THE TWO GATES
Both the wide gate and the narrow gate represent Jesus and salvation.
Salvation is comprised of two parts: justification and sanctification. Jesus described this spiritual reality in His analogy by using two gates. The wide gate signifies justification. The narrow gate signifies sanctification.
Justification is forgiveness of one’s sins via the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Sanctification is separation from slavery to sin via the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom. 8:13) plus faith alone in the dwelling of Jesus in one’s mortal flesh (cf. Acts 26:18; 2 Cor. 4:11, 13:5 using the author’s translation: “Test yourselves if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?”).
The Present and The Future
Not all those who are justified are sanctified.
The wide gate is Jesus and leads to justification. Many, but not all, enter by this gate. Those not entering are unbelievers who are doomed to the lake of fire, aka hell (cf. Rev. 20:15).
The narrow gate is also Jesus and leads to sanctification by faith. Few believers enter this gate (cf. Matt. 22:14). Those who do enter will receive rewards in heaven (cf. 2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 11:18).
Humankind can be divided into five sections. The five sections are:
- Humankind’s spiritual state;
- God’s salvation;
- God’s covenants;
- Humankind’s future; and
- God’s scriptures.
The following study will briefly highlight each section from God’s scriptures.
Humankind’s Spiritual State
When Adam and Eve ate God’s forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they ingested an ingredient of the fruit known biblically as sin (Gen. 2:16-17). Sin was likely Satan’s design. As an integral ingredient of the forbidden fruit, sin attached itself to the human genome, permanently and irreversibly modifying it. Sin had an agenda all its own—it eradicated humankind’s freewill and consistently manipulated one’s feelings/emotions.
After eating from the forbidden fruit, the human genome contained sin with one exception. The exception was the seed of the woman which, throughout all ages, was not infected with sin.
Sin caused spiritual and physical death. Spiritual death was humankind’s separation from fellowship with God. Physical death was separation of humankind’s physical bodies from their own spirits.
Mary’s seed was fertilized via the Holy Spirit thereby producing the male child Jesus without sin in His body (Matt. 1:18-21). Some three decades later, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus’ body was infested by sin (Luke 22:41-44; cf. Heb. 12:4).
However, sin was never able to cause Jesus to commit any act of sin (1 Pet. 2:22).
The apostle Paul summarized the above: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so it (sin) spread to all men, on the basis of which all sinned” (Rom. 5:12, author’s translation).
Sin caused each individual of humankind to commit an act of sin which was absolutely abhorrent to God thereby resulting in spiritual separation from God. Acts of sin probably began around the teenage years (Deut. 1:39).
By the way, biblically, miscarriages have names (cf. Eccl. 6:34) likely given by God because ancient Jews did not normally consider a miscarriage to be a person eligible to be named. The biblical reality: present-day abortionists are actually killing humans.
Ultimately, sin also resulted in separation of mankind’s spirit from mankind’s physical body. The timing of this event (aka physical death) changed—and continues to change—in different generations.
For example, Abraham’s lifespan was 175 years (Gen. 25:7). Before Abraham, Noah lived an astounding 950 years (Gen. 7:6 plus Gen. 9:28). Later, Moses suggested humankind’s lifespan had become somewhere between 70 and 80 years (Psa. 90:10). And during the Messianic kingdom, a youth will die at the age of one hundred (Isa. 65:20). The variations in life expediencies are likely determined by God’s control over sin.
The apostle Paul summarized God’s salvation sequence as it related to the church (Rom. 8:29-30). For humankind, salvation is initiated by God’s call. The one item which Paul did not mention in his summary was sanctification. However, Jesus had included this item when He confronted Saul (Paul) on Saul’s journey to Damascus (Acts 26:17-18).
God’s salvation is totally and completely unilateral and autonomous, quite independent of all humankind. This is evident from God’s actions with Adam and Eve following their own disastrous and fatal attempts to deal with their own sin via fig leaf coverings (Gen. 3:7). God assumed the roles of hunter, butcher, tanner, tailor, and valet to resolve the couple’s problem with sin (Gen. 3:21).
