Evenings With Irenaeus: Elisha And The Lost Axe-Head

   When it comes to orthodox theology, there is probably no human teacher more profound than Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons. He represented Christianity at a time when to even profess the name of Christ put one in danger of one’s life. True to his calling, he suffered martyrdom at the beginning of the third century. And yet he left behind a collection of five books which set forth the orthodox faith of the Christian church. These comprise his magnum opus, Against Heresies.

   In my studies of theology, I’ve come to believe that the weakness and confusion witnessed throughout modern-day Christendom is due largely to a rejection of pre-Nicene standards. If men would return to the faith of the early church, they would return to the very roots of historic Christianity; and find rest therein (Jeremiah 6: 16). But because the doctors of sectarianism hold sway, they are unwilling or unable to do this. The problem is actually twofold. On the one hand, the average Christian remains ignorant of what the early church taught and believed. And this ignorance may be justifiably laid at the door of those whose business is to teach Christian truth. For on the other hand, the rabbis of Christendom are hooked on novelties, and have no taste for the old wine of orthodoxy. True to the inspired prophecy, they have left sound doctrine and been turned unto fables. Whether these fables come in the form of Tim Lahaye’s Left Behind” series, or in the Preterism of Ken Gentry, doesn’t really matter, because it all amounts to the same thing: a rejection of historic orthodoxy.

   Unlike the rabbis of modern-day Christendom, what Irenaeus taught regarding Christian truth came directly from the presbyters who knew the apostles. Without any apology whatever, we receive these teachings as authoritative. Friends, it did not take the church 2,000 to arrive at the truth. It did not even take 1,500 years to arrive at the truth. The truth was faithfully handed down from the very beginning and preserved by the pre-Nicene church: the same church which gave Christians our New Testament Bibles we are so fond of quoting. Wherefore it is evident that any doctrine which deviates from pre-Nicene standards should be considered erroneous at best, and heretical at worst.

   At any rate, this is how I sift the merits of Christian doctrine. Because of the relativism rampant in Christendom, many hold to an “umbrella” approach; teaching that there are five or six orthodox views of any one doctrine. Yet if that is the case, then there is no one view that can be called heretical. The theory makes it easy for heresy to sneak its way into the church. And, of course, the umbrella gets bigger and bigger every year. Seminarians hold staunchly to this view, because they are the primary teachers of heresy. In fact, every formidable heresy that now exists within Christendom was birthed by some seminary.

  Mind, I am not speaking rashly, or from lack of knowledge on these issues. I am one who formerly embraced heretical doctrine, becoming a Hyper-Calvinist, then a Preterist, and later on a Dispensationalist. Now I am simply “orthodox.” I have thankfully come to realize the errors underlying my past mentality, and am beginning to point others back to the paths of historic orthodoxy. In fact, during 2011 I plan on speaking out more and more upon these issues. My intention is not to lord over people’s consciences; but to speak of the dangers of heresy and to make men see that there is but one ancient faith, which has had a constant presence from the get-go, and which it is needful for all Christians to accept today.

   In a sense, historic orthodoxy has become like the lost axe-head of Elisha (2 Kings 6: 1-8). As the builders were busy building, it fell into the water. Yet it only needed the man of God — that one who speaks according to the oracles of God (1 Peter 4: 11) — to draw it back out. The recovery would have been necessary in any event, because the axe had been borrowed. This is what we as ‘builders’ must ever keep in mind. The word of God is not ours, to do with as we like. It does not belong to us. It was committed to our keeping by way of sacred trust. Listen to how Irenaeus interpreted the historic account of Elisha and the axe-head:

“When his fellow prophets were hewing wood for the construction of a tabernacle, and when the iron, shaken loose from the axe, had fallen into the Jordan and could not be found by them, upon Elisha’s coming to the place and learning what had happened, he threw some wood into the water. Then when he had done this, the iron part of the axe floated up, and they took up from the surface of the water what they previously had lost.

