, by His sovereign grace predestines people into salvation; that Jesus died only for those predestined; that God regenerates the individual where he is then able and wants to choose God; and that it is impossible for those who are redeemed to lose their salvation. 


Arminianism, on the other hand, maintains that God predestined, but not in an absolute sense. Rather, He looked into the future to see who would pick him and then He chose them. Jesus died for all peoples’ sins who have ever lived and ever will live, not just the Christians. Each person is the one who decides if he wants to be saved or not. And finally, it is possible to lose your salvation (some arminians believe you cannot lose your salvation”.



Here is my humble take (in bold parentheses) on these areas:

Calvinism
The teaching is summarized in the acronym TULIP. Is this biblical? 
Total Depravity: (also known as Total Inability and Original Sin): 
Sin has affected all parts of man. The heart, emotions, will, mind, and body are all affected by sin. We are completely sinful. We are not as sinful as we could be, but we are completely affected by sin.


The doctrine of Total Depravity is derived from scriptures that reveal human character: Man’s heart is evil (Mark 7:21-23) and sick Jer. 17:9). Man is a slave of sin (Rom. 6:20). He does not seek for God (Rom. 3:10-12). He cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14). He is at enmity with God (Eph.2:15). And, is by nature a child of wrath (Eph. 2:3). TheCalvinist asks the question, “In light of the scriptures that declare man’s true nature as being utterly lost and incapable, how is it possible for anyone to choose or desire God?” The answer is, “He cannot. Therefore God must predestine.”
Calvinism also maintains that because of our fallen nature we are born again not by our own will but God’s will (John 1:12-13); God grants that we believe (Phil. 1:29); faith is the work of God (John 6:28-29); God appoints people to believe (Acts 13:48); aCalvinism also maintains that because of our fallen nature we are born again not by our own will but God’s will (John 1:12-13); God grants that we believe (Phil. 1:29); faith is the work of God (John 6:28-29); God appoints people to believe (Acts 13:48); and God predestines (Eph. 1:1-11; Rom. 8:29; 9:9-23).”

Personal take:
(Mark 7:21-23 do not say “man’s heart is evil”, “sick Jer. 17:9” , “slave of sin”(Rom. 6:20) and “does not seek God (Rom. 3:10-12). In fact, when man was created, he was perfect and “very good” (Gen. 1:31). One does not have to look far to see that evil can not come out of a newborn baby who has not develop enough to distinguish good and evil. As the baby develops and has the capacity to decide and act, he/she can choose good or evil, be a slave to sin or righteousness and can seek God. A prime example is Job who was “blameless and upright ..fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1:8). True, Job was in a “death row” because of the “imputed sin” of Adam, but of himself, he did not sin although he lacked the understanding of God that he was still a sinner because all are accounted with “death sentence”, as “Adam sinned , so all sinned” with the resulting death as a consequence. Likewise, David was a “man of God’s heart” and did “good works” before his adultery. Taking all these in consideration, the context suggests that no one can discern what is in the mind of man where evil comes out from. It merely explains that action taken by man originates in the mind and that no one can divine what is in his mind. Man is capable of choosing between right or wrong, good or evil, life or death. This choice was set before us, as in:

Deuteronomy 30:15-20 New International Version (NIV)


“See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.


But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.


This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”



Nevertheless, however upright a person is, whatever good works emanating from him, those are still “filthy rags” to God (Isaiah 64:6). The “works” that God requires are those that are “fruits of the Holy Spirit”(Gal.5:22-23).


Indeed, because of Adam’s sin that was counted as sin of all mankind, no one can bring humanity back and be reconciled to the Father were it not for Jesus death counted as that of humanity’s. Jesus died instead of us, as far as the Father is concerned to pay for the consequence of Adam’s sin, which is “eternal or second death”. Without the Passover sacrifice, humanity is totally hopeless. Predestination is about salvation at the time-period that God chose for a particular person to be offered the opportunity to receive the power of the Holy Spirit. Judgment does not occur unless the person has the Holy Spirit available to him at his predestined time-period. This was first offered and received at Pentecost, then to others who believed who will manifest themselves in the “first resurrection” of “overcomers”. Others will have their time for the Holy Spirit to dwell during the Millenium-rule of Jesus/Son of God on earth and after that as in the prophecy about the “dry bones” (Ezek.37:1-14). The last time this Holy Spirit of power will be available to humans will be at the Great WhiteThrone Judgment. Those who believed/received the Holy Spirit of power and voluntarily follow its guidance will bear “fruits of the Holy Spirit”; they are the “overcomers” who “choose good over evil”. Those who outrightly reject or do not believe Jesus and those who believed/received the Holy Spirit but did not become “overcomers”, i.e., did not bear fruits, will be thrown in the “gehenna fire” at each period of the Holy Spirit’s availability. Jesus died for ALL humanity applicable to All at their predetermined time period. Jesus death is propitiation for the consequence of sin thereby a redemption for ALL from eternal death and reconciled us to the Father. But, not all will be saved; others may not achieve eventual salvation, depending on whether they become “one” with the Son and the Father through following the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ death and redemption for all do not mean salvation for all, as being predestined in the “book of life” (Rev.20:12) does not necessarily mean “once saved always saved” because anyone can be blotted out (Rev. 22:19) and has to be an “overcomer” as in Rev. 3:5). All those predetermined to have the Holy Spirit available to them at their particular time-period does not necessarily mean all of them will be saved as they have to be “overcomers”. 


In essence, if “sinful nature”, “slave of sin”, and “man’s heart is evil” mean that because of Adam’s sin that we naturally are doomed to eternal death, then this is true. If “incapable of doing good works” refers to “works that God requires” (which are fruits of the Holy Spirit), then indeed we are “incapable”. Otherwise, the teaching is problematic.)



Unconditional Election:

God does not base His election on anything He sees in the individual. He chooses the elect according to the kind intention of His will (Eph. 1:4-8; Rom. 9:11) without any consideration of merit within the individual. Nor does God look into the future to see who would pick Him. Also, as some are elected into salvation, others are not (Rom. 9:15, 21).




Personal take:
(Yes, God chooses who he elects and decides on what time period they will be, at which time, the Holy Spirit is available to them. This is not merit-based as the best of human works are still “dung” to God. Election is about who are to be in a particular time period when the Holy Spirit will “dwell in us”. Salvation comes through the gift of reconciliation achieved by the death of Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit that needs to be “baptized in us”. Whether we follow its guidance or not determines who will be “overcomers” and worthy of the reward of “immortal life”, which translates to “salvation from eternal death”.

In essence, if “some are elected into salvation, others are not (Rom. 9:15, 21)” means elected as to their time-period of election, then it is tenable teaching.)


Limited Atonement:(also known as Particular Atonement):

Jesus died only for the elect. Though Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient for all, it was not efficacious for all. Jesus only bore the sins of the elect. Support for this position is drawn from such scriptures as Matt. 26:28 where Jesus died for ‘many’; John 10:11, 15 which say that Jesus died for the sheep (not the goats, per Matt. 25:32-33); John 17:9 where Jesus in prayer interceded for the ones given Him, not those of the entire world; Acts 20:28 and Eph. 5:25-27 which state that the Church was purchased by Christ, not all people; and Isaiah 53:12 which is a prophecy of Jesus’ crucifixion where he would bore the sins of many (not all).


Personal take
(Matt. 26:28 “blood shed for many” is not necessarily exclusive. Rather, it’s context suggests his blood is not for a few, but so abundant and “for many”. While Jesus did not actually say in this verse that his blood was shed “for all”, it certainly “efficacious” for “all who believed”. 



John 10:11-15 the context is about protection of all from the wolf that may devour his sheep.



Matt. 25:32-33 differentiates people who were “sheep” and received eternal life from those who were “goats” and received eternal death. The “sheep” followed the guidance of the Holy Spirit whereas the “goats” did not. Nevertheless, Christ died for all, whether sheep or goats. 


John 17:9 In here, Jesus was praying ” for them”, “not the world” , his followers as their lives would be in danger after he leaves. Jesus loves all, whether believers or not. This verse does not mean that Jesus did not care for others, as they will have their chance in the future. 



Acts 20:28(?) and Eph. 5:25-27. True, “Christ loved the church and gave himself for it” but this does not necessarily exclude others from his love and that he died for all.


Isaiah 53:12 “bear the sin of many” is not exclusive as the following suggests “made intercession for transgressors”, meaning all transgressors. )



Irresistible Grace:

When God calls his elect into salvation, they cannot resist. God offers to all people the gospel message. This is called the external call. But to the elect, God extends an internal call and it cannot be resisted. This call is by the Holy Spirit who works in the hearts and minds of the elect to bring them to repentance and regeneration whereby they willingly and freely come to God. Some of the verses used in support of this teaching are Romans 9:16 where it says that “it is not of him who wills nor of him who runs, but of God who has mercy”; Philippians 2:12-13 where God is said to be the one working salvation in the individual; John 6:28-29 where faith is declared to be the work of God; Acts 13:48 where God appoints people to believe; and John 1:12-13 where being born again is not by man’s will, but by God’s. 

“All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out,” (John 6:37).


