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A Study on the Origins of Baptism

By Larry A. Smail

Old Testament Forms of Cleansings

This study on baptism may, no doubt, be one of controversy to some. I may make enemies even while using the words from scripture to discuss the actions of baptism. This is one topic that, possibly, instills more arguments than most any other Bible related subject matter. Churches have divided over this topic.

Baptism was not a word used in the early days of the formation of the Israeli people. (The Israeli people were, also, known as the Hebrews, Jews, and Israelites.) However, the Lord commanded water cleansings in those very early years of God’s Chosen People.  These commands were announced through Moses in regard with the priesthood and various other issues of the day needing purifications. For the sake of space, I am not going to go into a lot of detail on the issues of the times demanding “washing to become clean,”

In Leviticus 8: 6, we see the “water cleansing” demands for the ordination of the Hebrew priests. Aaron and his sons were the Levitical priests in those early days of the forming of this nation of Israel. Scripture states the priests were required to be ceremonially washed or cleansed, or purified, or one could say a form of baptism.

In the books of Leviticus and Numbers, purification or washing rituals were told to the people by Moses through the Lord’s commands. Various issues would lead to a time of uncleanliness. Ceremonial cleansings were part of these issues. Some of those washings were required for the touching of unclean things or the dead; childbirth; menstruation. upon being cured for leprosy and certain bodily discharges.

The above-mentioned Old Testament commands dealt with the nation of Israel.

John, the Baptist

Israel, for many, many years, was controlled by a number of Gentile nations. King Nebuchadnezzar completed Israel’s demise in 586 B.C. He destroyed Jerusalem and the temple and carried off or killed remaining Jews. At the time of Christ, the Romans were the oppressive Gentile nation over Israel. However, as we study in the New Testament writings another man of the Lord appeared upon the scene of Israel. John, the Baptizer, or John the Baptist was his common title. John had one purpose in his brief time during his ministry.  John was to go to the nation of Israel and announce their promised kingdom was at hand. The Jewish kingdom had NOT been a sovereign nation since the days before their defeat by Gentile forces well over 500 years in the B.C. era. John was giving the Israelites hope from the Roman oppression for their kingdom was just out in front. Of course, a kingdom requires a king. Israel, to see the fulfillment of these promises had some demands to do. The nation of Israel was to turn around, or repent, from their unbelief and accept this fact of the coming kingdom and king. The nation was to, also, be baptized after repenting of their unbelief. This action is known as John’s Baptism of Repentance. (See Matthew 3: 11.) Notice the entire nation of Israel had to comply in this situation.

John, in Matthew 3: 11, also, told Israel that he baptizes, or cleanses, with water, but the one coming after John would BAPTIZE WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT! This would be Christ! (More on Holy Spirit baptisms later in this study.)

Shortly, a man entered onto the scene. This person was the Promised One who John had told the people about and he was the Christ! Jesus, the Christ, was baptized in the Jordan River. An interesting fact needs to be explained at this point. One might ask why this sinless man needed baptized. The answer is quite simple. Christ reached the age of thirty. To be a high priest of Israel a man had to be thirty years of age. Jesus reaching that age was now ready to begin a ministry among the Jewish people hence he was now cleansed as per Jewish law or baptized. Do you remember where it was mentioned above of Aaron the high priest being ceremonially cleansed or washed? Jesus was such a priest!

Christ’s Gospel of the Kingdom Ministry on Earth

For the next three years of Christ’s ministry Jesus himself did not perform any baptisms.  (See John 4: 2.) Christ’s purpose, during this first dispensation, was to preach of the kingdom of God and have Israel believe who he was. However, we know from John 4: 1-2, the disciples were doing some baptisms to the JEWISH PEOPLE ONLY. This is important to remember. See next statement.

In Matthew 10: 5-7, Christ told the twelve to GO NOT TO THE GENTILES, OR SAMARITANS, BUT ONLY TO THE LOST SHEEP OF ISRAEL” AND PREACH THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND!

The disciples, for the most part, stayed true to Jesus’ command with one notable exception with Peter. And that act of Peter was directed by Christ. (Acts 10.)

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Disciples After the Cross Ministry

We are, now, at a place where another controversy may be viewed. Some facts  are needed to set the stage. Jesus while on earth never reneged on those words to go only to the lost sheep of Israel. Peter, James, and John… were only ministering to the Jews. In fact, this was their mission after the cross. The books from James through Revelation are directed to believing Jews. Remember this! You may ask why?  Again, the answer is quite simple. Paul told the readers in Romans 15: 8 that Christ came to be a minister, or servant,  to the JEWS (Circumcised) to fulfill  and confirm the prophecies or covenant promises of Abraham to Israel , and the fathers of Israel, in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy or grace. Jesus came to Israel to fulfill the promises to the fathers of the Abrahamic Covenant. Gentiles were NOT part of those covenant promises.  Exodus 19: 5-6  the Lord told Israel they were to be a nation of priest and a holy nation. Isaiah 49 wrote additional words about this covenant and Israel was to be a light unto all nations. (Gentiles)  Do you see how it all ties in?

THOSE WORDS IN ROMANS 15: 8 ARE VERY IMPORTANT!

STUDY THEM!

Another controversy erupts when someone states. Yeah, but Jesus told the disciples in  Matthew to go to all nations with the Great Commission. This too is easily explained. Jesus words here were still dealing with Israel’s purpose way back from those Exodus 19 words.

In Exodus 19: 5-6, as stated above, the newly formed people of Israel had the promise they would become a holy nation of priests to take the word to the Gentiles. Since Israel failed way back then, and again during Christ’s ministry, Jesus, after the cross, was giving Israel another chance to become that holy nation. This time the disciples were to continue preaching to the Jews and get the nation to believe. See below. So, the Great Commission was, now going to the disciples to continue to preach to Israel and have the nation believe. Again, notice the nation of Israel had to believe. Under GRACE, individuals can be saved. This applies to the Jews, too, now! More on GRACE later.

The Bible must be rightfully be divided to understand. These are known as dispensations. There were three major dispensations in the New Testament. Jesus while on earth  was the first dispensation for the JEWISH PEOPLE to BELIEVE

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WHO HE WAS! Christ was their Promised One. If the nation of Israel would have believed who Jesus was, they could have had their kingdom as told by John the Baptist and the Old Testament prophets. It was that simple! Israel failed big time!

This is important so a repeat is needed. After the cross, the second dispensation occurred. Israel was being given, yet, another chance for their kingdom and covenant promises. The disciples’ role was to convince Israel that the crucified Jesus was their Messiah. Peter’s sermons were directed to the JEWISH PEOPLE ONLY! The Jews were to repent of their sin of unbelief and the crucifixion of Christ. The people were to then be baptized. This ceremonial cleansing was to PURIFY THEM FROM THEIR SIN OF UNBELIEF AND REJECTION OF CHRIST. (See Acts 2 and 3.) Water baptisms were still in play to cleanse the nation of Israel. Peter’s sermons are full of words indicating he was talking to Jews. That needs to be another study, in itself, to prove.

IF ISRAEL WOULD HAVE BELIEVED UNDER THE DISCIPLES’ MINISTRY THEY WOULD HAVE BECOME THAT HOLY NATION AND A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS.  THEY WOULD THEN GO TO ALL NATIONS. THIS EVENT WOULD BE THE GREAT COMMISSION!

Again, do you see how this all fits together?

This is NOT the Church

Oh boy, I am asking for more trouble now. Almost all pastors categorize these believers being preached to by the disciples  as the founding of the church. To be clear, these people were part of the JEWISH ASSEMBLY. So, to be factual these people may be called a church but, more correctly, if you choose to use the word “church”  they were a Jewish church of believers in Christ. In fact, the Greek word used for the “church” translation is ecclesia which means A CALLED-OUT ASSEMBLY. This assembly in early Acts consisted of those Jews who had believed Jesus was, indeed, their Promised One. After believing Peter’s words about Christ they were then baptized as per Jesus customs as a form of purification or cleansing. THESE BELIEVING JEWS WERE STILL LAW-KEEPING JEWS! AND THEY STILL AVOIDED THE GENTILES!!!

The disciples ask Christ if the kingdom was going to be restored now. Jesus said it was not for them to know. Why? The coming kingdom depended if they succeed to

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have Israel believe. The nation did not believe.

In Acts 1:3, the RISEN CHRIST WAS PREACHING  ABOUT THE KINGDOM OF GOD. Nothing changed in regard to the importance of the kingdom. In Acts 1: 3, Jesus reminded the disciples they would be BAPTIZED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT!  

So, there are many words in Acts 2-3 to prove these people in Peter’s sermons were Jews. I am not going to take space to show all the proofs at this time, but the words all are dealing with unbelieving Jews and those who repented of their unbelief of Christ and were BAPTIZED. Peter is still following Mosaic Law to cleanse or purify these now-believing Jews. NO GENTILE TALK HERE!

Peter, James, and John… were still law-keeping Jews. This is important to remember. We can know this as fact by studying Acts Chapter 10 where Peter did NOT want to go to a Gentile home. Going to Gentiles would be breaking the law. (See Acts10: 28.) Peter and the other Jews saw the Gentiles receive the Holy Spirit even before his sermon was completed. This had not happened to the Jews he had preached to. Peter even with the Holy Spirit entering into theses Gentiles still followed up with a water baptism. Peter was following Mosaic Law to cleanse or purify the Gentiles.

Gentile Cornelius and his family received a HOLY SPIRIT BAPTISM BEFORE PETER GAVE THEM AN UNEEDED WATER BAPTISM.

Also, see Acts 11: 19, where scripture states, of the word being spoken to NONE BUT JEWS. These were the believing Jews who scattered due to persecution after Stephen’s murder. See below. Still No Gentile talk here.

Paul’s Ministry to the Gentiles

Following the murder of the Holy Spirit inspired, Jewish believer named, Stephen, Israel lost their chance to become that holy nation of priests. (See Acts 7.) God chose another extremely zealous Jew named Saul, later Paul, to begin work towards that Great Commission of going to all nations, but from a different direction. The Word from the RISEN CHRIST would be going to the Gentiles without Israel and the Jews.  Israel was now in a state of decline. They would be no longer of importance and off the scene by 70 A.D.

The next proof these believing Jews were NOT Christians, as we envision

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Christianity comes twenty years or so later at the great Jerusalem Council. Here the disciples and believing Pharisees were against Paul’s ministry of faith and the gospel of Grace to the Gentiles. WHY? They were demanding Paul’s Gentiles follow Mosaic Law to be saved. Remember this is around twenty years after the cross! (See Acts 15 and Galatians 2.) Their agreement: The disciples would stay with the Jews preaching the gospel of the kingdom and Paul would continue with Gentiles preaching the gospel of GRACE!

In Acts 11: 26, the Holy Spirit guided Luke to write that in Antioch was where these Gentile,  faith-based believers were called Christians. These people were of the CHRISTIAN CHURCH through faith only. Again, the Jewish Church were believers as to who Christ was, but were still law-keepers. In other words, they were still involved in a works-based religion and NOT FAITH and only Faith. Hope you can see the difference.

Paul’s Gospel of Grace

The gospel of GRACE is found in 1 Corinthians 15: 1-4 where Paul wrote: “Now I remind you, brethren, in what terms I preached to you the GOSPEL, which you received, in which you stand, by which you are saved, if you hold it fast, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered it to you as of first importance which I also received that CHRIST DIED FOR YOUR SINS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE SCRIPTURES, AND WAS BURIED, THAT HE WAS RAISED ON THE THIRD DAY IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE SCRIPTURES.”

Paul wrote in Romans 10: 9-10 these words, “…because if you CONFESS WITH YOUR LIPS THAT JESUS IS LORD AND BELIEVE IN YOUR HEART THAT GOD RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD, YOU WILL BE SAVED.”

It does not matter which verses are read they mean the same, and that is you are saved by believing with faith. So, true Christianity consists of those who believe that gospel as recorded by the Apostle Paul of the Gentiles.  Salvation comes from complete faith in those words. NO WORKS!

