1

Can the Present Dispensation Be
Concluded Much Earlier Than
The Great Tribulation For Israel?>

 

 ​​ ​​​​ It seem to me that the church will NOT be present on earth when the day arrives of God sending the prophesied “Great Tribulation” upon Israel (Mat. 24:21, 22), with its seven years of horrors, disasters and plagues super-natural interventions caused by God Almighty to bring forth a new Israel, which will become the nation of God on earth.​​ 

A nation of God, which will receive Jesus Christ as their Messiah King,​​ ruling from Zion.

The dispensation of the Church started as Paul confronted the Sanhedrin in Rome in spring 60 AD as we read Acts 28:25-28. Paul tried to make them repent to Jesus, but they split up in disagreement. God’s will at that time was to have them all repent to Jesus Christ, so He could send Jesus back down to Israel to establish the millennial kingdom promised (Dan. 2:44).

As Paul had this confrontation in Rome, there had been much turmoil when he had escaped Jerusalem and the mob in the temple, just two years earlier – he barely managed to have the Romans save his life, as they took him into custody and brought the apostle down to Caesarea at night. That started a period of four years in chains – two of which was in Rome, and he was released in 62 AD.

As Paul escaped Jerusalem, leaving behind him a furious mob with murder on their agenda, it had not gotten any better around the time that Paul was sat free in 62 AD.​​ 

This meeting at Rome with the eleven members of Sanhedrin (it was eleven Synagogues there) – became thus a final resort, the point of no return for Israel to accept or refuse Jesus Christ as their Messiah King in the eyes of God. If they refused this last opportunity to set things straight, they would indeed be judged by God and go down. They refused, and God counted it as Israel’s final decision and He cut all bonds with His ancient people/nation from that moment on. Israel had fallen from God!

Paul’s statement in Acts 28:28 says it all,

So let it be understood by you then that the salvation of God​​ has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen to it!”  ​​​​ (They will receive Jesus)

Paul was the very last prophet/apostle who spoke officially to Israel in history. After Paul we cannot find any other authority speaking to Israel in Scripture. It is entirely silent from heaven, and it is like this even today.

Acts 28:29-31 reports to us that Paul made some efforts to try and convert Jews there at Rome, but yet the author of the Acts Book, Luke, tells nothing of any new converts.

In Bible-historical time line, the next writings (after 62 AD) are the epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians, in which we find for the first time Paul’s new freshly revealed Gospel of unmerited Grace.

It is Arch typical that Paul in Eph. 3:1 – after first having expressed joy over the faith they had in Christ – gives us a certain clue of his new ministry. Earlier he had been sent as an apostle to Israel in the Provinces, but all of a sudden in 63 AD as he wrote to the Ephesians, he said,

For this reason, I, Paul, am the​​ prisoner of Jesus the Christ for the sake and on behalf of you Gentiles.”

From that time in history (63 AD) Paul no longer ministered for the preaching of the Gospel of the​​ millennial kingdom to the Jews, that of having Jesus returning from heaven to establish that kingdom on earth to Israel – no, this was now put “on ice” into a far future day, now Paul had been made (into) a prisoner of Jesus Christ so that we Gentiles could get the free Grace Gospel of salvation by faith alone, no works, - a pure gift of God. Our hope is NOT that Millennial Kingdom on earth, it is the hope of heaven up above (Greek:​​ epiouranos).

The expression “prisoner of Jesus Christ” is pointing to his​​ second imprisonment. His first (60-62 AD) was a situation of​​ custody​​ awaiting the appeal court of Nero. But the second was as he had been cast in jail (under false accusations, probably) which was a​​ regular jail cell, not a rented lodging as in 60 AD. He sat there not alone, since we can find​​ Aristarchus as his co-prisoner​​ in Col. 4:10.

But as Paul first met with the leadership at Rome, he told them that it was for the sake of​​ Israel’s hope​​ (of the kingdom on earth with Jesus as king!) that he was bound with the iron-chain,​​ Acts 28:20.

We Gentiles were​​ not into this equation​​ at all then. Paul made appointment with the​​ Jewish religious leadership at Rome, and not us Gentiles!

THE CORRECT UNDERSTANDING OF THE​​ 

CHANGE OF DISPENSATIONS IN ACTS

 

It is obvious that the meeting in Rome in the spring of 60 AD was a fact. And in that occasion it happened that God bade Israel farewell as He looked upon His nation as fallen from their standing with Him.​​ It was a clear demand from God​​ that Israel had to repent and believe on Jesus ALL OF THEM – the entire nation. Had they done that, then God would have sent Jesus back down to establish the promised kingdom. Peter’s speech in Acts 3 cannot be misunderstood, saying –

“So repent; turn around, and return, that your sins may be​​ erased, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; - -​​ And that He may send the Christ, Who before was designated and appointed for you – even Jesus,​​ - - Whom heaven must receive​​ until the time for the complete restoration​​ of all that God spoke by the mouth of all His holy prophets for ages past.” (Acts 3:19-21)

Peter did not speak of a Second Advent, like, far into the future…up to our time, no, - he spoke from out of the premises that​​ His coming was imminent​​ – in that He would return the very day that God could see Israel’s full conversion!

And Paul in that meeting in Rome in 60 AD​​ became the ‘end station’ for Israel, the point of no return. It was their last opportunity to say yes to Jesus​​ as Messiah!

It happened, according to Flavius Josephus,​​ the history writer, that​​ Procurator Porcius Festus​​ took ill and went back to Rome for cure at the same time of Paul’s staying​​ in Rome.​​ In 63​​ AD​​ when Paul wrote the epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians. Festus went to Rome ​​ - ​​ but he died of his illness say the history. However, Festus’ absence from Jerusalem made the priesthood there using the opportunity to deal with Jacob and the elders in the assembly, and Ananias II (who had slapped Paul in the face) the High Priest arrested them and they was stoned to death.

The assembly of believing Jews and proselytes fled the town, and settled in Pella, except for a few members. So this ‘timing’ -​​ of​​ Paul getting a rejection from the leaders in Rome, and at the same time at Jerusalem the believers in Jesus were killed, added up in God’s sight as something so​​ serious a sin​​ that God​​ broke all bonds He had with Israel, and He considered them as fallen from Him.

The preaching of the Kingdom of God on earth was totally ended. But now Paul came forth with the freshly revealed free Gospel of Grace! ​​ And he did so, long before Matthew’s Gospel hit the market in 80 AD, Mark in 83 AD, John in 90-92 AD and Luke in 73 AD (some thinks it could have been in 62-63). Paul’s Grace Gospel,​​ as laid out in Ephesians and Colossians,​​ became the dominant teaching and doctrine of faith in the Provinces. Unfortunately there exists no evidence proving that this Grace Gospel ever was preached in Jerusalem and Israel’s land. What hit Israel was​​ not​​ the Grace Gospel, but it was​​ doom and destruction, as the Roman army took them in 70 AD.

It was around 66 AD – almost six years after Paul’s confrontation with the Jewish leadership at Rome – when the result was that Israel fell away from God, it was that the rebellion against Rome was initiated in Jerusalem and it spread around in several fractions inside Israel. And it all ended in 70 AD, almost a​​ decade​​ after Israel’s spiritual fall from God as His nation.​​ (It is well known among historians that the rebellion got on because of two Rabbi/Scribes fired up hatred against Rome, propagating themselves as ‘messiah’​​ for Israel. They were​​ John of Gischala​​ and​​ Simon Bar-Giora.​​ They were somewhat in disagreement, since both persisted they were sent by God to be Israel’s ‘Messiah’. They only made peace with one another when Titus and his army started building tall ramps to conquer the wall of Jerusalem and invade the city).

