empty tomb

Reflections on Romans 6

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

Romans 6:1-4 (NASB)

I realized the other day that I haven’t written one of these “reflections” in a while and thought I should get back to it. Chapter 6 is fairly short so hopefully this will be a short blog post as well (but don’t count on it).

Remember, these “reflections” are just that…a set of impressions I received and took notes on as I was reading Paul’s Epistle to the Romans in a single sitting. I’m not taking a look at the Greek or doing anything in-depth. Take this for what it’s worth.

Since Paul wasn’t creating chapters and verses in this letter, it’s not really fair for me to “review” the Epistle this way, but if I didn’t, I’d have to write one really long blog post, which also wouldn’t be fair (to my poor aching fingers or to you, my readers). So here we are. Paul is continuing the thought he was pursuing at the end (for us) of the previous chapter:

So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 5:18-21 (NASB)

This is the comparison and contrast between Adam, the first man, and Jesus (Yeshua) the “antidote” for Adam’s bringing sin into the world. As sin increased, God’s grace increased in proportion to the sin. So then Paul asks (Romans 6:1-2), “Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be!” Even though grace increases as sin increases, this is hardly a reason to continue sinning.

Then Paul gives his reasoning. We were baptized into the death of Messiah and so as he died for our sins, we died to sin.

For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.

Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:5-11 (NASB)

When we became baptized into the name of the Messiah, we entered a unity with him via an oath of fealty, but it seems something even closer. We became united with him in dying, in this case to our old, pagan natures, and resurrected, both as the promise of the physical resurrection of the faithful to come, but also in terms of a change of our natures.

“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Jeremiah 31:33-34 (NASB)

Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 (NASB)

new heartThis is classic New Covenant language describing how God will circumcise the Jewish heart, write His Torah upon it, and give Israel a new Spirit, all of which will enable the Jewish people to perfectly obey God’s commands and to observe His mitzvot flawlessly.

This, of course, does not happen until the resurrection of the faithful from the dead, so just as Jesus was resurrected in a perfected body, so too will we be resurrected into perfection, not only of our bodies, but our spirits so that we too will be without sin, not only having our past sins completely atoned for, but not sinning in the Messianic Age.

Paul directly ties Messiah’s resurrection into our own resurrected states so our bodies will never die again and in the realization that we are dead, but only to sin.

However, the Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36 passages are specifically addressed to Jewish Israel and not to the peoples of the rest of the nations, but Paul is writing to a Gentile audience in his epistle. How do we reconcile this apparent inconsistency? How can Paul apply the writing of Torah on the hearts of Gentiles?

On yesterday’s morning meditation, ProclaimLiberty commented giving part of the answer:

Now that I have addressed the notion of “Torah on the heart” as a covenantal anticipation and partial fulfillment as promised to Jews, how may we envision it having an impact also on non-Jews who attach themselves to the Jewish Messiah? They do not become members of Israel or participants in the covenant per se, and they are not legally obligated by the Torah covenant. Therefore, something must become available to them because of their increasingly close proximity to the knowledge of Torah and its impact on those who actually are members of the covenant. In one other recent post, I invoked the analogy of gentiles entering the Temple’s “court of the gentiles” in order to offer sacrifices in accordance with Torah stipulations for gentiles doing so. I compared the symbolic sacrifice of Rav Yeshua to such sacrifices, but offered in the heavenly sanctuary by Rav Yeshua as a mediating Melchitzedekian priest. Such symbolism reflects the ratification of continual repentance, after which the forgiven offerer learns to walk in newness of life in accordance with HaShem’s guidance (e.g., the aspects of Torah that apply to him or her). In another recent post I addressed the notion of a gentile ‘Hasid and the appropriate reflections of Torah that may be applicable — in which a gentile might become thoroughly immersed in order to experience the same sort of spiritual intimacy with HaShem, and enter into the perceptive environment of the kingdom of heaven in its metaphorical sense in anticipation of its future physical realization. Thus non-Jews would experience spirituality from outside and alongside the covenant in the same manner as intended for Jews inside the covenant.

Sorry for the large block of text but that’s a direct quote.

bedtime-shemaYou can click on the link to see his entire comment, which includes an interesting perspective on Gentiles reciting the Shema. What I get out of it is a way to look at how Gentiles are included in the New Covenant blessings, also being given a new heart and new spirit with the Torah written with us even though the nations aren’t directly addressed in the New Covenant and accounting for variability in application of the Torah to Jewish and Gentiles co-participants.