Ephesians 2: 8 adds,  “For BY GRACE YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED THROUGH FAITH; AND THIS IS NOT YOUR OWN DOING, IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD- NOT BECAUSE OF WORKS, LEST ANY MAN SHOULD BOAST.

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No works for salvation. Baptism is a work.

If anyone is baptized as a means of salvation it would be as crucifying Christ again. See more on this below.

HOLY SPIRIT BAPTISMS

SO, if someone of this current dispensation believes and trusts through FAITH in the gospel of grace as outlined above, they are a true Christian.  Baptism is NOT required to be a faith-based Christian. A faith-based, gospel of grace believing individual is baptized with the HOLY SPIRIT. That person is purified and cleansed through the actions of the Holy Spirit due to the faith of those individuals of the gospel of grace. This Holy Spirit baptism occurs the moment you truly believe with 100% faith. This occurs through the actions of the RISEN CHRIST THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT. Remember John the Baptist’s words that he (John) baptized with water, but the One coming after John, the Christ, would baptize with the Holy Spirit.

Read Acts 19: 2-6. Paul came upon some believers. He asked them if they received the Holy Spirit when they believed. The people said they had not heard of the Holy Spirit. Paul asked, “ into what then were you baptized?” They responded into John’s baptism of repentance, or water baptism… Paul, laying his hands upon these believers,  BAPTIZED THEM WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT!  These individuals had believed in Christ by Apollos, a Jewish believer.

Also, study Acts 18: 24-28 about how the Jewish believer, Apollos was using John’s baptism of repentance until he was expounded upon with the way to God more accurately. Times of transitions were occurring.

Hebrew 6 records the words to struggling Jewish believers. They were having difficulties walking away from the “WORKS” religion to one of true faith. The writer, who I believe was Paul, detailed much in chapter 6. In brief, he wrote to believing Jews of going back to a works religion after hearing, and being enlightened,  through the gospel of grace would be as crucifying Christ again.  The same applies to faith-based Christianity.

What Are Some Works

Today many people pick and choose works from the Bible to justify their actions

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or their denominational or legalistic beliefs.  Some examples are: tithing, belonging to any certain denomination; Saturday sabbath versus Sunday sabbath; eating certain foods; not-eating certain foods; water baptisms; sprinkling over immersion, walking an aisle, going to the altar… or anything one deems a MUST TO PLEASE THE LORD FOR “SALVATION”! All of these mentioned and more are LEGALISTIC WORKS! However, if you wish to be baptized, since this is the study, you are free to do so under GRACE. BUT, to be baptized with the intent baptism is required for salvation then you are committing the same as placing Christ back on the cross.

Hebrews 11: WITHOUT FAITH IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO PLEASE GOD.

More on Rightfully Dividing Scripture

Here is another place of potential controversy. The books James, 1,2,3, John, 1,2 Peter, Jude and Revelation were directed to those believing Jews. I refer to these books of the Bible as the Jewish Epistles. Some of these books begin telling the reader these words were written to those exiled Jews. For instance, James 1: 1 states to the twelve tribes of the dispersion. 1Peter 1: 1 states, to the exiles of the dispersion. 2 Peter 3: 1 states that this is Peter’s second letter to those of 1 Peter. These writers are still involved trying to get Israel to believe and be baptized as per their orders from Christ. Revelation features many. many words directing the reader to the Jews. Those seven assemblies are believing Jewish “churches” They were all law-keeping but believing Jews. Peter, at the time of his writings, realized his life was ending, but he had come to an understanding of Paul’s faith and grace ministry. See 2 Peter 3: 15 where the man told the Jews to, now, look to the words of Paul for salvation.

 

Where to stop with such a study is difficult. I could keep typing more information on this subject, but I hope these words of this study are understandable.

 

 

 

 

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The following is from my Bible study class featuring Galatians 1.

Galatians 1 (Distortion of gospel of grace, and the gospel)

Paul, immediately, proclaimed in this letter to the gospel believers of Galatia, he is an APOSTLE NOT SELECTED BY OR THROUGH MAN BUT THROUGH JESUS CHRIST…WHOM GOD RAISED FROM THE DEAD (The Gospel is mentioned again!) Paul continued …Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us… (Paul has already alluded to the gospel twice in the introduction! The gospel of salvation can be found in 1 Corinthians 15: 1-4, and Romans 10: 9-10.)

Paul was in awe that the Gentile believers at the Galatia churches were so quickly forgetting about the Gospel of Grace doctrine he had preached to them. He is angry! Jewish, Jesus-believers were distorting Paul’s preached gospel with legalism, and Mosaic Law. The people were falling for their talks. (These Gentiles, recently out of paganism, no doubt, were very confused with all these new teachings from Paul followed by the Jesus-believing, but law-keeping, Jews.)

PAUL STATED IF A MAN OR ANGELS FROM HEAVEN PREACH ANOTHER GOSPEL OTHER THAN WHAT HE PREACHED THEY ARE ACCURSED!!! PAUL GOES ON TO DOUBLE CURSE THESE PEOPLE!! WOW!…This shows the severity and importance of the gospel message of 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 and other sites. What is that gospel that Paul preached? The gospel for salvation is located in 1 Corinthians 15: 1-4, and Romans 10: 9-10, and elsewhere.

Here is the gospel of grace for salvation Paul always preached:

BELIEVING WITH FAITH THAT CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE SCRIPTURES, THAT HE WAS BURIED, AND THAT HE WAS RAISED ON THE THIRD DAY IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE SCRIPTURES!

Paul exclaimed to these people that the GOSPEL HE PREACHED IS NOT OF MAN. PAUL WROTE HE DID NOT RECEIVE THE GOSPEL FROM MAN NOR WAS TAUGHT IT BY MAN, BUT THROUGH THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST!!!! Paul, as he often does, told of his former life of that zealous Jew with the power to arrest Jewish-Jesus believers, and even have them killed. (Remember in our Acts studies we had much discussion of Paul being a Pharisee with power.) Paul then goes on writing about how God had called him unto this service before he was born, and now revealed His son to him. (This was in part, Paul’s Damascus experience of Acts 9.)

IMPORTANT

Notice, Paul was “CHOSEN, and the RISEN CHRIST REVEALED” to him that he was to be a minister to the Gentiles. Paul DID NOT CONFER WITH MAN NOR GO TO THE APOSTLES AT JERUSALEM!! (One would think Paul would want to go the Apostles to seek what they knew about Jesus. God needed to alienate Paul from the kingdom doctrine of Peter to the Jews (Early ACTS) and reveal to him the Gospel of Grace. This gospel could not be until after Jesus died, and was raised to life, and after the Jews final rejection of accepting Christ as their Messiah at Stephen’s murder found  murder found in Acts 7!) Again God needed to alienate Paul from the apostle’s message of the kingdom. Paul went to Arabia, then after three years came back to Damascus. (Paul, no doubt, received the revelations from Christ while in Arabia, just as Moses received the law. It could take a long time to remove all the years of Jewish indoctrination, and come to understanding grace, and forgiveness over Law, especially after all the terrible things Paul had done.)

After three years Paul went to see Peter for 15 days. (At this stage Peter, no doubt, had great difficulty believing what this man Paul was saying. This is the reason for the Acts 10 visit with Cornelius. God was planting seeds into Peter’s thoughts …salvation would come to the Gentiles!) Paul, also, saw Jesus’ brother, James.

Paul expressed that he was not lying! Paul mentioned how the people marveled at his turnabout, and this glorified God, and the grace freely given! This converted Paul was still unknown to the Jewish-Jesus assemblies of Judea. However, they knew of his past against those Jewish believers of Jesus.

NOTE: Paul, after his Damascus experience, spent three years in Arabia. The original 12 apostles spent three years with Christ, Could this have any scriptural importance? I believe it does. People could NOT say that Paul only knew Christ for a short time.

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Daniel’s 490 Year Prophecy Study (Chapter 9)

By Larry A. Smail

Much confusion surfaces upon listening to and/or reading about Daniel’s prophecy pertaining to the 490 years of Israel until their Messiah comes. I must confess I have spent much time on the subject attempting to grasp exactly what was to happen and what will be happening. Sadly, few have ever heard of this prophecy.

When I began dissecting this prophecy some time ago I began observing that some events didn’t seem to “add up.” Many Bible prophecy teachers will state the Persian, King Cyrus was the king in place when Daniel’s prophecy began to come true. I, too, took the position assuming the scholars were correct after all these people would seem to be “in the know.” Assuming things at any time can lead to wrong conclusions. Unfortunately, as we shall see, some dates of events are not known, but are close. Also, we usually become programmed to believe what we are taught, hear or read without question. Remember the Jews were in captivity at this time and Jerusalem had been destroyed. (See below.)

Why 490 Years?

In brief, the Hebrews failed to obey God on his command for a land Sabbath each seventh year. (See Leviticus 25 and 26.) Prophets warned of future enslavement to Gentile countries. Seventy land Sabbaths were ignored over a 490 year time frame or seventy sevens. The Jews went into captivity for seventy years to make up for those lost Sabbaths. The Lord then gave the seventy sevens prophecy through Gabriel to Daniel ending with the coming of the Messiah and kingdom. (The 490 year prophecy was to answer for these and other sins of the Hebrew people.)

DANIEL 9: 24-26

24: Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon the holy city, to finish transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

25: Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

26: And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself… (More later from verse 26.)

Upon studying in history books I noticed King Cyrus’ reign was 559 B.C. to 529 B.C. The confusion comes from when the king offered an edict, commandment, or decree, to allow the Jews, captured in 586 B.C.-587 B.C under King Nebuchadnezzar, to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. (Ezra 5:13) This is the decree many prophecy teachers use to begin Daniel’s 490 year prophecy. (Seventy weeks) However, upon doing any math the numbers WILL NOT ADD UP. Daniel’s prophecy of the 490 years includes 483 years to when Messiah will be cut off. Neither the 490 nor the 483 number can be used in this prophecy with any date during Cyrus’ reign. The end of his reign was at 529 B.C. That date is already over the 490 years as told by Daniel. The decree was made during the king’s first year of power, or 559 B.C. Some have tried to use “break or gap” theories to make it all work in regards with King Cyrus or attempts to juggle the numbers.

The Words do Matter! Read them carefully!

Cyrus, indeed, gave the Jews permission through a decree to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple, however, the Jews met with many obstacles so their dream under Cyrus did not come to fruition. They met with hostility from surrounding neighbors. Drought and famine affected the work and the dream faltered. So, why do so many prophecy scholars use Cyrus’ decree as the starting point? Like I said the words matter! We will see this fact shortly.

I spent much time figuring on the math scenarios. I read and reread Daniel’s prophecy of Daniel 9: 24-26 attempting to unravel this mystery to me. One day I went back to the beginning of the chapter and there it was! The answer! Daniel 9:1-2 states, “In the first year of Darius….” I do not need to add any more information here. A little later on in this same chapter Daniel received the 490 year prophecy. He received this prophecy under King Darius whose reign was 522 B.C. to 486 B.C. Daniel received this prophecy during this king’s first year in power! That year was 522 B.C.! Now we are getting closer to determining facts of the prophecy. The Cyrus decree is completely ruled out as the starting point of this prophecy. BUT… the 522 B.C. date is still over the 490 years prophecy by 32 years. So neither Daniel’s 490 year prophecy, nor the 483 year prophecy until Messiah is cut off can fall into this time frame. More work is needed from history.

Darius discovered in the archives the decree of Cyrus once he was informed of it. He, also, allowed the Jews to go back to Jerusalem to work on the temple. The Jews had already ceased working there by his reign. The temple was completed under Darius. However, under history, the Jews ceased work after the temple was complete. The city of Jerusalem was not restored at this time. This is important! Now, we need to read Daniel’s prophecy again. The answer is again there! Studiers need to watch the words very closely.

