The studies contained on these pages are a compendium of all the We Believe studies that have thus far appeared in The Shofar, the quarterly email magazine of the AMC, and are expositions of the points contained in our doctrinal statement. Because the studies on this page appear in an unbroken sequence rather than as one study every two or three months, the introductions have been edited accordingly. Some study sequences and titles have been adjusted, as well.
With every issue of The Shofar, another
study will be added to this page until it is complete.
It is our hope that you will be greatly enriched as
you allow the Lord to show you whether or not what is
contained herein is faithful to His Word, as did the
Berean Jews of Acts 17:11.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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Let's begin with a complete statement of...
Association of Messianic Congregations'
'Canonicity' may be defined as the worthiness of a book to be included in the Scriptures. As claims of canonicity arose, church leaders tested each book in question by seeking evidence of inspiration, whether or not it bore the authority of a prophet or godly leader, whether it declared itself to be the Word of God, and other such tests. In this manner, by the end of the fourth century, the thirty-nine books of the Tenach and the twenty-seven of the Brit Chadasha were recognized as the extent and limit of Holy Scripture.
A. THE NATURE OF INSPIRATION
We are told in 2 Timothy 3:16, All Scripture is
inspired by God. The Greek word
translated 'inspired' is Theopneustos, which means
"God-breathed," and emphasizes the exhalation of God.
Inspiration, then, is really "outspiration". God
"outbreathed" the Scriptures through human writers.
Prophecy is the ability to receive revelation
directly from God. Revelation is "a divine act by
which God communicates to man those things... which
otherwise man could never know."(1) God inspired some
of His prophets to write down their revelations as
Scripture. He also inspired some of His compilers of
records and researchers to write down the results of
their labors as Scripture (cf. Luke 1:1-4).
B. EVIDENCES FOR INSPIRATION
The evidences for inspiration are overwhelming.
Please see the "Evidence" study for a
much fuller treatment of these points.)
Revelation 22:18-19: I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away from his part in the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.
These verses appear just three and four verses before the end of Revelation. The dire warnings that John issues against tampering with the book clearly indicates that it is the Word of God; but inasmuch as Revelation alludes to hundreds of Old Testament prophecies from Genesis to Malachi, and to the core teachings and prophecies of the New Testament from Matthew to Jude, it is clear that the entire Bible is the Word of God and that John's warnings against tampering refer to it, as well. John's warnings, therefore, seal up Scripture as the final revelation of God to man until the epochal revelation of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords Himself upon His return.
'Inerrancy' means "without error." Inerrancy may be attributed only to the original autographs of Scripture because it was only the original autographs that were inspired. The Bible contains no error on any matter despite the protests of some. In matters of history on which the Bible touches, archaeological and historical discoveries have put scoffers to shame hundreds of times. In scientific matters, the Bible has always proven to be accurate. For example, in the matter of origins, evidence for evolution is exceedingly feeble despite claims to the contrary, whereas evidence for biblical creation is overwhelming. (See Section IIE of "Evidence".)
This derives from the fact that the Scriptures are God-breathed, that God is true ( John 3:33; 2 Cor. 1:18) and that it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18). For evidences for biblical infallibility in matters of science: go to The Creation Research Institute at www.icr.org. For matters of history: go to www.christianbooks.com and type in the keyword "archaeology." *
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The second point of the AMC's doctrinal statement reads:
The tri-unity of God, especially in the aspect of the
diety of the Messiah, is a stumbling block for many
Jewish seekers. This is an honest concern, and will be
addressed below; but to lay a foundation, the basic
nature of godhood must be established. We will do that
by addressing those attributes of God that are
declared in the statement.
God is infinite. What is meant by infinity is that God is not excluded, bounded in or limited in any way as to the existence of His presence by any material thing, form of energy, soul, spirit, thought, emotion, place, or any other thing or phenomenon in the supernatural or natural realm. 1Kings 8:27: But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, the heavens and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this house which I have built?
God is perfect. There are various words in the Old and New Covenants that are translated perfect, and they generally have the meaning of being complete and without lack or defect. (What is meant by 'perfect' when applied to believers is maturity.) Matthew 5:48: Therefore be perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.
He is eternally existing. By eternity is meant the quality of existing endlessly in regards to time without interruption or limitation in the past, present and future.Psalm 90:2: Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting You are God. Deuteronomy 33:27: The eternal God is thy dwelling-place, And underneath are the everlasting arms.
God eternally exists in three equal persons. God is
not a mere force though He exercises force; nor is He
a pantheistic totality and unity of all that exists:
He is, indeed, distinct from His creation and is a
true Person: a triune Person - not a person of flesh
and spirit as you and I, but a Spirit Person (John
Intellect is the ability to think, reason and plan.Isaiah 1:18: Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD.
Emotion is the ability to feel affectively with one's spirit. Exodus 4:14: And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses. Ephesians 4:30: And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God....
Will is the ability to choose a course of action. Genesis 1:3: And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
I would add a fourth essential attribute to personhood:
Appreciability, whether actual or potential. By appreciability I mean the ability to appreciate God and His works. Only God, holy angels and people possess appreciability. Fallen angels lost the potential to appreciate God, having been confirmed in their unholiness.
That God appreciates His work is manifestly clear: Genesis 1:31: And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good. Isaiah 53:10: Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the desire of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
God is omnipresent. Whereas infinity addresses the location of God's presence in terms of limitations, omnipresence addresses the location of God's presence in terms of extent. "God is everywhere present with His whole being at all times" (Dr. Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology [Chicago: Moody Press, 1981], p. 41). Psalm 139:7-10: Where shall I go from Your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from Your presence? If I go up into Heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the furthest parts of the sea; even there shall Your hand leads me, and Your right hand shall hold me.
He is omnipotent. By omnipotence is meant that God is infinitely powerful and able to do all things within the confines of His nature.Genesis 1:1: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Act 5:30: The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you killed and hanged on a tree.
Although God is powerful enough to create out of nothing and to resurrect, He is impotent in regards to anything contrary to His nature. For example, He cannot cease to be God (Deuteronomy 33:27); He cannot deny Himself (go back on His word) (2 Timothy 2:13); He is impervious to sinful temptations (James 1:13); He cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18).
God is omniscient. Omniscience means having and being fully aware of all knowledge of all things actual and possible from the infinitesimal to the infinite in every realm at all times.Acts 15:18: All His works are known to God from eternity. Psalm 139:16: Thine eyes did see mine unformed substance; And in thy book they were all written, Even the days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was none of them. Hebrews 4:13: Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight, but all things are naked and opened to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
God is the creator of all things. 'Creator' is not one of God's attributes, but one of His titles. His creation of all things is an activity made possible by His attributes. God is not identical with the creation, but is distinct from it. There is the Creator and the created. God is the Creator. God existed before all else, and then He created all else.Genesis 1:1: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Colossians 1:16: For through him God created everything in heaven and on earth, the seen and the unseen things, including spiritual powers, lords, rulers, and authorities. God created the whole universe through him and for him.
By no means should this list be considered exhaustive: Many, O LORD, my God are the wonders which you have done, and your thoughts toward us; There is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, they would be too numerous to count. (Psalm 40:5)
By personality in the statement is meant "personhood", the essential attributes of which are: intellect, the ability to think, reason and plan; emotions, the ability to feel affectively with one's spirit; and will, the ability to choose a course of action.
The statement continues:
1. The Father is God. Galatians 1:3: Grace to you, and peace from God the Father and from our Lord Yeshua the Messiah.
2. The Father is a Person. He possesses intellect, emotions, and will, as can be seen in John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Father Possesses Intellect. It is
plainly evident that any being who could devise a plan
for the simultaneous satisfaction of justice and
redemption of mankind has an intellect.
Father Possesses a Will
1 Corinthians 8:6: ... there is only one God, the Father, from whom everything came into being and for whom we live.
Job 9:5-7: [He] removes the mountains, shakes the earth out of its place. Speak[s] to the sun, and it does not rise; and seals up the stars.
Exodus 4:22: Thus saith Jehovah, Israel is my son, my first-born:
Deuteronomy 7:6: Jehovah your God has chosen you to be a special people to Himself above all people that are upon the face of the earth.
Matthew 3:17: And
lo, a voice out of the heavens, saying, This is my
John 3:16: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Romans 8:21: That the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
John 1:12: But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Let's look to the Scriptures to substantiate each claim contained therein. As much as possible, we'll draw our proofs from the Tanach, the Hebrew Scriptures:
Does the Tanach declare a God the Son? 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, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Would the great prophet Isaiah dare declare that a humanly born son would be called Mighty God and Everlasting Father were it not so? Obviously not. It is clear, then, that Scripture declares a human God the Son. It is also clear from the son's titles and that the government shall be upon his shoulder, that this God the Son is also Messiah.
Became implies that God the Son pre-existed His human birth. Does Scripture support this? Psalm 2:6-9: 6. 'Truly it is I that have established My king upon Zion, My holy mountain.' 7. I will tell of the decree: the LORD said unto me: 'Thou art My son, this day have I begotten thee. 8. Ask of Me, and I will give the nations for thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth for thy possession. 9. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.'
This passage is also clearly Messianic and is called
by the Son a decree. The decree contains the
declaration by the LORD, Thou art My son.... By
this declaration, God the Father addresses the
Messianic God the Son of Isaiah 9:6 as My son. So we
see that the Messianic God the Son is also the
Messianic Son of God. This decree of God is from
eternity past, and it is from eternity past that God
the Father conversed with God the Son. It is plain,
then, that the Messianic God the Son pre-existed His
"We believe that God the Son became flesh in the person of Yeshua of Nazareth, the promised Messiah of Israel, who was conceived of the Spirit of God and born of the Jewish virgin, Miriam (Mary)."
The four main claims in this section that are as yet unaddressed are that the Son became flesh...
I'll begin with the second claim in order to lay a foundation for the others.
This most amazing and detailed prophecy of Isaiah was written 700 years before the birth of Yeshua: Isaiah 53:1-11. 1. Who has believed our report? 2. For He comes up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground; He has no form nor majesty that we should see Him, nor an appearance that we should desire Him. 3. He is despised and rejected of men; a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as it were a hiding of faces from Him, He being despised, and we esteemed Him not. 4. Surely He has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5. But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was on Him; and with His stripes we ourselves are healed. 6. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, each one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. 7. He was oppressed, and He was afflicted; yet He opened not His mouth. He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before its shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth. 8. He was taken from prison and from judgment; and who shall declare His generation? For He was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of My people He was stricken. 9. And He put His grave with the wicked and with a rich one in His death; although He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth 10. Yet it pleased the LORD to crush Him; to grieve Him; that He should put forth His soul as a guilt-offering. He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the will of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. 11. He shall see the fruit of the travail of His soul. He shall be fully satisfied. By His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify for many; and He shall bear their iniquities.
Let's look at it once again, but with a little exegesis: Isaiah 53:1-11. 1. Who has believed our report? Truly, until this day, many Jews do not believe this report - but not for biblical reasons. 2. For He [Messiah] comes up before Him [God His Father] as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground [that is, as a little shoot proceding from a tree stump. Yeshua was of David's royal line; but He was from a poor family in a nation oppressed by the Roman Empire]; He has no form nor majesty that we should see Him, nor an appearance that we should desire Him. 3. He is despised and rejected of men; a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as it were a hiding of faces from Him, He being despised, and we esteemed Him not [His own Jewish people, incited by their leaders, rejected Him to the uttermost]. 4. Surely He has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5. But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was on Him; and with His stripes we ourselves are healed. [The New Testament declares Yeshua's scourging and bruising: "…. And when (Pilate) had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified" (Matthew 27:26). It also clearly declares a substitutionary suffering and death for sin, as does this Isaiah passage. 2 Corinthians 5:21: "For he (God) hath made him sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."] 6. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, each one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. 7. He was oppressed, and He was afflicted; yet He opened not His mouth. He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before its shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth. [When the Roman Governor, Pilate, interrogated Jesus, he said to Him, "Do you not hear how many things they witness against you? And He did not answer him a word, so that the governor greatly marveled" (Matthew 27:13-14).] 8. He was taken from prison and from judgment; and who shall declare His generation [or, who could tell His fate]? For He was cut off out of the land of the living [killed]: for the transgression of My people He was stricken. 9. And He put His grave with the wicked [Hebrew scholars Keil and Delitzch say that this phrase would be better translated, And they assigned Him His grave with sinners] and with a rich one in His death [Matthew 15:43-46 declares that a wealthy disciple of Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea, buried Jesus in his own tomb]; although He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth [2 Corinthians 5:21: "...He... knew no sin...."] 10. Yet it pleased the LORD to crush Him; to grieve Him; that He should put forth His soul as a guilt-offering. [This is the fulfillment of Leviticus 17:11: "For the life of the flesh is in the blood. And I have given it to you on the altar to make an atonement for your souls. For it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul."] He [Messiah] shall see His seed [His spiritual descendants], He shall prolong His days [live a prolonged life], and the will of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. 11. He shall see the fruit of the travail of His soul. He shall be fully satisfied. By His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify for many [How can Messiah be killed and buried, and then see His future disciples, live a prolonged life, and prosper the LORD's work? There's only one possible answer: Resurrection!]; and He shall bear their iniquities.
Now, to address the first, third and fourth claims:
Verse 31 affirms that God the Son was born in the person
of Yeshua; verse 35, that He was conceived of
the Spirit of God; and verses 30-31,
that He would
be born of... Miriam (Mary). That Mary
was Jewish is brought out in verse 32 by the phrase by
His father David. Verses 32 and 33 also make it
plain that this Son was Messiah.
According to the passage, the birth of the son would be a sign, a telltale miracle, that miracle being, the virgin will conceive and shall bring forth a son. In addition, Immanuel, meaning God with Us, is expressive of His dual divine and human nature.
Matthew 2:23. And he came and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, "He shall be called a Nazarene".
The verse speaks of Miriam's husband, Joseph, bringing Yeshua to Nazareth. He shall be called a Nazarene will not be found in the Tanach, but it summarizes an aspect of Yeshua's life that was prophesied in the Tanach that was, indeed, fulfilled in His life. (This method of summarizing portions of the Tanach, called "summation," is found elsewhere in the New Testament, as well.) In Yeshua's day, residents of Nazareth were looked down upon by other Jews, and so it was with Yeshua. He was looked down upon because He was of Nazareth but, more significantly, He was rejected by His own people who also delivered Him to pagans to be crucified. As Isaiah declared, He is despised and rejected of men; a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as it were a hiding of faces from Him, He being despised, and we esteemed Him not (53:3). Indeed, Yeshua was a two-fold Nazarene: firstly, because . He was raised in Nazareth, and secondly, because He was despised and rejected of men because of His Messianic claims.
That Messiah would be simultaneously divine and human was intimated in Isaiah 7:14, which prophesied His virgin birth, and was made as plain as day in Luke 1:31, in which the angel tells Miriam, You shall conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Yeshua.
And in verse 34: Then Mary said to the angel, "How shall this be, since I do not know a man? 35 And the angel answered and said to her, The Holy Spirit shall come on you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you. Therefore also that Holy One which will be born of you shall be called Son of God."
The human virgin-born Yeshua was called that Holy
One and Son of God.
The sinlessness of the prophesied Messiah's life is
implicit in the Tanach. As we have seen, Isaiah 7:14
speaks of the future virgin bearing a Son named Immanuel, God with
Us; and Isaiah 9:6 declares that the
Son will be given names that declare His deity: Mighty God
Father (or Father of Eternity).
It is the flesh and blood baby of Miriam that is called that Holy One, meaning absolutely sinless in His very nature. Yeshua was not born with a sin nature, but with an absolutely holy nature, and this was accomplished by the overshadowing of God the Holy Spirit upon Miriam. And as to the actual outworking of this holy overshadowing in His life, Yeshua said to the scribes and Pharisees who had been dogging Him all of His ministry, Which of you convicts Me of sin? -(John 8:46)
John 3:1: And there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 He came to Yeshua by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no man can do these miracles which you do unless God is with him."
That Yeshua did miracles was a fulfillment of Messianic prophecies in the Tanach: Isaiah 35:4: Say to those of a hasty heart, "Be strong, fear not; behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the full dealing of God. He will come and save you. 5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. 6 Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing...."
1 Corinthians 15:3: ...Messiah died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures....
Among the scriptures referred to here is the prophecy of Psalm 16:10: For You will not leave My soul in hell; You will not allow Your Holy One to see bodily decay.
The Psalmist David would never refer to himself as Your Holy One, and his body has certainly undergone decay by now, three thousand years after his burial. Therefore, David could certainly not be prophesying of himself, but of the Son of David, the Messiah. He said, in essence, "The body of the Messiah, Your Holy One, would not suffer bodily decay because God would not leave My soul in hell (Sheol, the temporary abode of the dead)." In other words, "God will resurrect Me."
Act 1:9: And saying these things, as they watched, He was taken up. And a cloud received Him out of their sight. Romans 8:34: It is Messiah that died, but rather also was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
That Messiah is at the right hand of God is a fulfillment of prophecy. Psalm 110:1: ...the LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand until I place Your enemies as Your footstool."
David the Psalmist declared that the LORD, God the Father, said to David's Lord, Sit at My right hand until I place Your enemies as Your footstool. Who might David's Lord be? God prophetically bids thisLord of David to ascend to His right hand of power, and also promises to place all His enemies under His feet. Who else could God be speaking to other than Messiah?
That Messiah would return to earth after His ascension is not foreign to the Tanach, either. Hosea 5:15: I will go; I will return to My place until they confess their guilt and seek My face; in their affliction they will seek Me diligently.
It is obvious from the context that a divine Person is speaking as it is to Him that confession of guilt will be made, and it is His face whom they, Israel, will seek. This divine Person will return to His place, that is, Heaven, and then come again. Revelation 19:11-16 tells us that He will come again...
Rev 19:11-16. 11. And I saw Heaven opened. And behold, a white horse! And He sitting on him was called Faithful and True. And in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12. And His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head many crowns. And He had a name written, one that no one knew except Himself. 13. And He had been clothed in a garment dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14. And the armies in Heaven followed Him on white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15. And out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, so that with it He should strike the nations. And He will shepherd them with a rod of iron. And He treads the winepress of the wine of the anger and of the wrath of Almighty God. 16. And He has on His garment, and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
That the personage in this passage is Messiah Yeshua is evident from verse 13, in which He is called The Word of God. Let's look at John 1:1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.... 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 of truth.
The Word of verse 1 became flesh, and dwelt among us. In other words, The Word, who had a divine pre-existence, was born a human. We've already seen Who that was: The Messianic Word of God of John 1 and Revelation 19:13: Yeshua.
Revelation 21:4: And God will wipe away all tears from their eyes. And there will be no more death, nor mourning, nor crying out, nor will there be any more pain; for the first things passed away. 5 And He sitting on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.
These blessings were prophesied in the Tanach. Isaiah 61:1-3. 1. The Spirit of the Lord the LORD is on Me; because Jehovah has anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2. to preach the acceptable year of the LORD and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 3. to appoint to those who mourn in Zion, to give to them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the mantle of praise for the spirit of heaviness; so that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified.
That the kingdom will last a millennium, a thousand years, is brought out in Revelation 20:4: And they lived and reigned with Messiah a thousand years.
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It is important to be able to defend the facts of the personality and deity of the Spirit as the following statement reveals: "The Sacred Name Movement also denies the existence of the Spirit as a person of the Godhead, but describes him only as an impersonal manifestation of the power of God." (The Sacred Name Movement, Pete Koziar, Shofar 2)
Holy Spirit is a Person
c. The Holy Spirit Possesses a Will. In reference to the distribution of spiritual gifts, 1 Corinthians 12:11 says, But the one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing separately to each as He wills.
2. The Holy Spirit is God. Acts 13:12: As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, So, then, separate Barnabas and Saul to Me for the work to which I have called them.
does not call attention to Himself
John 16:13-14: However, when He, the Spirit of Truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth. For He shall not speak of Himself, but whatever He hears, He shall speak. And He will announce to you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will receive of Mine and will announce it to you.
believe the Spirit of God is active today,
John 16:8: And when that One comes, He will convict the world concerning sin, and concerning righteousness, and concerning judgment.
John 3:6-7: That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, You must be born again.
Ephesians 4:30: And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you are sealed until the day of redemption.
Galatians 5:16: I say, then, Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lusts of flesh.
1 Corinthians 12:13: For also by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free, even all were made to drink into one Spirit.
John 14:16-17: And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, so that He may be with you forever, the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive because it does not see Him nor know Him. But you know Him, for He dwells with you and shall be in you.
1 Corinthians 12:7-8: And to each hath been given the manifestation of the Spirit for profit; for to one through the Spirit hath been given a word of wisdom, and to another a word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit.
We've studied Father, Son and Holy Spirit. One more of our claims needs to be addressed; that of the equality of the three:
In what sense are they equal? They are all equally endowed with all of the attributes of Personhood and Deity. Matthew 28:19: Therefore go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit....
D'varim 6:4. Sh'ma Yisrael, YHVH eloheinu YHVH echad.
Deuteronomy 6:4. Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our God is one Jehovah.
That there are three divine Persons has already been established, but that they are clearly distinct from one another can be see in Isaiah 48:12-16: 12. Listen to me, O Jacob and Israel, My called; I am He; I am the first, I also am the last.... 16. Come near to Me, hear this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning. From the time that it was, I was there; and now the Lord Jehovah, and His Spirit, has sent Me.
Verse 12 identifies the Me of verse 16 as the first and the last, a title of divinity declaring the attribute of eternity (from eternity past to eternity future), a title applied to Messiah Yeshua in Revelation 1:4-8. With this in mind, let's take a closer looks at verse 16: ...and now the Lord Jehovah (God the Father), and His Spirit (the Holy Spirit), has sent Me (Messiah Yeshua).
Three distinct divine Persons in one scripture.
Also in Luke 3:22: And the Holy Spirit came down in a bodily shape, like a dove on Him. And a voice came from Heaven, which said, "You are My Son, the Beloved; I am delighted in You."
One Person: The Holy Spirit. Another Person: Him, My Son. And yet another: the Speaker from Heaven, the Father. Three distinct divine Persons.
There are only three in all of Scripture who possess any of the attributes unique to divinity, such as, eternity, omnipresence, omniscience and omnipotence.
Let's take a look at how echad is used elsewhere in the Tanach (Hebrew Scriptures) and then determine how it is used in the Sh'ma.
