Ephesians Pt 1 Identity

Ephesians 1:1-15(HCSB)Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will:

To the faithful saints in Christ Jesus at Ephesus. 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.3 Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens. 4 For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love 5 He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, 6 to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved. 7 We have redemption in Him through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure that He planned in Him 10 for the administration of the days of fulfillment—to bring everything together in the Messiah, both things in heaven and things on earth in Him. 11 We have also received an inheritance in Him, predestined according to the purpose of the One who works out everything in agreement with the decision of His will, 12 so that we who had already put our hope in the Messiah might bring praise to His glory.13 When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. 14 He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory.

In Paul’s world, adoption was ordinarily of young adult males of good character to become heirs and maintain the family name of the rich who were childless. Paul, however, proclaims God’s gracious adoption of  persons of bad character to become “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” Romans 8:17(HCSB)17 and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

Justification is the basic blessing, on which adoption is founded; adoption is the crowning blessing, to which justification clears the way. Adopted status belongs to all who receive Christ John 1:12(HCSB)12 But to all who did receive Him,He gave them the right to be children of God,to those who believe in His name,. The adopted status of believers means that in and through Christ God loves them as he loves his only-begotten Son and will share with them all the glory that is Christ’s. Here and now, believers are under God’s fatherly care and discipline and are directed, especially by Jesus, to live their whole lives in light of the knowledge that God is their Father in heaven. They are to pray to him as such, imitate him as such, and trust him as such, thus expressing the affectionate instinct that the Holy Spirit has implanted in them.

Adoption and regeneration accompany each other as two aspects of the salvation that Christ brings John 1:12-13(HCSB)But to all who did receive Him,He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God., but they are to be distinguished. Adoption is the bestowal of a relationship, while regeneration is the transformation of our moral nature. Yet the link is evident; God wants his children, whom he loves, to bear his character, and takes action accordingly.

First adoption is “from Him”—from God. “In love he predestined us for adoption.”Ephesians 1:4-5(HCSB)4 For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love 5 He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will,

So adoption was part of a God’s plan. It was his idea, his purpose. It was not an afterthought. He didn’t discover one day that against his plan and foreknowledge humans had sinned and orphaned themselves in the world, and then come up with the idea of adopting them into his family. No, Paul says, he predestined adoption. He planned it. The misguided but popular concept that all people are children of God and can truthfully call Him “Abba Father” is simply not true. Just as children do not choose to be adopted or choose who will adopt them, neither do Christians choose to become children of God. Instead, God chooses them. He predestines them “to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will”, having been chosen by God from “before the foundation of the world”

And if we ask when this predestination happened, verse 4 makes that plain: “He chose us in him [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless in His sight.” Before the creation of the world, and before we existed, God looked on us in our need, and he looked upon his Son crucified and risen as the all sufficient atonement for our sin, and because of that he chose us to be holy and blameless. And to that end he “predestined us for adoption.” It happened before the creation of the world.

So the first thing you need to know about your adoption into God’s family through Christ is that God chose you and predestined you in love for adoption before the foundation of the world. God’s love for you and its expression in your adoption into his eternal family of joy did not start in this world. It reaches back to eternity. So when Paul says, “From him are all things” Romans 11:36(ESV)36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen., he includes our adoption, and means that before the foundation of the world he predestined you to be his child.

Why were we chosen or selected? As in 1 John 3:1-3(HCSB)1 Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children. And we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it didn’t know Him. 2 Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself just as He is pure. Paul expects that the children of God will bear an undeniable resemblance to one whom they claim as their spiritual parent. That resemblance a parent primarily in the sphere of conduct, in the way the child lives out the responsibility of the family. We are predestined for sonship to bear the family likeness.

The difference between predestination, which is mentioned in verse 5, and election (or choosing) which is mentioned in verse 4, is that election refers to God’s freedom in choosing whom he will predestine. Predestination refers to the goal or destiny for which he chose them. Election is God’s choosing whom he will, and predestination is God’s determination that they will become his children.

When God chose you, he had a purpose, and so he predestined that purpose to come about, namely, that you would become a child of God. That you would be part of his family. That you would become an heir of all that God owns. That you would take on the family likeness. We are destined to take on the character of God our Father, the character of holiness and blamelessness.

Therefore your adoption is not based on your fitness, your worth, or your character. It is rooted in God’s eternal purpose and grace. And that means that your adoption is not fragile or flimsy or uncertain. God will not adopt and then find out that you are not worthy and unadopt you. He knows we are unworthy. And he chose us and predestined us for adoption. This is firm and sure and unshakable. He reached down when we were at our worst to make us sons and daughters.

Before the foundation of the world God saw that we would be sinners and planned the death of his Son so that our sins could be forgiven and God’s wrath removed. Through that we were adopted.We were not cute little orphans that God was attracted to; we enemies in rebellion against God.

That is who God decided before the foundation of the world to adopt. Romans 5:6(HCSB)6 For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. Our adoption is not fragile or flimsy or uncertain. God will not adopt and then find out that you are not worthy and unadopt you. He knows we are unworthy. Romans 5:10(ESV) “While we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.” And he chose us and predestined us for adoption. This is firm and sure and unshakable. He reached down when we were at our worst to make us sons and daughters.

So our adoption is not based on our being worthy or cute or attractive. It is based on the free and sovereign grace of God planned before the world and bought for us by the blood of Christ.
Ephesians 1:13-14(HCSB)13 When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. 14 He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory.
One of the biggest misconceptions of Reformed Theology is that Reformed(Calvinist) do not put a priority on evangelism or missions, which is a big misconception. Reformed Christians put a huge emphasis on spreading the Gospel. The only hope we have at Evangelism is the Holy Spirit working in the person. God chose evangelism as the tool to bring the elect into the sheepfold. John 10:16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. Here are a few reasons why.
1. God commands us to do so. “We should remember that the gospel is preached not only by the command of Christ but at his urging and leading.”
Matthew 28:18-20(HCSB)18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of[a] all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

2. We want to glorify God. True Christians yearn to extend God’s truth everywhere so that “God may be glorified.”

3. We want to please God. Calvin writes, “It is a sacrifice well-pleasing to God to advance the spread of the gospel.”

4. We have a duty to God. “It is very just that we should labor… to further the progress of the gospel,” Calvin says. He adds, “It is our duty to proclaim the goodness of God to every nation.”

5. We have a duty to our fellow sinners. Our compassion should be intensified by knowing that “God cannot be sincerely called upon by others than those to whom, through the preaching of the gospel, his kindness and gentle dealings have become known.” Romans 10:11-15 (ESV)How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

6. We are grateful to God. We owe it to God to strive for the salvation of others; if we do not, we are behaving in a contradictory manner. Calvin says, “Nothing could be more inconsistent concerning the nature of faith than that deadness which would lead a man to disregard his brethren, and to keep the light of knowledge… in his own breast.”

Love God Love People, and it is not the worldly love, it is gospel love, You are a sinner going to Hell and you need Jesus. and that my friends is compassion.

Once we are adopted(Regenerated, justified, saved, covered in the blood of Christ) our identities are no longer what they used to be. We have new identities, our identity is no long, who we are,where we are from, what we did in the past. Our identity is now in the 2nd person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ. We are no longer citizens of the world but apart from it. We understand that we are a part of a heavenly, God-ruled kingdom. Things of the earth no longer draw us. We don’t fear or over-emphasize suffering on earth or the trials we face, nor do we place importance on things the world values. Even our bodies and our actions reflect that our minds are no longer conformed to the world but are now instruments of righteousness to God. And our new kingdom perspective means we understand that our enemy is not the people around us but the spiritual forces that endeavor to keep the people from knowing God. We are ambassadors of Christ, aliens in this world, set apart to be holy, we are now in the sanctification process.

Our identity in Christ is first and foremost one of newness. We are new creations in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17(HCSB)17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. Identity is defined as “the collective aspect of the set of characteristics by which a thing is definitively recognizable or known,” so our new identity in Christ should be recognizable both to ourselves and to others. If we are “in Christ,” that should be evident, just as being “in the world” is equally evident. A further definition of identity is “the quality or condition of being the same as something else.” In the case of our identity in Christ, our lives should indicate that we are the same as Christ. The name “Christians” means literally “followers of Christ.”

