THE GOOD NEWS FROM GOD TO THE SONS OF THE KINGDOM

WHO IS JESUS CHRIST?

Part 4

September 28, 2012

 

 

   In Part 4 of the “Good News From God” brochure, published by the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania, the Society poses five questions: (1) How did Jesus’ life begin? (2) Why did Jesus come to earth? (3) Why do we need a ransom? (4) Why did Jesus die? and (5) What is Jesus doing now?  

    This portion of the brochure is the most important.  There is no greater undertaking for man than to come to know and understand the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.  Some of what has become standard Christian doctrine has inadvertently obscured the divine personality and unmatched love of our Father.  We hope by means of these questions and answers to bring to the fore the absolute and unfailing love of the Father, and the wisdom and tender loving care of Jesus Christ as he skillfully brought mankind “
out of darkness and into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

1.     How did Jesus’ life begin? 
        
    The life of Jesus began in the heavens as the unique creation of the Father.  John referred to him as ‘the Word.’

 

“In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. This one was in [the] beginning with God.”

 John 1:1-2 

 

    The ‘Word’ was not only a direct divine creation, but he was also a Creator in his own right, for the Father granted him the right to create his own universe:

 

"All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence.”

– John 1:3    

 

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; because by means of him all [other] things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, no matter whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All [other] things have been created through him and for him.”

– Colossians 1:15-16

 

    In time, our Creator God, the Word, in some unrevealed manner, transferred his life into the body of a Jewish woman, Mary, and came to be born as a son of man: 

 

“So the Word became flesh and resided among us, and we had a view of his glory, a glory such as belongs to an only-begotten son from a father; and he was full of undeserved kindness and truth.”

– John 1:14 

       

    After his birth, the Word came to be known as “Jesus.” (Matthew 1:25)

 

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2.    Why did Jesus come to the earth?               

 

    Jesus came to earth for many purposes.  The overarching purpose was to establish his own sovereignty:

 

“Keep this mental attitude in you that was also in Christ Jesus, who,although he was existing in God’s form, gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God. No, but he emptied himself and took a slave’s form and came to be in the likeness of men. More than that, when he found himself in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient as far as death, yes, death on a torture stake. For this very reason also God exalted him to a superior position and kindly gave him the name that is above every [other] name, so that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the ground, and every tongue should openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”

– Philippians 2:5-11

 

  Up until his bestowal on earth, Jesus was a vicegerent of his universe, meaning he was an appointed sovereign. He was existing in God’s form, meaning he had all the accouterments of  God, but he lacked the experiential knowledge which the Father possesses existentially. In other words, what the Father inherently knew, the Son would have to learn. So, with the Father’s blessing, Jesus humbled himself and came to be in the likeness of his own creation in order to know them by experiencing their lives and their trials and their joys. 

 

“Seeing, therefore, that we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold onto [our] confessing of [him].  For we have as high priest, not one who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tested in all respects like ourselves, but without sin.  Let us, therefore, approach with freeness of speech to the throne of undeserved kindness, that we may obtain mercy and find undeserved kindness for help at the right time.”

– Hebrews 4:14-16

 

    And after he completed his mission and returned to heaven, he had earned his sovereignty and was given ‘the name that is above every other name so that all of his creations, in heaven and on earth, would openly confess him as Lord.’ (Philippians 2:9-10) These scriptures lead us to conclude that his intelligent heavenly creations knew of the Son’s relation to the Father.  And while they unreservedly worshiped the Father and honored the Son, they knew the Son had only been an appointed Creator God.  But after his earthly sojourn, it was as Jesus truly said: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth.” (Matthew 28:18) Thus, every knee would bend to his established universe sovereignty.

 

    As the baby Jesus grew into manhood, he dealt with life as a normal human being, though it appears he had a limited awareness of his special relationship to the Father.  At the age of 12, when he went missing and was finally found, he said:

 

“Why did you have to go looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in the [house] of my Father?”

- Luke 2:41-50

 

    When Jesus reached the full stature of manhood, he presented himself for baptism by his cousin, John the Baptizer, along with other pious Jews as a national sign of repentance.  It was at this time that Jesus became fully conscious of his pre-human existence as the Christ, Son of God.  His Christ awareness descended upon him in the likeness of a dove 

 

“After being baptized Jesus immediately came up from the water; and, look! the heavens were opened up, and he saw descending like a dove God’s spirit coming upon him.  Look! Also, there was a voice from the heavens that said: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.”

