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Issues and Answers

Question: Did God make a New Covenant with the Church and a second one with Israel? (Part 1)

Romans 9:4-5 lists the unique privileges that Israel enjoyed as a nation. Among these were the covenants. Therefore, the covenants “pertain” or belong to Israel, not the Church. Prophesying of the New Covenant Jeremiah 31:31 says, “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.”1 Someday the Lord will enact a New Covenant with the twelve tribes of Israel (Eze. 37:19). Like the Abrahamic, Land, and Davidic covenants, God’s New Covenant with Israel will be unilateral and unconditional. It is guaranteed, resting upon the character of a God who cannot lie (Titus 1:2).

Some see the ultimate fulfillment of the New Covenant suggested in the blessing clause of the Abrahamic Covenant. Genesis 12:1-3 says, “Now the Lord had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’” Though presently scattered in unbelief, the Lord will someday gather together, restore, and bless Israel, the nation. Romans 11:16 says, “For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches.” In Paul’s argument both the firsfruits and the root represent Abraham and God’s promises to him. The lump and the branches represent Israel the nation. Since Abraham was eternally set apart to God, so are his descendants—the nation Israel—guaranteeing their restoration. 

In Luke 22:15-18, after keeping His last Passover until the future Millennial Kingdom (Eze. 45:21; Luke 22:18), Christ initiated the Lord’s Supper (vv. 19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-26). The symbols of bread and wine speak of Calvary whereby His death and resurrection, He would provide the foundation for the future implementation of the New Covenant. Hebrews 9:15-22 explains by comparing it to a last will and testament. A testator writes a will leaving behind in writing how their inheritance is to be dispersed. It is ratified by the testator’s signature and an executor ensures that the terms of the testament are carried out after the testator’s death. The Lord Jesus ratified the New Covenant by His blood, fully paying the penalty for sins. However, since He is risen from the dead, He is also the mediator or executor who will ensure that the New Covenant is fully implemented. 

The full implementation of the New Covenant awaits a future day. After the completion and rapture of the church referred to as the “fullness of the Gentiles” (Rom. 11:25), the Lord will begin the process of removing Israel’s temporary judicial blindness resulting from their rejection of Christ at His first coming (Rom. 11:8-11, 25). A surviving remnant of Israel will be purged of unbelievers and refined during the Great Tribulation, the second half of Daniel’s 70th week. They will call on the Lord by faith and recognize Christ as their Messiah (Zech. 12:10-14; 13:1, 8-9). The New Covenant’s blessings will be fully enacted at the end of the Tribulation and put on display throughout the Millennial Kingdom age. 

Though there is only one New Covenant between God and Israel, the nations will be blessed by its full implementation and the Church has already begun to partake of some of its spiritual blessings. It is through Christ that Israel, the nations, and the Church are to be blessed (Gen. 22:18; Gal. 3:16).

Next, we will consider the spiritual blessings of the New Covenant and how they relate to Israel, the nations, and the Church. 

Endnotes: 

1. All references are in the NKJV

If you have a question for this column please submit it to [email protected]

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Report: Book Review: Future Israel: Why Christian Anti-Judaism Must Be Challenged

In recent years, there has been a need for a balanced, scholarly, and well-researched response to those who argue that there is no future hope for God’s chosen people. Popular writers such as John Piper, Hank Hanegraaff, and the late R. C. Sproul have influenced a generation toward the belief that God has abrogated His promises to the nation of Israel. The book Future Israel by Barry Horner is exactly the kind of book that will answer these critics.  

Future Israel is written for those who are interested in or concerned about God’s purpose for the nation of Israel. Barry Horner writes with a desire of helping serious believers to come to grips with this issue. The author tackles this important subject with humility, grace, and exhaustive research.

Author

Dr. Barry E. Horner is the pastor of Christ’s New Covenant Church, in Sahuarita, Arizona. He has an earned Doctor of Ministry (D. Min.) degree from Westminster Theological Seminary in California and a Master of Divinity degree (M. Div.) from Western Conservative Baptist Seminary in Portland, Oregon. He has also compiled several works on the writings of seventeen-century Puritan John Bunyan. 

The Purpose of the Book

In his book Future Israel, Barry Horner unfolds God’s continued faithfulness to His covenant people Israel. Moreover, he expounds on the doctrine of the literal future fulfillment of all the Old Testament promises based on the Abrahamic covenant. Horner also identifies the anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism sentiments that have occurred repeatedly in history, usually when replacement theology ruled the thinking of the day. 

Book Division

Rather than break the book down by specific chapter contents, it seems pertinent to divide the book into two areas. The first seven chapters give us an extensive look at the historical development of Replacement Theology or supercessionism. The second section, chapters 8-11, detail Horner’s theological arguments. The book closes with a pastoral plea in chapter 12.

Laying the Foundation

In the first chapter, Horner begins Future Israel by contrasting two theological positions. On one hand, he presents the supercessionist view of Augustine and Calvin, in which the New Testament church spiritually inherits the Old Testament promises given to Israel. Horner identifies Augustine’s position regarding Israel as foundational for replacement theologians in subsequent generations. Calvin and, later Luther who often used hateful terminology influenced their followers toward anti-Semitism and incited hostility towards the Jewish people. On the other hand, Horatius Bonar, Robert Murray M’Cheyne, J. C. Ryle, and C. H. Spurgeon saw a future hope for the Jews and an eventual recovery of both their promised land and their relationship to the Lord. This theological position fostered a love and respect for the Jewish people that produced an authentic passion to see them evangelized.