Personal take:
(True, only God decides who will be called at any particular time-period to receive the Holy Spirit of power and the one who initiates every facet of salvation. But, why should this awesome gift of God be forced down our throat? No one is forced to obey him, even those who have received the gift of the Holy Spirit as the believer may still “vomit and eat”(Prov. 26:11; 2 Pet. 2:20-22). Overcomers are those who voluntarily overcome evil with the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit. Being “one” with God is imposed but not forced in such a way that we have no choice. Calling into salvation does not mean we can not resist because there are people who reject the Holy Spirit( I Thes. 4:8; Mk. 3:28).


Perseverance of the Saints:(also known as Once Saved Always Saved):

You cannot lose your salvation. Because the Father has elected, the Son has redeemed, and the Holy Spirit has applied salvation, those thus saved are eternally secure. They are eternally secure in Christ. Some of the verses for this position are John 10:27-28 where Jesus said His sheep will never perish; John 6:47 where salvation is described as everlasting life; Romans 8:1 where it is said we have passed out of judgment; 1 Corinthians 10:13 where God promises to never let us be tempted beyond what we can handle; and Phil. 1:6 where God is the one being faithful to perfect us until the day of Jesus’ return.


Personal take:
(Only those who “persevere”, the “overcomers”, are the sheep that will never perish, are the ones who “passed out of judgment” to be rewarded with eternal life. True, God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can handle; unfortunately, some still succumbed. Indeed, God is faithful but we are not consistently so.)


Arminianism
Arminianism, on the other hand, maintains that God predestined, but not in an absolute sense. Rather, He looked into the future to see who would pick him and then He chose them. Jesus died for all peoples’ sins who have ever lived and ever will live, not just the Christians. Each person is the one who decides if he wants to be saved or not. And finally, it is possible to lose your salvation (some arminians believe you cannot lose your salvation”.




Personal take:
(Predestination is absolute as far as determining who are elected to partake in a particular time-period of “calling” and chance to have the Holy Spirit. His choice is not determined by “who would pick him” . Instead, he gives “sunshine to grass and weeds” (Matt. 5:45) as “time and chance happens to all”( Eccl. 9:11)




God bless.

Original post: February 15, 2018

In Search of the Truth

In Search of the Truth



There is so much information we learned from childhood and all through adulthood. Some we determined to be true and kept them in our mind. Some are patently false and we outrightly brand them in our memory as such; that also helps us to learn from our errors and mistakes. Others, we initially thought to be true but later on, we found them to be false and we adjust our understanding. These we learned from people telling us directly, some from reading books, from school, Internet or seminars and other venues. This compilation of information then becomes a composite of who we are. But, do we have the same interaction and reaction to secular information when it comes to religious realm? Hopefully, so. Certainly, we can learn from the example and advice from those people in the Bible. Hence, the principles in this article on how to search for spiritual truth:

A. Test the spirit



When someone tells you about any religious tenet, check it out. Apostle John was clear on this, as in: I John 4:1″Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”



Indeed,Jesus cautioned us in Mark 13:6 that “Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many.”


B. Remember the Bereans? (1)
Acts 17:10-11 “The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so”.



Notice that, while Paul was well known, they did not just believed him but searched the scriptures to see whether the teaching is factual and his interpretation spot on. Should we not learn directly from the Bible instead of just from people ? Similarly, this attitude should be adopted by all. Always factcheck and understand the context.

C. Be ready to explain your position.



A number of people may question our belief. Can we give them the basis or proof of our beliefs and be confident and convincing enough? The apostle Peter has this to say to us In I Pet. 3:15 “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” 

D. Grow up and progress.



When can we be ready to eat spiritual meat, not just drink milk? Are we still in the basic tenets of Christianoty? Paul said in I Cor. 3:3 “I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.” Also in Heb 5:12 “For at the time when ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God, and have become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.”


E. Receive the power to understand 



No matter what we do in search of the spiritual truth, we will never “see” it unless God opens our “eyes and ears” to spiritual things by the Holy Spirit. No human, “flesh-and-blood” has the capacity and knowhow can do this.This principle is demonstrated in:Matt. 16:13-17 “When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood (human), but by my Father in heaven.”



Only God has the truth and he is the only one who can give it to us but through the power of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual things can only be discerned with the power of the Holy Spirit. Notice the following verses:
Eyes will see and ears will hear” (Isaiah 6:10;Jer. 5:21; Ezek. 12:2; Joel 2:28-29;Matthew 13:15;Acts 28:27;Rom. 11:8) is a prophecy of the coming Holy Spirit of power that will open us to spiritual realm, as they were not sensitive to spirituality. 
Joel 2:28-29 “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.”



Acts 1:5 “For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”



Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth”.



Prov. 20:12, “Ears that hear and eyes that see– the LORD has made them both.” 
Matt. 13:16 “But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.” 




This “action” to understand can only happen with “power” vested in us. And this power, Jesus had to receive himself directly post-resurrection from the Father. This power is so crucial for us that man-Jesus had to die for our reconciliation and justification so that after he was resurrected, he received it from the Father to be given subsequently to us-ward. And we receive it only when we believed…

John 7:37-39 (ESV)“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”



And “believing” means we “repent” and be “baptized” with the Holy Spirit. 

Acts 2:38 “And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”


LET US GROW UP TOGETHER👍😊🎉😇
Reference:

1. The Bereans. Retrieved 1/25/18 from https://biblia.com/bible/esv/Acts%2017.10-15
Original post: 1/29/2018

Christmas, should it be celebrated?

Should Christmas be celebrated and if so, when? Others reject its celebration on December 25 as others claim Jesus’ birth was on a September/October. While millions throughout the world are celebrating Yuletide season, some in the Christian world are conflicted. What should we do? What should be our response to those who recognize different dates of Jesus’ birth? And, for that matter, to anyone who summarily discredit Jesus birth?


Historical and Biblical vignettes

Interesting excerpts:

In addition to celebrating the winter solstice a few days before December 25, Romans in 273 AD already celebrated two festivals on the very day: natalis solis invicti (the “birth of the unconquered sun”) and the birthday of Mithras, the Iranian god of the sun. According to Christianity Today, church leaders thought it would also be a fitting time to honour the son of God. Besides, as Ace Collins, author of Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas, said in a PBS segment, the existing Roman holidays were filled with drinking and debauchery, so this new holiday was a way to teach heathens a lesson about sin and redemption. After Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity and declared tolerance for the religion, Western Christians officially began celebrating December 25 as the birth of Jesus in 336 AD. Those in the Eastern Church continue to recognize another day, January 6, as Christ’s birthday, but nowadays most everyone agrees on the date.“(1)

The arguments against December 25 can be summarized into:

First, shepherds were in the fields watching their flocks at the time of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:7-8). Second, Jesus’ parents came to Bethlehem to register in a Roman census (Luke 2:1-4). Such censuses were not taken in winter, when temperatures often dropped below freezing and roads were in poor condition. The biblical accounts point to the fall of the year as the most likely time of Jesus’ birth, based on the conception and birth of John the Baptist. It was during this time of temple service that Zacharias learned that he and his wife, Elizabeth, would have a child (Luke 1:8-13). After he completed his service and traveled home, Elizabeth conceived (Luke 1:23-24). Assuming John’s conception took place near the end of June, adding nine months brings us to the end of March as the most likely time for John’s birth. Adding another six months (the difference in ages between John and Jesus (Luke 1:35-36)) brings us to the end of September as the likely time of Jesus’ birth.“(2).

The arguments for December 25 is expressed by:

“J. Stormer, PCC [Pensacola Christian College] Update (Winter 1996), cited by G. E. Veith, “Evidence December 25 is the right day,” has argued for December 25 as a possible date of Jesus’ birth on the basis of the course of temple duties for the clan of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist (Luke 1:5;8, 1 Chron 24:10). He argues that the 24 courses of the priests each served for one month. However, he did not document that claim, and the OT does not indicate the length of priestly service. Clues in the Mishnah suggest that each course served for one week—not one month—by rotation (see, for example, the note on m. Taanith 2:6 in Danby’s translation of the Mishnah). Josephus and the Talmud confirm that the courses each lasted one week (Joachim Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus [Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979], 119). If, then, the priestly service lasted one week, not one month at time, this causes their entire chronology to break down. Most likely, therefore, each course of the priests served for one week, from Sabbath to Sabbath, two different times each year. Since we cannot be sure whether the course mentioned in Luke was the first or second annual course, and other difficulties are present as well, the information concerning Zechariah’s temple service in Luke 1 is hardly adequate for pinpointing the time of Jesus’ birth.”(3).
With all the questions about the specific date, one may take this advice:
In any case, our Christian faith should not rest on Christmas (which, after all, with all its trappings is only a human tradition), much less on the date of Christmas as December 25, but rather on the reason for the season—the virgin-born, divine-human Son of God, who came to save sinners by dying a sacrificial, substitutionary death on the cross and rose again on the third day (1 Cor 15:3–4)”(Ibid. 3).

