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

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

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




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

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

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

Also, notice Rom. 2:6-9:

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

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



Follow God’s commandments or else?

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

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

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

Contrariwise, a natural death (1st death) is a consequence of being mortal. And as such can die, even when personally, he/she did not commit sin like Job and Jesus. If Adam/Eve did not sin, they would still die the natural 1st death as they were mortals. Having been created, as such, humans already have been destined to die and afterwards the judgment as in:
Heb. 9:2 7 “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:”



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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



Role of Faith and “works” in defining righteousness ?

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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



How did we actually and finally get saved?



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

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

Jesus had to be resurrected to receive this promised “power” and “gift” of the Holy Spirit, based again on Jesus’ faith and trust in the Father. Jesus acknowledged this receipt of the HS to be crucial, for without which, salvation will not happen even in his life. And with that gift and promise of the Father that with the Holy Spirit in us, what dynamics then will change? John states that this is the power that will help us 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 the HS is “power“, not a third person of Trinity.  Without this gift , which is the Holy Spirit in us, we will not have the power to become “sons of God”. Power dynamics changed to empower those with the Holy Spirit to do good works recognized by the Father. And having such works or “fruits of the spirit“, rewards us with “immortal/spirit bodies” at resurrection, which is the essence of “salvation” from eternal death. This 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 ). He knew the power of the Father by being with him from the very beginning. 


Holy Spirit prophesied to come in Old and New Testaments

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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



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

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

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

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

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



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

Clearly, the preceding verses confirmed that Jesus received this HS from the Father and now has been poured to the apostles starting the day of Pentecost and to many during that time and still being given into us. This will bring life and strength to our mortal bodies for so long as we allowed ourselves, voluntarily and by our choice, to be led by and to walk with the HS. With it, we are adopted to “Sonship“, to beborn” as “sons of Godat resurrection.


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

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

However, some teachers have it that the Holy Spirit in us is so powerful that we have nofreedom of choice” and in a way has to follow it. Many instances of “forcible compliance” have been mentioned, for those prior to the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit of power was given. As a classic example, notable among them of God’s prevailing power no matter what, was the story of Jonah. The narrative goes that God commanded him to go and warn Nineveh of impending destruction in the hands of God. But, he was so stubborn that instead, he went the opposite way from Nineveh. He was then swallowed by a “big fish“. He was praying before he died in the belly of the fish. After 3 days and 3 nights, he was vomited in the shore of Nineveh, where he was resurrected to life. Fear, being the beginning of wisdom(Proverbs 9:10), he then voluntarily and by his own choosing, followed God’s command and warned the inhabitants of Nineveh of their impending doom. It can be argued that Jonah was being forced, and he was. Yet, even with that horrible experience, he could still say “No” to God. And there are and will be people in that category, (even with the Holy Spirit in them, that they eventually rejected) that will end up in the “lake of fire“. However, Jonah wised up and 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” voluntarily for the “joy set before him, endured the cross” (Heb. 12:2and let the Father’s will “be done“, as in:
Luke 22:42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”




This is what the Father wants and hopes (Romans 8:20-25; Titus 1:2) that we will do, to be “one” with him as his way is “the way, the truth and the life“(John 14:6) Our battle is spiritual (Eph. 6:10-18) to overcome the flesh using the power of the Holy Spirit in us. God desires a “mature and willing soldier“, not a robot. 



Summary:

