The Bible is an inspired historical account describing how God established His plan to reconcile the whole world to Himself. It is His Word.
In and through God’s literal and physical interactions with the Nation of Israel and by and through the birth, death, resurrection, ascension and return of the promised Messiah Jesus Christ, readers today are presented with spiritual lessons which are applied (by and through the Spirit) to everyday Christian life.
In and through these spiritual applications believers today grow in faith and love, requisites to being Children of God.
All the physical descriptions, events, and prophesies of the Bible have been literally completed or ultimately abolished with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
The Church that Jesus established (which He said the “gates of hell would not prevail against”) was taken in 70 AD leaving the Spiritual Body of Christ to grow and thrive around the world in its place.
Brick and mortar church is only purposeful through its willingness to teach the Word of God, serve as a hub for believers to gather and fellowship, and to feed and clothe the poor.
Denominations, sects, and religious authority are the creations of Man and do more to divide than unite believing hearts and lives. Institutional physical religion is antithetical to God’s intended purposes because they are all “shakable.” (Hebrews 12:18-29)
The Body of Christ is composed of individual believers whom God has written His laws upon their minds and hearts by the Holy Spirit. (Hebrews 10:16-17)
With sin being removed the only commandments human beings are called to obey are 1) to believe upon Him who God sent into the world (Jesus) and 2) to love God and “neighbor” as ourselves. (1st John 3:22-23)
Because strait is the gate and narrow the way and few be there that find it, a limited number of people will be saved (from hell and the lake of death). Those who enter heaven after this life are God’s children, joint-heirs with Christ, Sons and Daughters of God.
All believers today (since 70 AD) experience their own respective rapture, second coming, and judgment at death. All unbelievers experience being left behind and judgment.
God’s plan has always been to reconcile all the world to Himself that none will be lost.
Some people will come to God by faith in His Son while in this life, others will break in the dark reflections of hell and the remainder will have their souls purged through the Lake of Fire. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Jesus as Lord.
God is one. The term Trinity is a man-made construction. Jesus is God in flesh. The Holy Spirit is God’s Spirit. The Father is God invisible. All are manifestations of the same One God, who is Love.
There is no access to God but through Christ Jesus. None. No other way.
The first principle of Christianity is faith in Jesus Christ.
The last and ultimate principle and purpose of Christianity is love.
Those who are Jesus’ obey His command – His command is to love.
Those who love are His, those who do not are not.
It is the believer’s love that glorifies God and defines them as His.
December 6th 2015
Okay, last week we left off at verse 19 with Peter telling the Jews that in light of their sin (which was done in ignorance) that they needed to “repent and be converted that their sins may be blotted out” and then he adds something we did not cover -
“when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;” (verse 20)
20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:
21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
These passages lend to a meaty subject, and because it is so meaty there has been untold interpretations of it by many very smart people over the ages.
There is a part of me that really hates this part of my job. What part? The part that takes passages like this and lays out stances that have been around for a long time but are NOT the norm.
I do not choose to embrace them because they are out of the ordinary but having not cut my teeth on orthodoxy I have little predisposition to its prejudices – and I believe I am able to more readily see and receive information that traditions have put in the attic.
As the teacher in this gathering I have two firm allegiances – the first is to God and His Word shared contextually, and the second is to telling things as they are to aid seekers in discovering the truth and to therefore help set them free or emancipate them from the shackles of man-made traditions or views.
Our group has thinned over this subject – it will again. But in order to clearly see and comprehend Christianity a sound understanding of these passages are required.
So, remember the setting – Peter and John in the temple having healed a man born lame.
This has opened Peter up to preaching. Preaching what? Jesus Christ.
To Whom. Devout Jews. He told them they had killed “the Just” and “the Holy One” and “the Prince of Life” but that they and their rulers had done it ignorantly, and that in the face of this they should now:
Repent (change their minds) and turn (from their present course) . . . .” that “their sins (related to their rebellious response and rejection of God’s Only Son coming to save them) and then Peter adds:
“when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; (and listen to more context -verse 20 and 21) “And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”
Now, point blank, ask yourselves, “What does this sound like Peter is saying and speaking of?”
Of the seven churches Laodicea gets the biggest rebuke from the Lord. Very little is known of the ancient inhabitants of Laodicea. But because of the Lord's Words to them, much has been assumed. The actual church of Laodicea continued forward well past the age of this written reprimand. Historical writings suggest that Laodicea became a strong center for Christianity. Laodicea was destroyed by an earthquake in 1354, and was never rebuilt. It appears that when Jesus came, and if there were any to be saved that were truly part of the Body they were taken, and all that, remained at Laodicea were corrupted. They continued to play a role in the corrupted attempts to playing church in an age when the Church ought to have been subjective and spiritual rather than objective and materially based.
Jesus is here called "the Amen," "the faithful and true witness," and "the beginning of the creation of God." He knows their works and knowing them intimately He tells them that they are, relative to their faith, their love - their Christianity that they are not cold towards all such things, nor are they hot. And these words are so very poignant - and applicable as we might all look into our hearts and ask: Am I cold...or am I hot? - as a means to discover if we are lukewarm. Then Jesus says, "I would thou wert cold or hot." That's amazing! That God would rather a people be frozen and dead to Him or that they would be on fire OVER being lukewarm.
Why He would prefer they should be "hot" is clear enough; but why would He prefer a state of cold - a state where there was no existence or profession of real faith or love? It's because at least in the case of someone who is cold to God and the things of God...they are honest. And if there was ever one thing that God and Jesus seems to despise is religious hypocrisy, craftiness in God's name, manipulation and deceit. So honesty is one reason why God would perfer cold or hot - but not lukewarmedness. And if someone is being honest before God, they are being more honorable before Him - even if they are cold in their hearts. We can look at the character of Saul of Tarsus, killing Christians and find merit but look to Judas Iscariot who spent three years with the Lord but never really being on fire for him as two good examples of these opposite character traits. Perhaps there is a greater chance of conversion for the honest cold soul before God rather than the religious hypocrite.
Jesus tells the believers at Sardis that there were a few people who had kept themselves free from the general contamination. Simply put, God has always had a remnant throughout scripture - the biblical principle of a remnant existing throughout all of Christian church history as well, "which have not defiled their garments." Because they have not become corrupt, "they shall walk with Me in white." White is the emblem of innocence, and apparently is a reality in heaven. "For they are worthy" meaning deserving, proven, qualified for reward. It is only Christ in us (through faith on His shed blood) that allows us to stand sinless before God. Central to a willingness to let Jesus reign (by the Spirit) must be the characteristics of genuine love, true humility, and choosing to not live lives of flesh and lust.
Now the letter to Philadelphia, a city only 25 miles from Sardis. Here Jesus seems to be reassuring them that they were the heirs to salvation. Whoever looks to Him can walk through the door Christ has opened and "no one can shut it." Christ is the only one who can grant access to God, and Christ has given the Christians at Philadelphia access to God and no one can deprive them of it. Bottom line - Christ is saying that He has the key of David. As a material King David's key opened the door to any who would enter the Nation of Israel. Far more importantly, Jesus now and forever after opens the door for the church or body of believers - which allows all through Him to enter into the presence of God. He IS the door to the kingdom and therefore the only way to salvation.
Those people who claimed to be Jews (but were not, but were actually liars from the synagogue of Satan) were the ones who persecuted the Saints at Philadelphia. He tells them that these persecutors would eventually bow down before the believers (because He will make them) and they will know that Jesus was always on their side. Here Revelation underscores the notion that the Jews are no longer the people of God as a national or ethnic entity, since they have rejected their Messiah.