A Wrong Understanding of Bible Prophecy Can
Lead Believers Astray in Their Faith
A Rock of Offence Special Commentary
This is Part 1 of a two-part Bible study.
Click on the link below for Part 2
of this study.
Contrary to rumors and false teaching
floating around the Church and
As of the writing of this commentary;
The Tribulation has not started
The Seal Judgments have not started
The identity of the anti-christ has not
The rapture of the Church does not happen
at the 7th trumpet of Revelation around
the middle of the Tribulation
The rapture of the Church does not happen at
the end of the Tribulation.
After the cross, a person is not made
"ready for the rapture" by laboring to
make themselves worthy through good
works, godly behavior and Christian
service. Only the blood of Christ and
His imputed righteousness provides the
perfect worthiness that qualifies a
person to participate in the rapture.
The rapture of the Church cannot be anything
but Pre-tribulational, meaning that it occurs
before the 7 years of God's judgment that is
poured out upon the Christ-rejecting nations
of the earth. But, the Church consisting of
all true believers did not reject Christ,
but believed and received Him.
God does not use the Tribulation to purify
disobedient Christians deficient in good
works and spiritual performance.
Our comments above represent just a few of the
hotly debated topics concerning end-time events.
Yet, when we closely examine this controversy,
we discover that most criticisms do not involve
just a simple and unimportant "difference of
opinion". Many arguments are rooted in a popular,
yet wrong view of the Bible that mixes personal
merit and the attaining of various forms of
Christian character and behavior into the
Church's "salvation by Grace", which the Bible
calls "God's gift of eternal life".
(Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 11:29,
Romans 10:8-13, Romans 11:6, Romans 4:4-8,
Romans 3:24-26, 1 John 1:7, Titus 3:5-7)
Paul warned in Gal. 1:6-8 and Gal. 3:1-4 that
this practice "perverts the gospel" and carries
a curse. What concerns us the most is that this
"perverted gospel" (and its countless variants)
is the one that dominates most of the world-wide
institutional Christian Church. We bring the
topic of the gospel into our discussion of Bible
prophecy because the rapture represents the
fulfillment of the blood-bought salvation Jesus
purchased at the cross. This makes the rapture a
"salvation event" that brings to an end the
Church's Grace-based program on the earth - and
removes the Church to forever be with the Lord
who redeemed them.
"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: THEN WE WHICH ARE ALIVE AND REMAIN SHALL BE CAUGHT UP TOGETHER WITH THEM IN THE CLOUDS, TO MEET THE LORD IN THE AIR: AND SO SHALL WE EVER BE WITH THE LORD. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 - Emphasis Added)
From Genesis to Revelation, the primary focus of the Bible is the redemption of the human race provided by the sacrificial death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ - and His promised return at the end of the age. The cross utterly destroyed the destructive plans of the devil, which began in the Garden of Eden. But, the Bible also warns that our enemy didn't just "give up" after his defeat. Some 7 to 10 years following the cross a group of "believing Pharisees" began an initiative to redefine the truths governing Christ's Grace-based salvation - by mixing it with Old Testament Law. This event is recorded in Acts chapter 15 - where the ruling apostles and elders in Jerusalem rendered a decision that condemned their effort. Yet, these "believing Pharisees" ignored this official apostolic ruling and proceeded to spread their doctrine wherever a Christian church existed. The Church at Galatia, established by the Apostle Paul was one of the first casualties. Today, this corrupt "pharisaical" theology is widely accepted as Biblical truth. As a result, it has expanded into countless different variants and expressions, which are "foundational" to many Christian churches and denominations around the world. This is why any preaching of the authentic Gospel should also include warnings about the counterfeit.
Unfortunately, Bible prophecy is also dangerously distorted by this same theological influence.
