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‘BORN AGAIN’ ?

 

In this article I will have a closer look at one of the ‘Holy Cows’ in Christianity.​​ That ‘Cow’ is called ‘Born Again’.

As I wrote my article on Colossians I pointed out that most denominations are using the four Gospels as basis for preaching salvation by faith in Christ;​​ in spite of the fact that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were written as​​ historical books​​ on the life and ministry of Jesus and His disciples.​​ Also Book of Acts is a historical document.

These Gospels cannot and should not be used as Doctrine of Faith in the church dispensation. We must use Ephesians and Colossians as our​​ foundation of doctrine – which is the free Grace Gospel given to Paul for us.

In Paul’s Bible teaching we find that the believers in the church dispensation are NOT​​ necessarily ‘born again’, but we are a ‘New Creation’. The two are very different as you will understand.​​ Adam was created, but Cain and Abel were born.​​ 

Paul calls us​​ ‘One new Man’​​ in Eph. 2:14, 15. This ‘One new Man’ came up as Paul was given the revelation of the Mystery: The free international Grace Gospel for​​ the​​ entire​​ world to believe, - and the Kingdom-Gospel to Israel was suspended thereby.​​ And the Law of Moses was abolished.​​ Israel fell away from God​​ for her unbelief,​​ and was destroyed in 70 A.D. as we all know.

As long as preachers and pastors keep on with their errors in using the four Gospels as foundation of faith, it will keep on producing errors in their sermons alike.

That ‘Born again’ error is one of them.​​ It has become a ‘Holy Cow’, and the same can be said of the so-called ‘Great Commission’ in Mat. 28. Nothing in those four Gospels can be used for faith doctrine, simply because God had​​ revealed to Paul His new fresh Grace Gospel​​ 18-20 years before​​ even Matthew and Mark could​​ be bought and read, and over 30​​ years before John’s Gospel. Luke came in 73 A.D. and is the oldest of the four Gospels.

If you have not read my exposition on Colossians, I recommend it to you. You see it here in my website.​​ 

We forget that,​​ as God sent His Son Jesus to Israel, He came to a people who​​ already believed on God Jehovah.​​ ​​ In other words, Jesus was sent to​​ believers​​ to preach.​​ He never went to Gentiles!​​ Jesus did NOT conduct huge revival campaigns in market places or fields, trying to have the Gentile peoples converted. Jesus preached to​​ believers​​ in God Jehovah;​​ namely Israel’s house.​​ 

The​​ only​​ famous ‘Campaigns’ the Lord conducted was for Israel, not Gentiles, when He were​​ feeding miraculously​​ the multitude present​​ – five thousand men plus women, maybe as many as 7000 people​​ (Mat. 14:15-21) in Galilee, and the other place when He did the same kind of feeding-miracle, for 4000 people. Also near the shores of the Sea of Galilee. ​​ It was the multitude that caused this to happen. Jesus had worked a lot of fabulous wonders and miracles healing the sick and afflicted. They​​ desperately and expectantly​​ followed Jesus expecting to receive healings and to hear Him preach to them (Mat. 15:29-39). The Lord had to leave by boat, and sat course for Magadan, it says.​​ 

In God’s eyes it was​​ not enough that they just​​ believed​​ on Him, Jehovah. Why? Because God had promised through His prophets that He should send them His​​ Messiah, the Savior and king who should rule Israel in a millennial kingdom (Dan. 2:44; Luke​​ 1:32, 33).

For Israel as a nation to keep up and​​ continue in faith in their God, they would have to confirm it by believing on the Messiah He sent them, namely Jesus of Nazareth. To refuse to believe on Jesus would be the very same as denying God, Who had sent Him!

Moses prophesied of Jesus in Deu. 18:15-19,

“The Lord your God​​ will raise up for you a prophet from the midst of your brethren like me (Moses); to Him you shall listen.” See also Peter’s speech in Acts 3:22, 23 on same matter. They would be destroyed if they did not listen to Jesus!

God’s demand of Israel was that​​ the entire nation, had to accept and receive Jesus as their Messiah.​​ And this was the ‘Born Again’ deal which Jesus spoke to Nicodemus the Pharisee​​ when he came to question Him in the night (John​​ 3:3) –​​ Jesus explained to Nicodemus that Israel had to be born of …’water and Spirit,​​ or else​​ they​​ cannot enter​​ the kingdom of God’.​​ Jesus spoke of the kingdom in Israel with Himself as the Messiah king. They would have to repent and be baptized in water and then also in the Spirit (just as we see in Acts 2 and Day of Pentecost).

Never has anyone sent by God taught that the believers in the church dispensation must take water baptism and Spirit baptism, being born again so one can ‘enter the kingdom of God (on earth)’ – no, this was only preached to Israel by Peter and the twelve, as well as Paul later on,​​ before​​ he was given the ministry of the free Grace Gospel, displayed in Ephesians and Colossians.​​ 

Every time you hear a preacher, no matter how nice and believing he is, Pentecostal or evangelical, whatever, - if he is telling his audience that they must be ‘Born Again’ then he is in error.​​ 

He is using a historical Bible story in error, as if it is a faith doctrine to the church. It is not. Historical writings cannot be used as faith doctrine.

In Christendom preachers use the ‘Born Again’ deal to tell the​​ unsaved​​ to get saved.​​ “You sinners must be born again” - - a standard pulpit cry we have heard again and again.​​ But Jesus spoke ONLY to the Jews – and they already believed on God Jehovah. It is an indisputable historical Biblical fact.

But in the Bible,​​ pardon me for repeating this,​​ such as in John 3:3 Jesus used the ‘Born Again’ deal to tell​​ existing believers​​ in God Jehovah how to be let into the earthly kingdom in Israel when Jesus would sit on the throne on Zion, all according to the prophets.​​ 

This can only mean one thing: Israel was considered already​​ born once, in that God formed that nation by using first Abraham and then came Abrahams children and Abrahams grandchildren and so on and so forth.​​ We know the history as it is told in the Tora: – Genesis – Exodus – Leviticus – Numbers – Deuteronomy. Thus, being God’s own nation on earth in that order, was the​​ first​​ ‘Birth’ – but as God sent Jesus, He would have Israel getting born again, a​​ second ‘Birth’​​ as a nation for God. The acceptance of Jesus,​​ as their Messiah,​​ should be​​ confirmed by Israel​​ as they all would take the water baptism, and then receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.​​ 

In the New Testament the ‘Born again’ demand from God never was charged the Gentiles. Only God’s people the Jews were charged with His commandment to​​ repent and be born again​​ as they let themselves be baptized in water and in Spirit.​​ Our pastors and preachers are​​ totally mistaken​​ in regard to Jesus’ teaching on the ‘Born Again’ commandment.

As we find Jesus in the four Gospels, everything He said was addressed to Israel only –​​ regarding statements of faith. He said of Himself that He was sent ONLY to the lost sheep of the house of Israel​​ (Mat. 15:24).​​ 

Paul wrote in Rom. 15:8 that Christ became a​​ teacher/minister​​ to the circumcised​​ – the Jews,​​ which is the same as saying He was NOT sent to Gentiles at all.

The context is not in​​ geographic​​ (Jesus being sent down to Israel) – but in what the Lord​​ spoke​​ to Israel. He was sent to TEACH THEM, and not just to be physically present there. This means that everything He taught them He taught ONLY TO THEM, the Jews. It was to them exclusively. This is the main reason we cannot use the four Gospels as faith doctrine to the church dispensation. What Jesus said in these Gospels never was spoken to the church – for the church did not exist at that time. The church came into existence as God first revealed the Mystery to Paul as he stayed in Rome (Acts 28:25-28).

So for us Gentiles to learn what God gave us in the faith, we have but one special teacher/apostle: Paul. Jesus Christ sent us Paul to give us the free international Grace Gospel – a Gospel which Jesus did NOT preach at all – it was still a hidden mystery, not made known until Paul received it.

It is proven by the thousands and thousands, that the four Gospels are being​​ used in error as doctrinal basis for faith in our time. It started with the so-called Church Fathers, and kept on via the Catholic Church and its Popes through the centuries – and ultimately infected the entire Christianity.

Paul and the ‘Born again’ issue

 

In Paul’s Grace Gospel doctrine, found only in Ephesians and Colossians, there exists no such saying – there is no ‘Born Again’ whatsoever.

On the contrary: When Paul describes our status with God and Christ, he used the​​ death and resurrection of Christ as imagery,

Col.​​ 2:11, 12,​​ “In Him also you were circumcised with a circumcision​​ not made with hands, but in a spiritual circumcision performed by Christ by stripping off the body of the flesh. 12: You WERE BURIED WITH HIM in baptism (the death of Christ), in which you were also RAISED WITH HIM through faith in the working of God when He raised Him up from the dead.”

Instead of the ‘Born Again’ image, Paul rather describes us as such believers that have DIED for then ultimately being RAISED BACK TO LIFE by Christ.

Paul actually calls this intervention by God for​​ a baptism into the death of Christ.​​ It is that ‘Baptism’ which Paul mention in Eph. 4:5 – saying​​ ‘..one baptism..’.​​ It is a baptism not by water immersion, but by crediting us believers as those who have died with Christ for then to being resurrected with Him.

It cannot be mistaken for a so-called ‘Born Again’ experience. It is rather a ‘Die Again’ – since Paul calls us for first being​​ dead in our trespasses and sins​​ (verse 13). So, since we were found dead in our sins, God credited us for having died​​ with Christ, and thus​​ credited us for having been​​ raised with Him​​ also. You see this?​​ This is not complicated.

The gross error of using the four Gospels as faith doctrine to the church brought with it the errors of Pentecostalism and their faulty beliefs in​​ the sign gifts and miracles of healing​​ as something which was given to the church dispensation.​​ 

Same goes for speaking in tongues and prophesying, same goes for exorcism, word of knowledge, word of wisdom, gift of interpreting tongues, raising dead persons, taking up serpents without being hurt or killed, drinking of poison without being ill or die; same even goes for Holy Communion and confessing of sins. What we need to do is listen to Paul, or more specifically, having​​ Ephesians and Colossians​​ as our faith doctrine.​​ There I said it again.

Thinking that the four​​ Gospels​​ are faith doctrine,​​ also​​ brought with it the error of water baptism, which was only a​​ ceremonial cleansing rite​​ meant for the Messianic believers in Israel, and not the regular Gentile. Baptism was​​ only for the priesthood​​ of​​ Israel, just like when Moses baptized Aaron before he could enter the Tabernacle in the wilderness. Israel was promised to become a​​ royal priesthood and a holy nation to God,​​ thus the water rite introduced first by John, then by the apostles.​​ The apostles eventually allowed Gentile​​ proselytes, but this did not mean the entire Gentile world.

If you are a believer in Christ, then you are part of that ‘One new Man’, also called the Body of Christ.​​ This is a title used by Paul to describe the entire Body of Christ​​ collectively, not singularly.

You don’t have to be ‘Born Again’ if you are not a Christian. You will be instantly saved and given the Holy Spirit as you​​ first​​ believe on Jesus Christ.

Eph. 2:8, 9,

“For it is by free grace that you are saved, through faith. And this is not of yourselves, but it is the gift of God. Not because of works, lest any man should boast.”

​​ 




COLOSSIANS:
A Gospel Based on Revelation
Of a Secret Given to Paul

By Jan Lilleby

 

CHAPTER 1

 

Colossians was written about the same time as the epistle to the Ephesians, 62-63 A.D.

In these epistles we are given​​ the entire doctrine of Faith for the Church dispensation​​ – the foundation which the Body of Christ is built upon.

It is the doctrine contained in the two epistles – and here we shall go through the Colossians – which Paul and his co-workers made in speech and in writing, many years before one could purchase and read the​​ four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Matthew was issued in 80 A.D., Mark in around 82-83 A.D., Luke is debated whether it was issued in 62 – or in 73 A.D., and I find the latter to be the most probable. John came around 90-92 A.D. IMAGE:​​ Asia Minor as it was in​​ the time of Paul. In our time, this is of course Turkey.

