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Problems Solved by the New Wine System
Philip B. Brown ( www.newwine.org )
Preterism says the Church is a New Testament continuation of the Old Testament Israel. So Israel is the Church. But preterists believe that if you were to interpret the Old Testament prophecies about Israel in the literal way the Old Testament writers would have done, that it would violate principles taught in the New Testament. Therefore, preterists use symbolism and allegories to reinterpret the Old Testament in light of the New Testament by forcing Old Testament prophecies about Israel be fulfilled in Christ’s first coming.
For example, Zechariah 14 talks about a time after all the nations of the world have attacked Jerusalem. All the nations of the world must go to Jerusalem each year to worship at the Feast of Tabernacles. Any nation that does not go up to worship at Jerusalem will not get rain. It would be hard to argue that Zechariah himself understood this as being anything except for what the text literally says. But preterists would say this would violate New Testament teaching.
Ezekiel’s temple has way too many details described to think that Ezekiel himself would have considered the temple to be simply symbolic, and never to be a physical temple that will literally be built. Ezekiel’s temple is described with the details of animal sacrifice. So how can it be in harmony with the teaching of Hebrews? Therefore, preterists do not believe the literal temple will be built, even if Ezekiel himself would have disagreed.
Dispensationalists, on the other hand, place emphasis on interpreting Old Testament prophecies about Israel in the same literal way as the Old Testament writers would have done. In other words, Scripture must be interpreted in the context of the culture and the time of the authors and their immediate audience.
In order to make Old Testament prophecies compatible with traditional interpretations of New Testament teaching, dispensationalists simply separate Israel from the Church. The Old Testament prophecies about Israel are to be fulfilled with a different group of people than that of the New Testament Church. New Testament authors, however, often quote Old Testament prophecies about Israel and apply them directly to the Church. It’s hard to believe that New Testament authors saw any real distinction between Old Covenant Israel and the New Covenant Church. There is only one body of true believers. There is only one faith, and one baptism. All those who are in Christ are Abraham’s seed, and heirs to the promise of Abraham (Gal. 3:29).
Therefore, the Church today, both preterist and dispensational, has trouble applying Old Testament prophecies about Israel to the New Testament Church, if they are to be interpreted literally. But what if the problem is in how we interpret the New Testament? For example, what if we do not properly understand everything the author of Hebrews was saying? Instead of trying to reinterpret the Old Testament prophecies about Israel in the light of the New Testament, what if we were to interpret the New Testament strictly in the context of the Old Testament? After all, the Old Testament was the Bible for the New Testament authors.
Consider the Jewish Christians who read Hebrews during the first century. Would they have considered Hebrews to be the world of God if it caused Old Testament prophecies to be interpreted in a way that even the Old Testament authors would have rejected? Or would the early Jewish Christians have considered Hebrews to be God’s word if it caused a complete separation of God’s people into two separate bodies of believers, one for the Old Covenant and another for the New Covenant? Could it be that because of their Old Testament background, that they would have interpreted Hebrews a bit differently?
Would the early Jews, who had been raised from their childhood learning the Old Testament Scriptures, have read and interpreted the New Testament in the same way that we have traditionally interpreted it? The Jews believed in a future Messianic earthly reign, where Israel will rule the world. The gospel of the kingdom will go throughout the world as a result of that future Messianic reign. The early Church, especially after Augustine, did not believe there would be a future earthly reign of Christ. Could this difference strongly affect one’s interpretation of New Testament Scripture?
The Greeks believed one’s soul went to eternal bliss or eternal punishment immediately after death. To the Greek, Hades was a place of punishment. Over time, the word Hades was translated as hell. But to the first-century Jew, Hades was the place where both the righteous and the unrighteous went when they died to await the resurrection in the age to come. They did not go straight to heaven or hell when they died.
For the ancient Jew, the age to come was not eternity in heaven. The age to come is the next phase of God’s redemptive plan. So for the ancient Jew, one’s eternal destiny would not necessarily have been established at the time of death. To the Greek, however, one’s eternity had to be established at the time of death, because you either went to heaven or to hell when you died. But this was not the case if one had been taught the Old Testament from childhood. Death was simply a time of rest, for everyone, to await the resurrection. Could this difference strongly affect one’s interpretation of New Testament Scripture?
The New Wine System literally applies Old Testament prophecies about Israel to the New Testament Church. Instead of trying to reinterpret the Old Testament in the light of the New Testament, the New Wine System interprets the New Testament in the context of the Old Testament. And the Old Testament is interpreted in the same literal way that the original Old Testament authors would have done, given their time and culture. There will be an age to come, after Christ returns, where the gospel goes to all the nations as a result of the Messiah’s earthly reign. Both the just and the unjust will be raised. And the final judgment is not until a thousand years after the resurrection.
The New Wine System interprets Scripture much more literally than even the dispensationalists. The souls of the dead are literally asleep. Those who mature in the Messiah will literally reign as priests and kings over the nations. Being “born again” is to literally get a new body. The meek will literally inherit the earth. Christ is literally the Savior of all people. Salvation is literally being saved from death (Hades/grave) at the resurrection. But being saved from death does not necessarily mean eternal life. There is still the literal second death (Rev. 2:11, 20:6, 20:14, 21:8) to consider. Heaven is literally up, and hell is literally down. The New Jerusalem is a literal city that will literally come when Christ returns. The kingdom is a literal kingdom. And you literally have to overcome all sinful habits in order to inherit the kingdom and eternal life.