But that hasn’t happened yet…or has it?

Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:11 (NASB)

Paul is saying to his Gentile readers that they are to be “dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” right now (as he was writing his letter). That’s not in the future Messianic Era but rather in the present for his audience. But how could Paul expect them to be dead to sin if their hearts were not yet changed and they hadn’t been given a new spirit yet?

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.

Acts 10:44-45 (NASB)

OK, so did the Jews and Gentiles have the spirit or not? Clearly they had the spirit but as D.T. Lancaster has said in different sermons in his Holy Epistle to the Hebrews series, the spirit we see given to the Gentiles in Acts 10 and to the Jews in Acts 2 is a pledge or down payment, a mere foretaste of the full filling of the Holy Spirit we will be given when the New Covenant times completely enter our world with Messiah (also see 2 Corinthians 3:3 and Ephesians 1:13-14).

Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.

2 Corinthians 5:5 (NASB)

The Greek word translated above as “pledge” can also be rendered “down payment,” “deposit,” or “guarantee.” The idea is that we have the spirit, but it’s not nearly as much as we are going to have. It’s like putting a down payment down on a car. You get the use of the car without paying the full price, but with the idea that your down payment is your pledge that you will pay the full amount when it comes due.

So we have a portion of the spirit and perhaps the finger of God is beginning to write the Law on our hearts, but it’s not to the degree that all of the promises are within our grasp yet…we just know by what we have now, we can be assured that the rest will be coming.

Rising IncenseBut even though “the goods” haven’t arrived yet, we are expected to live, to the best of our abilities, as if we have already received everything we were promised. I guess this is the part where the person who gives the down payment on the full amount gets to drive the car right away. God can expect us to behave as if the Law were already within us (as it applies to different populations) even though it isn’t yet. That’s the point of verses 12 through 14 in the current chapter.

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

Romans 6:15-18 (NASB)

So if we are no longer to consider ourselves slaves to sin, we are to consider ourselves slaves to righteousness. After all, we are always slaves to something, it’s just a matter of choosing our Master.

But it looks like Paul might build some “wiggle room” into this system:

I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.

Romans 6:19 (NASB)

Paul speaks of “human terms” and “weakness of your flesh” seemingly indicating that we aren’t really “there” yet in terms of the ability to be sinless. He’s also presenting us with a choice given our weaknesses, to chose to present our “members as slaves to lawlessness or slaves to righteousness”. I guess the implication is that prior to becoming disciples of the Master, we really didn’t have a choice. We were slaves to lawlessness being without the Law (or rather slaves to a different law as we’ll see below), that is the Law that leads to sanctification.

But there’s another law to consider:

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:20-23 (NASB)

Under the law of sin and death we were free from righteousness, but now under the Law of Righteousness, we are free from sin.

“The wages of sin is death” is the Law of Sin which Paul periodically contrasts with the Law of Righteousness (Torah). If you didn’t know that, then every time Paul writes “law” it would be easy to assume that he’s always talking about the Torah. That, I think, is why many Christians take a dim view of “the Law” since they’ve been taught that the Law brings increased transgression (see Romans 5:20). That’s also why reading the Bible and getting “impressions” or “reflections” as I’m doing is a little dangerous, especially given the various English translations, because Paul’s meaning isn’t always plainly written on the surface of the Bible’s pages. Sometimes you have to dig for what he’s really saying.

brand-new-daySo at the end of this chapter, we’re left in an interesting place. We are baptized into the name of our Master and therefore in unity with him on a very intimate level. Just as he was resurrected into a perfected body, we are to consider ourselves also resurrected as a new person free from sin and a slave to righteousness. The trick is that we have only been given a down payment on the full amount of God’s promises and it’s only that full amount of His Word and Spirit that will truly perfect us.

Nevertheless, we are expected to behave as if we have already received the full gift, even though we must constantly struggle to present ourselves for righteousness and to disdain acts of sin and lawlessness.

One question, in verse 10 when it says “He (Jesus) died to sin once for all,” how could he die to sin if he lived a completely sinless life?

