One God & One Lord: Reconsidering the Cornerstone of the Christian Faith]
When the Redeemer of mankind began his ministry, he was recognized by John the Baptist, who spoke the now-famous words, “…Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” Throughout Scripture, it is clear that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. As the Lamb of God, Jesus shed his blood for the sin and sins of all men. The Four Gospels record the first coming of Jesus and chronicles the sufferings of the Messiah as prophesied from Genesis 3:15 onward. Jesus Christ came to the nation of Israel to be their Savior and King, but they killed him.
The book of Revelation shows Jesus’ second coming to the earth to save Israel, the very people who, as a nation, once killed him. At his second coming to them, Israel will not miss his true identity, for each person will see him come in glory as the King. The book of Revelation portrays not the Lamb of God coming to take away the sin of the world, but the Lion of Judah coming to judge the world. Instead of “Behold the lamb,” a lamb who came for all but was recognized by few, we read:
Revelation 1:7 (NASB)
BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. Even so, Amen.
In Adam and Eve, mankind was given the directive to subdue the earth.“ ‘God blessed them [Adam and Eve] and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground’ ” (Gen. 1:28). Implied in that directive, and expanded upon later in Genesis and the Law of Moses, is mankind’s responsibility to steward the world in a godly way. That actually started in Eden itself, because God’s instructions about the garden were “…to work it and take care of it” (Gen. 2:15).
However, instead of caring for the earth, mankind has, in essence, ruined it. Man’s disobedience to God and his abuse of the earth have been continuous (Isa. 24:1–6), and the pleas of God through His prophets for men and women to return to Him and His ways have, for the most part, been ignored. Even God’s own Son was horribly abused and eventually tortured and crucified. The book of Revelation portrays God and His Christ taking back the earth for the godly and judging the ungodly for all their ungodly deeds. This event, which is still future, has been foretold many times over the years. The book of Jude refers us to one of the early prophets:
Jude 14 and 15
(14) Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones
(15) to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
Enoch, the seventh from Adam, lived many thousands of years ago, but he foretold events that are still future. Many of those events are prophesied in both the Old and New Testaments, and the book of Revelation is the capstone of that prophecy. Before getting into specifics, an overview of the book of Revelation is appropriate. First of all, it needs to be understood that the book of Revelation is not addressed to the Christian Church. Christians can learn many things from the book of Revelation, just as we can learn many things from the Old Testament. However, there is a difference between things that are for our learning and things that are written to us.1 The Christian Church, known as the Body of Christ, started on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 and will end with the Rapture, which is described in 1 Thessalonians 4. We believe that the book of Revelation is written to those who will be left on earth after the Rapture. E. W. Bullinger concurs:
Our great fundamental proposition—which we may as well state at once—is that—The Church is not the subject of the Apocalypse….However startling this may sound and may seem to some of our readers, we implore you not to dismiss it, but to test the reasons we shall give by the Word of God itself, and to weigh them in “the balances of the sanctuary.” Try to forget all that you have “received by tradition,” and ask from whom you learned this or that. Be prepared and ready to unlearn anything that you may have received from men, and learn afresh from the Word of God itself. The first chapter [of Revelation] furnishes us with fifteen proofs of our fundamental proposition.2
Whereas the Church Epistles are specifically addressed to the Church of the Body which started on the Day of Pentecost, the book of Revelation speaks of events which will occur on earth after the Church is taken up. Jesus Christ will be dealing with his Church, but his Church will be Jews and Gentiles, not the “one new man” that is the subject of Ephesians 2:15.3 Revelation shows that Christ is active and still building his Church. In Chapter 1, he is dispensing revelation to angels to take to believers. In Chapters 2 and 3, Christ is authoring letters to assemblies in different towns, strengthening, encouraging, and warning them. Chapter 5 shows Christ taking the scroll from God’s hand and preparing to open it and begin the time of “Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7), also called the Tribulation. Starting with Chapter 6, there is a series of judgments. There are seal judgments, trumpet judgments, and bowl judgments. During this time, there is tribulation and then wrath on the earth. Interwoven into the record of this terrible time is information about the believers of the time and those who oppose them, particularly the man known as the Antichrist. Revelation 19 portrays the Battle of Armageddon in which Christ rides down from heaven followed by his armies. After defeating his enemies and reclaiming the earth for God and His people, he raises the righteous dead who come to life and live in his kingdom for a thousand years.
