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Introduction to Personal Bible Study - Videos (2007)

4 short introductory video studies First recorded in 2007, posted to GodTube in 2010  These short videos were made nearly 14 years ago. ...

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

The Bible Is a Story of Restoration and Man's Failure to Understand the Plan of God

The Bible is the account of the loss and restoration of the original creation, humans, Israel/Kingdom, and the heavens. It deals almost exclusively with the Earth, its chaos (Genesis) and its future restoration (the Revelation). The future hope (in the pages of scripture) for most is the Earth. Even the hope of the New Jerusalem is only realized when it comes down to Earth. All from Adam receive the gift of life the same way (by grace through faith), but not all have the same hope.

Christians today claim to be the children of Abraham and heirs of his promises. If you are in that company, your hope is the promised land, the restored kingdom, or (for those who qualify), the New Jerusalem. It is an earthly hope. Neither the hope of the land (the restoration of the Kingdom and David's throne as well as justice over all nations) nor the New Jerusalem have been realized yet.


"In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates..."

"By faith [Abraham] sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God."

"Lord, will you at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?"
(The 11 Apostles, after the resurrection, with minds opened)

"[Ye Men of Israel] Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began."
(Peter speaking to Israel after Pentecost)

"And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.'"

"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations..."

"when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, you [the 12 Apostles] also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."

"Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him."

We must remember the Lord's earthly mission was primarily "to confirm the promises made to the [Jewish] fathers [patriarchs]" (Rom 15:8). That is, the restoration of the people, the land, and the Kingdom in Israel. Peter states this after Pentecost (as quoted above from Acts 3) and to the High Priest and Sanhedrin in Jerusalem in Acts 5.

"Him [Christ] hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins."

Peter is still witnessing to the calling of the Lord Jesus after Pentecost. Paul witnesses to this in his Acts Age epistles as we see in the quote from Romans 15 above and in his declaration in Galatians concerning the believers of that age and their place as the children of Abraham.

Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.

-Galatians 3:7-9

It is not until we get to the Post Acts epistles and the revelation of the current age in the Book of Ephesians that we see a "heavenly" hope with "heavenly" blessings. This hope (as are all hopes) is entered into by faith. And unlike the hope referred to in Galatians, the hope of the Dispensation of the Mystery (for those who will enter in) is not seen before in scripture. This blessing in "the far above the heavens" is a new hope; a hope hidden in God from "before the overthrow of the world." 

Gentile blessing through Abraham and Israel has been the plan of God since Abraham. It is the basis for the Sinai Covenant and the New Covenant. We see believing gentiles in the Law, and believers from from Naaman of Syria, to Nineveh in the Book of Jonah, to the Centurion and Canaanite woman in the Gospel of Matthew. Gentile salvation is certainly not the New Covenant. That covenant is specifically for Israel alone. Neither is grace a covenant.   

To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the dispensation of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places... 
-Ephesians 3:8-10

 

I became a minister according to the dispensation from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints.

-Col 1:25-26

This step in the restoration was hidden and must be distinguished from the revealed plan for the restoration of the Earth. This period in nearly at an end. Soon, we will be back on the prophetic clock and the events spoken of in the Revelation and in the Prophets will come to pass. Scripture speaks of those things revealed "from the overthrow of the world [age]" and the Dispensation of the Mystery which is from "before the overthrown of the world [age].

There is a great plan for the Earth. But we are called to higher calling, if we will enter into it.


Oscar M. Baker stated in regard to God's plan for the Earth and those destined for that calling:

"It's surprising how few believers today (and we have a lot of people today who really are believers, they know the Lord, there's no question about that) who don't have anywhere in their teaching God's purpose for the Earth. Nearly all of them think that being saved means surely going to heaven. Isn't that right? In fact, that's a synonym for being saved, ('are you going to heaven?') ... The majority of people today think about people going to heaven. Now, what heaven is and where it is and so on, they don't know, of course. And so that which spans the future ages upon the earth is entirely beyond their comprehension ... These people have failed to see two lines of purpose; one for the Earth and one for the heavens, or heavenly places. So, the average Christian you meet on the street thinks, he's saved, so he's going to heaven. And if he doesn't know about the Mystery, he isn't. He'll be among the saved peoples of the Earth." 
-Oscar M Baker (Excerpt from Audio: Steps to a Goal, Part 2)


Stepping back, we point out that which should be obvious: the current age started neither with the birth of the Lord nor on the Day of Pentecost.  A failure to see or understand or acknowledge this truth leads to other errors. We see Christians adopting practices given only to Israel such as the Passover meal (Lord's Supper), Baptism, Pentecost, Sabbath-Keeping, and the like. 

The keeping of earthly ordinances puffs up the old nature (the flesh). Men seem to crave these outward displays. And in doing so, they ignore the great truths and spiritual blessings of the Dispensation of the Mystery which sits before them. Catering to the flesh (the carnal old nature), men forfeit future blessings.

 

Let no-one defraud you of your prize, while he exercises his will in humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding onto the head, from where the whole body, supplied and united by joints and bands, grows with growth from God.

Colossians 2:18-19


I've fellowshipped in two different local churches over the last 15 years which both enthusiastically adopted the unbiblical practice of "Advent Candles" before "Christmas." Now, I am not saying God is seething with anger with them or that they have committed an unpardonable sin. Rather my point is that it shows a dissatisfaction with Christ and scripture; a need to have a tangible (man-made) ordinance. 

Mythology has become wrapped up in the daily walk of many. We see this clearly in the sacramentalist churches, but we also see it down to the most "fundamental" and "evangelical" churches. Dissatisfaction with a heavenly hope (a true understanding rather than from Greek mythology) leads men to outward displays of religion and piety. And as Paul concludes in Colossians 2:

If you have died with Christ to the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are you imposed upon with ordinances? – “Do not touch, and do not taste, and do not handle”, which are all destined for decay with falling into disuse, these being after the commandments and teachings of men, which indeed have a reputation for wisdom in self-willed worship and humility and austerity of the body, but not of any value for satisfying the flesh.


Note that the outward ordinances have a "reputation for wisdom." Society worships those who display outward piety. Mother Teresa is revered in many Christian circles, yet this woman denied the finished work of the Savior. On at least one occasion she refused to send her Sisters of Charity to an impoverished area because there was no priest. Without a priest, she deemed their work useless.

In her hospitals, patients were sometimes denied pain-relieving medicine. In the throes of agony these poor creatures were encouraged to "offer up" their suffering for their sins. Those of us who grew up in Catholicism are familiar with this. Step on a nail? Offer up your pain for your sins. It felt holy, but it was a direct insult to finished work of the Savior.

All of these practices, no matter how pious or religious they may appear, display a dissatisfaction with Christ, a failure to keep him as the Head of the Body, and a rejection of the heavenly calling (some rejecting the very work of the Savior).

The Lord plans on restoring that which was lost or destroyed by the various rebellions of the Sons of God in the heavens and that of men on the Earth.  Central to these plans is the precious blood of the Great God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Failure to rightly divide the different hopes in scripture and the failure to compare things that differ in scripture leaves men confused. And in that confusion, they grasp for the simplicity of outward displays of religion.

May it not be so of us.

God is surely patient and loving. He wants to gently brings us back to a place of rest in Him. But if we continue in our rebellion, it will result in a loss of reward at the judgment of our service for Him.

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