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Romans Under New Light
Common Objections and Christ’s
Any system of interpretation that is significantly different from that which one adheres to will naturally bring objections. It’s often automatically assumed that anything different is some kind of cult. People have assumed the New Wine System is cult-like. For example, they sometimes assume this is Christian Universalism because I make use of certain verses. People are so used to difficult verses in Scripture that any possible use of those verses is automatically viewed with suspicion.
Others have objected to the claim that anyone could have a system of interpretation that solves all of these difficulties. One pastor told me the word “solves” is too strong a word. He even found that word objectionable. A lack of harmony in Scripture itself has become so comfortable and expected among theologians that any suggestion of a solution to all the problems using one system of interpretation itself becomes objectionable. But if Scripture really is the inspired word of God, one would expect there to be a very clear harmony in Scripture.
People tend to learn complex arguments for every difficult verse of Scripture within their system of interpretation. They tend to believe that since they have complex explanations for every verse, their system of interpretation is the closest to being the truth. They often forget that there are many systems of interpretation out there, and every single one has complex arguments for every single difficult verse. It’s very easy to see problems with another system of interpretation and forget about all the problems with one’s own system.
In my opinion, the New Wine System really does harmonize Scripture. Under this system there are no difficult verses requiring complex explanations. But even that claim becomes objectionable. This chapter addresses many of the common objections to the New Wine System.
Some object by saying God would not have allowed the Church to be wrong. Of course this opinion comes from the notion that one’s own denomination or system of interpretation is correct and everyone else’s is wrong. The Protestants must be correct and the Catholics must be wrong because God would not let the Protestants be wrong. But shouldn’t God likewise not allow the Catholics to have been wrong before the Protestant Reformation? Of course this line of thinking is usually not reasoned out to even this extent. It’s usually an emotional reaction to hearing something different.
Martin Luther faced a very similar problem. The Catholic Church, at that time, believed that salvation is not possible outside the Catholic Church. Those who grew up in the Catholic Church might have had difficulties in believing that Martin Luther was correct and the entire Catholic Church was incorrect.
The teachings of the Catholic Church were based on tradition as well as Scripture. The Catholic Church has had many centuries of tradition which for them determines doctrine on the same level as Scripture itself. One of the mottos of the Reformation was Sola Scriptura, meaning that we should use Scripture alone in our determination of doctrine. The Protestant of today would have to say God allowed Catholics to be doctrinally mistaken.
The New Wine System is a plan of salvation that relies heavily on the millennial reign of Christ. But at the time of Luther and Calvin, the Church was predominately amillennial or postmillennial. Millennialism was considered to be a superstition at best. Protestants persecuted and killed Anabaptists primarily for their belief in water baptism and millennialism. One could argue that the Anabaptists were much more Sola Scriptura than the mainstream Protestants. And yet they were persecuted and killed for their beliefs.
Calvin’s first publication was a paper arguing against the supposed Anabaptist belief in soul-sleep. (It’s unclear if Anabaptists actually held this belief.) Thus, during the time of Luther and Calvin, the belief in the earthly reign of Christ, and the idea that the dead have only the resurrection for any hope of an afterlife, were considered to be very cult-like. Yet these beliefs are clearly taught in the Old Testament.
The Reformation began when Luther started to preach against the practice of indulgences. These are tied closely to purgatory. At first Luther kept his belief in purgatory. The emphasis of the Reformation is salvation by grace, which allows for salvation outside the Catholic Church. But eventually Luther stopped believing in purgatory.
But to do so, salvation had to lean towards a one-time decision with strong ties to an election of those who will be saved. That’s because if salvation is a journey one has to consider what happens to those who don’t complete their journey. For the Catholics, those who are not entirely sanctified spend time in purgatory. The Catholic saints go straight to heaven without spending time in purgatory. Thus, most people wind up in purgatory.
With millennialism and soul-sleep far removed from consideration, Luther would have never considered the millennium as a free-grace alternative to purgatory. So Luther was simply not able to consider what I call the New Wine System. It was only after dispensationalism emerged around 1830 that millennialism became more mainstream in Christian theology.
The other obstacle to the New Wine System is soul-sleep. The idea that the dead are asleep and await the resurrection is clearly taught in the Old Testament. But even today, soul-sleep is often associated with cults. Jehovah’s Witnesses teach a thing called soul-annihilation, which is to say the soul is destroyed at death and might never be re-created. This belief says there is no literal punishment in hell, even after the thousand-year reign of Christ. Soul-sleep is often confused with a denial of punishment for the wicked.
