This is a diagram that I’ve made in order to give a simple understanding of the framework of Scripture. This post is a broad-stroke article of what I plan to cover in detailed multiple-blog-posts at a later time–– though the Scriptures under the pillars will not be referenced much in this post, they will be discussed in detail in the posts that follow. Don’t be deterred by the length of this, but do feel the freedom to read at will over a period of time if necessary.
(For a brief summary of what is described within this post scroll down to the conclusion of five short paragraphs.)
What is the Biblical Gospel?
It is critical to understand what is meant in our Bible by the word Gospel. Clearly, it is what John the Baptist, Jesus, and Paul preached, and it embodies the very substance of the faith we as Christians profess. But… what is it? Gospel is a greek word that means “good news.” Therefore, whenever the word Gospel is heard, it should immediately register the phrase good news in one’s mind. Thus, when approaching the question of “What is the Biblical Gospel?” we are actually approaching the question of “What is the good news in the Bible?”. With the diagram linked above I hope to articulate a simple version of what this good news actually is through the “five pillars of theology” the Bible emphasizes. I hope to show the gospel which the apostles held firmly to and which we must also preach in order to disciple people in the true apostolic gospel.
Note: From here on we will often interchange gospel with good news in order to produce the simple understanding we are trying to achieve.
Approaching the Good News
First it is necessary to state a few points regarding the nature of the Bible. We must perceive the Bible to be God’s story. It has a beginning, a body, and an end. It has characters, a plot, a climax, and a conclusion. It is always so odd to me to find believers that approach the Bible in an entirely different manner than they do any other story. When we pick up a book, we begin reading and develop a simple understanding of the details which lead to our conclusion of what happens. We do not doubt whether the author existed, nor do we ever separate the book into an old account and new account tricking ourselves into believing that what the author meant in the first part of the book, he doesn’t mean anymore. Yet, consistently this is the case with the Bible. We divide it into old and new testaments creating division between the two as if they don’t relate. Many even believe the Old Testament is no longer relevant. This is detrimental to the story! What is promised in the beginning must be fulfilled in the end or God lied. This is the simple truth we must face and it honestly is a simple truth if we take a deep breath, exhale, and let it be as such.
So, stressing this point is not redundant for me, and I pray it isn’t for you either. Genesis to Revelation is a progressional revelation of God’s story. What He says in the beginning, He does not later contradict, nor change. This is GOD we’re talking about! Rather, He confidently states the same truths over and over, confirming the things He has previously said and slowly revealing more of the story until the final climax––when man is redeemed to live with God on the earth again forever. I beg you friends to read the Bible in this format rather than as a large conglomeration of spiritual sayings that ambiguously apply to you at various points in your life. The story has a context – we must find it, accept it, find ourselves in it, and thank God that He is the same yesterday, today and forever. We can trust His story from beginning to end to do what He said it would do from the beginning.
The Good News is Creational
The good news in our Bible is Creational because the God in our Bible literally created the heavens and the earth in Genesis 1. He also created man and then breathed His own breath into his nostrils. This is the first major point we must emphasize in understanding the foundation of the good news in the Bible. Its importance cannot be overemphasized. Because God created everything in existence, He exercises sovereign authority over this existence to do as He wishes. In turn, this absolute control over creation proves Him to be the sole and only Creator.
His proof of this creational identity is represented in events in Scripture such as the global flood, the divine acts of the Exodus, and many others including the future events that unfold at His second coming. In these events we see God exercising sovereign control over the heavens, the earth, and humanity. We also witness His perfect plan and will being played out and achieved within the field of sinful men (mind blown). These things inevitably prove Him to be the one and only Creator.
The sum-total of reality as we know it was created by God and is therefore the place in which God interacts with His creation. The flood account is a primary example of this when God causes the earth to break open and causes the heavens to release rain, resulting in the cataclysmic event we recognize as the global flood. God caused this event, and I emphasize caused. In this account we behold the sovereignty of God over the heavens, the earth, and the life of man. Although we might find it hard to accept, the Bible is firm that there is no other place happening out there somewhere, and this planet we live on is the only place God has chosen to interact with His creation.
Because the totality of what God creates in Scripture is physical in nature, we must understand that there is only one dimension propagated in the Bible. In other words, there is not a separate spiritual dimension. There are indeed angels, demons, and heavens, but because these things exist as invisible to the human eye does not make them another dimension, or “realm.” To think this way, which is typical of modern thinking, lends itself to a worldview that is not formed by the bible. We do not ever have a place in Scripture that says God is in a different realm. Rather, we have a creation account that puts everything in one existence and that existence has differing characteristics. It might be an odd idea to consider that even God dwells within His creation, yet this is exactly what the bible says.
Psalm 11:4 The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD’S throne is in heaven.”
Now immediately, what we normally picture with a passage like this is a golden cloud fantasy land that we perceive to be another realm. Yet, we want to challenge this perspective with the Bible. The word heaven in the bible simply means expanse. It is actually never used in Scripture to mean anything other than expanse. Expanse is most commonly used to define the space between the earth and where God is seated, even though Gos is always HImself said to be sitting within this same expanse. We do well to pay attention to this. God is not living outside of what He has created – He is actually within His creation in an active and personal way. If you could walk through the air, you could literally walk from where you are now directly to the throne of God. The heavens in the Bible are always continuous – meaning, from the space just above the earth that is no longer dirt, to the outer space area where God is (the heights of the heavens Job 22:12) there is traversable space––it is possible to go there. Hence we see Jesus rise into the air in Acts 1 and continue upwards until He actually reached His Father’s throne. He did not simply disappear into another reality. We also see Elijah get taken up in a fiery chariot, and he also must have gone up until he arrived at God’s temple. If the horses and chariot that picked up Elijah weren’t real, then what was the point of him getting into such a contraption? Now this brings us to our next point – the physical nature of heavenly things.
