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. But, respectfully, failure to address this subject is a dereliction of duty to the love and care we all should have for one another. 

To start with, “marriage” is taught 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 and female predilection. Of and by itself, this sexual preference is not sin and 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 for heterosexuals. 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

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. It almost always has the connotation of a non-Israelite 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.

Having stated the preceding, homosexual acts are as sinful and worthy of “eternal death” as adultery, fornication 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 “control of your body” and flee from the temptation of sexual immorality or “pull of the flesh”. Marriage for homosexuals bring the couple closer to the temptation of committing homosexual acts in the “privacy of their homes” and should be avoided. Marriage does not confer legitimacy or morality for the “act” and can not be used to “cover” immorality.  Celibacy for heterosexuals or homosexuals maybe an option for those with proclivities toward sexual immorality. 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. 

God Bless.

Posted: 8/6/2017

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. 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) 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 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. 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 others would follow.  

“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” 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. 

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 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, 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

LOVE, John 3:16 Unraveled

John 3:16 unraveled
Many Christians know this foundational verse and have memorized this for sometime.
John 3:16 “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”.(NIV)
It is good to compartmentalize each phrase that comprises this verse to fully understand what makes this a foundational teaching. However, many differ in understanding. So, this commentary may help in the furtherance of truth.

For God.
It is common knowledge that this refers to Father-God. What may not be appreciated is that, in the New Testament, whenever the English word “God” is used, it is translated from the Greek word “Theos” which is a generic word for “God”. By and large, in the NT, when the word God is used, it refers to God the Father, not the Son Jesus. Especially in this verse, since the Son was mentioned, the reference is without doubt. In the Old Testament, the word translated to English from Hebrew is generally El Shaddai, YHVH(Creator), Elohim, Elyon, El , the one who incarnated to man-Jesus. The Ancient of Days (Daniel ?) refers to the Father. 

So Loved the World.
The emphasis is on love, the basis on which action was taken by the Father. It was love that led the Father to give us grace and gifted us with Jesus, his “only begotten Son”. And this gift was planned even before the foundation of the world, as in “slain from the foundation of the world”(Rev. 13:8); yes, even before the creation of man. That being the case, love was not a reaction or response of God to Adam’s (mankind’s) sin, as sin came after creation. Indeed, “love covers all” no matter how serious our sin is. As heinous as sin can be, the Father has already planned a way for reconciliation and subsequent salvation to those who “bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit”. Those who are saved became so, because they have immortality and eternal life. Yet, there is a consequence to people who continued on sinning, viz., the “lake of fire”. 
Excerpts from reference(1) asked why God make the earth and us along with it. He doesn’t really need us, so why did he create anything? “King David asked essentially the same thing:
“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers … what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4, see also Heb. ?).
God made us, not because he needed us: 
“The God who made the world and everything in it … is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything” (Acts 17:24-25)..
Despite not needing us, God chose to create us anyway, out of his great love:
 “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3). 
Yes, God loved us before he even created us. It’s impossible to get our heads around that idea, but it’s true; that’s what “everlasting” love means.”

 
He Gave His One and Only Son
Before the foundation of the world, there were no name-identities like Father, man-Jesus, much less Son-Jesus; these descriptive names were yet in the future. There were only the Ancient of Days, YHVH Creator (with other descriptive names) and angelic beings. Yet, even before man-Jesus became a Son of God, he was already prophesied to be so. I Pet 1:20 
“God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but he has now revealed him to you in these last days.” (NLT). 
It takes guidance of the Holy Spirit to finally realize in these “last days” that there was an unwritten covenant between the Ancient of Days (Father) and YHVH Creator (Jesus) of the plan, based on love, to be “one” with each other and with humans in a family relationship, i.e., Father-Sons/Daughters of God. 
For this plan to happen, humans have to be created composed of flesh+breath of life/spirit of man. Being flesh-composed and “weak” (Matthew 26:40-45), the first man and all humanity would sin and needs re-creation (Read Jer. 18: 1-4 Isa. 29:16; Isa. 64:Isa. 45:9; Rom. 9:20). 
YHVH/Creator has to incarnate into man-Jesus, die as a Passover for mankind’s sin for reconciliation, be resurrected to receive from the Father the promised Holy Spirit that when given to us, will empower us to “bear fruits of the Holy Spirit” and be “one” with him. On the “faith of Jesus”, he trusted the Ancients of Days (Father) to fulfill these promises to “the seed”(Jesus). 
As Paul wrote:

”Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-10).

Whoever Believes in Him
One has to believe, have faith in Jesus, trust that all promises made to him by the Father will be realized towards us, as well. And faith comes by hearing, as in:
Rom. 10:17 “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”
We learned to have “faith” or evidence/substance (Heb 11:1) of things hoped for, through man-Jesus, as witnessed by his apostles. And this faith came to us through our “hearing”, with our ears only after having been opened by God to spiritual truth. Because of that evidence learned, we believed and trusted God. Through our belief, we then received the Holy Spirit of power to become “sons of God” as in:

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:”

Shall Not Perish but have Eternal Life

According to “our deeds” there is consequence of continual disobedience which is eternal death while obedience leads to eternal life. The reward of having our “spirit of man” ( our mind/psyche in Greek) continuously follow the will of the gifted Holy Spirit in us, not the pull of the flesh, is to have “glory, honor and immortality, eternal life” as in;
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;”
While these are “our” deeds, they are strictly speaking the “fruits of the Holy Spirit”. Without the “works” through the Holy Spirit, our “own deeds” will not suffice to the Father. As noted, deeds of our own, as good as they are, still are “filthy rags” to God so no one can boast. 
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”.
Glory and honor be to God for his love that brought as grace through Jesus. His faith and works became an example and precursor for us to have as well, “the way” for our salvation. 