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41 thoughts on “Reflections on Romans 6”

  1. It seems to me that any answer to your verse-10 question must really consider the comparison between “dying to sin” and “living to G-d” if any sense is to be made of it. Consequently, it begins to reveal a rather generic outlook that can be applied to the sinless as well as to those who sin. One might view the notion of dying or being dead to sin as an excuse not to sin or not to feel trapped or imprisoned by sin. Just like Rav Shaul’s example of a wife bound to her husband while he lives, and no longer bound if either of them are dead — so if we consider ourselves dead to sin, then we are free to ignore it or to defy it or to resist any demands it might try to make of us. Even Rav Yeshua had to resist temptations [:)]. Now if we consider the alternative of being alive to G-d, we can see it as accepting and pursuing actively after the demands of righteousness.

    This takes us to another useful consideration regarding the notion of writing Torah on the heart in the present, even before the ultimate fulfillment of the new covenant promise to do so under a more utopian messianic regime. Human brains utilize a mechanism of neural logic. Some computers also have been built to mimic this sort of mechanism. The nature of it is that repeated inputs produce a stronger, more consistent, response. Behavioral psychologists call this a stimulus-response mechanism. Thus, when we like the results (output) of some (input) stimulus, we tend to repeat the action that brought it about. This mechanism works also for memories and learning, in that repeating something to reinforce it increases the likelihood that we will remember it. This works both for negative experiences and for positive experiences. Consequently, consistently refusing to do something negative weakens the likelihood of wanting to do it again; and consistently repeating positive behavior increases our desire and ability to do more of it. So it is with godly Torah-informed behavior. Repeatedly conforming our behavior with HaShem’s outlook and expectations reinforces that behavior in our neural patterns. The ancient Hebrew metaphor of the heart corresponds largely with what in modern terms is recognized to occur in the brain or the mind. The brain is the hardware that supports the software of the mind (likewise the feelings or attitudes of the “heart”). Hence reinforcing the patterns of Torah in our behavior is a form of very literally writing Torah on our hearts. This is something we can do, and are instructed to do, and are promised blessings for doing, throughout our livespan, but it is HaShem’s mechanism for writing on the heart that we are exploiting and experiencing.

    Now, if you ask me how HaShem intends to transfer any such preliminary, anticipatory, inscriptions on hearts across the transformative boundaries of resurrection or rapture, I’m afraid I must answer that I haven’t the faintest inkling about His technology for either of these processes. Modern neural science may have provided clues about how brains and computers may operate, but about nashamot it hasn’t the tools to investigate, either in the body or outside of it. But I suspect you knew that. [:)]

  2. James: I think that the “down payment” that you mention is about the following (taken from Wikipedia):

    Erusin (אירוסין) is the Hebrew term for betrothal. In modern Hebrew, “erusin” means engagement, but this is not the historical meaning of the term, which is the first part of marriage (the second part being nissuin).

    Since the Middle Ages it is customary for the marriage to occur immediately after the betrothal, and to perform the betrothal during the marriage ceremony itself. Previously this was not the case, and there were often several months between the two events.

    In Hebrew and classical rabbinic literature, betrothal is frequently referred to as sanctification (Hebrew: Kiddushin, קידושין), on account of the bride becoming “sanctified” (dedicated) to the groom.

    A non-traditional view is that the betrothal was effected simply by purchasing the girl from her father (or guardian). The price paid for her (bride price) is known by the Hebrew term mohar (מוהר‎). The girl’s consent is not explicitly required by any statement in the Bible, neither is there explicit permission to ignore it. It was customary in biblical times for the bride to be given part of the mohar. Gradually it lost its original meaning, and the custom arose of giving the mohar entirely to the bride, rather than to her father.

    All this helps to understand Yeshua’s words:

    “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:2-4 NIV

    “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” John 16:7 NIV

    “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” Matthew 7:21 NIV

    So basically, we are married to Yeshua.
    Yohanan the inmerser tell us:
    “The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.” John 3:29 NIV

    He has given us the down payment (just as Paul mentions) as our insurance that He will return one day for us. We are supposed to prepare for Him as a bride prepares for her wedding. We are supposed to have intimacy with Him. Otherwise He will tell us “I never knew you”.

  3. Seems to be illuminating as far as it goes, but this does (again) raise the question of who God/Christ is married to, Israel or the Church? Or are well all Israel or all the Church? I’ve heard it said that God is the bridegroom, Israel is the bride, and the Gentile believers are the wedding guests, which would not only contradict your interpretation Alfredo, but probably really “annoy” (I’m grossly understating here) many Gentile believers.

