By Timothy S. Morton
Since in the book of Acts salvation became predominately Gentile, it is only logical the following books of the Bible (Romans-Philemon) apply doctrinally to the Gentile Church. Most of the three epistles of John also apply to this age as well as much of the epistles of Peter. We know this because the books are addressed to either New Testament churches (Rom.-2 Thes.), to individual ministers (1 Tim.-Tit.), or to other Christians. The books Hebrews and James, however, are not written to born again Christians but to Jews. Hebrews means Hebrews, not Gentiles, and James is addressed to the "twelve tribes" (Jam. 1:1), not the body of Christ. Remember, knowing who a book or epistle is written to is imperative for sound Bible study.
Paul's epistle to the Romans is clearly a Gentile, church age book, and because of its emphasis on doctrine, it is often called "the Constitution of the Christian faith." The Holy Spirit caused this book to be placed immediately after Acts even though it was written later than most of Paul's other books because He wanted the Bible reader to be grounded in sound Christian doctrine. In the first eight chapters, Paul explains how salvation is by faith alone apart from any works (4:5) and then defines salvation's exceedingly rich blessings with terms like justification, propitiation, adoption, imputation, redemption, reconciliation, sanctification, etc. These are all doctrines that apply to every Christian NOW, not to blessings he will receive in the future. Romans should be studied by the believer until he knows its rich doctrines by heart; only then can he begin to appreciate what God has done for him.
The rest of the epistles of Paul following Romans further explain New Testament salvation and reveal other truths essential to Christian doctrine; every Christian has a responsibility to study these also. The truths found in these books make up what is called "my gospel" by Paul. This gospel is the gospel of the grace of God with the added doctrines revealed only to Paul. It is one of the four different gospels found in the Scriptures. The author has heard prominent ministers proclaim with certainty, "There is only one gospel from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22, and it is the gospel of Jesus Christ..." They imply with these words anyone who believes otherwise is in error and not true to the Bible. But what does the Bible say? Anyone who tries to study the Scriptures objectively will soon see it contains more than one gospel. There is the "gospel of the kingdom" found in Christ's ministry; the "gospel of the grace of God" valid during this age; Paul's "my gospel," mentioned above; and the "everlasting gospel." These gospels are all different and anyone who makes them the same has to forcefully wrest the Scriptures to do it.
The "gospel of the kingdom" of Heaven (Matt. 4:23) Christ preached was the good news that the kingdom promised to Abraham and David was nigh and ready to be entered when the King was received. It had nothing to do with the new birth or individual salvation, it dealt with a physical, visible, literal kingdom. This gospel has been replaced with the "gospel of the grace of God" for the time being but will again be preached to the Jews during the Tribulation before Christ's return.
The "Gospel of the Grace of God" (1 Cor.15:1-4) is the familiar gospel of today and speaks of the suffering, death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. It declares how He suffered and died for man's sins and rose from the dead to supply His salvation to all who will receive Him.
Again, Paul's "my gospel" (2 Tim. 2:8) is simply this gospel with added revelations concerning the Body of Christ, the Church, the mysteries, etc. Even though Paul's gospel includes the Gospel of the Grace of God, the two are not identical. The former includes the latter, but one only needs to receive the latter to be saved.
The "everlasting gospel" (Rev. 14:6) is a gospel that does not even mention Christ. It is a message of repentance to Gentiles beginning with the Tribulation and continuing on into eternity. It in no way resembles the other gospels in content or doctrine, destroying the idea there is only one. All the "everlasting gospel" says is man is to fear, worship, and give glory to God because He is about to Judge somebody. It says nothing about Christ's substitutionary death even though it is called "everlasting." Interesting.
The Holy Spirit has shown us there is a difference between the gospels in Galatians 1. In verse 8 Paul says, "though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." In Revelation 14:6, however, we find an angel preaching another gospel and he is not accursed. The difference is in the dispensations. The "everlasting gospel" is cursed in this age and Paul's gospel will be out of place in the Tribulation. Even the "gospel of the kingdom" is cursed in this age because it does not match the gospel Paul preached.
With the book of Hebrews, the Bible begins to take on a Jewish twist again. With the thirteen books preceding it dealing with the Body of Christ, the Holy Spirit now begins to again address the Jews. As the title of the book is Hebrews, why would anyone think it applied doctrinally to Gentile Christians? Of course, there is much in the book a Christian can learn and profit from, but if he tries to apply it all doctrinally to the Church Age he will soon run into "contradictions." The writer of Hebrews is trying to convince both lost and saved Hebrews that the new covenant established by Christ's death is superior to the old covenant of the Law. The temptation of saved Hebrews backsliding back into the bondage of the Law is very great, and Paul wants to strengthen the hearers of this book in what Christ's redemption has done for them.