Reference:
1. Why did God create man?Accessed 3/31/17 from http://www.christianitytoday.com/iyf/advice/faithdoubt/why-did-god-create-man.html
Originally posted: 4/10/17

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 a 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. What is the truth? What exactly is the proper role of “our faith and works” to salvation? Do our “works” really lead to salvation, or what some believe that having “works” is proof that one is “saved”? Are our good works the “result of salvation”? Notice the reward for our obedience or “works”/deeds:eternal life
  

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 “patient continuance” in”our works” is “immortality, eternal life”; whereas, the consequence of sin is death. Why no mention of reward for our faith? Is this really the contextual truth? Eternal life being the result of having “works”, the righteousness of obedience(Rom. 6:16), what then is the end-result of having faith? What then, is in it for “our faith”? 

Follow God’s commandments:
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. 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 at resurrection, as in:
Heb. 9:27″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. This principle is based on all sin imputed to one man (Adam), after the Law was given at Mt Sinai, so 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?”
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.”
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 has its reward, but not our justification or reconciliation with the Father for Adam’s sin, which comes 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 “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 righteousness, following the law on his own, is not what the Father is calling for. Read the whole Book of Job which shows that God decides what is required, 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. It took the death of man-Jesus, as a Passover Lamb, to be substituted 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, trusting that his death will account for justification and reconciling us back to Father and against the eternal death of humanity . Faith 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 death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”

Righteousness as accepted by God for reconciliation is the “righteousness of faith”, so no one can boast, not the “righteousness of works”, even that of man-Jesus. Having been justified, 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, 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”

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. 

How did we actually get saved
?

As Rom. 5:10 states, Jesus’ death, as proof or aftermath of his faith in the Father that what was promised will come into effect, reconciled us to the Father and ends there. But this “reconciliation/justification” was not based on that “works of Jesus”. It was not because of the “righteousness of works” so “no one can boast”. Rather, it was the “righteousness of Jesus’ faith” that the Father will 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 did not actually save us. Instead, we are “saved by his life”. Meaning, Jesus’ faith that the Father would 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 HS to be crucial, for without which, salvation will not happen even in his life. And with that gift and promise of the Holy Spirit in us, what then? John 1:12 states that this is the power that will help us becomes “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 without the Holy Spirit in us, we will not become “sons of God” And having such, gives us “immortal/spirit bodies” at resurrection, which is the essence of “salvation” from eternal death. This HS 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 ).

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”
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.”

Jn. 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.”

Jn. 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.”

Jn 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.”

Jn. 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.”

Jn. 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 ”   

Mk. 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.”

Lk. 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.”

 Lk 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!”

Lk 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.”

Ac 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.”  

 Ac 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 and write them in the “fleshly tables” of our heart, and empower us to follow. 


Fulfillment of the Promise
:

Ac 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.”

Ac.2:32-33″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.”

 Ac 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 to be led by and to walk with the HS. With it, we are adopted to “Sonship”, to be “born” as “sons of God” at 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, without the Holy Spirit of power, one can choose rightly or wrongly. Nonetheless, no matter how good we are, 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 no “freedom 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(Prov. 9:10), he then 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 that will end up in the “lake of fire”. However, Jonah wised up and 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 proved otherwise. Fully imbued with the Holy Spirit, still he did not follow his own will. Instead, he “walked in the Spirit” and 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 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. 6:12), to overcome the flesh using the power of the Holy Spirit in us. God desires a “mature and willing soldier”, not a robot. 

Summary:
The aftermath of faith is reconciliation or justification, nothing more. As crucial a step that is, it is just the beginning of the process of salvation. Having been reconciled, we then “shall be saved by his life”. Jesus had to be resurrected to receive the gift of the the Holy Spirit for us , as promised by the Father. The “righteousness of faith”, initiated by Jesus and becomes actionable by us, was the acceptable payment 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. 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”. While actionable by us, these are works of the Spirit in us and in conjunction with our “spirit of man”, although strictly speaking not ours, per se. 
Salvation is attainment of immortality, eternal life ( Rom. 2:6-9). Jesus proved this with his own resurrection to immortality; he was changed from man-Jesus, in a twinkling of an eye after 3 days and 3 nights being dead in the tomb, into an immortal and glorious body. As 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, per se. After receiving the Holy Spirit for us from the Father at resurrection, he then at Pentecost gave his church this gift. 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 to come and for us to understand”spiritual truth”, a gift, for us to do “good works”. While these are 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 “works” is proof, but not that one is already “saved” which is yet future at resurrection, nor good works the “result of salvation”. Rather, “good works” accepted by the Father are an indication or as a result of the presence of the Holy Spirit in us, the power that the “spirit of man” follows, to bring forth “fruits of the Holy Spirit”. 
Trust is evidence-based, i.e., faith is 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 trusted him with all that was promised him. Righteousness of man-Jesus’ faith imputed his death for the death of humanity, the “righteousness of faith” for reconciliation/justification of mankind. On the other hand, “righteousness of man-Jesus’ “works” result in his “immortality/eternal life”. With his life, he could then receive the promised 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 “immortality/eternal life”. 

In essence, righteousness of faith brings about reconciliation or justification; whereas, righteousness of works/obedience 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. 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, substituted for our death so that we will be reconciled to him. And having done so, we still needed to be saved as promised to his Son. His death, as seminal it was, it was not the proximate cause of our salvation; rather,it reconciled or justified us to the Father. Jesus’ life post resurrection gave us the power to be “sons and daughters of God”, as in:

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”
Original post: 3/30/17

BORN AGAIN?

Born Again?

Are you a “born-again Christian”? Many in today’s world, claim now to be so (1). But is this a tenable teaching? When, really, can one be “born again”?