The Reason for the Season




Indeed, our focus should be directed on the “reason for the season”. And to understand the reason for incarnation, one has to begin with the question, who the God/Elohim Creator of everything, the invisible and visible. Without first addressing this, one would miss out as to who, really, is this person Jesus whose birth the world is celebrating. This was none other than El Shaddai aka, YHVH, the one who incarnated into flesh-composed human , the man-Jesus. The Elohim Creator (Gen. 1:1) is the same El Shaddai/God Almighty( Ex. 6:3, 6-7) to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; but to Moses he is called YHVH. Paul, speaking of man-Jesus, wrote in Col. 1:16, 17
“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist”.



Similar identified person and pre-eminence were echoed in John 1:1-3,14
 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” …And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us…the only begotten of the Father.”
The Elohim in Genesis, the Creator of all, is the same as El Shaddai, YHVH and man-Jesus. Yet, it was the Father who caused Jesus to be the proximate Creator, as in,
Hebrews 1:2 says, “In these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.”



It was “through” Jesus that the Father created everything. Jesus was the proximate Creator 
That said, why will a most powerful Creator, spirit-composed, chose to be flesh-composed, a human, lower than “angels”, as in,

Ps. 8:4-7 “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet”




This was quoted by Paul also in,

Hebrews 2:6-7″“But there is a place where someone has testified:What is mankind that you are mindful of them,a son of man that you care for him? You made them a little lower than the angels;you crowned them with glory and honor”


Why El Shaddai/YHVH incarnated?




In general, someone trades off a powerful position with something better. But, for him to become human and “lower than angels” that he also created, sounds unconventional. Unless, there is something in being human that eventually be better choice for him. In Heb 1:2, after Jesus’ resurrection as Son of God, he was “appointed heir of all things.” And in Ps. 8:4-7, Jesus was prophesied after resurrection as Son of God to be “crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet”. From the preceding, one can deduce that YHVH CREATOR, as powerful as he was, had limits; and glory, honor, dominion overall were granted to him afterwards. Certainly better position than before creation. Moreover, he became a begotten, then born of God as Son; a position he did not have before, although prophesied. Does John 3:16 help to provide an answer, too? Here it is,
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”



Notice that it was the Father’s love that initiated the love that emanates from Jesus. The consistent narrative is that the Father wanted to create everything and he caused YHVH/Jesus to do it. Similarly, the Father wanted to show love to the world and he expressed it through Jesus. On both counts, he agreed voluntarily and is “one” with the Father. 
But, how is this incarnation an expression of love for the world? It still begs the question, what in being human is an expression of love? And, how is this a better trade-off for the Creator YHVH? If one looks back at biblical history, lowering himself being human for Jesus is only a preliminary path to “create the spirit-composed kingdom of God”. He is the “beginner and finisher” (Heb. 12:2;Rev. 22:13), the “precursor” (Heb. 6:20) of what is to become of humans. Note that, as human, Jesus was flesh-composed and became spirit-composed at resurrection. Other humans will follow this track that he walked. He was a trail-blazer in creating a God-kingdom made of spirit-composed beings but higher than angelic position. This was planned by the Father and YHVH/Jesus voluntarily “signed on” to this strategy. 

Strategic plan



Man sinned from the garden of Eden. He did not follow God’s guidance not to “eat the fruit wherein there is knowledge of good and evil.” (Gen. 2:16-17). Adam wanted to be “like God knowing good and evil” by his own “works” of eating the fruit himself. He was not informed that in the future through Jesus, second Adam, this “like God knowing good and evil” will be achieved. The Father chose the man-Jesus to do it by the power of the Holy Spirit given to him and under the mechanism of his faith, belief and trust, not works, so “no man can boast”, even man-Jesus (Eph. 2:8-9; I Cor. 1:29). The man chosen has to be “from above”, heavenly; not come “out of the ground”, earthy (John 3:31;8:23).

As sin in the garden of Eden (Gen. 2:17) condemned man to second-death(4,5), the Father accounted all human sins to first-Adam and imputed this death (eternal, irreversible) to one man, Jesus, the second-Adam (Rom. 5:12-21). This was planned from the foundation of the world, before any man did any good works. Jesus , our Passover, believed in this plan and was then crucified and died for us. For which, we were reconciled to the Father and justified. But, through the “faith of Jesus”, in the promise of his resurrection from eternal death, the Father then resurrected him and gave him a “gift of the Holy Spirit” for us to subsequently receive starting at Pentecost that year. 

Without YHVH incarnating into a human, this imputation to one man that came “from above” would not have happened, and the consequence of Adam’s sin, i.e. eternal death, would not have been passed-over for mankind’s reconciliation with the Father. Having been reconciled, we are “saved by/through his life”, as in,
Romans 5:10-11 “For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”



Notice that reconciliation was based on belief of Christ that what the Father promised from the foundation of the world, would take effect, regarding imputation of his death to that of mankind. We now received reconciliation through Jesus’ death, which already occurred. But, salvation (which was also promised) is still future, i.e., shall be saved. But how?

 

Holy Spirt of Power




Having the power of the Holy Spirit is the key to salvation from eternal death. Without it, humanity is doomed. This is the gift promised before the foundation of the world by the Father and believed by Jesus to be given to him for mankind, after resurrecting him from eternal death. This is the power to fulfill the prophecy of John referring to Jesus in:

Mark 1:8 “I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”




With this power received by Jesus from the Father, he can then(not before) give it to whoever he so pleases and chooses. Those with “spiritual hearing” (Rom.10:17) will believe and they will be baptized in the Holy Spirit, not with water. And, with this power-tool, aka, Holy Spirit, our “weak body” (Matt. 26:41) will be energized to overcome evil, choose good vs evil towards sanctification. Only “overcomers”(Rev. 2:7; 11, 17; 3:5,12,21; Rom. 2:7), those who “bear fruits of the Holy Spirit” (John 15:2; Matt. 7:19) will eventually receive “in a twinkling of an eye” (I Cor. 15:52) the glorious spirit-composed bodies reserved from heaven. And, with that, salvation from eternal death is achieved and so will Hosea’s prophecy (Hosea 13:14) echoed in Paul’s musing, as in:

I Cor. 15:55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”




Summary




Not knowing the exact date of Jesus’ birth, whether December, September/October, all should have a respectful and humble response and “get off our high-horse” of claiming moral superiority and a monopoly on truth. Everyone must stop bickering about the date of Jesus’ birth and accept the only fact that it did happen. Instead, celebrate the reason for incarnation, the birth of man-Jesus, at anytime, be it December 25 or otherwise. Failure to celebrate may marginalize the significance of this historic birth, as others have disparaged any date. This incarnation is so monumental for anyone to minimize as it begins the process of reconciliation, justification and future salvation “by his life”. Jesus believed on the promises of the Father regarding imputation of all sins of mankind to one human Adam so that the consequence of that sin (eternal death) be accounted to Jesus’ death leading to our reconciliation/justification. Having been reconciled to the Father, humans can now undergo the process of salvation “by his life” through the power of the Holy Spirit given as a gift to Jesus, post resurrection, and subsequently for us to be “baptized in”.

References:
1. When was Jesus born? Retrieved 12/25/17 from https://www.livescience.com/42976-when-was-jesus-born.html

2.When was Jesus Christ born. Retrieved 12/25/2017 from https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/bible-questions-and-answers/when-was-jesus-christ-born-was-jesus-born-on-december

3. Was Jesus born December 25? Retrieved 12/25/2017 from https://www.biblicalfoundations.org/was-jesus-born-on-december-25-with-c-l-quarles/
4. Salvation Series, what? Retrieved 12/28/2017 from https://fact-s.net/2015/10/04/salvation-series-1what/
5. Death, What is? Retrieved 12/28/2017 from https://fact-s.net/2017/05/09/death-what-is/

Original post: December 31, 2017
 For further studies as to what God is, please access https://fact-s.net/2014/06/29/what-is-god-2/

Are both our “faith and works” needed for Salvation?

Are both our “faith and works” needed for Salvation?

It is a long-standing Christian tenet that a person has to have faith and do good works, i.e. follow the Ten Commandments, Aseret ha-Dibrot, Torah ( Ex. 20:1-17; Deut. 5:6-21). As to whether our obedience to the Law is an ultimate requirement to be saved, not just faith, is where teachings differ even among those in traditional Christianity. But not to traditional Judaism and Islam that hold “our works” to be essential. On our own, can we really do good works acceptable to the Father? What is the truth? What exactly is the proper role of “our faith and works” to salvation? Do ourfaith or works” really lead to salvation, or what some believe that having “works” is proof that one is “saved“? That, having “good works” is a natural progression of “being saved“?  Are our good works the result  of salvation”?  Are we “saved now”? If not , when actually are we really “saved”?




Reward for our obedience or “works”/deeds: Eternal Life

Some of us may have heard a teaching that excludes our role in Salvation. Somehow, the phrase “saved by faith” stops there and negates our personal responsibility and obligation to do “good works”.What is the truth? 

Jesus said in John 5:29 “And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation

Also, notice Rom. 2:6-9:

Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;”

The preceding verses clearly support the principle that the reward for those who”have done good”  and in “patient continuance” in “our works” (overcomers of evil) is “immortality, eternal life“; whereas, the consequence of sin is eternal death. Why no mention of reward for our faith? Is this really the contextual truth? Eternal life being the reward of having “works“, the righteousness of obedience or “works“(Rom. 6:16), what happened then to “the righteousness of faith“? What is the end-result of having faith? What then, is in it for “our faith“? 