Isaiah 6 is one of the best passages to help us. As in the verse above, we see in this chapter God sitting in a temple on top of a throne, wearing a robe. These are three clear physical components. Isaiah could have seen a spirit-like figure hovering amidst the clouds enshrouded in wispiness. But, this is not what Isaiah sees. Moreover, the angel goes to the altar before the throne and picks up a pair of tongs and then takes a coal from the fire… again here we find descriptions we are all very familiar with––we relate to them well. The angel’s hand does not pass through the tongs, and the fire was not a sub-reality of a different existence. He goes to a real altar in the physical temple before the tangible throne of God who is wearing a robe made of material and takes a coal from a burning fire with a pair of tongs made from something that can be dipped into a fire, probably bronze or something similar. The point is this: God is living within and surrounded by physical reality. It is not disembodied, it is not the normal propagated idea of “spiritual” and it is not another realm. It is currently invisible to the human eye simply because this is how God created it.
So, God’s creation is physical and the heavens are tangible and physical. Heaven as normally perceived is not another realm but a physical place where God’s temple and throne are, and you could in theory travel there by moving through the space we call the sky. The knowledge of God dwelling within His creation instead of outside of it or in another realm should produce in us a great joy that He is closer than we might have perceived. To borrow my good friend’s analogy: If I’m a father and I live in a different house than my kids’, it’d be entirely different to if I were to live in the same house with them. Their perception of me as their father can only be warped with the former condition.
All of this is really good news!
The Good News is Covenantal
After God created the heavens, the earth, and man, He planted a garden in the east of Eden and gave man a command of obedience. Man listened to satan and disobeyed this command being expelled from the garden and subjected to the discipline God chose: Man would now be sinful, he would no longer be immortal, and the effects of this disobedience would be reminded to him in the curse which was placed upon him and the earth. Yet in the wake of such tragedy, hope was given––this disciplinary time would come to an end! As God established a covenant with the earth, God established a covenant with man in Genesis 3:15: There would come forth a Seed that would crush the head of the serpent thus removing the effects of sin from the earth and man. This future deliverance from the divine discipline became the very GOSPEL (good news) which man put hope in from then onward. The covenant in Gen. 3:15 points to the final eschatological (end-time) deliverance when God accomplishes the fullness of His original plan, ending this age of wickedness ruled by satan and beginning the age of righteousness ruled by Him, when man and God are finally reconciled and able to live together on the earth again as it was in the garden – the restoration of all things (Acts 3:21). As we are coming to find, gospel is usually what God does and says, as opposed to the infamy of what man does and says. This ironic interplay truly shows God’s humility time and time again. Man brings forth bad news, God encourages him with good news! This is our Gospel!
The good news in our Bible is Covenantal because of the nature of Who God is as Creator. God has created existence as we know it within a covenantal framework to testify to the surety of everything God said after He created. To say it simply, what God says cannot be broken––it stands firm untouched and as plain as the day He first said it. We could see this covenantal dynamic as a magnificent limitation that God has placed upon Himself in order that humans may have something to hope in knowing it cannot change. It is an incredible thing that God has divinely entrapped Himself with His covenantal words keeping His word to His own hurt (Ps. 15).
We see this in the heavenly dignitaries. In the sun, moon, and stars we behold a sign––a testimony that God’s covenants hold firm and are trustworthy. Why? Because from the day He told them to do what they are doing right now––they have not stopped! Creation and covenant are inherently tied together in this grand scheme of good news serving as a living, shining witness to humans living within God’s created reality. Thus, in Genesis 15, when God calls Abraham out of the nations in order to consecrate to Himself a people for His own possession (Deut. 7:6), He makes a covenant that stands as firm as the sunrise we beheld this very morning.
With Abraham, the covenantal dynamic takes on a personalized dimension as God is bringing the promise of Genesis 3:15 to fruition. His covenant with Abraham is for a land and a people. He makes good on this covenant by delivering Abraham’s descendants from Egyptian captivity and furthering the covenant with them at Mt. Sinai with the giving of a law and a temple. God delivers the people into the land He promised to Abraham and then establishes His covenant with David, promising him a throne of government. In these three covenants we behold the simple promise of the Kingdom. A kingdom as we would define it today simply consists of a piece of land with people in it operating under a law with a ruler (King) reigning on a throne over them. For many generations all kingdoms contained a temple where the God of that culture was worshipped. This is the Kingdom God promised in Scripture and the Kingdom we await Him to establish on the earth at His second coming. We will deal exclusively with this in detail in a latter post as well, but here it suffices to say that the Bible never presents an immaterial kingdom, that is spiritual in nature. The Kingdom is as described above continually in the Bible: A land with a law and a people, a temple with a King seated in it reigning over the land and the people.
We do good to pay attention to the details of the people God chose. Relaying back to our first principle of good news, Creational––Israel is the only other thing in Scripture that God directly gives a creational title to. He created Israel, and He did so on purpose. The Kingdom just mentioned was promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob––the first Jews. It was confirmed by Moses who was a descendant of Jacob, who was Israel. David himself was of this Jewish lineage, and the promised One to reign upon David’s throne forever was to be David’s direct descendant, making Him inevitably Jewish. We boldly affirm that this is what God has chosen to bring about the redemption of man and it is really good news. Many compromise this point today although it sits as a crucial pillar in the biblical gospel. As a fellow Gentile I warn us––let us not be arrogant against the olive tree (cf. Rom 11), but fear God and humble ourselves before His ordained plan of redemption!
The Good News is Cruciform
The chosen Jewish descendant of David that would reign upon a throne in Jerusalem forever as promised in 2 Sam. 7 was born from the flesh of Jewish parents, yet from the Seed of the Holy Spirit. He grew up a Jewish man, a descendant of David and of the lineage of Abraham, fulfilling the very covenantal words of God. His life was lived within the covenantal context that His Father had set up right there in the midst of the land, people, law, and temple that had been promised. He was the One promised to fulfill the only promise left remaining––The King who was to reign on David’s throne––yet, oddly He did not take that throne in His first coming. He instead lived as a prophet to bear witness against the people that they had been unfaithful to the covenant His Father had made and that the curses prophesied as a result of covenantal unfaithfulness were still upon them (Deut. 28; Lev. 26). The good news of the Kingdom that He preached was clearly an event in the future when He would come a second time, not as baby in a manger or as a rejected teacher and prophet, but as the Son of Man spoken of in Daniel 7 to finally set up the true Kingdom on earth He had always desired. His preaching neither inaugurated or began this kingdom during the first coming, but rather, it related only to man in that it created a window of repentance and mercy in which we currently live before He establishes this kingdom at His second coming at which point the time of mercy and repentance will end. This is commonly called The Day of the Lord in Scripture – the time when the Lord finally calls all men to give account of their lives lived on the earth. It is the great apocalyptic hope prophesied in Genesis 3:15 fulfilled! However, Jesus first had a baptism to undergo in order to become the atonement for the righteous God to be able to forgive sinful man and allow them into His kingdom.
