Be Holy (part three)


Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).

Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live” (Exodus 33:18-20).

God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen (1 Timothy 6:15-16).

Can we see God? How can we see God and how do we see God?

There are many teachers who suggest that even as Christians we remain enslaved to sin until we finally die – only then will we be freed from this body of sin and we will then be holy and see the Lord face to face. In other words, that suggests that we will only truly be made holy when we die.

If that is the case there would be no real incentive to be holy while we live in this body of flesh. I believe this view demonstrates a serious misunderstanding of the gospel. We are to count ourselves as crucified with Christ and raised to new life by the Holy Spirit. However, if we become complacent and resigned to sin, thinking that holiness is impossible until we die, then we do not really count ourselves as having already died to sin. While we continue to live according to the flesh, we cannot effectually live according to the Spirit.

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:16-21).

Some teachers believe that we undermine the grace of God if we suggest that believers must be holy, but I contend that we abuse God’s grace if we allow ourselves to become complacent with regard to sin and and make no effort to be led by the Spirit.

Those who still live according to the flesh will not inherit the kingdom of God. So why give assurance to sinners that they will inherit the kingdom of God regardless of how they live? If people misinterpret this teaching, they might think that I am suggesting that we must become holy in order to be saved. However, on the contrary, I am suggesting that if people are saved it will become evident that they are no longer living according to the flesh, but that they are being led by the Holy Spirit.

For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live (Romans 8:13).

When Adam disobeyed God and realised his nakedness, he tried, in his shame, to hide from God. People who resist the Lord’s call to be holy, likewise do not walk in the light and cannot, therefore, claim to love and worship the Lord.

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God (John 3:19-21).

Under the Old Covenant, the worshippers did not dare to be so bold as to enter the Most Holy Place of the temple. Even the high priests feared that they may be struck dead if they entered the Most Holy Place in an unworthy manner. Yet now, through Christ, we have the means to be sanctified, not only ceremonially and externally, but cleansed from within so that we may enter God’s holy presence. Why would anyone resist the call to be holy and choose to rather hide from God’s holy presence?

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water (Hebrews 10:19-22).

I could say the following at any point in this series, but I have decided to say it now: It would not surprise me that many of you may find the call to be holy, especially when compared to walking on water, far too daunting and unrealistic while you live in this body of flesh which is so prone to sin.

But what you need to understand is that it is the Lord who makes us holy by giving us the Holy Spirit through which we are born again and become a new creation. We do not become holy by our own endeavour – He makes us holy, – we are his workmanship.

Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters (Hebrews 2:11).

God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness (Hebrews 12:10).

The call to be holy is the wonderful privilege to participate in God’s holy nature – to become one with him.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires (2 Peter 1:3-4).

In part four of this study we will consider what it actually means to be holy.


Be Holy (part two)


This is part two in this series on the call to: “Be Holy.” (I encourage you to start at part one if you have the faith to pursue the goal of holiness and righteousness and to get into the flow of this teaching series).

If you have seen the epic movie, “Born Free” about Elsa the lion’s journey to freedom, you may better appreciate the well known phenomena that it is not all that easy to set free a creature that was born into captivity.

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:31-36).

Please take special note: The context in which Jesus spoke of (Jewish) believers being set free,  is very clearly in context to being set free from their bondage to sin. To this day, as it was back then, many Jews believe that they are not like “gentile sinners” for they have the Law of Moses through which they believe that they can attain righteousness.

But as Paul taught in his letter to Timothy: We know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me (1 Timothy 1:9-11).

The law was not given to set sinners free from their bondage to sin, it was given because they are enslaved to sin and they need to be restrained and convicted of their sinfulness so that they would want to be set free.

All too often, as happened with the believers at Galatia, believers who have been truly set free from the power of sin through the Holy Spirit, suddenly feel an obligation to come under the Old Covenant Law – or under a long list of many similar external rules and regulations, thus becoming enslaved all over again.