The thought that Hebrews was written to both lost and saved people should not be strange to the reader, Paul addressed parts of other letters to lost people also (1 Cor. 15:4, etc.). The emphasis of Hebrews appears to apply to Hebrews in the Tribulation when Israel is again the main object of God's dealings. This is why the believers who believe a Christian can lose his salvation appeal to Hebrews as their "proof." There are passages in the book that do indicate someone can fall from salvation, but as we will see, they do not refer to a regenerated Christian.
Hebrews 3:6 and 14 is the first place the "Endurers" stop, but look at the whole passage. Verse 6 says "whose house are we IF we hold fast...unto the end." The "if" is the word pointed to by these people, "What "if" you don't hold out to the end" they say. First of all, do you find any reference to a blood washed, regenerated, Holy Spirit sealed Christian in the passage? Also, what is "the end" in both verses referring to? What makes you think it is the end of a person's life after reading Matthew 24:13-14? The "end" is the end of a period of time just like in Matthew 24:14. The "rest" in Heb. chapter 2 shows this to be true by illustrating how the Israelites in the wilderness had to endure in faith to the end of their wanderings before they could enter into God's rest-Canaan land (vs. 7-19). The "we" throughout the passage refers not to Christians but to Hebrews; "...whose house are we (Hebrews) if we (Hebrews) hold fast unto the end" (vs. 6); "for we (Hebrews) are made partakers of Christ if we (Hebrews) hold...unto the end" (vs. 14). See how keeping in mind who a book is written to clears things up? There is no reference to a born again Christian anywhere in the passage, neither is there any mention of anyone going to hell. The passage applies doctrinally to Hebrews in the Tribulation period enduring to the end of it in faith so they can enter into the promised land (Millennium) and partake of Christ. Don't allow those who refuse to rightly divide the Scriptures misapply them and talk you out of your security in Christ. Hebrews deals with Hebrews.
The next controversial passage is in chapter 6, and here the "Security-deniers" have a field day. The passage "For it is impossible...if they fall away to renew them again unto repentance..." (vs. 4-6) is often quoted by the "Arminians," but they have bitten of more than they can chew. The passage clearly says it is "impossible" to renew again those who fall away, but all the Endurers claim one can be saved again after he falls away. These verses also give fits to many Baptists, who correctly believe a Christian cannot lose his salvation, but cannot understand the verses as they stand. They come up with all kinds of "interpretations" to force the verses to conform to their doctrine. Some Fundamentalists insist the passage is "hypothetical," but the text doesn't even hint this. Others claim it refers to people like the spies at Kadesh-Barnea (Num. 13-14) who were not saved but on the threshold of salvation. However, verse 4 says those who can fall tasted of the "heavenly gift" and partook of the "Holy Ghost." To "taste" something means to have it, just like Christ tasted death for every man (Heb. 2:9). This one passage has those on both sides of the eternal security issue squirming to appear "scholarly" and save face.
Obviously, someone in Hebrews 6:1-4 is in danger of losing his salvation, but again, it is not a born again Christian. Did you notice in verses 1-2 where the writer refers to the principles of the doctrines of Christ (repentance, faith, baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment), that he does not mention ONE doctrine unique to salvation in the Church Age? Regeneration, the new nature, the Body of Christ, the sealing of the Holy Spirit, justification, imputation, etc., are not mentioned. How can one explain this? Simple, the writer is not referring to a regenerated Christian. He is again referring to Hebrews in another dispensational setup.
It is very likely Hebrews (at least the first 12 chapters) was written early in the book of Acts (probably before chapter 12; certainly before chapter 15) when no one knew much at all about a new birth or that a new, non Hebrew, dispensation was made possible at the cross. This explains a lot. The writer didn't mention Church Age doctrines because he didn't know of such things. He may have not even yet known Gentiles could be saved. Therefore, anybody who uses Hebrews to teach Gentile Church Age doctrine is ignorant of God's dispensational arrangments. At the time it was written, Hebrews applied to Jews who believed Christ was the Messiah before the Church Age doctrines were fully known and established in Acts 15. However, now, Hebrews speaks directly to Hebrews who will be alive during the Tribulation after the Church is gone. Remember, the Bible speaks to people of all ages; it is not limited to Fundamentalists in the Church Age.