More information is available HERE
Eschatology is the study of Bible prophecy involving end-time events, which includes both the first appearance of Jesus Christ - and His promised Second Coming at the end of the age. Nearly all Bible prophecy, is both directly and indirectly connected in some way to Jesus Christ; God’s Son. This effort begins in the early pages of the book of Genesis. Bible scholars refer to it as; “the Proto-Evangelicom”. This prophecy, spoken by God to Satan in the Garden of Eden following Adam’s sin - provides the first glimpse of what Jesus would eventually accomplish thousands of years in the future.
So the Lord God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; HE (SPEAKING OF CHRIST) SHALL BRUISE YOUR HEAD, and you shall bruise His heel.” (Genesis 3:14-15)
It is estimated that 1 out of every 25 verses in the New Testament is directly related to Christ's promised return. However, when looking at all the Holy Scriptures (both the Old and New Testament), NEARLY ONE THIRD INVOLVES BIBLE PROPHECY. Church leaders who refuse to discuss these issues are avoiding a large and important part of the Bible. Many believe “the rapture”, falls under this area of “Eschatology” and considers it optional or nonessential for this reason. Yet, we will see that this perspective is seriously flawed.
WHAT IS OFTEN REFERRED TO AS
"THE RAPTURE" REPRESENTS THE
FULFILLMENT AND COMPLETION OF
THE CHURCH'S SALVATION, WHICH
JESUS PURCHASED AT THE CROSS.
"But God, who is rich in mercy, BECAUSE OF HIS GREAT LOVE WITH WHICH HE LOVED US, EVEN WHEN WE WERE DEAD IN TRESPASSES, MADE US ALIVE TOGETHER WITH CHRIST (BY GRACE YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, THAT IN THE AGES TO COME HE MIGHT SHOW THE EXCEEDING RICHES OF HIS GRACE IN HIS KINDNESS TOWARD US IN CHRIST JESUS. FOR BY GRACE YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED THROUGH FAITH, and that not of yourselves; IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD, NOT OF WORKS, lest anyone should boast." (Ephesians 2:4-9)
What many call the rapture or “the catching away of the Church”, as Saint Paul refers to it - is a major part of the redemptive plan that Jesus sacrificed His life to provide. Our adversary, the devil, has made it his goal to distort, discredit - and even destroy the supernatural truths that empower our salvation. This agenda of disinformation has existed since the days of the first century Church. It is not something new. Names and labels are constantly changed to keep Biblical truth-seekers off guard. Unfortunately, the religious individuals used by our enemy are generally loving people with noble ambitions and good intentions. They are unaware of the hidden influence in their teachings. We should remember that the religious leaders who claimed to love and serve God were Christ’s most vicious opponents and critics. Later, these same leaders persuaded Pontius Pilate to crucify the Lord. These examples warn us about the dangers that exist within the modern-day organized Christian Church.
Will the Real Jesus
Please Stand up?
More information is available HERE
A subject often repeated throughout our commentaries involves the danger of spiritual counterfeits. Similar to counterfeit money, spiritual counterfeits look nearly identical to whatever they are seeking to replace. One of the strongest warnings given in the New Testament is about the real Jesus and the counterfeit Jesus. Yet, nearly everyone either ignores (or deliberately avoids) this warning because of the uncomfortable and emotional implications. As a result, a majority, but thankfully not all of the institutional Christian Church (this is not the same Church Paul wrote about in his epistles) have unknowingly placed their faith in the counterfeit without knowing it.
Our warnings about the real Christ and the counterfeit originally came from Saint Paul, who wrote more than half of the New Testament Scriptures. Why did Paul choose such divisive and upsetting words in his warning? Didn’t he understand that his sayings would offend and even enrage many of those who attend various churches and congregations?