For example, consider the following verse. Paul references "the kingdom of His Son" and links it with redemption from darkness and forgiveness of sins. He also encourages all believers to give thanks for being qualified to share this inheritance as saints in light. A dispensationalist might ask, "How does this fit into the New Wine System? Is this kingdom different than the millennial kingdom?"
Colossians 1:12-13 ESV giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. (13) He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,
Literally speaking, this would be referring to the New Jerusalem. But until that literal kingdom arrives, the kingdom is a promise of that kingdom that is in our hearts. In order to reign with Christ, and inherit that promise, we must become righteous, living in the light instead of in the darkness. The promise of the Kingdom of Israel has always been a promise – unfulfilled prophecy. We live for that promise. We live lives of righteousness because only the literal righteous will literally reign when the Kingdom comes. And the only way to live lives of righteousness is to mature through a personal relationship with Christ (the King).
Even Old Testament Israel was a promise of a kingdom that was to come. But when Christ came, the people were not ready because they had not overcome all their sinful habits. They were not ready to reign with the Messiah. Therefore, Christ left and will return again. The promise of Abraham remains a promise.
The promise to Abraham was a promise of descendants and land. That adds up to a kingdom. But they understood you can’t have a kingdom without a king. David served as a temporary king until the real king, the Son of David, would come. So Israel is a promise of a literal kingdom that has not yet been fulfilled.
You must be literally “born again” in order to physically (literally) enter that promised kingdom of God (or kingdom of heaven). “Born again” literally means to get a new body. Flesh gives literal (physical) birth to flesh; Spirit gives literal (physical) birth to spirit. It’s a spiritual body because those who are literally born again can literally come and go like the wind (John 3:8), meaning you can appear in the middle of locked rooms. Our current bodies of flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom. You must have a “spiritual body” in order to inherit the kingdom, or enter the kingdom. Only the people of true Israel are chosen to inherit that kingdom. Only the people of true Israel will get spiritual bodies at the resurrection. Only the people of true Israel can literally (physically) enter the kingdom.
That kingdom, which requires a spiritual body to enter, is the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21-22, which will be in orbit around the earth when Christ returns. It’s the Paradise that Paul visited, which was in the third heaven at that time. When Christ returns, Paradise will move to the first heaven, which is orbit around the earth.
Galatians 4:25-26 ESV Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. (26) But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.
Hebrews 11:10 ESV For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.
Hebrews 11:16 ESV But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
Hebrews 12:22 ESV But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering,
Hebrews 13:14 ESV For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.
You must have a spiritual body to enter (and dwell in) the New Jerusalem. But that doesn’t mean that the resurrected nations (literally saved from death and Hades/grave) cannot continue to dwell here on the earth during the millennium. Those in Christ will have rooms in the Father’s house (the New Jerusalem). The literal wedding banquet will be in the New Jerusalem, which is called the "Bride, the wife of the Lamb" (Rev. 21:9). In other words, that's where the Bride becomes the Wife. And after that, we will literally reign over the nations with Christ, literally being the top-level of the government (Isaiah 9:7). Old Jerusalem will serve as the capitol of the world. But our dwelling (living) place will be in the New Jerusalem, in the first heaven, which is to say it will be in orbit around the earth.
The details of all the Scriptural evidence for the New Wine System can be found in my book, titled New Wine for the End Times. Let’s look at seven major problems of Scripture that are solved by the New Wine System. Each of these problems has caused the Church to be divided over the centuries. In other words, by literally applying Old Testament Jewish eschatology to the New Testament Church, all these well-known problems of Scripture simply disappear. But you have to be willing to really interpret the New Testament in the context of the Old Testament, even if doing so challenges many of the traditional beliefs about New Testament teachings that have been held over the centuries.
The New Wine System solves Calvinism vs. Arminianism (election vs. free-will). Baptists and other Reformed doctrine denominations have believed that God chose, before the foundation of the world, who will be eternally punished in hell and who will be redeemed and spend eternity in heaven. Methodists and other Wesleyan doctrine denominations have believed we all have the free will to choose to have faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. This major Church divider is solved without the use of paradoxes, or two sides of the same coin. This major Church divider is solved by applying Old Testament Jewish eschatology to the New Testament Church.
Old Testament Israel is considered to be God’s chosen nation. Does that mean that only the people of Israel were chosen for salvation? The books of Genesis and Hebrews both say that Melchizedek was a priest of the Most High God (Genesis 14:18, Hebrews 7:1). Jesus Christ was said to be a priest in the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:17). But Melchizedek was not even Jewish. He was not part of Israel. So he was not a part of God’s chosen nation. Yet it would seem that he was saved.
Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine: and he was priest of
God Most High. (19) He blessed him, and
said, "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth: (20) and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered
your enemies into your hand." Abram gave him a tenth of all.
Hebrews 7:1-3 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of God Most High, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, (2) to whom also Abraham divided a tenth part of all (being first, by interpretation, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace; (3) without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God), remains a priest continually.
Hebrews 7:17 for it is testified, "You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek."
To be a part of Israel, God’s chosen nation, was to be a part of the holy nation that will reign with the Messiah over the world when the Messiah comes. Then after the Messiah comes, the gospel will go throughout the whole world as a result of that rule.