It was then that we saw the all powerful Creator God do the most antithetical thing according to His grand previous revealed identity––He laid down His life and died upon the Cross. The promised Deliverer of Genesis 3:15 that would crush the head of the serpent hanging dead on the Cross could be the pinnacle mark of the biblical good news (indeed the arguable elusive center of theology) and in fact the only thing that truly makes the Bible’s good news entirely different than any other religion’s. His body hung there as the substitution for those who had sinned from Adam until the present, bearing their deserved punishment of death in Himself, so that their transgression might be forgiven in the spilling of His own blood. His resurrection testified that He was indeed the acceptable sacrifice to accomplish such a task! First and foremost this atonemental sacrifice, confirmed by the resurrection, was a confirmation of the covenant established with Abraham’s lineage, the Jews, the covenant people, as Peter says in Acts 3,
“It is you who are sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth will be blessed.’ For you first, God raised up His servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”
Paul later confirms this principle of Israel’s ethnic priority regarding the promises concerning the good news in Romans 1:16, …“the gospel…is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
The families of the earth, the Greeks, the gentiles begin receiving their blessing in the Jewish Messiah in Acts 10 with the household of Cornelius––the first gentile converts to the distinctly jewish faith according to the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit comes upon them as a testimony that indeed God was now extending the blessing promised to Israel to Gentiles also – which was the inheritance of eternal life i.e. entrance into the Kingdom. This cross-centered theology must be seen in its context relating to the other two pillars we have established––The Cross happens because God is the Creator of the Heavens, the earth, and man. Man sinned and was banished from the garden and God promised to restore him and the earth through the Seed that would come through Eve. God did this by means of His covenants made with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (Israel), Moses and David, and the Messiah came in this lineage passed down for millennia and died on the Cross to be the vindicated Savior of Jews and Gentiles––a true one new man reality.
Yet in all of this, we should not (and cannot biblically) have the idea that these promises were fulfilled in Jesus during His life on earth in the first coming! His death on the Cross is the means by which men will enter the kingdom that is coming. Paul confirms that this is how the apostles thought about Christ’s death, saying, “…I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the Fathers, and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy,” (Rom. 15:8). Paul’s hope of the promises given to the Fathers remains here a future event––Christ has confirmed that they are valid, and exist in their covenantal stature pure and impossible to obstruct. Jesus’ life on the earth therefore served the covenants previously made to Israel – He did not replace or realize them within Himself. His life and death served as the final solution which is yet entirely future.
Also here we must acknowledge what Paul says Gentiles should do: glorify God for His mercy. Here is a blanket gentile calling as represented in Scripture, for it is true as Paul says in Eph. 2:
Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Eph. 2:11-13
I love this passage because Paul tells gentiles straightforwardly and undeniably what we were and why we should actually be glorifying God for His mercy! Our history is filled with pagan rituals that hated the God of Israel and persecuted His chosen people, and yet because of God’s mercy we have been brought near by the blood of Christ. It is best to emphasize this point in a simple sentence: Gentiles are not the focal point of Scripture – the Jews are, while we gentiles exist in the footnotes and praise God for this merciful inclusion through His blessed Son Christ Jesus! Now, although we are not the point, God has given us a grand calling of provoking His people to jealousy (Rom. 11) which we will discuss at a latter time.
Practically, the good news in our Bible is also cruciform because it was necessary “for the Messiah to suffer before entering into His glory,” (Lk. 24:26). In the same way, those who have been “called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,” (1 Pt. 2:21) embrace the suffering of this age as necessary for proving our faith. Therefore, the nature of our lives as Christians is to embody this same principle of suffering before glory as we “always carry about in our bodies the dying of the Lord Jesus,” (2 Cor. 4:10). The forsaking of our lives and laying down of our own reputation and fleshly boasting, truly becoming the last and least of all, should be the apostolic model we follow based on 1 Corinthians 4 among many other passages. This is embodied in the apostles’ declaration in Acts 14, “Through many tribulations we must enter the Kingdom of God.” It was very clear in their minds that suffering as Jesus did for the sake of the Gospel was necessary to enter the coming kingdom of God.
“He also presented Himself alive after His sufferings, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking to them of the things concerning the Kingdom of God,” (Acts 1:3). After Jesus’ resurrection He had a 40 day intensive seminar with His disciples teaching them about the Kingdom of God. Their question to Him after this was, “Lord, is it at this time that You are going to restore the Kingdom to Israel?” This is not the wrong question as many say! This question is based distinctly upon the promises (covenants) made to the Fathers and what Jesus had taught them. Now that He was resurrected, their hope was that it was time for the promise of the Kingdom found in the Abrahamic, Mosaic, and David covenants to be fulfilled. Jesus’ declaration to them is not that they are wrong, or that they have asked the wrong question, but that, “It is not for you to know the times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest parts of the earth.”
In these passages Jesus affirms our previous established “pillars.” In effect, He says, “God is the sovereign creator who has a fixed time for the restoration of the Kingdom spoken of in the covenants. The Holy Spirit will come upon you and you will make firm what I have taught you over the last forty days. Disciple people in this!” If the disciples had asked the wrong question, surely Jesus would have corrected them, but that’s not what we see. Rather, we see the apostles being endued with the Holy Spirit and their teaching that follows being in perfect accord with what Jesus taught them. It is here that we must make a simple point. If the kingdom had been changed in any sort of way from what the expectation of the kingdom was previously, it would be vibrantly clear in the apostles’ teaching in the book of Acts- meaning, if the Kingdom had become a spiritually inaugurated kingdom, the apostles would have made sure that everyone understood this MASSIVE change! However, in the book of Acts we do not see any mention of such things. Rather, what we continually see is the affirmation that nothing had changed concerning the promises, rather, they had only been further confirmed. In Peter’s second sermon we see this future hope emphasized with vibrant clarity:
“But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.”
