Dividor

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New Wine for the End Times
Chapter 1
The New Wine System in a Nutshell

Traditional conservative mainstream Christian teaching states that if one dies without making a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, an eternity in hell awaits.  For many, this teaching brings up a series of difficult questions.  What about the people who have died without hearing about Jesus?  Will they spend eternity in hell?  I agree with all the theologians who say Jesus Christ is necessary in order to be saved.  But few have offered a good solution to this very puzzling dilemma.

Calvinists tell us that God makes the decision.  God determines who will hear about Christ, and who will believe the gospel and accept Christ as Savior.  This basically puts the responsibility for those who have never heard on God.  Calvinists say that God has the right to choose who will be saved and who will not be saved.  Arminians, on the other hand, say this makes God the author of sin.  God creates souls and places them into situations, times, and cultures where there is absolutely no possibility of hearing about Christ in their lifetimes.  For example, what about all the Native Americans who lived before Columbus discovered America?  Are they all currently burning in hell?

There are many convincing verses on both sides of this issue.  This issue has divided the Church for centuries.  Can the Bible be this difficult to properly interpret?  Most theologians tend to evaluate verses on one side of an issue and then list verses on the other side of the argument, juxtaposing the two.  They try to see which side, in their opinion, has the greater weight of Scripture.  No matter what system of interpretation you choose, there seems to be a number of hard questions, and quite a few verses that are difficult to understand.

Could it be possible to have one simple system of interpretation that clearly explains all the traditionally difficult verses in the Bible?  Most theologians would say no.  Yet that is exactly what is found in the New Wine System.  This system clearly and simply resolves the difficulties between Calvinism and Arminianism, and also explains all other difficult verses of Scripture.  I have not encountered a single verse that is not easily understood using the New Wine System.

Yet this system does not involve the use of symbolism or difficult allegories that deny the literal meaning.  The New Wine System is the simple application of Old Testament Jewish eschatology to the New Testament Church.  What does this mean?  Simply stated, in this system the Church’s purpose when Christ returns is interpreted in the same way that the Jews interpreted Israel’s purpose at the Messiah’s coming.

Old Testament prophecy is interpreted as literally fulfilled in the Church. According to this view, the Church is Israel.  This is not to say the Church replaces Israel.  Gentile believers are grafted into the vine, which is Israel.  There are two kingdoms in Israel.  Gentiles who are in Christ can be understood to be the northern kingdom.  Jews, when they are grafted back in, are all from the southern kingdom.  When Christ returns, these two kingdoms (sticks) of Israel will be reunited, as is promised in Ezekiel 37:15-28.

We are grafted into Israel and inherit all the very same promises and prophecies of Israel, interpreted in the same literal way as an ancient Jew would have read Scripture.  It’s amazing how many problems this solves, and how simple the solution really is.  But it requires adapting the mindset of a Jew, not a Greek.  There will be more about that later.

What about the verses that Christian Universalists use to say everyone will be saved?  They use some very convincing verses.  Yet we know there are other verses which would seem to teach eternal punishment.  The New Wine System clearly and intuitively explains the verses used by Christian Universalists.

What about infants who die?  Will they spend eternity in hell?  Many Catholics believe in a place called limbo, which is neither heaven nor hell, for infants who have not been baptized.  This is a long-standing Catholic tradition.  But Protestants want Scriptural evidence for all doctrines.

Infants are born with Adam’s sinful state (Rom. 5:12-21, 1 Cor. 15:22).  All parents know that their infant child will rebel and become disobedient at some point as they begin to grow.  This becomes a dilemma for theologians.  How can infants go to heaven given their sinful state?  The doctrine of infant baptism was developed early in church history to allow for the salvation of infants.  Many believe that infant baptism removes Adam’s sinful state.  Yet there is no Scripture to directly support this claim.  Many believe that a merciful God will not condemn infants to hell, but they offer very little Scriptural evidence.

If God is merciful to infants, then He is also merciful to young children, right?  Is there some age of accountability that a child reaches, after which they are immediately condemned to hell should they die without Christ?  What if the child dies a day or two after he is able to understand?  Can young children go to heaven without overcoming Adam’s sinful state?  Even young children have already sinned.  These are very difficult questions for theologians.  And of course these questions are answered easily by the New Wine System.

Will the mentally ill be condemned to hell?  If not, where does God draw the line?  How mentally ill does one have to be in order to get an exemption?  If God allows the mentally ill to go to heaven without a profession of faith in Christ, then what does that do to the verse that says no man comes to the Father except through Christ?

Some people turn to the doctrine of election to answer these questions.  The argument is that all infants who die were already elected for salvation.  Spurgeon believed that only those elected for salvation are allowed to die in infancy.  Perhaps all people with mental illness are also elected, and thus saved.  Others argue that infants are not held responsible for Adam’s sin, and have no sins of their own.  It’s very complicated, but it’s simple in the New Wine System.

What about infants who died in ancient times, in areas of the world that would not hear about Christ for centuries to come?  Under the argument of election, does this mean that God simply arranges for all his elect to die when they are infants, in order that they might be saved?  Does this really sound like God’s plan for his chosen?

Many people find the doctrine of election difficult to believe in relation to a merciful God.  Does God really choose some to be predestined to hell before they are born?  Does God condemn people who die without hearing about Christ?  If not, then what about people who have heard, but the missionary did a poor job of delivering Christ’s message?  Does God take into account Satan’s deceptions?  What if the missionary failed to identify a cultural barrier that causes the person not to understand?  Could the missionary’s failed attempt at witness actually cause the person to lose his possibility of salvation? 

In this book, I hope to show that the many millions of pagans of the ancient world, and the many millions of Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, New Agers, Christians, and Jews of the modern world who have died in their sins will have the opportunity to be saved by the blood of Jesus Christ during the millennium.  Children who die young will mature in Christ during the millennium.  People who are mentally ill and cannot understand about Christ will mature in Christ during the millennium.  People who have heard about Christ but die suddenly before making a decision will be able to mature in Christ during the millennium.  And believers who continue in their sins will have the opportunity to mature in Christ during the millennium.  The elect are those who mature in Christ during this age.

1.1)  A Quick Introduction to the New Wine System

"Through one trespass, all men were condemned; even so through one act of righteousness, all men were justified to life" (Rom. 5:18).  "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:22).

"We were reconciled to God through the death of his Son" (Romans 5:10).  Jesus said, “I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32).  Paul said Jesus Christ is the, “Savior of all people, especially of those who believe” (1 Tim. 4:10).  See 1 Cor. 15:22, 1 John 2:2, Rom. 11:32, 1 Tim. 2:3-6, 1 John 2:2, Heb. 2:9, John 6:33, Titus 2:11, 2 Cor. 5:14-15, and Rom. 5:18-19.  Reconciliation has nothing to do with what we might do, say, or believe.  We were all reconciled.  But those who reject Christ lose their reconciliation.

Reconciliation is not justification by faithNew believers are justified and receive the Holy Spirit.  Justification by faith is the start of sanctification, when we are credited with righteousness.  Later, after completing our journey of sanctification, making good on that credit, we will be glorified with immortal bodies at the resurrection.  But we must complete that journey.

Jesus said, “I am the [road], the truth, and the life. No one [journeys] to the Father, except through me” (John 14:6).  (The Greek word used here for “way” means road.)  Salvation includes a journey of faith.  Paul said, “May the God of peace himself sanctify you completely. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 5:23).

Paul said, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, that no one would boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before that we would walk in them” (Eph. 2:8-10).  We are not saved by works.  Christ did that on the cross.

Even sanctification is a free gift by grace alone since the Holy Spirit changes us on the inside as we do the works.  But without works there is no sanctification and thus no eternal life.  Paul said, “But now, being made free from sin, and having become servants of God, you have your fruit of sanctification , and the result of eternal life” (Rom. 6:22).  Again, Paul says the fruit of good works is sanctification and the result of sanctification is eternal life.  So without works there is no sanctification and thus no eternal life.  Paul also said, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12).  Therefore, we must complete our journey of sanctification in order to journey to the Father and to the glorification of our bodies.

We are saved by faith and through grace.  But faith without works is dead (James 2:17, 2:26).  Our belief and faith are not one-time events.  Salvation by faith is a journey.  By faith and belief we are sanctified as we do the works of the Father.  “He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).  God’s grace is more powerful even than death.  “Follow after peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no man will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). 

John 3:16, 18   For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.  …  He who believes in him is not judged. He who doesn't believe has been judged already , because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God.

Belief and faith are a journey.  Those who willfully refuse Christ’s journey are judged already, which means they’ve lost their reconciliation.  Those who complete their journey to overcome sin will be given eternal life.  Those who fall short in this age will be able to continue their journey after the resurrection in the age to come. But you can lose your reconciliation if you willfully turn away from God and keep on sinning.

Hebrews 10:26-27  For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more a sacrifice for sinsbut a certain fearful expectation of judgment , and a fierceness of fire which will devour the adversaries.

All are reconciled because Christ is the second Adam.  "Through one trespass, all men were condemned; even so through one act of righteousness, all men were justified to life" (Rom. 5:18).  "For as in Adam all die , so also in Christ all will be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:22).   This is in the context of Paul’s resurrection chapter.