When Paul preached and established his fresh new free Grace Gospel – it is clear that no one had been able to read of Jesus’ earthly ministry, neither had anyone read of His twelve apostles/disciples. Nobody knew anything of the so-called ‘Great Commission’ in Mat. 28! Oh, well – except those among the ​​ twelve who still were alive. Luke, who wrote the Book of Acts, may occasionally have given Paul diverse information​​ in their conversations​​ on what he knew of Jesus and the twelve, - at least I find that to be very logical. But as far as the Bible scholars and the expertise​​ in Christianity know, there is​​ no written​​ material of history​​ on Jesus before the four Gospels.

Paul’s teaching was all dominant, actually​​ just about exclusive​​ the whole time from 62-63 A.D. until his death. ​​ Some Theologians/historians have tried to settle a time for when exactly Paul died, and came up with 66-67 A.D. – and Catholic legends wants to say that Paul was executed in Rome, and thus he did not die of old age or so-called natural causes. But there is​​ no documentation​​ for such beliefs anywhere. Regarding Paul’s passing away, history remains mute.

Later on, the so-called Church Fathers, as well as the early Catholic Church with its Bishops, after them, began using​​ the four gospels​​ as basis for much of their faith doctrine. It is proven (have you read their teachings?) that they taught an incredibly heretical​​ works-related type of gospel, much like we find in the Law of Moses. You had to do a lot of good works if you wanted to get saved! Their quotes leaned rather on the four gospels, and never on what Paul taught of his Grace Gospel. Check out​​ Rev. Stuart Allen’s book on that subject​​ – the follower of Charles Welch; he wrote much about topics like that.

They missed out completely​​ that the four Gospels only were Bible history, and never meant to be for the Church dispensation. They only concerns God’s dealing with Israel sending His Messiah King Jesus to them as promised by the prophets of old, and how Israel responded by killing Messiah – and so they had to take the punishments which destroyed them in 70 A.D., Mat. 22:7.

I just wanted to draw a little background, so that we readily understand that it is​​ exclusively Ephesians and Colossians​​ which are the valid Doctrine of Faith for the present Church dispensation, which now, 2021 A.D., has existed for 1958 years.

Colossians chapter 1 is very clarifying and extremely edifying to us believers, to say the least.​​ It is formulated in a way that we notice it has nothing in common to Jewish tradition, the Law of Moses or any ordinances. Neither is there any mention of the New Covenant to Israel or any offer to them to have an earthly kingdom. The Grace Gospel of Paul has a​​ free​​ structure​​ in that regard, and we​​ Gentiles can​​ freely receive the salvation promised​​ to us by faith in Christ without having to present ourselves​​ to God via works or abiding the Law, or any rituals performed.

Verses 1 – 5 goes naturally together:

(ALL BIBLE QUOTES FROM AMPL. BIBLE)…I may choose to drop clambers at certain verses….

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus,​​ by the will of God, and Timothy​​ (our) brother. 2:​​ To the saints and believing and faithful brethren in Christ​​ who are at Colossae:​​ Grace to you and peace​​ ​​ from God our Father. 3:​​ We continually give thanks to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, as we are praying for you. 4: For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus​​ and of the love which you (have and show) for all the saints. 5:​​ Because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you heard in the past in the message of the truth of the Gospel”

In both Ephesians and Colossians we find an expression which is not found in the other parts of the New Testament. That is the expression​​ “Heaven”​​ as based on the Greek​​ Epiouranos.​​ That means ‘Heaven up above the Heavens’ – pointing to where now Jesus Christ is residing at the Fathers right hand.

Epiouranos-heaven​​ cannot be found in any of the four Gospels. In these, we only find ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ and ‘The Kingdom of God’, both pointing to the promised​​ earthly Kingdom of Israel​​ with Jesus as their future king.​​ Often mentioned in Christianity as the Millennial Kingdom to come​​ with the return of Jesus.

The five verses above are introducing Paul’s​​ review of his prayer of thanks for the ministry he had heard about taking place at Colossae – and he gave them praise for their efforts – encouraging​​ them since they display such​​ affection and love for all the saints. Notice, that Paul points to the ‘Generator’ which urge the believers to go forth, and that generator is THEIR HOPE, the hope for that salvation laid up for them in heaven. And they got to know this hope, since Paul came on with his new free Grace Gospel according to God’s revelation.

The expression​​ ‘…all the saints’ –​​ actually carry in it the dismissal of a grave misunderstanding in Christianity, even if that misunderstanding was not willfully taught or planned by anyone, - it dismisses the idea which has sneaked in among us believers for centuries: That there is a​​ class divide, some are elevated as ‘Holy Ministers’ or ‘Holy Father’, at the same time as a common regular Christian Church member belongs to a ‘Second-Class’ below the before-mentioned leaders.

This has derived from the hierarchy of large assemblies, such as the Catholic Church, and even the Lutheran Protestant Churches,​​ thus creating a ‘Them’ and an ‘Us’.

The means to achieve such ‘Holiness Status’ has been ​​ through the primitive use of diverse effects of ritual value: Long expensive Priest Garments/coats, tall fancy hats, scepters ornamented with a Cross, use of incense, stanching of holy water, ​​ church buildings of considerable dimensions and height, declarations made of certain outstanding dead believers to become ‘Holy Saints’, - and then we see the Liturgical – priests facing an altar​​ to illustrate he is standing before God representing the members present, thus saying that he acts as a mediator between God and the Church. Unfortunately, Martin Luther, back in the day, did not achieve any progress in removing that​​ Catholic Entity, their innermost religious being…and so, also the Lutherans have dragged along with them that outwardly ‘Make Up’ of a leadership which is​​ holier​​ than the regular believer.

They actually, both the Catholics and the Lutherans seem to have copied much of the Jewish Temple enterprises – priests behaving as if there were sacrificial ceremonies and the likes. However, that kind of ministry was established by God, and it pleased God as such. In our time, priests have not been ordained by God. It is purely a human invention, nothing more.

This whole thing has mislead the average Christian believer (not in all denominations though)​​ to think that priests, pastors, elders and other ministers, they​​ really​​ are holy men. Am I exaggerating now? ​​ I don’t think so.

I recall a peculiar incident in this regard, you know – overdone respect for ‘Holy Men’ in long robes – which happened many years ago in my home town here in Norway.​​ Then I was just a fresh convert and knew very little of the Bible. Still, one of the many things in the New Testament fastened into my mind, such as Jesus chastising His opponents, the Pharisees. He ‘Branded’ them in various ways. And I took special interest in what He said of their puffed-up pride:

“(Free quotation) …You who seek to take the upper seats at the dining table, you who wear long robes and craving for salutes as you walk over the market place, woe unto you, chalked graves upon which people are walking, not knowing that inside the graves there are bones​​ of the dead and all impurity…”​​ and so on.​​ Check out also Mat. 23!

Then one day, I found myself at the market place in down town, and I noticed just a few meters ahead a well-known Lutheran priest was walking. He wore a long black coat and I could see he had on that typical priest-shirt under his blazer jacket. People saluted him, and he nodded back politely and smiled. And then I had to admit to myself, sure, Jesus hit the nail spot on with His Pharisee warnings!

Right, okay – I admit I was a bit naïve – but remember that I was unexperienced in the understanding of the Bible. To his defense, this priest was a Jesus-believer. But the Pharisees were absolutely not – the majority of them. But still: At least to me I saw this incident as an illustration – especially now 50 years later, that people regard ‘Men in long robes’ as so-called ‘Holy Men’ and which demands more attention and calls for more respect than just a regular every-day-Christian.​​ That misunderstood concept of ‘Holiness’ has got a grasp on many people yet today!

But then we find proper correction to such a misunderstanding: Paul’s epistles clearly declare ALL BELIEVERS IN CHRIST AS HOLY SAINTS. We are all on the very same spiritual level in all aspects of faith. One hundred percent holy, saved, loved by God, reconciled by God in Christ, and without reproach or any sin whatsoever of which God could judge us.

The Biblical ​​ concept of a person being holy, is because it means​​ taken aside for God and His high purposes. The believer is actually spiritually segregated from the profane world, in the eyes of God. God is now every believers Father.​​ 

The very same moment a person enters the faith in Jesus Christ according to Paul’s Gospel, that person is​​ made holy by God instantly. Salvation is by Grace only, and not by ourselves​​ and our efforts, Eph. 2:8, 9.

Let me just add to this, that I do​​ not​​ want to put any leader or priest or minister down a notch or two. No,​​ all I am saying is that we ALL as believers are on same equal level regarding standing with God. Another matter entirely is the fact that assemblies​​ must have leaders​​ to keep the flock gathered and united for the purpose of the Gospel preaching. We must remember this.

Verses 6 – 12 goes well together:

“(the Gospel) which has come to you, indeed, in the whole world, is bearing fruit and still is growing, even as it has done among yourselves ever since the day you first heard and came to know and understand the grace of God in truth. 7: You so learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister​​ of Christ in our stead and as our representative and yours. 8: Also he has informed us of your love in the Spirit. 9: For this reason we also, from the day we heard of it, have not ceased to pray and make request for you, that you may be filled with the full knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and in understanding and in discernment of spiritual things. 10:That you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him and desiring to please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing and increasing in and by the knowledge of God. 11: (We pray) that you may be invigorated and strengthened with all power according to the might of His glory, every kind of endurance and patience with joy. 12:​​ Giving thanks to the Father, Who has qualified​​ and made us fit to share the portion which is the inheritance of the saints in the Light.”

In these verses Paul makes the point of the Grace Gospel, having come to the Colossians – as well as in THE WHOLE WORLD, that is, the Roman Empire firstly. Just a side-remark: We Norwegians here up in the high north, did not receive the Gospel before around 997 A.D. when there are​​ found documented proof of that on Iceland. However, it was the kind of ‘Gospel’ you find with the Catholic Church – all written in Latin.​​ Never the less, the name of Jesus Christ is mentioned in the writings found. Think of it: It​​ almost​​ took​​ a​​ Millennia for the Gospel to reach us in Scandinavia.

Paul never talked about the four Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. No, he spoke only of the​​ ONE PARTICULAR GOSPEL​​ entrusted to him by God, the free international Grace Gospel, which had been hidden in God for ages, but now revealed to His saints​​ by their leader, Paul the apostle. It happened as he was in Rome 62-63 A.D.

In Acts 28:28 we find a prophesy by Paul, that the Gospel would be received by the Gentile world, as opposed to Jewry which refused it. So Paul was absolutely​​ dominant in early Christianity​​ by his preaching of this new free Grace Gospel as it is put forth in the Ephesians and Colossians, MANY YEARS before the​​ historical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John could be purchased by the common man, like I said above.

In spite of this Biblical fact, still we find in​​ our time​​ that the four Gospels are actually being used as doctrine of Faith in the Church. Paul’s epistles are mostly used for Bible Classes and not so much in open meetings. But here it is great variations regarding such practices. My point is: We should not at all use any of the four as basis for preaching Grace salvation​​ to people. We should use Paul’s epistles only – Ephesians and Colossians. We cannot keep using historical writings as basis for sermons on the free international Grace Gospel, but only the Faith doctrine written for that purpose.

Put top priority on using Paul’s epistles – since these became the foundation of this very dispensation, the Body of Christ, the One New Man according to the Mystery (Eph. 3:1-9).

But it was the message and Gospel of the Kingdom of God on earth for Israel which took up the twelve apostles ministries, based upon what we find in the four Gospels, and in Acts. They just went and did what Jesus taught them to do: Preach the offer to Israel to have the millennial kingdom with Jesus as their king.

Paul sent forth Epaphras to follow up the teachings in the Colossian assembly as well as those at Hierapolis and Laodikea. As we read in verse 6, of that one new Grace Gospel Paul had been given…’still is growing even as​​ it​​ has done among yourselves’…we readily understand what I am emphasizing here, that it was just ONE Gospel preached, namely the​​ new free Grace Gospel revealed to Paul. The apostle never referred to the four Gospels, since they did not exist at that time. But if they had, then Paul would be quick to point out the fact that those four has nothing to do with the one he had gotten from the Lord.