A Must, to see the Kingdom of God

The critical significance of being “born again” cannot be overemphasized. Jesus himself alluded to this principle when Nicodemus approached him “at night”. Notice the narrative in John 3:1-8 (NIV):

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

Jesus affirmatively without equivocation and emphatically, that the only way to see the kingdom of God, and by common parlance be saved, is to be “born again”. For anyone who was already born, it can be puzzling to be born again. And Nicodemus, a learned and member of the Jewish ruling Council, carried the same doubt. Continuing on:

How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

From the above narrative, one sees that Jesus acknowledged the difference between the 2 births as far as the original makeup and end-product, i.e., “flesh gives birth to flesh” but the “Spirit gives birth to spirit“.  It originates with flesh/matter and the finished product is flesh; and so does the spirit starts it and finished with spirit-product. There is a physical birth that manifests as flesh-composed and a spiritual birth that manifests as spirit-composed. 


Birthing is a Process

As a common knowledge, being born of water in a physical birth is a process. Biologically, it takes a process of fertilization of the ovum by the sperm (both matter) to develop into a zygote, then development into maturity for about 9 months in the womb of a mother before delivery as a full-term newborn flesh-baby, i.e., “flesh gives birth to flesh“. Similarly, and by deduction, being born of the Spirit is a process that follows the same stages, spirit to spirit, i.e., the “spirit of man” (psyche/mind, the spirit-component of man) has to be “fertilized” by the spirit of God, goes through the process of mind-development in the “womb of the church” through sanctification and guidance of the Holy Spirit of God, develop wisdom, bear fruits shown in action, before delivery into “full-term” immortal glorious-spirit body at resurrection; i.e., “spirit gives birth to spirit”. This spirit-birth is yet future as in:
For the earnest expectation of the creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God”(Rom. 8:19). (at the resurrection of the firstfruits.”



As physical development in the womb may not come to maturity and can “abort“, so can spiritual development in the church may not come to fruition (by not being overcomers) and although “written in the book of life” (Rev. 3:5; 17:8; 20:15; 22:19; Phil. 4:3) may not “bear fruits of the Holy Spirit” and miss out. 


Why the need for the Holy Spirit in us?

Man is weak as far as the “flesh” is concerned because this “flesh-body” is ephemeral and will die and decay as it was formed from matter, dust, ground, earthy and will go back thereto, as in Eccl. 12:7
and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”
It did not come directly from God, unlike the “breath of life” (spirit of man) that made the body a “living being” (compare Gen. 2:7, Jer 18:1-6 and Rom.9:21). But this “spirit of man” gets all its influences from the physical senses and stores them in memory; it becomes a composite of all the flesh experiences.This “spirit of man” needs re-education through the guidance, direction and wisdom of the Holy Spirit, to be strong, be “one” with God, before a “glorious body” will be formed. Jesus alluded to the weakness of man’s flesh in:
Matthew 26:40-45 “And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. Then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? . See also Mk. 14:38-40


How will man be strengthened ?

Prophesy has been made to achieve this event of empowering man. Consider the following:
Jer. 18: 1-4 The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying: “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words.” Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make. (Man sinned and became marred so God remade the clay to be better)
Isa. 29:16 “You turn things around! Shall the potter be considered as equal with the clay, That what is made would say to its maker, “He did not make me”; Or what is formed say to him who formed it, “He has no understanding “?” (we were made clay but marred and incomplete).
Isa. 64:8 “Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand” (God is still working in us through the power of the Holy Spirit). 
Isa. 45:9 “Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’?”
Isaiah 40:29-31 “He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary” (strength was future, but now is developing, as the Holy Spirit has been given)
Jeremiah 31:25 “For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes”

Rom. 9:20 “But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to Him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” ( we were made flesh + “breath of life”).
The preceding verses proved that while man was made as such, God will re-visit him to be transformed and “be made again”.


Why and the Ultimate End?



The answer lies in Heb 2:6-18:
But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands:Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. 

But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me.      

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.For in that he himself hath suffered “.
Essentially, man was created lower than angels, flesh-composed but with the “spirit of man” in him. Yet, he is the best of creation and destined to “reign or dominion over all” (Gen. 1:26). Even so, he is vulnerable to sickness and death(first). As Heb. 9:27 states:

it is appointed for man to die once and after that the resurrection“. 

Being matter/flesh-composed, Adam would die a natural death, “as appointed“, which is the 1st death. In general,  all flesh deteriorates, ages and dies. The consequence of sin of Adam in Genesis is death, eternal death or 2nd death, not natural death. Since Adam sinned and imputed to humanity, this resurrection  referred to for all is towards “damnation” or “eternal or second death” in “Gehenna fire” (John 5:29) unless this death has been paid for.  

This is why the Creator YHVH(Jesus) became human to suffer death by crucifixion (not a natural death) so that through his death and on his faith, he can “deliver humanity from the fear of death“. And this, by having his death, as a substitute (Passover-lamb) for mankind. This then reconciles humanity to the Father. With the resurrection of Jesus, he was then given the “gift of the Holy Spirit” (by the righteousness of faith of Jesus) to be subsequently given to us. The Holy Spirit in us then “sanctifies” those who follow instead of rejecting his will.

This prophecy that God will re-shape and strengthen man found the start of its general fulfillment for mankind on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit of God was sent. Read this event in Acts Chapters 1 & 2 when this power was given. The same power that dwells in the “spirit of man”, in the holiest of the temple which is in us, has been guiding, teaching, nurturing the “spiritual zygote” being developed in us during this “period of sanctification“. Remember that God does not dwell in a “temple made by hands” (Acts 7:48). The Holy Spirit is the power that is writing the Ten Commandments, “not in tables of stones but in the fleshly tables of our heart”(2 Cor. 3:3). Paul continued to affirm that this is the power that helps our weakness and strengthens us, as in:

Romans 8:26 “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;”




How and to whom this Holy Spirit was given?

For us to answer the question, one has to be clear about the effect of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Specifically, Jesus’ death is substitutionary for our “second/eternal death” that came about because of Adam’s sin at the garden of Eden. His death reconciles us to the Father. Again, his death is a payment for the consequence of Adam’s sin so that we will be reconciled to the Father. As necessary as that death is, his death did not finally save us. Rather, we are saved by “his life” (has to be resurrected from death to life) as in Rom. 5:10 ,

For if, while 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!” 



