Friday, January 20, 2012

Repaying with affliction those who afflict you


2Thess 1:5-10  This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering--  (6)  since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you,  (7)  and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels  (8)  in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  (9)  They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,  (10)  when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

Several times we have discussed audience relevance when looking at the writings of the New Testament. Here is an interesting case. Paul is writing to the saints in Thessalonica. The Thessalonica church is made up of the believing Jews that Paul convinced in Acts chapter 17 and the Gentiles that also believed as a result of Paul’s preaching.

Paul founded the church In Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-4.)  He went into Thessalonica, found a Jewish synagogue, and began to preach the gospel to them. Some of them along with some Greeks that attended the synagogue became believers. It did not take long for the Jews to become jealous of Paul and cause problems (Acts 17:5-10.) They tried to stir up the authorities by claiming that he was seditious against Caesar.  As a result Paul and company went on to Berea, and though they found more noble Jews there that searched the scriptures, the Jews from Thessalonica were able to stir up trouble for them there also. So much so that Paul was forced to leave town.

Despite all of the turmoil and persecution that the unbelieving Jews perpetrated on the church, the Thessalonian believers were very faithful to the gospel and the news of their love spread abroad (1Thess 1:4-6.) This is the historical context behind the message of Paul to the Thessalonians in both of Paul’s letters to them.

So, when he wrote to them in 2 Thessalonians chapter one, he was referring to this situation and this specific persecution. Further, it was brought about in large part by the unbelieving Jews in Jerusalem that were part of the rulers. Look at what Paul says to them in the above indented passage: (6)  since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you,  (7)  and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels  (8)  in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  (9)  They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,  (10)  when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. I have underlined the parts of the passage that I would like to use to point out the thesis of this blog post.

First off he says that it is just to repay with affliction those who afflict you. This has to mean the first century believers. It cannot be put off two thousand years later. The you in this passage is the Thessalonians. So then, the affliction is coming to the unbelieving Jews in the first century that are contemporary with the audience that Paul is addressing. Jesus is coming in flaming fire and vengeance against the unbelieving Jews in the first century. To see this any other way does violence to the clear meaning of the text.

Therefore, you cannot push the rest of the letter out past the time of the audience of the letter. 2Thessalonians 2 and the man of sin, the strong delusion and everything else covered in the letter are directly attached to the first century time frame. It can be no other way. In view of this we must find a way in which Jesus came in flaming fire in the first century and that has to be with the siege of Titus of Rome in 70AD.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Last Adam; In His Presence in the Present


1Co 15:45  Thus it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

We have taken a long look at the significance of the destruction of the temple, Jesus enemies being put under his feet, and the full instatement of the New Covenant. At the destruction of the temple the Old Covenant, that was obsolete since the time of Jeremiah, vanished. So then, what does that mean practically? Look at the above scripture; the first Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life giving spirit. What if there is more than meets the eye to the later statement? What exactly does it mean to become a life giving Spirit? Well, for sure it means that because of the last Adam eternal life is possible for all.  How do I know this you may ask? Well, look at this: 1Co 15:22  “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” This explains it clearly.

Still, what if there is more? What if the old heavens and earth was the Old Covenant, and the new heavens and earth was the new covenant?  David Curtis makes a powerful case for it here. But, let’s just assume for a moment that he is right. This means that we are living right now in the New Heavens and Earth. It means that the New Heaven and Earth has been available to all who would believe it since the destruction of the temple. It means that what we have learned to call church doctrine is really, the strong delusion of 2Thess 2:11.

Recently my wife has been ill; some sort of a virus or something.  She was on the phone with her sisters and they prayed for her to be healed. One of her sisters, an evangelist, prophet and co-pastor quoted the passage from Isaiah which says “by his stripes we are healed.” She went on to prophetically proclaim that being healed is a place. That struck a chord with my spirit as I believe that to be the case. The place is the presence of God and it is in the present moment. It has been ever since the new heaven and earth have been with us. We simply must believe it!

The truth is that in the Last Adam we have been completely restored to relationship with the Father. We walk and talk in his presence 24/7. We are always in his presence! The reason is that in reality we live in the present, and in the present is his presence. It does not matter whether we feel it or not. It is what is true. However, we really only tap into it by faith and trust; We only benefit from his presence when we acknowledge it.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know that we are always in his presence? Yes, but only if you realize that Jesus has made us righteous before the Father all the time. We can stand in that presence with a cleansed conscious because of the blood of Jesus. In Him we are the righteousness of God! Please begin to believe the truth about who you are and whose you are. This will not only bring healing… it will bring a peace that passes understanding!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The significance of 70AD and the destruction of the temple: Part IV


1Co 15:54-57  When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."  (55)  "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?"  (56)  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  (57)  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I have posited before in this blog that I see the Epistle of Hebrews as the Rosetta Stone of the New Covenant. I am certain that it was written to Hebrew believers to help them with the transition of covenants we have been discussing in this series. If you look at Heb 9:8;  “The Holy Spirit was making it clear that the way into the most holy place had not yet been disclosed while the first tabernacle was still standing.” Here we can clearly see that the first tabernacle, the temple was a stumbling block into seeing the true temple of God. Almost every version of the bible including the King James Version renders Hebrews 9:8 with just this wording. In fairness, the Young’s Literal Translation renders it *still has a standing.* That, is really difference without a distinction because when the temple was destroyed with *not one stone left upon another that was not unturned* (Jesus predictive prophecy), it also no longer had a standing. When it was gone it lost its standing.