If there is any doubt that Hebrews applies doctrinally in the Tribulation look at verse 11. There we find the characteristic "the end" again-the end of the Tribulation. When one realizes this the passage easily falls into place. The "those" in vs. 4 are saved people in the Tribulation sense, not the Church Age sense. If the saved person falls away in the Tribulation (takes the mark of the Beast, for instance), he forfeits his salvation and cannot get it back (Rev. 14:9-12)! Furthermore, if the Church goes through the Tribulation as many today claim, then a Christian must in some way be able to lose his salvation or else the Scriptures contradict! Thank God Christ's bride will not suffer this wrath (1 Thess. 1:10).
This passage in Hebrews fits perfectly with the other passages we have looked at concerning salvation after the Church Age (Matt. 5-7, 24-25; Heb. 3). The Hebrews that will be saved then will be decreed saved like those in the Old Testament. Each individual is in danger of losing his salvation if he doesn't do the right works or fails to endure to the end (vs. 11). If (remember "if" in Hebrews chapter 3?) he endures and does make it, he will become a partaker of Christ (3:14). The "powers of the world to come" (Mill.) will be the signs and wonders performed by the "two witnesses" and others during the Tribulation (Rev. 11). All the passages coincide. The writer of Hebrews says in 6:9 he is persuaded of better things of those who he wrote to at the time (around 35-40 A.D.), but the reason he says this is because of their works (vs. 10-11)! Works play an important part in the Tribulation, and we will deal more with salvation during that time shortly.
The third passage in Hebrews the Arminians and others use to prove a Christian can fall out of Christ and go to hell is in chapter 10. This passage gets heavy use by the "Endurers" because of the way it is worded, "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received knowledge of the truth there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries." The Endurers point to this passage and glibly say, "See there? If a Christian sins willfully after he is saved he can lose his salvation and go to Hell!" Really? Are there any Born again Christians found anywhere in the passage? Is there any hint of a Spirit sealed believer being plucked out of Christ, unborn again, forsaken by Christ and God, severed from the Body of Christ, etc., and cast into the Lake of Fire? Nonsense. You couldn't find a regenerated Christian in the passage with a microscope. True, someone in the passage can lose his salvation, but, again, it is not anyone in the Body of Christ.
Though the Arminians wrest this passage to teach their saved-today, lost-tomorrow theology, the Fundamentalists fare little better. They either won't allow the person who sins to be a true believer but only one who had "knowledge" of the truth, or they "Greekify" the verses and force them to conform to Church Age doctrine. Concerning their first argument, verse 7 says the fallen man was "sanctified" by the blood of Christ. This speaks of more than just a head knowledge of Christ, the man was sanctified by Him. This is knowledge in the sense of experience.
Concerning the "Going to the original Greek" method of dealing with this passage, many will contend a Christian will not willfully sin habitually and appeal to the tense of some Greek word to "prove" it. But the passage says nothing about one habitually continuing in sin; it plainly says if one sins "wilfully"! One sin can be enough. (When the English Bible God has used for nearly 400 years (AV 1611) won't support these "scholars," they immediately run to the "Greek" to change it and usually distort the text so much they themselves can't make sense of it after they change it!)
Even though the text says nothing about someone sinning habitually, to say a Christian cannot willfully sin habitually is absurd; millions do it all the time. To say different is to deny a Christian his free will and pretend his old, Adamic nature is powerless. Every Christian is just as capable of sinning as a lost man because he still has the old nature of a dead, lost man in him! This fallen nature is not eradicated at conversion. True, every believer also has the new, righteous nature of Christ in him, but the old is still there to tug and pull for its own way. Because of his new nature, no Christian HAS TO sin at anytime, but he is always capable of sin until death or the rapture.
In general, Christians as a whole usually don't sin openly as much as lost people, however, sometimes they do, and some in an backslidden state will habitually sin more (visibly) than some lost people. Though every lost person is dead in sin and can only sin, the rebellious believer may do things a "moral" lost person deems immoral and would never do! Every believer should realize, however, open sin is just the outward manifestation of sin that has already occurred in the heart. A person's heart can harbor and entertain sin whether the sin is outwardly seen or not. Who can forget the words of Christ in Matthew chapter 5 where he brands the lustful person an adulterer and also 1 John 3:15 where the Holy Spirit calls the hater a murderer? Sins don't have to be outward to be sin; the secret sins of envy, jealously, pride, selfishness, greed, lust, hate, resentment, contempt, self-pity, self-will, worry, not content, etc., are sins all Christians entertain willingly to some degree and many habitually! All one has to do is talk to a few to find this out. Nevertheless, even with these wicked and vile sins, no Christian can lose his salvation. The difference is in the dispensations.