The specifics of salvation were declared by God and recorded by the prophet Ezekiel (Ezek. 36:25-27). God first cleanses one from all acts of sin, removes humankind’s hearts infected by sin, replaces the infected hearts with new and uninfected hearts, gives humankind new human spirits, and causes the Holy Spirit to inhabit one’s body. Jesus referred to this transformation of humankind as being “born again” (John 3:3, 5). The hearts referred to are not the physical organs that pump blood, but rather the spiritual organs that provide belief (cf. Rom. 10:10).
It is vital to recognize that God causes those sanctified by faith—via the Holy Spirt—to manifest Jesus’ life in the believer’s mortal body (2 Cor. 4:11; cf. Ezek. 36:27). The Spirit does not enable or empower the believer himself/herself to walk in God’s statutes, and to carefully observe His ordinances.
Biblically, the two components of earthly salvation for humankind are justification (forgiveness of sins) and sanctification (freedom from slavery to sin).
This part of salvation has to do with items in humankind’s natural or physical bodies. Future glorification relates to the part of salvation when heavenly bodies are dispensed by God (1 Cor. 15:44).
Over the ages, God established various and different covenants with humankind.
The terminal, most comprehensive, efficacious, and long-lasting covenant is known as the New Covenant (Luke 22:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-25).
God made the New Covenant generously simple. To wit: God provides both forgiveness of sins and freedom from slavery to sin, each of which is appropriated by humankind’s faith alone in God’s covenant promises to do so.
The theological term for humankind’s future is the word eschatology. Two groups of people, each with different futures, are the church and the citizens of nation Israel. The church will be removed from the earth (1 Thess. 4:13-17). Israel will then receive the administration of the kingdom of God following the church’s removal from earth (cf. Acts 1:60).
Humankind’s final future is either heaven or hell and is the exclusive choice of God—having nothing whatsoever to do with humankind’s own earthly performance. In heaven there will be rewards for those who have lived by faith alone in God’s promises (Acts 26:18; 1 Cor. 3:14-15; Col. 3:24-25). Those rewards are likely referred to sometimes as an inheritance.
Hell is referred to in the Bible as “the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:14-15). Residence in hell is also referred to as “the second death.” Death is separation from God—the first death takes place when humankind sins, and the second death takes place in hell when separation from God becomes eternal or timeless.
Dispensationalism is a theological interpretative approach to Bible study. Simply put, dispensationalism recognizes that the contents of God’s scriptures are separated by God Himself into administrative and historical segments without any indication whatsoever in the written record of such segments by the respective humankind authors.
The teacher of the scriptures may very well be the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:27). This reality can remove the intimidation of humankind by the ‘Bible experts’ who infer they are the only source of accurate Bible translations and interpretations.
When the apostle John wrote these words about the teaching ministry of the Spirit, the New Testament did not even exist in written form. God had taken the initiative that humankind would be exposed to the truth quite apart from access to the experts using recorded documents.
For an example of dispensationalism, the Gospel of Matthew has at least three segments featuring Jewish information from the past, the present (i.e., at the time of Matthew’s writing), and the future as well as Gentile information from the past, present, and future. The segments are not identified specifically: humankind’s identification of those segments cannot take place without acknowledging, recognizing, and applying, dispensationalism.
Both the Old and New Testaments contain such separations. As a consequence, failure to recognize those separations by contemporary church preachers, teachers, authors, and seminary professors causes erroneous application of some Old Testament revelations—intended originally for Jews only—to their present-day congregants of the church.
As an example, in Jesus’ Olivet Discourse to four of His disciples, Jesus taught about past, present, and future events for Jews, and also for Gentiles as well, without specifically making distinction between Jews, Gentiles, and the precise time of the generations involved (Matt. 24:1-25:26). And multitudes of generations have passed uneventfully since Jesus’ generation.
For much of the time in Christianity, dispensationalism per say is both ignored and berated.
All humankind is irreversibly destined for hell unless God’s salvation alone saves those whom He calls.
Dispensationalism is a theological approach to Bible study. Simply put, dispensationalism recognizes that the contents of scripture are separated into historical segments without any indication by the author of such segments.
For example, the Gospel of Matthew has at least three segments featuring Jewish information from the past, the present (i.e., at the time of Matthew’s writing), and the future as well as Gentile information from the past, present, and future. Identifying the segments cannot happen without acknowledging, recognizing, and applying dispensationalism.
