Do We Go to Heaven When We Die?

Do We Go to Heaven When We Die?

Some people ridicule the idea of “going to heaven.” However, Paul says that we are already seated in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6) — and he wanted to go to be with Christ after he died, and Christ is in heaven (Philippians 1:23). So it would not be unreasonable to think that Paul wanted to go to heaven when he died.

When most Christians talk about heaven, they are simply using the term as a synonym for salvation. For example, some Christian evangelists ask, “Are you sure that you will go to heaven if you die tonight?” Their point in most cases is not when or where we go — they are simply asking if we are sure of our salvation.

A few people may envision heaven as a place of clouds, harps and gold-paved streets. But such physical things are not really part of heaven — they are figures of speech, suggesting peace, beauty, glory and other good things. They are an attempt to use limited physical terms to describe spiritual realities.

Heaven is spiritual, not physical. It is the “place” God lives. Science fiction fans might say, God lives in a different dimension. He is everywhere present in all dimensions, yet “heaven” is the realm in which he actually dwells. (I apologize for the lack of precision in my words. Theologians may have better words for these concepts, but I hope I can get the general idea across with simple words.) The point is that to be in “heaven” is to be in the presence of God in an immediate and special way. The good thing about heaven is not its location – it is the presence of God.

Scripture says that we will be where God is (John 14:3; Philippians 1:23). Another way to describe our close relationship with God at that time is that we will see him “face to face” (1 Corinthians 13:12; Revelation 22:4; 1 John 3:2). This is a metaphor for being with him in the closest possible way. When we understand the term “heaven” to refer to the dwelling-place of God, it is not wrong to say that Christians will be in heaven in the age to come. We will be with God, and being with God is rightly called being in “heaven.”

In a vision, John saw God’s presence eventually coming to earth — not the present earth, but a “new earth” (Revelation 21:3). Whether we “go” to heaven, or it “comes” to us, either way, we will be in heaven, in the presence of God forever, and it will be wonderfully good.

What God has in store for us is beyond our ability to imagine. Even in this life, the love of God is beyond our ability to understand (Ephesians 3:19). The peace of God is beyond our comprehension (Philippians 4:7), and his joy is beyond our ability to put into words (1 Peter 1:8). How much more, then, is it impossible to describe how good it will be to live with God forever?

The biblical writers didn’t give us many details. But one thing we know for certain — it is going to be the most wonderful experience we have ever had. It is better than the most beautiful paintings, better than the most delicious food, better than the most exciting sport, better than the best feelings and experiences we have ever had. It is better than anything on earth. It is going to be a tremendous reward!

Personal Response

Personal Response

We must take care not to confuse what is true in Jesus for all humanity with each individual’s personal response to that truth.

We do not “decide for Christ” in the sense that our personal decision causes our salvation. Rather, we accept what is ours already in Christ, placing our trust in the one who has already trusted for us in our place.

When we personally believe the gospel, which is to accept what is already ours by grace, we begin to participate in God’s love for us. We begin to live out the new creation that God, prior to our ever believing, made us to be in Christ.

  • There is the general, or objective, truth about all humanity in Jesus, and also the personal, or subjective, experience of this truth.

Objectively, all people, past, present and future, are justified already; all are sanctified; all are reconciled in Jesus in and through what he has done as their representative and substitute. In Jesus, objectively, the old self has already passed away; in him, objectively, we are already the new humanity, represented as such by him before and with God.

However, although all people are already objectively redeemed by Jesus Christ, not all have yet personally and subjectively awakened to and accepted what God has done for them. They do not yet know who they truly are in union with Jesus.

What is objectively true for everyone must be subjectively and personally received and experienced through repentance and faith. Repentance and faith do not cause a person’s salvation, but salvation cannot be experienced and enjoyed without them. Repentance and faith are themselves gifts of God.

In the Scriptures, we find some verses that speak to the general/objective nature of salvation, while others speak to the personal/subjective nature of salvation. Both are real and true—but the personal is true only because the general is a pre-existing reality.

These two categories are found throughout Scripture—both sometimes occurring in one passage, as happens in 2 Corinthians 5:18-21. Paul starts in verses 18-19 with the objective/universal nature of salvation: “All this is from God, who reconciled [past tense] us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”

  • Here is a general truth that applies objectively to all—all are already reconciled to God through what Jesus has done in union with all humanity.

