PRI Articles

The Presence of God, part 1

In the opening chapters of the Bible an account is given of the creation which centers in man made in the image of God. In chapter two we are introduced to the garden or paradise of God concept as the place of God's dwelling with man. Chapter three reveals the transgression of Adam and his loss of the Living Presence of God. As seen in the aftermath of Adam's fall, God's presence was the dominant, controlling factor in the paradisiacal nature and bliss of the garden of Eden. The grandeur of this marvelous garden is missed when it is sought strictly in terms of its outward, earthly setting. What are rivers of water, fertile soil, fruitful trees, pure gold and precious stones (Gen.2:9-15) without the presence of the Living God? To Adam's chagrin, he discovered in his separation from God a destructive force that penetrated the very core of his spiritual being, a formidable foe known as death. In keeping with the expressly-stated penalty, Adam experienced the pangs of sin-death immediately, "in the day" he transgressed God's law (Gen.2:17). His broken relationship with God entailed a loss of life for which his earthly, biological existence could not compensate in quality or quantity. He learned that man out of touch with God is man in touch with dust, "for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return" (Gen.3:19). This was the painful reality of Adam's separation from the Living Presence.

Adam's expulsion from the garden was punishment for his offense, but more than this it was the commencement of a redemptive work centered in Christ, the seed of woman, who would in fullness of time bruise the head of Satan and destroy the dominion of sin and death (Gen.3:15; Rom.6:9-14; 2Tim.1:9,10). The reverse side of God's wrath is God's mercy. God drove Adam out and shut up Eden (3:22-24) because an immortality of sin and corruption was not his design for man. The surrendering of Adam to sin's dominion was the first step of God's grace toward Adam's deliverance from the bondage of corruption. Absolute rejection for the purpose of absolute reception is a fundamental law of God in the restoration of fallen man. Ultimately this law was applied to Israel, who, under the law, and by the design of God, was Adam personified until the coming of Christ. The event of Israel's rejection (the cross) was the event of her end-of-the-age reception (Heb.9:15; Rom.11:15).

From Adam's fall in Genesis 3 to the end of Revelation, the central message of the Bible is paradise lost and paradise restored, except for one very important difference. By Divine design, the restored paradise or city of God (Revelation 21-22) supersedes and transcends the historical, earthly setting of the garden of Eden. The ultimate, eschatological paradise springs from a transformation/re-creation type of restoration that takes on the image of "the second man from heaven" (lCor.15:45-49). In and through the resurrected Christ all things are made new (Rev.21:5). Paul, speaking representatively of Israel, and fully conscious of the transitional character of his time, said, "And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly" (1Cor.15:49). Israel was chosen to bear the image of the first man Adam (who is of the earth, earthy) until the coming of the second man (who is the Lord from heaven), verse 47. The offense of Adam was duplicated and magnified in Israel under the law. Paul said, "the law entered, that the offense might abound" (Rom.5:20; 7:12,13). In this manner bondage to corruption was brought to a head through fleshly Israel, the sons of the bondwoman (Gal.4:21-31; 5:1; Rom.8:15-23). But as with Adam, Israel was made "subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope" (Rom.8:20). The hope of Israel was Christ, "the second man from heaven." Paul said that "Christ became a servant of the Jewish people to maintain the truth of God by making good his promises to the patriarchs" (Rom.15:8, NEB). From that perspective Paul, in anticipation of Israel's end-of-the-age consummation, made the pointed observation, "And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." This is a reiteration of Christ's statement, "salvation is of the Jews" (John 4:22).

That which comes to surface here is the transcendental nature of the greater, heavenly paradise - the new Jerusalem of the new creation in Christ (Rev.21-22). The goal of God's eternal purpose in Christ was not a return to the original, historical paradise. Neither was it God's intention to restore Israel to her former Old Testament state of affairs. The direction of the promise was onward and upward (Heb.6:1; 11:9-16; Col.3:1-4). The things of the earthly paradise were an image of "things to come" in the transcendental paradise. Between Adam and Christ stood Old Testament Israel in whom the earthly image was taken up and diversified in the multiple types, patterns, and shadows of the law (Col.2:16,17; Heb.8:5; 9:8-11; 10:1). It is not surprising, therefore, to find in Old Testament prophecy symbols drawn from the garden of Eden to picture the future blessedness of Israel (and all nations) in the greater paradise of God revealed by John.

Isaiah, for example, pointed to the time when "the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord" (51:3). In Ezekiel 47 the prophet saw a river which flowed out from the temple, with trees on both banks. Accordingly, it was written, "their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine" (v.12). Zechariah, in the context of God's judgment on earthly Jerusalem (a destruction whereby the new Jerusalem is revealed) wrote, "And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one" (14:8,9).

The Ultimate State of Glory
As already suggested, the paradisiacal symbols drawn from historical Eden and intermingled with Israel's Old Testament prophecies and shadows were clear indicators that the restored paradise of God is reached through Israel's consummation in Christ. This is made clear in John's disclosure of the perfect state of God's glory (Rev.21-22). In chapter 21, the New Jerusalem (the Lamb's wife) is described in terms of the typical, earthly Jerusalem in the land of Canaan. In chapter 22, the city's abundance of life is set forth in the imagery of the garden of Eden. The symbolisms of the Old Testament garden and city of God are combined to portray the fullness and the glory of the spiritual realities in the heavenly paradise, particularly God's restored presence among men.

Chapter 21 opens with John's vision of a new heaven and a new earth, the old having fled from before the face or presence of him that sat upon the great white throne (20:11). The new creation brings forth the New Jerusalem from God out of heaven (21:2). The backdrop of its coming is the destruction of the once "faithful city" (Isa.1:21), which became the corrupted, harlot-city (Rev.17:1-6), wherein "our Lord was crucified" (11:8). The New Jerusalem is the bride, the Lamb's wife (21:9). When the harlot-city falls, the announcement is made, "the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready" (19:1-9).

John is taken to "a great and high mountain" to view "the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God" (21:9-11). It had a great and high wall with twelve gates, on which were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel (v.12). Bear in mind that if salvation is of the Jews, this certainly would take in Israel's NEW Jerusalem that comes into the place of her OLD Jerusalem. This New Testament fulfillment is accented in verse 14, where we learn that "the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." Unquestionably these were the "foundations" of the city that Abraham looked for, "whose building and maker is God" (Heb.11:10; see Eph.2:20-22). The city is equal in length, breadth, and height, making it a perfect cube (21:16), as typified by the holy of holies in the ancient temple (1 Kings 6:20). John sees no separate temple or house of God in the New Jerusalem, for the whole city is indwelt by "God Almighty and the Lamb" (21:22). There is no need of the sun or moon because of the brightness of God's glory and the light of the Lamb (v.24). Saved nations walk in the light of it (v.24). The city is inhabited exclusively by those written in the Lamb's book of life; the wicked "shall in no wise enter into it" (v.27; 22:15).

But there is more. In the first five verses of chapter 22, there is a flow of paradisiacal imagery. John sees the pure river of life proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. On either side of the river is the tree of life, which bare twelve fruits every month, and whose leaves are for the healing of the nations. The city's abundance of life is the derivative of Christ's mission and message (John 10:10). The centrality and predominance of "the throne of God and of the Lamb" reflect the fulfillment of all kingdom prophecies. From the perspective of fallen man the kingdom is restored (Acts 1:6) and established in power (Mark 9:l; Rev.12:10) to the effect that through Christ the saints possess the kingdom (Dan.7:21;22; Heb.12:28). Accordingly, "they shall reign for ever and ever" (22:5; 11:15), for "his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed" (Dan.7:14; Isa.9:6,7; Luke 1:32,33; Heb.1:8; Rev.11:15).

The Living Presence
An abbreviated journey has been made through centuries of redemptive history (far too briefly) in order to lay the ground work for elaborating on the concept of The Living Presence. It is said of those entering God's restored paradise that "they shall see his face" (Rev.22:4). The face of God denotes the fullness of his presence and glory. It means redeemed man has been restored to God's fellowship to the fullest extent possible. But the predominant question is, when and how is this goal reached? Has it been fulfilled in Christ already, or must Christians wait for a future realization of God's Living Presence in the New Jerusalem? The answer to this question is extremely important. It has a tremendous impact on the way we perceive Christianity and our state and standing in Christ TODAY. This in turn has a bearing on every aspect of our lives, the way we feel, think, live, understand the Bible, worship God, and in general, cope with the daily problems, pressures, and challenges of life.