Daniel 9: 25 states, “from the going forth of the commandment to RESTORE AND BUILD JERUSALEM…” Those bold words are so important to the prophecy. Do you see it? The words are “RESTORE AND BUILD JERUSALEM.” Remember, the temple was finished under Darius’ rule. As of this time only the edict to rebuild the temple was decreed. Daniel’s prophecy begins when the decree is ordered to restore and rebuild Jerusalem and not rebuild the temple! Notice the difference! This didn’t happen under Darius.

More years pass and Artaxerxes is the ruler. The existence in Judah had been a discouraging venture. The stress of the physical and political hardships and including the lack of morals within the Jews religious zest weakened the construction to nil. Ezra was one of the men of prominence during this time in Jewish history, as well as, Nehemiah.

Nehemiah 2 states that during Artaxerxes’ twentieth year of reign, Nehemiah approached Artaxerxes about Jerusalem. The king granted Nehemiah permission to return and RESTORE JERUSALEM! There is the first half of Daniel’s 9:25 prophecy. Nehemiah went to rebuild the wall and obtain security to restore Jerusalem. Nehemiah returned into place the Jewish priesthood and Mosaic Law back to the forefront. The Levites would return as priests in the temple along with the resurgence of the Jewish Holy days and weekly Sabbaths. (The Tribe of Levi would be the priests as per Mosaic Law during the early Israelite nation.) Ezra had a big part in this reestablishment of Mosaic Law into the Jewish populace again. Now we are even closer to having the math add up. The 490 year prophecy has begun! There is still more to work on.

NOTE: An issue on the beginning date of Artaxerxes reign needs addressed. Artaxerxes began ruling jointly in 473 B.C. with Xerxes. This occurred to allow Xerxes royal line to continue upon his passing. Artaxerxes began sole-control in 465 B.C. The problem here is where to begin the count to determine Artaxerxes’ 20th year in power and his decree to restore Jerusalem. The ascension to joint leadership in 473 B.C. seems to work very well to account for the 483 years to the cross. Most Biblical scholars use the 465 B.C. date of sole-rule and thus begin the 20 year count in the year 445 B.C. I believe the earlier date is, most likely, the year to work with at this time. Additional notes for Tiberius rule will be addressed later on to help determine the above mentioned date.

Additional Clarity of Daniel’s 490/ 483 Year Prophecy.

The King James’ Version spells out the timing of the 490 year and the 483 year time frame well. Some translations may seem vague. Daniel 9: 24-27; states, 24: “Seventy weeks (490 years) are determined upon thy people (Daniel’s people were the Jews.) and upon thy holy city, (Jerusalem) to finish transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, (The King and Kingdom) and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” (Christ) So, 490 years are prophesied to the Jews and Jerusalem to end the sins and iniquity until their Messiah and kingdom arrive to the nation. This is the everlasting kingdom prophesied by the Jewish prophets of the Old Testament.

25:“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks; (This totals 483 years.) the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troubled times.” Once the decree is made to restore Jerusalem there will be 490 years until Messiah comes. (This will be at the Second Advent. The 49 years was to complete restoring Jerusalem.)

26:“And after threescore and two weeks (434 years or 434 + 49) shall Messiah be cut off. But not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city (Jerusalem) and the sanctuary ;(Temple) and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war of desolations are determined.” At the end of 483 years Messiah will be rejected and cut off.  The people of the prince that will come will destroy the city until the end of the war of desolations is complete. (Rome was the one to destroy Jerusalem and destroy the temple in 70 A.D., so we can safely realize of some form of the Roman Empire will be involved in the tribulation time.)

27:“And he (Antichrist, son of perdition) shall confirm the covenant with many for one week; (Seven years) and in the midst of the week (Three and a half years) he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” This prince (Antichrist) will make a treaty for seven years and after three and a half years this man of sin will stop the Jews temple worship and the remainder of what has been prophesized will occur. These seven years are the tribulation period or the completion of the 490 years. (A form of the third temple will be erected at the time of this treaty. Israel has been planning this third temple.)

Two possible beginnings of the 490 year prophecy have now been discovered with Artaxerxes’ ascending to power, but we need to determine how the 483 years, as stated above, fits. As shown the prophecy stated that Messiah will be cut off and the timing of years equals 483 years. The common thought is to add the numbers up would be take the 453 years from Artaxerxes decree and add the thirty-three years of Christ’s time on earth. (The A.D. years.) This equals 486 years. However, if you add up the 445 years and add 33 years of Christ’s age the number is 478. Most prophecy scholars claim the cross is when Christ, the Messiah, was cut off and, indeed, the cross would seem logical to be the time Messiah was cut off with his death. Notice the numbers above do not add to 483 years as shown.

We need additional facts from history. The general thought process is Christ was born in the year 0 A.D. Those of the early “Roman church” times that did the calculation as to when Christ was born didn’t know the history apparently. (This dating method came about by a Roman abbot named Dionysius Exiguus the Little. This man was commissioned in 525 A.D. to determine the date of Easter by Pope John 1. He modified the Alexandrian System which was an Egyptian calendar reformed under Emperor Augustus. Exiguus used existing Roman calculations using the year 754 A.U.C. (A.U.C. is a Latin abbreviation meaning from the founding of the city of Rome.) or YOR (Years of Rome). His dating method was adopted by “Christian” countries. This system is known as the Gregorian System.)

ADDITIONAL NOTE: In 313 A.D. Emperor Constantine issued a decree of religious tolerance and it became fashionable to be labeled a Christian. This decree was called the Edict of Milan. Christianity would become the state religion of the Roman Empire. Are you getting scared yet? Pagans of this time, now called Christians, brought their pagan traditions into this State Church and subverted it. December 25th was made into the Christmas holiday and coincided with the Roman heathen festival of Saturnalia. Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 said there would be a great apostasy (Or falling away) before the man of lawlessness is revealed. It is easy to see this apostasy began very early in the church and has carried through unto this very time. So, by these very early years Paul’s gospel had been subverted in many ways. Many prophecy scholars claim the apostasy mentioned is to occur just prior to the final seven years. Upon studying the history of “Christianity” it is easy to see the continual eroding from the Christianity as preached by Paul. You should be scared by now! This “state church” was the reason the “separation of church and state” became an issue hundreds of years ago. That is another study.

King Herod the Great died in 4 B.C. from history. That fact alone means little, but read the account of Christ’s birth in Matthew 2. King Herod upon hearing of the King of Israel being born in Bethlehem acted upon the knowledge. He mandated all male babies from two years and younger be killed. Herod didn’t want any new Israeli King interfering with his power. KING HEROD WAS ALIVE WHEN JESUS WAS BORN YET HE DIED IN 4 B.C.!!! This is important!

NOTE: Historically, Tiberius Caesar came to power in 12 A.D. as a co-ruler with Augustus Caesar. He became sole-ruler in 14 A.D. Luke 3:1 and 23 states Christ was “about” thirty years old with Tiberius’ 15th year of power or 26 A.D from history. Subtract thirty years from 26 A.D. and you’ll get 4 B.C. This number is by using the 12 A.D. date of ascension to power. Fourteen A.D. will not work with 4 B.C. With this in mind it seems logical to use the early year of 473 B.C. to begin Artaxerxes rule.

With Herod’s death of 4 B.C. in mind, Jesus would have been born in 4 B.C. Christ would have been born in very early 4 B.C. for Herod died sometime afterwards in the same year just prior to Passover. Now there is, at least, a several year discrepancy using 0 A.D. as the date of Christ’s birth. Using this date of 4 B.C. would mean Christ’s life on earth after the 0 A.D. starting date would be 30 years depending on which month. (Thirty-three years minus four B.C. years equals twenty-nine or thirty. See the NOTE below on Jewish dating.) But now, adding up the 453 B.C. date of the decree and the 29 years adds up to only 482 years. Thirty years would equal 483 years.

NOTE: The Jewish system for their annual year cycle has their first month occurring in the time frame during our March-April months. I believe the cross actually occurred, most likely, in very early 30 A.D. The Jews used a lunar cycle to determine the beginning of the calendar year. This fact alone causes variables within the first day of their first month of Nisan.

I conclude the most probable time of the Messiah being cut off via prophecy would be using the cross at around 30 A.D. That would add up to the 483 years required for prophecy. However, if the term “cut off” means anything other than the death on the cross then we would need to add the date of Messiah being cut off as the timing of Stephen’s murder by stoning. The rejection at Stephen’s murder could, possibly, be a form of Messiah being cut off. Scripture goes into strong detail about Stephen’s murder so that fact must mean something of great importance.

Secondary Thought Using 445 B.C. as the Beginning of the 20th Year

Yes, Christ, most likely, died in very early 30 A.D., but very soon afterwards Israel was being preached to by the Apostles for the nation of Israel to believe and repent of their disbelief and the crucifying of their Messiah. Israel’s murder of Stephen turned everything around with Christ revealing the new dispensation or transition to Paul towards the Gentiles. Israel would be in a downward spiral. This murder of Stephen was the final rejection of Christ by Israel. The Jews could have had their Messiah until this rejection.

We can conclude Stephen’s death wasn’t long into Peter’s ministry years. I have read estimations of anywhere from one to three to five to seven years. Scripture does not tell us how many years after the cross Stephen’s murder took place. Dates I have seen are estimated from 30 A.D. to 36 A.D.

That Holy Spirit filled man’s murder was Israel’s FINAL REJECTION! In other words his death was the final rejection and the time could be thought as when Messiah was cut off from Israel! We know, scripturally that Saul was immediately introduced and he would quickly be converted and become Paul the Apostle of the Gentiles. (See Acts 7:58.) Israel was, now in a spiral towards the end! Israel would cease to exist in 70 A.D. Israel’s rejection of Christ being their Messiah had begun her decay! Israel would not believe!

NOTE: Now, by using the 445 B.C. date for the decree to restore Jerusalem and adding the twenty-nine to thirty years of Christ until the cross to 475 years. Add seven or eight years until Christ’s final rejection equals 483 YEARS. Any discrepancy here would be slight errors due to the variances of the dating systems. I do believe we, today, can determine with 99 percent accuracy as to what B.C. year the birth of Christ occurred. Errors would, probably, be within one month since we know his birth was prior to Herod’s 4 B.C. death. We know Herod died just prior to Passover of 4 B.C. Also, we can’t accurately determine the year of Stephen’s stoning. As stated above, I have seen a date varying from 30 to 36 A.D. Stephen’s stoning is a variable difficult to determine. Possibly, using a Jewish lunar calendar with accurate comparison with the Gregorian calendar along with other details we could pinpoint the date more accurately. Maybe, the exact date by Jewish calendar has recorded Christ’s death or Stephen’s murder. However, this calculation is very, very close. So, either date of the beginning of the 490 year prophecy can work out mathematically. I lean strongly to the earlier date of 453 as the twentieth year of Artaxerxes reign and thus the decree to rebuild Jerusalem.

We must remember if Peter, James and John… could have succeeded to have all of the house of Israel (See Acts 2: 36.) repent of their unbelief leading to Christ’s death on the cross by believing Christ was their Promised One, the Lord would have returned when he ushered in the kingdom following the prophesized seven years of Jacob’s troubles. (Tribulation, Great tribulation…) That equals to the 490 years! (483+7) The apostles believed those seven years would be in their lifetimes. They expected to see Christ’s return. Paul believed he would see Christ’s return, as well. (Many of the New Testament writers were witnessing an increase of trouble brewing thus believing the time of Jacob’s Trouble was just ahead.)

Final Seven Years

Jesus in Acts 1 told his disciples it was not for them to know when the kingdom would come into existence. That timing of the kingdom would be partially in their hands. As stated, if Israel and the Jews would have believed Jesus was their Promised One and repented of their unbelief leading to the cross they could have had their kingdom in short order. (After the prophesied seven years.) However, the Nation of Israel rejected and Christ used Paul to take the Gospel of Grace to the Gentiles without Israel. Also, the Lord has not forgotten his promises to Israel. Israel will be involved in the future plans.