With man-Jesus’ death, (the aftermath/proof of the faith of Jesus) came reconciliation or justification for mankind’s sin as imputed on the sin of Adam in the garden of Eden, nothing more. This is the faith-mechanism of how all humans can get justified and reconciled to the Father. But, this is applicable only to “believers” at a particular point in time, whether “pre-during-post-millenium”, and “overcomers“as written in the “book of life”(compare Rev.3:5; 20:12; 22:19). As crucial a step that is, it is just the beginning of the process of salvation. Having been reconciled, subsequently we then “shall be saved by his life”. We are not yet saved now. Jesus had to be resurrected to receive the gift of the the Holy Spirit for us , as promised by the Father; it takes a live person not a dead one to receive. The “righteousness of faith”, initiated by Jesus and becomes actionable by us, was the acceptable 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. Going through with decision and action to be crucified, i.e., “works“, followed “faith” leading to trust in the Father’s promise.While his natural death was proof of his faith in the Father, the proximate basis for justification and reconciliation was Jesus’ faith, not his death. Conversely, “righteousness of works” is the principle that will render “reward” i.e., future salvation, eternal life/immortality at resurrection, for those who continue to walk “in the Spirit“, those who “bear fruits of the Holy Spirit“, those who are “overcomers“(Rev. 21:7-8). While actionable by us, these are works/fruitsof the Spirit in us and in conjunction(not forced but”willingly“) with our “spirit of man”, although strictly speaking not ours, per se. 

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

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

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

 

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

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




In essence, righteousness of faith brings about reconciliation or justification; whereas, righteousness of works/obedience to the guidance of the Holy Spirit leads to salvation, i.e., immortality/eternal life. Ultimately, all boil down to God’s love that brings about grace for our reconciliation and salvation. He established the plan for both goals. The accounting of faith and Holy Spirit of power are both gifts from the Father. To paraphrase John 3:16, God so loved the world that he graced and gifted us with his only begotten Son to die as a Passover Lamb, in faith substituted for our death, counted from faith of Jesus, so that we will be reconciled to him. And having done so, we still needed to be saved as promised to his Son. His belief in his death, as seminal it was, was the proximate cause of our justification and subsequent/eventual salvation. It reconciled or justified us to the Father. Jesus’ life post resurrection gave us the Holy Spirit of power to be “saved as sons and daughters of God”, as in:

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



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




Original post: 3/30/2017

Revised/re-posted 12/7/17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Who are the people judged by God and when

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


Judgment in history as an example for the future 

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

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

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

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

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



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


We are made “weak”, so why judge?

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

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

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

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




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


Power to have before future judgment

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

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



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

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


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


Who are now being judged?

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

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


Resurrection for all to be judged


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

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

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


Summary



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

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

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

 

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


References:

1. Hurricane Harvey. Retrieved August 8, 2017 at

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Original post:October 30, 2017

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



 

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

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

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

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

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

Temptation devolves into Sin

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

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

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

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

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


Abomination 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Bless.


Reference:

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

Posted: 8/6/2017

Revised 11/17/2017

Resurrection ?

Resurrection?

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

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


Resurrection, you can bank on it:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Better Resurrection:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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



Millennial and Post-millennial resurrection:

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

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

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

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

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

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


The second resurrection :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


Summary:

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

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

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

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

Original post: 5/18/2017

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

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 7:9,13) 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” and are “overcomers“. Those who are saved are called so, because they have immortality and eternal life. Yet, there is a consequence to people who continued on sinning, viz., the “lake of fire”, aka, “Gehenna 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 (or remodeling,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 by the Father to receive from  him 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  have faith (evidence ) in Jesus, believe in him and trust that all promises made to him by the Father will be realized towards us, as well. And faith (evidence/substance-based) 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 physical ears only after having been opened by God to spiritual truth(I Cor. 2:14). 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

BORN AGAIN?

Born Again?

Are you a “born-again Christian”? Many in today’s world, claim now to be so (1). That, because we are “saved by faith“, and since we now have faith, that we are saved now and “born again now“. But, is this a tenable teaching? When, really, can one be “born again and when are we saved”?


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. Also, a flesh-composed birth is visible, whereas, “everyone born of the Spirit” …”you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going“. Spirit-composed person is “invisible” as Jesus is , although with the capacity and power to be seen, as in the narrative between Him and Thomas post-resurrection(John 20:24-29).


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 extension, 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(baptized by), 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, be an overcomer 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.” ( Notice that they “manifest” as spirit-composed sons of God at resurrection as flesh-composed humans “manifest” themselves at birth).



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” (psyche/mind) needs conversion, 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

It took Jesus 3 times to see the weakness and limits of flesh-composed humans to be convinced that he had to die for mankind and and be resurrected to receive the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit from the Father. Our flesh-composed bodies have limits, not only about “sleep-deprivation“, but also on “pull of the flesh” and “appointed towards natural death”.


