Tuesday, December 24, 2019

IS IT POSSIBLE TO KNOW WHEN JESUS IS COMING BACK?

Mt 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

Notice Matthew 24

32-44: Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is nigh: So likewise you, when you shall see all these things, know that he is near, even at the doors. Truly
I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away..... OF THAT DAY AND HOUR KNOWS NO MAN, NO, NOT THE ANGELS IN HEAVEN, BUT MY FATHER ONLY.

But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. WATCH THEREFORE: FOR YOU KNOW NOT WHAT HOUR YOUR LORD DOES COME.

But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore BE YOU ALSO READY: FOR IN SUCH AN HOUR AS YOU THINK NOT THE SON OF MAN COMES.

We know that a day with Yehovah is as a thousand years:

2 Peter 3:8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with Yehovah as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

Our God has given to man 6,000 years to come back to him and learn to live according to His righteousness, seeking to have a place in the coming new age, the thousand year rule which constitutes the rulership of Jesus over the earth establishing the kingdom of God at that time.

So we have 6,000 years given to man and 1,000 years given to His son to establish His righteous government over all the nation at that time.

Now from Adam to Abraham we have 2000 years, from Abraham to the death of Jesus we have 2,000 years and if you add 2,000 years to the death of Jesus who died when he was 33 and was born 2/3 B.C, then he died about 29/31 A.D. So we may not know the day or the hour, but we can come very close to calculating the year! We probably have only 9-11 years left until Jesus return to set up the kingdom of God on this earth seated on the throne of David at Zion/Jerusalem. All those that are resurrected at his coming will be glorified immortal men/women who will co-rule and co-inherit all things with the lord Jesus God's anointed one - the Messiah of Israel.
Time is very short. I am now 78, so if I live until his return I will probably be 87-89. So I don't have a lot of time left to witness to others about the soon coming kingdom of God! How about all of you! The harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few, ask Yehovah to send more laborers out into the harvest!

EAGLES WINGS

Exodus 19:3-6: And Moses went up unto God, and Yehovah called unto him out of the mountain, saying, thus shalt you say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; you have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and [how] I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if you will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then you shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth [is] mine: and you shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These [are] the words which you [Moses] shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

This unequally owned "treasured possession" was destined to be a royal priesthood composed of the entire congregation of Israel Israel the first born of the nations, was given the status of sonship delivered from Egypt [a type of being in bondage to sin], and made ministers on behalf of themselves and to bare witness of Yehovah to the nations as His priests.

This speaks loudly to all of us who are members of the body of the lord Jesus - the called-out assembly and have been grafted into the true Israel of Yehovah as His sons.

Yehovah says: I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.

Notice: Isaiah 40:31: But they that wait upon Yehovah shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint.

We who are members of the household of Yehovah as His sons and members of the called-out assembly - the body of the lord Jesus have been as it were raised up with wings as eagles, to run and not be weary, and to walk and not faint. To be able to carry out our responsibility as priests - ministers on behalf of ourselves and to bare witness of Yehovah to the nations about the coming kingdom of Yehovah, the message He gave to His son Jesus to witness to the nations.

Notice: 1 Peter 2:9: But you [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

So we are now to carry out our responsibility in our position as priest as members of the holy nation Israel. This involves bearing witness to those within the body of the lord Jesus and those who are without, to all the nations.

This priestly duty involves bringing the message of the good news of the coming kingdom of Yehovah, and in doing so to bring to all who hear a healing ministry, a life giving ministry directed towards all our neighbors. This is loving our neighbors as ourselves.

This is our mission that we were raised up on eagles wing to do; drawn by the spirit of the living God Yehovah to believe and trust in Him and be filled with the fullness of His presence enabling us to do what He has made us ministers - priests to do.

May we all completely carry out the mission Yehovah has give us in total commitment to loving Him with all our being and the strength He give to us abundantly.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

WHAT DID JESUS MEAN WHEN HE SAID 'I AM'?


When Jesus said "I AM" he was referring to the fact that he was the Messiah, which the leaders of Israel would not accept and tried to trump up any excuse to trip him up in what he said or to interpret what he said in such a way to bring a charge against him. In no way was he saying he was YHVH = Yehovah, for indeed if he had said that plainly, in front of them, they would definitely stoned him on the spot [example Stephan]. Jesus said of himself: Revelation 1:18: I am he that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. John 19:21 THEN SAID THE CHIEF PRIESTS OF THE JEWS TO PILATE, WRITE NOT, THE KING OF THE JEWS; but that HE SAID, I AM KING OF THE JEWS. John 18:37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Are you a king then? Jesus answered, you say that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth hears my voice. John 18:5-6: .... Jesus saith unto them, I AM HE. and Judas also, who betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I AM HE (the Messiah), they went backward, and fell to the ground........ Jesus answered, I have told you that I AM HE (the Messiah): if therefore you seek me, let these go their way: John 15:1I AM the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman....... I AM the vine, you are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing. John 14:6 Jesus says unto him, I AM the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me. John 14:10-11: Believe you not that I AM in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwells in me, HE does the works. Believe me that I AM in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake. John 14:20 At that day ye shall know that I AM in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. John 13:19: Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, you may believe that I AM HE [the Messiah] John 10:36: Say you of him, whom the Father has sanctified - set apart, and sent into the world, you blaspheme; because I said, I AM THE SON OF GOD? - if the Jews here thought he was saying he was Yehovah they would have stoned him on the spot. John 8:28: Then said Jesus unto them, When you have lifted up the son of man, then shall you know that I AM HE, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father has taught me, I speak these things. - it is obvious here he is not calling himself Yehovah when he says I am he... John 8:18: I AM one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me bears witness of me. John 7:33 : Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while I AM with you, and then I go unto Him that sent me. John 5:43: I AM COME IN MY FATHER'S NAME - as THAT PROPHET mentioned by Moses, and you receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him you will receive. John 4:25-26: The woman said unto him, I know that Messiah comes, who is called Christ - the anointed one - the Messiah: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus said unto her, I that speak unto you AM HE. Notice what John the baptist says about himself and Jesus: John 3:28: You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ - the Messiah, but that I am sent before him. Luke 22:70-71Then said they all, Are you then the Son of God? And he said unto them, You say that I AM. And they said, What need we any further witness? For we ourselves have heard of his own mouth................ And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him unto Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, SAYING THE HE HIMSELF IS THE CHRIST - THE ANOINTED ONE - THE MESSIAH - A KING.

