1 John 3:16

"By this we perceive the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Second Peter

In 2nd Peter 3 Peter speaks of this earth being destroyed and a new earth. We will look at two alternative views on this passage. Was Peter speaking about the total destruction of this planet, assumed to occur at the Second Coming of Jesus, or was he speaking of the destruction of the Jewish state? Whichever one of these is correct, the implications for Christian faith and lifestyle remain the same: we live by the values of the kingdom of God and not by the values of this world.

Remember that Peter was the apostle to the circumcised. Remember also that Peter and all the apostles then were Jews. They were all conscious of the demise of their former state. Peter was writing to Jewish believers. In 2 Pet 3:3-15 Peter speaks of the day of the Lord:

Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God…

We start by looking at the term day of the Lord. It is used many times in the prophets of the day in which God’s end purpose shall be fulfilled. Until then God waits patiently, working out His plan in righteousness. In particular it means the day of judgment against Israel:

Woe to you that desire the day of the Lord! To what end is it for you? The day of the Lord is darkness and not light. As if a man did flee from a lion and a bear met him; or went into the house and leaned his hand on the wall and a serpent bit him.

Shall not the day of the Lord be darkness and not light, even very dark and no brightness in it? I hate, I despise your feast days and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts.(Amos 5:18-22).

See also Zephaniah 1, where the day of the Lord is near and is the destruction of Judah, a day of darkness, clouds and blackness, when with fire God will destroy the “whole earth”. Historical commentators show that this was fulfilled in 589BC, 30 years after Zephaniah prophesied, using the same language that Peter used.

Deuteronomy describes the judgement of Israel if they turned away from their covenant. This was in Peter’s mind as an obedient Jew who followed the law:
For a fire is kindled in My anger and shall burn to the lowest hell and shall consume the earth with her increase and set on fire the foundations of the mountains. (Deut 32:22).

Isaiah told us not to set our heart on the things that perish:

Lift up your eyes to the heavens and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke and the earth shall wax old like a garment and they that dwell there shall die in like manner: but My salvation shall be forever and My righteousness shall not be abolished. (Is 51:6).

This chapter starts by telling the Jews to look to Abraham, who was justified by faith. Then Isaiah showed that a New Covenant shall go forth, that will include the Gentiles. “For a law shall proceed from Me, for a light of the people…My salvation is gone forth and My arm shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon Me and on My arm shall they trust.” (Is 51:4-5).

This covenant is not based upon the law, for Abraham was justified without it, but on the faith of Jesus Christ. Isaiah says that the Old Covenant is passing away and those who live in it shall die by the law. In this passage there is no doubt that the heaven and earth passing away is the passing of the Old Covenant and the establishment of everlasting righteousness. Isaiah continues by saying that Christ makes a New Earth, a new body and community in Christ:

I have put My words in your mouth and I have covered you in the shadow of My hand, that I may plant the heavens and lay the foundations of the earth and say to Zion, you are My people. (Is 51:16).

So when Peter said that the order of the Jews was being destroyed, he encouraged them to look for God’s salvation in Christ, in the New Heaven and New Earth.
We now turn back to our text in Peter:

…wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved and the elements shall melt with fervent heat. Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that you look for such things, be diligent that you may be found of Him in peace, without spot and blameless. (2 Pet 3:12-14).

Peter wrote 2nd Peter just before the siege of Jerusalem which started in 66AD. John Owen believes that this passage is about the destruction of Jerusalem. (See The Works of John Owen Vol. 9.) Owen claimed that Peter was not speaking of a literal destruction of the planet.

What are some reasons for this view?

1. The world destroyed in Noah’s day, which Peter used as a comparison, meant a judgment upon men, not a destruction of the planet.

2. The symbolism of the heavens dissolving and the earth being destroyed are used in scripture to mean the end of a nation, not the end of the world.

3. Peter was addressing scoffers of his own generation, the Jews who scoffed at Jesus’ prediction of the destruction of Judaism. This is what the Jews were aware of concerning Jesus’ teaching. They persecuted the Christians because of this.

4. The New Heaven and New Earth Peter spoke of are said in Is 65:17, 66:21-22, Hab 2 and Heb 12:26-28 to be the gospel age.

5. Peter said that they were to expect the fulfilment of this in their own generation.

6. Looking for salvation in a new physical heaven and new physical earth would not solve anything. The problem is the hearts of men and the solution is in Jesus. The New Heaven and New Earth merely depict His salvation.

7. The Greek word used twice in 2nd Peter 3 for elements, which shall melt with fervent heat, is used seven times in the New Testament and refers to the elements of the Jewish Old Covenant state (Gal 4:3, 4:9, Col 2:20, Heb 5:12, 6:1).

8. Peter uses similar language here that Jesus uses in the Olivet Discourse in Matthew, Luke and Mark (the sun the moon and the stars) for that which occurs immediately after the tribulation of those days, which Jesus expressly said was the fall of Jerusalem (Matt 24:29). Peter used the same language also in Acts 2 when describing the fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy in his day.

But one of the main reasons that we believe that 2nd Peter 3 is about the destruction of the Jewish state, is that it is possible that the Bible does not say that the earth will be destroyed at the end, at the resurrection, when Jesus hands over the kingdom to the Father. Paul speaks of this is 1st Corinthians 15 and he says nothing about the earth being literally destroyed.

We will look at this in the next chapter, from texts in Revelation and the prophets. It is often assumed that these texts say that the earth will be destroyed, but do they say this? Is the idea of the total destruction of this planet a pagan myth that we read into 2nd Peter 3 unwittingly? You may not agree with this, but we should be able to challenge our views, while holding to the inerrancy and intended meaning of scripture.

It does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him. (1 John 3:2).

Peter said that the reason that this event was delaying in his time, was that the Lord was longsuffering. The 1,000 years being one day that Peter mentioned is not a definition of a day. Peter’s purpose is to show that God is patient. This was also mentioned by Jesus in Matt 10:23 and 24:14 in showing that this judgment would wait until the gospel had gone to the Jews, i.e., it would wait for that generation to hear the gospel.

When Peter said that we look for new heavens and a new earth he meant that our hearts and lives are not of this world, but we are in Christ. We are not looking in the sense that we do not have it yet, but maintaining our focus and view in Christ. We are also expecting Christ’s vindication in history and in eternity.

Peter’s exhortation has relevance to every generation. The fashion of this earth is always corrupting and passing away and will do until Jesus finally returns at the resurrection at the end of this age. Then we have the final manifestation of that which began at Pentecost. Once again we quote Calvin’s view of this:

Here the world to come is not that which we hope for after the resurrection, but that which began at the beginning of Christ’s kingdom; but it will no doubt have its full accomplishment in our final redemption (resurrection). (Calvin, Commentary on Hebrews 2:5).

This is the New Heaven and New Earth, fulfilled in new birth and in the redemption of our bodies. We look at the Second Coming of Jesus and resurrection in the next chapter.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Peter in Jerusalem

It is likely that Peter wrote his epistles from Jerusalem in the 60’sAD, which would make his statement about the end of all things at hand clear (1 Pet 4:7). Soon after he wrote this epistle, all believers fled Jerusalem.

Peter was the resident apostle of Jerusalem, as Paul made clear in Galatians. At the end of 2nd Peter, Peter said, “They of Babylon greet you”, which could mean Jerusalem, for the Jews were then the main persecutor of the church and had killed the Lord and the prophets. Babylon is the apostate bride who was unfaithful:
Jerusalem. (See Is 1:21, Jer 2:20, 3:1-11, Ezek 16:15-18; Ezek 23.) Compare Matt 23:34-37 and Luke 11:47-51, with Rev 17:6 and 18:20, 24.

Peter could even have written his epistles from Jerusalem at the very time Roman forces were gathering against it. The Catholics say Babylon was symbolic of Rome, to support their claim that Peter was writing from Rome as their first Pope, but the Roman church was started by Paul’s team workers, which is why Paul wrote the epistle of Romans. There is no evidence that Peter was ever in Rome.

When Peter wrote 2nd Peter, the forces of Rome were about to begin their three and half year siege of Jerusalem, which ended in its total destruction.

Monday, 28 June 2010


So Christ was offered to bear the sins of many; and to them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin to salvation. (Heb 9:28).

Christ’s appearing mentioned in Heb 9:28 refers to Pentecost. The context is about the Old Testament high priest who went into the holy of holies once a year to offer blood for sin. The worshippers remained outside waiting for the priest’s return. If he returned it was a token that the blood had been accepted, that the worshipper’s sins were forgiven. This meant they were “saved”, at least for a year, when blood would have to be offered again.

Heb 9:28 says that in the same way Christ appears the second time without sin. This is His coming out of heaven (the true holy of holies) after the blood was accepted, to announce the Covenant is accepted. This is what happened on the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was sent to consummate our salvation and was given to all who believe (look for Him). Pentecost is the evidence of the acceptance by God of Christ’s atonement for us and therefore of our salvation.