Often we hear or read statements to the effect that NOW "we see in a glass, darkly, but someday we shall see face to face" - as though Paul's "now" (1Cor.13:12; 2Cor.3:18) must be made everybody's "now" throughout all generations. If the Spirit's completed work in apostolic time did not bring "face to face" vision of God's glory and presence, it means that the New Jerusalem still is to come, even though the Old Jerusalem (the harlot-city) was destroyed 2000 years ago. The bride still is getting ready for the marriage of the Lamb. It means we have not entered the city of God, that we cannot drink of the water of life, and eat of the tree of life, (unless someone has a water dipper and a fruit picker with exceedingly long handles). Furthermore, if we don't have the city or paradise of God today, there are no leaves for the healing of the nations (22:2). And what about the invitation of the Spirit and the bride to those athirst to come and "take the water of life freely" (v.17)? Is this invitation merely a dangling carrot to coax the thirsty wanderer through a dry, barren land until the city of God is reached? Is Christianity one long drawn-out wilderness journey toward the heavenly Canaan? We know why God made Israel journey forty years in the wilderness, but has he made Christians (to date) wander fifty times longer? Have we in some manner sinned fifty times worse than did Israel? Or is it possible we have not grasped the full meaning of the forty-year period from the cross to the A.D.70 consummation of Israel? If the city of the presence of God and the Lamb is still future, does this not make Christianity an "absenteeism" religion in the sense that the time of Christ's absence spans the entire length of the Christian age (from the traditional viewpoint)?

I am fully aware that most Christians believe God and Christ are present today through the Spirit, notwithstanding the considerable disagreement as to the meaning of the Spirit's presence. But this does not answer questions about the time and meaning of Christ's absence and the ultimate face to face presence of God. What is the meaning of John 14:1-6? Christ went away to prepare a place for his disciples with the promise of coming and receiving them unto himself. Christ leaves and the Spirit is sent (John 14:26-29). What is the relation between the presence of the Spirit and the absence of Christ? Did the Spirit's work of showing or disclosing the things to come (the things of Christ given to him of the Father, John 16:12-15), have anything to do with Christ's preparing a place to receive his disciples unto himself in the house of God's presence? Is Christ's work of "preparation" unrelated to the Spirit's work of "revelation"? Further, if Christ went away in order to be "revealed from heaven" (2 Thess.1:7), would not heaven be the place or realm (the world above, the world to come, the new creation) for "the things of Christ" that the Spirit was sent to "disclose" (John 16:13-16)? Therefore, would not Christ's work of preparing a place for his disciples be completed when the Spirit's work of disclosing the things of Christ was finished? (Or is the Spirit still writing "disclosing scripture" today?) What more is needed for the "revelation of Christ" than the completed revelation of "his things" of "his world" wherein one obtains the paradisiacal blessings revealed by John in Revelation 21-22? Was not John writing about things which were "at hand," and which would "shortly come to pass" (Rev.1:1-3; 22:6-10), which is called The Revelation of Jesus Christ (l:l)?

The Tabernacle of God
Questions of equal magnitude about the WHEN and HOW of God's restored presence are raised in the "tabernacle of God" passages. In connection with the coming of the new Jerusalem John said he heard a great voice out of heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God" (Rev.21:3). Are we waiting still for this tabernacle of God's restored presence? In the Old Testament the tabernacle, first in the wilderness and later in the temple, was the place of God's dwelling with Israel (Lev.26:11). His presence, however, was restricted to the "holy of holies" (Ex.25:22; Isa.37:16), which was entered by the high priest alone once every year with the blood of atonement for himself and the sins of Israel (Heb.9:7). The earthly "holy of holies" was a type of the greater tabernacle to come, wherein all of God's people have access to the open, unrestricted presence of God.

Is not Rev. 21:3 the fulfillment of Ezekiel 37, where God promised to make "a covenant of peace" with Israel, and set his "sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore?" At that time, God said, "My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore" (vv.26-28). Can Pentecost be made the fulfillment of this tabernacle promise, since years later it is one of the things revealed by John that shortly would come to pass? If not Pentecost, is the only alternative the end of the Christian age? Or could its fulfillment be tied to the destruction of the temple, the passing of the earthly sanctuary (Heb.9)? From this perspective is not Christ's entrance as the forerunner "into that within the veil" (Heb.6:19,20), correspondent to his entrance "into the holiest of all not made with hands" (9:8-12)? Furthermore, is not "that within the veil" (the holiest of all) called "heaven" in verse 24, meaning the heavenly sanctuary of the New Covenant of which the Old Covenant tabernacle was a type (8:1-6; 9:23-24)? Were not the saints of that day exhorted to have "boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus" (10:19-39)? And was not this exhortation based on the fact that they could see the day approaching (10:25); that the Old Covenant state of affairs was ready to vanish away (8:13)? Could this end-of-the-age consummation be the focus of John 14:1-6, and the fulfillment of Christ's promise to receive his disciples unto himself, "that where I am, there ye may be also" (v.3)? Bear in mind that Christ, as a forerunner, entered into "heaven" or into "that within the veil." From that viewpoint, would not being received into heaven, or into the "holiest of all" (the place of God's presence, Heb.9:24), be the fulfillment of John 14:1-6; Heb.9:8; 10:19-39? Are we failing to see that sometimes heaven or heavenly are used to denote the New Covenant realm or state of glory in contrast to Israel's earthly, Old Covenant mode of existence? If Israel's earthly tabernacle has passed away, and the heavenly antitype still has not arrived, does this not make Christianity a "tabernacle-less" gap between Israel's earthly and their promised heavenly tabernacle? But if Christianity is the fulfillment of Ezekiel 37:26-28, have we not been brought into the greater tabernacle of God's presence and dwelling among his people (Rev.21:3)?

These and many other texts and questions pertaining to the coming of the New Jerusalem and the restored presence of the Living God will be dealt with in this series of articles. We will examine the New Testament setting against the Old Testament background for the ultimate, eschatological arrival of "the things to come" (John 16:13) given to Christ of the Father, otherwise known as "the heavenly things," or "the things in the heavens" (Heb.9:23). This not only has a bearing on understanding the time and manner of Old Testament fulfillment; it is crucial for understanding the meaning and fullness of Christianity today, and our rich heritage in Christ.

The Presence of God, part 2

In Part 1 three basic observations were made concerning the return of man to God's presence and fellowship through Christ. First, that which was lost through Adam's disobedience was restored in a greater, transcendental manner through Christ's obedience (Rom.5:12-21; Phil.2:5-11). It was further seen that the new, heavenly Jerusalem in Rev.21-22 fulfills the earthly paradise of God in Gen. 2-3. Second, in carrying out his redemptive purpose, Israel was the chosen nation of God, whose New Testament consummation in Christ brought forth the New Creation of God's dwelling with men (Matt.24; Acts 3:19-21; Rom.9-11; Rev.21-22). This is the biblical history and setting for the world-changing eschatology in New Testament scripture. From this perspective Jesus said, "salvation is of the Jews" (John 4:22). Third, it follows that Christ's mission to open up the new and living way into the presence of God (Heb.10:20) is achieved through his fulfillment of God's promises to the fathers of Israel (Rom.15:8; Heb.6:11-20). There is not a single aspect of New Testament salvation that does not pertain to the specific, exclusive salvation that God promised Israel - a comprehensive salvation that swallows up every vestige of divine purpose and promise in scripture. This fundamental truth will stand against any and every contrary "wind of doctrine" fabricated by "the trickery of men".

It is not without significance, therefore, that the things which John said "must shortly be done" (Rev.22:6) in connection with the "at hand" Revelation of Christ (1:1-3), takes in the coming of Israel's promised new heaven and earth, the new Jerusalem, and the greater, more perfect tabernacle of God (Rev.21:1-3; Isa.65:17-19; 66:22; Ezek.37:26-28). The Old Testament is the background for what is written in Revelation. The entire series of "at hand" events falls within the scope of Christ's mission to restore all things (Acts 3:19-21). Through the imparted Spirit this mission is culminated in Christ's "new world" presence (parousia) or revelation in the end of the Jewish age. From Matthew through Revelation the eschatological focus is on the consummation of the one and only salvation that is of, by, and through Israel (Matt.10:23; 16:27,28; 24:1-10; 26:64; 28:20). By design it is extended to "all families of the earth" (Gen.12:3; Gal.3:8; Rom.15:27).

This means that the destruction of earthly Jerusalem was linked with the ultimate arrival, full manifestation, and exclusive presence of the New Jerusalem - the city in Revelation that fulfills God's presence and dwelling among his people. Will this stand? Does it have the full, unequivocal support of scripture? Is Christianity Israel's promises fulfilled in Christ? Are Christians now in the house of God's presence? Are we IN the New Jerusalem? Do we have unrestricted access to "the tree of life"? Can we NOW drink of the "pure river of water of life" that flows "out of the throne of God and of the Lamb" (Rev.22:1)? And can the church today legitimately extend the invitation to others to "come" and "whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" (v.17)? Or is this invitation merely a matter of coming now with the prospect of later on entering the city, eating of the tree of life and drinking of the water of life? What saith the scriptures? What has been "disclosed" by the Spirit in the New Testament? In the words of the prophet, "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isa.8:20).

