WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY? INTRODUCTION, IT’S ABOUT SIN.
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
I’ve been asked to write an introduction to this series of studies on “What Does The Bible Say” to explain why people need to be saved in the first place. I’ve been told this would be a good evangelism tool for use with those who may not understand this critical requirement, such as curious unbelievers or children who have become intellectually mature enough to comprehend it and are now accountable for their lives.
To do this right we must begin at the beginning, and that means the book of Genesis. When God created mankind as the crowning achievement of His creation, He used His own image as the model (Genesis 1:27). And when He was finished He looked at everything He had made and saw that it was very good (Genesis 1:31), so He rested from all His work (Genesis 2:2).
The Creation was perfect. As far as the eye could see, it was a beautiful garden with all kinds of plants and trees, bodies of water teeming with fish, birds flying through the air, and many varieties of animals roaming around. At the head of it all God placed the man and woman He had created and told them to rule over His creation and to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28).
Everything in the creation cooperated to accomplish God’s will. From Genesis 1:29-30 we learn that Adam and Eve and all the animals were vegetarian. There were many kinds of trees and plants from which they could pick what ever kind of food they wanted whenever they wanted it. There was peace among all the animals, peace between the animals and mankind, and peace between all of them and their Creator. In fact, peace was the most prominent characteristic of their existence. The only rule God gave Adam was to not eat the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden. He said if they ate it they would die (Genesis 2:16-17).
In reading the Creation story it can sound like Adam and Eve immediately broke their only rule and were expelled from the Garden as a consequence. But it wasn’t necessarily that way. We have no way of knowing how much time passed, but we do know that eventually they did break the rule and when they did everything changed. By the way, a case can be made that Eve was deceived. But God had made both the rule and the consequences for breaking it clear, and that’s why He held Adam and Eve responsible. Mankind’s first mistake was to believe something other than God’s word. Sadly, that mistake has been repeated endlessly throughout history.
The Consequences Of Sin
One definition of sin is to break God’s rules. Adam and Eve only had one rule, but when they broke it, sin came into the creation. When it did death followed, just like God said it would. They didn’t die immediately, but they did die eventually. From this we can tell that Adam and Eve were originally immortal. If they were mortal God’s warning that eating the forbidden fruit would cause their deaths would have had no meaning unless they died immediately. Therefore one consequence of their sin was that having been immortal, they became mortal and were subject to death.
Another consequence of their sin was that a hereditary change was introduced into humanity. Henceforth everyone would be born with a built in flaw that would make it impossible for us to keep ourselves from sinning. This flaw is sometimes called our sin nature.
The first hint we get of this is although Adam was created in the image of God, his children would be born in his image, not God’s (Genesis 5:1-3). Not only had Adam and Eve lost their immortality, but all their descendants would also be mortal.
Paul confirmed this in Romans 5:12-13 saying, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men because all sinned, for before the Law was given sin was in the world.”
A third consequence was that the creation would no longer fully cooperate with mankind in fulfilling God’s will. Before they sinned, Adam and Eve had only to pick what ever they wanted to eat whenever they wanted it, now they would have to labor for their food, and the creation would produce thorns and thistles in opposition to their efforts (Genesis 3:17-19).
But by far the most devastating consequence of Adam and Eve’s sin was that henceforth they and their descendants would no longer automatically be God’s children. As soon as they were old enough to understand the consequences of their behavior, they would become accountable to God for their sins. Instead of the intimacy He once shared with Adam and Eve, God would now have to keep His distance from them and treat them like the rebellious subjects they had become. Their newly acquired sin nature would make it impossible for them to be in His presence.
This is the point at which I believe sickness, disease, and all the negative emotions like envy, jealousy, pride, anger, etc, also came into the human experience.
I say this because as an indication of God’s grace even in judgment, the very thorns, thistles and plants of the field that came as a result of Adam’s sin were later found to contain the remedies for the sickness and disease that mankind had begun to suffer. These remedies have served as man’s medicine throughout our existence. Some can actually help prevent sickness while others aid in the recovery process.
Shedding Innocent Blood
The first mention of the shedding of innocent blood in the Bible is when God made clothes for Adam and Eve from the skins of animals (Genesis 3:21) to replace the clothing they had made for themselves out of fig leaves (Genesis 3:7). By this He was showing them (and us) that it was by the shedding of innocent blood that they would be “covered” before God, not by the works of their hands. It was a foreshadowing of the Lord’s death on our behalf.
Sometime after the fall Adam and Eve began having children. The first two were sons, Cain and Abel, and an event in their lives led to the first mention of sin in the Bible. It happened when Cain brought the wrong offering to the Lord and it was rejected. His brother Abel had brought the correct offering, which the Lord accepted. It was another model of the “innocent blood” offering being acceptable and the works of our hands being rejected (Genesis 4:1-7).
Cain was upset over this, but the Lord said, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:6-7). This tells us that long before the time of Moses the Lord had instructed mankind on the correct offering for sin.
Well, you say, I’m going to die anyway so what’s the big deal? The big deal is that it’s not our physical death we’re talking about. It’s our spiritual death. Each of us is made up of three parts; body, soul and spirit. Physical death is the death of our body and happens to everyone. But that’s not the end of us, because our spirit and soul exist forever. Spiritual death is the penalty we all have to pay for our sins. This penalty comes due and has to be paid when our body dies.
There are two ways to pay this penalty. One is to pay it ourselves. Remember, the penalty for sin is the shedding of innocent blood. The problem is we’re all sinners and are not innocent, so we can’t pay the penalty with our own blood. If we claim to be without sins, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8). Those who choose to pay this way and fail will spend eternity in Hell.
The other way is to find someone who is both qualified and willing to pay it for us. In all of human existence there has only been one man who has not sinned and is therefore innocent. His name is Jesus. He’s the Son of God and He was qualified. He was also willing, and agreed to pay the penalty for all mankind. About 2,000 years ago He was crucified on a cross outside of Jerusalem in Israel, so His innocent blood was shed for the remission of our sins. I Peter 3:18 tells us, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”
Three days later He rose from the dead to prove that the penalty for our sins had been paid in full.
In Acts 4:12 Peter also said this is the only acceptable remedy for our sins. “Salvation is found in no one else for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
In its simplest terms, being saved means we are saved from the penalty due us for our sins. But although Jesus paid the penalty for all the sins of mankind, God has ordained that only those who believe He died for them will benefit from this (John 3:16).
One Life To Live
The Bible says we have to believe three things to be saved, and these three things are called the Gospel, or good news. First, we have to believe that we are sinners, unable to save ourselves. Second we have to believe that Jesus died for our sins, and third we have to believe that He was buried and rose again on the third day. Believing these three things will save us from the penalty due us for the sins we have and will commit during our lifetime (1 Cor. 15:1-4). But the Bible says we have to do this before our body dies (Hebrews 9:27).
God wants everyone to be saved (2 Peter 3:9) and has given us an entire lifetime to learn what it takes. He has written it all down in His book along with enough evidence to prove that He is who He claims to be beyond any doubt. And He promised that if we seek Him with all our heart we will find Him.
For this is what the Lord says — he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited — he says:
“I am the Lord, and there is no other. I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said to Jacob’s descendants, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I, the Lord, speak the truth; I declare what is right” (Isaiah 45:18-19).
Later, Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened” (Matt. 7:7).
These promises from God assure us that if we look for God in His word we will find Him, and if we ask Him to save us He will do it.
There you have it. We all sin (Romans 3:23), sin brings death (Romans 6:23), and the only remedy for our sins is the shedding of innocent blood (Hebrews 9:22). Jesus provided the remedy (1 Peter 3:18) but we have to apply it during our lifetime. After we die, it’s too late (Hebrews 9:27).
So let us not repeat mankind’s first mistake by believing something other than God’s word. Here’s what the Bible says, “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the Earth, for I am God and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:22) Selah 02-08-14
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY? PART 2, SALVATION
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
I appeal to you brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and in thought (1 Cor. 1:10).
