This is article 17 for the March issue of the paper. Each reader is encouraged to read and study each of the above articles in order. These articles are uniquely progressive and will not likely be properly understood even by knowledgeable traditional brethren unless studied in the order given above.
CUT OFF FROM CHRISTThe branches that do not bear proper and sufficient fruit will be cut off from the Vine – they will be cut off from the covenants, Jn 15:1-12. The Jerusalem church persisted in keeping the Law Covenant, therefore it was necessary for that church to be cut off from the covenants – therefore that church was cut off from Christ, Gal 4:21 thru 5:4. The Galatian churches were turning back to the Law Covenant, and Paul sternly warned them they would be cut off from Christ, which means they would be separated from Christ.
There are many saved people outside true churches, most of whom do not have John's baptism (the circumcision of Christ), Lk 7:29-30; Col 2:11-13. They do not have the doctrine of Christ, and therefore do not have the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, 2Jn 8-11. They stand separated from Christ, and from the covenants
The Laodicean church was also firmly warned they must repent of their lukewarmness or be vomited out of the Lord's mouth, Rev 3:14-21. This would result in those saved church members no longer being "in Christ," but would clearly be cut off from Christ and from the covenants.
IT IS GOD WHO JUSTIFIES33 "Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies," Rom 8:33.
This verse ascribes supreme knowledge, authority, and justice to God. Observe further:
1. God is perfect and righteous in all His ways, and in Him is no darkness at all, Ps 18:30; Mt 5:48; Rom 3:1-8; 1Jn 1:5.
2. The law of the Lord is perfect, holy, just, and good, and sets forth the righteousness of God, Ps 19:7; Lk 1:5-6; Rom 3:1-8,21-26; 7:12; 2Ti 3:15-17.
3. God is righteous when He condemns and executes wrath upon unrepenting sinners, Rom 3:1-26; 4;15; Heb 10:25-32; Rom 9:14-23.
4. God is righteous when He shows mercy on those who repent and believe, but whom He has also prepared to be slave sons in the nations on the new earth, Ps 19:1-6; Jn 1:9; 12:32; Act 14:16-17; 17:26-27; Rom 1:28-20; 1Jn 2:2; Gal 4;21 thru 5:4; Rev 21:23-26; 2:1-2.
5. God is righteous when He shows more abundant mercy on those whom He has prepared to be firstborn sons together with Christ, who continue believing into Christ and hold fast to the end – from the first Adam to the end of the Millennium, Jn 3:15-16,18,36; 5:24; 6:27-67; 10:27-36; 15:1-12; 17:21-23; Rom 6:1-23; 8:1-39; 11:11-22; 1Co 15:1-2,44-55; Heb 3:1-19; 5:8-9; 12:1-29; et al.
God is the one who justifies, and those whom He justifies no one can condemn, however God has predestined that He will withdraw His justification and once again condemn those who turn from His righteous way, Eze 3:20; 18:24; 33:12-13; See below:
LOSING JUSTIFICATIONThere are three major passages which specifically discuss justification in the Bible (Rom 3 & 4; Gal 2 & 3; and Ja 2), and all three reference Gen 15:6 to anchor the discussion of justification because of the specific language used in Gen 15:6, Rom 4:3; Gal 3:6; Ja 2:23. However, Abraham was certainly saved and probably justified some 15 or more years PRIOR to Gen 15:6, Act 7:1-4; Heb 11:8; Gen 12:1-3. Furthermore, Abraham's walk and life of persevering faith are referenced as acts which continued to credit God's divine righteousness to Abraham. See Abraham's daily walk of faith (Rom 4:12), the persevering strength of Abraham's faith ("who against hope, believed in hope") in his waiting without wavering for the birth of Isaac (Rom 4:17-22), and Abraham's offering up Isaac after another 20 or 25 years. Justification is progressive, depending on our persevering in "believing into Christ."
GAINING CHRISTAll things that were gain to Paul, he counted but loss, and daily strove earnestly with great dedication and sacrifice in order to be always found in Christ (in the body of Christ), in the covenants, in the only place where the righteousness of justification is promised:
9 "And be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the Law (Covenant), but that which is by means of faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by the faith of Christ," Phi 3:9.