Follow God’s commandments or else?

The Law is the Ten Commandments given to Moses in 2 tablets of stone. This defined sin as a violation of that Law as in 

I John 3:4 “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
From Genesis, disobedience (sin) to the Law even before it was given in Mt. Sinai, nevertheless was met with punishment of eternal death. This is the final death (2nd death) from which there is no resurrection; hopeless, were it not for the set plan of Passover Lamb “slain from the foundation”, as a substitute for us, as in:

Rev. 13:8 “…..the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.” (NIV)

Contrariwise, a natural death (1st death) is a consequence of being mortal. And as such can die, even when personally, he/she did not commit sin like Job and Jesus. If Adam/Eve did not sin, they would still die the natural 1st death as they were mortals. Having been created, as such, humans already have been destined to die and afterwards the judgment as in:

Heb. 9:2 7 “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:”



On the other hand, eternal death, the 2nd death is the consequence of Adam’s sin. It even includes any human being, peri-Adamic, i.e., any human before, during or after Adam’s life on earth, including the man-Jesus. This principle is based on all sin imputed to one man (Adam), after the Law was given at Mt Sinai, so that death of one man, i.e. man-Jesus’ can also be imputed to and counted as our death, (and that of humanity) as in: 

Rom. 5:12-15 “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.”

Romans 5:17“For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.”

1 Corinthians 15:21 “For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.”

The Old Testament (Tanach) clearly confirms that eternal death (2nd death) is a consequence of sin:
Gen. 2:17 “but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” (Referring to the 2nd and eternal death. Note that Adam and Eve did not actually die after they sinned but was driven out of the garden of Eden, lived and had offspring and died a natural death).

Gen. 3:3 “but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.”

Ps. 34:21 “Evil shall slay the wicked, And those who hate the righteous will be condemned.”

Ezek. 18:20 “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him”

The New Testament also confirms that eternal death (2nd) is the punishment for sin:

Rom. 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”


James 1:15 “Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”

Romans 6:16″Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?” (Notice: Righteousness of obedience to the Law or “works”)

Romans 7:5  “For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.”
Notice the fruit of disobedience is (second) death.

Romans 7:11″for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me”

The take-home message from the preceding verses clearly exacts eternal death for those who do not follow the Ten Commandments, and continue living in sin, following the “flesh“. 



Role of Faith and “works” in defining righteousness ?

Following the Law is commanded for all, otherwise the punishment is eternal (2nd) death. Righteousness that comes from following the Law (with the gift of the Holy Spirit) has its reward, but not our justification or reconciliation with the Father for Adam’s sin, which comes as a gift from faith as in:

Gal. 2:16 “know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.”

It is putting “our faith in Christ Jesus” that justified and reconciled us to the Father. It is the “righteousness of faith, not the righteousness of works”. Our own righteousness that comes with following the Law does not compute, as in:

Isa 64:6“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away”.

Rom 3:10 “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one”.

Whatever “goodness” we have is not good enough for reconciliation with the Father. Even Job learned that his own “righteousnes of works” following the law on his own, is not what the Father is calling for, in reconciliation or justification. Read the whole Book of Job which shows that God decides what is required for justification even when others consider Job “righteous and an upright man“; God punishes even the righteous as a type for what would happen to man-Jesus. The narrative in Genesis about being “like God” is not going to come to fruition by the action or “works” of Adam/Eve themselves eating the “fruit“, and for that matter, by any man, except by the man-Jesus himself. Nothing can any man do for justification, except to have faith. Rather, death as a consequence of sin, has to be paid for. And, it was paid in faith, trusting the Father will fulfill his promise. It took the death of man-Jesus, as a Passover Lamb, as proof of belief, to be recognized by the Father as substitution and imputed for the death of humanity. Jesus’ death, which was his “works” (including following the Law) did not gain “righteousness” for reconciliation of mankind. Rather, it was Jesus’ “righteousness of faith” in the Father, not his works, trusting that his death will account for justification and reconciling us back to the Father and against the eternal death of humanity . Trust which was faith-based(evidence-based/substantive) was counted by the Father, in love, as righteousness worthy of reconciliation/justification.
As Paul said, in Rom. 5:6-10


“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being
now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the (belief in the) death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”

Righteousness as accepted by Father God for reconciliation is the “righteousness of faith“, so no one can boast, not the “righteousness of works”, even that of man-Jesus’. It is the belief that  “death of his Son”, not death itself , would be counted for righteousness.This acceptance in the factual and substantive evidence of the Father that what was promised to come to fruition was acknowledged as “righteousness of faith“.Remember, as a type of what is to come, Abraham believed and credited or counted for “righteousness” (compare Gen. 15:6 and Rom. 4;3). Having been justified, (only after justification/reconciliation) we then shall (future) be saved. We need to be justified first, and be reconciled with the Father, before salvation comes in the future.

Notice that it was not just anybody’s faith; rather it is the faith of Jesus, not Abraham’s faith which is merely a type, to initiate this process, as in 

Rom 3:22-23″Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”. Notice, “…unto all and upon all…that believe”

Eph. 2:8-10 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Because of the Father’s love and by his grace, that he counted faith for righteousness; the “righteousness of faith” that was for reconciliation; the belief that results in trust that is substantive,evidence-based or faith-based.



How did we actually and finally get saved?



As Rom. 5:10 states, Jesus’ death, as proof or aftermath of his faith-based trust in the Father that what was promised will come into effect, reconciled us to the Father and ends there. But this “reconciliation/justification” that was an aftermath of his death, was not based on the “good works of Jesus” prior to his death. It was not because of the “righteousness of his works” so “no one can boast”. Rather, it was the “righteousness of Jesus’ faith” that believed and trusted the Father to count his death as full payment for the eternal death of mankind, that reconciled us. That said, while Jesus’ faith was the basis for “reconciliation/justification“, that in itself did not actually or proximately save us. We are not yet saved” with reconciliation or justification. Instead, we still (future) “shall be saved by his life“. Meaning, Jesus’ faith (evidence for which he believed and trusted) that the Father would take his death as imputed to mankind’s death, still requires for the Father to resurrect him back to life for us to be saved.; again “faith-based“, not “works-based”.

What then in his resurrection or his life that empowered us to be saved? Consider what Jesus said before he died in John 16:7, that he has to go the Father in heaven to receive the Holy Spirit for us:
But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”

Jesus had to be resurrected to receive this promised “power” and “gift” of the Holy Spirit, based again on Jesus’ faith and trust in the Father. Jesus acknowledged this receipt of the Holy Spirit to be crucial, for without which, salvation will not happen even in his life. And with that gift and promise of the Father that with the Holy Spirit in us, what dynamics then will change? John states that this is the power that will help us become “sons of God“, 
John 1:12 “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:”

Note that the Holy Spirit is “power“, not a third person of Trinity.  Without this gift , which is the Holy Spirit in us, we will not have the power to become “sons of God”. Power dynamics changed to empower those with the Holy Spirit to do good works recognized by the Father. And having such works or “fruits of the spirit“, rewards us with “immortal/spirit bodies” at resurrection, which is the essence of “salvation” from eternal death. This Holy Spirit is a gift based on the “righteousness of Jesus’ faith”, and not his “works“. And, this was an unwritten covenant between the Father and YHVH/Jesus before any action of Jesus materialized, before the foundation of the world. Hence, trust in the Father that he will fulfill all he promised to YHVH/Jesus and righteousness that comes from “faith instead of works”. Faith or substance/evidence because YHVH/Jesus was with God the Father (Compare Jn. 1:1 and Heb. 11:1 ). He knew the power of the Father by being with him from the very beginning. 


Holy Spirit prophesied to come in Old and New Testaments

Ezek. 32:26-27 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow”. Notice that this Holy Spirit of power will be given to us while still in our flesh-composed bodies, our current life.



Ezekiel. 39:29 “I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the people of Israel, declares the Sovereign LORD.” 

Joel 2:28-29″And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days” (Compare with Ac.2:14-21)

Isa. 32:15-17 “till the Spirit is poured on us from on high, and the desert becomes a fertile field, and the fertile field seems like a forest. The LORD’s justice will dwell in the desert, his righteousness live in the fertile field. The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.”

Isa.44:3-5 “For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams. Some will say, ‘I belong to the LORD’; others will call themselves by the name of Jacob; still others will write on their hand, ‘The LORD’s,’ and will take the name Israel”

Zech. 12:10 “And I will pour out upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem”

Matt. 3:11 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

John. 1:33 “And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.”  Notice that  Jesus had to receive the Holy Spirit from the Father after his resurrection, before Jesus can baptize the Holy Spirit into us.

John. 7:37-39 “On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” Notice this will happen also to those “latter fruits“.

John 14:16-17, 26 “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. But you know him, for he lives with you and will bein you.But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

John. 15:26-27  “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.”

John 16:13 (AMP).“But when He, the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all the Truth. For He will not speak His own message ; but He will tell whatever He hears , and He will announce and declare to you the things that are to come ”   

Mark. 1:7-8 “And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Luke 3:16 “John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

 Luke 11:13 “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Luke 24:49 “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  Again, notice that the HS is a power, not a person of the Trinity.

