Sunday, July 27, 2008

Elementary Principles of Christ

Elementary Principles of Christ

By Abraham Israel

Discussions of elementary principles are very important because they supply to us all the important nutritions that we need to grow from our spiritual babyhood to adult man
(1 Peter 2:2).Once we are grounded in the foundational aspect, we can then go on to perfection [i.e. to be of full age (Heb 6:1)].

These elementary principles are also called the first principles of the oracles
[i.e. sayings or scriptures] of God. And these teachings are also compared to milk and the hearers compared to babes in their spiritual stature [height or size]. These babes will be unskilled in the word of righteousness (Heb 5:12-13). In other words they do not know how to use the word to live rightly or abundantly.

Foundational Principles

(i) The foundation of repentance from dead works (Matt 3:1, 8; 4:17; Luke 3:8, 10-14; John 14:1).

To repent is to make a 180 degree about-turn. It is a complete change in the way some one thinks or behaves. When an unbeliever repents, he makes a conscious choice or takes a quality decision to accept Jesus as his personal Lord and savior and humbly accepts to follow Jesus from that time on. It will also be seen in the change that comes in that person’s lifestyle and values, as he starts to co-operate with God willingly. The person will not try to hide his sins anymore before God, but will start to hate the bad things that have ruled and bound him in the past. He will honestly take his problems to God from that time onwards and will by faith in the shed blood of Jesus will reject and resist those evil and bad enticements to sin. It is essentially a change in one’s attitude towards God and his ways.

True repentance will always have as its emphasis a change in lifestyle (Matt 3:8).

(ii) Faith towards God (Mark 11:13-14, 20-24; Heb 11:1, 6; Rom 10:17; John 14:1).

Faith towards God is to believe God has already provided a sacrificial lamb for our sins to be forgiven and be cleansed (1John 1:7, 9). Faith towards God will restore the fellowship that gets broken when you sin (1 John 2:3, 9; 2:1-2).

The foundation for this Faith is Jesus Christ (1 Cor 3:11), it has already been laid by God (John 3:16), we only need to build our self on this foundation [the rock Jesus Christ] (Luke 6:46-49).

To move on to perfection we need to practice the next 4 important principles for growth,

(i) The doctrine (teaching) of baptisms [Note the plurality of language “baptisms”.]

(a) John’s Baptism

In those days the Jews baptized the Gentile convert for purification to become a proselyte Jew (John 3:25), but John insisted that whether a Jew or a Gentile, everybody need to be baptized (Luke 3:3, 7, 8). This was the reason they were questioning him about his authority to baptize people (John 1:19, 24-25). In the early chapters of the four Gospels and in Acts 1:5; Acts 11:16; Acts 19:4, it [the word ‘baptizo’-“to baptize”] is used of the rite performed by John the Baptist who called upon the people to repent that they might receive remission of sins. Those who obeyed came "confessing their sins," thus acknowledging their unfitness to be in the Messiah's coming kingdom. Many lived by faith in the doctrine of John’s baptism (Acts 19:1-7; Matt 3:5-12). John also had disciples and taught them about praying and things about God and his ways (Matt 11:2; Luke 11:1).

And some of the disciples who followed Jesus were formerly John’s disciples, when John the Baptist pointed to Jesus as the Son of God [Messiah the Christ] and the Lamb of God, they started following Jesus (John 1:34-42). John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, which is the first step to enter the kingdom of God (Luke 3:3; Matt 3:6; 11:12). It was God’s will for every one to get baptized by John and those who rejected John’s Baptism also rejected Jesus Christ (Luke 7:29-30).

(b) John Baptizes Jesus

John always pointed people to messiah who will come and baptize them with the Spirit (Matt 3:11). John also baptized Jesus to make Him be known to Israel as the perfect Lamb of God (Matt 3:15). It was at this point of time when Jesus became a sin for us when the God the Father placed on him the sin of the world and as he voluntarily gave himself for our cause, a divine exchange took place there (2 Cor 5:21; Isaiah 53:6; Matt 3:15, 17; John3:17). From there he carried our sins to the cross of Calvary (John 1: 29, 36; Isaiah 53:4 “Sorrows - effects or results of sin”; Matt 8:16-17; 16:21; Mark 10:38, 45; John 18:11). And even Jesus acknowledged that He was distressed until the baptism is fully accomplished on the cross for us and through His resurrection (Luke 12:50; Rom 6:3-6).