  4. The problem of thinking that Gentiles are “only guests” is that Gentiles such as Cornelius and all his house also received the “mohar” that was sent by Yeshua Himself. If that was not a “big success”, then what was all the fuzz that we read on Acts 15, and why? As I see it, the whole point there was about Gentiles needed to be circumcised to be considered into HaShem’s covenant with Israel…

  5. There’s a great deal of bride/bridegroom language in the Tanakh between Israel and God and a some bride/bridegroom language in the Apostolic Scriptures between the ekklesia and Messiah. So who gets married to whom?

  6. I find the idea that the Holy Spirit was given in part very disturbing, but I will be open to proof.

    Men get an idea in mind of what the picture would look like to have the spirit poured out upon all flesh. Because spiritual things are spiritually discerned, some will refuse to believe Peter when he said that the Holy Spirit was sent from heaven by Yeshua as spoken of by the prophet.

    Recently, one of these men wrote a chronological gospel. Because he does not understand what it means for the Holy Spirit to be poured upon all flesh and what it actually looks like spiritually, he decided Peter was wrong to say “…this is that which was spoken by the prophet…” and he changed his translation to say “this is LIKE that which was spoken by the prophet.”

    We do not have an earnest of the Holy Spirit.

    The Church has been given all things pertaining to eternal life. The earnest of all things pertaining to life is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the earnest of our resurrection, our new bodies, our completed new heart, our gifts and rewards, etc.

    So, it is not that we have been given an “earnest of the Holy Spirit” but rather that the Holy Spirit is the earnest of the fullness of everything Christ has purchased and given to us from above, “all good things come from above.” We no not see all things yet given to us.

    For those who have eyes to see spiritual things, we can believe that what Peter spoke was the truth, “…this is that which was spoken of by the prophet…” and there is no need to rewrite the bible to conform to mens idea of what it looks like physically.

  7. Who gets married to whom? Good question.

    “Church”… Ekklesia… Qahal… Assembly… Synagogen…

    Again, from Wikipedia:

    Qahal
    Etymology and meaning

    The Hebrew word qahal, which is a close etymological relation of the word qoheleth, comes from a root meaning of convoked [group]; its Arabic cognate, qala, means to speak.

    Where the masoretic text uses the term qahal, the Septuagint usually uses the Greek term Ekklesia, which means summoned group (and literally means they who are called out). However, in one particular part of the Priestly Code the Septuagint instead uses the term synagogen, literally meaning gathering, where the masoretic text uses qahal.

    How about a whole book in the Tanakh

    Ecclesiastes

    The words of the Teacher,[a] son of David, king in Jerusalem: Ecclesiastes 1:1 NIV

    Footnotes:
    [a] Ecclesiastes 1:1 Or the leader of the assembly; also in verses 2 and 12

  8. @Steven: Probably the clearest scripture illustrating that the Holy Spirit was given as a pledge, a guarantee, as earnest is 2 Corinthians 5:5 but I believe Ephesians 1:13-14 and perhaps 2 Corinthians 3:3 make similar remarks.

    If the New Covenant language I quote here describes the Holy Spirit being poured out on all flesh to such a remarkable degree that all people ‘know God’ in the manner of Abraham and Moses and that our hearts are so cleansed that it is natural for us to not sin but only to obey God, how come Christians don’t behave this way today? If we are already perfected through faith and the Holy Spirit, then why does Jesus need to return? Is this the resurrection?

    @Alfredo: I could possibly accept the ekklesia as the Bride with Jewish Israel and grafted in Gentiles being within that ekklesia, but frankly, I think the entire subject needs more investigation. We’ve made assumptions for far too long, including how we choose to read Paul.

  9. What I find disturbing is having hundreds (if not thousands) of church denominations teaching many different doctrines (some or many of them contradicting each other) and each one of them saying that their teachers have the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

    Now that’s very disturbing.

    Specially when you realize that Yeshua also said “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” John 16:13a

  10. Guide, yes. Program you with an unerring and compulsive ability to always know the truth and act on it correctly with little or no effort, no.

  11. Exactly. Go and tell them: “Always know the truth and act on it correctly with little or no effort, no.”

    We’re not “there” yet… but we will someday:
    Jeremiah 31:33-34
    Ezekiel 36:26-27

  12. “as earnest”

    Yes, but before you were not saying “as earnest” but “an earnest of the Holy Spirit” and you have said this before in different ways so I’m not confused as to what you mean.