Notice: They did no accuse Jesus of being Yehovah before Pilate or before the Sanhedrin. They called for his crucifixion because he said he was the Messiah, the son of God.

Monday, December 2, 2019

JESUS’ PRE-EXISTENCE --- LITERAL OR NOTIONAL?


Our first task is to locate which Jesus is in the Bible. This sounds rather simplistic however we all bring to the Bible our own teachings from childhood, our own cultural biases, and in particular our own inherited church traditions.

A helpful place to start is to ask whether Jesus pre-existed his own miraculous conception in the womb of Mary. I am not one of those who deny the Virgin birth. It is clear that Jesus himself knew God was His Father in a unique sense and that his conception was different to all others. So the question is, did Jesus personally and consciously exist with God in Heaven before his miraculous conception? Was the Son of God personally alive before he was conceived in Mary before he became a human being?

Traditional Christianity answers in the affirmative: Yes, Jesus has always existed as God the Son. Indeed, Jesus was there in the very beginning of the Genesis creation with God the Father and with God the Spirit. There never was a time when God the Son did not personally exist, but in order to save lost humanity Jesus laid aside his eternal glory and “took on flesh” so that he might bleed and die to redeem mankind and bring us back to God. Modern theology calls this literal descent from heaven to earth at Bethlehem the “incarnation”.

A number of “default” verses are quoted in support of this type of conscious and personal pre-existence --- Jesus is the Word who was with God in the beginning (John 1:1)… Jesus said he came down from Heaven (John 6:38)… Jesus claimed to exist before Abraham as the “I AM” (John 8:58)… Jesus prayed to be given the glory he personally had with God before the world began (John 17:5)… Jesus created the heavens and the earth (Col. 1:16)… Jesus always existed in very nature as God (NIV Phil. 2:6), etc. Any Westerner reading these verses finds it natural to see a Jesus who actually and consciously existed before his miraculous “incarnation”. This may be called a ‘literal’ or ‘actual’ pre-existence. It is the majority view held today.

However, there is a second type of pre-existence which is widely recognised by Biblical scholarship, but sadly not even heard of by most in the pew. This is a case when ignorance seems to be bliss. Such ignorance is to our shame for it distorts Jesus by ripping him out of his cultural setting. Such ignorance creates “another Jesus”, indeed a “false Christ” that our Lord Himself warned us about.

The Jewish worldview was that something planned (that is, foreknown in the counsel of God) existed notionally or ideally, but not yet in actuality upon earth in our experience. David Capes’ article on “Preexistence” in the Dictionary of the Later New Testament & Its Developments helpfully notes that:

“The pre-existent state may be described as ideal (existence in the mind or plan of God) or actual (existence alongside and distinct from God).”1

Thus, it is well understood within Biblical scholarship that pre-existence may mean either that something or some one may literally exist in Heaven (the ‘incarnational’ model already mentioned) or may be of the Jewish ‘ideal’ type where something or someone may exist in God’s mind before He literally brings it into material existence.

There is a mountain of Jewish literature that confirms how all-pervasive “notional” pre-existence was in Jewish thinking at the time of Christ. One of the most prominent scholars in modern christological studies, Larry Hurtado, states, There is today a virtual consensus among scholars that the pre-Christian Jewish tradition provides the most important background for the idea of pre-existence in the NT. 2

Regarding the Jewish understanding of foreknowledge, the article in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia is helpful:

...the term foreknowledge is an expansion of the idea of God’s “counsel” or plan, regarding it as an intelligent prearrangement, the idea of foreknowledge being assimilated to that of foreordination. The same idea is found in [1 Peter 1:20]. Here the apostle speaks of Christ as a lamb “foreordained” by God before the foundation of the world...It has the idea of a purpose which determines the course of the Divine procedure. 3

This evidence must be seriously considered before we conclude Jesus was actually living and conscious as God before his appearance on earth, otherwise we run the risk of imposing on the Bible our own traditional cultural reading, no matter how “orthodox” we may imagine it to be. That is the error of eisegesis, reading into the text, rather than exegesis, reading out of the text as the original readers thousands of years ago would have done.

Notional pre-existence is the idea that something or someone may ‘exist’ in the mind of God before actualising on earth in history at the appointed time. What God purposes and decrees is considered so certain that it is spoken of as though it already exists.

Indeed God is the One who “calls those things which are not as though they were” (Romans 4:17). That is, what God promises already exists with Him “in Heaven”. When Jews spoke of something or someone pre-existing in heaven they understood it was “ideal” or “notional” in God’s foreknowledge, but not yet actual on earth. That is, it already existed in God’s mind and in God’s plan.

There is a mountain of Jewish literature that confirms how pervasive “notional” pre-existence was in their world view. It would take a book to record how all encompassing this thinking was in the Jewish mind. There is room only to cite a few sources here, but it’s important to note that this type of commentary is ubiquitous in Jewish literature. We will also look at a few examples from the Scriptures to complete this brief study.