Both the Old and New Testaments contain such separations. As a consequence, failure to recognize these separations by contemporary church preachers, teachers, and seminary professors causes erroneous application of some Old Testament contents—intended originally for Jews only—to their present-day congregants.
As an example, in Jesus’ Olivet Discourse to four of His disciples, Jesus taught about past, present and future events for Jews and for Gentiles as well (Matt. 24:1-25:26).
For much of the time in Christianity, dispensationalism per say is both ignored and berated.
ANOTHER EXAMPLE: THE GREAT COMMISSION
Jesus’ ‘Great Commission’ in Matt. 28:16-20 is interpreted exclusively by Christians as pertaining to the church. However, for the twelve reasons below, Jesus’ commands to His disciples relate exclusively to the generation of Jews living in the land of Israel at the beginning of events leading up to Jesus’ Second Coming. At this point in time, the church no longer is on the earth.
- A mountain is symbolic for a kingdom and not the church.
- The church had not yet been formed when Jesus commanded this group of disciples.
- Everything in the church is done in Jesus’ name and not in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Col. 3:17).
- Jesus is in church believers, not with church believers (Col. 1:27).
- Jesus is not with church believers even to the end of the age (1 Thess. 4:13-17).
- The end of the age is likely Jesus’ Second Coming.
- The disciples going into all the nations are likely all Jews who have been promised protection from death (12 thousand from each tribe for a total of 144,000; Rev. 7:4-8).
- The Jews going into all nations will preach to both Jews and gentiles. The believing Jews will migrate to the land of Israel as part of God’s second recovery of His people (Isa. 12:11) and will become part of the kingdom God restores to Israel. The believing gentiles will populate all the nations apart from Israel.
- The doubtful disciples on the mountain in Galilee likely didn’t believe the testimony of the three disciples who had been present at Jesus’ transfiguration.
- From the local church at Antioch, Saul and Barnabas were the only members sent to make disciples (Acts 13:1-5): John Mark tagged along as a helper). The entire membership was not sent by the Spirit.
- Evangelists were a small part of the church—the entire church was never commanded to be evangelists and make disciples (Eph. 4:11).
- No biblical evidence exists reporting that an entire local church departed their location and premises for another nation or nations to make disciples.
JESUS’ COMPARISON OF THE TEN VIRGINS
In the gospels, only Matthew recorded Jesus’ comparison of events in the kingdom of God on earth with the behavior of ten virgins (Matt. 25:1-13). What is particularly noteworthy in the comparison was that the bridegroom’s meeting with the virgins was delayed until after midnight. The following essay will interpret the comparison as it relates to the Jewish marriage custom.
The Jewish Marriage Custom
The Jewish marriage custom is comprised of four stages (Fruchtenbaum, Arnold G. The Footsteps of the Messiah, rev. ed. Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2004, 587). The stages are:
- the arrangement for the bride-to-be made by the bridegroom’s father with her family;
- the bridegroom’s fetching of his bride;
- the marriage ceremony; and,
- the marriage supper or feast.
Identity of the Bridegroom and the Bride in the Comparison
The bridegroom is Jesus Christ Himself (cf. John 3:22-29). The bride is Jesus’ church which began in AD 33 at the feast of Pentecost in Jerusalem by the gift to Jesus’ disciples of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-8).
The Ten Virgins
| The ten virgins of Jesus’ comparison likely represented young Jewish women who lived during Daniel’s 70th week—sometimes known as the tribulation (cf. Dan. 9:27 for the 70th week). As virgins, they had been living on earth under the New Covenant (cf. Ezek. 36:22-27 for the New Covenant’s features including sanctification by the indwelling Holy Spirit).
Their virginity was highlighted because their earthly lives had remained spiritually undefiled by a Jewish generation living life under the obsolete covenant, aka the Old Covenant (cf. Jas. 1:27 for undefiled and Heb. 8:15 for obsolete).
The virgins had joined the ranks of glorified humans; however, they had not become members of Jesus’ bride, the church. Jesus’ bride—comprised of His people from AD 33 up to (and including) the rapture—was a completed entity in heaven preceding the virgins’ activity during Daniel’s 70th week.
The virgins’ role was to be attendants to the bride during the bride’s marriage ceremony eventually to be followed by Jesus’ marriage supper/feast on earth.
