Thursday, March 24, 2011

CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN

THE CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN, CITIZENS OF HEAVEN, TRANSLATED INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD’S DEAR SON.


Under this heading, we’ll discover even more about the true Church’s UNIQUE POSITION in Jesus.  (As I continue this series, I pray that you’re being edified and encouraged.  I also want to remind all of us that we do NOT become boastful in all the wondrous GIFTINGS that Jesus died to GIVE us.  Instead, we WORSHIP Him--that He LOVED such “wretches” with such a MIGHTY LOVE, that He willingly lay down His LIFE for us.  And because of HIM we’re set free from the STRANGLEHOLD of sin and DARKNESS, so that we become HIS CHILDREN in THE LIGHT.  As I’ve labored to write this series, I find my WORSHIP LEVEL rising.  I pray reading it does the same for you!)


THE CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN


Let’s consider “the Church of the firstborn”--found in Hebrews 12:22-24.

“But you are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the CITY OF THE LIVING GOD, the HEAVENLY JERUSALEM, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the GENERAL ASSEMBLY and CHURCH of THE FIRSTBORN, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the SPIRITS of JUST MEN made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the NEW COVENANT, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks of better things than that of Abel.”

So many delightful gems lay buried in this scripture.  Remember, too, that Hebrews was written to Jewish believers who accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord, and who entered the UNIQUE BODY OF JESUS, known as THE CHURCH!  For that reason, Hebrews is filled with many Old Testament references, and unless a person has a good understanding of the old covenant, Hebrews can be very difficult to understand.

We, Church, are DESTINED for THE CITY of the LIVING GOD.  Our ABODE is the HEAVENLY JERUSALEM (also called our MANSIONS--as promised by Jesus in John 14:1-3).  Here, we see another place in scripture which shows us that our true home is NOT on this earth, but that we’re CALLED to be CITIZENS of God’s HOUSE, in heaven, where there’s also an innumerable company of angels.

We, true Church, are CALLED the GENERAL ASSEMBLY (remember, that by our name, “Church,” we’re the CALLED-OUT ASSEMBLY who will be lifted from the earth to heaven in our Pre-Trib Rapture).  We’re also called the CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN. 

The CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN is another way of saying that we’re the Church of Jesus Christ!  It’s Jesus Who is the FIRST-BEGOTTEN, the FIRSTBORN from the dead, Who received a glorified body.  We are HIS CHURCH, and we belong to THE FIRSTBORN from the dead, Jesus.

But that’s NOT ALL!  There’s ANOTHER element of truth to be gleaned.  We, Church, are made ONE with Jesus!  Since Jesus is the FIRSTFRUITS (FIRSTBORN) of the FIRST RESURRECTION, then we, VITALLY UNITED with Him, are the CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN--so this characteristic EXTENDS to us, who are ONE with Jesus, the FIRSTBORN.  This means that we, too, are FIRST among those included in the FIRST RESURRECTION from the dead.  We’ll receive the Pre-Trib Resurrection/Rapture BEFORE the Old Testament and Tribulation saints.

This understanding places us into the category of FIRSTFRUITS--that indeed, we, the true Church, are “firstfruits of the Spirit” and “firstfruits unto the Lord.”

Where did I find the phrase “FIRSTFRUITS UNTO THE LORD”? 

“FIRSTFRUITS unto the Lord” is found in Leviticus 23:17, which shows a DETAIL from the FEAST of PENTECOST.  Remember that the FEAST of PENTECOST was fulfilled when the Church was BORN.  As the Church, who’s so closely associated with PENTECOST, we ARE indeed “FIRSTFRUITS unto the Lord.”  We are the FIRST, and UNIQUE BODY of believers (INDWELLED by the Holy Spirit), who’ll find ourselves TRANSPORTED to DWELL in HEAVEN in a Pre-Tribulation Resurrection/Rapture.  We’ll will be in heaven as the CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN.  Wow!

Within the Feast of Pentecost, we see that there are two wave loves baked WITH LEAVEN--"they are THE FIRSTFRUITS UNTO THE LORD."  These TWO LOAVES represent both Jews and Gentiles who are made ONE IN THE CHURCH after coming to faith in Jesus.  These TWO LOAVES are baked WITH LEAVEN (the universal symbol for sin). Why LEAVEN?  Because, in the Church, even though the Holy Spirit indwells us, we still have SIN in our fleshly nature!  Within Pentecost--"We are FIRSTFRUITS unto the Lord."


I CAN’T LEAVE THIS OUT!  THERE’S SO MUCH TO SEE.  WE’RE CONTINUING IN HEBREWS 12:22-23.


“But you are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the CITY OF THE LIVING GOD, the HEAVENLY JERUSALEM, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the GENERAL ASSEMBLY and CHURCH of THE FIRSTBORN, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the SPIRITS of JUST MEN made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the NEW COVENANT, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks of better things than that of Abel.”


We also see, here in Hebrews, that we, Church, will be in heaven with OTHER personages. 

(1.)  God, the JUDGE OF ALL.  When we arrive in heaven, we’ll be at God’s throne BEFORE He sends His judgment on the earth in the Tribulation.  Therefore, God, the JUDGE OF ALL is mentioned.

