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The Timing of Ezekiel 38 and 39

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More Thoughts on the Law

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What Hope of a Pre-trib Rapture Requires One to Also Believe

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Daniel and the "Big Picture" - [VIDEO]

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Democracy, the Jerusalem Question, and the Coming Kingdom

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Where God Is Taking The Church

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Amos 9 and the Order of the Return

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Understanding God's Purposes with Israel (with Joel Richardson) - [VIDEO]

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Thoughts on the Timing of the Lord's Return (with Joel Richardson) - [VIDEO]

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Apocalyptic Evangelism

Posted: October 10th, 2007, by Reggie Kelly

10/10/07

Reggie, good morning…

Do you have an article/book or materials available on the subject of
apocalyptic evangelism’?

I seem to recall a class/teaching that was offered on this some years back. [Fall 2001 BI Newsletter reference posted here]

Hi,

Though a few things are a bit menacing, I’m doing quite well. All the more after this morning’s rich and encouraging time with some of the most precious brothers on the planet.

I’ve been intending to get back to your last question on Kenyon and also the foundational significance that I see invested in the larger question of Christ’s imputed righteousness. I’m trying to put together a bibliography of sorts for others who wish to inquire further. I am also wanting to return to that gloriously deep well for my own refreshing and better understanding, though, of course, all any of us really need is clear revelation on the simplicity of the all sufficient Christ, which is the power of the gospel for every need of heart and mind.

Yes, there was a body of writings and notes in preparation for what was to be a seven module series on the concept of apocalyptic evangelism, which basically aimed at equipping believers with a framework of reference and understanding that, appealing to such themes as covenant and prophecy, would raise Jewish awareness of the great issues of divine contention, expecting that this would count as seed that would have its greater working and witness in the face of growing world antiSemitism, making increasing sense of the prophetic warning of the approaching time of Jacob’s trouble and the divine contention that this represents, hence the name, “Apocalyptic Evangelism.”

It was not so much aimed at accomplishing a more immediate decision for Christ, as in Jews for Jesus, but to engage Jewish thought and consideration concerning the great issues of their own professed faith in Moses and the prophets, and this can only be done by a believer who understands the covenant context that creates the divinely intended tension that is only resolved from the stand point of the ‘revealed secret’ of the gospel. Thus it wasn’t intended as a how to manual, but only to provoke serious reflection on our own faith AS it is brought into confrontation with the formidable Jew in his ‘otherwise minded’ view of scriptural authority and interpretation. It was to review ways to press the covenant background of Israel’s exilic sufferings and the age-long hiding of God’s face on Jewish consideration.

We believe the Lord has given us certain keys and points of leverage that, by an appeal to agreed categories of OT faith, actually creates a crisis that aims at inducing the question “what lack I yet?” “What is hidden from Israel that perpetuates the exile?” And, of course, the answer is not more Torah and Kosher observance, but rather the age-ending revelation of the mystery of the gospel that comes at the end of Jacob’s trouble. This is the veil that must pass away from the Jewish heart, which then brings the ominous question: “What will it take?” If the Holocaust didn’t do it, what will it take, and why will Jacob’s trouble be different from previous disasters? My answer to that is, of course, the timely witness of a church that has had the original context and glory of its own faith restored just in the nick of time.

As I discovered at my first disappointed attempt, the time and means for such a project would require a tremendous grace from the Lord, as my current circumstance puts that at a far remove from practical prospect. However, just as soon as I can find the time, I will try to muster some of those old papers and notes that were in preparation for that course, originally proposed by Art. The apt name was also his idea. Pray for the return of those things so amazingly hindered and resisted that we literally gave up. But you know, all things in their time; because when I think how much better such a course would be just in view of how my own understanding has matured on those topics since then. So, I’m not in the least doubt that one day all will be on time. The body will be in its place “at the time appointed;” no doubt about it. I’ll be staying in touch. Meantime, I’ll try to track those things down, so much as I can relocate.

Yours in His eternal kindness, Reggie

Where is the tribe of Dan in Rev. 7?