We still have seven years remaining of Daniel’s 490 years to complete the prophecy. Those years are mentioned in Daniel 9: 24 and 27. At the completion of those seven years Messiah will return with his Kingdom. Israel will be completely restored to its former kingdom glory. Peace will be realized by all. Christ alluded to this seventh year and the pause prior to this fulfillment with his words in Luke 4: 16-20 of Isaiah 61: 2. (At the time of this study, Jerusalem is being called the capital of Israel again. This will prove to be important in the fulfillment of prophecy.)

As often discussed in our other studies, Israel would cease to be a nation in 70 A.D. BUT, in 1948 Israel became a nation again. This reforming of the nation of Israel had to happen for prophecy to continue. Israel regained Jerusalem in 1967. Today Jerusalem is being called the capital again. Exciting times!

This has happened!

Sometime soon, the seven years left in the 490 year prophecy of Daniel will begin. Those seven years will be a terrible time for Israel and the world. However, at the end of those seven years the Second Advent will be reality!

The Kingdom with Christ reigning will be reality!

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NOTE: I have been doing a Bible study for around ten years now. I have attendees from the denominations of Free Methodists, Presbyterian, Non-denominational, Catholics and Lutherans. I was considering doing this study again since new people have come on board since I first read the study. With the Coronavirus issue keeping everything shut down I decided to share the study. Hope you can find some hope in these uncertain times.

THOUGHTS ON RESURRECTION
By Larry A. Smail

People hearing of resurrection may have varying mindsets as to what the event actually is. In this study, we are going to use scripture to seek information, and evaluate the meaning of a Biblical resurrection.

First, we need to analyze the word, “resurrection” in regards with scripture. A resurrection is the spiritual and bodily reunion of an individual to eternal life. This body will be a glorified body. We will include scripture, later on, as to what Jesus’ glorified body consisted of prior to his ascension to heaven. How God completes this event is beyond human comprehension, but scripture has many words to express on the event. We need to remember in Matthew 19: 26, Christ states “Nothing is impossible with God.” Christians need to believe this with faith!

One may hear the word used in other ways. One may hear, sometimes, of resurrection in regard to flowers. The thought pertains to the flower drying up and dying in the fall. Flowers will again be resurrected come spring as new life emerges. However, the flowers never truly die. The bulbs: tubers, and rhizomes are still alive as winter moves onto the landscape. These roots are alive, but dormant until the warmth of spring activates the new growth. If the flower dies completely over winter, there will be no growth come spring.

A very early statement of a future resurrection comes to us in Job 19: 25-26. Job who was a righteous, and faithful man of the Lord, stated the following: “For I know that my redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has thus been destroyed then from my flesh I shall see God.” Job knew he was to die, and return to the earth, but he, also, knew he would be brought back to life, and see God on earth. This information had been revealed to Job.

David, in Psalms 17: 15, states: “As for me, I shall behold thy face in righteousness: when I awake, (resurrection) I shall be satisfied with beholding thy form.”

The prophet, Daniel, in Daniel 12:13, was told by an angel in regards to the end of the age: “Go your way till the end: and you shall rest, (Die) and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days.”

In Isaiah 26:19, the prophet wrote: “The dead shall live, their bodies shall rise. O dwellers in the dust, awake, and sing for joy.

Some Verses from Christ Concerning Resurrection.

Many of Christ’s words can be found in the first four books of the New Testament. I will not include all of them, but I will list some verse references. In Matthew 12: 39-40, Jesus told the Pharisees what was to happen. These words were in regard to those people requesting a sign as to who Jesus was. Jesus said, “No sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days, and three nights in the belly of the fish, so will the Son of man be three days, and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 16:4; Mark 8:1; Luke 11:30)

In Matthew 16: 21, Jesus told the twelve he would be killed and rise up on the third day. (Other verses stating this are: Matthew 17:9; Matthew 17:22; Matthew 20: 18-19; Mark 9:9; Mark 9:31; Mark 10:34; Luke 9:21…)

The story of Lazarus is not a true resurrection. The story is in John 11: 38-44. Jesus’ friend, Lazarus had died. Jesus is sent for, but he delayed arriving until four days later. Lazarus had been in the grave for these four days allowing for decomposition to begin. Lazarus’ sister, Martha had hoped Jesus would have arrived before her brother’s passing. Jesus told Martha, prior to raising Lazarus to life, that her brother would rise again. Martha replied, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection, and the life; he who believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live, and whoever lives, and believes in me shall never die.”

Remember the definition of true resurrection. Lazarus, indeed, had been raised from death, however, he didn’t have the glorified body as Christ, and the First Fruit had, and has! Lazarus would die again in the future and be placed in a tomb.

THE RESURRECTION

The resurrection is the most important aspect of God’s plan for salvation for us today. Christ, himself spent three days, and three nights in the grave, or, at least, the physical part of him did. Spiritually, he spent that time in
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Paradise with all the righteous individuals of the past. The word Hell actually refers to the grave.

Sometime prior to the morning of the first day of the week, Christ rose from the grave in victory over death. Take note, the Bible does not state Christ was resurrected on the first day. The evidence of the empty tomb was made known at the break of the next day when some of the women followers approached the tomb. It was empty! He had risen!

The resurrected Christ in his glorious new body spent forty days on the earth preaching about the coming kingdom. (Acts 1) He ascended to heaven and is awaiting the time of the Gentiles to be fulfilled. At that time Jesus’ Second Advent will occur. The resurrection chapters are located in Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24 and John 20.

The Glorified Body

After the resurrection, as stated above, Jesus was on earth for forty days preaching about the KINGDOM! What were some of the features of his glorified body that we can know through scripture? Unfortunately, the writers did not include many details. In John 20:19, Jesus simply appeared with the disciples despite the door being shut. This body was physical, yet he had the ability to appear, and disappear. Notice, when Jesus, again appeared for Thomas’ sake, he told the man to touch his physical wounds for evidence that Jesus was actually bodily present. (John 20:27)

In John 20:30, the writer simply wrote that Christ did many things, and healings.

At another event, found in John 21: 12, Jesus called out the disciples to greet him on the shore of the lake. Jesus had a fire going. Jesus ate the fish, and bread with them.

In Luke 24: 43, scripture says Christ ate with the disciples. So, this glorified body eats food.

In Luke 24:31, Jesus appeared, and later disappeared, after meeting and dining with the two men on the road to Emmaus.
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This glorified, physical, and spiritual body is capable of anything, and everything.
Paul’s Words on the Resurrection

Paul, known primarily as the Apostle to the Gentiles, had much to say in regard to resurrection. Much of what we know of resurrection comes from the words of Paul.

In Acts 24: 14-15, Paul, during his defense at Caesarea, told those in attendance of resurrection…”having hope in God which these themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just, and unjust.” In Acts 26:8, Paul said, “Why is the thought incredible to any of you that God raises the dead?”

In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he wrote in Romans 6: 4-5, “…as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too, might walk in new-ness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall (Not may.) certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”

Romans 6: 9, “For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again.”

Romans 4: 24, “It will be reckoned to us who BELIEVE in him that raised from the dead, Jesus our Lord who was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”

Romans 5: 21,”as sin reigned in death, grace, also, might reign through righteousness (Faith) to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 10: 9-10, states the following: “because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord, and BELIEVE in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For man believes with his heart, and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips, and so is saved!” (Gospel)

The Apostle, Paul, goes into great depth reinforcing the truth of resurrection in his letters to the Corinthian people. These letters were in response to questions, and concerns from members of the Corinthian church.

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The next paragraph is one example of the gospel needed for salvation.

THE GOSPEL FOR SALVATION

In 1 Corinthians 15: 1-4. Paul reminds the members of the GOSPEL TO BE SAVED! He wrote, “I would remind you brethren, (Believers) in what terms I preached to you the GOSPEL (Good news) which you received, (These people had heard and received the gospel of grace through Paul’s preaching.)in which you stand, by which you are SAVED, if you hold it fast- unless you believed in vain. (This gospel is for salvation if you truly believe in faith.) For I (Paul) delivered to you as of first importance which I, also, received. (This message of salvation is the MOST IMPORTANT words he received from the Risen Christ.) that Christ died for our sins in accordance with scripture. (Christ was crucified so ALL could be forgiven of their sins as prophesied in the Old Testament prophecies.)that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according with the scriptures…” (CHRIST RECEIVED RESURRECTION BACK TO LIFE.)

1 Corinthians 15: 12-14, “Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead (Resurrected) how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. (Jesus would still be dead.) Then our preaching is in vain, and your faith is in vain.” (Everything we have preached and everything you believed is in vain.) Paul, through verse 18 wrote of futile faith if Christ has not been raised, and we all are STILL IN OUR SINS, and those who have died have perished.

1 Corinthians 15: 20, “Christ has been raised from the dead, the FIRST FRUITS of those who have fallen asleep.” (Died)

In 1 Corinthians 15: 51, Paul wrote of a revealed secret to him. “We shall not all sleep (Die) but we shall be changed. At the last trump, the dead will be raised, and we shall be changed. He wrote of the perishable putting on imperishable, and the mortal putting on immortality. (Those dead coming back to life and those believers changing to immortality occur through the resurrection.)

Galatians 3:11, Paul wrote…”He who through faith is righteous shall live.”
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In 1 Thessalonians 4: 16-17, Paul wrote explained that the dead in Christ (Those who had died as believers of the gospel.) will rise first, then we who
are alive shall be caught up together…

1 Thessalonians 5:9…”to obtain salvation through out Lord, Jesus Christ who died for us whether we wake, or sleep we might live with him.”

One more from the pen of Peter. In 1 Peter 1: 3-4, Peter, towards the end of his life, wrote: …”By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading..”

First & Second Resurrections

There are two primary resurrections shown in scripture. The first one will be those who have passed in righteousness, and those martyred during the tribulation period. The second resurrection will be against all those from the beginning who had died faithless, and rejected, with unbelief God’s words.

The angel told Daniel, in Daniel 12:2: “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Jesus, in Luke 14: 14 talked of being repaid at the resurrection of the just.

Jesus talked of two resurrections in John 5: 29, when he stated: “…for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good (Righteous believers) to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil (Rejection and no belief) to the resurrection of judgment.

The Book of Revelation talks of the two resurrections in Revelation 20: 5 where the writer stated, that after Christ’s thousand years of the kingdom has been completed the second resurrection will occur. (Those who have been lost over time and those who had taken the mark and worshiped the beast will be resurrected after this time. This is known as the Great White Throne Judgment prior to the second death.) He, also, states blessed are those who share in the first resurrection.
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Verses Leading To Salvation
Larry A. Smail

This study will detail verses with information for attaining salvation through the words of scripture. Much confusion over this vital knowledge is found within the church system. A brief history of Christ’s ministry and the apostle’s ministry will be mentioned here to set the stage for today’s dispensation for obtaining salvation.

1. What was Jesus’ primary message during his ministry?

Christ’s primary message was to fulfill the covenant promises given by God to the patriarchs so many years in the past. This is part of the Abrahamic Covenant of Genesis 12: 1-3 and other chapters. The Lord promised, in part, through the seed of Abraham that a blessing would occur for all families of the earth. This blessing would be a Savior to redeem the curse upon mankind and give individuals an opportunity for salvation.

Christ constantly spoke about the “kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven.” This IS, in fact, the GOSPEL, or the GOOD NEWS, OF THE KINGDOM. As stated often within our studies, one should underline or highlight every place in the first five books of the New Testament where the above-mentioned words are written. In order to fulfill the covenant promises, Jesus was, also, ministering for Israel to believe just who he was…and that was their Messiah; their Promised One; Wonderful Counselor; their King, Prince of Peace…. The Apostle Paul clarifies this in Romans 15: 8, when he wrote: “…Christ became a servant (Or a Minister) to the circumcised (Jewish People or Israel) to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy…” Historically, once Israel left Egypt, God very quickly told the budding nation the following:

Exodus 19: 5-6 states, “…if you (Israel) obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my own possession among all peoples…you shall be a kingdom of priests and a holy (Set apart) nation.” (Or the Chosen people)

Isaiah 49: 6 states this speaking of Israel, “I will give you (Israel) as a light to the nations, that my SALVATION may reach to the end of the earth.”