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear (2 Tim 4:3).
I don’t believe there’s ever been a time in history when we’ve been subjected to a wider variety of opinions on what the Bible says. Some of these opinions have actually been around for a long time, while others are new to the scene. But all are now gaining a wider audience due to the advent of mass communications, especially the internet. And because today’s average Christian is woefully uninformed where the Bible is concerned, some of these opinions have gained a following that couldn’t have been possible in the past.
As as result it takes an above average level of Biblical knowledge and the full application of our spiritual discernment to figure out what is true and what is not. Fortunately the Bible, being the word of God, only teaches one doctrinal position so the diligent student can wade through all the false teaching and find the truth. Unfortunately, the number of diligent students in the Christian world seems to be at an all time low, and many are being misled. Most of this false teaching doesn’t impact a person’s salvation, it just sows confusion in the body. But some of it has resulted in a considerable number of people who think they are going to heaven because of what they’ve been taught, although according to what the Bible says they probably aren’t.
In preparing for this study, I began making a list of the various doctrinal positions now being taught, and I saw a pattern emerging. It looks to me like we’re being offered a selection of teachings which have the overall effect of fracturing the body of Christ in ways that defy coincidence. It’s almost as if some unseen force is applying the “divide and conquer” principle to deprive us of any chance we might have had to regain our lost unity in these last days.
This is in direct contrast to Paul’s teaching against allowing divisions to develop among us. The Greek word translated “divisions” in 1 Cor. 1:10 above is “schisma”. Its literal meaning is a rent or tear, but it’s also used metaphorically to speak of division or dissension. The root word is the verb “schizo” which means “to cleave asunder” or “split into factions.” The English word “schism” comes from here.
In Paul’s day these divisions were caused by believers preferring one teacher over another and allowing quarrels to erupt over which one was best (1 Cor. 1:11-12). Back then, there were only a few teachers involved, but because the Church didn’t heed Paul’s admonition there are now hundreds of major denominational and independent groups world wide, most of them begun because people either wouldn’t agree on what the Bible says, or willingly put their own opinions above God’s word.
So, as we begin this new year, I want to spend a few weeks reminding ourselves in the clearest possible terms what the Bible really says about the important beliefs of our faith. This is not meant to be an exhaustive study but a review of the clearest verses the Bible offers on the topics we’ll cover. In the first place exhaustive studies are often exhausting to read. Second, and more importantly, a basic rule of interpretation is to use the clearest verses on a topic to help us interpret those that aren’t as clear. (The Bible is not a book where you have to worry about the fine print or continually be on the lookout for exclusions and exceptions. It’s meant to be understood by ordinary people of average intelligence.) Finally, I’d like to keep this study simple enough so you can share it with a curious friend or loved one, or even your kids.
With that in mind let’s begin with the most critical and fundamental belief of all.
What Does It Take To Be Saved?
Understanding what the Bible says (and doesn’t say) about salvation is obviously our number one priority. Let’s begin by defining the term.
The Bible says we are all sinners (Romans 3:23). This means we’ve repeatedly violated God’s Law. How we got into this situation is a long story but the end result is that our sins have gotten us into big trouble with God. In fact the Bible says our sins are punishable by death (Romans 6:23). Being saved means to be rescued from the death penalty due us for the sins we’ve committed.
The Bible mentions two births and two deaths. The first birth and the first death are physical and relate to our physical body, which usually wears out and ceases to work after 70 or 80 years. The second birth and the second death are spiritual, and relate to our soul and spirit, which live forever.
Salvation was not intended to save people from their physical death, but from their spiritual death, which the Bible defines as being consigned to a lake of fire to be tormented forever. In Rev. 20:14 and Rev. 21:8 this lake of fire is called the second death. So in the most literal sense being saved means escaping the second death.
You Must Be Born Again
We are saved from the second death by experiencing our second birth. In some circles this is called being being born again and it’s absolutely necessary in order for us to be saved from the penalty due us for our sins.
Here’s how it works. Knowing it isn’t entirely our fault that we’re in this predicament, God promised to send His Son to pay the penalty for our sins by dying in our place. His name is Jesus, and in the eternal sense, His death has saved our lives, if we’ll let it.
In John 1:12-13 we read the following;
“Yet to all who received Him (Jesus), to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision, nor of a husband’s will, but born of God.”
Our first birth made us a child of our earthly parents, but our second birth makes us a child of God. It’s our second birth that qualifies us for entry into the Kingdom of God, for without it no one can enter therein (John 3:3). In John 3:6 Jesus said flesh gives birth to flesh (first birth) but the Spirit gives birth to spirit (second birth).
These verses tell us our second birth takes place when we receive Jesus and believe in His name. Receiving Him means taking Him to ourselves or making Him our own, and believing in His name means believing Jesus is the one through whom God brought our salvation. In Hebrew, the name of Jesus is Yeshua, a contraction of the phrase that means “God is salvation”. His name explains what He has done, so by believing in His name we are believing in what He has done for us.
To summarize, if we’re only born once we’ll die twice, but if we’re born twice we’ll only die once. (Some of us won’t die at all, but that’s a topic for another discussion.)
Who Can Be Saved?
The Bible tells us God wants everyone to be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4, 2 Peter 3:9) and that whoever believes in Jesus will not perish but will have everlasting life (John 3:16). In fact it says believing that God sent Jesus to save us is the only thing God requires of us (John 6:28-29).
It also says the decision to be saved is ours to make. In Matt. 7:7-8 Jesus said everyone who asks will receive, everyone who seeks will find, and to whoever knocks the door will be opened. Paul said if we confess with our mouth, “Jesus is Lord” and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead we’ll be saved (Romans 10:9). He said everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13). The only condition is that our decision has to be made during our lifetime (Hebrews 9:27). After we die our destiny is sealed for eternity.
Did God Say That?
Everything else you may have heard about salvation is man made, not God breathed. For example;
The Bible does not say we have to agree to stop sinning in order to be saved. It does say we have to change our mind and agree we are sinners, because people who don’t think they sin don’t ask for a Savior.
The Bible does not say that before He created any of us, God selected some of us to be saved, left the rest to suffer the second death, and there’s nothing any of us can do to change that. The clearest verses on the subject tell us that God doesn’t want any of us to perish (2 Peter 3:9) but instead wants everyone to be saved (1 Tim. 2:3-4). Both the Old Testament and the New Testament tell us that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved (Joel 2:32, Romans 10:13).
The Bible does not say we can only be saved if God deems us worthy of such a blessing. It says we aren’t saved because of righteous things we have done but because of His mercy (Titus 3:5).
The Bible does not say we have to contribute our own effort to the salvation process. Is says we are saved by grace through faith and not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9).
The Bible does not say we can be saved by simply joining a particular church or denomination. It says we have to be born again (John 3:3).
The Bible does not say we can be saved by obeying God’s Law. It says no one will be declared righteous by obeying the Law (Romans 3:20) but that we have a righteousness apart from the Law that comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe (Romans 3:21-24).
The Bible does not say we will get another chance to be saved after we die. It says we’re only given one life and when it ends we’ll face our judgment (Hebrews 9:27).
The Bible does not say we need to be baptized in order to be saved. While baptism is important, it serves as the public declaration of our private decision to join the family of God, not as a prerequisite for doing so. The Bible says we were included in Christ when we heard the word of truth, the gospel of our salvation. Having believed we were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance,until the redemption of those who are God’s possession-to the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:13-14).
