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New Wine for the End Times
Everyone can understand about God through the Creation and we understand about God through our own conscience. Also, men have often understood aspects of God through reason and deduction. God has even given people dreams and visions. God speaks to people’s hearts. This is called general revelation, and is available to all people, at all times, and at all places. In chapter 10 of this book, we discussed some of the reasons from Romans why people can have faith in God and will be resurrected without specific knowledge of Jesus Christ.
On the other hand, God revealed Himself to Abraham with a special promise. This type of revelation is not just for the benefit of Abraham and his family. This was a promise of blessing to all nations. Later, these revelations were written down and became Scripture. Special revelation is for the benefit of everybody. Historically, most Christians have believed that special revelation, recorded in Scripture, is required for salvation. No man comes to the Father except through Christ. This, of course, is special revelation about Jesus Christ. But the New Wine System is about God’s plan of salvation through general revelation, yet eventually requiring the special revelation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for eternal life.
Melchizedek was the king of the city called Salem, in the land of Canaan, at the time of Abram. We are told that Melchizedek, the king, was also a “priest of God Most High” (Gen 14:8). Melchizedek blessed Abram, and Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of the goods that had been recovered from the kings that had captured Lot. The author of Hebrews considers this to have been a tithe, and confirmed that Melchizedek was a “priest of God Most High” (Hebrews 5:10, 7:1, 7:9-10).
From this Scriptural evidence, we must conclude that Melchizedek was saved. Melchizedek, however, had no special revelation from God. The promise of a Messiah did not come down through Melchizedek. He was a priest of God only by way of general revelation. He may not have even understood that there was to be a Messiah, yet he was saved. Salvation does not depend how well we understand God’s doctrines. Salvation does not depend upon knowledge of the Messiah.
The author of Hebrews teaches that Christ is the High Priest in the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 5:8, 7:17). Would Christ be the High Priest in the order of Melchizedek if Melchizedek himself were not saved? If Melchizedek was saved, then those of his order who have true faith in the “God Most High” are saved as well. People who have faith in God through general revelation are saved. They too are of the “order” of Melchizedek.
Can people today be saved through general revelation, like Melchizedek? If not, then when did this form of salvation expire? Did God’s special revelations to Abraham cause Melchizedek’s Canaanite grandchildren to have no hope of salvation? Would God’s revelation ever cause anyone to be excluded from salvation? Did Christ’s crucifixion and the revelations thereof cause people on the other side of the world to be disqualified for salvation? Would Christ’s crucifixion ever cause anyone to be barred from salvation?
Some people may argue that once someone has heard about Christ, then they would no longer have the opportunity for salvation under general revelation. That, however, would place a terrible burden on the missionary. What if he failed to identify some cultural barrier that prevents the person from understanding? Could the missionary’s witness actually cause a person to lose his salvation? If they manage to avoid the missionaries, and thus remain eligible for salvation under general revelation, how would that work with the requirement that you can’t be saved without Christ? Christ is the only way to the Father.
Some people argue that anyone can hear God’s voice, and thus they will have no excuse (Romans 1:20). In other words, the claim is that God will reveal his Son to anyone who wants to hear God’s voice. Missionaries have often reported remarkable knowledge of God in primitive tribes. Missionaries have witnessed many remarkably accurate general revelations about God. However, knowledge of the Son of God, who died for our sins, has never been revealed by general revelation. God does not send angels to spread the gospel. The gospel only comes through the witness of Christians.
No man can be saved other than by the name of Jesus Christ. There is no other way to the Father, except through Him. Despite this absolute truth, God seems to have a provision for salvation through general revelation, in the order of Melchizedek. How is this possible? How can both be true?
The only possible answer is the fact that there will be a millennial reign of Christ. Everyone saved by general revelation will be resurrected, and then they can be saved by the special revelation of Jesus Christ during the millennium. This alone should convince the amillennialist that there has to be a millennium.
If general revelation, without faith in at least the promise of Christ, were to allow people to get into the wedding banquet right after the resurrection, then they would be getting there other than through Christ. And yet they will be resurrected, because people like Melchizedek will be saved. They won’t be at the wedding banquet. They won’t be a part of Israel, which is the true Church. Nevertheless, they will be saved from death by being resurrected.