By this action the prophet pointed out that the sure word of God, which we had negligently lost by means of a tree, and were not in the way of finding again, we should receive anew by the dispensation of a tree [viz., the cross of Christ]. For that the Word of God is likened to an axe, John the Baptist declares in reference to it, ‘but now also is the axe laid to the root of the trees.’ Jeremiah also says to the same purport: ‘The word of God cleaveth the rock as an axe’ (Jer. 23: 29). This word then, what was hidden from us, did the dispensation of the tree make manifest, as I have already remarked. For as we lost it by means of a tree, by means of a tree again it was made manifest to all, showing the height, the length, the breadth, and the depth in itself” (Against Heresies, 5: 17: 3).

   Irenaeus is alluding to the fact that from the fall of man until the coming of Christ, the counsel of God was wrapped up in types and parables — even to the extent that man’s need for redemption became illustrated by the slaying of bulls and goats; but that in these last times the signification of all things has been made manifest by Christ and His inspired apostles. This is very similar to something Lactantius wrote early in the fourth century:

“And there [Christ] opened to His disciples again assembled the writings of Holy Scripture, that is, the secrets of the prophets; which before His suffering could by no means be understood, for they told of Him and of His passion. Therefore, Moses and the prophets themselves, call the law which was given to the Jews a testament: for unless the testator shall have died, a testament cannot be confirmed; nor can that which is written in it be known, because it is closed and sealed. And thus, unless Christ had undergone death, the testament could not have been opened; that is, the mystery of God could not have been unveiled and understood” (Divine Institutes, 4: 20).

   As the reader will notice, both Irenaeus and Lactantius hold that the truth, which had been concealed in times past, has now been made manifest by the New Testament Scriptures. This is what the heterodox cannot seem to grasp. While some of them maintain that the meaning of the Old Testament Scriptures is opened by the New, they plunge into heresies innumerable in their assertions that the meaning of the New Testament can only be opened by themselves; that 2,000 years of Christian teaching has been mistaken on the most basic themes of salvation; and that Christians who hold to historic orthodoxy are just trying to bring the church under bondage to mother Rome.

   But the Word of God which was lost, hath been recovered — just as the iron did swim under the influence of Elisha’s stick of wood. Friends, the buck of Christian doctrine does not stop with the latest seminarian or his newfangled views of doctrine. It did not stop at the Protestant Reformation. It stopped long ago, when the final book was added to the New Testament canon. The teachers who collated these books together for the edification of later centuries knew what these Scriptures meant and understood them properly. It is for Christians today to accept that fact humbly, rejoice in the ancient faith, and do whatever they can to publish the Gospel to the whole of creation and glorify God‘s name on earth.

Being Born Again

    The phrase “born again Christian” has been in use for some years, and probably was first coined to distinguish between Christians who hold membership in the spiritual “church which is His [Christ’s] body” (Eph. 1: 23) and those who are called Christians because added to the institutional church via infant-baptism. At least that is my guess. The term “born again” refers to the spiritual birth which takes place when one repents of one’s sins and exercises faith in Christ’s sacrificial death on Calvary’s cross, His resurrection from the dead on the third day, and His ascension into heaven to become the faithful High Priest of all who believe. Not all of these truths may be apprehended immediately by the convert. However, spiritual quickening is the token of every one who is born again. Such Christians are described as those who once were dead in trespasses and sins, but who were given spiritual life by the power of God (Eph. 2: 1, 5, 6). In one sense, whenever someone is born again a spiritual resurrection takes place —  a resurrection not of the outer man, but of the inner man. There is of course a resurrection of the outer man (see Romans 8: 11) which will happen at Christ’s second advent, and without which the salvation of the believer may be considered incomplete. But that is a different doctrine.

   Another name for being born again is regeneration. This is what Baptist theologian and poet John Milton called “imperfect glorification.” Not a bad term really, since it denotes that the regenerate are ever moving towards perfection. It is like a finger-post that points ahead, not backwards. Our glorification may have begun, but is still a work in progress. Not until mortality has been swallowed up of life (1 Cor. 15: 53) will the “entire man” be redeemed. Or to put it another way, it is the earnest of the Spirit which we receive when we are regenerated (Eph. 1: 14). The earnest is not the entire payment. We’ll receive our complete salvation when “spirit, soul, and body” (1 Thess. 5: 23) are redeemed at Christ’s second advent. This is why the second coming of Christ is so important in the doctrinal instruction of the Christian church. It is a doctrine that is preserved in all the major Greek, Latin, and Evangelical confessions of faith.