During this thousand years, the Devil is chained and powerless, but at the end of the thousand years he is released and manages to stir up a revolution against Christ’s kingdom. This revolt is ended by fire from heaven, which puts a quick end to the enemies of the Lord.4 At that point God “…will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed…” (Acts 17:31). All the dead who were not previously raised, either in the Rapture or the first resurrection, are raised and stand before Christ. He had said in John 5:22 that the Father entrusted all judgment to the Son, and this is the Final Judgment. Each and every person will get what he deserves. He had spoken this clearly while he was still with us on earth: “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done” (Matt. 16:27). As the Judge, Christ will have the final word on who will live eternally and who will be condemned to die. After destroying all unrighteous people, Christ will reign with God, his Father, even as Revelation 21 describes [to understand the judgments and resurrections, discussed in this paragraph, we highly recommend our class: “THE END TIMES”].
The time of the Tribulation and the Judgments, will be a terrible time for God’s enemies, but for people who have been waiting for years for justice on the earth, it will be a time to be thankful. Evil people may have gotten away with their wickedness all their lives, but the Day of Reckoning is coming:
Revelation 11:17 and 18
(17) “…We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign.
(18) The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great— and for destroying those who destroy the earth.”
The book of Revelation opens in a fashion that shows the distinction between God and His Son, and also points to the exalted position that Christ now holds, having been enthroned in “the highest place” and having been given “…the name that is above every name” (Phil. 2:9). The content of the book of Revelation was passed from “hand to hand.” It was held first in the mind of God and then given to Jesus Christ, who in turn made it known to an angel, who then told it to John.
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,
This verse establishes the distinction between God and Christ in that, even after Christ’s resurrection and glorification, each has a separate mind and separate thoughts. God knew the information contained in the book of Revelation and “gave” it to Jesus. Note that now, as always, Jesus is obedient to God. God gave Jesus the information to share with others, and that is exactly what Jesus did—he “made it known.” Often we say that “Christ set a perfect example for us, always obeying the will of God.” While that is true, a greater truth is that Jesus is still setting a perfect example because he is still perfectly obeying the will of God. This example is in stark contrast to Lucifer’s behavior when he once occupied a similar position. Scripture teaches that Christians are to be followers of Christ, and each day every Christian has a decision to make: “Do I follow Christ and do what he wants me to do, or do I do what I want to do?”
The fifth chapter of Revelation shows the Son as the Agent of God. God is portrayed sitting on a throne and holding a scroll with its contents sealed. No one can be found who is worthy to open the scroll until Jesus Christ comes and takes the scroll from God and begins to open it. The song of the 24 elders standing before God points to the great truth of why Jesus Christ is worthy to open the scroll: not because he is God, but rather because with his own blood he purchased men for God (Rev. 5:9). Let us not forget that the reason Jesus shed his blood was that he loved God and His people. What a great example to us as to how we ought to live.
Revelation 6 begins the accounting of the tribulation and wrath that characterizes so much of the book and is a large part of the judgment on the earth. It can be confusing to the uneducated reader as to whether it is God or Christ who is actually doing the judging. As we said, Revelation clearly portrays the distinction between God and Christ. Note how clearly this is set forth in the following verses:
“…To him who sits on the throne [God] and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”Revelation 7:10
And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord [God] and of his Christ [Jesus], and he will reign for ever and ever.”
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ….
…they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.
Revelation 21:22 and 23
(22) I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.
(23) The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.
These verses speak loudly against any concept of two, and certainly not three, “persons” making up “one God.” The clear distinction between God and Christ is always maintained, even after the resurrection and glorification of Christ. If Christ is “co-equal and co-eternal” with God as Trinitarians teach, then surely there must be two Gods: the Father and Christ, because the above verses clearly portray two distinct beings. But of course there are not two Gods, there is one God, and these verses make clear that even after the resurrection Jesus is “His [God’s] Christ,” not another part of God.
