… Listen to Paul’s words: “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations (true revelation, not just the racy esoteric gnosticism that titillates and enthralls so many in our time), there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure” (2Cor 12:7). Look at that! “Above measure” is Paul’s choice of words, as if to say that he was aware that the messenger from Satan did not fully accomplish the complete eradication of this intractable propensity, for if it did, the buffeter could be finally removed. But if only to keep this thing in check enough for Paul’s ministry to continue required this radical divine measure. That’s very sobering! But the answer is never a studied avoidance of ‘knowledge’ of truth, but a trembling concerning the pernicious evil of pride and reliance on natural aptitude. …
… It is a rule in the personal life as in prophecy that the kingdom of God and the life of the resurrection always follows the exposure of the ‘man of sin’. Why? Because the removal of ‘the veil of mere human morality’ exposes the concealed root of depravity. This is the meaning of ‘apocalyptic’, to unveil what is otherwise hidden, and why the word suggests a kind of violence. It speaks of death to the thing that withholds, that holds back and restrains the inbreaking of the kingdom. …
[…] According to 1Pet 3:21, baptism is an “answer” (response) of a good conscience” (not an “appeal for” a good conscience, as unfortunately translated in some modern translations; contra Moulton Geden Greek Conc). The ‘good conscience’ is obtained only by faith in Christ’s resurrection. Baptism stands as a ‘figure’ (pictorial enactment signifying a testimonial obedience of identification with His death and resurrection) of that saving transaction accomplished through faith alone, since the heart (conscience) is only ‘purified by faith’ (Acts 15:9). We are never “saved” by a ‘figure’ or type, or by any ordinance! According to NT precedent, baptism is only administered to those that give evidence of repentance (Mt 3:8), and that show signs of true regeneration (Acts 8:37; 10:47). This alone constituted one as a candidate for baptism according to NT precedent. Well, I could go on, but must cut this short. […]
[…] Although knowing and appreciating Art’s meaning in that title, I used to tell him that it might have been more accurately entitled “FEW saved and even fewer converted,” that is, converted in the sense that Peter was ‘turned’ after the great blow to his presumption. I wrote an article entitled “the deeper conversion of the converted,” in which I showed the evidence that Peter was indeed regenerate (the common meaning attached to the word ‘converted’), but was not as yet completely ‘turned’ (broken and emptied of self-reliance) in the sense that Jesus uses the word in that instance. […]
[…] It is not scriptural to expect that the church of the last tribulation will attain to a stature that will so eclipse the earliest church as to provoke the Jew to jealousy in a way never accomplished through the apostles themselves. No, rather, it is as you suggest. There will always be the mixed reaction, and I believe until the end, the response will be predominantly negative, more often anger than emulation. Though, of course, there will always be “some,” but ‘only’ some that will be moved to the kind of jealousy that leads to salvation, but even this will often, perhaps most often, follow an initial reaction of hostility.
I especially appreciated how you put it: “the entire group could not have been anything but provoked just by the mere preaching of gospel of grace that demolishes religious self-righteousness and extends mercy to them who are ‘no people'”. That’s the point. But NOT only Israel’s salvation at the end of tribulation, but the purification and maturation of the church through tribulation (Dan 12:10; Acts 14:22) is all part of God’s strategy to vindicate His name and glory in both as inextricable aspects of the eschatological vindication of the Word concerning both. […]
[…] Could it be that this is a clue that the sealed remnant represents a heavenly spiritual corporate entity/ or company that anticipates, as first-fruits, not only the literal gathering of Israel at Christ’s return, but the perfection in love of an overcoming church that “loves not its life unto death according to Rev 12? That is, this is the first fruits of covenant fulfillment, not only of millennial Israel, but also, and even more particularly, this is the eschatological forerunners of the glorious church of Christ as it is about to be perfected through the sufferings of the final test (Rev 3:10). These are free from sensual entanglements, as Samson the Danite was not, and these are free from idolatry, as the tribe that was particularly prone to idolatry was not, and these are vigilant and set for the defense of the gospel, not as Dan that was slack and negligent concerning its duty to participate in the defense of their brethren. They were not their brother’s keeper. But these, in complete contrast of the compromised tribe of Dan, are perfect in their love and faithful unto death. Though hunted, persecuted, even killed, paradoxically, not a hair of their head will perish. They are sealed; already ascended far above the access of principalities and powers, because their faith has found an unshakable resting place. I take this in complete keeping with the eschatological birthing of the man-child (Rev 12), a key to which is Paul’s remark concerning the relationship of travail to the “formation of Christ” in his wavering believers. See what I mean? These are those in whom Christ has been formed to such a degree as to manifest Him in the flesh through their faith and love unto death. […]
[…] Properly understood, there is no greater truth so full of gospel comfort and power than the doctrine of the imputation of the totality of Christ’s righteousness to the least believer (provided, of course, that believer is no mere professor, but has passed through the straight gate of authentic regeneration). Yes, it is quite capable of abuse and miscarriage; show me a doctrine that is not. The Roman church could not see that God could never impute righteousness on any other basis than what was wrought in Christ, and not only at the cross, but this imputation includes the righteousness that was that was tested and proved through the thirty three and half years of spotless obedience that Christ fulfilled UNDER the law. Only through the imputation of this totality of Christ’s righteousness can God lawfully ‘quicken whom He will’ (Eph 2:1; Jn 5:21; Ro 9:18). In fact, IF the righteousness wrought out in Christ’s humanity were not freely and unconditionally imputed in the full, there could be no new creation, no regeneration, not even faith. Why? Because to grant righteousness on any other basis than Christ’s perfect obedience would indeed be a repudiation of the justice of God. The righteousness required by the law must be fulfilled in full. The debt must be paid in full. The punishment must be suffered in full in order for God to justly justify the ungodly. Otherwise it would be a ‘legal fiction’ indeed.
In other words, apart from such imputation unto the everlasting righteousness of New Covenant justification (compare Jer 32:40; Dan 9:24), forgiveness, or remission of sins, would indeed be arbitrary and unjust. Without the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, there could be no Spirit wrought faith in the heart. In my view, even the Old Testament believers could not have believed were it not for the surety of the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world in the predestinating counsel and foreknowledge of God. Therefore, in a sense, the only righteousness that God can accept is His own ‘perfect and complete’ righteousness as fulfilled in the One, the righteousness that He perfected in the One humanity that qualified to represent the sinner, namely, the second Adam, the Lord from heaven, hallelujah! […]
[…] That has always been our position that God is jealous that His sovereign choice and the sole and unmixed work of His Spirit be mediated through jars of clay. It is on the one hand all Him and nothing of man, but on the other hand, this wholly divine working is mediated through a people bearing His nature, so that “it is not I that does the work” (Jn 14:10; 5:19 see also Paul’s repeated ‘yet not I’s’) but “my Father is working and I work.” It’s the mystery of incarnation of the divine nature in the saints; it is the one in, and through the many, the old dialectic of paradox and mystery that has always stumbled humanism and works religion. This is why God is jealous that this be mediated through a “son of man” company that is in fact the overcoming church, and why the church must, of course, be here to complete the testimony AS the church. This waits on the fullness of revelation, but God is very jealous for the process by which such age-ending revelation comes about, but that’s another topic. Thank you for sending this. It casts a grammatical light on a choice of truth. How we interpret, and what we see in such things is also a reflection on how we are inclined. There is always a choice that reveals the disposition of the heart, even in the interpretation process, regardless of tools, resources, or training. I’m glad you’ve got such a ‘bead drawn’ on these things. […]