Ecclesiology 010

Dr. Andy Woods | Jan 14, 2018 | Revelation 1:6 | Ecclesiology

Andy Woods

Ecclesiology 10

1-14-18     Lesson 10

Father, we’re grateful for today, grateful for Your grace, grateful for the fact that your grace not only saves us but keeps us and we don’t look to ourselves to keep ourselves saved, we look to You.  So we today rest on Your promises.  I don’t know what personal struggles everybody within the sound of my voice is going through but I do know that You are sufficient for whatever the issue is.  And so I just pray, Father, that we would rest in You and Your provision for us and Your grace that you’ve given to us in the past and also in the present, and also in the future.   We thank  You for that. I just pray that Your Word would be made clear today, and I pray for the illuminating ministry of the Spirit so that we can understand Your truth and walk better in Your ways.  So we’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory as You do this great work here today at Sugar Land Bible Church.  And we ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said… Amen!

If you all can turn to the Book of Revelation, chapter 1 and verse 6.  As you know we’ve been kind of inching our way through the study of the doctrine of the Church, and the five dollar word for that is Ecclesiology.  So we started off by defining what ecclesiology is and basically what the church is.  And then we moved into the distinctions between the universal church and the local church and from there we went into seven word pictures of what the church is supposed to look like in God.  And from there I gave you the case for the origin of the church, which we believe is in Acts 2.  And I gave you six reasons for that.

And what we started last time is the differences between Israel and the church, which really is a fundamental thing that you have to understand to interpret the Bible correctly.  And a lot of people when they make a mistake in Bible interpretation a lot of the time it’s simply because they’re not respecting the Israel/church distinction.

So there are, based on my count, and you can probably find more, but there are at least twenty-four differences between Israel and the church.  And the first eight, actually the first nine we went through last time, and I’m going to try to go through these a little faster than I went through them on Wednesday night so this is more of the “Reader’s Digest Version.”  If you want to drill down on each of these the studies we did at the end of last year Wednesday night covered these.

But one of the differences has to do with timing.  The nation of Israel, and here’s some fancy Latin words, has in God a variety of what we call a quo ad quem statements.  And a quo and ad quem, those are Latin words that simply mean beginning and ending.  So when you go through your Old Testament what you’ll discover is there’s a lot of numbers for the nation of Israel related to timing.  For example, in Genesis 15:13-16 the nation of Israel is told they’re going to be in Egypt for how many years?  Four hundred years, there’s a number there.  And then they were sent away into the exile and Jeremiah, the prophet, chapter 25, verse 11, chapter 29, verse 10 says the exile is going to last for how many years?  Seventy years, see the timing there.

I didn’t have you turn there but if you were to hold your place in the Book of Revelation and go back to the Book of Ezekiel.  Ezekiel in chapter 4 makes some really interesting statements related to timing for the nation of Israel.  Ezekiel 4:5-7, God says, “For I have assigned you a number of days corresponding to the years of their iniquity, three hundred and ninety days; thus you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. [6] When you have completed these, you shall lie down a second time, but on your right side and bear the iniquity of the house of Judah; I have assigned it to you for forty days, a day for each year. [7] Then you shall set your face toward the siege of Jerusalem with your arm bared and prophesy against it.”

So it’s interesting that God allowed the siege from Babylon against Judah to correspond to a past 390 years of the northern kingdom, I believe, their disobedience.  And Ezekiel is told to lie on his side for 390 days corresponding to every year of their rebellion.  And then when you look at this he’s told to switch sides and lie on his other side, not for 390 days but for 40 days for the past disobedience of the disobedience of the southern kingdom.  And then God says based on that past disobedience, as represented by Ezekiel laying on one side for a certain number of days and another side for a certain number of days to represent Israel’s past years of rebellion.  That’s basically how long God calculated this siege in terms of days, under Nebuchadnezzar, would take place.

So that would be another example of an a quo ad quem statement, 400 years, 70 years captivity, 430 day siege corresponding with past years of rebellion for the northern and the southern kingdom, Ezekiel told to lie on his side a day for each year of the past rebellion.  And of course, if you’ve been tracking with us on Sunday mornings in the main service you know a little something about this seventy weeks prophecy. Does that ring a bell at all?

That’s a prophecy that’s going to last; there’s a clock that God gave to the nation of Israel in that prophecy, and we believe 483 years of the clock have elapsed; 7 years are yet to come and that’s where we get our idea of a future seven year tribulation period.  But the point is, look at the timing again; look at the numbers involved.