Another factor in the above verses that argues against the Trinity’s three “co-equal, co-eternal” beings is that there is never any third “person” (the “Holy Spirit”), present with God and His Christ. When all is said and done, only God and Christ sit on the final throne. Surely if the “Holy Spirit” were a “co-equal third person” in “one God,” he would be represented in some way as judging or reigning or would at least get some mention by the saints or elders. Please take a minute to re-read the above eight verses and note that if God were actually represented in three persons, then one of them is getting slighted. At these most important times in history, there is never “a third person,” the Holy Spirit, portrayed with God and Christ.5
As we stated above, the book of Revelation can be confusing as to exactly who is doing the judging of the earth and its people. Some verses seem to say that Christ will judge, while others say that God will be the one to judge. For example, Revelation 6:16 mentions “…the wrath of the Lamb,” while 15:7 mentions “the wrath of God.” Revelation 14:7 says that the hour of God’s judgment has come, while 19:11 says that Jesus Christ judges and makes war. Much of the confusion can be cleared up by understanding the biblical concept of agency. Under the heading “Agent,” The Encyclopedia of the Jewish Religion states:
The main point of the Jewish law of agency is expressed in the dictum, “A person’s agent is regarded as the person himself.” Therefore, any act committed by a duly appointed agent is regarded as having been committed by the principal.6
The fact is that both God and His Christ are involved in the wrath and the judgment, and there are clear verses that indicate this. For example:
Revelation 6:16 and 17
(16) They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne [God] and from the wrath of the Lamb!
(17) For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”
God is the Author, and Christ is His agent. The example in the Old Testament of Pharaoh and Joseph foreshadowed this tandem sovereignty. In the Joseph record, he acted out Pharaoh’s will. So it is here. Jesus is the agent of God’s wrath, and is God’s appointed judge. Even before his crucifixion, Jesus said, “…the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22). Acts 17:31 records that Paul knew and taught the same truth: “For He [God] has set a day when He [God] will judge the world with justice by that man He has appointed….” Of course, “the man” appointed by God as His agent to do the judging is none other than Jesus Christ.
Another interesting example showing Jesus Christ as the agent of God is the Battle of Armageddon, which is called “…the great winepress of God’s wrath” (Rev. 14:19). In this battle Jesus is the agent who carries out God’s wrath, and “he [Jesus] treads the winepress” (Rev. 19:15). The above examples give us some key information about the relationship between God and Christ. It is easy to see the love and trust that God has for His Son in having given him such great responsibility, making Jesus His agent to judge and make war and to administer the ages to come. Surely God has given Jesus the name above every name and has exalted him above all others. At the same time, we clearly see the obedience Jesus demonstrates in that he always did, and still continues to do, the will of God.
The fact that God “…seated him [Jesus Christ] at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come” (Eph. 1:20 and 21) is most clearly seen in the book of Revelation. The period of tribulation and wrath that will start in Revelation 6, with Jesus Christ opening the seven seals, comes to a close in Revelation 19 as he rides out of heaven on a white horse, with the armies of God following him, and conquers the earth:
(11) I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war.
(12) His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.
(13) He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.
(14) The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.
(15) Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.
The Bible is very clear about the authority Jesus will have over the nations: “…He will rule them with an iron scepter…” (Rev. 19:15 is quoting the prophecy of the event in Ps. 2:9). The book of Revelation mentions the thousand year reign of Christ but does not take time to describe what it will be like. It is spoken of extensively in the Old Testament. The picture portrayed throughout the Old Testament of the thousand year reign of Christ is one of peace and security. Although there are many verses that show this, the following is a representative list: justice will prevail on earth (Jer. 23:5 and 6); there will be no war or weapons of war (Mic. 4:1–4); people’s homes will be secure (Isa. 32:18); children will be safe from harm (Isa. 11:8 and 9); animals will not kill each other (Isa. 11:6 and 7); there will be no sickness (Isa. 33:24, 35:5–7); there will be plenty of food (Amos 9:13); and even the animals will have more than enough to eat (Isa. 30:23 and 24).7
This future time of peace and security is possible, in large part, because the Devil and his demons will be chained and unable to influence mankind. Even this is prophesied in the Old Testament in veiled terms (Isa. 24:21 and 22; Dan. 7:12), but is clearly stated in Revelation:
(1) And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain.
(2) He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.
(3) He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended After that, he must be set free for a short time.