The Greater and More Perfect Tabernacle of God
No study of man's restoration to God's presence is complete that ignores what is taught in scripture about the true tabernacle of God, which fulfills the earthly, typical, Mosaic tabernacle. We find in Ezek.37:26-28 that when the greater, messianic sanctuary is placed in the midst of God's redeemed Israel, then is realized forever the dwelling of God among men (Rev.21:3-7). Has this been accomplished? In answering this question we will focus on the tabernacle typology in Hebrews chapters 6-10. Attention is called to four basic observations:

Observation One: The two contrasting tabernacles are rooted in the two covenants. The "earthly sanctuary" or Mosaic tabernacle was an Old Covenant arrangement (Heb.9:1). But the true tabernacle, "which the Lord erected, and not man" (8:2) springs from the New Covenant (7:22; 8:6; 9:15). God had promised to make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah (Jer.31:31-34). Accordingly, this promise bears directly on the time frame for the coming of the "greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands" (Heb.9:11). The changing of the tabernacles is tied to the changing of the covenants. This is made clear in Hebrews.

But when and how is this change consummated? The commonly accepted view of instantaneous change at the cross rather than by means of the cross does not have the support of scripture. Rather, this view glosses over the obvious transition period, the "disclosing" ministry of the Spirit, and the imminency of end-time consummation in the apostolic writings. There is abundant evidence that every facet of eschatology in New Testament scripture pertained to the full outworking of the change for which the cross was the decisive event. The changing of the covenants and consequently of the tabernacles is no exception.

If, for example, covenantal change was consummated at the cross, what is the meaning of Paul's "hope" in 2 Cor.3:12? Who would brazenly deny its direct bearing on a covenant-determined change peculiar to Paul's time, to the effect that the saints were "being transformed" into the image of Christ (v.18)? "From glory to glory" in verse 18 refers to the respective glories of the two covenants in verses 9-12. "For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious. Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech" (NKJV). Notice the verb tense in verse 11. Paul didn't say that the ministry of the Old Covenant "HAS passed away", but rather it "IS passing away". If the change were completed, why the presence of "hope" in verse 12? Did not Paul say, "...hope that is seen (realized) is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees" (Rom.8:24)? Clearly, the decisive event, the cross, already was seen (realized), but the change effected by the cross through the Spirit was transpiring in Paul's time. The Old Covenant cosmos had not yet "vanished away" (Heb.8:13). This does not detract from the power and centrality of the cross but rather confirms it. The cross was the power of the change and the surety of the end under discussion throughout Hebrews. This is a crucial factor in capturing the meaning of Christ's end-of-the-age appearing in 9:28 that was "eagerly awaited" by the saints of that time. They could see this cross-determined Day approaching (10:25).

If, therefore, the Old Covenant with its earthly sanctuary was "ready to vanish away" when Heb. 8:13 was written, it follows that the coming of the greater tabernacle of God was, as John affirmed, "at hand" at the time he wrote Rev.21:3 and 22:6-10. In scripture there is no gap between the covenants or the tabernacles, but such is created by interpreters when the coming of the tabernacle in Rev.21:3 is lifted out of its end-of-the-Jewish-age setting and shifted to an alleged end of the Christian age. This is manifestly incorrect. The earthly types and shadows of the law were followed immediately by the spiritual or heavenly antitypes. A realized antitype does not become a type of a yet greater antitype, e.g., a greater tabernacle, new Jerusalem, New Covenant, etc.. That would be the case, however, if Revelation 21 and 22 have not been fulfilled. The problem is that interpreters have allowed the things "at hand" in Revelation to get "out of at hand" in their ignoring the New Testament's transitional framework. And if "at hand" can have a two-thousand year elasticity (as some who used to know better are now saying, but hoping not to be overheard by the Dispensationalist), what would forbid Heb.8:13 - "ready to vanish away" - from having the same flexibility? Is the Old still vanishing away today? If not, why should the New still be coming? If the book of Hebrews teaches anything at all it teaches that the types do not "vanish away" centuries before the arrival of the antitypes.

Observation Two: The Mosaic tabernacle was earthly (9:1), and typical (8:5; 9:9,23), having fleshly ordinances (9:10). But the tabernacle erected by Christ (8:2) is heavenly, not made with hands (9:11). The "heavenly things" (vv.23,24) were called "the good things to come." They were foreshadowed by the law (9:11; 10:1). But now they have been fully disclosed by the Holy Spirit (John 16:13; 1 Cor.2:9-12).

We make this point to establish the fact that because something is said to be "heavenly", this doesn't mean that it lies beyond Christianity. The word "heavenly" denotes the higher plane of the new things in Christ. See, for example, the heavenly country and Jerusalem of Abraham's faith (Heb.11:9-16; 12:22-24). The heavenly things are unquestionably "other-worldly," meaning of another world in the sense of not belonging to the Old Covenant cosmos or age. Therefore, in saying that Christ entered "into heaven itself," the writer's focus is on the true, heavenly tabernacle of which the earthly holy places were the "copies" or representations (9:23,24).

That "heaven" in 9:24 denotes the realm of "the greater and more perfect tabernacle" (9:ll) is confirmed in 6:18-20. In speaking of the surety of God's promise to Abraham (vv.11-17), and therefore of "the hope set before us" (the "us" referring to the saints of that transitional time who had "fled for refuge"), the writer next identifies the realm wherein this hope or promise soon would be realized. "This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek."

The entering of Christ "into heaven itself" in 9:24 is parallel in meaning with his entering as the forerunner into "the Presence behind the veil" in 6:19,20. The greater, heavenly tabernacle is in view in both passages. In the Old Testament tabernacle the Most Holy Place, called the "Holiest of All" (9:3,12), was the place of God's Presence. It was entered by the high priest "alone once a year" to make atonement for himself and the people (9:7). It was symbolic of the greater Holy of Holies to come, the Holy Spirit indicating thereby "that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing" (v.8,9). The writer's intent was to draw attention to the change that was occurring at that time. Already the true Holy of Holies, "the Presence behind the veil," had been entered by Christ, the "High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek" (6:20).

Equally noteworthy, Christ enters into God's Presence (the true "Holiest of All") as "the forerunner," the clear implication being that a "new and living way" was being opened for the saints to follow (Heb.10:19-22). To this end they were exhorted to have boldness to enter into the Holiest; i.e., into "the Presence behind the veil." John sees the consummation of this in Rev.21:3. Unlike the earthly Holy of Holies that was restricted to the high priest alone annually, the heavenly tabernacle becomes the habitation of all the saints in the Presence of the True and Living God (Rev.22:4). But when is this realized in fullness? What is the time of the end in Heb.3:6,14; 6:11; 9:28; 10:19,25,36,37? This question leads to our next observation.

Observation Three: In contrast to the earthly tabernacle the heavenly consists of only ONE compartment. In the Old Testament a Holy Place stood before the Holiest of All (9:1-8), but in New Testament fulfillment the outer compartment is intentionally left off. Check it out. The writer of Hebrews said, "For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands,...but into heaven itself" (9:24). We have seen that entering "into heaven itself" is parallel with entering the Holiest of All (6:19,20). Nothing is said about a first (outer) and a second (inner) compartment in the greater tabernacle. Nothing is said about Christ's sanctifying a Holy Place, or passing through a Holy Place into the Holy of Holies. Nothing is said about the saints' being in a Holy Place that was attached to the Holy of Holies entered by Christ.

Far from this, it was in the shadow of the passing of the earthly tabernacle (Heb.8:13) that the saints were exhorted to have "boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say his flesh" (10:19,20). The exhortation was not, "now that you have entered the Holy Place, have boldness to enter into the Holiest of All when the church age ends." The end and the consummated change in Hebrews is rooted in the passing of the Jewish age, as is the case in the Olivet discourse and Revelation. Already the saints were tasting the powers of the age to come (6:5), the reference being to Christianity, the world subjected to Christ, not to angels, (2:5). Already they were the house of Christ, and partakers of Christ, if they held fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end (3:6,14). They could see the Day approaching, (10:25). The "promise" in 6:11-20 would be received (10:36) at the "soon" coming of Christ (v.37).

Observation Four: The second coming or appearing of Christ in 9:28 is essentially involved in the coming of the greater and more perfect tabernacle. This is so clear from the context (which takes in chapters 6-10) that it is inconceivable that interpreters ignore this important factor in the tabernacle typology. Lifting Christ's appearing out of verse 28 and extending it centuries beyond the consummation of the Old Covenant counters every argument of the writer in Hebrews on the "more excellent ministry" of Christ (8:6) and the coming good things of the greater tabernacle (9:11). The covenant-changing, age-changing, kingdom-coming setting in Hebrews simply cannot be dismissed. (See 12:18-29 in particular.)