From all of this we can​​ do some reasoning: Considering the time span between the fall of Israel in 60 AD (Paul in Rome) and the destruction of Israel in 70 AD, almost a full decade…by one month only…it is fair to say that there exist no​​ sharp cutting-edge​​ sort of divide in dispensational concerns.​​ 

Time had slid pretty conveniently from​​ Acts-dispensation and their Kingdom-Gospel..over into the free Grace Gospel of Paul according to Ephesians/Colossians written in 63 AD. Some Bible expositors tend to make the destruction of the temple​​ in 70 AD​​ as the boundary for the Post-Acts grace dispensation to arrive. But​​ if​​ spiritually observed, that new dispensation brought forth by Paul actually started up as he had the revelation of the ‘Mystery’ (Eph. 3:1-9; Col. 1:25, 26) – following as a​​ consequence​​ of Israel’s fall in 60 AD in the meeting with him.

Even if Israel fell from God in 60 AD, God​​ did not send doom and destruction immediately!​​ 

No, He allowed for almost one decade to slide off…and no sharp cutting-edge separation between the two dispensations mentioned. The temple in Jerusalem still stood high, as Paul started to preach and teach his fresh new Grace Gospel in 62-63 AD – until he​​ (presumably)​​ died around 67-68 AD by execution in a Roman jail. The fall of the temple is not the boundary for the Post-Acts dispensation of the Mystery, the ‘One new man’ of Eph. 2:14, 15.​​ The real boundary was the fall of Israel in 60 AD, but God having it all slowly-but-safely slide ahead over a time-span of 10 years.

Inside Israel, it still was the Tora and the Mosaic doctrines which held the ground; Paul’s grace gospel probably​​ never reached Jerusalem and Israel.​​ But outside – in the Provinces, particularly in Asia Minor (now Turkey) it was Paul’s grace gospel which ruled the spiritual ground. Paul openly​​ dismissed the Tora, Law of Moses,​​ as we find it in Eph. 2:14, 15.​​ 

There exist​​ no Biblical scriptures/epistles proving that Paul’s grace gospel ever was preached inside Israel.​​ Think about it for a while.

But as Paul started to preach/teach in 62-63 AD​​ and on, until his death in 67-68 AD, NOT IN ISRAEL (!) but in Asia Minor, this was the public presentation of the Grace Gospel we read from Ephesians/Colossians. It became a new dispensation – as Paul formulated it in Eph. 3:1-5 …assuming you have heard of​​ the stewardship (Greek,​​ oikonomia) of God’s grace that was entrusted to me for your benefit.”​​ 

Now it became a sharper​​ doctrinal divide, between the previous dispensation with the Tora and Law of Moses – up against Paul’s​​ free grace gospel, in which he openly declared that the Tora was​​ abolished! ​​ It was actually​​ abolished​​ even if the temple at Jerusalem was still standing!​​ It was a divide, yes, but it took some time to fully make this effective among believers.​​ 

WILL​​ THE SAME PRINCIPLE OF ‘TIME SLIDING’

BE PRESENT CONCERNING THE CONCLUSION

OF THE CHURCH DISPENSATION?

 

This question is a good one. But I cannot guarantee that the reply will be just as good. After all, I am only a​​ regular​​ human being, a believer in Jesus Christ, and not an apostle or a prophet.​​ 

But we have the Bible, and we also have the actual history written in books.

If you read my article on “Daniel’s Seventy Weeks”, you will find Biblical proof quoted regarding our time-frame and the conclusion of our dispensation​​ – followed by the Great Tribulation for Israel spoken by the prophets, by Jesus, and by His apostles.

That time-frame or calendar​​ is based in particular upon the writing of Hosea, God’s prophet to the Northern Kingdom (the ten tribes of Israel). He ministered in 750 – 722 BC, in the time of King Jeroboam II (785-745 BC).

He came up with an exact time for when Israel in the future would be ‘revived’ back to existence as a nation for God, after first having been destroyed completely (as in 70 AD). ​​ He prophesied of the so-called ‘Three days’ – which​​ is three millennia. ​​ 2000 years would pass before God revives the nation, and as the third millennia starts up,​​ Israel shall live in the presence of the Lord. This will be the millennial kingdom of God on earth, and Jesus as King in Jerusalem.

I call this for “The Hosea Clock” – because it contains an exact time of years to be fulfilled…which can be calculated from using the Jewish calendar.​​ 

From what​​ calendar day​​ must we base our​​ calculation?

It has to be from the actual day in history on which they were destroyed as a nation. That was same calendar day as when the Babylonian king took Jerusalem in 586-587 BC: ​​ Sunday 10th​​ of September. ​​ Flavius Josephus testifies of this in his book, “The Jewish War”, saying that the Romans took Jerusalem Sunday 10th​​ of September in 70 AD ​​ ..as it happened when Nebuchadnezzar’s army took them in his time.

Not only did the Romans destroy Israel and their city with its temple, but Caesar had them​​ sent away on slave vessels​​ to Alexandria, Egypt, to be sold as slaves – men and women from the age of 17. But the market collapsed, and they were sat free to leave; all according to Moses’ prophecy in Deut. 28:68 – witnessed by Flavius Josephus in his book works “The Jewish War”. But some of the prisoners of war were sent up to Rome to be cast onto the Gladiator games and the wild beasts to die.​​ 

If we count 2000 years from 70 AD in Jewish calendar (a year is 360 days) then we arrive at 2041 AD as the Second Advent – the year when Israel will be ‘revived’ to live before His presence. (Hosea 6:2).

But 7 years before His coming, Israel goes through the purging/chastisement of the Great Tribulation – and in which we, the Church, is not to be found. We must subtract these 7 years and thus we end up with 2034 AD as the latest day for the conclusion of the Church dispensation. You follow me….?

Next move is about to happen…BUT​​ … -​​ but​​ can we take this as a sharp cutting-edge divide time wise, positively?

I think not.

It is not absolutely certain that God takes us into heaven in the very same moment in time as the Great Tribulation​​ starts up in Israel.

Like as we have learned above, when a divide happened between the Tora time in Israel, and the free Gospel time with Paul outside of Israel to us Gentiles, -​​ almost a time-sliding of 10 years (!) – it is​​ fully understandable and probable​​ that God will be pleased to take us into His glorious heaven, actually in good time​​ before​​ the tribulation starts in 2034. The world will have a few years, I believe, to adjust to the new dispensational realities. Grace-time is gone, and​​ Tora time is introduced again…but not as​​ salvation gospel, but under doom and punishment for Israel.

Our sudden disappearance from this world will not go unnoticed, it will be, like, as one big warning “Farewell” – from us Christians. “We told you so!” We preached and we taught the gospel for 2000 years…and still, you stubborn unbelieving Gentiles would not receive Jesus as Savior. You tried to ridicule the Bible saying it was all just human fiction, you rather held to Darwin’s theory of evolution than​​ to the creation act of God told in Genesis.​​ You said that any religion may have importance for salvation, as opposed to the Bible which pointed to Jesus as the​​ only possible​​ way to God. You craved for a godless world, a world where humanity could do what they wanted.

And so,​​ our sudden departure into the heavens​​ will be a grand farewell speech which this world has​​ not ever experienced​​ before.​​ They will be totally shocked and astonished. It may be that more than one Billion believers in Christ will be taken into heaven. That’s a lot of people.

The promise delivered to us from God by His apostle Paul, in Col. 3:1-4 will be fulfilled – we shall indeed be​​ appearing with Christ in glory – in heaven.​​ This will happen without any kind of forewarnings or signs. Those who died in the faith will be raised from the dead up in the heavens the same day. Paul named this day​​ “The day of redemption” –​​ Eph. 4:30.

In conclusion:

 

Our heavenly glorious salvation into eternal heavenly life, promised by our apostle Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, may probably arrive much earlier than the year 2034 as I mentioned above with the “Hosea Clock”.

This is real good news to us Christians – I am complete in favor of getting there​​ sooner​​ than later!