This was what Jesus meant when he told the disciples, “… to go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” But first, the disciples needed to have Israel believe who Christ was along with the kingdom restored. At that time, Israel would become that kingdom of priests to go to the Gentiles.

History tells us Israel failed constantly. They lost their kingdom. The nation of Israel became under Gentile dominion for many, many, many years.
Israel rejected Christ’s message to have their King and Kingdom. They didn’t BELIEVE!!!! Their unbelief led to Christ’s death on the cross. Three days and three nights later Christ was raised back to life!

2. What was the message after the cross and resurrection?

Acts 1: 3 records the resurrected Christ as being on earth for forty days and speaking of the “Kingdom of God!” Jesus’ message was still the same. In Acts 1: 6, the disciples asked Christ, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” The importance of this kingdom to the Jewish people cannot be understated. The Jews lost their kingdom and the magnificent Solomon’s temple way back in 586 B.C. under King Nebuchadnezzar of the Babylonian Empire. The hope of their kingdom restoration was of vital importance. The kingdom is just as vital to modern Jews today! They are waiting for their Messiah today, as well. The Jews have increased their plans to have their third temple now that they are back in the land of Israel since 1948. One may say, Israel has some of their land back. The Jews still need their temple and King.

3. What was the disciples’ message during their ministries?

The best example is found in Peter’s sermons of Acts 2 and 3. Peter was preaching to Jews in Jerusalem about who Christ was, his death on the cross and the resurrection and the covenant promises to Abraham. Remember, the covenant promises were for the Jews. In verse 36, Peter reminded these Jews by saying, “Let “all the house of Israel” therefore know assuredly that God has made him that God has made him both Lord  and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” The Jews, now troubled over the events, wanted to know what they should do now. Peter told them to; “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (These Jews were to repent of their unbelief as to who Jesus was which led to the crucifixion. They were to then be baptized as per Jewish law as a type of cleansing or purification. If they believed, then the nation would be in a position to take salvation to the Gentiles and have their King and kingdom.) The disciples started the Jewish church of believers, yet they were still law-keeping. Important for study!

By studying the Jerusalem Council of around 50 A.D. it is easy to see there is a difference. The disciples were to continue with their kingdom message to the Jews and Paul was to stay with the Gentiles. Christ while on earth, in Matthew 10: 5-6 told the twelve to, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the LOST SHEEP OF ISRAEL.” Verse 7 added; the disciples were to preach that the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN WAS AT HAND. (Jesus, scripturally, never said anything to change that course of action and it is easy to see just how Jewish his disciples remained. After all they were to work to have Israel believe. Jesus, at this time, was still here on earth during his ministry years, and the kingdom promises could have been reality if the Jews would have believed! Scripturally speaking, the disciples held true to staying with the Jews with a couple exceptions with Peter. More later on this difference. See Acts 15 and Galatians 2 to study this conference or council.

4. What caused Israel’s rejection before and after the cross?

In the simplest term…ISRAEL REJECTED CHRIST THROUGH THEIR UNBELIEF! Paul wrote in Romans 8-11 about Israel’s failure through their unbelief as to who Christ was. He wrote in Romans 11: 25 of Israel’s hardening of their hearts. Paul, also, added “until the full number of the Gentiles come in.” Israel will be given another opportunity to believe the gospel of the kingdom during the tribulation, also known as, the Time of Jacob’s Trouble. (Jeremiah 30: 7) The Jewish remnant at that time will believe! Zechariah 12: 10 tells us, Israel will mourn for Christ the one they pierced. ISRAEL WILL BELIEVE!

5. What was the turning point with God’s plan with Israel?

Acts 7 gives us the story of the Holy Spirit, inspired, Jewish believer named Stephen. He was murdered by the Jews for his belief of Christ being their Promised One. Immediately in Acts 8 Saul (Later Paul) was introduced. Big changes would be coming. Israel’s future would be spiraling downward from this time until the Romans destroy Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D. Israel would cease to exist as a nation. Remember since 586 B.C. Judah and Israel were under Gentile control.

6. So, what now? What was to be the next part of God’s plan? Who was to be the one during this next dispensation?

Paul would be called out of his Jewish zealous ways by the RISEN CHRIST. Romans 1: 1 states, Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an APOSTLE, SET APART for the GOSPEL OF GOD which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures.” Paul added…”according to the Spirit of holiness by his RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received GRACE and apostleship to bring about the obedience of FAITH for the sake of his name AMONG ALL NATIONS…”
Israel lost the chance to be the nation of priests to carry God’s word to the Gentiles. Paul would begin taking the word to the Gentiles now, but without Israel.

Also, in Galatians 1: 1, Paul wrote he became an apostle not through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead. He added in verses 11-12: “…the gospel which was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I (Paul) did not receive it from man nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.” (The RISEN CHRIST)

7. What is this gospel of grace and how does one obtain grace?

There are two primary places in Paul’s words that detail the process of obtaining salvation. Romans 10: 9-10 the apostle wrote: “…because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved. One needs to humble themselves in prayer and truly believe from within their innermost being.

A second place in scripture is 1 Corinthians 15: 1-4. Paul wrote: “Now I would remind you, brethren in what terms I preached to you the gospel, which you have received, in which you stand, by which you are SAVED, if you hold it fast-unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that CHRIST DIED FOR YOUR SINS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE SCRIPTURES, THAT HE WAS BURIED, THAT HE WAS RAISED ON THE THIRD DAY IN ACORDANCE WITH THE SCRIPTURES…”

This is the GOSPEL OF GRACE given freely for those who believe Jesus was raised from the grave unto life. This is promised through those who receive and believe Paul’s words with FAITH! (Paul added in 2 Corinthians 4:3 words about the lost. He said the gospel is hid to those who are lost or perishing.)

8. What is faith?

Hebrews 11:1 tells us: “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11: 6 adds: “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”

9. What is the difference between the Gospel of the Kingdom and the Gospel of Grace?

The gospel of the kingdom preached by Christ while on earth and the disciples was simply believing who Christ was and the kingdom would become reality for the nation of Israel. Israel could have had their kingdom if they would have accepted Christ as their Promised One. After the cross, Israel could have had their King and kingdom if the nation would have turned around from their unbelief as to who Christ was. Neither option occurred in Israel’s history. (Notice the difference between these two gospels. The kingdom gospel had to have all of Israel believe. With grace, an individual can be saved.)

The kingdom will be reality on earth at Christ’s second coming.

The Gospel of Grace is to believe, after the fact, of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection with complete faith and the Holy Spirit will dwell within and mercy and grace is granted. Any person who has truly believed and has received grace through faith should see a change within as the process towards being Christ-like permeates their being.

Romans 4: 3 states Abraham believed what God said and that faith was reckoned to him as righteousness.

NO WORKS! THIS IS A “GIFT” OF GRACE!
However, works should become part of the grace experience, but works will not grant salvation!
AMAZING GRACE
HOW SWEET THE SOUND THAT SAVED A WRETCH LIKE ME….
AND YOU! SIMPLY BELIEVE AND TRUST WITH FAITH.

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NOTES ON CHRIST’S BIRTH

By Larry A. Smail

This is a rather long study, but worth the time to read and ponder.

The accounts of Christ’s birth in scripture actually give very little details. Only a handful of verses within a couple books of the New Testament give any information of his actual birth. However, there are words in Old Testament prophecies that, also, affirm the New Testament accounts.

I believe this fact of little detail was by design. Perhaps, the infinite wisdom of God knew mankind would create rituals around Christ’s birth that would greatly lesson the importance of the reasons as to why the God of heaven would come to earth as a baby only to sacrifice his earthly life for mankind. Thankfully for us this same man would arise from the grave and death giving us all the opportunity for eternal salvation. (Gospel of Grace)

Before we dive into this study of Christ’s birth, I believe, some study needs addressed from Old Testament prophecies to learn why, and how, Christ’s birth came to be.
The Jews from antiquity knew they were destined to be a great nation. After all God had made covenant promises with the Jews’ fathers of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob… Other promises insured they were to be a special and holy nation of priests to take God’s message to the Gentiles if they only were obedient. (Exodus 19: 5-6 Also, see 1 Peter 2:9 and Isaiah 42: 6.)

In an early prophecy of Genesis 49: 8-10, the patriarch, Jacob told his twelve sons they would praise his one son named, Judah. He, also, added the scepter shall not depart from Judah. (A scepter is a ceremonial staff held by an imperial authority such as a king. This individual would be over a royal kingdom. This prophecy indicates the Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah. Remember, Jesus has been known in scripture as the Lion of Judah. See Revelation 5:5.)

In 2 Samuel 7 beginning with verse 12, the prophet Nathan told King David prophetically that after his death his offspring would establish a kingdom or a royal house. These shows a King and Spiritual kingdom would be established through David’s lineage. This natural, or earthly, kingdom (Israel) would be corrected as needed, but God would NOT remove his steadfast love and promises. (This is why Israel became a nation again in 1948. Those promises will be coming soon.)

Nathan continued that this royal house of David or kingdom shall be forever as well as the throne. (This will happen at the Second Advent of Christ.)
Israel and Judah would be greatly chastened with falling into Gentile control. This happened over 500 years before Christ beginning with King Nebuchadnezzar of the Chaldeans. However, during much of this Gentile control, Israel’s prophets continually told of a coming kingdom and King despite Israel’s failings.

Words from Isaiah’s prophecies regarding the future King and kingdom are often heard during the Christmas season. Take note: These words were written by a Jewish prophet to the Jews. Isaiah 9: 6- 7states: “For unto us is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore.”

This King will, also, to be known as the Promised One, the Messiah and the Anointed One for the Jews. That King would be Christ! He will be King over Israel and set upon the throne of David. (Paul in Romans 15:8-12 stated: Christ came to earth to be a minster, or servant, to the Jews to confirm God’s covenant promises. This would allow the Gentiles to receive mercy and glorify God. Notice how everything fits together. Remember the scriptural verses mentioned earlier.) We know the Jews rejected Christ and they have been greatly chastised.
Micah 5: 2 tells us this ruler of Israel would come from Bethlehem. This man’s origin is from of old, from ancient of days. (This is Christ. John: 1-5 calls Christ the Word who was from the beginning.)
Matthew 1shows Christ’s genealogy and begins with Jesus Christ, the son of David. Joseph, who would be the husband of Mary, is shown to be of the seed of David, too. Mary would be the young woman to give birth to Christ. (Luke 3 appears to give Mary’s lineage, but there has been debate on this. Luke wrote of
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the ancestors of Christ beginning with Joseph, but then uses other names that do not fit with Matthew’s genealogy account. This can be explained for under Jewish culture the lineage is through the father. Luke, to stay within this cultural demand, appears to be using Mary’s lineage. However, after writing Mary’s father’s name Luke added Joseph’s name. This indicates both, Mary and Joseph are in David’s lineage.)

GABRIEL’S APPEARANCE TO MARY
As stated, Israel had been under Gentile control for over 500 years by this time in their history. The Lord knew the timing was right to move with the delivery of Israel’s King to fulfill prophecy. He sent an angel named Gabriel to visit a young Jewish virgin. Her name was Mary. (Mari) This visit was sometime within August and September. (See writings in Luke 1: 26-38.)The Bible records this happened in the sixth month. (The Jewish calendar and new year begin with Nisan. (Abib) Nisan1 varies within our March-April time frame.)
Mary, upon seeing this angel was troubled. Gabriel told her to not be fearful for she had found favor of God. Mary was told she was to deliver a son named Jesus. This baby would be called the Son of the Most High and receive the throne of David. This son would rule forever over the House of Israel and his kingdom would never end. (Remember the prophecies mentioned above from 2 Samuel and Isaiah.)