I am not​​ talking about the four Gospels as something we cannot​​ mention or casually use quotes from​​ in our sermons. It is quite alright to give illustrating quotes picked up from O.T. or from the four Gospels, casting light on the new free Grace Gospel of Paul. It is quite alright to be told the difference between the two types of Gospels – the Gospel of the Kingdom of God for Israel and the free Grace Gospel revealed to Paul to be preached to the whole world.

But it is all wrong to steadily try to use only the four Gospels to deliver sermons of salvation by faith in Jesus. We must use Paul’s epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians!

As we learn what Paul had in mind regarding prayers for the Colossian assembly, we cannot find anything concerning miracles and wonders – such things that we find in the four Gospels. No, Paul said NOT ONE WORD about such things to them. Instead he prayed that​​ they would be strengthened in their​​ knowledge​​ with all spiritual wisdom and understanding.​​ And so​​ keep growing in all good works in the knowledge of God. Adding, being strengthened with endurance and patience. In the four Gospels we find (Mark 16)​​ these signs shall follow those who believe,…they will lay hands on the sick and they will get well….and so on.​​ But with Paul – he makes it a huge case of immense importance to rather have knowledge, wisdom, understanding, and endurance in the faith, patience in ministry.

Remember also this historical fact​​ on Paul’s ministry: He was saying this to existing and established assemblies! ​​ 

The believers at Ephesus (and therefore I believe this to have influenced those believers in the nearby cities of Laodicea, Hierapolis, Colossae, - maybe even Smyrna, Antioch in Pisidia, Sardis, Philadelphia, Lustra)​​ had seen and heard Paul working miracles probably by the hundreds,​​ demon possessed were sat free, he sent forth his aprons to the audiences and the sick were instantly healed of sickness.​​ He had an apostle’s signs, he said of himself in II Cor. ​​​​ 

So, the assemblies in the Post-Acts times had​​ already​​ seen these things, and still – not a word of this in his two only letters of faith doctrine to the Body of Christ, Ephesians and Colossians.​​ Hope you have got the point!

Verse 12 follows up that which Paul earlier had said to them, of them as already saved and made holy before God in their faith, now fit …to share the portion which is the inheritance of the saints in the Light.

The latter sentence,​​ is​​ pointing to our hope, which is the​​ epiouranos-heaven up above.

Verses 13 – 20 are naturally bonded:

“The Father has delivered and drawn us to Himself out of the control and the dominion of darkness and has transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14: In whom we have our redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our sins. 15: He is the exact likeness of the unseen God, He is the Firstborn of all creation. ​​ 16:​​ For it was in Him that all things were created, in heaven and on earth, things seen and things unseen, whether thrones, dominions, rulers, or authorities; all things were created and exist through Him and in and for Him. 17: And He himself existed before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18: He also is the Head of His body, the church; seeing He is the beginning, the Firstborn from among the dead, so that He alone in everything and in every respect might occupy the chief place. 19: For it has pleased (the Father) that all the divine fullness should dwell in Him permanently. 20: And God purposed that through Him all things should be completely reconciled back to Himself,​​ whether on earth or in heaven, as through Him, (the Father) made peace by means of the blood of His cross.

In these seven verses​​ Paul managed to present to us a grand epos – a gigantic mighty intervention performed by God, for the salvation of all those who believes on Jesus Christ. All the believers in Christ are already in the faith​​ transferred​​ into the kingdom of the Son of His love, verse 13. Jesus is the One who redeemed us through the blood sacrifice He gave on the cross. We are already forgiven ALL OUR SINS, past –present – future. You don’t have to see the vicar to confess your sins – for there are no more sins to confess! All sin is totally blotted out regarding us who believes on Him.​​ But – some will say –​​ I commit sins…since I am not a perfect sinless saint, and should I not then confess them whenever I ‘arrest’ myself in sin? ​​​​ Answer is already given. God knows very well that none of us can live in ‘Sinless perfection’. And did you know: God only saves sinners! But as sinners, we only feel​​ it is natural​​ to resist sin the best we know how. That is the least we can do. Thieves quit stealing, extortionists quit extortioning, murderers quit murdering, liars quit lying, and on and on.

In the verses 15-20 Paul described for us what an exalted power and authority and creative power which Jesus Christ possesses. He was BEFORE ALL THINGS – that is, He was not ‘created’ but He has always been in existence – from eternity and forever and ever, verse 17.​​ 

Now He is portrayed by our apostle as the Head (Chief, Leader) of His body which is His Church, verse 18. Jesus has absolutely ALL THE POWER such as God His Father has – He has God’s entire full power dwelling in Him! It can’t get better than that!

Right now, all Christian believers are looking forward to the promised great day of departure from this earthly life,​​ the day of redemption, Eph. 4:30.

Therefore, dear reader – we no longer just think of Jesus as the plagued and tormented one, the suffering man up on that cross described in the four Gospels. No, we are those who have gotten the gracious Grace Gospel of Paul of the free Grace by faith alone – and thus​​ a Jesus seen in the upper heavens in an indescribable exalted position of might and glory. One who is upholding the entire universe and all things by His mighty power, One to whom all rulers and powers/dominions​​ in heaven and on earth have been laid submissive.

We have a mighty Lord and Savior, and not a little local hero – a common anonymous fellow trying his best.​​ Jesus is​​ The Ruler​​ of heaven and of earth, as well as the entire universe, all things which can be seen, and all those​​ things​​ we cannot see.​​ That​​ is the Jesus​​ to whom we are introduced​​ by our great apostle Paul, as he saw Him in the heavenly visions given him.​​ 

Verses 21 – 23 belongs together:

“And although you at one time were estranged and alienated from Him and were of hostile attitude of mind in your wicked activities, ​​ 22: yet now has reconciled you to God in the body of His flesh through death, in order to present you holy and faultless and irreproachable in the Father’s presence. 23: provided that you continue to stay with and in the faith, well-grounded and settled and steadfast, not shifting or moving away from the hope​​ by​​ the glad tidings, which you heard and which has been preached to every person under heaven, and of which (Gospel) I, Paul, became a minister.”

We can’t miss or overlook the obvious move by Paul here:​​ Again​​ he pushes the ‘Salvation Facts’ button, hard (!), repeating and ‘drilling’ into the minds of the Colossians​​ that God REALLY DID RECONCILE THEM with Himself (in faith in Christ), those who he characterized as​​ …estranged and alienated from Him and were of hostile attitude of mind in your wicked activities.​​ 

This is typical of Paul, that he​​ repeated and repeated again and again​​ the important facts of salvation by faith alone, and that the believers in Christ were saved and even made​​ holy and faultless and irreproachable​​ in the Father’s presence.​​ (And still, there are ignorant Christians that run to the vicar as soon as he catches himself of having sinned !!??)

The only ‘catch’ connected to such a great salvation, Paul wrote in verse 23, and we better make notice of this:

provided that you continue​​ TO STAY WITH AND IN THE FAITH​​ well-grounded and settled​​ and steadfast, NOT SHIFTING OR MOVING AWAY​​ from the hope….’

You may have heard the saying ‘Once saved, always saved’?​​ ​​ Well, it is partially true, but there is a ‘catch’ to it: We must STAY IN THE FAITH. In other words, it is up to you and me whether we will stay saved. We have a free will before God. Actually, there are people who foolishly moved away from their hope of salvation. Let us not follow those. Let us rather get strengthened in our faith and our hope in Christ!

Paul was​​ entirely dominant in early Christianity Post-Acts. Only he and his close co-workers preached that new fresh Grace Gospel. Not only in a local setting, but…quote:​​ …and which has been preached to every person under heaven, and which Gospel, I, Paul became a minister.

Nobody can top that!

Verses 24 – 29 concludes Chapter 1:

“Even now I rejoice in the midst of my sufferings on your behalf. And in my own person I am making up whatever is still lacking and remains to be completed of Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of His body, which is the church. 25: In it I became a minister in accordance with the divine stewardship which was entrusted to me for you, to make the Word of God fully known (among you)- 26: The mystery of which was hidden for ages and generations, but is now revealed to His holy people. 27:​​ To whom God was pleased to make known how great for the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ within and among you, the Hope of glory. 28:​​ Him we preach and proclaim, warning and admonishing everyone and instructing everyone in all wisdom, that we may present every person mature in Christ. 29: For this I labor, striving with all the superhuman energy which He so mightily enkindles and works within me.”

When we read the epistle to the Colossians, one could get the feeling – if I turned off the lamps in the room I am sitting, these verses making up the epistle would continue and light up the place by its own glory!

It is such a clarity and power in these words of Paul on God’s behalf, of the Grace salvation by faith and the hope of heaven which beams at us from the pages in the Bible.

Paul did not mean to brag of his sufferings, no, he just used this so that the Colossians shouldn’t go around feeling sorry for Paul, weighed down and depressed because of him. Paul simply tells that he sacrificed himself in ministry for their sake…taking whatever sort of sufferings that came his way.

He also made point of that​​ God had chosen him​​ to carry out the mission for the Grace Gospel​​ – thus fulfilling the written Word of God. After Paul’s writings (Colossians was the very last one) there exist no other following writings containing faith doctrine to the Body of Christ. Paul is the one and only teacher and apostle in Christendom,​​ chosen to be our teacher and minister​​ handpicked by God and Christ. Therefore, Paul is the very icon of Gospel preaching – one we have as our ideal in that regard, and of which there are nobody in Bible history matching​​ him. He is alone at the top when it comes to Gospel ministers! So consequently, we as Christians must see to it that we stay faithful to Paul’s doctrine as written in the​​ two only Church Epistles, Ephesians and Colossians.

Verses 26-27 let us know about the revelation of the mystery​​ – which is this dispensation of the free Grace Gospel and the Body of Christ,​​ which in times and ages before this had been hidden in God alone;​​ and nobody​​ knew anything about it before Paul had it revealed to him.

Col. 1:26, 27 correspond perfectly with Eph. 3:1-9 regarding the revelation of that mystery.

Paul makes a gross point of the fact that the new Grace Gospel had become…’how great for the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in and among you..’

Gentiles…???? ​​ Yes, Gentiles. Which​​ underlines the fact​​ that this Grace Gospel is an international Gospel, as opposed to the Gospel preached to Israel in Acts period, which was only a​​ national Jewish Gospel​​ regarding the earthly kingdom.

Verse 29 says of Paul, that it was for​​ that Gospel​​ – the free Grace Gospel, he was laboring.

 

CHAPTER 2

 

As we read on, it comes clearer and clearer to us that when Paul came forth with that new free Grace Gospel revelation, he was​​ met with much opposition.

You may recall what we read in Chapter 1 – of what Paul said of his​​ sufferings for the sake of the Gospel?

Here in Colossians 2 we will read of his warnings to them, because there were folks and certain powers out there trying to lead believers astray in heretical doctrine.

It comes to light that this opposition​​ against Paul came from the Jewish believers, those​​ who held to the Law even if they did not really keep it, and they kept on trying to lead people away from faith in Jesus.​​ At best they tried to have certain things​​ added to the faith doctrine.

So, therefore we find​​ Paul once again taking a full​​ round​​ explaining to them the matters of salvation and the greatness of Jesus Christ. Paul was in a constant battle against these heretics who disturbed the assembly at Colossae.

Verses 1 – 4 belongs together:

“For I want you to know how great is my solicitude for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have never​​ seen my face and known me personally. 2:That their hearts may be braced as they are knit together in love, that they may come to have all the abounding wealth and blessings of assured conviction of understanding, and that they may have become progressively more intimately acquainted​​ with and may know more definitely and accurately and thoroughly​​ that mystic secret of God, which is Christ. 3:​​ In Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge and enlightenment are stored up and lie hidden. 4: I say this in​​ order that no one may mislead and delude you by plausible and persuasive and attractive arguments and beguiling speech.”

Paul held back at first, not allowing to bring up negative issues to the Colossians. But here in Chapter 2 he goes straight to the matter.