He needed to die first, be resurrected to life to go get this Holy Spirit from the Father, as in John 16:7:
Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you”


Summary:

To be “born again” is to manifest as a “glorious spirit-composed body” which can only happen at resurrection, not before and not now. Much like flesh-birth that the zygote has to develop before actual birth, spirit-birth is also a process that takes time to develop before it actually happens in a”twinkling of an eye” (I Cor. 15:52). Jesus’ death paid for the sin of humanity as a consequence of Adam’s sin. On the faith of Jesus, he was then resurrected by the Father to go to heaven and receive the promise of the Holy Spirit of power. Jesus then subsequently has been giving this power to those who believe, I.e., “the faithful”. Through a process of “sanctification” by the Holy Spirit of God, we then become “one” with the Father. Any “good works, decision or righteousness” that come from our “flesh” without the guidance of the Holy Spirit are as “filthy rags” and as “dung” to God (Isa. 64:6;Rom. 3:10; Phil. 3:8-9). While not on our own flesh , it still “our works” but due to the “gift of God” which is the power of the Holy Spirit. Even Job has to be “lectured” by God that while “perfect” on his own, that he was still dirty in the eyes of God. (Read the whole book of Job). 
Our righteousness is the “righteousness of our faith” that started with faith “of” Jesus for which he received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit then given to the faithful to bear “fruits of the Holy Spirit”, not fruits of our flesh. It has to be God’s fruits in us and not our fruits that come from flesh. One can deny or reject the guidance of the Holy Spirit, because freedom of choice is key to the development of wisdom and to be “one” with the Father. Even Jesus with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, has to correctly choose between “his” will and that of the Father’s (Matt. 26:39; Lu.22:42) to be “one” with Him. 

References:

1. History of born again:

http://www.newsmax.com/FastFeatures/Born-Again-Christians-Christianity-Evolution/2015/02/06/id/623238/
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Born_again
http://www.giveshare.org/churchhistory/born%20again.htm
http://about-i-am.net/bornagain.html

Original post:March 12, 2017

INCARNATION, Questions and Controversies?

INCARNATION, Questions and Controversies?

This is a bedrock teaching of Christianity and provides an anchor to one’s belief. Without it, the whole foundation of this religion will crumble. It is no wonder that believers are passionate about it, being a starting point of the process of salvation. But, it is not without dissenters.


Did it happen?

In the 1st-3rd century, rejection of incarnation has been championed by Ebionites and Gnostics (1). The word itself is not found in the Holy Bible. What is known from the Tanach(Old Testament) and carried through New Testament times was the prophecy of and certainty by the prophet Isaiah, testified also by Luke that a human Messiah would come from God, as in:  
Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord (Adonay/YHVH) himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”(God with us).
Isaiah 9:6 “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace”
 Luke 1:31-33 “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.”   
Luke 2:11 “For unto you is born this day in the cityof David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
Micah 5:2 “But you, O BETHLEHEM Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah,Yet OUT OF YOU (Bethlehem) SHALL come forth to ME THE One to be RULER in Israel, Whose goings forth have been from of OLD, from EVERLASTING.”    
Notice that Isa. 7:14 suggests that he himself will give a sign or re-translating the original Greek can be construed as he himself will be given as a sign, although this maybe a stretch. In Lu. 2:11, the word “Christ” means Messiah, and the “Lord” is “kyrios” meaning the supreme/YHVH, suggesting he himself will be the Savior. In Micah 5:2, this newborn baby has an everlasting beginning.

While the preceding verses “intimate” the process of incarnation, they were not specific enough nor precise and leave some to doubt the interpretation. These verses may rightly assume but did not actually nor emphatically attest that God will become flesh, i.e., incarnate, in the person of Jesus. No one has seen the moment YHVH ELOHIM incarnated or changed from immortal to mortal human.That being said, an unequivocal proof that incarnation in fact occurred had to come only from testimony from YHVH ELOHIM himself. After all, he was the one who incarnated. That is why that has to begin with Jesus and subsequently attested to by writers of the Bible. This subsequent testimony appears to be a later understanding as progressively revealed and understood about Jesus. Remember that the gospel of John, written way after Jesus’ resurrection, is different in emphasis compared with the previous 3 synoptic gospels(2). 

Notice the following:
Jesus said in John 8:58 “Before Abraham was, I am”. Jesus himself was quoted as witnessed by John that he lived before Abraham.  Likewise, Jesus clues us in as to his beginning, as in John 17:5 “And now O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself with the glory I had with You before the world was”     

Then, apostle John testified in:          

John 1:1 “in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, And the Word was God”     
John 1:3 “All things were made through Him and without Him nothing was made that was made”   
John 1:14 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth”
John 3:31 “He who comes from heaven is above all”   
John 6:62 “What then if you see the Son of man ascend where He was before”
 I John 1:1 “That which was from the beginning, which we have seen with our eyes, which have looked at and our hands have touched-this we proclaim to you concerning the Word of life.”  
Paul also testified in:
I Timothy 3:16 “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh”  
Colossians 1:16 “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were made through Him and for Him”    
Hebrews 1:10 “To the Son He says, ‘…You O Lord, in the beginning, laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of your hands”       

 
The preceding verses are patently obvious and compelling that YHVH ELOHIM, the Creator of all, came from heaven, that he was with God-Father before the world was and he incarnated into human flesh. A human witness to the actual change from immortal to mortal is impossible. And on that truth lies the very essence of incarnation, and by extension salvation, that it is based on faith, anchored on trustworthy testimony of the Creator YHVH Elohim himself, who became man-Jesus.


Why did he incarnate?    

It is very difficult for anyone to voluntarily give up position and power. For a human king, monarch or queen of a kingdom, President or Prime Minister of a country and for that matter, a dictator, a tyrant to step down from a position of honor, respect or power, is inconceivable. Can a Chairman of the Board, CEO or any management position accept a lower position or being an ordinary person ? That would be unheard of. Unless, temporarily and of course, a trade-off was made that would make the person better in whatever capacity. Yet, YHVH Elohim, the Creator of all visible and invisible, did just that. From a spiritual body he became human flesh, for excellent reasons, thus reflecting his love for his creation and “oneness” with the Father as to the ultimate plan for humans.