Next time we’ll look at the durability of our salvation. Did God go to the extreme lengths that were required to save us, only to leave the maintenance of our salvation in our provably incapable hands, knowing we couldn’t help but lose it? Let’s find out what the Bible says. See you then. 01-18-14
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY? PART 3, OUR SECURITY IN CHRIST
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
In this series we’re taking a look at the most important issues relating to our relationship with our Creator. In each case we begin from the perspective that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, and as such cannot be self-contradictory. So if we think we see a contradiction, the problem is with our understanding, not God’s Word. Our topic in this study is the durability of our salvation. What does the Bible say about our security in Christ? Is it conditional based on our post salvation behavior, or is it guaranteed from the beginning. And could we give it back even if we wanted to?
What School Did You Attend?
Among those Christians who even consider the issue (tragically many don’t, but just accept what they’ve been taught) there are essentially two schools of thought, commonly called Election and Agency.
The Doctrine of Election holds that you can’t choose God; if you are saved it’s because He chose you. Since you can’t choose to be saved, you can’t refuse or reject your salvation (it’s called irresistible grace). God chose you and He chose you forever.
The Doctrine of Agency holds that anyone can choose to be saved, but since you can choose to receive it, you can later lose or reject it by word or deed. Some proponents of this view also contend that if you ever do lose or reject your salvation, you can never get it back.
These positions are both right in what they assert; Election says we’re saved forever; and Agency says it’s our choice. But they’re both wrong in what they deny; Election denies that it’s our choice; and Agency denies that we’re saved forever. As we’ll show, the Bible says it’s our choice to be saved and once we choose we’re saved forever.
First, a little historical background. In all God’s prior attempts at relating to His creation, none was successful. This was due to the basic flaw caused by man’s fall in the Garden; his inherent sinfulness. Because of this, man is simply not able to meet the behavioral standards that God’s righteousness requires for us to dwell with Him. God loves us so much He can’t let us be hopelessly lost, and yet because He is just, He can’t ignore our violations of His laws to save us. Deut. 32:4 tells us, “He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He.”
From our perspective, it seems like an impossible situation. Because He loves us, He wants to save us all (2 Peter 3:9), but because He is Just, He can’t overlook our sins (Romans 3:23). In order to be a Father to His children, God had to find a way to eliminate the sin problem that is neither contingent upon our behavior nor contrary to His law. And He had do it once and for all. The brutal fact is that if He had saved us subject to our subsequent thoughts or deeds, everyone who came to Him for salvation would soon have been irretrievably lost again, because it is simply impossible for us to stop sinning.
How Did He Do That?
Our security is based on two important conditions that are part of God’s perspective. The first is explained in 2 Cor. 5:17.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
From God’s perspective, when you became a believer you became a new creation. The old you ceased to exist and a new you came to be. Notice the verbs in this verse are in the past perfect tense. The old has gone, the new has come. That means this change is in the past and is complete. It’s not something that will happen or even something that is happening. It’s something that has already happened.
God can have this perspective of us because He can see the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10), and after He agreed to save us He chose to see us as we will be when He perfects us at the rapture/resurrection. Ephesians 2:6 tells us He has already seen us seated with Christ in the heavenly realms. And from Romans 3:23-24 we learn that even though we’ve all sinned and fall short of the glory of God, He has justified us freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. The Greek word translated “justified” in this passage means “to render righteous; innocent, faultless, guiltless”. This righteousness from God comes to us through our faith in what the Lord accomplished for us on the cross. In other words, we’ve been made righteous, not because of our behavior, but because of His grace. Therefore, through a combination of our faith and His ability to see the end from the beginning, it’s as if we’ve never sinned.
(From 2 Ptr 3:8 we learn that God is not just someone who has a lot of time. To Him, time is so different from what it is to us that in one instance a day for Him might be equal to 1,000 years for us, while in another instance 1,000 years for Him might only require 1 of our days to pass. This was Peter’s way of saying that God is outside of time altogether.)
The second condition comes from Romans 7:18-20 and confirms that God sees as if we don’t sin.
For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
Paul also confirmed what we all know, that in the here and now we still sin. But because God has chosen to only see us as a new creation, He can separate us from our behavior, and attributes our sins to the sinful nature that still dwells in us and will continue to dwell in us as long as we remain in our natural state. In other words, He no longer counts our sins against us, but against our sin nature.
King David saw this coming 3,000 years ago when he wrote, “Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against him” (Psalm 32:2).
What Does The Bible Say About Our Security?
These two conditions are what allow the Lord to make the following promises where our salvation is concerned.
For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day (John 6:38-39).
Believers belong to God and are often called the sheep of His pasture (Psalm 100:3). The Lord Jesus is the Good shepherd (John 10:11). As such He is in charge of keeping His Father’s flock, and has promised to never lose any of those the Father has given Him. Notice the phrase, “I will lose none”.
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:27-30)
Continuing with the shepherd / sheep analogy, not only will the Lord not lose any of us, but He promised that no one can take us away from either Him or His Father. Note the dual use of the phrase “no one can snatch them out.”
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).
This is certainly an all inclusive statement covering everything possible. In effect, Paul was saying, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God.”
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:13-14).
Here are the four things that came together to save you forever. 1) You heard the gospel and, 2) you believed it. 3) God marked you with a seal and, 4) He guaranteed your inheritance. These things happened at the moment you believed, before you had done anything, good or bad, as a believer. Note the phrase “guaranteeing our inheritance.” Our inheritance is eternal life with Him (John 5:24).
The word translated “deposit” is a legal term. Today we would say “earnest money”. It’s a down payment that constitutes a legal obligation to follow through with the purchase. If you’ve ever bought any real estate, you’re familiar with the term. If not, here’s another example. It’s like we’ve been put on “lay away.” The price has been paid and we’ve been taken off the display shelf until the one who has purchased us returns to claim us. In the mean time we cannot be bought by anyone else, because we legally belong to the one who has paid the deposit. “You are not your own,” we’re told. “You were bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:19-20). And that price is the blood of Jesus (1 Peter 1:18-19).
Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come (2 Cor. 1:21-22).
Who makes us stand firm in Christ? God does. Who anointed us? God did. Who set His seal of ownership on us? God did. Who put His Spirit in our hearts? God did. Who is responsible for keeping us saved? God is.
And notice the Greek word translated “deposit”again. It’s the same one that appears in Ephesians 1:13-14 above, and this time it becomes even more obvious. God has set His seal of ownership on us. He has “branded” us as if He was a rancher marking his cattle to provide proof of ownership.
In John 6:38-39 Jesus promised He wouldn’t lose us. In John 10:27-30 He said no one can take us out of his hands. In Romans 8:38-39 Paul said nothing in all of creation can separate us from the Love of God, and from Ephes. 1:13-14 and 2 Cor. 1:21-22 we learn that we can’t walk away because we’ve been purchased and marked with God’s proof of ownership. We’ve been bought with the blood of Jesus, and even if God was willing to sell us, there’s no currency in the universe we could use to buy ourselves back.
These are the Bible’s clearest verses on the subject of our security in Christ, and the rules of interpretation require that we use clear verses to establish God’s promises and to help us interpret verses that aren’t so clear. But there are absolutely no verses in the New Testament that rescind these promises or identify exclusions or modifications to them. Once we are saved, we are saved forever. By the way, don’t let anyone use quotes from the Old Testament to challenge these promises. Eternal Security is a blessing given only to the Church.)
In summary, if you’ve asked Him to be your Savior He has said, “Yes” (Matt. 7:7-8) . There is no sin you can commit in your lifetime that will cause Him to revoke your salvation, because there is no sin you can commit that He didn’t already know about when He saved you. That means there is no sin you can commit that He hasn’t already paid for with His life (Colossians 2:13-14). As He died, He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). He was talking about the work of saving you. And since He has saved you He will also keep you, because no matter how many promises God has made, they are “yes” in Christ (2 Cor. 1:20).
I’ve been writing about this subject for a number of years now, and every time I do I get questions from people asking about this or that verse, as if the Bible could contradict itself or contains “fine print” that negates the clear promises you’ve just read. I’ve researched and responded to these questions to the point where the site now contains 139 postings related to this subject. You can access these postings by going to any page on the site and typing OSAS in the search box in the upper right hand corner in the grey border at the very top of the page. I encourage you to do so.