Hebrews does not speak of the Second Coming. Heb 10:25 tells us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves, but to exhort one another, especially as we see the day approaching. This day is not the Second Coming. It is mentioned later in the chapter, in verse 37, in reference to Habakkuk, who said it was the day of God’s vindication. This exhorting one another while the day of salvation remains is also mentioned in Heb 3:13.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

The Appearing

It is in such a climate that Peter encouraged the church concerning the appearing of Christ. We repeat the text:

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, be found to praise and honour at the appearing of Jesus Christ. (1 Pet 1:7).

What might this term appearing mean in this context? It is referring to His kingdom, His intervention in the affairs of men at His appointed time, for the vindication of our faith and the comfort of the church with days of peace. Those who remain faithful to the Lord during the day of trial will be vindicated at the appearing of Christ’s authority. Our trials are not in vain, not only for our own souls, but also for the blessing and heritage we leave.

We see this meaning portrayed in Luke, where Jesus stated that He was speaking about the siege of Jerusalem:

And when you see these things begin to come to pass, then look up (be encouraged) and lift up your heads, for your redemption draws near…So likewise you, when you see these things come to pass, know you that the kingdom of God is near at hand. Truly I say to you, this generation shall not pass away until all be fulfilled. (Luke 21:28, 31-32).

Could it be put any plainer? Jesus was not speaking to us, but to His disciples. He said that they would see all of this. He repeated it, saying that their generation would not pass away until all this was fulfilled. It is clear in the context that the redemption and the kingdom were the deliverance of the saints from their persecution by the Jews and Rome.

The Jewish and Roman persecution stopped. Roman persecution did not start again until the mid 3rd Century. There was sporadic persecution in the Roman Empire, but persecution did not become a state policy again until the reign of Decius in the mid 3rd Century and more so in the reigns of Diocletian and Galerius in the late 3rd and early 4th Centuries.

Parousia means coming and appearing. It is not limited to one event at the end of the world, at the resurrection of the dead. The word relates to the kingdom of Christ. It means Christ rules and He appears to the church, through the church and in history.

His kingdom and authority reign through the New Covenant. He comes to save, to fill with His Spirit, to vindicate His saints, to take to heaven when saints die, to bring down earthly kingdoms and to raise up new ones and He comes to end the curse at the resurrection, when corruption puts on incorruption.

There is no doubt that the apostles used the term Christ’s appearing to exhort the disciples in the perilous times that they were then going through, without meaning that the end of the whole world was at hand. They did not think that the whole world was about to end.

It is likely that references to last-days in Acts 2:7, 2 Tim 3:1, James 5:3, 1 Pet 1:5, 1 Pet 1:20, 2 Pet 3:3, 1 John 2:18 and Jude 18 do not refer to the end of this whole world. References to the last day in John 6:40, 44, 54, 11:24, 12:46 and 1 Cor 15:23 do refer to the end of this age at the second resurrection and final judgment. We discuss this in the next chapter.

However, Peter was not speaking of the end of the world, but of the fulfilment of the Jewish prophets, the time of consummation, when Jesus came to redeem us:
Who (Jesus Christ) truly was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you. (1 Pet 1:20).

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Great Tribulation

Though trouble was widespread in the Roman Empire from 60-70AD, the greatest blow would come to Judea. This is the period that Jesus spoke of in Matt 24:21. Jesus called this the time of the abomination and desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet. (Matt 24:15) In Luke, Jesus said that this was when the armies of Rome would encircle and destroy Jerusalem (Luke 21:20). See also Mark 13:14.

How is it possible that such a momentous season of trouble, that Jesus so clearly warned about, would not be in the apostle’s mind in some way and referred to in their writings in the New Testament? When the siege of Jerusalem finally occurred, Jews from the whole known world were there, for the siege began at Passover (Josephus, Wars, 6, 9, 3.). “Accordingly, the multitude of those that therein perished exceeded all the destructions that either men or God ever brought upon the world.” (Wars, 6 9, 4.).

And the people of the prince that shall come (Rome) shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end shall be with a flood and to the end of the war desolations are determined…And for the overspreading of abominations He shall make it desolate; even until the consummation (end) and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. (Dan 9:26-27).

Friday, 25 June 2010

Appearing of Christ

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, be found to praise and honour at the appearing of Jesus Christ. (1 Pet 1:7).

If we remember what was happening in these days it brings a lot of meaning to the context. Christians were being burnt by Rome. Not only was Jerusalem against the church, but in Nero’s time Rome had become an enemy of the gospel. Nero demanded emperor worship, which the Christians would not give.

Rome burnt many Christians. Nero used them for human candles to light the streets of Rome at night. They were tortured and killed by gladiators and lions in Nero’s games as he tried to please the multitudes with entertainment, as Nero’s temperament grew worse and worse.

It is hard to imagine how we could read the New Testament without reflecting on the impact that these things made on its context. If today’s Christians were commonly burnt as street lamps and if a despotic and insane ruler was tearing down the fabric of society, our writings would comment on the trouble. This is exactly the context of the much of the New Testament. But with a Dispensationalist outlook, we shift our mind’s attention from their day to our day. This is not genuine exegesis of scripture.

Suetonius Tranquillus, a Roman government official, described Nero’s behaviour, which was not too dissimilar to what may happen in our own time:

"He castrated the boy Sporus and actually tried to make a woman of him; and he married him with all the usual ceremonies, including a dowry and a bridal veil, took him to his home attended by a great throng and treated him as his wife. And the witty jest that someone made is still current, that it would have been well for the world if Nero's father Domitius had that kind of wife.

This Sporus, decked out with the finery of the empresses and riding in a litter, he took with him to the courts and marts of Greece and later at Rome through the Street of the Images, fondly kissing him from time to time."

Tacitus described the persecution of Nero against Christians:

"An immense multitude was convicted…of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired." (Tacitus Annals XV.44).

Tacitus wrote generally of this period:

"The history on which I am entering is that of a period rich in disasters, terrible with battles, torn by civil struggles, horrible even in peace…there were civil wars, more foreign wars and often both at the same time."

He went on to describe distress all over the empire, natural catastrophes and the many people who died and concluded:

Besides the manifold misfortunes that befell mankind…never was it more fully proved by awful disasters of the Roman people or by indubitable signs that the gods care not for our safety, but for our punishment." (Tacitus, The Histories).

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Perilous Times

We are saying that the term last-days was primarily about this transition for Israel, between the Old and the New Covenants. Many resisted this transition and still tried to live as though under the law, even as Christians. But when the temple was removed in 70AD they could no longer do this. This transition occurred during what the Bible called perilous times. In other places it was called great tribulation.

(We do not say that last-days only refers to that period. If can refer more generally to this present evil age, which is under God’s judgement, in which the lives of people are but a vapour [brief]. We speak of this in the next chapter. The principles that the 1st Century met still apply.)

Israel had entered this messianic age that they were expecting and that which the Essenes were preparing for. It was only that this messianic age was not as many of them had expected. Instead of ruling from Jerusalem in the Middle East, Jesus was ruling from the heavenly Jerusalem.

We will now look at how Peter used the term last time, or the end. Peter spoke of the salvation ready to be revealed at the last time. He spoke of the appearing of Jesus Christ. He said that the end of all things was at hand (1 Pet 4:7). What could he have meant by this?

1. The end of the whole world, in which case he was wrong. It is 2,000 years since Peter said this and the world has not ended.
2. He meant that the end was “at hand” or near from God’s perspective. But Peter was not speaking of God’s perspective here. He was speaking to those he wrote to and said to them plainly that the end was at hand.
3. By “at hand” Peter meant that we could die at any time and must be ready for judgement. That is, the end is always at hand for all of us. It is difficult to show that Peter meant this. He was referring to the historical events the people of that time were passing through.
4. Or was Peter referring to the perilous time of that generation, leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem?

It is clear that they were living in exceptionally perilous times. Paul had said perilous times would come in “the last-days”, while addressing how Timothy should conduct himself, meaning that Paul was referring to their own time (2 Tim 3:1).

In 1 Cor 7:26 Paul recommended not marrying, if any had the gift, due to the “present distress”. Paul addressed this in 1st Thessalonians 5, when speaking of the approaching trouble. Paul said that the Thessalonians (a mixture of Jew and non-Jewish believers) should be prepared for this, intimating that this was to happen in their own time.

Jay Adams, a respected Evangelical author, wrote in Trust and Obey: A Practical Commentary on First Peter:

"In six or seven years from the time of writing, the overthrow of Jerusalem, with all its tragic stories, as foretold in the Book of Revelation and in the Olivet Discourse upon which that part is based, would take place.

Titus and Vespasian would wipe out the old order once and for all. All those forces that led to the persecution and exile of these Christians in Asia Minor—the temple ceremonies (outdated by Christ’s death), Pharisaism (with its distortion of O.T. law into a system of works-righteousness) and the political stance of Palestinian Jewry toward Rome—would be erased.

The Roman armies would wipe Jewish opposition from the face of the land. Those who survived the holocaust of A.D. 70 would themselves be dispersed around the Mediterranean world. “So,” says Peter, “hold on; the end is near.” The full end of the Old Testament order (already made defunct by the cross and the empty tomb) was about to occur."