I heard a Pastor gave reasons for incarnation like love and glory of God to be shown. Some may give other altruistic reasons, and rightfully so. Yet, no one should forget the most basic reason alluded to in:
Isaiah 53:10 “Yet it was the Lord’s good plan to bruise him; put Him to grief, make His soul an offering for sin . . .” 
Also, notice the following reason given clearly by Paul:
Romans 5:15, 18-19 “But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. . . . Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” (Note: righteousness is of faith (not works) and obedience is to the plan of the Father that attains salvation based on faith (not works of Jesus even); this is not about obedience to the Law/Ten Commandments but to the Law of faith as planned by the Father; see Gal 5:1-26).

Hebrews 9:14 “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? ”
Hebrews 10:4-5 “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins. Therefore, when He came into the world, He said, ‘Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me”  
1 Corinthians 15:22, 45 “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”
2 Corinthians 5:21 “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin FOR us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 
 1 Peter 1:19 “We were redeemed, . . .with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

In essence, all the sins of humanity (whether before or after the garden of Eden narrative) were imputed on (the first) Adam so that righteousness can be imputed from the “second Adam”/Jesus, based on faith and love, not Jesus’ works of the Law/Ten Commandments but his “obedience” or concurrence with the Law of faith as planned by the Father, so no one can boast. He took on the consequence of death for mankind; he died the “appointed”(Heb. 9:27) first (temporary) death . All of us will experience this first death. And he died to free us from second “eternal” death( Rev 2:11, Rev 20:6,14, and Rev. 21:8.). By his resurrection as promised by the Father, he proved that we can also be freed from “eternal death”. Jesus then received the Holy Spirit of power (John 16:7) to be given to us  for our “seal and sanctification” along  this process of salvation . With Jesus resurrected as immortal and having himself been freed by the Father from second death, others also will. He died the first death as a mortal man, so we do not have to die the “second/eternal death” as promised by the Father through a process of being “born again of the spirit”. As an immortal YHVH, he has to incarnate into mortal flesh, otherwise how could he have died and be a propitiation/atonement for our sins? See I John 2:2

 

Mechanics of Incarnation and its sequelae



The story of Nicodemus in John 3:1-12 gives us an inclination of what entails incarnation. In the narrative, Nicodemus was asking how could man be born again. Notice verses 3-6 ” Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot † see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can † he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot † enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Here, it is obvious that Jesus was referring to 2 births, viz., first human birth to flesh as in “born of water” and subsequently a second birth as in”born of the Spirit”. There had to be 2 births, otherwise John 3:3 states, no one (including Jesus) will not see the kingdom of God; no salvation without those requirements. He differentiated the 2 births in v-6, ” that which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” The mechanics therefore of YHVH’s incarnation is, from his previous immortal composition, he has to become flesh through the human process of inception, growth and development in-utero of a mother, be delivered from the womb to become an actual live mortal person. This human process is different from any known human existence. Jesus “came from above”, heavenly; unlike other humans that came from the ground, “earthy”. As an incarnate YHVH, he did not sin and therefore did not carry the penalty of death from the sin of Adam. Mary was pregnant with him, not because of Joseph; she was a mother by “surrogacy”, i.e., nothing from Mary’s egg nor Joseph’s sperm contributed to Jesus’ inception; nothing from mortals. Having no sin as imputed to all from Adam’s, Jesus can rightfully be a pure/clean substitute, a Passover, for mankind.

After going through human inception, intrauterine growth and development, birth (born of water), childhood-to-adulthood growth and development, then, and only then can a person, including man-Jesus, be “born of the spirit” through a process of “adoption-Sonship “, starting with “spirit-baptism”. And Jesus went through the process as “first of the firstfruits” for his “church-body” that will individually also has to go through the same. As YHVH-Creator, he created all. When he became Son of God at resurrection, from mortal man-Jesus to immortal, then he received from the Father, the spirit-power to create “his body-church”, “spirit-composed” children of God, a “God-kingdom”. 
As a potter, with the spirit-power given to him by the Father, the prophecy in Jeremiah 18:1-4 (RSV) is being fulfilled:
“The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.”
He died and resurrected to receive this power as in, 
John 16:7 “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you”. Acts 2:32-33(ESV)

“This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.”


Power of flesh is weak?

Somehow, Christians believe that YHVH incarnated but maintained all his powers as before. As a newborn baby, did Jesus have the consciousness, wisdom and power of YHVH, the Almighty Elohim? If he did, why the need to escape the massacre by Herod? He could have easily overcome that with his power, if he had such power, instead of fleeing to Egypt. Why did they have to wait until Herod’s death before going back? Do these clues suggest “lack of power”? Or, as some assumed, Jesus just chose not use his inherent power?
Intellectually, did the 12-yr.old boy Jesus have the knowledge of the Tanach without reading and/or being taught? It does not appear that, as a human, he somehow just spontaneously got this knowledge. Remember that when he went to the Temple as a child, he was quoted as having a discourse with the Rabbi who was surprised of what he knew (Luke 2:41-52). But, is having an advanced understanding of the Tanach, any more different than anyone who really studied and got immersed in what was written? Many scholars can be outstanding in this regard, as well. In verse 52 of the narrative:

“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” suggests “growth” and knowledge not intrinsic in him. 

Moreover, the compelling key observation that man-Jesus, being mortal-flesh was weak (Matt 26:41 and did not have spiritual powers was the lack of “miracles” ever performed by him prior to the “spirit-baptism” by the Father at river Jordan (Luke 3:22). Only after he was imbued with the Holy Spirit, seen by John the Baptist as a “dove descending and filling him up”, did he have the power to overcome the temptations of Satan (Matt. 4:1-11) and the 1st miracle of turning water into wine in Cana (John 2:11). The spirit of the Father given to him at river Jordan was for him alone to utilize, much like the spirit we are baptized with at conversion. That is why it was necessary for him “to go away” to receive a specific spirit-power to be given to us for creating his “body/church”, as in Matt. 16:18 and:
1 Corinthians 12:27 “Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.”
Romans 12:4-5 “For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”


Son of God, when and why?



