The Church: A forty year preparation for glory.

Studying the Bible has led me and many others to the realization that certain events that modern-day disciples are hoping will happen in their lifetime, if not in the future, actually took place in the generation of those who first adopted the name, Christian.  This is important.  From Matthew onward, we can read of an imminent threat to the nation of Israel.  “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” Matthew 3:2. “Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” Matthew 3:7. With these words, John beckoned the Nation to return to God and place their hopes in the “lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” John 1:29.  This Jesus took up the torch of John’s message, speaking in parables of the coming kingdom of God.  In this kingdom, there were to be no marriages.  Matthew 22:30 Life was eternal. 2 Timothy 1:10 Supper would be with Abraham and the prophets; people who had already died. Matthew 8:11  For all practical purposes his kingship was “not of this world” as Jesus put it.   John 18:36

The congregations that were established, those who had answered the message of the Apostles to repent and prepare for judgment, sought to live each day to the fullest, “making the most of the time for the days are (were) evil.” Ephesians 5:16. Everything written by the notable Apostles like Paul, Peter, John, and James pointed to an end to that careless and doubting generation and a rich reward to those who sought to be “saved from the wrath to come.” Romans 5:9, and 1 Thessalonians 2:16. Peter said, “The end of all things is near.”  1 Peter 4:7 James said, “You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” James 5:8 Paul added, “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you?”  1 Thessalonians 2:19.  These phrases indicate the expectations of these inspired men.  They all believed, even to death that Jesus was returning with exit plans for those who had suffered for his sake, who had chosen him over the lusts of the world and the boast for keeping the law.

There was to be a fulfillment of Daniel’s visions.  The one like a son of man was to be presented to the ancient of days.  Peter confessed that he was one of the eyewitnesses to this majestic fulfillment. He recalled, “For when he received honor and glory from God the Father and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we heard this voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word made more sure.”  2 Peter 1:17 Compare this vision with Daniel’s vision in Chapter 7 and of course, we know of its ultimate fulfillment as Jesus inherited all things by the end of the Roman siege against Jerusalem; including the kingdom of the world (Revelation 11:15).

And what can be said about the lack of comments from any NT writer concerning the destruction of everything Jewish at the hands of the Romans?  This “end of the age” came in 70 AD.  Yet, no parchment penned by an Apostle or even a modest disciple describes the nature of the utter and complete annihilation of the nation.  Not one stone stood upon another at the temple site.  The city became for centuries an utter wasteland.  Yet, what we do read of Paul and Peter and James and Jude had everything to do with this coming judgment from God on his own rebellious people.

What happened to the churches?  They received the inheritance. (Not us).  They either died before the “end” or they were caught up to be with the Lord… in that “twinkling of an eye.”  1 Corinthians 15:52  God through Christ had kept his word to Eve.  Her son had crushed the ancient serpent’s head. Romans 16:20 After all, this is why the son of God had come, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage.”  Hebrews 2:14  (Why is it that disciples still fret over the adversary today?  How is it that no one has seen the devil lately, or angels, demons, prophets, miracles?  Could it be that everything has been restored, i.e., fulfilled?)

Consider the meaning of many passages of inspiration that were directed to the churches of that first century.

 

1 Thessalonians 1:9-10

9 For they themselves report concerning us what a welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

Here Paul writes to the Thessalonian Christians and commends their new life in Christ.  They had turned from idols to serve God and               TO WAIT FOR HIS SON FROM HEAVEN, Jesus who would deliver them from the wrath to come.  You see, these people were waiting for the return of Christ who was to save them from the war of the Jews with Rome and the Judgment of God.  He was going to change their lowly body to be immortal.

Paul said the same thing to the Philippians in regards to the form this salvation would take.

3:20 But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself.