  When Nicodemus came to Christ by night, Christ told him plainly: “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3: 3). The KJV margin reads “born from above”  —  manifesting regeneration as a work of God.  Our Lord meant this doubtless in more ways than one. Not only is a man who isn’t born again not spiritually translated into the Kingdom of God (see Colossians 1: 13). But such a person can never hope to partake of Christ’s coming kingdom on earth. For the second Adam is to reign with His bride, the church, over a renewed and regenerated earth.  “Do ye not know that the saints will judge the world?” (1 Cor. 6: 2).  Those who constitute the bride are those who have been “born again.”

    Of course, when Nicodemus asked for particulars, Christ said: “Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3: 5). Whatever Christ meant, it is clear that once a Christian exercises a saving faith in Christ, it is obligatory that he submit to water baptism; i.e., immersion in water. Baptism is a setting forth of Christ’s burial and resurrection, into which the believer enters by faith and with which he identifies. Reluctance to submit to water baptism is really a refusal to confess Christ before men. And how can one who fails to confess Christ ever partake of His kingdom? See the answer:  Matthew 10: 32-33.

   Our Lord made another weighty remark when He said: “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3: 8). This brings to light the truth that no matter how diligent preachers of the Gospel may be in their labors, they are powerless to bring about the work of regeneration in a human soul. That is a work of God. We may cast the seed of the Word into the most fruitful-looking soil, and yet we cannot make it take root. The wind bloweth where it listeth — where it desires. Our business is to merely cast the seed every which way we can, knowing that some will fall by the wayside, some on rocky ground, some among thorns and brambles, and yet other on good ground (Matthew 13: 3-9, 18-23). The labor is ours to take up.  The growth belongs to Him alone.

 You may ask: How can we ever know who is born again and who isn’t? Well, in this life it is impossible to make that judgment  —   at least with any kind of certitude.  The wheat and tares appear much the same to outward eye.  While the surest way to spot counterfeiture is to assess the character of one’s fruits (see Matthew 7: 16-17), yet the same Lord who told us to judge by the fruits also said “Judge not according to the appearance” (John 7: 24).  A professing Christian who produces “wild grapes” (Isaiah 5: 2) today may be one who has backslidden and needs to re-consecrate himself to God.  Since there is always time for repentance, we should never be too hasty in our judgments, but continue to instruct and admonish.  And open sin should always be dealt with (1 Cor. 5: 12-13).  However, the Lord told us to beware of trying to pull the mote out of our brother’s eye while a beam is in our own (Matt. 7: 1-5).  We must not only bear each other’s burdens, but our own (Gal. 6: 2-5).  We must continue to examine ourselves to see if we in the faith (2 Cor. 13: 5).  For even born-again believers have need to “endure unto the end” that they may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.  And the apostle’s word standeth as steadfast as it did twenty centuries ago:

Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1: 10). 

The Fivefold Christ

   When presenting the Gospel to lost persons, it is essential that we get the Divine message right. Since salvation hinges upon one’s heartfelt belief in Christ’s work on the Cross, the Gospel as we present it to others must be defect-free and in perfect alignment with God’s word. This brings us to consider the vital question of how we are to preach Christ. In my studies of the sacred Word, I’ve found that the Gospel holds forth Christ in five main aspects, all of which constitute an “essential package” that cannot be broken apart without detracting from and/or distorting the truth.

   For reasons of convenience, I call this package the “fivefold Christ.” That is, Christ as presented in five aspects which together can be used to drive God’s Gospel home into the hearts of the lost. These aspects are — 1): Christ sinless; 2): Christ crucified; 3): Christ resurrected; 4): Christ ascended; 5): Christ coming back. Let us consider each of these in order.

  1. SINLESS. Christ was the only man that ever lived who did not inherit Adam’s taint of original sin. This fact is extremely important, because it shows that Christ was not subject to death as other men are. “Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life that I might take it again.  No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself” (John 10: 17-18). Since the Spirit reveals that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6: 23), Christ’s status as a sinless man means He did not have to die at all. This makes His blood precious.

   2. CRUCIFIED. When Jesus Christ was crucified on Calvary’s cross, He poured out His soul (Heb. nephesh) unto death (see Isaiah 53: 12). The soul (=life/nephesh) is in the blood (Leviticus 17: 11). Because Christ knew no sin, He was a perfect offering, and therefore able to become a substitute for sinful men.  

