Prophecy on Mount Olivet
By Arlen L. Chitwood
And to Return
After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. (Matthew 25:19)
And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. (Luke 19:15)
The emphasis in the parable of the talents and the parable of the minas [KJV: pounds; and hereafter in this chapter] is upon the necessity of present faithfulness during the time of the Nobleman’s absence, with a view to a future reckoning at the time of the Nobleman’s return; and the future reckoning is with a view to the kingdom that the Nobleman has gone away to receive.
These two parables outline the complete scope of the present dispensation (God’s dealings with a house separate and distinct from the desolated house of Israel), providing the reason for the present dispensation, the reason for Christ’s departure into heaven, and the reason for His return.
The Nobleman (Christ) has gone into heaven “to receive for himself a kingdom and to return” (Luke 19:12). The administration of this kingdom, a worldwide kingdom (Isaiah 2:2; Daniel 2:35; Luke 1:33), will require numerous qualified rulers; and during the time between Christ’s departure to receive the kingdom and His return after having received the kingdom, the “many sons” who will ascend the throne and reign as co-heirs with Him in the kingdom are being called out (cf. Acts 15:14; Hebrews 2:9, 10).
These “many sons” will also form “the bride of Christ,” who will reign as consort queen with the Son. And, according to the type in Genesis chapter twenty-four, the central focus of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in the world today is clearly seen to be that of acquiring a bride for God’s Son (or, acquiring Christ’s co-heirs who will form the bride).
The Father, at the beginning of the dispensation (Acts 2:1ff), sent the Holy Spirit into the world to procure a bride for His Son, destined to reign as consort queen with the Son (ref. Chapter 17 in this book); and that which is central in the Holy Spirit’s ministry would have to be looked upon as also central in the ministry of the Lord’s servants as they manage affairs in His house during the present dispensation. Each, having to do with the same revealed goal, cannot be viewed two different ways.
(God’s Son cannot reign apart from co-heirs — apart from the “many sons” of Hebrews 2:10 — to administer affairs with Him in the kingdom. This is the way matters are seen in David’s kingdom in the type in 1, 2 Samuel. And they can be no different for David’s greater Son in His kingdom.
As well, this is the way matters are seen throughout God’s universal kingdom [e.g., this earth, a province in the kingdom of God, presently under the control of Satan and his angels]. Nor can God’s Son reign apart from a bride. This is the way matters were established at the time of man’s creation in the opening chapters of Genesis. And they can never change, which is why God had to possess a wife [Israel] to reign in the Old Testament theocracy.
In the type, Eve, a part of Adam’s body [Genesis 2:21-24], completed Adam, which would have allowed Adam to ascend the throne as one complete being. This is why Satan approached Eve to bring about the fall. If he could cause Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit, he would place Adam in a position where he could not realize the purpose for his creation, for Adam could not then ascend the throne as a complete being.
In the antitype, the second Man’s bride, the last Adam’s bride, as Eve, will be removed from and formed from a part of His body [following redemption, necessitated by Satan’s act in Genesis chapter three, with Christ having subsequently acted in the antitype of Adam’s actions, making redemption possible (Adam partaking of sin, Christ becoming sin — Genesis 3:6; 2 Corinthians 5:21)].
And, exactly as in the type, Christ can only reign as a complete being, with His bride seated alongside. The bride will be part of Christ’s very being and complete the Son [in the same sense that Eve was part of Adam’s very being and completed Adam].
The word translated “perfect” in Hebrews 2:10 [referring to the “many sons,” who will form the bride, making the Son “perfect”] is a translation of teleioo [‘bring to an end’] in the Greek text. This word, contextually, could be better translated and understood as “complete.” The “many sons” forming the bride will complete God’s Son in that day.)
Salvation is for a purpose, and that purpose has to do with the coming kingdom. We have been called “into His own kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:12). Salvation is not so much saved from (“hell”) as it is saved to (“His kingdom and glory”). And to deal with the salvation issue outside of this framework, as so many do, is not in keeping with the biblical picture at all.
Any approach to evangelism as an end in itself, or any approach to discipleship that seeks to effect maturity apart from a knowledge of the reason Christ has gone into heaven, the reason for the present dispensation, and the reason for Christ’s return, cannot be considered as a biblically oriented approach to be taken by the Lord’s household servants.