Is Christ going to return and tell us which system is correct? Is he going to say this group is right and everyone else is wrong? Is he going to say Protestants are right and Catholics are wrong? Or is it more likely that Christ will return and say everyone is wrong? But everyone has many truths. After all, we are all reading the same Bible. Could it be that the truth hides in the middle?
Some have objected to the New Wine System saying that God would not allow people a second chance to be saved after the resurrection. But what about those who die have never even heard about Christ? Shouldn’t they get a first chance? Or what about people who have heard the gospel but they didn’t really understand? There are often cultural barriers that prevent one from really wanting to learn about Christ. Does the Father give up on them?
But it is fair to point out that if people knew they could wait until after the resurrection they might choose to remain in their sins. Perhaps God has withheld the true understanding of his plan of salvation, until this end-time generation, for this very reason.
Paul refers to the “mystery of God.” For example, it was a mystery of God that Gentile believers would be grafted into Israel (Romans 11:33). This is not to say that all Gentiles were thought to be condemned to hell. There was a Jewish teaching of the righteous Gentile. But it was not believed that Gentiles would become a part of Israel.
Ephesians 2:11-12 Therefore remember that once you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called "uncircumcision" by that which is called "circumcision," (in the flesh, made by hands); (12) that you were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
Ephesians 3:1-7 For this cause I, Paul, am the prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles, (2) if it is so that you have heard of the administration of that grace of God which was given me toward you; (3) how that by revelation the mystery was made known to me, as I wrote before in few words, (4) by which, when you read, you can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ; (5) which in other generations was not made known to the children of men, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; (6) that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of his promise in Christ Jesus through the Good News, (7) of which I was made a servant, according to the gift of that [work] of God which was given me according to the working of his power.
I believe aspects of God’s mystery have been with us all along. But God has withheld the full understanding of this mystery until the end-times generation.
Most generations, both Old Testament and New Testament, have had to wait on the Messiah for their entire lives. If those generations had truly understood this mystery, many would have been tempted to continue sinning throughout their lives, figuring they could change after the resurrection. So God withheld much of this revelation until the time of the end.
If I am right, that this mystery was withheld until this time, then I think that for the most part it’s even being withheld right up to the appearance of Christ and the start of the seven-year time of tribulation. During the second half of those seven years, many people will be forced to either take the mark of the beast or lose their lives.
At this point in time, for the generation that lives through the seven-year tribulation, the idea of repenting after the resurrection would not work. If they take the mark of the beast, they would be publicly denying Christ. They would become enemies of Christ and would not be resurrected. Those who take the mark of the beast will be blotted from the Book of Life. They will “come to life” at the end of the thousand years to be judged and thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:5a, 20:7-15).
Many Christians, especially people with Baptist or Reformed backgrounds, are very adamant in their belief that you can’t completely overcome sin. Some will say you can’t go for an hour, or even ten minutes, without sinning. You can point to Scripture, but it rarely changes their view.
1 John 3:4-6 Everyone who sins also commits lawlessness. Sin is lawlessness. (5) You know that he was revealed to take away our sins, and in him is no sin. (6) Whoever remains in him doesn't sin. Whoever sins hasn't seen him, neither knows him.
1 John 5:17a-18 All unrighteousness is sin, … (18) We know that whoever is born of God doesn't sin, but he who was born of God keeps himself, and the evil one doesn't touch him.
Some will argue there are two types of sins. Some sins can be overcome and other sins cannot be completely overcome. But John doesn’t seem to be making this distinction when he says, “All unrighteousness is sin. … We know that whoever is born of God doesn’t sin.”
Of course this does not mean that all believers never sin. John tells us why he is writing this letter.
1 John 2:1-2 My little children, I write these things to you so that you may not sin. If anyone sins, we have a Counselor with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous. (2) And he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world.
Notice that John says Christ is the “atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for our sins only, but also for the whole world.” In other words, all sins have been atoned for in the entire world. This includes believers and unbelievers alike.
When sins are expressed as habits, then most Christians tend to agree that you can overcome sinful habits. But since they have a presupposition that you can’t stop sinning, they tend to believe that mistakes, or even one’s very existence, is sinful. We have bodies of flesh and flesh is sinful. Perhaps this goes back to old Gnostic thinking. Bottom line is that sin is often defined in terms that make it impossible to overcome. The truth, however, is that all sins are habitual. And all sinful habits can be overcome by living for Christ.