In our new identity in Christ, we are no longer slaves to sin, Romans 6:(HCSB)6 For we know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that sin’s dominion over the body may be abolished, so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, 7 since a person who has died is freed from sin’s claims. What is sin’s claim? Death, Romans 6:23(HCSB)23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Sin not necessarily results in physical death right away.Romans 6:23 is not telling us that when we sin we will physically die immediately, it is referring to spiritual death. When we are saved in Christ, we are rescued from final spiritual death and brought into eternal spiritual life with Him.We are no longer slaves to sin, but we are reconciled to God Romans 5:10(HCSB)10 For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life! This new identity completely changes our relationship with God and our families, just as it changes the way we see the world. Our new identity in Christ means we have the same relationship with God that Christ has—we are His children. God has adopted us as sons. We are able to call Him “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:15–17(HCSB)15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, 17 and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. This relationship is even stronger than those we have with our earthly families. (Matthew 10:35–37(HCSB)35 For I came to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.37 The person who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; the person who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. Also instead of fearing God as judge, we have the great privilege of coming to Him as our Father. We can approach Him with confidence and ask of Him what we need.

Hebrews 4:16(HCSB)16 Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.
We can ask for His guidance and wisdom and know that nothing will take us from Him Romans 8:38–39(HCSB)For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers,things present or things to come, hostile powers,39 height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord! We also rest in His authority and respond to Him with trusting obedience, knowing that obedience is a key part of remaining close to Him
John 14:23(HCSB)23 Jesus answered, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

One of the greatest blessings about our identity in Christ is the grace we’re given in order to grow into the spiritual maturity that truly reflects our new identity. Our lives in light of our identity in Christ are filled with a heavenly Father, a large, loving family, and the understanding that we are citizens of another kingdom and not of this earth.

Adoption is a grace beyond and above justification. In justification, God acquits sinners of all the charges against them. Indeed, he goes further still and declares that in Christ their righteousness meets the highest possible standards. They are as righteous as Christ himself 2 Corinthians 5:21(ESV)21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. There is not a stain on their characters. We are saved from the PENALTY of Sin.

At this point, in normal human systems of justice, the accused is then simply free to go, and both he and the judge hope they will never see each other again. But the divine judge not only acquits. He invites the sinner home — and not just for an evening. He adopts us as his own forever, tells us we are to call him “Father,” and pronounces us lawful heirs to all he is and to all that he has.

Paul is the only New Testament writer who uses the term adoption, but he is not the only one who speaks of believers being God’s children. John also highlights it, particularly in 1 John 3:1(ESV)See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. “See,” he exclaims, “what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” Yet while they speak of the same subject, the two apostles use different language.

Change in Status

The word adoption, like the word justification, refers not to a change in our disposition and character, but to a change on our status. It speaks of a revolution in our relationship with God. As unbelieving sinners, we were utterly alienated from him: total outsiders, as far as his family was concerned. Now we belong, and by using the term adoption, Paul is using formal legal language to remind us that our membership of our new family is absolutely secure. It can never be undone.He is committed to us. He has given us His name.

Divine adoption, then, secures what no human adoption can secure. It is always accompanied by a radical and total transformation at the very core of our being. Not only do we have a new status, we are new people Ephesians 4:24(HCSB)24 you put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth. Should we, then, just sit back passively and let grace do its work? Indeed, the spirit that God has implanted in us won’t let us sit back, nor will the hope that God has given us. The assurance that our destiny is to be “like him” compels us to set about purifying ourselves, and to do so with the utmost strictness, satisfied with nothing less than to be as pure as God himself (1 John 3:3).

While we may be sure that adoption gives God immense satisfaction, he never adopts in order to meet some need of his own. He adopts us because he loves us, not because he needs us.And far from exploiting us and subjecting us to a life of hard work, he showers upon us every spiritual blessing and fills our lives with the melody of joy and salvation.

God adopted us in our unworthiness to make his grace look great. You were adopted for the praise of the glory of his grace. God’s action in adopting us is radically God-centered and God-exalting. I know that many hear this and think it is not loving. How can God’s seeking to exalt himself be loving? The answer is that the glory of God is what we were made to see and enjoy for all eternity. Nothing else will satisfy our souls. Therefore if God does not exalt himself for us to admire and enjoy, then he is unloving. That is, he does not give us what we need.

We are adopted by God not so that we will rejoice that God made much of us. We are adopted by God so that we will enjoy making much of God’s grace as our Father forever. We are adopted so that in this family the Father and the unique elder Son, Jesus Christ, will be the source and focus of all our joy. We are adopted “to the praise of the glory of his grace.” It will take an eternity for the glory of that grace to be fully displayed for finite people. Therefore, we will be increasingly happy in God for ever and ever. That is the final meaning of adoption.

 

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Did Jesus Baptize People?

Did Jesus baptize people? the answer is no and yes, He did not baptize people with water but He does baptize people with fire and the Spirit
John the Baptist came preaching repentance and baptizing in the wilderness of Judea, and he was sent as a herald to announce the arrival of Jesus, the Son of God.
Matthew 3:1-12(HCSB) In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!” 3 For he is the one spoken of through the prophet Isaiah, who said:A voice of one crying out in the wilderness:Prepare the way for the Lord; make His paths straight! 4 John himself had a camel-hair garment with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then people from Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the vicinity of the Jordan were flocking to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the Jordan River as they confessed their sins.7 When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to the place of his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance. 9 And don’t presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these stones! 10 Even now the ax is ready to strike the root of the trees! Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but the One who is coming after me is more powerful than I. I am not worthy to remove His sandals. He Himself will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing shovel is in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor and gather His wheat into the barn. But the chaff He will burn up with fire that never goes out.”

Matthew 3:11(HCSB) “I baptize you with water for repentance, but the One who is coming after me is more powerful than I. I am not worthy to remove His sandals. He Himself will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

After Jesus had risen from the dead, He instructed His apostles to wait and be baptized with the Spirit.
Acts 1:4-5(HCSB)4 While He was together with them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Father’s promise. “This,” He said, “is what you heard from Me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”.
This promise was first fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. Pentecost being 50 days after the resurrection and 10 days after His ascension into heaven.
Acts 2:1-4(HCSB)When the day of Pentecost had arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like that of a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were staying. 3 And tongues, like flames of fire that were divided, appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different languages, as the Spirit gave them ability for speech.
Also the baptism of the Spirit joins every believer to the body of Christ
1 Corinthians 12:13(HCSB)13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
But what about the baptism with fire?

Malachi 3:1-6(NLT)“Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.2 “But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes. 3 He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the Lord. 4 Then once more the Lord will accept the offerings brought to him by the people of Judah and Jerusalem, as he did in the past. 5 “At that time I will put you on trial. I am eager to witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.6 “I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed.

It does not say in verse 2 that he is like a forest fire, or like an incinerator’s fire. It says that he is like a refiner’s fire. A forest fire destroys indiscriminately. An incinerator consumes completely. But verse 6 says, “ I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed.”

He is a refiner’s fire, and that makes all the difference. A refiner’s fire does not destroy indiscriminately like a forest fire. A refiner’s fire does not consume completely like the fire of an incinerator. A refiner’s fire refines. It purifies. It melts down the bar of silver or gold, separates out the impurities that ruin its value, burns them up, and leaves the silver and gold intact. He is like a refiner’s fire.

It does say FIRE. And therefore purity and holiness will always be a dreadful thing. There will always be a proper “fear and trembling” in the process of becoming pure. We learn it from the time we are little children: never play with fire! And it’s a good lesson! Therefore, Christianity is never a play thing. And the passion for purity is never flippant. He is like fire and fire is serious. You don’t fool around with it.

But it does say, he is like a REFINER’S fire. And therefore this is not merely a word of warning, but a tremendous word of hope. The furnace of affliction in the family of God is always for refinement, never for destruction.

The most important thing to say is that it is a life of confidence in God. And the foundation of our confidence is this promise: The furnace of affliction in the family of God is always for refinement, never for destruction. “” I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed ” Which simply means that life in the refiner’s fire is a life of trust in the unchanging, purifying love of God.