And still, we must not give ourselves over to hysterical joy and dancing over the heavenly enthusiasm in these teachings. Not go messing up our private lives selling off and quitting this and that and so forth. No, we can just keep on living our lives, coming/going to work or whatever you are busy with. We just keep on having a joyful expectation of our coming day of redemption.

Most of us think that 12 years (2034, as we now have 2022) is a very short notice to leave for heaven. And if this already short time is made even shorter, let’s say 9 years? Or 5 years? ..it will be a short time none the less.

Paul never used any description of exactly which ‘method’ God will use when taking us into the heavens.​​ I think it may simply be that He – in a split second –​​ just transfer​​ us right into​​ His heaven. There is nothing​​ in particular to be worried about;​​ no sort of frightening scenes, or sounds, or things like that. We will immediately understand that we are in heaven when it happens.

The best hands to be in, is in the hands of the Almighty God, the Father of Christ. ​​​​ 

Let us all look forward and upward to the day of redemption (Eph. 4:30).

 

 

 

 

 




The Sufferings of Paul



The Sufferings of Paul

By Donnie​​ S.​​ Barnes, Ph. D.

 

(This article is from biblecharts.org)

Barnes expressed there that the article can be used for anyone

to publish, for the cause of the Gospel.

It​​ is​​ very interesting, since it deals with Paul, our Apostle!

I apologize for the unwanted​​ ‘line-stretching’​​ in it, due to converting

the​​ fonts from their website into Times Roman types!​​ 

Jan Lilleby, Editor.

 

(The article is no. 15 in a series on Paul)


 

A.​​ This Time Paul was imprisoned as an “Evil-Doer.”.

1. 2 Timothy 3:12 – “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will
suffer persecution.”

2. 1 Peter 4:16 – “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be
ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.”

B.​​ Before Becoming a Christian, Paul had Caused Others to Suffer
Greatly.

1. The first mention of Saul in the Bible is the role of a persecutor.​​ Acts
7:57-58
​​ – “Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and
ran
athimwithoneaccord;

58 and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses
laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.”

2.​​ Acts 8:1-4​​ – “Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great
persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they

were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the

apostles.

2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great
lamentationoverhim.

3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and
dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.

4 Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the
word.”

3.​​ 
Acts 9:1-2​​ – “Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the
disciples
of the Lord, went to the high priest

2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if
he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring
thembound ​​ toJerusalem.”

4.​​ Acts 26:9-11​​ – “Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to
the
nameofJesusofNazareth.

10 This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in
prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they
were put to death, I cast my vote against them.

11 And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them
to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted
themeventoforeigncities.”

5.​​ Galatians 1:13​​ – “For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism,
how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy

it.”

6.​​ 
Galatians 1:23​​ – “But they were hearing only, "He who formerly
persecuted us now preaches the faith w
hich he once tried to destroy."

7.​​ Philippians 3:6​​ – “Concerning zeal, persecuting the church . .​​ . “

8.​​ 1 Timothy 1:13​​ – “. . . I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an
insolent
man.”

C.​​ Suffering would be a Part of Paul’s Christian Life.

1. The Lord spoke to Ananias concerning Paul’s suffering
Acts 9:15-16​​ – “But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen vessel of
Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.

16 For I will show him how many things he mu
st suffer for My name's
sake.’”

2. The Lord’s word to Ananias certainly came true.

D.​​ Was Paul Persecuted? Did He Indeed Suffer as a Christian?

1.​​ 2 Corinthians 4:8-12​​ – “ . . . We are​​ perplexed, but not in despair;

9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed --

10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that
the life of Jesus also​​ may be manifested in our body.

11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that
the life of Jesus also may be​​ manifested in our mortal flesh.

12 So then death is working in us, but life in you.”

2.​​ Galatians 5:11​​ – “And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still
suffer persecution? Then the of
fense of the cross has ceased.”

3. 2 Timothy 3:10-11​​ – “But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner
of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love,​​ 
perseverance,

11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at
Iconium, at Lystra -- what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the
Lorddeliveredme.

4.​​ 1 Corinthians 15:30-32​​ – “And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour?

31 I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord,
Idiedaily.

32 If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what
advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, "Let us eat and drink, for
tomorrowwedie!"

5.2​​ Corinthians​​ 4:7-18-​​ “But we have this treasure​​ in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.

8 We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed –

10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that​​ the life of Jesusalsomaybemanifestedinourbody.

11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that
the life of Jesus also may be​​ manifested in our mortal flesh.

12 So then death is​​ working in us, but life in you.

13 And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is
written, ‘I believed and therefore I spoke,’ we also believe and therefore
speak,

14 knowing that He who rose​​ up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up
with Jesus, and will present us with you.

15 For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through
the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.

16 Seeing the Invisible Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our
outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.

17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a
far more exceeding and eternal​​ weight of glory,

18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things
which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the
thingswhich ​​ arenotseenareeternal.

6.​​ 2 Corinthians 6:3-10​​ – “We give no offense in anything, that our ministry
may
notbeblamed.

4 But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much
patience,intribulations,inneeds,  indistresses,

5 in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in
fastings;
6 by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy
Spirit,bysincerelove,

7 by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of
righteousness on the right hand and on the left,
8 by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers,
andyettrue;

9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as
chastened,andyetnotkilled;

10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as
havingnothing, and yet possessing all things.”

7.​​ 2 Corinthians 12:5-10​​ – “Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not
boast,
exceptinmyinfirmities.

6 For though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak
the truth. But I refrain, lest anyone should think of me above what he​​ sees
me to be or hears from me.

7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the
revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to
buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.

8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might
depart ​​ fromme.

9 And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is
made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my
infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in
persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I
amstrong.

11 Signs of an Apostle I have become a fool in boasting; you have
compelled me. For I ought to have been commended by you; for in nothing
was I behind the most eminent apostles, though I am nothing.
12 Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all
perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds.”

8.​​ Galatians 4:13, 15​​ – “You know that because of physical infirmity I
preached t
he gospel to you at the first.”

15 What then was the blessing you enjoyed? For I bear you witness
that, if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them
tome.”

9.​​ Galatians 5:1​​ – “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has
made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”

10.​​ Galatians 6:7​​ – “From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body
the
marks ​​ oftheLordJesus.”

11.​​ Romans 9:1-2​​ – “I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience
also bearing
​​ me witness in the Holy Spirit,

2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart.”

E.​​ Paul’s list of sufferings in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28

1.​​ 2 Corinthians 11:23-28​​ – “. . . in labors more abundant, in stripes above
measure, in prisons mo
re frequently, in deaths often.

24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.

25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I
was shipwrecked; a night and​​ a day I have been in the deep;

26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of
my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in
the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in​​ perils among false brethren;

27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in
fasting​​ often,​​ incoldandnakedness.

28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep
concernforallthechurches.”

 

2. Perhaps we have come to believe that this is a list of ALL the sufferings
Paul endured in his ministry. Not so! Consider the following:

a. 2 Corinthians is the fourth book Paul wrote. It was written from
Macedonia in the autumn of 57 A.D. during his third missionary journey.

b. It is believed that Paul’s conversion occurred in 36 A.D. and his death in
Rome in 68 A.D. That would indicate a ministry of some 32 years.
Since 2 Corinthians was written in 57 A.D. and recorded sufferings Paul
had endured up to the time of the writing, the list would encompass
the first 21 years of Paul’s 32-year ministry, but would not include
the last 11 years of his life and work. Thus, the list would not include:

1. The 4th and final year of the 3rd missionary journey.
2.Paul’s arrest and treatment in Jerusalem.
3.Paul’s two-year imprisonment in Jerusalem.
4.Paul’s perilous journey from Caesarea to Rome that included:
a.Anothershipwreck
b.Asnakebite
5.Paul’s first Roman imprisonment in Caesarea.
6.Paul’s “house arrest” imprisonment in Rome.
7. The three-to-four year period between the first and second Roman
imprisonment.