This is the righteousness of justification. Paul placed this divine righteousness in the body of Christ, with the faith of Christ, with sacrificial faithfulness, and with that special resurrection birth for the faithful only.
5 "For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith," Gal 5:5; Phi 2:7-14,21.
We are to very eagerly wait with deep and fixed consecration on the "hope" of God's divine righteousness (generic for all of God's divine attributes). We do not have that righteousness yet, but we "hope" for it.
23 "Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
24 "For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?
25 "But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance," Rom 8:23-25.
Again, we do not have that divine righteousness of God yet, but we "hope" for it. Hope means we do not have it yet, but are eagerly waiting for it, even as we find the beloved apostles counting all but dung, that they may win Christ, and be found in Him possessing that righteousness in the resurrection birth into the likeness of Christ's resurrection.
LOSING CHRIST8 "Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing," 2Ti 4:8.
That "crown" was guaranteed to Paul because he had fought a good fight, had finished the race, and had kept the faith. However, until this time when his earthly life was finished, Paul had to severely discipline his lifestyle lest he be disapproved and forfeit all the "crowns." We must honestly acknowledge that, while yet in this life, we must "continue believing into Christ," "hold fast to the end," "hold fast what we have," and vigilantly pursue these crowns lest they be taken from us, Rev 3:11; 2Jn 8; Ja 1:12; 1Co 9:23-27 thru 10:12. See also Mt 6:23; 1Ti 6:11; 2Ti 2:22; Heb 3:6,14; Col 1:23; 1Co 15:1-2; Mt 10:22; 24:12-13; et al. These passages do not concern salvation from hell, but salvation of the life, being saved into the firstborn sonship of Christ, Mt 16:24-27; Mk 8:34-38; Lk 9:23-26; Jn 12:25.
20 "Again, when a righteous (justified) man turns from his righteousness (God's divine righteousness credited to him by faith) and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before him, he will die. Since you did not warn him, he will die for his sin. The righteous things he did (by grace through faith) will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for his blood," Eze 3:20.
All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags, Isa 64:6. God commands us to turn from our righteousness to His righteousness, Rom 9:30-33; 10:1-3.
24 "But when a righteous (justified) man turns away from his righteousness (credited to him in justification by faith) and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done (by grace through faith) shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness (he stopped believing into Christ) of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die," Eze 18:24.
We are constantly losing some of those rewards we are laying up in heaven, Mt 6:19-21; 2Jn 8-11; Rev 3:11; Mt 13:12; 25;28-29; Mk 4:24-25; Lk 8:18; 19:24-26; Jn 15:2; Eze 3:20; 18:24; 33:12-13
12 "Therefore you, O son of man, say to the children of your people: 'The righteousness of the righteous (justified) man shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression; as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall because of it in the day that he turns from his wickedness; nor shall the righteous (justified person) be able to live because of his righteousness (accredited to him by faith) in the day that he sins.'
13 "When I say to the righteous (the justified man) that he shall surely live, but he trusts in his (former by grace through faith) righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous (accredited to him daily by grace through faith) works shall be remembered; but because of the iniquity that he has committed, he shall die," Eze 33:12-33.
These passages in Ezekiel are speaking of a justified person who stops believing into Christ in the Old Testament sacrificial by grace thru faith way, Lk 1:5-6. The righteousness credited to the covenant person by grace through faith is accepted, but turning from the justified status is condemned. (See Ezekiel passages above).
This is the same as the Jerusalem church and the churches of Galatia: their persistence in keeping the Law Covenant along with the New Covenant would bring them back under the condemnation of the Law Covenant, and would, if they persisted in trying to keep the Law Covenant, necessarily cut them off from the New Covenant and from Christ the Mediator of the New Covenant and from all the covenant promises, Gal 4:21 thru 5:5; and Ezekiel passages.
WHO CONDEMNS?33 "Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies.
34 "Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us," Rom 8:33-34.
16 "And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat;
17 "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die,'" Gen 2:16-17.
18 "And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification," Rom 5:16.
18 "Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life," Rom 5:18.
