Feb 10

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In this second article under the above heading, we shall return to the thought of time and context. The passage under review is: “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24). The time is the Jewish age and the context is that of Jesus teaching the Jews and addressing their spiritual state, as seen in verse 23: “And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.” They were lost and Jesus is identifying their present need!
As is the case in much of the four gospel accounts, Jesus is addressing their failure to believe that he is the Christ! They needed to repent and believe! This truth has been confused by many today as they read the gospel accounts. If we read the gospel accounts without understanding the time and context of what is written, we are sure to miss what is being taught. Remember Jesus was born, lived, and died under the law of Moses! No one living today is in such a spiritual state! Once the old law was removed, as God had promised, it can never be restored! Here is God’s promise as written by Jeremiah: “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jer. 31:31-34). These verses are quoted in Hebrews two times: Hebrews 8:8-12 and 10:16-18. With this is mind, let us read, and notice that these words appear as the writer concluded with his quote of Jeremiah: “In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away” (Heb. 8:13). There is the promise God made with Israel about the end of the old law and the beginning of the new! Why anyone would desire to be under the old, is beyond my ability comprehend! Yet, a good number do just that! When God made the first covenant old, and it was as the Hebrew epistle was written; for God made it old when Jeremiah wrote the words! Thus, as John, the one who baptized, Jesus, and the twelve taught, calling the Jews to repent, into the old law and believe that Jesus was the Christ and prepare to receive the gospel.
This now brings us back to John 8:24! Once the time context and the age context and those to whom Jesus is speaking are identified, then, one is ready to understand the words! It is wrong to take the words of Jesus in John 8:24, and just apply them to those living today! However, having gained the above knowledge, it can easily be seen that it is impossible for one to be saved today without first believing that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ! Therefore, it may be said that the lost must believe that Jesus is the Christ, but no one is saved today by believing that Jesus is the Christ alone! John wrote of some who believed but would not confess: “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue” (John 12:42). It just naturally comes to mind, why would they not confess Jesus? Let John answer the question: “For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (verse 43). Therefore, believing is not enough to be saved, but no one can be saved without believing that Jesus is the Christ. Hear James: “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (James 2:24). So, faith only is not the answer as to how one is saved but without faith no one will be saved!!
Telling one that he must repent and believe is a failure to know the time context in which the words were written; as these words pertained to the Jews who were still under the old law; and this is not the way to be saved today. Folks, we live in the age of Christ, the age when he as all authority (Matt. 28:18); a person today must respond differently than did the Jews of Jesus’ time.
Faith only is not away to be saved today! Neither is repent and believe away to be saved today! So, how many ways are there for one to be saved? There is only one way to be saved today!

Frank R. Williams

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