Thus, Christ suffered, and this is the part God had fulfilled. The hope of the promises being fulfilled remained the future event when He sends Jesus Christ the appointed and the time of the restoration of all things begins. The death, resurrection and ascension of the Messiah into heaven were the events unforeseen regarding the establishment of the Kingdom. These events, however, confirmed the previous promises and now the expectation of the fulfillment of the covenants––the land, people, law, and temple, which the Messiah reigned over on the throne of David in Jerusalem, the Kingdom––was still understood in its proper context of truly being an apocalyptic event. Never is there any sort of reimagined kingdom, or reimagined Israel – only confirmation of what had been previously spoken by God. This is a superb reality to instill our faith in! God did not change anything in His story mid-way! If He did, His word was simply not true and He would be found a liar. Rather, everything God had spoken previously came to pass just as He said it would. He operates humbly underneath this covenantal confinement of His power. This is all incredibly good news!
The Good News is Charismatic
The good news in our bible is charismatic because the Holy Spirit has been endowed by the God of Israel into the bodies of humans who believe His good news and repent of their sins in order to receive His forgiveness and inherit eternal life. Therefore, “Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,” (Eph. 1:13-14) which summarizes the function of Holy Spirit inside a person. “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation– having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” The Holy Spirit enters the man who believes the Gospel and repents of his sins, serving as a seal upon the man and given to him as a pledge according to his faith in the gospel that he will inherit and enter the kingdom that has been promised in Israel’s covenants. The Holy Spirit testifies within the person that this man has become God’s own possession and will actually inherit eternal life.
The Holy Spirit also serves a person in conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8) as Jesus said. The man is convicted of sin because this is what prohibits him from entering eternal life and is the very reason the Messiah was crucified. The Holy Spirit convicts of righteousness, because this sin must be repented of, and the man must take on the righteousness of Christ rather than his own so that no man may boast. The man is convicted of judgment, because there is a fixed day when “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds done in the body, according to what He has done, whether good or bad.”
Jesus also says that the Helper will “teach us all things, and bring to remembrance all that Jesus said,” (c.f. Jn. 14:26). He says this in lieu of His repeated saying, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments,” (Jn. 14:15). Thus, “walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh,” (Gal. 5:16) which are the evident deeds of any sort of self seeking and anything that does not serve your neighbor. Hence, Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount is a good template of what we should be reminded of continually by the Holy Spirit.
Here is where the now is vitally important in Scripture because how we live according to the Spirit now determines whether or not we enter into the coming kingdom. The Sermon on the Mount exists as the instructions of Jesus for believers in Him who are seeking to become His disciples, striving to enter through the narrow gate and take up their cross and follow Him to their own deaths. This sermon is what those filled with the Spirit fulfill as their act of faith in His Cross and this future kingdom. If we do not do what is there in those three chapters, we simply do not have true faith in what is to come. James clearly tells us that faith without works is dead, meaning, faith without action is not faith that takes a man into eternal life. Do not misunderstand me here. I AM NOT SAYING WE INHERIT SALVATION THROUGH OUR OWN WORKS. I am saying that the works we do in the body prove the truth and substance of our faith in the Cross and the righteousness of Christ Jesus. The Sermon on the Mount is clear on this point. For example, a good tree doesn’t produce bad fruit, the way is narrow and the gate is small that leads to life, and “he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” Jesus immediately follows these stories with “everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them…” will be like the wise man with a house on the rock, meaning, his inheritance is secure and the man will enter the kingdom. The warning in Matthew 7 of doing things but not actually doing the will of the Father is one of the sternest most terrifying warnings in all of Scripture. It tells us a man can cast out demons, perform miracles, and call Jesus Lord and still not enter the kingdom of God. In Jesus’ analogies and parables we see His ingenious ability to say the same thing a hundred times and not be repetitive––one man inherits the kingdom, the man who not only hears the words, but takes action and does them, proving his faith in the words to be true.
If the current inheritance of the Holy Spirit within us is defined by Paul as a seal, pledge, downpayment (deposit), and first-fruits, what are these qualifying words in relation to? The point in a downpayment is that it is unto something else. It is the same with a pledge and seal. Very clearly, it is not the fullness but merely a portion. In Scripture, God defines the first-fruits in an offering as a tenth of the whole. If I make a downpayment on a house, I have given a portion of the sum owed to the owner. I might live in the house at that point and receive the benefits of the home, but the fullness of the home is not mine in ownership until I pay the final dollar owed. It is the same with a pledge. A pledge is given unto something to be received at a later time. Likewise, Scripture presents that the Holy Spirit is within men now as God’s downpayment and pledge, teaching us to look towards the Day of the Lord when we receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit as promised by the prophets.
It is critical that we as believers in Jesus understand that the Holy Spirit has a very clear purpose as represented in the covenants with Israel. If we do not understand what the Old Testament says about the Holy Spirit, we cannot understand why He is inside of us. The Holy Spirit was promised to Israel, and He does not come without context!
It is here that we must briefly talk about the New Covenant, as it is inherently related to the promised Spirit. This might be different to what you’ve previously believed, but we always turn to the Bible to challenge what we believe:
31“Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. 33“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34“They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more,” (Jer. 31:31-34).
18“When they come there, they will remove all its detestable things and all its abominations from it. 19“And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God,” (Ez. 11:18-20).
In these two passages, among many others, God sets before us a clear future expectation relating to a New Covenant He makes with the house of Israel. This New Covenant is synonymous with God putting His Spirit into them. We also read that this enables them to walk in God’s statutes and ordinances, meaning that they are enabled to fulfill God’s law perfectly.