Moving on with the correlation between death and the Old Covenant let’s turn to another passage in Hebrews. Hebrews chapter two is very similar to 1Corinthians 15:21-58.  That is, the same concept is being discussed. First we’ll show the correlation between 1Co 15:54-57 with Hebrews 2:14-15. “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,  (15)  and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” Remember, the sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the Law. Yet, here we see the explanation of the victory. If you read Hebrews 2:6 through 2:18 there is a reference to everything being put under Jesus feet. This is similar to 1Corintians 15:25 “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.”  Who were Jesus enemies? The answer is that it was the unbelieving Jews that forced his crucifixion. They were put under his feet in 70AD at the destruction of the temple and the dispersion of the Jews. That simply put was the day of the Lord’s wrath.

Think about it; God came to tabernacle with them and they rejected and crucified him. How much more of an enemy can one have than to be rejected because of their interpretation of a book?  Look at John 7:47-49  “The Pharisees answered them, "Have you also been deceived?  (48)  Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him?  (49)  But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed." They reject God in the flesh because of their interpretation of the Torah. Here is a classic example of the letter killing. They were adhering to the letter of the Law and missed the Spirit in their midst.

It should be becoming increasingly obvious that when the temple was destroyed and Jerusalem fell that Jesus enemies were put under his feet. The last enemy was death and remember the sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the Law. The New Covenant, the new and better way was the *only* covenant in force from the destruction of the temple forward. And what was that you ask? “For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." (Jeremiah 31:34d. )

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The significance of 70AD and the destruction of the temple: Part III


When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1Co 15:54-57)

Moving on from the last post we will continue our look at the significance of 70AD and the destruction of the temple. In the first post of this series we showed that God’s desire to tabernacle, dwell with humanity has been around from before the foundation of the world and most certainly was evident in creation, and in the last post we took a look at the above text and Paul’s meaning of overcoming death.

In this post it would serve us well to spend some time looking through the eyes of the first century Jews both believers and non-believers as well as the believing gentiles.  The message of the Torah, both the first five books of the Old Testament, and subsequently, the entire Tanakh… the thirty nine books of the Old Testament was a very important part of the Jewish story. Because of that, there was a deep seated mindset that would place a great deal of importance on the Old Covenant… the Mosaic Covenant. Still, at the beginning of the first century CE there was also a great anticipation of the end of the age and the beginning of the age to come. The Jews called it Olam Ha Bah. The thing that is very clear from all the writings of the time including the Talmud, the expectation of the end of the age was imminent. They were not expecting the end of the age to be more than a few years away at the time of Christ.

This in large part was due to the prophecies of Daniel; specifically Daniel’s seventy sevens prophecy found in Daniel 9:24-27. A timetable was specifically spelled out in that passage to the end of the age which was  to fall within three and one half years after the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Daniel had given a specific timeline to the end of the age and the beginning of the age to come. This was linked to all of the references to the day of the Lord found in the Old Testament Prophets. A careful read of the New Testament documents attests to the fact that all of the first century believers, and most of the non-believing Jews held to this timeline.

Further to the point, the Jews had been taught that the tabernacle/temple was the dwelling place of God on the earth from the time of Moses forward. This would explain why there was so much debate and disagreement among the believing and non-believing Jews when Jesus began to speak of himself as the tabernacle… temple. It was offensive to non-believing Torah observant Jews to have Jesus speak of himself as being the dwelling place of God on the earth. Stephen made it abundantly clear in his sermon found in Acts chapter seven that God was no longer dwelling in the temple (Acts 7:48.) It was this part of his sermon that got him stoned.

And yet, there were so many thousands of sincere Jews that believed wholeheartedly in the Torah and in the Mosaic Covenant; But, there was a transition going on in their midst. The transition was from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. To the first century observer it would appear that God had two confusing programs. (1) The Jews, the Mosaic Covenant and the temple and (2) Christ Jesus and his followers, a new temple built with living, breathing stones.  This was the reason for setting a deadline. There was to come a time in the future whereby God would judge between his people and establish his true covenant once and for all. It would be synonymous with the day of the Lord, and the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem. According to Daniel, the deadline was  30AD, three and one half years after the resurrection of Jesus…. However, God and his marvelous grace allowed a forty year grace period whereby he allowed the two Covenants to exist side by side, limping along… not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance  2Peter 3:9.

Are many evangelicals spiritual jihadists?

Notice right off the bat that I say many and not all evangelicals are spiritual jihadists. A Jihad is a holy war waged on behalf of Muslims,...