The apostle first brought up the greatness of the Lord, and the immense wisdom and power He has. But then he comes to his warning, that they must take care​​ not falling prey to​​ the deceitful teachings​​ certain believers had gotten into, verse 4.

These​​ heretics​​ came on with pretty slick manners -​​ …by plausible and persuasive and attractive arguments and beguiling speech.​​ Paul knew exactly what was going on, because his fellow ministers and servants brought back reports of this, to him who was in jail at Rome. Not only did they disturb the assembly at Colossae but also the one in Laodicea, a town nearby.

The next selected verses will bring us more knowledge of what those heretics were trying to preach, what type of​​ speech they taught and​​ practiced.

Verses 5 – 10​​ goes well together:

“For though I am away from you in body, yet I am with you in spirit, delighted at the sight of your orderly array and the firmness and the solid front​​ and steadfastness of your faith in Christ. 6: As you have therefore received Christ, Jesus the Lord, walk in union with and conformity to Him. 7: Have the roots firmly and deeply planted, being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving. 8: See to it that no one carries you off as spoil or makes you yourselves captive by his so-called philosophy and intellectualism and vain deceit, following human tradition, just crude notions following the rudimentary and elemental teachings of the universe and disregarding Christ. 9:​​ For in Him the whole fullness of Deity continues to dwell in bodily form. 10: And you are in Him, made full and having come to fullness of life. And He is the Head of all rule and authority.​​ 

When Paul wrote the epistle to the Ephesians and shortly thereafter wrote the one to the Colossians, he was in jail, at Rome; probably his second time. He delivered the epistle to the leadership and had them promise to read it to the Colossians, and they in their turn had the epistle copied and sent to Laodicea to be taught there as well.​​ Epaphras became the link between Paul and the assembly at Colossae.

We shall make a stop at verse 8 – which mention​​ that these heretics held forth​​ philosophy and intellectualism (same as human ideas/brain spin) and vain deceit, …elemental teachings of the universe, disregarding Christ.

In Norwegian Bible translations…’elemental teachings of the universe,​​ are translated –​​ the learning of children regarding this world with its universe ​​​​ etc.​​ In other words, kid stuff – things you only bring up when trying to make an innocent child grasp some common understanding of the world we live in.

Never the less, these​​ heretics disregarded Christ, and that meant that they taught that a believer had to have things​​ added to the Gospel. Jesus was not enough. It is among scholars held for true that these​​ philosophers and believers keeping a human tradition​​ were originally Christian believers, but they got caught up in the mentioned deceitful beliefs.

The same scholars also hold that these heretics were mainly​​ Christian Jews – and thus carrying a lot of Jewish cultured religion not conforming to Moses.

So we find that Paul actually​​ warned against these Jewish believers who opposed his Grace Gospel, - and among Jewry that philosophical movement was called​​ “The Jewish Philosophy”​​ -​​ which was instigated by​​ a Jewish philosopher named Philo (10 B.C. – 50 A.D.). He referred to Judaism as “The Philosophy of Moses”, but he also used the term “The Philosophy of our Fathers” and as “Judaic philosophy”.​​ 

I can imagine these heretics preaching, -​​ ‘ you see, we think it is reasonable that you must also practice keeping certain food off your table, and you must keep certain holy days and observe the New Moon and Sabbaths.​​ Paying homage to Michael and Gabriel, our angels, is also needed.​​ This is what our forefathers have practiced for centuries, you see. Our philosophy has gained much respect with our people, so you should start to keep this as well. Your faith in Christ may be in vain if you don’t follow our traditional philosophies!”​​ And on and on….

Knowing this background information,​​ of the​​ actual situation​​ in Paul’s time, makes it very easy to understand Paul’s​​ immensely strong​​ vivacious warnings. He used two ‘rhetorical lines’ – one was to exalt and give high praise to Jesus Christ and teaching the believers everything he knew of Him, His divine power, glory and greatness. And the other line was: Speaking​​ directly against these heretics, even branding them – you know –​​ liars, heretics, deceivers, disregarders of Christ, vain human wisdom, doctrine not worthy of any honor,​​ just crude notions.​​ You name it!

Actually I recently made the discovery –​​ reading Colossians in particular​​ – that the reason we find such a wide and​​ alive dynamic in Paul’s words, is the very reason he wrote the epistle in the first place: It is a letter with warnings on the one side, contrasted with high praise to God and Christ on the other side. The two different issues​​ come together in constant clashes, creating waves as we read this. It makes the Colossian epistle​​ come to life in a way that we could​​ almost feel that they are here today – even if we know this happened 1958 years ago.

We also learn of Paul’s personality, on the one hand he was tough as a nail, firm and decisive, and he had​​ a​​ commanding presence; the other side of him was​​ ​​ more melancholic​​ by nature: suffering, worrying, caring, praying and edifying, comforting and supportive – I am even sure that Paul must have cried with tears for the saints…like we can read of his departure at Miletus and the brethren from Ephesus seeing Paul off,​​ boarding a ship for Palestine (Acts 20:36-38).

Can Paul’s extensive warnings against heresy and sneaky ‘Philosophy’ written in 63 A.D. – which is 1958 years ago (it is 2021 now) – be of serious interest to believers of our time?

Yes – absolutely!

In our time, like never before, all sorts of false doctrine, false religions, false lying TV-evangelists craving for your hard-earned dollar cheating and lying to you with false promises of getting miracles from God if you support them. All​​ sorts of nutty stuff is promoted in medias of our time – TV-Channels, YouTube internet, films, - it’s all filled with ludicrous sinister and lude material.​​ 

Allow me to list up a few heretic movements​​ to you. I cannot find room to get at them each and every one though. There are three movements which have derived from Christian believers.

​​ 

  • UNIVERSALISM, the doctrine saying that all mankind is saved or will be saved, eventually given a second chance after death if they lived in unbelief on earth.

  • PRETERISM, the doctrine/idea that Jesus has come back invisibly and secretly, and He is now ruling from His kingdom (several variables exist).

  • ANTHROPOSOPHY, promoted by Dr. Rudolph Steiner (ref. The Steiner schools), made a formal denomination in 1912. This is a​​ Philosophical movement​​ teaching that a human being with his/her intellect may be able to enter into the invisible spiritual world. Steiner mentions​​ the arch angel Michael in some of his teachings. Maybe he was a worshipper of angels? However, Steiner was not directly hostile towards Christian faith as far as I know. In the movements practices one can get a glimpse of good old​​ Paganism or White Magic: A farmer could in springtime burry the head of a bull in his field, so this would make a successive crop! Books on the movement written by critics mention a lot of pretty weird stuff regarding this Steiner-sect.

 

Additionally​​ I can mention​​ a few of​​ the non-Christian movements of considerable proportions – such as the​​ ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’​​ – called commonly for Mormons. Even if they take the liberty to put the name of Jesus in their headline/title of their movement, it is far from Christian in faith.

 

Their heresy is based upon an angel by the name of Moroni, who supposedly gave to Joseph Smith in Utah (a drifter, alcoholic and criminal in his time) a mysterious​​ book,​​ The Book of Mormon. This is supposed to​​ be read on same level as with the Bible. ​​ Yes, it is complicated!

 

Their doctrine is so confusing that they hold Michael to be same person as Jesus and that Lucifer (devil) is the brother of Jesus.​​ They are incredibly derailed,​​ if you are asking me.

 

Their headquarters are in Salt Lake City, Utah, and they have a cathedral there. It was raised in 1893 and had a time for completion of 40 years. The huge building is named​​ Salt Lake Temple.​​ 

 

As most of us know, we find their ‘apostles’ on streets all over the world, walking the cities two-by-two wearing Sunday clothing, and on their shirt front you will observe a small​​ black plastic​​ name-badge reading, for instance: “John Hansson –Elder”.​​ 

 

The comical part of this observation is the fact that these ‘street apostles’ from Utah are​​ squeaky freaky young boys​​ rather than elders, men of some experience.​​ They have not even grown up to ‘Beard level’ of manhood, and if any signs of hair on their chins showed up, all they would need is erasing rubber – not a shaving machine. They don’t even have the Bible knowledge that an ‘Elder’​​ actually was an elderly/old man, one with quite a few years on his back, and never a youth. The badges these Mormons wear on their shirt fronts are lying!

 

And their teachings are of same material: Lies and human fiction.

 

And there are another heretical movement/denomination we all have heard of, the ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’ – or the formal name of this organization, ‘Watchtower Society’, and they have headquarters​​ in New York state. The founder was Charles Taze Russell. There are a vast​​ number of books and articles on the internet criticizing/exposing​​ them, and also on YouTube there are lots of videos. They are infamous due to all the​​ false prophesies​​ they have issued over the years. They cannot be considered as a Christian movement, far from it.

 

Lastly I will mention the​​ Word-Faith movement, which still exist after having had their highs during the eighties and nineties, and over into the​​ early​​ 2000 era.

 

Deriving from classic Pentecostalism, one has to consider this movement as Christian. Their believers in general, are​​ faithful regular Jesus-believers. But as time went, much of the Pentecostal people went along with​​ extreme fractions​​ of it, and one is the Word-Faith fraction.​​ 

 

It was mainly​​ Rev. Kenneth Hagin Sr. in Tulsa, Oklahoma, who got on with great exaggerations and fanaticism regarding healing, miracles, and not to forget – the ‘Name-it-and-claim-it’​​ Prosperity confessing. Hagin Sr. had read the books of E.W. Kenyon and was fired up by that. Kenyon taught that if you only had great faith and you confessed having received a miracle (healing for instance) in advance, then this action would bring along the miracle needed. Hagin​​ Sr.​​ and many others​​ took this also into financial enterprises: promise the TV-viewers that if they only gave money to them, then God would surely bless the donators by giving them​​ the wanted​​ miracles; even giving them back a lot of money since they had given to God.​​ 

 

Hagin Sr. wrote a book full of lies unfortunately, but thousands of Christian believers bought​​ it​​ and accepted the contents as true. The book is called ‘Seven Visions of Jesus’ – and it was even published in the eighties here in my own land, Norway. Hagin​​ Sr.​​ lied as he said that Jesus gave him seven visions by visiting him. He actually tells of having had regular conversations with Jesus.

 

Would Paul have gone against such nonsense if he had been alive today? The answer gives itself.

 

As we have read from Colossians, Paul did not just go​​ warning them against heretical movements, but he also told them what kind of doctrine which was the correct one;​​ namely, his Grace Gospel, given to him by Jesus Christ, in divine revelation.

 

Verses 11 – 14 goes well together:

 

“In Him also you were circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, but with a circumcision (performed by) Christ by stripping off the body of the flesh. 12: You were buried with Him in (your) baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God when He raised Him up from the dead. 13: And you who were dead in trespasses​​ and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God brought to life together with Christ, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14: Having cancelled and blotted out and wiped away the handwriting of the note with its legal decrees and demands​​ which was in force and stood against us. This He set aside and cleared completely out of our way by nailing it to (His) cross”.

 

Paul touched in at what is the​​ very same thing, but in other words, what he wrote to the Ephesians in Eph. 4:5,

 

“There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism”.

 

In the times of Jesus and the twelve,​​ and​​ in the time reported in the​​ Book of Acts there are found three ‘types’ of baptisms; these were John the Baptist’s baptism in Jordan, the Apostle-baptism, and then also an illicit ‘baptism’ – believers who took water baptism on behalf of the dead. The latter were chastised by Paul.

 

In addition to these water baptisms, we also find the ‘baptism’ of the Holy Spirit like what happened at Pentecost Acts 2 and also later on by the laying on of the apostles hands, and finally – the ‘One baptism’ lined out by Paul in Eph. 4:5 – a baptism which is​​ performed by God and Christ in its entirety, the baptism into the death of Christ (and thus also into the resurrection of Christ). This sort of baptism takes place​​ in the very same instance as a person comes to faith in Christ.​​ It is not a process taking a certain time, but it is an​​ instant intervention​​ performed by God in the Spirit.