And for this reason, to this end, they were to stand firm (1Thess 4:1).  Their love for one another sealed their solidarity and hope that they would endure until the coming of the Lord (1 Thess 3:11-13).  They were promised that on that day, the dead would rise first to meet Christ.  Those still living would be changed; caught up to heaven with the resurrected dead and remain with Christ forever (1 Thess. 4:13-18).  So close was this meeting with the Lord that they were not to “sleep” but to keep awake and remain sober.  They were to obtain salvation through Christ.  Whether they died before this day or remained “awake” their promise was to be with him.  The exhortations were for immediate application to their new way of life. (1 Thess. 4:6-11).  Paul prayed for their body, soul and spirit to be kept blameless until the coming of Christ (1 Thess. 4:23).  The event was the climax to their Christian living.

Hear what Paul understood to be the pinnacle of the church’s hope.

2 Thess 1: 5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be made worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering— 6 since indeed God deems it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to grant rest with us to you who are afflicted, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 inflicting vengeance upon those who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They shall suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at in all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. 11 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his call, and may fulfill every good resolve and work of faith by his power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul writing letters to those who were chosen.

The “return” of Christ was their rest from troubles, and His glory in his saints, and the punishment upon the godless and the marvel in Christ’s revelation in this glory, power, and judgment.

Paul extended to them the order of events a second time in his second letter to the Thessalonians in Chapter 2.  “Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling to meet him.”  The details of his narrative can be read there.  But clearly, the church was heading for an end game.

Was the church to remain on earth forever? Consider Paul’s comment to Timothy:  “14 I charge you to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ; 15 and this will be made manifest at the proper time by the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.”  Timothy was to keep this charge; “keep the command unstained … until the appearing of our Lord…”  1 Timothy 6.  Paul saw the return of Christ as the event to culminate the age and this would end Timothy’s charge from Paul.  The end would come for the Old Covenant age but it appears repeatedly in the scripture that the churches were headed for an event which would end (fulfill) the earthly existence of those who were waiting for it.

Ancient parchments upon which the Apostles penned their thoughts.

To the churches in the dispersion, Peter wrote to remind them of their calling.  The new birth of the members of the assemblies of Christ was made possible by the mercy of God through Christ.  It gave the disciples a living hope and an inheritance which was kept in heaven for them 1 Peter 1:3-8.  It was to be made known at the last time, v.5.  The outcome of their faith was to be known and seen and experienced at the appearing of Christ at the last of time.  They were heaven bound no matter whether alive or dead, Christ’s coming was the advent for all these things. It was they who had been chosen to be the royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people for the purpose of declaring his deeds of mercy and grace 1 Peter 2:9-10.  Their calling was not just out of the world of disobedience but into the His eternal glory 1 Peter 5:10.  Their zeal was targeted for their entrance into the heavenly kingdom of God 2 Peter 1: 10-11.   These early disciples understood that all things Jewish would be dissolved and that they by living holy lives could hasten the coming day of God when these things were removed.  They were promised new heaven and earth where righteousness dwelt.  2 Peter3:11-13.

These assemblies were taught consistently that they were heading for a super-natural event in which all believers would be gathered to God on that last day before that new order for heaven and earth began.  They lived and they died for this hope of eternal salvation.  They were to reign with Christ, to judge the world and to decide between angels 1 Corinthians 4:8, 1 Corinthians 6:2, 1 Corinthians 6:3. The Revelation ends with the saints reigning in heaven forever and ever Rev 22:5.

The whole of the argument is straightforward.  The church, like the church of Moses, was to wander for a generation; 40 years, before the Lord himself brought them into the Promised Land.  Through tribulation and strife and chastisement and reward the early disciples hung to this promise looking for the revealing of the sons of God by which these would enter immortality Romans 8: 18-25.

Home gatherings of the First Century

What would one expect if indeed, as it is written, the church met the Lord, received its inheritance, entered into glory and now reigns in the heavenly places rather than angelic beings?  What would we gather from history if the church exited this world according to the plain reading of scriptures?  We would expect that the authorized Christian church would vanish, and it has.  There are no apostolic churches that exist today.  None have miraculous evidence of their valid association with the churches of God of the first century.