7. Paul’s second Roman imprisonment which resulted in his execution.

c. Therefore, the list of sufferings in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 would
include Paul’s sufferings during the first two-thirds of his 32-year
ministry, but not include the final one-third.

3. A closer examination of Paul’s 2 Corinthians sufferings,

 

a.​​ “In labors more abundant.”​​  ​​ ​​​​ 2Corinthians11:23

1. The sufferings of Paul in laboring for the advancement of the cause of
Christ were unparalleled and alone when compared to others.

2. Some did not labor. Nonetheless, they claimed the fruits of Paul’s
labors.
2​​ Corinthians10:15-16.

b.​​ “In ​​ stripes​​ above ​​ measure.”​​ 2Corinthians11:23

1. This particular suffering probably refers to scourgings inflicted by the
heathen. Their scourgings would not be limited to forty stripes, save
one,which  ​​​​ theJewsrestricted.

2.​​  Scourgings from the Jews will be mentioned later.

 

c.​​ “In ​​ prisonsmorefrequently.”​​ 2Corinthians11:23

1. Up to this point in Paul’s life (A.D. 57), Luke has recorded only one
imprisonment of Paul, and that at Philippi.​​ 
Acts 16:23-29

2. It should be observed that Luke does not give a complete accounts of
Paul’s life and work in his writing of Acts. Many details are omitted.

Therefore, much that was said and done is simply not recorded in
Acts nor referred to in any of Paul’s writing.

 

d. “In deaths often.”​​ 2 Corinthians 11:23

1. Paul was frequently confronted with situations that could have
resultedindeath.

2.​​ 2 Corinthians 4:11​​ – “For we who live are always delivered to death
for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our

mortal
flesh.”

e.​​ “From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.”
2​​ Corinthians11:24.

1. Some simple calculations would indicate that Paul was assigned a
total of 200 stripes with 195 actually being inflicted.

2. None of these occasions is mentioned in Acts. However, it is
possible that he had been whipped at Damascus after his conversion.
Perhaps he was also beaten in Jerusalem and Antioch in Pisidia.
Wecannotknowconclusively.

3. The chiefs of the synagogues had the power to inflict stripes on their
people. No doubt, they would delight in inflicting such on Paul as he
would frequently preach in their synagogues that which they thought
tobeheresy.

4.​​ Deuteronomy 25:2-3​​ – “Then it shall be, if the wicked man deserves
to be beaten, that the judge will cause him to lie down and be beaten

in his presence, according to his guilt, with a certain number of blows.

3 Forty blows he may give him and no more, lest he should
exceed this and beat him with many blows above these, and your
brotherbehumiliatedinyoursight.”

a. Josephus, in Antiquity IV, noted that the Jews were careful not to
exceedthirty-nine.

c. Should forty stripes be exceeded, the executioner could be subject
topunishment.

5. For this type of punishment, the victim was stripped to the waist and
tied in a bent position to a low pillar, and the stripes with a whip of
three thongs were inflicted on the back between the shoulders.

f.​​ “Three times I was beaten with rods.”​​ 2 Corinthians 11:25

1. This was a Roman method of scourging. It sometimes resulted in
death.

2. Only one of these three occasions is recorded in Acts, and that in
Acts16:22-24.

a. On this recorded occasion in Philippi it was an illegal act in Paul’s
case.

b. With backs bleeding and sore, Paul and Silas were cast into the
dark dungeon and their feet were made secure in the stocks in the
innerprison ​​ (maximumsecurity).

g.​​ “Once​​ Iwasstoned.”2​​ Corinthians11:25

1. Stoning was the usual Jewish mode of punishing blasphemy.

2. This occasion is recorded in Acts 14:19 and occurred at Lystra
during
Paul’s1stmissionaryjourney.

3. Paul, then known as Saul, is first mentioned in the Bible is Acts 7:58
on the occasion of Stephen’s being stoned to death. One cannot
help but wonder​​ if perhaps Paul thought of Stephen as he himself was
beingstoned.

h.​​ “Three times I was shipwrecked.”​​ 2 Corinthians 11:25

1. None of these instances are recorded in Acts. However, Paul
frequentlytraveledbyship.

2. Defective navigation, unskilled shipbuilding, and want of the mariner’s
compass,shipwreckswerefrequent.

3. However, Paul would suffer at least one more shipwreck, and that on
his way from Caesarea to Rome.​​ 
Acts 27:14-44

i.​​ “A night and a day I have been in the deep.”​​ 2 Corinthians 11:25

1. Perhaps Paul was able to support himself on some floating piece of
debris from the ship until he was rescued.

2. It is not hard to imagine that Paul would spend this time in closeness
to God much as he and Silas had done when cast into the inner
prison (maximum security) in Philippi in Acts 16.

J​​ “Injourneysoften.”2​​ Corinthians11:26

1. Traveling in the days of Paul was both difficult and dangerous.

2. Paul’s ministry brought him into contact with the Jews, Gentiles,
magistrates,mobs,andsoldiers.

 

3.His travels brought him into a variety of perils.

 

k.​​ “Inperilsofwaters.”​​ ​​ 2​​ Corinthians11:26

1. Perhaps this would involve rivers and streams. Many of the countries
Paul traveled in abounded in un-bridged streams, rivers, and
mountaintorrents.

2.​​ There was a constant danger of death from drowning or being swept
away by the sudden rush of swollen streams.

l.​​ “In perils of robbers.” ​​​​ 2 Corinthians 11:26

 

1.Manyareaswereinfestedwithrobbers.

2. It is very likely that with so much traveling, Paul was often attacked
andhislifeendangered.

m.​​ “In perils of my own countrymen.”​​ 2 Corinthians 11:26

1. This would be the Jews. In most cases the Jews were the first to stir
up opposition to Paul. This was done at:

a.Damascus.Acts9:23
b.
Jerusalem.Acts9:29
c.
AntiochinPisidia.Acts13:50
d.
Iconium.Acts14:5
e.
Lystra.Acts14:19
f.
Thessalonica.Acts17:5
g.
Berea.Acts17:13
h.
Corinth.Acts18:12

3. The Jews had deep enmity against Paul as a follower of Christ and
as an apostle. He was in constant danger of being put to death by
theJews.

a.Acts21:31
b.
Acts23:12-13
c.
Acts25:3

n.​​ “In perils of the​​ Gentiles.”​​ ​​ 2 Corinthians 11:26

 

1. This would refer to non-Jews—the Gentiles. The Gentiles were
generally stirred up against Paul by the Jews.

 

2. At various times the gentiles were stirred up against Paul because of
their idolatry and superstitions. This was done at:

a.Iconium.Acts14:1
b.
Philippi.Acts16:9
c.
Ephesus.Acts19:23

o.​​ “In perils in​​ the city.”​​ ​​ 2 Corinthians 11:26

 

1.Damascus.Acts9:23
2.
Jerusalem.Acts9:29
3.
AntiochinPisidia.Acts13:50
4.
Iconium.Acts14:5
5.
Lystra.Acts14:19
6.
Philippi.Acts16:9
7.
Thessalonica.Acts17:5
8.
Berea.Acts17:13
9.
Corinth.Acts18:13
10.
Ephesus.Acts19:23

p.​​ “In perils in the wilderness.”​​ ​​ 2 Corinthians 11:26

 

1. In traveling through the wild waste tracts of land between Pergamum,
Antioch in Pisidia, or thence to Lystra and Derbe, or crossing the
mountain of Taurus into the cities of Galatia, etc., there would be
greatdangers.

a.Weather
b.Wildbeasts
c.Hunger​​ andwant
d.Inadequateshelter
e.Robbers

2. Whether​​ in the busy cities of men or the​​ solitude and loneliness
of the desert, Paul met with constant danger.

q.​​ “In perils in the sea.” ​​​​ 2 Corinthians 11:26​​ 

 

1. Perils in the sea could come in many forms. Among them would be:
a.Storms
b.Shipwreck
c. Ships being at the mercy of the sea and weather.
d.Beinglost
e.Pirates

2. Since Paul frequently traveled by sea in the course of his journeys,
the risk of these type of perils was greatly increased.

r.​​ “In perils among false brethren.”​​ ​​ 2 Corinthians 11:26

 

1. Paul saw the treachery of those who professed to be his brothers in
Christ, and yet endeavored to deliver him unto the power of his
enemies.