This is an incredible promise! Jesus indeed presented the New Covenant of His blood, by which those who believe in Him are a part of. However, yet again we have the principle of the covenant Jesus made in His blood being an event fulfilled in the future, since what is mentioned above has not yet happened in full. Thus, the promise of God is that He will make a New Covenant with Israel, a covenant which will inevitably be unable for them to break, due to the enabling of the Holy Spirit inside of them to keep His law. Beloved, this is the covenantal promise of the entrance into the kingdom on the day of the resurrection from the dead when we are made “like Him,” meaning, like Him in His sinless obedience to the Father.
Just to be clear about the New Covenant, Hebrews chapters 8-10 makes clear that the New Covenant has been inaugurated by the blood of Jesus. Also, specifically Romans 2:15 clearly tells us that when gentiles do instinctively the things of the law in shows that the work of the law has been written on their hearts. These few passages express that through the New Covenant inaugurated by Jesus blood the measure of the Holy Spirit currently inside of us gives us the conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment Jesus promises in John 16. In this we rejoice! However, because of many Old Testament passages we understand that the complete enablement of sinless nature, when the law is written on our hearts by the Spirit in the resurrection happens when the New Covenant is established with reconciled Israel after Jesus second coming. It is important to understand and distinguish the parallels and differences between the two. In doing so we are able to see the greater hope of deliverance in the future and that the full establishment of the New Covenant is what we are waiting and hoping for in the future!
What a firm hope and what truly good news this is.
The Good News is Apocalyptic
The Gospel is apocalyptic because in its simplest form there is foretold in Scripture a certain end to this current age. This end is the driving force of the events in the Bible from the fall of Adam to Jesus’ descent from the sky. Even from Genesis 3:15, as we’ve seen, there is a general thrust towards this final hope being accomplished when the head of the serpent is crushed, and the earth and man are delivered form the effects of sin and the curse. It stands so vibrantly clear even from Genesis 3 that the orientation of the Bible is focused on this final event. This final event is the very subject of apocalypticism. Do not be put off by the term apocalyptic – it is truly a helpful term when approaching the subject. We don’t have to overcomplicate the simplicity of this so let us be extremely pragmatic here. When we say the good news is apocalyptic, we simply mean that the entirety of the Christian hope is set in the events of the future (soon to take place) that bring about the final deliverance which God has promised. It means that this current age in which we live is broken, sinful, wicked, and dark because man sinned but that there is a future day when God will end this age and transition us into the age of perfection, sinlessness, righteousness, and light-filled glory. It is the culmination and bringing to fruition of everything God has said. It is the fulfillment of the promises to Israel and their extension to the Gentiles. It is indeed everything we have described within this article finally coming to pass.
Again, we must not overcomplicate the issues at the end of the story. The storyline is simple and God is not doing anything new as many try to frame it today. In the midst of the chaos of many different ministries trumpeting the “new thing” God is doing, we can rest assured that God is always doing this same Gospel––which is exactly what He’s always done! God is going to continue doing this gospel, which is what He said He would do and this is the very substance of apocalypticism: God fulfilling what He previously said. So, let us briefly overview the chief dynamics that make our Gospel apocalyptic.
Since we have covered four pillars now, we should naturally understand that within the apocalyptic end we should see the point of each of the previous four pillars come to summation in the grand climax of our good news being achieved. It could almost suffice to say that everything we’ve summed up thus far in this article is simply played out in the apocalyptic dynamic, and just leave it there. However, let us evaluate the details of this finality in order to see the end results. In doing this we can finally see why the pillars we’ve highlighted actually function as the catalysts to bring about God’s redemptive plan for man and the earth.
First off, it is important to understand that the bible presents a very clear dichotomy between this age in which we live, and the next age when this one ends. In essence, the age to come, and the events that lead to this grand transition are what we are studying in apocalypticism. So, just mark this in our minds as a finality: Apocalypticism is not a scary word that we cannot understand. It simply means the final events that transition this age into the next age. I am saying that many of the promises in Scripture actually find their fulfillment after Jesus returns, rather than before as is very often presented. Let’s look at the Scriptures to see if this is true.
Firstly, the Creational existence that we know, which God created good has been subjected to futility and is currently groaning for its own deliverance,
“…For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God…” (Rom. 8:20-21).
When man was cursed after breaking God’s command in Eden, the earth received the repercussions of his actions–it was cursed with thorns and was no longer able to yield fruit (possibly in size and quantity) as it did before. We must learn from this passage that the earth was very different before Adam sinned. It is such a graphic description of Paul to say that creation is under the bondage of decay. But, isn’t that what we hear all the time? The earth is in trouble! Whether it’s the ozone, polar caps, population density, food, drought––the earth is decaying! We are running out of oil, we are running out of water, and popular belief is that within 100 years this earth could be decimated unless man finds a miraculous solution to the problems. So even scientists have an apocalyptic expectation albeit very liberal and godless. According to their ‘faith’, man will solve the problems of the earth. In our creational pillar, the apocalyptic expectation for the earth is a total deliverance from decay into a perpetual regeneration that continues for ages to come. This is orchestrated by Jesus sitting on the throne in Jerusalem. It is delivered from this curse by the one who subjected it to futility: The Sovereign Creator God. Logically, since God is the one who subjected it to decay, man can do nothing to stop this and only God the Father, and Jesus as the Messiah, in tandem with the Holy Spirit can bring this grand transition to the earth to stop the decay and begin the regeneration of creation.
As we’ve discussed, man was also subjected to this godly discipline and thus,
“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved,” (Rom. 8:22-24).
“…we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come,” (2 Cor. 5:2-5).
This glorious redemption of the earth and man is seen as one grand event in the future and the Holy Spirit has been given to us as a guarantee that this redemption will take place! Let’s move on to the Covenantal pillar and its purpose in the apocalyptic end.
God promised Abraham a land and a lineage that would be a blessing to all the nations of the earth, and he, as well as the others mentioned in Hebrews 11,
“…were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them,” (v. 13-16).