The book of Revelation is the “capstone” of the Bible, clearly showing the fitting conclusion to the odyssey of mankind. It portrays the just reward of the righteous and the punishment of the wicked. It portrays the godly vengeance of Jesus Christ, who, although he “knew no sin,” was treated worse than any sinner. It portrays the high position to which God has exalted Christ, even showing him reigning alongside God on the new earth. And, very fittingly, it portrays both God and Christ receiving the worship that they so richly deserve from all the saints, for whom they have each done so much.
Changes in the Relationship BetweenGod and Christ
The book of Revelation highlights one of the problems with Trinitarian doctrine—that it leaves one with an essentially “static” (unchanging, invariable) view of Jesus. If Jesus were “God in the flesh,” with his dominant nature being deity, he is as changeless as God. Therefore, in essence, Christ never changed, and neither did his relationship with God.
On the other hand, the non-Trinitarian perspective of the Man, Jesus, results in a much more “dynamic” (capable of change and growth) relationship between God and His Son. Jesus grew and developed in “wisdom and stature”—ways in which all of us grow and develop (Luke 2:52). When he received God’s gift of holy spirit at his baptism, he was able to relate to his Father on a new and much deeper level. As he walked day by day, his relationship with God deepened, just as ours does as we walk in obedience. Understanding this allows us to relate to the Man, our brother, in an inspiring and refreshing way, for he truly did experience life as we do.
Understanding who both God and Jesus are is critical to understanding their relationship, which has evolved and changed at several key points. We must recognize these changes and the corresponding time factors. The first major change that occurred in their relationship was at the baptism of John, when Jesus was anointed with holy spirit and began his Messianic ministry (Acts 10:38). It was at this point that he literally became “the Christ,” or “the Anointed One” and from then on his working relationship with God was catapulted to a new level. Furthermore, because of the work set before him and his willingness to do it, his intimacy with his Father continued to deepen.
The next major change was at his resurrection, when he was given a “glorious body” (Phil. 3:21) and “all authority” in heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18). He ascended to the right hand of God and assumed joint rulership of the creation as “Lord.” In this present relationship, he and his Father are in a heavenly partnership, sharing cooperatively such functions as inspiring Scripture (Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:3; Gal. 1:11 and 12; et al.) and directing the leadership of the Church (1 Thess. 3:11). It is important to note that in the Four Gospels, Jesus had not yet been “glorified” (John 7:39). He had to suffer and die before he could be raised and glorified. Jesus’ own statements in the Gospels clearly show his total dependence on his heavenly Father.
When the exalted Lord Jesus has fulfilled all the prophecies about his second coming to the earth, including the judgment of all men and the restoration of Paradise, his relationship with God will change one last time. This truth is vividly illustrated in 1 Corinthians 15:24–28. It is a section of Scripture that we believe clearly portrays the changing nature of the relationship between God and His Son, as well as the clear distinction between the two.
1 Corinthians 15:24–28 (NASB)
(24) then comes the end, when He (Christ) delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father, when He (Christ) has abolished all rule and all authority and power.
(25) For He (Christ) must reign until He (Christ) has put all His (Christ’s) enemies under His (Christ’s) feet.
(26) The last enemy that will be abolished is death.
(27) For HE (Christ) HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION under HIS (Christ’s) FEET. But when He (Christ) says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He (God) is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him (Christ).
(28) And when all things are subjected to Him (Christ), then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One (God) who subjected all things to Him (Christ), that God may be all in all.
As we stated, the book of Revelation is the complement to the Old Testament. It is God’s account of “…when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ” (Eph. 1:10). Because of the accomplishments of Christ, the “last chapter” of God’s Word has been written. We win!!! Amen!! Come quickly, Lord Jesus!