History

With these two positions staked out, Horner, in chapters 2-5, expresses his dissatisfaction with the replacement theology position. Horner proceeds to work his way through history, detailing along the way the bad fruit of Augustinian teaching. He ends his historical journey with Hitler and the failings of the German churches, which, for the most part, did nothing to stop the horrific slaughter of the Jews. 

Horner, as a careful historian, documents some rather unsavory writings from theologians of the past and present who are hostile to the Jewish people. He cites early church father Chrysostom’s, Eight Homilies Against the Jews, Luther’s last sermon in which he urges all Jews to be expelled from Germany, and Albertus Pieters (1869-1955), professor at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, who proclaimed: 

“God willed that after the institution of the New Covenant there should no longer be any Jewish people in the world—yet here they are! That is a fact—a very sad fact, brought about by their wicked rebellion against God.”1 

Future Israel contains many historical and modern examples of anti-Judaism. Horner examines the contemporary writings of theologians such as Lorraine Boettner, O. Palmer Robertson, Colin Chapman, Stephen Sizer, Gary Burge, Kim Riddlebarger, and George Eldon Ladd. He also refutes their key arguments, injecting several important objections along the way.

Refuting Objections

Horner deals effectively with their common precept that the Old Testament land promises were done away with by the coming of Christ, in the same way that the Mosaic Law became obsolete. Horner rightly shows however, that the Mosaic Law had a built-in obsolescence, while the Abrahamic Covenant was an unconditional, eternal covenant repeatedly emphasized throughout the Old Testament. Furthermore, Paul specifically says in Galatians 3:17 that the Law did not revoke the Abrahamic covenant. Thus, while the New Covenant does replace the Old, that replacing does not affect the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant.

Hermeneutics

The real meat of the book comes in the last several chapters. It is here that Horner deals firstly with the prophecy concerning the land promises in the Old Testament and the “New Testament indications that the land of Israel has retained its validity during the Church age, particularly because the gifts [emphasis added] and calling of God are irrevocable’ (Rom 11:29)” (p. 229). Secondly, he expands on the interpretation of Romans 11 and the implication that Israel has not been ultimately and finally rejected by God. In this section he also explains several passages that opponents sometimes use to support Replacement Theology, namely Galatians 6:16 (“Israel of God”), Ephesians 2:11-22, and 1 Peter 2:9-10 (“you are a chosen race…now you are God’s people”). Thirdly, Horner gives a detailed look at Romans 11:28, where Paul depicts Israel as God’s beloved enemy. The point here—and probably the clincher to Horner’s entire argument—is that unsaved Jews who are currently the enemy of God, are still beloved because of the promises made to their forefathers. Thus, unbelieving Jews in the church age are still objects of God’s covenant love and therefore, should still expect the promises made to their forefathers to be fulfilled. It is in these chapters that Horner is most persuasive.

Conclusion

The reader will find Future Israel to be a very readable, insightful, well-researched, and a biblically based guide that tackles the important questions about Israel’s future, and God’s faithfulness, and a sound approach to interpretation of prophecy. If one desires to study into this subject further, he will find great profit in reading this book.  Finally, John MacArthur, the popular author and pastor writes: 

“This (Future Israel) is by far the best treatment of Israel’s future I have found. It’s a welcome antidote to the widespread apathy and confusion that have clouded this vital prophetic question. I found it clear, persuasive, thoroughly biblical, and difficult to put down.”2   

Horner’s book makes a strong case that we should regard God’s chosen people as a nation that still has a special future in the plan of God. The reviewer fully recommends this excellent book and urges serious-minded Christians to purchase and read this book. 

Endnotes

1. Barry Horner, Future Israel, (B & H Publishing Group: Nashville, TN, 2007), p. 37

2. John MacArthur, from back cover

Reviewed by David Dunlap

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Foundations of the Faith: The Mystery Phase of God’s Kingdom

It is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 13:11

The prophets and the apostles preached the coming kingdom of God (Dan. 2:44, Acts 28:31).  But it was Christ Jesus that revealed the mystery phase.

1.  What is the Kingdom of God? 

 “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). The kingdom of God is when God’s Messiah-Christ is directly ruling the nations from Jerusalem, Israel. His will is done, not by majority vote or a dictating oppressor’s whim. His righteous law will be the constitutional order and employed with equity for the meek, removal of the wicked, and justice for all (Isa. 2:2-4; 11:4-9). Isaiah says: “For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us” (33:22). He is the judicial, legislative, and executive branch all in one. Then there will be peace on earth, good will toward man, and the wolf will lie down with the lamb. 

2.  How Does the Kingdom Come to Earth?

“And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed…but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever” (Dan. 2:44). The heavenly kingdom comes to earth not by religious revival, social refinement, or political renewal but with a destroying cataclysmic judgment: a wrecking ball. Then the sinner and the serpent are violently removed and the Son and His saints peacefully rule. The new replaces the old.