Abraham and the other people of faith believing in God’s promise to Abraham died having not received the promise. And here is such a glorious truth for us all to adhere to–– that when we die, we die living by faith that God will in fact fulfill this promise to Abraham! This is the qualification of becoming a part of the great cloud of witnesses: looking towards the future. The people of faith and hope have set these in God achieving the final end of His promises. In effect, apocalypticism is faith that God will act upon His promises to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David and fulfill them in totality according to the words He spoke. As we saw previously, Jesus plainly tells us in Acts 1 that the Father has fixed a day for the promises to be fulfilled. Faith in God and His divine day to do what He said is the very substance of true apostolic faith and hope.
The good news of this land and lineage promised to Abraham that was to be a blessing to all the nations of the earth was further developed at Mt. Sinai with the giving of the law when God spoke to Abraham’s lineage. His choice of this lineage was then reconfirmed to David in 2 Samuel 7 when the promised deliverer spoken of in Genesis 3:15 would reign over the land and lineage promised to Abraham and govern them upon a throne of righteousness in Jerusalem. God promised that this would happen directly through David’s lineage, who was Abraham’s great (many times over) nephew. This promise found its divine agent in Christ Jesus (Yeshua the Messiah) who is the Son of God, truly God Himself in the flesh, who was crucified, dead, buried, and resurrected from the dead as a confirmation of the promises we are discussing. This is where things can get off-track for some people (by off-track I mean: reimagined, replaced, and changed at Christ’s first coming). We must maintain a covenantal hope that keeps the promise of the lineage itself (Israel) having apocalyptic destiny––not having everything fulfilled in Christ at His first coming (We will appropriately deal with Galatians 3 at a later time, but to put it simply, Galatians 3 is not about an erasing of Israel’s ethnic calling). The covenants to Abraham, Moses and David have not yet been fulfilled, and were not fulfilled when Jesus died on the Cross––and Jesus doesn’t feel degraded when we say this! He has established it this way!
Now, we will tie together the covenantal and the cruciform pillar so that we can understand Jesus, His short life on earth, and His own apocalyptic expectation. Hebrews tells us expressly the meaning of Jesus’ first coming and the expectation of the second:
“…but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him,” (Hebrews 9:26-28).
“but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET,” (Hebrews 10:28).
So, Jesus was manifested (born in the flesh) to put away sins by the sacrifice of Himself, and He is currently seated at the right hand of the Father awaiting the time when His enemies are put under His feet. Jesus confirms His own expectation of the end in Matthew 25,
“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. “All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,” (v. 31-34).
We are using a few examples here just to make a simple point. Jesus’ first coming was atonemental in purpose, meaning He lived to die as a sacrifice to make reconciliation between God and Israel by His blood (we will discuss His prophetic calling in relation to Israel, which is of equal importance, at a later time). He became the atoning sacrifice that covered sins, expressly, Israel’s sins––extended to gentiles.
“For you (Israel) first, God raised up His servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways,” (Acts 3:26).
As Peter is preaching directly to the Men of Israel as stated in the beginning of his sermon in vs. 12, we see that the apostles viewed Jesus’ life, death and resurrection as being related to Israel first. Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 is so profound I highly recommend you study it!
Since Jesus rose from the dead, we read that He is now awaiting the time that His enemies are made His footstool. 1 Corinthians 15 in plain language tells us that this takes place after His second coming and after the resurrection of the saints,
“For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet, (v. 21-25).
So, even our Lord Jesus is not content with the way things are on the earth now! Have you ever considered that Jesus, our resurrected King of glory, is waiting for a day in the future? The day when He is finally hallowed among the nations of the earth, seated on the throne in Jerusalem, while His and His Father’s enemies are being made their footstool! All this while surrounded by resurrected Jews and Gentiles––one new man. The point is this- Jesus is also longing for the next age. Just to highlight this issue with more emotion let us look to one other passage of Jesus’ words:
“I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished! Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division,” (Lk. 12:49-51).
Although we cannot in detail define this fire He will bring on the earth here, in its context it is a very negative thing, and it is very future, speaking of millennia after His crucifixion. Aside from the common misconception that Jesus is referring to the giving of the Holy Spirit here, we do well to just pay simple attention to the very negative context of His speech. Jesus here is wishing that it were time to kindle the fire of judgment that He brings upon the earth at His second coming.
So, we can now ascertain just how future-oriented the apostles and Jesus Himself were, and hopefully this gives us the freedom to clear away many of the clouds of confusion surrounding various interpretations of the reality we live in. We are simply living in this broken age, hoping for this future event!
Within this glorious plan there remains the context of how Jesus will achieve this final end: enter the people Israel. We as gentiles must fasten all of our hope to the redemption of Israel because without them, no one inherits the resurrection. Let us start with a verse everyone is familiar with in Romans 9 and work out what it means for our good news.
“I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed,separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen,” (Rom. 9:1-5).
Here Paul emphatically declares that six things belong to Israel: adoption, glory, covenants, law, temple service, and promises. He then emphasizes that the Messiah has come from them, making it the final point of his statement. Now, in Romans 8 Paul has already told us that the adoption is simply the resurrection from the dead (as defined in 1 Corinthians 15 also). But what about the remainder of these things?
Often, these things are perceived to be mere past things Israel had and did, but why would Paul make a point about what Israel did in the past, in the same sentence with the future resurrection? No, we should assume that Paul is consistent in his line of thought here and that he is thinking about the promises spoken of by God that remain yet unfulfilled. This is Paul’s grief: God has promised them so much, and they are currently blinded to their own Messiah crucified as the means by which they obtain these promises! He even goes as far to sum up his entire calling and soon to be martyrdom with an incredible statement in the last chapter of Acts:
“I am wearing this chain for the sake of the hope of Israel,” (28:20).