A proper evangelistic approach will view eternal salvation as a beginning point, not an end. Once an individual has been evangelized (saved), he finds himself beginning an entirely new life. He, as a newborn Christian, is then to be placed under the ministry of a pastor-teacher, where discipleship comes into view. The pastor-teacher is to be instrumental in leading the person from immaturity to maturity within a framework surrounding the reason for his salvation. As there is a purpose for salvation, there is also a purpose for maturity, with the same ultimate goal in view.
The current Laodicean state of Christendom, along with the widespread immaturity of Christians and confusion in Christian circles, can all be traced directly to an incorrect approach to evangelism and/or discipleship. Somewhere along the way there has been a breakdown in the process, resulting in untrained or improperly trained household servants and a subsequent non-understanding or misunderstanding of household affairs.
Mismanagement within the household by the Lord’s servants then follows, with tragic consequences.
Man fell from a created position in Genesis, and the purpose for man’s salvation can only, in turn, have to do with the purpose for his creation:
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion [Hebrew: radah, ‘rule’] over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion [Hebrew: radah, ‘rule’] over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”(Genesis 1:26-28)
Redeemed man possessing dominion over the earth, in line with God’s original purpose for his creation, must be viewed as the ultimate goal of salvation. That’s the way matters surrounding the purpose for man’s creation and the corresponding reason Satan brought about his fall are set forth in the first three chapters of Genesis. And the remainder of Scripture regarding God’s purpose surrounding man’s salvation, his restoration, must be in line with God’s revealed purpose for bringing man into existence as is set forth in the established foundations of Scripture.
Man’s restoration can only be for the same purpose seen in the reason for his creation and fall. And this is outlined after a fashion in the parables of the talents and pounds, along with so many other places in Scripture, that it would seemingly be impossible for man to miss it. But…
Three Appearances of Christ in Connection with Salvation
Within the framework of that which is revealed in the parable of the talents and the parable of the pounds, the writer of Hebrews refers to three appearances of Christ in connection with salvation. One appearance is past, one is present, and one is future.
Christ’s three appearances have been recorded together within the same context at the end of chapter nine; and, in keeping with the previously announced work of the Son pertaining to bringing “many sons to glory” (2:10), these three appearances provide the proper interrelationship between the Lord’s work as Prophet (past), Priest (present), and King (future).
1) Past Appearance
. . . but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. (Hebrews 9:26b)
Unredeemed man is dead in trespasses and sins. He is alienated from God. Redeemed man though has been made alive, and a right relationship with God has been restored (Ephesians 2:1-7; Colossians 2:13-15). This has been accomplished solely through the finished work of the Redeemer, promised in Genesis 3:15 immediately following man’s fall.
At the time Adam fell, “death spread to all men.” Adam fell as the federal head of the human race. Thus, the fall included not only the one who had sinned, Adam, but all of his descendants as well, even though his descendants had neither been born nor would sin “according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam” (Romans 5:12-14). Consequently, “all have sinned”; and the penalty for sin, established in Eden, is death (cf. Genesis 2:17; Romans 3:23; 5:12; 6:23).
(The biblical definition of “death.” as also established in Eden, is separation from God. Adam, eating of the forbidden fruit, experienced death the instant he partook of the fruit. Separation from God occurred at that point in time. Both Adam and Eve, at the time Adam partook of the fruit, experienced spiritual death, separation from God.
Note that sin in Romans 3:23 [because of Adam’s federal headship bringing about death (Romans 6:23), which has “spread to all men” (Romans 5:12)] has left all men “short of the glory of God.” Adam lost this Glory at the time of the fall [a covering that enswathed (completely covered) his body], man finds himself estranged from this Glory today, but this Glory will one day be restored to man [Romans 5:2]. And, in that day, man will no longer find himself “short of the glory of God.”
The manner in which the Glory is first introduced in Scripture and later seen manifested in the camp of Israel leaves the Glory connected with one thing alone — with regality, with man realizing the purpose for his creation in the beginning.
For additional information in this realm, refer to pp. Chapter 8 of this book.)
In order to bring man back into a right relationship with God, the Redeemer must pay sin’s penalty. The Redeemer must die on man’s behalf. This is the reason God sent His Son “to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself,” bearing “the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:26-28).