We see this truth in imagery form in Daniel 2. Here a glorious human statue crafted by man’s hands represents worldwide kingdoms. A stone cut without human hands (the kingdom of God) smashes the statue image at the feet. The whole image comes crashing down and breaks into a million pieces. Then the wind comes and blows it away.  Here today, gone tomorrow. The stone cut without hands then begins to grow into a huge mountain and covers the whole earth. Good has replaced the evil. There is no coexistence. 

3.  What is a Mystery?  

“the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven—things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 13:11, 35). A biblical mystery is a truth that God did not fully reveal in the Old Testament. But He did reveal it in the New Testament for us to understand His plan and ways. As Ephesians 3:4-5 says: “(…the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.” Therefore, there will be something about the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven that will be new and different (Matt. 13:52).

4.  What is the Mystery Kingdom?   

Let both wheat (children of the kingdom) and tares (children of the wicked one) grow together until the harvest…As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world” (Matt. 13:30, 38, 40). In the kingdom’s mystery phase, the enemy Satan will still be active (Matt. 13:19, 25, 39). As the Lord sows His gospel seed in the world, the devil plants tares (weeds) among the true wheat. And rather than root out the tares now, thereby damaging the wheat, the Lord said to let “both grow together” until the end. Here evil is not smashed. Evil and good are permitted to coexist. It’s only at the King’s coming His angels remove the evil.

5.  How Does the Body of Christ (Church) Fit In?  

“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body / And He is the head of the body, the church” (1 Cor. 12:13, Col. 1:18). The church is not the kingdom of God on earth. Jesus is not king of the church but its Head.  Kings can fire their servants and don’t share their riches and glory with them. But a head and body are one and thus go together and share the blessings. What a relationship! The church is not to rule this world now or to fight holy wars to banish evil (John 18:36). The church is not Israel, a political nation, but a spiritual body (1 Pet. 2:5). 

“Christ and the church” is also a great mystery (Eph. 5:32). In between Israel’s rejection of their king-Messiah and His coming back to earth as King, the Lord is forming a spiritual holy nation: the church (1 Pet. 2:9). The church is called out from all nations to uniquely glorify the Name of God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, in a world that doesn’t (Acts 15:14). Christ’s body is comprised of peoples of all nationalities who have been baptized with His Spirit and equally share His eternal life. The body alone has the life of its Head, and is under His direct rule (Eph. 1:19-23). In the body of Christ there are no tares. The Lord knows His own.

6.  Do Local Churches Have to Deal With the Coexistence of Evil?  

“the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.  For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.  Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:28-30). Because the churches of God exist on earth at the same time of the mystery kingdom phase, there will be evil to guard against that coexists in the form of tares (not true wheat). Tares profess to be under God’s rule but don’t possess His Spirit.  Tares claim to follow Christ but work against God’s plan and will do so in the Name of Christ. “Christendom” is its name (kingdom of all who name Christ). Christendom has tares and bears evil. The body of Christ does not have tares and it bears Spirit-fruit. The two coexist in the mystery phase where evil is not yet smashed.  

Titus 1:16 reminds us of those who profess God but deny Him in works. Timothy was told that demons would seduce some with false teaching. Also, some would turn their ears from the truth desiring their needs to be satisfied (1 Tim. 4:1-6; 2 Tim. 4:1-5). So, don’t let the presence of evil discourage you. It is predicted and will exist until the end.  Don’t share in the evil but overcome it with good. Be prepared to endure afflictions.

7.  The Churches Will Be Replaced On Earth By the Kingdom of God. 

“I also will keep thee (a church) from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world…The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ…thy wrath is come” (Rev. 3:10; 11:15, 18). Revelation, the prophecy to the churches, shows this age ending in cataclysmic judgment. The wrath of God falls: the wrecking ball. It’s not for environmental pollution but moral pollution. It’s not for failure to recycle but failure to repent (Rev. 9:18-21). The greatest earthquake happens. Islands disappear as mountains crumble with 100-lb ice chunks (Rev. 16). Space stars fall like fruit from a tree during a hurricane (6:13). A river of human blood will flow. 

The church is taken to heaven before this wrath of God (1 Thess. 5:9). In Revelation 6-19, we don’t see the church mentioned on earth during these judgments. Then the Lord Jesus returns as King. Believers come back with Christ as His wife to reign in glory (Rev. 5:10). The mystery phase is over. “Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20).

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Report: Guelph Bible Conference Centre in Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Located in Guelph, Ontario, Guelph Bible Conference Centre (GBCC), is one hour west of Toronto, one and a half hours from Niagara Falls and Buffalo, and approximately three hours from Michigan. It has a rich history of ministering to the assemblies in Canada, the United States, and the Bahamas.

The Beginning

An invitation to hear a proposal by John A. McAllister was sent out to many assemblies on November 7, 1933. The proposal was to use the McAllister estate (15 acres on the edge of the city of Guelph) as a place to minister the Word of God. The resulting temporary committee of men, representing many of these assemblies wrote the following proposal:

“John A. McAllister will purchase the property on Waterloo Ave. from the McAllister Estate and then deed it to this committee on the condition that the Grounds will be used every year for the purpose stated below….”