We fully agree with Adam’s appraisal expressed here.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

A New Heart

A New Jerusalem is a new heart. We have something to sing about! Why would we be dragged back under an Old Covenant religious mindset, as if Jesus Christ did not prevail in fulfilling these prophecies? Hebrews describes this New Jerusalem:

But you are come to mount Zion, to the city of the living God, to the heavenly Jerusalem…to the general assembly and church of the Firstborn, which are written in heaven and to God the judge of all and to the spirits of just men made perfect and to Jesus…(Heb 12:22-23).

We have come to this now. We are in this New Creation that God has made in Jesus Christ. This is what the gospel is. This new order is our redemption. “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, He said, Behold, the days come when I will make a New Covenant…” (Heb 8:7-8).

Passages such as 2 Chron 7:14 do not apply to the church:

If My people who are called by My name shall humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their evil ways: then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

This was the problem of the Old Covenant. The people did not know God and did not continue in His ways. God kept sending them deliverers and they would go back into sin. Considering the state of their heart under the Old Covenant God cried out, “Behold, I make all things new.”. We are not saying that we never sin, but God’s people who are in Christ are not repeatedly brought down into a cycle of sin and deliverance and should not expect to be, nor should they pray like that.

A backslidden nation needs to pray this prayer and the people of that nation given a new heart. Then our nation’s lands will be healed.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Former Sins

Jeremiah showed that in the New Covenant God would forget former sins, remove sin altogether and forever sanctify His people. The purpose of the New Covenant was, “I will put your sin from Me, as far as the east is from the west.” (Ps 103:12). This would make us New Creations. This gives us a new heart. Because of this new heart we do not forsake the Lord. This is the whole reason that Jesus came.

God’s problem with the Old Covenant was that the people broke it, “Which…covenant they broke…” (Jer 31:31-33) There was a continual cycle of sin, captivity, prophet, repentance, blessing, sin…(See the book of Judges.) This is not the life of one who is born again.

In Christ He has put all those former things away, “For I will forgive their iniquity and I will remember their sins no more.”. Jeremiah continues in chapter 31 to say that God has not cast off His people despite their sin, but will bring them into this New Covenant of renovation and change of heart. This is what the book of Hebrews describes.

Isaiah also showed that former things are gone:

…because the former troubles (sins) are forgotten and because they are hid from mine eyes (through Christ’s blood). For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.

But be glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing and her people a joy. (Is 65:16-18).

The gospel is such good news.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Not a Temple of Stone

Dispensationalism claims that the above passage (Is 66:21-23) is about Jesus returning to Jerusalem and setting up the temple and making Gentiles literal Levites in the temple. This is wrong for several reasons:

1. Jesus never said this and neither did any apostle in the New Testament.
2. It denies the clear intention of prophetic language.
3. It is literalism.
4. It denies the New Covenant in Christ.

The clear interpretation of these passages by the apostles cannot be denied:

To whom (Jesus) we come, as to a living stone, disallowed indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious. You also as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believes on Him shall not be confounded. (1 Pet 2:4-6).

True Zionism is Jesus Christ and His church. So how can it be said that we are spiritualizing the texts? This is what Peter said: “A spiritual house.”.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

New Heaven/Earth

God applied the same language to the removal of Israel and the Old Covenant and the bringing in of the reign on His Son in the New Covenant. This is the greatest establishment of a New Order in prophetic history.

And I will also take of them for priests and for Levites, says the Lord. For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before Me, says the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me, says the Lord. (Is 66:21-23).

This is about the New Covenant, as the Gentiles worship the Lord. God said that He will take of the Gentiles and make us Levites and priests. The term Levites here means that God will make priests of the Gentiles through the New Covenant. Levites is not used literally, but symbolically for priests.

Imagine the outrage of the early Jews over this. “How could those Gentiles be made priests?”. We are made priest through Jesus Christ, through new birth and by the gift of the Spirit. This is the only priesthood now and it includes believing Jews also.

Then God said that this New Heaven and New Earth would remain before Him forever. That is, the new order, the New Covenant, is an eternal covenant in His Son. There is no doubt that the New Heaven and New Earth are symbolic of the New Covenant, the everlasting covenant where there is an eternal remission of sin by one sacrifice.

Heb 9:10 claimed that the Old Covenant was “ordinances imposed on them until the time of reformation”, meaning correction or perfection. Kittel, in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, commented on the Greek word διόρθωσις (reformation), saying that the Old Covenant:

Lasted until the setting up of the order of the fulfilled time…when the Law and the Prophets were replaced by the διόρθωσις…the time of the true order…From this time on there is in force the order of the dawning time of consummation in the fashioning of the relation between God and man. Thus διόρθωσις is a witness to the fulfilment of Judaism in Christianity and an expression of the eschatological faith of primitive Christianity.

Eschatology in the mind of early Christendom meant the fulfilment of the Old Testament expectation in Christ. Is 66:23 also uses the term Sabbath symbolically for worship. Paul said that the literal Sabbath was abolished forever in Christ (Col 2:16). The literal Sabbath will never return. To say it will return in a future dispensation opposes the finished work of Christ.

Hag 2:5-7 and Heb 12:26-28 together also show that the New Heaven and New Earth refer to the New Covenant. This is the contextual meaning of the passages. (We discussed in the previous chapter.)

Saturday, 19 June 2010

All Nations to Battle

Prophets such as Joel and Zechariah spoke of the “latter days”. By this they meant the end of the nation of Israel under the Old Covenant or Mosaic era. The period was definitely in the latter days of Israel’s nationhood, hundreds of years after those prophets wrote. Our mistake is that we do not read the Bible from the perspective at the time that it was written.

They spoke about all nations coming against Israel. Nations means ethnos, Gentile people groups. This was fulfilled by Rome which gathered the nations in that region into its army (much as a UN army would today) and destroyed the state of Israel. This is where the rulers of Israel fell, its governors and priests, as stars and the sun from heaven. Any historical commentary would show us this.

The prophets also referred to many battles that would precede this last event, such as Ezekiel’s reference to Gog and Magog. Historical commentaries show that these were tribes in that region that came against Israel in the Intertestamental period.

The prophets then spoke of a restoration of Israel in the New Covenant after its destruction in the 1st Century. This restoration was fulfilled by the gospel. This is what John the Baptist declared in the opening of his ministry. The nation was about to be thrown into the fire, but there was an escape through the Son of God.

God has not cast off His people, but has called them into His Son, where all His promises are fulfilled. This is how Paul and the early apostles interpreted the prophets and these events.


So we are speaking about the fall of the nation state of Israel, as declared by the prophets and the restoration of those called to salvation through the Seed of David. The language used to depict this fall was the same language used concerning the judgement of Idumea;

And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falls off from the vine and as a falling fig from the fig tree. For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea and upon the people of my curse, to judgement. (Is 34:4-5).

Here again is a parousia (come down). It is used in terms of judgement. The Lord said that the heavens would be dissolved. All the stars would fall down and the heavens would be rolled up as a scroll.

This is the same language that Peter used in his second epistle. Peter said, “The heavens being on fire shall dissolve (2 Pet 3:12). We read this and suppose that Peter was speaking literally. But was he? Are we not interpreting his words according to pagan chiliasm (spoken of in our previous chapter) and not according to the Hebrew literary intention?

If the heavens were not literally destroyed in the reference to Idumea, but it referred to their leaders and kingdom being completely removed and dissolved, as it was, then why should we apply a different principle of interpretation to Peter’s prophecy? Again, why the distinction? We will address this prophecy of Peter further below.

Friday, 18 June 2010

The Old World

Peter spoke of the last-days in Acts 2:17. He referred to Joel’s prophecy about the last-days, when God would pour out His Spirit. Peter said “this is that”, meaning that the events of Acts 2 were those that were to occur in Joel’s last-days.

Peter referred to Joel’s prophecy about the sun and moon turning red and said it was fulfilled in his time then. These were not the last-days before the Second Coming of Christ, but the last-days of the law and the prophets and the last-days of the nation of Israel as a nation under the Old Covenant.

The prophecies about the sun and moon are again symbolic. We can see this in many Old Testament texts. They refer to earthly kingdoms, rulers and princes. The symbolic language means that one kingdom, era, order, rule, dynasty or nation is about to come down and a new order arise in its place.

This is the time when the Old Covenant was ended by Christ and the New Covenant established. A whole new order had been brought in.

Sun, Moon and Stars

Take Babylon for example. When Isaiah prophesied of its destruction this is the language that he used:

For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light; the sun shall be darkened in his going forth and the moon shall not cause her light to shine…Therefore I will shake the heavens and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord and in the day of His fierce anger. (Is 13:10, 13).

If we read the whole chapter in Isaiah we will see that Isaiah was speaking about the coming judgement on Babylon. Isaiah used symbols to show that the destruction would be complete. All the leaders fell and the empire was overturned. A whole new order in terms of earthly dominion was established.

God said that the stars, sun and moon would be darkened and the earth would be removed. The heavens also would shake. We read this and know that it is symbolic. The earth was not literally removed out of its place. The stars, sun and the moon still gave out their light.