Gentiles could convert to Judaism and start taking part in all the religious festivals and observance of the Law of Moses. So Israel was never strictly about being Abraham’s descendent. Also, the Jews believed there are righteous Gentiles, who keep God’s commands in their hearts, but who do not follow all the strict rules of the Law of Moses. Being a part of Israel was not just about salvation. But being a part of Israel was to be a part of God’s chosen people, who will someday rule over the world and bring salvation to the nations.
When the New Testament Church is literally applied to Old Testament Jewish eschatology, the Church is simply Israel. Those who are in Christ are Abraham’s seed, and heirs to the promise. Therefore, the New Testament Church is Israel. The Church, which is Israel, will literally fulfill all the Old Testament prophecies about Israel. So the Church will reign with Christ, as priests and kings, over the nations when Christ returns. God’s chosen people are the people of Israel, which is the Church. But if you are not chosen to be a part of Israel, that doesn’t mean you won’t be saved. You can still be a part of the nations that are led to righteousness when Christ returns.
Thus, God chooses those who will reign with Christ over the nations. God needs people from every nation, tribe, people, and language to reign with Christ over the nations. But God does not choose who will be saved. Everyone has the free will opportunity to accept Christ’s reign over them and to mature in Christ. Everyone has the free will opportunity to mature in Christ and thus eventually receive eternal life.
1 Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellence of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: (10) who in time past were no people, but now are God's people, who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
Those who preach Calvinism and salvation election will usually refer to Romans 9 as their primary text.
Romans 9:6-13 But it is not as though the word of God has come to nothing. For they are not all Israel, that are of Israel. (7) Neither, because they are Abraham's seed, are they all children. But, "In Isaac will your seed be called." (8) That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as a seed. (9) For this is a word of promise, "At the appointed time I will come, and Sarah will have a son. (10) Not only so, but Rebecca also conceived by one, by our father Isaac. (11) For being not yet born, neither having done anything good or bad, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him who calls, (12) it was said to her, "The elder will serve the younger." (13) Even as it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."
As it is pointed out, God chose Abraham and gave him a promise. Then the promise went down through Isaac, and the Jacob. Jacob had an older twin brother Esau. But because of God’s election, Jacob was chosen over Esau before the twins were even born. Reformed preachers use this passage to point out that salvation election is strictly by God’s choice, before we are even born.
But is God saying that Esau was chosen to go to hell? How about all of Isaac’s servants? Were they destined for hell because they were not a part of the blood-line of the promise? No, Paul is simply saying that the promise that was given to Abraham for the blessing of the nations would be carried out through Jacob and not Esau. The twelve tribes of Israel were established in Jacob’s twelve sons.
Let’s go back to the context of the passage. In verses 1-5, Paul is agonizing over the fact that Israel had rejected the Messiah. How could this possibly have happened? Remember that Israel is the holy nation of non-metaphorical priests and kings who will reign with Christ and bring the gospel to the world when the Messiah comes. Did the rejection of the Messiah by Israel mean that God’s word had failed? In verse 6 (quoted above), Paul concludes that God’s word had not failed because not all who are descended from Israel (Jacob) belong to Israel (the promise). It is not the “children of the flesh” who are considered to be Israel, but it’s the “children of the promise” who are considered to be Israel, according to the verse. But again, this is not talking about salvation any more than God’s choice between the two twins was talking about salvation. Election is simply those chosen to inherit the promise of Abraham and bring the gospel to the nations when Christ returns.
Romans 9:1-5 I tell
the truth in Christ. I am not lying, my conscience testifying with me in the Holy
Spirit, (2) that I have great sorrow and
unceasing pain in my heart. (3) For I could
wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brothers' sake, my
relatives according to the flesh, (4) who are
Israelites; whose is the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the
law, the service, and the promises; (5) of
whom are the fathers, and from whom is Christ as concerning the flesh, who is
over all, God, blessed forever. Amen.
Romans 9:6a ESV But it is not as though the word of God has failed.
Galatians 3:29 If you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed and heirs according to promise.
Therefore, those who are elected are saved and will inherit eternal life. But those who are not elected still have the opportunity for eternal life. The elect are simply the chosen as the ones who will bring salvation to everybody else when the Messiah comes and sets up his earthly kingdom. The elect are the firstfruits of the harvest.
2 Thessalonians 2:13 ESV But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.
James 1:18 ESV Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
Salvation is a free gift. But inheriting the kingdom requires lots of work. The New Wine System solves the friction between grace and holiness verses. Catholics, and some Protestant denominations, recognize that many verses require there to be a certain amount of overcoming of sin in order to inherit the kingdom. Those who are already believers are then told to seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33). Other denominations put emphases on verses that say salvation is a free gift, and that no amount of work can be done to earn salvation. But the New Wine System does not equate salvation with inheriting the kingdom. Salvation is a free gift. But to inherit the kingdom requires lots of work. This major Church divider is solved by applying Old Testament Jewish eschatology to the New Testament Church.
Those who will inherit the kingdom are the elect. They will reign as priests and kings over the nations when Christ returns. But as we have seen, election is not strictly speaking about salvation. The people of the nations can be saved without being elected by God to rule over the nations. The elect are simply the firstfruits of all those who will eventually mature in Christ and receive eternal life.
This misunderstanding of what Scripture says comes about when one reads the New Testament like a Greek, and not like a Jew with Old Testament beliefs and background. The Greek believed one’s eternal afterlife is determined at the time of one’s death. The Jews believed that both the righteous and the wicked go to Hades (the grave) to await the resurrection. So the Greeks naturally read election as salvation and non-election as eternal damnation. But the Jew would have read election as being a part of the holy nation that will reign with the Messiah when he returns.