   3. RESURRECTED. When Christ was crucified, He died under the weight of our sins. His resurrection on the third day proves that our sins were put away, and that His sacrifice was accepted with God. It also shows that He was victorious over death, hell, and the grave. As Peter states, “Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it” (Acts 2: 24).  If there had been any flaw in Christ or His work, He would still be laying in the tomb where they put Him.

   4. ASCENDED. Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross having been accepted by God and accounted a “sweet savor,” His resurrection restored the humanity that had fallen in Adam; and this restored humanity is fit to stand in God’s presence. Christ’s ascension into heaven inaugurated a new dispensation in which God’s grace is allowed to override His judgment. Since Christ is sitting at the right hand of the Father, He is co-equal with God. And now any man who desires to worship God acceptably must worship Him through the Son (John 5: 23; 1 John 2: 23).

   5. COMING BACK. Although God’s grace abounds to all men in this age, there is a time when Christ will personally return to earth to judge the world in righteousness. See Acts 17: 31. This will be for the salvation of those who trust in His name, but for the destruction of those who rejected His work on the cross. Hence His return is a source of joy to the saved, but of terror and apprehension to the unsaved. How wise is it, then, to repent of one’s sins, be sprinkled with the precious blood of Christ and washed in the pure waters of the Holy Spirit!

   Thus we have stated the five elements of Christ’s office and mission which Christians are required to present to the lost.  Any message which leaves out any of the above is not the genuine Gospel that will save souls.  The “Jesus loves you and wants to make you happy” message is a counterfeit.  The “Jesus invites you to come visit our church” message is a counterfeit.  The “Jesus wants you to get on your knees and say the sinner’s prayer” message is  —  you guessed it, a counterfeit!  The true message is: Repent of your sins and trust in a sinless Savior Who was crucified but raised from the dead; Who now sits at the right hand of God but is coming back to judge the world.  Those who preach this Gospel will never fail, for God has said that His word will not return void (Isaiah 55: 11).  And those who go out with God’s message of salvation will know that they have the God of the Bible on their side. 

“In Absentia Regis”

   I recently heard from an old friend who broke news to me of a personal tragedy he recently went through.  Actually the tragedy is still ongoing, since he nor his family have gotten over it.  It seems a gunman went on a wacked out violence-spree, killing several individuals and shooting his ten-year old grandkid in the head.  For two weeks my friend’s grandson lingered on life support.  However, the injuries sustained were too much, and he eventually died. 

   This tragedy got me thinking of the state of the world in general; and I was reminded of the Scripture that saith “The whole world lieth in wickedness.”  I then started pondering about “evil” in general.  What the gunman did when he went amuck that day and killed my friend’s grandson was certainly evil.  But when we say something is evil, what exactly do we mean?  Despite all the theological definitions now being hawked for sale on the public market-place, it is evident that evil is that which is contrary to the revealed will of God.  In a very real sense, all men are “evil” because all men are sinners.  And sin is contrary to the Divine will.

  This made me realize the significance of the fact that Christ is now absent from earth.  If He were here in person, He would not  —  He could not  —  tolerate sin in His presence.  As a just and righteous King, He would have to deal with it directly.  There’s a little passage in the Psalms which gives us a flashing look into the character of Christ’s coming kingdom.  “I will early destroy all the wicked out of the land; that I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of the Lord” (Psalm 101: 8).  According to Anglican theologian E.W. Bullinger, “early” means “morning by morning; i.e., the judgments of a day dealt with within the day.  No prisons needed.  Land kept clean” (Companion Bible, pg. 818).

  It consoles us to think that when the Lord comes in person to establish His kingdom on earth, no longer will crazed gunmen, murderers, child-molesters, and other criminals stalk the earth as they do now.  At the present moment the world is filled with sin, which is odious to God.  It is for this reason that the King is absent.  Notwithstanding, Christ taught us to pray: “Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6: 10).  When His kingdom does come, it will mean the presence of the King! 