2. Betrayal hurts! It hurts worse when the betrayer is a friend. Judas
betrayedChrist.

a.Betrayalfromwithin.
b.Internalspyingonhiswork.

s.In​​ weariness​​ and toil.”​​ ​​ 2 Corinthians 11:27

 

1. Wearisome toil and consequent exhaustion from his labors were
frequentcompanionstoPaul.

2.Hardworkproducesweariness.

t.“Insleeplessness​​ often.” ​​​​ 2 Corinthians 11:27

 

1. Paul experienced many sleepless periods in his Christian walk.

2. He pursued his work by night as well as by day.

3. On some occasions he sacrificed sleep for teaching and preaching.

4. On some occasions he sacrificed sleep for prayer and meditation.

u.​​ “In hunger and thirst.”​​ 2 Corinthians 11:27

 

1. Through the lack of necessary food, Paul experienced hunger and
thirst on a number of occasions. This may have been brought on by:

a.Dangerkeepinghimaway.
b. Not being around where food could be purchased.
c. Lack of money at times to buy the necessary food.
2. No doubt there were many times when Paul was well nourished
spiritually,whilebeingfamishedphysically.

v.​​ “In fastings often.”​​ 2 Corinthians 11:27

 

1. Fasting (the abstinence from food) was practiced by Paul when he
preferred the service of Christ and labor for the salvation of men to
the satisfaction of physical want. 2 Corinthians 6:5

 

2. Although Paul would choose to abstain from food on various
occasions, he always welcomed the opportunity to feed on God’s
word.

w.​​ “In cold and​​ nakedness.”​​ 2 Corinthians 11:27

 

1. In traveling to and through many half-civilized countries, Paul was
often insufficiently clad. In his labors and travels his clothing became
oldandbadlyworn.

2.Many times there were no friends to replace them.

3. Many times there was no money with which to buy new clothes.

4. From his prison cell in Roman, Paul penned these words to Timothy”
“Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come -- and

the books, especially the parchments
.​​ . .Do your utmost to come
before w
inter . . .”​​ 2 Timothy 4:13, 21

 

x. “Besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep
concern for all the churches.” 2 Corinthians 11:28
1. In addition to all of these many bodily afflictions, Paul felt the care of
all the churches resting upon him.

2. Paul’s writings indicate his constant concern and prayer for those to
whom he was writing.

 

3. The anxiety which Paul had for the churches was more real and
intense than that which many ordinary people have for food and
raiment.

4. The number of sufferings listed in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 by category is
twenty-four (24). One third of that number (8) are “perils.” So many, so
varied, and so terrible, and yet in the Lord’s service he had come safely
through them all.

 

a.​​ 2 Corinthians 6:9​​ – “ . . . As dying, and behold we live; as​​ chastened,
and yet not killed.”

 

b. Paul was truly owned by Christ. He literally bore in his body the marks
of his devotion and faithfulness. Through his sufferings he continued to
serve when it would have been much easier to turn back.

F.​​ Paul’s Sufferings as Recorded in the Book of Acts

 

1. His life was threatened in Damascus.​​ Acts 9:23

 

2. His life was threatened again in Jerusalem.​​ Acts 9:29

 

3. Persecuted and run out of​​ Antioch in Pisidia.​​ Acts 13:50

 

4. Faced possible stoning at Iconium.​​ Acts 14:5

 

5. Stoned and left​​ for dead in Lystra.​​ Acts 14:19

 

6. Opposed and made the center of controversy.​​ Acts 15:11

 

7. Experienced the loss of his close friend and co-worker, Barnabas.​​ Acts
15:39

8. Beaten with rods and imprisoned at Philippi.​​ Acts 16:23

 

9. Cast out of Philippi.​​ Acts 16:39

 

10. His life was threatened in Thessalonica.​​ Acts​​ 17:5-7, 10

11. Forced out of Berea.​​ Acts 17:23-14

 

12. Mocked in Athens.​​ Acts 17:18

 

13. Taken before the judgment seat in Corinth.​​ Acts 18:12

 

14. Opposed by the silversmiths in Ephesus.​​ Acts 19:23-41

 

15. Plotted against by​​ the Jews in Greece.​​ Acts 20:3

 

16. Apprehended by the​​ mob in Jerusalem.​​ Acts 21:27-30

 

17. Arrested and detained by the Romans.​​ Acts 22:24

 

18. Barely escaped being scourged.​​ Acts 22:24-29

 

19. Rescued from the Sanhedrin mod action. Acts 23:1-8

 

20. Assassination​​ plot against him.​​ Acts 23:12-22

 

21. Two-year imprisonment in Caesarea.​​ Acts 23:33-27:2

 

22. Shipwreck on the island of​​ Melita (Malta).​​ Acts 27:41-28:1

 

23. Suffered a snakebite.​​ Acts 28:3-5

 

24. First Roman imprisonment.​​ Acts 28:13-15

 

G.​​ Yes, Paul did Suffer.

 

  • Through it all, Paul’s faith continued to excel.​​ 

​​ 2 Corinthians 12:10​​ – “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in
reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in dis
tresses, for Christ's sake. Forwhen I am weak, then I am strong.

 

  • 2. 2 Corinthians 6:3-20​​ – “We give no offense​​ in anything, that our ministrymaynotbeblamed.

  • 4 But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in muchpatience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses,

  • 5 in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in
    fastings;

  • 6 by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy
    Spirit,bysincerelove,

  • 7 by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of
    righteousness on the right hand and on the left,

  • 8 by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers,
    andyettrue;

  • 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as
    chastened, and yet not killed;

 

  • 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as​​ poor, yet making many rich; ashaving nothing, and yet possessing all things.”

3. just as the Lord had delivered Paul through all of his sufferings, he
delivered him home where he could be free​​ from all those things which hadbefallen him for the cause of Christ.

 


a.​​ 
2 Timothy 4:6-8​​ – “For I am already being poured out as a drink
offering, and the t
ime of my departure is at hand.

 

7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept
the ​​ faith.

8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which
the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me
only but also to all​​ who have loved His appearing.”

 

b.Restwellbrother​​ Paulrestwell.​​ 

 




The Biblical Understanding of
SIN AND GRACE

The Biblical​​ Understanding of

SIN ​​ AND​​ GRACE

By Jan Lilleby

 

 ​​​​ Humankind has a special inherited “crack” in character – influencing how we understand certain issues in the Bible. This so-called “crack” in our character​​ harms us more than just messing​​ up our understanding of things​​ - it is a result of the fall in Eden, the nature of sin which we inherited from Adam. We really​​ want​​ to understand, but have great problems trying to; we would​​ rather not​​ do evil things, - and still, we cannot avoid committing sin. Paul’s words in Rom. 3:23, 24 is clear – and it is inter-dispensational as such: ​​​​ (Amplified Bible) -

“Since all have sinned and are falling short of the honor and glory which God bestows and receives. - ​​ All are justified and made upright and in right standing with God, freely and gratuitously by His grace in Christ Jesus.”

To us, the redemption is in the declared facts…that we are saved by​​ faith, without works.​​ But without faith, it would be entirely hopeless! Salvation is given only to those who do believe on Him, and nobody else.