Originally, Paul was an experienced and highly trained Pharisee within Judaism. He understood human behavior and was familiar with all the religious language tricks, slick excuses and clever explanations religious people use when they are confronted with a truth that contradicts their most cherished beliefs and traditions. He knew that many of us tend to hold on to our most coveted traditions rather than choose the truth and the painful path of change. However, Paul’s previous training didn’t disappear when he began serving Christ. His knowledge of human psychology continued to serve him for the rest of his life. He clearly understood the dangerous and deceptive practice of taking a Scriptural truth, mixing it with various corrupted and distorted ideologies, and then repackaging this concoction under the same name. For this reason, he refused to allow church fellowships, false evangelists, apostles, teachers and their followers to do the same thing with the name of Jesus Christ. This is why he constantly warned the Church that there is both a true and a counterfeit (look-alike) Christ (Gal. 1:6-9, 2 Cor. 11:1-4). He wouldn’t allow them to assign the precious name of Jesus Christ to their religious counterfeit “Christ” without first warning about the differences between the two. It was an effective way to combat this rabid stealth theology that was threatening to corrupt the faith of believers in the Church.
We attempt to simplify a complex
subject in the following section :
The salvation of the authentic Jesus Christ is based on what the Bible calls; the New Covenant, which empowers the dispensation of God’s Grace as recorded in Ephesians 3:1-7. The New Covenant replaces the religious program of Old Testament Law after the cross and is found primarily in the Epistles of Saint Paul.
But, the counterfeit Christ fails to keep these programs "rightly divided" (or separated) as Paul instructed the Church in 2 Timothy 2:15. As a result, both programs (Old Covenant Law and New Covenant Grace) are combined in various ways into one misleading religious theology, which is deceptively referred to as either "Biblical Christianity or Biblical Theology".
Why are these terms deceptive?
Anything found in the Bible can technically be called "Biblical". Yet, over 75% of its writings document and define the Jewish religion of Judaism, which begins in Genesis; the first book of Moses. The Apostle John reveals these two Scriptural programs when he said:
"FOR THE LAW WAS GIVEN
THROUGH MOSES, BUT GRACE
AND TRUTH CAME THROUGH
- The Law, also called "the first covenant", is known as Judaism
and was given to Israel through Moses at Mount Sinai.
- Grace and truth refers to the second covenant, or New Covenant
and was initiated at the cross through the blood of Jesus Christ.
Here's the problem: Preachers, churches and denominations lift the principles of Judaism (or Old Testament Law) from its divinely intended context in the Bible and mix it with Christ’s New Covenant Grace-based salvation. This mixture is then "technically" (but wrongly) taught as true “Biblical Christianity”. This is exactly how many (but thankfully not all) professing Christians who embrace various expressions of fundamentalism interpret the Bible. But, contrary to popular opinion, not everything in the Bible is “Christian”. This is especially true concerning the Jewish religion of Judaism (Old Testament Law). True Christianity officially began with the unveiling of the New Covenant after the cross. God chose Saint Paul for this task.
Many believe that Christianity officially started when Jesus was born - and was taught during His earthly ministry. Yet, Scripture tells us that Judaism continued to govern during this time.
"But when the fullness of the time had come, GOD SENT FORTH HIS SON, born of a woman, BORN UNDER THE LAW, TO REDEEM THOSE WHO WERE UNDER THE LAW, THAT WE MIGHT RECEIVE THE ADOPTION AS SONS." (Galatians 4:4-5 - Emphasis Added)
CHRISTIANITY AND JUDAISM ARE
NOT THE SAME AND CAN NEVER
BE MIXED TOGETHER.