A New Race for a New Age
The book of Revelation does not speak much about the people who will live and reign with Christ forever, it just says that we will. Thus, Revelation is a wonderful conclusion to the odyssey of human history. Remember that the purpose of the Messiah was to redeem mankind from death, and that is exactly what Christ did. We now want to develop the tremendous truth that we introduced in Chapter 1, where we wrote in closing: “God’s original plan was to have many sons and daughters living together in Paradise forever. The First Adam was supposed to have been the father of that perfect race; the Last Adam will be the ‘father’ of such a race.” Because Jesus Christ has blazed for us a trail through the wilderness of sin and death all the way to everlasting life, we who choose to believe in him will be part of this new race for a new age. We should acknowledge the world’s most famous Bible verse in this connection:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
This hope of everlasting life is to be for each Christian the anchor of our souls (Heb. 6:19), that which keeps us from being “…blown about by every wind of doctrine…” (Eph. 4:14 -NRSV) and dashed on the rocks of this tempestuous world with its many unbiblical religious beliefs and ethical systems.8
We will now consider a key word in regard to this issue, a word used only four times in the New Testament—Hebrews 2:10, 12:2; Acts 3:15 and 5:31, and we will examine each of these. The word is archegos, and it means “the first one in line in a rank or file.” We have already looked at the following verse containing one of its four uses:
In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author [archegos; KJV—“captain”] of their salvation perfect through suffering.
Jesus was the only one who could blaze a trail to salvation, one that all men who chose to do so could follow. Our salvation will not be consummated until he appears again and gives us new, everlasting bodies. In the meantime, we can walk confidently through this minefield of life looking always to him and carefully following his footsteps.
(1) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
(2) Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author [archegos] and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
(3) Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
(4) In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
Jesus is not only the “author” of salvation, but he is also the “author and perfecter” of faith, and faith is the key to a person receiving salvation. Jesus is our perfect example of one who always trusted his heavenly Father, no matter what the circumstances were. His faith was in large part based on “…the joy set before him….” As he had the hope of reigning forever with his Father, so we have the hope of reigning forever with both of them. This hope should keep us going in the face of “opposition from sinful men.” For Jesus, such opposition included an ignominious death on the Cross. For most of us, the opposition is not as much from sinful men opposing us as it is from internal resistance from our old, sinful nature.
Shortly after the Day of Pentecost and the beginning of the Church of the Body of Christ, Peter and John healed a lame man who had begged daily on the Temple steps. Peter then addressed an astonished group of Israelites, many of whom had been a part of turning Jesus over to the authorities for crucifixion.
Acts 3:15 and 16
(15) You killed the author [archegos; KJV—“prince”] of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.
(16) By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom we see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.
Jesus is the Author of life because he is the first one who overcame death. The fact that he is the “first one in line in a rank or file” means that others will follow him on this road to everlasting life. Even in this fallen world, those who have faith in the authority of the name of Jesus can impart to others the kind of life that healed the lame man. Because they healed the lame man, Peter and the other Apostles were arrested and questioned by the Sanhedrin, the ruling body of Judaism, about their angelically-assisted jailbreak. Their reply is both informative and inspirational:
(29) Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men!
(30) The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree.
(31) God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince [archegos] and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.
Jesus, God’s “Prince,” will one day in actuality be crowned King and rule his kingdom here on earth. In the meantime, as Lord, he is authorized to give repentance and forgiveness of sin to all who believe in him. When we have faith (Heb. 12:2), he gives us forgiveness of sins (Acts 5:31). This assures us of salvation (Heb. 2:10) and everlasting life (Acts 3:15). That is a summary of the four uses of archegos, which show Jesus blazing a trail for us to follow into the presence and very life of God. Because of Jesus’ faith and obedience, he was the firstborn from among the dead. As the “Promised Seed” of Genesis 3:15, Jesus will produce fruit after his kind, a new race of people who will live forever.
When Will the New Race Begin?
The question we want to look at now is when will this new race of people come into existence? Perhaps the fact that, on the Day of Pentecost, quite a number of people were born again at the same time foreshadows what could be called the largest “multiple birth” ever. When Jesus Christ comes again, hundreds of millions (maybe billions) of dead believers will be simultaneously raised to everlasting life, while living believers will also be clothed with immortality. To begin to answer the question of when this will happen, let us consider the following verses:
(3) Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,
(4) who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,
(5) to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Let us first note that the Greek word translated “age” is aion, from which we get the English word “eon,” meaning a period of time. Verse 4, about Jesus rescuing us, sure looks good, but it raises some specific questions. For example: Why is this “present age” evil? When did “the present evil age” begin? When will it end, that is, when will Jesus rescue us? To answer the first question, look at the following verse:
2 Corinthians 4:4
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
It is not difficult to figure out who the god of this age is. It is Satan, the Devil. But that raises another question: how did he get to be the god of this age? Once again God’s Word has the answer:
Luke 4:5 and 6
(5) The devil led him [Jesus] up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.