The virgins had oil-filled lamps. The oil in Jesus’ comparison may have symbolized the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in the virgins’ lives as the source of spiritual power, light, and sanctification (Unger, Merrill, F. Unger’s Bible Dictionary, 3rd ed. Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1966, 805-806).
Insufficient oil suggests a quenching of the Spirit resulting in what might be termed ‘works sanctification’ rather than sanctification by faith in Jesus and the subsequent loss of an inheritance (Acts 26:18; 1 Thess. 5:19). Evidently, five of the virgins had become indifferent, apathetic, and lukewarm to Jesus’ spiritual presence in their lives resulting in a separation of their fellowship with Him (cf. Rev. 3:14-16 wherein the lukewarm local Laodicean church during the apostle John’s ministry is a type for a Jewish dominated mixed-gender congregation during Daniel’s 70th week).
The Bridegroom’s Delay
The virgins had been awaiting Jesus’ arrival which would result in His escorting them to the marriage ceremony. However, Jesus delayed His arrival until midnight (Matt. 25:5-6).
Absent street lights, the virgins had equipped themselves with oil-fueled lamps so they could see their way to the marriage ceremony at night.
Please note: the delay in Jesus’ marriage ceremony will cause subsequent delays in His second coming, God’s second recovery to the land of Diaspora Jews from the nations (cf. Isa. 11:11; Matt. 24:31), and God’s earthly marriage feast given for His Son. The delay could be caused by a delay in the rapture of the church due to deeds requiring completion by leaders in local (perhaps messianic) congregations (cf. Rev. 3:2-3). Or, the rapture’s delay might be due to about-to-occur conversions and/or additional growth in spiritual maturity.
Jesus’ delay resulted in five of the virgins running out of oil for their lamps because they had foolishly neglected to carry additional oil supplies in flasks.
Also, the obvious implication from this episode is that the virgins had no idea at what precise hour, or even which day, Jesus would arrive during those two contiguous days.
Alas, five of the bride’s chosen (and saved) attendants failed to make the marriage ceremony because of their foolish belief of not practicing sanctification by faith in Jesus (cf. Wilkin, Bob. The Ten Virgins. Grace in Focus. Denton: Texas, January/February 2017, 5). They never lost their salvations from sins (aka justification), but they likely suffered distress and embarrassment from their works (cf. Rom. 2:9 and 1 Cor. 3:10-15 for some believers suffering heavenly distress).
A similar situation was described parabolically by Jesus in Matthew 22:1-14. The situation related to Jesus’ marriage supper on earth (aka Jesus’ marriage feast) and the invited believing guests. One guest was promptly dismissed from the feast to the darkness outside the wedding hall because of his inappropriate attire. In distress, he subsequently suffered weeping with gnashing of teeth in pain or regretful anger due to his loss of an inheritance.
The idea behind the Handbook was to compress the major points of scripture into single or short sentences without any biblical citations. So many writings about theological topics are complex and take hours to read and understand.
Death: means separation, not annihilation. Five kinds of death are: physical (separation of the human spirit from the human body); spiritual (separation of one’s spirit from God); relational (separation of fellowship with God); second or eternal (separation into hell); and due to a sin (separation in the believer from Jesus’ life during New Covenant living).
Elders: church elders are married men with children.
Faith: belief plus action on that belief. Imagine a major airport with car-parking facilities as big as several foot-ball fields. At strategic points, the parking lots have open-faced shelters with a bench along the rear wall. Each shelter features a sign reading, “Bus Departs For Airport.”
A traveler asks someone in the shelter, “Does the bus go to the airport?” The answer, “Yes, every few minutes.” A bus arrives, and on its marquis a sign says “AIRPORT.” The doors open, and the bus driver announces, “This bus goes to the airport.”
The bus departs, and our friend remains on the bench in the shelter saying, “I believe that bus goes to the airport.” However, for our friend to actually get to the airport, action would have had to take place.
The combination of the traveler’s belief and the action of getting on the bus headed to the airport is an example of faith by the traveler.
The human ability to believe and act upon God’s salvation promises comes from God alone.
Gospel: the human proclamation of God’s salvation.
Heart: the ‘organ of belief’ (the heart not being the physical organ).
Hell: the eternal destination for unbelievers.
