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One outcome of my recent trip to pick up the dowry was to receive inspiration for the next series of weblogs. This actually came through the dowry donor, who suggested the need for a handbook (or handbooks) that outline certain topics without going into great detail. We discussed a few of these topics, and God then expanded these projects in a way that could keep me busy for quite a while.
Incidentally, I already have compiled a Bible Law Handbook that arranges about 300 topics in alphabetical order. I put this together about 35 years ago, so I still need to go over it again and see if it needs to be altered. I hope to find time to do this shortly. But first I want to finish editing the commentary on Ephesians.
The first project is to instill a Kingdom vision. By now, most of you already have a clear vision of the Kingdom, especially if you have been following these weblogs, FFI’s, and books over any extended period of time. But there are new readers being added daily, and we anticipate many more in the years ahead. It will be helpful to give these believers a clear map to the Promised Land, so to speak.
Where There is No Vision
Proverbs 29:18 KJV says,
18 Where there is no vision, the people perish, but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
Many believers are familiar with this verse, and they quote the first half quite regularly. Yet most are unfamiliar with the rest of the sentence, which applies the “vision” more specifically to the revelation of the law. In fact, the Hebrew word translated “perish” is pawrah, “to loose, to let go, to let reins go, to let go unbridled. So the NASB renders Proverbs 29:18,
18 Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, but happy is he who keeps the law.
In other words, the verse says that we ought to have a vision of the law, that is, its purpose and application, because the law sets the standard of righteousness as God’s nature. Those who have no revelation of the law are “unrestrained,” thinking that they have the right to sin. 1 John 3:4 says, “sin is lawlessness.”
The underlying question is how we who have sinned may receive righteous status before God. At the present time, faith imputes righteousness to us (Romans 4:22 KJV). This means that God calls what is not as though it were (Romans 4:17 KJV). This puts us on a path that leads us to the full manifestation of the Kingdom within our being, and this culminates with an actual change from corruptibility to incorruptibility and from mortality to immortality (1 Corinthians 15:53 KJV).
As we will see later, that change will occur when the feast of Tabernacles is fulfilled. The feasts of the Lord are the basic outline of all Bible prophecy, covering the two comings of Christ in the Spring and Autumn feasts.
New Covenant faith tells us that righteousness comes by faith, because all have sinned and are therefore unrighteous by nature. Hence, we cannot attain righteousness by doing good deeds to make up for our past sins. We need a new identity with a clean slate, which comes by being begotten by the Holy Spirit as a new creation.
That “new man” (or “new self” NASB) cannot sin, because he has been begotten by God (1 John 3:9, properly translated). Any sin that we may commit is attributed to the old man of flesh that was begotten naturally by our earthly parents. If we have transferred our identity to the new creation man, we can say with Paul in Romans 7:17, 18,
17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh…
It is a matter of knowing who you are in Christ. How do you identify yourself? Is the real you the person born of your natural parents, or are you the new entity that was begotten by God through the Holy Spirit? You are who you claim to be.
Adam was “made” and “formed” by God as an adult; Christ, who is called “the last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45) was “begotten” by God in the womb. If you claim status with God through Adam, or Israel, or any other subgroup of the descendants of Adam, then God will honor your wishes and treat you accordingly. You will be liable for the sin of your father.
Those who follow in the footsteps of Christ are begotten by God through the New Covenant, and the law views them as if they were Christ Himself.
The Three Age-Old Questions
There are three old questions that philosophers have contemplated from the beginning: (1) Where did we come from? (2) Why are we here? And (3) Where are we going? These questions are important to those who seek purpose in life. To discover that purpose, one must know our origin and our end (God’s goal).
For believers, the Bible provides the answer. We are God’s greatest creation. We are here to rule the earth, to subdue it, and to make it fruitful so that it reflects the nature and glory of God. The ultimate goal is to restore all things to the standard of God’s nature, as expressed in His laws.
To accomplish His goal, God is raising up leaders through whom He will work by His Spirit. Such leaders are relatively few in number. Most of humanity will be changed through the ministry of the leaders (known as “ambassadors,” 2 Corinthians 5:20). The present age is a prophetic “week” of 7,000 years, during which time those leaders have been called and trained to reconcile all things in the “weeks” following.
God’s purpose for creation will be fulfilled, regardless of sin, because God is able to do all things according to the counsel of His own will. His wisdom devised the plan from the beginning, His love for His creation compels Him, and His power makes it possible for Him to accomplish His will and plan.
For this reason, Paul was able to proclaim with confidence in 1 Corinthians 15:27, 28,
27 For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection” [quoting Psalm 8:6], it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. 28 When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.