This fundamental misunderstanding of Scripture leads to problems in interpreting various other verses of Scripture. A lot of what Jesus taught was about inheriting the kingdom of God by living holy lives. A lot of what Paul taught was about salvation as a free gift that requires no work on our parts. There have been entire books written about these perceived differences between the gospel of Jesus and the gospel of Paul. Compare and contrast this set of salvation verses with this set of verses about inheriting the kingdom.
Inheriting the Kingdom
Romans 10:9 – "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."
Matthew 5:20 – "Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, there is no way you will enter the kingdom of heaven."
Romans 10:13, Joel 2:31-32 – "Everyone who will call on the name of the Lord will be saved."
Matthew 5:48 ESV – "You therefore must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect."
Romans 6:23 – "The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
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 of works, 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.
Hebrews 12:14b NIV – "Without holiness, no one will see the Lord."
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 it’s only those who overcome sin that 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 things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new."
Revelation 21:7-8 – Only those who overcome sin will inherit the kingdom of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21 - "For him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
1 John 5:18a - "We know that whoever is born of God doesn't sin."
Acts 16:30-31 - "[He] brought them out and said, 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' They said, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.' "
1 John 3:5-6 - "You know that he was revealed to take away our sins, and in him is no sin. Whoever remains in him doesn't sin. Whoever sins hasn't seen him, neither knows him."
Matthew 10:32 - "Everyone therefore who confesses me before men, him I will also confess before my Father who is in heaven."
Matthew 7:21a - "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven."
Is inheriting the kingdom really the same thing as salvation? Salvation is a free gift. Nothing that we can do will atone for our sins, or bring us into salvation. But to inherit the kingdom requires lots of work in order to completely overcome all our sinful habits and thus to reach God’s standard of holiness.
The Greeks believed one’s soul went to eternal bliss or eternal punishment immediately after death. To the Greek, Hades was a place of punishment. Over time, word Hades was translated as hell. But to the first-century Jew, Hades was the place where both the righteous and the unrighteous went when they died to await the resurrection in the age to come. They did not go straight to heaven or hell when they died.
For the Jew, the age to come was not simply eternity in heaven. The age to come was the next phase of God’s redemptive plan. To inherit the kingdom was to reign with the Messiah over the nations in the age to come, after the resurrection. So for the Jew, one’s eternal destiny would not have necessarily been established at the time of death. Death is not the end of the journey. To the Greek, however, one’s eternity had to be established at the time of death, because you either went to heaven or to hell when you died.
Therefore, the Jew would have read these verses very differently from the Greek. The Greek would have read all these verses as being about salvation, and one’s eternal state in the afterlife. The Jew would have read the verses about the kingdom of heaven and holiness as being verses related to being a member of the commonwealth of Israel (Eph. 2:12), who will reign with the Messiah in the age to come.
This fundamental misunderstanding of Scripture has led to major divisions in the Church. Luther saw the Church’s teaching on holiness as being distorted by the Catholic Church so that the church enslaved the people with guilt and conned them into continuously giving money in order to escape the punishment of fire and purgatory after death. So Luther saw the teaching about salvation by God’s grace as freeing us from the Catholic Church. This was the essence of the Protestant Reformation. The verses about holiness were seen as explained by election.
Later, Jacobus Arminus (1560-1609) argued against salvation election by saying that those God “foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29). In other words, God did not choose who would be saved and who would not be saved. However, God knew ahead of time because God knows the future. Because of that future knowledge God predestined that they would be changed into Christ’s image.
John Wesley (1703-1791) later picked up on this belief and formulated the idea of a “second blessing,” after the initial blessing of salvation. This “second blessing” is related to holiness and “entire sanctification” (1 Thess. 5:23). In other words, without salvation election there must be some kind of second-level of Christianity related to holiness, but not required for salvation. Wesley was the founder of the Methodist movement, which was the origin of many denominations that were in opposition to the basic Reformed position of salvation election, as defined by Calvinism.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 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.
But would all this division have occurred if the Church had understood that inheriting the kingdom (election) is not the same thing as salvation? Throughout most of Church history, both Catholic and Protest, the idea of an earthly millennial reign of Christ was rejected by the high majority of all Christians. One’s eternal state of heaven or hell was decided at death. Therefore, there was no alternative but to consider the free-grace salvation verses as being about the same thing as the holiness verses of inheriting the kingdom. Historically, the Church as interpreted the New Testament like a Greek instead of like a Jew.
With the continued confusion about the distinction between salvation and inheriting the kingdom, more problems have developed that divide the churches. There is a modern-day controversy between Lordship Salvation and Free-Grace Theology. Throughout most of Church history, there has been a emphasis on living holy lives. Salvation was viewed largely as a journey towards God's holiness through a relationship with Jesus Christ. However, in the last century or so, conservative evangelicals have tended to place more emphasis on making a profession of faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. The question became much more about whether nor not one was "saved" instead of whether or not one is living a Christ-like life. The "born again" concept came to mean that once you make a profession of faith in Christ, at that point in time, you become saved.
Salvation should be viewed as a journey. Paul says we must "work out our salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil. 2:12). However, when salvation is equated with being "born again," one would not tend to think of it happening again and again. Salvation became more and more of a one-time decision than as a journey in Christ.