There are a great many places in which echad indicates an absolute oneness. Genesis 10:25 is an example: And two sons were born to Eber. The name of ha'echad, the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided. And his brother's name was Joktan.
However, echad is elsewhere used to indicate a compound unit. A strikingly clear example is Genesis 2:24: Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife and they shall be 'basar echad', one flesh.
1 Corinthians 6:16, which refers back to Genesis 2:24, clarifies the concept of basar echad: Or do you not know that he being joined to a harlot is one body? For He says, "The two shall be one flesh."
It is clear from this passage that sexual union between a man and a woman, even apart from marriage or the bearing of a child, renders them basar echad in God's eyes. (For He says, "The two shall be one flesh." Also Matthew 19:4, immediately below.) The harlot and her lover become echad, a compound unit, by virtue of engaging in sexual union; because sexual union, the most intimate of physical relationships, is viewed by God as the very seal of marriage, which people must not "separate" (Matthew 19:6; Mark 10:9). Matthew 19:4-6. 4. And He answered and said to them, Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning "made them male and female", 5. and said, For this cause a man shall leave father and mother and shall cling to his wife, and the two of them shall be one flesh? 6. Therefore they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.
This unity in marriage, intended by God to last in practice, is expressed wonderfully in the traditional marriage vow, "as long as ye both shall live," which pictures the eternal marriage that Messiah enters into with all who are His by faith (Revelation 21:9).
The essential thing to note is that within the compound unit of a man and a woman in marriage, each never ceases to retain his or her individual body and soul. Husband and wife areechad even though their individual physical and spiritual makeups are wholely retained. Echad, then, can clearly be used to denote a compound unit of a plurality of individuals who simultaneously retain their individuality.
The question, now, is this:
More specifically, does echad in the Sh'ma declare YHVH to be an absolute unit or a compound unit?
Here again is the Sh'ma:
D'varim 6:4. Sh'ma Yisrael, YHVH
eloheinu YHVH echad.
We'll consider four lines of
There are two examples in the Tanach in whichYHVH
refers to not just one person, but two.
Both the sender and the one sent are called Jehovah - two in number, not one. Yachid could not be used to describe the compound oneness of the two Persons named Jehovah, but echad could.
There are three divine Persons in the Tri-unity.
Our previous studies have
Three Persons, one name. Jesus commissioned His
disciples to baptize with a view to the unity of the
three divine Persons.
In view of these things, it would have been misleading to describe YHVH in the Sh'ma as yachid as it is clear, even in the Tanach, that there are a plurality of Persons in the Godhead. There remains only one reasonable conclusion: Echad in the Sh'ma ascribes compound unity to YHVH; and since there are three divine Persons who constitute that compound unit, we call them a Tri-unity.
Trinity is the most commonly accepted English term for conveying the unity of the three Persons of the Godhead. However, some have observed that the sound of the word openly conveys threeness in the prefix Tri, but does not openly convey oneness. The fact is, the etymology of the word reveals a total absence of the concept of unity! Webster presents the etymology of Trinity thusly: "from Late Latin trinitat-, trinitas state of being threefold, from Latin trinus threefold."
On the other hand, both the sound and the etymology of Tri-unity clearly convey the threeness and the oneness of the Godhead, and in perfect balance. Hence, the AMC uses the term Tri-unity.
The compound unity of the three divine Persons consists in their being of one essence. As to the meaning of essence, Dr. Ryrie says, "The word substance might be too materialistic; some would prefer to use the word essence." (Ryrie, Dr. Charles Caldwell. Basic Theology. Wheaton: Victor books, 1986. P. 53) To further clarify, I offer a statement by Dr. Chafer: No doubt, there is a distinct consciousness which identifies each Person, yet there is a united possession of attributes and of nature. (Emphasis mine.) (Chafer, Dr. Louis Sperry. Systematic Theology, Volume 1. P. 273.)
In John 10:30, Jesus said, I and the Father are one.
In reference to this, Dr. Fruchtenbaum says, "This verse teaches that the Father and the Son are one in essence, the essence of divinity itself." (Fruchtenbaum, Dr. Arnold G. Radio Manuscript #63: The Deity of the Messiah. San Antonio: Ariel Ministries Press. P. 12).
John 14:9-10: 9. Jesus said to him, Have I been with you such a long time and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father. And how do you say, Show us the Father? 10. Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in Me? The Words that I speak to you I do not speak of Myself, but the Father who dwells in Me, He does the works.
Some commentaries on I am in the Father and the Father in Me:
· "expressive of the sameness of nature" (John Gill's Exposition of the Bible).
· "denotes most intimate union" (Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible).
· "We are essentially one" (Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible).
Father and Son are of one essence. That is why Jesus was so reflective of the Father and was able to say, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9).
2 Corinthians 3:14-17. 14. (But their thoughts were blinded; for until the present the same veil remains on the reading of the old covenant, not taken away.) But this veil has been done away in Christ. 15. But until this day, when Moses is read, the veil is on their heart. 16. But whenever it turns to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. 17. And the Lord is that Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
When Israel turns to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Verse 14 identifies the Lord as Christ. Verse 17 declares the Lord is that Spirit... the Spirit of the Lord.... In view of this, Dr. Charles Ryrie declares verse 17 to be "a strong statement that Christ and the Holy Spirit are one in essence" (Ryrie, Dr. Charles Caldwell. The Ryrie Study Bible. Chicago: Moody, 1978.)
Romans 8:27: And He [the Father] Who searches the hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because He [the Spirit] makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God [the Father].
Father and Spirit are so "one" that the Spirit always prays according to the will of God, never wavering in the slightest. The Spirit would be unable to do this unless the two were perfectly of one mind. They are of one essence.
Colossians 2:9 says of Jesus, For in Him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.
The fullness of the Godhead dwells in the Father and the Holy Spirit, and the two are of one essence. The fullness of the Godhead also dwells in Jesus. As fullness means totality, He must necessarily be of one essence with the Father and the Spirit.
Father and Son are one in essence, Son and Holy Spirit are one in essence, Holy Spirit and Father are one in essence, and Jesus is one in essence with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Clearly, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one in essence.
Dr. Geisler and Ronald Brooks declare, "The doctrine of the Trinity, if understood as saying that God is three persons yet only one person, would be self-contradictory." (Geisler, Dr. Norman L. and Brooks, Ronald Come, Let Us Reason. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House. Pp. 19-20.)
They are not one Person though they are one in essence. They are three distinct Persons that are one in essence.
We've seen that the Godhead consists of three distinct Persons, but we've also seen that they are one in essence. The answer, then, is: No. Because they are of one essence the three divine Persons are not three separate or distinct Gods, but are one God. They are, in their fundamental essence, inseparable.
Dr. Chafer says: "No doubt, there is a distinct consciousness which identifies each Person, yet there is a united possession of attributes and of nature.... [The Trinity] affirms no more than that a being may be singular in one sense and plural in another. Various illustrations of such realities in nature might be introduced. In the constitution of a human being there is conjunction of unity and plurality. The immaterial and material elements combine to form one individual.... In the case of the human being, there is one consciousness with a twofold subsistence; in the case of Deity, there are but three consciousnesses and but one nature.... The Trinity is composed of three united Persons without separate existence - so completely united as to form One God." (Chafer, 273 - 276.)
They are three divine Persons, but inasmuch as they are one in divine essence, we cannot say that they are three Gods. They are three in Person, but because they are one in essence, they are one God.
Let's approach this by seeking to identify the "essence" of each of the members of the Tri-unity.
Jesus said, God is a Spirit (John 4:24). The essence of God the Father is divine Spirit.
As in English, in the Hebrew, Spirit is the noun and Holy is the modifying adjective. The essence of the Holy Spirit is obviously divine Spirit.
No scripture states directly that the Son is divine Spirit, but at least two passages clarify the issue:
One is 2 Corinthians 3:14-17, which contains the statement, The Lord is that Spirit. As has been shown, Dr. Ryrie says that this is "a strong statement that Christ and the Holy Spirit are one in essence" (Ryrie Study Bible). If the essence of the Holy Spirit is divine Spirit, then the essence of the Son is divine Spirit. The other is Colossians 2:9: For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.
If the Father is Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is Spirit, and all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in the Son, then the Son is Spirit, also. The essence of the Son is divine Spirit.
We've shown that the three Persons of the Tri-unity are of one essence, and that the essence of each member of the Tri-unity is divine Spirit. The nature of the unifying essence of the Tri-unity, then, is divine Spirit.
We are now ready for some...
Geisler and Brooks continue: "However, the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity says that there are three persons in one being." (Geisler and Brooks, 19-20.)
Dr. Chafer writes, "In the case of Deity, there are but three consciousnesses and but one nature..." (Chafer, 275). "The Trinity is composed of three united Persons without separate existence - so completely united as to form One God." (Chafer, 276)
Dr. Ryrie states (Basic Theology, 385), "De Trinitate. The concept of the Trinity in the Western church reached a final formulation in this work by Augustine [354-430].... In this treatise he stated that each of the three Persons of the Trinity possess the entire essence and that all are interdependent on the others."
Consistent with this, Dr. Ryrie declares (Basic Theology, 53), "One of the best [definitions] is Warfield's: 'There is one only and true God, but in the unity of the Godhead there are three coeternal and coequal Persons, the same in substance but distinct in subsistence.'" (B.B.Warfield, "Trinity," The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, James Orr, ed. [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1930], 5:3012).
Dr. Fruchtenbaum suggests, "Perhaps the best and simplest definition of the Trinity is that there is only one God, but in the unity of the Godhead there are three eternal and co-equal Persons; the same in substance or essence, but distinct in subsistence or existence" (Fruchtenbaum, Dr. Arnold G. Radio Manuscript #50: The Trinity. San Antonio: Ariel Ministries Press. P. 4).
· Three consciousnesses and but one nature....
· Three persons in one being....
· Three united Persons without separate existence....
· Three Persons of the Trinity possess the entire essence and... all are interdependent on the others....
· Three coeternal and coequal Persons, the same in substance but distinct in subsistence....
· The same in substance or essence, but distinct in subsistence or existence.
Inasmuch as the nature of the essence of the Tri-unity is divine Spirit, I suggest this definition: Three divine Persons mutually consisting of one divine Spirit.
"The Father came in the form of Jesus."
Have you heard statements like these? Well, they are simply not true. You will never find a scripture that says that one of the divine Persons comes in the form of another. They mutually consist of the same essence, but they are always and forever distinct Persons. They do notswap or transfer or transform their identities. Never. Perhaps the closest statement in Scripture that suggests that they may is Luke 3:22a: And the Holy Spirit came down in a bodily shape, like a dove on Him.
The Holy Spirit assumed the shape of a dove, but He never ceased being the Holy Spirit. In fact, the full passage demonstrates the three Persons working in harmony with one another with each retaining His individual identity: 22. And the Holy Spirit came down in a bodily shape, like a dove on Him. And a voice came from Heaven, which said, You are My Son, the Beloved; I am delighted in You.
The Spirit descended upon Jesus, and God the Father declared His delight in His Son. Three Persons working together beautifully to launch Jesus into public ministry, each retaining His own individual identity.
One Person never takes the form of another.
Upon His incarnation, the Son added to His divine essence and personhood a fully human spiritand a fully human body; yet, He did not for an instant cease being fully divine (Colossians 2:9).) Therefore, even when Jesus walked the earth in a localized body, He was still one in Tri-unity with Father and Holy Spirit. He never ceased being fully eternal, omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent. (This union of divinity and humanity in Jesus is known as the hypostatic union [from the Greek hypostasis, meaning reality or person, but which came to mean, in theological circles, substantive reality].
Jesus now resides in the heavenlies, eternally part of the Tri-unity, still with a human spirit (Luke 23:46), and now with a glorified body. Although the Tri-unity is omnipresent, Jesus' body is not. This can be seen by the fact that He ascended into heaven in a localized body (Acts 1:9), that He will meet the saints at the rapture in a localized body in a localized place ("the air," 1 Thessalonians 4:17), and that He will return to earth on a localized "horse" followed by the saints whose spirits had received their localized bodies at the resurrection/rapture (1 Corinthians 15:51-54; Revelation 19:11, 15, 21). In addition, Scripture never says that the glorified bodies of the saints, which will dwell in heaven for seven years after the rapture, will be anything other than localized. This is powerful evidence that glorified bodies dwell in Heaven in localized form. As to Jesus' human spirit, Scripture never ascribed omnipresence to a human spirit, not even to His. It therefore remains for us to conclude that His human spirit is localized with His body just as our spirits are localized with ours and will be in Heaven. Our human spirits are not omnipresent, and neither is His.
How are we to fathom the fact that the divine Spirit of Jesus shares omnipresence with the Father and the Holy Spirit while His human spirit and body, though He be ascended, do not? Friends, I think we've hit the limits of revelation here, and we'd better not try to venture further! Deuteronomy 29:29: The secret things belong to Jehovah our God, but the revealed things belong to us and to our sons forever....
Many of the scriptures contained in this study are more than sufficient to declare at least the following:
· They are one in perfect holiness.
· They are one in perfect love.
· They are of one mind in all things.
· They are one in perfect harmony in all of their activities.
John 6:38: For I came down from Heaven, not to do My own will but the will of Him who sent Me.
John 14:26: But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you.
John 16:13-14: 13. However, when He, the Spirit of Truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth. For He shall not speak of Himself, but whatever He hears, He shall speak. And He will announce to you things to come. 14. He will glorify Me, for He will receive of Mine and will announce it to you.
Matthew 3:17: And lo, a voice from Heaven, saying,This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Psalm 2:7: I will declare the decree of Jehovah. He has said to Me, You are My Son; today I have begotten You. 8. Ask of Me, and I shall give the nations for Your inheritance; and the uttermost parts of the earth for Your possession.
In a flawless, effulgent, blissful Spirit of love. John 4:7-8: 8. Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loves has been born of God, and knows God. 8. The one who does not love has not known God. For God is love.
This study will demonstrate biblical support for the existence of angels, describe their nature, support the claims in the statement, and lay the foundation for our next study, "Satan and Demons."
"Angels are mentioned in Scripture 273 times, in 33
of the 66 books" (Fruchtenbaum, Dr. Arnold G. Radio
Manuscript # 73: Angelology: The Doctrine of the Elect
Angels. P. 5. San Antonio: Ariel Ministries Press). I
might add that they are mentioned in every type of
Bible book. They are mentioned in:
The New Testament, in:
It is obvious that the writers of Scripture take the existence of angels for granted, as does the Son of Man, Himself. Speaking of Himself, He said, For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He shall reward each one according to his works (Matthew 16:27).
Angels are not emanations from God, nor are they the present state of the deceased, or fat little babies with wings. The Bible gives no credence to these imaginary ideas. Neither does the Bible ever present angels as imaginary or symbolic beings. What, then, are angels?
All three members of the Tri-unity cooperated in the creation of all things; but Colossians 1:16 focuses on Christ as Creator of all things, including, invisible things, namely, thrones or dominions or principalities or powers, which are rankings of angels: For all things were created in Him, the things in the heavens, and the things on the earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers, all things were created through Him and for Him.
God chides Job, Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me if you have understanding! 5. Who has set its measurements, for you know? Or who has stretched the line on it? 6. On what are its bases sunk, or who cast its cornerstone, 7. when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:4-6)
Verse 7 tells us that the morning stars, the sons of God, that is, angels, rejoiced as God created and established the physical universe. It is clear, then, that God created the angels before He created the physical universe. And inasmuch as the Scriptures say nothing about the creation of angels at any other time, and that Messiah did say that angels are incapable of reproduction (Mark 12:25), it is fair to conclude that they were all created at the same time before the creation of the heavens and the earth.
There are three classes of beings that either are spirit, or have spirits. God is a Spirit, people have spirits, and angels are spirits. That angels are spirit beings is clearly stated in Hebrews 1:14: 13. But to which of the angels, did He say at any time, "Sit on My right hand until I make Your enemies Your footstool?" 14. Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for those who shall be the heirs of salvation?
The attributes of personality are intellect, emotions and will.
Angels Possess Intellect. 1 Peter 1:12 tells us that the angels desire to look into salvation. They desire to ponder it. This cannot be done without intellect.
Angels Have Emotions. At creation, the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy (Job 38:7). Joy is an emotion.
Each Angel Possesses a Will. Jude 1:6
speaks of certain angels having deserted their dwelling
place; and that requires free will.
As we have seen in Hebrews 1:14, angels are...spirits; and yet the Scriptures present them as having bodies. This is difficult for us to comprehend because the only kinds of bodies we are familiar with are material bodies; but even among material bodies there are vastly different kinds. There are bodies of flesh, blood and bone, but there are also jellyfish bodies; and let's not forget that after the resurrection, we, ourselves, will have vastly different kinds bodies than we have now, immortal bodies suited for life in the heavenlies (1 Corinthians 15:50). So God can be quite versatile in the creation of bodies.
Angels do not have bodies of flesh and bones. In His glorified state, Jesus declared, a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see Me have (Luke 24:39).
Since their bodies are not material bodies, even glorified material bodies, and since the Bible does not say that they have spirits, but are spirits, it seems logical to designate their bodies as spirit bodies.
Angels are Male
Kinds of Angelic Bodies
Angelic Bodies Do Not Have Earthly Space
Angels are immortal: They are incapable of dying. In Luke 20:36, Jesus said, Nor can they die any more, for they are equal to the angels....
Angels are exceedingly powerful. In 2 Chronicles 32:21, a single angel destroyed the entire Assyrian army: And Jehovah sent an angel to cut off all the mighty men of power, and the leaders and commanders in the camp of the king of Assyria.
Holiness, in this case meaning sinlessness in nature and action, is an attribute that applies only to those angels who did not follow Lucifer in his rebellion against God and have consequently retained their unblemished holiness ever since. In Luke 9:26, Jesus said, For whoever shall be ashamed of Me and of My Words, the Son of Man shall be ashamed of him when He shall come in His own and in His Father's glory, and that of the holy angels.
The angelic rebellion will be covered in our next study.
All of the holy angels are unflagging servants of God and of the saved of all ages. Hebrews 1:14: Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for those who shall be heirs of salvation? But within that broad cover of being servants of God and the saved of all ages, each of the angelic orders has its own areas of holy service. We'll look at each order, beginning with the highest, and touch on the highlights of its realms of service.
Cherubim are intimately associated with the Shechinah, the glorious, visible manifestation of the presence of God, as in Ezekiel 1:26-28; 9:3 and 10:1-22. In Ezekiel 10:1, we see the throne of God burning with glory and hovering above the cherubim: And I looked, and behold! In the expanse over the head of the cherubs was seen the appearance of the form of a throne, like a sapphire stone, above them.
We can see this association, as well, in the multiple
representations and associations of the cherubim in
the Solomonic Temple (Exodus 25:18-22; 26:1; 37:7-9; 1
Kings 6:23-28; 1 Kings 7:29, 36; 1 Kings 8:6-7; 1
Chronicles 28:18; 2 Chronicles 3:7; Ezekiel 9:3;
10:1-22) and Millennial Temple (Ezekiel 41:18-20).
Angels also appear to be guarding the twelve gates of New Jerusalem, the future and eternal abiding place of the saved of all ages: Revelation 21:12: And it had a great and high wall, with twelve gates. And on the gates were twelve angels, and having names inscribed, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel:
The type of guardianship we see in these scriptures differs from the guardianship of those angels whom we call guardian angels. The Edenic and New Jerusalem guardianship are over places. The guardianship of guardian angels is over individual people or groups of people, as we will see.
Isaiah 6:1-7. 1. In the year that King Uzziah died I then saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple. 2. Above it stood the seraphs; each one had six wings; with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3. And one cried to another, and said, "Holy, holy, holy, is Jehovah of Hosts; the whole earth full of His glory". 4. And the doorposts moved at the voice of the one who cried, and the house was filled with smoke. 5. Then I said, "Woe is me! For I am undone; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of Hosts". 6. Then one of the seraphs flew to me, having a live coal in his hand, snatched with tongs from the altar. 7. And he laid it on my mouth and said, "Lo, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged."
From this passage, we see that the seraphim hover above God's throne and worship Him. We also see that they are involved in the sanctification of those whom God calls. In Revelation 5:8-10, 14, we see them worshiping the Lamb. In Revelation 6:1-7 and chapters 15 and 16, we see them announcing and carrying out God's bowl judgments during the Great Tribulation.
As has been noted, one of the three orders of angels is designated simply as angels. The hosts, or armies, of God, are angels, and Michael the archangel is their commander (Revelation 12:7). In Daniel 10:13-21, we see that Michael has special oversight over the nation of Israel. In Daniel 8:15-27; 9:20-27; Lu. 1:11-20; 26-38, the angel Gabriel was God's messenger of revelation. So we see that members of this class of angels serve in a military capacity, and at least one has served as a messenger. It is likely, as well, that the guardian angels, are of this class of angel.
Guardian angels is not a term found in the Bible, but the Bible does note that some angels are assigned guardianships over individuals and certain groups of people.
We've seen that cherubim and seraphim are primarily engaged in the worship and holiness of God. We've also seen that Michael, who is in the lower rank of angels, has a guardianship over Israel. It therefore seems more than likely that the guardian angels are among the lower rank of angels.
Angels are assigned guardianships over believers. Psalm 34:7: The Angel of Jehovah camps round about those who fear Him, and delivers them.
This scripture definitely applied to Old Testament
saints. Whether or not it applies to church saints is
In view of the fact that the righteous have guardian angels, Albert Barnes concludes: "We should not despise the obscurest Christian, for he is ministered to by the highest and noblest of beings, by beings who are always enjoying the favor and friendship of God." (Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible)
In Matthew 18:10, Jesus said, Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I say to you that in Heaven their angels always behold the face of My Father in Heaven.
Judging from Psalm 34:7 and Psalm 91:11-12, and by the fact that Jesus said, Take heed! Watch out! we need to conclude that these angels are guardians; and as it is obvious that babies are alive within the womb (Luke 1:41), it is fair to conclude that each child is assigned a guardian angel at the moment of conception.
In Revelation 2:1 - 3:14, John was commissioned to
write a letter to the angel over each of the seven
churches of Asia. The Greek word for "angel," angelos,
means messenger. Angelos has been translated
that way a number of times in the New Testament in
clear reference to human messengers (Matthew 11:10,
Mark 1:2, Luke 7:27, Philippians 2:25), but it is also
used frequently in clear reference to heavenly angels
(e.g., Acts 5:19). As concerns the angels to the seven
churches, the question arises as to whether angelos
should be translated as a celestial "angel," or as a
human "messenger." I've seen good arguments for both
positions, but I lean toward the former for these
This angel is never called an angel of the LORD, but always the Angel of the LORD (YHVH). He is a special, unique angel.