And in fact, Israel’s timing is so complete under God that she actually has a calendar.  The Book of Leviticus tells Israel what seasons or what times of the year they should celebrate various feasts.  So we have four spring feasts and three fall feasts.  And these all fall in a specific month in a calendar.  So you see how Israel has a calendar that’s just as real as our calendar.  They have feasts that they’re supposed to celebrate on calendar months.  They have all of these timing passages, a quo, ad quem, type passages.

And the interesting thing is when you go to the church and you look at the New Testament and God’s revelation concerning the church is there’s not a single number given anywhere.  So the church is never told well, 430 years this is going to happen and 70 years this is going to happen, there’s not a single number for the church.  And this is one of the great discoveries of John Nelson Darby, who is probably the main most attributed to retrieving the doctrine of the pretribulational rapture from the pages of God’s Word.  And when you study his ministry he was a very interesting guy.  He was baptizing about a hundred people per week in his ministry in Ireland.  And this is in the 1800’s and he had a horseback riding accident, so this is in the 1800’s where the only way you could recover from a… I think it was a broken leg, if I’m not mistaken, the only way you could recover is to be immobile for a long period of time.  So God, through that accident removed him from his ministry.

And you say well, why would God do that?  Didn’t God understand the impact that John Nelson Darby was having.  I think it related to the sovereignty of God because God wanted John Nelson Darby to have even a greater impact; He wanted him to have a transgenerational impact.  So here he is, lying immobile, and what do you think he’s reading?  There’s no cable television at that time.  He’s reading his Bible; he’s a man of God.  And this is what he starts to see in the Scripture, what I’m trying to articulate to you right now, that Israel has all of these timing texts.  And you get into the New Testament and you get into the epistles and you get into God’s revelation to the church and there’s not a single timing text given.  There’s no 400 years, 430 years, 490 years, 70 years, and this discovery… and I really would call it a retrieval, he didn’t invent this idea, this is an idea that he’s seeing in the Bible.  When he starts to see that Israel has all of these clocks and the church doesn’t he starts to say wait a minute, Israel and the church are different, they are entirely two different programs.

And from there he forms the deduction that if Israel and the church are different then God is going to come back at a different time for the church than He is for Israel.  And so because of the doctrine of the Israel/church distinction he begins to formulate, or he begins to see the doctrine of the pre­tribulational rapture.  But you see, a lot of people misunderstand Darby and they misunderstand the pretribulational rapture; they think the pretribulational rapture is an idea that Darby set out to find in the Bible.  And that was the furthest thing from his mind.  What he saw is Israel has a quo ad quem statements; the church has none of these, Israel and the church must be different.

So the next point in his reasoning process is well maybe God is coming back for the church at a different time than He’s coming back for Israel.  So he started to divide the passages related to the return of Christ up between those related to Israel and those related to the church.  And  you see, the doctrine of the pretribulational rapture has blessed multiple generations of Christians since the time of John Nelson Darby.  So Darby could have just continued on in his ministry and had a great impact on his generation, but you see God had something more special for him, a transgenerational impact.  And what was God’s tool to achieve this?  It was the horseback riding accident, because if he wasn’t in a state of convalescence he would have been running around like the rest of us, just busy and he wouldn’t be thinking about a quo ad quem statements.

So that’s a very different way to look at trials that come into your life.  You know, probably when that accident happened to Darby he probably saw it as a setback.  And all of his co-laborers saw it as a setback but really it was a blessing in disguise because that gave him the time in convalescence to study where he began to formulate doctrines that have gone through the generations with multiple blessings.

And so that’s really, to my mind, a key difference between Israel and the church.  And you see, a lot of people today are trying to set a date for the rapture.  Have you all noticed that they’re trying to do that?  Supposedly the rapture was supposed to take place on what? September 23rd of last year, in the minds of many people.  And when people set a date for the rapture right out of the gate you can assess that they don’t understand the Israel/church distinction.  All of the dates are related to Israel.  All of the numbers are related to Israel.  There’s not a single number for the church.  So if I’m going to go into the Bible and try to set a date for the rapture I don’t really understand the fundamental difference between Israel and the church.  I don’t understand that the church is basically timeless and dateless, basically by the design of God.  And I was raised in a church, the Episcopalian Church and there’s a lot of good things I picked up there, even though I wasn’t saved yet, but I believe God used that church in my youth to plant a lot of seeds.  But I remember they had us on a Christian calendar so  you had to celebrate Pentecost at a certain time of the year, and you had to celebrate this holiday at a certain time of the year, and this holiday at a certain time of the year, and it was a very intricate calendar.  It almost looked like Israel’s calendar it was so detailed.  Well, the reality of the situation, and I’m not against celebrating Christmas when everybody else does, we did that this year, didn’t we, at this church.  I don’t mind celebrating Resurrection Sunday when everybody else does, no big deal.  But the reality is you cannot develop an intricate church calendar for the simple reason that the church is a different spiritual organism, a different spiritual man than is Israel.