Because Christ is the second Adam, all men were “justified to life.”  Those who remain reconciled are Christ’s sheep and still hear his voice.  Being “justified to life,” Christ’s lost sheep still hear his voice and remain reconciled with God, even if they die.  Being “justified to life,” they can be resurrected.  There are two types of bodies at the resurrection : glorified (celestial) bodies and mortal (terrestrial) bodies.  If you die before completing your journey, Christ will simply raise you up at the resurrection.  You can complete your journey in the age to come.  But you will still be under Judgment with a mortal body.  Those who reject Christ no longer hear his voiceThey have lost their reconciliation and will not be resurrected.

John 5:25  Most certainly, I tell you, the hour comes, and now is, when the dead will hear the Son of God's voice; and those who hear will live.

John 5:28-29  Don't marvel at this, for the hour comes, in which all that are in the tombs will hear his voice ,  and will come out; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life; and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.

The gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come (Mat. 24:14).  The gospel (good news) of the kingdom is that anyone can choose to completely overcome sin (all sinful habits), which is to be completely sanctified (1 Thess. 5:23), through a personal (discipleship) relationship with Jesus Christ.  No one who abides in Christ keeps on sinning (1 John 3:6), because in Christ there is no sin.  No one born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God (1 John 3:9).

But what about the people who fall short of this goal?  What about people who die before they have overcome every sinful habit?  Does death change us and remove all sin?  No verse of Scripture says this.

Traditional Christian doctrine is based on the two-type system of everyone going to either heaven or hell immediately after death.  This is Greek thinking.  Children are taught this, and every verse of the New Testament is interpreted in this context.  The resurrection becomes simply a time when the righteous get better bodies and the wicked are judged.  It's not when they become alive again.

The ancient Jews, however, did not believe this.  The Old Testament teaches that both the righteous and the wicked sleep in Sheol (the grave) until the resurrection, at which time they become alive again (Isaiah 26:14, Daniel 12:2, John 11:11-14, 1 Corinthians 15:51).  This allows for more than two types of people to be in the grave.  Ancient Jews believed in three types: (1) The chosen people of Israel, (2) righteous Gentiles, (3) and the wicked.  The New Wine System interprets the New Testament based on this Old Testament context.  The New Wine System applies Old Testament Jewish eschatology to the New Testament Church.

Salvation is a journey of righteousness, by faith in Jesus Christ, who is the Savior of all people, especially those who believe (1 Tim. 4:10).  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive (1 Cor. 15:22).  Therefore, everyone is reconciled by Christ's death on the cross, even if they are not Christian.  But without holiness, no one will see the Lord (Heb. 12:14).  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Mat. 5:48).  Jesus is the road, the truth, and the life.  No one journeys all the way to the Father except through a relationship with Jesus Christ (John 14:6).  Death, however, is not the end of the journey.

The wise (Dan. 12:3, 12:10, Mat. 7:24, 25:2) complete their journey in this age (1 Thess. 5:23).  They are the saints, which means holy ones.  They are the elect in both Old Testament and New.  They are the Bride of Christ.  They are the firstfruits of the harvest (2 Thess. 2:13, James 1:18).  They will be resurrected with immortal bodies (1 Cor. 15:50), and will inherit the kingdom, when Christ returns.  The saints will no longer be under judgment (John 5:24).  They will reign as kings and priests over the nations (Rev. 2:26, 5:10, 20:6), here on earth (Mat. 5:5), leading the nations to righteousness (Dan 12:3).

The foolish, (Mat. 7:26, 25:2) still have sinful habits when they die.  This includes believers as well as lost sheep.  But all of Christ's sheep, both the just and the unjust (Acts 24:15), hear his voice (John 10:16, 27).  They will hear Christ's voice from the tombs and be resurrected with mortal bodies to continue their journey of righteousness (John 5:28-29).  They will still be under judgment (John 5:28-29).  They are saved, but they will not inherit the kingdom (1 Co. 6:9, Gal 5:21).  During the millennial reign of Christ's kingdom, some will be led to righteousness (Dan. 12:3) and will receive eternal life.  But others will become wicked (Rev 20:7-9), and will die the second death (Rev. 2:11, 20:6, 20:14, 21:8).

The wicked (Dan. 12:10, Mat. 24:48, 25:26) are those who harden their hearts and can no longer hear the voice of Christ (Heb. 3:7, 15, 4:7), as in taking the mark of the beast (Rev. 14:9-11).  They forfeit their reconciliation (Mat. 12:31, Heb. 6:4-6).  They will not be resurrected.  Today, the dead are asleep (John 11:11, Acts 7:60, 13:36, 1 Cor. 15:6) in Hades.  But after the millennial reign of Christ, the wicked will come to life and be thrown in to the lake of fire (Rev. 20:5, 14), which is hell-fire (Gehenna).  The smoke of their torment will go up forever and ever, and they will have no rest, day or night (Rev. 14:11).

If you want to be invited to the wedding banquet, if you want Jesus to say he knows you when he returns (Mat. 25:12, 7:23), if you want to be in the Bride of Christ, if you want to be a part of the true Israel that will have authority over the nations when Christ returns (Rev. 2:26), then you must repent and seek Christ's help to completely overcome all (100%) of the sinful habits in your life.  Because, without holiness no one will see the Lord (Heb. 12:14).

1.2)  The Resurrection Verses

In support of this quick introduction, consider the following three points of Scripture:

(1) Scripture teaches that at the Great White Throne of Judgment, everyone who is not in the Book of Life is condemned to the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15).  Scripture also teaches that the resurrection is a thousand years prior (Rev. 20:4).

(2) Scripture teaches that “many,” but not all, of the unjust are resurrected right after the great tribulation (Dan. 12:1-3, John 5:25, 28-29, Acts 24:15).  Both the just and the unjust are resurrected at the same time.  For those who would say that a thousand years is inserted between the resurrection of the just and the unjust, John 5:28 says, "For an hour is coming when all those who are in the tombs will hear his voice."  Also, the timing of Dan 12:1-3 is explicitly tied to the great tribulation.

(3) Daniel 12:1-3 teaches that even the resurrected unjust are in the Book of Life at that time.  They are "delivered" or "escape" from the grave simply because their names are in the Book of Life.  Since the resurrected unjust are in the Book of Life, they certainly have an opportunity for salvation.  As long as their names are still in the Book of Life at the end of the millennium, they will be eternally saved.

Daniel 12:1b-3 ESV But at that time your people shall be delivered [escape], everyone whose name shall be found written in the book(2)  And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.  (3)  And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

The Hebrew word used for “delivered” is better translated as “escape.”  Some will argue that Daniel 12:1 says those who are “delivered” or “escape” are delivered from the great tribulation.  Pre-tribulation rapture advocates like to interpret this passage in this way.  However, Scripture teaches that the saints are defeated during the great tribulation (Dan. 7:25, Rev. 13:5-7).  These saints are also in the Book of Life. 

Therefore, Daniel 12:1 cannot be saying that those in the Book of Life are all delivered from the great tribulation.  Those in the Book of Life are “delivered” or “escape” from the grave.  According to the verse, some who escape the grave are raised to everlasting life, while others are raised to shame and contempt. Both groups of people, it would seem, are in the Book of Life.  Both groups escape from the grave.  According to the verse, “many” awake.  Many is not all.  Therefore, not all who are in the grave, escape.  What, then, is the criterion given for being raised?  Apparently the issue is not one of being just or unjust.  Those who are in the Book of Life are the ones who escape from the grave, both the just and the unjust.  Those not in the Book of Life do not escape.

John 5:25  Most certainly, I tell you, the hour comes, and now is, when the dead will hear the Son of God's voice; and those who hear will live.

Jesus said “my sheep hear my voice” (John 10:27).  But many of Christ’s sheep are still lost (Mat. 10:6, 15:24, Luke 15:4-6).  Only those who hear Christ’s voice from the grave will be raised, according to John 5:25.  However, according to verses 28 and 29, those who hear Christ’s voice include both those who have done good and those who have done evil.  The word “all” in this verse is qualified by verse 25.  Only those who hear who will live.  And only Christ’s sheep will hear his voice.  Some of them have done good, and others have done evil.

John 5:28-29  Don't marvel at this, for the hour comes, in which all that are in the tombs will hear his voice (29)  and will come out; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life; and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.

Jesus is addressing the Pharisees and teachers of the law who do not hear his voice.  He is saying they will not be resurrected because they do not hear is voice.  Remember that “many” will be resurrected, but not all.  And of those “many” there are two groups: “Some [are resurrected] to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”  This is the wise, the foolish, and the wicked.

In response to people who say that the unjust are not raised until after the millennium, I will point out that each of these verses say this happens at an “hour” that is to come.  This hour should not be stretched into a millennium, or two different hours separated by a millennium.  The unjust who hear Christ’s voice are raised at the start of the millennium along with the righteous.  They then are given the opportunity to accept Christ and to mature in Him during that time.  The righteous, on the other hand, will reign as kings and priests with Christ during the millennium (Rev. 1:6, 2:26-27, 5:10, 20:6).

Those who hear Christ’s voice are Christ’s sheep, and they alone will be raised from the dead.  But Christ’s sheep remain in two sub-categories.  Those who do good and mature in their relationship with Christ to become like Him will not be judged.  These not only hear Christ’s words, but know the gospel and believe in Him.  They will be resurrected to eternal life and escape judgment.  To see this, look back to verse 24:

John 5:24  "Most certainly I tell you, he who hears my word, and believes him who sent me, has eternal life, and doesn't come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

Those who believe and mature in Christ to become like Him do not come into judgment.   They are raised to a resurrection of life, according to verses 28-29. 