If you were told that becoming a Christian was easy, and that you are a great person and you can have your “Best Life Now” You were LIED too! If this is your “Best Life Now you going to Hell!

1 Peter 4:12-13(NLT)12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. 13 Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.

God is more concerned with your character than He is with your comfort.

God is more concerned with your holiness than He is with your happiness.

God is more concerned with you as a person than He is with your possessions.

God is getting you ready  to live with Him forever. He is getting you ready to accept His inheritance. Your possessions will not go with you – but your character – your holiness – who you are as a person is important to God. Why? Because if you are a Christian – you will live in God’s Kingdom – forever and ever and ever.

And perhaps the next most important thing to say is that there is no painless path to heaven. Why? Because Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” And it is no more possible to become pure painlessly than it is to be burned painlessly. Purity comes through the refining fire. And the fire has two forms: one is the fire of affliction and the other is the fire of intentional self-denial.

The Fire of Affliction

We see the first fire, for example, in

1 Peter 1:6-7(NLT) In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

James 1:2-4(NLT) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Hebrews 12:5-10(NLT) And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.

Holiness is not legalism; Legalism looks like holiness but the motives are different.

The Fire of Intentional Self-Denial

And the other form of purifying fire is the fire of intentional self-denial. We see it for example in

1 Corinthians 9:24-27(NLT) Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Romans 8:12-13(NLT) So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Galatians 2:20(NLT) My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Proverbs 17:3(NLT) Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the Lord tests the heart.

How HOT does the fire have to get?? As HOT as we let it.
God doesn’t care about your reputation; He cares about your Character.

For Godly character to be in us HE has to work our fleshly character out of us. God doesn’t change our personality, He changes our character.

Character is what you are behind closed doors, when no one is watching, when your all alone, when you don’t have to wear the “mask” in front of people.

Godly character is the result of the Holy Spirit’s work of sanctification. Sanctification, or in its verbal form, sanctify, literally means “to set apart” for special use or purpose, that is, to make holy or sacred. Therefore, sanctification refers to the state or process of being set apart, i.e. made holy.

Character in the believer is a consistent manifestation of Jesus in his/her life. It is the purity of heart that God gives becoming purity in action. God sometimes uses trials to strengthen character:
Romans 5:3-5(NLT) We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

To have Godly character we must kill the flesh and feed the spirit.

Galatians 5:17(NLT) The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.

Intimacy with the Lord is where all this happens, It is like a marriage. You have to spend time with the person, the more “extra curricular” activity happens in your life the less quality time you spend with the Lord. ANYTHING you put before the Lord is idolatry.  It is not bad to put things AFTER but when its BEFORE its idolatry.

Remorse over sin, daily confession, and a continual attitude of repentance are marks of a healthy Christian life. What’s the benefit? 1 John 1:8-10(NLT)8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. Forgiveness and cleansing — those promises are as refreshing to the sinner as a cold drink of water to a thirsty man.

03/15/17 eschatology

Eschatology is a Christian term that means the study of the end of history from a religious perspective. Christians generally hold various views concerning the end of the age. First of all, Christians agree with the immortality of the soul, acknowledging that man is composed of material and immaterial components. At death, the physical body dies but the immaterial essence of man, made up of his of his soul and spirit, lives in an eternal and conscious state either in heaven with Christ or in Hell, eternally separated from Him.

Secondly, the immaterial essence of man exists in an intermediate state awaiting the resurrection of the physical body, which will occur at a future time. Thirdly, the Bible teaches that at some appointed time, the physical body will be resurrected, transformed into its eternal state and united with the soul and spirit of the individual.

Fourthly, the Bible teaches that there will be a divine judgment at the end of the age when the righteous will receive their rewards and the unrighteous will be sentenced to the Lake of Fire. Furthermore, Christians agree that Christ will one day return physically to rule over the earth. Finally, all Christians look forward to the eternal state. Christ will one day create a new heaven and a new earth and judge evil once and for all. Afterwards, we will enter into the eternal state as described in Revelation 22.

These are some basic beliefs all evangelical Christians share in agreement. However, differences occur when attempting to interpret the millennial kingdom mentioned in Revelation 20:1-3(HCSB)Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the abyss and a great chain in his hand. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for 1,000 years. He threw him into the abyss, closed it, and put a seal on it so that he would no longer deceive the nations until the 1,000 years were completed. After that, he must be released for a short time.. Questions such as whether the thousand-year rule of Christ should be interpreted literally or symbolically begin to arise. This leads to an even bigger issue of how the book of Revelation should be explained. Are we to interpret the prophecies literally or allegorically? Are these future prophecies or do they describe events in church history?

As we approach this study, we must understand that these are in-house debates among Christians. Our eschatological views should not divide the body of Christ. We should encourage and challenge one another to study the Scriptures and present reasons underlying a given theological position. Below is an overview of the three major positions in eschatology: premillennialism, postmillennialism, and amillennialism.

Premillennialism

The hallmark of premillennial eschatology is the literal interpretation of prophecy. Premillennial theologians teach that there will be a series of key events that occur before the millennial rule of Christ on earth. These events include the rapture of the church, a seven-year time of tribulation and the return of Christ to establish a thousand-year rule on earth. Premillennialists often adopt one of the three distinct rapture positions of pre-tribulation, post-tribulation or mid-tribulation.

Premillennialism: Christ’s Second coming before a literal one thousand-year period, known by some as a thousand-year sabbath, is preceded by a gradual deterioration of human society and behavior, and the expansion of evil through an endtime government or kingdom. This school of thought can be divided into three main interpretations: Dispensational, Mid-tribulation/Prewrath and Historic Premillennialism or Post-Tribulation viewpoint.

• Pre-tribulation Premillennialism or Dispensationalist View: The rapture of the church occurs just prior to the seven-year tribulation, where Christ returns for his saints to meet them in the air. This is followed by the tribulation, the rise of the Antichrist to world-rule, the return of Christ to the Mount of Olives, and Armageddon, resulting in a literal 1000-year millennial reign of the Messiah, centered in restored Jerusalem.

Prewrath/Mid-tribulation View: The rapture of the church occurs in the midst of the seven-year period. Mid-tribulation view holds that the rapture occurs halfway through; Prewrath holds that the rapture occurs some time in the midst of the tribulation in the latter 3.5 years, but before God’s wrath is poured out upon the nations.

Historic Premillennialism or Post-Tribulation View: The rapture of the church (the body of true believers) happens after a period of great tribulation, with the church being caught up to meet Christ in the air and will accompany him to earth to share in his (literal or figurative) thousand year rule.

Postmillennialism

Postmillennial theology teaches that the Church will be triumphant as a result of the Church Christianizing the world. After this, Christ will then return, upon which believers will enter the eternal state. Postmillennialists, therefore, apply a more allegorical approach to their interpretation of the book of Revelation. Postmillennialism is the doctrine which affirms that through the work of the Spirit in Christian preaching and teaching in the present time of the church (before the second advent) the world at large will eventually be evangelized and won to Christ. This will turn out in a world characterized by universal peace instead of strife, universal prosperity instead of inequality, godliness instead of evil, and so on, though the time period may be more or less than a thousand years (since, according to some postmill interpreters, the 1000 years of Revelation 20:4-7(HCSB)Then I saw thrones, and people seated on them who were given authority to judge. I also saw the people who had been beheaded[b] because of their testimony about Jesus and because of God’s word, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and who had not accepted the mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with the Messiah for 1,000 years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the 1,000 years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! The second death has no power[c] over them, but they will be priests of God and of the Messiah, and they will reign with Him for 1,000 years. can be taken symbolically for an indefinite period of time) and evil will still be present to some limited degree. Thus there is a focus in postmillennarian thought on the present aspects of the kingdom of God with the result that through Christian influence many economic, educational and social ills will be resolved. Postmillennialism: Christ‘s Second coming is seen as occurring after the one-thousand years, which many in this school of thought believe is ushered in by the church.

