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gregoryfl
01-22-2010, 01:16 PM
Here is one of my latest articles that I hope give clarity and understanding to an often misunderstood subject.

Joh 2:23 Now as He was in Jerusalem at the Passover in the festival, many believe in His name, beholding His signs which He did." Joh 2:24 Yet Jesus Himself did not entrust Himself to them, because of His knowing all men, Joh 2:25 for He had no need that anyone should be testifying concerning mankind, for He knew what was in mankind."

Joh 6:14 When therefore the people saw the sign which Jesus did, they said, "This is truly the prophet who comes into the world."

Then speaking further concerning these same ones who expressed this belief in him:

Joh 6:63 It is the spirit who gives life. The flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and are life. Joh 6:64 But there are some of you who don't believe." For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who didn't believe, and who it was who would betray him. Joh 6:65 He said, "For this cause have I said to you that no one can come to me, unless it is given to him by my Father." Joh 6:66 At this, many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

Joh 8:30 As he spoke these things, many believed in him. Joh 8:31 Jesus therefore said to those Jews who had believed him, "If you remain in my word, then you are truly my disciples. Joh 8:32 You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." Joh 8:33 They answered him, "We are Abraham's seed, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How do you say, 'You will be made free?' " Joh 8:34 Jesus answered them, "Most certainly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is the bondservant of sin. Joh 8:35 A bondservant doesn't live in the house forever. A son remains forever. Joh 8:36 If therefore the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. Joh 8:37 I know that you are Abraham's seed, yet you seek to kill me, because my word finds no place in you. Joh 8:38 I say the things which I have seen with my Father; and you also do the things which you have seen with your father." Joh 8:39 They answered him, "Our father is Abraham." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham. Joh 8:40 But now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God. Abraham didn't do this. Joh 8:41 You do the works of your father." They said to him, "We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father, God." Joh 8:42 Therefore Jesus said to them, "If God were your father, you would love me, for I came out and have come from God. For I haven't come of myself, but he sent me. Joh 8:43 Why don't you understand my speech? Because you can't hear my word. Joh 8:44 You are of your father, the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and doesn't stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks on his own; for he is a liar, and its father. Joh 8:45 But because I tell the truth, you don't believe me. Joh 8:46 Which of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Joh 8:47 He who is of God hears the words of God. For this cause you don't hear, because you are not of God."

Here is the end result of Jesus' time with these believers:

Joh 8:59 Therefore they took up stones to throw at him, but Jesus was hidden, and went out of the temple, having gone through the midst of them, and so passed by.

Imagine for a moment, that you are the Messiah. You bring this message, telling people that you bring the truth, and they must believe in you. You even perform miraculous signs, things they are expecting the Messiah to do. And, to no one's surprise, many believe in you. How would you react? How would you feel? If you feel pretty good, and satisfied, then you would instantly wake up from your delusional dream. You could not be the Messiah, because he would not feel good about it. And for good reason. Truly, the Lord's ways are not man's ways.

I have recorded 3 separate accounts of his own people, the Jews, believing in him, along with his reaction. If you look carefully, you will notice that in the first instance, John blatantly records Jesus as not entrusting himself to them. Why? Because he knew what was in man. What was it that was in man? What was hiding underneath all the belief they had in him?

The next two accounts give us that information. In the first, what Jesus says causes many (who just the day before proclaimed him to be the prophet to come) to no longer follow him. In the second account, addressing specifically the Jews who believed in him, what Jesus says causes them to pick up stones to kill him.

Also, in both accounts we have explicit statement from Jesus that they did not believe, and that is what Jesus knew was in man...UNBELIEF! Yes, those who believed in him were actually in unbelief, and Jesus exposed it.