All the attributes of love, mercy, justice, and judgment or condemnation, are inherent in God's divine nature. Likewise, the varying degrees of love, mercy, justice, judgment, etc., to the greater and lesser extent are inherent in God's eternal and divine essence. God's justice requires that judgment be executed upon moral beings who have acted contrary to God's righteous state of being, and that the degree of judgment or punishment be executed through God's mercy and forbearance according to the degree of the wrong that has been committed.
God is the one who condemns. He is the supreme authority who sets forth the charge or condemnation against all wrong, and any condemnations or accusations by Satan and other sources are governed by God's justice and mercy.
God gave the Law Covenant through Moses to set forth all the principles of righteous conduct in thought, word, and deed, all of which are inherent in God and are and have been eternally and essentially a part of His divine nature. The Law Covenant was given to Israel for the purpose of magnifying the helpless, hopeless, sinful, dead in sins, cursed, condemned, and enslaved state of being into which all mankind is born, Rom 3:9-19; 7:4-25; Ja 2:10; Gal 3:10; 4:21 thru 5:4.
The New Covenant demonstrates the same righteousness, except the New Covenant does not hold the faithful covenant people under condemnation. Our natural state of being is still the same as under the Law Covenant; however, the New Covenant metaphor credits us now as being deified members of the deified body of Christ, with the requirement that we must continue constantly "believing into Christ" in order to qualify for the firstborn sonship of Christ and escape the slave status and punishment (condemnation) predestined for the slave sons, Jn 15:6; Gal 4:21 thru 5:4; Heb 3:6-19; 10:25-31; 12:1-29.
WHO INTERCEDES34 "Who is he who is condemning? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also is making intercession for us," Rom 8:34.
25 "Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who are constantly coming to God through Him, since He is always living to be making intercession for them," Heb 7:25.
1 "My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous," 1Jn 2:1.
THE HIGH PRIEST AND THE THE ONYX STONESAaron and the other high priests of the Law Covenant who followed Aaron made intercessions for the covenant people only. The high priest had special clothing he wore while ministering in the tabernacle or temple. On each of his shoulders was fixed an onyx stone, with six of the twelve names of the twelve tribes of Israel on each stone, so that the names of all twelve tribes of Israel were carried on his shoulders as he ministered on behalf of the whole nation, Ex 28:9-12.
12 "And you shall put the two stones on the shoulders of the ephod as memorial stones for the sons of Israel. So Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD on his two shoulders as a memorial," Ex 28:12. These things are all types of the New covenant people and priesthood, represented in the church.
THE HIGH PRIEST AND THE BREASTPLATE OF TWELVE STONESThe special breastplate the high priest wore on his chest also had twelve precious stones on it, Ex 28:17-29. Each stone carried the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel – twelve stones for twelve tribes. There were no other names on the breastplate. The breastplate with twelve stones and names of the twelve tribes of Israel served as a memorial of the covenant people only before the Lord continually, Ex 28:16-29. No other nation was included, and only Gentiles who had been circumcised and who purposely and personally worshiped God according to the Law Covenant were able to observe the Passover which represented the whole intent of all the covenants, and all the covenant promises, as the Lord's Supper does now, Ex 12:43-49; 1Co 10:16-18.
29 "So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel on the breastplate of judgment over his heart, when he goes into the holy place, as a memorial before the LORD continually," Ex 28:29.
The breastplate is called a breastplate of "judgment," which signified that the high priest interceded for the twelve names that appeared on the breastplate, and for them only. All the rest of mankind are not covered by the intercessory ministry of the high priest, and are thereby left under the wrath of God against sin.
This was the purpose of the twelve names on the breastplate which the high priest wore continually. The same was true with the twelve names on the onyx stones on the high priest's shoulders. The same was true with the twelve loaves which were placed on the table of showbread. The same was true of the priests eating the twelve loaves each Sabbath day, which represented all Israel eating the loaves, Lev 24:5-9.
Christ is the bread of life (Jn 6:33,35,48,51), and eating the bread signified partaking of Christ, whether the twelve loaves of showbread (Lev 24:5-9), the unleavened bread (Ex 12:15-17; Lev 23:6-8), or the manna, Ex 16; 1Co 10:3; 6:27-67. The twelve loaves represented Christ being provided only for the twelve tribes – the loaves were eaten by the priests on behalf of the twelve tribes whom they represented, Num 3; 4; & 8.