Exodus 3:2,4: 2. And the Angel of Jehovah appeared to him in a flame of fire, out of the midst of a thorn bush.... 4. And Jehovah saw that he had turned aside to see. God called to him out of the midst of the thorn bush, and said, "Moses! Moses!" And he said, "Here I am."
The Angel of Jehovah in verse 2 is clearly identical
with Jehovah and God in verse 4.
We'll prove this by relating passages from Exodus 3
and 4 and Numbers 22-24 with 1 Corinthians 10:1-4.
The spiritual Rock that followed them was the Angel so intimately involved in their Exodus and wilderness wanderings; and that Rock was Christ.
As did the other angels who appeared on earth, whenever the Angel of the Jehovah appeared on earth, He had the appearance of a man, as can be seen in Judges 13:3-11, in which Samson's parents thought that the Angel was a man.
In examining the passages in which the Angel of the
LORD appeared, the overall picture is that He
orchestrated Israel's history, and orchestrated
history for Israel. It must be remembered that it was
the Son of God who appeared as the Angel of the LORD,
and that it was this same Son who would one day climax
Israel's history at the cross. In Genesis 16, the
Angel promised that Ishmael would live and that his hand would be
against his brother (Isaac's
descendents through Jacob). In Genesis 18, Abraham
pled with Him on behalf of Sodom, but in Genesis 19,
He dispatched His two companion angels to destroy
Sodom, whose extreme wickedness would no doubt
have eventually defiled Israel. In Genesis 22:1, the
Angel tested Abraham's faith and then stayed his hand
from slaying Isaac. In Genesis 24:7 and 40, Abraham
promised Eliezer the Angel's protection as he embarked
to find a wife for Isaac. In Genesis 31:11-12, He
affirmed to Jacob that it was He who blessed Jacob
with the striped and spotted cattle of Laban's herds,
thereby blessing him with wealth before his return to
his land. In Genesis 32:24, Jacob prevailed over the
Angel and won His blessing. In Genesis 48:16, we see
that it was the Angel who redeemed Israel (Jacob) from
all evil. In Exodus 3 and 4, we saw that it was the
Angel who protected, provided for, and guided Israel
into Canaan. In Joshua 5:14, the Angel strengthened
Joshua with the knowledge of His presence before
Joshua's attack on Jericho. In Judges 2, the Angel
rebuked Israel for not driving out all of the
Canaanites. Again, the big picture that we see in the
Scripture is that He orchestrated Israel's history,
and that He orchestrated history for Israel.
Some doubt or deny that angels minister on behalf of
Christians today. The chief reason that is given, it
seems, is that we don't need the ministry of angels
because we have the Holy Spirit. But the apostles had
the Holy Spirit also, and yet, angels ministered on
their behalf. In Acts 5:19, an angel got the apostles
out of prison; in Acts 8:26, an angel directed Philip
to go to Gaza - and this Philip was not an apostle; in
Acts 12:7-11, an angel got Peter out of prison; in
Acts 27:21-26, an angel told Paul that he must stand
before Caesar and gave him counsel for his
storm-tossed shipmates; in Revelation 1:1, an angel
brought the Revelation from Jesus to John. The
argument that saints do not receive ministry from
angels because they have the Spirit obviously does not
stand. Even Jesus, in His glorified, ascended state,
is said to have His own angel (Revelation 1:1).
Psalm 34:7 says, The Angel of the LORD camps round about those who fear Him.
That statement was made under the Law of Moses; but is it true today?
Several translations of Acts 5:19, 8:26 and 12:7 contain the phrase the Angel of the Lord, and these are the only three passages where the phrase appears after the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. In each case, however, the literal translations I checked render it, an angel of the Lord, using the indefinite article an, not the definite article the. Furthermore, in each case, the word Lord is used in all of the above translations, not LORD. Lord is translated from the word kurios, the possible translations of which are God, Lord or Master (Strong's Concordance). LORD, however, all in capital letters, is universally used to represent YHVH or Jehovah in the Angel of the LORD. In addition, I found at least one commentator for each of these passages that aver that it was an angel and not the Angel, and no commentator for any of these passages that states that it was the Angel. In other words, the Angel of the LORD is nowhere mentioned as acting during the Church Age. I therefore cannot conclude that the Angel of the LORD camps round about church saints, that is, believers between Pentecost and the Rapture, but can conclude that He probably does not.
Has a specific group of angels been charged with general oversight over a specific group of people, or have individual angels been assigned oversight over individual people or groups? Consider:
Many [disciples] who had gathered to pray (Acts 12:12) thought that Peter, whom they thought was in jail and now knocked at their door, was his angel. Acts 12:15: And they said to her, You are mad. But she kept on saying that it was so. And they said, It is his angel.
The archangel Michael was assigned by God to be Israel's guardian (Daniel 12:1), and Daniel 10:13 and 20 tell us that Persia and Greece had their own specific angelic rulers. The angels over Persia and Greece were demons, but were overseers over individual nations, nevertheless.
The close disciples of the apostles believed that the one who stood at the door was Peter's own angel, Jesus stated that children have their own angels, individual nations have their own angels, and each of the seven churches of Asia had its own angel. I must therefore conclude that all children, church saints, churches and nations have their own individual angels.
It is instructive to see that the same Angel who
guarded Israel from the Egyptian army and brought them
into Canaan cursed the Israeli city of Meroz for not
assisting Israel in the day of battle (Judges 5:3).
The guardianship of angels, then, does not contradict
the liberty to sin that God has given, nor does it
prevent the elements of the curse from having its
effects, nor does it prevent trials, injustices,
persecutions, divine chastisements, reaping the bad
fruit of bad seed that we sow, and the like. All of
these things are either caused or permitted by God.
It is plain that God has a specific purpose for everyone He has called. Consider, for example, that Esther was placed in Persia for such a time as this (Esther 4:14), and that each believer is endowed with spiritual gifts specifically chosen by the Holy Spirit for that individual (1 Corinthians 12:11). The purpose of angelic guardianships, then, is to allow only those things into our lives that will mold us, direct us and propel us according to God's good pleasure and purpose in and through our lives.
One caution. It may be tempting to some to worship or
pray to angels, knowing that they guard us, our
children, our brothers and sisters in the Lord and our
churches, and, if we are Israelis, our nation; but we
are warned not to do it.
In Colossians 2:18, Paul speaks disdainfully of those who worship angels: Let no one defraud you, delighting in humility and worship of the angels, intruding into things which he has not seen, without a cause being vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind....
In the above verses, we are warned to not worship
angels; but neither are we to pray to them.
So be it.
Angels do minister on behalf of believers today, but so does the Holy Spirit. In view of this double celestial ministry toward us, the question arises, "How do the ministries of the angels and the Holy Spirit coordinate?" To come up with specifics, it would seem helpful to consider these points and carry out the suggested project:
Perhaps this would be a study for you to carry out. Let me know what you come up with. :-)
This study will demonstrate biblical support for the existence of Satan and his demonic host, describe their nature, and support the claims in the statement.
The word demon or demons is found about seventy-five times in the New Testament, and other designations are employed for them, as well. In no case are they presented as imaginary or fictitious, not even by the Son of God, Himself. In Mark 7:29, Jesus used the term quite literally: And He said to her, For this saying go, the demon has gone out of your daughter.
Satan, too, is a demon, and he is mentioned numerous times in both testaments, as will be seen below.
Angels were created by God before He created the heavens and the earth; but one-third of them became demons when they rebelled against God. Their rebellion will be addressed below.
Demons are not the disembodied spirits of a pre-Adamic race as at least one writer tried to prove. The Bible speaks of Adam as the first man (1 Corinthians 15:45, 47), and its explanation as to the origin of demons contradicts, and therefore nullifies, that writer's claim. What, then, are demons?
Demons are angels; and everything that the Scriptures teach about the nature of angels - except for holiness - is true of demons. Demons are angels, but unholy ones; ones that have chosen to rebel against God and have retained their defiled, sinful nature since that time.
A simple definition of demon is: A demon is an unholy, rebellious, thoroughly depraved angel bent on destroying the plans, the works, and the people of God; indeed, all people.
The holy angels are referred to as an innumerable company (Hebrews 12:22), and they are but two-thirds of the original number of holy angels. One-third (Revelation 12:3-4) of the original number joined Satan in his rebellion against God. Surely their huge number is made up of all three classes of angels: cherubim, seraphim, and the lowest rank of angels called, simply, angels.
Are the demons organized in ranks?
As a foundational consideration, it is instructive to remember that there are rankingsamong the holy angels: the cherubim are the highest order, the seraphim are next, and the rank and file angels are next; and each functions in its own realms of service. It is also helpful to remember that the Anointed Cherub had preeminence over all the other angels before his fall, and that Michael is the military commander over the rank and file angels (Revelation 12:7).
There are scriptures that refer to demon powers in various ways as over against powers of flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12). They are: Romans 8:38; 1 Corinthians 15:24; Ephesians 1:21, 3:10, 6:12; andColossians 1:16 and 2:15. Combining their designations from these scriptures, they are: principalities, powers in the heavenlies, world rulers of the darkness of this age, spiritual wickedness in high places, thrones, dominions, authorities. This author has been unable to determine whether each of these designations can apply to all demons, or whether each refers to demons with particular assignments or levels of authority. Nevertheless, other passages do indicate that there are demons of greater and lesser authority.
Demon King and Subjects
Rulers Over Nations
Parenthetically, this causes one to wonder whether there might be a demon prince over all the world's governments. Would that include Israel? On the one hand, the same passage that speaks of the demon princes of Persia and Greece also names the holy angel Michael as the Prince of Israel. On the other hand, both in ancient times and in modern, Israel has had its share of demonic activity. In this regard it differs from no other nation. Note that Revelation 11:15 does not differentiate between Israel and the other kingdoms of this world: The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ. And He will reign forever and ever.
In the future, the kingdoms of this world will come under the direct dominion of Christ; but for now, they are all under the dominion of Satan and his host. It just may be that Satan has assigned his own prince over Israel just as God has assigned His.
Thus far, we can conclude that there are at least three rankings of angels: Satan the king or prince, rulers over nation (designated in other ways, as well), and rank and file demons. It seems likely that, since there are demonic rulers over nations, there are rulers of lesser authority over cities and other municipalities, as well; but, to my recollection, scripture does not spell this out.
To sum up, there are three clear ranks of demons, and there may be more. In descending order of authority, they are: king or prince, rulers over nations, and all other demons. It is also possible that the original levels of authority granted to cherubim, seraphim, and rank and file angels are retained in the demonic realm. Satan certainly has retained his. Scripture does not appear to make demonic rankings any clearer than this.
Most of the attention in this study is given to Satan, not to his underling demons, because he is representative of all demons in his nature and goals. It must be understood, however, that the vast majority of all demonic activity is carried out by Satan's underlings, not by Satan himself. In common conversation, when it is said that Satan did a particular work, it almost always means that he was in charge of the work, not that he actually carried it out himself. It is like saying that Hitler killed six million Jews. It is understood that he, personally, did not do the killing, but that he gave the order for it, and that the hands-on work of killing was actually carried out by others under him in rank. Unless Scripture specifically identifies Satan personally as the one carrying out a specific activity, it should be assumed that that activity is carried out by one or more of his underling demons.
In the Scriptures, Satan is identified by various designations, including names, titles, descriptions and animal-like representations, which, in themselves, tell quite a lot about him. I felt it most instructive to sort these out under headings having to do with his original nature, his original positions, his present nature, and his present positions.
Original Nature of Satan
The Anointed Cherub. Ezekiel 28:14 begins, You were the anointed cherub.... As to the nature of his spirit body, Satan was a cherub, and always will be.
Day-Star, and Son of the Morning. These two designations appear in Isaiah 14:12: How art thou fallen from heaven, O day-star, son of the morning!
The King James translates the original Hebrew word for day-star into the Latin Lucifer which, like other designations of Satan, including Satan itself, hides its meaning. What's more, the designation Lucifer has a most negative connotation, whereas the original Hebrew for Day-Star and Son of the Morning have very positive ones. The only biblical designations that properly apply to Satan before his rebellion are Anointed Cherub, Day-Star and Son of the Morning. Day-Star has also been variously translated as Morning-Star and Shining-Star. According to Dr. Fruchtenbaum, "The correct title is day-star, son of the morning. The Hebrew emphasizes him as being the shining one. It emphasizes how he was in his original state:" (Fruchtenbaum, Dr. Arnold G. Radio Manuscript # 077, Satanology: The Doctrine of Satan. San Antonio: Ariel Ministries Press. P. 14.)
In addition to his special anointing, which we'll consider shortly, Ezekiel 28:12 reveals how he was the shining one: Son of man, lift up a lament over the king of Tyre, and say to him, So says the Lord Jehovah: You seal the measure, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
He was the shining one by virtue of his special anointing and by the fact that he was filled to angelic capacity with wisdom and perfection in angelic beauty.
Original Positions of Satan
Ezekiel 28:13b reveals yet another facet of his position as The Anointed Cherub that Covers: The workmanship of your tambourines and of your flutes was prepared in you in the day that you were created.
These musical instruments were in him as he hovered above God, above the seraphim (Isaiah 6:2) and above the other cherubim (Ezekiel 10:1). It is the picture of a worship leader who led the entire company of angels in the worship of God.
To sum up, three positions are included in the title
Cherub that Covers:
2) The Evil One. This title is found in Matthew 6:13, John 17:15, 2 Thessalonians 3:3 and 1 John 5:18-19. According to Strong's, the Greek word for evil here is poneyros, which means evil in influence or effect. The title indicates that he is totally evil in everything he influences and does.
3) Satan. This name of The Evil One is found over fifty times in the Scriptures, and means adversary. Because he is The Evil One, he is the adversary of God, His ways, His works and His people, and indeed, of all people. 1 Chronicles 21:1 shows an example of his adversarial stance against the people of God: And Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel.
b. His Goals
2) A Roaring Lion. 1 Peter 5:8 says, ... your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking someone he may devour;
This, too, portray Satan as a destroyer of people. In context, it specifically portrays him as a destroyer of the faith and walk of believers.
Means of Achieving His Goals
2) The Deceiver. This designation is found in Revelation 12:9, in which Satan is called, the deceiver of the whole world, showing him as the one who, by deception, deceives the great mass of humanity into rejecting God and His ways. As often as he is able he even deceives believers into rejecting God's good counsel, which is why Ephesians 6:11 exhorts us to stand against the wiles of the devil.
3) The Angel of Light. Found in 2 Corinthians 11:14, this designation shows that Satan carries out the work of deception by offering appealing counterfeits of true moral and spiritual understanding, of which this kosmos abounds in its legion of false religions, philosophies, beliefs and opinions.
4) The Devil. Devil means Accuser or Slanderer, and declares the chief way he seeks to cause division between God and His people, and between God's people. It is used only in the New Testament, and is found there thirty-five times.
5) The Accuser of the Brethren. Revelation 12:10 designates Satan as the accuser of believers. Job 1:9-11 and 2:5 show him in action, accusing righteous Job to God's face.
How He Employs His Means
2) The Dragon. Satan is portrayed as a dragon in Revelation 12, emphasizing the great power and ferocity he employed in his attempt to devour the Child of the woman (Revelation 12:4; Matthew 2), and will employ to destroy the woman, Israel, who gave birth to the Child (Revelation 12:13).
1) The Prince of Demons. This title is found in Matthew 12:24 and Luke 11:15, and obviously shows his authority over all other demons.
2) The Prince of the Powers of the Air. This title is found in Ephesians 2:2, and likewise shows that Satan, who presently abides in the atmosphere, is the ruler of his subordinate powers of the air, the demons, who also abide in the atmosphere.
Prince of This World. This designation
appears in John 12:31, 14:30, and 16:11. In each case,
the Greek word for world is kosmos, which
refers to our world system in regards to its
prevailing satanic spirit and the way that it's
consequently arranged and conducted, as opposed to the
spirit of the Kingdom of God and the way that it is
arranged and conducted.
4) The King of
Tyre. This title is found in Ezekiel
28:11-12 and, viewed in the context of verses 11-19,
likewise metaphorically portrays Satan as the demon
king of all earthly kingdoms.
In reference to the Jude passage, Adam Clarke notes, "It was a Jewish maxim, as may be seen in Synopsis Sohar, page 92, note 6: 'It is not lawful for man to prefer ignominious reproaches, even against wicked spirits.' (See Schoettgen)"
This is a principle which the author has seen flagrantly violated by people who ought to have known better.
2) Beelzebub. Beelzebub means Lord of the Flies, and is found in Matthew 10:25; 12:24, 27; Mark 3:22; and Luke 11:15, 18, 19. It is a comical term for Satan employed by the rabbis of Jesus' day. Beelzebub is a play on Beelzebul, the Greek form of the original Philistine name, which means Lord of the Royal Palace.
Satan's temptation of Eve demonstrated that his nature was already corrupted with evil, indicating that his rebellion against God took place prior to the Edenic temptation. Passages from Isaiah and Ezekiel describe his insurrection.
Isaiah 14:12-14: 12. How you are fallen from the heavens, O shining star, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! 13. For you have said in your heart, "I will go up to the heavens, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north. 14. I will go up above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High."
Ezekiel 28:15-18: 15. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, until iniquity was found in you. 16. By the multitude of your trade, they filled your midst with violence, and you sinned. So I cast you defiled from the height of God, and I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from among the stones of fire. 17. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. I have cast you to the ground. I will put you before kings, that they may see you. 18. By the host of your iniquities, by the iniquity of your trade, you have defiled your holy places. So I brought a fire from your midst and it shall devour you, and I will give you for ashes on the earth in the sight of all who see you.
Revelation 12:3-4 is not a description of Satan's original rebellion, but it does reveal how many angels he was able to win to his camp: 3. And another sign was seen in the heavens. And behold a great red dragon.... 4. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them onto the earth.
Keil and Delitzsch render Ezekiel 28:16 and 18 as follows: 16. On account of the multitude of thy commerce, thine inside was filled with wrong, and thou didst sin.... 18. Through the multitude of thy sins in thine unrighteous trade thou hast profaned thy holy places.
Strong's Concordance gives three possible translations of the word translated commerce and trade: trade (as peddled), merchandise, traffic. Whatever Satan peddled was not of a material nature, as material trade does not take place in heaven. What he must have peddled were promises of power and glory related to his five I wills of Isaiah 14:12-14, above.
Satan seeks to destroy the entire human race. Isaiah 14:12 refers to him as the one who "laid low the nations." Revelation 12:9 calls him "the deceiver of the whole world." 2 Corinthians 4:4 says, ... the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving ones, so that the light of the glorious gospel of Christ (who is the image of God) should not dawn on them.
Satan blinds individuals to the light of God, and brings down nations morally and in every other way because its citizens are spiritually blinded.
Not satisfied with having won the allegiance of a third of the angels, Satan drew the human race into his rebellion against God with his successful temptation of Eve in the Garden and the subsequent sin of Adam in following of Eve's lead (Genesis 3:1-6). Our first parents' sin resulted in the depravity (sin nature) of the entire human race and in the curse upon the earth and every earthly creature (Genesis 3:14-19).
Human depravity soon found its expression in the murder of Abel by Cain (Genesis 4:1-8) and in the gross wickedness of virtually the entire human race:
Genesis 6:5: And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart [was] only evil continually.
For this cause, God purged the corrupted human race by means of the Noahic flood (Genesis 6-8); but man's innatewickedness climaxed again at the tower of Babel, an astrological observatory whose purpose was to spurn the worship of God by seeking guidance from the stars and by worshiping demons, for which cause God scattered them abroad by means of confounding their language (Genesis 11:1-9).
1. The Root of
In Genesis 12:1-4, God called out a man from among his people to begin a new people through whom He would bring forth the Seed of the Woman. God called Abram out from among the Chaldeans to father the nation Israel. From that moment on, Satan has focused his venom upon the Jews. If he could destroy Israel he could prevent the birth of the Seed and his own subsequent demise. Having been unable to prevent the birth of the Seed, he still seeks to destroy Israel for he knows that it is the national salvation of Israel that will trigger the Seed's return (Hosea 5:15; Matthew 23:37-39).
It must be noted that Satan's efforts at preventing Messiah's advents is the spiritual root of all anti-Semitism.
No means has been spared by Satan in his attempts to destroy the messianic hope by means of destroying the Jews, and his chief avenues have been physical and theological.
Satan will continue to stir up anti-Semitic tsunamis against the Jews even until he is cast into the abyss for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-2). In the second half of the Great Tribulation, he foments and leads the greatest persecution of the Jews in history in his final attempt to destroy them, succeeding in killing two-thirds of them (Revelation 12:6, 13-15; Zechariah 13:8), twice the fraction of Hitler's one-third. It is this future persecution that Jesus was referring to when He said, in Matthew 24:15-22, 15. When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 16. Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains.... 21. For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
There will be such a slaughter of the elect, Israel, that the Lord will bring those days to a close to physically save the remaining one-third so that He might subsequently save them spiritually (Zechariah 13:1, 8-9).
Theological Corruption to Preserve Israel's
Theological Corruption in the Church Leading to
To restate these errors simply:
The first has resulted in the underevangelism of the Jews; the second, to non-evangelism of the Jews - the exact opposite of "to the Jew first," which principle Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, walked out throughout his entire ministry, as can easily be traced in the Books of Acts. (See the author's article, Messianic Issues in Jewish Salvation.)
Theological Corruption of Judaism's Spiritual
Indeed, Satan attacked our Lord directly.
When Herod heard that the magi had come to worship the recently born King of the Jews, he ordered the slaughter of all males below the age of two in the vicinity of Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1-16). That Satan was behind this attack is shown in Revelation 12:1-5: 12:1 And there appeared a great sign in the heavens, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon was under her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head, 2. and having a babe in womb, she cries, being in travail, having been distressed to bear. 3. And another sign was seen in the heavens. And behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads! 4. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them onto the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman being about to bear, so that when she bears he might devour her child. 5. And she bore a son, a male, who is going to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her child was caught up to God and to His throne.