 

Notice that Col. 2:11 clearly say that the circumcision​​ is​​ not made by hands, which is Paul’s way of saying that it was made by God

 

By these doctrinal words written by Paul in 63 A.D.,​​ it is pointing to a final decision made by God of water baptism as ceased. ​​ From then on it is only the baptism into the death/resurrection of Christ.

 

The Acts-era also had this baptism of course. But it was​​ together​​ with the water rite. Why was that? Because Israel/the Jews under the apostles had the offer to get the promised Kingdom of God on earth with Jesus as their king, also including the fact that it involved Israel to become a Royal Priesthood of God (Exs.19:5-7) – a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. ​​ And like Aaron was water baptized by Moses before he could enter into the Tabernacle for service, Israel’s believers had to be​​ ritually​​ cleansed likewise. Had Aaron just walked in there without that cleansing by the baptism, he would​​ probably have died. So we see that such a priesthood under God and Christ, they surely​​ had to be water baptized.​​ Water baptism was​​ not​​ for the common believer, but it was for the believers of Israel’s house – God’s old nation which had a covenant with God​​ and in the time of His apostles was offering them a​​ New Covenant​​ in the blood of Jesus Christ (Heb. 9:15).

 

But we, the Body of Christ, the ‘One New Man’ (Eph. 2:14, 15) we are not going into the millennial earthly kingdom of God, but into the​​ epiouranos heaven,​​ the heaven up above heaven where Christ now sit at His Father’s right hand.

 

Water baptism regardless of form or methods, has nothing to do with the Body of Christ, the Church. We are already in the sight of God raised from the dead by faith in Christ, remember. We have already been transferred over into the heavenly kingdom of God’s Son.​​ 

 

I cannot say that it is a sin to perform water baptisms by Christian denominations;​​ however, it leaves the unmistakable impression of​​ lack of Bible understanding​​ – a lack of keeping ONLY Paul’s faith doctrine from Ephesians/Colossians as our guide in the faith.

 

Verses 15 – 23 concludes the second Chapter:

 

“God disarmed the principalities and powers that were ranged against us and made a bold display and a public example of them, in triumphing over them in Him and in it (the cross). 16: Therefore let no one sit in judgement on you in matters of food and drink, or with regard to a feast day or a New Moon or a Sabbath. 17: Such (things) are only the shadow of things that are to come, and they have only a symbolic value. But the reality belongs to Christ. 18: Let no one defraud you by acting as an umpire and declaring you unworthy and disqualifying you for the prize, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, taking his stand on visions (he claims) he has seen, vainly puffed up by his sensuous notions and inflated by his unspiritual thoughts and fleshly conceit, 19: And not holding fast to the Head, from​​ Whom the entire body, supplied and knit together by means of its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. 20:​​ If then you have died with Christ to material ways of looking at things and have escaped from the world’s crude and elemental notions and teachings of externalism, why do you live as if you still belong to the world? 21: Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not even touch!. 22: Referring to things all of which perish with being used. To do this is to follow human precepts and doctrines. 23: Such have indeed the outward appearance for wisdom, in promoting self-imposed rigor of devotion and delight in self-humiliation and severity of discipline of the body, but they are of no value in checking the indulgence of the flesh.”

 

Paul says here in a strong and persuasive manner, - that since Christ disarmed the principalities and powers that opposed us (attacked us) we should not let anybody put us under their heretical dominance using certain religious rules or ‘ordinances’. Such as what we may eat and drink, neither that which concern​​ feast days, New Moon and Sabbath. ​​ Those things only foreshadowed what was brought in by Christ as He died on the cross for our sins.

 

Remember what I mentioned above regarding the​​ “Philosophy of the Fathers”​​ brought into the assembly at Colossae, disturbing them in the faith. Jewish Christians had taken in heretical ideas, philosophy and traditions, along with fake humility, worship of angels, abstaining from certain types of meat and drink, insisting on keeping Jewish feast days as well as the Sabbath.

 

Paul was in no way hostile against regular philosophy, you know – sane interest in human nature and mind sets.​​ The Greek texts implies that it​​ was not the general philosophy he went up against, but only that​​ particular Jewish teaching first introduced by Philo.​​ 

 

Those Jews dragged along with them such heretical fraudulent teachings and tried to have the Christians take it into their existing faith in Christ.​​ 

 

Paul’s stern conclusion to this all, is what we read in verse 23,​​ …they are of no value.​​ Such heretical beliefs and practices just had the believers getting more carnally minded,​​ and craving for the lust of the flesh.

 

​​ 

CHAPTER 3

 

In this chapter Paul is teaching on the heavenly perspective, the sin perspective, the human relations perspective, the equality brought in between Gentile and Jew, the Christian family perspective of man – wife – children, and finally that​​ eventual​​ unrighteous behavior​​ when dealing with a family’s ‘Servants’ (meaning slaves) would be punished. (In the Roman Empire it was lawfully to have private slaves in the households. But in our days this is forbidden by law. Check out the Epistle to Philemon.)

 

Verses 1 – 4 gives us the heavenly perspective:

 

“If then you have been raised with Christ, aim at and seek the (rich, eternal treasures) that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2: And set your minds and keep them set on what is above, not on the things that are on the earth. 3: For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4: When Christ, Who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”

 

I feel mostly for to let these verses stand here without any comments!

 

Only, let me just say that Col. 3:1-4 clearly is pointing us away from any idea of an earthly kingdom. This was only for Israel. The verses speak of a hope which is in heaven where Christ now sits​​ by His Fathers right hand. Our hope is a​​ ​​ heavenly hope.

 

Verses 5​​ – 10​​ gives us the sin perspective:

 

“So kill the evil desire lurking in your members: sexual vice, impurity (homo), sensual appetites, unholy desires, and all greed and covetousness, for that is idolatry. 6: It is on account of these that the anger of God is ever coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7: Among whom you also once walked, when you were living in and addicted to (such practices). 8: But now put away and rid yourselves of all these things: anger, rage, bad feeling toward others, curses and slander, and foulmouthed abuse and shameful utterances from your lips!​​ 9: Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old self with its evil practices. 10: And have clothed yourselves with the new (spiritual self), which is renewed and remolded into knowledge​​ after the image of Him Who created it.”

 

Also this portion of verses really doesn’t need my commentary. Paul wrote this​​ 

in a very straight forward manner. It is nothing mystical here. Keep away from sin, he says.​​ This is in no way the same as ‘Sinless Perfection’ though.​​ After having read Paul’s very outspoken exhortation – and we still don’t pay attention​​ and end up wrecked, Paul could comment to us, without being arrogant: ‘I told you so!’

 

Verses 11 – 17 deals with the Human Relations perspective:

 

“There is no room for and there can be neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarians or Scythians, nor slave or free man: but Christ is all and in all. 12: Cloth yourselves​​ therefore, as God’s own chosen ones, purified and holy and well-beloved tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, patience. 13:Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also (forgive). 14: And above all these love and enfold yourselves with the bond of perfectness. 15: And let the peace from Christ rule in your hearts to which as one body​​ you were also called. And be thankful. 16: Let the word of Christ have its home and dwell in you in richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with (His) grace in your hearts. 17: And whatever you do in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and in His person, giving praise to God the Father through Him.”

 

Verse 11 show us that Gentiles and Jews in the faith now were set on equal level before God. But in Rom. 1:16 Paul taught different, that it was ‘Jews first, then Gentiles’. Something has happened since Paul wrote to the Romans in 58 A.D.​​ until he wrote to the Colossians in 63 A.D.

 

What happened was that Israel fell away from God as a nation to Him because of their rejection of Christ. That falling away had the consequences of Israel losing her status with God, which was to be God’s nation sat above all other nations on earth. Which, in its turn, caused God to send His armies (Romans) to destroy Israel – not the least because Israel killed the apostles and their followers, for which Jesus had prophesied that God would kill those murderers and burn down their city (Jerusalem) – see Mat. 22:7 ​​ etc.

 

The judgement on Israel included, shortly before their material destruction in 70 A.D., that the loss of their standing with God as His nation, made God tearing down that ‘Wall of Partition’ referred to by Paul in Eph. 2:14, 15. The Law of Moses and the ordinances were abolished as​​ they made up that wall.

 

Now that the wall is gone, it leaves Israel just as​​ one among all other nations.​​ 

 

As I write this, God has​​ not​​ entered with Israel into any covenant whatsoever. It was all suspended as we find Paul in Rome confronting Sanhedrin there, and declared to them that from then on (Acts 28:28) the Gentiles had been given the Gospel. Also, verse 27 of their unrepentant ways had come to its ‘end​​ station’ – God’s wrath fell on Israel and He considered them fallen. Paul was God’s messenger in that judgement.

 

Following this serious downfall of Israel, Paul was given the revelation of the ‘Mystery’ – the dispensation of the Grace of God, which Paul referred to in Eph. 3:1-9 and Col. 1:25-27. Christ has become all in all His believers, Ethnicity and cultural background has no longer any value before God. In faith in Christ all believers are on equal level, no matter what.

 

A short time ago (in 2021) I worked on a new article for my website, the one on​​ ‘Daniel’s Seven Weeks’​​ in Dan. 9 – and in that connection I come to read a passage found in Dan. 9:23 of the lovely and grand salute/greeting which the angel Gabriel spoke to Daniel,

 

“At the beginning of you prayers, the word went forth, and I have come to tell you,​​ for you are greatly beloved (by God).​​ Therefore consider the matter and understand the vision.”

 

If I had gotten such a visit from God’s arch-angel Gabriel, I​​ guess that I would have been taken with awe and surprise, totally​​ astonished!

 

But here is the thing: Through Paul’s ministry, given to him by Jesus Christ and His Father, the Almighty God, ALL CHRISTIAN BELIEVERS HAVE BEEN TOLD THE VERY SAME SALUTE/GREETING​​ as was once spoken to Daniel, God’s beloved prophet.

 

Verse 12 say​​ this fabulous greeting to us – the body of Christ:

 

(Ampl. Bible) ​​ “…God’s own chosen ones, purified and holy​​ AND WELL BELOVED BY GOD HIMSELF…”

 

(NASB) ​​ “…chosen of God, holy and beloved…”

 

(NKJV) ​​ “…as the elect of God, holy and beloved..”

 

Well, it can’t get better than this!

 

At the same instance, this shows us the greatness of God and Christ, and all we have done to achieve such blessing was that we took to the faith in Christ. It is all by Grace and not of us;​​ it is the gift of God.

 

Be still aware then, that what God has spoken to us, the body of Christ, is​​ not spoken to the unbelievers​​ in this world. We have to keep this in mind. Therefore we seek to preach this Grace Gospel of Paul to the world telling them of this great salvation, the gift of God in Christ.

 

The Epistles of Ephesians and Colossians are entirely​​ representative faith doctrine​​ exclusively to the Church, the body of Christ – the ‘One New Man’. It has not changed over the 1958 years which have passed since Paul wrote it.

 

After bringing this great salute in Verse 12, Paul insists on us to be forgiving and overbearing showing goodness of mind and heart​​ in our lives to one another. He also gave us ONE COMMANDMENT (I couldn’t find any other word for it) for us all to keep:​​ Even as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also forgive. Verse 13.​​ Be aware though, that these words were not written on stone-plates but on a scroll – by God’s suffering and caring apostle, Paul.

 

We should readily keep up with all of Paul’s exhortations and warnings and cheer-ups. He was the one​​ that​​ God and Christ chose to give us the Grace Gospel.

 

If you happen to get into arguing,​​ and harsh words falling from your lips, hurry​​ to beg for pardon! Regardless whether​​ you​​ feel that​​ you are the guilty party or not. Just do it!

 

Other than that, I think it is worth grasping the positive edifying words in Verse 16, of us singing praises to God in our hearts, making melody.​​ And we should always thank God in the name of Jesus Christ.