And so that really, to my mind, is a key, KEY difference between Israel and the church.  And had it not been for Darby seeing this in the pages of God’s Word it’s unlikely we would have the pre-trib rapture doctrine clarified the way we have it clarified today.  And of course, that great time of study and investigation was precipitated by his accident on a horse, which I think God sovereignly allowed as well.  So another big difference between Israel and the church are timing passages.

Another big difference between Israel and the church has to do with the priesthood.  The nation of Israel had a priesthood.  The priests came from which tribe?  Levi, and the priests had to be a descendant of whose lineage?  Aaron’s.  So if you want to be a priest, and by the way, the Book of Hebrews is pretty clear that nobody takes this honor on themselves, the priests were called by God, but the reality of the situation is they had to first come from Levi and number 2, they had to come from the line of Aaron.  And this becomes a big issue in the Book of Hebrews because Jesus was born from which tribe?  Judah.  So the author of the Book of Hebrews, whoever he was, and everybody is trying to figure out who wrote the Book of Hebrews; I’m not trying to figure out who wrote the Book of Hebrews, I respect the author’s anonymity.  I’m more trying to figure out how to interpret the Book of Hebrews than who wrote it, when the author didn’t want to be identified.  But people get all lathered up about trying to figure out who wrote the Book of Hebrews and I have no idea who wrote the Book of Hebrews, although I accept it as a canonical book.

But the author of the Book of Hebrews basically makes the point that Jesus is born from the tribe   of Judah, not Levi, so therefore the current priesthood of Jesus at the right hand of the Father is superior to the Aaronic priesthood that the Hebrew Christians under persecution were trying to lapse back into in the first century.

So in the nation of Israel you actually have priests; there’s the laity and there’s priests.  Is that true with the church?  It’s completely different with the church.  And by the way, when you go into Exodus 28 and following you get this tremendous description of Aaron and the color of his robe and what he’s to wear and what’s to be put on his head and what he’s to carry and right down to the pomegranates and the bells on the robe and it’s just a mindboggling amount of information because Israel had a group of people within their nation that they called the priests.

Now you compare that to the New Testament, God’s revelation to the church, and what does it say in Revelation 1:6.  God has “has made us” who would that be?  The church, “to be a kingdom, priests” so in the age of the church we don’t have priests because we are all priests.   Let me rephrase that, we don’t have a class of persons that are priests because all of us are priests.  So a lot of people come from a Roman Catholic environment where they have priests.  The church I was raised in, Episcopalian, had priests as well.  And to make that whole thing work you’re not going to be able to find it in the pages of the epistles; you have to go back to where?  The Old Testament and Exodus and you have to kind of selectively pull out the things that you think constitute a priest and apply it to the present generation or age.  And any movement or church that you’re that looks at a certain group of people as priests, you can automatically deduce from that that they really don’t understand the Israel/church distinction.  Israel had priests.  In the New Testament every single Christian, every single member of the body of Christ, every single child of God is a priest.

And just to kind of show you how practical this works out, a lot of people will call the office with their prayer requests and they will say I want Andy, they name me specifically, I want Andy to pray for this.  Or when we’re out to lunch or dinner with a group of Christians, when everybody is sort of embarrassed when we start eating, well, we need to pray, let’s have Andy pray.  And of course I don’t mind praying for any meal, I don’t mind praying for any prayer requests but the attitude that people have just because I’m a pastor-teacher at Sugar Land Bible Church they look at me as a priest and they think that I have some kind of special channel to God that they don’t have.  The reality of the situation is… we have different spiritual gifts but you’re just as much a priest in God as I am.

And of course, this is one of the great rallying calls of the Protestant Reformation, which was the priesthood of all believers.  So it’s not just one guy that has the Bible that interprets it for you; everybody has their own Bible, everybody has the Holy Spirit, everybody through basic Bible study methodology can learn how to interpret the Bible for themselves.  There is a spiritual gift of teaching in the church but it’s not the same thing as a priesthood where the priest is some kind of direct channel between God and man.  That is not true today because we’re all priests.

So why is it that so many of these churches, whether Roman Catholic or the church I grew up in, Episcopalian, have these fancy robes with priests and they look a lot like Aaron’s robe.  Well, it’s largely because they’ve moved into replacement theology, they basically believe that the church has replaced Israel and that gives them, in their minds, a license to go into the Old Testament, like Exodus 28, and pull out things willy-nilly. But you can’t do that if you understand the Israel/church distinction.