In the immediate context the priestly function of Christ in putting away sin (9:26) takes in more than his death, or his entering into the "Holiest of All" with the blood of atonement. As was the high priestly pattern under the Law, Christ appears from "the Presence behind the veil" (6:19) not only to bless the waiting congregation ("those who eagerly wait for Him", 9:28), but now, much more, (in contrast to the earthly pattern) he appears to receive his own unto himself. To this end he was "the forerunner" (6:20) and from this perspective the saints were exhorted to have boldness to enter into the Holiest (10:19).

The Old Testament saints could not be received into the "inner sanctuary" because their high priests could not "put away sins" with "the blood of bulls and goats" (10:4). "In those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year" (v.3). But it is different with Christ and his sacrifice. The writer pointed out, "but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation" (9:26,28).

The events of Christ's death and second appearing fall within the same end-of-the-age time frame. The extension of the Jewish age beyond the cross to the destruction of Jerusalem is clear enough in Matt.24:3. Equally clear is Christ's appearing or revelation in connection with the latter event (Lk.17:30,31; 1 Pet.1:13; Rev.1:1-3). The full end or "vanishing away" (Heb.8:13) of the age of death and condemnation (2 Cor.3:7-11) is the framework for Christ's second appearing "apart from sin". This change is the focus of his appearing from within the Holiest of All "for salvation." Concerning this same consummation Jesus said, "But he who endures to the end shall be saved" (Mt.24:13). With this same end in view Paul said, "for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed" (Rom.13:11). Peter addresses the same salvation in writing that it was "ready to be revealed" (1 Pet.1:5) "at the revelation of Christ" (v.13). It was "ready to be revealed" because the Old Covenant was "ready to vanish away" (Heb.8:13). Hence, in view of the soon appearing of Christ (l0:37), the writer of Hebrews exhorted the saints not to join those "who draw back to perdition" (to the ways of the Old Covenant, vv.26-29), but to be "of those who believe to the saving of the soul" (v.39).

How then, in the name of all that is reasonable, can Heb.9:28 be interpreted independently of its tabernacle context? There is no change of subject between 9:29 and 10:l. What Christ does in 9:26-28 in putting away sin is immediately followed in chapter 10 with what the sacrificial system of the Law could not do. And in light of this the saints were exhorted to hold fast and have "boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus." The time was drawing near. Christ's appearing in 9:28 cannot be cut off from the "approaching Day" and his "soon" coming in 10:25-39. It's all related to the "shaking of the things that are made" (the earthly things of the Mosaic covenant) so that "the things which cannot be shaken may remain" (the heavenly things of the New Covenant).

If, however, sin still has not been put away, and if the saints still have not entered into the Presence of God, what is the difference between New Testament Christianity and Old Testament Judaism? In what way is the heavenly tabernacle superior to the earthly? And since the earthly has passed away, and if Christ only is in the heavenly, where does that leave Christians today? Surely it can be seen that both the writer in Hebrews, and John in Revelation, were describing the church in its New Covenant glory against the background of the passing of the Old Covenant order.

The Presence of God, part 4

The book of Revelation sometimes is referred to as the capstone of Bible prophecy. It is apparent in chapters 21-22 that the goal of God's redemptive purpose in Christ is reached in the restoration of man to the fellowship and presence of God (22:1-5). But the question is when? The purpose of this series of articles is to identify the biblical framework for the coming of the new heaven and earth, the new Jerusalem, and the tabernacle of God in Revelation 21:1-3. In the light of Old Testament promise and New Testament fulfillment there is indisputable evidence that John, in writing of things "at hand", and which "must shortly come to pass" (1:1-3; 22:6-10), was describing the coming of the New Covenant creation and its full manifestation against the background of the passing of the Old Covenant order (Matthew 24, Heb.8:12; 12:18-29).

Currently we are examining the biblical framework for the departure, the absence, and the second presence (parousia) of Christ in John 14:1-3. These three stages of Christ's world-changing (age-changing) mission are the framework for the consummation and restoration shown to John in Revelation 21-22. On the eve of his betrayal Jesus tells his disciples, "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also."

The fulfillment of this promise is shown to John by one of the seven angels in the context of the coming of the New Jerusalem Rev.21:9-11). In effect Christ was saying to his disciples in John 14 that they would not be gathered unto himself in the old, earthly Jerusalem but in the new Jerusalem where "the throne of God and of the Lamb" would be established "forever and ever", and where the servants of God "shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads" (22:1-5). In view of Christ's promise to John, as recorded in John 21:20-23 - "If I will that he" (John) "remain till I come, what is that to you" (Peter) - it is not surprising that the angel of God was showing to John "the things which must shortly take place" (Rev.22:6), instructing him, "Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand" (v.10). Notice the Angel said "book" - not just a few select verses in the book. The time was at hand for the fulfillment of everything written in the book concerning "the revelation of Jesus Christ."

John, therefore, was instructed to write of the imminent coming of Christ and the gathering of his disciples unto himself. "And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work...Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city" (22:6,12,14). It is clear that the presence of God and Christ is realized in the New Jerusalem, and that John was shown its consummated arrival within the framework of the "fall of Babylon" - the earthly Jerusalem where "our Lord was crucified (ll:8).

With respect to the departure of Christ in John 14 it was shown in Part 3 that the world from which he departed (by virtue of the cross) answers to the Mount Sinai creation. Christ entered this temporal, typical, covenant-determined world through his birth of "the seed of David" (Rom.1:3). This means (as indicated in the phrase, "according to the flesh") that he was "born under the Law" (Gal.4:4), thereby "in all things...made like his brethren" (Heb.2:17).

The mistake commonly made in the exegesis of John 14:1-3 is that of making this earth (the Genesis 1 creation) the focus of Christ's departure, and therefore the world that passes away at the coming of the new heavens and earth that God had promised to Israel (Isa.65:17-19; 66:22). This is manifestly a departure from the contrasting worlds of biblical, redemptive history for which the cross of Christ is the turning point. Christ did not die to bring planet earth to an end, and thereby "put away sin" (Heb.9:26). His departure was not for the purpose of preparing a world that would come into the place of this earth.

Without a single exception, every passage in the New Testament that addresses "the end" appears in a text that is dealing with the passing of the Old Covenant order or the coming in of the New. This is the only "world-changing" application that is made of the cross of Christ, and the references are replete in the apostolic writings. Check it out for yourself. The results will be enlightening. There is not a single thread of evidence for a dualistic "end-of-the-world" program in the teachings of Christ and his apostles. Rather Christ's entry into the world of Old Testament Israel, his personal ministry, his death, departure, absence, and second appearing constitute a single, indivisible age-changing eschaton whereby all things were summed up and made full and complete in him (Rom.10:4; Mt.5:17,18; Eph.l:l0).

It is apparent that the failure of interpreters to see the extension of the Jewish age and its consummation approximately forty years beyond the cross has fostered an unbiblical dichotomizing of the gospel's singular end time. Not only does this counter the numerous "nearness of the end" statements in New Testament scripture, it breaks up the harmonious and systematic progression of God's redemptive order from its beginning to its consummation. The confusion and disorder that exist today in the interpretation of end-time passages is along the order of what one would experience in trying to piece together two pictures from one jigsaw puzzle. No matter how much one may shuffle the pieces it is an impossible task. The same is true of those who, for example, try to determine which coming-of-Christ passages belong to the end of the Jewish age and which ones apply to the end of the material earth — or to the beginning of the millennium — whichever extra coming of Christ one is trying to piece together to suit his own end-time fancy.

It is the conviction of this writer that when the total picture of the ONE cross-determined end of the age is pieced together there will be no remaining pieces for constructing another eschaton. In God's wisdom it is enough for creaturely man on this side of eternity to see within the volume of scripture the fullness and glory of that which has been revealed and consummated in Christ. If more than this were needed to bring man back to God "forever and ever," more would have been revealed or disclosed by the Holy Spirit. But his ministry of showing "things to come" ceased with verse 21 of Revelation, chapter 22. We must be content to remain within the framework of Christ's world-changing ministry. The combined events of his departure, his absence, and his second appearing take in the full range of his mission to "put away sin" in the end of the world/age, (Heb.9:26-28). When sin is put away and "everlasting righteousness" is brought in (Dan.9:24-27), God's people are restored to his presence (Rev.21:3) both now and forever (22:4,5). The need of man today is to identify the world that fulfilled Christ's mission to "put away sin" in contrast to the world that could not "make an end of sins" and "bring in everlasting righteousness" (Dan.9:24-27; Gal.3:21; Heb.9:26). That should not be difficult if one is willing to be led by scripture with respect to the departure, the absence, and the second appearing of Christ.

