The Great News

Our lot in Christian ministry has been to search and research. We test ALL things relative to the faith, we challenge them by a study of the Word we trust and we change our minds – to the point of rejecting traditon – if a contextual reading of the Word suggests it.

Over the years we have made some pretty bold statements relative to the sacred cows of Christianity. All of them having the ability to knock people backward especially IF they are taken without any sort of context and just at face value.

Our first open challenge, after an exhaustive study on sheol, hades, hell, Gehenna and all the things said about it in scripture, was to place hell contextually in history and to state that it was of limited duration and today it is over and done by and through Jesus victory on the cross.

That it, along with the emissary of the Dark and tempter of the brethren, have been cast into the Lake of Fire created for them. This caused a number of sound friends in the faith to abandon us as believers worthy of fellowship.

The idea of a thriving open hell of eternal flames and Satan was too much for them to surrender and they clung to their confirmational biases.

We love and receive them still.

A second stance was against the man-made construction of the Trinity. Our conclusions did not bring us to a place of denying the divinity of what was in Jesus of Nazareth but to simply question the doctrine of three separate and distinct persons uncreated, co-equal and co-eternal that have the names Father Son and Holy Spirit and who collectively make up the one True God.

In summary, we simply agree with Paul who succinctly said in 1st Corinthians 8:6

“But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

This led to an open confrontation that we called the Inquisition and we lost respect from most corners of the Christian community writ large.

We love and receive them still.

Then, after spending over two years going verse by verse through the Book of Revelation, citing all the applicable Old Testament references along with the historical supports from secular historians like Tacitus, Cassius Deo, Seutonius, and Josephus we flat out concluded, appealing to all that Jesus and the other apostles wrote, the following:

That Jesus came back as promised, with reward and destruction, to His own in that day, and this return culminated in the destruction of that age, the former economy of Judaism, and introduced to the world the fullness of the New Covenant which is in the hands of the Spirit.

As this perspective unfolded, we boldly said, “We have the best approach to Christianity on the face of the earth.”

When we said this, we were not saying we had the only approach on the face of the earth – quite the contrary – we were actually saying that all approaches of brick and mortar are now presently acceptable to God irrespective of doctrine and practice because the faith is subjectively lived and not objectively demanded in any single fashion.

This either fell on deaf ears or lit them on fire. But we love them still.

We have since pushed this position out a little bit further (and a bit more aggressively) as we have come to see, FROM A BIBLICAL STANDPOINT, that,

“Church is over and that we can prove it.”

Before going into our proofs, we also stand by the claim that when it comes to Christianity,

“Nobody has all the facts but at least . . . we have the story right.”

That’s pretty bold because it plainly suggests that other expressions of the faith – Catholics, Orthodoxy, Protestants or the Restorationist group don’t . . . have . . . the story right. They don’t. They never have.

But we love and receive all of them still.

We realize that this reality doesn’t matter much because people who give their allegiances to institutional expressions do so because they believe – and belief is far more persuasive in matters of faith than facts.

So we too step back and admit, “even if someone has the story wrong, God is working and has been working since the dawn of time to reach true worshippers in spirit and truth.

However, if you are someone interested in a factual representation from the Bible (and we are not going to debate whether that source can be trusted or not tonight – that is for another day) allow us to first present the “right story.”

Looking around at every Christian institution of almost any reasonable size, we are confronted with a universal and fundamental beliefs that says:

Jesus came and established His church.
He gave Peter the keys to the Kingdom (to some extent or another), called other apostles (including Paul) and after His death and resurrection, He ascended into heaven.

Most teach that He sent the Holy Spirit to then convert the hearts of those of seeking faith at Pentecost, and most agree that before leaving He promised to return to gather up/rescue His Bride and take her from the earth – either before the promised destruction, during it or after – depending on the institutions eschatological stance.

From this general assessment almost every Christian institution of religion suggest that

• The world is still waiting for Him to return to take His body/church/bride. (Therefore)
• The church, their church or the churches, in the meantime, are respectively “doing church right” (according to either the scripture and/or tradition, and/or authorized leadership) and most teach that in the face of these things that
• the directives of what they errantly call, the New Testament, are being followed with the implication that they should be.

The extent to which a religious organization follows what they errantly call, the New Testament, depends on how much they also reflect certain religious traditions (e.g. Catholics, Orthodoxy, Anglicans, Lutherans and some Presbyterians, for example) verse how much they rely solely on the apostolic writings alone (Protestants writ large) verses how much they rely on extra-biblical revelations from their founders (Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, and Christian Scientists) or of founders and continued revelation (the LDS and Catholicism to some extent through the Pope).

It has long fascinated me that many of the factors present in the Apostolic church, from Paul’s advice to women being covered and silent, to governmental allegiance, to how slaves and slave owners ought to be, to how widows should be vetted, feet should be washed and the fact that Jesus Himself said in Mark 16:17-18

And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

how most modern institutions of the faith justify ignoring some or all of these direct apostolic instructions and do so without any authority other than their own opinions, revelations or traditions!