In part one I compared the “impossible” goal of achieving holiness in Christ to that of walking on water. We know that in Peter’s experience of walking on water, he began to sink the minute he took his eyes off Jesus and looked around at his “impossible” situation. Jesus lifted him from the water and once again he sat safely in the boat. While we learn to “walk on water”, we are also extremely thankful for God’s grace which, I may add, is not a license to continue sinning.

Jesus came to set us free, not not only from sin, but also from the Law which was given for sinners. However, we cannot be set free from the safety net and supervision of the Law if we remain in bondage to sin – but neither can we be effectively set free  from the Law if we have not learnt to keep in step with the Holy Spirit, which is like walking on water. Like creatures born in captivity, we always want to go back to our familiar place of apparent safety, even in captivity. It is perhaps indeed in many ways “easier” to observe hard and fast rules and laws, than to do the “impossible” and “walk on water”.

I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? (Galatians 3:2-3).

I trust that if you are seeking the truth that sets sinners free, that the Holy Spirit has already given you a glimmer of the glorious freedom available to those in Christ.

It is neither a freedom to return to sin, nor to the safety of the “boat” of strict legalism. In order to respond to the call to be holy, we need to have faith to “walk on water”. For creatures born into, and familiar with bondage, it is is indeed hard to stand firm in our faith when we are learning to “walk on water”.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:1; 13-16).


Be Holy (Part one)


I recently watched a series of teaching videos by a rabbi from Jerusalem who gave the impression of being a very humble, holy and righteous teacher of the Law. We  may judge by appearances but God judges the heart. Many religious Jews think that Christians are unholy, lawless sinners.

Jesus said, “I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20) .

But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16).

The so-called “charismatic movement” placed great emphasis on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but throughout my 39 years experience as a Christian, I believe that far too little emphasis has been placed upon the call to be Holy. Many Christians are afraid of being called to holiness and shun such teaching because they fear that it sets a goal of perfection which they believe is impossible to attain. Instead they become complacent in God’s grace rejoicing that they are “sinners saved by grace” – and unfortunately sinners they shall remain.

This is a short exhortation in a series on holiness, so please read Romans chapter 7. Paul spoke in the present tense saying, “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?”  Numerous Christian teachers have suggested that Paul, speaking in the present tense, was describing himself as a saved and Spirit-filled Christian while yet remaining a wretched man enslaved to sin.

However, in this series I will contend, from the Scriptures, that Paul was describing himself as a wretched man in context to trying to attain the “impossible” goal of holy righteousness by observing the Law of Moses. Yes, the Law is comparable even to the laws of nature. It is indeed impossible for men to walk on water, but if they really keep their eyes on Jesus they will be able to do what is otherwise impossible for those who live according to the flesh.


Question: What is your take on the Jews being beloved for the fathers’ sakes?

What about Rom 11:28:  As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.


It is evident to me from the Scriptures that our salvation does not depend only upon God’s love or his election alone, (as implied by Calvinism), but also upon our faithful and obedient response to his love and his word revealed in Jesus. If salvation depended only on God’s love and sovereign election, then all Israel, i.e. every natural born descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would be saved and even all the nations, for we know that God so loved the world – and we know that God chose Israel as the nation through whom his purpose would be revealed and from whom would come the Messiah and Saviour of the world. Neither does our salvation depend entirely upon God’s will alone, but also upon our response – for the Scriptures make very clear that God is not willing that any should perish but that all men be saved.

I believe, contrary to the teaching of Calvinism, that God’s atonement is unlimited in that he died for the sins of the whole world, which means that there remains only one sin for which people will be condemned and that is the sin of treating the Spirit of grace with contempt and for arrogantly and deliberately rejecting the atoning blood of Jesus by which we may be saved (see Hebrews 10:29 and 1 John 2:2).

The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing (wanting or willing) that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:16-18).