(6) And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.
No one can give away anything he does not have. Who had the authority over the world? The First Adam had it (Gen. 1:28), and when he disobeyed God’s commandment in the Garden of Eden, he relinquished it to Satan. Guess what? That also answers the second question as to when this present evil age began. It began when the First Adam lost his original dominion to Satan. This present evil age will end when the Last Adam takes back that dominion by force. In the meantime, each Christian has both the choice and the ability not to conform to this “age,” but to be transformed by the renewing of his mind so as to prove the will of God in his life (Rom. 12:2).
When Jesus Christ comes again, he will not only raise to everlasting life all those who have believed in him, he will also provide a place for them to live. [For more on Luke 4, and Satan’s dominion, see our class “One Day With The Creator,” Segment Seven, and Segment Eleven]
Romans 8:18–21 (NEB)
(18) For I reckon that the sufferings that we now endure bear no comparison with the splendor, as yet unrevealed, which is in store for us.
(19) For the created universe waits with eager expectation for God’s sons to be revealed.
(20) It was made the victim of frustration, not by its own choice, but because of him [Satan] who made it so; yet always there was hope,
(21) because the universe itself is to be freed from the shackles of mortality and enter upon the liberty and splendor of the children of God.
Jesus Christ, the one born in a manger in Bethlehem and now the exalted Lord, will one day restore the Paradise that the First Adam lost. He will destroy Satan and all evil, and he will create a new heaven, a new earth and a new race for a new and everlasting age. That will complete the mission that was prophesied for him in Genesis 3:15, and which he saw elaborated upon in Isaiah 61:1 and 2. He will then come before his heavenly Father and say, as it were: “Last Adam reporting. Mission accomplished, Paradise regained!” And we can picture God replying, “Thank you, Son. Let’s enjoy our family forever.”
It is doubtful that you have ever seen a counterfeit thirteen-dollar bill. The reason you have never seen one is that there is no genuine thirteen-dollar bill to counterfeit. There is no such thing as a counterfeit without something genuine to copy. The truth of God’s Word is that there will be a “new race” for a “new age,” and therefore Satan has counterfeited both of these ideas. Just as they are inextricably linked together in truth, so are they in the Devil’s counterfeits. These counterfeits are encompassed by what is today called “New Age” philosophy. The roots of the “New Age” movement are not new. As a matter of fact, you can find them in Genesis 3. While he was in the Garden tempting Eve to disobey God, the Devil said to her:
Genesis 3:4 and 5
(4) “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman.
(5) “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Satan lied to mankind then, and he is still promoting the same lie today, a lie that is also at the root of the doctrine of evolution. “You shall be as gods” is the bottom line of New Age philosophy, which propounds that it will be this new race of “god-men” who will usher in a “new age,” the “Age of Aquarius”—an age of peace, prosperity, one-world government and everyone living happily ever after. Throughout history, a number of tyrants have attempted to produce this new race according to their own timetable. Perhaps Adolf Hitler is the most well known, but true Communists like Joseph Stalin and Mao Tse Tung also had as their goal a “regenerate” mankind—a new race living in peace on the earth with no “religion” but atheistic, humanistic materialism. Such tyrants were not above genocide and genetic manipulation to help speed up man’s “evolutionary destiny” to produce a “master race.” As we have seen, there is going to be a master race, but it is only THE MASTER who will ever produce it. There is going to be a NEW AGE of true peace and prosperity, and it will have a one-world government—headed up by JESUS CHRIST THE KING!
Jesus Christ, the Fulcrum of History
We have now come to the end of our Genesis to Revelation survey of the biblical evidence that there is one God, the Father, and one Lord, the man Jesus Christ, His Son. We have repeatedly made the point that the vivid and compelling view of Jesus thus portrayed greatly facilitates our ability to identify with him and to appreciate the majestic plan of God who sent him. Our minds reel at the immense love of both God and Christ to bring to pass our redemption. Our words fail, but the following passage says it best:
(33) Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
(34) Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?