   Lest I be misunderstood, though, allow me to say that I believe Christ is reigning  —   in a very real sense  —   now.  He has been made “head over all things to the church” (Eph. 1: 22).  However, Scripture makes it clear that He is a king “in absentia” (see Matt. 25: 14); and that He has voluntarily chosen to withhold full exercise of His judicial powers.  The reason?  Well, it has to do with the Cross of Calvary.  As I thought about it more and more, it dawned on me that the reason evil is allowed to exist in this age, is because Christ died and rose again to save sinners.  If the King exercised His full judicial office now, He would have to destroy those He came to save (Luke 9: 56).  And there is a time and season for everything under the sun. 

   True, God’s mercy, as it abounds to mankind now, will not last forever.  One day, when the wickedness on earth is so great that it breaketh forth like a deadly gangrene to consume the whole of humanity, Christ will leave His Father’s throne in heaven and return to judge the world.  But until His second advent occurs, God’s grace is allowed to pre-empt His justice.  And because of this bountiful grace, sin and evil are allowed to run riot on earth. 

  Of course, man would deal with evil after his own fashion, and take a swift revenge on all wrongdoers.  Secular magistracy was instituted to deal with crimes such as happened to my friend’s grandson (see Genesis 9: 6).  However, while it is the duty of the magistrate to put the murderer to death, it is the duty of the church to preach salvation by the blood of the Cross.  Yes, the gunman needs to be executed for his senseless taking of human life.  But then too, some Christian needs to preach the Gospel to him.  For “grace” is yet the watchword of those heralds of the King “in absentia.”

  Despite the fact that evil and lust and violence are raging all around us, the church must never forget that its primary mission is to evangelize.  As stewards of the now absent King, we have received a trust which we must fulfill, and on the basis of which we’ll be judged when the King returns.  We are not instructed to build utopias or play Christian politics or sit and argue over “what is truth?”  We are instructed to preach a crucified Savior Who died for the sins of the world but was raised again the third day; Who now sits at the Father’s right hand, but will come to judge the world in glory, and reign from the heavenly Jerusalem ages without end.  By the fact that Christ is yet absent, we know that His grace is still in force.  And hence we know what our duty is.

Written In Sand, Written In Stone

     We all know the story of Christ and the adulterous woman (John 8: 1-11).  Our Lord was teaching in the temple, and the wicked religious leaders of Judaism, who were always trying to tangle Him in His words, brought in a woman who had been taken in the very act of adultery.  Now they stood before Christ and asked what was to be done.  The law said that the adulterous was to be stoned (Leviticus 20: 10; Deut. 22: 22).  The Pharisees figured that if Christ refused to call for her death, they could use that against Him; alleging that He spoke contrary to Moses and God Who gave the law.  That would have surely discredited Him before the people.  But Christ didn’t answer them with words.  Instead, He wrote something in the ground.

   What did He write?  This has been a matter of speculation among professing Christians.  A few years ago, I heard one preacher say that Christ inscribed in the dust the sins of each of the woman’s accusers, with times and dates.  Well, I really doubt that.  Sounds a bit goofy, doesn’t it?  Actually, the answer is not so hard to come by, if one knows the Gospel.  Although Christ had not the leisure to etch such a detailed list of each man’s sins, He wrote something which served much the same purpose.  With His finger, He wrote the ten commandments in the ground. 

   How do I know this?  Well, firstly, from the fact of Jesus Christ’s divinity.  We recall that the Decalogue was originally inscribed on tablets of stone with the finger of God (Exodus 21: 18).  So the act of Christ writing with His finger becomes significant.  Most importantly, however, because the Pharisees were convicted of sin in their own hearts.  And only the law can bring that conviction (see Romans 7: 7, 9).  The religious teachers dared not call for the adulterous woman’s condemnation.  If they had done so, equity would have demanded that they call for their own deaths as well.  For the curse of the law is death (see Galatians 3: 13).  And Christ emphasized His act by saying: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8: 7).  So the Pharisees, being convicted by their own consciences, filed out one by one, starting with the eldest (John 8: 9).