. . . Christ died for our sins . . . was buried, and . . . rose again the third day . . . .
(1 Corinthians 15:3, 4)
As in the words of the song, “Jesus paid it all; all to Him I owe . . . .” His finished work of redemption leaves nothing for man to do simply because there is nothing that man, “dead in trespasses and sins,” could do (Ephesians 2:1).
(Immediately before Christ died on the Cross, He cried out one word: Tetelestai, translated “It is finished [lit., “It has been finished”].” Christ then “breathed out” [literal rendering in Mark 15:37, 39; Luke 23:46]. That is, He willingly relinquished His life, for there was no need for Him to prolong His sufferings at this point in time [cf. Matthew 27:50; John 19:30]. All that He had come to do in relation to paying the price for man’s redemption had been accomplished.
Tetelestai is a perfect tense usage of teleo, meaning “to bring to an end,” “to finish,” “to complete.” Christ’s perfect tense usage of this word announced a work that had been completed in past time, with the results of this work existing during present time in a finished state [at the time He cried out, using the word teleo in the perfect tense].
Nothing can ever be added to this finished work, for it is complete as it stands, with God being satisfied with His Son’s finished work; nor can anything ever be taken from the Son’s finished work. Again, God is satisfied with the matter as it stands, and man simply cannot move over into and do one single act in this realm.)
Aside from being spiritually dead and alienated from God, unredeemed man is presented in Scripture as a ruined creation; and the pattern concerning how God restores a ruined creation has forever been set forth in the opening verses of Genesis: “. . . the Spirit of God was hovering [KJV: ‘moved’] . . . Then God said . . . .” (Genesis 1:2b, 3).
All work, resulting in the restored material creation, was accomplished entirely through divine intervention. And it is the same concerning ruined man today. All of the work has already been accomplished by man’s Redeemer. Man, relative to this work, must be as completely passive as the ruined earth in Genesis 1:2b-5. He can do no more than simply receive that which Christ has already done on his behalf (Acts 16:30, 31).
As has previously been shown, Christ’s appearance to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself and man’s coming rule over the earth are so intimately related that one cannot be separated from the other.
Man was created to have dominion; but he fell, bringing about his disqualification. And redemption is with a view to placing man back into a position where he can ultimately occupy the position from which he fell. Such an outlook on the intimate relationship between the reason surrounding man’s creation and the reason surrounding his redemption is the focal point of Scripture, beginning with the opening verses of Genesis.
a) Restoration of the Material Creation: The material creation was restored, not for the incumbent ruler and those occupying positions with him (Satan and his angels), but for an entirely new creation about to be brought into existence. A ruin of the material creation had previously occurred because of Satan’s aspirations to exercise power beyond that which God had given to him. He sought to “be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:13, 14). Rather than ruling one province in God’s kingdom (the earth), he sought to be like God Himself and rule all the provinces in the kingdom (rule all the provinces in the entire universe).
As a result, his kingdom was wrecked, and he himself was disqualified as the earth’s ruler, though he would continue to hold the scepter until God removed him from this position and gave the kingdom to another. A restoration of the ruined creation then subsequently occurred, with a view to a change in the government.
b) The Creation of Man: Immediately following the restoration of the material creation (Genesis 1:2b-25), God created man in His own “image” and “likeness” (a type of creation unknown in the angelic world). And man was created for a stated purpose, in line with the immediately preceding restoration of the ruined domain.
At the time of man’s creation, God said, “. . . let them have dominion . . . .” (Genesis 1:26-28). This was the dominion possessed by Satan and his angels, which was to ultimately pass into the hands of man. The material creation had been restored, and man was brought into existence to take the scepter (in the stead of Satan and his angels) and rule over the restored domain.
c) The Fall of Man: Satan, knowing why man had been created, immediately began a work to bring about man’s disqualification. Satan approached Eve and deceived her through the same means that had previously brought about his own fall: “. . . you will be like God…” (Genesis 3:5).
Satan had previously sought to be “like the Most High [like God],” resulting in his fall and a ruined kingdom; and God’s new creation, subsequently being deceived to move in the same direction (though only Eve was deceived [1 Timothy 2:14]), experienced the same consequences. Man found himself disqualified to fulfill the very purpose for his existence, and the restored earth over which man was to rule fell under a curse.