– Matthew 3:16-17  

 

    By the Father’s approval, he had earned his right of sovereignty.  Now began the second phase of his earthly bestowal.

 

    Immediately after his baptism, Christ Jesus went away alone into the Perean Hills to formulate his plans and determine upon the technique to uplift the spiritual state of his misled, abused and dejected creation, a ministry of enlightenment that would spread over the entire planet and prepare the way for global peace.  It was during that 40-day period of isolation that it is recorded that the Devil tried to tempt Jesus from doing that work. (Matthew 4:1-11)  But Christ Jesus emerged from the mountain with the glory of spiritual victory, moral achievement, and a plan.

 

    Jesus brought a message of good news, not only peace on earth, but something far greater.  He began preaching about a new era for mankind, entry into the kingdom of the heavens:

 

“Repent, you people, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.”

– Matthew 4:17

 

“Then he went around throughout the whole of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news of the kingdom and curing every sort of disease and every sort of infirmity among the people.”

– Matthew 4:23

 

    In his first major sermon, called the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus informed us of the invitation to enter into the kingdom of heavens:

 

“Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need, since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them.  Happy are those who mourn, since they will be comforted.  Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth. Happy are those hungering and thirsting for righteousness, since they will be filled.  Happy are the merciful, since they will be shown mercy.  Happy are the pure in heart, since they will see God.  Happy are the peaceable, since they will be called ‘sons of God.’  Happy are those who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake, since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them.  Happy are you when people reproach you and persecute you and lyingly say every sort of wicked thing against you for my sake.  Rejoice and leap for joy, since your reward is great in the heavens; for in that way they persecuted the prophets prior to you.”

– Matthew 5:3-11

 

    This was an unusual message.  Never before had mankind been told that they would see God, that the heavens would belong to them, that they would be, not mere slaves or servants of God, but sons of God, and that they would be able to enter into the kingdom of the heavens!  As the Apostle John wrote:

 

“He came to his own home, but his own people did not take him in.  However, as many as did receive him, to them he gave authority to become God’s children, because they were exercising faith in his name; and they were born, not from blood or from a fleshly will or from man’s will, but from God.”

– John 1:11-13

 

    For the next few years, Jesus continued to elevate man’s dignity.  Specifically, he taught them to refer to God, not by name, but by relationship – as Father  – as would any loving child.

 

“You must pray, then, this way: ‘Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth. Give us today our bread for this day; and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the wicked one.’ For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; whereas if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

– Matthew 6:9-15

        

“But you, do not you be called Rabbi, for one is your teacher, whereas all you are brothers.  Moreover, do not call anyone your father on earth, for one is your Father, the heavenly One.”

– Matthew 23:8-9

 

    But there was a specific work Jesus had to perform, unique to his people, the Jews: 

    

“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been reared; and, according to his custom on the sabbath day, he entered into the synagogue, and he stood up to read.  So the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed him, and he opened the scroll and found the place where it was written Jehovah’s spirit is upon me, because he anointed me to declare good news to the poor, he sent me forth to preach a release to the captives and a recovery of sight to the blind, to send the crushed ones away with a release, to preach Jehovah’s acceptable year.”

– Luke 4:16-19

 

    Jesus purposed to free the Jews from their captivity to the burdensome Law Covenant and its associated rituals.  As he said:    

 

“Do not think I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I came, not to destroy, but to fulfill;  for truly I say to you that sooner would heaven and earth pass away than for one smallest letter or one particle of a letter to pass away from the Law by any means and not all things take place.”

– Matthew 5:17-18

 

    Yes, Jesus fulfilled the Law.  By fulfilling it, he finished it.  He released the Jews from it and he brought it to an end.  

 

“But now we have been discharged from the Law, because we have died to that by which we were being held fast, that we might be slaves in a new sense by the spirit, and not in the old sense by the written code.”

– Romans 7:6

 

“For Christ is the end of the Law, so that everyone exercising faith may have righteousness.”

– Romans 10:4

 

“Furthermore, though you were dead in your trespasses and in the uncircumcised state of your flesh, [God] made you alive together with him. He kindly forgave us all our trespasses and blotted out the handwritten document against us, which consisted of decrees and which was in opposition to us; and He has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the torture stake.” 