Stage Two: The Absence of Christ
The purpose of Christ's absence is succinctly stated in John 14:2, "I go to prepare a place for you." Traditionally it is believed that the absence of Christ spans the Christian age, based on the erroneous concept that his second appearing unto salvation apart from sin (Heb.9:28) is tied to the destruction of planet earth. This view, in effect, has Christ engaged in a lengthy preparation for which there is not the slightest indication in scripture as to the nature and meaning of his activity the past two thousand years.

One would be hard pressed to find in scripture any connection between Christ's departure from planet earth and its future destruction. Such is not the case however when the Old and New Covenants are recognized as the biblical framework for the identity and the changing of two contrasting worlds or ages, and when this redemptive framework is strictly and consistently adhered to in the exegesis of the end time in New Testament scripture.

In this light, the world-changing role of the cross makes sense (Rom.7:4; 2 Cor.5:12-17). The departure of Christ from the Old Covenant creation in order to bring forth the New makes sense (Rev.21:5). The sending of the Holy Spirit to disclose "things to come" relative to the New Covenant creation makes sense (John 16:12-15). The putting away of sin and the bringing in of everlasting righteousness through the changing of the two covenants make sense (Heb.9:26; Dan.7:24-27). The correlating of Christ's second appearing apart from sin (Heb.9:28) with the passing of the Old Covenant economy makes sense (Matt.24; Heb.8:13; l0:25,37). Joining the pre-end-of-the-age reign of Christ to his annulling of the powers of the Old Covenant aeon in order to defeat death makes sense (1 Cor.15:24-28; 2 Cor.3:7). The understanding that "hope" in 2 Cor.3:12 points to the consummated change from "the ministry of death written and engraved on stones" (v.7) to "the ministry of life and righteousness" (v.9) makes sense (Gal.3:21). It makes sense that "waiting for the hope of righteousness by faith" (Gal.5:5) is focused on the consummated coming of the New Covenant creation - the promised heaven and earth "wherein dwelleth righteousness", (Isa.65:17-19; 3 Pet.3:13; Rev.21:1-4). Giving the New (heavenly) Jerusalem its rightful place in the New Covenant creation just as the Old (earthly) Jerusalem belonged to the Old Covenant economy makes sense (Gal.4:21-31). Furthermore, it makes sense that the consummated coming of New Jerusalem (Isa.65:18,19; Rev.21:3) was tied to the full end (the destruction) of Old Jerusalem, (Matt.24). And in this connection the repeated, Holy Spirit inspired, emphasis in apostolic writings on the nearness of the end makes sense when the focus is on the predicted desolation of historical Jerusalem (Dan.9:27; Mt.23:38; 24:15; Rom.13:11,12; 1 Cor.7:31; l0:11; Phil.4:5; 1 Pet.4:7; James 5:8,9; Heb.10:25,37; 1 John 2:18; Rev.1:1-3; 22:6-10.

The covenantal setting and framework of change for all that is written in New Testament scripture regarding "the end" is impressively clear. However, that which does not make sense is the attempt to carry two, separate, distinct eschatons through the end-time teachings of Christ and his apostles. It fosters a pick and choose, cut and slice type of exegesis that ignores the text, breaking up the unity and consistency of the writer's train of thought.

The dominant theme in Old and New Testament scripture, into which all gospel (cross-determined) eschatology flows, can be summed up in the words of Paul, "...for these are the two covenants" (Gal.4:24). Any eschatological interpretation that is not rooted in the cross, and that is unrelated to the changing of the covenants and their modes of existence is foreign to the Word of God. Pulling covenant eschatology out of scripture and turning it into some kind of secular, non-biblical eschatology has been practiced for centuries, and for the most part has been unchallenged. The time to call this practice into question is long overdue. It is a misuse of scripture and a perversion of the age-changing mission of Christ.

A clear example of this can be seen in the way scholars have ignored the covenantal setting of eschatology in the book of Hebrews. For example, many see "the end" in Heb.3:6,14 as meaning either the end of one's life or the end of planet earth. But any grade school student could see, if he didn't have the help of a "theologian", that the subject pertains to the house of Christ in contrast to the house of Moses. The end in view is that which consummates the change of houses. The context is covenantal from start to finish.

The same error is committed with the "second appearing" of Christ in Heb.9:28. It is lifted out of its tabernacle-changing context and used to preach and support whatever theory one has about the end of time and the world. The same is done with the heavenly country and city forseen by Abraham (ll:8-16). He saw these heavenly things in terms of the better covenant confirmed of God in Christ, but they have been lifted out of that covenantal setting by futurist eschatologists and tied to the passing of this material earth.

These examples are replete, not only in Hebrews but throughout the New Testament writings. It is simply a case of "mixed up worlds" eschatologically speaking. Until we get our worlds straightened out and biblically identified within their respective covenantal settings we will continue to have more of the same chaos that characterizes modern day theology.

Returning now to the absence of Christ, we have said all of the above to make this point. There is a definite connection between the absence of Christ and the passing away of the world from which he departed, but more importantly we are not left in the dark concerning Christ's work during the time of his absence. If and when one sees the world of Christ's departure in terms of its Old Testament covenantal setting, it is immediately apparent that one will have a wealth of information about the activity of Christ in his preparing the world or the age to come. It is simply a matter of reading what is written in scripture, beginning with the book of Acts and reading to the end of Revelation. Christ departs from a covenant-determined world and his second appearing (presence or parousia) takes place in a new covenant world or creation that fulfills the promises, prophecies and types contained within the old. It is just that simple, but profound.

In the next article, we will show the interrelationship between the absence of Christ and the ministry of the Spirit. The Spirit was not sent to replace Christ, or to serve as a "fill in" until Christ arrives. Neither did he come to supplement the salvation that Christ gives. Quite to the contrary, his specific mission was to glorify Christ, not himself. He does this by "disclosing" the things that belong to Christ (John 16:12-15). These are the things that comprise the world of Christ's second appearing. It will be shown, therefore, that Christ's preparing a place for his disciples and the ministry of the Holy Spirit are one in nature, purpose and result. The second appearing of Christ is tied to the completion of the Spirit's mission to show "the things to come."

The Presence of God, part 3

Most students of the Bible would agree that man's restoration to the reign, the fellowship, and the presence of God is the goal of redemptive history. There is, however, considerable disagreement as to when and how this goal is reached. Some see it realized at physical death. Others place it at the end of history, meaning the end of time, the destruction of the earth and humanity. But is this the end that is found in scripture? Obviously not if one carefully and courageously examines the end-time teachings of Christ and his apostles in the historical setting of their time and against the background of Old Testament promise, prophecy and expectation.

In this series of articles it is shown that Christianity is not an extension of redemptive history, but its fulfillment. In Christ the end is reached (Rom.l0:4; Matt.5:17,18). All things are summed up or brought together in him (Eph.1:10) through the eschaton that was initiated in his death (Heb.9:26) and consummated in his parousia (Matt.24:3) or revelation (l Pet.1:13; 4:7). The nearness of the consummation from John's standpoint (Rev.22:6-12) correlates the coming of the new heaven and earth, the new Jerusalem, and the tabernacle of God (21:1-3) with Israel's pronounced end time in New Testament scripture. The subject matter is equally convincing and relevant. The "New Jerusalem" and the "Tabernacle of God" logically follow the ultimate dissolution of the Old (Heb.8:13).

In Part II we saw that there is no veil (an inner and outward sanctuary) in the restored tabernacle of God. Redeemed man no longer is separated from the Presence of God. In the New Jerusalem God dwells in the midst of his people forever. John, therefore, in the closing scenes of Revelation was describing the spiritual glory and bliss of HIS immediate future. In keeping with Christ's Olivet discourse, the goal of biblical, redemptive history was reached in "that momentous crisis at which the Christian church as a whole burst forth forever from the chrysalis of Judaism, awoke to a sense of its maturity, and in government and worship at once took its independent stand before the world" (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol.1, pp. 403-404).

Against the background of this biblical eschaton, attention now is called to another prominent text that addresses man's return to the Presence of God through Christ. On the eve of his betrayal Jesus said to his disciples, "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:1-3).

Perhaps more than any other coming-of-Christ passage this one provides the clearest insight to the meaning, the outworking, and the historical setting of Christ's parousia. Three basic truths are set forth in this passage. Christ goes away, he goes to prepare a place, and he returns to receive his disciples unto himself. In being gathered unto Christ redeemed man is brought into the abode and presence of the Father - "that where I am", Christ said, "there you may be also" (v.3).

We propose to show that these three stages of Christ's parousia, his DEPARTURE, his ABSENCE, and his RETURN are clearly delineated in the apostolic writings, and that they are carried out with the view of consummating the salvation that Jesus said, "is of the Jews" (John 4:22). All that Jesus said about going away, preparing a place, and gathering his disciples unto himself at the end of the age (Matt.24:3,14,31) is in perfect alignment with the coming of Christ and the new things of the new creation in Revelaton 21-22. It represents the complete arrival of the things God had promised to the fathers of Israel in terms of the Covenant confirmed in Christ.

