Child’s Faith

Q. Since I was a child, I have always believed in John 3:16 but had no concept of Eph 1:4-7 or 2 Co 5:21. All I knew was that Yahweh is the only true god instead of Buddha. Was I saved as a gentile child?

A. Only God who knows your heart, then and now, can answer your question. However, I can offer a few comments:

1. Being saved depends on your relationship with God, not how much you know:
Jn 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
• Jn 3:36 He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.
• Jn 20:31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
• 1 Jn 5:11-13 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

Note that John’s consistent testimony is that:
• Eternal life is in the Son
• Has the Son = Has life
• Does not have the Son = Does not have life.
How do you have the Son? By believing in Him.
What does believe mean? Not intellectual assent, but:
• Trusting that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God or God the Son;
• Obeying the Son to demonstrate that the trust is genuine.
John said nothing about head knowledge, how much theology you know. It’s all about trust, as a child trusts in his/her parents, and depends totally on them for everything. It is a matter of the heart. I’ve heard lectures and read books by unbelieving “theology professors” with several doctorates, but I don’t think they are saved. Now whether you have the simple, complete, faith of a child, only God knows and you know.

2. You quoted Eph 1:4-7 and 2 Co 5:21, both deep truths penned by Paul:
Eph 1:4-7 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
• 2 Co 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Eph 1:4-7 teaches:
1. Election (He chose),
2. Sanctification (holy),
3. Perfection (blameless),
4. Predestination,
5. Adoption,
6. God’s will,
7. Free grace,
8. Redemption,
9. Forgiveness, while
2 Co 5:21 teaches:
10. Jesus as perfect Man (no sin),
11. Substitutionary atonement (to be sin on our behalf),
12. Imputation (righteousness of God).

I doubt any new Christian would have a full grasp of these dozen subjects, yet they are saved the moment they placed their trust in Christ alone and commit to follow Him. Christ gave them the right to become children of God (Jn 1:12). I do not mean to belittle theology, but it’s the heart that counts, not the head.

Ezekiel’s Temple 3

Q. Is the temple, court, restored Israel etc. described in Ezk 40-48 talking about the new world? Will there be division of lands by tribes at that time? If so, which tribe do we belong to?

A. I was asked about Ezekiel’s Temple 6 years ago. This is what I wrote at that time:
https://raykliu.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/ezekiels-temple-1/
https://raykliu.wordpress.com/2011/09/21/ezekiels-temple-2/

I concluded that it is most likely the Millennial Temple to be built upon the Lord’s return. This seemed to fit the clues best, though not completely. I had several reservations, including:

Animal sacrifices (Ezk 43:18-27). But Hebrews tells us that Jesus offered up Himself once for all:
Heb 7:27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since He did this once for all when He offered up Himself.
• Heb 9:12 He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.
• Heb 9:26 for then He would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
• Heb 10:10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Now, since Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself is once for all, why repeat animal sacrifices which can never take away sin? Dispensationists tried to explain this away by saying it is only memorial of His sacrifice, not actually for removal of sin. But this is not what the text said, especially 45:20:
Ezk 43:20 And you shall take some of its blood and put it on the four horns of the altar and on the four corners of the ledge and upon the rim all around. Thus you shall purify the altar and make atonement for it.
• Ezk 43:26 Seven days shall they make atonement for the altar and cleanse it, and so consecrate it.
• Ezk 45:15 And one sheep from every flock of two hundred, from the watering places of Israel for grain offering, burnt offering, and peace offerings, to make atonement for them, declares the Lord GOD.
• Ezk 45:17 It shall be the prince’s duty to furnish the burnt offerings, grain offerings, and drink offerings, at the feasts, the new moons, and the Sabbaths, all the appointed feasts of the house of Israel: he shall provide the sin offerings, grain offerings, burnt offerings, and peace offerings, to make atonement on behalf of the house of Israel.
• Ezk 45:20 You shall do the same on the seventh day of the month for anyone who has sinned through error or ignorance; so you shall make atonement for the temple.

I also find this unsatisfactory because our Lord instituted the Lord’s supper in remembrance of Him:
1 Co 11:24-25 and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way also He took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
Who gives them the right to switch back now?

Levitical priesthood. Ezk 43:19 refers to Levitical priests of the family of Zadok. But, again according to Hebrews, the Levitical priesthood can never help us attain perfection, and had been superseded by Jesus’ priesthood after the order of Melchizedek:
Heb 7:11 Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron?
• Heb 7:15 This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek,
• Heb 7:17 For it is witnessed of him, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.”