– Colossians 2:13-14

 

“However, before the faith arrived, we were being guarded under law, being delivered up together into custody, looking to the faith that was destined to be revealed. Consequently the Law has become our tutor leading to Christ, that we might be declared righteous due to faith. But now that the faith has arrived, we are no longer under a tutor.”

– Galatians 3:23-25 

 

    The Law Covenant served an important purpose as a tutor leading the Jews to the Christ, who would bring to mankind the next revelation of God.  Once the Christ arrived, the Law Covenant with its associated rituals was not longer necessary.  The prophet Daniel prophesied that the Law Covenant would end with Messiah’s arrived:

 

“And he must keep [the] covenant in force for the many for one week; and at the half of the week he will cause sacrifice and gift offering to cease.”

– Daniel 9:27

 

    But how would Jesus go about bringing an end to the Law Covenant? The Law Covenant and the added rabbinical commands were so deeply ingrained in the Jewish mind that death could result for failure to honor and keep them.  Obviously, Jesus would have to engage in a more serious and somber undertaking. He would be presented with a “cup” that he would at one time pray be taken away, but one he loving accepted as the will of God in order to free his people. (Luke 22:42)      

 

“[T]he Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.”

– Matthew 20:28

 

    This leads us to the next question.For further discussion, please see: Revealing God as a FatherThe Christian Revelation of Heaven and Freedom of the Children of God

 

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3.    Why do we need a ransom?         

 

   As we begin a discussion of the ‘ransom doctrine,’ we ask our readers to approach the subject matter with an open mind, and please follow our discussion to its conclusion.  Abandoning the discussion in mid-stream may leave one disheartened or at the very least, confused.

 

    Ransom is defined as the redemption of a prisoner, slave, or kidnaped person, of captured goods, etc., for a price; a means of deliverance or rescue from punishment for sin, especially the payment of a redemptive fine.

 

    In any ransom scenario, there must be four things – a captive, a captor, a price and a willing payor.  A captor takes a captive against his will and demands a price from someone who cares enough about the captive to seek his release.  So if we apply the ransom scenario to the Biblical setting, who are the players?      

   There are variations of the ransom doctrine in Christianity. Yet, all agree that the captive is sinful mankind, and the ransom price is Jesus’ sinless body.  But who is the captor and who is the caring payor?  While it is extremely difficult to say out loud, and even more difficult to make sense of, many Christians, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, believe that Jehovah God is both the captor and the caring payor.

 

    In other words, one version of the ransom doctrine goes like this: Jehovah God created Adam and Eve with free will and told them specifically not to eat from a certain tree.  They were told that if they did eat of the tree, they would surely die.  When Adam and Eve disobeyed and ate from the tree, Jehovah God sentenced them, and all of their offspring (the captives) to death.  Jehovah (as captor) then established the ransom price he would require to set matters right – a perfect life for the perfect lives of Adam and Eve – and after about 4,000 years, Jehovah (as payor) offered the life of his innocent only begotten-son, Christ Jesus, to be sacrificed to pay the ransom price that Jehovah Himself determined.  Christ Jesus then delivered the value of that sacrifice to Jehovah Himself to satisfy Jehovah’s own justice so that mankind could live forever on earth the way Jehovah originally purposed.

 

    In another version of the ransom doctrine, some believe the captor is the Devil, and that by Adam and Eve’s disobedience, all mankind became the possession of the Devil. And the Devil decreed that he would not release mankind from the sentence of death unless God provided another perfect life and sacrifice that perfect innocent life according to God’s required justice. The Devil was very confident that mankind would never be released because no offspring of Adam and Eve could be perfect.  But God tricked the Devil by providing the perfect sinless life of his only begotten son.  So Jesus came, sacrificed his life, apparently paying the ransom price to the Devil who thereby released man from the sentence of death.

 

    If we have misstated either teaching of the ransom, please let us know immediately and we will be swift about making the correction.  In the meantime, our position is that neither explanation makes any sense.  We cannot understand why Jehovah would engage in such an elaborate and convoluted kidnaping scene against Himself in order to accomplish what He always wanted.  Neither can we understand how a created being, such as the Devil, could hold a possession belonging to God against God’s will such that God would need to make some supreme sacrifice to appease the Devil in order to obtain the release of God’s own possession.  And there are many other strange presumption that accompany these doctrines.