Holy Spirit: does not empower or enable a believer’s actions. The Spirit causes Jesus’ life to be
manifested in and through the believer.
Jesus: As His disciples saw the Father when they saw Jesus, so believers see Jesus when they see a believer living according to the New Covenant.
Justification: God’s forgiveness of one’s sins. This begins at the teenage years.
Life: physically it begins at conception.
Love: using one’s resources to meet another believer’s needs—not an emotion, and not including unbelievers needs.
Man: created a decision maker.
Missions: Spirit commanded travel to geographic locations for presenting the gospel to the inhabitants—not a general command for all church members.
New Covenant: God provides removal of one’s old heart (not the physical one), a new heart, a new spirit, and the presence of the Spirit in one’s mortal body. This sequence for a human is also known as being “born again.” The New Covenant contains God’s guidance and directions to the church for living in this age.
Priests: all church believers are priests and belong to God.
Races: the three races have different roles.
Rewards: given believers by God at judgment of believers who have lived by faith.
Salvation: God’s forgiveness of sins and His provision of freedom from slavery to sin for believers. Humans have no role of works whatsoever in obtaining salvation.
Sanctification: freedom from slavery to sin in the believer by the Spirit.
Satan: exists and is active.
Sin: a biological substance carried in all the seeds of every male. Sin has programed in its composition a set of sin-producing instructions that control the behavior of every human. Sin is evil.
Sins: human actions that always and immediately alienate God causing His spiritual separation from the human.
Societal (non biblical) myths: free will, evolution, women’s rights, human life begins at delivery, abortion is acceptable, and global warming.
Woman: created an activist.
Years ago, a local church pastor pointed out a passage from Romans 8:29-30 wherein it is revealed that those foreknown by God are ultimately and irreversibly destined for heaven. The passage’s sequence: those foreknown are predestined, called, justified, and glorified (i.e., in heaven).
At another local church, a group of people kept a prayer book containing the names of unbelievers for which the group prayed consistently that God would save those listed in the book.
Combining the Roman’s passage with the group’s prayers, it became logically apparent that people
could be praying against God’s will. If the group prayed for an unbeliever who was not foreknown by God, then ipso facto that prayer was contrary to God’s foreknowledge and will.
One solution to this enigma is to pray, “God, if such-and-such an unbeliever is on Your to-be-called list, then please exercise Your call sooner rather than later.”
Such a prayer respects God’s sovereignty and unilateralism.
Does this mean God never changes His mind? God did change His mind with Moses (Exod. 32:14). But God never changed His mind about His salvation of His foreknown people.
MOSES’ FADING FACE
An enigma exists: how did the Apostle Paul know that Moses’ shinning face faded (2 Cor. 3:7) since it seems that Moses kept his shinning face veiled for much of the time (Exod. 34:33)?
And what is the theological significance of Moses’ fading face?
This essay will present possible answers for both questions from the scriptures. Please note: all scripture citations are from the New American Standard Bible, Anaheim, CA: Foundation Publications, 1995.
Moses’ Shinning Face
For the second time, Moses spent forty days and forty nights atop Mount Sinai with God. God transcribed His commandments on two stone tablets which He had commanded Moses to bring with him to the top of the mountain. Thus, God’s Ten Commandments were recorded again.
Unknown to Moses, this event resulted in his face shinning (Exod. 34:29). Upon returning to the foot of the mountain, the sons of Israel headed to greet Moses but stopped short from fear when they saw his shinning face (Exod. 34:30).
When their fears finally abated, the sons of Israel eventually approached Moses in spite of his shinning face
Probably to assuage the fears of others who might come into contact with him, Moses covered his shining face with a veil after delivering God’s instructions to the sons of Israel.
The Fading Face
The question arises, “How did Moses discover his face was fading since he kept it covered with a veil?” The answer may come from the point in time when Moses removed his veil, went into the tabernacle, and spoke (sans veil) with the Lord (Ezek. 34:34-35).
The scriptures mention “. . . mirrors (emphasis mine) of the serving women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting” (Ezek. 38:8). Some uncertainty exists about the precise meaning and interpretation of the “mirrors” phrase. However, what is certain is that the mirrors had reflective properties, and that Moses would certainly have exposure to the doorway leading to the tent of meeting.