Now, since this passage doesn't doctrinally refer to Christians in the Church Age, where does it apply? Again, in the Tribulation period. This is clear from the Old Testament quotations found in verse 30 (Deut. 32:30-36) referring to the song of Moses sang after the exodus and in the Tribulation (Rev. 15:3). You didn't check the cross-references did you? Blindly following to interpretation of your favorite "scholar" and failing to personally compare Scripture with Scripture will lead to a "private interpretation" more times than not. Also, the mention of "his people" in a book called Hebrews should indicate to the most jaded eyes that the passage applies distinctly to Hebrews. The passage is clearly Jewish and can only deal with Jews in the Tribulation. Since there is no new birth in the Tribulation to regenerate and seal believers, a person then can be on the right path, taste of the heavenly gift, believe in Christ, be sanctified by the Christ's blood, have good works, etc., in essence be saved as much as anyone then can be and then "sin willfully" and loose all he had. Whether he denies Christ and His blood atonement, takes the mark of the Beast, or fails to continue in the required works (Matt. 25), he has fallen from his salvation. During this period people likely will be initially saved by faith alone, but each must continue in the right works and keep the commandments of God to stay saved. If one sins willfully in an area that can cost him his salvation, he has had it.
Verse 31 says "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God," and it will be for the Hebrews who fall away in the Tribulation, but it is not fearful for a Christian. Every Christian is IN God's hand permanently, and no one can take him out (John 10)! Furthermore, every born again believer is a part of Christ's Body, and thus also a part of or connected to His hand! What speaks of terror and judgment to a rebellious Hebrew in the Tribulation speaks of peace and security to a believer in Christ. Again, the difference is in the dispensations.
The book of Hebrews loses much of its difficulty when one rightly divides it and does not force the distinctly Jewish passages to apply to a period where they do not belong. As we mentioned forcing these passages to doctrinally apply in the Church Age will either lead one to believe a Christian can lose his salvation or cause him to wrest them by his "private interpretation" to make them line up with his doctrine. Either way the Scriptures are misused. The "Endurers" are at least honest in trying to take the verses at face value, they just apply them to the wrong people. The Fundamentalists, however, refuse to take them as they stand, showing their infidelity, and change their obvious meaning by appealing to "the Greek" and "scholarship." The verses as they stand simply give them fits. Nevertheless, for one reason or another many of them will cling to their shallow and inconsistent "historical positions" rather than yield to the plain words of the Scriptures. Unfortunately, the ethics of many Fundamentalists in their treatment of the Scriptures is often inferior to their Arminian counterparts.
Like Hebrews, the book of James is another epistle that is not addressed to Gentile believers in the Church Age. James 1:1 says, "to the twelve tribes scattered abroad" clearly stating this book is also written to Hebrews. As with the other Jewish passages, there is much one can learn in James, but he must remember doctrinally it is Jewish. This explains why in chapter 2 works are connected with saving faith. The last 13 verses of chapter 2 have been used by people for centuries to "prove" works are required before one can become a true Christian, and many genuine Christians also use the same passage to prove one must work to remain a Christian. What is interesting is the verses seem to support them, "though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?" (vs. 14); "that faith without works is dead" (vs. 20); "ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only" (vs. 24); etc. But do these verses apply to Christians in the Church Age? Surely you know the answer by now. They doctrinally apply to Hebrews with full application during the Tribulation.
Needless to say, there is no contradiction between the theology of James and Paul even though it may appear so to those who refuse to study. Paul says no less than five times that works are in no way connected with a person receiving salvation (Rom. 3:20, 4:5; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8-9; Tit. 3:5; etc.) and James says in his book they are. The difference, again, is in the dispensations. See, again, how important it is to understand who wrote a book, who it is written to, and who it applies to when studying the Bible? Without constantly keeping these essentials in mind sound doctrine will bypass you. If Hebrews and James do fully apply to believers in the Church Age then the Bible would contradict! But the Holy Spirit has removed all contradiction and much exegetical difficulty by showing us these books apply to Jews and for the most part in another dispensation. Like Hebrews, James was likely written early in the book of Acts before the Church Age doctrines were fully revealed and understood. It may have been written by the original apostle James before he was murdered in Acts 12. This would easily explain its Jewish message from an historical standpoint.
When the rapture occurs and Christ takes His Church into Heaven with Him, things will never be the same on earth again. When all those in Christ are raised up to meet their Savior in the air, a whole dispensational system will go up with them. Eternal salvation as we know it today (by grace through faith apart from works) will no longer be valid because the Holy Spirit will no longer regenerate and seal those who become saved after the "trump" (1 Thes. 4:16). Believers in the future will not have a new nature, be placed in Christ, or have Christ permanently indwelling them. Simply put, the means of salvation as we know it today will no longer exist. The difference in the dispensations will make it impossible for a believer to be born again, placed into Christ's Body, or keep eternal life by faith alone. Salvation will be very similar to the way it was in the Old Testament.