Posted: October 7th, 2007, by Reggie Kelly

Reggie,

I would love to hear your insight on the reason why the Tribe of Dan is not included in the ‘sealing’ of Israel in Revelation 7:5-8. This has been a question on my heart for some time have concluded various possibilities as to why Dan may be excluded. I suppose it may be something very simple that I am not seeing, but I thought your opinion would help.

Also, I have just been pondering the thought that if Levi is included in the sealing and Dan is excluded, is Levi no longer a tribe separated unto the Lord to be ‘the Priests’ as depicted all throughout the Old Testament? I understand in part that all Israel that is saved will be a corporate priest to the nations, so would that mean that Levi would not need to fill the role of Priest in the Temple in Jerusalem during the Millennial Kingdom?

If my second line of questions is too cryptic then please just focus on the issue of Dan. I believe that insight will help me to answer some of these other questions. Thanks so much and I will continue to pray for Ben Israel in these days.

Peace in Christ,

It is interesting that I would see this after just leaving our meeting this Lord’s day morning where we discussed the heavenly calling and hope. How that even while the patriarchs dwelt in the Land of promise, they did not receive their portion but saw it afar. You’re already wondering “What in the world does this have to do with Rev 7:5-8 Dan, and Levi? Well, I’m coming to that. We were over in the first verses of Ps 107:4-6 and noticing how much they parallel Israel’s past and future experience of wilderness wandering, noticing the faithful pattern and applying this to the believer’s pilgrimage. We reviewed how Abraham looked for a city and concluded that this holy quest saw beyond even the literal fulfillment of millennial hope, and takes us beyond the millennium on to the final unveiling and descent of the heavenly Jerusalem. Thus, the “country” that the fathers were seeking is much more than even that glorious millennial fulfillment which we ‘literalists’ assuredly see as an actual future inheritance of the physical descendants in the Land, according to the literal reading of prophecy.

Then we considered the so-called Psalms of ascent, which were sung during the annual pilgrimages UP to Zion, and noticed how that though David invested the earthly Jerusalem with full prophetic significance in terms of earthly calling and hope, he nonetheless makes certain references that clearly point beyond to a heavenly counterpart (the heavenly pattern). He speaks as though very aware of a ‘heavenly Zion’ that transcends the earthly. All of this is to make point of the fact that we detract nothing from the literal and the concrete historical fulfillment of prophecy by also recognizing a symbolism that transcends the earthly fulfillment that points beyond to the more fixed, more ultimate, perfected, and eternal heavenly reality. So however crucial and indispensable the earthly fulfillment (our incarnational God), this is not the final goal, but a real space/ time index and pointer to the perfected state (“when that which is perfect has come …. then shall we know even as we are known” quite a statement!).

By reviewing the obvious here with you, I’m preparing you for the jarring thought that I don’t believe that the 144,000 is Israel according to the flesh, i.e., not physical Jews (though, of course, there is always a remnant that will be Jewish). This detracts nothing from the conclusion of Paul in Ro 11; nor does it encourage notions of replacement. All Israel (meaning the surviving remnant as the beginning of a nation of real physical ethnic descent that will “all” know him ‘from that day and forward’, Isa 59:21; Jer 31:34; Ezek 39:22), will, of course, yet be saved at the time appointed (Ps 102:13; Dan 11:27, 29, 35; esp. Dan 12:1). Seeing the spiritual and symbolic connotations in the Spirit’s employment of well adapted apocalyptic imagery through His servant John certainly doesn’t compromise my commitment to a thoroughgoing literal futurism where Israel is concerned.

There is a whole theology and logic for what I’m proposing, particularly implicit in the gospel of John and the Revelation (significantly, books by the same earthly author), but I will not go into that now. I’m sure you’re already up on all the speculative views of Dan’s greater propensity towards idolatry, or Hippolytus’ idea that the Antichrist comes out of Dan. None of that satisfies me for a number of theological reasons. But since you mention Levi and Dan in Ezek 40ff., I think this may be a key in support of what I’m suggesting here. You will notice that both Dan and Levi receive their portions and gates; they are not absent in the earthly scene of Ezekiel’s vision of restoration, nor from the glorious city of Revelation that also mentions the twelve tribes; here too we expect that all are accounted for and represented, as in the millennial (post-Day of the Lord) earth of Ezekiel’s vision. So what is this in Rev 7?