 

Acts 1:5 “For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Instead of the Ten Commandments written in our “stone heart”, the Holy Spirit was prophesied to come into us (while flesh-composed) and write them in the “fleshly tables” of our heart, of humanity and empower us to follow the Law.



Fulfillment of the Promise:



Acts 2:1-4 “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”

Acts2:32-33″God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.”

 Acts 2:38-39 “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

Rom. 8:11-13 “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”

Rom. 8:14-17 “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba,Father.”The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”



Eph.3:16 “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,”

Clearly, the preceding verses confirmed that Jesus received this HS from the Father and now has been poured to the apostles starting the day of Pentecost and to many during that time and still being given into us. This will bring life and strength to our mortal bodies for so long as we allowed ourselves, voluntarily and by our choice, to be led by and to walk with the Holy Spirit. With it, we are adopted (not natural son) to “Sonship“, to be (currently still in the womb)”born” (finally) as “sons of Godat resurrection.


Does the presence of the Holy Spirit of power in us, take away our freedom of choice?

Devoid of the Holy Spirit, Adam & Eve had the freedom of choice and they chose wrongly; a bane to whole humanity. Without the Holy Spirit on the other hand, Abraham, also with the freedom to choose, followed God, on faith that his promises to him will be fulfilled. Clearly, even without the Holy Spirit of power, one can choose rightly or wrongly. Nonetheless, no matter how good we are on our own, still we are as “filthy rags“(Isa. 64:6).

However, some teachers have it that the Holy Spirit in us is so powerful that we have nofreedom of choice” and in a way has to follow it. Many instances of “forcible compliance” have been mentioned, for those prior to the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit of power was given. As a classic example, notable among them of God’s prevailing power no matter what, was the story of Jonah. The narrative goes that God commanded him to go and warn Nineveh of impending destruction in the hands of God. But, he was so stubborn that instead, he went the opposite way from Nineveh. He was then swallowed by a “big fish“. He was praying before he died in the belly of the fish. After 3 days and 3 nights, he was vomited in the shore of Nineveh, where he was resurrected to life. Fear, being the beginning of wisdom(Proverbs 9:10), he then voluntarily and by his own choosing, followed God’s command and warned the inhabitants of Nineveh of their impending doom. It can be argued that Jonah was being forced, and he was. Yet, even with that horrible experience, he could still say “No” to God. And there are and will be people in that category, (even with the Holy Spirit in them, that they eventually rejected) that will end up in the “lake of fire“. However, Jonah wised up and instead followed God this time around, as he should. 

The preceding example is ample enough to support the principle that even when forced and without the Holy Spirit of power in us, freedom of choice is maintained. Still, it begs the question: what if we have this Holy Spirit of power? Does it negate our freedom to choose? The narrative about Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane incontrovertibly proved otherwise. Fully imbued with the Holy Spirit, still he did not follow his own will. Instead, he “walked in the Spirit” voluntarily for the “joy set before him, endured the cross” (Heb. 12:2and let the Father’s will “be done“, as in:
Luke 22:42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”




This is what the Father wants and hopes (Romans 8:20-25; Titus 1:2) that we will do, to be “one” with him as his way is “the way, the truth and the life“(John 14:6) Our battle is spiritual (Eph. 6:10-18) to overcome the flesh using the power of the Holy Spirit in us. God desires a “mature and willing soldier“, not a robot. A good soldier is a determined volunteer who freely chose to be one, not mercenary, nor drafted or conscripted by force.



Summary:

With man-Jesus’ death, (the aftermath/proof of the faith of Jesus) came reconciliation or justification for mankind’s sin as imputed on the sin of Adam in the garden of Eden, nothing more. This is the faith-mechanism of how all humans can get justified and reconciled to the Father. But, this is applicable only to “believers” at a particular point in time, whether “pre-during-post-millenium“, and “overcomers“as written in the “book of life“(compare Rev.3:5; 20:12; 22:19). As crucial a step that is, it is just the beginning of the process of salvation. Having been reconciled, subsequently we then “shall be saved by his life”. We are not yet saved now. Jesus had to be resurrected to receive the gift of the the Holy Spirit for us , as promised by the Father; it takes a live person not a dead one to receive. The “righteousness of faith”, initiated by Jesus and becomes actionable by us, was the acceptable accounting for Adam’s eternal death ( and the whole mankind’s) due to sin that the Father recognized, not the “righteousness of works”, so no man (including man-Jesus) can boast. Going through with decision and action to be crucified, i.e., “works“, followedfaith” that led to trust in the Father’s promise.While his natural death was proof of his faith in the Father, the proximate basis for justification and reconciliation was Jesus’ belief that led to trust which is faith-based, not his death. It was his belief which is faith-based , before his proof/death, before his “works“, that was counted for righteousness. As in “Abraham believed and this was counted for righteousness“(Compare Gen.m15:6, Rom. 4:3-6, 9, 20-25; Gal. 3:6-9, Heb 11:8-10). Conversely, “righteousness of works” is the principle that will render “reward” i.e., future salvation, eternal life/immortality at resurrection, for those who continue to walk “in the Spirit“, those who “bear fruits of the Holy Spirit“, those who are “overcomers“(Rev. 21:7-8). While actionable by us, these are works/fruitsof the Spirit in us and in conjunction(not forced but”willingly“) with our “spirit of man”, although strictly speaking not ours, per se. 

Salvation is attainment of immortality, eternal life (Rom. 2:6-9), not before , while still mortal flesh-composed and deemed to die as such. Jesus proved this with his own resurrection to immortality; he was changed from man-Jesus, flesh-composed, in a twinkling of an eye after 3 days and 3 nights being dead in the tomb, into an immortal, spirit-composed and glorious body. As man-Jesus received the Holy Spirit coming out of the water of the River Jordan and with this power that he followed perfectly, he became “one” with the Father. His works or obedience were the “fruits of the Holy Spirit“, and again, strictly speaking not his own works per se, but given from above. After receiving the Holy Spirit for us from the Father at his resurrection, he then at Pentecost gave his church this gift. Similarly, the “elect” then used this power for sanctification by following the Law, now written, “not in tables of stone but in the fleshly tables of their heart“, to walk in the Spirit.

Our faith and works are needed indeed. But, how did we have faith and works? Paul stated in:
Rom. 10:17 “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”

As humans, we were created with ears to hear material things. But, it is God who opens our ears (Matt 16:17) for faith/evidence/substance to come and for us to understand “spiritual truth”, a gift, for us to do “good works”. While these are proximately  our works, they actually are “fruits of the Holy Spirit“, given as a gift based on the “righteousness of Jesus’ faith” and therefore by ” the grace of God”.

 

Yes, having good “works“, as defined by the Father, is proof of the presence within us of the Holy Spirit. But not that one is already “saved” which is yet future, at resurrection; nor good works the “result of salvation“. Rather, “good works” that come with voluntarily following the Holy Spirit and accepted by the Father are an indication or as a result of the presence of the Holy Spirit in us, the power that our “spirit of man” follows, to bring forth “fruits of the Holy Spirit”

Faith is evidence-based, i.e., “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen” (Heb. 11:1). CreatorYHVH/Jesus was with the Father (John 1) from the very beginning and knew of his power and will deliver what he promised. He then believed and trusted the Father with all that was promised him; same systematic process that we should all adhere to.  
Righteousness of man-Jesus’ faith led to imputation of his death for the death of humanity. This “righteousness of faith” is for reconciliation/justification of mankind, which then initiates the future of our salvation. On the other hand, “righteousness of man-Jesus’ works” resulted in his reward of “immortality/eternal life”; same process for all of mankind. With his life, he could then receive the promised gift of Holy Spirit from the Father, to then be given to us; as in, we are “saved by his life” (Rom. 5:10). Similarly and on the same mechanism, righteousness of our faith imputed our eternal death to the death of man-Jesus for “reconciliation and justification”; righteousness of our “works” results in our reward of “immortality/eternal life”. 





In essence, righteousness of faith brings about reconciliation or justification; whereas, righteousness of works/obedience to the guidance of the Holy Spirit leads to salvation, i.e., immortality/eternal life. Ultimately, all boil down to God’s love that brings about grace for our reconciliation and salvation. He established the plan for both goals. The accounting of faith and Holy Spirit of power are both gifts from the Father.
To paraphrase John 3:16, 

God so loved the world that he graced and gifted us with his only begotten Son to die as a Passover Lamb, in faith substituted for our death, counted from faith of Jesus, for those who believed and trusted so that we will be reconciled to him.”

 And having done so, we still needed to be saved as promised to his Son. His belief in his death, as seminal it was, was the proximate cause of our justification and subsequent/eventual salvation. It reconciled or justified us to the Father. Jesus’ trust and belief in the promise to receive the Holy Spirit for us,  gave us after his resurrection, the Holy Spirit of power to be “saved as sons and daughters of God”, as in:

John 1:12 “But as many as received him, to them gave he power(Holy Spirit) to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name”.



May God open our eyes and ears to the truth; “before I hear you, now I see you” (Job 42:5).




Original post:November 27, 2017

The Worst “natural disaster” and What was done about it?

