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Back from Louisiana

Jan 04, 2008

This past week I was on a trip to Jena, Louisiana to fellowship with a dozen other ministers who teach Universal Reconciliation in one form or another. It was held at the home of Willie Cripps, who used to pastor the United Pentecostal Church in Jena, but who was dismissed after teaching U.R. Others were ex-Baptist ministers, or Pentecostal, Charismatic, or other backgrounds.

We all differed on various issues, including the basic question of HOW God saves all mankind. We all had our opportunity to share, and no fights broke out.

The value of such a meeting is twofold. First, we learn what others are teaching, which opens up the possibility of learning new viewpoints and perhaps even altering our own. Secondly, it is a great opportunity to build relationships.

Some presented the Preterist viewpoint, which says that most (if not all) prophecy was fulfilled by 70 A.D., including the second coming of Christ. I heard that in 70 A.D. Christ "came in judgment." No doubt He did. But I don't think that was the entire fulfillment of prophecy. The view focuses upon the judgments upon Jerusalem, but seems to have little or no concept of the feast of Tabernacles or the fulfillment of the manifested sons of God.

Others presented the "Finished Work of Christ" viewpoint, by which they indicated that Christ took all judgment upon Himself at the cross, and that therefore God no longer judges mankind. I have learned by experience, however, that God has never let me get away with anything. He always holds me accountable, not to condemn me, but to save me from my own flesh. In other words, I am even today being "saved yet so as by fire" (1 Cor. 3:15). It is the fire of the judgment of God.

I think that the primary difference is in one's view of the "fire" of God. They seem to limit it to the character of God, on the grounds that "God is a consuming fire." From my perspective as one who has not put away God's "fiery law" (Deut. 33:2), I see the law as an expression of God's righteous character. And part of that character is that He loves us too much to leave us in our current condition. Therefore, He judges the flesh in order to correct us and make us like Him. That means there IS judgment, both now and in the future. He judges all generations of mankind, because we all need it. The need did not change after the cross or after the fulfillment of Pentecost.

What I found somewhat ironic in the meetings is that the Preterists spoke about Christ coming in judgment upon Jerusalem in 70 A.D., as He had prophesied. Then we heard that all judgment ended at the cross! These two views obviously are contradictory, for if the "finished work of Christ" ended all judgment in 33 A.D., how is it that Christ would come to judge Jerusalem in 70 A.D.?

The solution, in my view, is to understand the feast of Tabernacles and not merely to know about Universal Reconciliation. The feast of Tabernacles prophesies of the manifestation of the sons of God--something that could not happen under Pentecost in 33 A.D. or afterward. This is because Pentecost did not give us the FULLNESS of the Spirit, but only an EARNEST--that is, a downpayment (2 Cor. 1:22 and 5:5; Eph. 1:14). Pentecost is a leavened feast and is not capable of bringing anyone into the fullness of the Spirit. That is why there is a third feast to manifest the sons of God. This certainly did not happen in 70 A.D., or if it did, there is no record of it in Church history.

Both of the above viewpoints assume that Pentecost was sufficient to bring in the Kingdom of God. Both Preterism and the Finished Work of Christ operate on the assumption that the crucifixion of Christ and the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 finished the work that God had to do to perfect mankind. It does not think of the feast of Tabernacles as ANOTHER WORK OF CHRIST. But as I see it, the law prophesies two doves and two goats, each of which are distinct works of Christ. I explained this more fully in my book, The Laws of the Second Coming.

It assumes, then, that all that remains is the IMPLEMENTATION or APPROPRIATION of what God has already done. There is a certain level of truth to this idea. Certainly, as Christians we are to appropriate what He did on the cross, and we are to implement or manifest the power of the Holy Spirit that was given at Pentecost. But there are three main feasts, not just two to fulfill. Noah sent out three doves, not just two (Gen. 8). Two witnesses establish all things, but the third witness gives it depth and gives it three dimensions. The third witness provides CLARITY.

 

If we did not need that third witness (Tabernacles fulfillment), we would not have felt the need to discuss our differences at these meetings. Everything would have been clear, and no man would have had to teach his neighbor (Hebrews 8). Yet we find that everyone sees Scripture differently today, even though we all have essentially the same Bible. It will take the manifestation of the sons of God to come into a full understanding of what those Scriptures really mean and to interpret them by the full mind of Christ.

Well, as you see, I had a fun time listening to other viewpoints. Right now I am trying to plow through hundreds of emails that piled up during my absence. I'll try to answer most of them, unless they require answers that take too long for the amount of time that I have to spare. I'll try to get back into Bible study by Monday, as I have much to share yet to explain the laws of God.


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Dr. Stephen Jones


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