Amillennialism

Amillennialism can be deciphered by its title. “A” preceding millennium means this view teaches there is no future millennial earthly rule of Christ sitting on David’s throne. This stance also employs an allegorical interpretation and non-literal approach to prophecy. The events mentioned in the book of Revelation is being played out presently in the church age. Revelation reveals that the situation in the world will worsen before Christ returns. According to the amillennialists’ beliefs, Christ will one day return not to establish a millennial rule on earth but to usher in the eternal state. Amillennialists believe that God’s promises regarding the end times are figurative and will not be literally fulfilled, particularly the 1000 year reign of Jesus Christ on the earth. Non-literal “thousand years” or long age between Christ’s first and second comings; the millennial reign of Christ as pictured in the book of Revelation is viewed as Christ reigning at the right hand of the Father. Therefore, another name for it is “realized millennialism”, because it emphasizes an inaugurated future in the first coming of Christ and the outpouring of the Spirit in the Pentecost. It is the view held by the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches as well as by a number of the older Protestant denominations, such as the Lutherans, Calvinists, and Anglicans. Generally speaking, the term “amillennial” refers to the conviction, held by many godly and informed Christian scholars down through the ages, that there will be no future, earthly millennial period after Christ’s return. This, however, is to view the system from a purely negative point of view. Positively stated, amillennialism believes that the church is the expression of the millennial reign of Christ now, where “millennial” is understood to refer not to a literal thousand year period—though some reformers understood it this way but to the reign of Christ as experienced between his exaltation and parousia(word meaning presence, arrival, or official visit). This reign is over the new people of God, the church, which replaces Israel in the outworking of God’s eternal plan.

•Preterism: Many prophecies have already occurred in the past; This view denotes a 1st-century fulfillment concerning the literary text; real events have already transpired. Some events may be symbolic of other fulfillments, thus taking a symbolic interpretation of the text.

Pre-Trib Rapture debunked

1.      Rapture doctrine is one of the most recent “new doctrines” in the history of the Church. The only doctrine more recent is the invention of the sinner’s prayer for salvation by Billy Sunday in 1930, which was made popular by Billy Graham in 1935.

2.      The fact that John Nelson Darby invented the pre-tribulation rapture doctrine around 1830 AD is unquestionably true. All attempts to find evidence of this wild doctrine before 1830 have failed, with a single exception: Morgan Edwards wrote a short essay as a college paper for Bristol Baptist College in Bristol England in 1744 where he confused the second coming with the first resurrection of Revelation 20 and described a “pre-tribulation” rapture. However Edwards ideas, which he admitted were brand new and never before taught, had no influence in the modern population of the false doctrine. That prize to goes to Darby.

3.      Prior to 1830, no church taught it in their creed, catechism or statement of faith.

4.      Darby has had a profound impact on religion today, since Darby’s “secret rapture” false doctrine has infected most conservative, evangelical churches. While the official creeds and statements of faith of many churches either reject or are silent about Rapture, neither do they openly condemn this doctrine of a demon from the pulpit.

5.      While not all dispensationalists believe in the Rapture. All those who teach the Rapture also believe in premillennialism. Both groups use Israel’s modern statehood status of 1948 to be a beginning of a countdown to the end.

6.      All premillennialists, rapturists and dispensationalists alive today believe the Bible reveals the general era of when Christ will return. The date setters of the 1800’s (Seventh-day Adventists who are date setting premillennialists who reject the rapture, Jehovah’s Witnesses who have set many dates) based their predictions upon speculative arrangements of numbers and chronologies in the Bible. Today’s date setters without exception wrongly believe that Israel gaining state hood in 1948 fulfilled Bible prophecy and that Christ would return within one generation.

If you are a premillennialist, whether dispensational or not, there are several things with which you must reckon:

• You must necessarily believe that physical death will continue to exist beyond the time of Christ’s second coming.

• You must necessarily believe that the natural creation will continue, beyond the time of Christ’s second coming, to be subjected to the curse imposed by the Fall of man.

• You must necessarily believe that the New Heavens and New Earth will not be introduced until 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ.

• You must necessarily believe that unbelieving men and women will still have the opportunity to come to saving faith in Christ for at least 1,000 years subsequent to his return.

• You must necessarily believe that unbelievers will not be finally resurrected until at least 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ.

• You must necessarily believe that unbelievers will not be finally judged and cast into eternal punishment until at least 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ.

So what’s wrong with believing these things, asks the premillennialist? What’s wrong is that these many things that premillennialists must believe (because of the way they interpret Scripture), the NT explicitly denies. In other words, in my study of the second coming of Christ I discovered that, contrary to what premillennialism requires us to believe, death is defeated and swallowed up in victory at the parousia, the natural creation is set free from its bondage to corruption at the parousia, the New Heavens and the New Earth are introduced immediately following the parousia, all opportunity to receive Christ as savior terminates at the parousia, and both the final resurrection and eternal judgment of unbelievers will occur at the time of the parousia. Simply put, the NT portrayals of the second coming of Christ forced me to conclude that a millennial age, subsequent to Christ’s return, of the sort proposed by premillennialism was impossible.

The second factor that turned me from premillennialism to amillennialism was a study of Revelation 20, the text cited by all premillennialists in support of their theory. Contrary to what I had been taught and long believed, I came to see Revelation 20 as a strong and immovable support for the amillennial perspective.

NO Rapture

I do not believe in the rapture. I believe what Jesus taught. There is 1 second coming, not a second coming for the church then another second coming after the tribulation. The purpose of Christians on this earth is the great commission, to proclaim the gospel to the lost, to reach people for the kingdom. If Jesus “raptures” the church(the ekklesia, the bride, the Christians) then there is no more need for any people to be left on earth since the very essence of what we the church is here for is now removed. Pretrib, post trib, mid trib rapture is not biblical, it is not what the whole bible is about. I call it escapism mentality, the mentality that we will escape the evils of this world. If that was true and that was God’s design for humanity then the minute we would accept Christ he would “rapture” us up. 

Matthew 13:24-30(HCSB)24 He presented another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while people were sleeping, his enemy came, sowed weeds[a] among the wheat, and left. 26 When the plants sprouted and produced grain, then the weeds also appeared. 27 The landowner’s slaves came to him and said, ‘Master, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Then where did the weeds come from?’ 28 “‘An enemy did this!’ he told them. “‘So, do you want us to go and gather them up?’ the slaves asked him. 29 “‘No,’ he said. ‘When you gather up the weeds, you might also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I’ll tell the reapers: Gather the weeds first and tie them in bundles to burn them, but store the wheat in my barn.’”

It is so clear that we need not second guess what is going to happen. So what are we told in the pre-tribulation rapture theory? We are told that Christ will “gather” His people BEFORE the tribulation and separate the “wheat and the tares” BEFORE the harvest. And yet what does it clearly state in the Bible verse above? That the separation only takes place AT the harvest.

 

According to those who hold to the pre-trib rapture theory, the harvest takes place BEFORE the tribulation and BEFORE the end of the world. This is clearly what they believe because according to this teaching, the world continues for another 7 years and then another 1000 years AFTER the rapture. Well, what does Christ Jesus our Teacher say about this?

Matthew 13:38-40(HCSB)38 the field is the world; and the good seed—these are the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. 40 Therefore, just as the weeds are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 

The church and the wicked continue to live together on earth until the END OF THE WORLD. And it is only at the end of the world that the separation takes place. The pre-trib rapture theory is now blown to bits by the Word of God!

Please understand that VITAL point. The rapture theory teaches a separation BEFORE the end. But the Bible clearly teaches that there is NO separation before the end.

This also proves the mid-tribulation rapture teaching to be false

Those who hold to the mid-tribulation rapture theory, believe (just like the pre-trib teachers), that the separation takes place BEFORE the end of the world. But as we have shown from the Bible above, the separation takes place ONLY at the end of the world. Need more proof? Take a look at these Bible verses and you will notice that the focus is NOT about the church being taken away before the end, but rather AT the end of the world and the LAST DAY.

John 6:40

John 11:24

John 12:48

 

Eternal life is given on the LAST DAY. The resurrection happens on the LAST DAY. Judgment is given on the LAST DAY.

Notice also what Jesus says in Matthew 28:20(HCSB) teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”… Now why would Jesus reassure us that He would be with us until the END OF THE WORLD, if we were to be raptured away BEFORE the end of the world?