(35) Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?
(36) For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.
In concluding this section of this book, we ask you to consider, from the perspective of Jesus, what his life must have been like, and how that life brought such glory to his Father.
Born in a manger in Bethlehem, he grew up in Nazareth much like thousands of other Jewish boys. In the synagogue, the Temple and at home, Jesus heard the Old Testament Scriptures. What must it have been like for him in the moment that he first understood that he was the “promised seed” of Genesis 3:15, the Messiah to Israel and the Redeemer of mankind? Apparently, this realization dawned on him before he was twelve years old, because, in answer to his parents’ urgent questioning when they realized they had left him behind at the Temple in Jerusalem, he stated, “…Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” Jesus’ understanding of his identity led to a corresponding understanding of his purpose in the fulfillment of God’s original dream. Jesus came to realize that he, and he alone, could do what was necessary to bring to pass an everlasting family of God in Paradise.
Think of the focus he must have had in his heart through his teenage years when, no doubt, many of his peers were frittering away their time with trivial teenage pursuits. Think of how goal-oriented he must have been throughout his twenties, when many other Jewish young men were consumed in establishing their secular careers. Think of how he steeled his heart throughout his earthly ministry, beginning with the time when he was face to face with the Devil in the wilderness.
Think of his agony in the garden of Gethsemane when he was tempted to the limits of his endurance and asked his heavenly Father if there were any other way than the Cross to redeem mankind. Unlike the first man tempted in a garden (the First Adam), Jesus chose to obey his God. Think of his resolve when, after hearing from his Father that there was no other way than the Cross, he arose and walked forth to meet his executioners.
Think how God must have felt as he watched his only-begotten Son suffer at the hands of evil men. Think about God’s fathomless love in sacrificing His Son for you. If you are a parent, you know how you hurt when your child hurts. If it were possible, most parents would gladly take upon themselves the suffering of their children. It took far more love for God, whose love for His Son is beyond our comprehension, to watch Jesus suffer and die than it ever would have taken for God to somehow become a man, if that were even possible, and go through the suffering Himself.
Think of the pressure on Jesus as he was beaten and tortured beyond description and then nailed to the tree, realizing that the destiny of all mankind was riding on his “going the distance” for his Father. Throughout his life, Jesus had built an unwavering trust in the Word of his heavenly Father. In entrusting the mission of the ages to His Son, God had “put all of His eggs in one basket.” In essence, all the Old Testament prophecies of Christ’s life, death, resurrection and exaltation comprised the “good reputation” God gave His Son to live up to. Because Jesus had genuine freedom of will, he could have made one big lie out of all the prophecies about him from Genesis 3:15 through Malachi. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus could have turned his back on his Father, just like the First Adam did when he was tempted.
No doubt the angels watched in horror and with bated breath as Jesus hung on the tree. Surely God was doing all He could to help His Son, yet at that point it was up to Jesus alone to be faithful unto death. The entire destiny of mankind was riding on the flesh-and-blood shoulders of the Man from Galilee. At exactly the right moment, when he had fulfilled all of the Word of God that he had hidden in his heart, Jesus breathed his last breath with the words, “It is finished,” and gave up his most precious possession—his life, entrusting himself to God’s promise of resurrection.
What a bittersweet moment that must have been for God and the heavenly host. How horrifying to see the Son of God die, and yet how scintillating to realize that the destiny of mankind was now in the hands of the Creator. There was no question that God Almighty would keep His Word and raise His Son from the dead. There was no question that God would then highly exalt him as Lord, upon whom those who so chose could believe and receive everlasting life. Because, by his free-will obedience, he died and was “planted” in the ground, the Promised Seed would one day bear much fruit after his kind.
The Church Epistles are the apex of God’s revelation to mankind, setting forth the “all truth” of God’s curriculum for those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ [We have a class setting forth this “all truth,” “One Day With The Creator,” where you will see God’s curriculum for you, and all of mankind]. Each and every Epistle begins with a greeting from “God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,” and they illustrate the oneness of God and His Son. As with the gift of holy spirit, which Jesus Christ received from his Father and first poured out to mankind on the Day of Pentecost, so Jesus received the revelation of the Church Epistles and gave it to the apostle Paul (Gal. 1:11 and 12). The Church Epistles are “the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17), as he received it from his heavenly Father.