(One must understand that man did not assume the scepter immediately following his creation. In fact, man has never held the scepter. Satan has held the scepter, without interruption, from the time of his appointment [preceding Adam’s creation] until the present time. This can be shown quite easily by noting the principle of biblical government that necessitates an incumbent ruler holding the scepter until he is actually replaced.
Had man taken the scepter, he wouldn’t have relinquished it at the time he partook of the fruit of the forbidden tree [actually, he couldn’t have]. Such didn’t occur when Satan sinned, and it wouldn’t have occurred when man sinned either. God alone places and removes rulers in His kingdom, even in the governmental administration among men on the earth today [Ezekiel 28:14; Daniel 4:17, 25-32; 5:18-21].
Had man held the scepter at the time of his fall, he, as Satan had previously done, would have had to continue holding the scepter until God brought forth a third provincial ruler. Then again, had man held the scepter at this time, it could not have been reclaimed by Satan [who holds it today], for Satan was a disqualified ruler. He would have had no more claim on the scepter than man.
And, if man had held the scepter and Satan had wrested it from man, the statement in Luke 4:5, 6, in the temptation account [Satan tempting Christ in the wilderness] could not be true at all, for God would not have been the One to place Satan in this position:
Then the devil, taking Him [Christ] up on a high mountain [‘a mountain’ signifying a kingdom], showed Him all the kingdoms of the world [lit., ‘showed Him the complete kingdom of the inhabited world’] in a moment of time [cf. Revelation 11:15 — ‘the kingdom of the world,’ ASV, NASB].
And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory [‘and its glory’]; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.”
Note, in this same respect [God positioning and removing rulers], the account of Saul and David in the books of 1, 2 Samuel, an account depicting the complete panorama of the past, present, and future government of the earth as it relates to the incumbent ruler [Satan] and the coming Ruler [the second Man, the last Adam].
Saul was anointed king over Israel; but Saul disqualified himself by refusing, as God had commanded, to destroy the Amalekites and all of their possessions [1 Samuel 15:1ff], though Saul continued to reign. And Saul would continue to reign until the one whom God had chosen to replace him was not only on the scene but ready to ascend the throne.
Then note that which the type, thus far, foreshadows:
Satan was anointed king over the earth; but Satan disqualified himself by seeking to extend his rule beyond his God-appointed position [Isaiah 14:13, 14; Ezekiel 28:14], though Satan continued to reign. And Satan would continue to reign until the One whom God had chosen to replace him was not only on the scene but ready to ascend the throne.
In the type, shortly after God rejected Saul as Israel’s ruler, God had Samuel anoint David king over Israel [1 Samuel 16:10-13]. There were then two anointed kings in Israel.
But David didn’t immediately ascend the throne. Rather, he eventually found himself in a place out in the hills, separated from Saul and his kingdom. And, during this time, certain faithful men joined themselves to David and remained out in the hills with him.
The day came when David was ready to ascend the throne, possessing a contingent of faithful men ready to rule with him. Then, Saul was put down, his crown was taken and given to David; and David and his faithful men moved in and took over the government.
In the antitype, after God had rejected Satan as the earth’s ruler, God anointed His Son King over the earth [Psalm 45:6, 7, 16; Hebrews 1:8, 9]. There were then, and there are today, two anointed Kings over the earth. But God’s Son, as David in the type, didn’t immediately ascend the throne. Rather, as David, Christ finds Himself in a place of exile, separated from the kingdom. And, as in David’s case, certain faithful individuals join themselves to Christ during this time, remaining in the place of exile with Him.
But the day is near at hand when matters will continue exactly as seen in the type. Christ, in that day, as David in his day, will be ready to ascend the throne, possessing a contingent of faithful followers to rule with Him. Then, Satan, as Saul, will be put down, his crown will be taken and given to Christ, and Christ, with His faithful followers, will move in and take over the government.)
d) The Redemption of Man: Immediately following the fall, God promised man a Redeemer (Genesis 3:15); and because God does not change His mind concerning His “gifts and calling” (Romans 11:29), the purpose for man’s redemption would have to be in keeping with the purpose for his creation. Man was to be redeemed with a view to his possessing dominion over the earth (which could only be dominion over a future earth, for the earth following man’s fall lay [and continues to lie today] under “the bondage of corruption” [Romans 8:21]).
e) God’s Firstborn Son in Egypt: Two and one-half millennia later we see God culminating a work and moving in the direction of placing man in the position for which he had been created. God called His son, His firstborn son, the nation of Israel (Exodus 4:22, 23), out of Egypt under Moses to exercise the rights of primogeniture in the land covenanted to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. These rights, among other things, had to do with the people of Israel ruling over all the Gentile nations of the earth — national rights that had to do with Israel and the nations.