 

Matthew 24:37-42(HCSB)37 As the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. 38 For in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah boarded the ark. 39 They didn’t know until the flood came and swept them all away. So this is the way the coming of the Son of Man will be: 40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore be alert, since you don’t know what day your Lord is coming.

This is such a misunderstood passage of scripture today. Take a look at the context of the above Bible verses. Do you see that Jesus is telling us that His second coming will be like what happened in Noah’s day? And what happened in the days of Noah? The above verse tells us. The flood DESTROYED the earth, taking away the wicked and leaving behind God’s people (Noah’s family). Who was “taken away” and who was “left behind” in Noah’s day? Take a look at the above verses again. It was the wicked who were TAKEN and Noah was LEFT BEHIND! And this is what Christ is pointing us to. He is saying that the day is coming when the earth will be destroyed again and the wicked will be TAKEN and the saints will be LEFT BEHIND.

Jesus is pointing to the “END OF THE WORLD”. Just like it was the “end of the world” in Noah’s day when the flood came.

And what did we already confirm would happen during the harvest at the end? Let’s read(Matthew 13:24-30(HCSB) He presented another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while people were sleeping, his enemy came, sowed weeds[e] among the wheat, and left. 26 When the plants sprouted and produced grain, then the weeds also appeared. 27 The landowner’s slaves came to him and said, ‘Master, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Then where did the weeds come from?’ 28 “‘An enemy did this!’ he told them. “‘So, do you want us to go and gather them up?’ the slaves asked him. 29 “‘No,’ he said. ‘When you gather up the weeds, you might also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I’ll tell the reapers: Gather the weeds first and tie them in bundles to burn them, but store the wheat in my barn.’”) … The wicked are “taken” first and the saints are left behind to then be “gathered into My barn” (taken to heaven).

The whole context of Matthew 24 is a warning for us to “watch and be ready” so that the “sudden destruction” that is to come upon the world (1 Thessalonians 5:3(HCSB)3 When they say, “Peace and security,” then sudden destruction comes on them, like labor pains come on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. will not TAKE US by surprise. Just like what happened in Noah’s day. Who were taken? The wicked. Who were left behind? Noah and his family!
Many people in these churches take for granted that this is what the Bible teaches. They may be surprised to discover that no biblical text specifically and unambiguously mentions believers being removed before the final tribulation. That limitation may be why we have no clear record of any interpreter noticing the view in the Bible before 1830. The view was held by none of the church fathers, none of the Reformers such as Luther or Calvin, none of the leaders in various evangelical revival movements such as John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, or even heretic Charles Finney. I am reasonably certain that today the majority of evangelical biblical scholars (as well as virtually all other Christian biblical scholars) reject it.

Passages in the Bible do teach that Jesus will return, that he will gather his followers, and that he will bring justice by punishing those who chose evil rather than truth. Passages also promise a subsequent future of justice and peace. By showing that God values justice and peace, such passages also invite his followers to work for such values now. Some New Testament passages further share the ancient Jewish expectation of a period of end-time tribulation, although scholars debate what this means. (Many of us address these questions more fully in our Revelation commentaries; to remain concise, I simply summarize here.)

But no scripture passage that is interpreted correctly supports Christians being “raptured” before the tribulation. The Book of Revelation describes sufferings, many of which characterize much of the world we live in. But while Revelation depicts God protecting at least some of his people from his own judgment, it nowhere mentions Christians being removed. Revelation’s first full description of Jesus’s coming, as well as its first mention of what many construe as Christians’ resurrection (“the first resurrection”) appear toward the end of the book (Revelation 19:11-16; 20:4-5). Throughout Revelation’s middle section, God’s servants suffer on earth and, after death, worship in heaven.

To argue that a rapture precedes Revelation’s tribulation, some appeal to Revelation 4:1, where a voice invites John, “Come up here!” But this voice invites John’s vision, not the church’s rapture (compare 17:1; 21:9). More persuasively, some appeal to Jesus’s promise to some Christians in 3:10: “I will keep you from the hour of testing.” The wording, however, can mean “protect from while there” (as in John 17:15)–an understanding that better fits the rest of Revelation.

Many counter with 2 Thessalonians 2:3-7, where a restrainer is removed before the coming of the ultimate wicked ruler (what many call the “antichrist”). Readers propose a vast range of interpretations here, but one view that context prohibits is that the passage describes Christians’ “rapture.” The wicked ruler comes before Jesus’s coming to gather his people (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3(HCSB)Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him: We ask you, brothers, not to be easily upset in mind or troubled, either by a spirit or by a message or by a letter as if from us, alleging that the Day of the Lord[a] has come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way. For that day will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction., when Jesus will destroy that wicked ruler (2 Thessalonians 2:8(HCSB)and then the lawless one will be revealed. The Lord Jesus will destroy him with the breath of His mouth and will bring him to nothing with the brightness of His coming.. Further in the context, Jesus’s followers do not receive final exemption from sufferings until his public return to judge the world.

2 Thessalonians 1:5-10(HCSB)It is a clear evidence of God’s righteous judgment that you will be counted worthy of God’s kingdom, for which you also are suffering, since it is righteous for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you and to reward with rest you who are afflicted, along with us. This will take place at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His powerful angels, taking vengeance with flaming fire on those who don’t know God and on those who don’t obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction from the Lord’s presence and from His glorious strength 10 in that day when He comes to be glorified by His saints and to be admired by all those who have believed, because our testimony among you was believed.

Finally, some contend that Christians will escape God’s “wrath” (citing Paul in 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9). But elsewhere in Paul’s letters deliverance from God’s wrath means that Jesus’s followers are forgiven because of him (Romans 5:9). It does not refer to escaping tribulation. Even when Revelation uses the Greek term that Paul uses here, it refers to final judgment, not a preceding tribulation. (Revelation may use a different Greek term for God’s anger during tribulation, but even that Greek term refers more often to the final judgment.)

I would challenge the view’s advocates to reread the Bible as honestly as possible with this question in mind: If you had never been taught either way, would you recognize a clear gathering of believers before a future tribulation, or would you identify that gathering with what happens at Jesus’s return after tribulation (e.g., Matthew 24:31; Mark 13:24-27)?

Dispensational vs Convenant Theology

Dispensationalism is a theological system that teaches biblical history is best understood in light of a number of successive administrations of God’s dealings with mankind, which it calls “dispensations.” It maintains fundamental distinctions between God’s plans for national Israel and for the New Testament Church, and emphasizes prophecy of the end-times and a pre-tribulation rapture of the church prior to Christ’s Second Coming. Its beginnings are usually associated with the Plymouth Brethren movement in the UK and the teachings of John Nelson Darby.

Dispensational theology teaches that there are two distinct peoples of God: Israel and the church. Dispensationalists believe that salvation has always been by faith—in God in the Old Testament and specifically in God the Son in the New Testament. Dispensationalists hold that the church has not replaced Israel in God’s program and that the Old Testament promises to Israel have not been transferred to the church. Dispensationalism teaches that the promises God made to Israel in the Old Testament (for land, many descendants, and blessings) will be ultimately fulfilled in the 1000-year period spoken of in
Revelation 20:4-10(ESV)Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. xThey came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. zBlessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years. And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and jthe beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Dispensationalists believe that, just as God is in this age focusing His attention on the church, He will again in the future focus His attention on Israel (see Romans 9–11 and Daniel 9:24).

Dispensationalists understand the Bible to be organized into seven dispensations:
The first dispensation is called the Dispensation of Innocence (Genesis 1:28-30 and Genesis 2:15-17). This dispensation covered the period of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. In this dispensation God’s commands were to (1) replenish the earth with children, (2) subdue the earth, (3) have dominion over the animals, (4) care for the garden, and (5) abstain from eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God warned of the punishment of physical and spiritual death for disobedience. This dispensation was short-lived and was brought to an end by Adam and Eve’s disobedience in eating the forbidden fruit and their expulsion from the garden.