The Purpose

“The purpose in view is to gradually develop these Grounds to be used for:

Annual general conferences for believers during the period between May 24th and Labor Day

Suitable accommodations could be provided for missionaries on furlough

Summer camps for boys, and for girls, at different times

Bible School, for those who might desire to spend two weeks at a time or longer, under definite Christian instruction”

The Result

The first July 2nd conference had 500 in attendance, and approximately 225 were present at the first Civic Holiday Conference. Early speakers included B.M. Nottage, J. Bloor, E. Tatham, H.A. Ironside, Mr. Chambers, and Mr. Hoogandam. The first 10-day Bible School under the auspices of H.G. Lockett ran from 1935 until 1962.

The preaching started off with tents erected on the grounds and later the Tabernacle was built. Individual families who wanted to stay over were given permission to build their own cabins on the grounds. They remained the property of the Conference Grounds but these individuals were able to use the cabins when they were present. A central washroom was constructed and a swimming pool was built by hand in the 1950’s. It is still in operation today! In 1962, additional bathrooms were installed in the McAllister estate home, now known as the Lodge. One by one bathrooms were also added to the cabins.

In 1964, it was decided to operate year-round. In 1980, the current Fellowship Lounge and Gymnasium were constructed followed by the Inn in 1987 with an addition completed in 2001. Temperature conditioned year-round, the Inn now has 25 motel-style rooms and 8 dorm rooms, all with private washrooms. The Ministry Centre was finished in 2008 replacing the “adored” but old Tabernacle. The Auditorium below can seat up to 275 people with 3 meeting rooms for smaller groups on the “walk out” level including the Fireside Room.

The deed for the Grounds was originally held by CMML and then by MSC. In 1988, the MSC Board decided to turn the ownership over to the Guelph Board (comprised of men from various assemblies) thus creating its own entity.

The Board is pleased to have numerous assembly conferences call GBCC their home. The Ontario Workers and Elders Conference, the Conference of Brethren, and the Guelph Ladies Conference to name a few are now an official part of the ministry of the Conference Centre, whose committees plan their programs as they have for decades. As we look to the future, we are converting the original cabin washroom to use for Day Camp, renovating some cabins, and restoring the Lodge. For years we have wanted to restore the Lodge and are happy to see this restoration officially get underway. Praise be to God!

We continue to pursue the purpose that Mr. and Mrs. John McAllister had on their heart when this ministry began 86 years ago. GBCC is their legacy as well as each one who has invested their prayers, time, and resources to be able to provide a place “for the building up of the household of faith.” 

Guelph Bible Conference Centre provides programs to instruct and edify children, youth, and adults. It is also a place for children, youth, women, or men to have weekday and weekend retreats, to be a testimony of Christ’s love to this world. If, you have any questions please contact us at 519-824-2571 or [email protected] 

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2020
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Forever: Thoughts on Christ’s Priesthood

Inasmuch as Hebrews draws numerous comparisons between the priesthood of Aaron and that of Christ, numerous questions arise from these comparisons. As an immoveable principle, one must always endeavor to neither go beyond nor fall short of what God has revealed.

One question which comes up is this: Will Christ’s priesthood continue after the rapture? Will there even be a need for a great High Priest in the same manner which our Lord currently functions? We could perhaps address the issue by attempting to answer the following two questions: what are the functions attached to Christ’s priesthood and will any of these functions continue after the rapture?

If the answer to the second question is “yes,” then it will be apparent that Christ’s priesthood will still be needed. Before we go further, some preliminary textual analysis will assist us. After that, we will look at several passages which refer to a priesthood in existence after the rapture. And finally, we will look at several levels of comparison between the Old Covenant and the New.

Five Verses in Hebrews 7

Hebrews 7:3

Here it says, “Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.”

We would not suppose for a moment that Melchisedec did not have a mother or father, or ancestors, or experience death. Yet the fact that these events are not recorded, provides us with a vignette of a Priest-King who steps into the Genesis 14 narrative suddenly, and then leaves it just as quickly. The Holy Spirit then uses this account to depict the priesthood of our Lord, also having no beginning nor end. The key phrase for our purposes is contained in the final four words, “abideth a priest continually.” The word “abideth” is the Greek “meno”, here rendered in the present, active indicative. This construct denotes a state of existence or condition. G. R. Berry’s Interlinear New Testament translates “abides a priest in perpetuity” and Young’s Literal Translation “doth remain a priest continually.”

It is clear that the original text indicates that not only does our Lord Jesus Christ abide continually, but His priesthood also abides continually. There is no indication in the text that there is a defined period to this office.

Hebrews 7:17

Here we read, “For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”

The phrase “for ever” (eis ton aiona) indeed has varying shades of meaning throughout the New Testament. The word “aion” on its own can sometimes refer to a defined age, and is the Greek word from which our English “eon” is derived. Here is where the context serves to shape the exact meaning, as happens with many terms in many languages.

The plain literal sense which one derives from the words as they read them is always to be favored.  The best translations follow a literal method of translation, taking great pains to convey exactly what the original says. When the context of “eis ton aiona” was so clear that a defined age was intended, they typically render the phrase “end of the world” (Matt 13:39, 49; 24:3; 28:20) However, the primary meaning of this phrase is captured in these select verses, where it is translated “for ever.”: 

“For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen” (Matt. 6:13). 