I’m sure some of you are asking, “If God knows we can’t stop sinning, and if He’s already forgiven us for all our sins, then why does our behavior matter to Him?” We’ll address that issue next time. See you then. Selah 01-25-14.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY? PART 4, HOW SHALL WE LIVE?
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
Everything is permissible – but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible – but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others (1 Cor. 10:23-24)
Having shown the Lord’s clear promise that once we became a believer all the sins of our life were forgiven, we now turn to the logical follow up question. How should we respond to such an incredible gift? How shall we live?
Paul devoted much time to describing the appropriate response to the free gift of eternal life and it’s summed up in his admonition to “Only let us live up to what we’ve already attained” (Phil 3:16). By the wording he used we know this is not something we do to achieve or maintain our salvation. He said we’ve already attained that. We do this as an expression of our heart felt gratitude for having been given this gift. Because there’s no doubt it, before receiving it we were “dead in our transgressions and sins” and “objects of God’s wrath” (Ephes. 2:1-3).
To illustrate this, in 1 Cor. 6:9-10 Paul said, “Do you not know that the wicked (literally, unrighteous) will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
Then he differentiated the past from the present, acknowledging the fact that since we’ve become new creations we no longer fit any of those descriptions.
“And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11)
Notice the past tense of these statements. We were among the wicked, but then we were washed, sanctified, and justified. I think the phrase “some of you” was giving us a big benefit of the doubt. Spiritually speaking, the sinful thought is as bad as the sinful deed and who among us has not had a thought about at least one of these things at one time or another? But Paul takes pains to say that’s the way God saw us before we were washed (cleansed), sanctified (set apart) and justified (rendered righteous). Now, because of the cross, we’re a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), having attained the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21) by faith in His completed work (Romans 3:21-22). Now God sees us as if we have never sinned, as if we’re as righteous as He is.
Well if that’s the case, why does it matter how we behave? As we’ve seen, where our salvation is concerned, it doesn’t. We were saved because of what we believe not because of how we behave. When we were dead in our sins, God made us alive in Christ and forgave all our sins (Colossians 2:13-14). We now belong to God and no one in Heaven or on Earth can ever change that (Romans 8:38-39). And though we still sin, when we do God attributes it to the sin that dwells in us and no longer counts our sins against us (Romans 7:18-20). No group before the Church was ever given this blessing, nor will any group after us.
The point of changing our behavior is to express our gratitude to Him for the free gift of salvation. Every time we choose to “live up to what we’ve already attained” instead of yielding to the temptation to sin, we’re saying “Thank you Lord, for saving me.” Of course, we’re not perfect. Only Jesus was tempted in every way, but did not sin (Hebr. 4:15). So when we do sin we confess and are forgiven, the slate is wiped clean again, and we’re purified from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
With that introduction, let’s see what the Bible says about how believers should live in light of the unique blessing we’ve been given.
The Practice Of Christian Living
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:1-2).
Everything about the practice of Christian living is within our control. We don’t have to behave like everyone else. We can be transformed and it begins with choosing to behave differently.
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24)
For the most part we think and act the way we do because that’s how we’ve been taught, and it all happened before we got saved. Here we’re told we don’t have to be like that any more. We can learn to think and act in a way that’s pleasing to God.
Each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephes 4:25-32).
In effect, Paul taught that while we can’t always control the circumstances of our life we can control our response to them. We have such a glorious future awaiting us that we don’t have to worry about gaining the approval of others by acting the way they do. Our primary goal is pleasing the Lord.
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:37-38)
Choosing to become more tolerant, forgiving and generous will have such a remarkable effect on our life that others will want to know what has happened to transform us. Instead of stuttering and stammering through an embarrassing attempt to “witness” to friends and neighbors we’ll find that our very life has become a witness to what God can do, and people will be drawn to us.
The practice of Christian living becomes easier when we remember Who we’re living for. Remember Jesus said that He came so we might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10). Great blessings come from “living up to what we’ve already attained.”
The Bible says when we focus on His kingdom and His righteousness, He will see that our needs are met (Matt. 6:25-34). We’re not to let what Paul called the light and momentary troubles of this world get us down. We should no longer fix our eyes on the temporary things we can see, we should focus on the eternal things we can’t see instead (2 Cor. 4:16-18). We live by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). This is even more urgent for us than it was when Paul wrote it, because very soon we’re going to step out of this world and into the next one where the eternal things we’ve only been able to dream about will suddenly become our new reality.
For our home life the Bible says, Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged (Colossians 3:18-21).
Where our work is concerned, it says, Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23-24)
And as for the people around us, Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:17-18)
We who’ve been given everything don’t have to worry about anything.
The Privilege Of Christian Living
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:4-7).
Because we’ve become God’s children we can rejoice in everything that happens to us because we know that He is working all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). We can always be at peace, even when our world seems to be crumbling around us. We fear nothing, we pray about everything, and we’re thankful for anything.
Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Even though we are children of God, the whole world is under the control of the evil one (1 John 5:19). Nowhere does the Bible promise us a trouble free life. What it does promise is victory over any enemy we choose to engage (Joshua 10:25). The Lord is our over comer and because of that we are privileged to be at peace. No matter what.
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful (Colossians 4:2).
Think about that. We can engage our Father in conversation any time it suits us. He’s always in, we never need an appointment, and he’s never too busy for us. Whether it’s asking for a parking place on a crowded street or guidance on whether to pursue a career opportunity, He’s always there for us.
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:
“He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. (2 Cor. 9:6-11)
God has given us the privilege of distributing His endless resources to those in need. He so loves cheerful givers that He has promised to make them rich in every way so they will always have more than enough for themselves with sufficient excess so they can always be generous to others. Next to the gift of eternal life there’s no more remarkable promise anywhere in Scripture.
The Power Of Christian Living
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he’ll flee from you. (James 4:7)
Although Paul called him the God of this age Christians needn’t fear the devil because of the power we’ve b(2 Cor. 4:4), een given.
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:3-5).
Jesus showed us how to do this in the wilderness temptations (Matt. 4:1-11). Using nothing but Scripture He demolished every one of the devil’s arguments and sent him packing. This same power is available to us. We just have to know the Bible well enough to activate it.
Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven (James 5:14-15).
As is the case with everything James wrote, this is a clear promise without exception or equivocation. The Bible doesn’t promise we won’t get sick, but it does promise we can be healed. It’s a power the Lord died to give us.
“I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:23-24)
And it’s not just healing. With sufficient faith we could literally move mountains. But faith is like our physical muscles. The more we exercise it the stronger it becomes. This is a case where the American lifestyle has become our enemy. It’s been too easy to get the things we want without the Lord’s help. As a result many of us have much more than we need. Maybe the Lord is stripping some of those things away now to help us practice living by faith.
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines (1 Cor. 12:7-11).
Many charismatics misuse their gifts in immature excesses of self glorification while some fundamentalists refuse to acknowledge they even exist. But if the gifts of the Holy Spirit were ever used in the manner Paul described, the world would not be able to stand against their power.
Each of us has been gifted and could use the power our gifts contain to have a significant effect on the little corner of the world we inhabit. Romans 12:1-8 tells us how to discover and use our gifts.
The Protection Of Christian Living
Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come (2 Cor. 1:21-22).
So we come full circle. Never let it be said that although God has the power to save us, He lacks the power to keep us.
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:27-30).
A US insurance company says we’re in good hands with them, but believers enjoy the ultimate example of being in good hands. Our policy is paid in full and our coverage can never expire. Not even we ourselves can snatch us out of their hands.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephes. 6:10-12).
A soldier’s armor can only protect him when he wears it, and he would never think of going into battle without being fully protected. We’re aliens behind enemy lines and as such are combatants in an ongoing battle. We’ve been given impenetrable armor, but in order for it to protect us we have to put it on and keep it on.