Before God removed His people from Egypt though, redemption had to first occur, as shown by the death of the paschal lambs in Egypt. All the firstborn throughout the land of Egypt came under the sentence of death — sin’s wages — and no move could be made toward the land of Canaan until these wages had been paid.
To satisfy sin’s wages but yet remove the firstborn from Egypt alive, God made provision for a substitutionary death. God decreed that a lamb from the flock could die in the stead of the firstborn in a family. The lamb was to be slain, the blood was to be caught in a basin, hyssop was to be dipped in the blood, and the blood was to be applied to the door posts and lintel of the house in which the firstborn lived.
Then, when the Lord passed through the land of Egypt at midnight, executing the decreed death of the firstborn, He would, of necessity, pass over the house where the blood had been applied. The applied blood showed that the firstborn within the house had already died. He had died via a recognized vicarious means; and consequently death could no longer have any claim on him (Exodus 11:4-7; 12:1ff).
Redemption, as shown by the death of the paschal lambs in Egypt, was for a purpose; and that purpose was to be brought to pass by the Israelites being removed from Egypt and realizing the rights of the firstborn in the land of Canaan.
f) God’s Firstborn Son Sent into the World: A millennium and one-half beyond the Exodus from Egypt under Moses, God fulfilled His promise concerning a coming Redeemer.
But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,
to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4, 5)
Jesus was God’s Firstborn Son, the One in line to exercise the rights of primogeniture as the Second Man, the Last Adam; and He came into the world to redeem man, with the adoption in view.
Adoption places “sons” in the position of firstborn sons. The adoption is with a view to man exercising regal activity in God’s kingdom, for only sons can rule in this kingdom (e.g., “angels” during present time, with all angels being sons of God because of their individual creation); and only firstborn sons can rule in God’s kingdom in the human realm.
In this respect, the central purpose for Christ’s finished work at Calvary, according to Galatians 4:4, 5, has to do with placing man in a position (in the position of a son) where he can be adopted (into a firstborn status, as a firstborn son), wherein man can realize the purpose for his creation in the beginning.
Then, in another respect, Galatians 4:4, 5 clearly reveals that the purpose for redemption has to do with the birthright, associated with the inheritance in Galatians 3:29 (cf. Galatians 4:7).
The whole of the matter is inseparably tied together — “salvation” resulting in sonship, and then “adoption” resulting in firstborn sons who can realize the rights of the firstborn and participate in the inheritance as co-heir with Christ. God has redeemed man in order that He can ultimately bring man into a position where he can (as co-heirs with Christ, God’s Firstborn) also realize the rights belonging to firstborn sons.
Over seven hundred years before Christ’s birth, Isaiah had prophesied concerning the status of the earth’s future government under God’s promised Redeemer:
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts [the Lord burning with zeal to see His Son placed on His ‘holy hill of Zion’] will perform this. (Isaiah 9:6, 7; cf. Psalm 2:6, 7)
This promise was then reiterated to Mary by the angel Gabriel shortly before the Redeemer’s birth (Luke 1:31-33).
Following Christ’s birth the wise men came from the East to Jerusalem, the capital of Jewry, seeking the One who had been “born King of the Jews.” Herod the king was troubled, along with all Jerusalem; and Herod later had numerous Jewish children slain in and around Bethlehem in a vain attempt to destroy the newborn King (Matthew 2:1-18).
When Christ began His public ministry at about the age of thirty (Luke 3:23), the message to Israel concerned a kingdom; but Israel rejected the message and the Messenger.
At the end of His earthly ministry, Christ, because of Israel’s rejection, was arrayed as a mock King; and the people of Israel then climaxed their rejection by claiming allegiance to Caesar and calling for Christ’s crucifixion.