First then, let’s take a quick look at some of the important extra-Biblical writings from these Jewish sources. Outside of the Hebrew Scriptures themselves, the most authoritative Jewish literature is the Babylonian Talmud. It contains the Mishna and 600 years of rabbinical comment. Much of the Babylonian Talmud forms a vital background to the way Jews thought about pre-existence in the times before, during, and just after, the New Testament apostolic period, what scholars call the Second Temple period. Note the following excerpt from the Babylonian Talmud, tractate Pesahim 54a:

Seven things were created before the world was made, and these are they: Torah, repentance, the Garden of Eden, Gehenna, the throne of glory, the house of the sanctuary, and the name of the Messiah. Torah: “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before the works of old” (Proverbs 8:22). Repentance: “Before the mountains were brought forth, of even [before] you had formed the earth and the world...you turn man to destruction and say, Repent, you sons of men” (Psalm 90:2). The Garden of Eden: “And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden from aforetime” (Genesis 2:8). Gehenna: “For Tophet is ordained from old” (Isaiah 30:33). The throne of glory: “Your throne is established from of old” (Psalm 93:2). The house of the sanctuary: “A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary” (Jererimiah 17:12). And the 2 name of the Messiah: “His name shall endure forever and has existed before the sun” (Psalm 72:17).

Observe that seven things, some material such as the Garden of Eden and the tabernacle, and some immaterial such as repentance and Torah, are said to pre-exist their actual appearance on earth. Amongst these seven pre-existing things is the name of the Messiah.

Another midrashic commentary is called Genesis Rabbah. Upon commenting that the Torah was the blueprint for the creation, the writer speaks about pre-existence this way …

Six things preceded the creation of the world; some of them were actually created, while the creation of the others was already contemplated. The Torah and the throne of glory were created. The Torah, for it is written, “The Lord made me as the beginning of His way, prior to his works of old” (Proverbs 8:22). The throne of Glory, as it is written, “Thy throne is established of old” etc. [sic] (Psalm 93:2). The creation of the Patriarchs was contemplated, for it is written, “I saw your fathers as the first-ripe in the fig-tree at her first season” (Hoseah 9:10). [The creation of] Israel was contemplated, as it is written, “Remember Thy congregation, which Thou hast purchased aforetime” (Psalm 74:2). [The creation of] the temple was contemplated, for it is written, “Thou throne of glory, on high from the beginning, the place of our sanctuary” (Jeremiah 17:12). The name of Messiah was contemplated, for it is written, “His name exists before the sun” (Psalm 72:17).

Once again note the distinction made between things which were actually created and things which were previously contemplated within God’s mind. The Torah and the throne of glory were created while the Patriarchs, the children of Israel, the temple, and the name of the Messiah were all bound up within God’s purposes and contemplated designs awaiting literal creation in due time.

Genesis Rabbah, also known as Bereshit Rabbah, is an exegetical Midrash (exposition) upon the first book of the Hebrew Bible. Written in both Aramaic and Hebrew this contains detailed commentary on a variety of chapters and verses in Genesis. Upon asserting that Torah was the means through which God ordered creation, the author writes:

In human practice, when a mortal king builds a palace, he builds it not with his own skill but with the skill of an architect. The architect moreover does not build it out of his head, but employs plans and diagrams to know how to arrange the chambers and the wicket doors. Thus God consulted the Torah and created the world, while the Torah declares, “In the beginning God created (1:1),” ‘beginning’ referring to the Torah, as in the verse, “The Lord made me as the beginning of His way (Proverbs 8:22).”

This passage speaks of the pre-existence of Torah as the concept with which God ordered the Genesis creation. In attempting to convey this image, the author employs the imagery of an architect who utilizes plans and diagrams in order to accomplish his work. In this way, the Torah was in God the architect’s plans and diagrams, thus pre-existing in that very manner. In order to justify such a position, the author cites Proverbs 8:22, which speaks of a personified Wisdom figure as a “master workman” (Proverbs 8:30) working alongside the Creator God through which he ordered the cosmos. This demonstrates that Torah and Wisdom were understood as pre-existing specifically as plans and purposes for God to use in creating.

The author furthermore offers comments regarding the nature of things pre-existing with God. He expounds the phrase “In the beginning God created” as follows:

Six things preceded the creation of the world; some of them were actually created, while the creation of the others was already contemplated. The Torah and the throne of glory were created. The Torah, for it is written, “The Lord made me as the beginning of His way, prior to his works of old” (Proverbs 8:22). The throne of Glory, as it is written, “Thy throne is established of old” etc. [sic] (Psalm 93:2). The creation of the Patriarchs was contemplated, for it is written, “I saw your fathers as the first-ripe in the fig-tree at her first season” (Hoseah 9:10). [The creation of] Israel was contemplated, as it is written, “Remember Thy congregation, which Thou hast purchased aforetime” (Psalm 74:2). [The creation of] the temple was contemplated, for it is written, “Thou throne of glory, on high from the beginning, the place of our sanctuary” (Jeremiah17:12). The name of Messiah was contemplated, for it is written, “His name exists before the sun” (Psalm 72:17).

As I indicated there is a veritable mountain of similar commentary in Jewish writings. Sufficient in this brief article has been given to demonstrate (to quote Dr Smith) …

“that Jews frequently spoke of both people and objects as pre-existing, although this pre-existence is strictly within the mind and purposes of God. In other words, this pre-existence is notional rather than literal. Among those persons pre-existing within God’s mind are the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the mediator Moses, the congregation of Israel, and even the Messiah. In regard to objects pre-existing in God’s plans, the temple, the throne of glory, Gehenna, the Garden of Eden, the Torah, the new heavens and the new earth, and the city of Jerusalem are all included. No one seriously considered that the persons mentioned literally possessed a pre-human existence with God in heaven, only to come to earth in some sort of incarnate state. Rather, they were so cherished and valued within the plans for Israel that God had already considered and contemplated them within his design and foreknowledge …“

If, as all Biblical scholars know, the Bible comes to us from Jewish patterns of thought, it is logical to enquire which model of pre-existence we find in the pages of Scriptures themselves? The Bible is our final authority.

A classic example of this Jewish ideal pre-existence taken right out of this Second Temple rabbinic commentary and used as a Biblical example concerns the tabernacle that Moses built in the wilderness. Moses was instructed to build the tabernacle according to a “pattern” that God showed him on the mount (Numbers 8: 4). The heavenly blueprint was to be followed. The priests and the tabernacle serve as “a copy and shadow of the heavenly things” (Hebrews 8:5). Once again, the idea is that the literal on earth pre-existed beforehand in Heaven in the mind and purposes of God.