Why does this matter for us? Simply, Israel’s hope has become the gentiles’ hope through our inclusion to the promises God made to Abraham, Moses and David. The Christian hope is not to die and go away to heaven in a disembodied state! Paul’s grief is twofold. Without Israel being saved, no person can be saved. If Israel does not inherit these things, neither do gentiles, as Paul states to us in Romans 2:9-10, “There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.“ In the chapter before he prefaced this by saying that, “I am not ashamed of the gospel (good news), for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
Here is the reason we are defining the good news in such depth within this post and the very reason we must understand it. The good news of our Bible is for the Jew first. Meaning, they have priority to all of the promises of God because they are the chosen people. Therefore, God has ordained them to be the conduit by which He accomplishes ALL, and I emphasize ALL, of His purposes through. It is Jesus the Messiah, and it is the people of Israel. It is Jesus the Jewish man at the right hand of the Father, governing the Jewish remnant in righteousness on the earth, enabling them to walk in their irrevocable calling of the temple service, law, and glory. It is both Jesus and Jews together! The merciful part is that gentiles get to reap the glorious benefits of their relationship through the blood Jesus shed on the Cross (Eph. 2:13), so “the Gentiles (should) glorify God for His mercy!” (cf. Rom. 15:9, emphasis always mine).
Now, as we turn to look at the passages in the prophets that explain in detail what we are talking about, we will start with Peter’s exhortation:
“This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles. Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” (2 Pt. 3:1-5).
We are exhorted by the beloved apostle Peter to pay attention to the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets, and this is in the context of Jesus’ return to the earth and the mockery it will receive in the last days. We go to the prophets because we are exhorted to, and we are exhorted to because within them lies an incredible amount of information regarding Israel’s hope––which has become gentile hope. Our brother Paul also commands us in this principle in Romans 15:4, “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” So, Peter and Paul both confirm the hope that they are holding to was defined early in the Bible. This is helpful to us as students of the Bible.
Thus, we begin this concluding part by highlighting Isaiah 40-66 because the hope they are referring to is so vividly articulated here. I frequently tell people to fall in fatal love with these chapters, reading them through and through, again and again. You want to know them, study them, understand them, and get lost in making them your hope. Within them is the right context for understanding what was in the apostles’ minds regarding the hope of Israel and why Paul was willing to wear a chain and have his head chopped off for it. The very defining substance of apocalypticism is revealed in depth in Isaiah 40-66. You could also say that to obtain good end-time theology it cannot be done apart from this huge portion of Scripture. If you ignore this section, your eschatology is certainly flawed.
The reason that almost all of the apostles were tragically yet gloriously martyred was because something was very real to them. We should assume that it could only be an incredible hope that can drive a man to give his only life for. The men who walked and talked with Jesus had been taught something and they understood His life to have confirmed something. We find this something in Romans 15:
“For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers,” (v.8).
This is an immaculate verse pointing to how the apostles interpreted Jesus’ life. As we’ve seen, they interpreted it as a sacrifice that made atonement for sins, and here we see that they also understood His life to serve as a confirmation of the words God had promised to the fathers (i.e. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David). Because of this confirmation within the life and death of Jesus, the apostles knew that Israel’s hope of this final salvation, deliverance and restoration was actually true––solid and anchored in the Man they had seen bleed and die on a Cross and then raise up into the sky. They had perfect assurance that the promises God made in the prophets would be fulfilled and that the resurrection of life would be given unto them in accord with those promises. This is truly an unshakable hope. In their minds, while being “stoned, sawn in two, tempted, and put to death with the sword,” (cf. Hb. 11:37) was this driving hope of the passages we now look to.
Isaiah 60:1-6 “”Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising. Lift up your eyes round about and see; They all gather together, they come to you. Your sons will come from afar, And your daughters will be carried in the arms. Then you will see and be radiant, And your heart will thrill and rejoice; Because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you, The wealth of the nations will come to you. A multitude of camels will cover you, The young camels of Midian and Ephah; All those from Sheba will come; They will bring gold and frankincense, And will bear good news of the praises of the LORD.”
This is one of my favorite passages, and I wish I could post the whole chapter here. Instead I beg you to read it on your own. What is clear in this passage is that, the glory of the Lord has not yet risen upon Israel. We also behold in the second verse that preceding this will be a time of darkness covering the land and the people. This also is the yet future event known as Jacob’s Trouble that we will deal extensively with in several other posts in the future. It is in this one two-word event that the whole of eschatology is played out. It is critical to understand, and although it may seem complex, understanding the why of it can be fairly simple. It suffices to say that Revelation, Zechariah, Daniel, and Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, and Luke 21 are all describing this one event called Jacob’s Trouble found in Jeremiah 30:7 and that it is the 3 and a half years directly preceding Jesus’ return.
As we focus on the great apocalyptic hope, it can sometimes seem somewhat dark and disheartening because things like judgement, trouble, and distress are mentioned. But we do well to consider God’s merciful tarrying with men for about 6000 years. He has stayed His judgment, and kept it from breaking out against men, and this is the final time when He will finally restrain no longer. Consider, how much hard work is sown into the garden before it bears fruit? Does the seed not die before it comes to life? Did not our own Lord Jesus have to suffer before entering into His glory (Lk. 24:26)? The crucifixion is always before the resurrection. This is our divine template for understanding the toil that produces everlasting fruit and the suffering that produces an eternal weight of glory. Though hard to stare at and accept at times, we “prepare our minds for action, keeping sober in spirit, and fixing our hope completely on the grace to be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” (cf. 1 Pt. 1:13).
For now we are focusing on the what of apocalypticism, rather than the why. The what is this incredible hope that Jesus will return on the clouds of heaven and fulfill the promises to the Fathers by making Israel a blessing to all the nations of the earth. Let us look to the other passages.
Lev. 26:9-11 “‘I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you. You will still be eating last year’s harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new. I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.”
Jer. 31:31-34 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
“In that day the Branch of the LORD will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth will be the pride and the adornment of the survivors of Israel. 3It will come about that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy—everyone who is recorded for life in Jerusalem. 4When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and purged the bloodshed of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning, 5then the LORD will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory will be a canopy. 6There will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain,” (Is. 4:2-6).
“And many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways And that we may walk in His paths.” For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem,” (Is. 2:3).