Jesus was then crucified, with an inscription placed above His head which read, “JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS” (Matthew 4:17; 21:33-39; John 19:1-19).
Following His resurrection, Christ spent forty days with His disciples, teaching them things pertaining to “the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3); and He then departed into heaven “to receive for Himself a kingdom, and to return.”
g) God’s Firstborn Son Presently Being Called Forth: “Israel” is still God’s firstborn, though lying desolate; and this nation will one day be redeemed to realize the regal status held by firstborn sons.
However, while the house of Israel lies desolate, God is dealing with a separate and distinct house, destined to be adopted into a firstborn status. An adoption into this position, placing Christians in the same position as that held by Israel (in relation to firstborn sons), is, as previously shown, also for regal purposes.
Only sons can rule, and the purpose for man’s redemption necessitates the adoption, for only firstborn sons can rule in God’s kingdom in the human realm.
Christians are referred to in Scripture as both “children” and “sons” (about an equal number of times for each). But it is only as “sons” that Christians await the adoption. “Children” are not adopted; only “sons” can be adopted. This is evident from the meaning of the Greek word for “adoption”:
(The word translated “adoption” in the New Testament is huiothesia, a compound word [huios, “son”; and thesis, “to position,” “to place”]. Thus, huiothesia [“adoption”] simply means “son-positioning or “son-placing” [positioning or placing one who is already a son, not positioning or placing a child]. And Christians, already occupying the position of “sons” [because of their position “in Christ” — new creations “in Christ”], will be placed as firstborn sons at the time of the adoption.
[Note that huiothesia, when used in relation to Christians, could not possibly refer to “children” being placed as sons, for, as previously stated, Christians already occupy the position of “sons,” preceding the adoption (cf. Romans 8:14; Galatians 3:26; 4:6, 7; Hebrews 12:5-8)].
It is only through this firstborn status, through being adopted, that Christians can one day occupy regal positions in Christ’s kingdom. “Christ” is God’s firstborn Son [because of birth (Hebrews 1:6)]; “Israel” is God’s firstborn son [because of creation and adoption (Exodus 4:22, 23; Isaiah 43:1; Romans 9:4)]; and Christians, reigning with Christ, must occupy the same standing in the kingdom [God’s firstborn son (the one new man, seen corporately), which can occur only following the adoption].
Christians as a corporate group in that coming day, the “Church of the firstborn [lit., ‘called out firstborn ones’ (Hebrews 12:23)]” will be seen as God’s firstborn son, as Israel is presently seen as God’s firstborn son, waiting for that coming day when the rights of firstborn sons will be realized. This is why the adoption of Christians occupies such a prominent place in Romans chapter eight and Galatians chapter four, where the coming inheritance of the saints and the manifestation of a new order of sons are in view.
For additional information on this subject, refer to the author’s book, God’s Firstborn Sons.)
Realizing the rights of primogeniture in such a position can ultimately be held only by those who have appropriated the blood of the Passover Lamb. As in Egypt, the firstborn via natural birth comes under the sentence of death (which, in the antitype, would include everyone in the human race; the first birth has been rejected by God, necessitating a second birth, a birth from above, a supernatural birth [John 3:6, 7]).
And as in Egypt, a Substitute has been provided; and, as also in Egypt, salvation is for a purpose, which has to do with regality. Salvation is for a purpose associated with the birthright, and redeemed individuals will be adopted in order to exercise the rights belonging to firstborn sons.
The simple, clear picture presented by the whole of Scripture concerns man being brought back into the position for which he was created, which first necessitates redemption. Christ appeared “once . . . to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself,” with a view to two subsequent appearances.
2) Present Appearance
For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. (Hebrews 9:24)
During the period between the time of His departure to receive the kingdom and the time of His return in possession of the kingdom, Christ is not only seated at the right hand of the Father, but He is also exercising a high priestly ministry in the Holy of Holies of the heavenly sanctuary. He is seated at the right hand of the Father, awaiting that day when His enemies will be made His footstool, anticipating receiving the kingdom from the Father; and He is exercising the office of High Priest in order to effect a present cleansing for those comprising the “one new man” in Christ, anticipating one day bringing forth “a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:26, 27; Hebrews 1:13; 1 John 1:6-2:2).