The Promise Of Christian Living
All this leads to achieving the goal we all want most in life. Earlier I said that after becoming saved, our primary goal becomes pleasing the Lord. But when we delight ourselves in the Lord He will give us the desires of our heart in return (Psalm 37:4). By following these instructions for Christian living we can finally achieve complete personal freedom. Although we are still in the world we will no longer be of the world. Living the Christian Life frees us of all the negative emotions that have afflicted us in the past. No more worry, no more stress, no more feeling out of control. We no longer have to be concerned with having enough money, or getting ahead, or keeping up. Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”
The uncertainties of life that so preoccupy the thoughts of others won’t bother us any more. It doesn’t matter who gets elected to what office, or how bad the economy is getting, or whether the government will continue to break its promises. We’ll finally understand the full meaning of the Lord’s words, “When the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36) Praise the Lord. 02-01-14
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY? PART 5, CAN WE CHOOSE TO BE SAVED?
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
There are basically two schools of thought where the motivating force behind our salvation is concerned.
One is that before God created the first man, He knew mankind would fall into sin and be lost. At that time He chose some of us to be saved by having His Son die for our sins. Those who believe this say He didn’t give us His reason for choosing some and not others. They say He did it because He is sovereign and it was His right to do so. Neither those He chose to save nor those He didn’t choose have any say in the matter. It was all decided by God and there’s nothing we can do about it.
The other school of thought begins the same way. Before He created the first man, God knew mankind would fall into sin and be lost. But then it differs, holding that God provided a means whereby mankind could choose to be saved. The remedy He provided, having His Son die for our sins, is the same. But as you can see, the application of the remedy is different. All who choose to do so can ask God to save them and if they believe His son died for their sins and rose again, He will do so.
So, either God knew we would sin, provided a remedy for our sins, and then applied that remedy to a sample of mankind that He selected. Or, God knew we would sin, provided a remedy for our sins, and then offered that remedy to everyone who chooses to accept it. What does the Bible say? Must God choose us to receive His remedy or can we make the choice to receive it ourselves?
First Things First
To give ourselves the best chance at finding the correct answer, let’s begin by reviewing some of the guidelines we should follow for accurate Biblical interpretation no matter what we’re studying.
The first is that the Bible is the word of God and therefore is not self contradictory. That means on all matters of doctrine, the Bible only teaches one position. People who claim there are some verses that indicate our salvation is God’s choice while other verses say it’s our choice cannot be correct. It’s either one way or the other.
The second guideline we’ll follow is to always let the clearest verses on a particular issue help us understand those that aren’t so clear. The clearest statements on a topic define the Bible’s position on that topic. Therefore there are no obscure verses lurking somewhere else in the text that negate them. The Bible is not meant to confuse us or trick us, but to bring us understanding.
And third, we should always assume the Bible means just what it says when we place a given verse in its proper context, unless we’re given a clear indication that we shouldn’t make that assumption. Examples of this would be when we’re reading a parable or when some other obvious type of symbolism is being used.
With that introduction, lets look at the Bible’s clearest verses on the issue of who made the choice for us to be saved.
What Does The Bible Say?
One of the best known verses in the Bible is John 3:16. It’s also one of the clearest where the matter of our salvation is concerned. In the King James Version it reads like this:
“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.”
The Greek word translated “world” in this verse is “kosmos”. It appears 187 times in the New Testament and in 186 of those it’s translated “world”. But from the context of the passage we can see the Lord was not talking about the planet we live on, because it can’t believe anything. He had to be talking about the people who live on the planet, and when that’s the case the word “knsmos” refers to the inhabitants of the Earth, the human family. It’s an all inclusive word that covers everyone on Earth.
So God gave His Son because He loved each and every person on Earth. This is consistent with other statements the Bible makes about God’s love for all of mankind. When John the Baptist said that Jesus is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29) he used the same word for “world”. And 1 John 2:2 says, “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” Again, the same Greek word was used.
This means Jesus didn’t just die for the sins of those God had chosen, but for the sins of everyone. It follows then, that when you add the conditional phrase “whosoever believeth”, John 3:16 means everyone who believes Jesus died for their sins can ask for salvation and receive it because everyone’s sins have been paid for. Jesus confirmed that salvation is available to everyone in Matt. 7:7-8 and in John 6:40, as did Paul in Romans 10:13.
He Can’t Do That
Jesus could not have said, “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life,” as He did in John 6:40, if God only gives eternal life to those He has already chosen. And Paul could not have said that some will perish because they refused to love the truth and be saved unless everyone has the ability and opportunity to believe the truth. Otherwis(2 Thes. 2:9-12) e God would not be just.
Some say the sovereignty of God allows Him to do anything He wants. But that simply is not true. Moses had this to say about God.
“I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he” (Deut. 32:3-4).
That means God can’t violate His own laws, or go back on His own word. And He can’t act in an unjust, unrighteous, unloving manner because these are His defining characteristics. It’s true that we’re all deserving of death and because of our sins God would be justified in condemning all of us. But to arbitrarily pick a few to save while leaving the rest to die in their sins would not be consistent with His justice, His righteousness, or His love. In fact it would be a violation of all three.
Two other clear verses underscore the fact that God could not have created some solely for the purpose of condemnation. 2 Peter 3:9 tells us that God doesn’t want anyone to perish but for everyone to come to repentance, and 1 Tim. 2:3-4 confirms that God wants all men to be saved. If this is what God wants, and if it is solely up to Him, then wouldn’t everyone be saved? And if it’s not what He wants why would these verses, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, say it is?
That’s not to say God isn’t involved in our salvation decision because He certainly is. Here’s how.
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified (Romans 8:29-30).
There are five steps here and God is involved in everyone of them, He foreknew, He predestined, He called, He justified, and He glorified. Lets take them one at a time.
The Greek word means “to have knowledge beforehand.” In Isaiah 46:10 God said, “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times what is still to come.” God is not just someone who has a lot of time. He is outside of time altogether and can actually see past, present, and future all at once. Where our salvation is concerned, it means He knew everyone who would choose to be saved before any of us came to be.
(An alternate translation of Rev. 13:8 tells us that the Lamb’s book of life, which contains the name of every member of the Church, was actually written from the creation of the world. If so, God not only knew our names from the very beginning but created a record of them as well. Rev. 21:27 tells us that only those whose names are written in this book can enter the New Jerusalem, the eternal home of the Church.)
This word means “to appoint beforehand.” It’s very similar to making an appointment or a reservation; arranging in advance for something to happen at a certain time. When God looked down through time to see us making our decision to be saved, He made an appointment for us to be conformed to the image of His son.
At the proper time in our life God calls us to do what He had already seen us do. This is a critical step. From Romans 3:9-18 we learn that because of our sin nature none of us will seek God on our own. The guilt we bear for our sins makes us fear Him. Therefore He doesn’t sit idly by. He sends people to tell us that He loves us and wants to make peace with us. He may even intervene in our life, orchestrating circumstances that will make us receptive to His call. (In my case He had to shatter a whole bunch of “idols” that were cluttering up my life and distracting me from making my decision. Having already seen it happen, He knew what it would take for me to surrender and He did what it took. I would never want to live through that time again, but I will be forever grateful for His perseverance.)
The Greek word means “to render righteous” He caused us to become innocent, faultless, guiltless. He did this by applying the blood of Jesus to the sins of our life so we could dwell with Him. 1 Peter 3:18 says, “For Christ died for our sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” (Notice how this verse confirms that Jesus died for all of us, not just those God had chosen.)
He holds us in honor, adorns us with lustre, and clothes us with splendor. Obviously this will happen at the rapture/resurrection, when we will become in fact what we already are from His perspective. For those who are in Christ are a new creation; the old has gone the new has come! (2 Cor. 5:17).