 

   These complex and practically incomprehensible doctrines are one reason why so many people shun Christianity and the Bible.  They wonder how a God who is said to be the personification of love (1 John 4:8) could set in motion such an apparently cruel, unjust and unreasonable way of obtaining justice. Others wonder how an all powerful God could be made subject to the demands of a created being such as the Devil whereby God would need to acquiesce to an evil disobedient personality in order to accomplish God’s own purpose.

 

    But fear not, dear reader, one does not need to reconcile these odd doctrines.  For the ransom referred to by the Christian Bible writers in the New Testament is not actual, but psychological and theological, and a praiseworthy effort to make the gospel of the Kingdom of God more appealing to disbelieving Jews.

 

    The Apostle Paul, prior to being a Christian, was a prominent Jew and a learned Pharisee:

 

“If any other man thinks he has grounds for confidence in the flesh, I the more so: circumcised the eighth day, out of the family stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew [born] from Hebrews; as respects law, a Pharisee; as respects zeal, persecuting the congregation; as respects righteousness that is by means of law, one who proved himself blameless.”

– Philippians 3:4-6

 

    He was therefore fully versed in the Law and its associated requirements, and quite qualified to explain its features and its meaning.  And he well understood how deeply ingrained those requirements were in the Jewish mind.  Thus, his letter to the Hebrew Congregation was a dissertation to the Jewish Christians on how they could let go of the old system and grab hold of Jesus’ teachings. Particularly, in chapter 9, Paul connects Jesus to the Law Covenant, and then skillfully leads them to the Christ.  In fact, most of Paul’s writings were designed to releive the Jewish mind from an ‘eye for an eye’ mentality and see God as a loving merciful Father.

 

    Specifically, in the 9th chapter of the book of Hebrews, after detailing the events that occur on the Day of Atonement, Paul explained that instead of needing to offer animal sacrifices year after year, Jesus’ life was offered ‘once for all time’ giving the Jews a clean conscience before God, something the sacrificing of bulls and goats could not do. (Hebrews 9:13-14) He explained that once a perfect sacrifice is made, there is no need for more sacrifices. Therefore, the so-called ransom had a theological effect by satisfying the Law Covenant of sacrifice for sin, as well as a psychological effect by cleansing the conscience of guilt by freeing them from the heavy burden of ancestral sin.

 

   We further know that the ransom is a theological and psychological remedy because there was no physical or genetic change in man after the so-called ransom was paid. Man did not become perfect; he continued to sin and err, and to get sick and die. The Devil continued his machinations, and the world continued on its march toward apparent self-destruction. We note also that man did not regain access to the paradise Garden of Eden or introduced to paradisaic conditions at all. Had the ransom been an actual event, the ramifications would have been actual.     

 

    Instead, the ransom was a method of releasing from captivity specifically the Jewish religious mind.  No other people were in the Law Covenant and required to make annual sacrificial atonements for their sins; thus no other people needed to be released from it by ‘ransom.’  Nevertheless, this teaching could be used to explain to people of other nations, who also are encumbered with the idea that human and/or animal sacrifices are needed to gain God’s favor, that Jesus’ death put an end to such sacrifices, once for all time.      

    As Jesus said:

 

“Do not think I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I came, not to destroy, but to fulfill;  for truly I say to you that sooner would heaven and earth pass away than for one smallest letter or one particle of a letter to pass away from the Law by any means and not all things take place.”

– Matthew 5:17-18

 

    Jesus understood the superstitious and sensitive Jewish mind which had been taught that blood sacrifice was necessary for the atonement for sin.  Therefore, Jesus allowed his death to serve as a concluding blood sacrifice to end all such sacrifice and complete the Law’s requirements. (Daniel 9:27)  By so doing, Jesus ‘discharged’ them from the law (Romans 7:6), ‘blotted it out’ (Colossians 2:14), and brought it to an end (Romans 10:4), all without condemning or snatching away their cherished beliefs.  He fulfilled, not destroyed. This was further good news to the Jews!

 

   Today, the ransom doctrine has become as deeply ingrained in the Christian religious psyche as was the Law Covenant in the Jewish mind.  Because of this, some may be stumbled at our explanation.  However, when once you grasp the idea of God as a true and loving Father, the only concept which Jesus ever taught, you must forthwith, in all consistency, utterly abandon all those primitive notions about God as an offended monarch, a stern and all-powerful ruler whose chief delight is to detect his subjects in wrongdoing and to see that they are adequately punished, unless some being almost equal to himself should volunteer to suffer for them, and die as a substitute in their stead. The whole idea of ransom and atonement is incompatible with the concept of God as was taught and exemplified by Jesus of Nazareth. The infinite love of God is not secondary to anything in the divine nature, not even justice.  And we need not comment on the Father’s superiority of power over the Devil.

 

   Accordingly, in answer to our question, Why do we need a ransom? The answer is: We do not. The ransom doctrine was a teaching to appease, placate and put to rest the Jewish mind that was legally attached to the Law Covenant so that they could accept Jesus Christ.  No other race of man needed such a release in order to find and know the Christ. This becomes clearer as we come to understand the true Good News of the Kingdom that ‘from the founding of the world,’ the Father viewed us as his children, only waiting until our minds and hearts were prepared to receive the grand blessing of spiritual adoption into the heavens. (Ephesians 1:3-5) A grave error so many Christians make is to read the Old Testament with its Law Covenant mediated by Moses, and assume it applies to all mankind.  It did not, and does not.

 

    If you have difficulty digesting this understanding, then we encourage you to pray for the Spirit of Truth to guide you in this matter.  He will provide the needed conviction and understanding, and bear witness with your spirit as to its truthfulness.  Until then, if you are so inclined, you are free to hold onto your belief in the ransom sacrifice of Jesus for all mankind, while at the same time continuing to serve God whole-souled.

 

   The ransom doctrine is a matter of theology, not salvation. Whether Christ died as a ransom sacrifice or for some other reason, the fact remains that your sins have been forgiven (1 John 2:12), that you are a child of God by having faith in the living ChristJesus (Galatians 3:26), and that you are an heir to the Kingdom of the Heavens. (Romans 8:17)

 

    But if Jesus did not die as a ransom, what did he die for?  That is our next question. For further discussion, please see: Everlasting Life NowFreedom of the Children of GodForeordained from the Founding of the World and The Bestowal of the Spirit of Truth.

 

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Related Question and Response

Visitor challenges the explanation of the ransom   

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4.    Why did Jesus die?             

 

    According to the Apostle John, Jesus himself said: 

 

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.”

– John 3:16        

 

“Most truly I say to you, He that hears my word and believes him that sent me has everlasting life, and he does not come into judgment but has passed over from death to life.”

– John 5:24

 

“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone that beholds the Son and exercises faith in him should have everlasting life, and I will resurrect him at the last day.”

– John 6:40

 

“Most truly I say to you, He that believes has everlasting life.”

– John 6:47

 

“This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.”

– John 17:3

 

    So, we learn from Jesus’ words that his death was not the catalyst to our having everlasting life. While Jesus was yet alive, he granted believers the gift of everlasting life. (John 1:11-13)  By this, we know the ‘good news of the kingdom’ was not that Christ died for us and was resurrected, for even before his death, Jesus himself was preaching the good news. And so were his apostles who, at the time, did not even comprehend that Jesus would die. 

 

“Then he took the twelve aside and said to them: ‘Look! We are going up to Jerusalem, and all the things written by means of the prophets as to the Son of man will be completed. For instance, he will be delivered up to [men of] the nations and will be made fun of and be treated insolently and spit upon; and after scourging him they will kill him, but on the third day he will rise.’ However, they did not get the meaning of any of these things; but this utterance was hidden from them, and they were not knowing the things said.”

– Luke 18:31-34

 

    Nevertheless, Jesus’ death is important and has profound meaning to all mankind. The most obvious reason why Jesus had to die is so that he could return to heaven and receive “all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18) so that every being would recognize his earned universal sovereignty. (Philippians 2:9-10)  He could not tarry indefinitely on earth.

 

    Another reason why Jesus had to die we have already considered: to fulfill and complete the Mosaic Law Covenant so that the Jewish mind could approach God with a clean conscience.  And Jesus’ death has a similar benefit to mankind in general.

 

    The Mosaic Law Covenant served as a tutor leading the Jews to recognize the Christ (Galatians 3:23-25), but it also serves as a tutor to other nations who, though not bound to the Law, can peer into the Jewish system to likewise recognize the Christ and his importance to man. By learning about Christ, all men are able to understand the ‘sacred secret’ of our true relationship with God and our true destiny.