    There are teachers who think they know the truth about the Holy Spirit who believe that he is not a person but a form of power like electricity, only spiritual.

    If the Holy Spirit is merely a form of power, then you can get a little of it as earnest to receiving the whole thing. If the Holy Spirit is a person, he can be give to us as the earnest of what belongs to us in its entirety. All things pertaining to life.

    As for those who “shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free”, they are those who keep the sayings of Yeshua.

    Those who do not keep the sayings of Yeshua (practice and teach) they are building on the sand no matter their denomination or what they THINK concerning truth.

    I’m glad Alfredo is disturbed by those who say “lord lord” and do not keep Yeshuas’ sayings. I hope he is not saying he thinks the Holy Spirit is doing a poor job! I think the Holy Spirit is doing an excellent job, and this is clearly seen by those who have eyes to see what the Spirit is doing in the world.

  13. We can have a difference of opinion and that’s OK with me, Steven. But if what is described in Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36 is what we have here in the present world prior to the resurrection and prior to the return of Christ and nothing changes in our relationship with God after that, I’m kind of disappointed. Not much to look forward to in the Messianic Age.

  14. I’m afraid of all you are missing while you wait.

    As for me, I have Peace, Joy, and Righteousness in the Holy Spirit. I am not waiting for the Kingdom, I’m in it. Yeshua is with me always, “even unto the end of the age.” I have no need any man teach me for I have “an unction” of all truth and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I am a partaker of the divine nature.

    He has given me rest, when he gave it to me He spoke to me personally in a dream “Steven, you can rest.”

    While you are waiting, I am enjoying a forgiveness of all my sins, a Father in heaven and a teacher on earth. I have received on earth honor and glory from the Father, and I am the righteousness of G-d in Christ Jesus. He has made me Holy, Justified, without blame before the mercy seat.

    The way, the life, the truth, and the resurrection (who is a person) lives within me. I could go on and on explaining the riches HE has bestowed on me. True followers of Yeshua don’t have to wait, they only have to understand and believe.

    Of course we look forward to Yeshua’s return, he will receive us to himself and we will always be with him, but if you can receive it he said “I will never leave you nor forsake you” and “I am with you always.”

    His Kingdom is from everlasting to everlasting and men are entering it every day. What are you waiting for?

    “Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.”

  15. I put together a few scriptures about the kingdom of heaven:

    There is a time…“IN THE DAY OF THESE KINGS shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”

    That time had come…“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”

    That Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom…“Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from here.”

    G-d’s throne is eternal…“Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever”
    Some were already entering the kingdom…“the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.”

    There are those inside the kingdom and those outside the kingdom…“Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables”

    The power of the kingdom was seen by some standing before Yeshua…”And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.”

    Yeshua’s power over the enemy was proof the kingdom had come…”But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.”

    The kingdom is not a physical place like Jerusalem or an age such as “the messianic era”, but the Kingdom of G-d is joy, peace and righteousness in the Holy Spirit.”

    Only the born again of water and spirit can see the kingdom…”Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

    Finally, there is no map that will lead you to the kingdom…”Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”

    Shalom

  16. Thank you for all that, Steven. God gives me what He desires to give me out of His grace and compassion, as it says “You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing,” (Psalm 145:16). What am I waiting for? A world where Christians don’t have to fear terror and murder, as it says, “Each of them will sit under his vine and under his fig tree, with no one to make them afraid, for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.” (Micah 4:4).

  17. My last comment to avoid turning what should be our growing up into the knowlege of Mesiah into a pointless arguement:

    The fearful and unbelieving will burn in the lake of fire.

    Rather, have faith…

  18. Steven please don’t think I’m unappreciative of what you’re trying to do, it’s just that you and I have very different ways of interpreting the scriptures relative to faith, the New Covenant, and the resurrection. I don’t believe my perspective will condemn me to hell as you seem to be suggesting, but God will judge us all in the end, and it’s His judgment that prevails.

  19. @James “One question, in verse 10 when it says “He (Jesus) died to sin once for all,” how could he die to sin if he lived a completely sinless life?”

    Yehoshua died to the temptation to live, which, if He had not died would be an imperfection in the fulfilment of His mission, which was to die for our sins, and take the penalty so that we would not have to, if we trusted in His action, His total Righteousness.

