Thursday, March 7, 2013

CHAPTER 4: PROPHECY AND BLESSEDNESS

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ..."
(Ephesians 1:3)


Would God want His people to remain in the fiery trial of afflictions and temptations? Or would He prefer that the tribulations be shortened, His people reformed, and become blessed among all nations forever?

Blessedness

"Blessedness" is simply delightsomeness, i.e. to be set apart by God for His joy and pleasure. "Blessedness" is also holiness or consecration whereby God through the ages has/had "a chosen vessel" [like Paul] or "a special people" [like Israel] as a channel of God's blessings for or to the rest of the world. So "blessedness" is certainly a "condition or state of being in God's grace or favor." [1]

Blessedness In God's Own Image. Genesis first opens up with 1) the story of the "Primordial Blessed Man" [the "Adam" whom God created in His own image before he was placed in the Garden of Eden] and then 2) presents the "generations of Adam" [made in the likeness of God] as God's chosen family having dominion "over all the earth" [over every living thing that moves upon the earth] (Genesis 1:26-28, Genesis 5:1-2).

"So God created man in his own image,.... Which consisted both in the form of his body, and the erect stature of it, different from all other creatures; in agreement with the idea of that body, prepared in covenant for the Son of God, and which it was therein agreed he should assume in the fulness of time; and in the immortality of his soul, and in his intellectual powers, and in that purity, holiness, and righteousness in which he was created; as well as in his dominion, power, and authority over the creatures, in which he was as God's viceregent, and resembled him."[2]

One can't have blessedness without sanctity – "the quality that makes life so important that it must be respected and preserved."[3] One can't have blessedness without embracing a "sacred or hallowed character." Therefore, we can't have blessedness without God. We can't have blessedness without Christ "IN" us.

Blessedness In Christ. All spiritual blessings in heavenly places are "IN" Christ (Ephesians 1:3). Indeed, Christ, "who is over all," is Himself "God over all, forever praised!"[4]

It's not too difficult to see that "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself" (2 Corinthians 5:19) and that "God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory" (1 Timothy 3:16).

God has shown special love to His "special people" [Israel], but Malachi also wrote the fact that God could be more pleased with all nations [the Gentiles] than with Israel (Malachi 1:11). Yes, there are those who belonged to the "called, chosen, and faithful" few, but those who are "called according to his purpose" must be conformed to Christ's image (Romans 8:28-29).

All that Christ has in Himself and all that He has done [or is doing] is "for the good of those who love Him."[5]

Who are the blessed?

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;"
(Ephesians 1:3-7)

Those who are blessed ascribe all the glory to God. They declare that "all spiritual blessings in heavenly places" are themselves God's blessings, and not something which they contribute towards their acceptance "in the beloved" and their redemption. Those who are blessed will say, "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake" (Psalms 115:1).

Blessed Are the Readers and Hearers of Prophecy

"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."
(Revelation 1:3)


Keep in mind that the elect [remnant], the original readers and hearers of this prophecy, knew John the apostle who wrote it; in fact, John was their "companion in tribulation" and he was a brother to them in their patient expectation of Christ's coming, kingdom, and glory (Revelation 1:9).

The elect also knew that the words of Christ to them will "shortly come to pass" (Revelation 1:1). When the fulfillment of Christ's promise comes, they will have "the glory of God" (Revelation 21:11).

Although the revelation of Jesus Christ to John deals with the elect's near future, it happened in the past. The marriage of the Lamb and His Bride is consummated (Revelation 21:2).

This great mystery, the union of Christ and His Church [New Covenant-New Jerusalem], was declared as consummated when Christ as the husband "loved the church [wife], and gave himself for it" (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:25). Christ the Husband and His Church [wife] became "one flesh."

Since that great Day that "New Jerusalem" was made known publicly (Revelation 21:9), all those who were invited [chosen Jews and Gentiles] to the "marriage supper" were fulfilled and blessed forever as well (Matthew 22:1-10; Revelation 19:9). However, those Jews who rejected the King's invitation were not worthy, so the wrath of God came upon them to the uttermost (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16). Those children of the kingdom who rejected the Word of God were judged unworthy of everlasting life (Acts 13:46; Matthew 8:12). Those who accepted the truth of the Gospel of the Kingdom are blessed and these saints are partakers forever in this love feast of Christ and His Wife, New Jerusalem.

And, still, New Jerusalem's legacy lives. She is also known as "the mother of us all" – the mother of all saints in Christ's New Covenant (Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 12:22-24).

But how will all this blessedness stuff turn out? What lies ahead for Bible Believers today –– and for the whole world?

The answers are in the Holy Book, in Christ's own words:

"He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."
(Matthew 11:15)


God Reveals the Deep and Secret Things

By carefully comparing spiritual things with the spiritual, we have learned that the Bible is able to show the true meaning of the mysteries that God hid to those whom the mysteries were not given, but it has been given to God's elect so that they can know the truth of God. We read in Daniel 2:20-22:

"...Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his:
And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:
He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him."

In these verses, the "secret things" is a synonym to "the deep things of God." Thus, it is teaching that by rightly dividing the word of truth, the student of God's truth not only learns God's mysteries, but also he learns much about God's purpose for the times and the seasons.

In view of that, God's elect can know much about the things of God, including many truths about the times and the seasons. Those who are ignorant of Bible interpretation will remain unable to perceive and understand, moreover, Christ taught God's mystery in parables. No mystery of the kingdom of God will be revealed to the natural man, a man without the mind of Christ. Thus, we read in Mark 4:10-12:

"And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable.
And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:
That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them."


And we read in 1 Corinthians 2:9-16:

"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ."


In these verses, God is teaching us that there are two kinds of people: 1.) the natural man who is either not able to receive or not able to know the things of the Spirit of God, and 2.) the spiritual who have received the Spirit of God, the guide into all truth.

The natural man sees and hears that someday the world will end, but their understanding is that they need not worry about the end of the world. For that reason, they think that all shall come to pass or not. For them, Judgment Day indeed will come as a thief in the night. All the same, Judgment Day to them is foolishness yet it will come as sudden destruction for these scorners. How terrible!

In contrast, the spiritual are those who have come to know the things that are freely given by God in the Bible concerning the day or time of the end. For that reason, they have studied from the Bible much about the end of the world and other mysteries that are written in the Bible. They have also understood from their teacher, the Holy Ghost, the appointed time of the end of all things. Even in the elect there are snares which they must escape from and trials which they must go through but these things will only purify them for their glorification. For them, Judgment Day has been revealed and will not remain a secret.

Concluding Thoughts

Ultimate fulfillment for us is conformity to the image of Christ. What He did can be discovered by reading the Gospels of the New Testament. What remains now is for us to consider the state of blessedness that was bestowed in Christ and His Wife, New Jerusalem. It is by God's grace and by His Spirit that we are accepted in the Beloved and are blessed to participate in His work. When we see Him as He is, "even as He is pure," we are purifying ourselves (1 John 3:3).

In proposing fulfillment "in Christ," we can use "fulfilled eschatology" as its catalyst. Now we go back to the past so that we can be "fashioned like unto His glorious body," (Philippians 3:21), i.e. "the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:24), so that we can be more fruitful in actualizing God's Blessed Kingdom here on earth in our own time.


[1] David P. Scaer, Blessedness, Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, edited by Walter A. Elwell, Copyright © 1996.
[2] John Gill, Exposition of the Entire Bible, Genesis 1. 
[3] Pearson Education Limited, Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English , sanctity, p. 1595-1596. 
[4] Romans 9:5, The Holy Bible, New International Version (NIV), Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society 
[5] Ibid., Romans 9:28