In light of this, consider how thankful and grateful we who are saved today should be. Many of the blessings God bestows upon the Church today are blessings He bestows upon no other group at any other time. How gracious and generous God is to us. It seems He picked the Church to show all creation just how kind gracious, and loving He can be. He not only took our sins and died for them in our place, He by the NEW BIRTH placed every believer into His family and gave each His own eternal life and very nature! He did not do this for Abraham, Moses, or David. It is all by grace, pure grace. How much more we should love, praise, and serve Him.
When the rapture occurs the number of people making up the Body of Christ will be complete and fixed. No one then or now can possibly fall out of the body, and no one in the future can enter it. When the voice of the archangel is heard, the door to the Church will be forever sealed.
Contrary to the theology of many of today's prophetic preachers, nowhere in the Bible does it say that the Tribulation will begin immediately after the rapture. It very well may, but it doesn't have to. Nevertheless, whether immediately or months or years later, the Tribulation will began with the Antichrist signing a seven year covenant with Israel. As we mentioned earlier after the rapture Israel again becomes the main object of God's dealings with man and salvation will again have a Jewish ring to it.
The Tribulation will be a very difficult time for one to try and live for God. Christ declared in Matthew 24 this period will contain terror, horror, and death on a scale the world has not yet seen. One reading of the book of Revelation with all the catastrophes, judgments, and sorrows found in it should awaken any believing reader to the shear horror many will endure during this period. As we have repeatedly said, during this seven year period faith alone will not be enough to permanently secure ones eternal salvation. Faith will likely be the means of the believer initially being saved, but his faith must motivate the proper works for him to keep his salvation, and he must be faithful in keeping them to "endure to the end." Remember how James said, "Faith without works is dead," and one shows his faith by working? In the Tribulation one must show his faith and work to overcome evil and clinging to good or else he won't make it through saved (Rev. 3:5). There are around 200 verses in the New Testament that indicate someone can lose his salvation-they must fit somewhere-and the Tribulation is the place. Remember Matthew chapters 24 and 25, and Hebrews chapters 3, 6, and 10? The Tribulation is where they all doctrinally apply: the "time of Jacob's trouble" (not the Church's trouble). Again, someone in the Bible can lose his salvation, but it is not a born again Christian.
During the Tribulation salvation will be identical to salvation under the law as far as what happens to and inside a believer is concerned. Since there is no longer a new birth available, nothing will happen inside the believer to secure his salvation. Though he won't be saved on credit as those in the Old Testament were (because Christ's atonement has since been made), he will still be saved on a trial basis like they were. Believing on Christ will just be the first step in his process of salvation, for along with believing he must "keep the commandments of God" (Rev. 12:17, 14:12, 22:14, CHECK THESE!). Since this is, again, a Jewish dispensation, the commandments must be the Ten Commandments and other commandments given under the law. Gentiles will likely not be obligated to keep the distinctly Jewish commandments, but they must keep the moral commandments as much as they know them even if their conscience is their only guide.
The quickest way for anyone in the Tribulation to forfeit his salvation is to take the mark of the Beast. Anyone who takes that mark is doomed without any hope of future salvation (14:9-11). One in the Tribulation may be saved by faith, keep the testimony of Jesus (12:17), and have adequate works to retain his salvation, but the moment he gives in to temptation and receives that mark, he is dead lost. "Any" means any in Revelation 14:9. A person could believe like the Phillipian jailer, be baptized like the Ethiopian eunuch, and follow the Law like John the Baptist and loose it all by taking the mark. This alone proves salvation then will be little like it is today.
Even with this faith and works setup great multitudes will refuse to take the mark, and, as a result, most of them will be killed (13:15, 20:4). Motivated be jealously and pride, the Beast will slaughter believers wholesale (13:7) with no restraint, but even this will not hinder yet others from "the faith of Jesus." Also, during this time there will be 144,000 Jewish "missionaries" sealed and protected by God preaching the gospel of the kingdom (not the gospel of the grace of God) and two witnesses (most likely Moses and Elijah) performing signs and wonders and declaring the truth to the world. It will be a drastically different situation than it is today. Then it will more often than not cost one a great deal to be saved, likely even his life! Nevertheless, many will "love not their lives unto death" and refuse to blaspheme God by taking the mark. Like James said, they will show their faith by their works (Jam. 2:18).