    Yehohsua literally died to sin, because had He lived, Yehoshua (G-d my Salvation) would have been Lo-Yehoshua (Not G-d my Salvation), and His life an error of G-d, which since Yehoshua was G-d, could not permitted by Yehoshua. Only the full and total Indwelling of the Ruach haKodesh could have caused a man to walk open-eyed to Calvary when He did not want to, and Yehoshua wanted YHVH’s will carried out more than what He faced, in all of His temporary humanity.

    Matthew 26:39 (CJB)
    39 Going on a little farther, he fell on his face, praying, “My Father, if possible, let this cup pass from me! Yet — not what I want, but what you want!”
    Matthew 26:42 (CJB)
    42 A second time he went off and prayed. “My Father, if this cup cannot pass away unless I drink it, let what you want be done.”

    John 18:11 (CJB)
    11 Yeshua said to Kefa, “Put your sword back in its scabbard! This is the cup the Father has given me; am I not to drink it?”

    @Steven Do you walk in total obedience to YHVH and Yehoshua now, to the Old Covenant Torah that Yehoshua ratified in Himself, and to the New Covenant, where your love is total, and boundless for everyone, and your compassion endless? Is your mind wiped clean of all carnal thought, judgement and unforgiveness? Do you walk in the Righteousness of Yehoshua in every outward and inward way, perfectly, and without effort? Do you have the full indwelling of the Ruach haKodesh as Yehoshua did? Do you heal others as easily as you breathe, and do you walk on water, and through walls as a shortcut to where you are going? Are you imperishable and immortal, made like unto the risen L-rd?

    If you are not, then you are not yet in the Kingdom of G-d.

    1 Corinthians 15:35-55 (CJB)
    35 But someone will ask, “In what manner are the dead raised? What sort of body do they have?”
    36 Stupid! When you sow a seed, it doesn’t come alive unless it first dies.
    37 Also, what you sow is not the body that will be, but a bare seed of, say, wheat or something else;
    38 but God gives it the body he intended for it; and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.
    39 Not all living matter is the same living matter; on the contrary, there is one kind for human beings, another kind of living matter for animals, another for birds and another for fish.
    40 Further, there are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies; but the beauty of heavenly bodies is one thing, while the beauty of earthly bodies is something else.
    41 The sun has one kind of beauty, the moon another, the stars yet another; indeed, each star has its own individual kind of beauty.
    42 So it is with the resurrection of the dead. When the body is “sown,” it decays; when it is raised, it cannot decay.
    43 When sown, it is without dignity; when raised, it will be beautiful. When sown, it is weak; when raised, it will be strong.
    44 When sown, it is an ordinary human body; when raised, it will be a body controlled by the Spirit. If there is an ordinary human body, there is also a body controlled by the Spirit.
    45 In fact, the Tanakh says so: Adam, the first man, became a living human being; but the last “Adam” has become a life-giving Spirit.
    46 Note, however, that the body from the Spirit did not come first, but the ordinary human one; the one from the Spirit comes afterwards.
    47 The first man is from the earth, made of dust; the second man is from heaven.
    48 People born of dust are like the man of dust, and people born from heaven are like the man from heaven;
    49 and just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, so also we will bear the image of the man from heaven.
    50 Let me say this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot share in the Kingdom of God, nor can something that decays share in what does not decay.
    51 Look, I will tell you a secret — not all of us will die! But we will all be changed!
    52 It will take but a moment, the blink of an eye, at the final shofar. For the shofar will sound, and the dead will be raised to live forever, and we too will be changed.
    53 For this material which can decay must be clothed with imperishability, this which is mortal must be clothed with immortality.
    54 When what decays puts on imperishability and what is mortal puts on immortality, then this passage in the Tanakh will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory.
    55 “Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?”

  20. Returning to Romans 5, there was transgression before the Law was given. With the giving of the Law, there was now the potential for and the actual increase in sin (more articulated standards). With the Law, there was also the potential for and the actual increase in grace (grace as blessing, not so much the getting away with stuff that Churchianity forwards). J’shua is the ultimate light of grace, fully obedient and outshining the increase in sin (of those choosing sin and death).

  21. Questor, I was done with this thread, but since you asked me directly I will answer.

    Heaven is not a place where there is no war, the Promised Land is not a place without giants where there is no need for courage, and the Kingdom of God is not a place such as you describe. The Kingdom of God requires a fight and courage and there are “things that offend” which the angels will remove at the appointed time.