Romans pilfered the temple, ended the Jewish nation, destroyed Judaism, and closed the age of Moses.

Furthermore, any church today that claims such a position surely would NOT invoke sacrifices, or priesthood, or the trappings of Judaism which died along with the temple.  Yet the churches that say they are of Christ have gone far beyond the things that were written.  The ancient order of Roman Catholicism and Greek orthodoxy have long departed from the simple assemblies of the first church.  Incense, iconography, holy waters, changes in baptism, candles, robes, and every sort of foul evil have sprung up in these and a thousand other unauthorized church organizations.

Somehow a church arose out of the ruins of Judaism.  Called the church of Christ or the church of God, these organizations, by the time they recovered from the destruction of the Middle East, were nothing the followers of Jesus knew and understood.  This church, post 70, had power, authority, priests, sacrifices, incense, holy water, robes, liturgy, Archbishops and did not seek to help the poor as much as having the poor obey their authority.  How very counter to the principles of Christ let alone to the simplicity of First-Day Suppers?

Is this why Christ came? To substitute one religion based on sin with another based on sin?

Something is very wrong with the way most read the Bible and even far more incorrect in what is taught about what the Bible says.  Hermeneutics flip at portions of the Bible that do not congeal or concede to church doctrines.  Why?   Churches believe they are the kingdom of God.  Though nothing to this effect can be proven from the Bible itself, this convenient myth essentially steals from God the authority to direct human life but in ways God had never intended.  Things like foods, marriage, children, family, worship, money, and even more so the afterlife were to be construed in the context of some priestly orders to carry out missions and behaviors and miseries that God himself never intended to be part of the human experience.  And their most powerful means of controlling other men? – sin.  Keep sin alive and honest people will drink the cool aid hoping to get “saved” today.

And from such churches have all the Christian sects arisen.  Most claiming some right to exist through some twisted logic and aberrant comprehension of the scriptures.  If, in fact, the end came and the Lord descended and rescued his followers, completing his mission in fulfillment of Daniel’s vision, then it is over and the “age to come” is upon us.  Consider what Christ was to accomplish: “Seventy weeks of years are decreed concerning your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.”  Did he do it?  Did he?

“One like the son of man came to the ancient of days…” Daniel

What we see is a gathering of followers over a 40 year period as they wandered in a hostile world of sin and depravity, waiting for the appearing of their savior from heaven.   These assembled people prepared their lives to meet Christ and exit this land to a far better country, a heavenly one.  They were to rule with Christ, judge the world and angels and remain with him forever.  There is no church that can with any proof, claim themselves to be a church that God ordained. The meaning of the scriptures is much clearer on this topic than many other topics.

 

 

8 Responses to “The Church: A forty year preparation for glory.”

    • Dr. Daniel Moran, Ph.D.

      That indeed is the right question. Remember that Christ (the seed of Eve) was promised to come and crush the one who decieved the woman. He came “to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.” Daniel 9:24.

      He did this and reconciled the world to God. Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” Rev 11:15. The period between his ascension and his return, the 40 years of “wandering” for disciples, a time when two covenants were in vogue, one supplanting the other and the other, (Hebrews 8:13 In speaking of a new covenant he treats the first as obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.) was a fulfillment of all things spoken by the law and the prophets. With the destruction of the Temple, the eradication of Judaism, the end of the law, came a new heaven and new earth. We are here free from the tyranny of demonic forces, no need for prophets, no need for miracles, the earth in this regards is free of that influence. Death has been defeated, sin ended, only faith, hope and love prevail.

      Church can be wonderful but the message is no longer about sin but about security, hope, faith, love and a future that can blossom to be a wonder. So I say learn of Christ, pursue those things that make for peace, love others but be wise in your discretion. Live, love, learn. Rejoice in the joy that living brings.

      Reply
  1. Tim Sheppard

    I have much respect for you, and believe that my sin is no more due to the work of Jesus, but I don’t understand when you say sin is defeated. What of the evils today. BTW I do agree with the notion that Christianity as practiced in America today is wayward.