Of course, Mary couldn’t understand how she would have a son since she had not been married. Gabriel told her she would conceive through actions of the Holy Spirit and the power of the Most High. The child would be called holy (Set apart) and the Son of God! Mary was faithful and agreed to do whatever was required of the Lord. (How soon did this supernatural conception take place? It is impossible to know, but I suspect this all occurred quickly.)

JOSEPH’S ISSUE
Mary and Joseph were betrothed. (Engaged) Joseph learned of Mary’s pregnancy and was to divorce her privately to avoid public shame and scandal. (Remember Joseph and Mary had not any relationship that would have led to her pregnancy.)
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One can see Joseph was a man of integrity. (Under Jewish law a man could divorce a wife, or betrothed, simply by a formal act from the man with a certificate of divorce.)
However, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream explaining Mary’s pregnancy was the result of the Holy Spirit. The child, he was informed, would be called Jesus and he would save his people from their sins. Joseph was satisfied and the marriage would happen. (The story of Joseph is in Matthew 1: 18-25.)

A decree from Caesar Augustus (Reign 27 B.C.-14 A.D.) was issued for the Jews to be counted. (Luke 2: 1-5) Joseph and Mary were living in Nazareth, so they would be traveling to Bethlehem, known as the city of David. This town was his hometown. Mary was very well on her way by this time to give birth. However, they headed for Bethlehem. (The distance between Nazareth and Bethlehem is approximately 70-80 miles depending on the route they chose to use.)

NOTE: This trip would have been organized with others in the area since traveling alone for such a distance would have been extremely dangerous. Also, remember Joseph was a carpenter. He would have had wagons of some sort to carry tools and materials. Joseph would have used such a wagon to travel to Bethlehem with supplies, needed belongings and a place to sleep.

In Luke 2: 6-7, we see Mary would give birth while in Bethlehem. (This birth would have happened sometime in May or June depending on when she conceived through the Holy Spirit and assuming that supernatural event occurred quickly after the visitation of Gabriel.) This satisfied ancient prophecies. Jesus was born, wrapped with swaddling clothing and he would sleep in a manger until a better place would be had. (Placing swaddling clothes on a baby was customary. The baby was wrapped and this method seemed to be positive for a baby. This act was to have the baby feel secure as he was in the womb and to cut down on possible scratches as the baby moved his arms around. Mangers could have been made from wood or hewn-out stones. The livestock would feed from a manger.)

NOTE: Scripture states there was no room in the inn. Jesus was born elsewhere. Christmas traditions usually use a stable or barn. Some suggest a cave. However,
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many places had the living quarters upstairs and the livestock below. Jesus could have actually been born on the lower floor of some family members or friend’s abode. We simply can’t say from scripture except he wasn’t born at an inn.

THE SHEPHERDS
There were shepherds in a field watching over their livestock at night. The livestock were, probably, sheep. (This would need to be in warmer time of the year. Spring is lambing season.) An angel of the Lord appeared to them and they were fearful as the glory of the Lord shone around them. The angel told them to not be afraid because this appearing to them was to bring about good news. That good news was of the Savior, Christ the Lord’s birth in the city of David. (Bethlehem) They would find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.
A heavenly host sung praises before their eyes. They searched out this baby. These men told the news to everyone they met. (See Luke 2: 8-20.)

NOTE: I wondered about this supernatural appearing to the shepherds and if there was any significance to this. Then I thought of the men commonly referred to as the wise men. Did the Lord use the lowly shepherds to indicate all common men would, now, have hope? Shepherds were considered to be at the “bottom of the heap.” The wise men of wealth and position in society were on their way to see this King. I believe these two groups of classes were supernaturally approached by the Lord to demonstrate that this baby would cover the sins of the world regardless of cultural standings and classes of people?

THE STAR
At some time during this event of Christ’s birth a “Star” appeared. This star probably made its debut much prior to the actual birth. Much speculation and theories have been used to find out exactly what this star was in those ancient skies. One thing for certain the star was an event known or recognized by only a few. The star wasn’t something that impressed most of the people of the area. People educated in astronomy, or the study of the stars, saw the star. Apparently, some who knew enough of prophecies recognized this star as something very
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important. Perhaps, they had visions from an angel of the Lord. Scripturally, we can’t know how their knowledge came to be. Regardless, these men began the quest to find the King of the Jews. More on the star shortly.

THE “WISE” MEN
Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea during the reign of King Herod. Men, some- times called Magi, from the east came to Jerusalem seeking information on a new King of the Jews. They, added, they had seen “HIS STAR” in the east and came to worship him. (Nowhere in scripture does it state there were three wise men. All we can know there were, at least, two men because of the plurality in scripture. Of course, they would have had their servants along with supplies needed to travel. They were not “kings” as per common Christian songs, but rather learned and educated men, possibly, in a study of the heavenly stars and various religious cultures. This study of stars is astronomy. They may have been priests of Zoroaster from eastern lands near Persia which is present-day Iran or Iraq. They were, most likely Gentiles, but they could have been Jews since many Jews had lived in these areas. Remember, the Jews had been carried off hundreds of years ago. Some remained in these countries to live their lives. Personally, I lean towards these men being Gentiles and practiced the ancient religion of Persia known as Zoroaster. Somehow they knew of the promise of a Messiah to the Jews. Did an angel of the Lord appear to them with words of this coming King? Did they see this from dreams? Were they to arrive in Bethlehem representing the Gentiles?) The story of the “wise men” is in Matthew 2: 1-12.

KING HEROD
Herod was king over Judea. He was a Roman appointee who was an Arab that had converted to Judaism. These educated “wise” men came to Jerusalem to inquire as to where this King would be born. These people of Jerusalem were not aware of any star apparently, or at the least, didn’t think anything special from the appearance. This Star was not the bright illuminating star featured in Nativity images and Christmas cards. The Star was only special to those educated with such knowledge of the heavenly stars. Herod called his priests and such and was told the prophecies exclaimed the King would be born in Bethlehem. Herod wanted to
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know when the star first appeared and told the “wise” men to return once this King was found so he too could go and worship him. (This proves even King Herod wasn’t aware of anything all that unusual in the night sky. Herod’s story is in Matthew 2:1-19.)

The men headed to Bethlehem. The Star appeared to them and led them to where the child was living. (Notice this time a Star led them to where the baby was staying. This star mentioned here, I believe, was an angelic-style star. Many times in scripture the word “Star” was used to indicate an angel. It seems a heavenly star was viewed by these men with heavenly knowledge. It indicated to them a King was born. But, note this star, now, went before them as a guide and stood over where the baby was. I do not see this to be the same heavenly star. This star, apparently, was for their guide only.) The men worshiped the King and gave gifts. They found the Christ in a “house.” (Some time may have elapsed since the star’s first appearance until these men first saw the star, realized the importance of it, planned to go to Judah, traveled and found the Christ. Jesus and Mary were still in Bethlehem at this time. This was, probably, the time of waiting for the eight days for circumcision and rest for Mary.) The men realized through dreams they were not to return to Herod. The wise men may have arrived about this time of circumcision for Matthew 2: 13 states after the Magi had gone Joseph was told to go and take the child to Egypt. (It is six miles between Bethlehem and Jerusalem.)

Herod was angry when he realized the “wise” men were not coming back and ordered the murder of all male babies from two years old and younger. He, apparently, through the wise men’s description as to when the original star appeared wanted to make sure that King would not live. He ordered all male babies from two years and under to be killed. Herod wanted to be thorough so he added a two year time span. (Matthew 2: 16-18)

Herod, according to the Jewish historian, Josephus, died in 4 B.C. shortly before Passover of April 9-11 in the year of 4 B.C. (My research has three dates of possible Passover for that year.)This date would mean that Christ had to have been born prior to Herod’s death. Remember Herod ordered male babies murdered from two years and under. This may indicate the star witnessed by the educated
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astronomers from the east actually appeared and stayed in the sky for a period of time prior to Christ’s birth. (More details below.)
Jesus’ parents would have had him circumcised on the eighth day. (Luke 2:21) Since the travel would take time to get back to Nazareth and Mary would need to gain some strength, Jesus may have been circumcised in Bethlehem. According to Jewish law Mary would be required to go through the “Rite of Purification” This rite is found in Leviticus 12: 1-8. This purification for having a male child lasts 40 days. These facts indicate Jesus was, probably, born in early 4.B.C. shortly before Herod’s death. A 5 B.C. date could only work if the birth was very later into that year as in March 30 or the last day of the year 3757. Some claim the birth was 2 or 3 B.C. as the year of Christ’s birth. I can’t see how considering Herod’s death of 4 B.C.
By adding these known dates, I believe quickly after the eight days since the birth of Christ, Joseph and Mary headed to Egypt. Herod ordered all male babies of Bethlehem murdered. Herod died shortly thereafter and the family returned from Egypt, at the proper time to Jerusalem, to make an offering for Mary’s purification completion. (Luke 2: 22) At this time, while in Jerusalem, scripture states of a man named, Simeon who realized the baby was the Messiah.

Upon the completion of the circumcision; the escape to Egypt; the return to Jerusalem for the purification rite to be fulfilled as per Jewish law, the family returned to Nazareth. It seems apparent that the family left quickly after the circumcision to Egypt and once Herod died they returned to Jerusalem immediately.

Although, many of the traditional ideas of the Christmas season do not fit into the reality of those times, it is important to realize his birth is what truly is important. The world would have a Savior and an opportunity to see salvation if they believe that Jesus died for their sins was buried and rose from the grave.

One needs to believe Jesus died for their sins to have forgiveness of sins. One, also, has to believe Jesus rose from the grave to receive salvation.
THIS IS GRACE.
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THE BIRTH OF CHRIST IN BRIEF
1. The prophetic time was right for the King of the Gentile-controlled nation of Israel. Mary was approached by the angel Gabriel to announce she would give birth of the Messiah. Daniel’s 490 year prophecy dictated when the birth would need to be. (Found in Daniel 9.)
2. Joseph was told the same information through a dream and they married.
3. The STAR has, probably, had already been in the heavenly nights with only a few understanding the significance of the appearing.
4. Joseph and Mary began the trek to their hometown of Bethlehem as commanded by law for a census.
5. Mary gave birth while in Bethlehem. This fulfilled prophecy.
6. Shepherds came that night due to the appearance of a heavenly host of angels with an announcement of the birth of a Savior.
7. The Magi show up sometime around the eight day law pertaining to circumcision. The Star led them to the house where the baby was now living. Joseph, via a dream, learned of Jesus’ peril and immediately moved the family to Egypt after the Magi had left. Herod placed an order for all males of Bethlehem two years old, and younger, to be murdered.
8. Herod died shortly after and Joseph traveled to Jerusalem to complete the forty day Purification Law of the Jews for Mary’s birth of a male child. The notes here of 7 and 8, above, would require all of these events to fall within a forty day time period. This would include the birth of Jesus; the eight day until circumcision; the wise men visiting; Joseph’s dream to go to Egypt; Herod’s death, the travel to Jerusalem to complete the offering and forty day time of Mary’s purification. That is a lot happening in a short time.
9. The family moved back to Nazareth to await the ministry of Christ at thirty years of age.

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THE JERUSALEM COUNCIL
By Larry A. Smail

One of the most important events to have occurred in New Testament Bible times is the JERUSALEM COUNCIL. (Jerusalem Conference) If one studies this debate, and understands the results, the decisions, and their final agreement the significance of Bible truths will fall into place much easier. This eliminates much of what is often heard as Bible contradictions.

The Jerusalem Council occurred somewhere around the years of 50 A.D. I found it difficult to pinpoint a date to this conference. (The year of 50 A.D. seems to be the most accepted date.)

The Jerusalem Council event appears twice in the New Testament. The two times are found in Acts 15, and Galatians 2. (Luke wrote the Acts account, and Paul wrote the Galatians account of the debate.)