The second dispensation is called the Dispensation of Conscience, and it lasted about 1,656 years from the time of Adam and Eve’s eviction from the garden until the flood (Genesis 3:8–8:22). This dispensation demonstrates what mankind will do if left to his own will and conscience, which have been tainted by the inherited sin nature. The five major aspects of this dispensation are 1. a curse on the serpent, 2) a change in womanhood and childbearing, 3) a curse on nature, 4) the imposing of difficult work on mankind to produce food, and 5) the promise of Christ as the seed who will bruise the serpent’s head (Satan).

The third dispensation is the Dispensation of Human Government, which began in Genesis 8. God had destroyed life on earth with a flood, saving just one family to restart the human race. God made the following promises and commands to Noah and his family:

1. God will not curse the earth again.

2. Noah and family are to replenish the earth with people.

3. They shall have dominion over the animal creation.

4. They are allowed to eat meat.

5. The law of capital punishment is established.

6. There never will be another worldwide flood.

7. The sign of God’s promise will be the rainbow.

Noah’s descendants did not scatter and fill the earth as God had commanded, thus failing in their responsibility in this dispensation. About 325 years after the flood, the earth’s inhabitants began building a tower, a great monument to their solidarity and pride (Genesis 11:7-9). God brought the construction to a halt, creating different languages and enforcing His command to fill the earth. The result was the rise of different nations and cultures. From that point on, human governments have been a reality.

The fourth dispensation, called the Dispensation of Promise, started with the call of Abraham, continued through the lives of the patriarchs, and ended with the Exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt, a period of about 430 years. During this dispensation God developed a great nation that He had chosen as His people (Genesis 12:1Exodus 19:25).

The basic promise during the Dispensation of Promise was the Abrahamic Covenant. Here are some of the key points of that unconditional covenant:

1. From Abraham would come a great nation that God would bless with natural and spiritual prosperity.

2. God would make Abraham’s name great.

3. God would bless those that blessed Abraham’s descendants and curse those that cursed them.

4. In Abraham all the families of the earth will be blessed. This is fulfilled in Jesus Christ and His work of salvation.

5. The sign of the covenant is circumcision.

6. This covenant, which was repeated to Isaac and Jacob, is confined to the Hebrew people and the 12 tribes of Israel.
The fifth dispensation is called the Dispensation of Law. It lasted almost 1,500 years, from the Exodus until it was suspended after Jesus Christ’s death. This dispensation will continue during the Millennium, with some modifications. During the Dispensation of Law, God dealt specifically with the Jewish nation through the Mosaic Covenant, or the Law, found in Exodus 19–23. The dispensation involved temple worship directed by priests, with further direction spoken through God’s mouthpieces, the prophets. Eventually, due to the people’s disobedience to the covenant, the tribes of Israel lost the Promised Land and were subjected to bondage.
The sixth dispensation, the one in which we now live, is the Dispensation of Grace. It began with the New Covenant in Christ’s blood (Luke 22:20). This “Age of Grace” or “Church Age” occurs between the 69th and 70th week of Daniel 9:24. It starts with the coming of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost and ends with the Rapture of the church (1 Thessalonians 4). This dispensation is worldwide and includes both Jews and the Gentiles. Man’s responsibility during the Dispensation of Grace is to believe in Jesus, the Son of God (John 3:18). In this dispensation the Holy Spirit indwells believers as the Comforter (John 14:16-26). This dispensation has lasted for over 2,000 years, and no one knows when it will end. We do know that it will end with the Rapture of all born-again believers from the earth to go to heaven with Christ. Following the Rapture will be the judgments of God lasting for seven years.
The seventh dispensation is called the Millennial Kingdom of Christ and will last for 1,000 years as Christ Himself rules on earth. This Kingdom will fulfill the prophecy to the Jewish nation that Christ will return and be their King. The only people allowed to enter the Kingdom are the born-again believers from the Age of Grace and righteous survivors of the seven years of tribulation. No unsaved person is allowed access into this kingdom. Satan is bound during the 1,000 years. This period ends with the final judgment (Revelation 20:11-14). The old world is destroyed by fire, and the New Heaven and New Earth of Revelation 21 and 22 will begin.

Dispensationalism, as a system, results in a premillennial interpretation of Christ’s second coming and usually a pretribulational interpretation of the rapture. To summarize, dispensationalism is a theological system that emphasizes the literal interpretation of Bible prophecy, recognizes a distinction between Israel and the church, and organizes the Bible into different dispensations or administrations. Each one of these dispensations is said to represent a different way in which God deals with man, specifically a different testing for man. “These periods are marked off in Scripture by some change in God’s method of dealing with mankind, in respect to two questions: of sin, and of man’s responsibility,” explained C. I. Scofield. “Each of the dispensations may be regarded as a new test of the natural man, and each ends in judgment – marking his utter failure in every dispensation.”

Beliefs about the Church and Israel

In addition to these dispensations, the real theological significance can be seen in four basic tenets which underlie classic dispensational teaching. Dispensationalism maintains:

1a fundamental distinction between Israel and the church, i.e. there are two peoples of God with two different destinies, earthly Israel and the spiritual church

2a fundamental distinction between the Law and Grace, i.e. they are mutually exclusive ideas

3the view that the New Testament church is a parenthesis in God’s plan which was not foreseen by the Old Testament

4a distinction between the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ, i.e. the rapture of the church at Christ’s coming “in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17) precedes the “official” second coming (to the earth) by 7 years of tribulation.

These tenets are supposedly derived from the dispensationalists’ insistence on “consistent literalism” in their hermeneutic, especially in the literal interpretation of OT prophecies regarding Israel.Crucial to the dispensationalist reading of biblical prophecy, drawn principally from Daniel and Revelation, but also, to some degree, from Ezekiel, is the assertion that the Jewish Temple will be rebuilt on the Temple Mount as a precursor to the Lord returning to restore the earthly Kingdom of Israel centered on Jerusalem. The dispensational movement was therefore fueled by the re-establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. It has grown in popularity particularly since 1967, coinciding with the Arab-Israeli Six Day War, and a few years later in 1970 with the publication of Hal Lindsey’s blockbuster book The Late Great Planet Earth.

Dispensationalism teaches that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ will be a physical event, by which a world-wide kingdom will be established in human history, geographically centered in Jerusalem. Dispensationalists teach that the Second Coming will be a two step process. In the first step, Christ returns to resurrect the blessed dead and rapture the living believers from the Earth. After this, a seven year period of tribulation occurs, climaxing in the Battle of Armageddon. In the second step, Christ intervenes at the Battle of Armageddon and establishes a literal 1000-year millennial kingdom on earth. As such, some Dispensationalists are often associated with the circulation of end times prophecy, which professes to read omens of the Second Coming in current events; however, other Dispensationalists have criticized this apocalypticism popularized by authors such as Hal Lindsey.

Prior to dispensationalism, Covenant theology was the prominent Protestant view regarding redemptive history and is still the view of the Reformed churches.

Covenant Theology is a prominent feature in Protestant theology, especially in Reformed churches. Covenant Theology as held by the Presbyterian and Reformed churches uses the covenant concept as an organizing principle for Christian theology and view the history of redemption under the framework of three overarching theological covenants: the Covenant of Redemption, the Covenant of Works, and the Covenant of Grace. These three are called “theological covenants” because although not explicitly presented as covenants, they are, according to covenant theologians, implicit in the Bible.

In brief, Covenant Theology teaches that God has established two great covenants with mankind and a covenant within the Godhead to deal with how the other two relate. The first covenant in logical order, usually called the Covenant of Redemption, is the agreement within the Godhead that the Father would appoint his son Jesus to give up his life for mankind and that Jesus would do so (cf. Titus 1:1-3).

The second, called the Covenant of Works, was made in the Garden of Eden between God and Adam and promised life for obedience and death for disobedience. Adam disobeyed God and broke the covenant, and so the third covenant was made between God and all of mankind, who also fell with Adam according to Romans 5:12-21.

This third covenant, the Covenant of Grace, promised eternal blessing for belief in Christ and obedience to God’s word. It is thus seen as the basis for all biblical covenants that God made individually with Noah, Abraham, and David, nationally with O.T. Israel as a people, and universally with man in the New Covenant. These individual covenants are called the “biblical covenants” because they are explicitly described as such in the Bible.