Judaism is not and can never be authentic Christianity because each program is governed by conflicting principles and rules. This is why God strictly forbids the practice of mixing Law (based on our merit and works) - and Grace. Paul said it this way;
"AND IF BY GRACE, THEN IT IS NO LONGER OF WORKS; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work." (Romans 11:6)
Judaism is governed by the Mosaic Law (also called “the commandments”), while Christianity is governed by Grace (the unmerited favor of God purchased by Christ). Under Judaism God bestows His favor and salvation according to an individual’s obedience, merit and behavior, which is associated with Old Testament Law. SALVATION UNDER THIS PROGRAM IS CONDITIONAL. This is exactly what Jesus said to a young man asking Him how to receive eternal life in Matthew 19:16-22. Jesus said to him, "if you want to enter into life - keep the commandments" - and then quoted to him from the Ten Commandments of the Law. However, under the New Covenant (or Christianity) WHICH STARTED AFTER THE CROSS, everything changed. God now freely gives His favor (and salvation) to the believer, not based on their personal merit or behavior (as it was under the previous program), but on the sacrificial death of the perfectly righteous Jesus Christ, who first purchased God’s favor, then gave it to them as an unmerited and undeserved gift.
"...not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:5-7)
This "purchased favor of God” is called Grace because it is now freely imputed (or applied apart from works) to “whosoever puts their faith (or believes) in Christ”. This is why the Bible teaches that, AFTER THE CROSS; we live in the age or “dispensation of Grace” (Ephesians 1:7-10, Ephesians 3:1-4). Contrary to many popular church teachings, this special dispensation of God’s Grace did not operate before the cross - because Jesus had not yet paid the price to purchase its benefits.
The counterfeit Christ and his popular “Christian religion” illegally mixes these covenant programs together, creating one false and misleading theology containing elements of both Judaism (the Law) and Christianity (Grace). Various denominational theologians choose to call it "Judeo-Christianity", which is just another name for Biblical Christianity. But, Paul condemned this doctrine because it "perverts the gospel" (Galatians 1:6-8) - and tells us why we must keep these programs separated. He refers to the Law as; "the law of sin and death"...and the New Covenant as; "the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus".
IMPORTANT NOTE: In the Bible - a covenant can be simply understood as a set of laws or rules that govern how God relates and bestows salvation to those living under its authority. Some ministers refer to it as "a contract", but this definition can be misleading. The Bible consists of two major covenants; the Old Covenant of the Law given to Israel at Mount Sinai - and the New Covenant of Grace established on the blood of Jesus Christ (Read Galatians 4:21-31). After the cross (under the New Covenant) God radically changed the way salvation is obtained and kept. This is why the widely accepted practice of mixing the tenants of both the Old and New covenants create what the Bible calls "a heresy"; or a false form of Christian salvation that God does not honor. Unfortunately, the counterfeit Christ and his conditional salvation is the one often embraced by millions of good Bible-believing Christian people.
We discuss the covenants of the Bible on this website. However, we do not support what's known as "Covenant theology" (an alternate name for Reformed theology). In additon to many other problems, Covenant/Reformed theology limits the Holy Scriptures to, what they like to call the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. We also tend to limit our commentaries to the two major Covenants of the Bible (the Old Covenant of the Law and Christ's New Covenant of Grace). As a result, some readers might think we're teaching Covenant theology. The apostle Paul also puts a special emphasis on these two covenants. If Paul thought it was important, so do we. Our reason for placing this limitation on our writings is to keep things from spiraling out of control and becoming a 500 page book that no one would read. YET, UNLIKE COVENANT THEOLOGY, WE UNDERSTAND THAT THE TWO MAJOR COVENANTS WE DISCUSS ARE NOT THE ONLY ONES IN SCRIPTURE. As some theologians point out, each of the 7 administrations (or ages) recognized by dispensationalists involve different covenants. As we previously stated, Covenant theology (also known as Reformed theology and a close relative of Calvinism) injects much confusion into any discussion of this subject. Additional information that may clarify our position is available HERE.