Sinful habits include habits of the mind, such as lust, uncontrolled anger, hatred, and covetousness. Love can overcome all these habits of the mind. Sinful habits that are acted out usually come about as a result of sinful habits of the mind. That’s why Paul says the greatest of all the spiritual gifts is love, and that without love none of the other spiritual gifts are of any value.
There are two metaphors that were used by Jesus about the overcoming of sin. We are to be in the light, and we are to be clean. You are either in the light or you are in darkness. There is no gray area. You are either clean or you are unclean. There is no partial cleanliness. So you have either overcome all your sinful habits and Christ is in control of your life. Or, you still have sinful habits that are in control of your life. There is no middle ground. You cannot serve two masters.
Let’s look at it another way. Suppose everyone could read your mind. And you could read every thought of everyone else. Would you welcome this power? Or do you have thoughts you prefer would remain secret? If you have a habit of lust, you might not want your spouse or family to know about it. If you have uncontrolled anger, you might want to hide your anger. If you have thoughts of covetousness, you might want to hide that as well. Sinful habits are things that you wish to remain hidden.
What is heaven like? Do the angels have secrets to hide? Or do they know each other’s thoughts? Jesus knew the thoughts and secrets of the Samaritan woman at the well. We must overcome all our sinful habits to the point where it would be a joy to live in a community where our family, friends, and acquaintances can all hear our every thought. This is living in the light. This is living in pure love. If you have thoughts which must be hidden then you are living in darkness and you are not ready for the community of heaven. There is no middle ground.
1 John 1:5-10 This is the message which we have heard from him and announce to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (6) If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness, we lie, and don't tell the truth. (7) But if we walk in the light , as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. (8) If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (10) If we say that we haven't sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Verse 8 of this chapter is often taken out of context and used to say that you can’t overcome sin. As a matter of fact, this verse seems to be the poster-child of those who say you can’t overcome sin. The context of these verses says that God is in the light and we are expected to be in the light just as God is in the light. John’s expectation of our lack of sinful habits is being compared with God’s lack of sinful habits. It’s very much like Matthew 5:48 where Jesus tells us to be perfect just as the Father is perfect. There is no gray area.
The context of this verse is also about those who would say they haven’t sinned. Verse 8 is saying the same thing. If we have never sinned, then we have no sin, and deceive ourselves. Let’s drill down a bit more on verse 8.
1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
In English, the adjective “no” modifies the noun “sin.” We read the phrase “no sin” as saying sin doesn’t exist. But in the Greek, the word for “no” is an adverb. Adverbs modify verbs and not nouns. It modifies the Greek verb meaning “to have” or “to hold” and not the noun for “sin.” The phrase should be we “don’t have sin” or “don’t hold sin.” A better translation of this verse would be:
1 John 1:8 If we say that we [don’t hold sin], we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we have sinned in the past, we hold that sin until it’s forgiven and removed. If we say we don’t hold sin, and thus we don’t need to be forgiven, then we deceive ourselves. Translated this way, it winds up fitting right in with the context of verse 10 and the rest of the letter. John is not saying that we can’t overcome sin.
But even knowing all this, there can be strongholds of sin that always seem to creep back into one’s life. What does Scripture teach about how to completely overcome all our sinful habits?
We become perfect by doing the works the Father has given us to do. As we do the good works the Father has prepared for us, we are filled with the Holy Spirit to help us do the works. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we cannot sin, because God is in us and God cannot sin. But if we give into temptation, the Holy Spirit backs off.
But because of Christ’s blood, after Pentecost, the Holy Spirit became available to all who would repent and ask. We can continually become filled with the Holy Spirit again and again, so that when we are filled, we can’t sin. Over time, we learn to be filled with the Holy Spirit all the time. We become perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect.
The gospel of the kingdom is that sin can be overcome through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But if we believe that we don’t have to overcome sin in order to reconcile ourselves back to God, then sin will continue to win. We must become desperate for God.
In the final sections of this chapter, we will break this down more. What does it mean to take up our cross and follow Christ? What did Jesus mean when he asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” How do we become desperate to love Christ? How does this love bring us into Christian perfection? How do we know we are doing the works of the Father? What does it mean to hear Christ’s voice?
Some people object to Christian perfection saying that even Peter sinned after being a disciple of Christ. But Jesus even said to Peter that he and the other disciples (except for one) are clean. Let’s take another look at that story.
During the Lord’s Supper on 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 his 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!"