In addition to these aforementioned things, Paul, in describing the church/bride and her qualifications said, In Ephesians 5, speaking first of husbands loving their wives,

Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26 That he (Christ) might sanctify and cleanse it (the Church/Bride) with the washing of water by the word,
27 That he might present it to himself (ready) “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”

If anyone takes the Bible seriously, there is no escaping the fact these words are the apostolic description of the Bride that Jesus would present to Himself; that she must be holy and in compliance to the descriptors Paul stated.

Looking out to the 2nd and 3rd chapters of the Book of Revelation Jesus also emphatically addressed the literal and actual seven churches of Asia minor in that day and repeatedly warns them, in various ways, that if they didn’t conform to His high expectations of holiness, they would lose their reward.

Later in that same Book, John describes 144,000 virgin males, who had not defiled themselves with women, as being part of this spotless Church Bride, which again, Paul described as being (not “trying to be,” but being) a

“glorious, spotless, without wrinkle or any such thing so much so that it would be holy and without blemish” bride.

So right out the gate, and without any other evidences, we must ask

What brick and mortar institution on earth, SINCE Christ ascended into the clouds, on out to the present day, can say that they have been (and continue to be):

“glorious, spotless, without wrinkle or any such thing that it would be holy and without blemish”

(BEAT)

And which one have “the gates of hell not prevailed against?”

What corporate body has believers that

“cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover?

The answer is “just one.”

And it’s the one Jesus came to establish with living authoritative apostles guiding her, in an age of an abundance of the Holy Spirit, or miracles and unspotted unwrinkled holiness.

She was composed of Jews first, then some faithful Gentiles (as prophesied and promised) and she was the one who Jesus promised to return to and save before what the prophets and apostles and the Lord Himself called,

“that Day,” “the Day,” “the Great and Terrible day” and/or “the Great and dreadful day of the Lord.”

Scripture describes:

• First, that a day was coming,
• Second, what would happen before that day came,
• Third, what would happen in that day, and finally
• What would exist after that day.

This is the content we will now review for your consideration and as proof that church is over and something better, greater, more reasonable, and more indicative of a loving and victorious God.

Prior to addressing these three things –

• First, that a day was coming,
• Second, what would happen before that day came,
• Third, what would happen in that day, and finally
• What would exist after that day.

Allow us to present the right story in short summary:

God created a world that, through the freewill choices of the first couple (whom He created in His image and who were actually the entire human race on earth) fell into a state of darkness with sin, death and the power of Satan stepping in and given reign.

From the get-go, God had a plan to save this fallen world through His only human Son who would overcome all of the effects of the first Man through a victory obtained through His mortal life, death, resurrection, ascension and return.

Yes, his victory includes His return (past tense).

All of these things happened and were completed nearly two thousand years ago and with the overall victory complete, the world has ever-since been reconciled to God which means all people (ever since) have returned, as it were, to that garden condition spiritually, being free to live, and to choose for themselves whether to seek, love and be in relationship with God freely . . . or not.

In other words, God so loved this world that He saved it from all of the spiritual fallout caused by Adam through the victory of His Son and so now all people are again, like Adam and Eve, making the decision whether to live in faith and true relationship with their Creator or to live by their own will and ways with the time they are given here on earth.

The scripture is clear – God loves the world (John 3:16) and Jesus paid for all the sins of the world (1st Timothy 4:10) and He has reconciled the world to the Father (1st Corinthians 5:18-19) and leaving every human being to “choose them this day” whom they will serve.

Those who remain self-willed are loved by the Father unconditionally but those who seek Him in spirit and truth are adopted as Sons and Daughters.

In summary form, this is the “right story.”

The age of Satan, hell, Jesus return, God’s wrath and material religious appeals has long been over. But people have not wanted to believe it.

And when people start working elements of that simple story around, adding to it, taking away, making exceptions to it, rearranging it, “the right story” winds up becoming something else, it becomes “another story” so to speak, and the amazing Great News becomes this illogical, unbiblical supposedly Good News of non-victory and most people still going to an unconscionable afterlife destination of fiery punishment called hell.

So, now let’s work through the specifics of “the right story” with the hope of explaining it well enough so that you too can move forward in the liberty God affords all of His creations – the liberty that is only offered through the fulfilled victories of His Son.

We will use the four questions scripture answers to outline our approach, which again, are

• that a day was coming,
• what would happen before that day came,
• what would happen in that day, and finally
• What would exist after that day.

Let’s talk about the scripture speaking of the fact that

A DAY WAS COMING

Looking to the Old Testament we read that some of the prophets described “the day,” “a day,” “that day” and ultimately “the Great and Dreadful Day of the Lord,” as having application to the Nation of Israel. For instance,

Zechariah wrote

14:1 Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee.

And Isaiah wrote

13:9 Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.

It is not a mistake that the last book of the Old Testament (Malachi) includes the following passage in the last of its short chapters, saying:

Malachi 4:1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.