Genesis 37:9-11 explains the symbolism. The sun was the patriarch Joseph's father, who was Jacob or Israel; the moon was his mother, Rachel; and the eleven stars are Joseph's brothers who, with Joseph, make the twelve stars, which symbolize the patriarchs of the tribes of Israel. Therefore, the woman in the midst of these symbols represents the nation Israel whose child, who is going to rule all nations with a rod of iron, ascended to His heavenly Father after His resurrection. The Revelation passage reveals that before the child was even born, the dragon and his demonic host were poised on earth so that when she bears he might devour her child. Thus, the slaughter of the babes of Bethlehem.
Satan attacked our Lord immediately after He was launched into ministry at His baptism, this time by trying to get Him to sin (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12; Luke 4:1-13), which would have disqualified Him from being the sinless Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29, 36). He attacked again when He moved Peter to rebuke Jesus for speaking about going to the cross (Matthew 16:21-23). He attacked Him repeatedly through Yeshua's unbelieving Jewish brethren by getting them to try to kill Him on a number of occasions (John 10:31), but in the wrong way, so He would not fulfill the prophecies of His crucifixion (e.g., Psalm 22:16), and at the wrong time, so He wouldn't be the Passover Lamb (Isaiah 52:13-53:12), nullifying the atonement aspect of His death. Finally, Satan attacked again to kill Jesus, using as his agents Judas Iscariot, the son of perdition (John 13:2, 27; 17:2), and the Jewish spiritual leadership (Matthew 26:14-15). (However, God, in His providence, saw to it that Jesus did die at the right time and in the right way. It was the plan of the chief priests to kill Jesus, but not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people [Matthew 26:5, Mark 14:2], which would have been consistent with Satan's desire to kill Jesus at the wrong time; but when Jesus let Judas know that He knew that Judas was His betrayer, Judas went to the high priests [John 13:27-30] and no doubt informed them that Jesus knew of the plot. The chief priests then sought to take Jesus immediately and delivered Him to be killed in the right way and at the right time [Matthew 26:17-30, 47-49; Mark 14:1-46; Luke 22:1-47; John 18:1-3]), though they were blind to it, causing Satan's plan to be overridden.)
Yeshua, of course, did become the slaughtered Lamb of God, rose from the dead, and birthed the church. Satan now focuses his attacks on the church, the corporate ambassador of Christ on earth, as well as on Israel.
By means of false doctrine and sinful enticements, Satan has succeeded in causing the corruption of the beliefs and morals of many believers; indeed, of perhaps all believers, to one degree or another. In Acts 20:29-30, Paul said to the Ephesian elders, 29. For I know this, that after my departure grievous wolves shall enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30. Also men shall arise from your own selves, speaking perverse things in order to draw disciples away after them.
Satan has scored victories in the lives of all believers by getting all to sin (1 John 1:10), some to such an extent that they have become useless for godly service (1 Corinthians 9:27; 1 Timothy 1:19). False doctrine and sinful temptations have poisoned the church spiritually, led to ungodly practices, shattered the church into thousands of slivers, and ruined the lion'sshare of its potential witness. He has also attacked the church furiously and unceasingly since the day of its birth by means of social ostracism and physical persecutions in every degree, even causing the murder of believers in the millions.
Satan's attacks on the church are an indirect attack on unbelievers. To the extent that he can neutralize or corrupt the church he can neutralize and corrupt the church's witness to the world. But he attacks unbelievers directly, also, by blinding their minds to the truth of the gospel: 2 Corinthians 4:3-4: 3. But also if our gospel is hidden, it is hidden to those being lost, 4. in whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving ones, so that the light of the glorious gospel of Christ (who is the image of God) should not dawn on them.
In addition, he seeks to kill unbelievers while they are yet in that state of blindness lest theLord open their eyes and they be saved, as is evidenced by the ceaseless killings and wars upon the planet whose kosmos he controls (James 1:15 and 4:1).
Jesus, Paul and James said, You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8), and Jesus said, Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you. (Matthew 5:44)
In other words, we are to love all of the unsaved,
even our enemies and the unsavory.
The making of disciples, of course, must begin with the preaching of the Gospel. Mark 16:15-16: 15. And He said to them, Go into all the world, proclaim the gospel to all the creation. 16. He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned.
Secondly, the Christian is to administer acts of mercy and of power to the unsaved (Matthew 14:15-21; 20:34), including feeding the hungry, counseling the troubled, and administering healings and exorcisms as the Lord provides leading and empowerment. Such ministry is of great value in itself (James 1:27), but it also softens the hearts of many to the ministry of the gospel, which is the greatest ministry of all.
Dr. Fruchtenbaum writes, "In this passage, give place means 'give a beachhead.'" (Fruchtenbaum, Arnold G. Radio Manuscript #19: The Darkness of Demonism.San Antonio: Ariel Ministries Press. P. 21). A beachhead is a strip of territory just within enemy territory.
We are to put up a sign on the borders of our lives that says to the enemy, "No Trespassing!" Upon recognizing when he is on the attack, we are to resolve to prevent his entry into our lives in any degree. We are to do that by resisting him; but if he does gain entry, whether through our lack of vigilance or through our rolling out of the red carpet for him, we are to repent and force him out through resistance, even by commanding him to leave, if necessary, as Jesus did with Peter (Mark 8:31-33, below). If need be, we are to seek the prayers, counsel and assistance of mature brethren in getting the job done. That's what the body of Christ is for.
The Christian Is to Resist the Devil
1 Peter 5:8-9: 8. Be sensible and vigilant, because your adversary the Devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking someone he may devour; 9. whom firmly resist in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions in the world are being completed in your brotherhood.
We are to resist the Devil in humility, but firmly, and in the faith, meaning within scriptural truth and obedience.
How Is the Christian to Resist the Devil?
2 Corinthians 10:3-5: 3. For though walking about in flesh, we do not war according to flesh. 4. For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, 5. pulling down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought into the obedience of Christ....
Various literal translations render high thing as "mental elevation" or "arrogance".
We are not to attempt to defeat Satan by fleshly, or carnal, means. We are not to berate him, lose our tempers at him, or in any other way employ the world's means of gaining dominance. To do so would be to lose a round to Satan, not win one, as we'd actually be calling upon him to mold our attitude. We must defeat him by being mighty through God, through spiritual means, by means of the Spirit's guidance and empowerment, to pulling down imaginations. Various literal translations render imaginations as reasonings and arguments. In other words, the battle is in the thought realm. We're to purge out satanic thoughts and reasonings and replace them with godly thoughts and reasonings. This is done by "eating" the Scriptures and meditating on them before the Lord.
To sum up this passage, defeating Satan requires the employment of biblical truth in a godly manner and attitude.
This is spelled out in Ephesians 6:10-18: 10. Finally, my brothers, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11. Put on the whole armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the world's rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13. Therefore take to yourselves the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14. Therefore stand, having your loins girded about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness 15. and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. 16. Above all, take the shield of faith, with which you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, 18. praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching to this very thing with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.
Verse 12 tells us whom we battle against. Though satanic temptation or attack may come through another person or groups of persons, we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the world's rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Our battle is not against people, but against demons, spiritual wickedness in high places. Consistent with the assertion of 2 Corinthians 10:4, that the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, verse 10 tells us that we are to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
Verses 13 through 18 tell us that we are to do that by putting on the whole armor of God.
· We are to have our loins girded about with truth. Isaiah 11:5 says of the Messiah, righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins. The warrior's sword was hung from a belt about his waist. What enables the Christian warrior to bear his sword is the fact that he stands in Christ's righteousness, which has been imputed to him at the moment of his salvation, For He has made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
He is also to walk in righteousness, living a life dedicated to honoring Christ. This, too, will enable him to carry his sword comfortably, properly and handily.
· The Christian warrior is to have on the breastplate of righteousness. Here again we see righteousness come into play in his warfare against the devil; only here it is for the protection of his heart and lungs, both necessary for life. Translated into spiritual terms, his righteousness will protect him from Satanic attack that may cause him to become shipwrecked (1 Timothy 1:19) or a castaway (1 Corinthians 9:27), that is, killing his usefulness for the Lord's service. Speaking of the Lord again, Isaiah said, in 59:17, For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head;
· The helmet of salvation of Ephesians 6:17, represents protection of the believer's thought life in that, despite the fiery darts that the Wicked One seeks to shoot into his mind, he will retain the assurance that he has the ultimate victory and can gain the immediate victory by virtue of his salvation and standing in Yeshua.
· The Christian warrior is to have his feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Isaiah 52:7 says, How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings, making peace heard; who brings good news, making salvation heard; who says to Zion, Your God reigns!
He is to be walking among the people, heralding the good news of salvation. This, too, wards off the enemy's attacks; and it speaks of a consistent lifestyle, not an occasional foray.
· Above all, he is to take the shield of faith, with which [he] shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. We are to battle the enemy in faith: It is of faith so that it might be according to grace. (Romans 4:16)
It is through faith in God's declarations and promises that the Christian warrior may appropriate the grace of God unto victory.
· All of the armor that has been
mentioned, thus far, has been defensive. One
more item remains: the sword of the Spirit, which
is the Word of God, the believer's sole and
all-sufficient weapon. We thwart Satan's lies
and temptations by opposing them through the
declaration of God's truths and admonitions.
· And all of the Christian's warfare is to be done praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching to this very thing with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. His warfare is always to be accompanied by prayer; not only for himself, but for all saints - even while he, personally, is under attack.
How Jesus Defended Himself Against the Devil's
Four things should be noted here:
Satan attempted to dissuade the Lord from going to the cross, using Peter as his ambassador. Obviously, the Lord knew this; yet, He rebuked Peter. While Peter's motive was one of love for his Master, yet his plea and urgency were so in keeping with Satan's desire that Peter's desire and Satan's were one and the same: that Jesus not go to the cross. Unwittingly, Peter had truly become Satan's vicar. Hence the sharp rebuke directed squarely at Peter - not indirectly, but directly - a point that must not be missed - and simultaneously, at Satan: Go behind Me, Satan! For you do not mind the things of God, but of the things of men.
Six things should be noted here:
Obviously, Jesus' response was sufficient: Peter's mouth was closed, Jesus won the battle against Satan's temptation, and Jesus did go to the cross.
To combine our observations from these two passages:
All of Satan's attempts to prevent the Lord's return will end in futility. Just as the Seed of the Woman went to the cross despite Satan's furious efforts to thwart Him from doing so, so the Lord will come again, have Satan bound in the abyss for a thousand years (Revelation 18:2), and finally cast him and his demons into the Lake of Fire for eternity (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 19:11-21; 20:1-2,10).
One final word: The believer is to be aware of the wiles of the devil and do battle against him, but his focus is not to be on the devil, but on the Lord.
Hebrews 12:1-2: 1. let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2. looking to Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right of the throne of God.
Let us, therefore, keep our eyes upon Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Amen.
Each of the four sentences in the Statement will serve as a major division in our study.
1. Why Not
The issue revolves around the Hebrew word adam, which, until recently, was almost universally translated as man in Genesis 1:26, and Man or Adam in Genesis 5:2:
Genesis 1:26: And God said, Let Us make adam in Our image, after Our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea....
Genesis 5:2: He created them male and female, and blessed them. And He called their name Adam (Man) in the day when they were created.
In both scriptures, male and female corporately are called adam. In these and numerous other Hebrew scriptures, adam is used in reference to the entire human race. (Adam is also used often to refer to individual people when the designation of male or female is irrelevant to the thrust of the statement. For example, in Numbers 19:11, we read, He who touches the dead body of any man [adam] shall be unclean seven days. Of course the statement does not just refer to the bodies of dead men, but of dead women, also.) Without a doubt, then, as far as English usage is concerned, adam may be translated humanity or the human race as well as man in Genesis 1:26, and Humanity or The Human Race as well as Man or Adam in 5:2. However, a theological problem arises when people try to avoid or eliminate the translation man altogether.
2. What's the
To sum up, adam is
The man and the woman were corporately called adam,
and Adam was retained as the man's proper name
when the woman's name was differentiated from the
man's. This is understandable on at least two counts:
Adam and Eve were created by direct acts of
God, not by any evolutionary process. (For a
refutation of the Evolutionary Fantasy, see Section II
E of the author's "Evidence" study.) Two
major differences between the Evolutionary Fantasy and
the creation account are:
The Hebrew for the sixth day is yom ha shi-shi' (literally, day the sixth).
Dr. Fruchtenbaum writes, "The word yom or "day" by itself can refer to a long period of time, in fact, more than twenty-four hours.... However, when the word yom is used with a numeral, it can mean only twenty-four hours.... [T]he numeral following the word yom automatically limits the time period to twenty-four hours, a literal day. One would need to read evolutionary hypothesis into the text to interpret it as a longer period of time. The additional phrase evening and morning merely re-emphasizes the fact that this is limited to twenty-four hours." (Fruchtenbaum, Dr. Arnold G. Radio Manuscript # 186, "The Seven Days of Creation," San Antonio: Ariel Ministries Press. Pp. 14-15.)
Man was created 1. directly from the dust of the ground, and 2. within the confines of one literal twenty-four hour day, two facts that render evolution a falsehood. Furthermore, there is no indication in Scripture that the creation account is to be interpreted any way other than literally.
To round out the picture of the creation of man, God created the man to be a bipartite being, having a body and a soul. Genesis 2:7: And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
God said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness. The question arises as to what the difference is between image and likeness.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (God, Image of) states, "In Genesis 1:26, Genesis 1:27, the truth is declared that God created man in His own 'image' (celem), after His 'likeness' (demuth). The two ideas denote the same thing - resemblance to God."
Strong's Concordance also gives resemblance as a common definition of the two words.
The Hebrew words for image and likeness, then, each have as their root meaning the idea of resemblance, and mean virtually the same thing. Note that in Genesis 1:26, image and likeness are used, and in the very next verse just image is used. Image and likeness appear to be used interchangeably in Scripture, and when they are paired together as in 1:26, it is simply for emphasis.
Was Man's Body and Spirit Created in the Image of
To summarize, thus far,
To put the two together, God created man's spirit to resemble His own. It must be pointed out, however, that the resemblance goes only so far. God exists from eternity past, is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent, and man never has and never will resemble God in these ways.
How, Then, Does Man's Spirit Resemble God's?
What feature or features, then, does man have in common with God that renders him alone created in God's image? Let us do a study of key features of spirit and see how they distribute across the four classes of beings that either are spirit or have a spirit. We'll discuss them and then chart them out.
· Life. All beings with spirits possess life.
· Emotions. It's obvious that some of the more complex forms of animals exhibit emotions. Dogs, for example, exhibit a wide variety of emotions. Angels, men and God exhibit emotions as well.
· Instinct. Webster defines "instinct" as an innate, automatic impulse, in humans and animals, to satisfy basic biological needs, leading to behavior that is purposeful and directive. By this definition, animals and men possess instinct, but not angels or God, who have no biological needs.
· Will. Animals may seem to possess a will, but they do not: They possess instinct. Persons possess a will, which Webster defines as the faculty or power of conscious, esp. of deliberate action. The conscious and deliberative faculties of will differ radically from the automatic impulses of instinct. Angels, men and God possess wills, but animals do not.
· Intellect. Whereas animals are said to have varying degrees of intelligence, their intelligence does not rise to the level of intellect, which is the capability of dealing with concepts in the abstract. Animals do not possess intellect, but angels, men and God do.
· Future Eternality. The spirits of animals are never said to have future eternality, but the spirits of angels and men are; and God who is Spirit, has future eternality.
· Moral Choice. Inasmuch as animals function solely by instinct and not will, and are not endowed with intellect, they do not have the capacity to make choices based on moral convictions. God, of course, has this capacity, and men and angels were created with this capacity.
· Capacity to Engage in Worship. Animals do not have the capacity for worship. Angels and men have the capacity to offer worship, and God has the capacity to receive worship.
for Communion or Fellowship in the Spirit
Let's see visually how the above attributes of spirit sort out among the four classes of beings that either have spirits or are spirits:
Purpose of the Image of God in Man
It is because of man's capacity or potential to know God and one another in eternal intimate spiritual communion that God sent Messiah to die for his sins (John 3:16); and it is as man enters into Christ at salvation, who is the uncorrupted image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15), that his capacity for intimate communion with God and other believers is activated and realized, having been renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him (Colossians 3:10).
The sin of Adam consisted of breaking a direct command of God. God forbade Adam to eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and he ate (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:6).
1. Physical Death
2. Spiritual Death
What characterizes spiritual death is the absolute absence of fellowship with God. God warned Adam that this would happen in the day that he sinned: Genesis 2:16-17: 16. And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, You may freely eat of every tree in the garden, 17. but you shall not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. For in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. Adam did not die physically on the day that he sinned, but he did experience a terrifying breaking of communion with God: Genesis 3:6-8. 6. ... She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 7. And the eyes of both of them were opened. And they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made girdles for themselves. 8. And they heard the voice of Jehovah God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. And Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of Jehovah God in the middle of the trees of the garden. The fact that spiritual death came upon the entire human race is seen by the fact that not only Adam, but Eve, as well, went into hiding from God. It is also brought out in Ephesians 2:1, in which Paul referred to the previously unsaved Ephesians as having been dead in trespasses and sins.
Sin is not a physical or spiritual substance or any other kind of substance. Sin is any spiritual condition, thought, word or deed that is contrary to the moral perfection of God.
Some of the clearest statements in Scripture to this effect are:
· Jeremiah 17:9: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?
· In Romans 7:23, Paul speaks of the law of sin being in my members.
· In Ephesians 2:3, he spoke of the lusts of the flesh, and of fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the thoughts.
· Galatians 5:19-21: Now the works of the flesh are clearly revealed, which are: adultery, fornication... hatreds... jealousies....
Jeremiah 17:9 identifies the sin nature in the immaterial part of man. In regards to Romans 7:23, many translations, including the Analytical-Literal Translation, render membersas body parts, showing that the sin nature is locked into man's very body, as well. In regards to Galatians 5:19, Albert Barnes comments, "It is evident here that the word σὰρξ sarx, 'flesh,' is used to denote corrupt human nature, and not merely the body; since many of the vices here enumerated are the passions of the mind or the soul, rather than of the body." (Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible). These few scriptures indicate that man's sinful, corrupted nature is universal among men, and is implanted in both body and soul. Inasmuch as man has a body and soul from the moment of conception, it is from the moment of conception that he possesses the sin nature. King David said, Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me (Psalm 51:5).
Though the scriptures immediately following have a different focus, there are elements in them that also reinforce the points made herein.
This statement is true of the believer as well as the unbeliever as the sin nature is retained in the believer even until death. In Romans 7, it is Paul the believer who speaks of the law of sin being in my members (v. 23). The believer has been given power over the sin nature, but he retains the sin nature, nevertheless.
The scriptures in the preceding section focus on the sin nature itself. The following scriptures are among the many that focus on the outworking of the sin nature in man's thoughts, words and deeds.
1. All Humanity
Romans 2:1: Therefore you are without excuse, O man, everyone who judges; for in that in which you judge another, you condemn yourself, for you who judge do the same things.
Roman 3:9 ...we have before charged both Jews and Greeks all with being under sin.
Romans 3:23: ...all have sinned....
2. All Jews Sin
Isaiah 64:6: But we are all as the unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as a menstruation cloth.
3. All Gentiles Sin
4. All Christians
One Christian group that the author is aware of has declared that Christians are free of outward sin, but Scripture declares differently.All people sin, whether Jew or Gentile, whether Christian or non-Christian.
All Sin in Thought, Word and Deed
STATEMENT SENTENCE 4:
In Romans 7:18-24, Paul places himself in the hypothetical position of one who attempts to satisfy the righteous requirements of God's Law through the power of his will apart from the Spirit of God:
Romans 7:18. 18. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwells no good thing. For to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I do not find. 19. For I do not do the good that I desire; but the evil which I do not will, that I do. 20. But if I do what I do not desire, it is no more I working it out, but sin dwelling in me. 21. I find then a law: when I will to do the right, evil is present with me. 22. For I delight in the Law of God according to the inward man; 23. but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin being in my members. 24. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
In reference to the sin nature, he says, in my flesh dwells no good thing (v. 18), and that because of the sin nature he is unable to perform any act that is pure and righteous: For I do not do the good that I desire; but the evil which I do not will, that I do (v. 19). By extrapolation, because of the sin nature, no man is able to perform the righteous act of choosing God's provision of redemption in Messiah Yeshua through the unaided power of his own will.
In verse 24, Paul laments his pitiable condition: O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? He then answers His question in Romans 8:2: But the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that one may rise in victory over the sin nature and choose God's provision of redemption in Messiah. That is why Jesus said to Nicodemus, (John 3:5-6) 5. Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. And again in Titus 3:5-6: 5. not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6. whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior....
Salvation is solely by means of the Spirit of God, and not by any effort that we can exert. It is the Spirit of God that fills our hearts with the faith to believe in Messiah and to choose God's provision of redemption in Him: 8. For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God: 9. not of works.... (Ephesians 2:8-9). And choose we must, as is implied in the exhortation, believe the Gospel (Mark 1:15). But as many as received Him, He gave to them authority to become the children of God, to those who believe on His name.... (John 1:12).
We will examine every detail of the Statement. Each of its five sentences will serve as a major division. The first will be addressed in this issue, and the other four in the next edition or two.
Let us examine the components of this statement.
Yeshua is the Hebrew name from which the English name Jesus is derived, and means Salvation. It was a common name in Jesus' day, but it is not without significance that the name of Messiah was, and still is, Salvation. An angel of the Lord said to Joseph, And she shall bear a son, and you shall call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).
Messiah is the English form of the Hebrew word Mashiach, which comes from the root mashach, meaning to rub with oil, that is, to anoint (Strong's Concordance). A mashiach is one so anointed with oil (Smith's Bible Dictionary). In the Old Testament, men were consecrated to kingship by the pouring of a special anointing oil over their heads (e.g., 1 Samuel 2:10). However, Daniel 9:25 prophesied of one particular Mashiach, Messiah the Prince, who was to come at exactly the time that Jesus came. Christos, rendered in English Christ, is the Greek equivalent of Mashiach, and also means anointed. Whereas in the Old Testament men were anointed by the pouring of oil, Messiah Yeshua was anointed by means of the measureless endowment of the Holy Spirit poured upon Him by God. John 3:34: For he whom God has sent, speaks the words of God; for God hath not given the Spirit by measure [to him].