The New Jerusalem, for example, is the "promised city" (Heb.ll:10), the "prepared city" (v.16), and the "continuing city" (13:14) of the New Covenant (Gal.4:21-31) which "cannot be shaken" (Heb.12:22-29). The old Jerusalem could be shaken, and in fact was shaken to the extent predicted by Jesus in Matt.24, thus giving place to the coming of the New Jerusalem of Christ's revelation and abiding presence (parousia). It is unmistakably clear that the future Jesus talked about in Matthew 24 is precisely the future that had arrived at the time John wrote the revelation of Christ and of the new things (Rev.21:5) of his world (John 8:23) - the New Covenant creation.

Unfortunately, the "futurists" of our time are committed to reading the future in New Testament scripture from the viewpoint of our day rather than the day of Christ and the apostles. Consequently the gospel's eschatological future is extended arbitrarily far beyond its biblical setting. This denies the one and only salvation that is of Old Testament Israel its full revelation in Christ at the end of their age.

One clear illustration of this is the way 1 Peter 1 is commonly interpreted concerning the "salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (v.5). Since the revelation of this salvation is tied to "the revelation of Jesus Christ" (v.13), it is assumed that this salvation comes at the end of the Christian age because it is assumed that is when Christ is revealed. This denies the fullness of the salvation that is of the Jews unless one adopts the "church age" gap theory and waits longingly for the demise of Christianity in order to tap into Israel's postponed salvation.

If you will, consider these biblical facts for a moment. First, the salvation in 1 Pet.1:5 was "ready" to be revealed in the same sense that the Old Covenant in Heb.8:13 was "ready" to pass away. And bear in mind that A.D.70 is the biblical focal point for the end of the Jewish age (Matt.24:3).

Second, this salvation is revealed when Christ is revealed (1 Pet.1:13). Now we don't have to assume when this revelation occurs. Jesus said concerning the days of Noah and Lot, "Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed" (Lk.17:30). Underline this passage because salvation is revealed when Christ is revealed. When is this day? Read the next verse. Jesus said, "In that day" (the day when the Son of Man is revealed) "he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back" (v.31).

Now read Matthew's account of that same day and of the same set of instructions, "Let him who is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes" (Matt.24:17,18). In light of verses 15,16 this was a clear reference to the fall of Jerusalem. It also is the end time when salvation is received (v.13,14).

So here is what we have. In identical passages with identical instructions Luke says it is the day when Christ is revealed and Matthew says it is when Jerusalem is destroyed. If these are not identical events, then one of these gospel accounts is wrong. I rather think the error is of another source.

But the point is, the four things found in the combined, harmonious accounts of Matthew and Luke, the day, the revelation of Christ, the end, and the receiving of salvation, are in perfect alignment with what we have in 1 Pet.1. The only difference is TIME. When Peter wrote, he was in a position to say concerning the day of Christ's revelation, "But the end of all things is at hand" (4:7).

Third, the salvation in 1 Pet.1 unquestionably is that which Jesus said is "of the Jews." Peter said, "Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you" (v.10). How can any student of the word miss this point? Did the prophets speak of two salvations, one that Jesus said is "of the Jews" and one that Peter said is "of Christians"? Does it take the passing of two ages (Jewish and Christian) to obtain what God promised through the prophets of Israel? Is Christianity merely a "fill-in-religion" between the end of the Jewish age and the coming of Israel's promised "new things" - e.g., the new heaven and earth (Isa.65:17), the new Jerusalem (vv.18,19), and the tabernacle of God (Ezek. 37:26-28)?

Who can believe that even before the Jewish age came to its end Christians needed to gear up for the end of their own age? What a recommendation of "the more glorious" ministry of the New Covenant! As soon as it was initiated, after having 1500 years of preparation, its end had to be expected anytime, even before the Jewish age came to its full end. But worse, it would have to end before the saints could receive the grace and salvation of Old Testament prophecy (1 Pet.1:10,13) - if Peter were speaking of Christ's revelation at the end of the Christian age. Now that kind of end-time concept does a real "hatchet job" on the cross, the New Covenant, and Christianity.

Picture this if you can. Jesus taught that the destruction of Jerusalem would be a time of tribulation, "such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened" (Matt.24:21,22). But before this "unsurpassable" holocaust occurred Christians prayed in their assemblies, "O Lord Come" (1 Cor.16:22; Rev.22:20), which would mean, according to the way his coming is commonly understood today, that they would be praying for an instantaneous fiery destruction of the "whole earth." That not only would far surpass the destruction of Jerusalem, it would wipe out "all flesh" on the earth.

The futurists today can't escape this ridiculous dilemma. In their view of the end those first-century saints would be waiting for the fall-of-Jerusalem holocaust, being assured by Jesus that all flesh would not perish, while at the same time they would be waiting, watching, and praying for Christ to come in a destruction that wipes out everybody. No flesh would be spared. I wonder if they ever pondered over which destruction they should pray for the most fervently, the one that would vindicate gospel faith or the one that would extinguish it from the earth.

I doubt if the latter were that which the prophets had in mind when they spoke of a coming age, an everlasting age, wherein "all families of the earth" would be blessed. And if you think about it, how many times have you heard prayers in Christian assemblies today for the Lord to come quickly, particularly at some of the "fund-raising" rallies.

It ought to be fairly obvious that over the years the church has not done its homework on the historical setting for the end time that Christ and the apostles talked about. The gospel's eschatological future was designed to put the gospel in business on this earth rather than put it out of business.

Now that we have observed some of the reliable, inerrant indicators of a first century end-time framework (and they are replete in scripture), we have the biblical setting for understanding the meaning and purpose of the departure, the absence, and the return of Christ.

Stage One: The Departure of Christ
"I go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2). Why does Christ depart from the "world below" (John 8:23)? This is an important question. Until it is determined from scripture the reason and the necessity for Christ's departure, it will be extremely difficult if not impossible to capture the biblical background and historical setting for stages two and three - his preparing a place, and his parousia (arrival/presence). Many do not understand the world of his "second presence" because they have missed the world of his first coming and subsequent departure. Consequently, the place and the event for the gathering of his disciples unto "himself" ("that where I am, there you may be also" v.3) have become overshadowed by an ever-increasing maze of human speculation and interpretation.

Where then is Christ to be found from the time of his birth until his departure? To say that he came to and departed from this global earth without further qualification is a critical, colossal departure from the stage of redemptive history. It is one giant leap into "outer" darkness. The Bible says that Christ "came to his own" (John 1:11). He did not come to the Romans, the Babylonians or the Egyptians, but to the Jews. He was Israel's Messiah (Rom.9:5). In all things he was made "like His brethren" (Heb.2:17), and this likeness takes in much more than his physicality. Yes, he was "born of the seed of David" (Rom.1:3), but Paul captures the broader meaning of the words, "according to the flesh", in writing that Christ was "born under the law" (Gal.4:4). He entered into the mode of life that was peculiar to Old Testament Israel. He lived, taught, suffered, and died within the borders of that earthly, typical cosmos of redemptive history. That was the world of Christ's departure which stood over against "the world to come" of his parousia.

But some may ask, "Did not Christ come to save all nations? Did he not taste death for every man?" Absolutely. There is no dispute about this. The question is, "Where does he become the Savior of all men, and what is the biblical background of his salvation?" Did Christ not say that "salvation is of the Jews" (John 4:22)? Never is salvation said to be "of the Gentiles" (Eph.2:11,l2). This is why Christ came to the Jews. He would not have been the Savior of anyone had he come, for example, to the Romans, lived, taught and died in Rome and departed from their world. There was no salvation-history to be fulfilled in that or any other nation except the nation of Israel.

There is more. Christ would not have been the Savior of all men, not even of his own brethren "according to the flesh," had he remained in the Jewish world. Its inability to deliver salvation to the Jews, not to mention all nations of the earth, had been demonstrated over and over for 1500 years. The Jews mistakenly believed that when Christ came he could patch up the old garment and make it work. He made it clear, however, that the "world below" (the Old Covenant cosmos) was not his world (John 8:21-24; 18:36). His world, wherein the salvation "of the Jews" would be fulfilled and extended to all nations, was above. It was the world of God's promise to Abraham, the heavenly country (Heb.11:8-16), and the heavenly Jerusalem (12:22) that stood in contrast to fleshly Israel's earthly land and city. When this "world above" is followed through in New Testament scripture its New Covenant identity is remarkably clear. For example, the Jerusalem above, also called the New and the Heavenly Jerusalem, specifically is said to be the city of the New Covenant creation in Gal.4:21-31, and in Heb.12:22-24.