Oh, by the way, we don't want to leave out the apostles do we? We know they stuck around, so surely they were the exception right? NOPE! Read this and tell me if it sounds like belief to you:

Mat 26:31 Then Jesus said to them, "All of you will be made to stumble because of me tonight, for it is written, 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'
Mat 26:32 But after I am raised up, I will go before you into Galilee." Mat 26:33 But Peter answered him, "Even if all will be made to stumble because of you, I will never be made to stumble." Mat 26:34 Jesus said to him, "Most certainly I tell you that tonight, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times." Mat 26:35 Peter said to him, "Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you." All of the disciples also said likewise.

Mat 26:56 But all this has happened, that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled." Then all the disciples left him, and fled.

Luk 24:6 He isn't here, but is risen. Remember what he told you when he was still in Galilee, Luk 24:7 saying that the Son of Man must be delivered up into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again?" Luk 24:8 They remembered his words, Luk 24:9 returned from the tomb, and told all these things to the eleven, and to all the rest. Luk 24:10 Now they were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James. The other women with them told these things to the apostles. Luk 24:11 These words seemed to them to be nonsense, and they didn't believe them.

Luk 24:36 As they said these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, "Peace be to you." Luk 24:37 But they were terrified and filled with fear, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. Luk 24:38 He said to them, "Why are you troubled? Why do doubts arise in your hearts? Luk 24:39 See my hands and my feet, that it is truly me. Touch me and see, for a spirit doesn't have flesh and bones, as you see that I have." Luk 24:40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. Luk 24:41 While they still didn't believe for joy, and wondered, he said to them, "Do you have anything here to eat?"

Luk 24:12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb. Stooping and looking in, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he departed to his home, wondering what had happened.
Joh 20:2 Therefore she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we don't know where they have laid him!" Joh 20:8 So then the other disciple who came first to the tomb also entered in, and he saw and believed. Joh 20:9 For as yet they didn't know the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead.

Yes, even these disciples, the ones most faithful to him, didn't quite make it to the end, but instead, forsook him and showed their unbelief as well, even after he was raised from the dead and appeared to them.

Incidentally, I put that last account in there because some have said that Peter and John believed that Jesus was raised from the dead when they went to the tomb, but we can see that they didn't. What they believed was what the women told them, that Jesus was removed from the tomb and taken somewhere else.

Well then, if everyone ended up in unbelief, what does this show? It shows the wonderful wisdom of God:

Rom 11:32 For God locks up all together in stubbornness, that He should be merciful to all."

You see, unbelief, manifested in what Paul called stubbornness, was God's plan all along.

Gal 3:22 But the scripture locks up all together under sin, that the promise out of Jesus Christ's faith may be given to those who are believing."

Stubbornness is closely associated with the sin spoken of here. Notice how both are spoken of as a net locking up all under sin, and in stubbornness.

This is a fishing metaphor, as can be seen by it's literal use in Luke:

Luk 5:6 And, this doing, they lock up a vast multitude of fishes. Yet their nets tore through,

Stubbornness describes the condition they find themselves in. The sin describes the cause under which the condition exists. This sin is the sin of unbelief. We can see this because it is positioned against "believing" at the end of the verse.

In other words, you could just as well render it this way:

Gal 3:22 But the scripture locks up all together under unbelief, that the promise out of Jesus Christ's faith may be given to those who are believing."

Why stubbornness though? Don't most translations of the Bible say "disobedience" instead? Yes, but there is a careful distinction found in the Greek that needs to be seen, which will show that God didn't lock up anyone in disobedience, but stubbornness. We will also see how knowing that will help us understand its importance as being connected with unbelief.

Unlike man, God does not look at the outward. He looks at the heart. Disobedience, (parakoe in Greek) is only an outward manifestation, a symptom, of a cause that comes from within. God needed to deal with the heart, because to deal only with the symptoms would only mask the true problem, not solve it. And so what is the cause of all disobedience, and where does it come from? The very place God looks at, the same place Jesus looked at which caused him not to entrust himself to those who believed in him when he was on earth. That cause is unbelief (apistia in Greek), and the place is the heart.

Heb 3:12 Beware, brethren, lest at some time there shall be in any one of you a wicked heart of unbelief, in withdrawing from the living God."

Unbelief is not an action, but a cause; specifically, a condition of the heart. This cause, unbelief, is expressed in many different ways, all of which stem from a condition called stubbornness (apeitheo in Greek). We can plainly see this connection here:

Heb 3:18 Now to whom does He swear, not to be entering into His stopping, except to the stubborn?[condition]
Heb 3:19 And we are observing that they could not enter because of unbelief.[cause]

We can also see the interconnectedness between stubbornness and unbelief, which binds them together, by asking this question: For what reason did they not enter in.

Was it unbelief?

Heb 3:19 And we are observing that they could not enter because of unbelief.

Or was it stubbornness?

Heb 4:6 Since, then, it is left for some to be entering into it, and those to whom the evangel was formerly brought did not enter because of stubbornness,

We can see the answer to both is yes, to say one you are automatically saying the other. There is a distinction, but they are like two sides of the same coin.

To sum up what we see so far, we have the:

Cause=Unbelief
Condition=Stubbornness
Symptoms=Disobedience

I want to share a human example and apply it to the spiritual reality, to show how God, in his wisdom, took care of the problem.

Let us use a very common example. Let us say we have a spot on a wall that over time starts to discolor. The man gets some paint to cover over the discoloration. The wall looks fine....for a short while. Soon after the same discoloration appears again. The man had only fixed the symptom. Obviously that did not solve the problem.

He realizes that cause of the discoloration is moisture, so he blows a fan over the wet drywall until it dries, and then paints it. All is fixed....for a short while. He has gotten rid of the condition, the wetness, but he has not solved the problem.

He then realizes that there must be a cause that is producing the condition, and its symptoms. He goes outside and notices that the sprinklers are hitting the wooden wall there. He turns the sprinkler head to spray away from the house. He goes back inside and replaces the drywall. He finally has solved the problem, because he treated the condition by treating the cause producing the condition.

If God had merely forgiven man's disobedience, that would not have solved the problem, because eventually man would have been disobedient again at some point. He could have forgiven man's disobedience and also forgiven man's stubbornness that resulted in the disobedience. That too, would not have solved the problem, because again, the unbelieving heart of man would have manifested stubbornness and disobedience afterward.

God needed to deal with the cause producing the condition. Again, that cause is unbelief. This unbelief is what brought sin into the world. Think about it. God said if they ate of the tree in the middle of the garden they would die. The serpent said they would not die. They chose to not believe God. That was the first act of disobedience which sprang from the newly introduced cause called unbelief.

Stubbornness is the condition of the old man, the first Adam. Both Jew and Gentile were born in that condition. When Christ came, it was no mere chance that the Jews did not really believe. God was purposing to deal with it in it's entirety, both Jew and Gentile alike. That condition was dealt with when Christ was on the cross, for all were drawn into Christ's body, both Jew and Gentile, and died. When he hung on that cross, not one person in the entire world believed in him. Remember, even his disciples abandoned him when he was taken to trial. The old man, like a fish caught, was bound up in the net of his stubbornness, under the sin of unbelief, and died. In that condition the old man will stay.

Now God was in the position to enact the next part of his glorious purpose, which was:

Gal 3:22 But the scripture locks up all together under sin, that the promise out of Jesus Christ's faith may be given to those who are believing."

What is the promise?

Gal 3:16 Now to Abraham the promises were declared, and to his Seed. He is not saying "And to seeds, as of many, but as of One: And to "your Seed,which is Christ."

It was the promise given to Abraham. And what was that promise given only to Abraham and his seed?

Gen 12:3 And bless those will I who bless you, and those making light of you will I curse. And blessed in you and in your seed are all the families of the ground.

While there were physical blessings involved, the ultimate fulfillment was revealed to be spiritual in nature:

Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who blesses us with every spiritual blessing among the celestials, in Christ,

What we have seen is that the old man, in the condition of stubbornness, could not believe in any way so as to be pleasing to God. I know that some will object to this, thinking of Noah, Enoch, Abraham, Moses, David, and so on. In themselves, these men were no different from any other man. Someday I hope to write an article detailing how it is that these men could be called righteous and yet Paul could still say no one is righteous, no, not even one. Both statements are actually true.

Because Jesus died for unbelief, thus dealing with the cause introduced into the world through Adam, the promises could be fulfilled. Because the old man, with its practices, was killed in Christ, God demonstrated that the old man could never, in any way, receive the promise. This is the reason for the new creation, a creation that was made ready, and in the condition, to receive the promises of God's infinite blessings. This new creation would receive seed, which would give birth to life. This new life is what the Bible calls regeneration.

Rom 9:16 Consequently, then, it is not of him who is willing, nor of him who is racing, but of God, the Merciful."
Joh 1:13 who were begotten, not of bloods, neither of the will of the flesh, neither of the will of a man, but of God."

This kindness shown to man would be an act of God's mercy. Why? Because mercy is simply the result of God's pleasure. It would have nothing to do with man's ability or choice.

Rom 11:32 For God locks up all together in stubbornness, that He should be merciful to all."

Out of his mercy, through Jesus' resurrection as the first fruits, the blessing of regeneration would begin, and we still witness it to this day.

1Pe 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who, according to His vast mercy, regenerates us into a living expectation, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from among the dead,

Paul says the exact same thing, using different words:

Eph 2:1 You were made alive when you were dead in transgressions and sins, Eph 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, Eph 2:5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),

Paul adds the detail that this making alive was done while we were dead in sins. This tells us something important. Dead people can't believe. Only living people can. Jesus said that the one who believes has eonian life. Therefore, those who were dead in sins had to be made alive FIRST, but not merely alive, but alive as a new creation. (Remember that the old creation could not believe because of its condition) Then, as one alive and freed from that condition, when the seed of the message is planted by God speaking through earthen vessels, and God is ready to give it growth, people can believe.

We find a witness to this in the creation account of Genesis. For each day, God was the initiator, and creation the result. God spoke, and the creation is the result. When God was finished with separating the water from the land, the land did not, on it's own, produce plant life. It was ready, but God had to initiate it, which he did by speaking. He spoke, the land responded and plant life was the result.

This brings up another important point. Notice that both Peter and Paul say it is GOD who regenerates, who makes alive. Just as with the first creation, so also with the new creation.

Believing in Jesus is not the CAUSE of our being made alive, or more popularly understood as being born again. Believing in Jesus in the RESULT of our being made alive, a decision made totally by God.

Ron

Rose
01-22-2010, 02:10 PM
Paul adds the detail that this making alive was done while we were dead in sins. This tells us something important. Dead people can't believe. Only living people can. Jesus said that the one who believes has eonian life. Therefore, those who were dead in sins had to be made alive FIRST, but not merely alive, but alive as a new creation. (Remember that the old creation could not believe because of its condition) Then, as one alive and freed from that condition, when the seed of the message is planted by God speaking through earthen vessels, and God is ready to give it growth, people can believe.

We find a witness to this in the creation account of Genesis. For each day, God was the initiator, and creation the result. God spoke, and the creation is the result. When God was finished with separating the water from the land, the land did not, on it's own, produce plant life. It was ready, but God had to initiate it, which he did by speaking. He spoke, the land responded and plant life was the result.

This brings up another important point. Notice that both Peter and Paul say it is GOD who regenerates, who makes alive. Just as with the first creation, so also with the new creation.

Believing in Jesus is not the CAUSE of our being made alive, or more popularly understood as being born again. Believing in Jesus in the RESULT of our being made alive, a decision made totally by God.

Ron

Hi Ron,

Good post...:thumb: Very thorough. One question though....

You said that believing in Jesus is a result of our being made alive, since up to that point ALL are dead in sins.....if that is the case then is ALL of mankind made alive by God, so as to be able to hear His Word and believe?