Here we see that Jesus tells Peter that he is clean. As we will see, this means Peter is no longer sinning. His sinful habits have been broken thanks to being a disciple of Christ. But when put to the test for his own life, we find out that Peter still has something that he lacks.
John 13:10-11 Jesus said to him, "Someone who has bathed only needs to have his feet washed, but is completely clean. You are clean, but not all of you." (11) For he knew him who would betray him, therefore he said, "You are not all clean."
In washing of the disciple’s feet, Jesus was teaching Peter and the other disciples a lesson that they would not understand until after the 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 to be 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, as a free gift. But then there is the possibility of a second death (Revelation 20:6, 20:14, 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 (Revelation 2:11). Jesus told his disciples, who already believed in him, to seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Matthew 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 (Matthew 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. You could say that both faith and love without works are dead. 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. Peter was not ready for Christ to return.
Likewise, we are not ready for Christ to return until we love Christ enough to die for him instead of denying him. This is the mark of the beast test that is coming soon.
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 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 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 this 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 that in the future 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.
John 1:1-2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) The same was in the beginning with God.
Some theologians believe John is making use of the Greek doctrine of Logos (which means Word). The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said the word is a universal force of reason which controls the universe. He said “all things happen according to this Logos” (Hippolytus, Refutation of all Heresies, IX, 9, 1). At the start of the first century, Philo was a Jew who tried to interpret the Old Testament in light of Greek thinking. He compared God’s creation to the building of a great city and made use of the Greek “Logos of God” (On the Creation, 24).
Of course John is saying that the Logos is Jesus Christ. The other gospels tell us about Christ’s sheep. But the gospel of John is the only gospel with accounts of sheep who hear Christ’s voice (John 10). The sheep hear the Word, or Logos of Jesus Christ. Interwoven into this parable, about the sheep hearing Christ’s voice, is the fact that the shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.
As we will learn about in the next chapter of this book, John tells us what Jesus said about the resurrection, where the dead hear Christ’s voice and come out of their tombs (John 5:28-29). It would seem that John is purposefully connecting the dots for us and helping us to understand about the Logos of God, which is Christ’s voice.
A major point of this book has been that Christ laid down his life for everyone and not just for believers. This parable of the sheep (below) caused a division among the Jews (John 10:19). The ones who were against Christ said he had a demon (verse 21). This is very much like Matthew 12 where the miracles of the Holy Spirit were said to be the work of Beelzebub (Matthew 12:24). This sin will not be forgiven (Matthew 12:31-32). Back in John 10, Jesus tells those who were against Christ they are not his sheep. Everyone will eventually mature in Christ to receive eternal life or they will become his enemy and no longer be his sheep. They will no longer hear his voice.
John 10:25-30 Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you don't believe. The works that I do in my Father's name, these testify about me. (26) But you don't believe, because you are not of my sheep, as I told you. (27) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (28) I give eternal life to them. They will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. (29) My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of my Father's hand. (30) I and the Father are one."
Psalms 46:10 "Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth."
Every day we should take some time to be still before the Lord. Allow God to speak. Learn God’s will for your life. And obey God’s commands. Learn to walk with God.
Genesis 5:22-24 ESV Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. (23) Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. (24) Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.
Genesis 6:9 ESV These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.
1 John 1:7 ESV But if we walk in the light , as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
1 John 2:6 ESV whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
Enoch walked with God and became righteous. He was taken (like the rapture) and never died. Noah walked with God and became righteous. He became blameless in his generation. To walk with God is more than just hearing God’s voice. It’s also doing God’s work. Noah built the ark, nowhere near water, because God told him to do so.
Spend the time each day to hear Christ’s voice. When you pray, don’t just spend the time talking to God. Spend much of the time in silence. Generally speaking, this does not mean you will hear actual words. God places thoughts in your mind that you often realize are not your own. Ask to know God’s will. Seek his wisdom and understanding. Be open to knowing what God would have you do.
And most importantly, your walk with God must be in righteousness. Ask God to help you in overcoming any sinful habits. Turn your life over to working for Christ.
Matthew 7:21-23 Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (22) Many will tell me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, didn't we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?' (23) Then I will tell them, 'I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.'
These people will include pastors and teachers who really believed they were doing the works of the Father. Christ will say to them “I never knew you. Depart from me.” Does this mean they go to hell? No, it simply means they will live with the nations and not in the coming New Jerusalem. They will not live in the Father’s house where there are many rooms.