Having contended that our salvation is not only on account of God’s love or election, it remains therefore, that it is by faith that we are justified – and as the apostle James taught, faith is evident through our actions (i.e. obedience to the word of God).

It is also evident that God’s election of Israel was to illustrate his faithfulness to his promises and to his warnings – and this was the case even when his covenant people became unfaithful. In other words, because God remains faithful to his word, his love and mercy cannot negate the harsh and stern warnings concerning the curses that would befall Israel on account of their unfaithfulness and rebellion.

If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself (2 timothy 2:12-13).

Consider the following example in which it says that Jesus loved a pious Jew who was indeed mindful of the Law of Moses, but remained spiritually blind and did not follow Jesus because of his own sense of security in his wealth and his love for the things of this world. It is undeniable that Jesus loved him, but it is also undeniable that he did not forsake everything in order to follow Jesus. The man had asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus gave him the answer but the man was not willing to respond in faith:

“Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions (Mark 10:20-22).

God indeed loves Israel on account of the patriarchs, as he also so loved the world that he gave his only Son to die for our sins even while we were yet sinners, but that does not assure that all Israel – or the whole world will come to him in faith and be saved. The following passage of Scripture affirms God’s election of Israel, but as we shall also note, (below), God’s election does not only ensure his blessings for their obedience, but also the certainty of his curses for their unfaithfulness and disobedience that his dealing with Israel may serve as a testimony to all nations that God is holy and to be feared.

“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, and repays to their face those who hate him, by destroying them. He will not be slack with one who hates him. He will repay him to his face.  You shall therefore be careful to do the commandment and the statutes and the rules that I command you today” (Deuteronomy 7:6-11).

Preceding this very passage quoted above, in which the Lord affirms his election of Israel, the Lord also said through Moses:

“When the Lord your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and mightier than you, and when the Lord your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction. You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them. You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly. But thus shall you deal with them: you shall break down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and chop down their Asherim and burn their carved images with fire”

God’s election of Israel is unconditional and his call is irrevocable, but it is not the called and chosen who are saved, it is the called, chosen and faithful who will be saved (see Revelation 17:14). Judas Iscariot was called and chosen, but he did not remain faithful – and this should confirm that salvation is not by election.

…many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him (John 6:66-71).

From the above we may now begin to appreciate and understand Paul’s teaching: God made promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob concerning Abraham’s descendants – and God is indeed faithful to his promises. However, not all of the (natural) descendants of Abraham are faithful and God will prune Israel for his Name’s sake – and indeed the unfaithful, disobedient and wicked people will be cut off (as also taught in Romans 11). The Lord also said through Moses that he would provoke Israel to envy by inviting people from other nations, who were previously cut off from Israel, to be engrafted and fully included among his people – as was Caleb, the Kenizzite, who received his inheritance with the tribe of Judah.

They have made me jealous with what is no god; they have provoked me to anger with their idols.
So I will make them jealous with those who are no people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation. For a fire is kindled by my anger, and it burns to the depths of Sheol, devours the earth and its increase, and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains
(Deuteronomy 32:21-22 [see Romans 10:19])

The Lord has chosen Israel, but not unconditionally and not without expecting from them faithfulness, obedience and repentance – all of which is measured by their response to Jesus – by which the secrets of their hearts are also exposed. (If they really incline their ear to what God is saying, they will come to Jesus – but if they claim to worship God but hate Jesus, it reveals an insincerity and actual hatred towards God because God is making himself and his purpose known in and through Jesus). Jesus said if they reject him then it is one and the same as rejecting the Father who sent him.

Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—…” (John 6:43-45).

“Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause’” (John 15:23-25).

And his father and his mother marvelled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed…” (Luke 2:33-34).

Israel, having been chosen by God for his purposes, was not only elected for salvation, but many in Israel were destined to stumble. Judgement and wrath was destined to come upon the Jew first as a warning to all nations – (as indeed happened with the fall of Jerusalem within the very generation of Jesus’ coming – see Romans 2:9).