After Jesus was tempted in every way by Satan, coming out from the wilderness, Jesus was declared as the “lamb of God” (John 1:35-36), by John the Baptist. A perfect lamb will always be tested before it is announced as with out blemish. When Jesus was tested by God, He stood perfect in all the temptations till Satan had no more way to tempt Jesus and he left, showing that he cannot find even an iota of any imperfection (Matt 4:1, 11). John himself said, the reason he baptized people with water is to reveal Jesus the Messiah [Christ] as the Son of God and the Lamb of God to Israel. This he said when he was giving baptism beyond the Jordan at Bethany and not at the Jordan where Jesus was Baptized (John 1:29-34; Matt 3:13). Immediately after Jesus was Baptized He was led by the Spirit in to the wilderness to be tempted by the devil and this clearly shows that John the Baptist was Declaring Jesus as the Lamb of God only after He returned from the wilderness victoriously as the Lamb of God (Matt 4:1).

He declared Jesus as the Son of God because John heard the voice of God from heaven and saw the Spirit of God descending upon Jesus like a dove when He was baptized by him and when He came out of the wilderness after 40 days, still the Spirit of God remained upon Him testifying that He was the perfect lamb of God and John declared the Truth that he saw before his very eyes (John 1:33; Luke 4:14).

(c) The Spirit of God baptizes the believer in to that one body [universal body of Christ] when they are born again (1 Cor 12:13; 1 Peter 3:21; Col 2:12; Rom 6:4-5; 1 Tim 1:19 (c.f. Heb 10:14-18)).

(d) The believers will baptize a new believer in to the body of Christ.

It is done as a confessional testimony before every one that they [the new believer] have received Christ as his/her personal savior (Mark16:6; Acts 2:38). This is the "baptism" enjoined by Christ, Matt 28:19, a "baptism" to be undergone by believers, thus witnessing to their identification with Him in death, burial and resurrection, e.g., Acts 19:5; Rom 6:3,4; 1 Cor 1:13-17; 1 Cor 12:13; Gal 3:27; Col 2:12. The phrase in Matt 28:19, "baptizing them into the Name" (RV; cp. Acts 8:16, RV), would indicate that the "baptized" person was closely bound to, or became the property of, the one into whose name he was "baptized."

(e) Jesus baptizes the believer’s with the Holy Spirit

The Greek word for baptism is ‘baptizo’ which means ‘to get immersed or overwhelmed’. Jesus baptizes the believers with the Holy Spirit just as John the Baptist announced. This happened on the day of Pentecost after the ascension of Jesus and it has been happening ever since that day, and the outward sign or manifestation [of the inward work] is speaking in new tongues (Matt 3:11; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5,8; 2:1-4; 19:2-6).

(ii) Laying on of hands

For various reasons the early church laid hands on believers and unbelievers,

(a) The believers laid their hands to get the sick recovered and healed (Mark 16:18).

(b) The early apostles and believers laid their hands on the new believers for them to get baptized with the Spirit, with the evidence of speaking with new tongues (Acts 8:17-18; 19:6).

(c) The early church elders laid hands on people to appoint them into ministries for which God has called them (Acts 13:2-3; 1 Tim 5:22; 2 Tim 1:6-8).

(d) Jesus Himself laid hands on children and blessed them (Matt 19:13-15).

(e) An impartation of blessings or gifts takes place when we lay our hands upon others in Jesus name (Genesis 48:9, 14-20; Luke 18:15; Deut 34:9; John14:14).

(iii) Resurrection of the dead

When we speak about the resurrection of the dead, one indicates the spiritual and the other the physical aspect of the believer. One happens in the present time as the believer walks in the newness of life and the other thing will happen when Jesus comes to raise the believers in a glorious body, which is called the rapture.

(a) Spiritual resurrection of the believers who are dead in their soulish life due to the old ways or patterns of thinking (Rom 6:4-5; 1 Cor 6:13-14).

(b) Physical resurrection of the believers (1 Thess 4:14-18; 1 Cor 15:51-53, 57-58; John 6:54).

(c) You will be rewarded at the resurrection of the Just for all the work you have done for the Lord in His Name (Luke 14:13-14; Matt 10:41-42; Heb 9:28; 2 Tim 4:8).