THE ATONEMENT UNDER THE LAW COVENANTOn the day of atonement, the high priest made atonement only for the nation of Israel. Christ died for the whole world (Jn 3:17); 1Jn 2:2, but only the faithful covenant people will receive the atonement. Saved people outside the covenants and the unfaithful within the covenants do not receive forgiveness of their daily sins – God has sworn in His wrath that they will not enter His rest, Heb 3:11; 4:3; 10:25-31; Jn 15:6. Christ intercedes only for those within the covenants who are by grace through faith holding fast to the end, Jn 15:1-12; Rom 11:11-22; 1Co 9:24 thru 10:12; Gal 4:21 thru 5:4; Heb 3:6-19; 6:4-8; 10:25-31; 12:1-29.
16 "So he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, for all their sins; and so he shall do for the tabernacle of meeting which remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness," Lev 16:16.
21 "Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man," Lev 16:21.
33 "Then he shall make atonement for the Holy Sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tabernacle of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly (and for no one else).
34 "This shall be an everlasting statute for you, to make atonement for the children of Israel, for all their sins, once a year. And he did as the LORD commanded Moses," Lev 16:33-34.
Leviticus 16 describes the activities of the atonement on the day of atonement. And the atonement was made only for the sins of Israel as the covenant people. Of course, as we will further see, this included Gentiles who were converts to the Law Covenant – which included the requirement of circumcision as long as the Law Covenant was still in force. See immediately below.
CIRCUMCISION AND ABRAHAMThe Passover feast represented all the covenant benefits, and the same is true with circumcision. The same is also true with New Covenant water baptism and the Lord's Supper. For instance, the person who did not practice circumcision was a covenant breaker and was to be cut off from the covenants and from the covenant people:
14 "And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant," Gen 17:14.
These were firm words spoken to Abraham and his descendants, and even Abraham's intercessions would not have helped if Abraham and his descendants had not obey this firm requirement. See immediately below.
CIRCUMCISION AND MOSESGod made an example out of Moses and thereby dramatically demonstrated this circumcision requirement to the point of bringing Moses face to face with death and banishment from the covenants and from the firstborn sonship for not having circumcised one of his sons:
24 "And it came to pass on the way, at the encampment, that the LORD met him and sought to kill him.
25 "Then Zipporah took a sharp stone and cut off the foreskin of her son and cast it at Moses' feet, and said, ‘Surely you are a husband of blood to me!'
26 "So He let him go. Then she said, ‘You are a husband of blood!' -- because of the circumcision," Ex 4:24-26.
Moses had two sons (Ex 4:20), but only one of them is indicated here. It appears Moses' wife had consented to the circumcision of the first son, but had become adamant against circumcising the second son. Whatever the case, the Lord was very serious about the requirement of the ordinance of circumcision. Moses was God's own hand-picked and predestined leader of the covenant people, to lead them out of Egypt and through the terrible wilderness. But God would have certainly killed Moses (precisely according to Gen 17:14) before He let him go any further with an uncircumcised son.
Had Moses' son not been circumcised, Moses would have been cut off from the covenants and from being a partaker of Christ. Circumcision represented putting off the sinful mere flesh man, and putting on the new deified flesh man, just as baptism and the Lord's Supper do, Col 2:9-21; 1Co 11:22-29; 2Co 5:16-17.
Moses would never have been the great leader of Israel out of Egypt and through the wilderness had his son not been circumcised. He would never have been able to intercede for Israel throughout the wilderness experience had his son not been circumcised.
CIRCUMCISION AND THE PASSOVERCircumcision was an absolute requirement under the covenant with Abraham (Gen 17:1-14) and also the Law Covenant. See, for instance, another very clear passage:
43 "And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘This is the ordinance of the Passover: No foreigner shall eat it.
44 "'But every man's servant who is bought for money, when you have circumcised him, then he may eat it.
45 "'A sojourner and a hired servant shall not eat it.
46 "'In one house it shall be eaten; you shall not carry any of the flesh outside the house, nor shall you break one of its bones.
47 "'All the congregation of Israel shall keep it.
48 "'And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and THEN let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it.