The fact that many were destined to stumble and fall, was not only to show the extent of God’s stern judgement but also his mercy in that none fell beyond recovery – and the gospel was proclaimed throughout Israel giving many the opportunity to repent and to believe and thereby be restored to the holy nation from which they were cut off on account of their unbelief. This is why, in the passage under consideration ((Romans 11:28-32), Paul wrote that all were handed over to disobedience so that all may be restored by freely responding to God’s mercy:

As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all (Romans 11:28-32).

However, having been handed over to disobedience, if they are too proud to admit and to confess their sin of unbelief then unfortunately they remain cut off and will die in their sin. This is why Paul rebuked Peter in the way that he did by saying, “We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:15-16).

Questions and answers on Israel’s second regathering

1) Please comment on Amos 9:11-15 – James in Acts seems to use it to refer to the church, but Jews say it refers to the present ingathering in Israel, Verse 9:15: NEVER AGAIN will they be uprooted. Isaiah 11:10-11 – “ the Lord shall set his hand AGAIN to recover the remnant of his people….”


When the people of Israel took occupation of the Promised Land they were given the Law, with its promises of blessings and curses, and were also warned that if they became unfaithful to the covenant and sinful like the other nations who had occupied the Land before them, they too would be exiled.

The lessons that the people of Israel were intended to learn through being entrusted with the Law was that their real enemy is sin which leads to all the curses listed in the law coming upon them – and also that sin ultimately leads to death.

If righteousness could be attained by observing the Law, then people could potentially  attain life through obedience to the Law and Christ would not have had to die and neither would we need to put to death the old and sinful nature (if that nature could be reformed through obedience to the Law).

Jesus died to put an end to sin and that is done by putting to death the sinful nature – the last enemy to be defeated is death itself.

The promise of the Land, first given to Abraham, will be given to Abraham and all of his descendants. The writer to the Hebrews, (chapters 11 -13), taught that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as heirs to the promise of the land, dwelt in tents in the land as sojourners – being assured that the inheritance would not only be for a person’s lifetime in this mortal body, but that it would be received along with all his descendants – which by implication means in the resurrection from the dead.

Martha, (or her sister, Mary), told Jesus that she had assurance that her brother Lazarus would be raised to life in the last days – and then Jesus told her that he is, himself, the Resurrection. We, as the descendants of Abraham through faith in Jesus the Messiah will receive the inheritance of the Land – and never to be uprooted ever again.

The apostle Paul taught very clearly that it is not the natural descendants who are the heirs of the promise, but those born according to the promise – which is by the Spirit and includes people from all nations who believe in Jesus, they have become fellow-heirs.

However, those who try to take hold of the inheritance now by their own means, whether by military might and power – (and not through faith in Jesus and by the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead), will not take hold of the inheritance so as to never be uprooted again. On the contrary, if they stubbornly refuse to repent of the unbelief, which includes their rebellion against God’s Anointed King, they will indeed be uprooted and finally condemned when Jesus appears in his majestic glory.

The initial promise given to the exiles in Babylon was that they would be re-gathered, they would rebuild the temple, all in anticipation of the coming Messiah in whom they would then be established as God’s holy chosen nation into which many people from among other nations would be gathered. That gathering of the faithful is continuing so that the heavenly city of Jerusalem is a city without walls cf. Zec. 2:4 (and a city beyond earthly confines) and it will be inhabited by the redeemed in Christ who will indeed never be uprooted ever again and they shall not terminate the occupation even through death for they will be raised immortal.

For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel (Hebrews 12:18-24).

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city (Hebrews 11:13-16).