"FOR THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS HAS MADE ME FREE FROM THE LAW OF SIN AND DEATH. FOR WHAT THE LAW COULD NOT DO IN THAT IT WAS WEAK THROUGH THE FLESH, GOD DID BY SENDING HIS OWN SON in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, THAT THE RIGHTEOUS REQUIREMENT OF THE LAW MIGHT BE FULFILLED IN US (OR IMPUTED TO US) who do not walk according to the flesh (or trying to qualify/earn salvation through works or religious merit) but according to the Spirit (or our faith in the finished work of Christ that does not require our works)." (Romans 8:2-4 – Emphasis and Comments Added)
Depending on the church or denomination, the Law/Grace mixed theology of the counterfeit Christ is taught in countless different ways. Many believe it to be the basic teachings of the Christian faith, also known as "fundamentalism". However, this false type of fundamentalism redefines authentic New Testament Grace-based salvation - into something God never intended. It’s the primary source of all wrong doctrine and distortions of Bible prophecy found within the world-wide institutional Christian Church.
The Counterfeit Christ Distorts
The following statement is often repeated
the Nature of the Rapture
in various Bible prophecy churches:
The rapture is God’s reward for Christian service,
good works and holy (sinless) living. If we want
God to consider us worthy to leave in the rapture,
we need to remove all sin from our life so that our
wedding dress is clean and white. God won’t rapture
dirty sin-soiled Christians.
This sounds good on the surface. It is certainly
right for all believers to turn away from sin. Yet,
this statement is part of the salvation doctrine of
the counterfeit Christ. As a result, our redemption
is redefined and perverted into a reward for good
works, sinless living and merit - rather than being
a gift provided through the blood of Christ and the
unmerited and undeserved Grace of God.
"But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, AND THE BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST HIS SON CLEANSES US FROM ALL SIN." (1 John 1:7 - Emphasis Added)
"...BEING JUSTIFIED FREELY BY HIS GRACE THROUGH THE REDEMPTION THAT IS IN CHRIST JESUS, whom God set forth as a propitiation BY HIS BLOOD, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:24-26 -- Emphasis Added)
“Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. BUT TO HIM WHO DOES NOT WORK BUT BELIEVES ON HIM WHO JUSTIFIES THE UNGODLY, HIS FAITH IS ACCOUNTED FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man TO WHOM GOD IMPUTES RIGHTEOUSNESS APART FROM WORKS: "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; BLESSED IS THE MAN TO WHOM THE LORD SHALL NOT IMPUTE SIN." (Romans 4:4-8)
Which Jesus Do You Believe In?
Christians often defend their beliefs by saying, “I’m saved because I believe in Jesus”. Yet, their faith only has the power to save, if their “Jesus” is the real one from the New Testament. Not just any “Jesus” satisfies God - when a counterfeit also exists. In this situation, good intentions and a love for God can trick us into thinking that heaven is our home, when just the opposite could be true. We’re on dangerous ground when the “Jesus” we believe in (or the one our church teaches) happens to be the wrong one. The New Testament warns that faith in the counterfeit Jesus IS NOT THE SAME as faith in the real Jesus. After the cross, counterfeit faith is based on works and merit, while authentic faith is based on the Grace of Christ. It appears as if both originate from the Bible - but God honors only one...and only one provides true salvation. This is why Paul gave the following warning to the Church:
"EXAMINE YOURSELVES AS TO WHETHER YOU ARE IN THE FAITH. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? -- unless indeed you are disqualified." (2 Corinthians 13:5)
Why are these facts important and worth repeating over and over? Contrary to popular Christian beliefs, God rejects the counterfeit and considers it a denial of what His Son accomplished. Peter called such teachings “damnable heresies that deny the Lord that bought us” (2 Peter 2:1-2). Yet, the theology of the counterfeit Christ has become the foundation of many churches and denominations on both the Roman Catholic and Protestant sides of the isle. Contrary to popular opinion, it’s not limited to just the religious cults. Very few professing Christians train themselves to discern the difference. Both Jesus and Paul had important things to say about the New Covenant ;