Could it be that this is a clue that the sealed remnant represents a heavenly spiritual corporate entity/ or company that anticipates, as first-fruits, not only the literal gathering of Israel at Christ’s return, but the perfection in love of an overcoming church that “loves not its life unto death according to Rev 12? That is, this is the first fruits of covenant fulfillment, not only of millennial Israel, but also, and even more particularly, this is the eschatological forerunners of the glorious church of Christ as it is about to be perfected through the sufferings of the final test (Rev 3:10). These are free from sensual entanglements, as Samson the Danite was not, and these are free from idolatry, as the tribe that was particularly prone to idolatry was not, and these are vigilant and set for the defense of the gospel, not as Dan that was slack and negligent concerning its duty to participate in the defense of their brethren. They were not their brother’s keeper. But these, in complete contrast of the compromised tribe of Dan, are perfect in their love and faithful unto death. Though hunted, persecuted, even killed, paradoxically, not a hair of their head will perish. They are sealed; already ascended far above the access of principalities and powers, because their faith has found an unshakable resting place. I take this in complete keeping with the eschatological birthing of the man-child (Rev 12), a key to which is Paul’s remark concerning the relationship of travail to the “formation of Christ” in his wavering believers. See what I mean? These are those in whom Christ has been formed to such a degree as to manifest Him in the flesh through their faith and love unto death.

Thus, I identify these in Rev 7 and 14 (I see them as the same company) as the result of the woman’s (heavenly Zion’s) travail (Isa 66; Rev 12). So this could be a vanguard prevision and representation of the last great harvest gathered out of “the tribulation, the great one” of Rev 7. These would be that first fruits company that have been processed by revelation and divine dealings (the judgment that begins in the church before it comes to Israel and world?) in preparation for the final witness.

Manifestly, this 144,000 stand on the eve of the last persecution. They are prepared in advance so that not one falls or defects from their course during the time at hand; they are sealed. I don’t believe this sealing means immunity from the wrath of man, or physical death. Quite the contrary; even the two witnesses suffer this. These are those that ‘understand among the people that instruct many, they are the ‘wise’ (not only concerning the fulfillment of end-time events, but most importantly the mystery of the prophetic gospel of Christ; Ro 16:25-26) that turn many to righteousness (Dan 11:32-35; 12:3).

Will many of these be Jewish? I’m certain. Still, that concession to the context of Dan 11 doesn’t’ dissuade me of the thought that not all are Jews. What will be going on among the Jews and messianic believers in the Land will be equally underway throughout the world, and that witness will be conducted by Gentiles as well. This is evident by John’s apocalyptic enlargement on Daniel’s more localized vision. In fact, if we recognize God’s declared strategy concerning the role of Gentile witness to Israel (Ro 11), it would be contradictory if there were not Gentiles of equal attainment that constitute true witness to Israel at that time.

So not being a pre-tribulational in my view of the rapture, I conclude that IF the 144,000 are strictly Jewish believers, then they are only the Jewish part of a much larger remnant. But note that the timing for this purity and perfection is BEFORE the tribulation begins. This view also has its problems. Clearly there is symbolism here that defies complete literalization. The question then is: ‘How much is literal, and how much is symbolic? And what is in fact being signified by the imagery?

Hence, Dan, in complete contrast to Ezek 40ff., is deliberately NOT mentioned precisely to show that the corporate company in view is not to be reckoned after the flesh, just as reference to virginity is not to be taken as literal celibacy, but a spiritual maturity and hence freedom from all compromise and earthly entanglement. I take the sealing to be something that attends the greater liberation from that old enemy of faith called “confidence in the flesh.” That is the power of the veil that will be broken in a powerful way by the Spirit of revelation to that poor and needy company that find themselves at the threshold of the final conflict.