This was a dire apocalyptic prediction for the Nation of Israel.

After the wrap up of the Old Testament canon, the Nation of Israel went into a 400-year dry spell (so to speak) where there were no prophesies received (or at least prophesies that were accepted as scripture). That period is now called the Inter-testamentary period.

And after the four hundred years guess who shows up on the scene (as recorded in the Apostolic letters)?

A man named John the Baptist of whom Jesus said in Matthew 11:14-15

And if ye will receive it, this is Elijah, which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Looking to Malachi chapter 4 again, we read at verse 5

Malachi 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.

And when John the Baptist showed up, “preparing the way for the promised Messiah BEFORE the great and dreadful day of the Lord,” what did he say (REMEMBER THIS FOLKS) to the Jews of that day? First, he said (to them/then)

“Repent ye: (change your minds!) for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (This means the new reigning Kingdom of God was headed their way but had yet to arrive) (Matthew 3:2)

Then, he said to the religious leaders of that day

“You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Referring to the promised Great and Dreadful day of the Lord – and He added) “Therefore, bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father,’ for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. Indeed, the axe is already laid at the root of the tree; (with the tree representing everything about the former economy established by God through the Nation of Israel) “so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Luke 3:7-9)

Did you notice that in Malachi’s prophecy he mentions “neither root nor branch” surviving and John the Baptist in that day says to those Jews then, “Indeed, the axe is already laid at the root of the tree?”

This is straight-up apocalyptic language that every informed Jews with ears to hear would understand.

Of course, the main thrust of John’s message outside of these warnings to them/then was to point out the promised Messiah, which he did when he said

“Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)

(as a brief aside, was John correct – did the Lamb of God take away the sins of the kosmos? I think so).

Anyway, John also said

“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” (Matthew 3:11)

From all of these words I think it reasonable and scriptural to stand on a few things:

  1. that those of that nation needed to change their minds and ways about everything they were assuming and doing in their lives up to that point,
  2. that the time was at hand (close) where a new Kingdom economy was on its way to replace the former. And that
  3. a Great and Dreadful day of the Lord was near, and that
  4. this day would bear God’s wrath which would fall upon the House of Israel (again) in “that day” with the “axe” (metaphorically) laid at the root of the tree” (representing the totality of the Nation of Israel).

That totality, represented by the “roots” meant the coming obliteration of

• a material priesthood based on a material genealogy recorded on papyrus with ink.
• An incomprehensibly material religion which included

  • laws materially written in stone and revelations recorded on papyrus,
  • dietary restrictions,
  • Sabbath-day observances and restrictions
  • dress codes
  • restrictions on how to materially engage with unclean things
  • the literal killing of actual animals in a material temple made with hands to shed their material blood
  • and the arrival of an actual material Messiah who was prophesied to be born of a material kingly line (from David) who would live an actual material life in tangible flesh, would then die a material physical death, who would then rise materially from the grave, ascend materially in heaven and return materially to save His pure Bride from the Great and Dreadful day of the Lord which would come with literal actual material judgment on the materially established Nation (gathered in Jerusalem) and wiping it all out materially by leveling it all to the ground but rewarding those who received Him by faith beforehand by saving them.

After delivering his message and preparing the way for the promised Messiah, John the Baptist, the last of the prophets and the one whom Jesus identified with Malachi’s prophecy, baptized the Lord (as a means to attest to Him being the Promised One) decreased (so the Yeshua the promised Messiah, who Matthew called, “God with us,” could increase) and then Jesus begin to overcome all things introduced to the world by Adam while fulfilling all the demands of God’s perfect Law imposed upon the Nation.

During Yeshua’s mortal life, He fulfilled all that was required, obeying it perfectly as He grew, matured and “learned obedience through the things He suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8)

Along the way, He called twelve men and taught and trained them in all they needed to know so they could effectively take the message of His life, death, and resurrection to all of Israel, giving His own an opportunity to be saved from the approaching Great and Dreadful day of the Lord.

Second, what would happen before that day came,

Looking at scripture we see repeated reference to “the day” and “that day” by all speakers in the Apostolic record who – LISTEN – were speaking to THAT AUDIENCE then. Starting with Jesus, He said to people around Him

Matthew 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

Matthew 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

Matthew 11:24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.

In Luke 17:31 Jesus said to His apostles

In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back.

Luke 21:34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.

Matthew 12:36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

PAUL said to believers in his day:

1st Thessalonian 5:4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.

2nd Thessalonians 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

2nd Timothy 1:12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

2nd Timothy 1:18 The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well.

2nd Timothy 4:8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

Romans 2:5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;

Romans 2:16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

Romans 13:12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.

1st Corinthians 1:8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1st Corinthians 3:13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.

1st Corinthians 5:5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

Philippians 1:10 That you may approve things that are excellent; that you may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;

Philippians 2:16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain.

1st Thessalonians 5:2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

2nd Thessalonians 2:2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.

The writer of Hebrews said

Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.