    Reply
    • Dr. Daniel Moran, Ph.D.

      here is my thinking. Let’s look at several OT prophecies.
      Daniel 9:24 “Seventy weeks of years are decreed concerning your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.

      This passage says that in 490 years, God would put and end to sin.

      Isaiah 25 says this about the end of death: 6 On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of fat things, a feast of wine on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wine on the lees well refined. 7 And he will destroy on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. 8 He will swallow up death for ever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken. NOTICE THE END OF DEATH WAS PROMISED TO BE FOR THE WORLD, NOT JUST THOSE WHO ALIGN WITH GOD.

      Paul points out that condemnation for sin came when the law was given to the Jews. The law in fact pointed out sin and made all things more sinful.
      Romans 7:6-8 Revised Standard Version (RSV)
      6 But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.

      The Law and Sin
      7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet, if it had not been for the law, I should not have known sin. I should not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, finding opportunity in the commandment, wrought in me all kinds of covetousness. Apart from the law sin lies dead.

      As he end of that age approached, those who fled to Jesus to be saved from judgment were deemed to be sinless under christ. Christ was the end of the law for all who believed: Romans 10:4.
      Paul said that he was alive apart from the law but it was the commandment that killed him.
      Romans 7:9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died;

      He also taught that if one died in Christ, he died to the law and that ensured eternal life.
      In Romans 6 he argues that sin has no power over the disciples since they were no longer under the law and its condemnation by God.
      14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

      He further argues that before the law sin was alive and killing people in the flesh but without the law, God would not condemn people spiritually, hence their spirits entered a realm that acted as a prison, where people waited judgment. Romans 5:13sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.

      So effectively, if Christ fulfilled the just requirements of the law which demanded someone of sinless perfection die for the sin of a sinless man (Adam), then the human race is free in regards to death (spiritual death).

      Romans 5:14-16 Revised Standard Version (RSV)
      14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
      15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the effect of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification.

      And why? 1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

      The desire of God is that with Christ as king, all should seek to become like him. But the decision is free will … the idea that God coerces all men to obey or he will send them to hell is nonsense.

      Romans 8:2-4 Revised Standard Version (RSV)
      2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,[a] he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

      So to summarize, while the end was coming at 70 Ad, those in the world had a chance to escape the destruction in war that was coming. They needed Christ, forgiveness for breaking law and hope for life. belief and baptism placed them out of the law’s condemnation and into Christ. After 70 AD, we have a new heaven and new earth. Not a new religion. One must force the bible to suggest a new religion was on the mind of God.

      God fixed things, destorying sin and death by the ending law.

      Consider this passage as well: 1 Corinthians 15:56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

      God is now at rest with us so we are free to live, love, learn and have joy in this life as we work out our affairs here below.

      Reply
    • Dr. Daniel Moran, Ph.D.

      And to the evils of today, evils abound, this remains the proving ground for our soul as we learn to endure through suffering. the good news is that death has been defeated. This is why the son of God came, to destroy him who had the power of death, that is the devil.

      Hebrews 2:14

      Reply
  2. Tim Sheppard

    I agree in the underlying thesis (and a wonderful thesis it is) that Jesus has defeated sin and death once and for all, but I am a mind for election. Aren’t there believers and unbelievers. The believers, of which there are a number uncountable, we’re known by the Father before creation and written into the Book of Life, but there are those created who are used by our Father for common use and not given the noble position of a child of God, but a destined for hell.

    Does the book of Revelation cause any doubt in your belief system. If taken at face value it looks to me as a prophetic book dealing with near and far future events. I’d like to know your thoughts.

    I hope you don’t mind continuing this conversation. I’m fascinated by the idea that 70 AD was the end of the age.

    Reply
    • Dr. Daniel Moran, Ph.D.