Covenant theology first sees a Covenant of Works administered with Adam in the Garden of Eden. Though it is not explicitly called a covenant in the Bible, Hosea 6:7 has been interpreted to support the idea. The specific covenants after the fall of Adam are seen as administered under the overarching theological Covenant of Grace and include:

•The Noahic Covenant, the covenant made with Noah and sealed with a rainbow. (Genesis 8:1-9:17)

•The Abrahamic covenant, found in Genesis chapter 15.

•The Mosaic Covenant, found in Exodus chapters 19 through 24.

•The Palestinian Covenant — an unconditional covenant enlarging upon the Abrahamic Covenant promising the seed of Abraham eternal possession in the land (Deuteronomy 30:1-10), and

•The Davidic Covenant, found in 2 Samuel chapter 7 establishing David and his lineage as the rightful kings of Israel and Judah and extending the covenant of Abraham to David’s lineage.

•The New Covenant, predicted by the prophet Jeremiah in the eponymous book, chapter 31, and connected with Jesus at the Last Supper where he says that the cup is “the New Covenant in [his] blood” and further in the Epistle to the Hebrews (chapters 8-10). The term “New Testament,” most often used for the collection of books in the Bible, can also refer to the New Covenant as a theological concept.

1. Amillennialists believe that God’s promises regarding the end times are figurative and will not be literally fulfilled, particularly the 1000 year reign of Jesus Christ on the earth.

Pre-millennialists believe that Jesus Christ will return to the earth prior to His literal reign on the earth for 1000 years. Three groups of pre-millennialists include the following:

2. Post-tribulationists believe that the rapture will not occur until the end of the seven year tribulation, just prior to the beginning of the millennial kingdom.

3. Mid-tribulationists believe that the rapture will occur three and one half years into the tribulation, at beginning of the three and one half year great tribulation.

4. Pre-tribulationists believe that the rapture will occur prior to the seven year tribulation, but not necessarily immediately before the tribulation.

Worship in Spirit and Truth

Remember the perfections of that God whom you worship, that he is a Spirit, and therefore to be worshipped in spirit and truth; and that he is most great and terrible, and therefore to be worshipped with seriousness and reverence, and not to be dallied with, or served with toys or lifeless lip-service; and that he is most holy, pure, and jealous, and therefore to be purely worshipped; and that he is still present with you, and all things are naked and open to him with whom we have to do. The knowledge of God, and the remembrance of his all-seeing presence, are the most powerful means against hypocrisy.

Richard Baxter

The meaning of the New Testament Greek word most often translated “worship” (proskuneo) is “to fall down before” or “bow down before.” Worship is a state (an attitude) of spirit. Since it’s an internal, individual action, it could/should be done most of the time (or all the time) in our lives, regardless of place or situation.
John 4:21-24(HCSB)21 Jesus told her, “Believe Me, woman, an hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans[h] worship what you do not know. We worship what we do know, because salvation is from the Jews. 23 But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship Him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” Therefore, Christians worship all the time, seven days a week. When Christians formally gather together in worship, still the emphasis should be on individually worshiping the Lord. Even in a congregation, participants need to be aware that they are worshiping God fully on an individual basis. There is another word for worship called doxology and it comes from the Greek doxa, (“glory, splendor, grandeur”) and logos, (“word” or “speaking”). Although the word doxology is not found in the Bible, the themes expressed in doxologies are certainly scriptural. Praising God for His blessings (Ephesians 1:3(HCSB)3 Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens.
ascribing to Him all glory(Romans 11:36(HCSB)For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.  Ephesians 3:21(HCSB)21 to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
and affirming the Trinity Matthew 28:19-20(HCSB)19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
These have always been integral parts of true Christian worship. We study God’s word — that is, we have theology(the study of God and of God’s relation to the world Theology comes from two Greek words Τheos meaning “God,” and -logia utterances, saying, a subject of study; a branch of knowledge when combined mean “the study of God.” Christian theology is simply an attempt to understand God as He is revealed in the Bible. No theology will ever fully explain God and His ways because God is infinitely and eternally higher than we are.  — but we can learn more about him; that knowledge should then lead to praise of God — that is, doxology. The more we know about God, the more we are compelled to worship and praise him, awestruck at his greatness. We can not worship a God we do not know. To know God means a few things, first we have to understand who He is, then we have to understand the nature of God. Yet, many Christians, including some leaders today, are proclaiming that theology is not important or needed; all we need to do is to love Jesus. If you have ever read through even one book in the Bible and paid heed to God’s Word, you will know that this is not true! You could not get through John or any Epistle with that assumption. Yes, a lot of negative attacks and abuses have come to Christians and to the Church and its infighting over the centuries. The amount of unfair fights would make one wonder if theology and doctrine really are important. Some Christians view the word “doctrine” or theology as almost a curse word. The thought process of most American Christian’s  is essentially “doctrine is to be avoided because doctrine causes division among Christians, and God desires Christians to be united as it says in;
1 Corinthians 1:10(HCSB)10 Now I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, that there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction.” While it is true that doctrine does cause division, if the division is due to a disagreement over an important biblical teaching, division is not necessarily a bad thing. Paul declares,
2 Timothy 4:3(ESV) “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear”.
Titus 1:9(ESV)“He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it…
Titus 2:1 (ESV)But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.”

The Christian faith, more than any other, is based on doctrine. The doctrines of the deity of Christ (John 1:1-14), the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21), the resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:17), and salvation by grace through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9) are absolutely essential and non-negotiable. If any of these doctrines is removed, the faith is empty and void. There are other doctrines in the Christian faith that are very important, such as the Trinity, the inspiration of Scripture, and the reality of the eternal state of man. If Christian doctrine is causing division on any of these points, so be it, as those who deny these doctrines need to be separated from. Romans 16:17 says, “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.”  That’s right, Paul says to avoid those causing divisions by teaching false doctrine!  He does not say to protect the false teachers from discerning Christians. Nor does he say to go to prayer meetings, agree with them, nor to defend them. The problem comes in when the one teaching and speaking the truth is thee one that is looked at as the one causing the division, but it is the one who is not teaching true doctrine that is being divisive.

JC Ryle said this [Dislike of dogma] is an epidemic which is just now doing great harm, and specially among young people. It produces what I must venture to call a “jelly-fish” Christianity in the land: that is, a Christianity without bone, or muscle, or power. A jelly-fish is a pretty and graceful object when it floats in the sea, contracting and expanding like a little, delicate, transparent umbrella. Yet the same jelly-fish, when cast on the shore, is a mere helpless lump, without capacity for movement, self-defense, or self-preservation. Alas! It is a vivid type of much of the religion of this day, of which the leading principle is, “No dogma, no distinct tenets, no positive doctrine.”

We have hundreds of “jelly-fish” clergymen, who seem not to have a single bone in their body of divinity. They have not definite opinions; they belong to no school or party; they are so afraid of “extreme views” that they have no views at all.Worst of all, we have myriads of “jelly-fish” worshippers–respectable church-going people, who have no distinct and definite views about any point in theology. They cannot discern things that differ, any more than color-blind people can distinguish colors. They think everybody is right and nobody wrong, everything is true and nothing is false, all sermons are good and none are bad, every clergyman is sound and no clergyman is unsound. They are “tossed to and fro, like children, by every wind of doctrine”; often carried away by any new excitement and sensational movement; ever ready for new things, because they have no firm grasp on the old; and utterly unable to “render a reason of the hope that is in them.”

The Christian life depends upon sound doctrine. But is it harmful to Christian unity to rebuke false doctrine and separate from those who willfully assist in its advancement? Some seem to think so. Yet Christians are nowhere in Scripture called to unite around false doctrine or practice, but to reject error and instead speak the truth in love to one another. We are to ‘contend earnestly for the faith which as once for all delivered to the saints’ Jude 1:3-4 HCSB “Dear friends, although I was eager to write you about the salvation we share, I found it necessary to write and exhort you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all. For some men, who were designated for this judgment long ago, have come in by stealth; they are ungodly, turning the grace of our God into promiscuity and denying Jesus Christ, our only Master and Lord.”