Psalms 19:1-4 NIV A psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands . (2) Day after day they pour forth speech ; night after night they display knowledge. (3) There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. (4) Their voice goes out into all the earth , their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun.
Some people will argue that people under religions of more than one God, such as Hinduism, cannot be saved, because they would not know God the Creator. The general thinking, by some, is that Jews might be saved by faith in the Creator, but Muslims are much less likely. And Hindus are completely out of the question. The basic idea seems to be that the closer one’s religion is to Christian truth, the more likely they might be saved.
Some people from dispensational backgrounds believe that Jews can still be saved under the Old Covenant. One such person told me:
I was addressing the fate of the Jews, who out of ignorance don't yet understand who Jesus is. Does the devout Rabbi who devotes his life to God go to hell, or do his actions under the old covenant still do anything? It is clear that God has brought them back to Israel, and it seems that God has made them victorious in their wars to date.
Yet, this person completely rejected the idea that a devout Hindu could be saved. I can't see a difference between the devout Rabbi who rejects Jesus out of ignorance, and the devout Hindu who also rejects Jesus out of ignorance. There was never salvation through keeping the Old Covenant, "because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins" (Hebrews 10:4). There was never salvation through worshiping Hindu idols. Salvation has always been through faith in whatever revelation that person has personally received. If God has a plan to bring a Rabbi who has died without Christ to salvation through Christ, then God can also have a similar plan to bring a Hindu who has died without Christ into salvation through Christ.
Many Christians have a misunderstanding about Hinduism. Moreover, pagan cultures in the past have all been similar to modern-day Hinduism. Many Christians don’t understand that Hindus also believe in the One God, whom they call Brahma. They even have a trinity that is strikingly similar to ours. (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva) (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Vishnu is many incarnations of God, where God becomes a man. They also have a bunch of lesser gods that are worshiped. It's similar to the Catholics who pray to saints. By the way, not all Hindus believe in reincarnation, which they call "life after death." Many Hindus say they don't believe in "life after death." Instead, they believe in heaven and hell just as Christians do. (I lived in India for a year and a half and learned this directly from them.)
Hinduism is certainly wrong. It's no doubt an invention of Satan. But they do believe in God the Creator, who is above all other gods. In English, they even refer to him as God. Actually, the Creation itself is God (Brahma) in Hinduism. But just how much doctrinal error does God allow before he says, "Sorry, you have too much doctrinal error. Your faith doesn't count?"
Romans 1:20 NIV For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities -- his eternal power and divine nature -- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
Without doubt, Hindus see God's invisible qualities in the Creation. They attribute those qualities to the One God. How can it then be said that they have no excuse for their lack of faith in the Creator? Hindus despise the Theory of Evolution. Paul was probably thinking about the pagan culture of the time when he wrote Romans 1 (above).
Ancient Greek Paganism was very similar to modern-day Hinduism. They had multiple gods, and One Supreme God over them all. They worshiped idols. There are several Greek words for this supreme God. One is Zeus. Another is Theos. Theos is the source of the English word Theology. Theos is the Greek word that was used for God in the New Testament.
The belief in Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva goes way back. Hinduism is believed to be at least as old as Abraham. Some Hindus claim 10,000 years. Hindu writings don't include dates like the Bible. That's the problem. However, their writings probably go back at least as far as Abraham (2000 BC.) Furthermore, most modern-day eastern religions are offshoots of Hinduism from 500-600 BC. All of the major western religions are offshoots of Abraham. Basically, there are only two major religious roots, Abraham and Hinduism, both from around 2000 BC.
The Christian concept of the Trinity was not firmly established (or understood) until around 325 AD. Hence, the Hindu idea of a trinity did not come from Christianity. What's more likely is that the Hindu trinity is an imitation invented by Satan. Just as Brahma is the Creator, Shiva is the Destroyer. (He destroys things that need destroying.) His statue looks like a multi-armed person with snakes around his neck. I think Shiva is found in Revelation:
Revelation 9:11 They have over them as king the angel of the abyss. His name in Hebrew is "Abaddon," but in Greek, he has the name "Apollyon."