Hebrews 2:8 adds this,
8 “You have put all things in subjection under His feet.” For in subjecting all things to Him, He left nothing that is not subject to Him. But now [at the present time] we do not yet see all things subjected to Him.
As overcomers who know our origins and seek first the Kingdom of God, our purpose in life is to promote and actively work in subjecting all things to Jesus Christ, who is the Messiah, the King of the whole earth. Those who understand that God intends to reconcile all of creation back to Himself are the ones who have the clearest vision of the Kingdom.
Those who have adopted the Greek view of creation (“dualism”) have blurred vision and are hindered by nearsightedness. The vision of such people—even believers—does not match God’s vision for creation, and so they are limited in their ability to establish God’s Kingdom.
Much of the ancient world envisioned a dualistic world. While there is indeed much dualism, such as light and darkness, good and evil, love and hatred, etc., this vision falls short of the glory of God. The dualistic view of the Greek worldview begins with the mixture of light and darkness and ends with their separation at the end of time.
Though Scripture teaches the distinction between light and darkness (Genesis 1:4), it ends with the full victory of light over darkness. In John 8:12 Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” 1 John 1:5 adds, “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” Today the children of light are being separated from the children of darkness, but in the end, when He reconciles all things to Himself, all will walk in the light of Christ. The light will conquer all, and darkness will no longer rule in a separate realm outside of God’s Kingdom.
The dualistic worldview was based on the idea that the devil (“demiurge”) created matter and for this reason matter was considered to be inherently evil. They claimed that only spirit was good and they identified light as being spiritual. Hence, they divided the heavens from the earth, and their religious vision claimed that in the end, heaven and earth would be separated and divorced.
The dualistic assumption made it impossible to reconcile all things to God—if, for no other reason, because God could not lawfully claim the physical creation as His own. He could claim only the pieces of light that had been mixed with the darkness. By this worldview, the end of history would see heaven and hell—two irreconcilable realms of eternal existence.
By contrast, Genesis 1:1 tells us that “God created the heavens and the earth,” and that He pronounced it “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Heaven and earth are therefore equally His Kingdom. God has no intention of laying claim to heaven while leaving the earth to be destroyed. Both the heavens and the earth (spirit and matter) were the creation of God alone, giving Him Creator’s rights, based on His labor. His authority as the Creator and Owner of all things is matched by His responsibility as well, according to the laws of responsibility and liability in Exodus 21 and 22.
If an ox gores someone, the ox may be punished, but the owner of the ox must pay for the damages (Exodus 21:32). If a man digs a pit, leaves it uncovered, and an ox or donkey falls into the pit, the owner of the pit is liable for damages (Exodus 21:33, 34). If a man lights a fire and it spreads out of control, destroying another man’s field, the one who lit the fire is its owner and is responsible to pay for the damages (Exodus 22:5, 6).
As the Owner of all things, God cannot disclaim responsibility for man’s actions. Whether man sinned by his own free will or not, God remains the Owner of all that He created. That makes Him ultimately liable to pay for the damages caused by Adam’s sin. And indeed, that is why Jesus Christ paid the full penalty for the sin of the world (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2). The biblical laws of liability and responsibility prophesied of this.
If the devil had indeed created all things, he would have been liable for Adam’s sin. But the devil created nothing. He is a usurper. God alone is the Creator, and He is the Owner of all. With ownership comes responsibility and liability for all that He owns. He accepted that responsibility and sent His only-begotten Son to die for the sin of the world, undoing all of the negative effects of Adam’s sin from the beginning to the end of time.
This is partly why Jesus is called “the last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45), and it is also why the two are compared and contrasted in Romans 5:15-21. Whereas the first Adam brought death to all, so also the last Adam brought justification and life to all. 1 Corinthians 15:22 concludes,
22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.
All did indeed die through Adam; so also all will be made alive through Christ. If we know how the Kingdom originated and understand God’s purpose for it, we will know why we are here. It is not merely to separate light from darkness, believers from unbelievers, or good from evil. Any separation is temporary, because in the end, we will see a great marriage between heaven and earth. Jesus’ prayer will be answered: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
While many believe that heaven and earth will be divorced eternally, we know that God intends for heaven and earth to be married in a New Covenant relationship. In order for that to happen on a grand scale, it is necessary first to reconcile all things, both in heaven and on earth. Colossians 1:16-20 says,
16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth… all things have been created through Him and for Him.... 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
If we see the model that God has set forth, and if we understand the plan of God, then we will know how to build His Kingdom on the principles of His nature.