If it is clear that this did not literally happen in Babylon’s time and that it was symbolic, then why would we interpret New Testament verses like this literally? Why would we go to the same statements that Jesus made in Matthew 24 and say that these must be literal? Why the distinction?

Thursday, 17 June 2010

What Others Say

Because this is new to many Christians, we will list a few statements from other believers. We will get a bit ahead of our topic with these quotes, which include a few matters that we will discuss further below.

John Owen, in his sermon to the British Parliament (The Advantage of the Kingdom of Christ in the Shaking of the Kingdoms of the World, available at www.ccel.org/ccel/owen) commented on Matt 24:29:

Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened and the moon shall not give her light and the stars shall fall from heaven and the powers of heaven shall be shaken. The Judicial state, in all the height and glory of it, was utterly consumed; so that all flesh, all the Jews, were in danger of utter destruction. (Referring to 70AD).

John Gill, famous Evangelical commentator and mentor of Charles Spurgeon, wrote much on these matters. We have just a line here. On Mark 13:26 Gill noted:

And then shall they see the Son of man, etc. Not in person, but in the power of His wrath and vengeance; of which the Jews then (in 70AD) had a convincing evidence. (Commentary on Mark).

The well known Evangelical commentator Adam Clarke said on Matt 24:30:

Then shall appear the sign of the Son of man. The plain meaning of this is, that the destruction of Jerusalem will be such a remarkable instance of divine vengeance, such a signal manifestation of Christ's power and glory, that all the Jewish tribes shall mourn and many will, in consequence of the manifestation of God, be led to acknowledge Christ and his religion.

By ‘land’, in the text, is evidently meant here, as in several other places, the land of Judea and its tribes, either its then inhabitants, or the Jewish people wherever found. (Commentary on Matthew).

Bishop John Lightfoot (not the liberal Lightfoot, but John of the 17th Century) was a signatory of the Westminster Confession and he held to the same view on Matthew 24. You can find his works easily on the Internet. He wrote much on the topic.

There are many more authors in our current day that could be listed here, including Kenneth Gentry and Gary DeMar. See DeMar’s books End Times Fiction and Last-days Madness. Jay Adams is a respected Christian author today. He has written two books on these issues that are worth reading; Time Is At Hand and Preterism: Orthodox or Unorthodox?

Preterism comes from the Latin root for past. Preterists claim that prophecy has been fulfilled. We hold to partial preterism, meaning some prophecies are fulfilled, but the final prophecies about Christ Second Coming and the resurrection have not yet been fulfilled. We write more on this in our next chapter.

Marcellus Kik, John Lightfoot, Jay Adams, Kenneth Gentry, Andrew Sandlin, C. Jonathin Seraiah, Richard Pratt, David Chilton, Gary North, Rousas Rushdoony, Lorraine Boettner, Adam Clarke all interpret Matt 24:31 as the destruction of Jerusalem, none of whom are full preterists.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Troublesome Texts

Further texts that describe the Lord’s coming follow. Consider what these mean:

But when they persecute you in this city, flee into another: for truly I say to you, You shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. (Matt 10:23).

Jesus said that His disciples (them, not us) would not have reached all the villages of Israel before He would come. Some have said Jesus was crazy, that He predicted His soon Second Coming and was wrong. The parousia Jesus was speaking of here was with reference to Jerusalem in that generation. This scripture was fulfilled.

J.W. McGarvey, Albert Barnes, F.F. Bruce, D.A. Carson, R.C.H. Lenski, Theodor Zahn, W.W. How and J. Barton Payne are among the many commentators who claim that the “coming” in Matt 10:23 is the Roman invasion of Palestine, which occurred in 66-70AD.

Truly I say to you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. (Matt 16:28).

Jesus said that there were some that He was speaking to, who would not die before He would come. This cannot be fulfilled by His glory being revealed on the Mount of Transfiguration or by His coming at Pentecost, because the transfiguration was a few days later and Pentecost was within a few months. None of the people Jesus addressed had died by then (except Judas).

The normal meaning of this statement is, “Among you lot standing here, many will have died in the normal cause of events, but some of you will still be alive.”. This is about the time of one generation. To interpret this some other way is to change its natural meaning. Jesus said that He would come before that generation had all expired. Like it or lump it, this is what He said.

Again the high priest asked Him, Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and you shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power and coming in the clouds of heaven. (Mark 14:61-62).

When the high priest slapped Jesus, Jesus answered that he would see His coming of in glory. Coming in the clouds of heaven are the exact words used in the Old Testament for judgement against a city. The meaning to the priest was clear. The priest was judging Jesus, but it was the temple and priesthood that was about to be judged.

Jesus here made a clear reference to Daniel 7, about the Son of man ascending and given authority. The priest knew it. It was an answer to his question, “Are you the Son of God.” Jesus said, “Yes, I am the one in Daniel.” The biblical meaning is as plain as day. This is why the priest rent his clothes are cried, “Blasphemy.”

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

The Roman World

In Matt 24:14 Jesus said that the gospel shall be preached in all the word and then the end shall come. The end Jesus was referring to was the age His disciples asked about – the temple era. The world He referred to was the Roman world

Jesus used the Greek word oikoumene for world. This means a region. When Joseph and Mary were taxed, Caesar sent out a decree to “all the world.” (Luke 2:1). This is the Roman world. See Strong’s Greek Dictionary for world in Matt 24:14:

3625: Land, i.e. the (terrene part of the) globe; specially, the Roman Empire.

On the Day of Pentecost people were present from “every nation under heaven.” (Acts 2:5). This is not literal, it does not include Australia! Paul said a few times that in his day the gospel had been preached in all the world and to every creature under heaven. Again, he was referring to the Roman Empire.

…your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. (Rom 1:8).

Obviously Paul did not mean the whole planet. He was using a figure of speech referring to the region in which they lived. In Col 1:6 and 23 Paul said that the gospel in his day had been preached in “all the world” and to “every creature which is under heaven”. Again, he was talking of the Roman world.

These verses show that Jesus’ prediction was fulfilled exactly. Before that generation expired the gospel had gone to the whole Roman world. It appears that God gave the Diaspora of the Jews throughout the Roman Empire one generation after the Lord’s coming to hear the gospel and repent. When the gospel was preached to the world Jesus spoke of, all that Jesus said about that generation came to pass.

This is just as Peter said, the Lord is patient, not willing that any should perish (2 Pet 3:9).

Monday, 14 June 2010

Coming of the Lord

Now we look at another part of the disciple’s question; “What would be the sign of Your coming?”. Today we think of this language as referring to the Second Coming of Christ. Is this what the disciples had in their mind? Did they know about His Second Coming then? They had no idea about that.

What then was their context or mind? We answer this by looking at the word they used – parousia. Parousia is a Greek word meaning coming, presence or appearing. It is used many times in the Old (Septuagint) and New Testaments and it rarely refers to the Second Coming of Christ. The Strong’s Greek Dictionary defines parousia;

Strong’s 395: from the present participle of 3918; a being near, i.e. advent (often, return; specially, of Christ to punish Jerusalem, or finally the wicked)…
Old Testament

Parousia is also used in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. It is translated “come” in English:

The burden of Egypt. Behold, the Lord rides upon a swift cloud and shall come into Egypt…(Is 19:1).

In this verse we have the parousia of the Lord on a cloud to judge Egypt. This is the same language that Jesus used about His coming on a cloud. The disciples would have thought about such Old Testament texts when they asked their question about the judgement on Jerusalem. This was the disciple’s mind.

He bowed the heavens also and came down: and darkness was under His feet…yes, He sent out His arrows and scattered them; and shot out lightening and discomforted them. (Ps 18:9, 14).

This is exactly the language that Jesus used in Matthew 24 about His coming on a cloud with lightening. Why should we interpret Matthew 24 literally when the clear indication of the Old Testament is that this language is symbolic in prophetic literature of judgement?

For, behold, the Lord comes forth out of His place and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth. And the mountains shall quake under Him and the valleys shall cleft…(Mic 1:3-4).

When these same terms are used in Revelation some people interpret them literally. Again, why when in the Old Testament these terms are clearly symbolic of judgement, should we interpret them literally when they appear the same way in the New Testament? To literalise these terms is clearly not biblical.

See also a few other examples; Gen 11:5, Ex 3:8, 1 Chron 16:33, Ps 50:3-4, Is 31:4, Ezek 32:7-8, Zeph 1:15. These all speak of a parousia of the Lord. In each case it is referring to judgement.

In all of these texts clouds, lightening and coming down are all symbolic language for storms of judgement. Judgement is obviously portrayed by storms: thick, black clouds coming from the horizon, showing that strong wind, lightening and destruction are on their way. The symbolic intention is plain.

In none of these texts was there a physical appearing of Christ. If that is how the scripture is interpreted then why should we interpret the same words that Jesus used in Matthew 24 differently?

To show what Jesus meant, the theme is repeated in Luke 17. Here the lightening from one side of the sky to the other is mentioned (vs. 24), then the revelation of the Son of man, followed by calamity. Jesus warns those on housetops to flee, meaning to get out of Jerusalem. In this context Lot’s wife is remembered, meaning, “Do not tarry but move out hastily”.