Peter wrote to his own

1st Peter 2:12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

2nd Peter 3:7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

And John wrote to that audience

1st John 4:17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

Ancient prophets, John the Baptist, the Lord Himself, and His apostles all taught the people in that time that this promised DAY had application to them/then.

Do you know what our bible commentators say in response to this fact? They say they were wrong! That they misunderstood, and that we have it right in assuming that the day is in our future.

Going back to Jesus while still alive and on the very day of the Hebrew Passover, when the Nation of Israel, according to the Law, historically offered up an unblemished lamb to temporarily cover the Nations sins, Yeshua, the anointed One, was put to death by Roman hands recruited by the Nations envious leaders, and He offered up His own perfect blood, once and for all, for a payment for all sin, past, present and out into the future.

Having perfectly obeyed all of the Law, His shed blood was ultimate and final, and would serve to pay for the sins of the world (for the wages of sin is death) and not just serve to save the Nation who, for the most part, rejected Him.

After His death, as prophesied in the Old Testament, this promised Messiah rose materially from the grave, showed himself to several hundred witnesses (including his called and trained apostles) and then He ascended into the heavens where an angel promised those looking on at his ascent that He would return “in the same way he left,” meaning in the clouds.

He then entered into the heavenly holy of holies and assumed the right hand of God His Father.

This entering of the Holy of Holies above is a fulfillment of the ancient practice of the Hebrew High Priest entering into the material Holy of Holies and offering up the blood of animals once a year for the sins of the people.

LISTEN – the success of that event was NOT seen in the entering in, but in the coming back out to the people to show that the offering was received and that the High Priest survived.

In other words, the finished work would not be deemed complete until He came out of the Heavenly Holy of Holies and showed Himself to His own.

This necessitated the need for Jesus to return to His own to whom He came, and called, and invited to believe and receive Him by faith.

Once the Holy Spirit fell on the day of Pentecost, some fifty days later, eleven of these apostles were endowed with power from on high (the Holy Spirit) and went forth as commanded into all of Israel (pretty much the Roman Empire) with the same warning John the Baptist had given – ostensibly, that “the ax is laid at the root of the tree, repent, believe and receive Yeshua the Messiah BEFORE the coming Great and Dreadful day of the Lord (listen)

WHICH WOULD HAPPEN IN CONJUNCTION WITH HIS PROMISED RETURN.

It is of great interest, and it is a super important part of getting the story right, that we take note of the following things Jesus Himself said about His return which would interrupt the Great and Dreadful day of the Lord (in Him saving His pure Bride).

For instance, Jesus said to His chosen apostles when on earth:

“But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, you shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, before the Son of man come.” (Matthew 10:23)

And He said

“Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:28)

Then when Jesus was standing before the high priest at his illegal trial we also read:

“But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? 62 And Jesus said, I am: and you shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 14:61-62)

(note that the Greek word for you here refers to, the “audience” and not the High Priest who died before His return).

Perhaps the most significant biblical support for Jesus return in that day to His own, besides the Book of Revelation and all the historical secular supports that prove its fulfillment, is the Olivet meeting the Lord had with four of his chosen apostles, namely Peter, James, John and Andrew, who came to Him with questions.

The context of this meeting was Jesus had just come from Jerusalem. There, He railed on the Scribes and Pharisees like no other (Matthew 22-23) and straight-up warned them of what was headed their way.

Then chapter 24 opens with His disciples walking with the Lord past the temple and has Him prophesy that the time was coming where not one stone of the temple would be left upon another.

Then at verse three of Matthew 24, the four apostles come to Jesus on the Mount of Olives, right before His passion would begin and they asked Him three very specific questions – all of which were related directly to the warnings He had just laid out on the Scribes and Pharisees, along with His prophecy of the temple coming down. This is what we read:

“And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us,

1) when shall these things be? And
2) what shall be the sign of thy coming, and,
3) (what will be the sign) of the end of the world?”

When will “what” things be? When will all the things Jesus has been warning about happen?

And what will be the sign of thy coming? What coming? His coming! His return! What Christians today refer to as His Second coming. AND finally they asked,

that will be the sign of the “end of the world.”

The standard fare for almost all of Christianity today is to take this last question, “and when will be the end of the World,” and to arrogantly or erroneous believe that it speaks to the whole world and since the whole world has not been ravaged and ended, they assume that this was the question and that what Jesus says in response to it, describes the end of the entire world or kosmos.

They are wrong.

See, King James instructed his translators to translate but to never deviate from the established doctrine of the day. And the established doctrine of that day was the whole world was going to end.

So, they translated the Greek term “aion” (which means “age” here) to “world,” giving most people the false idea that this world/globe is going to be wiped out at His coming.

Contrary to popular belief, the scripture actually says that the kosmos will never, ever end, and that His Kingdom would increase forever (Ecclesiastes 1:4, Psalm 104:5; 119:90) and that the only thing the scripture says that will end are ages, economies, dispensations, nations, people and kingdoms.

This is proven when Peter said to the believers who trusted in his insights in that day:

“But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.”