On the other hand, those who hear Christ’s voice but have not yet believed and matured in Christ are raised to a resurrection of judgment.  This does not mean they are raised to a resurrection of condemnation.  It simply means they are still under judgment.  They have not yet inherited eternal life because they have not yet matured in Christ and become holy.  Death, however, is not the end of the journey.  We can still continue our on our journey of righteousness even after the resurrection.

But what about the fact that “all” who are in the tombs will hear Christ’s voice and come out?  How does this reconcile with what Christ said just three verses earlier, that “those who hear will live?”  How is it possible that only those who hear will live, and yet all who are in the tombs will hear and come out?  Verse 25 can be a qualifier for the “all” in verse 28.  In other words, there can be exceptions to any given usage of “all” depending on the context. 

In Scripture, “all” does not have to mean a complete whole.  There can be exceptions, depending on context.  For example, look at Matthew 10:22, 12:23, 17:11, 2:3-4, 3:4-6, 8:24, and 9:35.

Another possibility is to view the tombs mentioned in this verse as a metaphor for those awaiting the resurrection.  Could it be that those who do not hear Christ’s voice are not metaphorically in their tombs?  To be buried in a tomb was usually an indicator of wealth and status.  The poor were cremated.  This is not to say that only wealthy people will be resurrected.  However, belief in the resurrection was certainly a strong reason that people who could afford burial chose to be buried in tombs.  Many (but not all) in the “dust of the earth” will awake.  Everyone in the metaphorical “tomb” will hear Christ’s voice because they await the resurrection.  Those in the metaphorical tomb are Christ’s sheep.  But not everyone in the “grave” (Hades) will be resurrected.

1.3)  Christian Universalist Verses Solved

Christian Universalism says that all people will eventually go to heaven.  Universalists have a series of verses that they interpret to mean that everyone will receive eternal life.  Many theologians would simply say these are difficult verses, and would in some cases try to explain that they don’t really say what they seem to be saying.

Under the New Wine System, however, there are no difficult verses in Scripture.  All verses are easily understood.  Peter talked about Paul’s letters:

2 Peter 3:14-16 ESV Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace(15) And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, (16) as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

The verses used by Christian Universalists are easily understood once Paul is understood.  These verses seem to indicate that everyone will have eternal life.  A number of these verses are from Paul’s letters.  The key to understanding these verses is to understand Paul’s teaching about Christ being the second Adam.  But first, let’s take a look at several of these verses.

1 Timothy 4:10 ESV  For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

1 John 2:2 ESV  He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

John 12:32  And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself."

Romans 11:32  For God has shut up all to disobedience, that he might have mercy on all.

1 Timothy 2:3-6  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior;  (4)   who desires all people to be saved and come to full knowledge of the truth.  (5)  For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,  (6)  who gave himself as a ransom for all; the testimony in its own times;

Hebrews 2:9  But we see him who has been made a little lower than the angels, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God he should taste of death for everyone .

Christ tasted death for everyone.  This was done by the grace of God.  Does not this mean that God’s grace is extended to everyone?

Luke 2:10-11  The angel said to them, "Don't be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be to all the people(11)  For there is born to you, this day, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

John 6:33  For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world."

Titus 2:11 ESV For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people.

The following verse shows the direct application of Christ’s death for all people.  Christ died for all.    “Therefore all died.”  All of Adam’s children were given Adam’s death sentence.  Christ took that death sentence for everyone by dying in our place.  Effectively, every person has paid the price for his or her sins because Christ took the death sentence and paid the price for all of Adam’s children.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15  For the love of Christ constrains us; because we judge thus, that one died for all, therefore all died(15)  He died for all , that those who live should no longer live to themselves, but to him who for their sakes died and rose again.

This next verse will give us a clue as to what is really going on with all these verses, and why not everyone will have eternal life:

Romans 5:18-19  So then as through one trespass, all men were condemned; even so through one act of righteousness, all men were justified to life(19)  For as through the one man's disobedience many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one, many will be made righteous.

All men were justified to life.  But not all will be made righteous.  What does it mean to be “justified to life?”  It means that because of Christ’s blood, everyone can be resurrected.  But it does not mean that everyone will have eternal life. 

Let’s take a look at this passage in more detail.  This is the passage where Paul teaches that Christ is the second Adam.  The key to understanding the Christian Universalist verses is to understand what Paul means by Jesus being the second Adam.  Let’s back up a few verses and work our way down to where Paul says “all men were justified to life,” but that only “many will be made righteous.”  Then we can understand what Paul means in saying Christ is the second Adam.

Romans 5:6-9 For while we were yet weak , at the right time Christ died for the ungodly(7)  For one will hardly die for a righteous man. Yet perhaps for a righteous person someone would even dare to die.  (8)  But God commends his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us(9)  Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we will be saved from God's wrath through him.

Everyone starts out being ungodly.  Christ died for everyone.  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Because of this, by faith, we can be justified.  But that’s a second step.  It’s “much more” than the first step of Christ’s death for everyone.  So how do we distinguish the “everyone” for whom Christ died from those justified by his blood?  Everyone has been reconciled.  But it’s only by faith that we become justified, which is the second step.  After being justified, and credited with righteousness, we can begin the third step of starting our journey of sanctification where we make good on that credit.  Finally, the fourth step is the glorification of our bodies when Christ returns.

Romans 5:10-11 For if, while we were enemies , we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we will be saved by his life.  (11)  Not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

Again, the reconciliation occurred while we were still enemies of God.  Thus, everyone has been reconciled to God.  But not everyone will inherit eternal life.  Next, Paul starts talking about Adam and comparing Adam’s sin with our sins.

Romans 5:12-14  Therefore, as sin entered into the world through one man, and death through sin; and so death passed to all men, because all sinned.  (13)  For until the law, sin was in the world; but sin is not charged when there is no law.  (14)  Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those whose sins weren't like Adam's disobedience, who is a foreshadowing of him who was to come.

Sin entered into the world through Adam.  The consequence of sin is death.  Death passed to all men.  From an Old Testament or Jewish perspective, the resurrection is the reversal of the penalty of death that was given to Adam and all his descendants.  Paul seems to be making a distinction between Adam’s sin and those who lived after Adam.  Adam was not already a slave to sin when he made his decision to of disobedience.  Then Paul says Adam is a foreshadowing of him who was to come.  Adam was a foreshadowing of Christ.

Romans 5:15-17  But the free gift isn't like the trespass. For if by the trespass of the one the many died , much more did the grace of God, and the gift by the grace of the one man , Jesus Christ, abound to the many(16)   The gift is not as through one who sinned: for the judgment came by one to condemnation, but the free gift came of many trespasses to justification.  (17)  For if by the trespass of the one , death reigned through the one; so much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ.

Paul is making distinctions between Adam and Christ, the second Adam.  Death came to everyone because of the trespass of Adam.  “Those who receive” the gift of righteousness are those who reign (live) in life through Jesus Christ.  It’s important to note the difference between “all” and “many.”  In verse 12 above, Paul says, “death passed to all men, because all sinned.”  But “all” do not reign in life through Christ.

Romans 5:18-21 So then as through one trespass, all men were condemned; even so through one act of righteousness, all men were justified to life(19)  For as through the one man's disobedience many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one, many will be made righteous (20)  The law came in besides, that the trespass might abound; but where sin abounded, grace abounded more exceedingly;  (21)   that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

And now we have it.  “All” men were condemned because of Adam.  Likewise “all” men were justified to life.  But to qualify this, “many will be made righteous.”  How does this happen?  As we “reign” in Christ through righteousness, it will lead to eternal life.  After we have completed our journey of sanctification, we can be given eternal life because of the blood of Jesus Christ.

Let’s review what we have learned.  Because of Adam’s disobedience, all people sin.   Because all people sin, all are condemned to death.  Because of Christ’s obedience, all men have been reconciled.  Thus, all are “justified to life.”  This means the penalty of death, for all people, has been reversed, for all people.  All people have been given the justification that allows for the resurrection.  Thus, both the just and the unjust will be resurrected (Acts 24:15).  But not all will inherit eternal life.  Only the “many” who chose to follow Christ are justified and credited with righteousness because justification is by faith.

Jesus is the “Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.”  We are saved from death.  We are saved from the grave.  We will be resurrected.  But there are two types of resurrections. “Those who have done good, [are raised] to the resurrection of life; and those who have done evil, [are raised] to the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:29b).  Sanctification is a journey that must be completed before we can be given eternal life.  The wise will be raised to a resurrection of life.  The foolish, who still do evil, will be resurrected but will still be under judgment.  But the wicked will not be resurrected.

Because sanctification is an important step in salvation, the whole process of salvation must be viewed as a journey.  Thus, we can see why Jesus is the “Savior of all people, especially those who believe.”  You might want to go back and read all those Christian Universalist verses again.  After understanding Paul’s teaching about Christ being the second Adam, these verses will make a lot more sense.  Here is one more Christian Universalist verse that I purposefully excluded from the previous list.  This verse is in Paul’s chapter on the resurrection, and should thus be interpreted in the context of the resurrection.  It should also be interpreted in the context of Paul’s teaching about the second Adam.

1 Corinthians 15:22 ESV For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

This verse draws an undeniable parallelism.  All who die because of Adam are made alive because of Christ.  This verse does not impose any conditions upon those who are made alive. If someone has died in Adam, then they will be made alive in Christ.  Since everyone died in Adam, all people are made alive in Christ.