As Jesus said to Nicodemus, one has to be human as in “born of water” before becoming “born of spirit”; “what is born of water is flesh; what is born of the spirit is spirit.”
As mentioned early on in this post, no one voluntarily gives up his position of power unless the trade-off will be better. In fact, YHVH’s trade-off was indeed superior, not only for him but for his creation. And, his choice was not selfish. Rather, it was out of love for his creation and on following the “will” of the Father (Luke 22:42). At the beginning, YHVH Elohim created all, visible and invisible, including angelic beings. But, he did not have the power to create “sons and daughters of the God-kingdom”. Otherwise, why wait until after his own death and resurrection to receive this creative power? After having “born of the spirit” with immortal spirit-body, as “Son of God”, he becomes that Creator for the ultimate gift to humanity. Humans are currently “lower than angels” (Hebrews 2:5-13) but as “sons/daughters of God” will be higher than them as the “world to come” will not be subject to angels, unlike before. Sons and daughters of God are being created within the “church/body of Christ” environment. The Father planned for humans to be in the God-kingdom not have a human-kingdom. Is it any wonder that all human kingdoms fail? 
With all the powers given to Jesus now manifested as as “Son of God”, all the works of the devil will be destroyed, as in, 
I John 3:8 “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.


Summary:

In a nutshell, when YHVH said he incarnated, he actually became human with all that it entails, including “tempted but without sin”, as in:
Heb. 4:15 King James 2000 Bible

“For we have not a high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our weaknesses; but was in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin.” 
Yes, he has all the weaknesses (and the strengths) of a human being. He did not maintain the powers of an immortal YHVH Elohim. What in “incarnation do we not get? Somehow, people wanted man-Jesus to maintain his YHVH powers as from the beginning, not realizing that by this assumption, they are actually diminishing the ultimate faith of YHVH in the promise of the Father regarding the plan of salvation for humanity. Imagine the YHVH Creator agreeing to become “lower than angels” as a man? THAT IS ultimate trust in the Father that is faith-based; the righteousness of faith providing the basis of salvation. 

In the creation of the God-kingdom, the requirements are to have 2 births, viz., born of water as a human and then born in spirit as Son of God. What is born of water is flesh; what is born in spirit is spirit. This is the “unwritten covenant” between YHVH ELOHIM and the Ancient of Days/God-Father (Daniel 7:13): that YHVH will give up all his powers through incarnation (born of water, as man-Jesus), grow and develop as man-Jesus, receive the Holy Spirit of power at baptism at the river Jordan, crucified as a Passover for humanity, “born in spirit” by resurrection as immortal Son of God, receive the Holy Spirit from the Father to be given to humanity for the creation of spirit-composed God-kingdom. Thus providing an example of the path to salvation, Jesus the “beginner(pioneer,author) and finisher(perfecter) of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). And all of this plan was based on supreme faith of Jesus in and unswerving love of the Father. The Son and the Father are “one” and so shall we be “one” with them .


References:

1. Controversy of Christmas. Retrieved 12/19/2016 from http://thecripplegate.com/the-controversy-of-christmas/

2. The Gospel of John. Retrieved 1/8/17 from http://www.mycrandall.ca/courses/ntintro/john.htm

Researched started:12/17/16

Original post: 1/12/17

UNIVERSAL SALVATION, WHAT IS

UNIVERSAL SALVATION, WHAT IS?

Directly from the link (1) that supports this doctrine: 

Universal Salvation is eternal life for everyone, including Satan and the demons. All are to be given eternal life and the very nature of God. It means that everyone who has ever been created or born has a future. It means that you will definitely see all your loved ones again. And think about it, if everyone is one day going to be eternal, then death is only temporary. We often say at Christianworld Church, that death is no more than being temporarily out of order. ….If you turn to John 6:39 it says this. “This is the will of the Father who sent me, that of all He has given me I should lose nothing”. Please note that the will of the Father is for Jesus to lose nothing of what He has given him. What exactly has the Father given him? John 3:35 tells us. “The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand”. Can you see what is being said? The Father has given Jesus all things, of which he is to lose nothing. It could not be stated any more clearly than at Colossians 1:16 “For by him (Jesus) all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through him and for him” You can not get it any plainer than that. All things were created for him, in heaven and on Earth, both spirit and human. Again, can you see what is being said? The Father commissions the Son to lose nothing of what He has given him. What has He given him? If all things were created for him, in heaven and on Earth, both spirit and human, and the Father has given all things into his hands, then the Father has given him authority over every single thing in the universe, apart from Himself. Jesus has authority to save not just human beings but also spirit beings. In fact he must save all, because his Father commissioned him to lose nothing. Paul tells us at 1 Timothy 2:6 “Who gave himself a ransom for all”. The fact is that Jesus can lose no one. That is the greatest message you have ever heard. You can not save more than everyone, can you? And Jesus is not allowed to save less. The wise man Solomon said at Ecclesiastes 3:1 “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” Now is the time for this good news to be preached. Now is the time for the greatest message on Earth to be proclaimed. Universal Salvation, eternal life for all.”


Are these assertions true?