The worst “natural disaster” and what was done about it?

Recent hurricane Harvey(1), then Irma(2), and concomitantly, earthquake in Mexico City with 8.1 Richter scale(3), followed by Jose and Maria(4) should convince any open-minded person that humans are left with no sustainable preventive recourse against such calamities. We just have to prepare and accept the painful and destructive consequences of these natural disasters. On top of these mayhem is global terrorism plus evil acts of one against another, not only in inner cities but also in suburban towns, places of worship(5) and music concert(6). All of the”preceding events we gripe about, but accept as facts of life, taken as normative and we move on. 

As devastating those cataclysms are,  what can be the worst, more natural, and definitive than death itself? Indeed, we are very  and ephemeral! Yet, death is taken with nonchalance in news coverage compared to hurricanes, terrorism and the like? You would not find it in the front pages nor editorial section of newspaper but it is hidden in pages of obituaries. Being so natural, it does not even “move the dial” nor reach a “Richter scale” of our collective attention. It has become so mundane that it suffers “diminishing value” as to favor the call for “live the day” and forget its inevitability. It has been dismissed to the farthest corner of our consciousness as a relic. We limit and consume ourselves with “investing for this life rather than also for the afterlife”. 

Yet, our all-knowing and loving Creator takes death to be so defining and existential as to plan and prepare for our “afterlife“, way out from the “foundation of the world”. The least that we can do is to make time to heighten our awareness, be serious about the subject of death and to understand why we die and what God did to end death(7). For indeed, even at our best, we are at a loss and incapable as to what to do to overcome it. But, why can we not forestall it? Will progress in science and technology reverse this destiny? Much as we, together with Mr. Spoch in the starship Enterprise in Star Trek(8), like to “live long and prosper“, our Maker has willed and created our physical bodies to be temporary, as in Hebrews 9:27

And as it is appointed unto men once, to die but after this the judgment:”(KJV)

From the preceding verse, it is clear that the Creator made our current physical life with expiration date as we are all “once appointed” to die. However, this refers to the “first death“; read also https://fact-s.net/2015/10/04/salvation-series-1what/.   But, what does the phrase “after this is judgment” mean? It appears that as all will die, similarly, all will be judged as in 2 Cor. 5:10

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (NIV)


Who are the people judged by God and when

Notice that in 2 Cor. 5:10, as “we must all appear”, it necessitates judgement to be for those who are alive “to appear” and of “things done while in the body“. In other words, the timing for judgement is when the person is alive and in this material body; not in any other body composition and that the dead are not judged. Moreover, while a person that is judged must have a mental capacity to be responsible for his actions, not immature like children, is that the critical element that a person should have before he/she is judged? What does judgment really mean? And, when does a living person gets judged? Are all judged in this lifetime? And who are judged first? Answers to these questions may come from the experience provided in the history of humanity. Let us now analyze these historical events, and find common denominators that led to their judgement.


Judgment in history as an example for the future 

1. Adam’s judgment: In Genesis, we read that Adam & Eve were told by YHVH-God not to eat the “fruit of knowledge of good and evil” , otherwise they die(Gen.2:16-17). Their own action violated this admonition and eternal death came upon them and imputed to all mankind (Compare Gen. 3:1-22; Rom. 5:12-21; I Cor. 15:22-49). Read also https://fact-s.net/2015/10/04/salvation-series-1what/

2. Noah’s flood: In Genesis 6-8, one reads that the earth was filled with acts of violence and judgment was made for mankind to die in the flood except Noah and his family. 

3. In Genesis 18 and 19 as well as Ezekiel 16:49–50, Sodom & Gomorrah were punished because of sinful acts. 

4. In the book of Jonah, Nineveh was punished because of sinful acts, too. The punishment was delayed when they repented but exacted on them when they went back to sin. The 7th century books of Nahum and Zephaniah proclaim the fall of Ninevah.  

5. Because of sinful acts, Israel was punished for her sins with captivity and slavery. Northern Israel went captive to the Assyrians and Southern Israel by the Chaldean or Babylonian empire. (9,10,11).
Notice that all these judgments were punishments for sins committed by living persons in the flesh. However, in 2 Peter 2:6 we learn that God condemned and destroyed the cities as “an example to those who would live ungodly thereafter.”



The predominant voice in the Bible is the deuteronomistic theology that God rewards the righteous and punishes the un-righteous. While a few have followed God, the weighing scale tipped heavier on the overall gravity of their sins as a group or as a nation, resulting in punishment. Nonetheless, their were blessings given to them based on God’s promise and love but not on their weighted merits. All these, nevertheless, are merely an “example” for our learning according to 2 Peter 2:6 and “to those who would live ungodly thereafter” suggesting an afterlife other than this life, i.e., a resurrection;  a life “thereafter“. All who died will be resurrected alive to face “judgment“. Notice that the punishment in history, as grievous as it was, is merely an example of “judgment”, and there is still a future judgment that is final. And, the judgment logically referred to in  2 Cor. 5:10 is about “eternal death”, consistent with what the type of death referred to in Genesis 2:17 regarding the sin of Adam & Eve.


We are made “weak”, so why judge?

It is a well-established teaching that, as presently flesh-composed, we are “weak“(Matt. 26:41; Mark 14:38).  Meaning, we do not have the power to perfectly overcome evil as God wanted us to do to be “one ” with him. On our own, we can decide what we ourselves think is right or wrong; and that is reality. But this decision-making ability is limited by the fact that: 

1. Isaiah 55:8-9  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (NIV)
This is the reason why man was created in the first place, not as spirit-being beings like the angels. As spirit-beings, a third of angels were not “one” with God (Rev. 12:3-9, 9:1; Heb. 12:22; Isaiah 14:12; Luke 10:18). Humans have physical mortal bodies and unlike/lower than angels but planned to be higher than angels and “one” with God at the time appointed in the future when the Holy Spirit of power is given. Compare Psalms 8:4-8 and Hebrews 2:6-18 (12).

2. Our physical composition limits us and affects our decision in favor, rightly so, of self-interest and self-preservation. There are many instances that our decision will be different were it not for the fact that we have physical composition that may put us in jeopardy. We may suffer or die that comes with the decision. 
Being composed “weak“, was planned for good reason as in Romans 8:20-21(NIV)

For the creation/creature was subjected to mataiotes (Greek for inutility, vanity, transientness, depravity, frustration) not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation/creature itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God”




Notice that our composition was made to be “weak” temporarily “in hope” of being liberated from the bondage of “eternal death“through Jesus’ crucifixion from death/decay to glory and immortality in the future. But, with the limits that we now have structurally, it does not appear fair to undergo “final judgment” in the future on our choice of good and evil. We need to be empowered with a “tool” that will be added (or in-dwell) to our present composition. And God has indeed planned for that to come in the future.


Power to have before future judgment

The narrative in Gethsemane where Jesus was faced with a dilemma can direct us to bring this to rest. Read Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-52, Luke 22:39-53, and John 18 for the full story. The epistle of Mark gives context that even Jesus’ will was for the “cup to pass”, i.e. for him not to die by crucifixion for mankind. But when did he decide, with the power of the Holy Spirit in him, to follow the Father’s will and not his own? Mark 14:41-42 has the answer:

And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest?It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”



Clearly, it was when, for the third time he saw Peter, James and John asleep (physical bodies have limits), that he said “It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
With his own free will and guided by the Holy Spirit that in-dwelt in him at River Jordan(Luke 4:1-44), on the third time he got finally convinced of human “weakness” and limit that need to be empowered by the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit, much like post-incarnated man-Jesus. This Holy Spirit would not have been given as promised by the Father, had not Jesus die and be resurrected to receive this power, to then be subsequently given to humans at Pentecost. Read John 16:7(AMP):

But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him (the Holy Spirit) to you [to be in close fellowship with you].”


The Pentecost event that year of Jesus’ death and resurrection, proved this in-dwelling in general sense, starting with the apostles (Acts 2:1-13). Those given the Spirit of God then received the power to overcome evil and to have wisdom to freely choose right from wrong.


Who are now being judged?

While currently there are consequences and punishment for sins, these judgments are not about “eternal death”. One can go to prison or be sentenced to death, but he/she will be resurrected in the future. Judgment about “eternal death” begins in the house of God as in:(1 Peter 4:17)
For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” 

Correlating what we now understand for fairness, judgment will indeed start with believers who are flesh-composed but have received the power-tool that comes with the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit. This started at Pentecost that year. Those without the Holy Spirit will be judged after their resurrection to physical bodies(Ezekiel 37), at which time they will hopefully and voluntarily believe and thereafter receive the Holy Spirit. One has to “believe“before receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39).


Resurrection for all to be judged


Judgment for all suggests a resurrection for all. But in a separate order: the 1st resurrection into immortal bodies on the return of Jesus on earth, or 2nd resurrection into mortal bodies (Ezekiel 37:1-14) after the 1,000 year-period as in:
Revelation 20:6 – “Blessed and holy [is] he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power (being immortal), but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” 

Revelation 20:5 – “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.”