“I am the living bread which came down from Heaven; if any man eat of this Bread, he shall live for ever…” (John 6:51). “To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever” (Rom. 16:27). 

“Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and for ever” (Heb. 13:8). 

“And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” (1 John 2:17)

In these examples, translating “eis ton aiona” as “to the end of the world” or “to the end of the age” would be either contextually or doctrinally incorrect. Unless the context or fundamental doctrine clearly indicates otherwise, the plain sense is to be the common sense one would take from reading the words. This is sometimes called “The Golden Rule of Interpretation.” In reference to the duration of Christ’s Priesthood, the contextual and doctrinal setting must preside.

Hebrews 7:21

It says, “The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”

This is the same phrase repeated from Hebrews 7:17, which is quoted from Psalm 110:4. The Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament (LXX) uses the same construct as in the verses quoted above, that is “eis ton aiona.” The LXX translation was rendered from the Hebrew word “owlam” (transliteration), which the Brown-Driver-Briggs lexicon defines as “forever, always, continuous existence, perpetual, everlasting, indefinite or unending future, eternity.” One cannot help but be impressed with the level of detail and accuracy employed, obvious indicators that God Himself presided over this work.

Hebrews 7:24

Here we read, “But this Man, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.”

The phrase “because He continueth ever” is stated as the primary fact which establishes the superiority of Christ’s priesthood over that of Aaron’s. The key word found 13 times in Hebrews is “better.” Summarily put, the Christian enjoys better blessings and better promises, because we have been brought into a better covenant, established upon better promises, made by a better Priest, Who offered up a better sacrifice. What could be better?

This verse states several important facts, dealing with our Lord’s perfect Manhood, His eternal existence, and His unchangeable priesthood. His Manhood is essential to His priesthood, as every other high priest was also taken from amongst men (Heb. 5:1). His firsthand experience of being human gives us the confidence that He has both the empathy (Heb. 4:15) and the capacity (Heb. 5:2) to identify with our state.

His eternal existence is also brought to bear on His priesthood, as this testifies of His priesthood never needing to be changed. Here we have—in the original—the identical phrase found in 7:17, 7:21, etc., being “eis ton aiona.” Here it is simply rendered “ever”, following the words “menein auton” which is translated “abiding”, or could be more properly “His abiding.” Because this obviously refers to His eternal existence, His priesthood is “aparabatos,” or unable to be passed on to a successor. The continuous thought is obvious, in that He will have no priestly successor because He will always be the great High Priest.

Hebrews 7:25

Finally, “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”

Again, this verse contains a number of crucial points concerning the priesthood of Christ, well worthy of consideration. Only He saves (Acts 4:12), because only He is able. Furthermore, the salvation He provides is a not a temporary deliverance, as the word “uttermost” in the original conveys that His salvation is perfect and utterly complete. He is then depicted to us in His mediatorial glory, which is again a function of priesthood. And finally, we learn of His intercessory work, enabled because “He is always living to intercede for them” (Berry’s Interlinear rendering).

We typically think of intercession as making a request on someone else’s behalf. While this is true, it only speaks to a small portion of what the original word “entugchano” encompasses. The lexicon expands upon this word as “to light upon a person or thing; to go to meet a person, especially for the purpose of conversation, consultation, or supplication.” It is translated “have dealt with” in Acts 25:24, and encompasses the notion of communion with it. Among other things, this priestly work of intercession will never cease. 

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Great is Thy Faithfulness

All the Way, my Savior Leads Me

The Testimony of Ed Scott

“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out” (Rom. 11:33).

I was born in Kansas on February 5th, 1930, one of nine children. Though brought up in the Methodist Church and baptized as a baby, and confirmed as a teenager, I was not saved. After high school, I went away to college where I stopped attending church meetings and slid right in with ungodly friends.

After two years and not having any money, I chose to attend a vocational school in Omaha, Nebraska. There I went to a Methodist Youth Fellowship and met a pretty girl from Iowa, who was studying to be a nurse. Within a few months we were engaged. At the time the United States was being drawn into the Korean War. A phone call from my parents in January 1951 informed me that the draft board had called me to serve. I had no choice but to drop out of school, leave my fiancée and return home. I was sworn into the US Army on February 14, 1951 and sent to Camp Chaffee, Arkansas for basic training. 

While in training I applied for and was accepted to attend the Officer Candidate School (OCS) in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. After basic training but before reporting for OCS I was able to spend a few days with my fiancée. It was not until I graduated from OCS on April 23rd, 1952 and on my way to an assignment in California that I would see her again. The adage “absence makes the heart grow fonder” did not work for me. She was the same sweet girl but my feelings for her had changed. After arriving in California and knowing I would be going to Korea, I decided the to break the engagement.

While at Camp Chaffee, I met a fellow from Kansas named Charlie Gardner who was also accepted to the same OCS program. He had grown up on a farm like me and we became good friends. His class was a month behind mine, but we saw each other on occasion and when I graduated, we said goodbye not knowing if we would ever meet again. After a short stay in California, I was shipped out to Korea in December 1952. Charlie wrote on his OCS application that he had some experience in photography. Upon graduation, he was sent to New York for training to be a combat photographer. After his training, before being assigned, he was offered a free cruise from New York to Nassau, Bahamas to help film the trip for promotional purposes. In his short time that he was there, he met a Bahamian girl named Deidre, and they agreed to write to each other.