Some have interpreted this verse to say that “All in Christ will be made alive.” That is not what the verse says.  None of the translations render it this way. It says, “In Christ shall all be made alive.”`

Others have said that some are made alive for judgment.  Nothing in the context of the passage indicates judgment.  The context of the passage is the resurrection.  Paul gives hope for the resurrection using the argument of Christ’s resurrection.  Because of Christ’s resurrection, “all shall be made alive.”  Why would people need to be made alive “in Christ” in order to be condemned? 

What do traditional theologians say when refuting the Christian Universalist use of these verse?  A good example comes from Dr. Robert A. Morey.  In his book, Death and the Afterlife, Dr. Morey has a chapter regarding Universalism.  I will not go through all the different arguments Dr. Morey made, because I would agree with many since I am not a Universalist.  However, I was interested in Dr. Morey’s thoughts about verses like these.  On page 243, Dr. Morey writes:

Second, there are passages where the Universalist interpretation depends solely on the simplistic and naïve assumption that the biblical words “all” and “world” mean every human being who ever lived  or shall ever live (John 1:29, 12:32; etc.)

What Universalists fail to observe is that biblical words should be interpreted in terms of how they are used.  Once it is admitted that the words “all” and “world” are used in passages where they cannot mean all of humanity, the simplistic assumption of the Universalist must be rejected.

A few paragraphs later, Dr. Morey lists several verses that clearly show that the words “all” and “world” do not refer to every individual.  The verses he lists for “world” are Luke 2:2, John 1:10, 7:4, 15:18, 17:9, 1 John 2:15, and 1 John 5:19.  The verses he lists for “all” are Matt. 3:5,6, Mark 1:5, and John 3:26.  The best example is found Matt. 10:22 where Jesus said that we will be hated by all men because of Him.  Clearly there are some exceptions.

Do traditional theologians really try to explain these verses by simply by saying that the terms “world” and “all” do not include every last person?  If this is the case, then these verses would have to mean that most people will be saved.  The same theologians, when asked, say the narrow gate is salvation, and few people can find it.  How can only a few find the narrow gate of salvation, and yet nearly all be saved?  (The narrow gate is that of the elect.)  The New Wine System provides the answers that traditional theology can only chalk up to “difficult verses.”

1.4)  Putting it all Together

If we interpret John 5:24-29 in light of Daniel 12:1-3, then it all comes together.  The book of life is simply a list of Christ’s sheep.  But most are still lost.  Many of Christ’s sheep were children and infants when they died.  They are still Christ’s sheep as long as they are in the book of life.  Christ only rejects His sheep, and blots their names, if they have hardened their hearts to the point of no longer hearing His voice.  Until then, he still considers them to be His sheep.  They still hear his voice and will be resurrected.  Death does not cause God to give up on us.  Death is not an obstacle for God.  The foolish will remain in the book of life into the millennium.  Many, however, will reject Christ during the millennium.  This is why, in Revelation 20:7-10, Satan is released after the thousand years to tempt the nations again, and multitudes march against Christ.

The Wise

The Foolish

The Wicked

Dan 12:2

Awake to everlasting life

Awake to shame and contempt.

Not the many.  Not all are raised.

John 5:24-25

Those who hear and believe

Those who hear but are still lost

Those who do not hear Christ's voice

John 5:28-29

Those who have done good

Those who have done evil

Those who do not hear Christ's voice

Acts 24:15

The Just

The Unjust

1 John 5:16-18

Does not sin

Sin not leading to death

Sin leading to death

Rev 20:4-5

Represented by those beheaded

Those being reigned over in the millennium

The rest of the dead, who take the mark of the beast

Daniel 12:2  Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

John 5:24-25  "Most certainly I tell you, he who hears my word, and believes him who sent me, has eternal life, and doesn't come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.  (25)  Most certainly, I tell you, the hour comes, and now is, when the dead will hear the Son of God's voice; and those who hear will live.

John 5:28-29  Don't marvel at this, for the hour comes, in which all that are in the tombs will hear his voice (29)  and will come out; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life; and those who have done evil , to the resurrection of judgment.

Acts 24:15  having hope toward God, which these also themselves look for, that there will be a resurrection of the dead , both of the just and unjust.

1 John 5:16-18 ESV If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death [foolish], he shall ask, and God will give him life--to those who commit sins that do not lead to death . There is sin that leads to death [wicked]; I do not say that one should pray for that. (17) All wrongdoing is sin , but there is sin that does not lead to death. (18) We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning [wise], but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.

1.5)  The Rest of the Dead

Revelation 20:4-5 says that the souls of those beheaded for refusing to take the mark of the beast are resurrected.  Nothing is said about those who die in Christ before the great tribulation.  A literal interpretation would say that only those who are missing a head are resurrected at the start of the millennium, and the “rest” of the dead are resurrected at the end of the millennium.  Of course, this interpretation is not in agreement with 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, which says those who are in Christ are raised before those who are still alive are gathered.

The interpretation of this verse can be difficult.  Pre-millennialists usually interpret this verse to say that all those who are in Christ are resurrected at the start of the millennium, and those not in Christ are resurrected after the millennium.  Even though this verse is difficult to interpret, this interpretation is imposed on the much more simple and precise verses such as Daniel 12:1-3 and John 5:28-29.  The “hour” must either be stretched into a millennium, or the hour must become two separate hours separated by a millennium.

Revelation 20:4-6  I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God, and such as didn't worship the beast nor his image, and didn't receive the mark on their forehead and on their hand. They lived, and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.  (5)  The rest of the dead didn't live until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.  (6)  Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over these, the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and will reign with him one thousand years.

A much more consistent and reasonable interpretation of these verses would be that the “rest of the dead” are those who take the mark of the beast during the tribulation.  This is in the context of the passage.  John only sees those who refused the mark.  Therefore, the “rest” are those who take the mark.  They are not resurrected.  They remain dead, and do not “come to life” until the Book of Life is opened and they are thrown eternally into the lake of fire.  During the tribulation, those who harden their hearts and no longer hear Christ’s voice will take the mark of the beast, and thus be willfully and knowingly rejecting Christ.  Their names will be blotted from the Book of Life.  This happens to all the wicked, who harden their hearts and no longer hear Christ’s voice.

Amillennialists believe the just and the unjust are raised simultaneously.   Premillennialists believe there is a thousand year period between the resurrection and the Great White Throne of Judgment.  Both are correct. However, Amillennialists are incorrect in their belief that the Great White Throne occurs at the time of the resurrection, and Premillennialists are incorrect in saying that the unjust are not raised until after the millennium.  There are correct and incorrect beliefs found in both groups.  The truth hides in the middle.

1.6)  A Perfect Plan of Salvation from a Perfect God

Would a perfect God come up with a perfect plan?  God does not show favoritism (Romans 2:11).   Would God allow His Son to die for our sins, and fail to design a way for each and every one of us to benefit from that sacrifice? 

God’s character includes love, justice, and impartiality.  The plan of salvation presented in this book is the only one that shows no partiality, but at the same time requires us all to mature in Christ while living here on the earth before receiving eternal life.  Some will receive eternal life before others, but this is simply a part of the plan.  God uses the first ones saved to bring the good news to everyone else.  In the scheme of eternity, the order of salvation is not important if all eventually have the opportunity to hear and believe. God elects those who will teach God’s plan of righteousness to the non-elect.  God’s perfect plan does not neglect the majority of people who have lived - those who die without knowledge of Christ.

Given God’s character of love, justice, and impartiality, is it reasonable to believe that Scripture can be literally and naturally interpreted in the way that is presented in this book, and yet be incorrect?  Is it reasonable to believe an imperfect plan of salvation over a perfect plan of salvation for the sake of traditional interpretation?

Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) both include systems of salvation that do not include punishment for those who have never heard the gospel. It is my belief that this is one of the big draws for those two growing churches.  Many people who know God’s character and have difficulty accepting the systems of salvation presented by mainstream denominations.  Mainstream salvation doctrines do not reflect God’s character.

However, the systems of salvation presented by Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons are also imperfect because of favoritism.  They each offer a greater level of eternal salvation for those who join their church.  Everyone who was born before these churches existed would not have equal opportunity for the same type of salvation.  God’s true perfect plan of salvation shows no favoritism.

A very knowledgeable atheist told me that if God were to exist, then God would be his worst enemy.  How many people have been deceived about God and avoided churches because of incorrect doctrinal teachings which portray God as cruel and unjust?  How many read the Old Testament and say God is cruel for ordering the killing of entire cities including women and children?  But these were cities which acted against God’s plan for everyone.  And from God’s perspective, they were only put to sleep for a short while until they could later be resurrected.

1.7)  The Dichotomy of Verses about Salvation

Scripture holds a potentially confusing dichotomy of verses about salvation and inheriting the kingdom of heaven.  Notice that all the holiness verses are about entering or inheriting the kingdom.  The salvation verses simply discuss salvation.

Salvation

Inheriting the Kingdom

Romans 10:9 – Confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in our hearts that he was raised from the dead.

Matthew 5:20 – Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Romans 10:13, Joel 2:31-32 – Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Matthew 5:48 – Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Romans 6:23 – The wages of sin is death.  But the gift of God is eternal life.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – Neither the greedy nor drunkards nor slanders will inherit the kingdom of God.

Ephesians 2:8-9 – By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves.  It is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one would boast.

Galatians 5:19-21 – Here Paul includes sexual immorality, impurity, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy as sins that prevent one from inheriting the kingdom of God.