So, in order to sum up this short exposition of the Scripture referred to…:

“In that day I will raise up
the booth of David that is fallen
and repair its breaches,
and raise up its ruins
and rebuild it as in the days of old,
that they may possess the remnant of Edom
and all the nations who are called by my name,”
declares the Lord who does this.
“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when the plowman shall overtake the reaper
and the treader of grapes him who sows the seed;
the mountains shall drip sweet wine,
and all the hills shall flow with it.
I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel,
and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine,
and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit.
I will plant them on their land,
and they shall never again be uprooted
out of the land that I have given them,”
says the Lord your God (Amos 9:11-15).


…when the apostles witnessed the inclusion of gentiles among the redeemed, with the promise and assurance of eternal life through faith in Jesus, they quoted this Scriptures, that the restoration of the kingdom is through faithfulness to the Anointed King, Jesus – through whom all the faithful assembly of Israel throughout all the ages is being gathered, (including descendants of exiles who had returned from their captivity). Those who returned and were assured that they would never be uprooted ever again were also informed through Daniel (chapter 9) that their redemption would only be completed 490 years later after the return from the exile – through the coming of the Messiah who is gathering us to the eternal city. The earthly shadow of the heavenly city is now figuratively compared to Sodom and Egypt in Galatians and Revelations (in which unbelievers are still in slavery to sin), and to Hagar and her children who are not the true heirs but figuratively like Ishmael who are merely born of the flesh and not of the promise.

As I illustrated from Hebrews 12:18-24, quoted above, we are indeed being gathered to Zion through our faith and our coming to Jesus – and this is the gathering of which the prophet Amos referred when he said by the Spirit that we will never be uprooted again.

Political Zionists may ascribe the Scriptures to themselves and to the gathering of “Jews” to the Land but not all who claim to be “Jews” are indeed Jews –

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


2)  What about Isaiah 11:10-11? “ the Lord shall set his hand AGAIN to recover the remnant of his people….” Could these scriptures not refer to a final restoration of Israel as one of the nations, if all nations become Christian?

The Scripture referred to:

In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious. In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea (Isaiah 11:10-11).

The words, “In that day…”, must surely refer to the time of the Messiah’s coming as it follows on from previous verses:

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.

And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:1-2).

Jesus came to gather the lost sheep of Israel, but as was prophesied, the Seed of Abraham, the Messiah, would also become a blessing to all nations. Thus Jesus said that not only would he gather the lost sheep of Israel, but also people from other tribes and races and they would become one flock under the care of one shepherd.

Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd” (John 10:14-16).

This truth was further elaborated upon by the apostle Paul who taught very clearly that there is one new humanity united in Christ, which is an undoing of the scattering of peoples and the forming of many nations which took place in the time of the building of the Tower of Babel. Paul taught that in Christ there are no longer many different nations but only the new Israel of God.

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise (Galatians 3:27-29).

Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all (Colossians 3:11).

Those who were once members of other nations and once excluded from the promises, are grafted into the redeemed Israel of God and become one body, one nation:

Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated 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 once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit (Ephesians 2:11-22).

With reference to the Jews who stumbled over the stumbling stone and were those cut off on account of their unbelief, the apostle Peter went on to say of believers, all believers, whether from Jewish or gentile background:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy (1 Peter 2:9-10).

It was language, locality and kings and gods that distinguished the various nations from Israel, but in Christ, there is very clearly one new nation where there is no longer any distinction to be made between Jew or Greek. Mankind collectively at one time tried to establish themselves on the earth in rebellion to the LORD and they were scattered and divided into many nations speaking different languages to thwart such a united revolt of mankind against God. But that is undone through the coming of the Messiah and all who are not reconciled to God in the one new mankind in Christ will eventually be finally cut off and condemned. I do not see any need for us to entertain the notion that there will still be various nations in the new heaven and earth.

The gathering of the Jews scattered among the nations under the Messiah very clearly also includes people from all other nations, tribes and languages – so that they become one new man (one mankind – which also denotes one holy nation in Christ.)

Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine” (Acts 2:5-13).