(iv) Eternal Judgment (Heb 9:27; John 5:24-25).

Those who hear the voice of Jesus then [at His 2nd coming] and until now [Jesus’ resurrection to the rapture] will live because they have eternal life in Christ Jesus; [the resurrection of life (believers); the resurrection of condemnation (unbelievers) ->(John 5:28-29; Rev 20:13; Acts 24:15, 16 ->resurrection of the dead for both just and unjust)].

The people who live during Christ’s reign on earth (Isaiah 65:10; 56:6-7), will be judged at the end of His reign. The righteous people who lived during that period will have their names written in the book of life, but the sinners names will not be found in it (Rev 20:15).

(a) For every man who ever lived will be judged [unbelievers or sinners] by God at the final white throne Judgment, whose names are not written in the book of life (Rev 20:11-12, 13-15).

(b) The believers will be judged after the resurrection of the just (i.e. rapture) not for sin but for salvation (Heb 9:28), for all the works done for the Lord with their physical body (1 Cor 3:13-15; Col 2:18; Matt 5:11; 6:2; Rev 22:12, 20; 2 Cor 5:10-11).

Whatever done according to the will of God in your life will only be rewarded. For this reason you must present your bodies as a living sacrifice and be transformed by the renewing of your mind and keep working for the Lord always remembering that your labor of love which you have done in His name is not in vain (Rom 12:1-2; 1 Cor 15:58; Galatians 6:10; Hebrews 6:10; Mark 9:38-41; Col 3:17).

The work that we do in his name will not qualify us to go to heaven but only our faith life that we live based on what He has done for us will only take us to heaven. While living as a saint we get rewarded according to our works (Matt 7:21-23; Romans 1:16-17).

At the end of Heb 6:1, 2 the principles end with eternal judgment and the next Verse 3 says “And this we will do if God permits” what? Here the writer is speaking about maturity.

If we have become mature in all other principles and have grown up to be of full age to discern both good and evil by the reason of use, have our senses exercised, then this we will do, what? With that kind of maturity and wisdom, God may permit that person to judge angels during the eternal judgment (Heb 5:14), so only Paul asked the Corinthian believers two questions,

1) “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world (world system of Governance)…?” (1 Cor 6:2). This will happen when Christ returns in His second coming to rule the nations along with the saints (Rev 20:4; Daniel 7:27).

2) “Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?” (1 Cor 6:3). These angels are those rebellious angels that have rebelled against God’s rulership and did Satan’s bidding in his kingdom along with the other angels (Matt 4:8-9; Dan 10:20; Rev 12:4), some of which have sinned (1 John 3:4) by possessing people forcefully during the days of Noah (Matt 8:31;12:43-45; 8:29) and did not keep their proper domain [area of rulership] but left their own abode in the heavenlies [for what? To posses and inhabit people].These angels have already been reserved and kept in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day (Jude 7; 2 Peter 2:4; Rev 20:10-15).

And in the succeeding 5th Verse of 1 Cor 6th chapter Paul asks this question to the believers, Is there no wise man or in other words man of full age to discern both good and evil among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren?

From comparing the above two verses, we can understand God will use people who have become wise or of full age to judge even the angels [i.e. Devil and his co-host of evil workers] who have errored in their ways (1 Cor 6:5; Heb 5:14; Rev 20:8, 10; James 4:7).

At the second coming of Jesus, He will come and gather all the nations including Israel and will judge the world with the saints of God. The twelve Apostles will judge the 12 tribes of Israel (Matt 25:31; 19:28). The saints will judge the world (1 Cor 6:2).

After the Anti-Christ and false prophet will be thrown in to the eternal fire and Satan himself will be cast out into the bottomless pit for thousand years (Rev 19:20; 20:2), then only this judgment of the nations will take place.

Jesus will rule the nations for a thousand years by delegating authority to His saints. He shall rule with a rod of iron and those who rebel against His authority shall be dashed to pieces like a potters vessels (Rev 2:26-27).

He [Jesus] will make the saints as kings and priests to God and then they shall reign in this planet earth (Rev 5:10).