 

Verses 18 – 25 having family – wife – children as perspective

 

“Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is right and fitting and your proper duty in the Lord. 19: Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh or bitter or resentful toward them. 20:​​ Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing to the Lord. 21: Fathers, do not provoke or irritate or fret your children, lest they become discouraged and sullen and morose and feel inferior and frustrated. (Do not break their spirit).​​ 22: Servants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not only when their eyes are on you as pleasers of men, but in simplicity of purpose because of your reverence for the Lord and as a sincere expression of your devotion to Him. 23: Whatever may be your task, work at it heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. 24: Knowing that it is from the Lord that you will receive the inheritance which is your reward. You are actually serving the Lord Christ the Messiah.​​ 25:​​ For he who deals wrongfully will be punished for his wrongdoing. And there is no partiality.”

 

What is marked by​​ red fonts​​ is what Paul wrote of a Christian believer if he had slaves in his household, or if one actually was a slave (servant). You may get some insight if you study the letter to Philemon, who had a slave (Onesimus) who ran off to be with Paul. Remember then, that in the Roman Empire slaves were legal in any household.

 

Can this exhortation be taken into our time and used as Biblical rule of conduct in regard to employers versus employees?

 

I am not so sure of that! ​​ What about the rights to participate in a strike or a lock-out? ​​ How about so-called ‘Social Dumping’ using cheap laborers from an underprivileged nation?​​ ​​ Each of us must have his own opinion in this case. Its complicated, isn’t it?

 

In our time it is the​​ Justice System and the Courts of any civilized nation, which will decide disputes between employers and employees. No doubt about that.

 

I just wanted to expedite this issue before going to the verses which are valid in a Christian’s life-style in our time.

 

Verse 18 – of wives having to subdue​​ and be obedient to their husbands, is a ‘Hot Potato’ everywhere, not the least with the Feminist-Movements! To them this man – wife thing is like a juicy Beef-Steak which they would like to sink their teeth into. The issue is often used in disputes against Christian morale and life style. Husbands making ‘slaves’ of their wives, forcing them to scrub the floors,​​ and wash​​ the laundry,​​ and cook the meals​​ every day for the rest of their lives.​​ ​​ You can hear them hollering against Christian family life.

 

Was that what Paul wrote about? ​​ 

 

Not at all! He wrote to the believers in a fair and realistic way. Wives do best what wives usually are good at; and so also for the husbands.​​ 

 

Would you rather stay in the kitchen cooking dinner, while your wife is out in the shed chopping fire-wood? ​​ Usually it is the other way around. Or would you rather shift diapers on your little infant baby, while your wife is outside washing the car? ​​ And so on and so forth.​​ 

 

A marriage is a two-way street,​​ and​​ one has to deal in all fairness and good spirit with one another, and getting things done​​ without stupid and stubborn arguing​​ and brawl.

 

When reading Paul’s exhortation on familiar relations and life-style, please remember that this is God’s Word.​​ It is meant to be a blessing to you when you follow the instructions. It is PLEASING TO THE LORD, says Paul, to follow his instructions. I agree.

 

To men of our time, Christians in particular, I would suggest that those of you who​​ still sit on your butt every evening​​ staring at your TV-screens and sports news and all: Just quit that! ​​ Go and help your wife instead. Be a man and not a self-pitying egotistical playboy. Get filled with the Spirit, Paul says. Pray always, Paul says.​​ And had he been alive today, with all that TV-media and Internet all around us, he would have said: Don’t ever watch any of those sleazy crappy wicked soap-operas which you find on every TV-channel in our time, and cut out watching the just as wicked ‘Reality-Shows’ and ‘Big Brother Shows’, and do the same with the Police-Series!​​ ​​ What Paul would have shouted against the lying cheating money loving TV-Evangelist Shows of our time – I cannot even imagine.

​​ 

Has it ever occurred to you that​​ maybe it is time for you​​ to be Paul’s loud voice up against the ungodliness of our time? You are alive (I hope) but Paul is dead.​​ What if you started a Christian website, making it your pulpit and preach​​ to the world? This is not impossible, but it will cost you time and money, of course.​​ Just a hot tip, nothing else.

 

Don’t yell and swear​​ at your children and thus rob them of their self-respect​​ making them depressed, says Paul. This is not rocket-science; it only takes faith in Christ and a​​ regular sense of responsibility​​ to handle these common human affairs.​​ 

 

CHAPTER 4

 

Verses 2 – 6 belongs together:

 

(I skip verse 1 since I have already finished my comments regarding slavery above) ​​ - ​​ 2: Be earnest and unwearied and steadfast in your prayer​​ (life), being alert and intent in (your praying) with thanksgiving. 3: And at the same time pray for us also, that God may open a door to us for the Word, to proclaim the mystery concerning Christ on account of which I am in prison. 4: That I may proclaim it fully and make it clear, as is my duty. 5: Behave yourselves wisely in your relations with those of the outside world, making the very most of the time and seizing the opportunity. 6: Let your speech at all times be gracious, seasoned with salt, to know how you ought to answer anyone.”

 

It is prayer/intercession which is the main theme in these five verses. Paul​​ was​​ encouraging the assembly to pray for fellow believers as well as for their own eventual needs, mostly of spiritual character.

 

Not often do we find the great Apostle of Christ, Paul, asking for intercession, but here he did. And he did right by that:​​ He was jailed, probably for the second and final time. I can also guarantee you that such a Roman jail had no resemblance of Hotel Hilton Royale, be assured of that!

 

We notice however, that​​ Paul had the Gospel preaching in mind, and not so much his own situation even if that was bad enough. He must have had worrying thoughts – on how it would go, would he be freed from jail or would he be punished by execution?​​ This is mentioned below, in verse 7…

 

Then Paul put focus on the importance of the​​ believers​​ walk with God, to be friendly​​ and behave wisely in meeting the outside world; knowing also to handle eventual opposition from those who heard the preaching of the Gospel.​​ 

 

Then I take the liberty here at once, as we have the topic on the table: Pray also for me that I can proclaim the Grace Gospel of Paul in the right manner and in writing articles and expositions in that errand! Thanks for your attention!

 

Verses 7 – 14 belong together:

 

“Tychicus will give you full information about my affairs; he is a much-loved brother and faithful ministering assistant and fellow servant in the Lord. 8: I have sent him to you for this very pupose, that you may know how we are faring and that he may comfort and cheer and encourage your hearts. 9: And with him is Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of yourselves. They will let you know everything that have taken place here in Rome. 10: Aristarcus my fellow prisoner wishes to be remembered to you, as does Mark the relative of Barnabas. You received instructions concerning him; if he comes to you give him a hearty welcome.​​ 11: And (greetings also from) Jesus, who is called Justus. These (Hebrew Christians) alone of the circumcision are among my fellow workers (for the extension of) God’s kingdom, and they have proved a relief and a comfort to me. 12: Epaphras, who is one of yourselves, a servant of Christ Jesus, sends you greetings. He is always striving for you earnestly in his prayers, that you may stand firm and mature, convinced and fully assured in everything willed by God. 13: For I bear him testimony that he has labored hard in your behalf and for the believers in Laodicea and those in Hierapolis. 14: Luke the beloved physician and Demas salute you.”

 

In these seven verses Paul gives us an overview over who are his close​​ colleagues and fellow servants in the faith and the ministry. Two of the four Gospel Writers are mentioned here, Luke and Mark, so it is obvious that the two must have been well into the new free Grace Gospel of Paul. Still we only find that their Gospels focused on a​​ historical report​​ on the life of Jesus and of His elect disciples. It was not meant for faith doctrine to the Church. They both knew that such a task had been entrusted to Paul and nobody else.​​ 

 

Luke issued his Gospel and the Book of Acts around 73 A.D., Mark issued his Gospel around 83 A.D. Even if they knew very well what Paul taught in his free Grace Gospel, none of the two used any of Paul’s doctrine or mentioned it. In Acts, Luke only referred to Paul’s preaching as he went to Jews and proselytes with the Kingdom message, the earthly kingdom offered to Israel in Acts period.

 

Paul was jailed and in that situation he wrote the two epistles to the Church dispensation, Ephesians and Colossians. Pardon my repeating this all the time!

 

Catholic​​ legends have set forth their ‘theory’ that Paul was executed on the order of Nero in a general persecution of the Christians at Rome. But no Biblical documents have any such report.​​ 

 

Many have in mind the infamous fire in Rome in 64 A.D. and that Nero gave the Christians and Jews the blame for this. Films have been made of that drama.

 

The apostle mentions Aristarchus as one who also was in jail, calling him his fellow prisoner (verse 10). And of free fellow servants​​ he gives these names: Timothy, Luke, Tychicus, Onesimus, Mark, Jesus Justus, Epaphras and Demas. That makes nine men including Aristarchus, the prisoner.

 

When Paul said in verse 7 …Tychicus will give you full information about my affairs…that was not regarding how Paul felt or if he was at good health, no,​​ it was the imprisonment and what eventually​​ the Romans would do with him – setting him free or executing him.

 

Epaphras made a good figure before the other ministers, in that he was the one working fulltime for the assemblies Paul mostly had contact with​​ the Colossians, Ephesians, Laodiceans, and those at Hierapolis.​​ See the image on top of this article.

 

Verses 15 – 18 is Paul’s final words and exhortations ever:

 

“Give my greetings to the brethren at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the assembly which meets in her house. 16: And when this epistle has been read before you, see that it is read also in the assembly of the Laodiceans, and also see that you yourselves in turn read the letter that comes to you from Laodicea. 17: And say to Archippus, See that you discharge carefully the ministry and fulfill the stewardship which you have received in the Lord. 18: I, Paul, am writing with my own hand. Remember I am still in prison and in chains.​​ May grace be with you! Amen.”

 

We notice here how Paul, in spite of his prison situation, focuses on the preaching of the Grace Gospel and that his epistle will be read also in other assemblies than just Colossians. He had the Grace Gospel at heart all the time; that the world should hear​​ of​​ this glorious act of salvation in Jesus Christ.

Paul’s last prayer: Remember my chains!

 

Paul’s last greeting to his fellow believers: May grace be with you!

 

CONCLUSION

 

 

We have had a look upon the Epistle to the Colossians and the important Bible truths found in it;​​ given to us by Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, regarding the dispensation of the Church, the body of Christ.

 

It is a​​ ‘Bible truth within a Bible truth’​​ that the two epistles can be seen upon as twin-epistles.​​ These are the only Bible writings which have doctrine of faith for the Church dispensation.

 

Only Paul the apostle was entrusted with such a revelation that the Grace Gospel really is. It was a hidden mystery in God, until He found the time when it should be revealed to mankind.

 

Personally I hold the​​ belief or conviction​​ that the Church only has​​ a few years left on earth. I think around 20 years rather than 30.

 

But until we enter that​​ …Day of Redemption (Eph. 4:30)​​ – and God takes us into His glorious heaven, it will still be our duty and privilege to preach and teach this Grace Gospel to all humankind.​​ 

 

We are those who breaks the ‘Finish Line’ when our run is over -​​ ​​ and I pray and I hope you are among the ones coming over that winner-line and find yourself in heaven, our hope of salvation in Christ! I wish us all good luck in this ministry to the world!

 

 

 

 

 

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The Parable of the
Wedding Feast

The Parable of the

Wedding​​ Feast

By Jan Lilleby

 

This parable is actually two parables, and nothing

in​​ these​​ parables,​​ or any other parables​​ told by Jesus

had anything to do with our present dispensation

of the free Grace Gospel according to Paul!

 

This parable seems to be prophetic – He pointed to something in the​​ future​​ to happen.

Why I say this is because there cannot be much doubt, as we look back at​​ Bible​​ history,​​ that the​​ first half​​ of this parable found in Mat.​​ 22:2-7 was what happened as the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, the temple and great parts of Israel in 70 AD.

Thus, I find it convenient to explain that part of the parable separately, and we shall then have a look at the second part after that.

From New King James Version, Mat. 22:2-7,

The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell​​ those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.” ​​ But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them.​​ 7: But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.” ​​​​ (In this narrative, the​​ servants​​ are the apostles and their associates)

We will notice that Jesus delivered this parable to the audience in the temple site, as it was​​ the​​ 13th​​ of Nisan 28 AD (our 27th​​ of April, Thuesday), the Passover was the next day, the day of the crucifixion of Jesus.​​ IMAGE:​​ The temple burning in 70 AD.