Is your work for the Lord bringing holiness into your own life? Have you overcome all your sinful habits? Does your work for the Lord bring holiness to others? Do you preach against sin? Do you lead others to righteousness? If not, you may unknowingly be a wolf in sheep clothing. In the verses just prior to the “Lord, Lord” verses, we read:
Matthew 7:15-20 "Beware of false prophets , who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves . (16) By their fruits you will know them . Do you gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? (17) Even so, every good tree produces good fruit; but the corrupt tree produces evil fruit. (18) A good tree can't produce evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree produce good fruit. (19) Every tree that doesn't grow good fruit is cut down, and thrown into the fire. (20) Therefore, by their fruits you will know them.
Good fruit in this context must be holiness. If a pastor or teacher’s work for the Father is not bringing holiness in those they pastor and teach, then they may unknowingly be false prophets. The pastor or teacher must themselves overcome all the sinful habits in their own lives before they can be effective in teaching righteousness to others. Before these verses about wolves in sheep clothing we read:
Matthew 7:12-14 Therefore whatever you desire for men to do to you, you shall also do to them; for this is the law and the prophets. (13) "Enter in by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter in by it. (14) How narrow is the gate, and restricted is the way that leads to life! Few are those who find it.
The narrow gate is the gate of righteousness. It’s the gate of overcoming all the sinful habits in one’s life. Few find this gate.
The wide gate leads to destruction. But we are not talking about going to hell. The context of the Sermon on the Mount is that of righteousness. It’s about storing your treasures in heaven by doing the works of the Father. It’s about being hungry for righteousness. It’s about “being perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect.”
It’s about building your house on the rock. The foolish build their houses on the sand. The destruction of the houses does not mean you go to hell. It means you have spent your time and energy in building up possessions in this age instead of trusting that God will provide for your needs as God provides for the lilies of the field. The foolish don’t go to hell. They will live in the nations instead of in the New Jerusalem.
The wide gate leads to destruction of the property and possessions that are gained in this age because you are not finding the narrow gate of holiness that leads to eternal life. The foolish go through the wide gate. The wise go through the narrow gate of righteousness.
There is a parable about the wise and the foolish, where Jesus also said “I never knew you.”
Matthew 25:1-12 "Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went out to meet the bridegroom. (2) Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. (3) Those who were foolish, when they took their lamps, took no oil with them, (4) but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. (5) Now while the bridegroom delayed, they all slumbered and slept. (6) But at midnight there was a cry, 'Behold! The bridegroom is coming! Come out to meet him!' (7) Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. (8) The foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' (9) But the wise answered, saying, 'What if there isn't enough for us and you? You go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.' (10) While they went away to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. (11) Afterward the other virgins also came, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us.' (12) But he answered, 'Most certainly I tell you, I don't know you.'
After the parable of the wise or wicked servant, Jesus tells us the parable of the ten virgins. The five virgins are wise and five are foolish. Notice that the foolish are not wicked. They are simply foolish. All ten wait for the bridegroom. All ten are asleep when the bridegroom arrives. But only the wise are “ready” to enter the wedding banquet. From the overall context of Matthew 24-25, to be "ready" means you are mature in Christ. The wise walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:9), and are able to enter the wedding banquet with their glorified bodies. The wise have an [agape] love for Christ. Only the wise are gathered into the clouds, at the rapture after the tribulation.
Traditionally, this parable has been associated with going to heaven or hell when you die. Many believe that only the wise virgins are saved. But in order to make this case, one would have to show why salvation is determined by the amount of oil that one has. The amount of oil is the only difference mentioned between the wise and the foolish. It’s not a matter of being asleep when Christ returns. Both groups are asleep when the bridegroom comes. The foolish have some oil, because their lamps are burning. But they do not have enough oil. The question then is, what does the oil represent? How much is needed?
If one believes the parable is about going to heaven or hell when you die, and if the oil represents faith in Christ, then one would have to ask how much faith is required for salvation. Again, the foolish have oil, but not enough. If the oil represents works, then those who believe the parable is about salvation would have to say that salvation is by works. The parable simply does not fit our doctrine of salvation by grace and through faith.
Or, one might believe the oil is holiness. Again, how much holiness is required for salvation? How much oil is needed for salvation? No matter how you interpret the oil, it must be something that comes in various quantities or amounts. If salvation is a free gift, the amount of oil that one possesses cannot be a measure of whether or not one will go to heaven or hell when they die.