We can see that these five steps were all put into motion when God saw in advance that we would one day choose Him by accepting the pardon He purchased for us with the blood of his Son. But if we were to ignore that first step then it would appear that God chose us. In fact those who believe that our salvation was God’s choice and not ours do just that, often calling their position “predestination”, after the second step in the process Paul laid out in Romans 8:29-30.
The notion that God has to choose us is an improper application of Scripture that had its beginning in the Protestant Reformation. This is the time when the lines of delineation between Israel and the Church were erased and the Church was said to have inherited all the promises of Israel. A new system of understanding the Bible emerged, called reformed theology. Among its components is the idea that just as God chose Israel, in the same way He has chosen the Church.
It’s clear that Israel was chosen by a sovereign act of God. That’s why they’re called His chosen people. There was nothing to commend Abraham and his descendants above the other nations. In Deut. 7:7-8 Moses told the Israelites: “The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”
Israel was in a national covenant with God that included a national homeland, and individuals had no say in the matter. Jewish males were circumcised on the eighth day of life, long before they had any ability to choose, as a lifelong symbol of this covenant. The nation stood or fell on the basis of their obedience to their covenant with God.
But when it comes to the Church, the Bible says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matt. 7:7-8)
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
“For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40)
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)
The Church is not in a covenant with God in the sense that Israel is. In the first place, the Church is not a nation and has no national homeland. Second, we are the beneficiaries of a covenant between the Father and the Son. Every human, regardless of race or national origin, has the privilege of entering into this beneficial relationship, as a matter of personal choice, upon confessing their belief that Jesus died for their sins and rose again.
Claiming the Church is the successor to Israel is a major flaw in reformed theology, and perhaps the most serious component of that flaw is the insistence that our salvation is determined by a sovereign act of God over which we have no control, rather than being something Jesus died to make available to all who choose to accept it. Remember John’s words; “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30) 02-22-14
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY? PART 6, ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
Someone wrote to ask my opinion about several theories he has read concerning the relationship between the Church and Israel. He asked, “Are the two really the same or are they supposed to be different?” Here’s my response.
The misguided effort to blend the Church and Israel into one entity continues. First it was “Replacement Theology”, the false teaching that because of their rejection of Jesus as their Messiah, God has no more use for Israel. Instead He has transferred to the Church all of the promises He had formerly made to them. According to this view, the rebirth of Israel in 1948 was nothing more than an accident of history, not the fulfillment of prophecy. They say the only future for Israel is through the Church.
The Hebrew Roots movement takes a different road to reach the mirror image of the same destination. They claim the Gentile church has gone way off the track, having been contaminated with Greek and Roman paganism. They advocate a return to the Jewish roots of the Church by keeping the Law, the dietary restrictions, the Feasts of Israel, etc. like the original disciples did. In other words to become Torah observant. They say the only future for the Church is through Israel.
Then there’s the view called “Remnant Theology” that distinguishes between “national” Israel and “spiritual” Israel which they call “remnant Israel”. According to this view “remnant Israel” is a spiritual body just like the Church. They interpret Romans 11:17-19 to say the Church has been grafted into “remnant Israel” and they are now one and the same.
These positions all disregard the fact that in creating His Church God took some who were formerly Jews and some who were formerly Gentiles and made one new man out of the two (Ephes. 2:14-16). Being made new means neither group remains as they were. Paul clarified this in Galatians 3:28 when he said in the Church there is neither Jew nor Gentile. Yes, we’re all Abraham’s seed but that doesn’t mean we’re all Israel. In Genesis 12:3 God said that all the families (clans, tribes) of the earth would be blessed through Abraham.
The purpose of this study is to demonstrate that no matter how some people try to redefine things, Israel and the Church are separate entities in God’s view, and were never intended to become one. Comparing the two we can see that each has a different origin, a unique purpose, and a separate destiny. For this reason, some scholars have labeled the following comparison of Israel and the Church “Separation Theology”.
A Different Origin
Israel came to be through a sovereign act of God, creating a nation out of the direct descendants of Abraham (Genesis 12:2). Later He narrowed this down to include only those who came through Isaac, (Genesis 26:3-5) and Jacob (Genesis 28:13-15). Theirs is a national covenant conditioned upon obedience (Exodus 19:3-6).
The Church consists of individual members from every nation, tribe, people, and language who have been adopted directly into the family of God, based on our personal belief that Jesus died for our sins and rose again (John 1:12-13, Galatians 4:4-7, Romans 10:9-10). Ours is a personal covenant conditioned upon on faith.
You could say that God’s position with Israel is based on a national religion, but His position with the Church is based on a personal relationship.
A Unique Purpose
God gave Israel a four fold mission. They were to be a repository for His word (Isaiah 42:9), writing down the things He said to them, whether as history or prophecy, and preserving their accuracy. They were to be His witnesses to an unbelieving world (Isaiah 43:10). They were to be a display of His splendor (Isaiah 49:3); in them He would be glorified. And finally, they were to be the channel for the Messiah, through whom He would bring His salvation to the ends of the earth (Isaiah 49:5-6).
The purpose of the Church is to be a demonstration of the incomparable riches of God’s grace in ages yet to come, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus (Ephes. 2:7), and to make known God’s manifold wisdom to the rulers and authorities in the Heavenly realms according to His eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord (Ephes. 3:10-11).
A Separate Destiny
Israel was given a homeland on Earth with geographic boundaries as an everlasting possession (Genesis 15:18-21). The Millennial kingdom on Earth is all about Israel and that’s why we have to look in the Old Testament for descriptions of life on Earth during that time. Passages like Isaiah 2:2-5, Isaiah 35, Isaiah 65:17-25, Ezekiel 40-48, and Micah 4:1-8 tell of an Israel restored to a position of preeminence among the nations of Earth, and of the promised land turned into a rich garden paradise where God Himself will once again dwell among His chosen people forever, just like He promised (Ezekiel 43:7).
The Church has no home on Earth. Our citizenship is in heaven (Phil 3:20), and our Millennial home is the New Jerusalem, an enormous entity that’s too large to fit on Earth, but will be located in Earth’s proximity (Rev. 21). John described it coming down out of heaven after the Second Coming, as beautiful as a bride on her wedding day. Nearly 1400 miles in length.width, and height, it will be two thirds the size of the moon and made of the purest gold and precious gems. This is the place Jesus has been preparing for us and to which He will take us so that we might also be where He is. If it were not so He would have told us (John 14:2-3).
Even when Israel receives the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31), there will still be a temple, a Levitical priesthood, daily sacrifices for sin, periodic Holy Days, and other requirements (Ezekiel 40-46). In the New Jerusalem there is no Temple (Rev. 21:22) and there are no additional requirements.
After the Second Coming only the believing remnant of Israel will be left to dwell in the promised land on Earth. Together with resurrected Old Testament believers, they will constitute national Israel.
At the rapture, the Church will depart the Earth forever to take up residence in the New Jerusalem.
Finally, in the Lord’s teaching on the Kingdom parables, Israel is represented by the treasure in the field who when a man found it, He sold all he had and bought the entire field just for the treasure (Matt. 13:44).
In Exodus 19:5-6 God said to Israel,
Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession (Hebrew: my peculiar treasure). Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’
At the second coming the Lord will become the King of the whole Earth (Zech 14:9), having given His life to redeem it. But His main purpose in doing so will have been to restore Israel, His treasure on Earth.
The Church is represented by the Pearl of Great Price, who when a man found it, he sold everything he had to acquire it (Matt. 13:45).
Oysters are not kosher (Lev. 11:9-12), so pearls are not prized in Israel as they are among the Gentiles. Pearls are formed when a grain of sand gets inside the oyster shell and becomes an irritant. The oyster secrets a smooth milky substance that hardens around the grain of sand and stops the irritation. When the oyster is harvested the pearl is removed from its natural habitat and placed in a fine setting to become an object of adornment.
Jesus purchased the Church on the cross, and it took everything He had. Just before the end times judgments begin, He will remove us from our natural habitat and place us in the New Jerusalem, a priceless setting, to become His object of adornment.
In summary, the Bible is quite clear in portraying Israel and the Church as two separate entities. We’re both part of His kingdom, but our origin, our purpose, and our destiny require that we always be seen as distinct from one another.
Please Don’t Misunderstand Me
None of this is intended to convey the idea that the Church shouldn’t be concerned about Israel, or interested in its history and future. Quite the contrary. God had Israel write the Bible to teach us (Romans 15:4). Events in Israel’s history were recorded as admonitions to us upon whom the fulfillment of the ages has come (1 Cor. 10:11).
Israel’s Messiah is our our Lord and Savior. He was born in Israel and spent all His earthly life there. The New Testament was written by sons of Israel. It’s by observing the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies concerning Israel that we become aware of the impending fulfillment of New Testament prophecies concerning the Church. Aside from Israel itself, no group on Earth has a greater interest in the history and future of Israel than the Church.
The Church is not Israel and Israel is not the Church, but Israel and the Church are two sides of the same coin, and that coin is the Kingdom of God. That’s the way God sees us, and that’s what the Bible says. 05-03-14
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY? PART 7, ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH (FOLLOW UP)
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
My study on Israel and the Church provoked several comments that require a lengthy response. It made more sense to post them as a separate document than to append them to the bottom of the original study. Here they are.
Reader Comment 1: You state that “God took some who were formerly Jews and some who were formerly Gentiles and made one new man out of the two” (Ephes. 2:14-16). This was an excellent article except for the above statement. In Gal. 3:28 it states there is neither Jew nor Greek…neither male nor female. Jews are not formerly Jews who believe in their Messiah any more than I became a former female when I believed in Jesus. Jews and Gentiles, males and females all retain their identities but those identities are no longer barriers to our becoming one new man.
The one thing a Jew fears is that he will no longer be a Jew if believing in Jesus. Being a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob is a blood line inherited and cannot be changed any more than a black person can change once becoming a follower of Christ.
My Response: Let’s look at these two passages. We’ll take Galatians 3:28 first.
There is neither Jew nor Greek (Gentile), slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Now Ephesians 2:14-16;
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
These two passages are both saying the same thing in that they both convey God’s perception of people who become believers in Jesus during the Church Age. As you said, a woman does not stop being a woman when she becomes a believer in Jesus. But from God’s perspective there is no difference between a Christian woman and a Christian man; to Him they are equal partakers of the Church’s eternal destiny.
In the same way, people of Jewish descent do not stop being Jewish by blood, but once they become believers in Jesus God no longer considers them part of Israel in terms of their eternal destiny. He sees them as part of the Church, equal partakers with Christians of Gentile descent in the Church’s destiny. Whether Jew or Gentile, our future is not determined by the blood of our ancestors, but by the blood of Christ.
(Paul was speaking only of the Church Age here. After the rapture, Jews who become believers in Jesus will remain part of Israel, and Gentiles who become believers in Jesus will still be Gentiles.)
In Ephesians 2:17-18 Paul concluded his thought by saying,
He (Jesus) came and preached peace to you who were far away (Gentiles) and peace to those who were near (Jews). For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Gentiles don’t enjoy peace with God by becoming part of Israel, and Jews don’t enjoy peace with God by giving up their Jewishness to become like Gentiles. Both achieve peace with God by becoming part of the body of Christ.
By the way, the opposite is also true. Jews and Gentiles who don’t become believers in Jesus will also share the same destiny, which will be eternal separation from God. (John 14:6)
Paul confirmed this change in spiritual identity in 1 Cor.10:32 when he said, “Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks (Gentiles) or the Church of God.” Up until that time, Jews and Gentiles were the only two groups of humanity in the world. Now there are three.
Reader Comment 2: In John 14:3 Jesus says that he is preparing a place for his followers, which in this case were Jews. In 1 John 3:2 the same apostle writes that we will be like Jesus and see him as he is. If we are going to be like him, we must no longer be limited to time and space just as he is not. The new Jerusalem will be our home, but we will also commute down here to earth to rule with him. (Revelation 1:6, 20:4) There is and there will be a division between Israel and the Church, but it may not be as distinct as you imagine it to be.
My Response: I don’t know if this is what you were implying, but I don’t see any Biblical justification for the opinion that Jesus was only referring to His Jewish followers in John 14:3. He didn’t come back just for them, and when He does come back it will be for the entire body of born again believers, whether of Jewish or Gentile heritage.
Also there’s no Biblical certainty that we will commute regularly to earth. Human kings in the past have ruled over vast and far flung empires without ever personally visiting large parts of them.
Because of our humanness we can’t help but wonder what our “jobs” will be in the Millennium, and the Bible doesn’t offer any helpful hints on the subject. But looking around the world, we can see that most members of the various royal families don’t actually work, in the sense that we think of it. Most occupy their time in a “higher calling”. Public service and charity work are popular examples of this.
Also, if you look closely you’ll see that Rev. 1:6 and Rev. 20:4 do not refer to the same group. The group in Rev. 1:6 is made up of kings and priests who’ve been freed from our sins by His blood and will serve the God and Father of our Lord Jesus. Most scholars see this group as the Church.
The group in Rev 20:4 consists of resurrected martyrs who will have been beheaded during the Great Tribulation for refusing to take the mark of the beast. They will reign with Christ for 1,000 years but are not called either kings or priests. They are often called Tribulation saints.
Since they are not part of the Church, they won’t live in the New Jerusalem. Rev. 21:27 says only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life will live there. I believe it’s possible that they will live on Earth and will help us administer the nations in a subordinate role. If so, they could be the “on site” administrators of the Kingdom.
In contrast, during the Millennium Israel will be governed by King David (Ezekiel 37:24), with the help of a natural human prince, and a priesthood to oversee Temple matters (Ezekiel 44). We know this prince is a natural human because he will have to offer sacrifices for sin (Ezek.46:2) and will have sons (Ezek. 46:16).
Even though no one but the Church can enter the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:27), I believe we will have free visitation privileges on earth, and anywhere else in the universe. So the difference between Israel and the Church could be just as distinct as I’ve described it.
Reader Comment 3: Very interesting article that clears up a lot of confusion many people have regarding the Church and Israel. I, however, have a couple questions and would like your input.
You say that after the second coming, only the remnant of Israel and the Old Testament believers will occupy the Millennial Kingdom on Earth. You then say the Church will leave the Earth at the rapture and remain there forever.
My understanding is that the Church will receive the resurrected bodies during the rapture, then return to the Earth with Christ at the Second Coming. I don’t know how long that visit will be but the scripture does seem to point to the Church returning to the Earth.
Also, What about the gentile who comes to faith during the tribulation? In my understanding, the sheep from the sheep and goat judgement will also live on into the millennial age on Earth. That would leave the Earth to be occupied by the remnant Israel, the believing gentiles, and the resurrected/raptured believers.
My Response: What I said was, “After the Second Coming only the believing remnant of Israel will be left to dwell in the promised land on Earth. Together with resurrected Old Testament believers, they will constitute national Israel.” Earlier I said that Israel would once again be preeminent among the nations of Earth.
There are a number of references to the nations on Earth during the Millennium, and two of them, Egypt and Assyria, are actually named (Isaiah 19:23-25). General mentions of nations in the Millennium include Psalm 2:8-9, Isaiah 2:2-4, Isaiah 62:1-2, Zechariah 14:16-19, Rev. 21:24. As you said, the nations of earth will be populated by Gentiles who will have become believers after the rapture and survived the end times judgments. They will be ushered live into the kingdom at the Sheep and Goat judgment following the Second coming (Matt. 25:34) and will help re-populate the earth. Eventually many of their descendants will rebel against God and gather to attack Israel one final time. But fire will come down from heaven and devour them (Rev. 20:7-9).