    “The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;” Romans 6

    “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven allows violence, and the violent take it by force.” Matthew 11

    Now, we have been baptized in fire and water. We are dead in our flesh, accounted as dead to sin, but our spirits are alive unto God. “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6

    No one can say the Holy Spirit is not of the Kingdom of God. Yeshua sent the Holy Spirit from heaven and baptized the Church in fire. Each true disciple of Yeshua receives an indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Holy means “separate” and the Holy Spirit separates us. From what? The world and our own sin and death. To what are we separated? Eternal life, The Kingdom of God, The Father and his only begotten son.

    So, I have the Holy Spirit who has separated me from the world into the Kingdom of God. But, it is a place where each day I must fight the good fight of faith while this Kingdom of God breaks up every other kingdom until the entire world is filled with the knowledge and glory of Messiah.

    One day the Kingdom of God will become much like you describe but today you must accept it as it is. Our King sits at the right hand of the Almighty in his throne and has been given “all authority in heaven and earth” so we are not waiting for him to come and take up his throne.

    The Kingdom of God is within you if you have the Holy Spirit and his grace is suffiecent. A man can think like an unbelieving and fearful Israelite who thinks the Kingdom can be taken without a fight, but then he will most likely see themselves as small “in their eyes and ours” and I think that is what you are trying to make me become with your comment about my perfect behavior. I may be small, but God is on my side and he is with me, any Giants….I can take em! With Christ…I got this!

  22. All through the New Testament you will read ‘body of Christ’ never bride. Where did ‘bride of Christ’ come from? If Yeshua is the bridegroom, are we the ‘body of the bridegroom’? The only place I read ‘bride’ is in Revelation, bride of the Lamb, and it is clearly defined as New Jerusalem. Just wondering…..

  23. @ Steven

    You have now what every other Believer in Yehoshua has, and must use simply to get through every day as we fight against the world, and our human nature.

    The reason that I asked the questions I did was to point out the difference between having ‘the Kingdom of G-d within you” and actually being in the Kingdom of G-d.

    Your writings suggest that having the Ruach inside of you is the same as being in the Kingdom…which it is not, and can be misleading.

    I do not doubt your belief in Yehoshua, or your positive spirit of attack against this world, but you really do need to be a tad more careful not to imply you have all of the Kingdom of God, when it simply does not exist yet.

    Go in peace.

  24. @ Cynthia

    Marriage between G-d and Israel is scattered throughout all the Scriptures. Christianity took up the idea from those references, claimed them only for themselves, the ‘Church’, and used the phrase Bride of Christ from Revelation because it fits their viewpoint, and sounds so holy. And it is a superb description…just inaccurate.

    Judah is still married to G-d, although in grave displeasure, and hence not living in peace yet, while Israel has been divorced. Revelation is laid out like a marriage contract as the Lamb takes back all of the sons of Abraham that are His, and the symbolism of the city in Revelation is of the entirety of Israel being placed as a jewel on the New Earth.

    It doesn’t mean the New Jerusalem will not be on the New Earth, it will…but much of every symbol in Revelation has dual purposes.

  25. Questor, I’m sure you just made God laugh. lol

    Of course the Kingdom of God exists, what do you think God has a throne for?

  26. Colossians 1 says Yeshua has translated us INTO THE KINGDOM

    ” Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us INTO THE KINGDOM …”

    How can we be translated into something that does not exist?

    Also, one of the parables in Matthew 21 speaks of the kingdom as a vinyard planted by a lord and left in the care of the husbandmen. He sends his servents (the prophets) to reap the fruit in due season. Because they beat and kill the servents, the lord sends his son (Yeshua), they beat and kill him to steal the inheritance.

    How can the Kingdom not exist? The prophets were sent to reap the fruit of the Kingdom. Yeshua was sent to reap the fruit of the Kingdom. The parable says: “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.”

    How can the Kingdom of God be taken from those me who killed the prophets and the Son of God if it does not exist?

  27. @ Steven

    You must learn to read people’s comments more closely…I never said that the Kingdom of G-d didn’t exist…not even accidently.

    I spoke about the symbolism and reality of the New Jerusalem.

  28. @Questor: Re: Yeshua “dying to temptation,” that’s in interesting interpretation and one I haven’t heard before. Could it be in our resurrected and perfected states that we too will not only naturally obey God but be immune from temptation as well?