The dead who are blessed to be in the first resurrection will not die the “second death” in the “Gehenna fire”. Instead, at the time of second-coming of Jesus, those partakers of the Holy Spirit and overcomers (Rev. 2:17,26), whether alive or dead, will be “changed from mortal to immortal bodies”(I Cor. 15:51-57), in a “twinkling of an eye” to rule with Jesus on earth. After a thousand years when the Devil is released “from his chains” (Rev. 20:2) there will be resurrection of the “rest of the dead” to mortal bodies, at which time they will be taught about Jesus, believe in Him to receive the Holy Spirit of power to overcome the Devil. As a gift, the overcomers will then transform into spirit-composed bodies while those who rejected the Holy Spirit will be doomed to Gehenna fire for an eternal death.


Summary



 
Truly, there is nothing worse than death itself. As such, we need to be serious and pay particular attention to what God has planned for us through eternity. A third of angels went with Satan and not “one” with God. Purposely, God did not create spirit-composed beings again to show man that body-composition is secondary to the mind that needs teaching and guidance before being spirit-composed. While we are temporarily created “weak”, mere mortal with physical limits, this was done “in hope” anchored on the choices to be made by a mortal man-Jesus in his life on earth. As a man, he lived his life perfectly, with the Holy Spirit in him, to be an “unblemished Passover Lamb” , with “works” worthy of the reward to be a substitute for humanity’s death.(Compare John. 8: 29,46, 55;I Pet. 2: 22).

He chose, though unwillingly yet voluntarily, to die by crucifixion as propitiation for mankind’s sin and resurrected by the Father to receive the promised gift of the Holy Spirit to be subsequently given to humanity for guidance to be “one” with the Father. This he received as promised, on his belief and trust in the Father and not because of his “works“. On the same mechanics of belief and trust, we received this gift from Jesus, the Son of God. 

The critical element that a person should have before he/she is judged about “eternal death” is the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit. Without it, final judgment will not be made. And for that, the person has to believe in what Jesus did for mankind before being “baptized with the Holy Spirit”(John 1:32-33).With the Holy Spirit in the person, he/she is empowered to become an “overcomer” of evil and the Devil. At Jesus’ return on earth to establish his kingdom, the “overcomers” who are still alive will become spirit-composed beings in a “twinkling of an eye” to be with Christ. Whereas, those who died before his return, who were partakers of the Holy Spirit and persevered, will be resurrected at Christ’s return as spirit-composed beings to rule with Him at the Millenium. Those who fought against Jesus at his return will be thrown in “Gehenna fire” towards eternal death. The rest of the dead (Ezekiel 37:1-14) will resurrect into “flesh-composed bodies” after the Millenium to be educated on Jesus, to believe and receive the Holy Spirit. Those who are “overcomers” will be transformed to spirit-composed bodies; those who reject His guidance will go to “Gehenna fire” for eternal death. 

 

It may surprise many, but death is just the beginning and not an end. Truly, as we invest in this current life, we should also seriously invest in learning about the “afterlife“. 


References:

1. Hurricane Harvey. Retrieved August 8, 2017 at

http://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/25/us/hurricane-harvey.html
2. Hurricane Irma. Retrieved September 6, 2017 at https://www.wsj.com/articles/hurricane-irma-approaches-the-caribbean-1504608280
3. Earthquake in Mexico. Retrieved September 9, 2017 at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/massive-earthquake-strikes-off-the-coast-of-mexico-setting-off-tsunami-warnings/2017/09/08/c8114f3a-945b-11e7-aace-04b862b2b3f3_story.html?wpisrc=al_alert-COMBO-world%252Bnation&wpmk=1&pwa=true&outputType=default-article&deferJs=true

4. Retrieved September 10, 2017 at https://finance.yahoo.com/news/hurricane-jose-traveling-east-coast-185800042.html

5.Church shooting. Retrieved October 1, 2017 at http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/religion/2017/09/25/nashville-church-shooting-what-happens-when-violence-invades-sacred-spaces/700326001/

6. Mandalay music concert Retrieved October 3, 2017 at https://www.cbsnews.com/news/shooting-in-las-vegas-news-victims-gunman-stephen-paddock-latest-update/

7. Death, what is? Retrieved October 1, 2017 from https://fact-s.net/2017/05/09/death-what-is/

8. Leonard Nimoy. Retrieved October 1, 2017 at https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/27/arts/television/leonard-nimoy-spock-of-star-trek-dies-at-83.html 

9. Northern tribe of Israel held captive by the Assyrians. Retrieved 10/22/17 at https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assyrian_captivity

10. Retrieved 10/22/17 at https://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Topical.show/RTD/cgg/ID/5805/Assyrian-Captivity.htm

11. Not Lost. Retrieved 10/22/17 at http://www.learnthebible.org/the-ten-lost-tribes.html

12. What is man…? Retrieved 10/27/17 from http://www.christianlibrary.org/authors/Tom_&_George_Butterfield/manmindful.

Original post:October 30, 2017

DEDICATED to a friend whose funeral we attended September 29, 2017 at Palm Coast Florida; post hurricane Harvey. Coincidentally a “Day of Atonement” in Jewish religion.



 

Gay marriage/Same sex marriage, what does the Bible say?

Gay marriage/Same sex marriage, what does the Bible say?

This is a very sensitive issue that divides people, even family, relatives and long-time friends. It has become a dilemma for people in business, i.e., not baking cake or provide service, and for relatives dissing attending marriage ceremonies. In light of an overwhelming “yes vote” for gay marriage in an Australian survey (1) that will become law and the heightened activity globally, this issue takes on even more urgency to discuss. And, respectfully, failure to address this subject is a dereliction of duty to the love and care we all should have for one another, notwithstanding sex preference.

To start with, “marriage” is traditionally taught in religious circle to have started in the garden of Eden. This was presented to be based on “love“, being taken from the “rib” (close to the heart) as in Gen. 2:21-23, and for the couple to “go and multiply“(Gen. 1:28; 9:7). It takes male and female to “procreate“.

Regarding homosexuality, by definition, it is a sex preference of persons for the same sex; whereas heterosexuality refers to male to female predilection. No one knows the genesis of “sexual preferences” but it starts in the “mind“. Of and by itself, this sexual preference is not sin and the person should not be discriminated against. It is when the “preference” is acted out mentally or overtly” against the moral laws, i.e., committing homosexual act, that it becomes sinful. For all, whether heterosexuals, homosexuals or bisexuals, they should avoid sexual immorality, including adultery. We should welcome all, irrespective of race, gender, sexual preference, religion, status, etc. as we are all created by one God. As the saying goes, “love the sinner, not the sin”. Love for all is the mantra while not condoning actual sin or ignoring that it exists and we should guard against it. 

Temptation devolves into Sin

Temptation per se is not synonymous to sin, although it starts with it. Notice the stages of sin from temptation and how “lust” develops into sin:

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death”(James 1:14-15 KJV)

These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death”.(James 1:15 NLT)

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire”.(James 1:14 ESV)

With our “desire or lust”, we are tempted, lured or enticed towards sin. Then, when we “dwell, concentrate, imagine, or got carried away“, this progresses to mental or actual physical acts, both of which constitute sin/eternal death.(Matt. 5:28; Mk. 7:20-23).


Abomination 

The word “abomination” that characterizes ” homosexual acts” is exemplified in:

Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it [is] abomination.”(Leviticus 18:22).

The word “abomination” comes from Hebrew word “toevah” (plural, toevot) and occurs 103x in the Old Testament. It almost always has the connotation of a non-Israelite or Gentile cult practice. In the Torah, the primary “toevah” is “avodah zara”, foreign forms of worship, and most other toevot flow from it. The Israelites are instructed not to commit “toevah” because other nations do so, as in, Deut. 18:9-12. This word is akin to our present understanding of the word “taboo“, referring to cultural indictment, shame or stigma.

Having stated the preceding, homosexual acts (not preference itself), though different, are as sinful and worthy of “eternal death” as adultery, fornication, incest and other sexual perversions. To overcome such practices, one should follow the following principles:

Flee fornication… fornication sinneth against his own body. …your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?…ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s“. (I Cor. 6:18-20KJV)

Flee from sexual immorality.”(1 Cor.6:18 ESV)

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: …that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;”(1Thes.4:3-5 ESV)

He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:”(I Cor. 7:32)

Now concerning virgins (either gender)…I say, that it is good for a man so to be.”)I Cor. 7:25-26)

But this I say, brethren, the time is short: … both they that have wives be as though they had none;“(I Cor. 7:29)


Summary

In summary, for anyone with any sexual preference,  have the Holy Spirit of power to empower yourself to have “control of your body” and flee from the temptation of sexual immorality or “pull of the flesh”, whether adultery, fornication, incest, rape homosexual acts, gender fluid acts, etc. Marriage for homosexuals brings the couple closer to the temptation of committing homosexual acts in the “privacy of their homes” and should be avoided, not condoned. Flee temptation. But if you must, just remember that gay marriage does not confer legitimacy or morality for the “act” and can not be used to “cover” immorality.  Celibacy for heterosexuals or LGBTQ maybe an option for those with proclivities toward sexual immorality. The apostle Paul adopted this “alternate behavior” as Catholic priests also took this as their “vow” although  a few failed. Some gays also hold firm to stay celibate. The Holy Spirit will sanctify us and strengthen the “weak flesh” for the glory of God. Believe in God and this gift of the Holy Spirit of power will be given to us to overcome temptation before it degenerates to sin.  All of us are sinners and subjected to this temporary “flesh-composed bodies” on “hope” which is anchored on the role of Jesus in paving the path to our salvation for those who “believe” and are “overcomers“. 
For further explanation of this plan, please access Salvation Series 1-6:

https://fact-s.net/2015/10/04/salvation-series-1what/

https://fact-s.net/2015/10/04/salvation-series-2-why/

https://fact-s.net/2015/10/04/salvation-series-3-who/

https://fact-s.net/2015/10/04/salvation-series-4-how/

https://fact-s.net/2015/10/04/salvation-series-5-when/

https://fact-s.net/2015/10/04/salvation-series-6-where/

God Bless.