The messiahship of Yeshua can be demonstrated beyond doubt through an examination of many detailed prophecies and their exact fulfillment in His life. Of the dozens of such prophecies and their fulfillment in Yeshua, a few of the naturally verifiable ones are: He would be a descendant of King David (Isaiah 11:1; Matthew 1:1 and Luke 1:31-33); He would be born in Bethlehem of Judah (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:1); He would be sold for thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:1-17; Matthew 26:15); He would be pierced (Psalm 22:16; Matthew 27:35); His tormentors would divide his garments between them and cast lots for his vesture (Psalm 22:18; John 19:23-24); He would be resurrected (Psalm 16:10 and 22:22; Matthew 28:6 and 1 Corinthians 15:6). Statisticians have determined that it is a virtual impossibility for one man to fulfill even a handful of such prophecies by chance.
According to Dr. Norman Geisler, "There are at least forty-eight prophecies in the Old Testament about Messiah. These include where he would be born (Mic. 5:2), how he would die (Isa. 53), when he would die (Dan. 9), that he would rise from the dead (Psa. 16), etc. The odds that 48 of these prophecies were fulfilled in one man are about 1/10157. That’s right, a 1 with 157 zeroes after it." (Geisler, Norman L. and Brooks, Ronald M., Come, Let us Reason, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1990, p. 145)
The number of electrons in the universe is a "piddling" 1 followed by 80 zeroes! Surely, any honest student of the Scriptures must conclude that Yeshua is HaMashiach, the Messiah.
In the Scriptures, savior is used of earthly deliverers from earthly troubles, but also of the divine Deliverer from our sins, from the power of sin, and from all of sin's earthly and eternal penalties and curses, unto eternal salvation and the uttermost heavenly blessings. It is this latter understanding of Savior that we employ in reference to Jesus.
To redeem means to buy back. When we use this term in reference to Jesus, we mean, figuratively speaking, that He bought us back from enslavement to sin, and from judgment because of sin.
Ephesians 1:7: In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins....
Romans 8:23: And not only so, but ourselves also, who have the firstfruit of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, awaiting adoption, the redemption of our body.
These scriptures declare that:
The Greek word translated faith and belief is pistis, which Strong's defines as persuasion, moral conviction, assurance, belief. The word for trust is elpidzo, meaning to expect, to have confidence in. The three terms, then, basically mean the same thing: to be persuaded of something, to hold something to be true, to have confidence in.
What is belief? A man is drowning in the sea, and a lifeline is throw to him from a passing ship. The man grasps for and clings to that lifeline believing that it is his salvation. He has faith that it will hold him. He trusts in it.
Ephesians 2:8: For by grace you are saved through faith....
Romans 5:1: Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
As an inquirer's understanding of the Gospel grows, he must actively exercise faith in Messiah to be saved just as the drowning man must actively reach for, grasp and cling to the lifeline. Indeed, active reception of faith may have to be encouraged or urged by the evangelist. Jesus Himself urged, Repent, and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15). Though faith may be encouraged or urged, it is not something that can be forced. In 380 A.D., Emperor Theodosius commanded everyone in the Roman Empire to follow the faith which "Peter delivered to the Romans", and suppressed all other religions. (The Bible doesn't say that Peter delivered the faith to the Romans.) Such an approach is absurd whether it be personal evangelism or emperor evangelism. It tends to drive people away rather than attract them, and may bring long-lasting, devastating results as did Theodosius' decree. True Christian faith cannot be forced; it is a matter of the heart (Romans 10:9-10), of personal persuasion.
What, Exactly, Do We Need to Have Faith In?
2 Corinthians 5:21: For He [Father] has made Him [Jesus]
who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might
become the righteousness of God in Him [Jesus].
(It's the belief in the heart that saves, and the confession of the lips is the fruit and evidence of the faith that saves, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks [Matthew 12:34].)
John 8:24: Jesus said to some Pharisees: For if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.
1 Corinthians 15:1-4: 1. And, brothers, I declare to you
the gospel which I preached to you, which also you
have received, and in which you stand; 2. by which
you also are being kept safe, if you hold fast the
word which I preached to you, unless you believed
in vain. 3. For I delivered to you first of all
that which I also received, that Christ died for
our sins, according to the Scriptures, 4. and that
He was buried, and that He rose again the third
day according to the Scriptures....
These essentials for belief can be derived from these
Romans 5:10 is key to rightly dividing between the work of the cross and the work of the resurrection: For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. According to the passage, 1. the work of the cross reconciles us to God, and 2. the work of His resurrection saves those who believe.
Let us first consider the work of reconciliation
through Christ's death, and then the work of salvation
by His life.
2 Corinthians 5:19-20: 19. ...God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and putting the word of reconciliation in us. 20. Then we are ambassadors on behalf of Christ, as God exhorting through us, we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
Ephesians 2:15b-16: 15b. ...in Himself He might make the two [Gentiles and Jews] into one new man, making peace between them; 16. and so that He might reconcile both to God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity in Himself.
Let's focus on three statements in these passages:
So we see that two parties need to be in agreement for mutual reconciliation to take place. God did His part: God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. Now, the sinner must be reconciled to God by receiving God's sacrifice through faith.
Now, Romans 5:10 again, which focuses on believers: For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. Christ's death reconciled us to God, rendering us savable. Then, by faith, we grabbed on to God's work of reconciliation through Christ that we might be reconciled to God. This leads us to consider...
The Work of Salvation by Christ's Life
It was the sending of the Spirit that enabled us to
become temples of God by virtue of being indwelt by
the Spirit (John 14:17; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20), to be
given a divine nature and made a new creation by means
of regeneration (John 3:6-7; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 1
Peter 1:23; 2 Peter 1:4), to be empowered for victory
over sin (Romans 8:1-4), anointed for spiritual
discernment and conviction of the essentials of the
faith (1 Corinthians 2:12-14; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; 1
John 2:20,27), sealed for the eternal securing of our
salvation (2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Ephesians 1:13), and
baptized by the Spirit into the church (1 Corinthians
12:13), which itself was created by the outpouring of
the Spirit (Acts 2).
Messiah's Eschatological or Future Ministries on
If Messiah had not attained resurrection life, we who exercised faith would be in a strange fix, indeed - if we would have exercised faith in a dead Messiah, to begin with! - no Spirit outpouring, no heavenly ministries by Messiah on our behalf, no eschatological glory. But Christ is risen. Therefore we can say, For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life (Romans 5:10).
To review from our previous study, sin is any spiritual condition, thought, word or deed that is contrary to the moral perfection of God. All people are born with a sin nature (Jeremiah 17:19; Romans 7:23; Ephesians 2:3; Galatians 5:19-21) and sin in thought, word and deed (Psalm 14:2-3; Roman 2:1, 3:9, 3:23; Isaiah 53:6, 64:6; 1 John 1:8). Sin estranges man from God (Romans 3:23) and man from man (Genesis 3:11), and has brought the curse upon the earth (Genesis 3:14-19). In short, sin is the root cause of every form and instance of misery and suffering in time and eternity. The horror of sin can but begin to be fathomed by comparing the carnage and suffering and devastation and disease and death and godlessness that so characterize this planet with the idyllic and pristine environment provided our first parents in Eden as they enjoyed unblemished and full fellowship with the Lord. But the extent to which man can appreciate the horror of sin cannot begin to be compared to the depths of such appreciation by an infinitely holy and loving omniscient God. Let's not forget that it was sin that killed His Son and isolated Him for three hours from His Father as He hung on the cross (Luke 23:44-45; Matthew 27:46). Surely, it is justifiable that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), meaning separation from God culminating in an eternity in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:14-15). Yes, the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23). In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7).
Upon exercising faith in Messiah, one is not only forgiven of sin, but becomes a child of God. All men are children of God by virtue of being part of God's natural creation (Acts 17:29); but upon exercising faith in Messiah, one becomes a child of God in a spiritual sense by virtue of being regenerated, born again, by the Holy Spirit:
John 1:12-13: 12. But as many as received Him, He gave to them authority to become the children of God, to those who believe on His name. 13. who were born, not of bloods, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but were born of God.
John 3:3-7: 3. Jesus answered and said to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4. Nicodemus said to 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? 5. Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7. Do not marvel that I said to you, You must be born again.
One becomes a spiritual child of God by virtue of being born of the Spirit, Who is God; and as a child of God he is heirs of divine blessings.
Rom 8:15-17: 15. For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption by which we cry, Abba, Father! 16. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. 17. And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer [with him], that we may be also glorified together.
The Statement declares that one who exercises faith in Messiah is forgiven of sin and becomes a child of God immediately. One of the thieves crucified with Jesus said to Him, 42. Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom. 43. And Jesus said to him, Truly I say to you, Today you shall be with Me in Paradise (Luke 23:42-43). As soon as the thief believed in Jesus he was immediately forgiven of his sins and became a child of God.
The Statement also declares that this salvation is available to anyone:
John 3:16: For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Indeed, The Lord does... not desire that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). In Revelation 3:20, Jesus offers salvation to the many apostates in the visible Laodicean church of our day: Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him and he with Me. (An apostate is one who has departed from the faith he professed to have, but never really did have.) "Whosoever", "any", "anyone".
No matter how horrible our sins, simply having faith or belief or trust in Messiah moves God to forgive us of our sins and to absolve us of all of its penalties. Three murderers were eternally forgiven of their sins because, at some point in their lives, they exercised saving faith in Messiah: Moses (Exodus 2:12), David (2 Samuel 11:14-17) and Saul of Tarsus (Acts 7:58-8:1).
Let's review the AMC Statement on Salvation, and then take a closer look at sentences two through four.
Some people believe that people in certain positions of privilege merit salvation by virtue of those positions; some believe that various or sufficient acts of human effort merit salvation. We'll consider these separately.
Some hold that people in certain privileged positions merit salvation by virtue of those positions, which may be racial, familial, religious or otherwise. One of these positions is being a Jew. Another is being a member of a believing family. Another is being a member of a church. There are others, and we cannot examine them all. We will look at these three, however, and it should be obvious that what the Scripture has to say about these will be applicable to all.
Salvation by Virtue of Being a Jew
The passage makes it very explicit that both Jews and Gentiles need to hear the Gospel and believe it in order to be saved. If one believes that all Jews are automatically saved, then they must also conclude that all Gentiles are automatically saved, for the passage says that there is no difference both of Jew or Greek in the matter of how they are saved. But the fact is, that the passage requires the hearing and the believing of the Gospel by both Jews and Gentiles for salvation. There is no way around it. It is air-tight. There is no difference both of Jew or Greek in the necessity of believing the Gospel for salvation. Jesus referred to this necessity as the narrow way (Matthew 7:13-14). How dare some who ought to know better espouse a "broader view"! It is heresy to teach it! The exclusivity of the means of salvation will be alluded to again shortly with more passages to consider.
Salvation by Virtue of Being a Member of a
Believing Family or Household
That phrase, and your household, has been a stumbling block to many, causing them to believe that if the head of the house becomes saved, all members of the household, even infants,become saved, as well. But let's look at the very next verse: And they spoke the Word of the Lord to him, and to all who were in his household. The Word of the Lord was spoken not only to the jailor, but also to all who were in his household; and all of them, believing, were baptized (verse 33). No one was saved on the coattails of another. All needed to hear the Word and believe.
Salvation by Virtue of Being a Visible Member of a
One of the Lord's parables concerning the nature of the then future Church Age was the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, in Matthew 13:24-30. The point of the parable is that not all professing believers will be true believers, and that even true believers will be incapable of distinguishing the the spurious believer from the true with unfailing accuracy. If the Lord made this so clear, how can any church be so arrogant as to claim that all who join it will be saved! It is outrage. It causes many to believe that they are saved when they are not.
To sum up the points of the last two
To sum up this section, neither being Jewish, nor being a member of a believing household, nor being a visible member of a denomination or local church suffices for salvation. Believing the Gospel is the only ticket to ride.
Some hold that various human acts merit salvation. Among them are the keeping of the Mosaic Law, water baptism, partaking of the Lord's Supper, acts of penance, performing a greater weight of good deeds than bad. But Scripture is very clear in this matter:
Romans 3:28: Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the works of the Law.
Ephesians 2:8-9. 8. For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, 9. not of works, lest anyone should boast.
Titus 3:5-7: 5. not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6. whom He poured out on us abundantly through Yeshua the Messiah our Savior, 7. that being justified by His grace, we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Grace means undeserved and unmerited favor. We cannot do anything to deserve or merit salvation. A gift by its very nature must be freely offered and may not be purchased by the recipient. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone.
To sum up, neither earthly position nor works of the Law nor good or penitential deeds suffice for salvation, but only grace through faith.
The Bible is clear on the exclusivity of the way of salvation:
Yeshua said to a crowd of listeners, 13. Go in through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many there are who go in through it. 14. For narrow is the gate, and constricted is the way that leads away into life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:13-14).
To His disciple Thomas He said, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by Me (John 14:6).
And to some Pharisees, For if you do not believe that I
AM, you will die in your sins (John
Though all of these declarations apply to all people, it so happens that they were all made by Jews to Jews, one of the speakers being Yeshua Himself. As has been mentioned, some believe that merely being Jewish is sufficient for salvation. Obviously, this is contrary to Scripture. It is a very grave and dangerous error, and it is heretical to teach it. One is not saved by being born Jewish or by following any form of rabbinic Judaism or any other religion or philosophy. One is saved only by faith in the atoning death and resurrection of Yeshua HaNotzri, Yeshua the Nazarene; Yeshua HaMashiach, Yeshua the Messiah. Note how a line is drawn between Jews who received Him and Jews who did not: He came to His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, He gave to them authority to become the children of God, to those who believe on His name (John 1:11-12).For fuller coverage of issues concerning Jewish salvation, see the author's study, Messianic Issues in Jewish Salvation.
Messiah declared that the road to salvation runs only through Him. A narrow way, indeed, but that should not be surprising. All of nature is narrow. Precise and inflexible natural laws control our digestion or indigestion, a successful flight to the moon or a disaster. It should not be surprising, therefore, that spiritual laws are precise and inflexible, as well; nor should it be surprising that a loving and caring Creator has made known to us, whom He created in His likeness and image, the precise rules and principles we need to follow for our own blessed good and for the blessedness of our earthly and heavenly relationships. Nor should it be thought odd that breakers of the rules should be penalized. In civil societies it is understood that "if you do crime, you do time." We are relieved when murderers and rapists are judged and sentenced. It should not be thought odd, therefore, that God requires the same for sinners in His court of justice. Understanding these things lays the foundation for our acceptance of the fact that God, who is love (1 John 4:8,16), offered His sinless Son on the cross to satisfy divine justice in our stead, freeing us to receive forgiveness of sins and entry into the blessedness He always desired for us. For He [Father] has made Him [Yeshua] who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him [Yeshua] (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Many of the concepts in this statement have been addressed already. We will now address those that have not.
Why shed blood? In Leviticus 17:11, God said, For the life of the flesh is in the blood. And I have given it to you on the altar to make an atonement for your souls. For it is the blood that makes atonement by reason of the life.
In the Hebrew Scriptures, atone means to cover. From Adam until Yeshua animal sacrifice was required by God to atone for sin. Those sacrifices did not remove sin from the sinner's account (Hebrews 10:4), but when offered in faith (Habakkuk 2:4), they "covered" the offerer's sin. This means that the offerer's sin, though remaining on his account, would not be held against him; but that when the Son of God would come and shed His blood on the altar of the cross, the sinner's sins would be uncovered and removed from his account, having been paid for by Yeshua.
Hebrews 9:22: And almost all things are by the law purged with blood, and without shedding of blood is no remission.
Ephesians 1:7: In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace....
Righteousness has the meaning of right standing before God. Only One is in right standing before God by virtue of holiness of nature and sinlessness of thought, word and deed, and that One is Yeshua. No mortal born of two human parents is righteous before God in either nature or thought, word or deed, for as Isaiah said (64:6a), But we are all as the unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as a menstruation cloth. Only those mortals who are in Messiah are in right standing before God, and it's by virtue of Messiah's righteousness, not their own.
The sins of the world were imputed (transferred and reckoned) to Yeshua's account, and He died to pay the penalty for them. When we believe, the righteousness of God in Yeshua is imputed to our account, placing us in right standing before God. But of Him [God the Father] you are in Messiah Yeshua, who of God is made to us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30). We are still sinners experientially and in our natures, but in terms of our legal standing before God we are as righteous as Yeshua is, For as by one man's [Adam's] disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One [Yeshua] shall the many be made righteous (Romans 5:19). For He [Father] has made Him [Yeshua] who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him [Yeshua] (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Our Statement says that we are declared righteous on the basis of His shed blood alone. Leviticus 17:11, once again: For the life of the flesh is in the blood. And I have given it to you on the altar to make an atonement for your souls. For it is the blood that makes atonement by reason of the life. And in the New Testament: To the One loving us and having bathed us from our sins in His blood (Revelation 1:5b). It's because of the shedding of Yeshua's blood unto death on the altar of the cross that God's righteousness could be imputed to the accounts of those who believe. Thus, the shed blood of Yeshua alone is the basis of salvation. There is no other.
Our Statement says that we are declared righteous on the basis of His shed blood alone. Being declared righteous by God is an important aspect of salvation that is identified in Scripture as justification. We will first examine the doctrine, then reconcile certain of James' statements with it, and then view its interplay with the dynamics of reconciliation.
Doctrine of Justification
This begs the question that Job asked: How then can man be justified with God? Or how can one who is born of a woman be clean (Job 25:4)? Great question, Job! We've answered it repeatedly, but we'll consider the question again through the lens of justification. We'll take a look at some scriptures which I've arranged in a developmental sequence, and then bring the various concepts together in a couple of summary and explanatory paragraphs:
Job 9:20. If I justify myself, my own mouth shall condemn me; though I am perfect, He shall declare me perverse. Job declared correctly that his own testimony could not justify him before God.
Isaiah 53:11. He shall see the fruit of the travail of His soul. He shall be fully satisfied. By His self-knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify for many; and He shall bear their iniquities. In this passage, Isaiah prophesied that Messiah, knowing full well who He is and what His mission will be, will bring justification to many by bearing their iniquities.
Romans 4:25. ... who was delivered because of our offenses and was raised up because of our justification. Messiah was delivered to the cross because of our offenses, and was subsequently raised from the dead because the work which He accomplished that enabled our justification had been completed.
Act 13:39. And by Him [Yeshua] all who believe are justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the Law of Moses.
Galatians 3:11. But that no one is justified by the Law in the sight of God is clear, for, "The just shall live by faith." The quote that Paul is employing is from Habakkuk 2:4. It reveals that even Old Testament Israelites could not be justified by the works of the Law no matter how meticulously they kept it (which they were required to do), but by faith alone.
Romans 3:28: Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the works of the Law.
Romans 3:24. ...being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Messiah Yeshua;
Romans 5:1: Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Yeshua the Messiah.
Romans 5:9. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
Titus 3:7. ... that being justified by His grace, we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Now, to pull it all together: No one can stand justified before God on the basis of any human testimony or defense. The ground of one's justification must be the shed blood of Messiah, who died for our iniquities and was raised up because His sacrificial work that made our justification possible had been accomplished.
Human courts deal with matters of crime. God's court deals with sin. There have been cases in human courts where an innocent party voluntarily took the punishment due a guilty party, and the guilty party was declared free. Similarly, in God's court, Messiah was punished for the ungodly, and by virtue of the sinner's faith in Messiah's atoning work he is justified (declared forensically righteous), meaning that he is pardoned of the need to bear any of the condemnation or punishment for his sin, and is free to enjoy all of the privileges of one not condemned and sentenced. It is by God's grace that He justifies the believing sinner. Strict adherence to the Law of Moses never justified anyone, nor could it. Only faith could justify. One justified in Messiah is in a state of peace with God, is saved from all aspects of God's wrath, and is heir of all that eternal life entails.
James, Justification and Works
There are two keys to understanding this passage:
Now to apply these observations to the questions regarding Abraham and Rahab: James is not saying thatAbraham and Rahab were justified by their good works apart from faith, but that their good works were the outgrowth of their underlying faith, and were evidence of their justification on the basis of their faith.
Reconciliation and Justification
To review the interplay of the two concepts in
Stages two through four have been presented in logical sequence, but in actuality they occur simultaneously. There is no gap of time at all between the sinner's exercise of faith and his justification before God. As soon as the sinner exercises faith he stands justified before God.
We have seen that good works do not, nor ever did,
save. Nevertheless, they are commended and exhorted
throughout Scripture. What, then, is the relationship
between salvation and good works?
Verse 8 tell us that salvation is through faith, and verse 9, that good works have no bearing on salvation. The phrases we are His workmanship and created in Messiah Yeshua are akin to the concepts of being born again (John 3:3,7; 1:Peter 1:23) and of being made new creations in Messiah (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15) - all conveying the work of regeneration - and verse 10 tells us that we are created in Messiah Yeshua for good works. We are not saved by good works. We are saved to do good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.
We are each saved to glorify God through particular good works that He has ordained for each of us to do. Let us walk in them for the Savior, who walked to Calvary for us. Selah.
Can a believer lose his or her salvation? Please keep reading for an answer to this very important question.
Let's being with the entire Statement:
Many passages of Scripture support the belief that once a person has attained salvation he can never lose it. There are also many scriptures that appear to support the position that once a person has attained salvation he can lose it.
Two issues are at stake:
So let us turn to the Scriptures and see what they say. We will first examine various passages that support eternal security, and then some that appear to support conditional security.
We'll begin by using the AMC's declaration as a framework.
What is meant by eternal security is that no believer will ever lose his salvation no matter what, but will possess it for all eternity.
Jude 1:1: Jude, a servant
of Messiah Yeshua, and brother of James, to the
ones called in God the Father, having been set
apart, and having been kept [by, or for, or in]
Messiah Yeshua: Also, 1 Peter 1:5:
believers are kept by the
power of God through faith unto salvation ready to
be revealed in the last time.
The general meaning of the term is
self-evident, but two things must be noted:
It is the great and mighty power of God that keeps our salvation secure, not feeble and faltering human effort. Can there be any insecurity when guarded by almighty God?
The new birth produces the new creation in Messiah Yeshua (2 Corinthians 5:17). A naturally born baby is born of corruptible seed, and will die because of the transmittal of the sin nature through that seed; but one regenerated in Messiah is born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever (1 Peter 1:23). He will never die spiritually because he is born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible.
According to Galatians 4:6, the Holy Spirit indwells every believer from the moment of salvation: And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. According to John 14:16, the Spirit abides in the believer forever: And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever....