    Re: Judah being married and Israel divorced, I don’t see how you’re separating the two. Often the words “Judah” and “Israel” are used interchangably and almost poetically in the Bible to refer to all the physical descendants of the Children of Israel, that is, the twelve tribes. You’re almost creating a “Two-House” dynamic here which can lead into dangerous territory.

    @Marleen: So you’re saying that the traditional Christian interpretation of the Law causing sin is incorrect and that codifying God’s expectations simply defined sin much more completely, increasing the probability of people (in particular, the Israelites) violating those standards.

    @Steven: I never said we enter the Kingdom without a fight.

    @Cynthia: True, we always read “body of Christ,” not “bride,” so the bride in John’s Revelation is likely not “the Church” but specifically Israel, with the Gentiles who are grafted into the ekklesia being the wedding guests, all who are prepared for the coming of the bridegroom (Messiah).

  29. @James — the language about divorcing Israel is limited to the time period of the apostasy of the Northern Kingdom, as distinct from Judah, before the Assyrian decimation. That is the separation mechanism you’re missing. In this specific relatively-brief ancient context, more than a century before the first exile, Israel and Judah were not synonymous nor interchangeable. Anybody who looks to the northern kingdom to support a two-house identity is setting himself up for a serious fall, because these apostates were condemned to destruction on several levels. Those who returned to Judah were saved, though about a century later they had to endure Babylonian exile with the rest of their fellow Judeans in order to remain partakers of the covenant. Any other survivors (and they were very few) were carried off, assimilated into foreign cultures, and cut-off from the covenant and its promises.

    BTW, Questor’s notion of “dying to temptation” is quite similar to what I described in the first paragraph of my first post above.

  30. @James : You say: Gentiles = wedding guests

    But, in Acts we read:

    “Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.” Acts 10:34-35

    “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.” Acts 10:44-48

    And Paul says: Everyone who has received the Holy Spirit = sons of God = heirs

    “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Romans 8:14-17

    To me, 1 + 1 = 2

  31. @PL: Thanks for the clarification. Admittedly, I’m still trying to pull much of this together in my head, so I actually learn a lot more from people’s comments than anything they learn from my blog posts.

    @Alfredo: Hopefully you won’t accusing me of splitting hairs if I say that in many respects, Jews and Gentiles in Messiah share many of the same blessings including the giving of the Holy Spirit and being called God’s children, and yet Israel, that is the Jewish people, retain a special status due to the Sinai covenant in which they are God’s special “bride”. Being wedding guests does not abrogate the aforemention equality we share with Israel in relation to New Covenant blessings but does allow for Israel’s status as the “apple of God’s eye” to be retained.

    And remember, there will be many invited to the wedding who refused to come or took the invitation casually such that they will be locked outside and refused admission, gnashing their teeth and crying out in the darkness.

  32. @James. Just think of this only question…

    Are you part of the Ekklesia?

    If your answer is yes, then this should apply to you:

    “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” Ephesians 5:24-27

    “Let us rejoice and be glad
    and give him glory!
    For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
    and his bride has made herself ready.
    Fine linen, bright and clean,
    was given her to wear.

    (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)” Revelation 19:7-8

  33. I re-read the Epistle to the Ephesians to try and acquire some context and given the way the marriage metaphor is worded in Ephesians 5. I still can’t decide if Paul literally means that the Church, aka, the ekklesia or assembly of Messiah, is also the bride of Messiah or if it’s an exhortation for husbands to love their wives with a self-sacrificing (even unto death) kind of love in the manner that Jesus gave his life for the sake of the salvation of many. I’ll have to keep turning it over in my head and seeing if other scriptures shed light on this.

  34. That is how I understand it, James. Ephesians is teaching how husbands should love their wives. BTW, that verse in Col. 1:13, says Kingdom of his dear Son, not Kingdom of G-d. Is there a difference? I don’t know, perhaps there is. I, in my efforts at understanding, see the body of Christ with Christ being the head, as the bridegroom and at the marriage supper of the Lamb, the body of the bridegroom with Christ as the head, marries the Bride of Christ, (IMO) is Israel. The two become one, with Christ the head. Ok, so that is shaky, but I am trying, and I am not a theologian. Shalom, friends.

  35. Well, the Kingdom of God is the Messianic Kingdom, so I guess God the Father could also call it the Kingdom of His Son, since His Son is Moshiach.

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