As we have seen the Jews applied this thinking to many of their great national treasures. We have seen they developed the idea of “a Jerusalem, divine, pre-existent, prepared by God in the heavenly places, there from all time, and prepared some day to come down among men. The old house is folded up and taken away, and a wonderful new house which the Lord has built comes and takes its place (I Enoch 90: 28,29). The pre-existent Jerusalem was shown to Adam before he sinned.” 4

Thus, when in the book of Revelation in chapter 21:10 the new Jerusalem is seen “coming down out of heaven from God” we are not meant to infer that city is already constructed and will literally descend from outer space. In good Jewish thinking that new Jerusalem is ideal and notional, but certain to one day become literal because it exists already in the plan and promise of God.

In similar fashion are you aware that you already have your new immortal and resurrection body (2 Corinthians 5: 1)? It pre-exists in heaven, but you don’t yet have it literally. And you can have a reward (present tense) with God in Heaven even now (Matthew 6:1). This explains in perfect Jewish thinking how Jesus could pray for the glory which he had with God in Heaven from the foundation of the world without any 4 idea of him having personally experienced it in a pre-incarnation state. In fact, in that very same prayer (John 17:22,24) you as a believer in Messiah also had the same glory before you were born! (By the way, those translations that make Jesus say he was “going back” to the Father or “returning” to Heaven are very, very naughty! The Greek text says no such thing, just that he was “going to” the Father or “ascending to” God in Heaven.)

In the verse alluded to earlier in Romans 4:17 where God “calls the things which do not [yet] exist as [already] existing” note that the context refers to Isaac who was “real in thought and purpose of God before he was begotten.” 5

Likewise, Jesus the Christ was “foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times” for our sakes (I Peter 1:20). We know this does not mean Jesus was personally known before the world began because in the very same chapter we are told that we Christians have also been “in the foreknowledge of God the Father” (v. 2). Thus Peter uses the same idea of “foreknowledge” to refer both to Christians and to Jesus Christ. We Christians do not literally pre-exist in Heaven before our birth. “It is the divine purpose for Christ which ‘existed’ from the beginning, not the one in whom it should be fulfilled; just as Paul can speak of the divine purpose similarly predetermined for those who believe in Christ” (Romans 8: 28-30). 6

Similarly, the Bible speaks of Jesus as the Lamb of God who was crucified before the world began (Revelation 13:8). It is true that grammatically the verse could also be made to read that it is the names of the saved which “have been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain.” But it is really only a moot point, because there is a clear statement elsewhere teaching that Jesus was handed over to the authorities for crucifixion “according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23). The point is that it is evident that Jesus was not literally crucified before the world began. But in classical Jewish thought, God planned the crucifixion before the world began. The notion was real, but not yet historically actual. That which materialised in history under Pontius Pilate had already happened in God’s plan before the world began!

The book of Ephesians is replete with this notional pre-existence. We Christians were chosen in Christ “before the foundation of the world” and according to God’s gracious determination were “predestined” to sonship in God’s purpose (Eph. 1: 4-ff). No Bible believer thinks for a moment this means we personally existed before the world began. Our pre-existing election is notional, not literal.

In a future day at his Second Coming our Lord Jesus will say to his own people, “Come, you who are blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34). In Paul’s language this hope is “laid up for you in heaven”. Here “heaven” is a metaphor signifying God’s promised future and we are said to already have it notionally. It is in the same vein as Paul saying that those of us who are already saved and justified before God are “glorified” [note the past tense, though the literal fulfilment is still future] (Romans 8: 30).

We are now able to ask, which type of pre-existence should we apply to Messiah Jesus when we come to the Bible? Did Jesus literally and personally pre-exist his own birth as traditional thinking today would have us believe? Or does the Jewish model of notional and ideal pre-existence better fit?

Right up to the symphonic conclusion of the Biblical revelation we see the model of notional pre-existence on display. When John on the isle of Patmos peered into the apocalyptic realities depicted in the Book of Revelation, he records for his readers the symphonic chorus of the heavenly hosts. In one such vision twenty-four elders offer prostrated worship unto the one seated upon the throne and boldly declare:

Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honour and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will, they were, and were created" (Revelation 4:11).

I often used to be riveted by this unusual turn of phrase … “because of Your will, they were, and were created.” Now I understand ‘ideal’ pre-existence I get the full impact. This scene of worship gives glory and honour and power to God for a specific reason: He is the creator of all things. And just exactly how has God created all things now material and actual? The answer: God possessed a will, a desire contained within his purposes to accomplish whatever He pleased. God’s plan purposed that all things “were” (already), and then they “were created” (literally).

In other words, within God’s desire, things can be described as already existing, before they are actually created. This is textbook Jewish notional pre-existence, as all things pre-existed within God’s mind before coming into a physical and tangible existence!

To sum up: Both extra-Biblical commentary from the Second Temple Jewish world (Jesus’ own culture), and throughout the Scriptures themselves, objects and people are said to exist notionally without any thought of them literally being in Heaven before materialising here on earth in God’s due time. When this paradigm is applied to those texts which seem to our Western understanding to imply that Jesus personally did consciously exist (as God) before his physical appearance on earth, confusion disappears. As always, context should win the day! Let’s leave it to a modern Jewish writer to have the last word…

Messiah … “is present in the mind of God and chosen before the creation, and from time to time revealed to the righteous for their consolation; but he is … not actually pre-existent. He is named and hidden from the beginning in the secret thoughts of God, finally to be revealed in the Last Times as the ideal Man who will justify God’s creation of the world.” 6.