We should take heed that gentiles are the side note in these passages and that these promises were made directly to Israel. This is not favoritism by God, this is just Him being faithful to what He originally said. As Gentiles, we humbly accept that we are the nations in the above passage (Is. 60:2; 2:3) that are coming to see the Lord make Israel the light He has promised her to be, and to learn the law in Zion. Fellow gentiles––we hope in this great restoration of Israel! We join ourselves to her and God’s plan for her!
It is proper to highlight that this final achievement by God is actually accomplished through the fullness of His Spirit being put inside of Israel. As we have discussed, currently, it is biblically logical to presume that we have a tithe of firstfruits, or 1/10, of the Holy Spirit given to us as the guarantee, and pledge of what is to come. However, in the day of restoration God puts His Spirit into Israel (and this is extended to gentiles) in FULLNESS.
Ez. 36:27 “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.
Ez. 11:19-20 “And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God.”
Ez. 37:14 “I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken and done it,” declares the LORD.’”
Jer. 31:31-34 31“Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. 33“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34“They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
Here we see that the future hope of the Spirit being put within Israel in fullness is the final deliverance from sin and the entrance into the New Covenant. It is by enactment of this new covenant that God’s Spirit is put within them in full, and they are enabled to never again transgress His law. This applies to gentiles also who have attached themselves to this hope for Israel. We await that complete filling of the Spirit, when our hearts become tender and we are able to obey God flawlessly! Truly, we find the entire purpose of the resurrection here in Israel’s final apocalyptic deliverance and as gentiles we can become like Paul and be willing to wear a chain until He brings this to pass!
“You who remind the Lord, take no rest for yourselves; and give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth,” (Is. 62:7).
Although we honed in on many specific parts of the Gospel in our Bible let us now provide a brief summation of these five points. The hope is that the reader would now have a much firmer grasp in reading this summation than previously.
The good news in our Bible is creational because the God of our Bible created the heavens and the earth and therefore exercises sovereignty over them to do as He wills. In the beginning, it was clear that He willed man to live in relationship with Him in a garden but man disobeyed God’s command and was expelled from the garden. At that time the effects of sin and death came upon man and the earth in the form of a curse––a disciplinary measure God took to produce hope in the promise. In the midst of the tragedy, God made the promise of hope in Genesis 3:15 that He would bring about a person through the Seed of man which would end the curse and bring man back into relationship with God in the garden. This began the covenantal promise towards restoration which is the whole subject of everything thereafter in Scripture. Next, God confirmed this covenant with Abraham by bringing the promised Seed through his lineage and that this lineage would be a blessing to all the nations of the earth. The covenant with this lineage was reconfirmed in the miraculous deliverance from Egypt, at Mt. Sinai, and then again with David in promising the One who would rule on the throne of David in Jerusalem forever.
Before that ruler came, we behold in Scripture the same pattern of covenantal discipline within the microcosm of the people Israel. God gives them the covenantal terms of His dwelling among them, and they are unfaithful to that covenant, resulting in a discipline aligned with the Edenic expulsion. The Messiah is then born as the ultimate reconfirmation that God has in fact deliberately established this Jewish lineage to be what He promised Abraham. However, we behold the nature of our Gospel being cruciform in that the Messiah suffered in His first coming to take away sin, but will appear a second time for salvation (Hb. 9:28). After His crucifixion we understand from Paul that the discipline spoken of in Deuteronomy 28-32 upon this people has resulted in their eyes becoming blinded and their hearts hardened so that gentiles can also inherit salvation at His second coming.
Jesus was confirmed to be the agent promised in Genesis 3:15 and to David in 2 Sam. 7 through His resurrection from the dead. In this resurrection, He gave His Spirit to the Jews first and then to the gentiles as a guarantee of this promised inheritance spoken of in the covenants made with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and David. This firstfruits (Rom 8:23) helps us groan for that great and final deliverance from this age of sin and unrighteousness and put to death the works of the flesh (Gal. 5) in order to walk in a manner worthy of His Gospel (Phil. 1:27) in order that we might inherit eternal life. This salvation, redemption, blessing, and life eternal is promised as the enactment of the new covenant to Israel in the second coming of the Messiah when God finally puts the fullness of His Holy Spirit in their hearts and gentiles’ hearts realizing the one new man reality (Jer. 31:31).
Before this happens there is a certain time of trouble prophesied in the Scriptures which is the ultimate climax of the covenantal discipline mentioned in Scripture upon the house of Israel (Jer. 30:7). However, she will be delivered out of it by the return of Jesus to the earth and will live in peace once again shining as a light to all the nations of the earth (Is. 60). In Jesus fulfilling this promise He is most glorified, and the earth will sing of His glory in fulfilling what He previously foretold. The day of His return is what transitions this age of wickedness into the age of righteousness which is prophesied to last for 1000 years, for Christ will reign from Jerusalem until all of His enemies are made His footstool(1 Cor. 15) and Satan will be bound in prison while Christ reestablishes His own rule on earth. During this time the nations will come to Zion to learn righteousness from Him and the law will go forth from Zion returning the earth back to the righteousness of God as formerly revealed. At the end of this millennial reign, Satan will be thrown into the Lake of Fire and each man will give account at the final judgment before the throne of the Father. Then comes the end when He delivers the kingdom to the Father that God may be all in all!
As for now, as Christians we are seeking to live in relation to these glorious promises in the very near future. Since God is relating to man in mercy during this age, allowing time to repent before this age ends and judgement against sin is performed, we also live as a witness to these 5 pillars of the Gospel, so that men can repent and turn from their sin to inherit the promises God has made because God has appointed for men to live once and then comes the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). How we live now in regards to obedience to Jesus, which is more appropriately defined by Jesus as laying down our lives and Paul calls being baptized into His death (Rom. 6:3), affects the outcome of that day since salvation should not ever be assumed when we are “working out our salvation with fear and trembling, (Phil. 2:12). In the fear of the Lord we understand His mercy and justice and that both attributes will be revealed clearly on the Day of Christ Jesus. We long for this glorious appearing and rejoice with joy inexpressible until He comes and establishes His kingdom on this earth.
Even so, Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus and make Jerusalem a praise in the earth so that we might partake in this eternal plan of salvation You have so brilliantly orchestrated! Amen!