So, it is necessary that things are scrutinized and studied from different angles, ending up with a better understanding and clarity regarding the Bible.

To jump right into it, let me use one of many examples of how we so easily go ‘off track’ by not getting things in the right contexts:

 

THE LORD’S PRAYER ON THE CROSS

 

A few years back, I came across an article found in one of the magazines (here in Norway) issued by a group of Christian Zionists, in which the writer explained the crucifixion and the Lord’s prayer entirely in​​ error – so that the conclusion of His prayer was​​ that all Jews were automatically forgiven the sin of having killed their Messiah! Flat out, automatically and unconditionally.

It couldn’t get more lopsided than this!

That magazine was issued in the cause of propagating Israel’s existence and everything they did to keep that piece of land, killing their neighbors – it was all excused because of the Lord’s prayer​​ on the cross. They used His prayer as an​​ excuse to kill and terrorize​​ anyone who opposed Israel’s effort to expand their cause and settlements.

Jesus said, in Luke 23:34,

“…Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do…”

But if we go to verse 31, right before He prayed – we clearly understand that Jesus did not mean that His killers were unconditionally forgiven their sins:

“….For if they do these things when the timber is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

(In Norwegian Bible of 1988 it says: For if they do this with the green tree, what shall happen to the dry one?)

This point​​ to Jesus as​​ the green tree,​​ and to unbelieving Israel as​​ the dry one!

What would happen to the dry tree – that is exactly predicted by Jesus as we find it in Luke 13:6, 7-​​ telling​​ His parable of the barren fig​​ tree. He used that parable to tell that the unbelieving Israel would in the end be chopped down. Finding no fruit on this dry tree is the very same as​​ having no faith. Israel rejected their Messiah king, effective as we find it in Acts 28:25-28. They would not repent.

In Luke 13:1-5 we learn how Jesus warned the Jews that destruction would fall upon them (the nation) if they did not repent from their sin and unbelief, and in particular verse 3 is very clear:

“…but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish and be lost eternally”. Jesus referring to Pilate,​​ who recently had killed several rebellious Galileans and mixed their blood into their sacrifices.

​​ These warning words of Jesus came to fulfillment in the years 66-70 AD when Rome destroyed Israel because of their long lasting rebellion.

We cannot find anything in the Bible at all which gives us reason to think that God forgives sin because of Jesus’ prayer on the cross almost two thousand years ago.

To receive forgiveness of our sins in the eyes of God, each one of us must first believe on Him, and on He Who God sent to earth to atone for sin: Jesus Christ.

The world out there, as it may seem at any time with its many wicked deeds, wars and all of that brutal cultures – is not automatically saved; not by Jesus’ prayer on the cross or any other prayers.

Salvation can only be granted in the very instance a person takes to faith in Jesus Christ. Paul summarized that in his well-known passage – 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.”

 

BOOK OF ACTS PROVES THAT THEY HAD TO REPENT

 

After Jesus’ death on the cross, the apostles were sent out to preach to​​ Israel​​ the gospel of the kingdom of God (the millennial kingdom on earth!) – and they told them to repent and believe on Jesus and be baptized. The people were thus NOT automatically saved just because Jesus prayed for them on the cross. Yes, God answered His prayer, but in the exact manner shown to us in Acts: They had to repent and believe on Jesus! ​​ Peter’s speech on Pentecost in Acts 2:38 say​​ so:

“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

In Peter’s second speech a few months later, Acts 3:26 we still find the same conditions for salvation held forth:

“It was to you (Israel) first that God sent His servant and Son Jesus Christ, when He raised Him up, to bless you in turning every one of you from your wickedness and evil ways.”

To this historic narrative of what happened to Israel because of their unbelief, I have to make a point of the very​​ time limit​​ given them. God had given them some thirty years extra (after the crucifixion) to show before Him that they would obediently repent to Jesus all of them. It is those thirty years (slightly over) we see in the Book of Acts.

This particular time limit set by God, is clearly set forth by Jesus in His parable of the barren fig tree in Luke 13: The vinedresser begs the owner of the garden to give​​ one extra season​​ for the dry fig tree, so he could dig up the soil and add​​ fertilizer to see if it would bring forth fruit again. If it did not, then he could chop the tree down.

The original normal year in this equation, is the​​ time of Jesus on earth​​ – almost 33 years, and the extra year (season) for to try to make the dry tree come back​​ giving fruit, can be likened​​ with​​ thus​​ another round​​ of 30-33 years. That would total about 66 years of effort to have Israel believe on Jesus Christ. The apostles made up that vinedresser’s voice, they dug in the soil and had on​​ fertilizer – the gospel of the kingdom, hoping Israel,​​ the dry tree, would come up with fruit.​​ ​​ But no, it was all useless, Israel was judged by God through Paul’s meeting with their leaders at Rome, and he told them by Isaiah 6, that they conclusively​​ would NOT repent so God could heal the land (Acts 28:27).​​ And so we can read in the books of history how Israel was destroyed and scattered in the civilized world in 70 AD.​​ The Jewish writer Flavius Josephus has it all in his book​​ The Jewish War.

As said above, their spiritual fall from God as a nation can be learned from Acts 28:25-28 as Paul uttered the judgmental words from Isa. 6 against them of their blindness, deafness and their unrepentant attitude. After telling them​​ of​​ this judgment Paul informed them,​​ verse 28:​​ So let it be understood by you​​ then that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen to it (understood: They will believe on Jesus).​​ The dispensation of the Church began from this moment on, as Israel was fallen from God. And Paul followed it up by writing the epistles to the Ephesians and the Colossians – in which we can find the Doctrine of Faith for the Church. The free Grace Gospel of Paul.

The Israel we have before us today is a nation made up of Jews and many others (Jews are in minority, only 3-4% are genuine Jews) – and it is estimated that there are about 12-15 000 Messianic Jews among them. And only such Messianic Jews can be considered as saved, and not the unbelieving ones. Christian Zionism likes​​ to make it look as if Jews and Israel are blessed/saved because of their return to the land. As we can understand, this is totally crashing with the word of the Bible.

Only one thing works regarding our salvation: The faith in Jesus Christ.

 

THE UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN GRACE AND SIN

 

So here we come to the questions which most Christians are carrying in their mind, trying to comprehend.

Am I safe in the faith and will​​ I​​ arrive heaven one day? Can anything disturb my position so I will fall away from salvation? And questions like these.

In the Bible we find great parts of the character of God displayed, what He can accept and what He cannot accept, and we learn how He dealt with people in the old times.

Is God​​ considerate with us whether we accumulate great quantities of sin committed…or does He look more favorably on us if we keep sin at a minimal level…with only a few small every-day-sins?

Is it so with Him that if we​​ exceed a certain number​​ of serious sins, then all hope is lost?

Let me quickly come to your assistance here with some tips.

If you happen to be a non-believer, and you have only committed (unbelievably enough) just ONE sin in life, I can actually say that you will not get​​ lost​​ of salvation for​​ this one singular sin; with God it is so that even if you had not committed sin at all, you would still go lost!​​ 

It is the fact that we ARE BORN SINNERS that will get us going lost, and not the countable sins you commit during your life time. If you are an unbeliever, you will go lost because of inherent sin from way back to Adam and Eve! That is​​ what Paul pointed to in my quote of Rom. 3:23, 24 above.​​ 

We have the status before God of​​ being​​ born sinners.

The early Methodist believers (Wesleyans) in England were unfortunately entering a​​ grave misunderstanding​​ in relations to sin and grace told in the Bible: They believed that one had to perform​​ “Sinless Perfection”​​ in their lives in order to get saved. ​​ A believer had to constantly exterminate sin and not have any committed sins. It went into measures close to madness, - everything was sin, sin and more sin. No end to it.​​ But by the grace of God, many were reformed (fractions of the Methodist assemblies)​​ and they managed to grasp the correct teaching of this topic. We are saved only by grace alone, and we can never ever manage to get rid of all sin in our lives.