(2.)  We also see the “SPIRITS of JUST (righteous) MEN, made PERFECT.”  Who are they?  A host of Old Testament saints who have NOT YET received their resurrection bodies, because they are in heaven in their “spirits”--“the SPIRITS of JUST MEN made PERFECT” in heaven.  When the Church arrives in heaven in our Pre-Tribulation Rapture, we will have GLORIFIED BODIES.  However, the Old Testament saints in heaven (those who didn’t receive glorified bodies in the FRISTFIRSTS sheaf of the wave offering when Jesus rose from the dead) must wait for the END of the Tribulation period, in which THEIR BODIES will be raised and glorified.  (Job 19:25-26.)

(3.)  Of course, we’ll be in heaven with Jesus, Who’s the MEDIATOR of the NEW COVENANT--which we enjoy (and which Israel will soon partake of, as they accept and apply the blood which was shed for all men). 

(4.)  A reference is also made to “the blood of sprinkling, that speaks of better things than that of Abel.”  What does this mean? 

Abel’s sacrifice of a lamb of offering was accepted by God (See Genesis 4), BECAUSE his sacrifice showed his TRUST in the PROMISED Savior.  But Hebrews speaks of “the blood of sprinkling” which is BETTER than that offered by Abel.  That better sacrifice is the sprinkled blood of Jesus Christ!

At the throne of God, upon the heavenly MERCY SEAT, is a “blood sprinkling,” which is that of Jesus!  Remember, Jesus FULFILLED all the requirements of God’s law!  Let’s investigate an awesome fact…

In John 20:17, AFTER His resurrection, Jesus told Mary Magdalene NOT TO touch Him, because He had NOT YET ascended to His Father.  But, later on, Jesus did ALLOW others to touch Him, especially the doubting Thomas!  What does this indicate?

AFTER Jesus rose from the dead, in the ministry of our GREAT HIGH PRIEST, He ascended to the Father in heaven, where His SHED BLOOD was SPRINKLED upon the heavenly MERCY SEAT!  That action SECURED for us this truth--that Jesus’ blood was shed ONCE and FOR ALL!  The SACRIFICE was FINISHED, totally COMPLETE, and NO MORE needs to be done!  AND because of our faith in Jesus’ blood, we are MADE the RIGHTEOUSNESS of God in Him!  Hebrews is RICH with amazing images--and declares the EXCEPTIONAL GLORY of our God!  

(Jesus, as our GREAT HIGH PRIEST, fulfilled ALL requirements of the law, AND performed details of the Jewish Feasts.  I remind you, that at God’s throne, He also WAVED the SHEAF of FIRSTFRUITS, the small number of resurrected Old Testament saints AFTER His resurrection.  Jesus was busy in those first hours of RESURRECTION SUNDAY.  Later, He appeared to some disciples on the road to Emmaus.) 


EVEN MORE WONDERS TO SHOW YOU FROM HEBREWS 12:22-23!


“But you are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the CITY OF THE LIVING GOD, the HEAVENLY JERUSALEM, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the GENERAL ASSEMBLY and CHURCH of THE FIRSTBORN, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the SPIRITS of JUST MEN made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the NEW COVENANT, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks of better things than that of Abel.”


I don’t know about you, but I see MANY ELEMENTS described HERE in Hebrews, which REMINDS me of the HEAVENLY scene that’s described in Revelation 4 and 5.

(1.)  GOD THE JUDGE.  Revelation 4:5--“And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thundering and voices (showing a fomenting God, awesome and fearful, ready to pour out His judgments).
  
(2.)  SPIRITS OF JUST MEN MADE PERFECT are the NON-RESURRECTED souls of Old Testament saints (destined for their resurrection AFTER Jesus sets His feet on the earth in Revelation 19).  Job 19:25-26--“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that He shall STAND at the LATTER DAY upon THE EARTH.  And though AFTER my skinworms destroy this body, yet in MY FLESH I shall see God.” 

(3.)  Pay attention to this one!  JESUS, MEDIATOR OF THE NEW COVENANT--Revelation 5:6--“And I beheld, and lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures (cherubim), and in THE MIDST of the ELDERS, stood a Lamb as it had been slain…”  (In Revelation 1:12-13 and Revelation 1:20, we INDEED SEE Jesus is IN THE MIDST of His Church (the Lampstands), and NOW, in Revelation 5, Jesus is in THE MIDST of the 24 ELDERS, further proof that they represent THE CHURCH in heaven, AFTER a Pre-Tribulation Rapture!)

(4.)  THE BLOOD OF SPRINKLING.  Hebrews 9:11-12--“But Christ being COME an HIGH PRIEST of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, NOT MADE WITH HANDS, that is to say, nor of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but BY HIS OWN BLOOD He entered in ONCE into the Holy Place (at God’s heavenly tabernacle), having obtained ETERNAL REDEMPTION for us.”  I cross-reference THIS SCRIPTURE with REVELATION 5:6 (quoted above)--showing Jesus at the throne, the Lamb as He had been slain.

(5.)  MULTITUDES OF ANGELS--(INCLUDING FOUR LIVING CREATURES).  Revelation 5:11--“And I beheld, and I heard the voice of MANY ANGELS round about the throne, and the living creatures (cherubim), and the ELDERS (the Church):  and the NUMBER of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands.”

When we arrive at our DESTINATION, true Church, in the HEAVENLY NEW JERUSALEM, we shall see ALL the INDESCRIBABLE WONDERS and THE GLORIES of heaven, which are described for us in Hebrews (also in Isaiah, Ezekiel and Daniel) and in the book of Revelation.  I can hardly wait to get there!   IT IS OUR HOME! 

Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!

I don’t know about you--but my biggest desire is to GO HOME.  We’re indeed CITIZENS OF HEAVEN--which will be the topic of the next blog.

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