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 and God has planned for this).

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” (Whether  young  and vigorous, 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” and God planned to empower him in time).

The preceding verses proved that while man was made as such, God will re-visit him to be transformed and “be made again”.


Why make man weak in the flesh 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 “.

While the above verses refer directly to man-Jesus, being the precursor for humans(author/finisher not only of faith, Heb 12:2), the indirect reference was to humans in general. Essentially, man (same as man-Jesus) was created lower than angels, flesh-composed (weak) but with the “spirit of man” in him. Yet, humans (as man-Jesus) is the best of creation and destined to “reign or have dominion over all” (Gen. 1:26). Even so, he is vulnerable to sickness and natural first death. 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 eternal/second death has been paid for, and Jesus did.

This is why the Creator YHVH(Jesus) became human to suffer death by crucifixion, (a natural first death being flesh-composed but also to be delivered as promised by the Father from second/eternal death for sins of mankind) so that through his natural death and on his faith, he can “deliver humanity from the fear of (second/eternal) death“. And this, by having his imputed “eternal/second death”, as a promised substitute (Passover-lamb) for mankind’s consequence of sin. Accepting this promise on faith(evidence-based, from which trust and hope emanate) 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 segment of the temple (the holy of holies) 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); yes, while still in these flea have-composed bodies. 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’ imputed  “second/eternal death” is substitutionary for oursecond/eternal death” that came about because of Adam’s sin at the garden of Eden. The consequence of being flesh-composed is “natural first death that all humans are appointed to, including man-Jesus. Whereas, the consequence of sin is “second/eternal death“. Jesus died a “natural first death” by crucifixion, having an ephemeral flesh-composed body.  But, because of Jesus’ faith in the Father’s promise that he trusted and hoped for, he did not stayed dead in the tomb or die a “second/eternal death”  which is a consequence of sin; instead he was resurrected to eternal life as promised. All mankind’s sin was imputed to one man Adam (and all died)so that being delivered (as promised) from  “second/eternal death” of one man-Jesus would be imputed to all. The “natural first death” was not the one imputed as we are all appointed to die , being flesh-composed that has “expiration date“, so to speak. Jesus’ trust and hope that is faith-based to be delivered from”second/eternal death” reconciles us to the Father. Again, “faith of Jesus” (not his natural death) was reckoned and imputed by the Father as payment for the consequence of Adam’s sin (representing mankind’s sin) so that we will be reconciled to the Father. As necessary as that natural death is, his natural death did not finally save us. Rather, we are saved by “his life” (has to be resurrected from natural 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!” 



Notice that we were reconciled to the Father through ( not by) the natural first death of his Son, but by the “faith of Jesus”. He needed to die a natural first death, 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:

From the beginning, we were originally composed “flesh” out of clay/ground/earthy, on hope of future change. As such, “the flesh is weak but the spirit is willing“. The “spirit of man” is the “breath of life“(psyche) that did not come from clay but came directly THROUGH “breathing in his nostrils” from a spirit-composed God/YHVH, therefore “heavenly, not earthy“. The flesh is “weak” being mortal and needed change to an “immortal spirit-composed body“. But, before this change, the “spirit of man” needs to be fertilized/baptized/immersed by the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit in the “holy of holies” (our mind), the temple not made by hands but by “breathing through” directly. And this event, like in Pentecost,to be guided on choosing “good from evil” through a process of sanctification that takes time, writing in the fleshly(not stony) tables of our heart, like being nurtured/developed in the “womb of the church”.

To be “born again” is to manifest as a “glorious spirit-composed body” which can only happen at resurrection, not before and not now; it is still future. 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’ faith on imputed “second/eternal death, reckoned by the Father, paid for the sin of humanity as a consequence of Adam’s sin that reconciled us to the Father. On the faith of Jesus, he was then resurrected as promised 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 us, 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). Good works as “fruits of the Holy Spirit“, not “fruit of our own flesh” , are still “our works” but a product of 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,  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, reconciliation and 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, (be aborted) 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