John 3:16 – Believe on Jesus Christ and you will have eternal life.

Ephesians 5:3-5 – Sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

John 1:12-13 - But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become God's children, to those who believe in his name: who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

The seven letters to the seven churches each have a warning, which says that only those who overcome sin will inherit the kingdom.  Each letter gives a different description of what it means to inherit the kingdom. 

2 Corinthians 5:17 - Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Revelation 21:7-8 – Only those who overcome sin will inherit the kingdom of God.

2 Corinthians 5:21 - For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

1 John 5:18 - Anyone born of God does not continue to sin.

Acts 16:30-31 - Then he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"  And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.

1 John 3:6-9 - No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. 

Matthew 10:32 - So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 7:21 - Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.

Also consider John 5:28-29, quoted earlier.  How does this verse fit with the doctrine of salvation by grace and through faith alone?  Those who have done good are raised to a resurrection of life.  Those who have done evil are raised to a resurrection of judgment.  If the judgment is condemnation, then how is this any different than salvation by works, or salvation by one’s own merit?  However, those who have done evil are still reconciled.  They are not condemned, but are still under judgment.  Those who have done good inherit the kingdom.

Some people have noticed this dichotomy of teaching between Paul’s message of grace and Jesus’ stark message of holiness, which in some places seems even stricter than that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. The Sermon on the Mount clearly delivers the Ten Commandments on a deeper level.  We are not to look at a woman in lust. Anger toward our brother is tantamount to murder.  Is the message of Jesus truly a message of salvation by grace?

By reading Scripture from the viewpoint of the ancient Jews, it is possible to rectify the interpretation that causes this dichotomy of verses.  It must be understood that salvation is a journey of righteousness to complete sanctification.  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).  The Greek word used for “way” means road.  Salvation is a journey of righteousness; a path that we must take.  For some this journey does not end at death, but continues throughout the millennium.

The journey must be the path of Jesus Christ.  Our sins were paid for before we were born, at the cross.  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8).  Everyone was reconciled at the cross.  Then, at some point, we are individually justified and credited with righteousness when we confess Jesus Christ as our Savior.  When we become a believer, our sins are forgiven.  But this is only the beginning of our journey towards righteousness.  We must make good on the credit.  The journey of righteousness should be continued as a believer, leading eventually to eternal life (1 Thess. 4:3, 5:23, 2 Thess. 2:13, 1 Peter 1:2).

Romans 6:21-23  What fruit then did you have at that time in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death(22)   But now, being made free from sin, and having become servants of God, you have your fruit of sanctification, and the result of eternal life(23)  For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When we become believers, we become free from sin.  Does that mean we immediately stop sinning?  No, but by the free gift of the Holy Spirit, we become able to overcome all our sinful habits.  Over time, this is the “fruit of sanctification.”  Paul said the “fruit of sanctification” results in eternal life.  Only after we complete our journey and overcome all our sinful habits can we inherit eternal life.  This distinguishes salvation from inheriting the kingdom.  Salvation is a journey that involves the free gift of the Holy Spirit as a helper.  We inherit the kingdom only after we spend time working as a “servant of God,” to do the good works of the Father.  Doing so causes the Holy Spirit to fill us in order to help us with our Spiritual gifts.  This is how we overcome sin, resulting in eternal life.

Through the Holy Spirit, we are being conformed into the likeness of Christ (Rom. 8:29-30, Eph. 1:5).  The journey ends with the glorification of our bodies (1 Cor. 15:50).  We were saved (Rom. 8:24), are being saved (1 Cor. 1:18), and will be saved (Rom. 5:10).  Salvation must include reconciliation, justification, sanctification, and finally the glorification of our bodies.  Reconciliation is what Christ did on the cross for everyone.  Justification means to be declared righteous (credited with righteousness), by faith.  Sanctification is the journey towards that righteousness.  For those of us who are mature in Christ, the glorification of our bodies will happen when Christ returns.  For many, however, the glorification of their bodies must wait until they are entirely sanctified during the millennium.

The road to righteousness is the maturing process whereby we “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12).  But not all who profess Christ appear to take the sanctification process seriously.  They have a form of godliness, but deny the power of the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:1-5) and say it’s impossible to overcome sin.  These are known as carnal Christians.  The word “carnal” comes from the King James Version, especially in 1 Corinthians 3:1.

From 1 Corinthians 2:14 to 3:3, Paul outlines three types of people.  In verse 2:14, Paul speaks of the natural man.  In verse 3:1, Paul speaks of the fleshly, or carnal man.  Thirdly, in verse 2:15, Paul speaks of the spiritual man.  This is the focus of Paul’s letter to the problem-ridden church at Corinth.  Paul addressed them as carnal Christians.  Still, he makes it clear that they are saved (1 Cor. 1:2 9).

Just how much righteousness is required before we can reach the end of the road to receive glorified bodies?  Do those who die in a carnal state reach the end of the road without traveling over it?  Some would say that the initial justification is all that matters.  After all, what could possibly be added to the blood of Christ?

Many Protestants of the Reformation, with emphasis on grace, will argue that while Christians should be sanctified, this is not required for salvation.  They claim, “Once saved always saved.”  Some will compromise and say that those who remain in a carnal state were not saved in the first place.  But this is just another way of saying that sanctification is required for salvation.  Scripture clearly indicates that sanctification is required for salvation in the verses preached by Wesleyans and other holiness groups.  Yet Scripture also clearly indicates that salvation is given at the point of justification.  There is an assurance of salvation.

One major purpose of this book is to show that both sides are true.  The truth hides in the middle.  If we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that Jesus rose from the dead, then we will be saved.  This is true even if we continue to live carnal lives.  Eventually, even carnal Christians will be given eternal life, perhaps during the millennium.

1.8)  The Word “Saint”, as it’s Used in This Book

The Roman Catholic use of the word “saint” does not include all who will be saved.  It is a special word given to the holiest of Christians.  The concept of saints in this book is more closely aligned to the Catholic definition of the word “saint” than to the Protestant definition, which states that that all who are saved become saints when they first profess faith in Jesus.  Catholics believe saints are special people who become holy and sanctified in this life before they die.

The idea explored in this book is that saints are those who have achieved maturity in Christ.  At the same time, there are still many other Christians who will be saved and resurrected in the millennium.

Paul often used the term “saints” to address the entire church to whom he was writing.  Protestants have used this as an argument against the Catholic use of the term.  In the original Greek language of the New Testament, the word used for “saint” is the same as the word for “Holy Spirit.”  It means “holy ones.”  It is translated “saints” when used in the plural noun form, and in a context that speaks of God’s people.  The use of “holy” to refer to God’s people originates in the Old Testament, especially in Psalms and in Daniel.

Everybody in the church is referred to as Christians.  But we know that within individual churches, not everyone is on fire for Christ.  I believe Paul used the word “saint” in a very similar way.  Not everyone in the churches will become a saint.

From a Protestant perspective, the word “saint” is similar to the term “salvation.”  We were saved in the past, are being saved in the present, and will be saved in the future.  We became saints, we are saints, and we will be saints when we have matured in Christ and overcome sin.  Paul was hopeful that all those in his churches would mature in Christ to become saints.  And yet I think Paul also realized that not everyone will do so before they die.

In this book, I prefer to use the word “saint” in a way similar to the Catholic use of the word.  Saints are those who have matured in Christ and are walking as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6), in a holy manner.  The saints are those who mature in Christ before they die and before Christ returns.  The saints are “the wise” who will reign with Christ in the millennium.

In the Catholic system, those who are not saints must spend time in Purgatory.  In the New Wine System, those who are not saints will be resurrected with a mortal body and live in the nations.  Thus, the New Wine System is a free-grace alternative to Purgatory.

1.9)  The Saints Walk as Jesus Walked

Many Christians believe that a higher level of Christianity is attained when one is “sold out” for Christ, or follows Him completely.  Some have associated this attainment with baptism of the Holy Spirit (and, for the record, it does relate to being constantly filled with the Holy Spirit.)  Life must be lived for Christ, no matter the cost.  Those who believe in a higher form of Christianity generally do not say it is a requirement for salvation.  Those within this higher form of Christianity are the saints.

What does it mean to “walk as Jesus walked” (1 John 2:6)?  The context of this verse is about living life without sinful habits and obeying Christ’s commandments.  Obeying Christ’s commandments is the same as working towards God’s purpose in order to overcome sin.  One can’t be present without the other.  Sin has no dominion over those who walk as Jesus walked, and do so with a purpose in life to further the kingdom by doing the commandments Christ has given them.

It’s easy to get excited about walking completely in God’s purpose for our lives, yet this doesn’t seem to fit within traditional doctrines of salvation.  Therefore after some time, we have a tendency to lessen its importance.  The burdens of life tend to overshadow our zeal for ministry.  It is a good thing, but works of ministry are not specifically required for salvation.  When temptation is at its greatest it can be easy to reason that believers are destined to go to heaven, regardless of righteousness.   Immature Christians might even yield to temptations of sin, thinking that God’s purposes can wait.

If God really has a purpose for each of us, and it really is God’s intention that we grow to the point of centering our lives solely around this purpose, then why would He settle for anything less? God will have His way in our lives one way or another unless we harden our hearts so that we no longer hear His voice.