Reference:

1. Same-sex marriage. Retrieved 11/17/17 from http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/14/asia/australia-same-sex-marriage-yes/index.html

Posted: 8/6/2017

Revised 11/17/2017

Resurrection ?

Resurrection?

Death is a somber and incapacitating event especially if it happens to someone you dearly beloved. The grief and sorrow that come with it is heartbreaking and considered to pose the worst stressor for anyone to experience. How we wished and longed for our loved ones to grace our presence again!

Is there hope for the dead? Some say once a person is dead, that will be the end. Others say the dead is not actually dead but continues to live in a certain place called “heaven” to enjoy or “hell ” to be tormented forever. And, other religions teach the dead continues to live on earth but in a different mortal body, some even in animal bodies. What is the truth? One can surmise with some certainty that the only hope for a dead body comes with restoration to life. But, how could this be? And, in what form? Is there really resurrection of the dead?


Resurrection, you can bank on it:

That there is “life-after-death”, is a teaching that all traditional Christians are unanimous to share as a core belief. And, this is on faith which is evidenced-based (Heb. 11:1) anchored on very credible witnesses; not assumption or baseless hopes or expectation. As we believe in secular people witnessing events during their time in history as recorded in books, electronic media, etc., so should we be open to others, consider and mull over recorded events written by religious icons in the Bible. 

Resurrection from death to a physical, flesh-composed, mortal bodies are well-documented by biblical historical records:

1 Kings 17:17-24 Elijah resurrected the son of Zarephath’s widow. Notice V-21, let this child’s soul(nephesh) come into him again and V-22 and the soul(nephesh) of the child came into him again, and he revived. By usage, nephesh in this context means “life”or life-giving element of man, the “spirit of man”.

2 Kings 4 Elisha resurrected the son of the great Shunammite woman

2 Kings 13:21 Dead man came back to life when he touched Elisha’s bones.
Luke 7:13-15 Jesus resurrects the widow’s son at Nain 

Matthew 9:25 Jesus raises Jairus’ daughter from the dead. See also Mark 5:42, and Luke 8:55

John 11:43-44 Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. 

Matthew 27:52-53 Saints resurrected and seen by many after Jesus’ resurrection

Acts 9:36-42 Peter raises a female disciple named Tabitha from the dead

Acts 20:9-12 Paul raises Eutychus from the dead. 

The preceding resurrected individuals, were restored to life in a flesh-composed body. They did not go to heaven or hell after death, nor did they inhabit the bodies of animals. And, they all died again to undergo future resurrection.


Better Resurrection:

There is another type of resurrection that the Bible calls the “ better resurrection” (Hebrews 11:35) evidenced by and confirmed by apostles and other witnesses. In contrast to resurrection to a flesh-composed body, this is to an eternal life with immortal spirit-composed bodies. The pioneer of this type of resurrection was man-Jesus. See Matthew 28:5-7, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-11, and John 20:1-10.

Replacement of Judas Iscariot, one of the 12 disciples that betrayed Jesus, was done so that “one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection”(Acts 1:22). In Acts 4:33, “with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus”. 

The apostle Paul personally saw and talked with the resurrected Christ (1 Corinthians 9:1; 15:8; Acts 22:6-10), confirming the fact of Jesus’ resurrection. Even supposed learned person like King Agrippa was skeptical because he did not witness it. Paul asked King Herod Agrippa II, “Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?” (Acts 26:8). He told him, “To this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great . . . that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead” (Acts 26:22-23), implying that no one rose to spirit-composed body from the dead but him and that others will follow.  While we generally believe others who wrote history books, electronic media stories without personal confirmation, somehow we are dismissive of biblical witnesses and relegate them to purveyors of “fake news”. Go figure !

But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep [in death]” (1 Corinthians 15:20). The apostle Paul explained that Jesus is “the firstborn over all creation,” “the firstborn from the dead” and “the firstborn among many brethren” (Colossians 1:15, 18; Romans 8:29), indicating others will follow. Moreover, Paul explained how the resurrection of God’s firstfruits will occur: 

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly [physical, material] body that it may be conformed to His glorious body”(Philippians 3:20-21; compare 2 Corinthians 5:1-5).

It is sown(buried) a natural [physical] body, it is raised a spiritual body . . . as we have borne the image of the man of dust [Adam], we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man [Jesus Christ]. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God ” (1 Corinthians 15:44, 49-50). Notice that our current flesh-composed body cannot enter the Kingdom of God; we need to change structurally, i.e., into spirit-composed body. 

For those who will still be alive at Christ’s return, notice 1 Corinthians 15:51-52: 

Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (compare 1 Thessalonians 4:16

 

The preceding confirms from recorded witnesses of the surety of a future “better resurrection” into a glorious, spirit-composed, immortal bodies. But, who will bring this to pass and what is the timing of these different resurrections. 



Millennial and Post-millennial resurrection:

Only the Father and the Son Jesus have the power to bring life to the dead. Christ plainly stated: “For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will” (John 5:21). 

When Christ returns to start the Millenium, the “firstfruits“, the “overcomers“, will manifest in this manner: those who are alive at that time will change in a “twinkling of an eye” into immortal spirit-composed bodies; those who were in the graves will resurrect with immortal spirit-composed bodies. They will then meet Christ “in the clouds”(I Thes. 4:17) and come down on earth, in Jerusalem to start the Millenium. The earth has to be ruled and displace the “god of this world“, Satan (2Cor.4:4).

Revelation 20:4“And I saw thrones, and they sat on them . . . And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years” .“This is the first resurrection.”

Revelation 20:6 “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”

Revelation 5:9-10 “You [Christ] were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth” (New International Version)

The preceding verses refer to the first resurrection, which is coming back to life with immortal, glorious body. And, this augurs the start of the Millenium. 


The second resurrection :

Coming back to life has its own time. After the first resurrection with immortal, spirit-composed, glorious body then what follows after a Millenium, the second resurrection. Notice:

Revelation 20:5 “But the rest of the dead lived not until the thousand years were finished”

John 5:25, 29-30 “I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live . . . for the hour is coming in which all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come forth” .

John 5:28-29 “Do not be amazed at this, for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come out — those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment”.

Daniel 12:2 “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.

Acts 24:15 “..and I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked” 

Revelation 20:11-12 “Then I [the apostle John] saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it . . . And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened . And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.”



All the preceding verses refer to the second resurrection, post-Millenium. 


Summary:

Before the start of the Millenium, there will be plagues, earthquake, and celestial signs (Revelation 6:1-17, 8:1-9,21; 11:15-19;16:1-21) leading to the “battle of Armageddon” in the valley of Megiddo in Israel (Rev.16:16; 20:1-3). At the “last trump“, the spirit-composed “church of Christ” will meet him in “the air/clouds” and descend on Jerusalem, the center from where to rule the world. In the Millenium, they will teach the remaining mortals about the “gospel of the kingdom of God” and fulfill the “great commission” (Matt. 28:16-20) through the “end of the world”. 

While there will be devastation on earth, there will still be people from others areas of the world who will survive. Those who are alive, but still flesh-composed during the Millenium, will be taught, given the chance to receive the truth of the gospel and the gift of the Holy Spirit to grow and develop spiritually. Being mortal, during their time of judgment in the Millenium, they will still die. Subsequently, when their “time” comes, they will be resurrected to life or changed in “a twinkling of an eye” with immortal bodies. The rest of the dead who did not participate in the first resurrection to life, will be resurrected with mortal-bodies after the Millenium. They will be given a chance to hear and see the truth, experience the power of the Holy Spirit to develop, guide them spiritually. Thereafter, those who are righteous will be given a glorious-immortal-spirit-composed bodies to live eternally. Those who rejected the gift of the Holy Spirit, an “unpardonable sin” (Matt.12:31) will be thrown to Gehenna fire to perish and die forever. 

There will be “chance and time” for death and resurrection to happen for all. As Eccl. 9:11 says “…but time and chance happen to them all.” At an appointed time, we will all be resurrected, most to life like innumerable stars (Gen. 15:5), some to judgment and chance to change. Eventually, reward to eternal life and punishment to eternal death. Then comes the “new heavens and earth” in Rev. 21:1.

See also: https://fact-s.net/2017/05/09/death-what-is/

Original post: 5/18/2017

Dedicated to a good friend, an outstanding clinical pathologist, who “slept” and went to God on December 4, 2017.