Christ presently ministers in the Holy of Holies on the basis of His shed blood. This blood was shed at Calvary to provide redemption for fallen man, and this same blood is presently on the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies of the heavenly sanctuary to provide a present cleansing for the redeemed. Saved man, still possessing the old sin nature and residing in a body of death, is ever subject to defilement as he ministers on earth during his pilgrim walk, necessitating cleansing.
God provided a means of cleansing for His people during Old Testament days, and He has done the same today. The Old Testament priests were provided with a brazen laver, containing upper and lower basins filled with water, to wash their hands and feet as they ministered on behalf of the people between the brazen altar and the Holy Place; and blood sacrifices were offered by the priests daily and by the high priest on the day of atonement to provide a cleansing for those who had appropriated the blood of the paschal lambs (Hebrews 7:27; 9:6, 7, 22).
New Testament priests though have been provided with a past Sacrifice, with no additional sacrifices ever again necessary. It is “a new and living way,” being “washed with pure water,” to effect cleansing for those who have appropriated the blood of the Passover Lamb (Hebrews 7:27; 10:12-22).
Christ’s past ministry as Prophet makes possible His present ministry as Priest, and both ministries look out ahead to the same thing — Christ’s future ministry as King.
One day Christ will terminate His present ministry and come forth from the Holy of Holies, first to reckon with those whom He has redeemed and for whom He presently ministers, and then to reign over the earth with the “many sons” whom He will have brought to glory.
(For additional information on Christ’s present ministry on behalf of Christians in the heavenly sanctuary, refer to Chapter 13 in this book.)
3) Future Appearance
so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. (Hebrews 9:28)
The three appearances of Christ are correspondingly connected with the three aspects of salvation:
We have been saved (past [Ephesians 2:8, 9]).
We are being saved (present [1 Corinthians 1:18]).
We are about to be saved (future [Hebrews 1:14]).
Once an individual has been saved (past, through the finished work of Christ at Calvary), that individual is then dealt with on an entirely different plane. He is then dealt with concerning a present salvation (on the basis of Christ’s past work at Calvary, but connected with His present work in the heavenly sanctuary); and this is with a view to a future salvation (at the time of Christ’s return).
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8, 9)
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)
But to which of the angels has He ever said: “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool”?
Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation [‘for the sake of the ones about to inherit salvation’]” (Hebrews 1:13, 14).
The past aspect of salvation (Ephesians 2:8, 9) has to do with man’s spirit. Man is a tripartite being comprised of body, soul, and spirit; and each of these three parts of man, within God’s economy, is subject to salvation at different times. When man sinned in Eden, he died, just as God had decreed (Genesis 2:17). Since his body continued to live, and his soul — the life-giving principle in the blood (Leviticus 17:11) — also continued to live, it is evident that man experienced a spiritual death.
Unredeemed man today, possessing an unredeemed body housing an unredeemed soul, is spiritually dead. The birth from above, correspondingly, is a spiritual birth, effecting the change “from death to life.”
That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Do not marvel that I said to you, “You must be born again [‘born from above’].” (John 3:6, 7)
(Note that Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus relative to the birth from above in John chapter three has to do with the saved, not with the unsaved. And, in like manner, all of the other references in the New Testament where the birth from above is mentioned also have to do with the saved [James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:3, 23; 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 4, 18].
The reference is to a divine work continuing to be wrought in the one [a Christian] in whom a divine work was initially wrought [at the time that the Christian was saved].
Though the reference in John chapter three [along with the other referenced passages] has to do with the saved, the thought of being brought forth from above would have to be thought of relative to the unsaved as well. The whole of the matter surrounding a person’s salvation — whether past, present, or future aspects of salvation are in view — has to do with a bringing forth from above at any point in this process — whether of the unsaved or of the saved [i.e., a beginning work of the Spirit, followed by a continuing work of the Spirit].
From beginning to end, the thought of a bringing forth from above would have to be in view. Thus, John 3:6, 7, though contextually referring to a work among the saved, can also be used in a secondary sense relative to the unsaved, for there is no other way for an unsaved person to be saved aside from a divine work being performed in his life, a bringing forth from above.
For more information on this subject, refer to the author’s book, Brought Forth From Above.)