In most Protestant interpretations of salvation there are two types of people: those saved and those not saved.  The New Wine System, however, presents three types of people: the wise, the foolish, and the wicked.  These three terms come from Jesus’ consistent use of the same.  If one really believes in a higher level of Christianity, then a system of theology with three types of people would seem to be the only system that works.  The wise (saints) are those who walk as Jesus walked.  The wicked have hardened their hearts and no longer hear Christ’s voice.  The foolish are the unbelievers and the lukewarm (Rev. 3:16) Christians.

The New Wine System

This Age

The Age to Come

The Wise Saints

Walk as Jesus walked, with [agape] love
for Christ

The wise will be kings and priests, literally ruling with Christ Jesus as He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords for the entire world in a one-world system of government.

The Foolish

Still live for self.  They are, however, still saved and will be resurrected.

The foolish will be taught and encouraged, by the wise, to give up living for self and to live for Christ Jesus alone.  This is walking as Jesus walked.

The Wicked

Have hardened their hearts and no longer hear Christ’s voice.

Some will reject this teaching, and will not be willing to walk as Jesus walked when Jesus is the King of Kings

“Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6).

What do you think about when your mind is free to wander?  This is a good indicator of what your interests are.  If your thoughts don’t often turn to furthering the kingdom, then you are probably not walking as Jesus walked.

How do you spend most of your free time?  Is it watching TV, movies, or sports?  If you don’t have some project to further the kingdom, then you are probably not walking as Jesus walked.

Does your prayer life include a balanced amount of time asking God what you can do for the kingdom?  Do you pray for open doors to the Father’s desired purpose for your own life?  If not, you are probably not walking as Jesus walked.

These points are not meant to be condemning in nature.  The bottom line is that Christ really must be the first and the only really important thing in your life.  The importance of Christ in your life must even outshine that of your family (Matthew 12:46-50, Mark 3:31-35).

1.10)  Ancient Jewish Thought

Ancient Jews understood the coming of the Messiah to be the start of a new age, with Israel bringing salvation to the world as a result of their rule (Isaiah 66:16-21).  Righteousness will spread throughout the nations when Israel rules over them (Zech. 14:13-19).  The coming of the Messiah was not considered to be the final judgment for everyone.  With the resurrection at the start of the Messianic age, as the Pharisees believed, death would not be the final judgment.  The resurrection would merely be a continuation of the journey toward holiness.

Since the time of Augustine, the Catholic Church’s position on this subject has been to reject millennialism. Martin Luther was an admirer of Augustine, and so the Protestants also rejected millennialism.  The Anabaptists were persecuted and put to death primarily for the beliefs in water immersion and millennialism.  It’s not surprising that traditional doctrines of salvation have not included a millennial reign.  The Day of Judgment, and consequently the end of the world, were believed to occur when Christ returns.

But this view about the coming of the Messiah does not fit ancient Jewish thought.  The Messianic reign was to be a time when Israel would rule the world, and thus the gospel would go out into the entire world as a result of that reign.  The kingdom of heaven, interpreted in the manner of the New Testament Jews, is the same as the Messianic reign.  The kingdom of heaven (or of God) primarily comes from Daniel and is an earthly reign.  In Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, (Daniel 2:35, 44) the kingdom that will never be destroyed is depicted as a mountain that fills the whole earth.  What the Jews didn’t understand was that Christ was to come twice.  The current Messianic reign in our hearts is only a partial fulfillment.

This delay in the literal kingdom does not change its purpose.  It is still a time for the Messiah to reign so that God’s salvation can be spread across the entire world, even after the resurrection.  During the literal reign of Christ, this gospel-spreading purpose of the kingdom is fulfilled to a much greater extent than it is currently during its partial fulfillment.

The ancient Jews did not understand the need for the Messiah to die as the ultimate sacrifice for their sins.  They thought the kingdom of God was going to appear at once (Luke 19:11-27).  Secondly, they did not realize that Gentiles would be included in Israel (Acts 10:45), or that being a descendant of Abraham did not guarantee citizenship in the true Israel that will rule the nations (Rom 9:7-8). Sin must first be overcome to obtain holiness, through sanctification by the Holy Spirit, before one can rule the nations with Christ (Rev 2:26-27).

1.11)  Righteous Gentiles

Ancient Jews believed that they were God’s chosen people, and that they alone had the covenant relationship with God that made Israel a chosen nation.  Does this mean that ancient Jews considered all Gentiles to be predestined for God’s wrath simply because they were born as Gentiles?  Perhaps some Jews believed this.  But many first-century Jews believed that Gentiles could achieve righteousness before God without converting to Judaism.

In the IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener, page 544, in the section about Eph. 2:11-13, Keener writes:

In ancient Jewish beliefs, non-Jews could never participate in the fullness of the covenant without circumcision, although they could be saved by keeping some basic commandments.  To be circumcised was to be grafted into the community of Israel, to become part of God’s covenant people.

In his book Paul and the Gentiles: Remapping the Apostle’s Convictional Word , (pages 68-69), Terence L. Donaldson writes:

Third, one can cite the stance taken by Ananias in the process leading to the conversion of King Izates of Adiabene, as recounted by Josephus in Ant. 20.34-48.  What is of interest here is the argument put forward by Ananias in an attempt to dissuade Izates from undergoing circumcision: … It is better to conclude that Ananias is counseling Izates to remain in the state he was prior to his awareness of his mother’s conversion, namely, as one who worshiped God … but had not yet become a “confirmed Jew” … through full circumcision…

Other pieces of evidence could be adduced in support: the acceptance of sacrifices by and for Gentiles at the temple; the recognition of the legitimacy of Gentile altars to God apart from the temple; the reference to the salvation of the “righteous from among the nations” in T. Naph. 8.3; texts describing Israel as a priest among the nations (priests occupying a distinct status and bound by more stringent legislation than the remainder of the people).  But what has been presented is sufficient, I believe, to establish the point: in the first century there were segments of Judaism that saw the Torah as God’s special gift to Israel; the Gentiles, bound by a lesser set of requirements, could attain righteousness without having to become full converts to Judaism.

3.5 Eschatological Pilgrims

As is true of most aspects of Second Temple Judaism, a survey of Jewish attitudes toward Gentiles is not complete without a consideration of the eschatological future.  Indeed, in what has come to be known as the “eschatological pilgrimage of the nations,” we encounter one of the most distinctive of the Jewish patterns of universalism.

The various attitudes toward Gentiles in the present, as surveyed above, generally carry with them implications for the eschatological future.  If Gentiles are forever outside the covenant and fit only for destruction (Jub. 15.26), for instance, then destruction is what awaits them at the eschaton.  Alternately, in the case of proselytism, while there is no clear statement to the effect, it seems reasonable to believe that for at least some within Judaism, proselytism is an option limited to this age: those who fail to become proselytes in this age will have no share in the age to come.  Others, as we have seen, believe that there are “righteous Gentiles” who will have a share in the age to come; the wicked, correspondingly, will not.

(Underline emphasis mine.)

No doubt many first-century Jews believed in the existence of a middle-group of “righteous Gentiles” who are righteous before God, yet not a part of God’s chosen people.  These Jews would have believed that the “righteous Gentiles” would be resurrected to share in the Messianic age to come. It is not difficult to believe that Saul (later named Paul) had a heart for Gentiles.  After his conversion, he devoted himself to bringing the gospel to the Gentiles.  The following verses strongly suggest that Paul believed in “righteous Gentiles:”

Romans 2:12-16 ESV  For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.  (13)   For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.  (14)   For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law(15)  They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them (16) on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

No doubt all the Jews, including Paul, were surprised that Gentiles could receive the Holy Spirit and be a part of Israel.  Paul was probably initially surprised that Gentiles could be chosen by God to be a part of God’s elect.  But after gaining an understanding of this truth, Paul preached that there is no difference between Jew and Gentile.  Both can be a part of true Israel.  Gentiles can be grafted into Israel.

Does this paradigm shift of Gentiles being included in Israel remove the middle-group of “righteous Gentiles?”  Does this shift in thinking require that there be no middle group?  No, because Paul himself spoke of both carnal and spiritual Christians, saying that both are saved.  Interpreting Romans 2:12-16 in the context of Paul’s culture would mean he also believed in three types of people.

Scripture was written mostly by Jews.  Scripture must be interpreted in the context of first-century Jewish beliefs and culture.  One should not say that interpreting Scripture to mean there are three types of people is simply reading extra meaning into the verses.  It is just the opposite:  we should not be influenced by our own traditions, which say that everybody goes to either heaven or hell as soon as they die.  This is something that the Jews simply did not believe.

We should also accept the fact that Paul’s training and traditions included the middle group known as “righteous Gentiles.”  Therefore, we cannot simply assume that when Paul used the phrase “inherit the kingdom,” that he was strictly referring to past-tense salvation, and was not talking about a three-type system.

We must use Scripture alone to build our theology.  We must guard against the assumptions of traditional church beliefs and our tendency to force Paul’s words into our traditional two-type system when Paul himself would have grown up in the tradition of a three-type system.

1.12)  Election vs. Free-Will Solved

The New Wine System presents three types of people: “The Wise,” corresponding to Israel; “The Foolish,” corresponding to righteous Gentiles; and “The Wicked,” who are just wicked.

When ancient Jewish eschatology is applied to the Church, all Old Testament Scripture is fulfilled in the Church.  We do not replace Israel. We are grafted into Israel.  Just as Israel is God’s chosen people, the Church is the elect.  There is no difference between Jew and Gentile (Romans 10:12).  There is no difference between the Church and Israel.  The Church is comprised of those chosen by God to be drawn into a mature relationship with Jesus Christ before either death or Christ’s return.  The foolish middle group are the nations of the earth.  They can still be eternally saved.  Everyone has the free-will opportunity to accept or reject Christ.