If the Spirit abides in the believer from the moment of salvation until the end of eternity, then there is not a moment of time in which he is not indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Can a believer indwelt by the Spirit - and the Spirit within him - be cast into Hell? Will God cast Himself into Hell?
2 Corinthians 1:22 says, And He [God] has sealed us and having given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. Also, Ephesians 4:30: And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you are sealed until the day of redemption. And Ephesians 1:13-14: 13. in whom [Messiah] also you, hearing the Word of Truth, the gospel of our salvation, in whom also believing, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,14. who is the earnest of our inheritance, to the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
The Holy Spirit seals the believer in Messiah until the day of redemption, which is the resurrection or translation of the body at the rapture. The Spirit sees to it that the believer will never fall out, break out, or be kidnapped from being in Messiah. The Spirit is also the earnest, the down payment, that God has placed on us until He takes us home, body and soul, to be with Him on that day.
The Believer Has Died to the Law, and Can No
Longer Be Judged by the Law
Galatians 2:19-20: 19. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. 20. I am crucified with Messiah: nevertheless I live....
These passages bring out the following:
Sanctification and Spiritual Growth Will Be
Carried Forth to Completion
Yeshua's Definitive Statements Concerning Those
Who Believe in Him
If we can believe Yeshua, then we can
believe what He stated emphatically in different ways,
that the believer will never
The very purpose that Yeshua intercedes for us is that we may be saved to the uttermost. The Literal Translation of the Holy Bible renders to the uttermost as to the end completely. That ought to be "uttermost" enough for anyone. For Messiah has not entered into the Holy of Holies made with hands, which are the figures of the true, but into Heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us (Hebrews 9:24).
Assurances of Romans 8
Romans 8 continues in the train of that worshipful exclamation, extolling the assurance of the salvation that is in Messiah. Here are some of the highlights:
1. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Messiah Yeshua.... 2. for the Law of the Spirit of life in Messiah Yeshua has made me free from the law of sin and death. The believer will not be eternally condemned even though he still sins, for he has been set free from the law of God that demands eternal death because of sin,For He [the Father] has made Him [Yeshua] who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him [Yeshua] (2 Corinthians 5:21).
15. For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption by which we cry, Abba, Father! We need no longer fear eternal judgment. We have been adopted into the family of God.
29. For whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son. God has predestined the elect to be conformed to the image of His Son. Can the predestination of God be undone even by the elect themselves? Not a chance in eternity! That is why Paul said so emphatically,
38. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39. nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.
Nothing and no one in all of eternity - not even the believer himself - will be able to separate him from the love of God which is in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.
By conditional security is meant that believers retain eternal life only upon meeting certain conditions or avoiding others. This position does not necessarily hold that the power of God is not involved in the retention of eternal life, but that God may withdraw His keeping power if the believer does not meet those conditions. (We have already seen that believers are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time [1 Peter 1:5]). Surely a more appropriate term than conditional security can be found, as the term is an oxymoron. How can one's salvation be secure this side of heaven if it is conditional? Nonetheless, this observation neither proves nor disproves what the Bible says on the matter.
Louis Sperry Chafer declared, "As many as eighty-five passages are listed by those holding the Arminian view as establishing the doctrine of conditional security" (Major Bible Themes, p. 220. See endnotes). We are not going to examine eighty-five passages! but we will examine those that seem to be the strongest and most commonly used; but first a word about human observation and judgment.
It is not only the apparent meaning of certain passages that cause many to believe in conditional security, but also observation and experience. Many of us have known people who seemed to be zealous for the Lord and then forsook Him, plunging headlong into a life of sin. It is these kinds of observations that have caused many to conclude that a believer can lose or throw away his salvation. However, it cannot be stated emphatically enough that human observation or experience must never be used to determine Biblical truth. The Scriptures are given to judge our observations and experiences, not the reverse! Our interpretations of our observations and experiences are often faulty, incomplete, biased, or just plain wrong. It is precisely because the Word of God is infallible and unbiased that it, and it alone, must be the light and the standard by which we judge and interpret our observations and experiences.
We have already examined passages that uphold the doctrine of eternal security. Let us now examine passages that appear to uphold conditional security.
Yeshua said to His disciples, But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. (Matthew 24:13).
The verse seems to say that believers who do not endure to the end of their lives spiritually will lose their salvation. The problem is, the verse is not referring to believers at all, nor even to eternal salvation. Verses 3, 14 and 15 show that the context is the Great Tribulation, and verses 15 and 16, in particular, indicate that Yeshua is referring to Jews. Zechariah 13:8-9 and Ezekiel 20:38 state that, during that terrible time of "Jacob's trouble" (Jeremiah 30:7), the Great Tribulation, God will kill the rebels of Israel, who will constitute two-thirds of the nation, by the armies of Antichrist; and that the one-third remaining, those receptive to spiritual truth, will endure unto the end of the Great Tribulation - physically - by the protection of God. They will then be saved spiritually by the sovereign outpouring of the Spirit among them (Zechariah 12:10; 13:1).
The verse cannot be used to support conditional security. It has to do with unbelievers enduring physically, not believers enduring in their faith or in the quality of their walk.
John 15:6 is often interpreted as meaning that believers who do not abide in Messiah will be cast into Hell. Let's examine the verse.
John 15:4-6. 4. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5. I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered. And they gather and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
Yeshua is teaching his disciples by means of allegory. The purpose of an allegory is to make a main point, and caution must be exercised in interpreting the details. The point that Yeshua is making is that His disciples need to abide in Him for fruitfulness; and we must beware the pitfalls of assuming that the branch cast into the fire means that the unfruitful believer will be cast into Hell, and that the exhortation to abide in Him means that he needs to hold on to his salvation by continuing in fruitfulness.
One sound hermeneutical principle is that the unclear needs to be studied in the light of the clear. The figure of the branch cast into the fire must be studied in the light of a clear declaration of some other passage dealing with the issue of fruitlessness. 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 is just such a passage: 11. For any other foundation can no one lay than the one being laid, who is Messiah Yeshua. 12. And if anyone builds on this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble, 13. each one's work shall be revealed. For the Day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try each one's work as to what kind it is. 14. If anyone's work which he built remains, he shall receive a reward.15. If anyone's work shall be burned up, he shall suffer loss. But he shall be saved, yet so as by fire.
The passage makes it plain that the believer who leads a fruitless life will receive no reward; yet, he will still be saved. Therefore, the figure of the branch cast into the fire cannot refer to an unfruitful believer being cast into Hell. It may simply emphasize the ministerial worthlessness of a fruitless believer. By extension, the exhortation to abide in Yeshua cannot mean that the believer needs to continually exercise his will to remain saved. It must mean that he needs to avail himself of those means that the Lord has provided him for fruitfulness: prayer (Acts 4:39), meditation in His Word (2 Timothy 3:16), trust (Proverbs 3:5; Matthew 28:18), and action (Matthew 28:19-20).
In 1 Corinthians 9:27, Paul says, But I beat my body, and bring [it] into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. The word translated castaway in the King James is rendered disqualified or rejected or disapproved in other translations.
Here, again, some say that the passage shows that a believer may lose his salvation; but what is Paul actually saying? Once again, we'll look at the verse in context: 16. For though I preach the gospel, no glory is to me. For necessity is laid on me; yea, woe is to me if I do not preach the gospel!... 24. Do you not know that those running in a stadium indeed all run, but one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain. 25. But everyone striving controls himself in all things. Then those truly that they may receive a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. 26. So I run accordingly, as not uncertainly; so I fight, as not beating air; 27. but I buffet my body and lead it captive, lest proclaiming to others I myself might be disapproved.
Paul is comparing his solemn charge to preach the Gospel to running in a race or fighting in a boxing match in which only one receives the prize. His reference is to the earning of rewards, the incorruptible rewards of the gold, silver, and precious stones of 1 Corinthians 3:12, not the retention of salvation. He disciplines his body and makes it his slave so that he would not be like the loser in an athletic contest who does not win the prize.
To become a castaway or reject, then, in the context of one who believes, has nothing to do with the loss of salvation, but the loss of rewards.
The concept of falling from grace is found in Galatians 5:1-4: 1. Stand fast therefore in the liberty with which Messiah has made us free, and do not again be held with the yoke of bondage.... 2. You who are justified by Law are deprived of all effect from Messiah; you fell from grace.
Some interpret falling from grace as loss of salvation; but a look at the very next verse renders that interpretation invalid: 5. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness out of faith. The ones who fell from grace are among those who are waiting through the Spirit. Now, it is impossible for an unsaved person to do anything through the Spirit as he does not have the Spirit. Therefore, those who fell from grace are still saved, and falling from grace must mean something other than the loss of salvation.
What does it mean? Verses 1 and 2 juxtapose the freedom that is in Messiah with the bondage of being under the Law, and verse 2 declares that those believers who place themselves under the Law as requisite for justification have fallen from grace; they no longer depend solely on the grace of God for their justification, but include the keeping of the Law. To the extent that they have placed themselves under the Law they have placed themselves under a merit system, the polar opposite of the grace of God. In that sense, and in that sense only, have they fallen from grace.
The passage is not speaking of the loss of salvation, but the placing of oneself under the merit system of the Law while yet saved.
This idea comes from a misunderstanding of 1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Some also misunderstand the verse as being an evangelistic call to unbelievers. However, 2:1 makes it clear to whom John is speaking, and also declares that the sinning believer has a safety net beneath him in the heavenly advocacy of Yeshua on his behalf: My little children, I write these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Messiah Yeshua the righteous. John is writing to believers as only they have an Advocate with the Father. As has been shown, the Advocacy of Yeshua on behalf of the sinning believer assures his salvation. Therefore, even if a believer dies without having confessed some of his sins - and who could know or remember them all! - his salvation will hold secure.
The confession that John is encouraging here is not confession for salvation; confession for salvation requires only the confession of Yeshua as Lord (Romans 10:9), not the confession of sins. The confession that John is encouraging is for the restoration of quality fellowship with the Lord and for continued sanctification.
This conviction stems from a misunderstanding of Matthew 6:15: but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Unforgiveness is a sin, and Messiah died for all sins, past, present and future (Acts 3:19; Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:28). Here, again, the Lord is speaking of the quality of one's relationship with his Father. If one bears unforgiveness in his heart toward a neighbor, then the Lord will withhold the blessing of quality fellowship from him, not eternal life.
This matter has been addressed in the introductory
remarks to this section, but we need to look at the
possible situations of such a person, and there are
The latter situation is the case of the Corinthian man who had illicit relations with his father's wife (1 Corinthians 5). We know that he was a believer, for if he wasn't, Paul would not have been able to deliver him to Satan for the destruction of the flesh (to be put to death either by progressive degeneration or an instant blow) as he would already have been in the hands of Satan for that purpose pending the command of the Lord (Hebrews 2:14). It is Yeshua who normally puts believers to death (Revelation 1:18); 1 Thessalonians 4:14 speaks of believers who have fallen asleep through Yeshua. It is because the man was already saved and in the hands of Yeshua for death in due time that Paul was able to deliver him to Satan.
Did the man lose his salvation? No. Paul brought extreme discipline upon the man so that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Yeshua (15:5). It was a work that only the Lord could authorize, and we can trust that, even as He authorized this extreme measure to sustain the salvation of the man even had he not repented, He will do whatever is necessary to sustain the salvation of even His most sinful followers.
That statement and others like it are found in
These statements have caused many to believe that believers who commit serious sin or plunge into persistently sinful lifestyles will be condemned to eternal death; but let's examine the chapter.
In every case, the word used for soul is nephesh. In English, soul is normally equated with the immaterial part of a person. However, there are a good many instances in the Tanach (Old Testament) in which the death of the nephesh refers to the death of the physical person. Joshua 11:11: And they struck every nephesh in it with the edge of the sword, destroying them. And he left none breathing. Obviously, swords were used to kill breathing bodies. It is clear, then, that the killing of the souls in Ezekiel 18 could easily refer to the physical killing of people. But was that actually the case?
According to Charles Ryrie's introduction to the Book of Ezekiel, Ezekiel's ministry was to keep before the exiles the sins which had brought God's judgment on them... (The Ryrie Study Bible). The Babylonian exile was a national, temporal, earthly judgment. Chapter 9 prophesied the slaying of Jerusalem's inhabitants, and chapter 22:13-22 prophesied the eschatological scattering of Israel and subsequent judgment upon her in Jerusalem; both of them temporal and earthly judgments. The point is that chapter 18 is bathed in the context of temporal, earthly judgment, not eternal judgment.
The chapter contains lists of good deeds which, if people will do, they will live. Similarly, there are lists of evil deeds which, if people will do, they will die. The context of earthly judgment renders it almost certain that the death referred to throughout the chapter is temporal, physical death, not eternal death. Those who sin will die physically because of their sins. Those who do righteously or turn from their sins will live physically. Such judgment had already occurred in Israel as can be seen in the account of Korah's rebellion against Moses. Those who sided with Korah were killed by the LORD; those who sided with Moses were spared (Numbers 16).
To sum up, thus far,
These points render it rather certain that the death referred to in the chapter is physical, not eternal; but now let's look at the passage that controls the discourse of the entire chapter.
Ezekiel 18:1-4: 1. The word of Jehovah came unto me again, saying, 2. What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge? 3. As I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel. 4. Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.
The people were complaining that they were suffering because of their fathers, to which God replied through the prophet, ...the soul that sinneth, it shall die (v. 4). What kind of suffering were they complaining about? Certainly not the suffering of eternal punishment. They were still alive! Furthermore, never in Scripture is one condemned to eternal punishment because of the sins of another or of a previous generation. The sufferings they complained about must therefore refer to their sufferings as a conquered and captive people, which included the slaughter of many of their brethren, and will perhaps include some of them.
All talk of death in the chapter refers to physical death, not eternal. Therefore, none of the death verses in the chapter supports conditional security.
1 Peter 1:5 says that believers are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. We have seen that this means that God guards, secures, keeps the believer saved until he is home with the Lord in Heaven; but the verse also tells us how God keeps the believer secure: by sustaining saving faith in the believer's heart. God keeps us through faith just as He saved us through faith (Ephesians 2:8). The one who is saved through faith can never lose saving faith because God sustains it.
A question arises here: It is the believer who must exercise saving faith, not God. How, then, does a sovereign God sustain faith in a believer through faith who must continually exercise it of his own free will? The answer is, the same way He saves a person through faith. In John 6:44, Jesus said, No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. God draws a person to Jesus, and that person exercises faith unto salvation of his own free will. Once the person is saved, the Spirit and the Son intercede for him unto the sustaining of his faith.
In Romans 8, in which Paul states so emphatically and in so many ways that the believer will never be eternally condemned or separated from the love of God, he says in verses 26-27,
Our weaknesses must, of necessity, include every vulnerability imaginable through which we could lose faith or desire to throw it away. The verses, then, tell us that the Spirit intercedes for us so that we would not lose faith. Adam Clark comments on the verses thus: "Our Lord makes intercession for us, by negotiating and managing, as our friend and agent, all the affairs pertaining to our salvation" (Adam Clark's Commentary on the Bible).
The Spirit's intercession for us guarantees that we will never lose faith; and if we will never lose faith, we will never lose salvation. As if that is not enough, the Son's intercession for us guarantees the same. This is illustrated beautifully in the case of Peter, which we will now look at.
This issue is really a subset of what we have just considered. If God has saved a person through faith, He will sustain his salvation through faith no matter what may proceed from his lips.
What did the Lord tell Peter before his threefold denial (Matthew 26:69-74)? 31. Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired you, that he may sift you as wheat. 32. But I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not. And when you are converted, strengthen your brothers. (Luke 22:31-32). If one sees this as saving faith that the Lord prayed for, then He kept it secure via his intercession. If one sees it as faith for continued service, sometimes called living faith, then the loss of saving faith is not an issue, as faith for service cannot exist except on the foundation of saving faith. Whichever the case, Peter's denial did not constitute a loss of saving faith for even a moment. He never became unsaved.
What, then, did Yeshua mean by when
you are converted? Peter already had
faith, which is why the Lord could pray that it fail not. Peter's
conversion, then, had to do with his transformation
from one who runs from trouble, as he did when he
denied the Lord three times (Matthew 26:69-74), to one
who stands strong in the face of persecution, as he
did in Acts 4:18-20 and 5:27-29.
The sin unto death is referred to in 1 John 5:16: If any man see his brother sinning a sin not unto death, he shall ask, and God will give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: Here, too, is a verse that some interpret to mean that a believer can lose his salvation.
What is the sin unto death? As we have seen, 1 Corinthians 5 tells of a church member who was living in fornication with his father's wife. He had rejected the preliminary steps of church discipline, and now, in verse 5, Paul instructs the church to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Yeshua. The sin unto death, then, is refusal to accept the preliminary steps of church discipline in such serious matters as described in 1 Corinthians 5, placing the offender in jeopardy of being delivered unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh.
What are we to see here? The man did repent (2 Corinthians 2:5-8); but supposing he did not. Satan would have killed him (destroyed his flesh), but his spirit would have been saved in the day of the Lord Yeshua. His salvation would have remained secure in the Lord despite his lack of repentance. The sin unto death is a sin unto physical death, not eternal death. No believer can commit a sin unto eternal death.
Yeshua declared, 31.
All kinds of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven
to men, but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit
shall not be forgiven to men. 32. And whoever
speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be
forgiven him. But whoever speaks against the Holy
Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in
this world or in the world to come (Matthew
12:31-32). (Blasphemy is insulting, vilifying
or showing contempt for God.) This statement has
caused some to believe that a believer can lose his
salvation by blaspheming the Spirit.
What about the phrase, it shall not be forgiven him,
either in this world or in the world to come (v.
The unforgiveness that Yeshua spoke about had nothing to do with eternal unforgiveness, but of unforgiveness in regards to the Messianic Kingdom. Because of the nation's blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, the Kingdom would not be established at that time (in this age), nor would they be alive to see it in the age to come;" but instead, declared Yeshua, 38. Behold, your house is left to you desolate. 39. For I say to you, You shall not see Me from now on until you say, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord" (Matthew 23:38-39). Their house (temple) was to be destroyed (70 A.D.), and the nation would not see Him again until they receive Him as Messiah, at which time He will return and establish His kingdom.
Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit was the national sin of Israel attributed and attributable only to that generation (Matthew 23:36), and it is not a sin attributable to individuals. An unbeliever named Saul of Tarsus was part of the nation at that time, and yet, the Lord forgave and saved him (Acts 9:4-6). As blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is a national sin and not attributable to individuals, it is impossible for an individual to lose his salvation by committing it: He cannot commit it.
A number of passages in the Book of Hebrews certainly do seem to say that believers can lose their salvation. Here, perhaps, are the two most convincing:
Hebrews 6:4-6. 4. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5. and have tasted the good Word of God and the powers of the world to come, 6. and who have fallen away; it is impossible, I say, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify the Son of God afresh to themselves and put Him to an open shame.
Hebrews 10:26-29. 26. For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more a sacrifice for sins, 27. but a certain fearful looking for judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28. He who despised Moses' Law died without mercy on the word of two or three witnesses. 29. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy of punishment, the one who has trampled the Son of God, and who has counted the blood of the covenant with which he was sanctified an unholy thing, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?
Once again, let's look at the passages in their historical and biblical contexts.
The letter was written to Jewish believers in Jerusalem during the Roman siege prior to the judgment of 70 A.D. Concerning that judgment, Yeshua warned and instructed His disciples, 20. And when you see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that its destruction has come. 21. And let those in Judea flee to the mountains. And those in its midst, let them go out (Luke 21:20-21).
His followers were not to remain in the city, but to flee. This proved to be a tremendous test on two fronts. The first was the pressure put on all Jewish believers in the Land, through persecution, to forsake Yeshua and return to rabbinic Judaism. The second was the expectation of all Jerusalem Jews by the Zealots, who were in control, to join the armed resistance against Rome. The believers had no qualms about fighting the Romans, but the Lord did tell them to flee; so here they were, caught in the middle. The Book of Hebrews was written to strengthen their resolve to obey the Lord; to not return to rabbinic Judaism, but to flee to the mountains. Every warning of judgment in the Book had to do with the impending judgment of 70 A.D., not with eternal judgment. If they remained and returned to rabbinic Judaism, they would be slaughtered. If they made a clean break with it and fled, their lives would be spared.
The Book had its intended effect. In the Lord's providence, He opened a window of time for obedience. In 66 A.D., the Romans lifted the siege as they needed their troops elsewhere. The Jerusalem believers fled across the Jordan to the mountains, and found refuge in Pella. In 68 A.D., the Romans resumed the siege and, in 70 A.D., destroyed the city and the Temple with a great slaughter.
None of the warnings of judgment in the Book of Hebrews had to do with eternal judgment, but with physical judgment. The repentance in the Hebrews 6 passage had nothing to do with repentance unto salvation, but with repentance unto obedience to the Lord's command to flee; and no more a sacrifice for sins was a reference to the Mosaic Law under which there were certain sins, such as, adultery and murder, for which no sacrifice could be offered, but which necessarily incurred capital punishment. No more a sacrifice for sins also had a more immediate reference in that not even the Lord's crucifixion would save them from physical judgment for disobedience, but that they would need to pay with their physical, not spiritual, lives.
None of the Hebrews passages, therefore, support the idea that a believer could lose his salvation.
We examined what seem to be the strongest and most commonly used passages in support of conditional security, and saw that not a single one stands the test of hermeneutical scrutiny. We also saw definitive declarations of eternal security, and explanations of various ways that the Lord keeps His believers secure.
We have discovered no evidence that Scripture contradicts itself, and can rest assured in the trustworthiness of all that it truly says, such as...
"I give to them eternal life, and they shall never ever perish." (John 10:28)
The believer need not serve the Lord for fear of losing his salvation, but for joy in the salvation that is eternally his by the grace of God. As it says of Yeshua, for the joy that was set before Him He endured the cross, despising the shame (Hebrews 12:2).
Let us so serve Him!
"What must I do to be saved?" was the cry of the Philippian jailor. (Acts 16:30)
"Believe on the
Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved," was the reply of Paul and Silas.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
"And, brothers, I declare to you
the gospel.... that Christ died for our sins,
according to the Scriptures, and that He was
buried, and that He rose again the third day
according to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians
Jesus implored His listeners, "Believe the Gospel". So we humbly implore you.
In this Shofar, we will examine the universal body of Messiah. In our next, the local congregation. Each sentence of our Statement will be examined in detail, though not necessarily in its order of appearance.