Are you a biblical literalist? If you are, then Peter was either right in saying that “the END OF ALL THINGS WAS IN THAT DAY AT HAND,” which in GREEK means was almost here, was soon, and was within reach – again, the END of ALL things . . .

OR

Peter was wrong and the End of All things was not at hand.

(beat)

But Peter was not wrong. The scripture is true. And what he was saying was “the end of all things” relative to the nation of Israel and material religion “was at hand.”

Restated, then, what the four apostles were actually asking Jesus on the mount of Olives was, “Jesus –

“In the face of all you have said to the Scribes and Pharisees, and of the falling of the Temple,

  1. when will these things occur, and
  2. what will be the signs of your coming back, and
  3. what are the signs of the end of this age of material religion, of this age of Judaism, this age of all ritualistic expression and Law?

And in response to these questions, Jesus replies and describes (again) to these four men, at that day and at that time, all the signs that they were to look for, which would help them determine the approaching end of all things of that former age, the age of material religion, which would culminate in His coming.

At this point Jesus then supplies all the needed insights the apostles needed to discern the signs of His coming back to save them from the Great and Dreadful Day of the Lord.

A careful reading void of as much confirmational bias as possible of Jesus words prove that Jesus was describing events that would occur then, and to them, and were not things that were going to happen in the distant future to us.

Our book, Knife to a Gunfight speaks to all of this and much more. But the grand passage in all of this is in what Jesus says at verse 34 of Matthew 24.

After giving these four men some very descriptive information for them to watch for in that day, Jesus says at verse 34:

“Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.”

Unable to accept this passage for what it is proven to mean (relative to linguistics and all the other times the word is used in scripture) people, unwilling to let go of their confirmational bias for a future return, insist that generation does not mean what generation means in every other instance (which means a span of time and in this case, forty years) and have instead created a fiction that says generation means the Jewish nation as a whole.

CS Lewis said that critics of the faith use this verse as evidence of Jesus being wrong, and he called it, “the most embarrassing passage of all the words Jesus spoke” because if what He said was true, and He failed to return, Christians should be embarrassed.

But Jesus wasn’t wrong any more than Peter was wrong, and around forty years after saying this, which would have been the way a biblical generation was defined at that time, that “whole world or age of material religion was utterly destroyed – with Jesus coming back and saving His Pure Bride before that last brick tumbled to the ground.

Again, these events have all been described by secular historians – and you can compare what they say in our book, Revelations on Revelations (which we have available here) along with our twenty-two short commentaries available online (which we highly recommend).

But again, I get ahead of myself.

So as stated, it was shortly after this meeting on the Mount of Olives, Jesus was taken unlawfully, tried (unlawfully) and brutally put to death by Roman means and hands – the same hands God would use to destroy material religion within a generation.

His victory over the Law was completed by His life lived and the Law was nailed to His cross. (Colossians 2:14)

Shortly after this moment, when the Holy Spirit fell at Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost Satan was restrained for a time and the Gospel spread by virtue of the Apostles.

On the day of Pentecost, we read about when the Holy Spirit, was gifted to the world and the apostles of Jesus were speaking in tongues and the onlookers wondered what was going on, some thinking that they were drunk.

In this setting and at that time, Peter said the following, citing the Old Testament prophet Joel. He said (Listen):

Acts 2:15-21 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. . . (READY?) This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel, And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: and I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke: the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

This event occurred at the launch of the true new covenant or testament age on the Day of Pentecost, when the former things of material religion were beginning to wind down (as Hebrews 8:13 reads, In saying a new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.)

. . . and the things of God’s genuine New Testament were being introduced forever more and would ultimately take over material religion and begin govern the Kingdom of God from above.

It hadn’t happened yet, as the Bride had to be gathered by the Apostles and then the rest had to be destroyed, but it was the beginning of what we have today.

Paul tied Jesus’ victory over all things to Jesus return and to “the end” (of that age) as he wrote to the believers at Corinth regarding the resurrection and said

“But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” (1st Corinthians 15:23-28)

Today, most Christian expressions believe we are still at war with the tool named Satan and that Christ, having had a victory, has not had THE complete victory. Therefore they conclude that God is still losing souls to him and to hell forevermore.

Part of the error in their thinking is to believe that Jesus victory would be over everything, including the physical world, when the reality is His Kingdom is NOT of this world and His victory, while complete, is over spiritual things, principles and principalities.

And so upon His resurrection from the grave, Jesus, who at this point only is called God’s only begotten and not before (Psalm 2:7; Acts 13:33, Hebrews 1:5; 5:5) He showed Himself to 500 plus souls before ascending to His rightful place at the right hand of His Father, leaving those eleven apostles (Judas who betrayed him had taken his own life) to go out into all the land (Israel/the Roman Empire) and to call His own to receive Him by faith as the Messiah before He returned with judgement and reward at the end of that age.