Jesus had cleansed the temple at 12th​​ of Nisan (see Mat. 21:12, 13), healed many sick people and thus provoked the evil-minded Pharisees there. They were after Him, but they dared not arrest Him in the open – with the people there witnessing it, like told in Mat. 21:46,

And although they were trying to arrest Him, they feared the throngs because they regarded Him as a prophet.”​​ 

Imagine then, that as Jesus spoke the parable saying that​​ ‘A king sent out his servants to invite for his son’s wedding banquet’​​ – the angry hateful Pharisees were listeners among the crowd there. Jesus addressed His parable directly to them!​​ As it says in verse 1, it is clearly an addressed parable, and that receiver was the flock of Pharisees present there:​​ “Jesus spoke to them (Pharisees) again in parables, saying:”.​​ And the Pharisees understood that it was them He talked about …THEY were not willing to come (to the wedding).​​ It was still the Pharisees He shot at, saying, …and the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and KILLED them.

That​​ last sentence​​ was then a prophesy. Jesus told them to their face that they would go and kill His apostles/disciples, in a persecution. Jesus was right, for we read of this in Acts, how they jailed them and killed them, over the years.

As we find Paul at Rome​​ in custody 60-62 AD, Josephus​​ Flavius​​ told in his book on the Jewish War, that Governor Festus,​​ who represented the Roman rule in Palestine at that time, got very ill and went to Rome for cure. That left the strict rule of the Roman Governor partially vacant, since no one could fill the position immediately, and thus, Josephus wrote that the​​ priesthood and temple guards took advantage of his absence and attacked the Messianic assembly at Jerusalem. Ananias II​​ (he who had slapped Paul in the​​ face) had the elders and James stoned to death, and many fled up to Pella to escape this killing spree.​​ 

This was the​​ very end​​ of the persecution which Jesus foretold in His parable of the Wedding in Mat. 22, for just four​​ years after, the war with Rome was started as Jews made rebellion against their rule.​​ 

The brutal attack against the assembly at​​ Jerusalem – added to the confrontation Paul had with the unbelieving Jewish leaders at Rome (Acts 28:25-28) – had the effect that God simply​​ gave up on Israel, and​​ He​​ considered them fallen away from Him.​​ 

That fall was confirmed by God letting the Roman army destroy Israel entirely, sending thousands of prisoners to the slave market in Alexandria, all according to Moses’ prophesy in Deu. 28:68.​​ History tell us that Titus made use of around​​ 70 000 Jewish prisoners​​ to build the huge arena Colosseum in Rome.​​ But the other prisoners were sent to Egypt like I mentioned.

This destruction was what Jesus prophesied in verse 7 of the parable. The king got angry and​​ sent his armies​​ and killed the murderers and set fire to their city (Jerusalem).​​ When king Nebuchadnezzar took Judah​​ and Jerusalem in 587 BC, Jeremiah​​ on behalf of the Lord, said of the king​​ that he was a servant of God for​​ that​​ punishing​​ cause. And so it was also when Rome took Jerusalem, it was​​ an army of God sent to punish and destroy the sinful nation which had just persecuted and killed God’s servants, the apostles.

That took place on 10 Av (our 10th​​ of September) which was a Sunday. Same calendar day as when king Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian army took Jerusalem in 587 BC​​ when​​ Zedekiah was king​​ of Judah​​ – and burned down the city​​ and deported Jews as prisoners to Babylon.

So, there is no doubt that Jesus​​ foretold​​ of the destruction of Israel in 70 AD.

Ironically, the destruction was not​​ really​​ a Roman initiative but it was​​ provoked by the Jews themselves​​ as it arose two men among them saying they were the Messiah of God.​​ 

There had been an episode of sacrilege in the synagogue at Caesarea initiated by a Roman official, and that stirred up an angry mob which attacked the Roman Garrison there, and it spread to other places – especially near ​​ Galilee, north in Palestine. Eventually this brought in among others, the two leaders I mentioned above.​​ They both had followers and they started​​ a more organized​​ rebellion which ended by a total disaster for Israel.​​ 

The two leaders were​​ Eleazar ben Ananias​​ and​​ Johannes Ben Levi. The entire time of the rebellion seems to have been a​​ time of confusion​​ and Jews fighting Romans,​​ and​​ Jews fighting Jews in disagreement – total mayhem was raging. Eleazar was the leader of the​​ first​​ aristocratic Jewish rebel government. ​​​​ Ananias II eventually was killed by his own​​ followers turning on him​​ during the struggle between the Sicarii extremists and the more moderate party in this rebellion against Rome.

The Jews could only thank themselves for all the destruction that fell upon them – a direct result of having crucified the one and only Messiah God had sent them, Jesus.​​ The king was​​ infuriated​​ and had His army execute these murderers who had killed His servants, the apostles.

There are​​ three​​ elements I would like to mention here, which are the parable of the barren fig tree in Luke 13, and the incident which took place just the same morning Jesus told His parable of the Wedding Feast – as we read Mat. 21:19 Jesus​​ cursed the fig tree​​ at the road side and miraculously it withered up immediately. His disciples were shocked.​​ And the third element is that Wedding Feast parable.​​ 

Actually, Mat. 22:1 is using​​ plural tense​​ “Parables” introducing the parable of the Wedding Feast. This is correct, for it is two parables told there, and I shall come back to this shortly.​​ If you read the rest of chapter 22, until the last verse 46, you will find no other parable/parables in that chapter. Neither will you find any in the next chapter, Jesus’ famous chastising of the Pharisees and all of their hypocrisy, lies, and heretical teachings – branding them as the children of the devil. So, it is quite Biblical to say that the​​ plural tense​​ in Mat. 22:1 –parables,​​ is actually​​ only talking​​ of the one of the Wedding Feast. Mat. 22:46 says straight forward that Jesus hereby had definitely stopped the Pharisees and their many attacks against Him,

“And no one was able to answer Him​​ a word, nor from that day did anyone venture or dare to question Him.”

I am convinced that the barren fig tree in Luke 13, which should have been cut down, was a​​ prophetic image of the unbelieving Israel: In three years the owner of the​​ vineyard (the fig three was planted in a vineyard) had come looking for fruit but found none. In three years Jesus spent His ministry on earth to preach to Israel, but they would not receive Him, they would not believe (the fruit is their eventual​​ faith).​​ Israel would not believe on Jesus, - so therefore cut down that fig tree! But the vinedresser pleaded with the owner, if he could try one more year putting on​​ manure and digging in the soil around it to see if it could come up with fruit. That ‘one year’ was equal to the time used by the ‘vinedresser’ (here the vinedresser represents​​ the flock of apostles Jesus sent out). But even after that extra year (30-some years in historic timeline​​ of Acts) the fig tree of Israel was still barren, AND IT WAS FINALLY CUT DOWN BY THE ROMAN BATTLE AXE.

Likewise, Jesus cursing the​​ fig tree​​ at the road side, and it withered, - this was also a prophetic image of the very same. This fig tree made up Israel and her lack of faith.

And as third element, as already mentioned above,​​ in the same narrative, Jesus delivered His parables​​ of the Wedding Feast, for which He sent out His apostles to invite Israel to come to the wedding – for Israel is the​​ bride of Jesus Christ​​ as she comes to faith in Him. BUT…the big awesome BUT: He foretold them that they would NOT BELIEVE​​ ON​​ HIM in the future, and therefore they would persecute and kill His servants.

 

THE LAST HALF OF THE PARABLE

There are​​ several scenarios​​ involved in how Christianity interprets this part of the parable.

Let me first quote it to you, from verses​​ 8 to 14, (Amplified Bible)

“Then he said to his servants, The wedding (feast) in prepared, but those invited were not worthy.​​ – So go to the thoroughfares where they leave the city (where the main roads and those from the country end) and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find. ​​ - ​​ And those servants went out​​ on the crossroads and got together as many as they found, both bad and good, so (the room in which) the wedding feast (was held) was filled with guests. – But when the king came in to view the guests, he looked intently at a man there who had on no wedding garment. ​​ - ​​ And he said, Friend, how did you come in here without putting on the (appropriate) wedding garment? And he was speechless (muzzled, gagged). – Then the king said to the attendants, Tie him hand and foot, and throw him into the darkness outside; there will be​​ weeping and grinding of teeth. ​​ - ​​ For many are called (invited and summoned) , but few are chosen.”

Before we can leave the parable, we need to learn what is said in verse 15,

“Then the Pharisees went and consulted and plotted together how they might entangle Jesus in His talk.”

They had become more and more angry – actually they became filled with pure hate against Jesus. Why? He hung them ‘Out-to-dry’ while the people in the temple heard it all. Then we read that they came with the foolish attempt of trying to make him speak badly of the Roman Emperor…as they showed Him a coin asking Him if He thought it was lawful to pay tribute to him or not. Then we get the famous saying from Jesus:​​ Give to​​ Caesar what is due to him, and pay to God the things that are due to God. ​​ The Pharisees lost​​ again​​ and had to leave Him,​​ shamefully over their lack of ability to talk back.​​ They were SPEECHLESS just as Jesus told of that one man who was thrown out into the darkness outside! This made the Pharisees even more certain that Jesus talked of them – as He had left them speechless more than one time.

And angrier than ever!

 

THE PARABLE FROM VERSE 8 AND ON IS ANOTHER

Jesus started actually a​​ new parable​​ – it had changed contents and He had ended the first half (verses 2 to 7)​​ with the king sending armies to kill the Pharisees, - and​​ made a different ‘cast’ of the scenario than the scenario which ended with the destruction of Israel in 70 AD.​​ As I already mentioned above, Mat. 22:1 says that it were​​ parables, in plural tense and not parable as in singular! Jesus used the scenario of a wedding in both parables, and that can bring some confusion if the Bible reader skips​​ such facts. We need to read the Bible often in a scrutinizing manner.

Jesus therefore could not​​ have begun at the same start-point as that of the destruction of Israel. We have to look upon this whole parable as a short preview of contexts, which in the verses 2 to 7 was all about Israel’s destruction after having killed His apostles during Acts period.​​ And the second half verses 8 to 14 is of the Pharisees being​​ cast out of the kingdom of God​​ for their lack of faith.​​ Thus creating a​​ second​​ parable​​ actually.

Neither can we regard verses 8 to 14 as something that​​ followed after​​ the destruction of Israel in 70 AD.​​ 

The actual context in the parable’s​​ last half​​ is that​​ Jesus used the theme of ‘inviting to a wedding feast’ – but with the intent to show that there was an illicit guest there who had not put on wedding garment:​​ Jesus pointed directly to the Pharisees. They knew this, and therefore they tried desperate to catch Jesus by His own words, but failed miserably. Notice what Jesus said:​​ Tie him hand and foot and cast him into THE DARKNESS OUTSIDE (outside the kingdom of God – remember, the parable was about the​​ kingdom of God) – there shall be weeping and grinding of teeth.​​ IMAGE:​​ Cast the unbelieving Pharisees out into the darkness!

Jesus had already warned the Pharisees prior to this telling of the parables​​ of the wedding feast, in Mat. 21:43 He spoke straight forward to their faces​​ …the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce the fruits of it. ​​ Verse 45 says a lot: ​​​​ “And when the chief priests and the Pharisees​​ heard His parables​​ (comparisons, stories used to illustrate and explain), THEY PERCEIVED THAT HE WAS TALKING OF​​ THEM.”

And so, the next parable after the Pharisees concluded and understood that Jesus was talking of them, He came up with this parable​​ (parables)​​ of the Wedding Feast.

And Jesus used that​​ ‘sneaked in’ single wedding guest who had not the wedding garment on,​​ to tell the very same Pharisees that if they came into this wedding, they would be thrown out into the darkness. They would be lost of the kingdom of God, because of​​ their unbelief.​​ 

The Pharisees heard that Jesus told them that they would persecute and kill the apostles; they heard Him also conclude sternly that because of that, the nation of Israel would be destroyed.