Having established the general truth in 2 Corinthians 5:18-21, Paul goes on in verses 20-21 to address the subjective/personal: “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us.”

How can all be “reconciled” already and yet the invitation go out to “be reconciled”—suggesting a reconciliation yet to occur? The answer is that both are true—these are two aspects of one truth. All are already reconciled in Christ—this is the universal and objective truth—but not all yet embrace and therefore experience their reconciliation with God.

To be reconciled and yet not know and experience it is to continue to live as though one is not reconciled. Having one’s eyes opened by the Spirit to this reconciliation, choosing to embrace it, and then experiencing it does not cause the reconciliation to occur, but it does make it personally realized.

Thus, the evangelistic invitation from Christ’s ambassadors (verse 20) is to “be reconciled.” But this appeal is not to do something that would cause God to reconcile us; rather it is an appeal to receive the reconciliation that exists already with God in Christ. As we welcome the truth of the gospel, we can’t help but worship our Lord and Savior!

What is the Unpardonable Sin?

This issue hangs over the heads of millions of Christians like a heavy fog that just simplySIN

will not clear away.

Mostly this question is asked by those who do not yet have a full revelation of the Father’s true nature.

Jesus accurately portrayed the Father’s nature (having had firsthand experience in heaven) when He told the parable of the prodigal son.

Even though believers agree that we are saved through faith, there still remains with some people a slight “caution” of God, a fear of rejection or punishment for not continually performing at our best, or perhaps failing to confess some hidden or forgotten sin.

  • The following verse is commonly quoted: …but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation. (Mark 3: 29 NKJV) Blaspheming against the Holy Spirit indirectly implies that such a person has not yet been saved.

Here’s why:

  • The moment someone is born again they are filled and sealed with the Holy Spirit: In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. (Eph 1: 13 NKJV)
  • The Holy Spirit cannot blaspheme against Himself, because since He is God this would mean He is blaspheming against God. No, the Holy Spirit glorifies the Father and testifies to the fact that Jesus had come in the flesh: By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God. (1 John 4: 2 NKJV)

So this means that no person that has been given the Holy Spirit, can speaking by the spirit blaspheme against God. If a person blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it means the Spirit they have is not the Holy Spirit, which means they have not yet been saved and therefore cannot be forgiven for their sin (because they don’t believe in Jesus).

  • However once such a person repents and puts their faith in Christ, all their sins are forgiven. When we sin, we fall into grace.

The bigger our sin, the bigger the grace that covers the sin, according to Romans 5: 20 (and remember we’re not encouraging people to go out and sin).

If we ever think that there’s a sin that cannot be covered by God’s grace, we are actually saying that the punishment that was bestowed on Jesus was not harsh enough and that our sin is more powerful than the power of His forgiveness!

  • Those who do this are trampling the grace of God under foot. Only One Unforgivable Sin There is one sin however, that can’t be forgiven.

And this is also a very misunderstood scripture…

Jesus had just told His disciples He would be going away, but that He would send the Helper to them; the promised Holy Spirit: And when He [the Holy Spirit] has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: (John 16: 8 NKJV)

  • Most people stop here and think this verse means the Holy Spirit’s job is to convict them of sin; that He is always supposed to make them feel guilty about “unholy areas” in their life.

However most people miss the fact that there is a semi colon at the end of verse 8. This means that Jesus was about to explain what He had just said! So let’s read the next verses as well: 8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (John 16: 8-10 NKJV)

Verse 9 says the Holy Spirit will convict the world of their sin of unbelief in Jesus, thus He is referring to unbelievers. Also, it says “sin”, not “sins”. Unbelief in Jesus Christ is the only sin that Jesus could not die for.

This is the only sin that God can’t forgive. A person has to believe in Jesus if they want to be saved! The above verses also say that the Holy Spirit will convict people of two other things: Verse 10 –of righteousness, because Jesus went to the Father, and imputed His righteousness to believers as a free gift! Verse 11 –of judgment, because Satan (the ruler of this world) is judged!

So the Holy Spirit really only reminds us of how righteous we are in Christ, how powerless Satan is, and He reminds unbelievers that they need to believe in Jesus. What an awesome God we serve!