FOOTNOTES:

I acknowledge my extensive use of this material from my good friend Dr Dustin R. Smith in his article titled: “John and Jewish Preexistence: An Attempt to Responsibly Set the Christology of the Fourth Gospel in its Proper Historical and Theological Matrix of Thought, presented at the 2015 Atlanta Bible College Theological Conference. For the reader interested to follow this theme in more detail I recommend Dr Smith’s entire article. 1. David B. Capes, “Preexistence,” in DLNT, 956.
2. Larry Hurtado, “Pre-existence,” in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, 743.
3. Caspar Wistar Hodge, “Foreknow,” in ISBE, vol. 2, 1130.
4. Barclay, William, Jesus as They Saw Him, Amsterdam: SCM Press, 1962, p. 136.
5. Everett F. Harrison, Romans, Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Zondervan, 1976, p. 52, my emphasis.
6. Dunn, Christology in the Making, London, SCM Press, 1989, p. 235. 7. Schonfield, Hugh. The Passover Plot, p. 256

Written by Greg Deuble: www.thebiblejesus.org

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

DOES HEBREWS 6:4-6 MEAN WE CAN LOSE OUR SALVATION?

Hebrews 6:4-8: For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. For the earth which drinks in the rain that comes often upon it, and brings forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receives blessing from God: But that which bears thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.

What do we understand from these verses:

1. If someone falls away from believing in God's message given through the lord Jesus, in other words has been enlightened, and has tasted the heavenly gift of the Holy Spirit, and given the good revelation of God and tasted the powers of the coming new age that it is impossible to renew them again to repentance.

2. In falling away that person has crucified to themselves the son of God again, and put him to an open shame.

3. The end result is to be burned up in the lake of fire, destroyed.

This is a dire warning for those who might contemplate going back to this world and rejecting the one whom God has sent. Such a one would obviously have no meaningful contact with anyone who was sincerely following the lord Jesus. That being said, this does not exclude what the lord Jesus can do!

Luke 15:4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, does not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

We see here that there were 100 sheep in the flock, but one wanders away in the wilderness and is lost, so the shepherd goes after the one who has become lost until he finds it. Notice the lost sheep is lost in the wilderness which if we look at the parable an apply it to the present time, the wilderness that we walk through is this world. If one sheep who is of the flock, cared for by the lord Jesus, our shepherd; wanders of into the wilderness and becomes lost, i.e. has fallen way, gone back out into the world and become a part of it, which believers are not a part of, will not the lord Jesus as shepherd seek to find such a one and bring him/her back to be a part of the flock.

Ask yourselves this question: how many times has Jesus brought you back to walk on the narrow path that leads to life in the coming new age when you have wandered away from it? How many times? I know for myself I can't count the many times he has done so!

Again: Luke 15:6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.

Luke 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents. Does this not include a sinning sheep who has wandered off and the lord Jesus has brought back carrying him on his shoulder, because it is too weak to walk on its own?

The parable of the prodigal son is a prime example of one who has rejected his father, taken his inheritance - his taste of the things to come - and even rejected the country he grew up in, was a part of and gone into the wilderness so to speak. Notice what the father does when he sees him returning, he runs to him with open arms. He was looking for him to return, he didn't give up hope that his son would return. Our God will never give up hope as far as we are concerned, even if we come to the point of rejecting his beloved son, because he gave His son Jesus to save those who are lost. It is all between the lord Jesus and the one who has fallen away. In other words it is not possible for any follower of Jesus to renew such a one to repent and come back, only the lord Jesus can bring that one back.

Luke 15:24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. God is love!

Monday, November 18, 2019

Politics and the End of the Age


We are now in prophetic times of great importance with many powerful forces of deception and dangers. What is your worldview and against what or whom is it measured? To what shall we compare ourselves? Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.” (2 Corinthians 10:12 ESV)

Man’s imagination has turned to evil reality and unrestrained is getting worse fast, and it’s spreading just as fast. “Hear the word of Yehovah, O children of Israel, for Yehovah has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land;” (Hosea 4:1 ESV)

The end of end-time politics will demonstrate perfectly the failure of the left, the right and the centre. It will demonstrate the failure of the god of democracy itself, because its major participant, the true God Yehovah, has been replaced.

Of course, God does use politicians for His purposes. God raises up and brings down world leaders according to His will.“Daniel answered and said: ‘Blessed be the name of Yehovah forever and ever, to whom belongs wisdom and might.’” (Dan 2:20 ESV)

End-time politics will finally prove once and for all that fallen mankind cannot save itself. It will demonstrate how incredibly dangerous it is to be in a battle, blind as a bat and ignorant of the circumstances.

Politics believes it can bring a better life, liberated from its problems. The lie of the liars of liberation is that they can and will bring liberation eventually to all.

There are certain things that are politically and spiritually neutral, but there are some things that bring specific curses with them. How can a politician promise blessing from a cursed source?

National religious freedom includes the right to worship freely and to express that worship. We are now seeing what the Bible calls sin, enshrined in law in many nations.

A new bill has been passed in the House of Representatives and presently is in a committee in the Senate called the HR5 Equality Bill. (https://www.congress.gov/ bill/116th-congress/house-bill/5/text).

The bill normalizes and legalizes LBGT behaviour in private homes and businesses of all people, making them fully equal in all respects. But that is not the problem. The bill essentially criminalizes opposition to it wherever it is expressed. That violates the believer’s conscience. It criminalizes biblical teachings!

According to Charisma News (https:// www.charismanews.com/world/58295-7-000-churchesfasting-praying-over-terrifying-new-persecution-law) in Russia a new anti-terrorism law was signed by Putin. The law prevents foreign guests from speaking in Russian churches unless they have a work permit. Sharing your faith with non-believers will be punishable. Religious activity is no longer permitted in homes. Every citizen is obliged to report those who break these new laws. You may not pray or study the Bible in the presence of a nonbeliever. Church altar calls are no longer permitted.

And More

There is a new bill in the works in South Africa to regulate religion. (https://forsa.org.za/proposed-regulation-of -religion-in-sa/). It will have the same effects as some of the points of the Russian bill.