"The body of Messiah began at Shavuot
The body of Messiah (or Christ) is a biblical designation of what is commonly referred to in the Brit HaChadashah (New Testament) as the church, as can be seen in Colossians 1:18: And He is the head of the body, the church....
There had been perhaps 1300 or 1400 Pentecosts prior to the days of Yeshua, but the body of Messiah began on the first Pentecost after His ascension. This sequence of points demonstrates this:
1. Previous to Yeshua's
death, resurrection and ascension, He declared that
His body or church was still future.
Corinthians 12:13 indicates that the body was formed
when the first believers were baptized by the Holy
By combining the above points we see that Spirit baptism, which initiates the formation of the body of Messiah, was future to Yeshua's declaration prior to His death, resurrection and ascension.
3. After Yeshua's
ascension He commanded His disciples to wait in
Jerusalem until they were baptized by the Spirit.
Spirit baptism had not yet occurred even at this point in time after Yeshua's ascension. The formation of the body was yet future.
John 7:38-39 also declares the futurity of Spirit baptism after Yeshua's ascension. Though Spirit baptism is not specifically mentioned here, it should be clear after our sequence of points that it is included in the giving of the Spirit spoken of here: 38. He who believes on Me, as the Scripture has said, "Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." 39. (But He spoke this about the Spirit, which they who believed on Him should receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Yeshua was not yet glorified.)
4. The believers were filled
with the Holy Spirit on Shavuot.
A breathtaking event accompanied by audible and visible signs from Heaven occurred on this first Shavuot after Yeshua's ascension. The Spirit filled the believers; but were they baptized by the Spirit? The terms are not synonymous. Let's look further.
5. About twelve years subsequent to
that Shavuot, the believers in Cornelius' household
were baptized by the Spirit.
6. Peter identified the Spirit
baptism of Cornelius' household with that which
occurred on the first Shavuot after Yeshua's
The body of Messiah, the church, began to form on the first Shavuot after Yeshua's ascension, for that is when believers were first baptized by the Holy Spirit.
Beginning with the Gentile proselytes to Judaism who were baptized by the Spirit along with Jews on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:10: Jews and proselytes), God has been calling Gentiles out of the world and adding them to Yeshua's body to be a people for His Name (Acts 15:14). This will continueuntil the fullness of the Gentiles has comes in (Romans 11:25). God will continue adding Jews and Gentiles to His body until the full number of Gentiles that He has foreordained has been reached. When the last Gentile will be added, the body of Messiah, the church, will be fully formed.
The body began to be formed on Shavuot, and its formation will cease when the fullness of the Gentiles has comes in.
Once Messiah's Body is Fully Formed,
Once Messiah's body is fully formed, God will resurrect all deceased members of the body and remove them and all living members from the earth and into His presence in Heaven in an event known as the Rapture (1 Corinthians 15:12-57; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18); and so shall [they] ever be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Only those in Messiah will be included (1 Corinthians 15:18,19,22; 1 Thessalonians 4:16). In Messiah (In Christ) is a phrase that is used exclusively of believers in Messiah's body. Old Testament saints (Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:2) and deceased Tribulation saints (Revelation 20:4) will be resurrected immediately or very shortly after the Great Tribulation.
"all believers in Yeshua are members
There are countless local congregations, but there is only one universal body of Messiah. Ephesians 4:4-6: 4. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling; 5. one Lord, one faith, one [Spirit] baptism, 6. one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all. The passage also shows that all in the one body are necessarily saved: even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling; 5. one Lord, one faith....
A local congregation may be referred to as a local body and is expected to function as a body, but the term and the concept must not be confused with the universal body of Messiah. The body of Messiah is a designation which Scripture reserves for the universal church, which is composed solely of believers, and of all believers corporately, from Shavuot to the Rapture (Romans 7:4; 1 Corinthians 10:16; 1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 4:12).
This will be shown in a
sequence of two points:
All believers are in
the body, and each is considered a member. 1
Corinthians 12 tells us that the significance of each
being called a member is threefold:
There were believers in the promise of Messiah before the Day of Pentecost, and there will be new believers during the Great Tribulation and Kingdom Age. They will all experience the blessings of the Messianic Kingdom and the eternal ages to follow, but are not considered part of the church, the body of Messiah.
Understanding that the body of Messiah began at Shavuot and will be removed from the earth at the Rapture is critical for rightly dividing many portions of the Word of Truth. It enabled us to see who will and will not be raptured. It also enables us to rightly divide between those under the Law and those not under the Law; between Israel and the church; between believers in Heaven and believers on earth during the Great Tribulation; and more.
We've seen that Ephesians 4:4-6 shows that all in the body are necessarily believers: even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling; 5. one Lord, one faith.... John 3:18 corroborates this: He who believes on Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.
Condemnation in this context refers to eternal damnation. It is reserved for those who do not believe in Messiah. However, the body will be brought into the Lord's presence at the Rapture, and faith in Messiah qualifies one for entry into the body. If all believers are baptized into the body, and all unbelievers are condemned to Hell, it is inescapable that entry to the body is solely and exclusively by faith in Messiah.
"This body is distinct from Israel and is
We know that the body of Messiah is distinct from Israel for a number of reasons. Here are a few:
The body is described as one new man (v. 15) composed of both Jews and Gentiles in Messiah (v. 13). Ephesians 2:11-15: 11. Therefore remember that you, the Gentiles, in time past were in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision [the Jews] in the flesh made by hands; 12. and that at that time you were without Messiah, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world. 13. But now in Messiah Yeshua you who were once afar off are made near by the blood of Messiah. 14. For He is our peace, He making us both one, and He has broken down the middle wall of partition between us, 15. having abolished in His flesh the enmity (the Law of commandments contained in ordinances) so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, making peace between them.... Israel and the Gentile nations had already been in existence when the body of Messiah was formed, and the body is referred to as a new man. If it is new, then it is distinct from Israel as well as from the Gentile nations. Furthermore, Israel is a nation by natural generation, whereas the body of Messiah is a new man by virtue of regeneration, which is of the Spirit.
Another reason we know that the body is distinct from Israel is because no Gentile who joined himself to Israel was ever called an Israelite (for example, Ruth 2:2,21; 4:5,10), whereas all Jews and Gentiles who join the body of Messiah are called by the same designations: believers, Christians, saints, etc.
Another reason is because Israel is referred to as the married, then divorced, and yet to be remarried Wife of Jehovah (Jeremiah 3:1,20; Ezekiel 16:15), whereas the body of Messiah is referred to as the betrothed and yet to be married Bride of Messiah, the latter of which will be discussed below. There is no way to join the two metaphors into one.
Another is that only a small handful of Israelites under the dispensation of the Law had the Spirit "with" them (rare exceptions had Him "in" them, as well), whereas Scripture indicates that all believers from Shavuot to the Rapture have the Spirit "in" them. Furthermore, the Spirit did not always rest on those few Israelites permanently, whereas the Spirit is said to be with all members of the body of Messiah forever. The contrasts summarized: a few, all; with, in; temporarily, forever: (John 7:37-39; 14:16-17; Numbers 11:17-25; 27:18; 2 Kings 2:9-12; 1 Samuel 16:14; Psalm 51:11).
Another distinction is that the deceased in the body will be resurrected at the Rapture (see above), which will take place before the Great Tribulation (1 Thessalonians 5:2-9; 2 Thessalonians 2:8-13, etc.), whereas all Old Testament saints, including all Old Testament Israelite saints, will be resurrected after the Great Tribulation (Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:2).
Another is that the entire body of Messiah will be with the Lord in Heaven during the Great Tribulation (1 Corinthians 15:51-52), but only those Israelites saved between Shavuot and the Rapture will be in Heaven during the Great Tribulation.
Another is that the entire body of Messiah will spend an eternity in the blessed presence of the Lord, but only a minority from among Israel, a remnant (Isaiah 1:9, 10:22; Romans 9:27), will be saved.
It is true that the Brit HaChadashah refers to Israel under Moses as the church in the wilderness (Acts 7:38) baptized (immersed) unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea (1 Corinthians 10:2); but the Greek word translated church simply means an assembly. According to Smith's Bible Dictionary, "Ecclesia, the Greek word for church, originally meant an assembly called out by the magistrate, or by legitimate authority." The "legitimate authority" that called out Israel from among the nations, and the body of believers from the world system, is the same: the Lord. However, the Israelites in the wilderness were an assembly by virtue of natural birth and location, and the body of Messiah is an assembly by virtue of the Spirit's call and organization. Sharing the word assembly in no way indicates that they are part of the same group any more than the Mickey Mouse Club and the Communist Party can be considered identical because they can both be called a group. Furthermore, the idea behind baptism is identification. No Israelite needed to be immersed to be identified with Israel or Moses, and they weren't. They were Israelites by birth, and became distinctly identified with the leadership of Moses when they made a clean break from Egypt by passing through the Red Sea. They were not immersed in the Red Sea. They passed through the Red Sea on dry ground. It was the Egyptians who were immersed in the Red Sea (Exodus 14:16-29). The pillar of cloud also identified the Israelites with Moses as it was only they whom the cloud guided and protected, which is illustrated beautifully when the cloud guided the Israelites to the Red Sea, and then moved from in front of them to behind them to shield them from Pharaoh's army (Exodus 13:21-22; 14:19).
Israel and the body of Messiah are on two different tracks in the plan of God with a multitude of differences in the details. They are not one and the same, though there is some overlap. Jewish believers from Shavuot to the Rapture are simultaneously members of Israel and the body of Messiah.
scriptures interpreted outside their contexts seem to
say that the body of Messiah is now the "true Israel"
or "spiritual Israel" or the "Israel of God" or that
all of its members are "inward Jews." However, this is
not actually the case. Let's look at one example.
The important thing to see is that the focus is on the salvation of Israelites. This is established by the enclosing declarations of Romans 9:3-4 and 10:1. 9:3-4: 3. For I myself was wishing to be accursed from Messiah for my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh, 4. who are Israelites. 10:1: Brothers, truly my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is for it to be saved. Everything sandwiched between the two statements has to do with the salvation of Israelites. Even those passages in Romans 9 that speak of God's dealings with Gentiles are related back to Israel by Paul's line of reasoning.
Romans 9:33 sheds light on they are not all Israel, that are of Israel. 9:33: even as it is written, Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence: And he that believeth on him shall not be put to shame. Interpreted in the same context, it, too, deals with the salvation of Israelites. It distinguishes between Jews who believe and Jews who do not. Those Israelites that believe on him shall not be put to shame, and those Israelites who do not believe on Him shall be put to shame. It is the closing verse of the chapter, and is an explanation of the opening statement, which is 9:3-4. They are not all Israel, that are of Israel distinguishes between Jews who believe and Jews who do not. There is no denial that Jews who do not believe are part of Israel, and no addition of believing Gentiles to Israel. It merely distinguishes between Jews who believe and Jews who do not believe.
To bring us back to the point, passages such as this do not make the church Israel or the "Israel of God" or "inward Jews" or a part of Israel or a replacement for Israel in any spiritual or physical sense.
To sum up,
Like Israel, the church is a people of God, but Israel and the church are on different tracks in the plan of God. To confound the two identities is to confound the two tracks, the doing of which has caused much misery for Israel and makes it impossible to rightly divide the Word of truth.
The new man is distinct from Israel and from the Gentiles, but becoming a member of the new man does not obliterate one's Jewishness or Gentileness. Membership in Israel or in a Gentile nation is based on natural generation. Membership in the new man is based on regeneration, which is of the Spirit. There is no conflict between membership in the two, nor mutual exclusion. The apostle Paul identified himself as being of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews (Philippians 3:5), and he addressed Roman believers as you Gentiles (Romans 11:13).
No nation is cut off at the boundary of the body. It extends into the body as far as its membership does. When passages that seem to say otherwise are scrutinized in their contexts, it is seen that they do not contradict this. For example, when Galatians 3:28 says that there is neither Jew nor Greek, it is simply saying that national distinctions have no bearing on, and do not constitute a fissure within, the unity inherent in the body: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Messiah Yeshua.All one in Messiah is the context in which the passage must be understood. In fact, all indicates that there's more than one kind among whom the unity exists. In other contexts, distinctions are clearly maintained among believers. Paul identified himself as a Hebrew, and the Roman believers as Gentiles. Other passages distinguish between believing masters and slaves, and believing men and women within the body (1 Timothy 6:1-21; 1 Corinthians 11:3-16).
The body of Messiah, the one new man is composed of Jews and Gentiles who remain Jews and Gentiles forever (Revelation 21:24,26). Even the ascended Messiah in His glorified, spiritual, heavenly body (1 Corinthians 15:43,44,48) is referred to as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5).
believers are members of Israel and the body of
Messiah. Being included in the Abrahamic covenant by
natural generation, they are to confirm their
membership in Israel by making sure that they are
circumcised if male, and by circumcising their male
children (Genesis 17:10-12). However, their primary
identity is in Messiah,
and their primarily loyalty ought to be to Him. That
their primary identity is, in the Lord's eyes, in Messiah, is seen by
the fact that the Lord will not allow them to remain
on earth with their unbelieving Jewish brethren during
the Great Tribulation, but will rapture them with all
other believers in Messiah.
That their primary loyalty ought to be to Messiah and
not to Israel may be seen by:
"These members are under the solemn duty to keep
members refers to all members of Messiah's body.
John 13:35: By this all shall know that you
are My disciples, if you have love toward one
This is a good context in which to examine...
As the human body is a coordinated organism under the control of the head, so also is the body of Messiah. Yeshua is the Head, and we, His community of believers, constitute His body under His control.
Colossians 1:18: And He is the Head of the body, the church, who is the Beginning, the First-born from the dead, that He may be pre-eminent in all things.
Yeshua said, I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). To bring that to pass certainly does demand sovereign control.
Ephesians 4:15-16: 15. But that you, speaking the truth in love, may in all things grow up to Him who is the Head, even Messiah; 16. from whom the whole body, fitted together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of each part, producing the growth of the body to the edifying of itself in love.
Colossians 3:14-15: 14. And above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness. 15. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which you also are called in one body, and be thankful.
We are the body of Messiah. Each of us, in a coordinated, peaceful and loving manner under the control of Messiah our Head, is to serve the body that it may grow in numbers and maturity.
"We believe that all believers in Yeshua are
The universal church, pictured as the body of Messiah, is also pictured as the bride of Messiah yet to be presented as a pure virgin to Messiah (2 Corinthians 11:2).
Revelation 21:9: And one of the seven angels who had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, Come here, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife.
The designation bride of Messiah
illustrates the depth of love that Messiah has for His
body (Ephesians 5:22), that He will bring her
sanctification to completion as
a pure virgin (Ephesians 5:25-27; 1
Corinthians 3:11-15), and that He is yet to wed her
(Revelation 19:6-9) and escort her into His heavenly
glories (Revelation 20-21). It also implies that the
bride is to be subject
to her Groom in everything
20. Now to
Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above
all that we ask or think,
In our previous entry, we examined those declarations of the AMC Statement that refer to the universal body of Messiah or universal church. In this study, we'll examine those that apply to the local congregation or local church. Each applicable sentence will be examined in detail, though not in its order of appearance; but first, let's review the entire Statement.
The Bible encourages informal fellowship, but even a fellowship that meets regularly for mutual ministry is not a full-fledged local congregation by biblical standards. Local congregations have organization, authority, responsibilities, and safeguards in place that informal fellowships do not. Modern evangelistic organizations, mercy ministries and other such groups, valid as they are, may not be considered local congregations either. It is important to distinguish between the local congregation and other groups of believers in order to rightly divide those portions of the Word of Truth that have to do with these matters, some of which will be discussed in this study.
The Local Congregation or Church as Distinguished
from the Universal Body of Messiah
Now, to examine the applicable sentences of our Statement:
"We believe that the purpose of the local
purpose of the local congregation is to glorify
local congregation is to glorify God through
Acts 24:14 (Paul to Felix): But I confess this to you, that after the Way which they call heresy, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things that are written in the Law and in the Prophets.
1 Corinthians 14:25: And so the secrets of his heart become revealed. And so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.
Philippians 3:3: For we are the circumcision who worship God in the spirit and rejoice in Messiah Yeshua....
local congregation is to glorify God through...
1 Corinthians 4:19: yet in a congregation I desire to speak five words with my mind, so that I might also teach others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.
1 Timothy 4:9-11: 9.
Faithful is the Word, and worthy of all
acceptance. 10. For to this we both labor and
suffer reproach, because we trust in the living
God, who is the preserver of all men, especially
of those who believe. 11. Command and teach these
local congregation is to glorify God through...
b. to its
d. to a
brother or sister we've offended
local congregation is to glorify God through...
Matthew 18:15-17. 15. But if your brother shall trespass against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16. But if he will not hear you, take one or two more with you, so that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it to the congregation. But if he neglects to hear the congregation, let him be to you as a heathen and a tax-collector.
1 Corinthians 5:3-5: 3. For as being absent in body but present in spirit, I indeed have judged already as though I were present concerning him who committed this thing; 4. in the name of our Lord Messiah Yeshua, when you are gathered together, with my spirit; also, with the power of our Lord Messiah Yeshua; 5. to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Yeshua.
local congregation is to glorify God through...
Hebrew 10:24-25: 24. and let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works, 25. not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
local congregation is to glorify God through...
Acts 8:4: Then, indeed, the ones who had been scattered passed through, preaching the gospel, the Word.
believe that the ordinances of the local
Two acts that the Lord commanded fall into a category of their own: water immersion and the Lord's Supper. Some theologians have designated them "ordinances," some "sacraments."
Dr. Fruchtenbaum offers this definition of an ordinance: "An ordinance can be defined as a rite or ritual or practice prescribed by the Messiah to be performed by the Church, as an outward sign of the saving truth of the Christian faith" (Fruchtenbaum, Dr. Arnold G. Messianic Bible Study 108: The Lord's Supper, p. 5. San Antonio: Ariel Ministries Press).
Scripture presents them each as a portrayal or representation, not as an act of substance in itself; nor does it present either of them as an agent of grace, which may, in this context, be defined as unearned, freely bestowed spiritual blessing from God. Those who believe that water immersion and the Lord's Supper are means of conveying grace refer to them as "sacraments"; but because they do not convey grace it is best to refer to them as "ordinances."
Dr. Fruchtenbaum also writes, "The best
way of determining the qualifications of an ordinance
is to apply three tests," (Fruchtenbaum, Dr. Arnold G.
Messianic Bible Study 109: The Ordinance of Baptism,
p. 5. San Antonio: Ariel Ministries Press) and
presents them as follows:
Only two acts meet these criteria: water immersion and the Lord's Supper. They are the two ordinances of New Testament scripture, and only believers may partake of them, as we shall see.
The qualifications of water immersion as
an ordinance are:
Some dispute the term immersion because it demands complete submersion in water. They prefer the term baptism because its perceived non-specific meaning allows for sprinking or affusion, the latter of which is the pouring of water on the head. However, the fact is, the meaning of the Greek word translated baptism means immersion. According to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia,
John the Baptizer immersed his disciples. John 2:23: And John was also baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized. He wouldn't have requiredmuch water if sprinkling or affusion were his method.
After Yeshua was baptized, He came up immediately out of the water (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10). After Philip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch, they had come up out of the water (Acts 8:39). Yeshua, Philip and the Ethiopian had to first be in the water before they came up out of it.
Baptism by immersion was a Jewish ritual long before John's baptism. Here's a description of how it was performed:
To this day, Jews practice no form of baptism other than immersion.
From Old Testament days to the present, the key significance of water immersion is identification. The proselyte to Judaism identified with Judaism by means of immersion. Those who identified with John's the Immerser's message showed it by being immersed. Those who receive the Gospel are to ritualistically identify with it by immersion.
Water baptism is symbolic of the true baptism, the one baptism ofEphesians 4:5, which is Spirit baptism (1 Corinthinans 12:13), the dynamic of which is described in Romans 6:3-5: 3. Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Messiah Yeshua were baptized into His death? 4. Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, so that as Messiah was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father; even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5. For if we have been joined together in the likeness of His death, we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection;
Immersion into the water represents the crucifixion, death and burial of the old man into and with Messiah, and coming up out of the water represents the resurrection of the new man in and with Him. (Galatians 2:20: I have been crucified with Messiah, and I live....) Immersion and coming up out of the water picture this clearly, but sprinkling and affusion do not picture it at all. It is immersion that Yeshua commanded in the Great Commission: Going, then,make disciples of all nations, immersing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.... (Matthew 28:19).
Water immersion is only for those who understand the Gospel and actively exercise faith in Messiah, eliminating infants and all others who do not meet these conditions. Acts 8:36-38 makes this clear: 36. And as they passed along the way, they came on some water. And the eunuch said, See, here is water, what hinders me from being baptized? 37. Philip said, If you believe with all your heart, it is lawful. And he answered and said, I believe that Messiah Yeshua is the Son of God. 38. And he commanded the chariot to stand still. And they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch. And he baptized him.
The qualifications of the Lord's Supper
as an ordinance are:
The Lord's Supper is described in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26: 23. For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Yeshua in the night in which he was betrayed took bread; 24. And giving thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body, which is broken for you; this do in remembrance of Me." 25. In the same way He took the cup also, after supping, saying, "This cup is the New Covenant in My blood; as often as you drink it, do this in remembrance of Me." 26. For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you show the Lord's death until He shall come.
At this last seder (Passover service and meal) before His death, the Lord commanded that His disciples eat and drink the traditional seder elements, the matzoh (unleavened bread) and the wine, to commemorate His death until His return, meaning that it is to be done by all of His disciples throughout the Church Age. We are to eat the unleavened bread to remember the sinless Lamb whose body was broken for us on the cross (leaven represents sin), and to drink the wine to remember His shed blood, the price of the New Covenant (1 Peter 1:18-19).The Lord said of both the matzoh and the wine, do this in remembrance of Me. He referred to them as memorials. If they actually became His body and blood, they would not be memorials, but the real thing, and the partaking of them would constitute a re-crucifixion of the Lord, whereas the Scripture says that His body was offered once for all time (Hebrews 10:10, Analytical-Literal Translation). There is no more reason to believe that the elements actually become the Lord's body and blood than there is to believe that He became a door when He said, I am the door (John 10:7, 9). He was simply speaking metaphorically.