   Now Christ shows the woman that His is a mission of mercy;  not a ministry of condemnation (as was that of Moses), but of salvation.  The law came to condemn man, but grace reveals a better way. How was it that no man condemned her?  Well, how could they  —   without condemning themselves?  What Christ wrote in the sand was the same law that had been written in tablets of stone many centuries before.  It’s purpose was not to justify  —  for if so, there would have been a law that had given life  (Gal. 3: 21)  —   but to show the whole world guilty before God (Romans 3: 19).  Yes, the whole world:  from the pompous, self-righteous Pharisee, right down to the seediest back-alley boozer.  All men are in need of the salvation which flows from the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

   Once a person is saved, and been sprinkled by the blood of Christ through the regenerating work of the Spirit (remember the blood and water of John 19: 34), that person receives the work of the law written in his/her heart.  For that is what the New Covenant is all about (see Hebrews 8: 10).  Under the New Covenant, what was previously etched in stone, and become a matter of “do or die,” has now been made spiritual, and becomes “Believe, and live.”  This is the “work of God” (see John 6: 29).  The law, as interpreted under the New Covenant, speaks thuswise:

   “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commendment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt. 22: 37-40). 

  Nevertheless, how can any man love God or his neighbor, except he first have the love of God in him?  We love Him because He first loved us.  Which brings us to realize, that until a person is regenerated he must needs hear the thunderings of Sinai, so his conscience convicts him of sin.  Moses’ plough must break the hardened ground ere the Sower casts in the seed of the kingdom.  Before we can preach God’s grace, we must preach a broken law and God’s resultant wrath. 

   Hence, the law still avails; not for “righteous men” (i.e., those who have been made righteous by faith), but for sinners (1 Tim. 1: 9).  The law shows men how sinful they really are; so that instead of pointing fingers at other sinners  —   like the Pharisees did with the adulterous woman  —   they might see their own condemnation, repent, and seek shelter beneath the blood-stained wood of Calvary’s cross.

The Church’s Deuteronomy

     In a previous article I wrote a few months ago (I forget exactly which one), I made a brief observation that the Book of Revelation is the Deuteronomy of the Christian church.  This observation has struck me more and more as I’ve studied the two books and noted the parallel themes which run throughout them both.  In going through some of my notes this evening, I was reminded of how strongly the Apocalypse addresses the church in a manner similar to how Israel is addressed in the last book of the Pentateuch.  In this connection, allow me to make a few remarks.

   1. Deuteronomy contains the last words of the Old Covenant, given by Moses to the nation of Israel.  Whereas Revelation contains the last words of the New Covenant given by Christ (the antitypical Moses) to His church.  Both books are the last of their respective canons.

   2. When Deuteronomy was first given, the nation of Israel was about to enter the land of promise.  They were at the end of their wanderings, and ready to take possession of their inheritance.  On the other hand, the Book of Revelation speaks to a church yet in the wilderness, but upon whom the ends of the ages have come (1 Cor. 10: 11).  Because we are a new creation (2 Cor. 5: 17), Christians have attained unto the ends of the ages in spirit; as for us the “elements of the world” have passed away (Col. 2: 20; Gal. 4: 3).  True, our bodies remain on earth, which is like a wilderness in which we yet journey.  But spiritually we sit with Christ in heavenly places (Eph. 1: 3; 2: 6).  Our seat of government is in heaven, from whence  (note that clause) we look for Christ to return (Phil. 3: 20).  So as the church waits for Christ, Christians sit on the very edge of the land of promise, about to take their inheritance, but not knowing the day or the hour.  But like the wicked generation that perished in the wilderness, some  professing Christians will be barred from entering the kingdom (see Matt. 7: 21-23; Phil. 3: 11; cf. 1 Cor. 10: 1-10; Jude 5, etc.).

   3. Both Deuteronomy and Revelation contain solemn anathemas not to add to or subtract from the Word of God (see Deut. 4: 2; cf. 29: 20; Rev. 22: 19).  Just like the Scribes and Pharisees of old, who sat in Moses’ seat but contradicted his doctrine at every turn, many within the church are now adding to God’s New Testament message; teaching doctrines which are not contained therein (q.v. Proverbs 30: 6), as well as subtracting from the inspired message, and refusing to teach truths which Christ and His apostles expressly taught, acting as if they are “difficulties” to be explained away.