Why would they be fleeing Jerusalem after the Second Coming of Jesus? This is plainly speaking of the Christian Jews fleeing Jerusalem before 70AD. This is the context of two men or women and one taken and one left (vs. 34-36). It has nothing to do with a rapture. It means that one is taken in death by the calamity and one is left. It is a warning.

When Jesus spoke about His coming on the clouds and that every eye shall see Him, He was answering the disciple’s question about Jerusalem, expressing the severity of the judgement and not speaking about His Second Coming. Matthew 24 is not about the end of this world. It is about the end of the Old Covenant era.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

That Generation

The context tells us that Jesus was speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem. He said that all this would come upon that generation:

Truly I say to you, This generation shall not pass away, till all these things be fulfilled. (Matt 24:34).

Notice that this verse is recorded late in the chapter, after the advent of Jesus on the clouds of heaven. Jesus said that everything He spoke of in Matthew 24 would be fulfilled before that generation passed away.

Was Jesus speaking about His Second Coming? Some have said that He was mistaken, because that generation passed away and His Second Coming has not yet taken place. If everything that Jesus spoke of had to be fulfilled in that generation then He could not have been speaking of His Second Coming. He must have been speaking of the destruction of the temple in 70AD.

A generation is about 40 years. Matthew used this word generation many times in this Gospel and it always meant the people who were alive at that time. (See Matt 1:17, 11:16, 12:39, 12:41, 12:42, 45, 16:4, 17:17, 23:36, 24:34.) We cannot change the meaning of the word to refer to some future generation that Jesus was not addressing then.

Jesus was speaking to a group of people face to face and said, “This generation.”. The plain meaning of the text is that He was referring to the generation that He was speaking to. The passage says nothing to indicate a different meaning. We have to assume a different meaning if we wish to interpret the passage some other way.

Jesus spoke this about 30AD. This puts 70AD well within the time frame that Jesus was speaking of.

Saturday, 12 June 2010


Flavius Josephus was a Jewish historian alive when Jerusalem was destroyed in 70AD. He may not have been a Christian, but he gave a graphic detail of events, showing that everything Jesus said in Matthew 24 was fulfilled in the period when Rome destroyed Jerusalem.

About the period 53-60AD Josephus said, “The country was full of…false prophets, false messiahs…who deluded the people with promises of great events.” (Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews 20.8.5-6.). Many Jews followed these false messiahs and lost their lives. Josephus described the blasphemy and punishment of Jerusalem during that period as a direct fulfilment of Daniel, i.e. the abomination that made desolation (Dan 9:26-27).

These men, therefore, trampled upon all the laws of man and laughed at the laws of God; and for the oracles of the prophets they ridiculed them…for there was a certain ancient oracle…that the city should be taken and the sanctuary burnt, by right of war, when a sedition should invade the Jews and their own hand should pollute the temple of God. Now while these zealots disbelieved these predictions, they made themselves the instruments of their accomplishment. (Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, 1:321. 4.7.3.).

According to Jesus and Josephus the prophecy about an abomination in Jerusalem has been fulfilled and is not a future event. Rome laid siege against Jerusalem for 3 ½ years, before destroying it in 70AD, just as Revelation 11 stated would happen.

Josephus recorded many signs in the heavens that signified God’s judgement, such as a sword that stood over the city, a comet that continued a whole year, a light that lit the area at night, chariots and housemen seen on the clouds around the city, as well as shakings and noises from heaven. As the high priest offered a heifer, it gave birth to a lamb (Josephus, The War of the Jews, 1:453-54 6.5.3., 1:454 6.5.3).

When Roman stones began to destroy the city, some cried out, “The Son is coming.”. James, brother of Jesus, had publicly testified in the temple that the Son of man was about to come in the clouds of heaven to destroy Jerusalem and the Jews mocked this (Stuart Russell, Parousia). See also Eusebius, Church History for James’ testimony, which according to Eusebius occurred when he was martyred.

Historians of the period speak of wars in the whole region of the Roman Empire. Ancient writings referred to provinces within the Empire as nations and kingdoms, for kings ruled over each of them, such as Herod and Agrippa. Millions of people died between 55-70AD, including millions of Jews. Millions more Jews went into slavery. History records a great increase in earthquakes, famines and false christs in those days.

Jesus said that there would be trouble such as there never was before or ever shall be again (Matt 24:21). Whether this is literal in terms of the number of deaths we do not know for certain. But this is a Hebrew idiom used to lay emphasis, such as when both Hezekiah and Josiah were said to have served God more than any before them or after them (2 Kings 18:5, 23:25). See also Ex 10:14, 11:6, Ezek 5:9, Dan 12:1 and Joel 2:2.

For a full description of the terrible events in Jerusalem and Roman region in the decade leading up to 70AD see the Full Works of Flavius Josephus, available on the Internet and in libraries. See relevant extracts from Josephus in The Last-days According to Jesus by R. C. Sproul. This book is an examination of issues raised in Matthew 24.

See also The Most Embarrassing Verse in the Bible for a commentary on Matthew 24, by Assemblies of God pastor and president of the International Correspondence Institute, Australia, Andrew Corbett. You can buy this as an e-book at www.andrewcorbett.net.

Friday, 11 June 2010


The wider context of Matthew 24 is important. In Matt 21:33-46 Jesus gave the parable of the vineyard about those who killed the prophets and the Son. The elders of Israel agreed that the Lord “will miserably destroy those wicked men and let out His vineyard to another husbandman, which shall render Him the fruits in their season.”(vs. 41).

Jesus then said, “The stone that the builders rejected is become the head…” (vs. 42). Here He is referring to Dan 7:13-14. The one they crucified ascended, sat down, was given a kingdom and dominion and returned in judgement and glory against that generation. The theme continues in Matt 23:33-36:

You serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send to you prophets and wise men and scribes: and some of them you shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall you scourge in your synagogues and persecute them from city to city:

That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom you slew between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, All these things shall come upon this generation.

Jesus said that the generation He was then speaking to would have a visitation of the judgement of God. Matthew 24 then described this visitation in detail. Jesus spoke of earthquakes, famines, false Christ’s, wars and rumours of wars. He said all the tribes of the land shall mourn (Matt 24:30). The Greek word used here for tribes is phule and the Greek word for land is ge.

The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia claims that apart from rare exceptions phule is used for the tribes of Israel. (See its use in Matt 19:28, 24:30, Luke 22:30, Acts 26:7, James 1:1, Rev 7:4, 21:12.) Stuart Russell claimed,

“The restricted sense of the word ge in the New Testament is common; and when connected, as it is here with the word “tribes” (phulai), its limitation to the land of Israel is obvious.” (Stuart Russell, The Parousia).

Jesus spoke to those that He was addressing face to face and told them to take the warning from the fig tree. Just as they know the season by the leaves of a fig tree, so they shall know when these troubles begin that the time of the destruction of Jerusalem was at hand. He told them to flee the city in that day.

This fig tree has nothing to do with our own day and has nothing to do with Israel becoming a nation again in the 20th Century. Jesus spoke this only in regard to the Roman advance on Jerusalem.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Matthew 24

In Matt 24:1-3 the disciples asked Jesus about the “end of the age”. Some translations put it “the end of the world”. At that time the disciples did not know anything about the Second Coming of Christ. They did not even understand that Jesus would die for sin and rise again. They did not understand that He would ascend to heaven and one day come again.

This should be apparent without listing the Bible references. The disciples did not then know why Jesus had come. Peter told Jesus not to go to the cross. John and James’ mother wanted her sons to reign with Jesus in Jerusalem. Judas Iscariot was trying to make this happen. Even after the resurrection Jesus rebuked them for still not understanding why He came. It was not until they were filled with the Spirit at Pentecost that they understood.

So what did their question in Matt 24:3 mean?

And Jesus went out and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to Him to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, See all these things? Truly I say to you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the world? (Matt 24:1-3).

The context is the destruction of the temple. Jesus said the buildings would be totally destroyed. The disciples asked one question in three phrases, when would this be, what would be the sign of Your coming and the end of the world, or age? Mark and Luke also record this incident and show it was only one question about the destruction of Jerusalem.

And Jesus answering said to him, See these great buildings? There shall not be left one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down…Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled. (Mark 13:2-4).

So the end of the world they asked about was the “end of the age” that Jesus said would be signified by the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem. The Strong’s Greek dictionary defines the word used here for world as “age”:

Strong’s 165…properly, an age…

This was the end of the Mosaic age and the end of the political nation of Israel. John the Baptist had already warned the Jewish nation of this, saying “The axe is already laid to the root of the tree.” (Luke 3:9). Malachi had called this the great and terrible day of the Lord (Malachi 4:5). Jesus said that John the Baptist was Elijah, whom Malachi said would come before this day (Matt 11:14).

Donald Hagner (Fuller Theological University) claimed in his Matthew Commentary, "The conceptual unity of the Parousia (coming) and the end of the age is indicated by the single Greek article governing both (Sharp's Rule). The disciples thus were unable to separate the two events in their minds: the destruction of Jerusalem must entail the end of the age and the Parousia of Jesus...".