A brief history of events in the years prior to the council is needed to help “set the stage.”

At the time of the conference, Christ had been crucified, and resurrected for approximately 20 years. Christ had, also, ascended into glory. Pentecost had happened giving the Apostles the Holy Spirit power. The Apostles began preaching to the JEWS ONLY. (You can read of this in Acts 2 and 3 where Peter’s sermons address the MEN OF ISRAEL, MEN OF JUDEA, ALL OF ISRAEL, and ALL OF THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL …no Gentile talk here.)

The message preached was from Acts 2-3: Repent, (The Jews were to repent of their unbelief and of crucifying their Messiah.) and be baptized every one of you (Jews) in the NAME OF CHRIST for the forgiveness of sins, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Peter, also, added in Chapter 3 about the time of refreshing and the return of Christ with the kingdom. (Peter’s words are much different than Paul’s Gentile message of believing the gospel of 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. The message of believing in faith that Christ died, was buried, and was raised again to be saved. NO WORKS!)

Opposition of the apostles’ message by the Jewish elites began, and eventually the stoning of the Holy Spirit, inspired, Jewish, Jesus believer, Stephen occurred. (Acts 7) Immediately, these Jewish, Jesus believers were forced to leave Jerusalem heading to Gentile cities to avoid persecution, capture, and death. (Acts 8) It is apparent the Lord had given the Nation of Israel its last chance to accept Christ as their Messiah. The Lord would be changing directions!

In Acts 9, a Jewish man of authority, and power, named Saul began to travel to these Gentile cities to capture, and return the Jewish, Jesus believers to Jerusalem. As he approached the city of Damascus, he was struck blind with the power, and voice of Christ. The man, Saul (later to be named Paul.) was converted to a believer on the spot. Soon, he would learn his mission, and that was to carry the message of GRACE THROUGH FAITH FOR SAVATION TO THE GENTILES.

The other Apostles are still preaching to JEWS ONLY! Paul spends years preaching, primarily, to the Gentiles. This is different from the Apostles’ message shown above.

However, Peter is, supernaturally, convinced into visiting a Gentile named Cornelius against his strong law-keeping Jewish indoctrination. (Acts 10) Peter is surprised to witness the Holy Spirit come onto these Gentiles even before he completed his talks, and before any water baptism. (This is important to remember for the Jerusalem Council meeting. The Lord had Peter visit these Gentiles for this future purpose.)

The stage of the Jerusalem Council has been set.

THE DEBATE

In Acts 15: 1-5, we read of men coming from Judea, (Law-keeping, Jewish believers.) and telling the Gentile believers they had to be circumcised, and follow law (Customs of Moses) to be saved. Paul, and Barnabas, argued with them. They would go to Jerusalem to answer questions from the Apostles, and elders. They were welcomed, and they declared what God had done with
the Gentiles. Pharisee believers claimed again they were to obey Jewish law.

In Galatians 2: 1-4, Paul writes, after 14 years, he (Paul) went back to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and the Greek, Titus. He told them of the gospel
(1 Corinthians 15:1-4) he preached among the GENTILES. Paul wrote
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here about going before those of repute privately prior to going to the council. (Those men of repute are the Apostles of Christ in Jerusalem.) He added of the false brethren brought in secretly to spy on our freedom. (That freedom was Liberty from Jewish law.) These people wanted to force the Gentiles into Mosaic Law.

In Acts 15: 6-7, there was a great debate with the Apostles, and elders. (This debate, probably, became argumentative and quite heated at times.)

In Galatians 2: 5-6, Paul wrote that we did not yield submission that the truth of the gospel be preserved. Paul adds that he was with those men of repute, or reputed to be something. (Paul was referring to the Apostles and believing Pharisees.) He added they meant nothing to Paul. (This would be difficult for me, but Paul stood up to the Apostles. I would be standing in awe at their presence.)

In Acts 15: 7-11, Peter finally stood up reminding these believing, yet law-keeping, Jews about his experience with Cornelius a while ago. (Acts 10) Peter remembered that these Gentiles received the Holy Spirit through faith. Peter asked them why we should be making trial by putting the yoke (law) upon these Gentiles that we (nor the fathers) bare. (This was the purpose of Peter’s direction, by the Lord, to visit the Gentile Cornelius. Had this not been done the outcome of this debate may have been quite different.)

In Acts 15: 12-21, the assembly was silent during Paul and Barnabas’ talks including the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles. James, at some point in the debate, agreed with Peter’s statements of what was witnessed to the Gentiles. James suggested we (Jews) make no more trouble to the saved Gentiles. A decision to write to the Gentiles with requests of various things to avoid was made. (Verse 20)

In Acts 15: 24, the Apostles and elders had letters written up apologizing to the Gentiles for the Jewish believer’s previous actions. The letters, also, added they suggested the Gentiles would follow certain things from Jewish
Law. Note the Apostles are still adhering to the law!

In Galatians 2: 7-8, they realized that Paul was entrusted to the Gentiles (uncircumcised) and Peter had been entrusted to the circumcised. (Jews)
He (Christ) worked through Peter to the Jews, and he (Christ) worked
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through Paul to the Gentiles. Jews, and Gentiles, are still separated here.

In Galatians 2: 9-10, once they perceived the grace message preached by Paul, the apostles who were reputed to be pillars, namely, Peter, James and John SHOOK HANDS with Paul and Barnabas. (This was a gentlemen’s agreement.)

All through the Old Testament a separation of the Jews and the Gentiles is present. The Nation of Israel, and the Jews, would come through the man, Abraham. God promised they would be a unique people. In Exodus 19: 5-6, God tells these people if they would obey him they would become priests to take the message to the Gentiles. They failed!

Christ, in the four gospels, was a Jew living as a Jew, and a law-keeper! Christ’s original mission was to be a minister, or servant, to the Jews in accordance to the scripture as their MESSIAH! (Romans 15:8) Even Christ maintained a separation between the Gentiles, and Jews as was his mission. A couple of verses stating this from Christ can be found in Matthew 10: 5-6, and Matthew 15: 22-28. Christ said his mission was to go to the LOST SHEEP OF ISRAEL! This is important to remember!

Christ was rejected by the Nation of Israel. The Gentiles were a pagan people caring little to nothing about the Jews, and their culture. The Jews hated the Gentiles. Another form of separation!

Even at the Jerusalem Council, you can easily read, and see how the Holy Spirit was keeping the Gentiles, and Jews separated. The results: The disciples would go to the JEWS, and Paul would go to the Gentiles! Remember they shook on this! A separation! The separation was constant throughout the New Testament scriptures. We should, too as we study!

If you can learn to study the Word with this separation in place the words of the Bible will begin to open up, and an understanding of the scriptures will be the result. You will soon enjoy studying the WORD! Contradictions will become nil!

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BIBLICAL MYSTERIES REVEALED TO PAUL
By Larry A. Smail

When one hears the word, “mystery”, or secret, the immediate thought goes to suspense of an unknown subject. Also, it must be remembered the normal scenario features someone knowing of a specific bit of information while others do not have the knowledge. However, any mysteries will no longer be a secret once that knowledge has been told to others through the one originally having the secret.

The Bible has various mysteries as well. In any situation of a Biblical secret the one holding onto the mystery is the Lord, and the mystery will only be revealed when God deems the time is right for the next stage of the plan. These mysteries are very different, in so much, as God’s mysteries are spiritual in nature.

One Bible verse I often refer to comes from Deuteronomy 29: 29, where Moses through the words of God spoke the following: “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things that are revealed belong unto us, and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” This particular instance was to the early Israelites under Moses’ leadership. However, this remained true all through scripture. In brief, the Lord will not expect anybody to come to a belief or understanding of anything of spiritual aspects until the information has been revealed via his prophets, the Word, or in these cases, described here, through Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles!

The entire book of the Bible is a book of transitions over many years with secrets, and mysteries revealed when the time was ripe for a fulfillment. The next step in God’s plan brings about the knowledge needed to understand for the next stage of events. Abraham. David, and all of those of times past would not have known Christ was to die on the cross or be brought back to an eternal life from the grave. All they were required to know what was revealed to them at their time of life. Prophetically they wrote of Christ’s events, but they had little, to no, understanding as to what was meant. They wrote as inspired by the Holy Spirit. An example is how the Pharisees of Christ’s time knew the prophet’s words but couldn’t put it all together about that man named Jesus! Hence the rejections!

This study deals, primarily, with Paul’s words through his writings. This great man was chosen from all Judaism to become the message bearer to the Gentiles, and even the Jews if they were willing to hear, and believe the gospel as preached by Paul. This one man received the mysteries via the RISEN CHRIST! (Galatians 1: 11-12 states this important fact. Paul declared he didn’t receive this gospel from man, he wasn’t taught this gospel by man, but he received this gospel through the RISEN CHRIST.) It needs to be understood that this change in direction came to be only after the Nation of Israel and the Jews rejected Christ with no chance of Israel repenting of killing the Messiah. The final rejection seems apparent after the stoning of Stephen. Biblically, that stoning of Stephen is the turning point of God towards the Nation of Israel. Immediately after the stoning, the Holy Spirit brings another zealous Jew named Saul into the story. Saul hated anything, and everything about the man, Christ! Of course, Saul would become PAUL, the Apostle to the Gentiles! Approximately, forty years later Israel ceased to exist as a nation at 70 A.D.

SOME OF PAUL’S MYSTERIES

Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15: 51, was dealing with concerns of Corinthian believers on the resurrection message. Some were having doubts and misunderstandings over the resurrection. Paul was attempting to reinforce his message of resurrection via letters. This chapter goes into great detail of resurrection. This chapter (Verses 1-4), also, gives the GOSPEL TERMS to the Corinthian Gentiles. The verse is one of the best examples of the GOSPEL OF GRACE FOR SALVATION. The words state; …I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also you have received, and wherein you stand; by which you are SAVED, if you keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless you have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received; how Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again on the third day according to the scriptures.”

Beginning with verse 51, Paul wrote of the MYSTERY of resurrection. He began with: WE shall not all sleep, but WE shall all be changed. (Note the pronouns “WE” used here. Paul always wrote to believers. That is important to remember. He told these believers that WE shall not all die, but WE shall all be changed. Paul believed the time of this event was just out ahead because of the terrible times they were witnessing with persecution.)
Paul continued, stating this event will happen in the twinkling of an eye at
the last trumpet. In other words, this event will be fast! He added, the trumpet will sound, and the DEAD WILL BE RAISED IMPERISHABLE; (Gospel believers who had died would have a bodily resurrection back to life.) and WE shall be changed! (Note the “WE” pronoun again. Paul was including himself here as one who would be changed.) He then added the mortal nature will be changed to immortality. (Those believers living at this time will be changed from a corruptible body to a glorious body.) This knowledge, as preached by Paul, wasn’t revealed with detail for it wasn’t time. If Israel would have believed Christ’s ministry, and later the apostles’ message, they would have had their King, and kingdom. If that would have happened, then the words of Exodus 19: 5-6 would have become reality. Those words of Exodus state that if the people of Israel would have obeyed God’s voice they were to become a nation of priests to take the message of God to the Gentiles.

This message of above is furthered verified with Paul’s words in Romans 11: 25. Paul wrote of wanting his Gentile readers to understand the MYSTERY, how Israel had witnessed a hardening of the heart, and mind. They rejected Christ, and now were in a time of disbelief, and falling away from God’s grace. (However, although they fell away it must be remembered God’s promises to Israel were still in place at Paul’s time, and are, still in the ready.) This hardening will remain upon the nation until the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled. The Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached again to the Jews, and then Israel will be saved. (Mathew 24:14) The stage of Israel’s salvation will occur at the end of the Time of Jacob’s trouble of Jeremiah 30: 7. (Often referred to as the Great tribulation.) The stage of Christ’s second coming is falling into place. The time of the Gentiles is winding down.