Therefore, there is no paradox between election and free-will.  We need not have two sides of the same coin, or parallel lines that only intersect in some far distance place.  One can say that election and free-will are both true, and that it can be easily understood. This concept is simple when it is understood there are three types of people in the grave.

1.13)  Salvation is a Journey

Salvation must be understood as a journey.  Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).  The Greek word translated “way” means “road.”

The pastor of the Vineyard church I used to attend said that he could not pinpoint a specific date on which he was saved, but he is sure that he is saved now. He believes that at some point in his past his faith matured enough that God considered him to be saved. He also believes that if he had died before that point, he would have gone to hell.   But from his perspective, he just gradually grew to know and believe in Christ more and more.

A conclusion that can be made is that at some point as a child he reached an age of accountability.  If he had died before that point, he would have gone to heaven. After reaching that point, he would have been destined for hell, but at some later point in his life, he switched back to being destined for heaven again.

God’s plan of salvation is not so complicated.  Christ died for all of us.  God loves the entire world, so salvation is a free gift that Christ offers to everyone.  Salvation is a journey towards holiness.  However, those who reject this free gift and refuse a relationship with Christ to become holy as He is holy, at some point, forfeit their salvation.  But even the hardening of one's heart is more of a process than a decision.  So we can journey towards God, or we can journey away from God.  Eventually, we become wise, or we become wicked.  But it's a long process.

1.14)  The Millennium as an Alternative to Purgatory

According to the New Wine System, those who die without spiritual maturity can continue their journey to righteousness during the Messianic age.  Those who still have sinful habits can overcome them in the millennium.  Some view this as a type of purgatory.  It does solve the same problem that purgatory was intended to answer.  Catholics saw this dichotomy within Scripture and reasoned that only the most holy people, or saints, went straight to heaven.  Everyone else would have to be purified by fire in purgatory.

Purgatory, however, is not found clearly in Scripture.  But the millennium is Scriptural.  Augustine and the Catholics assumed a purgatory, possibly due to the fact that Augustine had eliminated the millennial earthly reign of Christ.  This elimination of the millennium forced Catholic scholars to view death as the end of salvation’s journey, similar to Greek thinking.  Purgatory was necessary to resolve this dichotomy of Scripture verses about salvation.

The millennial reign of Christ is not a time of punishment.  Unlike purgatory, sanctification during the millennial reign of Christ maintains the full atonement for sin as a free gift.  The millennial reign of Christ will be a much better life than our current lives under the reign of Satan and the rule of sinful men.  The purpose of purgatory is for the cleansing of sin by fire.  The purpose of the millennium is to give everyone the opportunity to overcome sin through sanctification by the Holy Spirit.  Those who have not yet overcome sin will be resurrected, but not into spiritual bodies.  The saints will rule over them as priests and kings, having already received their spiritual bodies.

Revelation 2:26-27  He who overcomes , and he who keeps my works to the end, to him I will give authority over the nations(27)  He will rule them with a rod of iron, shattering them like clay pots; as I also have received of my Father:

Verse 27 is a quote of Psalm 2:9, which refers to Christ’s reign.

Psalms 2:7b-10  "You are my son. Today I have become your father.  (8)  Ask of me, and I will give the nations for your inheritance, the uttermost parts of the earth for your possession.  (9)  You shall break them with a rod of iron. You shall dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel."  (10)  Now therefore be wise, you kings. Be instructed, you judges of the earth.

The Greek word for “rule” in Revelation 2:27 means “shepherd.”  Christ does not destroy the nations, but is their shepherd.  Those who overcome sin are saints and will reign with Christ as priests and kings. The nations are those who will not as yet completely overcome sin through a relationship with Christ.

These saints are not the canonized saints of the Catholic Church.  The saints are all who will have matured in Christ before they die.  God has his own list of saints.  However, most canonized saints are probably real saints on God’s list of saints that include Protestants.

God’s desire is for us to overcome sin and be adopted as sons along with Christ.  We will be “God's children, since [we] are children of the resurrection” (Luke 20:36).  The true Church is the true Israel.  Those who are truly saints are the true Israel.  We must first become mature in Christ, walking as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6), before receiving glorified bodies in the true Israel of the millennium.

1.15)  What Does it Mean to be Sold Out for Christ?

During the Lord’s Supper the evening before the crucifixion, Jesus went around the room and washed the disciples’ feet.  This made Peter very reluctant to have his Lord wash is feet.

John 13:6-9  Then he came to Simon Peter. He said to him, "Lord, do you wash my feet?"  (7)  Jesus answered him, "You don't know what I am doing now, but you will understand later."  (8)   Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet!" Jesus answered him, "If I don't wash you, you have no part with me."  (9)  Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!"

Jesus was teaching Peter and the other disciples a lesson that they would not understand until after Christ’s resurrection. Why was this lesson so important that Peter could not be a true disciple of Jesus unless he learned it?  How many people today have also not learned this lesson or taken it to heart, yet consider themselves disciples of Jesus?

Salvation is a free gift, received by grace alone.  But discipleship requires lots of work.  We can be saved from death, which is to be resurrected to see the kingdom, as a free gift.  But then there is the possibility of a second death (Rev. 20:6, 20:14, and 21:8).  Those who inherit the kingdom, however, also inherit eternal life.  They have worked to overcome sin, and are excluded from the possibility of a second death (Rev. 2:11). Jesus told his disciples, who already believed in him, to seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Matt. 6:33, Luke 12:31).  Those who inherit the kingdom also inherit eternal life.  How do we seek the kingdom?  We must be a servant and do the works the Father has given for us.

John 13:12-17  So when he had washed their feet, put his outer garment back on, and sat down again, he said to them, " Do you know what I have done to you(13)   You call me, 'Teacher' and 'Lord.' You say so correctly, for so I am.  (14)  If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.  (15)  For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.  (16)  Most certainly I tell you, a servant is not greater than his lord, neither one who is sent greater than he who sent him.  (17)  If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

The difference between simply being saved at the resurrection and inheriting the kingdom and eternal life is all about one’s maturity in Christ.  We must walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6). In the kingdom of heaven, the last shall be first, and the first shall be last (Mat. 19:29-30, 20:16).

Mark 9:35  He sat down, and called the twelve; and he said to them, "If any man wants to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all."

The wise are servants.  Those who will reign as kings and priests in the age to come must first develop a servant’s heart in this age.  Being a minister for Christ is not about building big churches.  It’s about loving others and reflecting that love in one’s actions.  Jesus continues teaching at the Last Supper:

John 13:34-35  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, just like I have loved you; that you also love one another.  (35)  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

Notice the condition given in order to become Christ’s disciple.  We must love one another.  Christians can easily become caught up in the things of this world, and their love grows cold.  They are still saved in spite of this.   But without the supernatural love from Christ being carried out in their life, they won’t be resurrected as one of Christ’s disciples.

Did Peter possess the love for Christ that is necessary to be one of Christ’s disciples at this time?

John 13:37-38  Peter said to him, "Lord, why can't I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you."  (38)  Jesus answered him, "Will you lay down your life for me? Most certainly I tell you, the rooster won't crow until you have denied me three times.

Peter believed that he loved Christ enough to die for him.  But as we find out later, Peter had not yet developed the maturity in Christ necessary to become a disciple and a leader.  Everyone who is to be a priest and king in the millennium must possess the maturity and love of Christ in order to be one of Christ’s leaders.  To be resurrected with a spiritual body, we must be willing and ready to die for Christ.

Matthew 10:37-39  He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me isn't worthy of me.  (38)  He who doesn't take his cross and follow after me, isn't worthy of me(39)  He who seeks his life will lose it; and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.

Peter believed he was ready to die for Christ, but Jesus knew that Peter was not yet ready to sacrifice his life.  Of course later we find that Peter, when put to the test, denied that he even knew Jesus.

This failure really tore at Peter’s heart. The next time he was in Jesus’ presence was after the resurrection. At their next meeting Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?”  Read this way, as given in most English translations, Jesus comes across as being a real jerk.  When Peter is at his lowest, Jesus keeps asking Peter if he loves him more than the other disciples.  Peter keeps saying yes, but Jesus keeps asking until the point where Peter is grieved because Jesus asked a third time.  Some people try to apologize for Jesus by pointing out that Peter had denied Jesus three times, so Jesus was asking three times.  Yet this still makes Jesus out to be a jerk.  But in the Greek something entirely different is happening.

In ancient Greek, there are three different words for ‘love.’  Agape love is unconditional love.  Philos love is brotherly love.  When Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me,” these two types of love were being used in the conversation.  In the following translation, "affection" is used for philos love and "love" for agape love.  With this distinction being made in this translation, you can get the idea of what was really being said.

John 21:14-17  This is now the third time that Jesus was revealed to his disciples, after he had risen from the dead.  (15)  So when they had eaten their breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I have affection for you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs."  (16)  He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I have affection for you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep."  (17)  He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you have affection for me?" Peter was grieved because he asked him the third time, "Do you have affection for me?" He said to him, "Lord, you know everything. You know that I have affection for you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep."