The words Abaddon and Apollyon both mean Destroyer. The snakes around the neck of Shiva sure remind me of Satan. Shiva is the Destroyer. This angel of the Abyss is a king over demons. I don't think this king of demons is meant to be Satan himself. He is just a demonic king. In the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit goes out and does the works of God. The demons go out and do the destructive works of Satan. Therefore, I think this was Satan's imitation of the Trinity.
Speaking of Satan in Revelation; what about the dragon?
Revelation 12:9a The great dragon was thrown down, the old serpent, he who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world.
Where does this word "dragon" come from? The dragon is from ancient Chinese culture. In ancient Chinese culture, the dragon spews out fire and water. He causes floods, and other weather related problems.
Revelation 12:15-16 The serpent spewed water out of his mouth after the woman like a river, that he might cause her to be carried away by the stream. (16) The earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the river which the dragon spewed out of his mouth.
The Chinese say the dragon is a snake before he lost his legs. This reminds me of Genesis 3:14, where the serpent was cursed and made to crawl on the earth.
This aspect of Chinese culture is not related to Buddhism. In other words, this goes way back prior to Buddhism. (Buddhism came from Hinduism around 500 BC.) Remember that the Chinese, like everybody else, are descendants of Noah. These aspects of Chinese culture are probably what is left of their knowledge about Adam and Eve. They also believe that Man was created from clay. However, there were different lumps of clay for each race.
From this earlier aspect of Chinese culture comes the word "Shang-Dea," which means, "King on High." It's their word for God. Most ancient cultures retain traces of the original truth about the Creator. Each of the hundreds of different languages of the world has a name for the One God. Missionaries often make use of the name for God in their own native language. Then they introduce the Son of God, and how he died, using God’s name in their own language. I think that faith in the Creator, for all cultures, is true faith in God.
For more information about how God has preserved knowledge about Himself as the One God Creator in every culture of the world, read the book entitled, “Eternity in Their Hearts,” by Don Richardson. This book is divided into two major parts, which are sub-titled, “The Melchizedek Factor,” and “The Abraham Factor.” This parallels what theologians call general revelation and special revelation. General revelation is based on understanding about God the Creator from observations of the Creation, as well as by logic and reason.
When, however, Abram and his caravan traveled deeper into Canaan, a delightful surprise awaited them. They passed near a city which took its name from the Canaanite word for “peace” – Salem. The Canaanite name of that very city, incidentally, would later give rise to the very meaningful Hebrew greeting Shalom and also its Arabic equivalent Salaam. Salem would later contribute its five letters to form the last part of the name Jerusalem – “the foundation of peace.” Even more interesting than Salem itself, however, was the king who ruled over it – Melchizedek!
His name is a combination of two other Canaanite words: melchi – “king,” and zadok – “righteousness.”
A “king of righteousness” among the Canaanites, who were notorious for idolatry, child sacrifice, legalized homosexuality, and temple prostitution? Surely Melchizedek must have been grossly misnamed! (pages 27-28, emphasis his)
Richardson’s book does an outstanding job of showing how Melchizedek represents God’s general revelation, given to all nations. He shows that Abraham represents God’s special revelation, given initially only to the Jews. Richardson gives example after example of traditions, about the one true God, that have come down through the ages from sources other than the Jews.
This study of the progressive nature of God's revelation has shown us that God's redemptive plan is for everybody. Everybody has some degree of revelation from God. God expects those who are given more revelation to lead others to God's righteousness. Those who are given the most revelation are the firstfruits of the harvest in God's redemptive plan for everybody.
Calvinism teaches just the opposite. Calvinism teaches that God's redemptive plan of salvation is only for an elected few. So next we will look at the problems with Calvinism.
Would a loving God have a merciful plan for our loved ones who have died having never heard or understood about Jesus Christ? Solved by applying Old Testament Jewish eschatology to the New Testament Church.