The problem with politics is that it has become the machinery of the god of this world and people treat it like a god. It has become the delivery vehicle of many cursed beliefs and practices. The thinking is that if a majority agrees on any issue, it is right. How wrong that is! The world has become dedoctrinated of God’s word, and indoctrinated with complacency, mediocrity and evil.

All the power of politics can’t get rid of sin. The power found in science and technology can’t get rid of sin. Medicine can’t get rid of sin. Psychology and its words can’t get rid of sin. Strong, powerful emotions, can’t get rid of sin. Socio-political laws, actions and philosophies can’t get rid of sin. Ethnic culture can’t get rid of sin. Religion, keeping laws and doing works, can’t get rid of sin.

“Cursed is the man who trust in man and makes flesh his strength ...He shall be like a shrub in the desert and not see good when it comes. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is in Yehovah.” (Jeremiah 17:5-7)

“Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? Look you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and you intend to bring this Man’s blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:28-29)

Written by Wally Winner and edited by Bruce Lyon

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

How does one enter into God's rest?

Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all you that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

If we come to the lord Jesus and by that coming accept the revelation that he had received from his God and Father to give to us and repent and are baptised; then we will be of those who are in God's anointed one. As such, we will co-inherit all he inherits when he takes his place on the throne of David in Jerusalem. We will be among those who co-rule with him in the coming Kingdom of God, in the coming new age. When that happens we will have entered into the rest that Jesus will be a part of at that time.

For now we as followers of the lord Jesus are walking on the narrow path that leads to life in the new age that is coming in which we will be glorified immortal beings, having a part in the Theocratic Government of God that Jesus will be the head of as King of kings and Lord of lords seated on the throne of David during his 1,000 rule. 

May that day soon come when we can realize the true rest that Jesus has promised we will have a part of as a result of coming to him!

Monday, October 28, 2019

What does it mean that we all must bear our own cross?

To bear your own cross [stake] is to realize that when you were baptised you walked into the water and were covered completely; that was symbolic of your dying to self, and when you rose up out of the water you rose up to newness of life as a new creation in the lord Jesus, God's anointed one. Now that you are a new creation having God's Spirit in you, you are now a Temple of Yehovah individually and collectively also form a Temple of Yehovah! You are now grafted into the Commonwealth of Israel as a member of the true Israel of God - Yehovah, and as such, a member of the household of Yehovah, a member of the congregation of Yehovah and a member of the called-out Assembly of God. 

All of these things are the reason that we ought to bear our cross daily - which means making sure that the old self doesn't resurrect itself because we are not continually striving for perfection as defined in the scriptures as becoming more like God's anointed one, Jesus - Yehoshua!

To bear our own cross [stake] means we continually, by the power of God's Spirit and the Spirit of Jesus in us, overcome the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, the pride of possessions, the attraction of the world; and we resist the allure of wicked spirit beings who would love to have us fail! That is what bearing our cross means.

It is a daily, hourly, minute by minute endeavor! It is those who do so until the end that will become co-inheritors and co-rulers with the one whom God made Lord and Messiah Jesus in the coming new age! To believe that Jesus is Lord is to believe and do all that he taught us to do, all he commands us to do, which is to abide by the will of his God and our God, his Father and our Father continually, even as he did and does! So we see that baptism is where regeneration takes place, which is only the beginning, then renewal as a new creation, and finally perfection when we are resurrected to ever be with the lord Jesus when he returns!

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Why is Serving God Important?

Serving God is the reason man was created. We serve out of the joy and gladness that we have such a loving Creator God who is toward us who are His; a true genuine Father in every sense of the word.

He is longsuffering with us, patient toward us, kind toward us, always deals with us in steadfast love. He never correcting us according to the measure we deserve. He has provided for us a mediator in His beloved son Jesus, who is also our advocate before our Father God and our High Priest.

We serve God not out of obligation but out of joy and thanksgiving, for all He is to us every moment of every day; with the realization that we are never alone because we are always in the presence of our God and our Father, the God and Father of our lord Jesus who serves us in so many way we do not see constantly guiding us to walk on the narrow path that leads to new age life in the coming Kingdom which he will rule over! 

Indeed we serve God with joy and thanksgiving for all He has been to us. May we ever do so for the ages upon ages to come and glory in His name, YaHoVaH.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Can a woman/wife be a pastor/teacherr?


Data Bruce Lyon Elder: Restoration Fellowship Assembly
Ro 16:7 Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.

Interesting, Junia is listed who was of note among the apostles, a high position for a woman.

Rom 16:3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:

Notice Priscilla a woman is placed before her husband, and she with her husband instructed Apollo on the the way of God more perfectly. 

Acts 18:26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.

Notice:

Ga 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

There is no distinction between male or female is they are in the anointed one Jesus.

Acts 21:8-9: And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.

These daughters of Philip didn't prophecy in a corner, they did so whenever the holy spirit guided them too and most probably in the assembly where all could benefit from that God's spirit had to say to the congregation as a whole!

Yes, a woman can minister in the called-out assembly of God.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

GOD WORKS THROUGH FAITH


God Works Through Faith

We see great faith mentioned by Jesus in the healing of the centurion’s servant. This man was a Gentile outside the covenant, yet his faith moved Jesus. His faith not only caused Jesus to pay attention, but it got an answer! Great faith is answered. The centurion understood the rank of Jesus in the spirit and put a demand upon his authority. He understood the power of the spoken word, and he simply requested of Jesus to do what he was authorized to do.

And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, entreating him, and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home, sick with paralysis, terribly tormented.”

Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”

The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof. But, only  speak the word, and my servant will be healed. For, I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this man, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

When Jesus heard it, he was amazed and said to those who followed, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say to you that many will come from the east and west and will dine with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be thrown out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way. And as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that very moment. [Matthew 8:4-13]

A Roman centurion caused Jesus to marvel. The Roman soldiers were not known to be friendly with the Jews, nor were the Jews fond of the Romans. I have discovered an amazing thing about great faith: it bypasses all limitations, including cultural limitations. It lays hold of the promises of God with no regard for what man deems acceptable.