There is but​​ one factor​​ that can make us lose salvation. And that is if we by our own free will choose to go against God and the Christian faith. In other words, one has to declare by himself that he or she is no longer a believer in Christ.

We cannot lose salvation because of slip-ups in life. Things we happen to do in error because we could not see or understand or manage certain things in life.

Our lives here on earth are, as you easily can observe, strewn with mistakes and the likes. Full perfection is non-existent. We lie to avoid being exposed and put​​ to shame in situations, - we are cast into situations in which we try to push others out in order to put ourselves in a better position, yes, there is no end to it what concerns our creative and desperate measures to secure ourselves before we care for others. All because we inherited that lack of character due to Adam’s sin. If we should have been judged because of bad vulgar thoughts and such, then no human being would ever get saved! Nobody can manage a perfect life or lifestyle no matter how hard we try. Or,​​ -​​ having only perfect super-clean thoughts in our minds….we are actually​​ “locked in with our sin”​​ because we are sinners by nature. Only God and Christ can deal with this.

Jesus’ death for our sins are described by Paul​​ as an absolute fabulous deed for us, in that God by this actually look upon us as those who have been​​ made perfect and made ready to enter heaven up above​​ already while we still are on this earth. Just read:

Eph. 5:27,

That He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such things, that she might be​​ holy and faultless”.

Col. 1:13; 22,

“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. ​​ - ​​ Yet now has He reconciled you in the body of His flesh through death,​​ in order to present you holy and faultless and irreproachable in His presence.”

(I recommend to the reader my article on the Colossians).

If God, by your faith in Jesus Christ, has considered you as having been made absolutely and immaculate irreproachable human being – abilities you did not possess earlier, then it is this standing/status with God we must observe hereafter when we look at our wonderful grace salvation in Christ. God has done it, not us.​​ He has positioned us before Himself entirely holy and pure in Christ – and even if​​ sin can be found with us​​ here on earth, there exist no sin which we can be punished for! Can you beat that?

All that remains in regard to the complete experienced salvation is that prophesied “Day of Redemption” – Eph. 4:30. The very day that the entire church will physically enter heaven up above, and so become heavenly persons with heavenly super-bodies. That day will soon be coming.

 

THE BALANCE BETWEEN GRACE AND SIN

Paul, he who was sent by God as the Apostle to​​ the Gentiles, in other words, our chief teacher in the faith and the gospel, sets for us a “Weight-Balance” up against the glorious superlatives quoted from Ephesians and Colossians above. Sure, we really are counted as such ones who are totally irreproachable and holy in the eyes of the Lord.

But so we should not drift sideways into senseless over-courage and just not care much of how we conduct ourselves as Christians, since God is so “Full of grace and forgiveness” – he warns us and exhorts us so we shall take care and try to avoid the big blunders in our lives.

Col. 3 and 4, likewise Eph. 5, are filled with such advice and words of how to conduct our lives in a proper manner as Christians, avoiding evil deeds and a bad morale.

Col. 3:5, 6 is a good passage in this regard,

“So kill the evil desire lurking in your members; sexual vice, impurity, sensual appetites, unholy desires, and all greed and covetousness, for that is idolatry. – It is on that account of these very sins that the anger of God is ever coming upon the sons of disobedience.” ​​ Read the rest of that chapter 3 to yourself and get hold of Paul’s exhortation – it may be of great help to you!

Both the Ephesians and the Colossians are thus packed with Paul’s “Weight-Balance” which shall help us cut clear and not let us ‘use’ God’s grace as an excuse to commit​​ evil and grave sin.

It is quite clear to us when reading Paul’s teachings, that if one go on with such vice and lude lifestyle, such a person has in effect left the faith! His actions testifies that he really don’t believe on Christ, since he just keep on with a rotten lifestyle. If such attitudes are kept up, one is sure to lose salvation. It is difficult to interpret​​ Paul in any other way!

His expression”kill the evil desire lurking in your members…”​​ is of course in the meaning of…let not these carnal weaknesses and temptations get a free ride on your emotions and will, giving it easy access to your life, but resist it, be an​​ enemy of sin​​ even if we cannot fully manage to live without committing sin.

 

ABRAHAM’S SAYING ON GOD’S CHARACTER

 

When we read of Abraham as he negotiated with the Lord about the sinners in Sodom and Gomorrah, we learn something regarding God’s character. These cities (plus a few more nearby) were destroyed by fire from heaven falling on​​ them, and it is without doubt a judgment caused by these cities’ grave​​ homosexual sins, their brutal violent actions​​ against normal citizens, so God had to destroy them.

​​ Gen. 18:20 gives us the basics,

And the Lord said, Because the shriek of the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah​​ is great and their sin is exceedingly grievous….”

From verse 23 we learn that Abraham dare start a negotiation with God on the citizen’s lives.

“Will you destroy the righteous together with the wicked?”

And so a downward-pointing curve is coming forth from this conversation, as Abraham gets the Lord’s promise that He will not destroy them if He found​​ fifty righteous​​ in them. And so he ended up with a promise from Him that He would spare them, could He only find​​ ten righteous​​ ones there (verse 32).

But there were not even ten righteous people there, and God had these cities destroyed by fire, see Genesis chapter 19. Angels of God​​ lead Lot and his family out, and He allowed them to flee to a place later called Zoar.​​ It was not enough for God that one man there, Lot, was righteous and a man of God, so He took him out of the city to save him.

Thus we see that there were a vast number​​ of men, both young and old say​​ the Bible, who​​ had turned into full homosexuality and gotten brutal and violent, yes, a large flock of criminal wicked rapist homosexuals. In verses 4 and 5 we see that these gathered outside of Lot’s house and commanded him to deliver up the two guests that he had given room for the night….”Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us,​​ that we may know (be intimate with) them.”

Only Lot knew that these two men were angels sent by God.

It is interesting also to check what the apostle Peter wrote of these same things,

2 Pet. 2:6-11:

“And he condemned to ruin and extinction the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, reducing them to ashes and thus set them forth as an example to those who would be ungodly. ​​ And He rescued righteous Lot, greatly worn out and distressed by the wanton ways of the ungodly and lawless – for that just man living there among them, TORTURED HIS RIGHTEOUS SOUL every day with what he saw and heard of their unlawful and wicked deeds – Now if the Lord knows how to​​ rescue the godly out of temptations and trials, and how to keep the ungodly under chastisement until the day of judgment and doom…”

In the epistle of Jude we read from verses 7, 8 and 16 about these wicked people, and we learn of God’s judging character against grave open sin,

“The wicked are sentenced to suffer just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the adjacent towns – which likewise gave themselves over to impurity and indulged in unnatural vice and sensual perversity (compare this with Col. 3:5 of Paul’s warnings!) – are laid out in plain sight​​ as an exhibit of perpetual punishment of everlasting fire. ​​ – Nevertheless in like manner, these dreamers also corrupt the body, scorn and reject authority and government, and revile and libel and scoff at heavenly glories ​​​​ - ​​ - ​​ These are inveterate murmurers who complain of their lot in life, going after their own desires; their talk is boastful and arrogant, and they claim to admire men’s persons and pay people flattering compliments to gain advantage.”

Quite​​ a salvo delivered here by Jude as well as by Peter!

Has God changed character and attitude against grave sin and the wickedness of this world as times passed by? No, absolutely not. God grants grace and salvation to those who believe on Jesus Christ and Himself, the Father of Christ – as the believing sinner tries his best to resist and avoid sin – totally in line with the exhortations given by Paul. But in the other end of this scale, we find God’s fierce judgment upon grave sin and evil blaspheming boasting wicked sinners, such ones that​​ display harsh pride and arrogance​​ using their sinful ways to demonstrate against God.

It has always been like that in the world, and God does not back out of His character regarding this.