  • So if we still live with some secret fear of punishment, then we have not yet received the full revelation of the grace and love of our Father:

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment [punishment]. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (1 John 4: 18 NKJV)

  • Knowing how much our Father loves us will cast out all fear of punishment, because we have been made righteous forever!

 

Approaching God with Boldness

After clothing us with His own spotless garment of righteousness, God does not wBoldnesssssssssant us to
be conscious of our sins anymore, like the people were under the Old Covenant.

Trying to live according to the requirements of the law will make us all too aware of just how poorly we measure up against it.

The only way for a believer to have confidence when approaching God is to be
absolutely convinced that all their sins have been forgiven!

Anything less will always leave a trace of uncertainty about whether God really loves them or wants to bless them. God wants us to be conscious of our righteousness.

When we constantly tell God how sorry we are for this and that sin, we remind ourselves of how bad we think we are, forgetting that our sin was already forgiven at the cross more than 2000 years ago!

The writer of Hebrews wanted to instill in his readers this same confidence, showing them how the superiority of the New Covenant over the Old allows the believer to draw near to God with boldness, trusting not in their own level of obedience to the law, but in the blood of Christ.

Those who try to please God through their own efforts of law keeping are like the priests of the Old Covenant who constantly remained conscious of their mistakes, because no human being was or is ever able to perfectly execute the obligations of the law:

For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.

For then would they not have ceased to be offered?

For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins.But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.

For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. (Heb 10: 1-4, NKJV) But this Man [Jesus], after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.

For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. (Heb 10: 12-14 NKJV) Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. (Heb 10: 19-23 NKJV)

Being Aware of Who We ARE

Which of the following attitudes would Christ rather want us to walk around with: Feeling condemned, unworthy and guilty, begging and crawling on our knees before Him, constantly pleading for mercy?

While at the same time having no confidence whatsoever to approach Him because we feel we are sinners?

Or would God rather want us to be conscious of the fact that and loved by Him, how we have been justified and made righteous and given authority  over sickness, poverty and all other enemies of God?

We have even been seated in heavenly places with Christ! …and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Eph 2: 6 NKJV)

Now how can a believer who sits in heaven still think that they are a sinner?

This can only happen when we try to relate to God on the basis of how well we have performed, forgetting that this is not the way that He relates to us.

God is a Spirit and He relates Spirit to Spirit. And since the Spirit of a believer has been sanctified, perfected, purified and justified, this is the way that God sees us. In Matthew 3 we see Jesus being baptized in the river Jordan.

This was before He had done any miracles, before He began His ministry and before He had healed even a single person.

After He was baptized the heavens opened, the Holy Spirit came down onto Him like a dove and the Father said “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”

What makes this so remarkable is the fact that Jesus was accepted and loved by God before He even did one miracle or began His ministry.

Why then did God love Him already?

Because Jesus was God’s Son – simple as that.

By the way it isn’t written anywhere that the heavens ever closed again or that the Holy Spirit ever “lifted” off Him again.

Now the Bible tells us over and over that because of our faith in Christ, we are God’s children too.

The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. (Rom 8: 16 NKJV)

In fact we are even called God’s SONS, just like Jesus: “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty”. (2 Cor 6: 18 NKJV)

Now if God loved Jesus at that stage, regardless of the fact that He hadn’t done any miracles, didn’t have a ministry or hadn’t even preached a sermon yet, wouldn’t God, because He is the same forever, love us in the same way?

We can therefore, whether we feel like He loves us or not, whether we think we’ve committed the worst sin or whether we feel like we’ve been wasting our lives with insignificant activities, trust that God rejoices over us simply because of our identity:

We are His beloved children, bought with the most precious commodity in the universe:

The blood of Christ: …knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. (1 Pet 1: 18-19 NKJV)

God is pleased with us, whether we do miracles or have a ministry, OR NOT.

The Law Arouses Sin

If a married man were to go on a business trip to a different country and one night after work, while he was sitting in a pub sipping a drink, he was approached by a very attractive woman with “cruel intentions”, what would be this man’s motive for staying true to his wife?dddd

The ring on his finger?

The piece of paper that he signed on his wedding day? No!