2 Peter 2:1-3 HCSB “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, and will bring swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their unrestrained ways, and the way of truth will be blasphemed because of them. They will exploit you in their greed with deceptive words. Their condemnation, pronounced long ago, is not idle, and their destruction does not sleep.”

The nature of Christian worship is from the inside out and has two equally important parts. We must worship “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24). Worshiping in the spirit has nothing to do with our physical posture. It has to do with our innermost being. First, we must be born again. Without the Holy Spirit residing within us, we cannot respond to God in worship because we do not know Him.
1 Corinthians 2:11(HCSB)11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man that is in him? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.. The Holy Spirit within us is the one who energizes worship because He is in essence glorifying Himself, and all true worship glorifies God.

Worshiping in spirit requires a mind centered on God and renewed by Truth. Paul exhorts us in Romans 12:1-2HCSB)Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. Only when our minds are changed from being centered on worldly things to being centered on God can we worship in spirit. Distractions of many kinds can flood our minds as we try to praise and glorify God, hindering our true worship.

The second part of true worship is worship “in truth.” All worship is a response to truth, and that which is truth is contained in the Word of God. Jesus said to His Father,
John 17:17(HCSB)Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth. Psalm 119 says, Psalm 119:142(HCSB)Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Your instruction is true. and Psalm 119:160(HCSB)The entirety of Your word is truth,and all Your righteous judgments endure forever. To truly worship God, we must understand who He is and what He has done, and the only place He has fully revealed Himself is in the Bible. Worship is an expression of praise from the depths of our hearts toward a God who is understood through His Word. If we do not have the truth of the Bible, we do not know God and we cannot be truly worshiping. The goal for every Christian should be obvious: to become a sound, biblical theologian who develops an understanding of doctrine that submits finally to the authority of God’s Word even as it looks to the church’s historical understanding of Scripture for guidance. Spiritual maturity requires theological study, there can be no growth without it. More than just a mental grasp of the content of biblical theology is needed, for spiritual maturity only comes as we receive the Word in our hearts and allow it to transform us through the power of the Holy Spirit. Only the Spirit can give us the willingness and the ability to respond to divine revelation in this manner

In Romans 12:1(HCSB)Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Now we don’t offer animals as sacrifices but our very selves. The Christian’s whole life is an act of sacrificial service to God. God desires worship, the offering of one’s own self in its entirety. In this regard, surely the mention of “your bodies” is meant to suggest that even the most base or mundane element of the self—this wretched body that suffers and will die due to the effects of sin and curse—may and can be offered unto God in praise.

Or consider Hebrews 13:15(HCSB)15 Therefore, through Him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips that confess His name Praise is our sacrifice, and we offer it continually—not just for an hour on Sunday morning. The fruit of lips that acknowledge God’s name includes songs of praise, but much more too: boldly confessing the gospel in public, speaking words of truth and love to others, bringing every word we say under Christ’s dominion.

This means that “worship” isn’t something we mainly do at church on Sunday. Instead, worship should infuse our whole lives. For the Christian, worship isn’t confined to sacred times and places, because we are united by faith to Christ, the one who is God’s temple, and we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, making us both individually and collectively the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16–17(HCSB)16 Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s sanctuary, God will destroy him; for God’s sanctuary is holy, and that is what you are.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20(HCSB)19 Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.;
Ephesians 2:22(HCSB)22 You also are being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit..

What then characterizes corporate worship in the new covenant? Reading and preaching Scripture; singing Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs together; praying; celebrating the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper; and stirring one another up to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24–25(HCSB)24 And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, 25 not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Was Jesus Always God?

Christianity proclaims that the trinity (father, son, and Holy Spirit) is the godhead 3 in 1. They are not separate gods, not separate deities. Most other religions deny Jesus’ deity. They may claim He is a good man, a great prophet, but won’t come to confess that He is God without the Holy Spirit you can’t. 1 Corinthians 12:1-3(HCSB) Now concerning what comes from the Spirit: brothers, I do not want you to be unaware. 2 You know that when you were pagans, you used to be led off to the idols that could not speak. 3 Therefore I am informing you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

John 1:1(HCSB)In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.He was with God in the beginning.3 All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created. 4 Life was in Him, and that life was the light of men. 5 That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it.

Genesis 1:26-28(HCSB)26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl[i] on the earth.”27 So God created man in His own image;He created him in the image of God;He created them male and female. 28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.”

There is a lot of evidence of Jesus being God. All throughout Scriptures, and even from the mouth of Jesus Himself, it is stated that He is God. Jesus says He and the Father are one. When did Jesus know that He was God? From the heavenly perspective, the Son knew from eternity past who He was and what His earthly work was to be. From the earthly perspective, the incarnate Jesus came to that realization at some point early in life. Just when that point was, we cannot know for sure.

John 10:30-33(HCSB) The Father and I are one.”31 Again the Jews picked up rocks to stone Him. 32 Jesus replied, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. Which of these works are you stoning Me for?” 33“We aren’t stoning You for a good work,” the Jews answered, “but for blasphemy, because You—being a man—make Yourself God.”

Colossians 2:8-10(HCSB) Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ. 9 For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ, 10 and you have been filled by Him, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

John 1:14(HCSB)The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory,the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Jesus was always God. From eternity past He has been the second Person of the Trinity, and He always will be. The question of when the human Jesus knew that He was God is interesting, but it is not addressed in Scripture. We know that, as an adult, Jesus fully realized who He was, expressing it this way: John 8:58(HCSB) Jesus said to them, “I assure you: Before Abraham was, I am.”. And when He prayed, John 17:5(ESV) “Now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began”

As a child, Jesus was already aware of His nature and work. When Jesus was twelve years old, his family went to Jerusalem. On their way back, they were concerned about Jesus’ being missing from their caravan. They returned to Jerusalem and found Jesus Luke 2:41-52(HCSB)41 Every year His parents traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. 42 When He was 12 years old, they went up according to the custom of the festival. 43 After those days were over, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but His parents did not know it. 44 Assuming He was in the traveling party, they went a day’s journey. Then they began looking for Him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for Him. 46 After three days, they found Him in the temple complex sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all those who heard Him were astounded at His understanding and His answers. 48 When His parents saw Him, they were astonished, and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for You.” 49 “Why were you searching for Me?” He asked them. “Didn’t you know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what He said to them. 51 Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them. His mother kept all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people.Whatever those around Him did not grasp, it seems that Jesus, at a very young age, did know that He was the Son of God and that the Father had foreordained the work He was to do.

After the incident in the temple, Luke says, Luke 2:52(HCSB)52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people. Wisdom is the skillful use of knowledge. Jesus grew in the skillful use of knowledge.  If at this point in Jesus’ human experience He knew everything, He would not need to “grow in wisdom.” We emphasize that this was Jesus’ human experience. Jesus never ceased being God, but in some matters He veiled His divinity in accordance with the Father’s will. Thus, the Son subjected Himself to physical, intellectual, social, and spiritual growth.We do not know if he always knew he was divine, even in the womb, or if he realized it later on. Each position has its difficulties. After all, Jesus was made under the Law.

Galatians 4:4(HCSB)4 When the time came to completion, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, and he cooperated with the limitations of being a man.

Philippians 2:5-8(HCSB)5 Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus,6 who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage.7 Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, 8 He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death— even to death on a cross. Does this require that he also did not know who he was at birth? Not at all. Did the divine nature go “dormant” when Jesus was a baby? The divine nature requires that he knows all things. However, we see in the Gospels that Jesus, for example, did not know the day nor the hour of his return.Matthew 24:36-44(HCSB)36 “Now concerning that day and hour no one knows—neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son[q] —except the Father only. 37 As the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. 38 For in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah boarded the ark. 39 They didn’t know until the flood came and swept them all away. So this is the way the coming of the Son of Man will be: 40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore be alert, since you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this: If the homeowner had known what time[t] the thief was coming, he would have stayed alert and not let his house be broken into. 44 This is why you also must be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. It seems in this case he is cooperating with the limitations of being a man since he was made under the law, but this does not mean he did not know who he was in his divinity.

Since the Scriptures do not give us enough information to answer the question, we cannot say when Jesus came to know that he was God in flesh. So, we should not try and answer the question since we could end up in error.