The salvation of the soul, unlike the salvation of the spirit, is both present and future. And only those who have been born from above, realizing the salvation of their spirits, can enter into the things associated with the salvation of the soul. An individual must first pass “from death to life” (John 5:24; Ephesians 2:1). Then, and only then, does the salvation of the soul come into view.
The present aspect of salvation (1 Corinthians 1:18), having to do with the soul, will be brought to completion at the time Christ returns and effects the redemption of man’s body. The saving of the soul has to do with the life that one lives after he has passed “from death to life.” This is the salvation referred to in connection with Christ’s return in Hebrews 9:28 (or Hebrews 1:14), to be realized by those who “eagerly wait for Him [faithful servants in the house awaiting the Householder’s return].”
Hebrews, as all of the other New Testament epistles, is a book dealing centrally with the salvation of the soul; and Christ, who was “once offered to bear the sins of many [effecting the salvation of the spirit]” is going to appear the “second time, apart from sin, for salvation [to effect the salvation of the soul]” (9:26, 28).
(For a more detailed discussion of the preceding, see the author’s book, Salvation of the Soul.)
To deal with Christ’s first coming apart from His second coming is utter folly. To have the message of an evangelist (concerning Christ’s past work) apart from the subsequent message of a pastor-teacher (concerning Christ’s present and future work) can only lead to spiritual disaster in the Christian life.
Christ appeared once “to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself,” He now appears “in the presence of God for us,” and one day He will “appear the second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” These three appearances comprise an indivisible unit inseparably related to man ultimately being brought back into the position for which he was created (Hebrews 9:26, 28).
Three Appearances of Christ in Connection with Peace
Paul begins each of his thirteen epistles with the words, “Grace to you and peace . . . .,” adding the word “mercy” in 1, 2 Timothy and Titus (ref. also 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:2; 2 John 3; Jude 2; Revelation 1:4). “Grace” always appears first, for apart from God’s “grace” there can be no “peace.”
In this respect, “faith” as the means through which man is saved can no more stand alone than “peace” can stand alone:
For by grace are you saved [‘you have been saved’] through faith . . . . (Ephesians 2:8a).
The three appearances of Christ in connection with peace parallel the three appearances of Christ in connection with salvation. There are two aspects of a present peace, in connection with Christ’s past and present appearances; and there is a future peace, in connection with Christ’s future appearance.
1) Peace with God (Romans 5:1)
God has established peace “through the blood of his [Christ’s] cross” (Colossians 1:20), allowing fallen man to have “peace with God” through justification “by faith” (Romans 5:1). Apart from justification, peace between God and man cannot exist (Isaiah 48:22; 57:21).
Saved man possesses a positional standing before God which is based entirely upon the finished work of Christ; and within this positional standing, wherein redeemed man possesses God’s imputed righteousness, there is perfect peace.
2) Peace of God (Philippians 4:7; Colossians 3:15)
The peace of God can exist only after peace with God has been established. The peace of God has to do with fellowship between God and those who have peace with Him by and through the blood of the Cross. And Christ is presently ministering in the Holy of Holies, on the basis of His blood on the mercy seat, to allow redeemed man to conduct his pilgrim walk within the framework of this peace (1 John 1:3-2:2).
Whether or not redeemed man possesses the peace of God can never affect his peace with God. Apart from the peace of God though, one’s servitude will be affected, producing dire present results and future consequences.
3) Universal Peace (Isaiah 9:6, 7)
Christ’s first appearance was to effect “peace with God” through redemption, not to bring about universal peace (Matthew 10:34; Luke 12:51). Universal peace awaits His reappearance on earth. Peace on earth today exists only among those “in whom He is well pleased” (Luke 2:14, ASV), which would first necessitate redemption, for peace cannot exist between God and the unredeemed.
The Middle East is the center of unrest during the present day, particularly Jerusalem. However, the day is coming when the Middle East will be the center of peace, particularly Jerusalem.
“Jerusalem” means city of peace; and when the “Prince of peace” returns (Isaiah 9:6), He will “speak peace to the nations” from this city as He holds the scepter and rules from David’s throne (Zechariah 9:10; cf. Isaiah 9:7). Only then will the peace that presently eludes the nations exist among the nations on the earth (Psalm 122:6).