So, to sum up in reply to your question: “Could these scriptures not refer to a final restoration of Israel as one of the nations, if all nations become Christian?”

The first believers were mostly Jews and the gospel then spread further afield, from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. Those who were formerly gentiles and cut off from the promises and not citizens of the holy nation of God, have become one with the redeemed remnant of Israel. A remnant of Jews have been gathered throughout the ages since the coming of Jesus and believing gentiles are grafted into this redeemed holy nation. When gentiles become Christians their citizenship is in heaven and their identity is now “in Christ”, no longer as Greek, Roman, Egyptian etc. Your question would imply that only the gentiles believe and then a “final restoration of Israel” – to which you add “as one of the nations”. What nations? Greek, Roman, Egyptian – no, because in the redeemed humanity from all nations, there is no longer Jew or Greek. The “final” restoration of Israel is inclusive of all the people united in Christ throughout the period of God’s grace and salvation, Jew and gentile, which begun with the Jew first, not the Jew last of all – and throughout this process, it is the forming of one new holy nation.

There may indeed remain various nations while the kingdom of God is being established during the period of those rulers (cf. Dan 2:44), but at the close of the age, those who have not believed are finally condemned – and those who have believed have become one holy nation, one kingdom under one King.


One High Priest and Mediator

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son… (Heb 1:1).

Several modern religious cults are based on the claim of personal revelation received by their founders which adds to the testimony of Jesus and the Apostles as revealed in the New Testament. One such group is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also known as Mormons. The founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, was evidently deeply troubled by what appeared to be divisions and schisms in the Christian Church based on differences of interpretation of particular passages of Scripture. He claimed that the Father and Jesus Christ the Son of God appeared to him in a vision and instructed him not to join any of the Christian denominations.

Joseph Smith launched many vehement attacks against Christianity claiming, among other things, that the Scriptures were wrongly or inaccurately translated, that the Scriptures were inadequate and incomplete without the book of Mormon, and that he had been anointed by John the Baptist as a priest in the order of Aaron and given complete authority over the church of Jesus Christ as an apostle and priest through whom alone the “true” gospel of Christ is revealed. Although Mormons claim to believe the teachings of Christ and the New Testament, they are considered a cult by most Christian denominations.

“Every spirit that does not confess that God sent Joseph Smith, and revealed the everlasting gospel to and through him, is of Antichrist” [Discourses of Brigham Young page 435].

The term “antichrist” denotes a dual opposition to Jesus Christ in that it means that which is contrary and rebellious to Jesus Christ and also that which sets itself up in the place of Christ. The term “christ” is derived from the Greek word “christos” which is the translation of the word “messiah” derived from the Hebrew word “maschiach” which literally means “anointed one”.

Any person who sets themselves up as an anointed one, whether anointed as a priest or prophet, and who professes to be appointed as a mediator between men and God, is an antichrist, for there is only one Anointed to reveal God’s final word, the very Word of God who was personified in the flesh and the only anointed High Priest as mediator between God and man.

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.  (1 Timothy 2:5-6).

The writer to the Hebrews deals at length with the priesthood of Jesus, presenting him as an eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek and as the sole mediator of the new and better covenant, unlike those of the Aaronic priesthood whose service was temporary and inferior since it could not bring perfection and was passing away together with the old covenant that it represented. It was also based purely on physical descent from the line of Aaron. Joseph Smith claimed to have been ordained in the priesthood of Aaron by none other than John the Baptist and shortly thereafter to have received also the Melchizedek priesthood.

For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. And no one takes this honour for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”; as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” (Heb. 5:1-6)

Paul referred to himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ, who, together with the other apostles who accompanied Jesus during his earthly sojourn, has once for all brought to the church the word of God in its fullness. According to the apostle Paul instruction to Timothy, all Scripture is inspired by God and is complete and trustworthy for building people up in their faith, yet this is not so according to the Mormons.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

The Mormon Church in fact claims that a proper understanding of the gospel cannot be derived from the Bible alone. The Book of Mormon takes precedence over the Bible where the Bible contradicts its teaching.