As Moses approached the tent of meeting (or, tabernacle), he would remove the veil from his face and likely catch sight of his face reflected in the mirrors—a reflection which alerted him that his face was fading. This alert need happen only once or twice for Moses to realize that the shining of his face would fade.
Upon talking with the Lord in the tent of meeting, Moses’ face would shine.
The “fading face” reality likely became a tradition transmitted by the sons of Israel to each generation, eventually reaching the ears of the Apostle Paul.
The Theological Significance of Moses’ Fading Face
The early chapters of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians are a dramatic contrast between God’s old covenant and His new covenant. Paul used Moses’ experience of receiving a shining face and its temporary nature as an illustration of the old covenant and its inferiority to the new covenant.
Theologically, Moses’ fading face illustrated the temporary nature of the old covenant. It also illustrated the external nature of the old covenant.
The new covenant is both internal physically and permanent.
An aside: Paul used the stone tablets from Mt. Sinai and the Spirit’s ministry upon human hearts to illustrate that the new covenant was indeed internal (2 Cor. 3:32-6).
God had revealed to Ezekiel the internal nature of the new covenant:
26“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put n new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27”I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.
Furthermore, God had revealed to Jeremiah the permanency of the new covenant.
31“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, (i.e., temporary) although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. 33”But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it (i.e., permanent, or “everlasting,” per Jer. 32:40) and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
The old covenant which God gave to the sons of Israel was both external and temporary as .pictured by Moses’ fading face.
The new covenant is God’s gift to the church—a covenant which is both internal and permanent. Over the years however, life under the new covenant for the church has sometimes become contaminated with bits and pieces of the external and temporary old covenant (e.g., the consecrated priesthood of the Roman church whereas all church saints are priests).
Envisioning the Trinity is sometimes made easier if one pictures the specific management organization of a large commercial company:
- God the Father would be the equivalent of the Chairman of the Board;
- God the Son would be the equivalent of the Chief Operating Officer; and
- God the Holy Spirit would be the equivalent of the labor force.
God the Father makes all the decisions. He is the exclusive decision maker. God the Son formulates the appropriate and perfect plans for carrying out the Father’s precise decisions. And God the Holy Spirit is the labor force (non-union) who actually does perfect works according to the Son’s plans.
Sometimes sin and/or Satan propose their own anti-God plans.
Please note: one would hardly expect any Chairman of the Board himself to install a sheet-rocking plan laid out by the Chief Operating Officer. So, the respective roles of the Trinity are exclusively each’s own—decisions by the Father, plans by the Son, and executions by the Spirit.
The Trinity functions as a unit.
We learn from the scriptures that: “. . . God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made (literally, had created to make),” (Gen. 2:3, NASB, 1995). The literal phrase “to make” suggests other members of the Trinity do the planning and the execution of the work.
By application of the above, a believer enters God’s rest by ceasing from making his own decisions, plans, and works (cf. Heb. 4:10-11 for entering God’s rest, NASB, 1995).
God revealed His yet-to-be-enacted decision for the Jewish nation to His prophet Ezekiel (Ezek. 36:25-27, NASB, 1995). Enactment for the nation will involve both the Son and the Spirit.
In the Bible, God’s decision for the church was quite similar to His decision for nation Israel. He entitled His decision the new covenant. The essence of the new covenant is that the Trinity does everything spiritual for the believer—including making an unbeliever a believer.
While on earth, Jesus announced to His disciples the new covenant’s inauguration for the church (cf. Luke 22:20, NASB, 1995).
The kingdom of God for the Jewish nation and the church are two distinct entities separated by generations.
In God’s rest, does all activity by a believer cease? NO! Jesus, dwelling spiritually in the believer, carries out God’s decisions by the power of the Holy Spirit. The believer ‘accomplishes’ his/her rest by faith—i.e., by believing God’s decisions of the new covenant for the church and choosing to live his/her life simply by knowing and believing God’s decisions.
At the last Passover celebration in Jesus’ ministry, Philip asked Jesus if he might be honored the privilege of seeing God. This essay is a biblical adaptation of the Apostle John’s written record which highlights Jesus’ response to Philip’s request.
NASB 8Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
The adaptation: “The one who has seen a believer living by the new covenant has seen Jesus.”