This shows that the disciples were asking only one question: “When was the current age going to end in the messianic fulfilment?”.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

The Term

The term last-days does not normally refer to the Second Coming of Christ and the end of the world. Just like any other term, its meaning depends on its use, or on its context. We must read scripture as it was written then.

We often assume that when the scripture uses the term last-days that it is referring to the Second Coming of Christ. We are not entitled to assume a meaning of a text based on our views. We are obliged to be directed by the context, which means the Old Testament background and the understanding of the apostles at the time that they wrote. We do not mean to say that our findings are necessarily the correct ones, but are stating that this is the task that we face.

The Consummation

The term in the Greek for “last” is eschaton and can refer to common things as well as theological. We can have the last-days (eschaton) of a school term for example. The term can apply to any use.

In prophecy it can mean three things:

1. The end of the Old Covenant Jewish age as expected by the Old Testament prophets.
2. The kingdom of Christ, in which we now live, as the eschaton expected by Israel.
3. Or the end of the world which is yet ahead of us.

How did the apostles use the term?

God…has in these last-days spoken to us by His Son…(Heb 1:1-2).

This verse is referring to the end of the Old Testament age, when all the law and prophets were fulfilled by the coming of Christ. It is the last-days of the Jewish age and the beginning of the age of Messiah. It is the time of the consummation (fulfilment of the types, shadows and prophecies), the establishment of the New Covenant through Christ’s work.

But now once at the end of the world has He appeared to put away sin…(Heb 9:26).

This cannot be referring to a literal end of the world, for Hebrews was written some 2,000 years ago and the world has not yet ended. This is not said to scoff, but to have a sensible look at the meaning of the apostle, while we believe in the inerrancy of scripture.

The Greek word for world here (KJV) does not mean this planet, but it means ages. A better translation is the end of the ages. The term refers to eras, ages, or order of things. This term the end of the world literally means the consummation of the ages.

Heb 9:26 is speaking of the consummation where a new age replaces the Old Covenant. Jesus did not appear to put away sin at the end of the whole world, but at the end of the Old Covenant age. In Heb 9:26 the end of the age means the fulfilment and end of the Old Testament law and prophets, when Christ came to put away sin.

The book of Hebrews was written before the destruction of Jerusalem and temple. While the Old Covenant had ended with the cross, resurrection and ascension of Christ, the temple was still functioning when Hebrews was written. Heb 8:13 refers to it’s soon demise.

Heb 9:26 says that Christ appeared to put away sin at the end of the ages. The results of this were:

1. The end of the Old Covenant through the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ.
2. The beginning of the New Covenant on the Day of Pentecost, with the gift of the Spirit.
3. A time of gospel proclamation to that generation of Jews.
4. An end of the old age structures by a removal of the temple and judgment on Jerusalem.

This is what John the Baptist and Jesus both said in the Gospels, “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand.” (Mark 1:15). They were moving out of one era and into the next era. It was the time of the fulfilment of all the prophets had foretold. Paul said the same,

…they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. (1 Cor 10:11).

This term again literally means the consummation of the ages. Paul was not referring to the end of this planet or the Second Coming of Christ. Many have accused Paul of thinking that the Second Coming of Christ was at hand in his time. None of the authors of the New Testament said that. Paul was referring to the transition from the Old to the New Covenant age, which occurred in their day.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

The Last-days

In this chapter we are looking at two main issues: what does the tern last-days mean; and how do we interpret Matthew 24. To start with we want to make it clear that nothing in this chapter should be taken to mean that we do not believe in the Second Coming of Christ at the end of our current age. The purpose of this chapter is to explore the biblical context in which the apostles wrote. The next chapter shall discuss the Second Coming.

The term last-days gives us a problem. It was commonly used by the apostles for the day in which they lived, but that was almost 2,000 years ago. How should we interpret this? Does this means that the last-days started in the days of the apostles and are still going on today? Or does the term refer to a short period at the end of the world just before the Second Coming of Jesus. If this latter view is the case then the apostles were mistaken, for Jesus did not return near to their own time.

We believe that the term last-days does not refer to either of these two possibilities. In this chapter we look at the term as it is used in the New Testament context.

The other main issue that we look at is to do with Matthew 24. The disciples asked Jesus a question in relation to the temple. Our options here are to see that either Matthew was writing only about the disciple’s question, or he was also addressing issues beyond their intention that would relate to Christians living at the end of the world.

That is, does Matthew 24 relate only to the siege of Jerusalem leading up to 70AD, which this passage and the corresponding passages in Luke 21 and Mark 13 clearly portray, or does it also by extension, symbolism or double fulfilment relate to the end of this world and Second Coming of Christ? What was in Matthew’s mind when he wrote the passage? Can we give the passage a meaning that Matthew may not have intended when he wrote it?

After a brief survey of these issues we look at implications for interpreting scripture in relation to the New Covenant. Topics in this chapter include:

• The end of the age.
• Matthew 24.
• The coming of the Lord.
• Sun, moon and stars.
• The New Heaven and the New Earth.

Monday, 7 June 2010


Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. You are the salt of the earth: but if the salt has lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot of men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. (Matt 5:12-14).

Jesus was speaking here about us holding forth the gospel and the word of life wherever we are. This would mean that we are to speak out and be more concerned about the truth than about our prosperity, or our careers.

It would also mean that our mandate is to be an influence. Fatalistic ideas about the rapture or the end of the world are counter-productive to the mission that Jesus gave to us. To see the troubles in the world today as “signs of the times” is damaging to our calling. Things have been worse before and things now will continue to get worse as long we do nothing.

“Evil rises when good men do nothing”. This is the situation we face now in many cultures.

Going back 500 years we find Puritans such as John Owen, George Fox, John Knox and Oliver Cromwell. The Puritans did not get everything right and often made mistakes. They did have a vision for the future and gave their lives to give many a better heritage in the things of God.

Looking forward they saw nations that served God in freedom and the gospel going out to all the earth. They worked hard and loved not their own lives to death and God blessed their labours with the fruit that many still enjoy today. They had a clear vision for the future and for what they wanted to achieve on our behalf that live today.

They prayed as the Lord worked in them. Knox prayed constantly, “Lord give me Scotland or I die.”. Their whole life was a prayer. They called on king and parliament. If this was not enough they raised armies. The point is they meant business. They were involved. This is the point that we Christians must come to today. We cannot go on living like Hezekiah, saying “Thank God the trouble will not come in my time.”.

Islam is one of the major challenges that we face. The answer is not clamping down on immigration: a fortress mentality. It is too late for that in many places. We have the answer in the gospel, so it is not time for us to retreat. Some say the Muslims have an agenda to take over the West. No doubt that is true, but God has an agenda to convert them. The nations belong to the Lord and to His Christ (Psalm 2).

Terrorism is not the main issue. Greed, decadence, moral depravity and indifference of Christians are the greatest challenges today. We should defend our nations against the enemy, but the main threat against our nations is within. Nations cannot defend themselves if they depart from God. Rising debt, family break down and rising ungodly values in society will render democracy inoperable.

So how do we turn this around? We must be involved. The answer in the past has been to retreat and look after number one. This will not do. If the nation loses its saltiness (its Christian witness) it is trodden under foot by men. The church is God’s voice to the nation. We must speak and be heard.

We should roll up our sleeves and become part of the solution. We need to get involved in the education problems, in the economic problems, in the political problems, at grass roots and at all levels, to help work and find the answers for hospitals, moral issues, the environment, security, social challenges and theology.

Enough is enough. We have given too much room to the enemy. What is our vision for the next 500 years, if the Lord tarries? It is the turning around of Christian nations, that have been going away from God and it is the conversion of the Muslims to Christ. God loves them. They are not the enemy, they have been entrapped by the enemy and the gospel of Jesus Christ will set them free.

The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness of it, the world and they that dwell therein. (Ps 24:1).

Our heart and call is to live in God’s love and free acceptance, working out His salvation with all diligence, in our own hearts and lives, at home, in church, trusting that He be honoured in all we do. Our heart is to preach, teach and heal, to reach every soul with the good news of Jesus. Judgement must start in the house of the Lord: what we teach and how we live. We love not our own lives.

We must pray and call upon God as one people, with love for one another in the church, with hearts filled with His Spirit, asking Him to turn things around, to put godliness in the hearts of all people. We put aside works prayer and pray with gratefulness for the freedom God has given us, with joy.

God has given us such freedom to call upon Him with all boldness. How dare we not use it? How can we have faith that God is good and will act strongly and not use this faith to call upon Him? The enemy wants to silence the church: silence us before God and silence us before men. But our hearts forbid. We open our mouths to both.

Sunday, 6 June 2010


Love means that we are accountable. It is our duty to be open and transparent, not when we are asked, but before we are asked. A duty is something that we fulfil without being asked. When we make enquires people sometimes say, “Do you not trust me?”. That is a wrong question. Instead of asking that, as a steward we have a duty to make full accountability of all our financial dealings without ever being asked.