Paul wrote in Romans 16: 25 of an important MYSTERY. The RISEN CHRIST revealed how long this particular MYSTERY was hid in time. Paul wrote of his gospel which is THE BELIEF IN FAITH OF THE DEATH, BURIAL, AND RESURRECTION OF CHRIST! (Gospel of salvation is found in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, and Romans 10:9-10.) Paul continued of the revelation of the MYSTERY which was kept secret for long ages, but now is disclosed, and through the prophetic writings made known to all nature…to bring about the obedience of FAITH… The book of Romans is the book of Christian doctrine revealed after the rejection of Christ, and his kingdom message.
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The Nation of Israel continued the rejection after the cross, and the resurrection! This is where Christianity is at
NOW!!!! One usually hears that to be saved you need to believe that Jesus died on the cross. That is a true statement, but salvation is more than simply believing that fact! One needs to believe with FAITH Jesus actually rose from the grave to have salvation!!!!! The cross gave every person on earth the opportunity to be free of their sins; however, they need to acquire that fact. BUT, to be truly saved they need to believe the resurrection for salvation!!! Look at the reality in this example. I am sure many atheists may believe a man named Jesus did die on the cross. However, that is where it stops with them. They view the man as just a man. Since, the man who died was a man; he in no way could have risen back to life. The gospel of Grace is a two-part faith of believing Christ died for our sins on the cross and to believe with faith he rose in a glorified body at the resurrection. True salvation comes from faith through true believing with both the cross and the resurrection. (This truth cannot be emphasized enough!)

In 1 Corinthians 4:1, Paul reminded the Corinthian believers that he, and them, as believers in Christ, are stewards of the MYSTERIES of God. The gospel believers were, and are, to tell of the revealed MYSTERIES as set forth from the RISEN CHRIST to Paul. So, these MYSTERIES revealed by the RISEN CHRIST to Paul are to be delivered to the people as doctrine.

Paul wrote of his understandings of the revealed MYSTERIES, and faith, but he added that without love he would have nothing. This can be found in 1 Corinthians 13: 2.

Notice in Ephesians 1: 9, Paul wrote of Christ revealing to him wisdom, and insight, and the MYSTERY of HIS WILL to his purpose set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time to unite all things… (This will happen at the second advent.) Paul is verifying he had been given this wisdom, and insight for the time was right in God’s plan through the RISEN CHRIST!

Paul added in Ephesians 3: 2-9 of the stewardship that was revealed to him (Paul) and given to them (The gospel believers of Ephesus in this case.) how the MYSTERY was revealed. The MYSTERY was not revealed to men of past generations. (Those of the past didn’t receive the truth as preached by Paul because it wasn’t time to have it revealed.) The MYSTERY spoken of here was how the Gentiles are fellow heirs now. (This is a result of Israel’s 4.
rejection of Christ as their King.) The Gentiles NOW after this new direction or revealed MYSTERY are members of the same body, and partakers of the PROMISES in CHRIST because of the gift of grace through the gospel. Again, where is the gospel as preached by Paul found? Two of the primarily places are in 1 Corinthians 15: 1-4, (See above.) and Romans
10: 9-10. This gospel of salvation for us today was preached after it was
revealed to the Apostle Paul after the cross; after the resurrection, and after
Israel gave up its opportunity to believe who Christ was! (The disciples of Peter, James, John… were to have Israel repent of unbelief, and accept that the man they crucified was, indeed, their Messiah, and King.)

Ephesians 6: 19, has Paul, once again, boldly proclaiming the gospel which was a MYSTERY, and revealed to him by the RISEN CHRIST. Paul added that “HE” (Not the twelve disciples.) is the ambassador in chains as he declares the gospel boldly, as he ought to speak.

In Colossians 1:25-27, Paul wrote of becoming the minister according to the divine office which was given to him for the believers to make the Word of God fully known, with the MYSTERIES of the ages, but made manifested to the saints. (Manifest means to be made clearly evident, and the saints are the believers in scripture.) To them, the saints, God made known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of the MYSTERY which is Christ in You! Christ is the hope of glory!

Also, in Colossians 2:2 Paul is encouraging the hearts of the Gentile believers to have all the riches of the assured knowledge of God’s MYSTERIES of Christ in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom, and knowledge!

Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 2:7 of the events prior to the second coming of Christ. He wrote of the man of lawlessness. (What we would call the anti-Christ.) Paul added the MYSTERY of lawlessness is already at work. Paul goes on talking about this lawless man. God sends a strong delusion causing many to perish because they refused to believe the truth

(Paul’s truth is what? The truth is the gospel of grace for salvation.)

Paul in 1 Timothy 3: 9 and 16 wrote of the MYSTERY of the faith, and the
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need to hold to that faith with a clear conscience. He added of confessing the MYSTERY of out religion. That MYSTERY is: Christ was manifested in the flesh and vindicated in the Spirit….

1 Corinthians 2:7 confirms of the wisdom of the MYSTERY of the hidden
wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glorification…

The MYSTERIES were revealed to Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles by the RISEN CHRIST.

THIS FACT IS SO IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTANDING SCRIPTURE.

These mysteries were not preached by the twelve after the cross. The disciples were law-keeping Jews. The church mentioned in early Acts was a Jewish church of Jesus-believing Jews. Much evidence is in scripture stating or alluding to this fact. The disciples were doing what they were commanded to do, and that was to go only to the Jews. (Matthew 10: 5-7 tells the reader that Christ told the disciples to not go to the Gentiles, but only to the lost sheep of Israel.) However, Peter towards the end of his life wrote of grace salvation as preached by Paul. BUT, Peter wrote those words to those believing Jews in exile after Stephen’s murder in Acts 8: 1. (Also, see 1 Peter1:1, and 2 Peter 3:1.) Peter was shown of the grace transition when the Lord “encouraged” the visit to a Gentile in Acts 10. However, some twenty years after the cross the disciples, including Peter, were still practicing Mosaic Law, but preaching Christ was the Jews Messiah, and the need to believe that fact. This evidence can be found in Acts 15, and Galatians 2 at the Jerusalem Council. The Jewish believers, including, at least, several of the disciples wanted Paul to insist on law (Works) over grace to the Gentiles! The Book of James still preached of works. That is another study.

Peter, in 2 Peter 3: 14-18, gave Paul’s wisdom credence. He mentioned of Paul writing to the exiled Jewish believers and wrote of Paul’s wisdom with all his letters. This is proof of Peter’s knowledge of Paul’s writings.

The new direction to the Gentiles came about because Israel refused to believe who Christ was. The Lord began another transition through, the Apostle Paul. Israel would fall from God’s grace in 70 A.D. We, as Gentiles today, can be grateful for this.
I am available to explain as needed.

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1 Corinthians 15 (GOSPEL MESSSAGE FOR SALVATION; RESURRECTION)

We are now at a place in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians that has much to say. This chapter has vital Biblical doctrine within. Paul reminded the carnal, Gentile believers of the gospel he had preached to them. Paul continued reminding them of this message of the gospel they received by which they were SAVED, but only if they hold fast through faith. Otherwise they BELIEVED in vain.(Verses 1-2) Paul continued with the gospel message he had received from the Risen Christ, and delivered to them, and us today. (See Galatians 1.)

THE GOSPEL OF GRACE 1 CORINTHAINS 1-4

I remind you brethren in which terms I preached to you the GOSPEL, which you received, in which you stand, by which you are SAVED if you hold it fast-unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE SCRIPTURES, (Old Testament prophecy) THAT HE WAS BURIED, THAT HE WAS RAISED ON THE THIRD DAY IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE SCRIPTURES … Paul added, and he appeared to Cephas (Peter) and the twelve…

Paul explained that the Risen Jesus had been seen by over 500 people, and lastly by Paul, himself. Paul reminded them of his past as a Jewish zealot persecuting the early Jewish, Jesus believers, known as the Way. (This was before his conversion, and having the Grace doctrine revealed by Christ in Arabia. See Galatians 1.) Paul stated he was saved by the Grace of God, and because of his past has worked harder than the disciples.

From the words of their letter, Paul realized some of the Corinthians were having doubts about resurrection. (Like today, there were always those trying to deviate from truth, and Biblical doctrine willing to cause doubt, and confusion.) Paul expressed  that his preaching, and your faith, would be in vain if resurrection be untrue. If Christ hadn’t risen from death then no one would be resurrected either. Everybody will still be with sin. All that have already died were perished. (This should make one think!!)

However, Paul reassured the Corinthians that Christ, the first fruit, did rise from the tomb! He compared Adam whose actions brought about death, and the second Adam (Christ) brought about life! Resurrection had an order in God’s plans. Christ first, then at His coming, the believers. Then the end of the age (Commonly called the Age of the Gentiles in various places in scripture.) will come only because of the Risen Christ, and then the Kingdom that was preached by Christ and the disciples to the Jews will be reality! (Early Acts)

NOTE: This is not simply a spiritual resurrection. This is a bodily resurrection of the physical and the spiritual. Those in this resurrection will have a glorious body as Christ. Can you even imagine this?

Christ will put all his enemies under his feet. (In other words he will conquer all the enemies including DEATH!) Death will be the final enemy to be destroyed.

Some were being baptized in behalf of dead loved ones. Paul emphasized this fact of him being in potential daily peril as he preached of the Risen Christ. Why would Paul do that if the dead be not raised. He spoke of the beasts of Ephesus, where Paul was threatened with death by the idol-loving Ephesians. (See Acts 19; 23-41.) Paul stated the baptism (Holy Spirit baptism.) was not because of a dead man but for a raised man! Paul stated how his well-being was forever in danger. Why would Paul face these mounting issues, and threats? The answer: Because of the Risen Christ!

At God’s time all worldly authorities, powers and kingdoms will be placed under Christ’s subjection including death! This is the last enemy to be destroyed.

Paul compared the glorified, and risen, body to a kernel of wheat. The resurrection of the dead is just like the rebirth of a dead seed. The body is sown perishable, in dishonor, and in weakness, but the body is raised in glory, and with imperishable strength. The grain has to die before it can germinate into a complete new living plant. So are our bodies. He made other comparisons from the natural world too. The dead are like that. Paul compared Adam, and Christ again. Adam was of the natural body, and Christ was the Spiritual body.

Adam was from the earth. (Natural) Christ came from heaven. (Spiritual) The famous verse of Romans 15: 50, Paul told the believers that the man of flesh, and blood will not inherit the kingdom.

(Note the pronouns used by Paul.) A mystery revealed by Christ to Paul: WE shall NOT all sleep, (Die) but we believers will be all changed in an immeasurable amount of time. The dead will be raised perfect (non-corruptible)and the believers on earth will be changed.  This is commonly called in English the “Rapture”! (See 1 Thessalonians 4-5.) The perishable body will become imperishable, and immortal!

Beginning with verse 54 some famous words of Paul. He wrote, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death where is thy victory. O Death where is thy sting? He continued, the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law…God who gives us the victory through Christ.

Paul told these believers to be steadfast, strong in the faith, and victory by faith through our Lord Jesus Christ!. (This is to not listen to the believing Jews, or false teachers. Such people were, and are, always distorting Biblical truth.)

 

 

 

 

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Air Force Cadet Chapel

The Colorado trip is winding down and the travel east is about to begin. However, a stop at the Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs was on the agenda.

A number of small-scale war planes are on site.

Those individuals entering this academy will have a four-year program earning a Bachelor of Science degree. Upon

Inside the chapel

graduation the graduates are awarded the rank as Second Lieutenants. The program is demanding, but those who complete are the best of the best.

Looking up at a plane we witnessed a small plane towing and releasing a glider. In fact we saw this twice while we were on site.  This is part of the training.

Locally, a beautiful; chapel stands tall. In fact the spirals are 150 feet high. Protestants, Catholics, Jewish and Buddhists all have their own worship areas. Also, faith rooms are present for other faiths. The cost of this chapel was three and a half million dollars.

 

 

 

 

Jewish “synagogue”

 

 

 

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