Consistent with its meaning, the Lord's Supper is only for believers. 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 reads, 27. Therefore whoever shall eat the bread or drink the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. 28. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and drink of the cup. 29. For he that eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment unto himself, if he discern not the body. These words were written to believers. If a believer can be unworthy to partake, how much more would one be unworthy who is in a state of unbelief concerning the Gospel?
eldership is open to men who fulfill the
The formally ordained spiritual leaders of the local church or congregation are called its elders or presbyters, pastors or shepherds, or overseers or bishops, and they are one and the same. (Compare Acts 20:17 with 20:28; 1 Timothy 3:2 with 5:17; Titus 1 with 5 and 7; 1 Peter 5:1 with 5:2.) The common practice today is to have one pastor and a group of elders (often mistakenly called deacons) under his authority. This is not the biblical practice. A search of the Brit HaChadashah (New Testament) will reveal that all elders worked as a plurality, though they may have operated in different capacities.
Elders must minimally meet the qualifications for deacons (1 Timothy 3:8-12) as the deacons are the helpers of the elders. Above and beyond that, they must meet the qualifications laid out specifically for elders (1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9). The qualifications noted in both passages are very similar. Titus 1:5-9 reads, 5. For this cause I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed you, 6. if anyone is blameless, husband of one wife, having believing children, not accused of loose behavior, or disobedient. 7. For an overseer must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not full of passion, not given to wine, not quarrelsome, not greedy for ill gain; 8. but hospitable, a lover of good, discreet, just, holy, temperate, 9. holding fast the faithful Word according to the doctrine, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and to convict those who contradict [sound doctrine].
2. The Scriptures
Underlying Theological Principles
The key principle is that of subjection. The Greek words used are hupotage and hupotasso. According to Strong's Concordance, hupotage means: subordination. According to Young's Analytical Concordance, it means: subjection, submission. Hupotage appears in 1 Timothy 2:11-12 in the context of the need for women to quietly receive instruction with all submissiveness, to refrain from teaching men, to refrain from exercising authority over them, and to maintain silence in the congregation. According to Strong, hupotasso means: be under obedience... be in subjection to, submit self unto. According to Young, it means: ... put in subjection unto, put under.... It is used in 1 Corinthians 14:34 in the context of the requirement of silence for women in the congregation. It is also used in Ephesians 5:22, Colossians 3:18, Titus 2:5 and 1 Peter 3:1, all in the context of the need for wives to submit to their husbands' leadership in the marriage. The principle of the subjection of women to the men in the local congregation may also be found in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, which deals with the requirement of women, perhaps only married women (Fruchtenbaum, Dr. Arnold G. Messianic Bible Study 106: The Local Church, p. 42), to wear a headcovering in honor of male headship. The passages dealing directly with congregational eldership are consistent with these, and must logically be viewed as relevant to the general requirement of the subjection of the women to the men.
The specific fundamental underlying
theological reasons that are given for the necessity
of the subjection of the woman to the man are these,
which I have listed in a logical order:
How May the Theological Principles Be Applied
All things considered, this writer cannot help but conclude that, in order to preserve the requirement for the subjection of women to men in the church or congregation throughout the Church Age no matter what the culture or circumstance, men must be in the positions of spiritual headship over the women, and no woman may be in spiritual headship over a man. An elder must be the husband of one wife (1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6), a man (1 Timothy 3:5). If a woman is in a missionary situation, leads adult males to the Lord and begins to disciple them, it behooves her to bring them under capable male leadership as soon as possible either in a congregation that has already been formed, or that a properly ordered congregation may be formed.
Wives as Pastors and Women Assistant Pastors
An even stranger form of "logic" may be found today. In many churches, particularly charismatic churches, when a man becomes a pastor, his wife is automatically crowned pastor as well, and functions as one! Not only is she is not a man, but neither is she scrutinized as closely as her husband as to character, background, strategy and capability. Where in the Word is such a practice authorized? This is not treating the Word of God with reverence, but frivolity.
6. An Afterword
IV. "The Scriptures encourage the active participation and regular assembly of believers in the local body"
Hebrews 10:23-25. 23. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering (for He is faithful who promised), 24. and let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works, 25. not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
This passage cautions us to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, and tells us why: that we may provoke one another to love and to good works, and to be exhorting one another. Such interrelationship cannot be carried out in front of a TV, computer or radio or other non-face to face medium no matter how good the service. And though we are to minister the Lord's love, truth and godly counsel to one another in informal fellowship, and though an informal assembly may carry out many of the functions of a properly constituted congregation, it is not such a congregation unless its leaders are ordained by an elder who, himself, has been appointed by a properly ordained elder. Only such an elder has the biblical authority to determine if the group's leaders meet the qualifications for eldership and if the group will, indeed, carry out the functions of a properly constituted congregation.
Functional congregations existed in Crete that did not have ordained elders, and they met no rebuke; yet, Paul told Titus, For this cause I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed you (Titus 1:5). Just as Paul appointed Titus to a position of spiritual oversight (overseer) over Crete, Titus was to appoint elders in functional congregations within the area in which his authority to do so was expected to be recognized. It is true that Titus was given spiritual authority over a given geographical area, and that in most non-missionary locales today such a situation does not exist. Nevertheless, it is reasonable that a congregation that seeks to function with as full authority as possible conferred by God and by man - both are biblical - ought to follow the principle of having its leaders examined by a recognized elder for ordination if they qualify. It is also reasonable that members of an assembly that is not fully constituted also consider being members of one that is, for only such an assembly and its elders have passed the examination of already recognized elders.
It is the formally organized local assembly with properly scrutinized and ordained elders that has been ordained by God as the forum in which believers might exercise their spiritual gifts and coordinate their efforts under spiritually mature oversight, guidance, judgment and discipline to accomplish all the purposes that the local congregation is biblically required to fulfill.
24. and let
us consider one another to provoke to love and to
There is much disagreement concerning the nature and current applicability of the gifts of the Spirit, and much misunderstanding concerning the nature of Spirit filling. In this study, we will substantiate the claims in our Statement and attempt to shed light on the gifts and Spirit filling. Our appeal will be to the Word of God, not guesswork, wishful thinking, personal experience (easily misinterpreted), or the testimony of others (often inaccurate or exaggerated).Certainly, memories of personal experience and testimonies have their place, but doctrine must be determined solely on the basis of the only totally dependable source: the written Word of God.
Our Statement sorts itself out nicely into three main divisions: the gifts of the Spirit, divine healing, and the filling of the Spirit. We'll examine the gifts in this and the next increment of this compendium, and divine healing and Spirit filling in future increments.
Distinguished from Gifts Given to All
3. Distinguished from a
4. Distinguished from an
1 Peter 4:10 tells us that each one has received a gift. The same point is made in Romans 12:4-6 and 1 Corinthians 12:7 and 11. Every member of the body receives at least one gift; and, as we shall see, some receive more than one.
If each one has received a gift, then it is clear that all believers receive at least one gift at the moment of salvation. Also, no passage indicates that a believer may receive a gift subsequent to salvation.
What are we to make of 1 Corinthians 12:31, then? But earnestly desire the greater gifts. Why should believers desire the greater gifts if they cannot receive any more? The answer lies in the fact that Paul was exhorting the church as a unit, not the individual believers in it (1 Corinthians 1:1-2). 1 Corinthians 12:28 names eight gifts in descending order of greatness, naming those gifts first that are most essential for the establishment and health of the body: And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. If the Corinthian church was lacking in ministry from those holding the greater gifts, they were to draw out such ministry from those so gifted among them, or invite such ministry from elsewhere in the body.
Six passages are helpful here:
4. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6: 4. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all [persons].
Note that the three verses are constructed in a parallel manner: varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; varieties of ministries, and the same Lord [Yeshua]; varieties of effects, but the same God [the Father]. Each Person is somehow related to the preceding aspect of the gifts named.
5. 1 Corinthians 12:11: But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
6. Ephesians 4:8: Therefore it says, "When He [Messiah] ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men."
Now, to draw some conclusions:
The Distribution of the Gifts
The Placement of the Gift Holders
To sum up, the Father gives the gifts to Yeshua, who gives them to the Spirit, who distributes them among believers as He sees fit. Yeshua decides where in the body each believer is placed, and the Father operates the gifts through believers and brings about the results.
Romans 11:9 declares, The gifts and the callings of God are without revocation. In context, the declaration applies to the God given gifts and callings of Israel; but as a general principle it applies to all gifts and callings, and includes the spiritual gifts and callings to ministry of all believers. The spiritual gifts are irrevocable.
The most inclusive statement as to the purpose of the gifts is Ephesians 4:11-16: 11. And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12. for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Messiah; 13. until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Messiah. 14. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15. but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Messiah, 16. from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
Two classes of gift holders are mentioned here.
The first is composed of leaders responsible for
the delivery of the Word of God: apostles, prophets, evangelists and
(verse 11). The second includes all gift holders
in the body (the we
of verse 15, and the every
joint and each individual part
of verse 16), which includes those in the first
group and all others. The first is given for the equipping of the saints
for the work of service, that is,
for the training and enablement of all believers
to function in their gifts. The all inclusive
second group is to the
building up of the body of Messiah (verse
12), that we may grow
up in all aspects into Him who is the head
even Messiah (verse 15), to the building up of itself in
love (verse 16).
Some of the same points may be found in 1 Peter 4:10; and 1 Corinthians 14:4,12.
A closer look needs to be taken at the phrase, to the building up of the body of Messiah (Ephesians 4:12). Each one's gift serves not only the local body, but the entire body of Messiah from Pentecost to the Rapture. Which of us today has not benefited from the work of the first century apostles or the great teachers and exhorters of the Reformation? How many have been saved on the foreign mission field because of the generous giving of those at home? Our gifts serve those who have come before, as well, as we help to complete what they have begun or continued to develop. They also serve those who will come after us, just as those who came before us served us.
Also with the entire body in view, Dr. Charles Ryrie points out, "...not every congregation need expect that it will have all of the gifts represented in it.... God knows what each group needs and will see that it is supplied accordingly." Similarly, "... not every generation may necessarily expect to have all the gifts" (Ryrie, Dr. Charles C. Basic Theology, p. 369. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1981). These assertions will be addressed.
"The Gifts of the Spirit" is no minor doctrine. Without the functioning of the gifts one wonders whether a soul would have been saved on the Day of Pentecost or whether there would be a body of believers on earth today. The proper functioning of the gifts is critical to the building up of the body of Messiah (Ephesians 4:12) and to a healthy witness to the unsaved. I have therefore decided to examine each gift in depth, hoping to ascertain a clear understanding of its nature and present availability - and I must say, once again: not on the basis of guesswork, wishful thinking, personal experience (easily misinterpreted), or the testimony of others (often inaccurate or exaggerated), but solely on relevant passages in the Word of God.
1. The Gifts Named in
b. 1 Corinthians 7:1, 7: celibacy (singleness, eunuch for the kingdom of heaven [Matthew 19:12]). Celibacy is not named in these scriptures, but is clearly implied. A secondary implication is singleness as to the marital state.
c. 1 Corinthians 12:7-11: wisdom (word of wisdom), knowledge (word of knowledge), faith, gifts of healings (gift of healing, healing, healings), workings of miracles (miracles, working of miracles, effecting of miracles), prophecy, distinguishing of spirits (discernment of spirits), tongues (speaking in tongues, various kinds of tongues, diversities of tongues, languages, diversities of languages, glossalalia), interpretation of tongues (interpretation of languages).
d. 1 Corinthians 12:28-30: apostleship (apostles), prophecy (prophets), teaching (teachers), miracles, gifts of healings, helps (ministry, serving), leading (administrations), tongues.
e. Ephesians 4:11:
apostleship (apostle), prophecy (prophet),
There are two prevalent errors concerning the
Ephesians 4:11 gifts:
2. The second error is referring to this group
as "the fivefold ministry." This error is the
result of pastor-teacher
being translated pastor and teacher in
many translations, causing readers to perceive
them as separate gifts. Pastor and teacher
should be rendered pastor-teacher,
as will be shown. The group, then,
should be referred to as "the fourfold
Insight Gifts: knowledge, wisdom,
distinguishing of spirits.
In this Shofar, we will examine the insight,
communication and power gifts. In the next, the
leadership, service and enablement gifts, and
the availability of each gift to believers
In 1 Corinthians 12:8, the word translated knowledge in word of knowledge is gnosis. The same word is used in Romans 2:20 and 1 Corinthians 8:1, and refers to objective knowledge of the already extant Word of God. It is also used in 1 Corinthians 13:2, in which it is described as the ability to know mysteries, knowledge revealed for the first time in the B'rith Chadasha, the New Testament. The gift of knowledge, then, is the pronounced motivation and ability to search out and discern the literal meaning of a passage, or related passages, of Scripture. It is the ability to properly understand the truths revealed to the apostles and prophets. Teachers of the Word need this gift.
2) wisdom (1 Corinthians 12:8). In 1 Corinthians 12:8, the word for wisdom in word of wisdom is sophia. 1 Corinthians 2:6-8 and James 1:2-8 use sophia in the context of applied spiritual knowledge. The gift of wisdom, then, is thepronounced ability to understand the proper life application of the literal meaning of a passage or principle of Scripture. The gift may be applied to one's own decisions or as words of encouragement or exhortation for others. Exhorters, those who preach to move others to action, need this gift.
A word of wisdom is often misconstrued as
direct revelation; but biblical wisdom is based
on truth already revealed. Direct revelation is
solely the domain of prophecy.
We can conclude, then, that all prophecy of both Testaments consists of direct revelation from God, and that the prophet was endowed with the ability to declare his prophecy inerrantly (without error) and infallibly (with unfailing accuracy). The New Testament gift of prophecy, then, is the ability to receive direct revelation from God and to declare it inerrantly and infallibly.
The prophetic ministry was essential for the writing of both Testaments, though only a minority of the prophets were used in this way. Of the New Testament writers, at least Peter, Paul and John had the prophetic gift, and twenty of the twenty-seven New Testament books were written by them.
b) the content of prophecy
An Oft Misunderstood Verse
Some say that all who speak for edification and
exhortation and consolation are
Church Age prophets; but the verse does not
define a prophet: it declares purposes of the
gift. Also, the same purposes are met by some
with gifts other than prophecy. For example, the
teacher speaks to edification; the evangelist
exhorts people to believe the Gospel; the
exhorter may also speak for consolation - but
none of these gifts necessitate direct
revelation from God as does prophecy. Of all the
gifts, prophecy alone requires direct revelation
Among those verses that clearly refer to the
gift of exhortation, there are a few cases in
which paraklesis, or its verb form, parakaleo
(to exhort), is used of comfort, consolation
or encouragement, as in 1 Thessalonians
comfort (parakaleo) one another with these
words; but in the overwhelming
majority of cases they are used of persuasive
discourse, as in Romans 12:1: Therefore I urge (parakaleo)
you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to
present your bodies a living and holy
sacrifice. In addition, in 1
Corinthians 14:3, exhortation
is differentiated from consolation:
But one who prophesies
speaks to men for edification and
exhortation (paraklesis) and consolation
(paramuthia). Strong defines paramuthia as consolation,
comfort, which is the result of the gift
of showing mercy
The gift of evangelism consists of a pronounced burden for the lost and the ability to present the Gospel clearly and in such a manner so that many hearers come to Messiah. In Acts 21:8, Philip is named an evangelist. In Acts 8:5-40, he preached the Gospel in the desert and in all the cities between Azotus and Caesarea, to crowds and to individuals, with many conversions. Peter and Paul clearly had this gift (Acts 2:14-42; Acts 14:19-21, etc.).
(1 Corinthians 12:10).
What about 1 Corinthians 13:1: If I speak with the tongues... of angels ? Was Paul indicating that he was capable of speaking in an angelic language? After all, angels in Heaven do speak. Revelation 4:8: And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within [seraphim]; and day and night they do not cease to say, "HOLY, HOLY, HOLY...."
The whole tenor of the 1 Corinthians passage is one of hypothesis (if... if...) and hyperbole, speaking in extremes for emphasis: 2. If I... know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith.... 3. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned.... Consistent with the tenor of the passage, If I speak with the tongues... of angels was simply a hypothetic and hyperbolic way of indicating supreme eloquence. A similar hyperbolic expression is found in Acts 12:22 in which The people kept crying out in reference to Herod's oratorical skills, The voice of a god and not of a man!
The gift of speaking in tongues, then, is the God-given ability to speak in an earthly language unknown to the speaker.
Other points to note:
The gift of interpretation of tongues, then, is the God-given ability to interpret a tongue that the interpreter would not understand by natural means. Also, as the two verses show, the interpreter may be the speaker himself, or another.
purposes of tongues and interpretation
If that's the case, then why does God even
bother with the gift? Why doesn't He simply
stick to the plain-speaking gifts? Tongues and
interpretation were used for evangelism (Acts 2)
and the profit and edification of the
congregation (1 Corinthians 14:4,6,17,26), but
so were the plain-speaking gifts. Were there
uses of tongues and interpretation that the
plain-speaking gifts did not have? The answer is
Unique Functions Summarized:
The gifts of healings is the ability to act as an agent of extraordinary works of power in the realm of divine physical healing. "The word healings is plural because there are various classes of sicknesses," and "gifts is also plural.... In the Greek, plural often emphasizes repeated action. The statement gifts of healings shows that whereas with the other gifts, once one had them, it stayed with him and could be used at any time, in the case of the gifts of healings.... it is a gift that comes and goes" (Fruchtenbaum, Dr. Arnold G. Messianic Bible Study 071: The Gifts of the Holy Spirit, p.14. San Antonio: Ariel Ministries Press).
To sum up Dr. Fruchtenbaum's statements: There are various categories of miracles and healings, and neither gift is operative at all times through the gift holder.
Paul used gifts of healings in many an instant, but at other times he could not. Certainly he would have healed his ministry associates of their ailments; yet he wrote, Trophimus I left sick at Miletus (2 Timothy 4:20).
Some workings of miracles were not healings. Some examples are: Paul's calling down blindness on Elymas the sorcerer (Acts 13:11); Peter's judging of Ananias and Sapphira with death (Acts 5:9-11); Paul's casting a spirit of divination out of a slave-girl (Acts 16:16-19).
Dr. Paul Enns notes, "An examination of New Testament healings by Christ and the apostles is noteworthy. These healings were: instantaneous (Mark 1:42); complete (Matthew 14:36); permanent (Matthew 14:36); ... unconditional (including unbelievers who exercised no faith and did not even know who Jesus was [John 9:25 (also Acts 3:1-7; 9:32-34 and 35-42; 20:9-12; 28:8 - N.M.)]); ... subordinate (secondary to preaching the Word of God [Luke 5:15, 16]); significant (intended to confirm Him and the apostles as the messengers of God and their message as a word from God [John 3:2; Acts 2:22; Hebrews 2:3, 4] (also Acts 5:5-11; 13:8-11 - N.M.); successful (except in the one case where the disciples' lack of faith was the cause of failure [Matthew 17:20]); and inclusive (the supreme demonstration of this gift was in raising the dead [Mark 5:39-43; Luke 7:14; John 11:44; Acts 9:40])" (Moody Handbook of Theology, p. 272. See endnotes).
do exorcisms fit in?
It must be noted that, just as one without the
gift of evangelism can lead people to Messiah,
so God may heal a person in answer to the
prayers of a believer without gifts of healings
(or work a non-healing miracle in answer to the
prayers of one without the gifts of miracles);
but just as the evangelist is far more effective
in evangelism than others, so is the one with
gifts of healings far more effective in seeing
people healed than others. Also, it is probable
that the healings of all those with the gifts of
healings will show the same characteristics that
those of Yeshua and the apostles did (as noted
by Enns, above), whereas the healings effected
through the prayers of those without gifts of
healings may not show all of the above
characteristics; for example, healings that are
speeded up, but not instantaneous.
The spiritual gift of leading, then, is the God-given ability to lead a group within the congregation, or the entire congregation. It is the ability to see the big picture, to establish priorities, to make wise decisions, to organize people, to give clear and authoritative direction, and to inspire confidence in those being led. The gift of leading is foundational and essential to all in positions of group leadership, whether those positions have to do with pastoring, works of mercy, maintaining the physical plant, or some other form of ministry.
2) pastor-teacher (Ephesians 4:11). Ephesians 4:11 reads, And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers.
Let us note three things:
There are those with the gift of teaching who do not have the gift of pastoring; but there are those with the gift of pastoring-teaching, and the gift of teaching is part of the package. There is no pastoring gift without the accompaning teaching gift. If a person does not have the teaching gift, then they do not have the pastoring gift either. Paul considered it crucial that pastor Timothy faithfully and consistently teach the Word (1 Timothy 1:3, 5; 4:11; 6:2, 17). One of the reasons the Western church is filled with immature, worldly believers is because of the abundance of pastors who do not have the gift of teaching.
We've examined the gift of teaching; but
what is involved in the gift of pastoring?
The pastoring gift is a leadership gift, and must, of necessity, include the gift of leading, as well.
To sum up, one with the teaching gift need not have the gift of pastoring and leading, but one with the pastoring gift must, of necessity, possess the gifts of teaching and leading, as well.
One more thing: As with all the gifts, pastoring-teaching is a gift, and its possessor may or may not hold a congregational office. Those with the gift may function in their gift without being the pastor of a congregation. Whether men or women, they may serve as youth leaders, home group leaders, principals of Christian schools, and the like. In these capacities they may lead, teach, and fulfill the roles of a shepherd.
apostleship (1 Corinthians 12:28;
Ephesians 4:11). There were two circles of
apostles, and members of each needed to meet
The other two qualifications are brought out by Peter in regards to the man needed to replace Judas: 21. Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us - 22. beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us - one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection (Acts 1:21-22).
The qualifications brought out
The eleven apostles remaining of Yeshua's pre-Pentecost group had met all three qualifications (Luke 6:13; Acts 1:1-4, 9). Matthias, the replacement apostle for Judas, likewise met the two qualifications of Acts 1:21-22, and was also chosen by God through the drawing of lots (Acts 1:23-26. Cf. Proverbs 16:33).
the "outer circle" of apostles
The Purpose of Apostleship
The gift of apostleship can be summarized thusly: The gift of apostleship required one to have been chosen by God and to have seen the resurrected Lord with their natural eyes for the purpose of founding the universal church and serving as its first chief leaders. Apparently, unlike all other gifts, all with the gift of apostleship sooner or later served in the office of apostle.
Special Apostolic Endowments
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says that that the word is "from root meaning 'to run on errands,' and so attendance, aid as a servant, ministry, relief, and hence, service."
definitions of helps
From Dr. Paul Enns in The Moody Handbook of Theology, p. 275-276: