This is article 15 for January. The title of article 13 was changed, and article 14 for December bears the title article 13 had for November.
Each reader is encouraged to read and study each of the above articles in order. These articles are progressive in the truths they present, and will not likely be properly understood even by knowledgeable traditional brethren unless studied in the order given above.
18 "He who is constantly believing into Him (into the body of Christ, into the divine firstborn sonship of Christ) is not being condemned; but he who is not constantly believing (into the body of Christ) is condemned already, because he has not believed (he has stopped believing) into the name of the only begotten Son of God," Jn 3:18.
TRADITION VERSUS SCRIPTURE
These verses (Jn 3:15-16,18,36) flow from the statement that, as the brass serpent was lifted up in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up. We unfortunately disregard the fact that all those Israelites are represented as true believers in holy covenant standing with God:
"1 "Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that ALL our fathers were under the cloud, ALL passed through the sea,
2 "ALL were baptized into Moses (into Moses authority and leadership) in the cloud and in the sea,
3 "ALL ate the same spiritual food,
4 "And ALL drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.
5 "But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness," 1Co 10:1-5.
However, God swore in His wrath that those saved Israelites (covenant people) who had so many times believed, bowed their heads, and worshiped God, would not enter His "rest" because they did not continue believing but made shipwreck of faith:
1 "‘So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest,'" Heb 3:11.
The book of Hebrews was written to "holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling"(Heb 3:1), who had made a genuine and public profession or confession. Their worthy confession was based on a progressive believing into Christ, which brought them into "the faith" within the body of Christ, (Heb 3:6; 10:25). This truly authentic and deeply emotional experience also led them into many highly praiseworthy deeds of Christian service, often resulting in bitter suffering and violent seizure of their properties, Heb 10:32-34.
The book of Hebrews was not written to unsaved people out of covenant standing – not a chapter, not a verse, not a word is addressed to noncovenant people out of proper covenant standing with the Lord. Ishmael was a slave son of Abraham, and was a type of slave sons whom God will have eternally (Gal 4:21 thru 5:4). This slave son status also prevented Ishmael from being the son through whom the covenant people would descend. Ishmael was nevertheless circumcised according to God's command (Gen 17:1-14,26), and stood within the covenant with Abraham. Hagar and Ishmael had to be cast out from Abraham and the covenant people in order to provide the type or the allegorical instruction which requires us to understand that God's eternal purpose includes other sons who are not firstborn sons, Gal 4:19-31 thru 5:4; Heb 12:8.
Abraham still had six other sons from another wife after Sarah died, but Hagar and Ishmael versus Sarah and Isaac present a uniquely, contrasting parallel or allegory which explicitly presents God's purpose in producing two similar yet very distinct kinds of sons. These two strikingly similar yet strikingly dissimilar kinds of sons are being produced from the same lowly humankind for God's eternal praise and glory.
Esau was a firstborn son who properly stood in the firstborn sonship, but forfeited his firstborn sonship and its treasured birthright, which birthright is synonymous with the covenant promises. Esau could still have qualified as a covenant son within the covenants as many other Gentiles did in those days as well as in following generations.
These New Covenant church members to whom the book of Hebrews was addressed, were truly saved, covenant people, who were on the brink of committing the unpardonable sin, Heb 3:11; 6:4-8; 10:25-31; 12:15-17. Myriads of saved covenant people (saved church members) have committed the unpardonable sin, and are committing that sin in this lukewarm age before Christ returns.
Heb 3 and 4 explains that the same "rest" that was offered to Israel in the wilderness continued to be offered down through the centuries, and is still being offered to us today, as saved and properly baptized church members. That "rest" is simply and specifically "partaking of Christ," Heb 3:14. Also, the inspired writer emphasizes that the "rest" is the seventh day sabbath (seventh millennium) "rest," Heb 4:3-4. This "rest" will begin when Christ returns, and all the faithful covenant people who have continued believing into Christ will "partake of Christ;" that is, they will experience the resurrection birth into the deified image of Christ, Phi 3:7-14,21; Rom 8:13-25 (1-30); 1Co 15:1-2,44-58; Gal 6:7-9.
The word "condemnation" above (Jn 3:18; 5:24) is from krinw, and is translated "judge" 88 times, "determine" 7 times, "condemn" 5 times, "go to law" 2 times, "call in question" 2 times, "esteem" 2 times, and "misc" 8 times, 114 times in all in the AV according to Strong's Concordance. The word krinw within itself carries no meaning whatever of a person being consigned to punishment in hell or the lake of fire.
Likewise, the word "condemnation" in Jn 3:36 and 5:24 is kri,sij from kri,nw. It is translated "judgment" 41 times, "damnation" 3 times, "accusation" 2 times, "condemnation" 2 times, 48 times in all. Likewise, the word kri,sij within itself carries no meaning whatever of punishment in hell.
Two major themes are contained in the context (Jn 3:18, 3:36, and 5:24, (1) Believing into Christ (into the body of Christ) which brings divine life (zwh.n aivw,nion, age-life) to those who are constantly believing into Christ, and (2) the judgment (condemnation, age-punishment, o;leqron aivw,nion, 2Th 1:9), which God will execute upon those who are not constantly believing into Christ.
BELIEVING INTO CHRISTBelieving into Christ (into the body of Christ) is a lifetime process, and all who stop "believing into Christ," have stopped short of "believing into Christ." They have fallen short of the divine glory of God, Rom 3:23. They have made shipwreck of faith (fainted along the way) and thereby come short of divine life, Rom 8:6,13,23-25; Gal 6:7-9; 1Co 15:1-2,44-50.
Believing into Christ is not settled by one act of faith, but rather by holding fast (1Co 15:1-2), the confidence and rejoicing of our hope to the end, (Heb 3:6,14), by walking the strait and narrow way (by grace through faith), which strait and narrow way ends in divine life and not in destruction, Mt 7:13-14. Believing into Christ is not settled until one dies, and is not consummated until the resurrection birth into the image of the glorious resurrection birth of Christ, Col 1:18; Rev 1:5; Act 13:29-33; 1Co 15:44-50.
Paul labored and suffered so very much by grace through faith, and still said he had not yet attained to the better resurrection, Phi 3:7-14,21. Rather, day by day he severely disciplined himself lest he be disqualified from this inexpressibly important "race" and "fight of faith," 1Co 9:23-27.
Paul was so greatly concerned that he put forth every effort and endured great afflictions in order to gain the firstborn sonship with its crown of life, crown of righteousness, etc., 2Ti 4:8; Ja 1:12; Rev 3:11. In this lifetime, we are being trained, (tested), and must be approved after successful completion of God's disciplinary training, Heb 5:8-9; 12.
Paul had a few more days (perhaps months) to go before he could say:
6 "For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.
7 "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith," 2Ti 4:6-8.
We have already believed into Christ in the metaphor of being the body of Christ. In other words, we have already become partakers of Christ (Heb 3:14), in the metaphor of being the body of Christ, but if we do not hold the confidence and the rejoicing of our covenant "hope" steadfast to the end (Hew 3:6,14), we will forfeit that confidence, the rejoicing, and all hope of being partakers of Christ in the resurrection. Paul revealed that this could happen to him, as it happened to the Israelites in the wilderness, 1Co 9:23 thru 1Co 10:1-12.
If we should stop believing into Christ (stop bearing the proper fruit, Jn 15:1-6; 2Pe 1:4-10) we would therefore have been believing into Christ in vain (1Co 15:1-2). In that case, the constant believing into Christ that we have already done would be in vain, because of making shipwreck of faith, 1Ti 1:19-20.
The Scriptures state that Hymenaeus and Alexander were of those who thrust from themselves a good conscience concerning faith and concerning "the faith" and therefore made shipwreck of "the" faith. Paul delivered those two saved and properly baptized church members from God to Satan that they should learn not to blaspheme, 1Ti 19-20. Paul was commissioned to bring people from Satan to God, Act 26:17-18. However, here he delivered these two brethren from God back to Satan. They thereby lost the covenant standing and the ministry of Christ as High Priest, Mt 18:17; Jn 20:23; 1Co 5; Jn 15:1-6; Rom 11:11-22; Gal 5:1-4; et al. Without the covenant intercessory ministry of the High Priest, they again stood condemned. Dare we say otherwise of those who are cut off from Christ – from the Vine, from the body of Christ, from the New Covenant High Priest? Jn 15; Gal 5:1-4.
THE CHURCH IS THE EMBASSY OF THE KINGDOMThe church is not the kingdom of God, but is the embassy of the kingdom of God. Christ is the chief Ambassador, and though He is in heaven, He is working through the Holy Spirit as His Vicar on earth. Christ is also in heaven as the chief Cornerstone in His spiritual house of living stones on earth, 1Pe 2:4-5. Christ is in heaven as the High Priest of the priesthood that is ministering in this spiritual house on earth, 1Pe 2:5; Heb 7:25-26; 10:21. Christ is in heaven in a flesh body that was born into a di-vine state of being in His resurrection, Col 1:18; Rev 1:5; Act 13:30-33; 1Co 15:55-50; Heb 1:5-6; 5:5.
Christ's born again body is still a human "flesh and bones" body, fully imbued with and governed and energized by the fulness of the divine nature. It is now fully a divine spirit body possessing all the attributes of the fullness of deity – all the essence and governing supremacy of the divine nature in a human body, Col 2:9.
However, we still possess sinful, earthy bodies, which, in a metaphor, are called the deified members of the deified human body of Christ, 2Co 5:16-17,21; 3:17-18; 1Co 5:7; Eph 4:22-24; Col 2:9 thru 3:11. In the metaphor, the church is the deified body of Christ and church members are called the deified members of that deified human body of Christ. God is constantly calling things which are not crucified, dead, buried, and raised together with Christ into a deified body, as though they were crucified, dead, buried, and raised together with Christ into deified members of the divinely born again and therefore deified human body of Christ, Rom 4:17; 6:2-13; 2Co 5:16-21; Eph 2:1-22; 4:20-25; Phi 3:7-14,21; Col 2:9 thru 3:11; et al.
An embassy is located in a foreign country and performs official business on behalf of and by the authority of the home country. The church is therefore commanded to make disciples and baptize them symbolically, thereby metaphorically uniting (joining) them into Christ (the deified body of Christ). These saved people are thereby (metaphorically delivered from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, Act 26:18; Col 1:12-19.
The church is also commanded to deliver saved and scripturally baptized, (but unholy) church members from the kingdom of God back to Satan (in the kingdom of darkness) as far as this life is concerned, 1Co 5:5 (1-13); Mt 18:15-18; Jn 20:23; 2Th 3:6-15. Proper church members are the embassy of the kingdom of God, which flesh and blood cannot inherit, Mt 6:33; 18:1-3; Jn 3:5; Act 14:22; 1Co 15:1-2,44-50; 2Th 1:3-5.
The church, being a church, is not a metaphor. The church being the embassy of the kingdom of God is a metaphor, depending on how we interpret the kingdom of God. However, the church being the flesh (now deified) body of Christ is a metaphor.
The resurrection chapter of the Bible (1Co 15) speaks of the flesh body of Christ being born into a divine state of being, so that now that flesh body, though still flesh, possesses all the essence of God's divine nature, Col 1:18; Rev 1:5; Act 13:44-50; Heb 1:5-6; 5:5; Col 2:9. Christ's human, flesh body is now a divine, spirit body, and the members of the church are called divine members of the flesh (now divine) body of Christ. We are not, in the metaphor, corrupt members of the deified flesh body of Christ, but God is still "calling things which be not, as though they were" – things which do not exist right now, as though they did exist right now in that divine state of being, 1Co 5:7; 2Co 5:16-17; Eph 4:22-24; Col 3:9-10.
A HUMAN, YET DIVINE BODY A NEW RACE OF MANKINDChrist's divine body (Col 2:9) is still "human." The word or name "Adam" means "man." Christ is the "second Adam" – the second Man, the Seed of the first Adam. Christ is the Son of Man, and being a deified Man, He is the second kind of man. Jesus said, "Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have," Lk 24:39; Jn 20:24-29.
Jesus had, not animal, but "human" flesh and bones, imbued with all the governing supremacy of the divine essence of deity, Col 2:9. We are to know Christ no longer after the flesh (that is, in a mere flesh body), but as the "New Man," 2Co 5:16-17. Christ is the new flesh and bones Man, created after the image of Him who created Him, Eph 4:22-24; Col 3:9-10; 2Co 5:16-17. We are also to look upon the members of the church no longer in mere flesh beings, but as members of the deified (human, flesh and bone) body of Christ, 2Co 5:16-17. We are to put off the first Adam and put on the second Adam – put off the first "man," and put on the second "Man." Christ is still our kinsman Redeemer.
We must continue constantly believing into Christ (into the divine body of Christ), in order to be born into that divine state of being in the resurrection, and thereby escape the judgment (condemnation) that is abiding upon those who stop believing into Christ by refusing John's baptism, Lk 7:29-30. Others fall back under that condemnation by making shipwreck of the faith after being baptized into the divine body of Christ, and by that baptism being united (joined) metaphorically into the divine state of being that Christ's body possesses, Rom 6:2-13; 7:4-6; 8:1-30; Phil 3:7-14,21; Col 2:1-22; 2Pe 1:3-11; et al.
Look at the condemnation to "wrath" on saved people who are not constantly believing into Christ. God's "wrath" is continuously abiding on all under the Law Covenant, and on those who stop believing into Christ, Jn 3:36; Rom 4:15; Heb 10:25-31. The Law Covenant brings wrath. Israel was under the Law Covenant, and therefore under its curse, condemnation, wrath, etc.
Again, the emphasis on "believing" (present participle) by using the word "constantly" (or a similar adverb) is deemed needful because of the misleading Protestant emphasis that the believer is guaranteed every covenant promise by the first act of faith, and is thereby delivered from any and all condemnation and wrath from God. God's wrath is still abiding upon those who are disobedient by refusing John's baptism (Mt 3:7; Lk 7:29-30), by refusing the circumcision of Christ, (Col 2:11-13), by refusing the doctrine of Christ (2Jn 9; 1Jn 2:23-25), and by gross unfaithfulness thereafter, as in Heb 10:25-31 and many other passages which require the understanding that saved people outside the body of Christ are specifically under God's wrath.
GOD'S WRATH ON SAVED PEOPLE
6 "He who is constantly believing into the Son is having aionion life (age-life, see December issue of this paper); but he who is constantly disobeying the Son shall not see (perceive, understand, experience) life, but the wrath of God is abiding (remaining) on him," Jn 3:36.
WHO ARE NOT
Those who have not accepted John's baptism have rejected the counsel of God against themselves (Mt 3:7; Lk 7:29-30), have rejected the circumcision of Christ (Col 2:9-13), which metaphorically brings the saved person into the deified body of Christ, where there is no condemnation and no wrath, Rom 6:3-6; 1Co 12:13; Gal 3:27. Saved people who have not received John's baptism, have thereby rejected the doctrine of Christ (2Jn 8-11), which includes John's baptism and which metaphorically brings the saved into the deified body of Christ, in which alone we have age-life (2Jn 8-9; 1Jn 2:23-25; 5:6-13), and freedom from the wrath to come, which will come when Christ returns, Mt 3:7; 18:8-9,35; 22:133; 24:51; 25:30,46; Rev 22:18-19; et al. Having rejected John's baptism, the saved person cannot keep God's commandments, and therefore cannot walk in the light as God is in the light, and hence cannot receive daily forgiveness of sins, 1Jn 1:5-10.
FIERY INDIGNATION UPON CONDEMNED SAVED PEOPLE25 "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
26 "For if we are habitually sinning willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there is no longer remaining a sacrifice for sins,
27 "But a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.
28 "Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without compassion on the testimony of two or three witness.
29 "Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God under foot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?
30 "For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord. And again, ‘The LORD will judge His people.'
31 "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God," Heb 10:25-31.
The first thing to occupy our attention is that the inspired writer wrote these words to and about saved and properly baptized church members (covenant people). The rule of interpretation requires us to recognize this fact. People who have never truly believed are not under consideration at all.
The word "judgment" is significant because it is the same Greek word krisij translated "condemnation" in Jn 5:24, which comes from the root word krinw, used in Jn 3:18. The "fiery indignation" can be translated indignation of fire, jealousy of fire, or fiery jealousy. The word "indignation" is translated from zh/loj, which also means "zeal." See also Ps 79:5; Zep 1:18(1-18); 2Co 11:2; 2Th 1:7-9; Ja 4:4-5. This last passage has a different Greek word, but the godly jealousy of the Holy Spirit over the bride people is the same.
Here in Hebrews (Heb 10:25-31), no sacrifice for sins remains for saved people after this unpardonable sin has been committed, Heb 10:26-29. The unpardonable sin can be committed by unsaved people, but in most such passages (Heb 3; 6; 10; 12) it is a persistent willful sinning, committed by saved and scripturally baptized church members who are in proper covenant relationship with God. This is God's "condemnation" upon His saved covenant people. It is a fearful thing to willfully change God's Word by insisting that saved people cannot come under "condemnation!" Rev 22:18-19.
CUT OFF FROM CHRIST MEANS CONDEMNATION AND WRATH1 "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
2 "Every branch in Me that is not constantly bearing fruit He takes away; and every branch that is constantly bearing fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
3 "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
4 "Abide (continue, remain) in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it remains in the vine, neither can you, unless you continue in Me.
5 "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who is remaining in Me, and I in him, is bearing much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
6 "If anyone may not remain in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned," Jn 15:1-6; Rom 11:11-22; Gal 5:1-4; Mt 18:15-18.
These were the Lord's disciples, saved and properly baptized church members, and ordained as apostles in the church, 1Co 12:28. They already had the New Covenant whole body washing of water baptism (Jn 13:8-10; Eph 5:26; Heb 10:22), and Jesus had also washed their feet (Jn 13:8-10), which symbolized constant cleansing as they walked in the light, 1Jn 1:5-9. This was symbolized by the Law Covenant priests washing their hands and feet at the laver, Ex 30:18-20.
Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper the same night, shortly before He spoke this metaphor of Himself as the Vine and His church members as the branches. The metaphor of the vine and the branches is uniquely analogous to the metaphor of the church being the body of Christ, and the bodies of the members of the church being deified members of the now deified body of Christ, 1Co 12:12-27; 5:15-17.
In the metaphor, the church is called Christ, meaning the body of Christ, 1Co 12:12-27; Act 9:4; 22:7; 26:14. We are baptized into Christ, and are thereby joined (united) into His body, which the church is counted to be, Rom 6:3-6; 1Co 12:13; Gal 3:27. It was to these saved, duly baptized, and ordained apostles in His church, who represented the church, that Jesus directed this metaphor of the vine and the branches. These branches (church members) were CLEAN by thus having believed, been baptized, and by continuing to believe and obey the words of Jesus, Jn 15:3; 13:1-10; Eph 5:26.
They were clean and were continuing to be clean by continuing to believe and obey by grace through faith. Jesus knew what He was saying when He commanded the disciples to remain (continue) in the Vine, lest they fall into that class of saved people who become so blinded they forget they were once cleansed from their old sins, and thereby "fall" and fail to make their calling and election sure, 2Pe 1:9-10.
Such saved people who become severed branches, and thereby "fall" and fail to qualify for God's election as firstborn sons (2Pe 1:9-10), will therefore not receive the divine nature (2Pe 1:4; Gal 6;7-9) and will not escape the corruption of the corrupt human body in the resurrection, 2Pe 1:4 (3-11); Gal 6:7-9; 1Co 5:5; 2Co 4:17 thru 5:21; Rom 8:1-30; Lk 16:9(1-13); et al. Any persisting efforts to apply these clean branches to pseudo branches will find us in Rev 22:18-19.
ALL ISRAEL UNDER CONDEMNATION7 "But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones (the ten commandments, representing the Law Covenant), was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away,
8 "How will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?
9 "For if the ministry of condemnation (the Law Covenant) had glory, the ministry of righteousness (the New Covenant) exceeds much more in glory," 2Co 3:7-9.
10 "For as many as are of the works of the Law (Covenant) are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in ALL things which are written in the book of the Law (Covenant), to do them,'" Gal 3:10.
The Law Covenant was a ministry of death and condemnation, which, at the same time, was a ministry of the curse of that same covenant. Both curse and condemnation equate the same death or separation from the body of Christ and from the covenant people. Being cut off from Christ (the body of Christ, Jn 15; Gal 4:21-31 thru 5:1-4) brings the inevitable separation, death, condemnation, curse, wrath, and slavery sonship to those saved people who are cut off from the Vine (from Christ as the New Covenant High Priest).
No one was delivered from that condemnation and curse until Christ was made a curse on the cross (Gal 3:13), which means that all Israelites from Moses to Christ were under condemnation, whether saved or unsaved. Christ redeemed the covenant people from the curse and condemnation of the Law Covenant when He was crucified and took the curse and condemnation of our sins upon Himself, 2Co 5:21; 1Pe 2:22-24; Gal 3:13; 4:4-5.
Only the faithful covenant people were redeemed from the Law Covenant, with the result that the New Covenant (body of Christ) people are in the required position to qualify and share Christ's firstborn sonship, and thereby be the bride of Christ, Rom 7:4-6. Only those within the body of Christ are dead to the Law Covenant (Rom 7:4), and this is in the body of Christ metaphor, where God is calling things which be not, as though they were, Rom 4:17.
But one says, "a metaphor is only a metaphor." But is a type only a type? Is a symbol only a symbol? Is a figure only a figure? Circumcision was a type, a figure, a symbol, but was efficacious because God told Abraham if his descendants did not practice circumcision, they would be cut off from the covenant, from the covenant people, and from all covenant benefits, Gen 17:14; Ex 4:24-26; 12:43-49. Baptism is symbolic, but if one does not have John's baptism, he cannot be a proper member of a true church, cannot be in the body of Christ, cannot be in the bride of Christ, cannot be in the doctrine of Christ, cannot have the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and cannot have the "life" that is in Them, Lk 7:29-30; Col 2:11-12; 2Jn 9.
On the basis of this metaphor, a saved person is metaphorically baptized into (joined into, becomes a member of, and grows up into) the deified body of Christ, Rom 6:3-6; Eph 4:11-16. That saved person in the body of Christ receives the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit as an earnest that his mortal body will be swallowed up by divine life in the resurrection birth, Jn 7:39; Gal 4:4-7; 2Co 5:1-5; Rom 8:23-25. That will be the glorious result if he holds the confidence and the rejoicing of this hope firm to the end, Heb 3:6 thru 4:11; 1Co 15:12; Phi 3:7-14,21; et al.
Justification did not deliver the faithful Israelite from the curse and condemnation of the Law Covenant. Justification does not make the saved covenant person righteous; rather, in justification God credits the saved person within the covenants with His own righteousness, which will be received in the resurrection birth when Christ returns, if that covenant person holds fast, Mt 5:6; 6:33; Rom 4:23-25; Gal 5:5; Phi 3:9; 2Co 9:10; 1Ti 6:11; 2Ti 2:22; Rev 19:7-8.
This righteousness of justification will be forfeited if the believing covenant person stops believing, Eze 3:20-21; 18:24; 33:12-13. Justification is not for every saved person, but is a covenant promise to the covenant people only. Abraham was justified in Gen 15:6, but he was saved many years before that (Act 7:1-4; Heb 11:8), and also about twenty five years later, Ja 2:21-24. The saved person in the covenants is justified every time he believes and obeys by grace through faith. "Flesh works" and "by grace through faith works" are in different ball parks, 1Co 15:10; Phi 2:12-13; Mt 10:19-20.
Until Christ died on the cross, Israel was under the Law Covenant, and therefore was of the works of the Law Covenant. The inevitable result was that every Israelite was under the curse, condemnation, death, and slavery of the Law Covenant, even those who were justified, Gal 3:10.
As long as the Law Covenant was in force, the Israelites were required by the Law Covenant to keep all the requirements of the covenant perfectly. To break one commandment was to break all of them, Ja 2:10; Gal 3:10; 5:3.
John chapter 3 is completely within the binding purview of the Law Covenant environment: Nicodemus was a master teacher of the Law Covenant in Israel, and the Law Covenant was ever eminent in his mind, concretely and inveterately ingrained in every fiber of his lifestyle from childhood. Moses lifted up the serpent within the Law Covenant environment, and Jesus and the church were still under the Law Covenant, which required their perfect obedience.
Moses was under the condemnation of the Law Covenant. David was under the condemnation of the Law Covenant. Daniel was under the condemnation of the Law Covenant. John the Baptist was under the condemnation of the Law Covenant – all who are of the works of the Law Covenant are under the curse and wrath of the Law Covenant.
Jesus was well aware of the condemnation of the Law Covenant, and He alone kept all its requirements. He was keenly and daily conscious of its curse and condemnation and wrath hanging over the covenant people. He was constantly aware that He must suffer that curse and condemnation on the cross in order to deliver the covenant people into the freedom He would create in His resurrection birth. Throughout His earthly life and especially during His earthly ministry His face was set like a flint toward the cross that He should bear the curse and condemnation of sin and attain to the resurrection birth and thereby fullfill the work He was sent to do. This work of the Father included salvation from hell, but also the condemnation (wrath) the covenant people were perpetually under.
Jesus could not have been more constantly aware that He alone must perfectly keep all the requirements of the Law Covenant in order to redeem all the faithful covenant people of the ages from the curse and condemnation of the Law Covenant. Jesus was immediately and keenly conscious of the Law Covenant condemnation when He spoke the words of John 3 to Nicodemus. Over half a century later, when John wrote the Gospel of John, he was also keenly aware of the condemnation of the Law Covenant and the adamant Law-keeping spirit of the Jerusalem church. See below.
We are greatly deceiving ourselves if we say Jn 3:15,16,18,36; and 5:24 are not concerned with the condemnation of the Law Covenant, which all Israel was still laboring under precisely at the time Jesus spoke the words of Jn 3 & 5:24.
JERUSALEM CHURCH UNDER CONDEMNATION17 "And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.
18 "On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present.
19 "When he had greeted them, he told in detail those things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.
20 "And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord. And they said to him, ‘You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law (Covenant);
21 "'But they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs," Act 21:17-21.
10 "For as many as are of the works of the Law (Covenant) are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the Law (Covenant), to do them,'" Gal 3:10.
The Jerusalem church was organized by Christ while still under the Law Covenant. Christ Himself necessarily lived under the Law Covenant (Gal 4:4-5), but He kept every re-quirement of the Law Covenant perfectly, therefore He was not cursed, condemned, or sentenced to death by the Law Covenant. But Christ had to suffer God's wrath which flowed from the Law Covenant because of the curse, condemnation, and death sentence against us, Rom 4:15; Jn 3:36.
Jesus told His disciples (the church) and other saved Israelites and Samaritans to obey the Law Covenant, Mt 23:1-3; Lk 17:12-19. The apostles and church had the Law Covenant so embedded in their mind and life that Jesus was unable to tell them that the Law Covenant would be fullfilled, set aside, and replaced by the New Covenant by His perfect life, crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection, Jn 16:12. The Lord had no other problem so big the Jerusalem could not handle it while He was here and after the Holy Spirit came. Observe this extremely important fact that the Jerusalem church never did accept the Law Covenant being done away. But continued trying to keep the Law Covenant throughout its history – see Edward Gibbons, "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire."
Peter had to have the, "contrary to the rule," demonstration of the Holy Spirit coming on the household, relatives, and close friends of Cornelius, before he and the other church members who were with him would agree to baptize them into the church, Acts 10. Likewise the Jerusalem church was very upset because Peter baptized uncircumcised Gentiles and fellowshiped with them contrary to the Law Covenant, Act 10; 11:1-18.
Note also the battle that Paul and Barnabas had in Antioch with bold and determined emissaries out of the Jerusalem church who insisted that everyone had to be circumcised and keep the Law Covenant in order to have covenant salvation, Act 15:1-3. The Antioch church sent Paul and Barnabas with others to the Jerusalem church in hopes of settling the matter of having to keep the Law Covenant. When Paul and his group arrived in the Jerusalem church, there was a hard fought battle over keeping the Law Covenant with its absolute requirement of practicing circumcision, Act 15:4-29; Gal 2:1-10.
Paul and Barnabas, finally with Peter's help, won only a partial and temporary victory for the Gentile church members. Soon after Paul, Barnabas and others returned to Antioch, Peter came down to Antioch and fellowshiped freely with the Gentile church members. Then, powerful and influential emissaries came from James (who was by this time the chief leader in the Jerusalem church) and caused a very shameful (and contrary to the New Covenant) separation of the Jewish church members from the Gentile church members over keeping the Law Covenant, Gal 2:11-14. This was of such magnitude that even Peter and Barnabas, with all the Jewish church members, separated themselves from the Gentile church members.
Paul was the lone Jew left to fellowship with the Gentiles. Paul then severely rebuked Peter and others for their undiscerning and disgraceful conduct. The Jerusalem church was still striving to keep the Law Covenant, which required the curse and condemnation of all under the Law Covenant's perfection requirements. All the members of the Jerusalem church were "zealous of the Law," and were therefore under the curse, condemnation, and wrath.
At the end of his third missionary trip, Paul with a group of companions brought a large offering from the Gentile churches to relieve the desperate poverty of the Jerusalem church, but he found the Jerusalem church still adamantly striving to keep the Law Covenant. Because of his great love for his Christian brethren, Paul became temporarily ensnared to a Law keeping predicament himself, Act 21:17-26.
The Jerusalem church never did (as far as history shows, Gibbons) cease trying to keep the Law Covenant, which covenant re-quired that every Law-keeper who broke one commandment be cursed and condemned without exception, Ja 2:10; Gal 3:10; 5:3. This all adds up to the clear fact that the Jerusalem church was inevitably and unavoidably under the curse, condemnation, death, and slave sonship of the Law Covenant. All the saved and properly baptized members of the Jerusalem church were under the condemnation of the Law Covenant. And this condemnation precisely is the same condemnation under con-sideration in John 3 & 5. Condemnation carries a much worse penalty for those who have never believed.
GALATIAN CHURCHES UNDER CONDEMNATION3 "And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole Law" (Covenant), Gal 5:3.
10 "For whosoever shall keep the whole Law (Covenant), and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all," Ja 2:10.
10 "For as many as are of the works of the Law (Covenant) are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the Law (Covenant) to do them," Gal 3:10.