Jesus concluded the second part of the parable, that​​ many were called but few are chosen – saying that to be able to come to the wedding, one must be chosen, that is, one​​ must have faith​​ in Jesus Christ. The Pharisees did NOT have faith in Jesus.

Some scholars and preachers and pastors – both​​ inside the Acts-28 camp and outside it,​​ -​​ hold that the parable is telling of a future ‘Wedding Feast’ and thus invitation, to people along the ‘Highways’,​​ as some translations say, such as NKJV;​​ (but NIV says ‘Go to the street corners’).​​ In the understanding of that this ‘invitation’ went out​​ after the destruction of Israel in 70 AD.​​ But I cannot agree with those.​​ They are ignorant of the fact that the parable of the Wedding Feast actually is two parables.

We​​ cannot look past the fact​​ that Jesus prophesied the end and destruction of Israel, which was fulfilled in 70 AD.

Since that time, no​​ ‘kingdom-gospel’​​ has been preached by​​ anyone​​ sent by God,​​ and absolutely no ‘Wedding Feast Invitation’.​​ 

If such an enterprise has been going on, then I ask: Where is it? Who are they?​​ What exactly are the names of the leaders of such a movement?​​ Can anyone give me a valid actual address with a phone number or an email address so I can check them out?​​ Can I participate in a meeting or service they eventually hold? Are they seen and heard on any TV-media?​​ I could go on and on…but I am afraid this so-called operation of going out on the ‘Highways’ with such a wedding invitation in the aftermath of Israel’s destruction is just chasing invisible ghosts. It is a​​ fantasy​​ freak-show which nobody can see or identify in any manner.​​ It simply does not exist.

I say that all kingdom-preaching​​ ended the same day as​​ Paul had his revelation of the Mystery​​ in Eph. 3:1-9 – the dispensation of the Church, the Body of Christ.​​ Most probably we are talking of the year 62 or 63 AD. That is when Paul wrote his two epistles, the one to the Ephesians and the one to the Colossians;​​ revealing the free Grace Gospel for all people, and no more preaching of the kingdom of God, the millennia.​​ It is possible that Paul was in​​ a second jailing​​ when he wrote to the Ephesians and Colossians. He might have been sat free from all charges by Nero’s appeal court, but arrested a second time, maybe because of the turmoil caused by the great fire in Rome…but this cannot be proven.

In​​ this​​ dispensation there are only​​ true Jesus-believers, trusting​​ in the Gospel of the free grace for all people on earth, as taught us by Paul the apostle to the Gentiles.​​ Israel is fallen and is just one nation among other nations. Eph. 2:14, 15.

So, there is​​ no parallel calling​​ running at the same time as the calling of the Body of Christ is.

The last half of the parable​​ of the Wedding Feast is therefore NOT a continued effort on God’s hand to reach out to Jews with the message of a Wedding Feast (only Israel can be the Bride of​​ the Lamb,​​ Jesus,​​ the believing Israel, and not all people on earth).

The dispensation of the Church, the Body of Christ, is standing​​ all alone​​ as long as it exists. God is not working with Israel today, they are still considered as fallen away from Him, actually, they are considered as ‘non-existent’ when talking of a nation. They were returned to Egypt as slaves in 71-72 AD by Roman​​ sea vessels to Alexandria.

 

 

 

 




Going Lost Or Getting Saved Can
Only Be Decided In This Present Life!

Going Lost or Getting Saved

Can​​ Only Be Decided in This Present Life!

By Jan Lilleby

 

Can you repent from a life in opposition to God, for instance if you are an Atheist in this life, and come to faith in God and Jesus Christ​​ after​​ you have died?​​ Resulting in your salvation?

I shall give you the most direct answer straight up front:​​ No, you cannot.

The​​ first reason​​ I will mention to such a scenario is that there is no automatically​​ life or existence after death. You just do not​​ wake up​​ one morning, dead.

The Bible says​​ the dead knows nothing.

If a person is dead, he is STONE DEAD, and he actually no longer exists​​ as a person. He has been​​ reduced to a corpse​​ without any life in it, but the bacterial decomposition setting in.​​ 

At creation​​ the Lord breathed oxygen into Adam’s​​ still unused lungs, and that made Adam come alive – the Bible says of this conclusively​​ in Gen. 2:7​​ ​​ and God Jehovah formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul (ASV​​ Bible).​​ 

Here it says clearly (as in many other Bible translations) that Adam became a living​​ soul. Body plus oxygen pumped into the lungs of that body, resulted in a living soul.​​ 

Without oxygen (if one day no longer this living​​ soul​​ has​​ any oxygen) he is dead.​​ No​​ soul​​ anymore.​​ There is no separate ‘soul’ that lives on, after oxygen has left a man’s body, regardless of reason.​​ Or if death caused by for instance an accident​​ having his head smashed, or being hit by a gunshot, or stung in the heart by a knife, etc.​​ 

The fairytales​​ of humankind on what will happen after death are countless.​​ 

But it is entirely false if saying that there is​​ automatically life​​ after death. Only believers in Jesus Christ have such eternal life promised them. They shall be raised from the dead by God. Only God has immortality says the Bible.

Give that dead person a beautiful burial, let the Minister hold a dignified sermon, let his family cry​​ tearfully​​ and grieve, and keep the memories of this dead family member in respect and love.​​ Still, the dead beloved​​ one remains dead.​​ No man on earth can do anything to alter this.

And God will not raise anyone from the dead​​ unless he had faith in God and Jesus Christ when he was alive, here on earth.​​ 

The dead will be gone forever; like he never had existed.​​ 

And by the way, let me tell you that there is no Hell or everlasting torment or any such fictive ‘reality’ after death. Paul​​ never​​ used a single word in his epistles talking of a supposedly harsh punishment by eternal fire or any other sort of torment, often called for Hell in English speaking nations, or Helvete in Norway where I live. No such place of punishment for disbelievers exists!

Paul only talked of​​ ‘going lost’​​ when talking of unbelievers. Our faith in Christ has only valid currency​​ if we have that faith here on earth, and I shall come back to that shortly.

Likewise, no intermediate​​ Paradise-like waiting place exists, in which a dead person can make up his mind to believe on Jesus for salvation if he did not believe on Him when alive on earth.​​ Such a scenario will suit Hollywood​​ better,​​ rather than people in real life!

The second reason​​ I can say there is no automatically​​ after-life​​ in which you can make a final choice of eternal life or not, is simply one that screams at you right here and now, but you can’t see the forest for all the trees:​​ 

Earth is inhabited by humankind by the billions. But since this life has no use or value to decide our choice for eternity, - it is​​ pure nonsense​​ that we are here in the first place! ​​ Why let us suffer through the earthly life for decades, fighting illness, accidents, hunger, wars, poverty, divorces, - you name it, if this life has​​ no decisive effect​​ on the coming eternity whether salvation or going lost? ​​ Life here is a waste of time and effort – so why not just create us right there, in that Paradise-like waiting room, and let us go right into the full salvation?​​ 

One important element into this equation is the fact that you are​​ actually already​​ given a ‘Second chance’ for each new day you wake up to! If you are an Atheist you can recon every day that you live to see, as your new chance – not just second chance – it may be your​​ chance number 5000, if you have lived as an unbeliever for almost 14 years and each day count as a new chance. ​​ And yet, some foolish ignorant Christian bookworms dig up a fantasy, that God may give all people a ‘Second chance’ in a supposedly ‘after-life’ setting. How can one go for such incredible lies and fictive ‘reality’?

The whole foolish idea of an​​ after-life,​​ so people can decide for salvation or going lost,​​ is totally out of reason and logic.

The third reason​​ I can say there is no automatically​​ after-life, is that you cannot find any such​​ doctrine with our apostle, Paul; the apostle to the Gentiles. Our doctrine of faith can only be found with Paul, written in his two epistles Ephesians and Colossians. Not one single word on any “second chance” to get saved after death.​​ On the contrary, Paul warns against believers getting caught up into foolish thoughts, Eph. 5:17,

“Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is.

In same chapter, verse 5, Paul really gives us a mindbender in the right direction,

Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure person (homo) or one who is greedy (that is, an idolater)​​ has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”​​ (NRSV Bible)

Here, if you are not an unfortunate born dyslectic (word blind) or disturbed in your mind, keeping you​​ unfit to live without nursing​​ assistance, - we cannot understand Paul’s exhortation as anything other than such​​ described sinners are​​ already lost for salvation.​​ Paul has declared that this is a​​ closed case​​ here and now.​​ If he doesn’t repent and turn away from those sins, he shall not come into heaven, which is the other way of saying ‘salvation’. We have inherited the heavenly salvation ALREADY HERE in this life by faith alone, no works, and thus it is ‘Case closed’.​​ And likewise, you go lost already here, case closed.

Paul also tells us that we must KEEP OUR FAITH at all times, for without faith we will go lost in eternity, Eph. 1:22, 23,

Yet now has Christ reconciled you to God in the body of His flesh through death, in order to present you holy and faultless and irreproachable in His presence. - - ​​ PROVIDED​​ THAT YOU CONTINUE TO STAY WITH AND IN THE FAITH, well-grounded and settled and steadfast, NOT SHIFTING OR MOVING AWAY from the hope glad tidings, which you heard and which has been preached to every person under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.”

Notice that right here, at the end of the verse above,​​ -​​ Paul would have had an excellent opportunity to point out to his readers if there was a ‘Hidden catch’ in there:​​ 

“Hey, fellas! Relax, don’t get too anxious over my mention of eventually shifting or moving away from the faith. Cool it now! You see, God has shown to me that​​ He will give all eventual backsliders or atheists or God-haters a glorious second chance after you die! Aint’​​ that​​ just​​ glorious fellas?”​​ 

We are not to be taken into some place after death, to have any second chance. If we, the believers, as described by our apostle Paul here are saved by faith and keeping away from those sins he described,​​ - then it is the same principle in effect for those who are​​ not saved​​ by faith here. They must be considered lost forever unless they repent and come to faith in Christ​​ here,​​ now, in this life before they die.

Eph. 2:8, 9 is Paul’s concentrated summary on our salvation, telling us that we ARE ALREADY SAVED, here in this life, and in no need to have a supposedly ‘Second chance’,

“For it is by free grace that YOU ARE SAVED, through faith. And this is not of yourselves, but it is the gift of God. - - Not because of works, lest any man should boast.”

Can it be told any clearer than this?

Must you have the archangel Gabriel come to you and tell you these things straight to your face to make you believe?

C:\Users\megselv\Pictures\Image 2 Thes 2.jpg

Having just read Paul’s doctrinal statements on salvation by faith, we have to be aware of the fact that a scenario of a ‘Second chance’ in life after death, is not one where people can be saved by faith! ​​ If you are shown into a place like this, you have become one​​ who sees​​ these things. You cannot be a believer like we now can in this life, for in this life we are believers since we​​ walk by faith and not by sight! ​​​​ Have you thought of that?

The demand from God, using His elect apostle Paul to tell us, is that we have to have faith in Jesus Christ, and only if we have such faith can we be considered as saved persons. It is irrefutable and non-negotiable Bible truth.

Here you may read the passage above, II Thes. 2:10-12 – Paul telling them of the future anti-Christ and what trouble he will cause for the Jews in the time of the Great Tribulation.​​ It says that God – seeing​​ that the Jews refuse​​ to believe on Jesus (the Truth) – shall turn them over to a strong delusion so they get stuck in a false belief. Why this? So that these wicked unbelievers shall be judged and CONDEMNED (lost of salvation). They took pleasure in unrighteousness.​​ 

There can be no doubt that this prophetic saying from Paul is a word that is​​ irreversible and therefore will be fulfilled​​ when time is up. It is out of the question that these ungodly sinners will ever get a ‘Second chance’. We better believe what Paul says, if you think you are a serious Bible believing Christian!

And if these cannot get saved, then​​ all other people like them, with unbelief and opposing God and Christ, cannot get saved either. It is a fact.​​ No ‘Second chance’.

I hereby end this little article. Much more can be said, but if you cannot grasp truth by these vital points I have shown you…then I doubt that you would grasp it after reading 20 pages more from my hand.

 

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