My assignment in Korea was with the Eighth Army Headquarters Battalion in the Communications Company stationed in Seoul. In January 1953, who should I see coming into the Battalion one day—none other than my good friend, Charlie. The Combat Photo Company was also part of this battalion. We really did not see that much of each other because his work took him to the battle front a lot, but I sure did hear about Deidre. After the Armistice, I was the first to come home. We said goodbye to one another not knowing if we would ever meet again.

I enrolled at Kansas State University in the spring of 1954 to earn a degree in electrical engineering when one day who did I meet again on campus? Sure enough, it was Charlie. He had decided to do the same thing and without knowing it, we had apartments less than a block away. He had gone to Nassau to meet Deidre’s family and she had come to Kansas to meet his family and they planned to be married in his home church. 

At the last minute, Deidre’s maid of honor got very sick and Deidre prevailed on her childhood friend Phyllis Minns to come with her. They had grown up as friends on the small island of Exuma, Bahamas but both now lived in Nassau. Phyllis was blessed to have had godly parents and her father was strict in raising his five children. He was the only person considered an elder in their small assembly. Being under the sound of the gospel as far back as she could remember, she professed salvation when she was 12 and was baptized at 14. However, when she was 16, her father died suddenly, and her mother moved the family from Exuma to Nassau to be near other family members. Without her father’s influence and being strong willed, she was drawn into the party life of Nassau and away from walking with the Lord.

It was then that 23-year-old Phyllis met a 24-year-old boy from Kansas in September 1954—me! Phyllis had only planned to stay two weeks but after we met, she stayed five weeks. That was long enough however to fall in love. When she returned to Nassau, we wrote to each other almost daily and sometime in November I wrote and proposed marriage to her. She accepted, neither of us apparently giving much thought as to how we could manage. I had two more years of university and was living on the meager GI Bill. I took one semester off to go to Nassau and we were married there on March 25, 1955. 

Thus, it was a believer who is not in fellowship with the Lord and a lost unbeliever joined in marriage. But God, in His great mercy, always had a plan for both of us. He drew Phyllis back to Himself and used her to show me my need to be saved. It was in 1958, after we were living in Orlando, Florida with two small sons that I surrendered my life to Christ. In 1961 we learned about a new assembly, Hiawassa Bible Chapel (HBF), and came into fellowship with them. It was there that we were blessed with good teaching, grew in our love for the Lord, and early on committed ourselves to serving and showing hospitality. I was a recognized elder at HBF from 1965 until 2015. In 1990 I took early retirement from my engineering career and Phyllis and I were commended as full-time workers at HBC until 2015. In 2000, we moved from Orlando to Clermont but continued fellowshipping at HBC until 2015 when we joined the saints at Clermont Bible Fellowship (CBF).

In 2001 Phyllis was diagnosed with breast cancer. After surgery and radiation, she was cancer free until 2016 when it returned in a blood related disorder. She was told that there was a chemo treatment that would retard it but that her life expectancy was only about two years. She lived a pretty normal life except for the week of chemo once a month. She died peacefully at home in hospice care on September 21, 2017, with close family members at her side.

Two days before she died, I was taken to the ER with chest pain and diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Later in November 2017, I had open heart quadruple bypass surgery to correct blockages and replace the aortic valve. After recovery and therapy, I moved back into my home in March, 2018. I am still active in the assemblies and speak when asked by both HBC and CBF. I miss Phyllis more each day but thank and praise God for the 63 wonderfully blessed years we had together. Before Phyllis’ passing, He blessed us with two sons, two daughters, five grandsons, three great granddaughters, and a great grandson since her passing.

As I look back, I see that God, in His goodness, went to great lengths to bring Phyllis and I together, restoring her and saving me. But beyond that He was ever faithful in guiding us in our marriage and in His service. Now I look forward to my home call when I will see my Savior face to face and be reunited with the one who made my life down here a foretaste of heaven.

3
Mar
2020
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The Heart of the Believer

One of the most important organs in the body is the heart. It has a major role in the health and vitality of our well-being. Its major function is unseen yet it continues to beat every moment from conception to death. A good question to ask is: “What is the condition of your heart?” I am not asking about the physical heart but the spiritual heart. The wisest of all men says, “keep your heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23). 

A Believing Heart 

Our spiritual life must have a beginning. Paul says in Romans 10:9-10 “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead you will be saved, for with the heart one believes unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” The rough jailer at Philippi fell at the apostle Paul’s feet and cried, “What must I do to be saved?” The answer was simple, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). Dear reader, have you believed? John writes, “To as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to be called the children of God, to those who believe on His name” (John 1:12). Now is the time, before it is too late to make this important choice and make Jesus your Lord and Savior! 

An Obedient Heart 

For those who have accepted the Lord as Savior it important to seek each day to live for Him until He comes again. The best way is to surrender your heart and will to the authority of God’s Word. Paul writing to the Roman’s says “God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered, and having been set free from sin you became slaves of righteousness” (Rom. 6:17-18). In the context of this passage he is speaking to those who have been saved and baptized. They had publicly expressed their faith and were living a totally different life than before. Are you saved? Have you been baptized? Are you living daily for the Lord Jesus Christ? Writing to the Galatians, Paul’s says: “O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth” (Gal. 3:1). In Philippians 2:12 he says, “Wherefore my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Which of those two groups do you belong?