These external things will never keep a person from committing adultery.

·     The strongest motivation for the husband to remain true to his wife would be if he loved her.

It is exactly the same with Christians and holy living.

The fact that a Christian ought to love their neighbor simply because the Bible says so is not enough motivation for them to actually do it.

In fact most people perform rather poorly at things they ought to do, and much better at things they want to do.

·     It is a fact that when we tell somebody they are not allowed to do something, we are actually arousing a desire inside them that wants to do that very thing!

This is exactly what the law does.

People would not have known what sin was if it were not for the law, because the law says “don’t do this”or “don’t touch that”:

·     What shall we say then?

·     Is the law sin?

·     Certainly not!

On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. (Rom 7: 7-8 NKJV) Salvation = Moral Living?

One of the predominant doctrines doing the rounds in the church today regarding moral living, is that if a person is not performing very well morally we should probably question if they were really saved in the first place, or whether God can use them at all.

However it’s really not our prerogative to stand in front of one of God’s children (who may just be going through a rough time), point our finger and say “I don’t think they are really saved”.

·     Who are we to judge?

Chances are good that such a brother or sister might be sitting under the teaching of a person or ministry that is still preaching holy living and moral behavior modification at the cost of being unconditionally accepted and loved by God and this might be causing them to struggle with some bad habit or pattern of immorality.

The Bible actually tells us to restore such a person with gentleness:

Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. (Gal 6: 1 NKJV)

However when someone who claims to be saved, carries on in the same destructive lifestyle patterns for years and years and simply pops into church when it’s convenient for a religious little Sunday morning “fix”, with their lives void of any passion for God, it might be a good idea to talk to them about whether they were really saved in the first place.

But back to the point, a definite indication of legalism is when upholding some moral standard or code is considered to be more important than the person struggling with upholding it.

In some circles where people call themselves Christians, people are actually thrown out from their midst if they commit a certain type of mistake.

·     Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries…(Gal 5: 19-21a NKJV)

 

·     From this verse it is interesting to see that the Bible lists drinking too much beer or wine up there with murder.

Although we shouldn’t condone this kind of behavior, we are not to pass judgment on anybody either, because we do not always understand their circumstances.

Contrary to popular belief however, telling people that they don’t have to obey the laws of Moses anymore actually helps them to have more victory over sin, because it lifts the mould of external behavior modification off them.

At salvation God gives us a 100% righteous born again spirit man on the inside that wants to live for God, wants to love other people and wants to do good.

Ryan Rufus from New Nature Publications (Hong Kong) says: “Any true believer will admit that if they had the choice to push a button that would allow them to never sin again, they would push that button in an instant”.

·     This is proof that the laws of God have now been written on our hearts and that we don’t need the external written code (the law) to direct us anymore: …

I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts [this means God gave us the desire to please Him and have fellowship with Him]; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (Heb 8: 10b NKJV)

The laws referred to in this verse are not the 10 Commandments either, since we are living under a new and better covenant and not under the Old Covenant anymore.

Before we came to faith in Christ, the law was our schoolmaster that taught us “holy living” and was only a type and a shadow of the real thing, namely faith in Christ.

·     The law, like a signpost, was only supposed to point us to the real thing – we were never supposed to set up camp next to the signpost!

Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might bejustified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. (Gal 3: 24-25 NKJV)

·     The Bible calls the law (that was written on tablets of stone) the“ministry of death”:

But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? (2 Cor 3: 7-8 NKJV).

·     If we now tell people that they should live up to the demands of this Old Covenant System, it means that we are actually putting death on them.

To conclude, if people think that we are saying they can just go out and live in full blown depravity, licentiousness and immorality, simply running like animals after the desires of their flesh, then they are wrong.

If God has removed our old sinful nature with its lustful desires, why should we live in it any longer?

·     …knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. (Rom 6: 6 NKJV)

Just as we once followed like slaves after the lusts of our old sinful nature, we now have the desire and privilege to follow the desires of our new 100% righteous reborn spirit:

·     I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members (flesh) as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members (flesh) as slaves of righteousness for holiness. (Rom 6: 19 NKJV)

Did Jesus End the Law or Not ?