Growing up as a Roman, this man would have had a pagan background. He was stationed in Palestine to enforce the emperor’s government and laws upon the Jewish people. He would have excelled to the level of leadership in the Roman army at times with brutal force. He would not have been a person you would expect to cause Jesus to marvel, and yet he did! This was a foreshadow of the exact thing Jesus came to do, to tear down the wall of sin and separation so all people can come to salvation. This situation was a demonstration of grace.

I believe the Roman centurion’s understanding of the spirit realm is what caused Jesus to marvel at his faith. He knew that whatever Jesus spoke would come to pass. He understood the power of God in action. This was revelation.

Revelation births faith and faith moves things from one realm into another. To tap into this realm of anointing and glory, it takes believing trust and faith.

We need patience to walk in the spirit by faith, to birth realms of glory, potential, and promise. We must be able to bear pain and trial. Times of conflict and challenge birth the most powerful deliverers. This should give you a different perspective on the presence of difficult circumstances. Often in these moments God chooses a man or woman to break the cycle in our lives.

For God speaks once, yes twice, yet man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, in slumber on their beds, then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction. [Job 33:14-16]

Each of us has been handpicked by God for a unique and timely work in the earth. It all comes down to our level of obedience. We cannot delegate our obedience to another or blame adversity for our lack of co-operation with the plans of God.

If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land. [Isaiah 1:19]

Obedience is critical in fulfilling personal and corporate destiny. When we obey God, we enjoy His blessings. Obedience can be costly and cause us to do things that are uncomfortable, but it is all part of God’s master plan for us.

Obedience is the fruit of surrender. When I am surrendered to the will of the Father, I am happy to follow His instructions even when I don’t understand completely what the end result will be. This comes as I plant my life in prayer. Prayer is a time of reflection and balance. I come into His presence with questions, seeking answers, realizing my helplessness, and as He quiets my mind, my spirit begins to receive instruction from my Father. His voice calms the storm and brings divine peace and understanding.

With His indwelling presence I am empowered to live boldly. I am free from the fear of man and ready to launch forth into His revealed plan. This is the journey of obedience. It is fueled by a hunger and desire to please my God and my Father. The world cannot understand of this because it is the mark of a disciple. An obedient one has yielded in faith-obedience to the discipline of the Father, denying his own desires, reckoning the self as dead, in order to fulfill His will. The rewards far outweigh the price.

My responsibility is to obey, to surrender my heart in total commitment and to yield myself to the will of God. It is though this process of obedience that we gain understanding of His williHHH. You can’t get the peace that passes understanding until you give up your right to self; until you die to self and walk in the spirit.

Seeds produce harvest. We must have a twofold faith: faith to sow and faith to receive!

See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant. [Jeremiah 1:10]

Jeremiah was called as a prophet to root out, to pull down, to destroy, and to throw down! All those things had to happen before any building and planting can begin and have full impact.

It is for this reason that the apostolic and prophetic offices are linked together, along with the teacher, as foundational to the church. The prophets speak the heard things. The prophets receive revelation of what needs to change, what God wants us to do, and His heart behind it. Apostles come in with a grace of God to strategically build and plant by the leading of the Spirit of God.

Having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus God’s anointed one himself is the chief cornerstone. [Ephesians 2:2:20]

The apostolic office brings governing (kingdom enforcement and authority), liberty (bondage broken), and building to establish the rule of the Messiah! Apostles are direct ambassadors of Jesus the Messiah and his glory. The apostolic anointing is a Jesus-revealing anointing.

The prophetic brings forerunning (out ahead in seeing, knowing, and hearing), intimacy (praying, seeking, and pursuing), seeing (wondrous dreams, visions, and prophetic encounters), and speaking (releasing the voice of Yehovah).

In no way is this a complete list of all the attributes of these various anointings or offices. It is a partial, quick overview of the truths we know to be true. Volumes could not contain all the wonderful attributes of the various gifts and offices of God’s anointed one and his called-out Assembly, his body.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

THE ISRAEL OF GOD



Jesus said: Salvation is from the Jews (John 4:22.

This is a statement about spiritual reality, as Jesus said, “My words they are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63). The spiritual point of the reference to the Jews as the conduit of God’s salvation is to put into focus the “salvation history” delineated in the OT.

In Romans 11 Paul portrays the people of God as an alive tree whose roots stretch back in Biblical antiquity to Abraham and earlier; these godly men constitute the holy root (Romans 11:16), rooted in a deep relationship with Yehovah. Jews are the branches of this olive tree, but because of unbelief some of them were broken off by God (Romans 11:17); but the believing Jews, including Paul, and the members of the early Jewish congregation, remain a part of the olive tree. The breaking off the unbelieving “branches,” even if many, did not mean that Yehovah had rejected Israel as His people. If is with this very fact that Paul started this part of his letter: “I ask, has God rejected His people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendent of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew.” (Romans 11:1,  2). In Yehovah’s wisdom and mercy, the breaking off of unbelieving branches created an opening into which believing Gentiles could be grafted into the olive tree; this olive tree represents the people Yehovah has chosen, also called “the elect” (Romans 11:5, 7). In thisway “through their trespass [unbelief], salvation has come to the Gentiles”

With this gracious provision of salvation for the Gentiles comes a stern warning:

“but if some of the branches were cut off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches [that were broken off because of unbelief]. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you (Romans 11:17, 18).

Notice: Salvation is portrayed as being grated into the olive tree [Israel] and drawing spiritual life and nourishment from its root. A branch stays alive only so long as it remains firmly grafted in the tree; no branch can survive being cut off from the tree. To remain in this tree is life; to be cut off from it is death. Jesus, the “deliverer” or “redeemer,” is an essential part of this tree (Romans 11:26; Isaiah 59:20); therefore, to be united with God’s anointed one Jesus through faith is another way to explain how one is grafted into the olive tree [Israel]. That is why in John 15:1 Jesus also speaks in terms of the Vine and its branches. Grafting is a regular procedure in viticulture; it is Yehovah who grafts in or cuts off, because He is the “vinedresser”: As Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser” (John 15:1). He also warned that unfruitful branches could be cut off and thrown away and wither; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned” (John 15:6, NIV); but “whoever abides in me and I in him, “he it is that bears much fruit” (vs.5).

