The Two Opportunities for Justification--Final
Nov 22, 2011
God's judgments are always based upon His law. His law is the expression of His character. It is pictured as fire and passed down to mankind through the Holy Spirit. Men's lives are changed by the baptism of fire so that we may conform to His image and receive his glory-fire imprinted upon us, even as Jesus Christ was the express image of the Father (Heb. 1:3).
God has never been content with men's justification. He has always considered justification to be the door through which we move into the second phase of salvation known as sanctification. This is expressed biblically as Pentecost. Once justified, God's plan is for us to experience sanctification, and even this is only a means to an end. The goal is glorification which comes through the feast of Tabernacles.
These three phases of salvation are designed to save our spirit, soul, and body (in that order). Justification is the salvation of your spirit--your inner man. Sanctification is the renewal of your mind (soul). Glorification is the salvation of the body--not the old Adamic body which has been sentenced to death, but the type of body that God intended for us in the beginning.
Once our salvation is complete, we will have the ability to pass from earth to heaven and back to earth at will, even as Jesus was able to do after His resurrection. At the moment, our spirit man has full access to heaven and the throne of God, but we are not yet manifested as sons of God. We are sons of God now, of course, but the glory remains veiled within us. Manifestation is an unveiling (apokalupsis) for all to see.
Israel's journey from Egypt to the Promised Land was a type of our own personal journey as well as a pattern for the greater body of people. Some applications are shorter in time or smaller in scope, but they are all built upon the template established by God in the beginning. Each is a fractal of the other, a copy that can be made larger or smaller on the divine copy machine.
The first 7,000-year "week" of man's history runs through this template on behalf of the sons of God that He is bringing from birth to maturity. This cycle culminates with the Great White Throne Judgment, where the remaining believers, having laid the foundation of Jesus Christ in their lives, will be "saved, yet so as through fire."
This is necessary, because many believers fail to grow up to maturity in their life time. They did not allow the fire of Pentecost to work its full effect. Or perhaps they died before reaching spiritual maturity. Whatever the reason, God is not content for them to present their Certificate of Justification. His dream is to see them all come to the full maturity of the stature of Christ. He has no intention of allowing them to be spiritually immature for eternity.
And so, as Jesus said in Luke 12:42-44, the faithful overcomers will be given authority over all that He has, while in verses 45-49 the abusive believers will receive the judgments of the law. It is expressed in terms of a flogging, since that is what the law says in Deut. 25:1-3. The maximum penalty is 40 lashes. This does not need to be literal, of course. Yet there is no doubt that over the centuries, many Christian slave-owners mistreated their slaves or beat them without cause. Those Christians will likely receive an actual beating, "stripe for stripe" (Ex. 21:25).
There are many injustices that Christians have done throughout the centuries, and they have died without making things right. All of these will be judged and rectified at the Great White Throne, where all will be held accountable for their deeds--even Christians. This is not a salvation issue. A believer's salvation will never be taken away. However, for believers to come into the full maturity of the stature of Christ, they must undergo the fire of divine judgment to burn away their fleshly ways and reconcile all injustice.
This can be a frightening thought. What about divine forgiveness? Were our sins not forgiven fully when we were justified? Yes, of course. But examine your own life. When you became a child of God and found forgiveness of sin, did God not require you to return that which you had stolen? Did He not require you to apologize to those you had mistreated earlier? Did God not put any requirement on you to rectify the wrongs you had done in the past?
If you did not right these wrongs, God still considered you to be His child. You did not lose your justification. Yet making things right by applying the law to your life was part of your sanctification to prepare you for the glorification of the feast of Tabernacles. Unfortunately, many Christians have not fully understood the purpose of Pentecost. They can speak in tongues and heal the sick and even raise the dead--but if they do not hear the fiery law and apply it to their lives, they miss the actual purpose of Pentecost.
Pentecost is our Sinai experience. The only difference between us and the ancient Israelites is that we are able to approach God and enter the fire even as Moses did. The Israelites refused to go into the fire, thinking that they would die (Ex. 20:18-21). Many Christians follow the Israelite example. They are afraid of the fiery law. They often repudiate it outright. They think the fire is "hell," not realizing that it is the awesome character of the God of Love.
Those who refuse the fire in this life time will have no choice but to experience it at the Great White Throne. They will be "saved yet so as through fire." No one can avoid the fire forever. We either submit to it today voluntarily or later by compulsion. But either way, Pentecost will do its full work to right all wrongs and to cleanse the earth of injustice and unrighteousness.
There are two main cycles by which this divine purpose is accomplished. We are in the first cycle now, for I believe it is a 7,000-year Sabbath cycle. Now is the time of the First Passover. The Second Passover begins at the Great White Throne and ends on the Creation Jubilee after 49,000 years of man's history. During that second (longer) cycle of 42,000 years, the lake of fire will fill the earth to judge sin, burn up all flesh (carnal ways), and teach righteousness to all who need to grow up to the stature of Christ.
The lake of fire will accomplish this purpose, for Isaiah 26:9 tells us the purpose of divine judgment: "For when the earth experiences Thy judgments, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness."
Keep in mind that at the Great White Throne, "every knee will bow." This will be the greatest evangelistic meeting ever seen, for all will then repent and submit to His rule. They will all see the Lamb upon the throne and will apply His blood to their houses in this great Second Passover decreed for those who missed the first one. All will be subjected to the rule of Christ as the Scripture prophesies, "For He has put all things in subjection under His feet" (1 Cor. 15:27, quoted from Ps. 8:6).
Those who enter the lake of fire in that day will receive the baptism of fire in their own "Sinai" experience. They will have a lengthy "wilderness" experience of 42,000 years, as they learn the ways of God through the example of those who have already attained spiritual maturity. Although their wilderness journey will be longer than ours, they will have the advantage of being trained and taught by many glorified saints who are the manifested sons of God.
In the end, when it is time to blow that final trumpet of the Jubilee, the final decree will be spoken, and God will be "all in all" (1 Cor. 15:28).
This is the final part of a series titled "The Two Opportunities for Justification." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones