Exile and Repentance, Part 11 (Luke: John the Baptist)

Arch_of_Titus_MenorahJohn the Baptist

John the Baptist began preaching at the Jordan River —

(Luk 3:7-10 ESV) He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?  8 Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.  9 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”  10 And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” 

John begins by promising “wrath” — a word used but one other time in Luke —

(Luk 21:23 ESV) Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people.

And this is a reference to the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in AD 70. So while John certainly might have been speaking of God’s wrath at the Judgment Day, it seems more likely that he is speaking of the curses of Deu 28 to be repeated in about 40 years at the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome.

In fact, the reference to claiming to be safe because they are descended from Abraham (v. 8) repeats Eze 33:24, where the same argument was being made in response to the prophet’s warning against the coming destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon.

Obviously enough, at this point in history, Jesus had not yet been revealed and John’s words would have been heard against the background of the Law and the Prophets. What answer would the crowd have expected to their “What then shall we do?” question?

Surely, something like, have faith in God, give up idols, honor the Torah, especially regarding the poor and vulnerable.

John in fact said,

(Luk 3:11-14 ESV)  And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”  12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?”  13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.”  14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.” 

In short, act with justice toward others (don’t overcharge taxes, don’t demand bribes) and care for those in need (share your clothes and food).  This is “repentance” as John preached it. John spoke in the context of his day based on the principles earlier taught. The crowd would have immediately heard echoes of many similar demands made by the Prophets.

(Luk 3:15-17 ESV) As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ [Messiah],  16 John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” 

John prophesies that the Messiah will divide Israel between those who will suffer unquenchable fire and those who will be gathered into God’s barn. The commentators enjoy debating whether he is speaking of AD 70 or the Second Coming. I would argue both.

Those Jews who rejected Jesus were damned and so suffered unquenchable fire (an allusion to Isa 66:24). But they also didn’t follow Jesus’ warning not to revolt against Rome and so they suffered the curses of Deu 28. They suffered both earthly and eternal wrath. And this interpretation fits very well with Deu 28 as well as Jesus’ farewell discourse to Jerusalem later in Luke, in which he warns against the Fall of Jerusalem in Deu 28 terms.

The promise to “baptize” with the Holy Spirit is surely a reference to the many prophecies of the outpouring of the Spirit when the Kingdom arrives, such as Joel 2:28-31 and Isa 44:3.

Baptism with “fire,” in context, can only mean God’s wrath, that is, the Messiah will either give you the Spirit or you will suffer the destroying fire of gehenna.

Some teach that “fire” refers to the tongues of fire on Pentecost, but John’s audience could not have possibly understood that, and he wasn’t speaking to the 12 but to “the people.” Besides, he defines the term in the next verse when he speaks of the unquenchable fire of Isa 66:24.

Like Matthew’s, Luke’s description of the baptism of the Messiah involves the Spirit and fire. (Cf. however, Acts 1:5; 11:16, which omit the reference to “fire.”) The main question about this statement involves whether the reference to “fire” is to be understood positively or negatively, i.e., does it refer to a blessing (the flaming, purifying work of the Spirit) the Messiah brings for the believer or to a fiery judgment that will fall upon the unbeliever. In favor of the former is the parallelism between the “you” who received John’s baptism and the “you” who receive the Messiah’s baptism. This suggests that the same group receives both the Spirit and fire. This would then mean that the baptism of the Spirit Jesus promised (Acts 1:5) was fulfilled at Pentecost when the Spirit came with tongues of fire (2:3).

Yet if Luke wanted his readers to see the reference to “fire” in Luke 3:16 as being fulfilled in Acts 2:3, one would have expected him to include “and with fire” in [Acts] 1:5, but he did not. On the other hand, the reference to fire in Luke 3:9 involves divine judgment, and the immediate context of the following verse that refers to “burning fire” is clearly one of judgment. In fact, “fire” appears throughout Luke as a metaphor for divine judgment (cf. 9:54; 12:49; 17:29).

In the other two instances in which Luke mentioned the baptism of the Spirit (Acts 1:5; 11:16), there is no mention of a baptism of “fire.” Perhaps this is because the audience addressed in these two instances consists of believers and thus “fire” does not fit their situation. In Luke 3:16, however, the audience is mixed, and “fire” describes well what happens to those who do not believe in Jesus. For Luke the baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire is thus best understood as involving two separate groups. For the “wheat” there is the blessing of the Spirit, whereas for the “chaff” there is the judgment of burning. The messianic age therefore is seen as twofold in nature. It brings the blessing of the Spirit to the repentant but the fires of judgment to the unrepentant.

Robert H. Stein, Luke, The New American Commentary, (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 24:134–135.

There are very respectable commentators who disagree, of course, but treating “fire” as the fire of judgment fits John’s style of preaching and fits well with the following verse.

The point, for today, however, is that “repent” for John also included following the Messiah for whom he was preparing the way. Moreover, we have to recognize that John introduced baptism as a means of repentance, with forgiveness as a result.

John’s Baptism

I skipped —

(Luk 3:3 ESV)  3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Now, in the Greek, this is very similar to Acts 2:38, omitting only the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit and baptism “in the name of Jesus Messiah.” “Repent” would still mean, when spoken by John, just treatment of those over whom you have power (no bribes, no overcharging of taxes) and generosity to those in need (share food and clothing), as well as belief in the Messiah when he is revealed.

Moreover, “repent” would have had national overtones — each one of you should repent because God’ wrath is coming down on Israel.

Baptism, plunging into the river Jordan, was a powerful sign of this renewal. When the children of Israel had come out of Egypt—a story they all knew well because of their regular Passovers and other festivals—they were brought through the Red Sea, through the Sinai wilderness, then through the Jordan into the promised land. Now they were in slavery again—in their own land!—and wanted a new Exodus to bring them to freedom. Since the old prophets had declared that this slavery was the result of Israel’s sin, worshipping idols rather than their one true God, the new Exodus, when it happened, would have to deal with this. The way to escape slavery, the prophets had said, was to ‘return’ to God with heart and soul; that is, to ‘repent’. ‘Return to me, and I will return to you’, one of the last prophets had said (Malachi 3:7). 

Hence John’s agenda: ‘a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins’. John was doing what the prophet Isaiah had said: preparing a pathway for the Lord himself to return to his people. This was the time. Rescue was at hand. 

But the people were not in good shape. Indeed, since baptism was part of the ritual Gentiles had to undergo if they wanted to convert to Judaism, John’s summoning of Israel itself to baptism speaks for itself. Nor was it simply that the nation was in trouble politically; everybody in the crowds needed to face their own moral predicament. John wasn’t going to be satisfied with a mere outward ritual, in which many could hide their real selves behind an outward conformity to this new movement. If God was coming back, he wasn’t coming just to tell them that because they were Abraham’s children everything would be all right. The reason God brings rescue and salvation is precisely because he is the holy and faithful God, keeping covenant with his people—but, if that is so, he is bound to bring judgment as well as mercy. He isn’t a tame God.

Tom Wright, Luke for Everyone, (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2004), 33.

Thus, John’s ministry called both for individual and national repentance for forgiveness of sin. God’s wrath would soon be revealed both in heaven, through gehenna, and on earth through the destruction of Jerusalem.

The call for repentance paralleled similar calls by the Prophets of old, except now, rather than being on the cusp of either the blessings of Deu 28:1-14 or Exile, the choice is the blessings of Deu 30:6 — the outpouring of the Spirit — or continued Exile, indeed, a worsening of the Exile.

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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48 Responses to Exile and Repentance, Part 11 (Luke: John the Baptist)

  1. I especially appreciate the likening of johns call for repentance-baptism to the baptism of gentile baptism as part of becoming a convert to Judaism. John was telling them they were no better than the gentile sinners, thus anticipating Paul in Romans 1-3 a quarter century later.

  2. John F says:

    The interesting question: In what way did John’s asceticism give credence to his message? In application for today, does the “satisfying physical lifestyle” diminish the testimony we are called to make to “Come our from among them” ?

  3. Dwight says:

    In the Jewish system the cup was often use metaphorically, but it was a metaphor that had reality behind it of two things…a blessing or wrath. Jesus asked if “this cup” could be passed by Him, this was a cup of wrath that God would inflict in Jesus death, even though He didn’t deserve it. In the Lord’s Supper we pass the cup of blessing around as we are blessed in that we are children of God. In I cor.10 “the cup of blessing which we bless” as it was in the Passover as well.
    So I agree that the baptism could “have Spirit and fire” within its nature and although we see baptism of fire and baptism of the Spirit in the same verse, that doesn’t neccessarily that both are meted out at the same time on the same person. It is possible and very likely a person might have the baptism of the HS, while another the fire as he was talking to a crowd about something that would happen later. After all as noted John also talks about the winnowing fan that separates the good from the bad. The winnower is Jesus.

  4. Price says:

    It’s difficult to imagine how John and his disciples could baptize FOR the remission of sins.. That is to obtain forgiveness. It would have changed or at least amended the Covenant and Jesus Himself said that nothing would be changed until all was fulfilled. In addition, this amendment to the covenant would have been only for those fortunate enough to hear John speak.. I find that doubtful at best.. If one sees eis as looking forward to the forgiveness of sin.. as John later says of Jesus. “behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world,” then I could go along with that. John refers to his ministry as one of repentance.. So does Paul…

  5. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Price,

    The language is the same as in Acts 2:38, both in works by Luke. The preposition is EIS in both. And so the difference is in whether the Spirit is received, it seems to me. And the Spirit is essential to continued forgiveness. Hence the baptism of JTB was a one time forgiveness only.

  6. Dwight says:

    According to Acts 19:4 “Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” So it appears John didn’t baptize for the remission of sins, but rather repentance. John’s baptism as we see in Acts could not impart the Holy Spirit so the disciples were encouraged to be re-baptized into Jesus. But this is interesting in John 4:25-26 “Then there arose a dispute between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purification. And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!”
    So Jesus was baptizing others during this time of John’s baptism and John then argued that “He must increase, but I must decrease”. So what was Jesus baptizing for? Could He have been baptizing for salvation even though He hadn’t died yet, based on the promise? If so, then the apostles possibly could have been baptized previous to the day of Pentecost as well as others.

  7. Dwight says:

    I am curious to what others think about Jesus baptising others, because I had always thought that baptism started by Jesus apostles on the day of pentacost, but it appears that Jesus and the apostles were baptizing before that. Perhaps He was baptizing for repentance only as well. But this also might correlate with the thought that Jesus keeps pounding out that the Kingdom was present during His time and that He was King. Sometimes I think our Western thinking gets in the way of the Jewsih thought in that one could be given something without actually recieving that something, but based on the promise it was still considered real, until something interferred. This was true of all covenants, even the man and wife covenant and it must be true of our salvation as well. So it begs the question could those before the day of Pentacost be argued as being saved within the same context as those baptized after if they were into Jesus as the savior even though Jesus hadn’t died yet? After all even those after the day of Pentacost and even us are subsisting on the promise of salvation as we can reject Jesus and His promise after believing.

  8. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. – Mark 1:4

  9. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. – Luke 3:3

  10. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    The text says John’s baptism was EIS forgiveness in a construction essentially the same as Acts 2:38. Where we get confused is assuming “repentance” doesn’t inevitably lead to forgiveness. What was new with Christian baptism is the Spirit, who comes by the power of the cross. This is why Paul asked the Ephesians about the Spirit first.

  11. rich constant says:

    Also what I might say is that a baptism of repentance and forgiveness was also about being reconciled back to God because of being obedient to a prophet of God under the Torah covenant

  12. Dwight says:

    So the baptism by John and by Jesus before the day of Pentacost was essentially the same as the baptism after the day of pentacost, “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins”, which of course wasn’t forgiven until Jesus died. But in Acts 19 “And finding some disciples, he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.”
    So they were re-baptized because….? There appears to be an inherent difference between the baptisms done before the day of Pentacost and after in that the HS is not or was not granted before.
    But does this mean that they were not saved before this time, as I have always assumed? It seems to create options: 1.) John’s baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (pre-P): 2.) Jesus and the apostles for the same; (pre-P) 3.) Jesus and the apostles baptizing of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (post-Pentacost), in which only the later (or 3) recieved the HS. Or is possible 4.)that you could have been baptized into Jesus (pre-P) and recieved the HS after the day of Pentacost? Does the reception of the HS directly correlate with salvation or at least post-P baptism as Acts 2:38 seems to imply? This is territory I have not crossed before. Thanks.

  13. Dwight says:

    Jay you said, “. Where we get confused is assuming “repentance” doesn’t inevitably lead to forgiveness. What was new with Christian baptism is the Spirit, who comes by the power of the cross.”
    OR perhaps Repentance with Baptism =Forgiveness as this is what both John and Jesus did (pre-P) and the apostles commanded on the day of Pentacost when asked “what must we do to be saved”. They all seemed to follow the same format, even though the spirit wasn’t conveyed, until after Jesus died.
    And yet in John’s baptism the spirit wasn’t conveyed at all after the day of Pentacost, but possibly in Jesus (pre-P) baptism it was after the day of Pentacost?

  14. rich constant says:

    You really have to figure out when the New Covenant was confirmed and what that confirmation amounted to.
    I would some minds that the people that needed to be rebaptized in the New Testament New Testament acts by Paul were Jews that had been baptized by John or the apostles or at that time the disciples of Jesus for believers that the kingdom was coming soon. At the time of their rebaptism the kingdom had came and the Holy Spirit had been given poured out on all flesh.

  15. Price says:

    I would be more convinced that being dunked by one of John’s disciples forgave sins if there was a covenant amendment.. However, Jesus Himself said that not one jot or title would be changed… So, where’s the change.. Forget the Greek for a moment and deal with the elephant in the room… who changed the covenant to provide for forgiveness of sin via being immersed in water ? And, on what authority ? Luke’s description includes “eis” just as he did in Acts.. Yet, JTB and Paul never include that.. Seems to me that John would know better than anyone what he mission from God was.. One wonders how committed to this “forgiveness of sin” mentioned by Luke and Mark one might be if it was for Acts 2:38… And what would good would it do to be forgiven of sin once that morning if one lived on that afternoon…?? They would be just as guilty the next day after some sin as they were the day before their immersion..

  16. Dwight says:

    Jesus was the testator, but the new law or covenant only became active upon the death of the testator, but that doesn’t mean that the testament couldn’t be put forward before hand. It appears that John, Jesus set this forgiveness by repentance through baptism before Jesus death and it became active or with power upon His death. In this way the Kingdom/church could be building even while Jesus was alive. This repentance and baptism before the day of Pentacost would tie up a lot of suppositions about whether the apostles were baptized before the day of Pentacost and were in the congregation of the Lord on that day. Even now we are all under the promise, having not realized salvation.
    The “one day of forgiveness” doesn’t make sense, unless the forgiveness reaches back to past sins and grace reaches forward to future sins. Simon the sorceror was saved and then almost immediately sinned again and was still regarded as a saint by the apostles, but was guilty of sin as he was told to repent and pray.

  17. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Dwight and Price,

    I don’t believe in the “sins rolled forward” interpretation of Hebrews — said so often that most people think the phrase appears in scripture. When David sinned with Bathsheba and then repented, God forgave him. He didn’t book a ledger entry to be erased in the future. Their relationship was restored immediately. David did not lose the Spirit.

    Just so, when a Jew went to the Temple and offered an atonement sacrifice for forgiveness, he was forgiven.

    Hence, when John baptized for forgiveness, the person baptized was forgiven. When Jesus said to many, “Your sins are forgiven,” he spoke the truth.

    The point of Hebrews is that the power of that forgiveness comes from the cross — but the power transcends time and space because God himself transcends time and space. God exists outside of time. Therefore, he forgives outside of time. Time is not a boundary for God.

    Now, there are several ways of looking at this. One is to notice that forgiveness came either by the Spirit or at the Temple — either the special presence of God in the Holy of Holies or in the Spirit present in David, in Nathan, in John, in Jesus. In either case, there is a personal joining of heaven and earth via the Trinity such that heaven and earth become one in a place and time — taking that place outside of space-time.

    This is quite literally how the Jews conceived of the Holy of Holies. It was a place where heaven and earth intersected — and hence the place to go to for forgiveness. But the Spirit himself lives both in heaven and on earth and in each of us — placing us in a sense in heaven while on earth.

    (Eph 2:4-7 ESV) 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ– by grace you have been saved– 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

    This is not preterism but a recognition of the transcendence of God.

  18. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Price,

    God has often acted outside his own covenant to do MORE than he promised. For example, God’s forgiveness of David’s sin with Bathsheba was impossible under the Torah because it was a sin committed with a high hand. Abraham gave a tithe of his spoils to Melchizedek, although he had nothing to do with God’s covenant with Abraham. There are other examples. Covenants are never a limit on the grace of God.

    Regarding JTB, the prophets had long ago declared that if the people would repent, God would forgive. God’s forgiveness was hardly a new promise. The change was using baptism as the repentance event. Why baptism? Why any event or rite at all?

    But then the prophets had also promised a time for the Spirit to be outpoured, the Kingdom to come, and the Messiah to reign. These were all ABOUT to happen but hadn’t happened yet. JTB asked for repentance in anticipation of Pentecost (and that had to happen for Pentecost to happen). The goal was to prepare the nation to repent when the Kingdom arrived.

    The Gospel writers don’t bother telling us exactly how all this works, because this was a temporary time, a time of preparation, not the Kingdom itself. The main point is that JTB was preparing the way for Jesus, the true Messiah. Whatever was going on, it was intended to end at Pentecost, with the paths having been straightened and the way prepared.

    But I have no doubt that the people who repented were forgiven. Did they enter a state of continuous grace? Well, not in the sense that Christians receive grace as part of the relationship sealed with the Spirit. Clearly the Spirit was not yet given.

    But pre-crucifixion, the Jews were in a state of grace by faith. They had to honor Torah, but they were already God’s elect, saved by grace through faith. Baptism and repentance restored them to right relationship under the Mosaic covenant. John was preaching the prophets. The repentance called for was not new. It goes back to Deu 30.

    Baptism was new — although there were similar washings. But there was nothing like John’s baptism until John. And so John was looking ahead to Pentecost but also looking back at the prophets. But we think of John’s baptism as somehow magical if it provided forgiveness. But there is nothing in forgiveness following repentance that was new or required an amended covenant. Rather, the change was that the Kingdom was about to arrive, and it was time for the entire nation to repent.

  19. Price says:

    Jay, not to argue the point to far…. but… Let’s look at your examples.. David.. He was punished.. Lost his son.. Not exactly grace by faith. Violation of OT Law was for the most part met with extreme retribution. I would agree that Abram was justified by according to his faith rather than his circumcision but that’s a different point altogether… And, if a Jew was forgiven, wasn’t it accompanied by some sort of sacrifice ? Seems there was no forgiveness of sin without the shedding of blood according to Hebrews. One has to ask…was the author of Hebrews in error ? If not, then there was no shedding of blood by being dunked in the Jordan.

    Jesus forgave sin… albeit perhaps temporary… for the moment.. until the next sin… which is my case might last 30 mins.. or 8 hours if I was sleeping… but He alone forgave sin… Nobody else forgave sin although perhaps some of the disciples were authorized…”.If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” [Jhn 20:23 ESV]
    Not sure I’ve heard a sermon on that one..

    “Washing” were required for many things since the law was given.. the Jews were indeed familiar with a symbolic “washing.” Not one of the washings replaced the need to make a sacrifice as far as I can tell or remember. Correct me if I’m wrong but there was ALWAYS a sacrifice involved… Seemed it set the whole thing up for the cross.

    But, even if it did forgive sin temporarily.. I think you agree that it was not some perpetual forgiveness of sin prior to the cross.. I don’t know of anyone that adheres to that… then.. so what ? What good does it do me to be forgiven for 15 mins ? A day, a week or perhaps if I’m named Jay, 6 months…?? There is no value in it… Repentance.. yes.. value there.. A real change of heart would be transformational… forgiveness for 5 mins.. not so much. I mean really.. what good does it do to be saved for 15 mins ??

    I just don’t see the entire mission of John being focused on a 5 min forgiveness but rather of a move to turn the hearts of the people back to their Deliverer. To repent as a Nation and as a person based on the imminent appearance of the Messiah … I think that is why JTB and Paul both speak to his baptism being one of repentance… neither of t hem speak of “forgiveness of sin.” Later Paul dismisses the effectiveness of John’s baptism and has the Ephesian brethren REBAPTIZED even though he apparently laid hands on them to receive the HS.. He said John told everybody to believe in the one who would come after him. that is Jesus.. Acts 19.. There was apparently a difference in being baptized looking forward to the Messiah who was to come… and being baptized into the name of the Messiah… I’ll let you work that out.. But, to Paul, their previous immersion was insufficient…

    But, I could be wrong.. 🙂

  20. Larry Cheek says:

    Jesus stated that he would not have had power to perform miracles if the kingdom had not already come, he also stated that no one would be able to see the kingdom come. Yet we ignore those direct statements and place our belief that the kingdom came on the Day of Pentecost. Where did you read that? I do realize that the Apostles were instructed that they would see the kingdom come with power, but that communication does not require that the kingdom was not already present, The message was not created to identify a starting date, but to see the power of the kingdom visibly.

  21. rich constant says:

    all of you should read 2nd Kings chapter 17 through chapter 20. Hopefully you know enough about the history of Israel and Judah. Understand exactly what was going on there with the curses From Deuteronomy.
    through these chapters you will see repentance and forgiveness that is spoken of about the blessings and the cursings of the kingdom in Deuteronomy.
    at that point you’ll have a better idea of what John the Baptist speaking of as far as the kingdom is concerned before the New Covenant. repentance and forgiveness for the Hebrew people.

  22. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry,

    The scriptures speak of the Kingdom as yet to come, coming, and already come. And yet the prophets, esp. Daniel, speak of the Kingdom coming at a moment in time.

    Jesus himself speaks of the Kingdom as having come in Mat 12:28 but prays for it to come in —

    (Mat 6:10 ESV) 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

    If we think of the Kingdom as necessarily having a King, then the Kingdom is wherever Jesus is honored as king. To the extent he could cast out demons, then his kingship was being honored by the demons. His rule was in effect to that extent.

    To the extent he had disciples following him in Palestine, he could refer to the Kingdom as present.

    (Luk 17:20-21 ESV) Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”

    I think “the kingdom of God is in the midst of you” is a self-reference. Jesus himself is the king, and the Kingdom would be present to the Pharisees if and when they honor him as king.

    But all this was in anticipation of the cross, the Ascension, and Pentecost. Obviously, Jesus’ going to heaven and the Spirit coming was a major moment in covenant history. At that moment, God began to insist on faith in Jesus as Messiah as an essential element of salvation. And the apostles preached Jesus as the enthroned king (Acts 2:30-33).

    (Heb 12:1-2 ESV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

    So I’m not disagreeing. The Kingdom came by transition, not in a moment. But there were certain decisive moments when the Kingdom became much more fully realized than before. We can’t think of the Kingdom existing pre-crucifixion in the same sense in which it exists today.

  23. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Price wrote,

    David.. He was punished.. Lost his son.. Not exactly grace by faith.

    David seems to have disagreed in his psalm writing.

    (Psa 51:16-17 ESV) 16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

    (Psa 40:1-6 ESV) I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. 2 He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. 3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. 4 Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! 5 You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told. 6 In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.

    (Psa 32:1-2 ESV) Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

    We suffer the earthly consequences of our sins. When we cheat on our spouse, terrible things happen — even if God forgives us. If we steal, grace does not keep us out of jail.

    Just so, David remained in right relationship with God, kept the Spirit, and was not charged with sin (I know no other way to read his psalms) despite the discipline he suffered on earth.

    Paul quotes from the these Psalms to explain the nature of Christian salvation. So if David isn’t really an example of salvation by grace through faith, Paul got it wrong —

    (Rom 4:5-8 ESV) 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

    So I stand by my original claim. God can be more gracious than the terms of his covenant require him to be — and David is an example. David himself declared that he was forgiven without animal sacrifice. And Paul uses these passages as typological of Christian salvation.

    Now we still have to reconcile these facts with Hebrews. But for a moment, consider Judaism in general. The Jews were supposed to offer a sacrifice for every sin. And yet most lived far from the Temple. Some on an entirely different continent. And a lamb per sin would have been extremely expensive even if you lived in Jerusalem and could easily make the trip.

    We tend to think of Jewish salvation as being like 20th Century Church of Christ teaching: commit a sin, be immediately in a damned state, ask for forgiveness and get forgiven (by offering a sacrifice at the Temple in Jerusalem), get forgiven, be saved once again, but then commit another sin … and live life constantly flitting back and forth between saved and lost.

    But back in Part 7 http://oneinjesus.info/2015/07/exile-and-repentance-part-7-faith-in-the-ot/ we covered faith in the OT. The promise by God to save by faith, given to Abraham and on which we rely for our salvation today, wasn’t repealed during Mosaic dispensation times. It was still there. Rather, the Jews saw Torah observance as a response to salvation by faith, not requirements to be stacked on top of salvation by faith as further conditions.

    Now, Paul argues against a misunderstanding of this. When the Judaizing teachers insisted on circumcision, Sabbaths, etc., Paul’s point is not so much that the Law is repealed but that his opponents were misreading the Torah in ways it was NEVER meant to be understood.

    (Rom 5:20 ESV) 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,

    So if we see the Abrahamic covenant as remaining in effect throughout the Mosaic dispensation, then David’s forgiveness fits very nicely. In fact, the forgiveness of any Jew who died before offering a sacrifice in Jerusalem makes sense.

    On the other hand, while salvation by grace through faith was available to the Jewish people before Jesus — going back to Abraham — the clear teaching of JTB and Jesus is that they needed to repent — that they weren’t in a saved condition due to national pride and sin and corruption. They lacked faith as revealed by their lack of obedience, lack of trust in God’s promises, etc. (as a nation).

    JTB didn’t come to forgive them from failing to offer enough sacrifices or honor enough Sabbaths. He came to call them to change in heart — because both the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants required a submissive heart. A changed heart produced forgiveness — as the prophets had promised for centuries.

    When the NT writers refer to John’s baptism as “for repentance,” they aren’t saying “and not forgiveness.” The prophets and Moses had promised forgiveness to follow repentance. The contrast is more repentance for forgiveness vs. repentance for forgiveness in the name of Jesus and receipt of the Spirit. Christian baptism is an enacted declaration of faith in Jesus. The Spirit is given at baptism (normatively).

    Hence, in Acts 19 —

    (Act 19:2-6 ESV) 2 And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying.

    Paul does not draw a contrast of repentance vs. forgiveness. He says the Christian baptism is about faith in Jesus and receipt of the Spirit, in contrast with John’s baptism.

    In fact, “in [EIS] the name of the Lord Jesus” is a circumlocution for “into Jesus.” Unity with the Messiah and receipt of the Spirit were not given by John’s baptism. But the Gospels plainly say that forgiveness was.

    Now what kind of forgiveness? Well, not quite what Christians have, but neither nothing so valueless that you are damned the next time you sin. Rather, they were restored to right relationship with God under the Mosaic covenant — in grace so long as they remained faithful Jews/Jews with faith looking toward the coming of God’s Messiah.

    Repentance produced what the Prophets and the Law promised: restoration. A return of right relationship with God. An end to the Exile, but the Exile was ending one Jew at a time.

    There’s more, of course. Under Moses, forgiveness was received at the Temple — both for the nation and individually. Now a prophet was calling Jews to receive forgiveness at the Jordan River — symbolically re-entering the Promised Land and leaving the desert — to end the Exile and become God’s elect people once again. John plainly declared that mere inheritance from Abraham was no longer good enough. They had to get their hearts right.

    Now if God, through his prophet, tells his people to receive forgiveness in the Jordan rather than the Temple, what is God saying about the Temple? He was plainly indicating that it’s time was over. He was taking away the role of the Temple in Judaism and replacing it. Salvation was shifting from primarily national to primarily individual. And the animal sacrificial system was dying. God forgave John’s disciples without animal sacrifice.

    In the past, the great Jewish reformations under Hezekiah, Josiah, etc. were led by a king, and the people followed through festivals and animal sacrifices, and the reforms lasted one generation at most. This time, the new King would lead a reformation but it would be one Jewish convert at a time. Rather than a great national Passover, they’d return to the Jordan and choose whether to re-enter the Kingdom in repentance. There was still a Great King soon to come to lead a reformation, but the terms were changing dramatically.

    JTB showed up dressed like Elijah — but did no miracles. But the appearance of Elijah surely showed that he compared the early First Century to the times of Ahab and Jezebel and the worshipping of Baal. He symbolically condemned the reign of Herod as illegitimate and most Jews as no better than Baal worshipers — with only a remnant left who honor God. Elijah, after all, ministered to the Northern Kingdom, the one with no legitimate temple and that was taken into Assyrian Captivity never to return.

    In short, by imitating Elijah, he was symbolically declaring the times the sort of times for a prophet like Elijah — a time of wicked kings and rebellious Israelites.

    Combine this with a rejection of the Temple as the place of repentance/forgiveness, and it’s easy to see the destruction of the Temple looming in history.

    So John was preparing the way for the Messiah — not by doing his work. He did not provide Christian baptism. Rather, as the last of the great Mosaic-era prophets, he called for repentance to restore relationship with God and end the Exile — and the separation of God from his people.

  24. Price says:

    David didn’t suffer some kind of “earthly consequence. God killed his son. I said I agreed that Abram was justified by faith but it would also be true that the Law would require that you be stoned to death for violating certain parts of it. Can’t be compared to the grace we experience today. And I think you did an excellent job of dancing around being forgiven for an afternoon. Under the existing covenant during Johns day a person still had sacrificial requirements. Jesus told the lepers to go and do what the law requires. He honored the Law. Was it ever said of His disciples that they forgave sin with their immersions ? Was the immersion process of Jesus’ own disciples inferior to Johns disciples ? Are you suggesting that there was some sort of “in-between” covenant for 3 years where God suspended the requirements of the Law for some people but not all ? I’m not buying it. Given that John himself didn’t attribute his immersion to forgiveness of sin I’m inclined to believe John. Paul confirms. It’s just hard to imagine why God would sneak in a new intermediate covenant for only those who heard John speak on order to receive a momentary forgiveness apart from any sacrifice thy even Jesus seems to be unaware of. He never speaks of any new covenant and adamantly defends the Law and encourages people to follow it. Can you think where He suggests being immersed instead of following the requirements of the Law ? I can’t. Then He tells the Apostles that He is goi g to immerse them with the Spirit instead of water. Pretty amazing departure from a 2 year old brand new covenant !! But I could be wrong.

  25. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Price asked,

    And, if a Jew was forgiven, wasn’t it accompanied by some sort of sacrifice ? Seems there was no forgiveness of sin without the shedding of blood according to Hebrews. One has to ask…was the author of Hebrews in error ? If not, then there was no shedding of blood by being dunked in the Jordan.

    Well, we have to take both Hebrews and the Gospels seriously. The Gospels recount Jesus’ forgiving all sorts of people without animal sacrifice, and yet he declares their sins forgiven — not soon to be forgiven. The Gospel writers declare John’s baptism to be EIS forgiveness, in very close parallel with Acts 2:38. If one means forgiveness at the point of baptism, then both do.

    (Heb 10:4 ESV) 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

    Now, the Torah promised forgiveness to those who offered sacrifices. The Hebrews author says there was no cause and effect. The sacrifices were not themselves the source of forgiveness. But he DOES NOT say that there was no forgiveness. That’s not the question he’s setting up. And there is not one word of “rolling forward.”

    (Heb 10:5-7 ESV) Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; 6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. 7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.'”

    Then he quotes from one of David’s psalms, promising forgiveness without sacrifices! Again, forgiveness happens but not by virtue of ritual animal sacrifice.

    (Heb 10:8-10 ESV) 8 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9 then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

    David, he says, points us toward a second order — forgiveness without animal sacrifice. Of course, this is both old and new. It goes back to Abraham! It’s that old. But it’s new in that animal sacrifices are totally gone. Why?

    (Heb 10:11 ESV) And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.

    Again, he’s not saying that there’s no forgiveness, only that the offerings themselves were not the source of the forgiveness.

    (Heb 10:12-13 ESV) 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.

    The sacrifice of Jesus, however, is different in kind. It’s “for all time a single sacrifice.” Now does “all time” reach backwards or just forwards?

    (Heb 10:14 ESV) 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

    This passage looks forward (mainly) as “are being sanctified” speaks of Christians.

    (Heb 10:15-18 ESV) 15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, 16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” 17 then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” 18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

    Quoting from Jer 31 (previously quoted at length in c 8), because forgiveness under the new covenant, enabled in part by the giving of the Spirit, eliminates the need for ongoing sacrifice.

    So Jesus’ sacrifice is once for all, making Christians perfect forever. But what about the Jews?

    (Heb 9:22 ESV) 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

    But he also says the blood of bulls and goats doesn’t work. Now, is he speaking in general (that God is not allowed to forgive with a blood sacrifice) or the Torah (all forgiveness promised by Torah requires a sacrifice)? I’m inclined toward the second view. I mean, why would God be bound by some kind of law limiting his power to forgive? I can forgive my son who sins against me without a blood sacrifice. Surely God can do the same.

    Rather, his point is that Jesus’ sacrifice fulfills the Torah’s requirement for blood sacrifice, not some cosmic rule binding on God himself. Thus, the old sacrificial system is fully satisfied and made obsolete.

    (Heb 10:1-3 ESV) For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.

    Thus, the OT sacrifices did not themselves provide atonement. They only provided a “consciousness of sins” and “a reminder of sins.” It’s the sacrifice of Jesus that actually brought about forgiveness. The animal rites were visualizations of what was happening in a very different, better way. Recall the lesson of Abraham and the blood oath God took to honor his covenant. The animals weren’t required for God to be bound to honor his word, but they demonstrated to Abraham the confidence he should have in God’s promises. The sacrifices were for the people, not to empower God to forgive.

    But the Jews were nonetheless in a state of grace — when not in rebellion. Forgiveness really happened. After all, at the Transfiguration, Jesus met with Moses and Elijah — who weren’t waiting for their sins to be rolled forward and forgiven. They were plainly in a glorified state already and hence forgiven already.

    Rather, the “once for all” forgiveness of the cross reaches backwards in time just as it reaches forward in time. I mean, it’s just as astounding that I can be forgiven for a sin that commit AFTER the sacrifice. It’s really supposed to be sin followed by sacrifice, but in the Christian system, sacrifice precedes sin!

    And I see it in terms of God’s forgiveness being outside time and so not constrained by the order of events. David really was forgiven when Nathan said so. Abraham really had faith credited as righteousness. And this was all by the power of the cross, which reaches both backward and forward through time. Which is no problem for a transcendent God.

    The fact that Jesus’ sacrifice reached backwards all the way to Abraham, allowed the Jews to exist in a state of grace through faith. The Jews weren’t damned until they offered a sacrifice for each and every sin. Grace abounded.

    But the nation (as a whole) was in rebellion at the time of Jesus. Their grace was either withdrawn or in very serious jeopardy. Repentance was the solution.

    Remember: both Paul and the Hebrews writer describe Christian grace by reference to the Psalms of David, which speak of David’s own forgiveness under the Mosaic covenant.

    And the church is a continuation of Israel. Much of the Torah is obsolete, but that doesn’t mean the idea of salvation by grace and election have to be new with Jesus. Rather, election is taught in Deuteronomy, and grace is what kept Judah from being carried into Babylon despite centuries of sin.

    (Rom 3:21-26 ESV) But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it– 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus

    Lenski explains,

    . What actually took away the sins of the Old Testament saints was Christ’s blood. Until that blood was actually shed, all ἄφεσις was, to be exact, a πάρεσις; all “remitting” a “passing over.” The final reckoning with the sins of the Old Testament believers was, as it were, postponed until the true mercy seat was set forth. In this way the Old Testament saints had their “remission,” it was in the form of a “passing over.” No wonder all of them longed for Christ to come (Matt. 13:17; John 8:56). The thought is not that this “passing over” was not “remission” or only an uncertain thing. The very opposite. God’s promise of Christ’s coming could not fail; in fact, as far as God was concerned, the Lamb was slain already from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8), and time does not hamper God. And yet, after all, the advance certainty rested on the actual historical act of our High Priest’s entering into the Holy of Holies of heaven with his own blood (Heb. 9:12, 24). For this reason Paul writes “passing over.”

    R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, (Columbus, Ohio: Lutheran Book Concern, 1936), 261.

    So we have to hold in tension the fact that Jesus’ atonement reached backwards in time to Abraham, but that the Mosaic covenant plainly speaks of punishment, Exile, repentance, and restoration. Just as not every Christian makes it to the end, not every Jew did. God was remarkably patient with the Jews just as he is remarkably patient with us. But the Jews were in Exile when JTB came and looking to get right with God. They knew they lived in a time of God’s displeasure. The solution was repentance — which necessarily produced forgiveness — which put them into right standing under the Law.

    The Law did not provide right standing. That came from the blood of Jesus. But the Law spoke plainly to a time of rebellion and separation to be ended by repentance, with forgiveness promised to follow.

    So maybe that doesn’t dig all the way to bedrock, but it’s a deeper explanation than I’ve managed to suss out in the past — and so I thank you for pushing me to keep digging. Interesting stuff. And it sheds a very different light on the NT, esp. “works” vs. “faith.”

  26. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Continuing to answer Price’s hard (and therefore interesting) questions —

    I would recommend a reading of NT Wright’s book What Saint Paul Really Said: Was Paul of Tarsus the Real Founder of Christianity?. This is first Wright book that I read, and it wrestles with the work of EP Sanders, a historian of Second Temple Judaism. Sanders concluded from his reading of scripture, the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Philo, Josephus, etc. that the Second Temple Jews largely believed in salvation by faith and that the works of the Law were performed in response to salvation but not as a condition to salvation. Hence, Paul’s doctrine of faith salvation was very Jewish. Christianity insisted on faith in JESUS in addition to God, and so the new element was Jesus as Messiah, not faith vs. works.

    If so, then Paul is not so much disagreeing with the Law of Moses as the Judaizing teachers’ interpretation of the Law. Or even the hypothetical that IF you insist on circumcision, THEN you must insist on it all, because you’ve made faith insufficient.

  27. rich constant says:

    Galatians 3 vs 21 thru 25.
    Forgiveness is part of the blessings.
    Life is what the SON brought by overcoming death.
    that only happened one time. you can talk about repentance and forgiveness all you want but the Spirit gives life

  28. rich constant says:

    I quite honestly AM of the opinion until you can nail down Christ on the cross and being cursed.
    I for one think that you’re going to always be talking about apples and oranges. repentance and forgiveness of sins
    you have to understand the sacrifice of an innocent man that was God and the Torah covenant could not make the distinction between the flesh and the Spirit of that man. Jesus hung on a cross he was cursed of God. the Messiah was hung on the cross he was cursed of God.
    Jesus was dead but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. jesus did not do anything to Wind up on a cross. he was performing a righteous act for the creator while coming into conflict with the Tora law, a law a law of works.
    He hung on a tree as far as Torah Law was concerned he was guilty.
    while doing a righteous act.
    there was no distinction between Spirit and Flesh. as far as the example of Adam is concerned the life is the blood in the blood is the life God made him to be sin in the flesh.
    But he was God in the flesh and after he died in the Flesh of Sin death and the Torah law, had no control over him because he didn’t do sIn.
    the Messiah was raised or Vindicated because of faithfulness to the “will of God” bringing about a Spirit of life for all those considered to be faithful.
    look at the distinction and Romans the eighth chapter between flesh and spirit. read the 7 Th chapter of Romans over again with chapter 8

  29. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Price,

    Regarding David, consider any parent and child. If my son sins against me, I can do nothing, I can discipline him, or I can disown him. He’s clearly forgiven in either of the first two cases. In the third, he is not. If I do nothing, he’ll suffer the natural consequences of his sin, whatever they might be. If I discipline him, then my discipline should be somehow connected to the sin. Hence, if my son breaks curfew, he might lose dating privileges because he abused his privileges. But he’s still my son. If he so rebels and refuses to obey that I disown him, then he’s no longer my son.