And there is no biblical authority at all for going and confessing your sins to another member of the church, who is a priest, who grants some kind of absolution for sin.  Now the Bible does say confess your sins one to another, that’s not what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about a mindset that says I’ve got to go to a priest to get this absolved.  That’s old covenant stuff.  We’re under the New Covenant where we are all priests.  And we are actually all sub priests under the high priest who is Jesus Christ. So understanding the priesthood was selective in the Old Testament but universal in the New Testament is another major difference between Israel and the church.

Another difference is the temple and take a look if you could back at 1 Kings 6:1,  Israel had a temple, meaning a what?  A physical structure.  So when they came out of Egyptian bondage and traveled to Mount Sinai God gave them first a tabernacle, because they weren’t in their land, a tabernacle is like a mobile temple, they carried it with them wherever they went, they broke it down at night and they reassembled it in the morning and they followed God with that structure.

And when the nation of Israel finally entered their land and Jerusalem, under David came under Israeli control, 2 Samuel 5, the game of God, if I could put it that way, or the strategy of God may be a better phrase, is to build a physical temple in the land of Israel.  David couldn’t build it because he was a man of war, so the privilege went to his son, Solomon.  You recognize in the word “Solomon” the word “shalom” which means peace.  And so Solomon was different than David, his father.  And so to the construction of the temple and the actual building of the temple, taking the tabernacle which was temporary and putting it into a permanent fixture went to the privilege of Solomon.  And 1 Kings 6:1 tells you exactly when Solomon built that temple. It says, “Now it came about in the four hundred and eightieth year after the sons of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel,” and then it goes on and it says at the end of the verse, “he began to build the house of the LORD.”

So you’ll notice that Solomon started, it’s a very important chronological marker here, he started to build the temple on the fourth year of his reign.  And most people accept the following dates for the Solomonic reign of forty years.  Each of Israel’s first three kings reigned for forty years.  Saul reigned forty years; David reigned forty years, Solomon reigned forty years.  And the duration of Solomon’s reign is generally accepted from 971-931 and after Solomon left the throne, as you know, the kingdom was divided between the ten northern tribes and the two southern tribes.  So if the reign of Solomon started around 971, roughly, if he started to build the temple in the fourth year of his reign you can date the temple construction at 966 B.C.

And then it says something else, coincidentally this was 480 years after the nation of Israel came out of the Exodus.  So how do we date the Exodus?  You go from 966 B.C. and you go 480 years backwards and that takes you to a date of about 1446.  So 1446 was the date of the Exodus; 966 is the date of the temple’s construction.  The kingdom was divided after Solomon left the throne so the kingdom was basically divided about 931 B.C. and you can develop a lot of chronology from this very important verse here, 1 Kings chapter 6 and verse 1.

But what I want you to see is this thing that Solomon built was an actual building, it was a construction, and the measurements are given and actually when you study this carefully what you discover is there’s four temples in Jewish history; two past, two future.  You have Solomon’s temple built in 966 B.C., you can read about that in Kings and Chronicles, and that was the temple destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, 586 B.C.  Then the nation of Israel goes into the seventy year captivity, they come out of the seventy year captivity and according to the Book of Ezra, chapters 1-6, they rebuild the temple.  And all the younger guys thought the temple was great, thumbs up, but the problem is the older guys could remember the majesty of the Solomonic temple and when they saw this puny thing come up by way of comparison a lot of them started to cry.  And you can find reference to that in Haggai, the Book of Ezra talks about it.

But eventually, according to John 2:20, a man named Herod came into control over the land of Israel and he refurbished the temple.  I think John 2:20 says it took 46 years for Herod to refurbish it.  [John 2:20, “The Jews then said, ‘It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?’”]  So by the time of Christ it was a beautiful temple.  And so it was that second temple that Jesus entered into as a twelve year old and confounded the religious leaders with His wisdom.  It was that second temple that Satan took Jesus to and put Him on the pinnacle of it and said throw yourself from here.

So what happened to that second temple?  Who destroyed it?  The Romans did in A.D. 70.  And ever since that point in time the nation of Israel has not had a physical temple.  We know prophetically there’s going to be a third temple because the antichrist has to desecrate it midway through the tribulation period.  You know a little bit about that now as we’ve gone through the Book of Daniel.  And I believe, my current view on it is that third temple is probably going to be destroyed in the seventh bowl judgment, which talks about the greatest earthquake in human history.  And I would assume, I mean, it’s not something to be dogmatic about or start a new church over necessarily, but I assume that third temple is going to be destroyed at that time.