It’s popular to assume that because the Bible says we will reign with Christ, then the Church must be the armies of Heaven that return with Him at the Second Coming (Rev. 19:14). In support of this they compare the fine linen the bride will wear at the wedding (Rev. 19:8) with the fine linen the armies of heaven will be wearing (Rev. 19:14) and assume both groups are the same.
But I don’t think this is the case. First, it’s not typical for a military commander to bring his new bride into battle with him, and second the Bride of Christ is never referred to as the armies of heaven. The Greek word for “armies” is also translated as “men of war” and “soldiers”, and is never used in the Bible when speaking of the Church. Therefore, I believe the armies of Heaven are warrior angels who are also depicted as being dressed in white in the Bible (John 20:12, Rev. 15:6).
I believe the Church will return to the vicinity of earth in the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:9-10) shortly after the Second Coming. In Matt. 24:29 Jesus said that immediately after the end of the Great Tribulation the Sun and moon will go dark. Then in Rev. 21:23-24 John said the nations of Earth will walk by the light of the New Jerusalem. To me this means the New Jerusalem will be earth’s source of light during the Millennium and will take its place in the vicinity of Earth shortly after the end of the Great Tribulation.
Summary: There are incredible futures in store for Israel and the Church, and each is distinct from the other. A lot of the detail is still shrouded in mystery, but from what the Bible does reveal we can catch a glimpse of just how far beyond imagining our future will be (1 Cor. 2:9). Fortunately, we won’t have long to wait, because if you listen closely, you can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah. 05-10-14.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY? PART 8, IS JESUS GOD IN HUMAN FORM
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
Groups who call themselves Christian but don’t believe Jesus is God in human form often come up with questions that are designed to cause Christians who do believe in His deity to doubt themselves. In this study we’ll answer some of these questions to better prepare ourselves for encounters of this kind.
First, let’s review what the Bible says about Jesus being God in human form to confirm that we’re standing on solid ground.
Jesus claimed to be God in John 10:30 when He said, “I and the Father are one.” He repeated this claim on the night of His betrayal when He told Philip, “If you’ve seen me you have seen the Father” (John 14:9).
John said that Jesus is God in the first verse of his Gospel, calling Jesus “the Word”.
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1).
To verify that he was talking about Jesus, he said, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
Paul agreed with John. In Colossians 1:15-16 he wrote;
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.
The writer to the Hebrews essentially said the same thing in Hebrews 1:2-3, calling Jesus the one through whom God made the universe, the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being.
God Himself agreed with this in Hebrews 1:8. Speaking of His Son He said. “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.”
Finally, In Revelation 1:8, God said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega” and in Rev. 22:13, Jesus said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega.” The only way this could be true of both is if they are one and the same.
In these verses the Bible makes a convincing case for the fact that Jesus is God in human form, so let’s move on to some of the questions people get asked by those who don’t believe it.
Question: Why didn’t God simply say, “I will come and give myself for you as redemption?” Why a Messiah, or the Son of God? Even in the example of Abraham and Isaac on the mountain it is a father and son, presumably to represent God sacrificing His Son. Why?
Answer: God gave man a set of laws to live by to make it possible for Him to dwell with us. He didn’t just make them up, His standards of righteousness require them, and not just for His people. These are things He requires of Himself when dealing with us as well.
One of His laws concerns redemption. When any of His people lost something He had given them, whether it was property or personal freedom, a blood relative was responsible for redeeming the loss (Lev. 25:25,47-49). God is not a man, let alone our blood relative, so when Adam sinned and put himself and all his progeny in bondage to sin God couldn’t redeem us Himself. A man had to do it.
As the sacrificial system shows us, the “coin of redemption” is the blood of an innocent man, represented throughout the years by a perfect lamb. The lamb’s blood was sufficient for a temporary reprieve, but it would eventually take a perfect sinless man to permanently redeem mankind.
That created an enormous problem in that since the fall there hasn’t ever been a perfect sinless man. All of Adam’s descendants were contaminated by sin, so they were all disqualified. Angels are of a different order so none of them could do it. The only solution was for God to become a man himself, because only He is sinless. And just like He showed Abraham and Isaac on the mountain (Genesis 22), it took a father to oversee the sacrifice and a son to be the sacrifice. So the Father needed a Son.
Peter explained all this in the clearest terms when he wrote;
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake (1 Peter 1:18-20).
Question: When did God first identify Himself as Father and Son ?
I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.”
God did not start looking for a wife with whom to have a child, the way we would. He looked at the second member of the trinity and declared Him to be His Son.
We can tell David was not referring to his own special relationship with God by reading the next few verses.
“Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling. Kiss the Son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him (Psalm 2:8-12).
Before the first man was created, God saw that mankind would fall into sin and would need a Redeemer. In what’s known in some circles as the everlasting covenant, these two members of the Trinity came to an agreement that in the fulness of time the Son would be born into humanity to become a kinsman to mankind and give His life as a ransom for our sins.
Question: Jesus prayed to God for strength both to resist temptation and to face the cross. If he needed that extra strength, how is he the eternal and almighty God? And if He is God, was He praying to Himself?
Answer: When Jesus came to Earth He came as as a man to redeem mankind. That means He functioned as a man and actually limited His powers to those available to mankind. The miracles He performed were made possible through the power of the Holy Spirit, and were repeated by His disciples and others to show us that all men have this power available to them. As a man, He grew tired and discouraged at times, and, in the final hours before His ordeal, was beset by anguish. When that happened He went to His father in prayer, just like you and I do.
Question: After His temptation, Jesus was strengthened by an Angel. How can an Angel, (a ‘kingdom below’) strengthen the Almighty?
Answer: The wilderness temptation (Matt. 4:1-11) was no ordinary event. A careful reading shows that each temptation involved Jesus violating His mission, either by reclaiming His Godly power, disobeying the Scripture, or worshiping Satan. Any one of these would have disqualified Him as our redeemer and left mankind forever lost.
After 40 days without food, a man’s reserves are depleted, and His temptation happened right at the end. Imagine yourself in that situation and try to get a sense of how you would feel. Would you have the strength to resist all of Satan’s wiles at the end of a 40 day fast? After Jesus sent Satan away, God sent angels to comfort Him and restore His strength. We have no way of knowing how often God has sent angels to help restore other men, but I imagine it has happened numerous times.
Question: Christ states when explaining end times prophecy to his disciples that he does not know when the day will come, that only the Father knows. If they were one entity how could he not know what he said he knows?
Answer: That’s actually not what Jesus said. Matt. 24:36 reads, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
Notice the word “about” in that verse. It means the details surrounding the actual day and hour of His coming were unknown to Him at that time, just like they are unknown to all men. These details were revealed to Him after He returned to Heaven, and when He visited the Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos he had John share them with us. Remember, the first verse of the Book of Revelation says, “The revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave Him to show His servants what must soon take place.”
Question: I don’t have a problem with the trinity but I have a friend who does, He has been a Jehovah’s Witness and threw a question at me I couldn’t answer. Why did Jesus say “My Father is Greater than I”. How would you answer that question?
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God,did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
While on Earth Jesus was, for a little while, lower than the angels (Hebr. 2:7) the humble servant of God. Of course He would say, “My Father is greater than I”. But because He was willing to become subordinate to the Father, the Father gave Him the name that is above all names. Today on Earth no one knows the true name of the Father, but almost everyone has heard the name of Jesus.
Summary: Redeeming us literally required all the fulness of God to dwell in the One He called His Son, a perfect sinless man who died in our place so we could live with Him in peace (Colossians 1:19-20). It’s something only He could do. And it wasn’t just a temporary thing. Today, there’s a resurrected man named Jesus seated on the throne of God at the right hand of the Mighty One (Matt. 26:64, Ephes. 2:20). Still one with Him, but still the image of the invisible God, the exact representation of His being. Selah. 08-09-14
Note: You can find a companion article with additional detail including a rebuttal to those who deny that the Bible supports the deity of Jesus by going here.