Matt 5: 17-18NOLAW

Many people who still believe they have to live according to the Old Covenant Laws have thrown Matthew 5: 17-18 at preachers of the grace message to try and prove their case. But what does the Bible really say about living under the law and whether we are still bound to it? “Do not think that I came to destroy the law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.

For assuredly, I say to you, till Heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. (Matt 5: 17-18 NKJV) Peter Ditzel from Word of His Grace

1 Explains these two verses as follows: “Jesus is giving us two either / or conditions here: The law cannot pass until heaven and earth pass OR the law cannot pass until all is fulfilled.

One or the other can do it. Heaven and earth have not yet passed, so we will leave that aside. But what did Jesus mean by ALL being fulfilled?

He was referring to what He had just said in the previous sentence: the fulfilling or completing of the law AND the prophets. Once He had fulfilled the law and the prophets, the law could pass.

Why is it that so many people who accept that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies have a hard time understanding that in exactly the same way, He fulfilled the Old Testament laws: ALL of them?”

Legal Requirements of the Law When a person is under a contractual obligation to someone else and they fulfill all the requirements of that contract, it means the contract is finished and over.

But if they simply destroyed the contractual agreement before fulfilling its requirements, they are not released from its obligations, which is why Jesus said that He did not come to destroy the law. But the moment the obligations of the contract are fulfilled, that person is set free from it!

In exactly the same way Jesus did not come to destroy the law, but He fulfilled it. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (Rom 10: 4 NKJV)

Because all the righteous requirements of the law were fulfilled in Christ and since we are given the righteousness of Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit as a free gift when we put our faith in Jesus, it means that in Christ we too have fulfilled the requirements of the law and therefore the law has ended for us as well.

For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Rom 8: 3-4 NKJV)

If someone’s mind has not been renewed to think in terms of grace, they might stare themselves blind against the last part of verse 4, thinking that we have to walk after the Spirit if we want to fulfil the righteous requirements of the law.

But look down in verse 9: But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. (Rom 8: 9 NKJV)

This says that that if the Holy Spirit dwells in us, we are not in the flesh!

So what these verses are actually saying is that if someone has the Holy Spirit inside them, it is proof that the requirements of the law have been met in them.

The Prophets For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. (Matt 11: 13 NKJV) The entire law and the Old Testament Prophets spoke of the coming of the Messiah who would forgive the sins of the whole world.

The law was our tutor (schoolmaster), teaching us “right living”until we should put our faith in Jesus and begin to live by faith. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed.

Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. (Gal 3: 23-25 NKJV)

This says that after we’ve put our faith in Jesus Christ, we don’t need the tutor of the law to instruct us anymore.

The Holy Spirit inside us can do the job pretty well on His own – He doesn’t need the assistance of an external set of rules!

“The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it”. (Luk 16: 16 NKJV)

This verse implies that if we still preach law-based living we are not preaching the Kingdom, because we would be preaching things that ended with John the Baptist over 2000 years ago – read the verse again.

How much clearer can it get?

Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. (Gal 3: 16 NKJV)

So; What then is the purpose of the law?

It was added because of transgressions, until the seed (Christ) should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. (Gal 3: 19 NKJV)

These verses say that the law was given because of transgressions until the Seed should come (and Hebrews 3 tells us it was specifically the sin of unbelief).

Then when the Seed (Christ) came, the law was fulfilled and we were freed from its legal requirements. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets. (Rom 3: 21 NKJV)

If there were such a thing as the “court of heaven”, the law and prophets would have stood up as witnesses, pointed their fingers to those who put their faith in Jesus and said: “That person is righteous!”Also note the verse says that this righteousness comes apart from the law.

From these verses and many more it is plain to see that believers are not supposed to try and live under the law anymore, but instead live by faith in Jesus Christ.

Living in Sin Here is a shocker, something that should silence the mouths of those who still try to be justified by obeying the law. Let’s look at two verses first:

And the law is not of faith…(Gal 3: 12a NKJV) and …for whatsoever is not of faith is sin. (Rom 14: 23b NKJV)

It’s quite surprising to see what it says when we combine these two verses.

Since the law is not of faith Galatians 3: 12) and since anything that is not of faith is sin (Romans 14: 23), it means that those who try to be justified by their own good works and try to live up to the moral code of the law are actually living in sin!