And then the prophet Ezekiel, chapters 40-48, predicts a fourth temple, a millennial temple.  The third temple is built out of nationalistic pride.  It’s a temple built in unbelief and I think that’s why it’s being measured in Revelation 11:1-2.  [Revelation 11:1-2, “Then there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, “Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it. [2] Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months.”]

God is trying to ascertain the spiritual quality of that temple.  And that temple is destroyed, seventh bowl judgment, and its replaced by Ezekiel’s temple, chapters 40-48, which is just as detailed, if not more detailed than the Solomonic temple.  And a lot of people just get hysterical when I try to tell them that there’s going to be a millennial temple functioning one day, even with animal sacrifices.

They say well how can  you believe that?  Well, it’s basic reading comprehension; if Ezekiel chapters 8-11 is a literal temple that the Shekinah glory of God departed from, and that’s detailed, why would I get to Ezekiel 40-48 which is even more detail and say well, that’s allegorical.  I mean, why would Ezekiel 8-11, talking about temple one be literal but Ezekiel 40-48 talking about the millennial temple, why would all of a sudden that become allegorical?

So this is what you have to do in a lot of people’s theology is you have to interpret part of the Bible with one approach and another part of the Bible with a different approach.  And I don’t really want to do that; I want to let the whole Bible speak consistently.  When you do that you quickly discover there’s going to be a millennial temple that the Shekinah glory of God, which entered the Solomonic temple and departed from the Solomonic temple just prior to Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of it, the Shekinah glory of God is going to enter the millennial temple. So two temples historical, two future.  Two past, two future, and when you look at this and study it with intellectual honesty you see that these are very literal things.

Now compare that to the church.  Do we have a physical temple?  Do we bring our tithes to the storehouse?  That’s what Malachi told everybody to do.  We don’t have a physical temple.               1 Corinthians 6:19 says that our body is the what “of the Holy Spirit”?  The “temple of the Holy Spirit.  [1 Corinthians 6:19, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?”]  You, your physical body is the temple of God.

In Old Testament times if you asked well where does God live everybody would point to the taber­nacle and the temple.  Today when you ask where God lives He lives inside of us.  We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 6:19, and that is Paul’s whole basis for telling the Corinthians to avoid sin, certain sins, like sexual immorality.  Paul doesn’t call their salvation into question.  He says don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.  And when you commit that sin you’re dragging God into that sin.  See that?

Over in 2 Corinthians 3:16 it tells us, and the pronouns shift, the pronoun in 1 Corinthians 6:19 is singular, “do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.”  In 1 Corinthians 3:16 when Paul uses the same imagery the pronoun shifts from the singular to the plural.  [1 Corinthians 3:16, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? “] So what does that mean?  It means another temple of God, where God dwells, is amongst His people corporately assembled.

So in God’s program for Israel, Israel has an actual building called the temple.  In the church age that is not true at all; our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and God has also chosen to dwell amongst His people corporately assembled.  And maybe that was bound up in Christ’s statement when He said where two or three are gathered, I’m there in your midst.  [Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”]  Maybe that’s a possible understanding of that.  Anyway, that’s another key difference between Israel and the church, just the issue of the temple.

Another issue relates to our resurrection.  What is a resurrection?  It’s a reunion; a resurrection is a reunion between your body, which was separated from your immaterial part at death. When a person dies the material and the immaterial separate.   You’ll see that’s what happened with Jesus, Matthew 27:50.  You’ll see that’s also what happened with Stephen, the first martyr of the church age, Acts 7:59.  The King James kind of translates some of those verses as they gave up the ghost; in other words, there was a separation between material and immaterial.  That’s death.  [Matthew 27:50, “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.”  Acts 7:59, “They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!’”]

Resurrection is the opposite of death; death is a separation, resurrection would be a reunion.  Resurrection is when your immaterial  part comes back into your body, but your body… what has been pulled out of your body?  The curse.  Do you all know our bodies are under a curse?  I mean, God says that right out of the gate in Genesis 3:19, right after the fall of man, from dust you are to dust you shall return.  [Genesis 3:19, “By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.”]

So as Paul says the outer man is perishing.  And if we are to die before the rapture of the church, which I hope won’t happen but I can’t guarantee it one way or the other, then what will happen is  your immaterial and your material will separate.  Now when you’re resurrected it’s not a separation but it is a reunion. Let me ask you a question: when are you planning on getting your resurrection body, as a member of the church?  Well, when you go back to Daniel 12:2, pre church age revelation, you learn there’s going to be two resurrections; a resurrection for the just and a resurrection for the unjust.  [Daniel 12:2, Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.”]

And by the way, we don’t believe in or teach the doctrine of soul sleep.  If an unsaved person dies they go into Hades, which is a place of conscious torment, awaiting their final resurrection, where they will be summoned and they will stand before the Lord at the Great White Throne Judgment and as their name is not found written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, because it’s been demonstrated that they never trusted Christ, they are transported from Hades, and you have a description of Hades in Luke 16:19-31, they’re transported from Hades into another venue in their resurrected body called the Lake of Fire where they’ll experience eternal torment in the Lake of Fire in a resurrected body, Revelation 20:11-15.

[Luke 16:19, “Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day.  [20] And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, [21] and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. [22] Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. [23] In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. [24] And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’  [25] But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and like­wise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. [26] And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’  [27] And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house—[28] for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ [29] “But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ [30] But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’  [31] But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”

[Revelation 20:11-15, “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. [12] And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. [13] And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. [14] Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. [15] And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”]

So it’s very clear that everyone is getting resurrected.  And Daniel 12:2 predicts a resurrection for the righteous and a resurrection for the unrighteousness.  [Daniel 12:2, “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.”]

Let me give you some other verses that predict those two resurrections.  Acts 24:15 covers it and I believe it’s also covered in John 5:28-29, and this was a very common Jewish understanding, they all understood this from the prophet Daniel.  That’s why when Jesus shows up and one of the sisters he says I’m going to bring Lazarus out of the grave, John 11:23-24.

[Acts 24:15, “having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.”   John 5:28-29, “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, [29] and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.” John 11:23, “Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ [24] Martha said to Him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”’]

And this was a very common Jewish understanding, they all understood this from the prophet Daniel, that’s why when Jesus shows up and to one of the sisters He says I’m going to bring Lazarus out of the grave, John 11:23-24, remember what they said to Jesus there, I think it was in Bethany?  Oh, I know he’s going to rise in the last day.  They didn’t think he was going to it right then and there, they just had a common understanding that in the last day there’s going to be a resurrection unto life for the believer and a resurrection unto damnation for the unbeliever.  [John 11:23, “Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’  [24] Martha said to Him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’”]

And that’s what the Book of Revelation is talking about, these two great resurrections.  Revelation 20:4-6 says, “Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life” that’s the resurrection of the righteous, “and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. [5] The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed….”  Aha, revelation just added another clue; in between those two great resurrections in the end time there’s going to be a thousand year duration called the millennial kingdom.  [5b,“…This is the first resurrection. [6] Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.”

Now the Apostle Paul comes along and the Apostle Paul is giving revelation concerning the church and how does the church fit into God’s program.  And what he starts to explain is yeah, the church is going to be resurrected, just like Old Testament saints and tribulation martyrs are going to be resurrected but it’s going to be resurrected at a different time because the resurrection unto life, Paul says, has three parts to it.  And you’ll see this in 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 where he calls the first phase “firstfruits.”  He’s using a harvest imagery.  [I Corinthians 15:20-23, “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. [21] For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. [22] For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. [23] But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming,”]

And we all know that the nation of Israel didn’t just collect one harvest; they collected three.  So firstfruits came in and that was a happy time because firstfruits comes in and it guarantees what?  The rest of the harvest.  And then in harvest number 2 they would go out and do the general harvest.  And then in harvest number three they’re specifically told, Leviticus 19:9-10, not to harvest everything but to leave some of for the poor.  [Leviticus 19:9, “‘Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. [10] Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the LORD your God.”]

So the poor were always given dignity and respect by God; they were never given a handout.  They were given the dignity of labor and work, just like everybody else, but God always looked out for the poor.  So what you have in Israel is three harvests.  And when Paul begins to talk about the resurrection for the church age believer and how it relates to Israel’s resurrection he uses this harvest imagery, 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 where starts to talk about firstfruits and He also says this: “each in his own order” which is the Greek word tagma, where Paul is starting to unfold this idea that the church has a different resurrection program than Israel.

So what you have to understand is the Bible very clearly reveals two resurrections; one for the righteous, one for the unrighteousness, separated by a thousand years.  So far so good, but Paul comes along and adds a brand new concept.  He says the resurrection unto life for the believer has three parts to it, just like Israel’s harvest cycle had three parts to it.  And that’s what Paul means by tagma, “each in his own order.”

So what, then, are the three phases of the resurrection unto life for the believer.  Well, firstfruits would be whose resurrection?  Christ’s, just like firstfruits guarantee the rest of the harvest His resurrection guarantees everyone else’s resurrection in the chain.  I mean, I have hope that one of these days I’m going to be taken out of this decaying body and put into a resurrected body because Jesus rose from the dead.  See that?  The resurrection of Christ from the dead is the historical fact that God has given us to give us hope.  So here we are in this fallen world in a state of decay but we say you know, it’s not forever because Christ’s resurrection was a historical fact, it guarantees everyone else’s resurrection on the chain.