What all this means is that to be cut off from the spiritual “olive tree” (or “vine,” Isaiah 5:1-7) of Israel is to be cut off from salvation, whether he/she be Jew or Gentile, which is precisely what Paul warns would happen, and has happened to unbelieving Jews (Romans 11:22).

Note: Romans 11:20-24: They (the Jews) were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud. But stand in awe. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you. Note then the kindness and severity of God; severity toward those who have fallen [because of unbelief], but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in His kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.

On the other hand, those Jews who are willing to return to their God and believe in the one whom He has sent will be grafted back into the olive tree [Israel]: “And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in. For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grated into their own olive tree [Israel] (Romans

Note the last words, “their olive tree,” for it was theirs by God’s grace in the first place, although it also becomes the Gentile’s by God’s grace, by their being grafted into the olive tree through faith; for it is through faith that we become members of “the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16). When we are grafted into the olive tree through faith, the “their olive tree” also becomes our olive tree”.

Galatians 3:7: Know that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.
vs. 29: If you are the anointed ones, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.

Romans 2:28, 29: For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

Romans 4:12: (The purpose was) to make him (Abraham) the father of the circumcised, who are not merely circumcised, but who walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

Romans 9:6-8: But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.’ This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.

Philippians 3:3: For we are the real circumcision who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in the anointed one Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.

It is through faith that a person becomes a descendant of Abraham, and “heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:39) It is by faith, not physical descent, that one becomes a child of God. Being a Jew is not a matter of race or religion but “a matter of the heart” (Romans 2:29), so being an Israelite is not a matter of physical descent from Israel; to belong to Israel is a matter of being “children of the promise” (Romans 9:8) through faith. So Paul tells the Philippians, a proportion who are Gentiles, “we are the real circumcision”. “Circumcision is another word to describe Jews (Ephesians 2:11; Colossians 4:11; Romans 3:30; 4:9), So Paul is saying to the Philippians, “you and I, we are the real Jews”. [Paul a Jew was grafted into the Israel of God when he was baptized].

The point is that the true believer is the real Jew before Yehovah, the spiritual Jew whose praise comes from Yehovah, not man (Romans 2:29). Becoming a believer is to become a true Israelite, a real Jew. Little wonder that Paul declared that in God’s anointed one Jesus “there is neither Jew nor Greek (Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11) – there are only true Israelites.  The true descendants of Abraham (Galatians 3:29), the heirs of Yehovahs promises, the chosen people of of Yehovah, the spiritual Jews.

In the called-out Assembly of Yehovah there are only spiritual Israelites, all of whom are circumcised in heart (Romans 2;28,29; Philippians 3:3) even though not all were circumcised in the flesh.

The apostle Peter wrote to encourage persecuted believers by reminding them that “you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own procession, that you may claim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (2 Peter 2:9). In this verse the terms applied to the Israel of the OT were applied to the Called-out Assembly (which at the time Peter wrote were largely made up of Jews); what Peter writes echoes a passage like Deuteronomy 7:6: “for you are a people holy to Yehovah your God. Yehovah has chosen you to be a people for His treasured possession, out of all the people who are on the face of the earth” *(Malachi 3:17).

It must now be remembered that when speaking about “Jewish roots” we are not speaking primarily about Judaism in its various forms, but in particular about the Scriptures which the Jews have zealously guarded, preserved, and transmitted with the utmost care throughout the centuries. The unwavering commitment to the word of Yehovah and to monotheism is something that should put Christendom to shame. The Jewish root is the rich spiritual heritage made available to us, above all through the Jewish Scriptures [OT].

Yehovah has chosen in His wisdom and kindness to provide life through the Jewish root. Remember no branch can survive if severed from the olive tree (Israel). We who are in God’s anointed one are the real Jews grafted into the olive tree [Israel].

For the Jews, being a Jew was not exclusively or even primarily a mater of race or religion. The NT concept differs from theirs, not on the question of whether Gentiles can become Jews through conversion, but on how the transition is made. Paul proclaims that it is through faith in God’s anointed one Jesus. (Ephesians 2:11-13).

In God’s anointed one then, we are no longer “alienated from the people of Israel” (Ephesians 2:12), but are now members of Yehovah’s elect people.

“The Israel of Yehovah” is still His covenant people… into whom believing Gentiles are incorporated” (Dunn, Romans, p.540 – Romans 9:6).

The profound consequence of this incorporation into Israel is that the Gentile who is now a member of the real circumcision (Philippians 3:3), is no longer a “stranger to the covenants of promise” (Ephesians 2:12), but becomes “a Gentile convert entering into Israel’s promised blessing” Everything that Yehovah promised Israel becomes ours in God’s anointed one Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20). So Paul could say that in God’s anointed one “all things are yours” (1 Cor:3:21), such are the unimaginable riches of our inheritance. “As it is written”: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has in store for those who love Him’ (Isaiah 64:4; 1 Corinthians 2:9); so there is abundant cause to give “thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:12).

Very few Christians today realize that the true believer is “the real circumcision,” the true Israelite. This shows how completely disconnected Christendom is from its Jewish roots, and from the NT teaching on this very matter.

Error leads to death: it is time t realize this and to heed the word of Yehovah: “come back to Yehovah your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in faithful love, and He relents about inflicting disaster” (Joel 2:13).

Yehovah the God of Israel, is not the God of the Jews only but of all who belong to “the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16) God’s spiritual Israel, the true Israelite will love Him wholeheartedly (Mark 12:30) and learn to honour His name Yehovah, for “it is wonderful” (Judges 13:18; Isaiah 28:29).

Written by Eric Chang and edited by Bruce Lyon

The above is from Chapter 6 or Eric Change book “The Only True God”