  Of course, that’s only a few parallels for the reader’s consideration.  However, I’m hoping they prove helpful to those who wish to follow this thread further.  Next time I read Deuteronomy, I’ll have to approach it with this theme in mind, and jot down any relevant observations.    Ok, now I’ll just quickly publish this post, and get back to my studies in the Book of Ezekiel.  Ciao.

How To Walk On Water

  If anyone were to make such a suggestion to us, we would certainly balk.  For although Peter was able to walk on water (see Matt. 14: 22-33), it was only with Christ’s help, and when our Lord was personally present to grasp his hand.  That makes all the difference I think.  Still, the inspired narrative proves that to walk on water is not a physical impossibility.  If anything, it is the moral status of the Christian that prevents him from doing a similar feat.  If we were fully glorified, we would doubtless be able to walk the waves just as Christ did.  But while our inner man has been renewed, our bodies are still dead because of sin (see Romans 8: 10).  This shuts us out from many of the physical aspects of salvation blessing.

  Nowadays, few would willingly take the challenge to step out of the boat and walk across the water  —   no matter how much faith he or she had.  The reluctance is a frank acknowledgement of our human weakness; and also of the fact (perhaps intuitively understood) that our transition from the first Adam to the second Adam is still ongoing.  “It doth not yet appear what we shall be.  But we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3: 3).  We await deliverance from the bodies of this death (Romans 7: 24).  Yet it is not to be unclothed by death for which we long; but clothed upon, that mortality may be swallowed up of life (2 Corinthians 5: 4). 

   To be fully glorified will be to have that ability to walk on water.  When the bride and Bridegroom are married, the twain will become “one flesh” (Eph. 5: 30-32), whereas now they are “one Spirit” (1 Cor. 6: 17).  Once the bride is finished being taken out of the second Adam’s side, Christ will leave His Father in heaven to be joined unto His wife.  It is this event to which the church looks forward (see Philippians 3: 20-21).  And for good reason.  It will be the blessed jubilee of the entire creation.  No more wind and waves.

  Christ was the only man who could walk on water all by himself, because He was the only man who was without sin.  He alone manifested, because He possessed, that dominion over the creation which Adam lost when he fell  —   and we in him.  Hence, when Christ stilled the turbulent sea, His disciples acknowledged Him as Son of God and Son of Man (Matt. 8: 27; 14: 32-33).  The creation could not rebel, for it under His control.  The first man sinks, but the Second man walks on water.  Through the lifegiving power of the Second, the third (i.e., glorified believers) will ride upon the high places of the earth (Isaiah 58: 14), where now Satan holds sway (Eph. 2: 2).

  It is platitude to suggest that Christ’s walking on water merely teaches that He keeps us above the storms of life.  Regenerate Christians know this without any story whatsoever.  Rather, the narrative gives us this precious insight into our Lord’s office as the “Second Adam.”  Even the sun was ashamed when He hung upon Calvary’s cross (Luke 23: 44-45); and the sun and moon will be confounded when He returns in glory (Matthew 24: 29; Isaiah 24: 23).  Then man’s wars will cease (Psalm 46: 9; Isaiah 2: 4; Micah 4: 3), and the animal creation will be at peace with itself and mankind (Isaiah 11: 6-8).  The trees also will rejoice that no feller is come against them (Isaiah 14: 8).

  Even the most pious Christians have not that dominion that Christ has, and which enabled Him to walk on water.  For we are not fully “in Christ” until we are glorified.  Our souls have been joined to the Lord, yet our bodies remain in the first Adam.  The reign we now possess is confined to the heavenlies, and exercised over those unseen forces that daily afflict the soul (Eph. 2: 6).  Over the kingdoms of the world we have no jurisdiction.  Christ spake truth when He said: “If they persecute Me, they will persecute you” (John 15: 20).  Put an end to that warfare, and thou puttest an end to cross-bearing in general.  But when glorified, I trust that Christians will literally be able to walk on water.  The whole creation will then be under our control, as well the now haughty nations of the world. 

  So what does it mean to walk on water?  It means dominion, pure and simple.  Not a hypothetical, nor a conjectural something-or-other; but a real and certain  —  and I might add, proveable  —  dominion over the earth which God will account “good” once more.  Not good for man’s sake, but for Christ’s sake alone; and verifiably, experimentally GOOD for those who in that day are found “in Him.”  May the reader be blessed by this study.  Amen.

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