And see, this is what’s missing in so much resurrection preaching.  Most resurrection preaching that you get today is approached from the vantage point of this is proof for Christianity.  And I would concur, it is proof for Christianity, but God has given it for so much a greater purpose simply than to demonstrate the veracity of Christianity; you have to include in resurrection preaching a concept of hope.  I know that I will receive a resurrected body because Jesus is the firstfruits.  See?

So Christ is the firstfruits, and what’s the next phase of the harvest.  The general harvest!  Now what is that?  That’s the rapture.  The rapture is not just people being snatched off the earth; it’s the time in history where every church age believer gets their resurrected body.  So if I die before the rapture and the material and the immaterial separate where do I go exactly?  Absent from the body is to be what?  “present with the Lord.”  [2 Corinthians 5:8, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” KJV]

So I’m kind of up there waiting, Lord, let’s get this rapture thing going.  It’s a good place to be, to be ‘with the Lord.”  Paul says it’s far better than being here.  But I’m up there and I want my body so let’s get the show on the road here.  So when the rapture happens I receive my body first and I start to descend with everybody else that’s believed in Christ and is part of the body of Christ that over the last 2,000 years that’s died.  And then the people on the earth at the time, they are resurrected second, that’s why Paul says the resurrection program begins with the… 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, “the dead in Christ.”  I used to think that was the Episcopalians, “the dead in Christ,” [laughter] that’s the denomination I grew up in.  But “the dead in Christ” are the people that have died before the rapture in the church age and they’re in a place of blessing, consciously, before the Lord. That’s when they get their bodies.

And then the people that are alive on the earth at the time, man, that’s something to be jealous of, they don’t even have to die.  Paul talks about a generation that won’t die.  And so I’m coming down (assuming I die before the rapture) and the people on the earth are coming up in resurrected bodies and guess what we see?   We see each other in the air.  Jesus doesn’t come back to the earth; we see each other in the air, we have a great big reunion.  That’s why Paul explains to the Thessalonians, he doesn’t tell them regarding their deceased loved one, don’t mourn or don’t grieve.  That’s not what Paul says.  He says “don’t grieve as those who have no hope.”  You will see that lost loved one again at the point of the rapture.

So we, as members of the body of Christ, are going to receive our resurrected bodies at the time of the rapture.  That’s the new mystery or ingredient that Paul just included there in 1 Corinthians 15, because Paul was the man by God who was given the greatest assignment of explaining the mystery of the church and explaining how the church related to God’s program with Israel.  So there’s the firstfruits, there’s the general harvest, and what’s the last one for the believers?  The gleanings and that’s a resurrection that we just read about in Revelation 20:4-6 where non church age saints are resurrected.  What do you do with people like Abraham and Noah and Job and Daniel and all these people that were saved and believed in a coming Messiah, but they had their life expectancy, prior to the advent of the church, when are they going to get resurrected?

And beyond that, there’s a lot of folks that are going to get saved in the tribulation period, after the church is gone, many of whom, I would argue most of whom, not all, but most of whom will be martyred, when are those folks going to get their resurrected body?  So you have to have a place where non church age believers, Old Testament or after the church is gone, receive their resurrected bodies in Revelation 20:4-6 tells us that they’re going to receive their resurrected bodies towards the.. maybe at the or even before the millennial kingdom even starts.

So you see what’s happened here is Paul has taken a concept, resurrection unto life for the believer, and he’s expanded it into three parts, specifically focusing on how the church relates to the whole plan and program of God.  Then after the gleanings a thousand years pass.  That’s a long time, isn’t it.  And then the unbelievers, the wicked, who are in that place of conscious torment, upon death are summoned out of Hades, they stand before the Lord at the Great White Throne Judgment in resurrected bodies; Jesus opens the Book, Revelation 20:12;13, “the Book,” singular.  What’s in “the Book”?  It’s called the Book of Life, it’s a record of people who have trusted in Christ throughout the ages and He looks in the Book and He says your name is not in here.  And then from there, Revelation 20:12  He opens the Books.  [Revelation 20:12, “And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.”]

So we’ve got a book and we’ve got books.  I’ve explained what’s in the book, what’s in the books?  It doesn’t say, does it.   Here’s my best guess at it; it’s a record of sins.  And those sins are looked at to determine, not whether they’re going into the Lake of Fire or not, they’re already going in because they’re not in the Book, the sins are there to determine the degree of torment, see that, that they will experience in the Lake of Fire, because I would expect somebody like Adolf Hitler to be punished more severely than just your average atheist who dies without Christ.  And just as there are degrees of reward in heaven there are degrees of punishment in hell.