    David sinned against God. He was disciplined, but he was forgiven. He remained in relationship with God. Unlike Saul, who was disowned for his hard heart and lost the Spirit.

    But David’s forgiveness was not under the Torah. Not even close. The Torah plainly denies forgiveness to sin committed with a high hand.

    (Num 15:30-31 ESV) 30 “But the person who does anything with a high hand, whether he is native or a sojourner, reviles the LORD, and that person shall be cut off from among his people. 31 Because he has despised the word of the LORD and has broken his commandment, that person shall be utterly cut off; his iniquity shall be on him.”

    The sacrificial system was solely for unintentional sin —

    (Lev 4:27-28 ESV) “If anyone of the common people sins unintentionally in doing any one of the things that by the LORD’s commandments ought not to be done, and realizes his guilt, 28 or the sin which he has committed is made known to him, he shall bring for his offering a goat, a female without blemish, for his sin which he has committed.

    And yet David was forgiven quite outside the Levitical sacrificial system based on repentance, not his sacrifices.

    Does this mean that the sacrificial system was repealed prior to the cross? Well, not exactly. But it proves that the sacrificial system wasn’t essential. God could and did act outside the Levitical system to forgive — not just David but every faithful Jew. Otherwise, Jews living outside Palestine could not be forgiven at all because they couldn’t go to Jerusalem and offer a goat for every single sin.

    Given that John himself didn’t attribute his immersion to forgiveness of sin I’m inclined to believe John.

    Given that the Bible says John’s baptism resulted in forgiveness, I’m inclined to believe the scriptures.

    (Mar 1:4 ESV) 4 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

    (Luk 3:3 ESV) 3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

    According to both Mark and Luke, JOHN proclaimed baptism “for the forgiveness of sins.” John did this. So I don’t follow your argument at all.

    So was this a covenant change? What was it when Jesus himself forgave sins — without baptism? He was called a blasphemer. It was plainly outside the Mosaic system.

    The “new covenant” as defined by Jer 31 was not yet in effect as the Spirit had not yet been outpoured. But it was plainly outside of Torah — although the Jews understood that salvation was by faith — but not to the exclusion of the Levitical system. Their problem with Jesus forgiving sins wasn’t the absence of sacrifice but the absence of authority. Only God himself could forgive sin — and for Jesus to forgive sin was to claim to be God. No one said that Jesus was wrong for not demanding the blood of a goat.

    So how does this compare to the baptism practiced by Jesus in John’s Gospel? We really aren’t told much. But it was not yet new covenant baptism because the Spirit wasn’t yet given (John 7:37-39; Jer 31; Deu 30:6).

    To me, it’s just not complicated. David and the Prophets promised forgiveness would follow repentance. People repented. They were forgiven.

    This is outside of Torah but in the Psalms and Prophets, God began to reveal a different kind of forgiveness — so much so that David’s Psalms are quoted in Romans and Hebrews as explanatory of Christian grace — even though speaking of forgiveness in 1000 BC. So somehow the grace received by Abraham and by David must have existed throughout God’s covenant history with Israel. God did not limit himself to the covenant in effect. He could and did do more.

    After all, how were sins forgiven during the Babylonian Captivity? There was no Temple!

    How were sins forgiven in the Diaspora? No one could travel to Jerusalem often enough to offer a goat for every single sin! And yet the vast majority of Jews lived outside Judea. They were scattered from Spain to India!

    So we really have to think of the Mosaic system very differently. Work through Galatians with all this in mind, and the result is surprising —

    (Gal 3:6-9 ESV) just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? 7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

    Salvation is by faith because of the covenant with Abraham — which remains in effect. If it’s in effect today, then it was in effect during the Mosaic age as well. I mean, it didn’t jump over Moses!

    (Gal 3:10-12 ESV) For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.”

    “No one is justified before God by the Law” does not mean “No Jew was saved before Jesus.” Rather, it means the Law was not the means of their salvation. “The righteous shall live by faith” comes from Habakkuk. It’s from the OT. There was no notion that faith excuses compliance with the Law, but Paul is saying salvation was ultimately about faith then as it is now. Therefore, if you insist on seeking salvation in the Law, you will fail. It didn’t work then and doesn’t work now.

    (Gal 3:13-14 ESV) 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us– for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”– 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

    Notice that Paul assumes that the blessing of Abraham has ALREADY come to the Jews. Of course. The gospel extends salvation by faith to the Gentiles, but the Jews were already there — if they were faithful.

    (Gal 3:17-18 ESV) 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

    Again, Paul says the Abrahamic promise remained in effect during the Mosaic age. The Law did not provide the promise of salvation by faith, but neither did it override the promise. The promise was ALWAYS already there, going back to Abraham.

    (Gal 3:19 ESV) Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary.

    The Law was given to teach the will of God until Deu 30 and Jer 31 could be fulfilled and God would write his laws on the hearts and minds of his people himself. Until then, Torah was God’s instruction to his people — not to override faith.

    (Gal 3:24-26 ESV) 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

    The Law was a caretaker — charged to protect God’s people until the time for them to be adopted through faith (and the Spirit).

    (Gal 3:29-4:1 ESV) 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

    By becoming incorporated into Christ, we become a part of the Son and so an heir of God and of Abraham.

    (Gal 3:27-28 ESV) 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

    And so our baptism evidences our new existence in Christ. And because we are all in Christ, our pre-Christian natures do not matter. The promise given to Abraham flows to all in Christ.

    Now Paul is not directly addressing the salvation of the Jews in between Moses and Jesus, but his argument assumes — indeed, declares — that the promise of salvation by faith existed throughout this time. Nothing else makes any sense of Galatians 3.

    This is, of course, utterly contrary to much of what has been taught in churches for a very long time, but it makes much better sense. Otherwise, every Jew who died with a single sin to his account, who failed to sacrifice a goat, was damned.

    Paul himself, of course, wrestled with what the Levitical system was all about during this time. If the Jews were saved by faith, why the sacrificial system? Well, the Hebrews writer had the same problem from a different direction — if the blood of goats doesn’t forgive sins, what were all those goats for? He calls them a “reminder” of sin. The Jews offered the goat as an act of repentance — a willingness to pay a price for their sin. The sacrificial system forced self-examination and a commitment to God, even if it was ultimately about faith. Something like that.

    So was there an “in between” covenant? Not to my knowledge, although I know people who would argue exactly that. Rather, JTB was a great teacher. He anticipated Paul in explaining the true nature of forgiveness under Moses. He demonstrated that the sacrificial system wasn’t essential to forgiveness — and never had been. It was a matter of obedience and worship, but it no more forgave sin than our attending church on Sunday earns us forgiveness for that week. Salvation was about faith — and faithful people honor God’s commands, not because they save but because they are God’s will and we trust God to command what is best for us and his mission.

    Now, that’s a pretty radical thing for me to say, except Paul and the author of Hebrews said it before me. If the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sin, then the Levitical sacrificial system did not take away sin. Faith did — by the power of the cross.

    So Jesus honored Torah, and he had his disciples honor Torah. But not as a system of atonement. In fact, Jesus over and over forgave people based on their faith — even people who had no idea he was the Messiah. Think about that one.

    (Mar 2:4-5 ESV) 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

    Jesus forgave the sins of the paralytic because of the faith of his friends. Nothing says the paralytic accepted Jesus as Messiah (although he surely would upon being healed, I would think). But he had faith as was required for any Jew.

    So why does this have to be a “new covenant”? Why not the Abrahamic covenant still in effect, better understood?

    PS — Been great fun pushing through these issues. I may not have convinced anyone of anything, but it’s clarified my own thinking a lot. I need to write this up in a more organized fashion some day.

  30. rich constant says:

    As a PS
    Satan’s head gets crushed, because he’s always been unfaithful to God’s truth.
    😉

  31. rich constant says:

    Another PS
    And thus the heavenly temple is cleansed by the more perfect sacrifice the blood of the faithful Messiah
    pretty simple

  32. Price says:

    Jay, well written… but I’m still hung up on a couple of things that perhaps you’ll address later in some other form… I agree that the covenant from Abraham was by faith and that we are in that same faith covenant today if we do not rely on what we do.. I believe that is outlined clearly in Romans 4.. But, the OT covenant wasn’t entirely one of grace by a long shot.. Moses’ son was nearly put to death by God because he wasn’t properly circumcised. There were requirements that could very well cost one their life. While there may have been mercy shown.. it wasn’t always.. David lived. Uzzah didn’t. David lived, His son didn’t.. God was tough back then… Although Ananias and Sapphira might agree that He could be tough anytime He wanted to.

    Not sure why more emphasis is given to Mark and Luke’s use of ‘eis’ rather than JTB own personal account of his ministry ? If JTB says that his ministry was one of repentance and never mentions forgiveness of sin except for it’s coming in Jesus.. why do we ignore that ? When Paul rebaptizes the ephesians and says that JTB’s baptism was one of repentance and fails to mention forgiveness of sin… why do we again ignore that in favor of “eis” ?? Neither John himself nor Paul every reference JTB’s activity as being for forgiveness of sin.. Odd don’t you think that the person who is actually proclaiming the coming of the Kingdom doesn’t himself mention forgiveness of sin.. Seems glaring to me.. Is it because of 2:38 “for” has to mean “in order to obtain” and never “because of” even though both uses are evidenced in the scriptures.. I think that discloses a certain amount of bias.. In my mind, and perhaps mine only, the only way for LUke and Mark to agree with JTB and Paul is for Luke and Mark to be referring to the forgiveness of sin that was to come. They were after all writing after the fact itself. But obviously opinions vary.

    I guess part of my consternation comes from being taught all my life that the HS was temporary empowerment in the OT and a permanent indwelling in the New.. That forgiveness of sin prior to the cross was momentary and afterwards was perpetual.. Yes, I agree that no one comes to the Father except through Jesus.. That He alone redeemed us all… But, in my mind that didn’t ease any requirement of those living under certain covenants or rules from the punishment of failing to to do it correctly according to their covenant. To willfully ignore the covenant’s requirements would have been foolish.. I see Mercy being shown… but not so much Grace until Jesus.. but what do I know.

  33. Dwight says:

    Matt – John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
    Luke – And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins,
    Acts19:4 – “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”
    I am going to present a thought. In Matt. and Luke it says John baptized, then it says he preached a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. We know that the Jews baptized repentance…from being a gentile to being a Jew. We also know that John also taught that Jesus would come and preach that. And Acts 19 argues that while John baptized of repentance, that he also preached Jesus and believing on him. We also know that those that were baptized into John were re-baptized into Jesus.

    My thought- that while John baptized for repentance he didn’t baptize for repentance for the remission of sins, but rather this is what he preached, which would come later. He was a pre-cursor to Christ, so what he did was a warm-up to Christ. There was no power in it. Even those in Acts says, “we were baptized into John’s baptism”, which seems to make it not the same as the baptism into Christ. If John’s baptism was sufficient, then the re-baptism was pointless.

  34. Price says:

    Jay, while you’re preparing rebuttal to my thoughts…. 🙂 ….. Add this to the list… Luke 3:3 says that JTB is baptizing for repentance and remission of sins and then seems to try and convey that this is the fulfillment of prophesy from Isaiah…quotes from Isaiah 40 … Luke 3:6 says this in the ESV… and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'” [Luk 3:6 ESV]. My question is why on earth would Luke refer to remission of sin by being immersed by one of JTB’s disciples and then quote Isaiah to equate salvation with the revelation of Jesus… In John 1 JTB refers to Jesus as “the Lamb of God who TAKES AWAY THE SINS OF THE WORLD.”… Wait… I thought he, JTB, had just done that !!

    Then finally, JTB makes a specific statement regarding the purpose of his immersion activities…having absolutely nothing to do with forgiveness of sin… I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” [Jhn 1:31 ESV]. This is consistent with the Isaiah passage that Luke quotes…

    So, here we have JTB saying that his baptism was for repentance… that it was specifically for the purpose of revealing the Christ…. and was fulfilling the prophesy of Isaiah….. That Jesus was Himself going to take away the sins of the world…. and yet we try and equate JTB’s immersion with forgiveness of sin because of a preferred definition of “eis” that isn’t required and doesn’t seem to fit the narrative… It would be far more consistent with the story if in this instance “eis” was indicating a “looking forward to” or “because of” definition similar to the use of the word when the Bible speaks of the men of Ninevah repenting because of Jonah’s preaching…

    And… no matter how you couch it… being immersed to forgive sin is without a doubt an amendment or codicil to the covenant bigger than a jot or title… just saying. God can change it up all He wants… but Jesus said it wouldn’t be.. An intervention by Jesus to forgive sin, accompanied by some miracle of causing a lame man to walk in order to reveal Himself as the Son of God is much different than God granting John and John’s disciples and perhaps Jesus’ disciples to forgive sins by immersion in water without so much as a thunderbolt of announcement… except for some guy in camel skin and eating grasshoppers.. Not exactly Mt. Sinai.. It’s not that God didn’t forgive when some person repented but adding immersion in water as an act of sin forgiveness would have been a pretty big deal when up to that point the Mikveh was more of an outward sign of purification… And to announce it through John and not to every Jew would have been a very selective event… Still not convinced.. 🙂

  35. Dwight says:

    Price, I overall agree with you, but then again I am caught by Luke 4 where it says that Jesus (really the apostles) baptized many. The question then comes. What did they baptized for? The same as John the baptist? Did they have to be re-baptized again after the day of Pentacost, just like John? But then again the power was in Jesus, not John. It is possible that Jesus’ baptism was as real as Jesus was real, while John’s baptism was as precursor as John was a precursor.The strange thing is that John continued to baptize and have followers even while Jesus started baptizing and having followers.

  36. Price says:

    Dwight… many assumptions.. they may be all correct.. then again they may not be.. That’s what I don’t trust about assumptions… My assumption…. is that they were all baptizing as a public indication of a turning back to God with the anticipation of the coming Messiah… ?? It seems to me that the whole of Israel was being called into repentance… For me, and perhaps me alone, I mean what do I know… Peter’s message at Pentecost was entirely consistent with what had lead up to that moment… Repentance and a public declaration of it by water immersion… The real focus on his message wasn’t baptism but repentance… The Messiah had come.. their sins had been paid for if they turned back toward Him whom they had rejected and then accepted Him as the Savior of the world… But, like I said.. what do I know.

  37. rich constant says:

    And then you have the Great Commission

  38. Dwight says:

    The thing that keeps me sane is that Jesus told his apostles to go forth and preach “faith and baptism for salvation” and this is what they did in Acts as people repented. It is interesting that many would argue that turning to Christ was and is repentance and yet this is what the people were doing as they asked what must they do to be saved and yet Peter told them to “repent and be baptized”, so repentance had with it a level of committment that went beyond just turning to Christ, but actually moving into Christ. The Jews at pentacost must have understood the baptism to be a way of doing this in action. Washing off the old, putting on the new. After al the Jews made the gentiles do this in thier turn to Judiasm. Like the ground before Moses, it was holy upon approach by those who recognized it that way. Just like the unleanvened bread and the lamb in the Passover and the unleavened bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper. It doesn’t really matter too much what happened between the lines of things we aren’t fully told, as much as when we read the lines that are direct we make sure we read it and apply it.