In a nutshell salvation in the Tribulation will be obtained and secured by having faith in Jesus as Savior and Messiah, keeping the commandments and doing what one knows to be right, and avoiding the mark of the beast at all costs. Failure to do these things and endure faithfully to the end can cost a person everything he has gained. Many today teach Church Age believers will go through the Tribulation. If so according to Revelation 14 they can lose their salvation by taking the mark.
As we have said, the typical Fundamentalist method of dealing with Tribulation salvation is to pretend it is identical to salvation today. But unfortunately, many Baptists and Fundamentalists are much more loyal to their pet "historic positions" than to the Bible. They utterly refuse to take the verses as they stand. They will not hesitate to twist, distort, wrest, spiritualize, and "Greekify" these plain verses to make them conform to their doctrine. The author says this being a Baptist and Fundamentalist himself, however, his allegiance is to the Scriptures alone and not some "historic Baptist position." He has found from reading Fundamentalist material that some Baptist doctrines are just as much heresy as those of Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. The only real difference between the heretical Baptist doctrines and those of the cults is the lies of the cults are lethal to the soul while the "positions" of the Fundamentalists are lethal to dispensational truth.
You may be thinking, "You say most Baptists are wrong on Tribulation salvation, but I am not convinced." Good, neither this book nor any other like it should settle doctrinal matters in the mind of any believer. Only one book is to do this and every Christian's duty is to search it out and determine what it says. If you want to know the truth get in the BOOK! Never mind the commentators when they refuse to believe it. God expects every believer to search the Scriptures and study them out personally for himself and learn Bible doctrine first hand (Acts 17:11). Preachers, sermons, commentators and teachers all have their place, but they are no substitute for personal study of the Scriptures.
After the mass death and destruction of the Tribulation and second coming of Christ, there will be relatively few people left on the earth. There will be a certain number of Jews from each tribe left to inherit the land promised to Abraham, and also a number of Gentiles who didn't take the mark to dwell in other areas, but compared to today the earth's population will be much reduced. In many respects man will have a fresh start. As mentioned in chapter 1, The Millennium will be the fulfillment of the Kingdom of Heaven Christ preached to the Jews at the beginning of His ministry (Matt. 3).
In the "sermon on the mount" Christ declared the principles and doctrines of this kingdom to the Jews and all they had to do to receive it was repent as a nation and receive Jesus as their Messiah and King. Of course they did not do this and in the end they even killed their Messiah, but the offer of the kingdom was nonetheless valid. After murdering their promised King, the offer of the kingdom was postponed until Israel repents and is willing to receive the one they slew. God was merciful towards them and gave them more opportunities to repent in the book of Acts, but Israel again vehemently refused. We now know they won't get right until Revelation chapter 20. It is the same kingdom described in Matthew chapters 5-7 only postponed for at least 2000 years.
The Sermon on the Mount tells us a great deal about the doctrines that will be valid during the Millennium, and one reading should convince any unbiased reader that they are based on WORKS. Faith and belief in God are not even mentioned. In the kingdom one can be tried by a judicial council for calling his brother "Raca" and be cast into Hell for calling him a "fool" (5:22)! He can be judged as a adulterer for only lusting after someone (5:28) and be judged as a murderer for entertaining hate. Then it will be profitable for a person to cut off parts of his body if it will keep him from doing wrong works (5:29-30)! Cutting off his hand may keep him out of Hell! Is that not what the verses say? See how "obscure," "unclear," and "difficult" verses clear up when they are rightly divided and kept in their proper context?
A lost person today could cut off every member of his body and it wouldn't keep him out of Hell one second, but in the Millennium it may keep him out for eternity. Today one must be born again, but not so in the Millennium. The problem most Christians have with passages like Matthew 5:29-30 is not that they can't understand them, it is that they can't BELIEVE them. They readily receive clear and easy verses like John 3:16, but verses like this are hard for them to swallow. The problem is not in "interpretation" but in believing. Actually, very little of the Bible needs to be interpreted; it only needs to be believed.
During the Millennium Christ will be personally reigning over the entire earth from the throne of David in Jerusalem (Zech. 14:9). He will rule with a "rod of iron" enforcing His law of righteousness upon all and judging those who rebel (Matthew 5:22). Since Christ will be physically on earth, no one then needs to have faith that He exists or wonder if He can do what He has promised. All those who make it through the Tribulation will see Him for who He really is, "God manifest in the flesh." Therefore in the Millennium faith will not be the deciding factor in a person receiving salvation, obedience will be the key. Furthermore, preaching the "gospel" and witnessing to the "lost" will be nonexistent. In fact, Zechariah 13:2 says anyone who does preach or prophesy will be killed! Also, there will be no place for evangelism because everyone (at least all Jews) will know the Lord (Heb. 8:11).