The apostle Paul gave instruction that Christians should not be drawn into divisive schisms by following after men rather than Christ, nor should they regard a person too highly or promote one man over another, for we are all merely servants of Christ saved through our faith in him alone.

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ… For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth… According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it.

For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:1-11).

I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? (1 Corinthians 4:6-7).

Instead of heeding the Apostle Paul’s instruction, Joseph Smith promoted himself as a mediator between God and man, claiming himself to be an anointed apostle, prophet and priest, through whom alone the gospel may be restored and made known to the world!

It is stated in the Doctrine and Covenants 135:3 of the Mormon church: “Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it.”

The criticism of Smith against the Christian Church on the grounds that it is divided into schisms over various issues is ironic since he set himself up as leader of a schism claiming to be the only church faithful to the true gospel while propagating doctrines that are contrary to the Scriptures and which go beyond what is written in the Scriptures.

The fact that there would be differences within Christendom was not unexpected and is not grounds to withdraw or condemn all Christendom as corrupt. It is apparent that differences emerged right from the start.

For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you (1 Corinthians 11:19). The New International Version has translated this verse as follows:

No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval.

However, it does mean that Christians must study the Scriptures very carefully and thoroughly to ensure that they have God’s approval and that their faith is placed upon sound doctrine according to the Word of God. The differences should spur us to even diligent study of the Scriptures so that we are not blind followers of the blind.

Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. (Acts 17:11).

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:11-14).

It is most unlikely that Mormons have a thorough understanding of the Bible, let alone the book of Mormon which they also profess to believe in – and that is the very reason that they are led into error and into recklessly and blindly following a single man, Joseph Smith while confidently asserting that the entire Christian Church is in error!

The mere fact that one individual, namely Joseph Smith, should claim that he alone among men fully understands and is able to proclaim the gospel, should be more than enough evidence that he is untrustworthy.

Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know (1 Corinthians 8:1-2).

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow (Colossians 2:16-19).

Joseph Smith fits perfectly into the above category in that he exalts angels who have preached a different gospel to that which is faithfully held by millions of Christians, he decided what foods were permissible to eat, he forbade the consumption of wine, which the apostle Paul permitted. Yet so many blind followers have followed his error!

Those who are puffed up by visions they claim to have seen and who boast of exclusive revelations are the very ones who lead others astray.

There are numerous matters in which the Mormons have twisted or wrongly interpreted the Scriptures, and many instances in which they go beyond what is written, but there is enough evidence simply from the Scriptures quoted above to show discerning people that Joseph Smith was a false teacher masquerading as an apostle of Jesus Christ and is responsible for leading many ignorant people astray!

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.  (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

“I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:…” (Revelation 2:2)

Are people predestined to hell?

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are (Matthew 23:15).

What makes sinners deserving of eternal condemnation? Are all sinners deserving of hell or eternal condemnation? The wages of sin is death, but does this mean the wages of sin is Hell?

In spite of sin man is made in God’s image and He is their Creator. God’s predestined purpose for man was to save them from sin and death through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. God’s eternal purpose is to bring all men into submission to His eternal Kingdom which is being established through Jesus Christ, His anointed King.  However, those who resist and rebel against his kingdom remain blinded to the truth of the gospel. (Some would argue that such people are predestined to eternal condemnation.)

Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” (Ps. 118:22) and, “A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall” (Is. 8:14). They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for. (1 Peter 2:7).

Are some predestined to stumble or are they predestined to find salvation only through faith in Christ, yet destined to stumble for not believing the message? Is the process by which some men come to faith and eternal life, while others remain blinded, and therefore eternally condemned, something predestined by God irrespective of pride or humility and responsiveness to God’s word? Continue reading