The point is, had not Christ, by means of his death, departed from the Jewish world, he could not have made good the promises of God to the fathers of Israel (Rom.15:8). "For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith...Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all" (Rom.4:13,16). Paul reasoned, "For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise" (Gal.3:18). "The place" (country) for the realization of "the promise" is "the place" that Christ went to prepare for his disciples.

That is reason enough for Christ's departure from the world into which he was born, the world that placed him "under the law" (Gal.4:4), the world in which he lived, taught, and died, and therefore the world from which he departed, so that he might, in conjunction with the imparted Holy Spirit, prepare a better place, with a better covenant, for the better things that were to come in the fulfillment of God's promises to Israel. In this coming new world, not the departing old world, the Gentiles were made partakers of Israel's spiritual things (Rom.15:27) as "fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel" (Eph.3:6).

In our next article we will deal with the time and the meaning of Christ's absence, particularly from the standpoint of the presence and the ministry of the imparted Spirit. It will be shown that Christ's "absence" does not span the time of the Christian age. Neither is the Christian age the "last days," nor is it the range of time for the "disclosing" ministry of the Holy Spirit. The focus is on the closing period of the Jewish age. When the absence of Christ and the presence of the Spirit are correlated in purpose and work, and the historical setting in New Testament scripture is honored, the fully prepared place - the world of Christ's "second appearing" - will be remarkably clear. Equally clear will be its contrast to the world of Christ's departure. If you feel this is not the case, your comments and guidance will be gratefully received and thoughtfully considered.

The Presence of God, part 5

Christ came into the world of Old Testament Israel to "put away sin" (Heb.9:26-28) and to "bring in everlasting righteousness" (Dan.9:24-27; 2 Pet.3:13), thereby effecting the restoration of man to the presence of the Living God (John 14:1-6). Christ did not come, however, to accomplish this within the boundaries of the Old Covenant economy. In the words of Paul, "For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law" (Gal.3:21). Instead of putting away sin, the Law was added "that the offense might abound" (Rom.5:20), "that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful" (7:13), "that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God" (3:19). God's design in this was "that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe" (Gal.3:22).

Christ, the Promise, and His World
The Law's inability to deliver the promise of life and righteousness is the backdrop for the age-changing role of the cross, and accordingly this gives us clear insight to the meaning of the departure, the absence, and the second appearing of Christ (John 14:1-3). Through the cross Christ took his leave of the Old Covenant cosmos for the reasons stated above. Sin could not be "put away" in that world. The "hope of righteousness" could not be fulfilled in fleshly Judaism (Gal.5:5; Phil.3:1-9). From the standpoint of "the promise", Christ was of another world (Rom.4:13; John 8:23; 18:36; Gal.3:13-18). He could not take up his messianic reign in "the world below" (John 8:23; 18:36).

This point is being stressed because if one does not understand the world from which Christ departed neither will one have a correct understanding of the world of his second appearing. The fundamental reason for the rejection of Christ by his own people was their failure to see that the Mount Sinai creation was not designed to be the world of the coming Messiah wherein God's promises to the fathers of Israel would be fulfilled. In coming to "his own" (Jn.1:11), Christ did not come to his world. He was no less "a stranger and pilgrim" in earthly Palestine than was Abraham who also sojourned in the earthly, temporal, typical land of promise "as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Heb.11:9,10). Unlike many of his faith-less descendants who focused on the earthly things of the Mosaic Covenant, Abraham saw the true, spiritual, higher plane of the promise in Christ. His sight was not set on earthly Canaan. Instead, in keeping with the promise, he desired "a better, that is, a heavenly country" (v.16), and this is a clear reference to the "better things" of the "better covenant" that was "confirmed before by God in Christ" (8:6; 12:22-24; Gal.3:17).

With this in mind, attention is called to Christ's statement to the Pharisees who challenged the validity of Christ's testimony concerning himself. Jesus said, "Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from and where I am going. You judge according to the flesh...You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world" (John 8:14,15,23).

The statement, "You judge according to the flesh" (v.15) pinpoints the root problem in Israel's failure to see Christ and the promise in terms of a new world exclusive of the Law. To judge "according to the flesh" simply meant that the Jews were looking for a messianic restoration in accordance with the earthly, fleshly state of affairs under the Old Covenant. But Christ and his message concerning the new age to come did not fall into this pattern of Israel's judgment or assessment of their messianic future. In this same connection Paul wrote, "Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer" (2 Cor.5:16).

The word "flesh" often is used in scripture to denote Israel's mode of life under the Old Covenant. This is clear, particularly in Phil.3:1-9, where Paul equates "confidence in the flesh" with the things of the Law in which he once trusted. But now (from the standpoint of the cross and Christ's departure from fleshly Judaism), Paul said, we no longer know Christ (or any one else) according to those fleshly standards. Through the gospel of the Spirit Paul had come to know the true world to which Christ and the promise belonged, and for which the cross was the decisive turning point.

Therefore, when Christ said to the Jews, "for I know where I came from and where I am going" (Jn.8:14), he was speaking of the world of promise to which he belonged from the day that God made his covenant with Abraham and confirmed it with an oath (Gal.3:15-18). The Abrahamic promise and the New Covenant as confirmed in Christ represented the world of messianic promise, and therefore the world of Christ's second appearing "apart from sin" (Heb.9:28). In antithesis to the Old Covenant cosmos, the world above is where sin has been "put away" (Heb.9:26), and "in which righteousness dwells" (2 Pet.3:13), according to God's promise to Israel (Isa.65:17-19). Clearly Christ was speaking of the new world or creation of the New Covenant in John 8 in saying to the Jews, "I know where I came from and where I am going." His world, "the world above" (v.23), stood in antithesis not to planet earth but to the world of fleshly Judaism.

We believe that what has been laid out above from scripture is the biblical framework for understanding the world below from which Christ departed and the world above to which he returned for the express purpose "to maintain the truth of God by making good his promises to the patriarchs" (Rom.15:8, NEB). This application of John 14:1-3 will bear up under a rigorous scrutiny of ALL the teachings of Christ and his apostles, having the full support of all that is written in "the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms concerning Christ, the promise, and the new age to come.

The Mission Of The Holy Spirit
We now will focus on the absence of Christ — the interval between his departure and his second appearing — from the perspective of the coming of the Holy Spirit and his eschatological ("last days") mission. Unfortunately, the inseparable connection between his work and Christ's preparation of a place for his disciples has been ignored for the most part. In the first place the absence of Christ commonly is understood as being coextensive with the Christian age. This is manifestly wrong. We know why Christ departed from the Jewish age, but at least he was there for a time, which is more than can be said for the Christian age IF he is absent from the point of its inception until its very end. Does it make sense that Christ died to establish an age that would stand between him and his disciples until he returns to bring it to an end? That doesn't say much for the cross and Christianity.

Furthermore, in this erroneous extension of Christ's absence the Christian age is seen as the range of time for the work of the promised Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-8). Thus the label "last days" has been stamped on the Christian age — the age of the everlasting covenant. This is absurd, and equally so are the consequences. The attempt to string out the Spirit's eschatological mission through the Christian age has become the impetus for a rampant Spirit-centered gospel that counters everything that is taught in scripture about the special, subservient, eschatological role of the Holy Spirit regarding Christ, the promise, and his second appearing in his glory and the glory of his Father. In generation after generation efforts have been made to recover, reclaim or reproduce in some fashion or another the special gifts, ministries, and functions of the Holy Spirit peculiar to apostolic time. Through the centuries churches have attempted to resurrect the eschatological moment that enshrouded the infant church until its maturation at the consummation of the age (Matt.24; 1 Cor.13:8-13; Eph.4:11-16).

Without question there is an urgent need to return to the New Testament's historical setting for all that was said and done in that "fullness of time", and from that perspective see the biblical correlation of Christ's absence and the Spirit's eschatological mission within "the last days" peculiar to Christ and his apostles; i.e., the "last generation", (the closing period) of the Jewish age (Joel 2; Acts 2, Matt.24).

The Holy Spirit, The Promise, and The World Above
We have shown the correlation of Christ, the promise, and his world with the Abrahamic covenant that preceded and superseded the temporal, typical covenant given at Sinai. At this point of study we want to add to this the Holy Spirit, or perhaps more properly stated, we want to bring in the Holy Spirit. (We'll comment on this difference later). For now it is important to understand both the timing and the purpose of the coming of the Spirit.

1. THE TIME OF THE SPIRIT'S COMING. From an Old Testament perspective, perhaps Joel's prophecy is the clearest relative to the promise of the Spirit (Joel 2:28-32). This is true mainly because Peter confirms Pentecost as the initial fulfillment of this prophecy in saying, "But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel" (Acts 2:16). However, while we all agree that the Spirit was poured out on Pentecost, there is another text that says more about the timing of his coming than that recorded in Acts 2. On the eve of his betrayal Jesus said to his disciples, "Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you" (John 16:7).