A Thankful Heart 

One of the characteristics which should mark every believer is having a thankful heart. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 it says, “In every thing give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Paul says, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you” (Phil. 1:3). One of the blessings of being a Christian is to be part of the family of God. The Church of God is a spiritual family which ministers to our individual lives. Each believer ministers to the whole body and we are all the recipients of their love and support. Give thanks to God for everyone who in different ways helps us to have a closer walk with God. The Lord Jesus set an example to His disciples in the upper room when He gave thanks, took bread, and broke it saying, “take eat, this is my body which is broken for you, do this in remembrance of me. Likewise, He took the cup saying, this cup is the new covenant in my blood. This do in remembrance of me” (1 Cor. 11:24-25). It is here we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. 

Every time we fulfill His request we express to Him our thanks for the immense sacrifice He made for us. 

We also thank him for our daily food. To those who are commanded to abstain from meats, “God has created to be received with thanksgiving of them who believe and know the truth, for every creature of God is good and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving” (1 Tim. 4:3-4). No matter what your cultural differences and tastes God has provided everything for you to enjoy. 

A Praising Heart 

Ephesians 5:19 says, “to speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Psalms are divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit. Many hymns are inspired by writers out of deep experiences with God. Spiritual songs are written by writers God has gifted (Bill Gaither, Stuart Townsend, etc.) in lyrics and music. These three aspects are not in competition but complement each other and Paul says, we need them all. What a blessing to be a singing people ministering to each other causing praise to God. “Therefore, by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His Name” (Heb. 13:15). One of our great future prospects is when we will surround His Throne and sing, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing” (Rev. 5:12). We will worship Him forever!

A Giving Heart 

2 Corinthians 8 and 9 highlights the Macedonian churches’ sacrificial giving. He said, “let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). In 2 Corinthians 8:5 we read, “they first gave themselves to the Lord and then to us by the will of God.” He thanks the Philippians for the gift he received and says “not that I desire a gift but I desire fruit that may abound to your account” (Phil. 4:17). Those believers in Macedonia gave out of “their deep poverty unto the riches of their liberality” (2 Cor. 8:2). To the Ephesian believers he said, “it is more blessed to give than receive.” (Acts 20:35). He reminds those who were rich, “…nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God who gives us richly all things to enjoy, let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share” (1 Tim. 6:17-18). Every dollar given in the Lord’s Name is being invested in your eternal bank account. His interest is 100%! We all have a responsibility to give.

A Troubled Heart 

While the disciples were gathered in the upper room, outside it, plans were in place to arrest Jesus and put Him to death. The traitor Judas left with his evil scheme and when he did, it was dark. What a picture of the world’s dark night, not just external but in their hardened sinful hearts. This was true for the religious leaders, scribes, and Pharisees along with the people who were influenced by them. However, the disciples were troubled by the events taking place. Are you troubled today by the events taking place in our world? Are you going through circumstances and trials that make you uncertain of what the outcome will be? Hear the word of the Son of God, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1). Jesus was not affected by what was taking place; He was in full control establishing before them His absolute Deity. He went on to calm and cheer their hearts. “In my Father’s house are many mansions if it were not so I would have told you, I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go…I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3). The realization that He is coming again uplifts the troubled heart. He is coming soon and what a moment that will be. Keep looking up, believer in the Lord. The road may be rough, but it will not be long before we see His face.

3
Mar
2020
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Editorial: My Heart, Christ’s Home

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”  Proverbs 4:23, NKJV

It is always interesting to me when I hear someone say that they are “speaking from their heart.” What they mean is that they are honest, sincere and passionate about a certain matter. If they are very sincere and very passionate about something, they might even say that they are speaking from the “bottom of their heart.” Usually when something is at the “bottom,” rarely is it a good thing. But concerning the heart, it is just the opposite. The heart is the center of our innermost being, the seat of our deepest affections and emotions. It really is what steers our ship and empowers the engine that runs our lives. It is what moves us to do what we do. However, the real question is what is the condition of our heart and what direction is it taking us? When people speak from the heart, what kind of heart do they have? Some people pay a lot of money to doctors to deal with a physical heart condition. Others may take cholesterol-lowering statins as a strategy to preempt a future problem with their hearts. If it is that important to take these steps in the physical realm, how much more important is it in the spiritual realm?   

Diagnosing the Heart

The Bible has a lot to say about the heart. God tells us that the heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9). After the ark rested on Mt. Ararat, He reaffirmed to Noah that the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth (Gen. 8:21), one of the reasons why the Flood occurred in the first place. Ecclesiastes 11:9 warns that if a young man walks in the ways of His heart and in the sight of his eyes, he should also know that for all these things God will bring him into judgment. The heart of man is so stained, so depraved that it affects every aspect of his being—what he thinks, what he says, what he does. The situation seems desperate.  As Paul described it in Romans 3:10-18, man whole being is corrupt—he has no spiritual understanding, his throat is like an open tomb, his tongue is deceitful, his lips are poisonous, and he has a mouth full of cursing and bitterness. The biblical assessment is that it all stems from a heart that is inherently evil since “out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matt. 15:19).  