      Several things to address here are needed to get started.
      Hell is problematic for me as the word itself and its associated concept of eternal torment are not found in the Bible. What is found is the word Gehenna, a proper noun for the garbage dump outside of the city of Jerusalem. This is the place of the damned, a garbaged dump where dead animals, filth, the bodies of executed criminals and rotten food were tossed. Here the worm never died and the fire was kept burning by pitch and bitumen to keep the stench down. This literally became the dwelling place for 1.2 million Jews who died – mostly of starvation, during the 5-month siege of the city by Titus. The eternal fire and the rejection by God of his own recalcitrant people is what Jesus addressed. These died in the war with Rome, another million were sold into Egypt and hundreds of thousands were marched back to Jerusalem and entered slavery.

      Whatever “hell” or judgment that comes to those after death is not to destroy their spirit but to refine their minds from the dross of wickedness. This is of course a much larger topic but this is my take in a nut shell… no father of light and love tortures his children forever. The worlds eternal actually mean age-enduring or age- long. Punishment is always to be used as a remedial tool by God.

      The book of revelation is fulfilled. Written around 62AD, it mentions the temple still standing and describes events that literally took place.. the 100 pound hailstones were actual rock stones tossed by trebuchet from the roman army. The resurrection, judgment and view of paradise occurred in that time, not ours.

      The whole of the plan was to fulfill a promise to the first women.. her seed would crush the head of the serpent. So Paul made note in his day how close this event was from the Roman church sayhing:Romans 16:20 then the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Christ conquered the devil and won back the kingdom of the world: Revelation 11:15 [ The Seventh Trumpet ] Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever.”
      Josephus wrote about the war of the Romans, the obstinance of the Jews, and how Titus begged the Jews to surrender – seeing that it was their God who was opposed to their behavior and bringing this calamity on them.

      So we see the promise to Eve ends up as a promise to Abraham, to Isaac, Jacob, David etc… to bring in the prince of peace, the Messiah, the Savior of Israel.. the Jews were the means to the end of God’s plan, as I have shown, to defeat death, end sin, fulfill the law and bring in everlasting righteousness to the spiritual world, and give rest to the physical world from demons, spiritual conflicts, prophets, miracles etc..

      The book of revelation was a prophetic book about the end times of Judaism and nation Israel. In that conflict, religion was eliminated, church was elevated to heaven to serve God on our behalf (Hebrews 2:5 For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking.) The church has supplanted angelic oversight of the world of men for the sake of Christ. Nothing in Revelation has been left unfulfilled. There are some exceptional books that help this view congel for those who care.

      So eve got a promise, Jews gave us Christ, they got judged along with many in the world of the Gentiles and the end came… the end of law, religion, sacrifice. Earth has been restored and while we have churches that exist, they do so by resurrecting sin, law, guilt, and shame. I see people flock to church out of fear and love as well. But that is not free will. I see that the mess Christianity has given us is unbelievably difficult to maneuver through and no one is endowed with Apostolic or any other divine knowledge to lead anyone. We are free in this world, free to live and love, to learn and grow, free of death and sin. We are free to chose. The very best earth life will be lived following the ways of the Bible… that is my gospel message. Goodness, peace, joy, love, faith, hope will never grow old.

      Reply
  3. Tim Sheppard

    I will search this out. I am of the persuasion that God will not leave any of His children alone. He will either wait for them, or, if necessary, search them out as lost sheep. Dostoevsky wrote in Bothers Karamazov a scene involving a delirious Ivan (the older brother) pitched in a fever, when the Devil comes to discuss the things of God with him. The Devil is cast as an old man and he says something that I’ve always found intriguing. Then old man says to Ivan in a fit of anger, that God can, if he so wishes, create and recreate this earth over and over again until all his children come home. I do believe He will find His own. I do believe their are evil people who exist and they are tares in the wheat field. They are sons of the devil. I don’t know the end game, but I do agree that we can’t, as followers of Christ go wrong in “Goodness, peace, joy, love, faith, hope…” Take care and post more. I’ve enjoyed your website for quite some time and have enjoyed bringing it up in conversation. God bless.

    Reply

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