Here we learn that Christ's departure is the decisive factor for the coming of the Spirit. Jesus said, "if I do not go away, the Helper (Gk. parakletos, intercessor) will not come to you." This raises many questions. Why must Jesus go away in order for the Spirit to come? Are Christ and the Spirit opposites? Why would it be an advantage to the disciples to have the Spirit rather than Jesus with them? Is the Spirit greater than Jesus? Does he offer a greater salvation than Christ? These are important questions that bear directly on how the Spirit and his coming fit into this redemptive trio of Christ, the promise, and his world. The answers will surface in the following point.

2. THE PURPOSE OF THE SPIRIT'S COMING. Jesus instructed his disciples in many things during his time with them, but there remained much more to be communicated in the aftermath of Christ's death, resurrection, and Ascension. He tells them, "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you" (John 14:12-15).

What is said of the Spirit's mission in this text will clear up a lot of confusion and erroneous concepts about his work if it is strictly adhered to as one follows the Spirit through the New Testament to the end. There are a number of crucial points in these verses that need to be singled out and expanded from the perspective of what is taught about the Spirit in other passages.

The Spirit Guides Into All Truth
First of all, the Spirit was sent to guide the apostles into all truth. But what is truth? We know God's word is truth, but when truth here is seen from the standpoint of Christ, the promise, and the world above, we can understand the necessity for Christ's departure from the Old Covenant cosmos in order for the Spirit of Truth to come. John wrote, "For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). We know the Law of Moses was the word of God. Paul, however, draws out the meaning of truth by Christ in writing that the things of the Law were "a shadow of things to come, but the substance (body) is of Christ" (Col.2:16,17). From this standpoint Christ spoke of himself as "the truth" (John 14:6). The "world below" was designed for the "shadows", not for the body, substance, or truth that Christ was in terms of the promise and the age to come. Therefore, his continued presence in the world below would have been counterproductive to the mission of the Spirit to guide the apostles "into all truth." But when Christ returned to his world, particularly through the power of the Spirit (Rom.1:4; 8:11), then the witness of the Spirit was effective in "disclosing" the truth, i.e. the substance, reality, or body of the promise given in Christ in terms of the world above - the higher realm or nature of the New Covenant.

The Spirit Discloses The Things To Come
Jesus said that when the Spirit is come he will tell you (show or disclose to you) "things to come" (John 16:13). What are these things, and when were they to come? These are important questions for the following reasons. First, whatever was to be "disclosed" is what the Spirit does during the absence of Christ. Second, these are things that belong to Christ, given to him of the Father. Jesus said, "All things are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you" (v.15). Third, these coming things would glorify Christ (v.14); i.e., they were the things of his world in which he would be manifested in glory (Mt.16:27; 19:28; 24:30; 25:31; Lk.9:26,27; Col.3:4; 1 Pet.1:11; 4:13) at his second appearing (Heb.9:28).

Many books have been written about "things to come", and almost always the focus is on what the writer believes follows the proverbial end of time (per Amillennialism), or the end of the church/Christian age (per Premillennialism). In these two schools of thought either this global earth or the church age has been made the antithesis of the world of Christ's second appearing. This error is obvious if you have stayed with us thus far in what has been said about the world of Christ's departure. We have not departed from scripture in this matter. To leave the biblical framework of "the two covenants" in showing how Christ "puts away sin" and "brings in everlasting righteousness" is to take a leap into "outer darkness" with respect to the truth about Christ, the Promise and the World Above. "The things to come" that the Spirit was sent to "disclose" were fulfilled in the coming new age during the "last days" of fleshly Judaism. Jesus plainly declared in the context of the destruction of outward Jerusalem, "For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled" (Lk.21:22). In this same vein of end-time judgment Peter wrote, "But the end of all things is at hand...For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God" (1 Pet.4:7,17)?

The Old Testament Background
With respect to "things to come" it is important to recognize that the Spirit worked strictly out of Old Testament scriptures. Paul, who was guided by the Spirit, said that he preached "no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come" (Acts 26:22). By divine design the Spirit-inspired writings of the Old Testament (2 Tim.3:16,17) contained in a veiled form everything that was to come through Christ and the New Covenant. The Old Testament prophets could not discern the meaning of those coming things (Matt.13:17). They "inquired and searched diligently" to understand them, but Peter said, "To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven - things which angels desire to look into" (1 Pet.1:10-12).

Here is a clear-cut example of the Spirit's doing what he was sent to do after Jesus departed from the Old Covenant cosmos. He was disclosing the "salvation" of "the prophets" that was "ready to be revealed" (v.5) at the revelation or second appearing of Christ (v.13). Peter said the Spirit had been sent down from heaven for this very purpose. Furthermore, the urgency of the moment at the time Peter wrote this is unmistakably clear. The end was "at hand" (4:7). The manifold trials were "for a little while" (1:6-7), hence the need for the saints of Peter's time "to gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end" (v.13). Any atempt to place the receiving of this "salvation" at the passing of planet Earth instead of at the consummation of the Jewish age misses the meaning of the Spirit's mission and the time frame for the "things to come" spoken by the prophets.

The writer of Hebrews said that the Law, not this global earth, was a shadow "of good things to come" (10:1). Christ was a high priest "of good things to come" (9:22). The focus of scripture, and therefore of the Spirit's "disclosing" ministry was to the effect, "that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms" concerning Christ (Luke 24:44). The mission of the Spirit and the eschatological moment in New Testament scripture go hand in hand, and never do they get out of AT HAND from the perspective of the closing period of the Jewish age.

Paul, for example, wrote about "the sufferings of this present time", meaning his time, which were not "worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" - the "us" referring to Paul and the "firstfruits" of his day (Rom.8:18,23). "Our light affliction", he wrote, "is but for a moment," working "for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2 Cor.4:17). Thus in this eschatological moment of the Spirit's disclosing mission Paul confidently writes, "for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand" (Rom.13:11,12). Paul was not saying that this global earth was far spent, and certainly he wasn't saying that Christianity or the church age was running out of time. But something was ready to "vanish away" (Heb.8:13), and it shouldn't take much reading of Romans or any other book in the New Testament to see what must pass away in order for Christ to "put away sin" and "bring in everlasting righteousness" in the New Creation that the Old Testament prophets spoke about. The Spirit used their writings in showing the things to come, not after the Christian age, but in its ultimate arrival at the end of the Jewish age. In that age-changing context Peter wrote, "We also have the prophetic word made more sure, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts" (2 Pet.1:19). Is Christianity the "dark place" where Old Testament prophecy shines "as a light" until a better day arrives? Is that the purpose of the Christian age - to demonstrate that Old Testament prophecy has not been fulfilled, and that Christ is absent, that he is nowhere to be seen?

One more passage on the disclosing mission of the Spirit. In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul explains why the "rulers of this age" crucified Christ, having failed to see "the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory" (1 Cor.2:7,8). He goes on to point out, "But as it is written: Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual."

The focus in this text is on "the things which God has prepared for those who love him" (v.9). These things were not seen, heard or understood before Christ. But now Paul said God has revealed them unto us by his Spirit, "that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God" (v.12). This text is not dealing with things that have not yet come; that can't be received until after physical death, the end of time, or the destruction of global earth. These are the spiritual blessings of the New Covenant creation that God promised in Christ and revealed through the imparted Spirit in the days of the apostles.

Notice the parallelism in Christ's statement, "I go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:3), and Paul's statement concerning "the things which God has prepared for those who love Him" (l Cor.2:9). In both passages the reference is to "things to come" that the Spirit was sent to reveal. The Spirit, Jesus said, "will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine" (John 16:14,15). Therefore, the things that Paul said God has prepared for the saints are the things that belong to Christ and thus to the place where the disciples would dwell with Christ and the Father.

Again, may we be reminded that the Spirit was not sent to show the things to come until after Jesus departed from the Old Covenant cosmos — "the world below" (John 8:23). What greater proof is needed that the things of Christ and his glory are antithetical in nature to the things contained within the types, shadows, and patterns of the Old Testament economy? The mission of the Spirit was to minister in the spiritual or heavenly things pertaining to Christ, the promise, and the world above - the New Covenant state of affairs that constituted the realm of Christ's second appearing and abiding presence. In this manner Christ fulfilled his promise to his disciples, "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:3).

In the next article, further consideration will be given to the New Covenant ministry of the Spirit from the perspective of Christ, the promise, and the world of Christ's second appearing. When the "things to come" such as, for example, the new Jerusalem and tabernacle of God (Rev.21) are denied their spiritual fulfillment in the Christian age it is obvious that biblical, redemptive history has been abandoned and replaced with a futurist secular eschatology. The mission of the Spirit is thereby distorted, and turned into a Spirit-centered Christianity that overshadows the presence, glory, and power of our Lord Jesus Christ and his everlasting kingdom.


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