The better approach is to realize that the parable is not about whether or not we will be resurrected (saved from death). The parable is only about getting into the wedding banquet. The oil is the Holy Spirit. We are the light of the world. The oil of the Holy Spirit lights our lamps. As we do the works our Father gives us, we are filled more and more with the oil of the Holy Spirit, so that our light can shine. We need the Holy Spirit in order to do the Father’s works. Otherwise, we are simply doing our own works. Doing the Father’s works brings us a deeper filling of the Holy Spirit, which brings about holiness.
Those who make a continual practice of doing the Father’s works are the elect. They are the saints. Those who are caught up in our day-to-day activities, required of us by the world we live in, are the foolish virgins. They will be saved because they believe in Christ to save them. And they do some works, and receive some of the oil of the Holy Spirit. But when Christ returns, they will not have enough. This oil is something the foolish will not be able to ask the wise to give them. It’s not that their works are payment for getting into the wedding banquet. It’s that the works produce holiness in us because we get filled with the Holy Spirit. We must be “completely sanctified” (1 Thess. 3:13, 5:23) when Christ returns in order to get into the wedding banquet.
Salvation is a free gift. But to inherit the kingdom requires a lot of work. A lot of oil is required to inherit the kingdom. That’s why in the parable, the wise say the foolish must go to the market to buy more oil. No, we can’t literally buy the Holy Spirit with money. We can’t buy holiness with money. And we certainly can’t buy salvation.
But we can do works of holiness. Just as we work for money, we work to get close to the Father. These must be works that we do out of joy, because we love the Father and we love our neighbors.
Jesus tells the foolish, "I don't know you. Watch therefore, for you don't know the day nor the [time]" (Matthew 25:12-13 ESV). This is not to say they go to hell. That’s simply an assumption that has been made out of the belief that death is the end of the journey, sealing his or her fate for all of eternity. For Christ to say, “I never knew you,” is simply to say you have not developed a discipleship relationship with Christ, to become like Christ. He knows us as we get to know Him.
Jesus taught initially with the Sermon on the Mount. Later, he taught in parables. He was consistent in his use of the terms: the wise, the foolish, and the wicked. Paul and the other disciples didn’t continue with the use of these three terms. But during the preaching of Jesus, the kingdom of heaven was at hand. If Israel had accepted the Messiah, the earthly kingdom would have been established at that time. Jesus placed emphasis on holiness and what it takes to enter the kingdom of heaven. The Messiah (King) of Israel needs a holy firstfruits nation to reign with him in order to bring righteousness to the rest of the nations.
Later, after the ascension, the kingdom of heaven was no longer at hand. He had to wait until the gospel spread throughout the nations so that some of the Gentiles could be grafted into Israel. When the Messiah returns, Israel will rule the nations and righteousness will be taught to the nations as a result of that rule. Thus, the emphasis of Paul’s message was more on missions and building the Church, which is Israel. (We don’t replace Israel. We are grafted into Israel, whose purpose has not changed.)
In preaching holiness, Jesus consistently spoke of the wise as being those who overcome sin through a Lordship and discipleship relationship with Christ. The foolish are those who believe, but the worries of the world take their focus off of Christ. They build their houses on the sands of this world. Christ tells them, “I never knew you.” However, they will still be saved, as in resurrected, to live in the nations. The wicked are those who become enemies of Christ and lose their reconciliation. They will not be resurrected. But at the end of the millennial reign, their souls will “come to life” and be cast into the lake of fire for the torment and the destruction of their souls.
This is understood once we realize that salvation is a journey, which must be completed, but that can extend through death and the resurrection into the age to come. When Protestants view salvation as a decision, the gospel of Jesus and the gospel of Paul seem to be out sync. When salvation is viewed as a journey which must be completed, the gospels of Jesus and Paul are in complete harmony.
Protestants who view salvation as more of a decision have had a strong debate about whether the visible fruit of the Spirit is required for salvation. Lordship salvation advocates have said that some fruit of the Spirit is required. Free-grace advocates have said that there will be some fruit, but that it may not be noticeable. Compare this debate with what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount.
Matthew 5:20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, there is no way you will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Jesus goes on to say anger is murder and lust is adultery. Jesus concludes in verse 48 saying, “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
The scribes and Pharisees seemed to be completely holy on the outside, but had thought-lives that were not holy on the inside. Their cups were clean on the outside but not on the inside. How does this compare with the position of Lordship salvation advocates who say you need have a least some evidence of holiness on the outside? The problem is that Jesus was not talking about salvation. He was talking about entering the kingdom. To understand Jesus, you have to understand the difference between the wise, the foolish, and the wicked. He was consistent in the use of these terms.