But as we have seen, much of what Paul taught is in conflict with much of what Jesus taught if inheriting the kingdom is equated with salvation. We know that salvation is a gift from God. No amount of work can earn salvation. However, when some of the things Jesus said about the kingdom of heaven are applied to salvation, it causes theologians to question whether many of the people who have professed faith in Christ are really saved. For example, consider these verses:
Matthew 5:19-20 NIV Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (20) For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
How righteousness must one be in order to enter (inherit) the kingdom?
Matthew 7:17-20 NIV Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. (18) A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. (19) Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (20) Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
How much good fruit is needed before you are considered a good tree? Is salvation being measured by good works?
Matthew 7:21-23 NIV "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (22) Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' (23) Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'
These who will say "Lord, Lord" will be genuinely surprise that Jesus says, "I never knew you." Yet they preach in the name of Christ. So surely they have professed Christ as their Savior. They surely believe in their heart that he was raised from the dead, and they profess with their mouth the Jesus is Lord. But as they say, "Lord, Lord", Jesus will say "I never knew you." The only reason given is that they don't do the will (commandments) of the Father. Is obedience to the Father a condition for salvation? If so, then how much obedience is necessary? But the verse says nothing about salvation. The verse says they will not "enter the kingdom of heaven."
Matthew 10:37-39 ESV Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (38) And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. (39) Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
If you do not love Jesus more than your father or mother, are you unsaved? If you are not willing to die for Christ, does that mean you are unsaved?
John MacArthur and others have written books stating that many people in our churches today are not really saved because their lives have not shown the fruit of the Spirit. This has become known as Lordship Salvation. Some amount of Lordship, discipleship, holiness, and/or fruit of the Spirit is required before one can be considered as saved. Others have refuted this position taking the opposite position that can be called Free-Grace Theology. They include Charles C. Ryrie and Jane Hodges. For a more detailed look at what has been written on both sides of this debate, refer to the chapter on Lordship Salvation in my book, "New Wine for the End Times." This chapter, as well as the first chapter of the book, can both be read online.
As it turns out, most of the more vocal opponents to the Lordship Salvation movement have been dispensationalists. This is probably because dispensationalists tend to believe that much of what Jesus taught was for another dispensation and does not apply to the Church. However, they generally don't argue from that perspective because most Christians would not want to believe that the words of Jesus are not for Christians. I have, however, heard a pastor use that argument during a discussion with me. Once you take that dispensational position, then where do you draw the line? Which sayings of Christ were for His Church, (built on the "rock" of Peter), and which sayings were not for His Church?
When Jesus let the rich young ruler leave, because he was not willing to give everything he had to the poor, he was not saying the man would not be saved. As a matter of fact, he hinted that the man would be saved. Jesus said everything is possible with God, even if it's like a camel going through the eye of a needle. Jesus was focused on true discipleship, which requires that everything be sacrificed for the sake of Christ. Only Christ's true disciples will reign with Christ when he returns.
Matthew 19:20-30 The young man said to him, "All these things I have observed from my youth. What do I still lack?" (21) Jesus said to him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." (22) But when the young man heard the saying, he went away sad, for he was one who had great possessions. (23) Jesus said to his disciples, "Most certainly I say to you, a rich man will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven with difficulty. (24) Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God." (25) When the disciples heard it, they were exceedingly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved?" (26) Looking at them, Jesus said, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (27) Then Peter answered, "Behold, we have left everything, and followed you. What then will we have?" (28) Jesus said to them, "Most certainly I tell you that you who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on the throne of his glory, you also will sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (29) Everyone who has left houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, will receive one hundred times, and will inherit eternal life. (30) But many will be last who are first; and first who are last.
But very few find this narrow gate. Most people in the churches today would be like the rich young ruler and would go on their way if they were asked to give all their money to the poor. But that doesn't mean they are not going to be saved. It does, however, mean they will not be getting into the wedding banquet. They will not be reigning with Christ when he returns.
Most church pastors today, especially in seeker sensitive churches, say, "Nobody is perfect." However the message of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount was "Be perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). Certainly Jesus ate with the sinners. He wanted them to feel welcome. But his purpose was to bring sinners completely out of sin. Pastors who say, "Nobody is perfect, everybody is welcome," would believe they are doing the same thing Jesus did. But unlike Jesus, they very rarely preach against sin.
Jesus told the rich young ruler, "If you want to be perfect, go sell what you have and give to the poor." In other words, Jesus wants disciples that become perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect. If you are not willing to give up everything for the purposes of the kingdom, then Jesus would prefer that you go on your way. But that doesn't mean that Jesus doesn't love you, and doesn't want you to be saved. Salvation is free. Jesus paid the price for your salvation by his blood on the cross. The Church, however, is for those who are willing to give up everything for the purposes of the kingdom. The Church is for the true disciples of Christ.
Most people in the churches today are like the five foolish virgins to whom Jesus will say, "I never knew you." The only difference between the wise and the foolish virgins is that the foolish virgins didn't have enough oil in their lamps. They had not become the light of the world. But they will not go to hell. Instead, they will be resurrected to live in the nations. And eventually, they will inherit eternal life when they finally do become true disciples of Christ.