49 "'One law shall be for the native-born and for the stranger who dwells among you,'" Ex 12:43-49.
The Passover feast was not just a meal, but was a major and solemn celebration which included many strict ordinances, each one of which carried major prophetic significance. The Passover lamb and the unleavened bread both represented not only Christ but also the covenant people as one with Christ. The eating of the lamb united the lamb and the one who ate the lamb into a unique oneness (Christ and His faithful covenant people joined together into a divine oneness, into a divine entity). This is true also with the eating of the unleavened bread, and again with the ordinance of circumcision, of water baptism, and of the Lord's Supper.
The meaning of circumcision and the Passover is explained much more fully in baptism and the Lord's Supper. For instance, in both baptism and in the Lord's Supper the transition from the "old man" to the "new man" is much more vividly pictured and fully explained, but very, very briefly as follows:
In water baptism the picture we see is a burial and a resurrection; however, the explanation is that the church is, in a metaphor, the flesh body of Christ (now deified). The explanation further says that the body of the person being baptized is, in the metaphor, united together with (joined into) the deified flesh body of Christ, and becomes a deified member of the deified body of Christ.
In the Lord's Supper the local church "discerns" the same body of Christ. Again, in the metaphor, the church is called the flesh body of Christ, Rom 4:17; 1Co 5:7; 10:16-18; 11:18-29; 12:12-27. Before His crucifixion, Christ instituted the Lord's Supper and called the bread His body, Mt 26:26. The bread represents both the flesh body of Christ and also the church, 1Co 10:16-17; 11:17-29. When we "discern the Lord's body," we show not only His death "till He comes," but also His resurrection birth, as follows:
16 "Therefore, from now on, we regard no one (in the body of Christ) according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.
17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, (in the body of Christ) he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new," 2Co 5:16-17.
All in the body of Christ have been created "IN Christ," not outside the body of Christ, Eph 2:10. In the same context it is made clear beyond question that "in Christ" means the flesh body of Christ, as follows:
14 "For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation,
15 "Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,
16 "And that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity," Eph 2:14-16; Col 1:21-22.
We are no longer to know Christ in a mere flesh body, but in a divine body which is called the "new man," 1Co 15:44-50. And we are also to know each other no longer after the flesh – meaning that we are to know each other as deified members of the deified body of Christ.
A CIRCUMCISED HEARTCircumcision represented putting off the old man and putting on the new man. Circumcision and water baptism represent the same thing, as does the Passover and the Lord's Supper, Rom 6:3-6; 7:4-6; 1Co 5:7; 10:16-18; 11:24-29; 12:12-13; Gal 3:27-29. Circumcision represents a holy and spiritual heart and ears that are attentive and responsive to God's Word, Deu 10:16; 30:6; Jer 10:6; 9:2526; Act 9:51; Rom 2:28-29; Col 2:11-13, Rom 12:1-2; 2Co 3:18; Col 3:1-11; Eph 4:22-24 (11-24).
Those who refuse circumcision reject the counsel of God against themselves, as in John‘s baptism, Lk 7:28-29; Col 2:11-13. God did not count uncircumcised people as clean and holy before Him, and therefore they could not partake of the Passover, and without the circumcision of Christ (John's baptism) saved people today cannot partake of the Lord's Supper, 1Co 5:7 (1-13). Circumcision, the Passover, water baptism, and the Lord's Supper all represent death to sin and to earthy slavery and resurrection in a deified body and spirit to share Christ's divine firstborn sonship together with Him.
This is atonement, and this is what the intercessory ministry of Christ is about. Christ does not intercede for saved people outside the covenants. Christ does not intercede for saved people outside the deified body of Christ. Therefore all unfaithful saved people who are in the covenants by being in the body of Christ will be cut off from the body of Christ if they continue in their unfaithful and lukewarm attitude toward the Word of God, which requires us to give all diligence to make our calling and election sure, 2Pe 1:4-10; Rom 8:17-30.
To continue in the the atonement, we must have the doctrine of Christ, and then we must continue in the doctrine of Christ, 2Jn 8-11. Otherwise we will make shipwreck of a good conscience, of faith, of the faith, of the covenants, and of all the within covenant benefits, which include all covenant promises, 2Pe 1:4.