(Colossians 1:25-29)    

 

    It is important to know that even though the Jewish mind required a propitiatory sacrifice, it was still the life of Jesus, not his death, that had the saving power:  

 

“For if, when we were enemies, we became reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, now that we have become reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.  And not only that, but we are also exulting in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”

– Romans 5:10-11

                        

    A further reason why Jesus died is to show us the way to our heavenly inheritance.  Jesus told us:  

 

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

– John 14:6

 

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Exercise faith in God, exercise faith also in me.  In the house of my Father there are many abodes. Otherwise, I would have told you, because I am going my way to prepare a place for you.  Also, if I go my way and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and will receive you home to myself, that where I am you also may be.  And where I am going you know the way.”

– John 14:1-2

 

    And the Apostle Paul explained:

 

“However, this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom, neither does corruption inherit incorruption.”

 1 Corinthians 15:50

 

    Thus, in order to inherit the Kingdom of the Heavens, we must abandon the flesh through our death. Jesus set a courageous example by being the first one from earth to enter the Kingdom of the Heavens: 

 

“Also, he is before all [other] things and by means of him all [other] things were made to exist,  and he is the head of the body, the congregation. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that he might become the one who is first in all things.”

– Colossians 1:17-18  

        

    Those who follow Jesus must also undergo a ‘death like his’ through baptism:

 

“Therefore we were buried with him through our baptism into his death, in order that, just as Christ was raised up from the dead through the glory of the Father, we also should likewise walk in a newness of life.  For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall certainly also be united with him in the likeness of his resurrection; because we know that our old personality was impaled with him, that our sinful body might be made inactive, that we should no longer go on being slaves to sin.  For he who has died has been acquitted from his sin.” 

– Romans 6:4-7

 

    Jesus’ courageous example no doubt empowered his immediate followers to lay down their lives for the good news of the kingdom, and it likewise empowers those of us today who must also suffer for our faith, as well as those who suffer in order to protect the faith and lives of others.  As Jesus said:

 

“No one has love greater than this, that someone should surrender his soul in behalf of his friends.”

 John 15:13

 

    We pray incessantly for the faith and courage of our brothers and sisters around the world who, even now, are suffering and dying for the sake of the good news. Know that all such ones are blessed as first-hand sharers with our Lord.

 

    As we contemplate the sufferings of Jesus as he offered up his life, we are strengthened when we face even the severest hardships of our lives, much less at the petty harassments and our many purely fictitious grievances.  Jesus’ life was so glorious and his death so triumphant that we are all enticed to a willingness to share both. There is true drawing power in the whole life ministry of Jesus, from the days of his youth to the overwhelming spectacle of his death.

 

    We pray that we do not look with the eyes of our spiritual ancestors who regarded God as a relentless Sovereign of stern justice and rigid law-enforcement. Rather, make sure that you see in Jesus’ death the final manifestation of the love and devotion to his life mission to mankind. See in the death of the Son of Man the climax of the unfolding of the Father's divine love for his earthly sons, and as a portrayal of the devotion of willing affection and voluntary salvation upon those who are willing to receive such gifts and devotion. There was nothing about Jesus’ humiliating and ignominious death that the Father required. The grotesque way in which Jesus was killed was strictly of man’s doing. But it was the love of our Creator/Brother who so willingly submitted to it, and which he refused to avoid. (Luke 22:42)

 

    If one cannot otherwise appreciate Jesus and the meaning of his earthly ministry, one can at least comprehend the fellowship of his mortal sufferings. No man can ever fear that our Creator does not know the nature or extent of our temporal afflictions. (Hebrews 4:15) 

 

    Overall, we know that Jesus’ death was not to effect man's reconciliation to God.  Our reconciliation occurs as a result of our following Jesus’ life and ministry.  Instead, Jesus’ death served to free the Jews from mental, psychological and spiritual bondage, to set an example for us in courageously facing life’s trials while undergoing the baptism into death, to stimulate man's realization of the Father's eternal love and his Son's unending mercy, and to broadcast these universal truths to a whole universe.  (Philippians 2:9-10)

   

    So, while it is not appropriate to think of Christ Jesus as an actual ransomer and redeemer of mankind, it is quite appropriate to view him as our Savior.

 

    For further discussion, please see: Hold Fast to the Sacred SecretEverlasting Life NowBeing Born Again, and Observing the Oneness of the Faith

 

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5.    What is Jesus doing now? 
                