Righteousness which Exceeds that of the Pharisees Jesus also said the following:

For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of Heaven. (Matt 5: 20 NKJV)

The scribes and Pharisees prided themselves in how well they kept the laws of Moses; in fact it’s what they did for a living!

These laws didn’t just include the 10 Commandments, but also all the rituals and daily sacrifices and a total of 613 stipulations and commandments that were contained in the five books of Moses (Genesis to Deuteronomy)

2. In fact most people who try to live up to the Law of Moses today would pale in comparison against an average Pharisee.

It is therefore simple to see that the righteousness which Jesus was talking about was not about believers trying to live more obedient or more holy; He was talking about a righteousness that comes from God, given to every believer as a free gift at the point of salvation.

At the exact same moment that a believer puts their faith in Jesus, they are given His perfect righteousness and He is given their sin and transgressions:

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor 5: 21 NKJV)

Isn’t that just an amazing deal?

Thank You Jesus!

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Three Covenants

CovanteThere are many covenants in the Bible, but we will only focus on three, the first two being covenants which God had made with man and the third one which was made within the Trinity itself.

  • If we understand these three covenants it will make the Bible much clearer and simpler to understand.

Firstly however we must understand the difference between a covenant and a promise:

  • When God makes a promise, we have to put our faith in that promise for it to come to pass:
  • (Heb 6: 12 NKJV) …but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
  • (Heb 11: 33 NKJV) …who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions.

However, when God makes a covenant it will come to pass, whether we believe it or not.

God can not lie and when He takes an oath, He always does what He says.

Let’s look at the 3 Covenants:

First Covenant God appears to Abraham and makes a covenant to be Abraham’s God and to multiply and bless him.

Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: (Gen 17: 3-7 NKJV)

“As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you.

And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.

  • There were no strings attached. Abraham also didn’t do anything to deserve any of this; he didn’t keep any laws or live unusually holy. As a matter of fact, some theological scholars believe Abraham was an Iraqi who worshipped pagan Gods!

Abraham disobeyed God by sleeping with his wife’s servant (Hagar) and through this single act of disobedience gave birth to Ishmael, who became the father of all the Arab nations as we know them today.

Abraham’s wife Sarah later gave birth to Isaac, the son who was born according to the promise and who became the father of the Israelites.

And we know that up to this day there exists a continuous conflict between these nations.

  • Abraham also lied twice about his wife Sarah (once to the Pharaoh in Genesis 12 and once to Abimelech the king of Gerar, in Genesis 20) and alleged that she was his sister. Abraham was afraid that they would kill him due to the fact that she was a very beautiful woman.
  • Now even though Abraham was clearly in the wrong here, God didn’t rebuke him for it but instead rebuked the pharaoh!

But the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. (Gen 12: 17 NKJV)

And later again God rebuked the king of Gerar and not Abraham: But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, “Indeed you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife”.  (Gen 20: 3 NKJV)

Who was in the wrong here? Abraham! Who did God rebuke? The king!

  • This was because God had established a covenant with Abraham and neither with the pharaoh nor the king.

And because God always keeps His part of the bargain, Abraham was favored by God because of this covenant.

We just saw that Abraham had lied about his wife, but because of God’s blessing on his life he came out of Egypt (and later also out of Gerar) laden with slaves and cattle and wealth!

Now by this we are not saying that people should go out and lie to other people and deceive them in order for God to bless them!

We are by no means endorsing immoral living, but this just serves to illustrate that God blessed Abraham regardless of his level of obedience. God blessed Abraham even though he lied!

  • There was no moral standard to live up to, since the Law of Moses which included the 10 Commandments was only introduced 430 years later, which brings us to the second covenant.

Second Covenant This is described in the Bible as the “Old Covenant”, where God gave the law and the 10 Commandments to Moses. Israel had kept on murmuring and complaining ever since God had led them out of Egypt with mighty signs and wonders.

They also didn’t want to have a personal relationship with God, but instead always asked Moses to speak to God on their behalf. They were uncomfortable with having to “deal” with God personally and preferred to remain at a distance.

Despite of all the goodness that God had shown them they always kept on murmuring and complaining, even saying that God and Moses wanted to kill them!