This is love. Love gives no appearance of evil, so others will not question the righteousness of God and the faith will not be evil spoken of, to the hurt of others. When we have to be asked to show account, this is not love.

Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required in stewards, that a man be is found faithful. (1 Cor 4:2).

A pastor should not be the person who controls the money. Money should go through the church accounts and be audited independently. The pastor’s family members should not have access to the money or assets of a ministry. Ministry is not a personal or family business affair, though many treat it like this today.

Offerings in the church should not come to the pastor. They should go to the church. The pastor should record everything that he spends. It should be open and transparent.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Christian Giving

None of this is to say that people should not give. The workman is worthy of his hire. Some people have the attitude about pastors: “We will keep him poor, You God keep him humble”, as though the preacher worked for them and not for God. Some people say, “If God meant this project to go He would supply the money without you asking.”. This is like saying, “If God meant us to fly, He would have given us wings.”.

Nothing said here means that the ministry is somehow not practical. Businesses are practical. If they spoke this way in business they would be broke. We are to ask in ministry. We are to raise funds in ministry. We should boldly raise funds. We have nothing to be ashamed of. This is for the good.

People should be free to give, without feeling as though their rights have been disrespected when it is asked of them. They should not live selfish lives. We should not have to ask for money, but people get selfish and neglect the ministry of the gospel. We should all be generous towards the ministry of the word, at all times, in season and out of season, when the economy is up, or when it is down.

Some people are slow to give to God. They do not pay their bills this way, but when it comes to the gospel they are slow, keeping the ministry of the word waiting. Others have given more than they can and have personal need. We are not suggesting that people do this. We do not want people to give when they need the money. God does not want people to do this. It is a personal choice.

We do not give back to people who support the gospel, in a monetary sense. People have said to us, “We have given to the mission, but you have not prophesied to us, you have not sent us a monthly word!” No, we “rob” from one and give to another, as Paul did. We will not raise funds for God’s work by promising people something in return. This is wrong, especially if we just send prophecies to get donations.
I have robbed other churches, taking wages from them, to do you service. (2 Cor 11:18).

Paul would not take money from the Corinthians to support himself. This was to cut off the boast of the false apostles, so he might win the Corinthians back to the love of Christ (2 Cor 11:10-12). There are reasons why we take from one and preach to another. Someone said, “Pay for the hamburger where you eat it”, meaning, give only to your church. How will others get a hamburger, if we just think of ours?

Paul raised money for missions. He asked for it. Are we willing to give back, in ministry? Yes, if people are willing to have our ministry of the word. We are strongly desirous to give to all in this way. Paul desired help to help others and he also desired to impart ministry in Christ to those who helped.

When I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you (at Rome). For I trust to see you in my journey and to be brought on my way from there by you, if first I be somewhat filled by your company. (Rom 15:24).

Here Paul is asking the Roman believers to help support his mission to Spain. In fact, he sees this as their responsibility as believers. So we are responsible to give. Nothing we are saying here means that people should be slack in giving. If we do not give it shows the selfishness of the heart. It is not love. It shows that Christ has done nothing in us.

We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak and not to please ourselves...For even as Christ pleased not Himself, but as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached You (Father), fell upon Me. (Rom 15:1, 3).

Friday, 4 June 2010

Seed Time/Harvest

Scriptures are misquoted. Noah was told that seed time and harvest will not fail (Gen 8:22). That was speaking about seasons and agriculture. The text has nothing to do with offerings. 2 Cor 9:6 is quoted in relation to the offering Paul collected for the brethren in famine. Paul said, “He that sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly.”.

Paul meant reaping fruit in God, not money. “He multiplies your seed sown and increases the fruit of your righteousness.” (2 Cor 9:10). He multiplies the impact your grace has on others. The giving brings “many thanksgivings to God.” (1 Cor 9:12).

Paul said the same in Galatians. He was talking about supporting those who preach the word. He said those who benefit from them spiritually should support them materially:

Let him that is taught in the word communicate (give, share, support) him that teaches in all good things. (Gal 6:6).

Then Paul added to that:

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap. For he that sows to his flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption and he that sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap everlasting life. (Gal 6:7-8).

Paul is not speaking here about us doing things to make sure we are saved. He is speaking about fruit in God’s kingdom. He said if we live for ourselves we will have no lasting fruit. If we just buy houses and personal investments, they shall all in the end be burnt up. But if we sow our lives into the things of God, then we shall have eternal reward. Paul is not saying that if you give to the teacher of the word, you shall receive a financial harvest. That is not why we give.

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust does corrupt and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust does corrupt and where thieves do not break through nor steal. (Matt 6:19-20).

A lot of the teaching on this subject misses the very motivation Paul used for giving. When Paul was raising funds from the Corinthians to support those brethren in famine, he said he was not telling the saints to give sacrificially, to put themselves in want, while others benefited. He encouraged then to help from what they had over.

Paul’s motivation for giving was this:

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich. (2 Cor 8:9).

The motivation Paul gave is totally opposite to the motivation that encourages people to give for what they will get. Jesus gave to make us rich, not in money, but in Him. We were sinners while He died for us. So Paul said to the Corinthians, “You should follow the example of Jesus.”. Jesus did not give to make Himself rich, but to make us rich in knowledge and in life. We give to share. This is the motivation of scripture.

Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate (share); laying up in store for them a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. (1 Tim 6:17-19).

Paul was not asking for an offering for himself, but for the saints in Jerusalem who experienced a famine. And he did not put his hand into the offering! There is a lot going on today with offerings that is just stealing. We display with transparency and honesty what we do with every dollar that is given.

Jesus and the apostles never taught on financial breakthrough. On the contrary, Jesus taught this is what the pagans go after. He said we should seek first His kingdom and righteousness and all these things will be added to us by God. Elijah would not take Naaman’s gift, but Gehazi did (2 Kings 5). Abraham would not take money from the king of Sodom (Gen 14:23). Ananias and Sapphira fell due to money (Acts 5).

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the Gentiles seek: for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof. (Matt 6:31-34).

It is true that God blesses us. But it starts with Him. He gives us a new heart. He leads us to give. He supplies our need. He is faithful to us. We give because we are led by God to do so, not to get a healing or a blessing. God does not promise financial prosperity to everyone. None of the first apostles prospered in terms of material possessions, as far as we know, but look what they achieved for the gospel!

“Give and it shall be given to you”, is not speaking about money (Luke 6:38). Jesus used this term in relation to our life style. We should be generous and share with each other and all our own needs will be taken care of. This is true, but it is not why we give. We give from love, because of the kindness of Jesus towards us. We forgive because we have been forgiven.

And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you. (Eph 4:32).

In the law it starts with us: “forgive and you shall be forgiven” (Luke 6:37). In the gospel it starts with God: “forgive even as you have been forgiven”. One works from condition. The other works from love.

God prospers us through our work. He prospers us through godly living. Many today are teaching that God prospers us through sacrifice. This is the opposite of what God said. This will impoverish God’s people. We should be teaching godliness, integrity and honest work and then God’s people will prosper. This is how the gospel changes our lives and our nations. It is God’s will that we prosper, but by honesty.

There is nothing wrong with prospering if we prosper by honest means. The general prosperity of the community is a good thing, if we are rich towards God.

And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.

And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have much goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry. But God said to him, You fool, this night your soul shall be required of you: then whose shall those things be, which you have kept? So is he that lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God. (Luke 12:17-21).

“God delights in the prosperity of His servants”, but prosperity is knowing Him first of all (Ps 35:27). Poverty is not good. It can come about because of corruption, or because of persecution for the gospel, or because of laziness, or lack of education. In youth it is good to work, to build a good foundation for the future.

Then I saw and considered it well: I looked upon it and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep. So shall thy poverty come as one that travels and poverty as an armed man. (Pr 24:32-34).

People who preach prosperity doctrines often prosper off the money people give them and then say their prosperity proves the doctrine. That is not proof. People give testimonies that they gave and had a miracle. Thank God. That is good. It does not prove doctrines of covetousness are true.

The seed is the word of God, not money (Mark 8:11, 1 Pet 1:23).

We can stand and ask God to meet our needs without giving Him anything and He will do it. “Call upon Me in the day of trouble and I will deliver you.” (Ps 50:15). The ministry of the Spirit is free. Giving to get the power of the Spirit is Simony, a sin (Acts 8:20).

The teaching of many today on money is no different to the teaching in Luther’s day, when relics were points of contact and indulgences were paid to gain God’s favour. Priests collected offerings, promising forgiveness of sin.

People gave money to kiss relics and were promised time out of hell. The money was used for church building programmes. The urgency of the church’s “need” led them into false teaching to raise the funds, just as it does today. What was the point of Luther’s Reformation if Protestants perpetuate the paganism of the Middle Ages?

Another scripture passage used commonly is:

And Jesus answered and said, Truly I say unto you, There is no man that have left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My sake and the gospel's, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses and brethren and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last first. (Mark 10:29-31).

This does not mean that we shall necessarily own all these things. Jesus had use of every house and donkey He needed, but He was not insecure: He did not feel the need to own or possess them. He knew He possessed all things. Those who lay up riches do so because they are insecure. It is a poverty spirit.