Why then invest this 144,000 with the identity of the twelve tribes if literal Jews are not in view? Because a tremendous crisis of identity existed in the early church as to who counted as the true people of God, and you will remember how difficult it was for the apostles to extricate this question from Jewish claim to natural pedigree. John’s gospel, and Paul’s epistles are particularly occupied with this. “Other sheep have I”, “not this nation only but ….” “Those who SAY they are Jews and are not” etc. How better to comfort the remnant prepared for the last suffering than to identify them as NO LESS the twelve tribes of covenant promise than the yet to be saved Jewish remnant at the conclusion of Jacob’s trouble? Hence, they are not merely the first fruits of God’s covenant promise for earthly Israel, but they are first fruits of God’s goals and intentions for the glorious ‘one new man’, the revealed body of Christ, as this mystery too must be manifest before men and angels, and where better than in the last and greatest tribulation? These are the eunuchs (spiritually speaking) that keep His charge, that love His Sabbath (the essence of the idea), that are completely devoted to His ways, and therefore, as such, will have a place “better than sons and daughters” in His house (Isa 56).

Besides, the natural identity of the tribes have been lost to natural proof for a very important divine reason. Such identification would now have to be by revelation and not be DNA tracking, though some will try to suggest such things, and so the astonishing theories now circulating that makes the revelation of the gospel a DNA kind of thing, and this by the same people that have all kinds of theological difficulty with the concept of election. Go figure. Do I have faith because there is some trace of Israelite DNA in my heredity, or do I have faith because God gave it to me? I think the latter.

Well, there you have it. Ask a speculative question and get a speculative answer, one that I’ve never advanced before. So keep me informed of your findings, and check me in my heresy before I go too far. I hope always to be checked, corrected, and covered, by staying closely in touch with the Lord as He has most strategically distributed His supply to me “through” the frailty of His body. It is an astonishing paradox of feebleness and yet power, supply, and provision. That’s where the safety is; by staying dependent on the Lord in what appears the most undependable place of all, namely, among that feeble folk that He calls His body, especially those most likely to be overlooked or lightly discounted by the presumptions of faulty human estimation.

Yours in the Beloved, Reggie

He Who Knew No Sin Became Sin…

Posted: October 5th, 2007, by Reggie Kelly

Good morning Reggie. I do pray that things are smoothing out there and the ministry is back on its feet. I pray almost daily for you.

I have a question that I hope you can find time to answer. It deals with 2 Cor. 5:21. Do you have insight into Jesus being “made sin” or having our sins “placed upon Him”?

I have studied and prayed and still see good men on both sides of this.

Thanks my brother,I am so encouraged that you felt constrained to pray for me. It happens that I am in a great deal of difficulty these days with much uncertainty as to outcome.

It is a pleasure to respond to this question, as I think it represents THE most essential and foundational doctrine on which all others stand. All others support it. In fact, I will go so far as to say that if one misses it here, then correct belief concerning any other doctrine, however important or correct, is worthless. Many will be in hell that were completely clear on the deity of Christ. Indispensable as many great truths and doctrines are, unless we get the gospel right, we are subject to fatal, soul damning, error.

I can’t imagine exactly what you might have been reading, or precisely what tensions you have found among good men on this topic. I’m not surprised, because I know something of the swirl of controversy that has always surrounded this centerpiece of the ‘mystery’ of the gospel.

First of all, I don’t know if you’ve delved into any of the fetching, but I believe dangerous, innovations of E. W. Kenyon, who conceived and taught that Christ was ‘made’ sin in the sense of ‘became’ the sin nature on the cross, that the sin nature itself was judged in Christ’s body. I am more than a little certain that this theory is a far remove from the way in which Jesus experienced the wrath and abandonment of the Father. Rather, I believe the idea is better understood in the context of Paul’s language of imputation and divine reckoning. God was imputing our sin to Christ and actually judging our sins in His body in terms of due punishment, but this does not mean that there was any change in His holy human nature. He suffered the judgement due us in His human nature, but He did not become sin in that sense. I’m not sure if that’s what you’re asking about. I can say, however, that the protestant view of imputation since the Reformation is considered false and dangerous by Roman Catholic theologians; they call it a ‘legal fiction’. Many zealous charismatics and deeper life proponents are definitely on their way back to Rome and do not know it, as they would agree with Rome’s unhappiness with the classic protestant view of imputation, as would also the modern advocates of the so-called “new perspective on Paul.”