And the children of Israel said to them, “Oh, that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger. (Ex 16: 3 NKJV)

The tragedy of this is that in Exodus 15 (the previous chapter) Israel had just sung a song about the goodness of God and about how He had delivered them from the Egyptians when the waters of the Red Sea closed over them.

And here in the very next chapter they accuse Him of wanting to kill them! This happened again and again, time after time.

Eventually, because Israel refused to believe that God was on their side, He gave them the law and all the other commandments to keep, something that didn’t require any faith from their side (faith in God’s goodness): Then he [Moses] took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people.

And they [Israel] said, “All that the LORD has said we will do, and be obedient.” And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, “This is the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you according to all these words”. (Ex 24: 7-8 NKJV)

The Sin of Unbelief In Galatians 3 we read more about why the law was given to Israel: What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made. (Gal 3: 19 NKJV)

Israel’s transgression was their persistent unbelief in the goodness of God. They blindly refused to acknowledge that God wanted to bless them, love them, care for them and be their God.

So the law was given unto them, but only for a certain period. God already had a master plan to restore mankind back into unbroken fellowship with Himself and He knew that the Old Law Covenant would only be in power until the Seed should come.

This Seed, of course, was Jesus Christ. For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He [God] angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He [God] swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. (Heb 3: 16-19 NKJV)

Note in the previous verses it talks about “those who sinned” and “they could not enter because of unbelief” (still talking about the same people, namely Israel).

Israel should never have agreed to living under the law! God would have accepted and loved them regardless of how holy (or unholy) they lived, because they were Abraham’s descendants and we just read about God’s amazing covenant with Abraham.

God declared Abraham to be righteous simply because he believed God: And he [Abraham] believed in the LORD, and He [the Lord] accounted it to him for righteousness. (Gen 15: 6 NKJV)

But instead, Israel in their pride said: “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.”(Exo 24: 7b ESV)

Cursed is he who does not rise to all the Words of this Law, to do them! And all the people shall say, Amen! (Deut 27: 26 LITV)

They agreed to something they would never be able to do or keep!

This must rank right up there with the Garden of Eden in the list of all time dumb things said or done.

  • Even God said about them: And the LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people! (Ex 32: 9 NKJV)

God never originally meant for us to try to relate to Him in this way. Just after God’s commands were written on stone and He set the choice of curse (for disobedience) or blessing (for obedience) before Israel, He said the following to Moses: And the LORD said to Moses: “Behold, you will rest with your fathers; and this people will rise and play the harlot with the gods of the foreigners of the land, where they go to be among them, and they will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them. (Deut 31: 16 NKJV)

Does this look like God’s best plan for mankind? If even God Himself said that He knew Israel would break the Old Covenant Law, does it really seem logical that He would still want people to base their relationship with Him on the basis of how well they are able to obey a set of rules?

The Characteristics of a Covenant One of the characteristics of a covenant is that it cannot be withdrawn from by either of the parties that made it, since a covenant is a life-long contract or agreement. For a covenant to end, either one of the parties that entered into it literally has to die.

Since Israel was never able to fully keep up their side of the covenant and remain 100% obedient to all its stipulations, they were in breach of its requirements which meant that God had to keep up His side of the covenant and punish them for their disobedience. All the horrible curses that would strike Israel for disobedience can be found in Deuteronomy 28: 15-68.

If God hadn’t punished them for their sins, He would have been in breach of His side of the covenant, thereby making Him a liar and of course we know that God can not lie. There was also another problem: Since God has an indestructible life, He could not bring an end to this covenant by dying Himself. He therefore had His Spirit conceive a child through a human woman and the man Jesus Christ was born into this world.

Jesus Christ lived a 100% perfectly obedient life, thereby fulfilling all the requirements of the Old Covenant Law, which brings us to the third Covenant:

Third Covenant This is the most amazing New Covenant under which we now live!

  • This covenant was cut within the Trinity with no human influence or intervention, but purely out of God’s heart of love towards us.

God took away the laws He gave to Moses, canceling the written code that stood opposed to us: …having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. (Col 2: 14 NKJV)

He made Jew, Greek and Gentile equal – God’s church has now become spiritual Israel. For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly(Rom 2: 28-29a NKJV)

God’s relationship with Israel before the introduction of the Old Covenant was a type and shadow of what He wants to have with the whole world today. …that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. (2 Cor 5: 19 NKJV)

It is required that when making a covenant it has to be sealed with blood. God had also confirmed His covenant with Abraham with blood (Genesis 15: 9-18) and had Israel do the same: Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood.

For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.”

Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry. And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. (Heb 9: 18-22 NKJV)

In the Old Covenant Israel slaughtered animals to appease the wrath of God. In essence they were only postponing the punishment for their sins for another year, because the blood of animals could never fully serve as payment for the sins of mankind: For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. (Heb 10: 4 NKJV)

So God sent His only Son, allowed Him to be crucified by the very people He came to save and accepted His blood as the full, perfect and complete payment for all the past, present and future sins of all mankind.

The Father then entered into a New Covenant with His Son Jesus, stipulating that the righteousness and all the blessings that Jesus had earned through His perfect obedience were to be given as a free gift to mankind on one condition: They had to believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Every person that accepted Jesus’ sacrifice as a full and complete payment for their sins would be imputed with the perfect righteousness of God Himself: I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness. (Isa 61: 10a NKJV)

God would also wipe out their sinfulness through the perfect offering of the cross, imparting His perfection unto all who believe in Him: For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified. (Heb 10: 14 KJV)

Many people call this the “divine exchange”- our sinfulness was laid on Jesus and His righteousness was given to us as a free gift.

  • Actually He was MADE to BE sin. Righteousness therefore wasn’t just given to us: we BECAME righteousness!

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor 5: 21 NKJV)

In fact the Bible is so full of references to the reality that the Old Covenant has passed away and that it has been replaced by the New Covenant, that it is very hard to miss it! The following verses clearly tell us that the Old Covenant (referring to the Law of Moses), which was only a type and a shadow of the New Covenant, has passed away:

For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah [remember how we spoke a little earlier about all believers being “Jews”?] – not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD.

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts [this means God will give us the desire to please Him and have fellowship with Him, to seek His heart for us]; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.

[This means gone are the days where we need a priest or someone else to constantly tell us about God, now we can know Him personally and intimately!] For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” [Do you really need any more proof that God won’t ever punish you again?]

In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. (Heb 8: 7-13 NKJV)

Beneficiaries of Two Covenants! Now, when a person becomes born again through simply putting their faith in Jesus, they are grafted into “spiritual Israel” and God plants His own Seed inside them: For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Gal 3: 26-29 NKJV)

Here is verse 29 again, read it slowly: And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. We not only become partakers of the New Covenant, inheriting all its wonderful benefits, but through our faith in Jesus we also become heirs of the promises that God made to Abraham! Talk about a double portion, shabba!

Here are some more verses: …just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.”So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham. (Gal 3: 6-9 NKJV)

You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. (Acts 3: 25 NKJV)

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Gal 3: 13-14 NKJV)

God will never again refrain from doing good to us and even when He chastens us (Hebrews 12) it is an affectionate reproach from His heart of love.

Old Testament Prophesies Some of the Old Testament prophets were given visions of the New Covenant and they painted an amazingly clear picture of the unconditional love of God towards His children; of a God that has chosen to blot out their sins and relate to them on the basis of the perfect obedience of His Son, Jesus Christ:

And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me. (Jer 32: 40 NKJV)

And I will establish My covenant with you. Then you shall know that I am the LORD …when I provide you an atonement for all you have done,” says the Lord GOD’”. (Eze 16: 62-63b NKJV)

The blood of Jesus was the atonement: For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matt 26: 28 NKJV)

Probably the most well-known prophesy that an Old Testament prophet made about the coming New Covenant is found in Isaiah 54: “For a mere moment I have forsaken you [when people were still under the law], But with great mercies I will gather you.

With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment [God had to serve punishment for man’s disobedience to the Old Law Covenant]; But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,” Says the LORD, your Redeemer. [What part of “everlasting kindness” is so hard to understand?]

“For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; For as I have sworn that the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you

[There goes a whole heap of “angry God” theories and doctrines right out the door].

Isaiah 54: 7-10 NKJV “For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has mercy on you.

Under which covenant will we choose to live under ?