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I (JESUS CHRIST) DID NOT COME TO DESTROY BUT TO FULFILL." (Matthew 5:17 - Emphasis Added)
"But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He (Jesus) is also MEDIATOR OF A BETTER COVENANT, WHICH WAS ESTABLISHED ON BETTER PROMISES. For if that FIRST COVENANT had been faultless, then no place would have been sought FOR A SECOND." (Hebrews 8:6-7)
"IN THAT HE (JESUS CHRIST) SAYS, "A NEW COVENANT," HE HAS MADE THE FIRST OBSOLETE. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away." (Hebrews 8:13)
“…HE TAKES AWAY THE FIRST (THE OLD TESTAMENT PROGRAM OF THE LAW) THAT HE MAY ESTABLISH THE SECOND (THE NEW COVENANT PROGRAM OF CHRIST). By that will we have been sanctified THROUGH THE OFFERING OF THE BODY OF CHRIST ONCE FOR ALL. And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this man (Jesus Christ), AFTER HE HAD OFFERED ONE SACRIFICE FOR SINS FOREVER, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. FOR BY ONE OFFERING HE HAS PERFECTED FOREVER THOSE WHO ARE BEING SANCTIFIED. (Read the entire account in Hebrews 10:1-14 - Emphasis and Clarifications Added)
"And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, HAVING WIPED OUT THE HANDWRITING OF THE REQUIREMENTS THAT WAS AGAINST US (THE LAW), WHICH WAS CONTRARY TO US. AND HE HAS TAKEN IT OUT OF THE WAY, HAVING NAILED IT TO THE CROSS." (Colossians 2:13-14 - Emphasis and Clarifications Added)
Keys to Separating Truth
In the opening pages of the New Testament, John the Baptist provides an important key for discerning the difference between the true Christ and the counterfeit. Yet, the plain meaning of John’s words continue to be either redefined or subtly rejected by many sectors of the organized Christian Church.
"The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29)
John identifies the authentic Christ as, "the Lamb of God" that takes away all human sin. However, the absolute nature of John's words contradicts many traditional religious beliefs. According to Scripture, even the most committed Christian continues to sin in some measure. The Apostle Paul said that "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God". The word "all" also includes Christians. For many, this is a problem that cannot be ignored because a righteous God must judge and punish those who commit sin. As a result, teachings designed to undermine and redefine John's powerful declaration are created using out-of-context Scripture. Jesus referred to this practice as "teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." (Mark 7:6-7) It's a most serious sin because it redefines Scripture - and makes it appear that God says things that He does not say. Those who handle the Scriptures in this way are partially right about God's requirement to punish and judge sin. But, error comes into play when they disagree with the Biblical truth that God's Son took all of the sinner's punishment - and let the sinner go free. This freedom (the Bible calls it our liberty in Christ) offends much of the religious thinking found in the modern Christian Church, which insists that everyone, including believers, must still be personally punished (or judged) for their sin. As a result, this popular theology makes Christ's sacrifice for our sins; void and meaningless. It happens whenever Old Testament Law is illegally mixed with New Testament Grace; a popular and widely accepted practice within the organized church.
Following the cross, Saint Paul provides more
clarity to this situation when he said;
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, ALL THINGS HAVE BECOME NEW. Now all things are of God, WHO HAS RECONCILED US TO HIMSELF THROUGH JESUS CHRIST, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, NOT IMPUTING THEIR TRESPASSES TO THEM, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation." (2 Corinthians 5:17-19 - Emphasis Added)
Paul reveals how God treats the believer's sin
after Jesus took it away at the cross;
WHEN A BELIEVER SINS, HE (GOD) NO
LONGER CHARGES THEIR TRESPASSES (SIN)
TO THEIR ACCOUNT.
If God no longer charges sin to the
THEN NO ADDITIONAL JUDGMENT
FOR SIN IS EVER REQUIRED.