Properly understood, there is no greater truth so full of gospel comfort and power than the doctrine of the imputation of the totality of Christ’s righteousness to the least believer (provided, of course, that believer is no mere professor, but has passed through the straight gate of authentic regeneration). Yes, it is quite capable of abuse and miscarriage; show me a doctrine that is not. The Roman church could not see that God could never impute righteousness on any other basis than what was wrought in Christ, and not only at the cross, but this imputation includes the righteousness that was that was tested and proved through the thirty three and half years of spotless obedience that Christ fulfilled UNDER the law. Only through the imputation of this totality of Christ’s righteousness can God lawfully ‘quicken whom He will’ (Eph 2:1; Jn 5:21; Ro 9:18). In fact, IF the righteousness wrought out in Christ’s humanity were not freely and unconditionally imputed in the full, there could be no new creation, no regeneration, not even faith. Why? Because to grant righteousness on any other basis than Christ’s perfect obedience would indeed be a repudiation of the justice of God. The righteousness required by the law must be fulfilled in full. The debt must be paid in full. The punishment must be suffered in full in order for God to justly justify the ungodly. Otherwise it would be a ‘legal fiction’ indeed.

In other words, apart from such imputation unto the everlasting righteousness of New Covenant justification (compare Jer 32:40; Dan 9:24), forgiveness, or remission of sins, would indeed be arbitrary and unjust. Without the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, there could be no Spirit wrought faith in the heart. In my view, even the Old Testament believers could not have believed were it not for the surety of the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world in the predestinating counsel and foreknowledge of God. Therefore, in a sense, the only righteousness that God can accept is His own ‘perfect and complete’ righteousness as fulfilled in the One, the righteousness that He perfected in the One humanity that qualified to represent the sinner, namely, the second Adam, the Lord from heaven, hallelujah!

Therefore, the only righteousness that God can accept and reward in us, though it be only by the measure (Jn 3:34), is really never our righteousness at all, but Christ’s righteousness in us through the Holy Spirit. It is “He alone that does the work.” That is, any work that counts must be His alone through us, just as it was not Jesus but the Father that did the work through Him (Jn 5:19, 30; 8:28; 14:10, 24). Only God can do the work of God. As a brother once said that Art was fond of quoting, “it takes God to love God.” That’s true. Anything else is idolatry and pride. As Paul said, “nothing counts (avails) but a new creation” (Gal 6:15). It is the mystery of incarnation; not only of the Father in Christ, but of Christ in the believer. Incarnation is the consummate offense to legal and humanistic rationalism. But this incarnational phenomenon of the Spirit’s work in and through the believer is the result of faith in the gospel of the finished work of Christ, else one could end up in the deception warned of in Mt 7:21. (Somewhere I read the account that when the renowned reformer, Thomas Hooker, was on his death bed, a well meaning brother exclaimed, “you go now to receive your great reward!” At which remark, Hooker stirred himself a last time to reply, “No, brother, I go to receive mercy!” He dared trust nothing to one of the most fruitful ministries of the Reformation, but cast his all on the mercy of God through Christ alone. Where is such holy diffidence in this dark day of spiritual boasting?)

So it is critical that we understand that Christ fulfilled and satisfied all the demands of the law in our place. This is why he said to John, “it is necessary for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Jesus had to fulfill every obedience that was incumbent under the law. This since nothing less than a spotless holiness under the law, tested in every point, can ever stand before the bar of infinite holiness. Nothing less is accepted. Where Christ is not imputed in the whole, there is no hope. (“Eat ye all of it!”) “He (the Father) shall see the travail of His (the Servant’s) soul, and shall be satisfied (propitiated).” Will we be satisfied? or will we try to add to the finished work and pollute the whole as did the Galatians?