  39. Price says:

    Dwight… I see Jesus telling them to make disciples and then baptize them… I do not remember Him saying Himself that baptism was required for salvation. The Jews certainly had a long standing relationship with water immersion as it is was a requirement under the law as a symbolic cleansing from various circumstances.. John TB used it as a symbolic cleansing and sign of repentance.. Not sure what Jesus’ disciples used it for as the text doesn’t say but my assumption is that it was the same. I believe it is symbolic of the faith that accepts the Grace of God through Jesus. I honestly don’t see the necessity to add a salvific attribute to water immersion if we are indeed saved by grace through faith as Paul clearly stated. Would a real faith refuse to respond to the command to be baptized.. nope… Would a person being baptized without faith in Jesus be saved ? Nope. Just as Jay has posited, the Old and New Covenants were both based on a covenant of faith.. Each had their symbolic public declaration: Circumcision and Water Immersion, respectively. I honestly don’t think that the exact moment is so important that it is worth the division that it has caused on the centuries… No one I know preaches against baptism and nobody I know discounts faith.. So however you’re personally enlightened about it is fine with me… It’s all about Grace anyway… Which despite being fully immersed, I’m in constant need of.

  40. Dwight says:

    Mark 16:115-16 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. Acts 2:37-39 “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
    Even if you do not believe that Mark 16:16 is a valid verse, the apostles seem to understand it anyway as this is what they baptizing for. …the remission of sins.
    I Peter 3 “eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God)….” Salvation tied directly to salvation, which comes by Grace through the faith of man.

  41. Dwight says:

    A song by by RUSH, the group, not Limbaugh are these words. “Even if you do not choose, you still have made a choice.” The same is true in the moment of salvation.
    Those that balk at any physical thing being the moment of salvation, then have that moment deferred to another point in time, namely faith and then it becomes a question of when in thier faith are they saved. Or if it doesn’t and then if not, then it shouldn’t in baptism either.
    The point is that if we don’t make baptism the point of salvation, as the scriptures seem to point to, then faith becomes “that” point, which the scriptures never seem to point to.
    And it could very well be argued that those that refuse to make salvation the point have then made faith the point and are the dividers. I would argue that we worry less about the point and worry more about that those things of faith and obedience drive us towards the point…Jesus.

  42. Dwight, Jesus didn’t teach his disciples to ‘preach faith and baptism for salvation.’ He sent them to make disciples by preaching the gospel, to preach repentance and remission of sins, and to baptize penitent believers with the result of all of this being salvation.

    In following Jesus, Paul said he determined to preach nothing save Jesus as the crucified Messiah. Repentance, faith and baptism follow the preaching of the good news of Jesus. When we preach faith and baptism more than we preach Jesus we do not preach his gospel, and a faith and baptism not based on Jesus Christ and him crucified does not save, for it is a different gospel. Those who preach a different gospel, Paul said, are anathema.

  43. Larry Cheek says:

    It appears to me that John’s Baptism did not convey the HS.
    Act 19:3-7 ESV And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” (4) And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” (5) On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. (6) And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. (7) There were about twelve men in all.
    Paul, was certain that these men were not baptized into Christ or they would have received the HS. As we understand the teaching of many teachers today disciples exist without baptism (Paul did not allow that condition), but he also knew that there was a baptism that would not produce an indwelling of the HS.
    It is also evident that while he recognized them as disciples, he fully expected them to have a knowledge of the HS because they were displaying themselves as disciples. Do we see men whom we believe are living a life of a disciple, and ask them the question as Paul did? Why would there be a difference from Paul’s contact with disciples and ours.

  44. Dwight says:

    Jerry, Mark 16:16 argues that the apostles were sent with a mission that included faith and baptism of the followers, but this was all built on Jesus as the savior. In Acts 2 Peter preached Christ and the people were convicted and Peter told them what they must do “repent and be baptized”. I would never argue that we should preach faith and baptism, and we do too much. The invitation system is built on this. We should preach Christ first and foremost.
    But the thread is about repentance and baptism and in particular John’s baptism. This is what I am addressing.
    John, obviously baptized for repentance and Jesus even preached it, but there was obviously some differenced between what happened before and after the day of Pentacost that made everything real. The offering of the perfect and final sacrifice. It is possible that Jesus could have forgiven sins of those that were baptized by His apostles as He did sometimes, but this was not the pattern after the day of Pentacost.

  45. Dwight, Jesus did not send the apostles to preach faith and baptism for salvation. Fath, baptism, and salvation were the consequences of the message they were to proclaim, not the message itself. The message was Jesus and him crucified, the kingdom of God that had come in fulfillment of the OT promises and prophecies, and repentance toward God in view of the Messiah’s arrival and work.

    Until we start preaching Jesus as the Jewish Messiah with all that entails, our message will be defective. This is seen in the consequences of our message, for our message does not produce the same results that the message of the apostles received (and I’m not referring only to numbers). Respondants to our message are more committed to baptism than to the one into whose name they were baptized, and are more likely to talk to neighbors about the Church than about the savior of the church.

  46. Dwight says:

    Jerry, I agree that they were sent to declare Jesus, but within the delcaration of Jesus was Jesus as the savior and thus salvation. How else do we explain the account of Phillip and the Ethiopian eunuch. And I agree that Peter taught Christ, then they responded about salvation and they taught about salvation.
    I see the message as Jesus, but I see the mission as saving others and thus reconcilliation with God. Even Jesus said, “I came to seek and save the lost…” so he knew the mission.
    He was the message. The word. The Way. But not the mission.
    He was on a mission from God. (Blues Brother reference)
    But you are correct…we need to preach Jesus. And then preach him again. Not faith or baptism. This can’t be done by sermons and invitaions in the assembly. The lost do not hear it and we don’t have enough time to express it and get responses. We get up and give a message on something, then put forth the baptism spill. It just doesn’t work. God Bless!

  47. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Jerry wrote,

    The message was Jesus and him crucified, the kingdom of God that had come in fulfillment of the OT promises and prophecies, and repentance toward God in view of the Messiah’s arrival and work.

    Exactly right.

    All,

    I know that you all know this, but old habits die hard and we just so want to spend our energies in familiar debates where we know the arguments all too well. Can we please have a day or two above the picayune and instead spend our energies contemplating the transcendent?

    We see in Acts 2 the outworking of God’s plan, first written around 1500 BC in Deuteronomy. The Jews present at the time were amazed to be blessed to live at a time when God’s foreknowledge proved true. They were there to see the Messiah and the Spirit and the dawn of the Kingdom! They celebrated God’s destiny and plan – in amazement and wonder. They didn’t debate free will or baptism. They just reveled in being the presence of a God who keeps his promises.

    I would urge us all to see the miracle of conversion with a little more amazement and awe. Rather than picturing a commercial exchange of obedience (or even faith) for salvation, see the hand of God moving through history to this very moment, from the Israelites crossing the Jordan 3500 years ago until now. It’s not just when I get saved. It’s about God’s election of a nation and finally a Messiah so that I and many other people would be saved. The mechanism of salvation is not just when it happens for me, but how God caused it to happen for the Kingdom. I’m just a bit player. There are far bigger things going on than my own salvation — much less ascertaining the exact moment of my salvation.

    In short, the gospel is about changing the world. It’s about God becoming King through Jesus. It’s about joining heaven and earth. It’s about a better way to be human. It’s about becoming Adam as God meant Adam to be. It’s about seeing and thinking and feeling and being Spirit-transformed to be like Jesus. It’s about a new nation, a new Israel, elect by God to be his light of the world. It’s about a church shaped like Jesus hanging on a cross.

    To see how sinful we are we have to first see how incredible God’s plans for us are. And then we see how sinful we are in our divisions and fightings and refusal to work together toward God’s goals.

    (Jer 29:11-14 ESV) 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

  48. Dwight says:

    Just like in the OT with the Jews all God really offers and wants is deliverance and unification with Him and He offers the Way. Get in the canoe, get the canoe in the water and go with the flow of the free flowing river and while it might get rocky at times it leads to a better place.

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