As you can see, the New Wine System solves the debate between Lordship Salvation and Free Grace Theology. Lordship, discipleship, and holiness is required to inherit the kingdom and to reign with Christ when he returns. But salvation itself is a free gift and requires no works. It doesn't require discipleship. It doesn't require holiness. It doesn't even require fruits of the Spirit. That's because salvation is a journey, paid for by the blood of Christ. We can continue our journey of salvation through Jesus Christ and be resurrected. But in the age to come, discipleship and holiness will be required if one is to continue on their journey and eventually inherit eternal life. If one were to live under the future reign of Christ's kingdom, in the age to come, and still reject Christ's holiness, then eventually one would die the second death, and forfeit salvation.
The millennium is a free-grace alternative to purgatory. The New Wine System solves this difference in salvation verses between Catholicism and Protestantism. The New Wine System sees the millennial reign of Christ as serving the same basic purpose as purgatory in the Catholic system. But the millennium is not a place of punishment or purification by fire. The millennium maintains the free-grace aspect of salvation. This major Church divider is solved by applying Old Testament Jewish eschatology to the New Testament Church.
If one is a drunkard, even if he is in Christ, he cannot inherit the kingdom. That is the obvious conclusion to those who put merit in the holiness verse. If death determines a person’s eternal state in the afterlife, and if the millennial reign of Christ has been ruled out, then how do we distinguish between believers (Christ-followers) who have lived a holy life from those who still have many sinful habits when they die? As far back as Augustine, the concept of a purgatory has been used to solve this problem. In the book, the City of God, in chapter 21:13, Augustine wrote:
Ephesians 2:4-9 But God, being rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, (5) even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), (6) and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, (7) that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus; (8) for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, (9) not of works, that no one would boast.
For our part, we recognize that even in this life some punishments are purgatorial,-not, indeed, to those whose life is none the better, but rather the worse for them, but to those who are constrained by them to amend their life. All other punishments, whether temporal or eternal, inflicted as they are on every one by divine providence, are sent either on account of past sins, or of sins presently allowed in the life, or to exercise and reveal a man's graces. They may be inflicted by the instrumentality of bad men and angels as well as of the good. For even if anyone suffers some hurt through another's wickedness or mistake, the man indeed sins whose ignorance or injustice does the harm; but God, who by His just though hidden judgment permits it to be done, sins not. But temporary punishments are suffered by some in this life only, by others after death, by others both now and then; but all of them before that last and strictest judgment. But of those who suffer temporary punishments after death, all are not doomed to those everlasting pains which are to follow that judgment; for to some, as we have already said, what is not remitted in this world is remitted in the next, that is, they are not punished with the eternal punishment of the world to come.
Later, in chapter 21:16, Augustine writes about the age of accountability for children (which is not taught by Scripture.) The children who take the sacraments, if they were to die, are not to be punished in purgatory. But after this age of accountability, one must “declare war upon vices” least they be “landed in damnable sins”.
But such is God's mercy towards the vessels of mercy which He has prepared for glory, that even the first age of man, that is, infancy, which submits without any resistance to the flesh, and the second age, which is called boyhood, and which has not yet understanding enough to undertake this warfare, and therefore yields to almost every vicious pleasure (because though this age has the power of speech, and may therefore seem to have passed infancy, the mind is still too weak to comprehend the commandment), yet if either of these ages has received the sacraments of the Mediator, then, although the present life be immediately brought to an end, the child, having been translated from the power of darkness to the kingdom of Christ, shall not only be saved from eternal punishments, but shall not even suffer purgatorial torments after death. For spiritual regeneration of itself suffices to prevent any evil consequences resulting after death from the connection with death which carnal generation forms. But when we reach that age which can now comprehend the commandment, and submit to the dominion of law, we must declare war upon vices, and wage this war keenly, lest we be landed in damnable sins.
But the Jews believed in a Messianic reign during which Israel will rule the world. And the Jew believed that both the just and the unjust await the resurrection in Hades. They did not believe we go straight to heaven or hell when we die. So they didn’t have to insert a temporary punishment in there for those who were not evil and yet had not fully lived up to God’s laws. When one understands the distinction between salvation by grace and inheriting the kingdom, then one has no need for a purgatory.
Of course the Protestants do not believe in purgatory. Luther was a big fan of Augustine. At first Luther considered purgatory to be a possibility. But later Luther decided against it and focused strictly on salvation by grace alone. Instead, the Reformed Protestants rejected the idea that you could completely overcome all sin before death, and simply stated that we would automatically lose all our sinful habits when we get to heaven. But if all our sinful habits are automatically removed when we die and go to heaven, then why did Paul say the drunkard cannot inherit the kingdom?
This major problem, which has divided the Protestants from the Catholics, is solved by the New Wine System. The millennial reign of Christ is a free-grace alternative to purgatory. Life under Christ’s reign is not temporary punishment. It will be much better than life in this age. So it’s a free-grace opportunity to mature in Christ as Christ rules the world. Death does not change people. If we have a sinful habit when we die, we will still have that sinful habit when we are raised to life. Otherwise, we are not really the same person. So we must change as we live. We must mature in Christ as we live. We can’t depend on death to change us. But we don’t need a purgatory to solve the problem when one recognizes that salvation and inheriting the kingdom is not the same thing.
Would a loving God have a merciful plan for our loved ones who have died having never heard or understood about Jesus Christ? This basic question has given rise to Unitarian Universalism churches as well as Christian Universalism. The New Wine System shows how everyone will have the opportunity to learn about Christ during the millennium, and will have the opportunity to mature in Christ to receive eternal life. This includes Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims. But unlike Christian Universalism, the New Wine System recognizes that many people will deliberately and knowingly reject Christ as Savior, and will be eternally punished. This major Church divider is solved by applying Old Testament Jewish eschatology to the New Testament Church.