The Jews who enter in from the Tribulation will be saved, but they can lose their salvation if they fail to work or perform evil works. The "sheep" (Gentiles, Matt. 25) who enter in will also be saved, but they can lose their salvation the same way, too. Another group will be those born during the Millennium and they will have to be saved once they are old enough to understand. Faith may have a part with their initial salvation, but, nevertheless, from then on they must work to keep it. This is where the "beatitudes" come in. There is no mention of faith in the Beatitudes; they deal solely with works. It is a work to be "poor in spirit" when man by nature is not. Likewise it is work to "mourn," be "meek," to "hunger and thirst after righteousness," be "merciful," be "pure in heart," and a "peacemaker." The obvious domination of this passage by works is the reason it is used by Modernists and Liberals to teach salvation by works today. They understand what the verses say, they just apply them to the wrong people. "Today's heresy is tomorrow's truth," and, again, the difference is in the dispensations.
Like those saved in the Old Testament and the Tribulation period, no one in the Millennium will be born again, part of the body of Christ, partakers of the divine nature, sealed by the Holy Spirit, etc. Individuals will have only their old Adamic nature and will be saved by faith and works on a trial basis with works now being the major component. With the lack of works or the wrong works one could quickly find himself in Hell. Also, during the kingdom there will be a temple (Eze. 40-48) in Jerusalem and animal sacrifices will again be offered pointing back to the cross. All people from every nation will be required to come to Jerusalem and worship Christ and keep the feast of tabernacles (Zech. 14:16). Does this sound like the "Church Age"?
Another group of people in the Millennium will be the "Bride of Christ" who went up in the rapture at least seven years earlier. As mentioned in chapter 1, all believers who make up the Body of Christ will have a glorified, resurrection body like Christ's and be literally dead unto sin; that is, unable to sin. They will then have only the righteous nature of Christ. Apparently, born again Christians will be Christ's ministers or ambassadors, doing His bidding throughout the Kingdom (Rev. 20:4). This is also the period referred to in 1 Corinthians 6:2 where Christians are said to judge Angels. Furthermore, there is good indication that some Old Testament saints will be resurrected to enjoy the Millennium. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are said to be in the Kingdom of Heaven (Matt. 8:11) as well as David (Eze. 34:23-24) and Job (Job 19:25-27). Many more, if not all, Old Testament believers may be raised up to partake of the promised kingdom. Those that are will be dead to sin just like those saved in the Church Age, but they will not be part of the Body of Christ.
The Satanic revolt at the end of the Millennium will likely be peopled by those who were born during the Millennium (the "children of the kingdom" Matt. 8:12?) since they never experienced the Tribulation or the consequences of sin unrestrained. Satan will surely capitalize on their pride and ignorance to fuel his last diabolical charge against God-then God will consume them all (Rev. 20).
After the Millennium, renovation of the earth by fire, and the White Throne Judgment, God will establish a New Heavens, a new Earth, and a New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:1-2). Clearly the New Heaven is for the saved Gentiles, the New Earth for the Jews, and the New Jerusalem for the Body of Christ (21:9). The three distinct groups of people mentioned in 1 Corinthians 10:32 are apparently established as groups for eternity with separate places of abode. The New Jerusalem like the old Jerusalem will be the dwelling place of God and house His throne forever. This city is the Christians Heaven, actually the "third Heaven," and when it descends to earth Christ in all His glory will come with it and dwell in the midst of His bride for all eternity. The city will radiate with the glory of God (vs. 11) and have no need of the sun. Also, it will contain no temple because God Himself will be present, finally dwelling among His redeemed creation as He desires.
The concept of the Tabernacle in the wilderness revealed to Moses 3500 years ago gave man the first indication of the desire of God to dwell in the midst of His people. It is amazing to think that the infinite God of Heaven would chose to dwell in a tent in a wilderness just so He could be near His people! How much He desired their company, but they didn't desire His. Likewise, how much must God love born again Christians that He is willing to dwell inside each individual's body just so He can have true fellowship with him. Yet, sadly, most seldom take advantage of His presence and usually live like He is not even there! Anyway, in the 4500 years following the revealing of His desires to Moses, God devised a redemption plan and placed those who believed in and accepted His redemption in a position in which He could dwell in and among them for eternity. No one can enter this city except their name be found written in the "book of life" (21:27) or are found worthy to partake of the "tree of life" (22:14).