God Bless,

Rose

gregoryfl
01-22-2010, 03:41 PM
Hi Ron,

Good post...:thumb: Very thorough. One question though....

You said that believing in Jesus is a result of our being made alive, since up to that point ALL are dead in sins.....if that is the case then is ALL of mankind made alive by God, so as to be able to hear His Word and believe?

God Bless,

RoseThank you Rose, for considering this. Your question is an excellent one, and it is one I have been trying to understand as fully as I can. I do not yet have an answer that satisfies me.

Here is my response: The closest thing I can offer as to a possible understanding of it is that I believe scripture teaches that all are in Christ, but that Christ is not in all yet. In the sense that all are in Christ, all the blessings are unto all. However, when Christ, pictured as the seed contained in the message of the gospel, enters the new heart, and God gives it the growth, each in their time, the new birth occurs, and the blessings are experienced in that expression of life. Just as living soil without the seed doesn't express life until the seed is planted, so it is with us.

Perhaps there is a distinction between being made alive, and being born from above. In other words, could it be all hearts are new, all are alive, just like soil is when it has nutrients to support life, but it still needs to have the seed planted into it by the proclaiming of the gospel and God causing it to grow, in order for what the bible calls birth from above to take place? This I would see as something that occurs for each individual over time.

So, what I see is that all soil (hearts) is in Christ and is alive in him. The birth from above is something occurring over time for each individual.

As I said, I myself have many questions concerning these things, but am prayerfully considering them.

Any thoughts of your own would be appreciated sister. And of course, from any of you eschatology buffs. :winking0071:

Ron

Rose
01-23-2010, 09:43 AM
Thank you Rose, for considering this. Your question is an excellent one, and it is one I have been trying to understand as fully as I can. I do not yet have an answer that satisfies me.

Here is my response: The closest thing I can offer as to a possible understanding of it is that I believe scripture teaches that all are in Christ, but that Christ is not in all yet. In the sense that all are in Christ, all the blessings are unto all. However, when Christ, pictured as the seed contained in the message of the gospel, enters the new heart, and God gives it the growth, each in their time, the new birth occurs, and the blessings are experienced in that expression of life. Just as living soil without the seed doesn't express life until the seed is planted, so it is with us.

Perhaps there is a distinction between being made alive, and being born from above. In other words, could it be all hearts are new, all are alive, just like soil is when it has nutrients to support life, but it still needs to have the seed planted into it by the proclaiming of the gospel and God causing it to grow, in order for what the bible calls birth from above to take place? This I would see as something that occurs for each individual over time.

So, what I see is that all soil (hearts) is in Christ and is alive in him. The birth from above is something occurring over time for each individual.

As I said, I myself have many questions concerning these things, but am prayerfully considering them.

Any thoughts of your own would be appreciated sister. And of course, from any of you eschatology buffs. :winking0071:

Ron

Hi Ron,

In a sense, Christ came to prepare every heart (open the gate), so that ALL would be able to receive (enter in) the Word of Christ.

Maybe by taking away the power of sin (putting away sin) that held men in bondage - a way was opened for ALL (not present before), allowing the voice of Christ to enter our hearts, thus giving ALL the ability to choose to believe.


God Bless,

Rose

gregoryfl
01-23-2010, 12:56 PM
Hi Ron,

In a sense, Christ came to prepare every heart (open the gate), so that ALL would be able to receive (enter in) the Word of Christ.

Maybe by taking away the power of sin (putting away sin) that held men in bondage - a way was opened for ALL (not present before), allowing the voice of Christ to enter our hearts, thus giving ALL the ability to choose to believe.


God Bless,

RoseI agree Rose. That false perception, precipitated by the old man, the fleshly mind, manifesting sin, has been rendered powerless. The heart is ready, and able to choose to believe, but in God's timing, for it is he who gives the birth, and growth of the seed planted.

Ron