In the Church Epistles, God describes Himself as “the Father of Jesus Christ.” What an incredible illustration of God’s humility, and also of how highly He reveres His Son and what he accomplished. How God beams with pride as He says, in essence, “I’m Jesus’ dad.” How touched the Lord’s heart must have been when he received from his Father this revelation now recorded in the Epistles. This must be the epitome of recognition for the Lord Jesus.
By making Jesus the genetic equal to the First Adam, God equipped His Son to be the Redeemer of mankind. It was Jesus, however, who had to choose to obey the Written Revelation of his Father, and he did. God then kept His Word and raised His Son from the grave. How can we ever adequately thank God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ for what they have done for us? Certainly, one way we can thank them is to pour out our lives in service to them day by day.
If you are a Christian, God and His Son have equipped you to walk the path of righteousness that Jesus Christ blazed. Via the gift of holy spirit, you have the divine nature of God. You can do the works that Jesus did, and greater works. As you do, know that you will be richly rewarded for these works at his appearing, after which you will live forever with him and all God’s people in Paradise. All of this, and its unfathomable yet-to-be-made-known blessings, was made possible by one man, The Man who “…became obedient to death—even death on a cross!”
(9) Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
(10) that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
(11) and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
When the testimony of Scripture is so profoundly clear about the identity of Jesus Christ, we must now examine how it became so radically altered in the historical development of orthodox Christian doctrine. How is it that the vast majority of Christians have believed something fundamentally unbiblical and unintelligible, and which effectively diminishes the accomplishments of the one they sincerely meant to exalt?
1. We think most Christians have some understanding of this fact. For example, the Bible says in the Old Testament that to be in the covenant, a male must be circumcised. We today know that that does not apply to Christians. The Bible makes a distinction between that which is addressed to us and that which is just for our learning (Rom. 15:4–KJV). We today do not have a Temple in Jerusalem or animal sacrifices or require lepers to say “Unclean” when they walk along the street (Lev. 13:45).
2. E. W. Bullinger, Commentary on Revelation (Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, 1984), p. 3. Bullinger’s 700 page book is a masterpiece of accurate exposition. He knows the language and the customs involved, and shows clearly that the Church of the Body is not involved in the wrath of God and of the Lamb that is poured out in Revelation.
3. Many people are confused by the word “Church.” It is from the Greek word ekklesia, which simply means “assembly” or “gathering.” It is the context that determines what kind of assembly is being spoken of. When the Church Epistles speak of the “Church,” the word refers to saved Christians. In Acts 7:38, Moses was with the “assembly” in the wilderness (the KJV actually has “church”) though that assembly was the Jews with Moses. In Acts 19, a mob assembles in Ephesus, and that “assembly” was pagan Gentiles. Most of the time, the reader of the English Bible never sees the flexibility in the word ekklesia because the translators translate it according to context. Nevertheless, the point should be clear: when Revelation addresses “the church at Ephesus,” or “the church at Sardis,” it can be the same as Acts 7:38, where the “church” is a Jewish assembly, and the internal evidence of the letters themselves shows that is the case.
4. Many people are confused about the Battle of Armageddon and this final war. The Battle of Armageddon is the battle before the 1000 year reign of Christ (Rev. 19), and the war that ends with fire from heaven occurs after the 1000 year reign of Christ (Rev. 20:7–9). Thus, Armageddon is not “the final battle” as so many teach.
6. R. J. Z. Werblowski and Geoffrey Wigoder, The Encyclopedia of the Jewish Religion citing Ned. 72B; Kid 41B (Adama Books, New York, 1986). See also Appendix D.
7. See Chapter 5 (Dan. 2:44).
8. It is a little known truth that Scripture distinguishes between the concepts “everlasting” and “eternal.” God alone has inhabited “eternity” in a state of transcendent, perpetual immortality. Jesus had a beginning at his birth and was given “immortality” in his resurrection (see 1 Tim. 1:17, 6:15). We will be given “everlasting life” when we are either raised from the dead or transformed with new bodies, as clearly described in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and 17. “Eternal life” is literally “aionian life,” from the Greek word aion, meaning “age.” Hence, we are actually given “life in the age to come.”