As shown, from Peter, Paul, John, Jude and the writer of Hebrews it is an indisputable fact that all of the Apostles (who wrote) addressed the fact that the Great and Dreadful day was headed their way THEN – which would be interrupted by Jesus return.

All of the warnings and encouragement from the apostles to the believers in that day to endure to the end culminated in the Book of Revelation, where John the Beloved recorded all the visions and signs of the end which He was told by Jesus to give to the seven actual churches composed of actual believers.

Allow yourself to actually hear what Jesus says to John starting with the very first verse of the Revelation:

1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; (tachos which means speedily) and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

Verse 3

1:3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand. (engoos, which means near)

Verse 7

1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the land shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. (Revelation 1:7) NOTE: Where it reads, “and every eye shall see Him”, this has to be qualified as, “and every eye that was looking for Him” would “see Him,” based on Hebrews 9:28.

So, pretend you are a believer in one of the seven actual churches and Jesus has given John a Revelation of Himself which describes all that was coming to them shortly, and in the first seven verses you read these things.

Would you believe that Jesus was coming to you speedily, quickly, shortly or would you discount it all and think what Jesus actually said was pertaining to a future some 2000 years later?

Okay, then John receives the Revelation describing everything that would fall on them/then, which we have gone through with a fine-tooth comb and have supported these events with tons of secular history and biblical prophecy and then the Revelation ends with the following emphatic reiterations of how it opened:

Revelation 22:6 And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done. (tachos – speedily)

Then verse 7

7 Behold, I come quickly: (tachoos – speedily) blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.

Then verse 10

10 And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. (engoos – almost here)

Then verse 20

20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen (tachoo – speedily -and then John adds,) “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”

And yet . . . all organized religions based in Jesus Christ have continued to promote to its congregates that all of these things are pending, that Jesus has not returned, and therefore everyone better be on their best behavior.

Understand, and hear me clearly, there is the absolute possibility for the cycles of Revelation to be repeated on earth – this is (in part) the historist view and I do not dispute the possibility.

But Jesus came back, when He said He would, and took His bride as promised, and all of what the prophets, and He, and the apostles described in scripture about that day have happened when the Jews believed that they could revolt and win against Rome.

Third, what would happen in that day

And at that time God used the Roman Emporer Nero to bring His wrath upon the very people who put His Son to death.

And Nero entrusted the job of crushing the rebellion to Vespasian, a talented and unassuming general.

In early 68 AD, Vespasian landed at Ptolemais and began suppression of the revolt with operations in the Galilee.

By July 69 all of Judea but Jerusalem had been pacified and the city, now hosting rebel leaders from all over the country, came under Roman siege.

Jerusalem was a fortified stronghold and they could have withstood the Roman assault but an intense civil war broke out among them internally.

In the summer of 69 CE, Vespasian departed Judea for Rome and in December became Emperor. He left the Command of the Roman legions to his Titus, who was now in charge of the siege of Jerusalem and he was successful in leveling the city, temple and people to the ground.

That was the end of that world, that former age, of genealogies (they were stored in the temple, therefore priesthood, therefore rites and rituals and all things previously existing in that former religious economy.

At this point we will take a brief intermission, and when we come back we will wrap out time up with that the Bible says all of this means and we will end with a Q and A.

(15 Minute Break)

What would exist after that day.

So, why was this leveling important and why did it have to be so utterly complete with over 1.2 million Jews slaughtered and the rest sent out into the world as slaves?

Why did their temple need to come down without one stone left upon it? The writer of Hebrews gives us some insight in chapter 9 verse 8 saying:

The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing.”

Later, in chapter 12 the writer speaks of how the earth shook in Moses day at Sinai, saying at verse 26

Hebrews 12:26 Whose voice then shook the earth:”

And then he adds – listen carefully,

“but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

In other words, the writer right here tells his Jewish reader that God promised to shake both heaven and earth one last time, and in so doing would remove all shakable things! Why? So that those things that cannot be shaken may remain.

Can brick and mortar empires be shaken? They always are? Can men of authority be shaken? They always have been. But after the shaking of all things in heaven and earth, God wiping out the standing tabernacle, instituted the true new testament on earth, which is why the writer of Hebrews concludes his thought in Hebrews 12 saying

28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.

Here is our proof that Church, since the destruction of Jerusalem, which was shakeable and which occurred when Jesus came and rescued His pure Bride, is over.

So, what did God plan and leave in its place? All the way back in the Old Testament and through His prophet Jeremiah, God spoke of what would remain once everything of the former age of material religion was destroyed, saying:

Jeremiah 31:31 Behold, the days come, (not a singular day but days referring to an ongoing Kingdom) saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant (This is the real New Testament, not a collection of books as Tertullian created) with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: (we know that true Israel is composed by those who are adopted by God through faith not those circumcised in the flesh) 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. (This clearly describes a new testament of the Spirit, of inward faith and the subjective relationships of individuals over objective and demanded religious observances) 34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (In other words, the Spirit will teach and lead, not men, not pastors, the Spirit).