If a believer must endure additional judgment for sin, Christ's redemptive work at the cross becomes invalid and nonsensical. The core of the authentic Gospel is that Jesus bore all of our judgment at the cross. For this reason sin does not have the power to block anyone from receiving salvation, nor can it cause the loss of salvation (eternal life) once it is received. Contrary to popular Christian teaching, Jesus Christ completely destroyed sin's power over the human race. Yes - all Christian believers continue to sin in some measure for the rest of their earthly lives. This is a Biblical fact. Yet, the question about the need for judgment rests entirely on whether God is still charging sin to that person's life. The Bible declares that God no longer charges (imputes) sin to such a one after the cross. The truth so many professing Christians deny is this; If there is no sin imputed - THEN THERE IS NO JUDGMENT. This is why Saint Paul taught that "there is therefore now no condemnation (God's judgment and rejection) to those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1) Under the New Covenant a believer's disobedience is now addressed through the ongoing process of sanctification that only begins AFTER SALVATION IS SECURELY RECEIVED. Cleaning up our life by "confessing all sin" might sound good, but it is actually an impossible task to accomplish. Contrary to some popular forms of evangelism, confessing all your sins, many of which you can't even remember, is not a pre-condition to be saved. God's states His priorities in the following way:
"First, get saved by believing on My Son
and then we'll work together to address
any obedience and behavioral issues after
you belong to My family."
IN CONTRAST, the counterfeit Christ does not permanently take away sin, but continually condemns the believer by placing sin back on their shoulders whenever it is committed. The well-meaning followers of the counterfeit Christ constantly reminds us that "God hates sin", which is also intended to suggest that God hates and rejects us when we sin. Yet, God's hatred of sin is the reason He sent His Son to permanently take it away. If God rejects believers when they sin - then Jesus didn't really take their sin away at the cross. It also means that sin continues to be charged to their account in contradiction to 2 Corinthians 5:17-19. The Apostle Peter calls this popular way of believing the Bible; "A damnable heresy that denies the Lord who purchased (redeemed) us" (2 Peter 2:1-2). Yet, you will find this religiously cloaked denial in a majority of fundamental Christian teachings on both the Protestant and Roman Catholic sides of the isle. Paul exposes the denial by saying;
"There is therefore now no condemnation (judgment or rejection for sin) to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh (trying to earn salvation through merit and behavior), but according to the Spirit." (Romans 8:1)
"FOR THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS HAS MADE ME FREE FROM THE LAW OF SIN AND DEATH. FOR WHAT THE LAW COULD NOT DO IN THAT IT WAS WEAK THROUGH THE FLESH, GOD DID BY SENDING HIS OWN SON in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: HE (JESUS) CONDEMNED SIN IN THE FLESH, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us (OR IMPUTED TO US) who do not walk according to the flesh (trying to earn salvation through merit and behavior) but according to the Spirit (or our faith in the finished work of Christ apart from our works)." (Romans 8:2-4 – Emphasis and Comments Added)
How the Cross of Christ
Changed the Role and
Definition of Repentance
Those of us who preach the Grace of Christ are often accused of removing the need for repentance from our evangelistic message. But, this common accusation is almost always the result of a failure to define certain Biblical terms.