No one that hope to stand in any lesser righteousness (“dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne”). There can be no mixture or partiality where justification through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness is concerned. And while our sanctification (which is the working out of our salvation in a process of Christian growth and maturity) might be partial and in measure (a process), there cannot be any such partiality where our justification is concerned (Justification is not a process as in the Roman Catholic system of theology), simply because anything short of the totality of Christ’s righteousness, as perfected in His one humanity alone, is short of the glory of God’, and thus unacceptable. That is why it is only as we are “IN” Him, not having our own righteousness, that we can be accepted, simply because we are IN the Beloved. To add the least mixture to this holy unity is to ruin all (“I dare not trust the sweetest frame …”). Mixture where this is concerned will not be tolerated by divine holiness; it cannot. Heaven will reveal not the least toleration of mixture on this point. Here, it is all or nothing. How then is it a ‘legal fiction’? It is no farther for me to be counted the very righteousness of God than for Christ to be counted sin. Both are impossible propositions unless God is free through Christ to ” give life to the dead and call the things that are not as though they were.” Why, to call the glory of this exchange a ‘legal fiction’ is little short of blasphemy. Unless one plans to clime up some other way, it is our only hope.

Still, though scripture is clear on the matter, it is elusive to apprehend except by the Spirit. A believer can lose sight of this and begin to sink. It remains even to believers a considerable mystery, since the idea that Christ could be made sin (not actually, but by imputation), and that I could be made the very righteousness of God (not actually but by imputation; but then actually because the Holy Spirit is pleased to indwell the heart that believes the gospel). These are both very ‘unnatural’ propositions. How can these things be? Therefore, I take the word “made” not to be speaking of an ontological change of nature whereby Christ ‘becomes’ something like sin itself, or the sin nature, as in Kenyon. (I cringe when I hear things like that). No, rather, this is the language of imputation. Christ was ‘made’ sin only in the sense of being counted and treated as sin, so that I might be ‘made’ the righteousness of God in the same sense of being counted and treated as though I had personally ‘fulfilled all righteousness’, which, in fact, I did in the person of my federal head, the second Adam. This is how it is that we partial, ‘on the way’ saints may grow and increase in terms of sanctification and reward, but not in our justification. Since to be justified by the imputation of Christ is to be “complete in Him,” and in that sense “perfected forever.” This is why we must never confuse inheritance with reward.

Yes, this so-called ‘great exchange’ sounds dangerous to the legalistic mind, but let someone get a hold of the implications of the glory of this, and you’ll see what the scripture means that the truth sets the heart free, as there will soon follow a far greater power and liberty to fulfill all obedience than ever otherwise. Then will be seen in far greater and more authentic measure the so-called ‘practical’ righteousness that works itself out into deeds of real love and faith, the outward testimony and evidence of “Christ in you,” which reality MUST result in true holiness and the true fruits of the Spirit, and not their laborious and proud religious imitations.

To truly lay hold of this is a resurrection event indeed. “They believed not for joy.” Many fail of it, simply because it’s just too good to be true. It’s just not ‘rational’. Exactly! No wonder Rome is offended. What devout and well meaning child of nature wouldn’t be? Especially those that are chomping at the bits to “become” sons by their own will power, and are nervous that if they just believed on Christ for their sanctification no less than their justification, why, they might be buying in to ‘cheap grace’ and lose their guarded restraint against their carnal appetites and impulses. I tell you that those that think in those terms no not the gospel or the power thereof! No wonder such a gospel makes legalism to stumble. Spurgeon once said something like “if you can preach a gospel that doesn’t lend itself to the kinds of accusations charged against Paul, then you’re probably not preaching the same gospel that he preached.”

If we want true holiness; if we want the real implications of true calling unto the fullness of mature sons, then let us approach the standard of holiness and the true fulfillment of the law in this glorious and holy gospel way. Then we will experience the Spirit’s liberating empowerment that follows really believing the testimony of God as set forth in the good news of the gospel. That’s where the power is; it is nowhere else. Any other source of power, however well meaning and religious, is deceitful and proud and threatens to bring one to the dread reply of Mt 7:21. This is where Israel stumbled; they approached the standard “as IF” it were a law of works” (ro 9:32). That’s where all stumbling occurs. Why, I’m certain that any lapse into carnality is only due to a lapse of faith and apprehension of the glory of this most foundational tenet of the unshakable foundation of God (see 2Tim 2:19). And since the Spirit that works the all and all of anything acceptable in the believer is received by faith alone apart from works or pre-qualification, there is no risk that this faith will not be vindicated by the Spirit’s liberating power unto true holiness, true sacrifice, because of true love created by the Holy Spirit and shed abroad in a heart set free by the gospel.

Yours in the Beloved, Reggie