He shall judge between many peoples, and will rebuke strong nations afar off [i.e. from Jerusalem]. Nations shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war anymore. When Christ rules there will be absolute peace on this earth, so only He is called ‘the prince of peace’ (Isaiah 9:6; Micah 4:4).
During Christ’s reign even the animals will turn out to be vegetarians and will be changed to the pre-fallen state of the garden of Eden (Isaiah 11:6-7), when there was no curse upon the animals [This will happen according to each nations obedience to the words (instruction or command) of Jesus Christ].

Then the whole earth [i.e. people who live in it] will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:9).

The whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs until now for the day when Christ will come along with the sons of God and will free everything [earth and all that lives in it] from the bondage of corruption (Rom 8:22, 21). The creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God (Rom 8:19), because of them only blessings will come upon this earth!

When Christ comes and all the saints with him (Zech 14:5), He will rule the earth from Jerusalem and His kingdom will rule over all the earth. Each year feast of tabernacles will be celebrated, those nations which will not participate in it, will receive no rain (Zech 14:1-21).

What does the term resurrection of condemnation mean?

The Bible speaks about the resurrection of unbelievers as the resurrection of condemnation and as the resurrection of the unjust (John 5:29; Acts 24:15). Both are synonymous.

(i) The beast [Anti-christ] and with him the false prophet will first be thrown in to the lake of fire (Rev 19:20).

(ii) The devil [Satan and his evil workers] will then be cast in to the lake of fire and brimstone (Rev 20:10). Very few of these evil spirits will be left out of the bottomless pit to afflict those who rebel against the authority of the King Jesus Christ.

(iii) The above described “resurrection of condemnation” will happen only at the end, before the present earth and heaven will be destroyed by fire (1 Peter 3:10). All the dead people or ungodly people who ever lived and died in the land, sea and air will rise up and they will be judged individually according to the works they have done in their body (Rev 20:13). But the judgment will be conducted by God somewhere in a place other than the present heaven and earth which would have by then have been burned up by fire (Rev 20:11-12).

Then all those people whose names are not found in the book of life will be thrown in to the everlasting lake of fire. This is called as second death because the Bible says in Heb 9:27, “And as it is appointed for man to die once, but after this the judgment…” For the unbeliever who have already died once in the physical body will be resurrected and will be thrown in to the lake of fire by being condemned for their sins where they will experience the continuous pain and torment of death in that terrible state of gnashing of teeth and weeping and they will feel very lonely without God and His presence. This is the second death (Matt 24:51; 25:41; Rev 20:14-15; 21:8).

Those people whose names are found in the book of life will be given entry in to the new heaven and the new earth
(Rev 21:24, 26-27). These people whose names are found in the book of life will be those godly saved people who would have lived after the blessed first resurrection of saints during Jesus second coming to the final end of the heaven and earth when it will be burned by fire. This means that after the first resurrection there is only the judgment at second death which implies there will be no resurrection in between.

What does the term resurrection of life or the resurrection of just mean (John 5:29; Acts 24:15)?

The resurrection of life is only for the believers (John 5:24). In the succeeding verses 28 and 29, Jesus spoke that “the hour is coming [in the future resurrections] in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life….”. Here he does not speak about one resurrection but He speaks about the set time that God has already pre-appointed with the “the hour is coming” analogy. In other words He was saying the pre-appointed or set time is coming. From this verse we can understand that there is a set time for resurrection in various ages as per God’s timetable.

These set times for the believers are as follows,

(i) The resurrection of O.T saints when Jesus got resurrected (Matt 27:52-53; Is 26:19).

(ii) The resurrection of all believers before the tribulation [i.e. Rapture] (2 Thess 4:14-5:4, 9; Luke 17:24-37).

(iii) The two prophets of God who will be killed by the beast from the bottomless pit [Satan himself] and will be resurrected back to life after three and half days (Rev 11:11-12).

(iv) The resurrection of martyrs at the second coming of Jesus (Rev 6:9-11; 7:13-14; Rev 7:15-17; 20:4-6). This is called as the first resurrection because all the martyrs even right from the first century church martyrs to the last one during tribulation will be resurrected from the dead. For them this is the first one, not the rapture. This is one of the reasons they were asking God after the rapture had happened and the wrath of God was going on this planet earth “How long Lord before we will see your judgment get over?" (Rev 6:10). In other words they were expecting their resurrection and succeeding reigning with Christ on this planet earth.

(v) The resurrection of the righteous godly people who lived during Christ’s reign on earth (Rev 20:15).


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