We do not know that any of the apostles had 100 houses or lands. So how can this text have been literally fulfilled in their lives? Jesus did not own these things. We have all things that we need. Things are not for us to store up, but to use for the kingdom of God.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Love Corrupted

Love turns to selfishness when we become the centre. It becomes self-love, love of pleasure more than of God, security in material things and not in God. It becomes love of things and love of money. Paul spoke to Timothy a lot about this. We should also speak about it, not to bring people into legalism, but to locate our hearts. “For where our treasure is, there is our heart also.” (Matt 6:21).

“Contentment with godliness is great gain.” (1 Tim 6:6). Contentment is not common. Advertising tells us we must have the latest product. Often preaching tells us the same. There is also spiritual ambition and ministerial ambition. Our desires are stirred up (James 4:1). We tell others that God will give them these things if they give money.

For we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, let us be content. But they that desire to be rich fall into temptation (compromise, to allure others through their baser instincts) and a snare and into many foolish and hurtful desires, which drown men in destruction.

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you man of God, flee these things and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life…(1 Tim 6:7-12).

The “giving to get” doctrine appeals to the baser instincts of man. It is said, “This is what we will get out of it.”. “Support this ministry and this is what you will get.” The Bible tells us to give to those from whom we do not expect a return. We are not in a club where we scratch each other’s back.

Then said He also to him that invited Him, When you make a dinner or a supper, call not your friends, nor thy brothers, neither you own tribe, nor your rich neighbours; lest they also invite you again and a recompense be made to you.

But when thou make a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And you shall be blessed; for they cannot recompense you: for you shall be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. (Luke 14:12-14).

Do not think that they enjoyed this advice any more than people would today.
We are told in scripture to give because we have received. Giving is not a works that God recompenses. We receive from God by grace. Jesus said, “Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matt 10:8).

We give because of God’s love. We give because Christ lives in us and it is our nature. We give because we want the gospel to go out to others so they can have Christ as we do. We give because we obey the Great Commission to preach the gospel to every person. We give because God has been kind to us and has abounded toward us in love through Jesus Christ.

God does not give to us because we first give. He gives to us because He loves us. He gives to us because of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us while we were sinners, not because we did anything. God does not give to us because we put Him in debt. He is debtor to no one. All we have we received from Him. God gives to us because He gave Jesus Christ who took away our sin and through Him He freely gives us all things (Rom 8:32).

People often think in terms of law. They say, “Are you saying we should not give?”. We did not say that at all, but that is the first thought of some when we speak about these things. When Christ changes our nature we have a giving nature. Giving to support the ministry is a grace that God includes us in. It is not something we do for God. It is an honour He gives to us to participate in.

We have heard people say, “If we do not tell people what they will get in return they will not give.”. If people will not give unselfishly then we do not need their money. We must teach the right things. People say, “The ministry needs money.”. Do we forsake the gospel to change the message to raise money? We might get the money, but if there is no genuine gospel, there is no genuine ministry.

We hear preachers saying that God is going to transfer all the money to Christians so He can defeat the devil and bring in the last great revival that will bring Jesus back in His Second Coming. This is just not the truth. God does not need any money to defeat the devil, bring revival to the whole world, nor bring back Jesus. He can do all that He pleases without our gifts.

People are told to give to a ministry and God will cancel their personal debts and they end up in more debt. The way to cancel debt is to change the way we live. We live without things we cannot pay for. It is contentment. Sew your garment according to the size of your cloth. “Life does not consist of the abundance of the things you possess.” An extra possession will not make us happy. It will not satisfy what drives us. It will not change who we are on the inside.

And He said to them, Take heed (watch, be vigilant) and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things that he possesses. (Luke 12:15).

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Love is Being Vigilant

Do not think that because we are saved that sin does not matter. The Bible says we should watch diligently. Sin is still sin. It still bites like a serpent. We still reap what we sow (Gal 6:7). The wages of sin are still death. He who sows to the flesh will still reap from it destruction. Jesus Christ came to bring us out of sin, not to forgive while we continue in it.

Be sober (know what you are doing), be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour (allows him an entrance). (1 Pet 5:8).

Satan goes about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. We have the victory over him and do not have to fight him, but we must watch diligently. Balaam could not curse Israel, even though he collected the wages of a false prophet, but he did teach Balak how to tempt Israel into sin (Rev 2:14). Israel stumbled and was judged by the law. We are not under the law, but sowing bad seed still reaps a bad harvest.

The Bible says watch diligently, be on our guard, be vigilant, stand as a soldier, be ready, do not allow the enemy an entrance, to come in unawares. The devil has no power over us. He cannot do anything to us. We do not fight him. We do not fear him. We do not give him any attention. We watch ourselves. If not, we are a fool and will be taken by his our own lack of preparedness.

Do not think that grace allows us to play with sin. Sin kills. Sin destroys. Do not be deceived. If we are born again, it will not take us to hell, but it will destroy our reward and those we love. For this reason Paul said he kept his flesh under, lest after preaching to others he himself was disqualified (1 Cor 9:26-27). This is not a struggle, but just something we do in Christ. Paul said in any race there is only one winner and he made sure he ran in such as a way as he won.

Moreover, brethren, I would not that you should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud and all passed through the sea and all were baptized unto Moses…and did all eat of the spiritual food and did all drink of the spiritual drink…but with many of them God was not well pleased, for they fell in the wilderness.

Now these things are written for our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things…neither be idolaters (covetousness)…neither let us commit fornication…neither let us tempt Christ…neither let us murmur…wherefore let him who stands take heed lest he fall. (1 Cor 10:1-12).

Take heed lest we fall! See also Gal 6:1. Do not walk as a fool. Watch. There are covetous practices enticing many. There are false prophets who are given to greed. Covetousness is unfaithfulness to the Lord. It is idolatry and fornication, making gods out of our desires. Do not listen to a prophet who would lead us astray, even if their words are confirmed (1Kings 13:18-22).

Follow peace with all men and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up defile many; lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. (Heb 12:14-16).

Esau was so negligent concerning the things of God. He was so unaware and so careless that he sold his birthright for a single act of self-gratification. Hebrews tells us to exhort one another daily in these regards (Heb 10:25):

1. Lest any fall of the grace of God, i.e. go back into legalism, works and religious tradition.
2. Lest any root of bitterness spring up and many get caught up in unchristian behaviour that hurts many lives (Gal 5:15).
3. Lest any become so familiar with the things of God that he becomes careless and loses focus of God’s purpose and call. Someone can still be in ministry with signs, but inside his heart he has departed from the Lord.

In Ephesians 6 Paul spoke of the armour of God. Paul was speaking about vigilance. The armour protects us against the truth-twisting wiles (thoughts) of the devil. The purpose of this armour is that it helps us to watch over our heart and mind, with the truth of God’s word in the gospel. It has nothing to do with fighting the devil or curses. It is to do with vigilantly watching over our heart and mind, lest sin gain an entrance and defile many.

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit and watching thereto with all perseverance and supplication for the saints. (Eph 6:17-18).

Watch! Paul told us, “Having done all, to stand in the evil day.” (Eph 6:13). To stand means to watch, so we are not caught unawares. This is not fighting the devil. The same thought was expressed in the Proverbs: “Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Pr 4:23). This is vigilance in the grace of Christ.

Therefore, my son; be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus…endure hardness as a soldier of Jesus Christ. (2 Tim 2:1, 3).

Being a soldier does not mean we fight the devil. It means we know how to watch, how to keep ourselves, how to be strong in the Lord, how to endure. The Lord will fight for us and will shortly bruise Satan under our feet. It is patience, till He who is coming, comes! How long do we have to stand? Until we win. The love Jesus has put in us strengthens our heart, with joy.

Whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. (1 Pet 1:8).
For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. (2 Cor 4:16).

Therefore, seeing we have received this ministry (of such wonderful grace), as we have received mercy (it is not of us), we faint not. (2 Cor 4:1).

Tuesday, 1 June 2010


When love is in our heart, we keep ourselves from sin. We do this for the sake of those we love.

We know that whosoever is born of God sins not, but he that is born of God keeps himself (from sin) and the evil one touches him not (does not bring him into sin). (1 John 5:18).

This is love, that we keep His commandments (1 John 5:2). What is sin? Pleasing our self! Paul lists the manifestations of this in 1 Tim 1:9-11 as those things that are contrary to sound doctrine. “All unrighteousness is sin.” (1 John 5:17). Sin is breaking the law, not the ritual or letter, but the intent (1 John 3:4).

Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has not seen Him, neither known Him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that does righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous. He that commits sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this reason (sin) was the Son of God manifest, to destroy the works of the devil (sin). (1 John 3:6-8).

John gave ways by which we will know if we are in Him. These are: we believe on the Son of God and abide in that doctrine (1 John 5:11-12); the witness of the Spirit within us (1 John 3:24) i.e. inner faith; the love for the brethren in our heart (1 John 3:14); and that we keep His commandments (1 John 2:3), in regard to who we live for and keep sound doctrine.