These passages are so vitally important to understanding the rest of the story that we will cover them again – this time with more parenthetical explanations:

Jeremiah 31:31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant
(Notice that God refers to His New Covenant or Testament here NOT as a gathering of books but as a very different event where He is intimately engaged with His children through His Spirit. It is the mistake of Man to have labeled the collection of apostolic writings the New Testament when God clearly labels His as the event when He would write on the hearts and minds of individuals, not where men would write on paper.)

The fact that men have taken the collection of apostolic writings and assigned them the title New Testament has inadvertently lead to people mistakenly using its contents as laws, when God has a very different way of describing where His laws in this day would be written.

I love the apostolic record and have spent years studying and presenting it as the the Word of God, but it is a reference not the Law, and to use it as Law only serves to divide people of faith today.

And Jeremiah goes on saying, “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant . . . with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:

(Paul makes it plain that in God’s New Testament economy that true Israel are those converted from the heart, and are not those who are deemed so in the flesh (or through circumcision or blood – (John 8:39; Romans 2:28-29; 3:3; 4:12,16; 9:6; Galatians 6:16)

32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:
(In other words, the New Testament of God, His new covenant, would NOT be anything like the former – it will not be based in outward material expressions of religious devotion, it will not be full of rites or rituals, genealogies, priesthoods, temples or external laws of religion that govern and imprison people . . .)

33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

And here we discover the end of the right story.

That since the former age of consummate material religion was wiped out once and for all, the age where men wrote in ink on paper, cleansed themselves with water ablutions, appealed to priests for authority, and became lawyers instead of lovers of God and neighbor, God says right here that in HIS NEW TESTAMENT, HE WOULD . . .)

“put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

(And God even goes farther here in his explanation, and adds)

34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

Isn’t this an amazing description of what God promised to do after wiping everything out from the former age of material religion?

I mean, He goes so far as to say that they (meaning believers whom this was addressed) “shall teach no more his neighbor saying, know the Lord, know the Lord, for all will know me,” meaning, all who are His! They (we) will know Him!

How?

By and through His Spirit which has been in charge of the body of true worshippers and believers of God ever since.

The things of God’s true New Testament are all of the Spirit and its fruit and are not based or founded on anything from the former age of material religion. Not in the least.

Once everything of that former religious age of materiality was obliterated from the earth, the kingdom above was fully established, with Jesus having returned to take His holy Church/Bride (again, this is the church that the gates of hell could not prevail against) and when He established a New Jerusalem (which is above and spiritual (Galatians 4:26) under a new heavenly economy operating on an entirely new earth spiritually redeemed and returned to the original state of the Garden of Eden, everything changed.

And we have long been, as Paul wrote in 1st Corinthians 15, in a place where Jesus has delivered up the kingdom to God and God is now “all in all,” as he succinctly described.

This is the right story of Christian history and of Christianity today.

The age of material religion and all of its attempts to play church in Jesus name was never, ever supposed to be. The proof of this is in the historical pudding AND in a contextual understanding of scripture.

The power of the body of Christ on earth is in, and will forever be in, the hands of the Spirit, which reaches into the hearts of seekers spiritually from wherever they may worship, whatever house of worship and whatever practices and doctrines such demand.

The fulfilled faith is not in the hands of Man, captured and controlled through antiquated religious affectations or feigned authority.

It is not meted out in material sacraments, baptisms in water, confessions, dress and dietary codes, or church allegiances.

There is no material church that the gates of hell have not prevailed against since the first century rapture of His Bride – they have all failed and will continue to fail because this was never the right story.

There has never been given any authority to anyone where they have the power to tell another person, “know the Lord! Know the Lord!” for God says that “all (who are His) “will know Him.”

No, ever since Jerusalem was sacked and all the vestiges of material religion were utterly and symbolically destroyed, the world of collective religious thought, demanded practices and observances, along with the supposed authority of Man, have ended.

And God, who is now “all in all” reigns though His Spirit and writes His laws on the hearts and minds of those who seek Him, who by the Spirit receive Him in faith, and who choose to love Him more than themselves, their will and this world.

At this point we have some final questions to ask ourselves –

So fine, Shawn, material religion is over and God now operates, and has operated, on individuals for nearly two thousand years.

What does this mean for this world, for individual believers and what does the afterlife look like if hell has been cast into the Lake of Fire?

And if Satan is over why all the evil?

And if Jesus has had the victory, why all the continued pain and death?

And is it important for believers to continue to believe, and what does the Kingdom look like post fulfillment?

And what does this mean in terms of denominationalism and even the division between so-called Christian churches and all of the people of faith outside of them practicing non-Christian things and believing unbiblical teachings?

Is gathering in brick and mortar edifices wrong or still important?

Is God wanting corporate missional efforts to the world to continue?

How are we to view the Bible now and if there is no second coming in our future what exactly has been happening to individuals since His 70AD return?

I want to spend these last few minutes trying to answer these questions before we open up the Q and A to you.

Let me level the ground out first.