    Before the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, he told his apostles that he had to go away but that he would send a helper to be with them in his absence: 

 

“These things, however, I did not tell you at first, because I was with you.  But now I am going to him that sent me, and yet not one of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’  But because I have spoken these things to you grief has filled your hearts. Nevertheless, I am telling you the truth, It is for your benefit I am going away. For if I do not go away, the helper will by no means come to you; but if I do go my way, I will send him to you.”

 John 16:4-7

 

“However, when that one arrives, the spirit of the truth, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak of his own impulse, but what things he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things coming. That one will glorify me, because he will receive from what is mine and will declare it to you.  All the things that the Father has are mine. That is why I said he receives from what is mine and declares [it] to you.”

– John 16:13-15

 

   While Jesus remained on earth, he could only teach those persons who were within his physical presence. But by means of the Spirit of Truth, which was poured out on ‘every sort of flesh’ (Acts 2:17), Jesus could be with each one of us individually throughout the centuries until his return. Because the Spirit of Truth speaks only what Jesus declares, Jesus is clearly continuing to work on our behalf from his vantage point in heaven. Jesus is still active in teaching, communicating and nurturing each one of us as he promised.  He has taken no break, no time out, no vacation, no resting.  He is diligently about the Father’s business.

 

    Even through what we call the ‘dark ages,’ the Spirit of Truth was active preserving Jesus’ original teachings, though they were shrouded within manmade ideas.  If the Spirit of Truth had not been active, the good news of the kingdom could not have survived into our day.

 

    Though Jesus gave us ‘gifts in men,’ he did not provide an intercessor or mediator. He himself continues to be the only one through whom we can reach the Father.

 

    Remember, too, what Jesus told his apostles:

 

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Exercise faith in God, exercise faith also in me. In the house of my Father there are many abodes. Otherwise, I would have told you, because I am going my way to prepare a place for you.  Also, if I go my way and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and will receive you home to myself, that where I am you also may be. And where I am going you know the way.”

– John 14:1-4

 

    So Jesus is also working with his spiritual organization preparing abodes for us, places where we can be received after our resurrection to further educate and care for us. As the Creator of our entire universe, Jesus has a fully equipped spiritual kingdom getting ready for our arrival.  Jesus is not alone in the heavens.

 

    And when we consider the vastness of our universe, we are certain the earth is not his only concern.  We are told that he will ‘gather together the things in the heavens and the things on the earth to himself.’ (Ephesians 1:10)  Perhaps there are other inhabited planets that he is uplifting and gathering together with us.

 

    The Apostle Paul said that Jesus “sat down at the right hand of God, from then on awaiting until his enemies should be placed as a stool for his feet.” (Hebrews 10:12-13) But we should not interpret that to mean that Jesus was just sitting and waiting for someone else to subdue his enemies.  It is more likely that he is waiting for his enemies to be subdued while he continues to work to prepare mankind for his return to earth.

 

    And, we wondered, how would a ‘Prince of Peace’ defeat or destroy his enemies?  By turning them into friends!  Perhaps what Christ is waiting for is for us to complete our ministry of reconciliation by turning Christ’s enemies into brothers of the kingdom, thus subduing Christ’s enemies.  And, of course, Christ is active in this work by means of the Spirit of Truth.

 

    Finally, just prior to Jesus ascension into heaven:

 

“And Jesus approached and spoke to them, saying: ‘All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth. Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.  And, look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.”

– Matthew 28:18-20

 

    By this scripture, we know that Jesus has been ruling as king of his kingdom since his resurrection in 33 C.E.  As such, we are confident that his entire heavenly universe is peaceful and completely subject to his sovereignty, and has been so since 33 C.E.

 

    It is now our turn to keep in step with the kingdom by teaching the things Jesus actually commanded – the actual and original good news of the kingdom.

 

    Therefore, all disciples of Jesus, all sons of the Kingdom, all ambassadors substituting for Christ must preach the true good news of the kingdom until the conclusion of the system.  And as we do so, we will subdue Christ’s enemies by leading them into the spiritual brotherhood of man so that when the Christ makes his second appearance, he will indeed “find the faith on the earth.” (Luke 18:8) For further discussion, please see: The Bestowal of the Spirit of Truth andAmbassadors Substituting for Christ. 

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 We welcome your comments.

 

“Elaia Luchnia”

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