1. Eternal life for everyone, including Satan and the demons;

2. Everyone is one day going to be eternal, then death is only temporary. 

3. The will of the Father who sent me, that of all He has given me I should lose nothing.

4. That Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:6 “Who (Jesus) gave himself a ransom for all”.

5. Jesus is not allowed to save less and can lose no one


Universal salvation or apokatastasis is a disturbing concept especially since a good number of intelligent and well-meaning Christians have this belief. On its surface, it is a very enticing proposition that emphasizes attributes of God, viz., immutable, omniscient, omnipotent, etc. Moreover, it acknowledges that salvation is by grace without “works”, the supremacy of God’s will and power, his divine love and mercy. But most especially, love for all. It is an inclusive philosophy of salvation, instead of only to some, exclusively. And, there are preachers opposed to “universalism” who limit eternal life only to them and their flock. As such, this doctrine therefore deserves evaluation and analysis to know the truth. To do this, one may need to start with its history, go through the pros/cons, meticulously combed through them with questions about implications and form a tentative summary.

History:

It has been claimed that apostle Paul preached Universalism. In the fifth chapter of The Inescapable Love of God by eminent Christian Universalist and Philosopher Tom Talbott, he makes a case for Universalism from Paul’s writings, especially Romans (2). Also, that in the 1st century, Origen likewise may have taught this belief. These are “claims” as interpreted from their writings and may not necessarily be true. It is a fact that during that period and even now, there are people who twist and misrepresent teachings, especially that of Paul. We need to take all these claims with “a grain of salt”(Matt. 7:15).
On the North American continent in 1770, Universalism started when a man named Tom Potter allegedly heard God speak to him about this ‘revelation’ that everyone was already saved (3). Potter shared this with another man named John Murray, they began preaching this message in churches, and it spread very quickly. A man named Hosea Ballou considered the great theologian of American Universalism promulgated this teaching. Ballou was a ‘hyper-universalist’ and wrote hundreds of sermons about how everybody was going to get saved in the end. A growing consortium of Christians today are simply ‘rediscovering’ Ballou’s teachings, and they think they have some new ‘revelation’ that is going to change the world for Christ. From there, the concept persisted and the universalist movement led to the formation of the Universalist Church of America, which later merged in 1961, with the American Unitarian Association. Thereafter, it formed into the religious organization known as the Unitarian Universalist Association. In Unitarian Universalism’s brand of church, there is no official church dogma, but most of its members adhere to the “no punishment in the afterlife” theory, as do many Anglicans (Church of England, and in North America, Episcopalians). 

Pros in the Bible:



The following are excerpts that were interpreted to support this concept:

Romans 5:18 “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.”  
Colossians 1:19-20 “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”
Philippians 2:10-12 “…so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Romans 11:32 “For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.”

1 Corinthians 15:22 “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”  

1 Timothy 2:4-6 “who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. 

1 Timothy 4:10 “For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” 

2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Isaiah 45:22-23 “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear..”

John 12:32 “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

Romans 5:15-19: “For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!” (To me, this states that God’s grace overflows to the many in the same way that the trespass of Adam was given to many; in other words, every human being.(?) why many instead of all ??

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

1 Corinthians 15:22 “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive

Colossians 1:15-20: “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullnessdwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”

Revelations 21:5 “He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 

I Peter 3:18-19 “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison,”
“The verses in which God expresses his intent to save everyone are also foundational”, so they say. It is God’s desire for everyone (including fallen angels I Pet. 3:19) to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), for Jesus to be “a ransom for all” (1 

Timothy 2:4-6), and for all to be saved. The idea is that if God wants to save everyone, He can do just that because “with God everything is possible” (Matt. 19:26) and works all things according to the council of his will” (Eph. 1:11). Those who believe in this theology states that ” though there may be some level of judgement/punishment in the meantime, he will eventually save all”.

“The Christian Doctrine of Universal Salvation, or Universal Reconciliation, states that all people, no matter how evil they may be, are created by God; and that God the Father, acting through His Son, Jesus Christ, will eventually bring all people back to Himself and into Heaven, by means which we cannot know or understand. After death, each person will be judged by God according to his deeds.There is punishment for evildoing, according to God’s desire for justice. But this punishment is temporary and not eternal. Eventually, everyone comes back to God the Father, by Jesus Christ, His Son.(4)
Books of the Bible argued to possibly support the idea of full reconciliation include the First Epistle to the Corinthians. The sections of 1 Corinthians 15:22, “As all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ”, and 1 Corinthians 15:28, “God will be all in all”, are cited. Verses that seem to contradict the tradition of complete damnation and come up in arguments also include Lamentations 3:31-33 (NIV), “For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love”,[9] and 1 Timothy 4:10(NIV), “We have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.”

Similarly, the Epistle to the Colossians receives attention, with Colossians 1:17-20 reading: “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross.”

In a nutshell the Christian Universalism basic scriptures were compiled by Rev. Bill McGinnis InternetChurchOfChrist.org which support the Christian Universalist doctrine of Universal Salvation and the Christian Universalist faith. “Please note the use of “every” and “all.” These Scriptures apply to all people, not merely some people. And what they say is that all people will eventually come to Christ and be saved. ” . . . every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.” “I . . . will draw all men to me.” ” . . . the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.” “And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” ” . . . in Christ shall all be made alive.” Isaiah 45:22-23 (KJV) Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. John 12:32 (KJV) And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. 1 Timothy 4:10-11 (KJV) For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. These things command and teach. Philippians 2:9-11 (KJV) Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 1 Corinthians 15:22 (KJV) For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”

In essence the bases for the preceding dogma stem from these verses:

John 6:39 it says this. “This is the will of the Father who sent me, that of all He has given me I should lose nothing”.

John 3:35 tells us. “The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand”. 

Colossians 1:16 “For by him (Jesus) all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through him and for him” 

1 Timothy 2:6 “Who (Jesus) gave himself a ransom for all”.

Once saved, always saved?


A subset of “universalism teaching” is a common preaching that “once saved, always saved”. That, people are predestinated for salvation and God, being powerful, will implement his will. Notice that the core basis of these beliefs hang on the word “all”.And that God will do his “will” no matter what. Really? But, if all or everyone’s going to be ‘saved” in the end, why not eat, drink, and be merry? Why not “have fun” and continue on sinning when after all, punishment is just temporary and not eternal ? Doesn’t this appear to be enabling sin? How then can these beliefs be reconciled with Revelation 21:8, Galatians 5:19-21, and other verses that speak against evil and enjoins everyone to “bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), as the tree that does not bear fruit will be cut down (Matt.7:19)? It is obvious then that for one to get the true meaning of what was stated, the context of what was referred to, has to be analyzed and reconciled /aligned with other basic principles.