So again, why revert to a replaced system that never worked?

It is for these and other objections that even well-known pastors such as Calvary Chapel’s Chuck Smith confessed that they don’t have a complete understanding of Ezk 40-48. So I am in good company when I don’t understand fully.

(To be continued)

Destruction of the Flesh

Q. What is the meaning of 1 Co 5:5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Does it mean sinners will have to go through earthly punishment for their sins? But Jesus has died for our sins if we repent of our sins!

A. Interpretation depends on context. Who does “such a one” refer to? Not sinners in general, but the one identified in 1 Co 5:1 in particular:
1 Co 5:1 It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife.
That individual committed gross immorality, incest with his father’s wife.

Paul’s judgment is given more fully in the AMP and EXB:
AMP You are to deliver this man over to Satan for physical discipline [to destroy carnal lusts which prompted him to incest], that [his] spirit may [yet] be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
• EXB then hand this man over to Satan. So his sinful self will be destroyed [sinful nature will be purged; or body/flesh will be destroyed; or body will be beaten down by sin], and his spirit will be saved on the day of the Lord.

Paul wanted to save his spirit, but to do that his sinful nature need to be destroyed. He wanted him to repent, and in order for that to happen he must be disciplined physically, so that he won’t perish spiritually. It does not mean sinners have to go through earthly punishment, nor purgatory as believed by Catholics. Christ died for our sins:
1 Co 15:3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
• 1 Pet 3:18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;

We do not have to pay for the penalty of our sins ourselves.

Contradicting God’s Power?

all things possible 1

Q. Jesus dying on the cross is the only way to take us from our punishment for our sins. If there is any another way, God would have answered Jesus prayer of taking this cup away from Him. But doesn’t this contradict the fact that with God, everything is possible?

A. No it does not. We need to be careful how we interpret theological statements:
Mt 19:26 And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Also Mk 10:27, Lk 18:27)
• Lk 1:37 For nothing will be impossible with God.

When the Bible says with God all things are possible, and nothing will be impossible with God, it was contrasting what’s humanly very hard, to the point of being almost impossible, namely for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God, or a barren woman to conceive a son in her old age, with what’s divinely possible. It does not mean absolute impossibility, since rich people like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are in God’s kingdom (Mt 8:11; Lk 13:28).

What it means is that anything that can be accomplished with power is possible with God, as God’s power is unlimited, and nothing is too difficult for Him:
Gen 18:14 Is anything too difficult for the LORD?
• Num 11:23 The LORD said to Moses, “Is the LORD’S power limited? Now you shall see whether My word will come true for you or not.”
• Jer 32:17 ‘Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You,
• Jer 32:27 “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?

But doesn’t God’s omnipotence means He can do anything and everything without limitation? The answer is both yes and no. Yes He can do anything achievable with power, but no He cannot act against His own nature:
2 Tim 2:13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.
• Tit 1:12 in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago,
• Heb 6:18 so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.
• Jas 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.

There is no external limit to His power; but His power is subject to His nature of being absolutely holy and utterly opposed to evil. As such He is faithful, cannot lie, and cannot be tempted, because He cannot deny His nature. His divine being, who He is, demands this, and He can never change (immutable). Therefore it is more theologically correct to qualify the statement “with God all things are possible” with the clause “consistent with His nature“, which the biblical narrative omits as it is not a theology textbook.

Now back to the question “does Jesus’ death on the cross being the only way to save us contradict with God all things are possible?”. No it does not. Humanly speaking it is impossible to save mankind any other way. Only the perfect Son of God becoming our substitute can atone for our sins, and Jesus did exactly that. What’s impossible with people is possible with God.

In classical logic, the law of non-contradiction states that contradictory statements cannot both be true in the same sense at the same time i.e. something cannot be both true and not true at the same time in the same sense. Here the statements “Jesus’ death is the only way” and “with God all things are possible” are not mutually exclusive. There is no contradiction.

Humanity of Jesus

Matthew 26 38 b

Q. Mt 26:38 “Jesus said to them, My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with Me.” If Jesus can look through the corridors of time and see generations of people from every nation and walk of life being redeemed and reconciled to God through His blood shed on the cross, and the glory that awaits Him when He rose from the dead, why would He have this deep sorrow feeling? Is this because He is also a man?

A. It is true that Jesus knew that countless will be saved by His sacrifice and the glory of the resurrection. He was not afraid of the physical pain and the shame of the cross, yet He was deeply grieved:
Rev 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
• Rev 7:9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands;
• Heb 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
• Mk 14:34 And He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.”
• Jn 12:27 Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.

I believe this is because He is also a man, particularly in two aspects:
Positively, the Son had never been separated from the Father in eternity past, but was about to be abandoned by the Father:
Mt 27:46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?” that is, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?

Negatively, the sinless Holy One was about to take on the sins of the whole world (1 Jn 2:2):
2 Co 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
The enormity of this burden must have weighed on Him so much that He was grieved to the point of death. We were sinful and alienated from the Father, and would not have understood these emotions which were unique to Jesus.

Child Birth Sin Offering

sin offering 1

Q. Why is a sin offering needed after child-birth? Atonement for what? Isn’t a birth supposed to be joyful?

A. This requirement is also from Lev 12:

Lev 12:6-7 ‘When the days of her purification are completed, for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the doorway of the tent of meeting a one year old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering. Then he shall offer it before the LORD and make atonement for her, and she shall be cleansed from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who bears a child, whether a male or a female.

God commanded His creation to “be fruitful and multiply” 11 times:
• Adam and Eve (Gen 1:22, 28);
• Noah (Gen 8:17; 9:1, 7);
• Ishmael (Gen 17:20);
• Jacob (Gen 28:3; 35:11);
• Israelites (Lev 26:9);
• Jewish remnant (Jer 23:3);
• Mountains of Israel (Ezk 36:11).

So how come bearing children requires a sin offering? The answer has to do with the Fall of Man. When Adam and Eve sinned, Eve’s punishment was:
Gen 3:16 To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.”
Not only that, sin and death was passed to all their descendants:
Rom 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned
• Ps 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.

As a result, all are born with a sin nature. Every time a child is born, a sinner is brought into the world, needing redemption. Hence the requirement for atonement and sin offering, pointing to their need of the Savior.

Jesus’ Sacrifice Trivial? (2 of 2)

crucifixion 3

(Continued from yesterday)

Now let me give a little theology before I respond to skeptics. When man sinned, the result is spiritual death or eternal separation from God:
Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death,

However, God loved us and did not want us to be forever separated from Him, so He offered to take our place:
Rom 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

But there is a problem. God is eternal and cannot die:
1 Tim 1:17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
In order for God to die on man’s behalf, He had to become a man:
Jn 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
This is called the incarnation. Thus Jesus has two natures – His original divine nature as God the Son, to which was added His human nature when He became man.

What some people do not realize is that Jesus did not take on a human nature for only the 33 years while He was on earth, but even after His resurrection and ascension:
Lk 24:39 See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.
• Jn 20:27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.”
• Acts 1:11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

So contrary to what cults and some people believe, the divine Christ did not descend on the human Jesus for only 33 years and then leave. God the Son actually became man for all eternity after the incarnation.

Let’s get back to the skeptics. The trouble with them is that in their minds, their view of man (themselves) is too high, while their view of God is too low. From God’s perspective, the significance of Christ’s sacrifice is that the sinless Son of God offered Himself to substitute for man. The emphasis is on His deity. Since God is infinite, Jesus’ death is sufficient to atone for the sins of all men throughout human history. That would be a large number, but finite. The suffering is not just on the physical scourging and crucifixion, even though that’s one of the most cruel and painful tortures invented by men. The anguish is more on the spiritual and emotional, with Jesus carrying all the sins of all humanity on Himself:
2 Co 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

The skeptics, however, see Jesus as little more than a man, may be even less, as some people have suffered longer or more intensely than He. They do not see the condescension of the Creator of the universe becoming a creature in the incarnation, nor what’s involved in atoning for sin. The incarnation gap, by the way, is infinitely more than say man becoming an ant, as both man and ant are creatures, and man does not have power to create even an ant. So skeptics dwell only on the physical, human level, thinking how short is 3 days compared to eternity. That’s not even the right perspective. No wonder they got it all wrong! Jesus took on human nature for all eternity future. He rose after three days to show that God is pleased with the atoning sacrifice, otherwise it would have to be repeated as in OT sacrifices. Foreknowledge of the resurrection does not lessen the mental anguish and pain of all the sins of all mankind bearing on Him, something the skeptics could not even begin to imagine. His sacrifice is acceptable to the Father, but not the skeptics. What arrogance! What ingratitude!

God is not too small, and Christ’s sacrifice is not too puny; the depraved mind and the darkened heart of the skeptics is. God offered them His best, but they just couldn’t see it, treating it as dirt with disdain. Reminds me of Mt 7:6:
• Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

But our task is not to judge but to proclaim the gospel. So we try to be gentle and patient as the Lord leads us. Hope this helps.