Going back to the Book of Isaiah, we read the all-familiar prophetic passage which says, speaking of Jesus:

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

I personally believe that this passage is true, and see the establishment and the INCREASE of His kingdom as never ending, with people constantly flowing into it.

How? By faith.

Faith in who? God.

Remember what the writer of Hebrews said in Hebrews 11:6

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

I suggest strongly that all people of faith, whether they have the facts and even the story right, who “cometh to God believing that He is,” will someday realize who God is, and who His Son is, and it is the faith given in God that qualifies them ALL BECAUSE of the finished victorious work of His Son.

“Well, well, what about Jesus – saying His name to be saved? Comes the terrified reply.

I gently suggest that if someone is fortunate enough to know Jesus by name and His life that it is an incomprehensible blessing – to realize that all that God accomplished for the earth was completely and totally through Him – wonderful.

But we trust that Jesus was God with us, and so faith in God, I suggest, will ultimately bring all to Him in the end.

Well, what about the afterlife?

Going to the last two chapters of Revelation John describes what is in place once all the ravages of the Great and Dreadful day fell on the Nation then.

And he says,

Revelation 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

Biblical literalists often say, “look around! We still have seas, so this has not happened, but the fact of the matter is John is most likely talking about the brazen sea that sat outside the temple in that day.

In any case, having shaken everything that can be shaken in heaven and earth so that the only thing that can remain is unshakeable, God was ready to establish a new heaven, and a new earth (spiritually) with a new Jerusalem, which Paul says, “is above.”

This heavenly Jerusalem is described as having twelve gates that are open day and night and that God and Jesus are the light of them.

And then before ending the Revelation we read in the last chapter:

Revelation 22:14-15 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
15 For outside of it are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

With hell and Satan having been cast into the Lake of Fire in Revelation 20, I submit to you now that all, because of Jesus finished work, all are saved from that place, and are free to choose whether they want to follow God in faith and have relationship with Him here and in His New Jerusalem above . . or not.

If so, they will, upon their death, have the right to enter into the gates of the New Jerusalem and this contributes to the eternal increase of the Kingdom – if not, they will dwell outside of it.

The fact that the gates are open day and night suggests to me that they are eternally welcomed, even beckoned to enter in, but freewill always prevails along with the fact that whatever is required to enter in remains unknown.

Here on earth, however, I suggest that the Spirit is calling to all, and that this has been the case since Pentecost (to some degree or another).

I also suggest that the days of blanket canvasing to the masses are over; that individuals, when led of the spirit, will share with others as led and the rest is the product of religion to grow their numbers.

I suggest that because the New Jerusalem is entered by faith, and that faith comes and is fortified by the hearing of the Word, that the focus of believers be on reading, hearing and studying the word of God but openly, freely and without objectively imposed religious demands on anyone.

I suggest that the idea (especially popular in Protestantism) of sola scriptura has been a fail, producing innumerable divisions among otherwise great people of faith, and suggest that all denominational expressions (and I mean all) along with their doctrines and practices be welcomed in the family of the faithful; and that a reordering occur in the world that says

The Spirit is Primary and Preferential,
The Word is Secondary and Deferential,
Church traditions are Tertiary and unessential and
Modern Religion is unnecessary and inconsequential.

Because God writes His laws upon the hearts and minds of those who are His, it seems to me then that the reading and studying of the word is of most benefit to teaching people PRINCIPLES of the FAITH rather than laws applied as demands.

Again, I go so far as to suggest that Jesus victory is so overwhelming, so unlimited and so ubiquitous that God, ever since, has been reaching into the hearts and minds of all people who seek Him by faith and that this is NOT by any means limited to people who understand or use the actual name, Yeshua, Joshua, Iesous or Jesus in their professions.

This make the unity of the faith open to all denominational expressions but from where I firmly stand, it is all made possible by and through the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

This is the Great News – and in our day and age of utter world-wide upheaval and the abject disregard for God – it seems to me that unity among all people of faith is what is needed to gently confront the invading Darkness that is crushing our children.

Imagine a world where the brick and mortars dissolved their material basis and used their wealth to actually unify with with all people under the umbrella of faith in God and love for each other.

Imagine a day when religious material prosperity was spent on actually alleviating material suffering and educating people with the realities of the Great News.

Imagine a day when people will purposely allow doctrinal divisions and practices to take a back seat to agape love, when all people who look (in one way or another) to God for hope and solace will refuse to feed the lies of religious materialism and support education through longsuffering, patience, kindness and all the other fruits of the Spirit.

This is the time to replace the ongoing fear of a coming great and dreadful day, of hell, of an angry wrathful God with the Great News –

That the victory has been had over sin, death, Satan, and hell, that the wrath of God abides on nobody anywhere, that people of faith who look to God as Catholics, Jews, Mormons, Baptists, Orthodoxy’s, Muslims, Hindu’s, Buddhists ought to be one, trusting that the living God will sort out all the facts later.

Shawn McCraney
Shawn McCraney
Articles: 108

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