With the millennium as a free-grace alternative to purgatory, and with the resurrection of both the just and the unjust a thousand years prior to the final judgment, the millennium provides an opportunity to mature in Christ for even those who have never heard about Christ. God is a God of second chances. But traditional doctrines of election have forced the conclusion that God is a God of no chance for most people who have died over the centuries. Would not a perfect God have a perfect plan that shows no favoritism towards anyone? Would not a perfect God, who let his Son Jesus Christ die as an atonement for all our sins, provide some way for everyone in the world to benefit from that sacrifice? The Calvinist doctrine of limited atonement says no. But our hearts say that was not God’s plan. That is not the Father’s heart.
John 14:6 Jesus
said to him, "I am the way [road], the truth, and the life. No one comes
[journeys] to the Father, except through me.
Acts 4:12 There is salvation in none other, for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, by which we must be saved!"
Our understanding of the Father’s heart has led many Christians to observe many verses in the New Testament that would seem to say everybody is saved.
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.
1 Corinthians 15:22 ESV For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
Luke 2:10-11 ESV And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. (11) For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
John 6:33 ESV For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."
Titus 2:11 ESV For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15 ESV For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; (15) and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
John 12:32 ESV And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself."
Romans 11:32 ESV For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.
Hebrews 2:9 ESV But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
1 Timothy 2:3-6 ESV This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, (4) who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (5) For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, (6) who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
Christian Universalism has concluded that everyone will, sometime in the future, be saved. They still believe that everyone goes to heaven or hell when we die. But they have concluded that people can be saved even after spending some time in hell.
But the New Wine System is not trapped by this idea that everyone goes to heaven or hell when we die. The New Wine System literally applies Old Testament Jewish eschatology to the New Testament Church. Therefore, like Old Testament Jewish teaching, everyone awaits the resurrection in Hades (the grave) when we die.
An ancient Jew who is trained in Old Testament teaching would not see these verses as talking about a future salvation. While we were yet sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). From the Jewish perspective, you are forgiven when the sacrifice is made. Thus, an ancient Jewish person reading these verses would say that everyone is already saved because Christ already died for all of us.
Without salvation election, there is no basis for the Reformed Protestant position of “once saved always saved.” If you deliberately and knowingly reject Christ’s salvation, you will forfeit your salvation, and you can’t get it back again. This is the unpardonable sin, like blasphemy of the Holy Spirit or taking the mark of the beast.
Hebrews 6:4-6 ESV For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, (5) and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, (6) and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.
This verse cannot be talking about those who were never saved, because it’s about those who “have shared in the Holy Spirit.” And it’s not talking about a weak moment of sin for which you can repent. No, this verse says it’s impossible to restore again to repentance because it would require the crucifixion of Christ all over again. The only possible conclusion to all these verses is that everyone is saved already, but that you can forfeit your salvation. In other words, God has saved everybody. Everyone can be resurrected from that grave, which is salvation. But everybody must eventually mature in Christ to overcome all our sinful habits before we can receive eternal life. Eventually, everyone will hear Christ’s voice be drawn to Christ by the Holy Spirit. But some will reject Christ’s salvation and lose it.
Salvation is not a one-time decision. Salvation is a journey that everybody is on. But at some point in that journey, you will hear God’s voice. Those whose hearts are hardened and are unwilling to change will eventually reject God’s voice and will lose their salvation. But death is not the end of this journey. The final great white throne judgment is not until a thousand years after the resurrection of both the just and the unjust.
The Messianic reign of Christ is a climatic and necessary part of God’s plan. And without it, one’s understanding of Scripture becomes vastly distorted. But once we place the New Testament Church in the role of Old Testament Israel, it all comes together. All the problems of Scripture are solved. No verse of Scripture is difficult to understand. No verse of Scripture requires elaborate explanations.
There are many systems of interpretation out there. Everybody believes their system of interpretation is true because they have explanations for every verse. But what most people don’t realize is that every other system out there has explanations for every verse. For example, even Jehovah Witnesses have explanations for every difficult verse that their system encounters. Christians read Hebrews 6:4-6, for example, and find the verse is difficult to understand. It doesn’t exactly fit what they believe. But they take comfort in knowing that somebody has some elaborate explanation for this verse and for every other difficult verse in the Bible. So when some new system comes along that offers explanations for some difficult verses, they just assume there must be other verses that would be difficult for the system.
The New Wine System, however, is different. When we simply apply Old Testament Jewish eschatology to the New Testament Church, in a literal way, everything in Scripture all of a sudden makes perfect sense without elaborate explanations. With the New Wine System, no verse of Scripture is difficult to understand or requires elaborate explanations.
The only thing that holds people back is tradition. We believe in election because of tradition. Or we believe that inheriting the kingdom is the same as salvation because of tradition. Catholics believe in purgatory because of tradition. And most conservative Christians believe that those who die, having never heard about Christ, are eternally punished in hell because of tradition.
Jesus said, “I am the way (road), the truth, and the life. No man comes (journeys) to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). The ancient Jew would not read this verse and conclude that those who die having never heard would be condemned. Both the just and the unjust await the resurrection in Hades (the grave) when they die. But the Greek has the tradition that you go to heaven or hell when you die. So the Greek reads this verse and concludes that if you die without Christ, you automatically go to hell.