As for the Jew, the earth will belong to the Jew. The meek were promised the earth in the "Sermon on the Mount," and this is fulfilled with the New Earth. The Jews who don't revolt against Christ in the Millennium and make it through the White Throne Judgment appear to inherit the whole earth. Likewise the Gentiles appear to get the heavens with all the stars and planets. When dealing with things in or near eternity we admit certain matters are hard to pin down. There are many details about this "period" which are not yet revealed and hard to be certain about. For one, there is no verse that mentions the Jews or Gentiles getting a new body, so it is possible there will still have their "repaired" natural bodies at least until they eat of the "tree of life." In natural bodies the Jews can reproduce and fill the earth, and likewise the Gentiles can populate outer space. They may even be able to reproduce after they eat of the "tree of life" but the condition of their offspring is uncertain. Whether their offspring would be born with eternal life or have to eat of the tree themselves is unknown. One thing for certain, however, is that to obtain eternal life then one is not to "believe" in anything or have "faith" in anybody. He is to only keep the commandments of God so he may eat of the "tree of life."
Those saved in the Tribulation and Millennium will likely have to eat of this tree also to get eternal life since the new birth was unavailable to them. With the privilege of eating from this tree based entirely upon works there is always the possibility of failure, and those who fail must be cast out (21:27). Nevertheless, none of this will affect the Bride of Christ in any way. They are permanently secure and each individual received eternal life the instant he received Christ. No Christian will ever need to eat of the "tree of life" to get or keep eternal life, but those saved in other dispensations and not in Christ must eat of the tree to get it. See the difference? You, if you are saved, did not get eternal life from any tree, you got it from a PERSON, Jesus Christ, the Author of life. But after the rapture no one will be a part of Christ as a Christian is, thus he must have eternal life imparted another way. Check the verses! What do they say? The difference is in the dispensations.
Of the three groups of people in eternity only one is fixed in number (the Church), and the others will have the job of increasing the kingdom (Isa. 9:6-7). The Jews will expand and cover the earth, and maybe beyond, and the Gentiles will begin on earth but then multiply and cover the universe. Ever wonder why the stars and planets are in the heavens? There is good indication they were put there for more than just man to look at. It appears God will populate them with men who love Him and desire to serve Him. Both Jews and Gentiles that are found worthy will have to come into New Jerusalem to the life giving trees that border the river and eat of them to get the blessing of eternal life. God has come full circle. Time began with man and a tree, and it ends with man and a tree; but in the meanwhile God showed man what kind of gracious, merciful, loving God He is. Without man's fall and God's redemption, no one would ever know!
We are well aware that the position we take concerning salvation in the dispensations is controversial, and we may even be branded as a heretic because of it, but our duty to the Scriptures remains. We contend that the Scriptures must be taken as they stand and not twisted to support any popular "historic position." Of course we could use the typical Baptist method of handling verses like Matthew chapters 5-7; 24:13-15; chapter 25; Hebrews 3:6, 13-14; 6:1-6; 10:26-31; 12:14-15; James chapter 2, 5:1-5, 11-20; 2 Peter 2:21-22, 3:17; Revelation 3:5, 12:17, 13:7, 14:9-12, 22:14; etc. (not to mention all the Old Testament verses!), and insist theses verses don't really mean what they say and must be "interpreted" or "explained" to understand them, but we will no longer do that. By Christ's strength our allegiance is to God and His book (AV 1611), and when any doctrine, teaching, or position runs contrary to what God has revealed in His book, God help us to recognize it and abandon it. We believe the Bible is to be taken literally wherever possible (else one could "interpret" the Scriptures to say whatever he wanted), and when the above verses are taken literally, all is clear, somebody can lose their salvation. But, again, it is NOT a born again Christian.
Some may think this whole matter is irrelevant since everyone who is saved today is saved by faith alone and is secure in Christ, but they are misguided. Christ said man lives "by every word that proccedeth out of the mouth of God" so every word in the Bible is relevant, important, and alive. Though Christians are not under the Law of Moses and will not have to endure to the end like those in the Tribulation, the knowledge that some will endure those things helps believers today better understand what God is doing. Bible believers have a great advantage over believers who fail to treat the Bible literally. They have an excellent picture of the past, present, and future from God's perspective as He has revealed it. God very much wants His people to know where they came from, the state they are in now, and where they are going, else He wouldn't have given this revelation. And though God's revelation admitingly has some sometimes perplexing differences found among it pages, one is usually able to make sense of them when he realizes that most often, the difference is in the dispensations.