Through the New Covenant writings of Saint Paul, we discover that "repentance" takes on an entirely new role after the cross. Under the program of the Old Testament, repentance involved an intense introspection for sin, which was accompanied by certain works known as "works of the Law". These works needed to be performed as evidence that the individual was walking in true repentance (or had turned away from all sin). But, through Christ's sacrifice at the cross, the definition and role of repentance radically changed. Saint Paul warns about this change by saying;
"FOR AS MANY AS ARE OF THE WORKS OF THE LAW 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, to do them.” BUT THAT NO ONE IS JUSTIFIED BY THE LAW IN THE SIGHT OF GOD IS EVIDENT, for “the just shall live by faith.” YET THE LAW IS NOT OF FAITH..." (Galatians 3:10-12 - Emphasis Added)
True repentance now occurs only through faith, or "believing on the Lord Jesus Christ", where all our sin (past, present and future) is removed by the "Lamb of God" - and not by our self-imposed religious practices and efforts. It's a repentance that occurs only through "a faith apart from works" (Romans 4:4-8). As a result, when the New Covenant begins to govern, the message of salvation now becomes:
BELIEVE ON THE LORD
JESUS CHRIST AND YOU
WILL BE SAVED AND
We see the same truth in operation when Peter preached Christ to the Gentiles at the household of Cornelius in Acts chapter 10. Many gathered for this event - and the entire group received salvation before Peter concluded his sermon. There was no indication that anyone did anything normally associated with our religious preconceptions concerning repentance. No one dropped to their knees, confessed their sin and begged for God's forgiveness. No one cried out to God for mercy. They simply heard Peter's gospel message about how Christ took their sins away AND BELIEVED IT. Saint Paul later refers to this as "the hearing of faith" (Galatians 3:1-4) and used an alternate term in Romans 10:8-13, where he called it "the word of faith which we preach". Either way, it’s an evangelistic message that causes the listener to "believe on Jesus Christ" and results in the immediate salvation of that individual - apart from their personal merit and works. Yet, the ministers and followers of the counterfeit Christ attempt to malign this evangelistic message by calling it; easy believism, greasy grace or "the sugar-coated gospel". Red flags should go up when we hear these labels used during a sermon or Bible teaching.
After the event at Cornelius' house,
Peter gave the following report to
his Jewish countrymen :
"And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ IF THEREFORE GOD GAVE THEM THE SAME GIFT AS HE GAVE US WHEN WE BELIEVED ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, who was I that I could withstand God?” When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “THEN GOD HAS ALSO GRANTED TO THE GENTILES REPENTANCE TO LIFE.” (Acts 11:15-18 - Emphasis Added)
Notice that the way the
Gentiles responded to
Peter's preaching is
SPEAKING BEFORE THE CROSS, Jesus correctly taught that a person must "repent and believe" to be saved. Yet, this was the intense introspective type of repentance based on the Old Testament program. Concerning this Law-based type of repentance, Jesus said that "unless you repent you will perish" (Luke 13:3-5). BUT, AFTER THE CROSS, God changed the role of repentance to agree with the new principles of redemption established by the sacrificial death of Christ (the New Covenant). As a result, repentance no longer follows the Old Testament model. It is now based on the New Covenant model, where true repentance is "believing on Jesus Christ who takes away the sin of the world".
This kind of repentance could not legally operate before Christ's crucifixion.
IN CONTRAST, after the cross - the counterfeit Christ that Saint Paul warns us about in his writings continues to demand that Old Testament Law-based repentance is required before anyone can be saved - and must be continually repeated every time sin is committed to avoid losing salvation. Once again, this popular way of believing the Bible, based on the previous Old Testament program, is now actually a denial of the redemption provided by the authentic Jesus Christ of the New Testament.
Marin Luther, often called "the Father of
the Protestant Reformation" warned about
the doctrine of the counterfeit Christ
when he said;
"Either sin is with you, lying on your shoulders,
or it is lying on Christ, the Lamb of God. Now if
it is lying on your back, you are lost; but if it
is resting on Christ, you are free, and you will
be saved. Now choose what you want."
Jesus Christ as the sacrificial "Lamb of God" fulfills God's primary requirement for repentance for everyone who simply places their faith in Him. This is what happened to the group gathered at Cornelius house in Acts chapter 10 during Peter’s evangelistic message. However, a general type of repentance is still proper and right after we securely possess eternal life. God still expects us to "change our mind" and "turn away from sin". This is part of what the Bible calls "sanctification", which is an ongoing internal work the Holy Spirit performs in the believer's life.
"....being confident of this very thing, that He who begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." (Phillipians 1:6)
Lack of progress in sanctification may cause us to lose rewards in heaven, but it can never take away God's gift of eternal life.
This is Part 1 of a two-part Bible study.
Click on the link below for Part 2
of this study.
Return To Home Page