And I think it’s Luke 12 it talks about this, one man is going to be beaten with a few blows, one man is going to be beaten with several blows.  So that is the horrible Great White Throne Judgment; it’s one of the most disturbing scenes in the whole Bible, and that is the destiny of those who die without Christ.  But that’s the final resurrection for the unjust.  The resurrection unto life for the believer has three parts to it.  We get our resurrection at the point of the rapture, the nation of Israel will get their resurrection at the beginning of the millennial kingdom.

So God has Israel and the church on the same resurrection program, we’re all going to get resurrected bodies, but he has different times for it.  And that’s why understanding the harvest imagery that Paul uses in 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 and the word tagma, each in his own order, helps unpack all of that. So that would be another major difference.

Now when are you going to be judged?  Did you know you’re going to be judged as a Christian?  You’re not going to be judged in terms of heaven or hell but you are going to be judged in terms of reward.  That’s called the Bema Seat Judgment.  Well, let’s ask another question; when is the nation of Israel going to be judged?  The only reference we have to a future judgment of the nation of Israel is in Ezekiel 20:33-38 and this is immediately after the tribulation period.  And there are going to be surviving Gentiles on planet earth and surviving Jews on planet earth, after the horrors of the tribulation period.  The Gentiles are going to be judged in what’s called the sheep and goat judgment, Matthew 25:31-46.  The Jews are going to be judged in what’s called the wilderness judgment, and in both judgments God is trying to figure out which one of you all are believers and which ones are unbelievers.

With the Gentiles the tool that He uses to make that determination is did they help Christ’s brethren, i.e. the Jews during the tribulation period, because they demonstrate their faith by a love for God’s chosen people of Israel.  So they are called sheep and they enter the kingdom in non-resurrected bodies.  And they begin to repopulate the earth.  And that has to happen because there has to be fallen people alongside resurrected people in the millennial kingdom, because Jesus, during that time has to rule with a what?  A rod of iron!  Why would you rule with a rod of iron over resurrected people that can’t even sin?  You can only rule over non-resurrected people who have sin nature with a rod of iron.  See that?  And as that judgment is taking place there’s a parallel judgment and the only place I know of that it’s revealed is in Ezekiel 20:33-38 where the Jewish survivors of the tribulation period are gathered and Jesus has to determine which of you all are believers and which ones are unbelievers.   Unbelievers are cast off the earth into Hades; believing survivors enter the tribulation period, not in resurrected bodies but in mortal bodies.  And the determination that Jesus uses in that judgment for the Jews is the passing under the shepherd’s rod.  So Israel’s future judgment is on earth after the tribulation period, for the surviving Jewish believers.

When are you going to be judged, as a member of the church?  Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4:5, “Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things hidden in darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts, and then each man will receive his praise from God.”  This is not a judgment to determine are you going into the kingdom or not?  Are you going to heaven or are you going to hell, because the moment you trusted in Christ that issue was resolved.  This is a judgment to determine what?  Rewards, degrees of rulership or authority in the coming kingdom.

Now when is that judgment going to take place?  It tells you very clearly it’s going to happen when the Lord comes for the church.  When is the Lord coming for the church?  It starts with an R, ends in apture, at the rapture.  So our judgment is in heaven as the events of the tribulation period are unfolding below; our judgment is not on the earth, as Israel’s is, it’s in heaven.  See that.  Paul tells us, related to the rapture that we who are “alive and remain will be caught up together with them,” now who’s the “them”?  The dead in Christ,  “…them in the clouds to meet the Lord” on the earth, it doesn’t say that, does it, “to meet the Lord in the air, so we shall forever be with the Lord.”

Paul, in 1 Corinthians 4:5 says expect your judgment of rewards when the Lord comes.  When is the Lord coming to take us to the Father’s house?  He’s coming to take us to the Father’s house in the rapture.  So we are experiencing the Bema Seat Judgment in heaven following the rapture while the events of the tribulation period are taking place on the earth below.  So we are judged at a completely different time and place than Israel is judged.  Israel is judged on the earth following the tribulation period; the church and her judgment is to determine which of you are believers and which ones aren’t, the church is judged in heaven not to determine salvation but in heaven subsequent to or following the rapture.  And so the church and Israel are judged at totally different times.  Does that make any sense.

So I’m going to stop talking because the guys in the sound booth have been praying for a break.  And if you all want to open it up for questions we’ve got a couple of minutes.  I realize that’s a lot ofinformation I just gave.