It is for this reason Paul brought his “Weight-Balance” in Ephesians and Colossians (as I quoted above) telling us to​​ kill our carnal sin and desires etcetera.​​ Even as he​​ first told us​​ how it is with God’s phenomenal grace salvation by faith. He made us holy and blameless by the faith in Christ! We just need to understand​​ correctly the rhetoric of Paul​​ and get this right as he explained the salvation given us by the free grace gospel.

 

JONAH’S SAYING ON GOD’S CHARACTER

 

After that Jonah had been vomited out of the ‘fish’ (Jon. 2:10) he started to obey God’s original calling to go to Nineveh and prophesy to them His warnings – they were given 40 days to repent, or else God would destroy the city. ​​ Jon. 3:10 reports of how Nineveh repented and so God turned away from His wrath:

“And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God revoked His sentence of evil He would do to them and he did not do it”.

The​​ incredible in this narrative is that Jonah was fuming with anger over God having spared the city! Can you imagine? Jon. 4:2 thus says​​ a lot about God’s character:

“…for I knew that You are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness, and You revoked the sentence of evil against them”.

Notice that we are not only served the “Bright and Merry” side of God’s character, but also the darker gloomy side of it. God can definitely turn angry and send doom and death upon ungodly individuals as well as groups.

Certain powers inside Christianity are trying hard to portraying God as one Who is​​ “Only good, merciful and forgiving”​​ thus using this as an excuse to allow sinfulness inside the church​​ – like…”Oh, it is not so serious about same-sex-marriage and gay lifestyle, only be sure that it is genuine love…”​​ and so on and on. ​​ They choose to look away from the Word of God in the Bible which is warning us of all types of sin, greater or lesser, whether hetero or homo relations. The Bible portrays homosexuality in a particularly serious​​ manner, a sin which is​​ infuriating the good Lord​​ so much that He can wipe out whole cities to punish it! Such grave sin is clashing against God’s order of creation and the wellbeing of mankind. He did not create – in the Garden of Eden – Adam & Allan to live together….nor Eve & Ellen…no, He created them with two sexes, one male and one female, Adam and Eve. Do I have to give it to you by a tea spoon? ​​​​ God takes​​ his​​ order of creation​​ so seriously that the Bible is full of examples warning us of it. Even if we live in the age/dispensation of the grace of God, we must oppose such a sinful lifestyle.

We are much into same sort of suffering as said of Lot in 2 Pet. 2: Tormented in our souls by what we see and hear, of people in their wicked sinful ways. Lot was suffering​​ every day​​ as he lived in Sodom, Peter says.​​ 

Concerning people out there in the world, outside of the Christian church, yours truly cannot interfere or trying to “arrest” such people of wickedness and sin, hetero or homo, or whatever. We cannot enter and interfere with their private lives;​​ even though I disagree with such provoking sinfulness as described here. But we as Christians have no real authority to physically stop such things. The world is the world, but one day…after this dispensation of the grace of God is concluded, God shall again take affair and will send doom and destruction upon evil – as we have learnt from the Bible.

One can have a gay mind/attitude, since people are influenced by their parents/friends/school-culture/sports-activities etcetera, for they have been victims of such influences and can’t help themselves. So grace salvation by faith​​ in Christ will thus give salvation to any homosexual​​ who does not live out his/her sexuality with a person of same sex.​​ We cannot help having a mindset of certain things, but we​​ can abstain​​ from any practice which supports such mindset. If one goes​​ practicing homosexuality, this is the​​ same as rejecting the faith,​​ and such a person will lose his/her salvation. Read again my quotes from Col. 3 above!

But if any man or woman stands forth as Christian believers and saved, then​​ it​​ has to be the Bible​​ which has the final word in any case of moral ethic character. If the Bible says NO, then we human beings cannot say YES and think we get away with it. We are not in power to decide right or wrong in such matters, only the Word of God contains such power and authority.

Romans 1:21-28 is a passage concerning morale and right behaviors, what God accept and do not accept. You should read it by yourself. It is quite mindboggling and shocking to think of priests and pastors and preachers daring to shut their minds and eyes over these strict exhortations from our apostle Paul!

 

JESUS’ WORDS ON MAN’S SINFUL CHARACTER

 

We have checked out some of God’s character – reading what Abraham and Jonah said of Him.

But let us check out humankind’s character. What did Jesus say on that delicate matter?

Mark 7:21-23,

(Amplified Bible, including eventual words in clambers) ​​ - For from within, (that is) out of the hearts of men, come base and wicked thoughts, sexual immorality, stealing, murder, adultery, ​​ 22- Coveting (a greedy desire to have more wealth), dangerous and destructive wickedness, deceit; unrestrained (indecent) conduct; an evil eye​​ (envy), slander (evil speaking, malicious misrepresentation, abusiveness), pride (the sin of an uplifted heart against God and man), foolishness (folly, lack of sense, recklessness, thoughtlessness). ​​ 23- All this evil (purposes and desires) come from within, and they make the man unclean and render him unhallowed.”

In other words, these are the harsh consequences of having inherited the fallen sinful nature of Adam! All of these evil things have been taken away from us…in the meaning – it will​​ not harm us​​ or inflict on our salvation, as long as we stay in faith leaning on Jesus Christ – like Paul taught in his epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians. The grace gospel saves us from all of those elements​​ Jesus listed up.​​ We need to face this up close, and at the same time rest assured of God’s saving grace in our faith in Christ.​​ 

When reading the gospels and find what Jesus said regarding morale – He actually said that a believer – in spite of having that inherited sin nature – could do GOOD THINGS, not only bad ones. Here are some quotes,

Mat. 5:16, ​​ Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence, and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.

Mat. 5:44, 45, ​​ But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, - - To show that you are the children of your Father Who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the wicked and on​​ the good, and makes the rain fall upon the upright and​​ the wrongdoers​​ alike.

Mat. 7:12, ​​ So then, whatever you desire that others would do to and for you, even so do also to and for them, for this is the Law and the prophets.

John 13:34, ​​ I give you a new commandment: that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another.

Salvation is a​​ gift,​​ and it is unmerited! ​​ No human being can ever earn or deserve such a glorious gift,​​ and​​ that is for sure. We are saved thus,​​ without​​ having to present or perform any “Sinless Perfection”. Period. End of discussion.

 

SIN AND GRACE IN OUR DISPENSATION

 

In Eph. 3:1, 2 Paul is teaching that he (he only) was given the task of establishing the dispensation (administration) of the grace of God, by a revelation of God,

“For this reason I, Paul,​​ the prisoner of Jesus Christ for the sake and on behalf of you Gentiles​​ – assuming you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was entrusted to me for your benefit.” ​​ (See also verses 3-9).

This points out for us that the entire time in which the church, the Body of Christ, are on earth with the grace gospel, is actually a time/era/dispensation in which God only acts​​ according to His grace, not casting doom and destruction on anybody.

Sodom with its doom of fire, or before that, the flood of Noah and other acts of judgments in Biblical history, are not repeated in this present grace dispensation​​ with the preaching of the free grace salvation by faith alone. But the day when this era is concluded by God sending the Great Tribulation upon Israel (as seen in Revelation) – then it is finally the end of the grace-period we have had since the times of Paul AD 63-67, and no more free grace given. Then God will start judging​​ serious sin and ungodliness.

In our time, during the remaining period of the grace gospel, we follow the exhortations given by Paul in Ephesians and Colossians which is the foundation for the church regarding doctrine of faith and salvation. Christ sent out Paul to us Gentiles (Acts 9:15) with this grace gospel, and it shows now that the world received it​​ (many if not all)​​ and believed and got saved! Paul’s own prophesy in Acts 28:28 was thus fulfilled years ago,

“So let it be understood by you then that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen to it (receiving it for salvation)”.

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The Heavenly Position of The Church




Right Division of The New Testament