But the Bible also offers a solution for this dilemma and pitiful situation. Despite the dire condition of man’s heart, there is free remedy provided by the Lord. He offers to each one the opportunity to receive a new heart and a new spirit that He alone gives (Ezek. 36:26-27). He promises to take away the heart of stone which has been hardened through sin and make it a heart of flesh—soft and tender toward the things of God. He can then encourage us to delight in the things of God, so that He can give us the desires of our heart (Ps. 37:4).  As we humbly come before Him in prayer and in the thoughtful study of His Word, it will affect the words of our mouth and the meditation of our hearts (Ps. 19:14). Like Hannah, our hearts will rejoice when we see the Lord work in our lives as our prayers are answered (1 Sam. 2:1). We will be like the men in King Saul’s day, who go forth in service, valiant men whose hearts God had touched (1 Sam. 10:26). As we do the same, walking with the Lord and letting His Word dwell in us richly, we too will be as those whose hearts will be changed, singing with grace in our hearts to the Lord (Col. 3:16). 

Keeping the Heart

But just as it is in the physical life, so too we need to keep our hearts in shape. Solomon warned in Proverbs 4:23, “Keep the heart with all diligence, for out if it issues of life.” It takes constant monitoring to make sure our hearts are in tune and healthy, spiritually. We can be like the children of Israel who in their hearts “turned back to Egypt”, as Stephen cited (Acts 7:41).  The result was that they had hardened their hearts and by so doing did not enter God’s rest (Heb. 3:7-11). Not guarding our hearts can lead to a lot of problems! 

Both the priests and the people in Malachi’s day were guilty of going through the motions of spiritual worship and not taking it to heart (Mal. 2:2).  They questioned God’s love and His dealings with them as His people, because their hearts were not right. Maybe some of us are having the same problem. Maybe some of us have turned back to Egypt in our hearts. It is an easy thing to do, especially in our media-saturated culture. Maybe we need to get our hearts checked to see if there is any issue that needs to be addressed. Our heart is Christ’s home. What kind of home is He living in? 

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Jan
2020
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Question: When did the Church begin?

Isaiah prophesied that the coming Messiah would be a “light to the Gentiles” and bring “salvation to the ends of the earth” (Isa. 49:6). In the New Testament, Simeon having been promised by the Spirit that he would see the Messiah before his death, recognized that the Child Jesus was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy (Lk. 2:26-32). Though both Isaiah and Simeon understood that the Messiah would bring salvation to both Jews and Gentiles, they knew nothing of the Church.

The Bible classifies the Church as a mystery (Rom. 16:25-26; Eph. 3:9). In Colossians 1:26 we read that it is “the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints.”1 Though always part of God’s eternal purposes, a mystery was a truth concealed in the Old Testament but now made known by revelation after Christ’s resurrection. The Church, a previously hidden truth began after His resurrection and ascension. The Greek word ekklēsia means an assembly, those called out to a gathering. The Church has been called out to gather together around the Lord Jesus Christ, the ascended glorified Son.

In its first mention, Christ prophesied in Matthew 16:18, “I will build My church,” speaking of it in the future tense. Though hearing the Lord’s words, the disciples would not understand the significance of this statement until after Christ’s ascension to heaven. The Lord would later tell them in the upper room that He was going back to His Father and would send them another Comforter (Jn. 16:7). Then just before His ascension, He affirmed that they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit in a few days (Acts 1:5).

The baptism of the Spirit spiritually unites believers to other members of Christ’s body (the Church) as well as uniting them to Christ our Head. Both the universal Church and individual believers are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19). The Lord told His disciples, “the Spirit of truth…you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you” (Jn. 14:17). Before Pentecost the Holy Spirit dwelt with them, with the birth of the Church He would now indwell them. In the interim, they were to wait in Jerusalem because it was only after the Spirit’s baptism with His accompanying power and spiritual gifts that they could effectively serve Christ (Lk. 24:49; Acts 1:8).

Ten days later, the Holy Spirit came at the Feast of Pentecost, indwelling Christ’s disciples and baptizing them into the body of Christ. Those that believed that day received the baptism of the Spirit as well, initiating the Church with Jewish believers from all over the known world (Acts 2:1-41). Soon, there were Samaritans who believed (Acts 8); then Gentiles like Cornelius and his household were saved as well (Acts 10-11). As Peter says in Acts 11:15-16, “And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them (Gentiles), as upon us (Jews) at the beginning (Pentecost).” Since then, everyone who places their faith in Christ is immediately indwelt by the Spirit who baptizes them permanently into the body of Christ.

The mystery of the Church is not that Gentiles would be saved through the Messiah – that was revealed to Isaiah in the Old Testament. Rather the mystery was that the Church is an organism, one new man comprised of Jews and Gentiles (Eph. 2:14-15). It is a distinct body, separate from Israel and the nations. Christ has broken down the previous barriers. Gentile and Jewish believers are now united together through, and in Christ. The completion of the Church or what is referred to as the “fullness of the Gentiles” (Rom. 11:25) will commence the rapture when the Lord comes for His bride to take her home to heaven. •
Endnotes:
All references are in the NKJV
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