Jesus’ Response to Philip
One might notice that Jesus’ response to Philip was not, “He who is seeing Me is seeing the Father.” Rather, the suggestion was that Philip had seen Jesus manifesting the Father on several occasions but not continuously. One of those occasions was likely when Jesus fed five thousand from five loaves and two fish.
Obviously, this meant that Jesus’ behavior did not manifest the Father for every single moment of His life on earth, e.g., when He was asleep in a boat covered with waves on the sea.
Please note: the adaptation does not apply for ‘just-saved’ believers, or for believers who are under the control of sin or Satan.
The New Covenant
A vital part of the adaptation is that the new covenant be in full force during the present age. The following biblical evidence is provided to substantiate that the new covenant is, in fact, Jesus’ revelation for the believer’s present life.
NASB 19And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 20And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.
NASB 23For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
Origins of the New Covenant
The features of the new covenant date back to God’s promises to the Jewish prophet Ezekiel.
NASB 26“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put n new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27”I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.
Although promised to the Jews, one can discover those promises as active among gentiles in the present age.
NASB 14For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, 15in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,
Jesus Christ Lives Spiritually in Today’s Believers
The present reality is to establish biblically that Jesus Christ lives spiritually in believers.
NASB 27to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
What is at work for gentile believers is also at work for Jewish believers as well. The glory is likely the rewards dispensed at the judgment seat of Christ.
On Seeing Jesus
Jesus Christ, living in believers, can be observed by others.
NASB 12Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.
2 Cor. 4:10-11
NASB 10always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
Jesus Christ, living in believers, can be observed by others. Since all believers will appear before the judgment seat of Christ, sanctification is the precursor to seeing Jesus on earth. Please note: the observations one may see include physically casting out demons. Spiritually speaking, one may observe an unbeliever being born again. Spiritual gifts have likely ceased.
The New Covenant and Bible Study
Some believers are able and motivated to consistently study the scriptures. Others rarely open a Bible for several reasons. It is encouraging that God has made it possible that all believers are taught the new covenant by the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit, i.e., with or without study of the Bible.
1 John 2:27
NASB 27As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.
For Certain Persons living under the new covenant, it is a legitimate and accurate statement that, “The one who has seen a believer living by the new covenant has seen Jesus.”
In 2 Pet. 1:10, the same Greek word (???????) has been translated into recent English-Bible editions as “election” (e.g., ESV, 2001 edition) or “choosing” (e.g., NASB, 1995 edition). Both the ESV and NASB translations are ‘word-for-word’ translations rather than ‘thought-for-thought’ translations. ‘Thought-for-thought’ translations mean that the translators concoct the thought content of the original human authors as they wrote the material which has become the New Testament.
The popular NIV, 1978 edition is a combination of ‘thought-for-thought’ and ‘word-for-word’ translations.
In our current culture, the word “election” implies an individual has been selected by a majority vote, whereas “choosing” implies selection by another single individual.
Either way, the elected or chosen individual is not self-appointed.
Spiritually speaking, it is God Himself who does the “election”/“choosing.”
In 2 Pet. 1:10, the word preceding “election” (ESV) or “choosing” (NASB) is the word “calling.” In Peter’s sentence, “calling” is connected to the words “election” (ESV) or “choosing” (NASB) by the simple conjunction “and.”
Please note: God alone is the One who does the calling which is sequentially preceded firstly by God’s foreknowledge, and secondly by His predestination (cf. Rom. 8:29). Foreknowledge and predestination likely occurred before God’s physical creation.
Furthermore, in Rom. 8:30, Paul made it clear—in his uninterrupted sequence of God’s salvation—that those called will be both justified and glorified (i.e., destined for heaven). But, in Paul’s sequence, elect/chosen believers are never mentioned! This strongly suggests that being elect/chosen is not something that takes place spiritually for all believers.
To express this in another way, all believers are called—and will end up in heaven—but not all believers are both called and elect/chosen.
This spiritual reality of all believers not being elect/chosen is recognized only by those believers who are both called and elect/chosen.
2 Peter 1:10
ESV “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.”
NASB “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;”
NIV “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble,”
NASB 29“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become (italicized words added by translators) conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30and these whom He predestined, He also called, and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”
keep looking »