Peter knew that he had failed the test.  He had denied Christ because he was afraid for his life.  To Peter’s credit, he displayed honesty in this conversation with Christ. His love for Jesus was not unconditional, and this realization pained him greatly. Peter’s grief over Jesus’ repetition of this question is a completely different type of emotion than it would appear to be when read in a translation without the two different types of love.  (Most translations do not make this distinction.)  Peter was honest in his statement, “Lord, you know everything,” and about his lack of love.

Was Jesus chastising Peter for his lack of love?  No, Jesus was gently redeeming Peter, and gently revealing the way to bring his love from philos "affection" to agape love.

The way to increase our love for God is to increase our love for our neighbor.  When Christ said, “feed my sheep,” he was not talking about Peter becoming the pastor of his church. He wanted Peter to adopt a servant’s heart toward anyone in need.  “Feed my sheep” was a command to exercise the Spiritual gifts that God has given us in love for one another.  As our love for Christ increases, our love for our neighbor increases.  Consequently, as our love for our neighbor increases, our love for Christ increases. 

In the very next verse, Jesus tells Peter he will love Christ unconditionally, and was going to die for Him in his old age.  Normally this is not something that would brighten one’s day.  But in Peter’s case, it was exactly what he needed to hear.

John 21:18-19  Most certainly I tell you, when you were young, you dressed yourself, and walked where you wanted to. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you, and carry you where you don't want to go."  (19)   Now he said this, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. When he had said this, he said to him, "Follow me."

This is an example of a servant’s heart, and shows the way to be a true disciple of Christ. No man is greater than his master.  Because Christ had only a servant’s heart, His true disciples must only have a servant’s heart. This love requires total devotion to Christ no matter the cost, even if it requires sacrificing one’s life.

1.16)  Is this Salvation by Works?

Many Protestants tend to conclude that Jesus and Paul preached two different gospels.  Jesus tells us that if we do not become servants and work for others then we cannot be his disciples.  Paul tells us that salvation is a free gift.  Can both be true?  In order to eternally live in Christ’s kingdom we must become like Christ.  And since Christ has a servant’s heart, we must also have a servant’s heart.  The free gift is that the Holy Spirit, over time, changes us to be like Christ.

This is understood only when we think of salvation as a journey.  Salvation is the process of changing us to be like Christ.  Usually, it takes time.  Catholics understand this because they already understand that salvation is a journey.  Protestants have drifted away from considering salvation to be a journey because we stopped believing in purgatory.  Without either purgatory or a free grace alternative to purgatory, one tends to stop believing that sanctification must be completed.  If sanctification doesn’t need to be completed, then salvation becomes a decision and not a journey.  If salvation is a decision without the journey, then no real change is needed.  We don’t really need to become like Christ.  The non-Scriptural assumption is made that we will magically become like Christ when we go to heaven.  We can’t magically get Christ’s heart of a servant without undergoing changes that takes time.  And we can’t change ourselves.

The Holy Spirit changes us.  As we begin to do the Father’s works we are filled with the Holy Spirit.  The gifts of the Holy Spirit help us do the Father’s works.  Gifts are not limited to those listed by Paul.  Our gifts are whatever talents we have.  We use our talents to further the kingdom.  Over time, this becomes more and more important to us.  Over time, our sinful habits become less and less compelling.  The Father’s works wind up replacing our sinful habits.

Over time, we stop sinning.  When we are filled with the Holy Spirit we cannot sin because God is in us and God cannot sin.  Of course we can still fall into temptation.  The Holy Spirit backs off.  But we can confess our sin and be filled again.   It’s like being an alcoholic.  The longer one goes without taking a drink, the easier it is to avoid.  The same is true with every sinful habit.  All sins are habitual.  All sinful habits can be overcome when we do the works of the Father and commit our lives to serving others and furthering the kingdom.

Our cups must be clean on the inside.  Then we will be clean on the outside.  If someone could read your mind, would you have anything to be embarrassed about?  Living without sin is like being in the light.  You have nothing to hide.

Reconciliation was a free gift.  Christ died for us.  Justification is a free gift. Believers are credited with righteousness.  Sanctification is a gift because the Holy Spirit changes us over time.  When Christ returns, those who have completed their journey of sanctification will be given the gift of glorified spiritual bodies.

1.17)  The Watering Down of Christ’s Teaching

Unless Jesus washed Peter’s feet, he would not let Peter be a disciple.  In other words, unless we live out of love for Christ, instead of just affection, we cannot be Christ’s disciple.

Under the traditional duel system of being on a journey to either heaven or hell, Christians tend to believe that Christ would not be so strict.  This level of total commitment is usually not understood to be a requirement for discipleship. 

Surely if we believe in Christ and profess him as our Savior, then we are saved.  If we are saved, then we are going to heaven.  Yes, the Christian would acknowledge that Christ would like us to be sold out for Him.  But being consumed with things like making a living is necessary.   So we are destined for heaven if we simply believe in Christ, right?  Going to heaven is all that really matters, right?  This is the obvious conclusion under the two-type system of heaven-or-hell when you die.

However, under the three-type system of the wise, the foolish, and the wicked, the serious nature of Christ’s teaching comes forth.  We want to be counted among the wise group, not the foolish middle group. 

One may say, “I’m not wise.  I’m not a teacher.  I’m not a preacher.  Just let me stay in the comfortable foolish group.”  The wise group is wise in Christ.  The term “wise” does not refer to personal wisdom.  This wisdom is found through living out Christ’s wise teachings, thus qualifying us to lead others.  In the age to come, only those who do not seek power for themselves will be given the power to rule.   The person who does not claim wisdom is the type of person Christ really needs to further His kingdom.  The meek shall inherit the earth.

1.18)  How Does All This Affect Missions?

Some would ask, “If people can still profess faith in Christ as Savior after the resurrection, then is witnessing and mission work really necessary?”  Most definitely, the answer is yes.  The basic gospel of faith in Jesus Christ for salvation has not changed.  Everyone needs to ask Jesus to forgive them and take control of their lives.  The sooner one falls in love with Jesus, the better off he or she will be.

Before Christ returns and the millennium comes, the antichrist will rule the entire world.  He will require everyone to take the mark of the beast, leading those who do to the lake of fire.  There will be no resurrection for those who take the mark of the beast.  Jesus said:

Matthew 24:12-13 NIV  Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, (13)  but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

During this time of the end, people will be under enormous pressure to place their allegiance with the one-world government of the antichrist and deny Christ.  Christians who stand firm to the end will be saved.  The Holy Spirit is necessary. Consequently, the need of missions is greater today than any other time in history.  Those who take the mark will be thrown eternally into the lake of fire.

Also, the purpose of this present age is to establish the elect, who will rule as priests and kings.  Christ will only return when the elect from every nation, tribe, people, and language, have matured enough to reign in Christ’s kingdom.  The gospel must be spread to every nation before the end can come (Mat. 24:14).

1.19)  Profess Your Faith in Jesus Christ Now

Have you professed your personal faith in Jesus Christ?  Jesus is the only way to eternal life.  People who die having neither heard nor understood about Christ are not spending eternity in hell.  They will have a chance to begin their journey when Christ returns.  But if you have not done so, you should give your life to Christ immediately.  The more you resist Christ’s calling, the more your heart is hardened.  Do not let your heart become hardened.  Be sold out for Christ, no matter the cost.

Salvation requires that Christ becomes your Lord and Savior.  That means you become his servant.  Never think about salvation as some kind of deal whereby God answers your payers.  Jesus is not your servant.  You are his servant.  But at the same time, a continual growing relationship with Jesus Christ, as you do the things the Father wants of you, becomes a very gratifying life.  But don’t expect to have a live a life with no problems.  If you are really living for Christ, persecution can easily come your way.  Life’s problems may even become worse.  Living for Christ is all about what you can give to the Father and to others.  Your life is not your own.  You live for Christ.  You have given it all to the Father.  You store your treasures in heaven.  This means your work is not focused on making money.  Sure, you have to work to make a living.  But the focus of your life must be on living and working for Christ, which is doing the will (works) of the Father.  Only then are you on a path that leads to salvation.

Be cautious about saying “I’ve been saved.”  Salvation is a process whereby the Holy Spirit changes you as you do the Father’s works.  It’s true that as long as you remain a servant and follower of Christ that you are assured you will eventually have eternal life.  God will complete the work that he has begun in you.  But you are the servant.  He is the Master.  Christ is your Lord.  That means salvation is an ongoing journey.  We are not eternally saved from death until we have glorified bodies that do not die.

The way of salvation is a completely different and perhaps a difficult life.  It’s not to be taken lightly.  But it’s very well worth it.  It’s great to start walking in the light and having nothing to hide.  It’s great to be free of sinful habits that once controlled your life.  It’s great knowing that even if others could read your mind, you would have nothing to be embarrassed about.  That’s true freedom.  Being a follower of Christ is to live a life of freedom.

That’s not to say that everyone who has dedicated their lives to Christ has overcome all their sinful habits.  But you must believe that the Holy Spirit living in you is changing you so that you can live a live without sinful habits.  That’s faith.  You have faith in Christ Jesus to change your life as you do the Father’s works.  You have faith in Jesus Christ to make you holy.  Of course you struggle with the Holy Spirit to overcome whatever sinful habits that remain.  But remember that faith in Jesus Christ is to live as Jesus would have lived.  It’s to walk as Jesus waked.  It’s a journey that will eventually end with eternal life.   It’s not about you.  It’s about loving God and loving our neighbors.  That’s the journey of salvation that leads to eternal life.  

Philip Brown
www.newwine.org

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