Additionally, while God is all-powerful and can do whatever he wants, He also has wisdom and plans regarding what is the best approach to salvation. And the plan of salvation is being implemented even now, without being “forced down our throats”. For further dissertation, please access Salvation Series posts, all 6 of them.

Cons in the Bible:(5)

Ezekiel 18:1-5, 9 “And the word of Yahweh came to me saying, “As I live, proclaims the Lord, Yahweh… “See, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so the soul of the son is Mine: death will be the fate of the sinner’s soul. But if a man is upright, {he is} living rightly and doing righteousness… and has been guided by My rules and has kept My laws and done them: he is upright, life will certainly be his,” says the Lord Yahweh.’ TAT

 

 Ezekiel 18:20-24 “The soul which does sin will be put to death: the son will not be made responsible for the evil-doing of the father, or the father for the evil-doing of the son; the righteousness of the upright will be on himself, and the evil-doing of the evil-doer on himself. But if the evil-doer, turning away from all the sins which he has done, keeps my rules and does what is ordered and right, life will certainly be his; death will not be his fate. Not one of the sins which he has done will be kept in memory against him: in the righteousness which he has done he will have life. ‘Have I any pleasure in the death of the evil-doer,’ says the Lord, ‘am I not pleased if he is turned from his way so that he may have life?’ 24 But when the upright man, turning away from his righteousness, does evil, like all the disgusting things which the evil man does, will he have life? Not one of his upright acts will be kept in memory: in the wrong which he has done and in his sin death will overtake him.” (1985 Bible in Basic English)

 

Revelation 2:11 “Let every listener hear what the Spirit says to the Churches: The victorious cannot suffer the slightest hurt from the second death.”

 

Revelation 20:6 “Happy and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! The second death cannot touch such men; they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him for the thousand years.”

 

Revelation 20:14 “Then death and the grave were themselves hurled into the lake of fire, which is the second death.”

 

Revelation 21:8 “But as for the cowards, the faithless and the corrupt, the murderers, the traffickers in sex and sorcery, the worshippers of idols and all liars––their inheritance is in the lake which burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.”

Revelation 20:4-21:5″And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 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. 7 Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. 1The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 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. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This isthe second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. 21:1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” (New King James Version)

2 Thessalonians 1:5-12 “This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our LordJesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed — for our testimony to you was believed. To this end also we pray for you always that our God may count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power; in order that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”(New American Standard Bible)

Galatians 5:19-21, “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Galatians 5:22-23 tells us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

Implications:
From the preceding verses, it is clear that evil has consequence and death is destined for evil doers. God has no pleasure in the death of the evil-doer and is pleased if the individual turned from his way to have life. But when the upright man, turns away from his righteousness and does evil, like all the disgusting things which the evil man does, he will not have life, death follows. The “firstfruits” who are living at the time of Christ’s second coming together with those who previously died will participate in the first resurrection and have immortality. For those who are alive and not “firstfruits”, they will experience the Millenium government of Christ and the “firstfruits”, and more importantly the power of the Holy Spirit for them to choose to become “sons of God”. Those in the Millenium who still reject the Holy Spirit will not partake of immortality. The rest of the dead will wait until after the Millenium for their resurrection to life or perdition. From among them, those who willingly grow “in spirit” will become “sons and daughters” of the kingdom of God.

Summary:

Collating all the preceding data, one may conclude the following:
1. When the Bible says “all” it really means all but does not suggest necessarily at the same time and may confirm a precise schedule in time. When it says God loves all, that is a fact. However, that God wants all to be saved, may be predicated on a specific strategic plan and timing for each one. But, certainly this awesome gift of salvation will not be forced on anyone. When someone rejects it, this does not suggest that in the future, the person will continually reject it; may accept it willingly as the best option. 
2. When the Bible says “eternal”, it does not necessarily mean forever and may sometime mean only for that time period which does not include all the future. 
3. Punishment for evil doers may refer to first death that one can be resurrected from. But, may also refer subsequently to second death from which there is no resurrection. As to which one is referred to, can be deduced from the context.
Altogether, no one can divine the decision of the Father being the final arbiter of what is best. He reserves the right of a decision-maker as he reserves to himself the timing of the “end times” ( see Matt. 24:36). As Jesus said, “let your will be done”(Lu. 22:42). For the sake of argument, that Jesus was given all the powers after his resurrection (Matt. 28:18) even to know all, much like us, we defer certain things to show respect and awe to our Father. Still, the Father is the ultimate judge as to the fate of anyone, either ending the person’s life temporarily or permanently depending on his wisdom. 

The bottom-line for this research is this: let us not second-guess or pre-empt the Father as to whether all will be saved. A universalism concept that precludes the Father’s ultimate sovereignty and final decision should remind us of the experience of Job (Job 38-42). The essence of Job’s indictment tells us, who should we think we really are. 

Let us all be respectful of the Father and join the chorus with Jesus to sing… “let your will be done” (Lu. 22:42).

References:

1. Universal Salvation: The Greatest Message on Earth. Retrieved October 1, 2016 from http://www.universalsalvation.org/page2.htm
2. Retrieved October 10, 2016 from http://christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/525/what-is-the-biblical-basis-for-universaluhsswd 
3.Christian Universal Salvation – THE BIG LIE By Craig Bluemel. Retrieved October 16, 2016 from http://bibleanswerstand.org/universal.htm
4. Christian Doctrine of Universal Salvation. Retrieved October 17, 2016 from http://www.loveallpeople.org/universalsalvation.html
5.Ibid. Retrieved October 16, 2016. http://bibleanswerstand.org/universal.htm

Original post:12/13/2016

Revised: 1/10/17