Jewish eschatology provides Scriptural evidence that children who die young do not go to hell.
Under the old Catholic system, infants were assured of salvation through infant baptism. Salvation, however, is seen by the Catholics as a journey towards holiness and sainthood. If one does not complete their journey to become a saint (holy one) before they die, they have to spend some time in Purgatory before eventually going to heaven. So baptism was seen as the start of this journey. This gave parents some assurance if their infant or child were to die. (Infant mortality happened much more often back then.)
Under the Protestant Reformation, however, Purgatory was eliminated. Salvation became much more of a decision of faith for Christ than a journey. (Many Protestants still see salvation as a journey which begins with a decision for Christ.) So the question of infant mortality had to be addressed. It was simply assumed that God would not send infants or young children to hell. Many Protestant Christians are surprised to learn that there is no Scripture to argue an age of accountability for children.
The Wikipedia Encyclopedia defines sola scriptura as follows:
Sola scriptura (Latin ablative, "by scripture alone") is the doctrine that the Bible contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness. Consequently, sola scriptura demands that only those doctrines are to be admitted or confessed that are found directly within or indirectly by using valid logical deduction or valid deductive reasoning from scripture. However, sola scriptura is not a denial of other authorities governing Christian life and devotion. Rather, it simply demands that all other authorities are subordinate to, and are to be corrected by, the written word of God. Sola scriptura was a foundational doctrinal principle of the Protestant Reformation held by the Reformers and is a formal principle of Protestantism today.
Purgatory was eliminated with sola-scriptura argument that it's not in Scripture. But then the age of accountability for children was added that is also not in Scripture.
It's simply assumed that young children have this form of salvation that does not require a decision of faith for Christ. They are too young to understand. So it's assumed that until they are old enough to understand, if they were to die, they would go to heaven.
But as some point in a child's life they become old enough to understand. At that point, if they were to die, they would go to hell. It's never stated this way, but effectively they lose their salvation until they actually do make a decision of faith for Christ. Of course this view is totally from the perspective of salvation being a past-tense decision of faith for Christ.
Under the New Wine System, everyone is on the journey of salvation. This journey begins at physical birth because Christ died for everyone. Everyone is on the path of salvation, even if they do not yet have faith in Christ. Obviously this includes infants and young children. In other words, the New Wine System does not require an exception to the rule for infants and young children. Young children who die will simply be resurrected in the millennium along with everyone else who have not rejected Christ's salvation.
The New Wine System provides Scriptural evidence for the purpose of Christ's Messianic reign. The millennium is the climax of God's plan for all generations.
Every premillennial system tends to require three types of people. (1) The wicked are not resurrected when Christ returns. (2) The Bride attends the wedding banquet at the start of the millennium. (3) Any form of premillennialism tends to require a third group who are alive during the millennium, and yet are not a part of the Bride at the wedding banquet. Even the dispensational system has three types of people during the millennium. They have the Church, Israel, and the wicked that are not resurrected until after the millennium.
The traditional interpretation of the New Testament, on the other hand, believes there are two types of people. That's because during the vast majority of Church history, most theologians were amillennial. They did not believe in a future earthly reign of Christ when he returns. This was true for both Catholics and Protestants. Luther and Calvin were amillennial. Therefore, the traditional interpretations of the New Testament were developed from an amillennial perspective. The New Testament is traditionally interpreted in terms of only the saved and the unsaved. There is no middle ground.
Dispensationalism sticks with just saved and the unsaved during any given age, or dispensation. Dispensationalists believe everyone who is saved in all prior dispensations go to heaven and will never again live on the earth. This tends to remove all purposes for the millennium, and puts one on the path towards amillennialism. The only real stated purpose for the millennium, according to dispensationalists, is to fulfill Old Testament prophecy for the Jews. It’s very anticlimactic, especially in light of the fact that Jesus Christ Himself is literally ruling during that time.
New Wine premillennialism, on the other hand, is very climatic. It’s a time when people of all generations have the opportunity to be led to righteousness while living under the reign of Jesus Christ Himself. With New Wine premillennialism, the Messianic reign of Christ is a time when the vast majority of all people who will be saved, from all generations, will complete their journey of salvation to holiness. It’s not just a literal fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. It gives purpose to that prophecy. It gives a glorious purpose to Christ's Messianic Reign.
Revelation 2:26 He who overcomes, and he who keeps my works to the end, to him I will give authority over the nations.
Daniel 12:2-3 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) Those who are wise shall shine as the brightness of the expanse; and those who turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever.
The New Wine System does not take the traditional interpretation of the New Testament. It can be easily argued that there are three types of people in New Testament Scripture. There are those who will inherit eternal life in the age to come. There are those who are wicked and will be condemned to punishment. They will not be resurrected when Christ returns. And then there are those who are in the middle, for whom eternity has not been decided. Now, if these conditions remain through death and the resurrection, then these three types of people are also present during the millennium. This is New Wine premillennialism.
New Wine is a parable about new thinking. We need to put off Greek traditions and start considering what it means to inherit the kingdom from a Jewish perspective. We need to put off Greek traditions and consider new thinking, which is really old thinking. We need to seriously consider ignoring our traditions and seriously consider the New Wine System with an open mind and a true desire to know God’s heart and truth.
Mark 2:22 No one puts new wine into old wineskins, or else the new wine will burst the skins, and the wine pours out, and the skins will be destroyed; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins."