Images of God (Teaching 1 of 5)

Following God Series
Delivered at Harlem Reformed Church, 2013


Matthew 7:13-23; Luke 6:46; 13:22-30 – Many will be deceived that they followed God, only to have Jesus tell them it was all an illusion.

  • Matthew 13:24-30,36-43; 25:1-13 – this will include those who externally seem like really good Christians (the tares/weeds looked like wheat, and the virgins are a symbol of outward purity)
  • Leviticus 10:1-2 – Two sons of Aaron, full of zeal, approached God on their terms–not His terms–and were killed by God.  
  • Leviticus 8 – Both were consecrated and anointed priests
  • Leviticus 16 – this is the Day of Atonement, a day fulfilled perfectly by Jesus’ sacrifice and our trust in Him, and it gives a direct contrast to Leviticus 10:1-2.  This is God’s way to approach Him.

God’s Commands

Exodus 20:1-6:

  1. Do not worship false gods (v. 3)
  2. Do not worship man-made images of the true God, or anything else (vv. 4-6)

God’s Image

  • John 4:24; 1 Timothy 1:17; Hebrews 11:27 – God is spirit.  God is invisible.
  • Rom. 1:20 – God communicates His invisible nature through visible creation
  • Genesis 1:26-27; 2; 5:1-2; Luke 3:38 – Adam and Eve were made in God’s image.  They were THE visible images of the invisible God: 
    • Man is alive (Gen. 2:7) | God is alive (2 Cor. 6:16)
    • The man and woman were multiple people, yet one substance (Gen. 1:27 – “He created him [singular]…He created them [plural]”; Gen. 2:22,24) | God is one substance, yet made up of multiple (i.e. 3) Persons (Gen. 1:26 – “God (singular) said, ‘Let us (plural) make man’”; Matthew 28:19 cf. Mark 12:29)
      • Man is a tripartite being (spirit, soul, body — see Gen. 2:7; Heb. 4:12; 1 Thes. 5:23) | God is a Tripartite being (Matthew 28:19 cf. Mark 12:29)
    • The bride was formed from the man’s life when his side was pierced and he was put to sleep (Gen. 2:18-25) | the bride of Christ was formed from Christ’s life when His side was pierced and He was put to sleep (see Ephesians 5:25-32 and John 19:33-34)
    • Man had dominion over the earth (Gen. 1:26) | God has dominion over everything (2 Chronicles 20:6).
    • Man thinks and creates (Gen. 2:19) | God thinks (1 Cor. 2:11) and creates (Gen. 1:1).
    • The life of man was meant to reproduce and spread (Gen. 1:28) | God’s life is meant to reproduce and spread (Acts 12:24).
    • Man and woman communicated by speaking words (Gen. 3:17) | God communicates by speaking His word (Matt. 4:4).
  • Genesis 3:6-19 – God’s image became corrupted and marred due to sin
  • Gen. 3:12-13 – they took on the nature of the “Accuser”, which is what Satan means.
    • 1 John 2:10 – all who are not born again with God’s Spirit are children of Satan
  • Genesis 9:6; 1 Corinthians 11:7; James 3:9 – even after this image was corrupted, man still carries God’s image in some ways.  We are fractured pictures, showing some things of God, while not giving a completely trustworthy picture.
    • Gen. 3:12-13,21 – man showed the nature of sin and Satan, while also reflecting God’s heart to redeem
    • Malachi 1:6,8,14 – in the midst of Israel’s sinfulness, various human relationships could still illustrate what God is truly like
    • Luke 11:13 – evil fathers show aspects of God as our Father
    • Conclusion: humans give some ideas of God, but cannot be trusted to perfectly reflect what the invisible God looks and acts like any more.  We need a clearer picture, lest we approach Him on false terms that lead to Him ultimately rejecting us when we meet Him face to face!


Jesus is the “exact representation” of God’s nature (Hebrews 1:3, NASB), and the “beloved” Son of God (Luke 3:22).  Furthermore, He is the “only begotten Son” (John 3:16).  Thus, just as a son is the representation of his father, so we can know exactly what the invisible God is like through his only visible Son.  

Discussion:  Jesus no longer walks the earth in the form He did 2,000 years ago.  So how can we clearly see and know what Jesus (God the Son) is like, and thereby know exactly what God (the Father) is like?

The Work of the Holy Spirit

  • The Holy Spirit bears witness to and glorifies Jesus: John 15:26–27, 16:14
  • The Holy Spirit convicts people of sin: John 16:8–11; cf. I Thessalonians 1:4–5
  • The Holy Spirit gives new birth and spiritual life: John 3:3–8; cf. Titus 3:5
  • The Holy Spirit dwells in us: John 14:15–17; cf. I Corinthians 6:19
  • The Holy Spirit teaches us truth: John 14:26, 16:13
  • The Holy Spirit empowers: Acts 1:8; cf. Acts 4:31; I Thessalonians 1:4–5
  • The Holy Spirit enables prayer: Romans 8:26; I Corinthians 14:14–15
  • The Holy Spirit works in spiritual warfare: Acts 13:6–12; Acts 16:16–18
  • The Holy Spirit and miracles: Acts 9:32–35; Acts 9:36–43
  • The Holy Spirit guides/leads/directs: Acts 8:29; Acts 10:19–20; Acts 13:2; Acts 16:6–7; Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:18
  • The Holy Spirit transforms people: Galatians 5:22–23; Romans 5:5; II Thessalonians 2:13
  • The Holy Spirit gives assurance: Romans 8:16; I John 3:24; I John 4:13

Entering the Rest (Full Version)

Rest in the Promised Land

The first purpose of the Promised Land is rest.  We can see this clearly in David’s 95th Psalm:

Today, if you will hear His voice:

“Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion,

As in the day of trial in the wilderness,

When your fathers tested Me;

They tried Me, though they saw My work.

For forty years I was grieved with that generation,

And said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts, 

And they do not know My ways.’

So I swore in My wrath,

They shall not enter My rest.’”

(Psalm 95:7-11)

Here, the Promised Land is called God’s “rest”, which shows that the two things are really one and the same.  God’s Promised Land is God’s Rest. 

In fact, man’s work is directly related to man’s sin.  Adam’s sin brought about incessant toil to all men all of their days (see Genesis 3).  But now in this Psalm, we see the words “My work” in verse 9, and “My rest” in verse 11.  It is only by God’s work that man can enter God’s rest.  This is a divine principle that we must see to have any progress in our Christian life.  When Israel finally gave up trying to save themselves, and called on the Lord, He began to work – saving them from Egypt’s oppression – so that they could cease their work and bondage and enter the Promised Land of Rest.

God’s Creation and Rest

This is the very principle we have set before us at the beginning of creation:

In the creation God worked from the first to the sixth day and rested on the seventh.  We may truthfully say that for those first six days he was very busy.  Then, the task he had set himself completed, he ceased to work.  The seventh day became the Sabbath of God; it was God’s rest.

But what of Adam?  Where did he stand in relation to that rest of God?  Adam, we are told, was created on the sixth day.  Clearly, then, he had no part in those first six days of work, for he came into being only at their end.  God’s seventh day was, in fact, Adam’s first.  Whereas God worked six days and then enjoyed his Sabbath rest, Adam began his life with the Sabbath; for God works before he rests, while man must first enter into God’s rest, and then alone can he work.  Moreover it was because God’s work of creation was truly complete that Adam’s life could begin with rest. (Watchman Nee, Sit, Walk, Stand, p. 16)

Ephesians: Sit, Walk, Stand

How does this translate to Christianity?  It has been said that “of all Paul’s epistles, it is in Ephesians that we find the highest spiritual truths concerning the Christian life” (Sit, Walk, Stand, p. 11).  It is therefore worthy of note that Ephesians begins with this injunction: God “raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus: …for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, that no man should glory” (Eph. 2:6-9, Revised).  This letter in which is found such high and lofty truths for our Christian walk, has this humble beginning, that we sit before we walk.  This is God’s plan for us.  Notice the contrast of sitting as opposed to working.

Most Christians make the mistake of trying to walk in order to be able to sit, but that is a reversal of the true order.  Our natural reason says, If we do not walk, how can we ever reach the goal?…But Christianity is a queer business!  If at the outset we try to do anything, we get nothing; if we seek to attain something, we miss everything.  For Christianity begins not with a big DO, but with a big DONE…

Walking implies effort, whereas God says that we are saved, not by works, but “by grace through faith” (2:8)…We began our Christian life by depending not upon our own doing but upon what he [Jesus] had done.  Until a man does this he is no Christian; for to say: “I can do nothing to save myself; but by his grace God has done everything for me in Christ,” is to take the first step in the life of faith….”Sitting” is an attitude of rest.  Something has been finished, work stops, and we sit…

What does it really mean to sit down?  When we walk or stand we bear on our legs all the weight of our own body, but when we sit down our entire weight rests upon the chair or couch on which we sit.  We grow weary when we walk or stand, but we feel rested when we have sat down awhile….So also in the spiritual realm, to sit down is simply to rest our whole weight – our load, ourselves, our future, everything – upon the Lord.  We let him bear the responsibility and cease to carry it ourselves. (Sit, Walk, Stand, 14-16)

Jesus & Rest

Doesn’t Jesus say during his earthly ministry, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working,” (John 5:17)?  We see that God was hard at work to secure our salvation, and how amazing is Jesus’ cry on the cross: “It is finished!”  God has done all the work, just as God did all the work in saving Israel from Egypt’s bondage.  And what is our responsibility from here?  The same as Israel’s responsibility: to rest in God’s work.

In Hebrews 3:7-4:16, the writer of Hebrews takes the passage we began this section with (Ps. 95:7-11), and explains its implications to us who have been saved.  After quoting this passage, the writer says: “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God” (Heb. 3:12).  This shows what it takes to enter God’s rest: belief.  And how much this agrees with the command to “sit” seen in Ephesians, as we are asked to “sit”, believing that God has done the work.  This is why Israel was not able to enter the Promised Land of which God brought them out of Egypt for that very purpose: “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” (Heb. 3:19).  

“Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.” (Heb. 4:1).  This Promise Land of Rest remains obtainable to believers, in fact we are told to “be diligent to enter that rest” (Heb. 4:11).  What a paradoxical statement that can only be true in light of Christ’s finished work!  “Be diligent to rest,” or we could say “Strive to rest.”  The only work we are told to do is to rest, but what a work this is for Christians (especially those bred on American ideals that you can do anything you put your mind to).  This is such a difficult concept for Western Christianity, yet so pivotal in our study of the normal Christian life.  We must rest in God’s work!  We must rest in God’s work!  How many more times do we need to say it before we believe?  There is a statement in Philippians in which Paul says that he and his companions, “have no confidence in the flesh,” (Phil 3:3).  He doesn’t really mean no confidence in the flesh, does he?  Maybe just not a lot of confidence in the flesh?  Maybe it is hyperbole to make a point?  NO!  Paul literally means he has no confidence in the flesh.  NONE.  He has learned to enter the rest, and has charged us to “be diligent” to do the same.

“For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.” (Heb. 4:10).  This is the meaning of rest: ceasing from your works.  When Jesus’ disciples asked Him what they shall do to work the works of God, His response was plain, simple, and I dare say reprehensible to many Western Christians today: “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” (John 6:29).  Your work is belief (which the Israelites did not accomplish, and for their unbelief they were led to wander the desert).  Nothing more, but nothing less.  

Christians & Rest

This especially goes to those Christians who have been Christians for awhile, and feel that they need to do something to please the Lord who has done so much for them.  It is those particular Christians (whom I have been from time to time), that need to hear this solemn word: REST.  “For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end” (Heb. 3:14).  We do not become partakers of Christ by willing ourselves to be like Him, or by striving to do the works He did.  Yes, He promised we would do His works and even greater works than these, but the way in which we do this is by belief, and from true belief of the heart, our works will flow out.  We must first sit, before we walk.  It is interesting that Peter names so many virtues that Christians should follow in his second epistle (knowledge, self-control, godliness, etc.), and in fact says that “if you do these things you will never stumble” (2 Peter 1:10), but gives a very simple answer for why the Christian man is not doing these things: he “has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins,” (2 Peter 1:9).  This answer agrees with Paul’s.  The source of life comes from seeing and remembering Christ’s work.  

The secret to our Christian walk, and one of the reasons God has brought us out of “Egypt” is to enter His Rest.  A Rest that He has worked so hard on, and a rest that we would defame if we tried to add our own works.  

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28)   

Rest & Fruit

In Matt. 7:17, Jesus speaks of this fruitfulness produced on earth: “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.”  And later He says, “by their fruits you will know them” (Matt. 7:20).  His main point is that you can tell what type of man someone is by the fruit they produce, by their outward actions.  Only good trees are able to bear the good fruit worthy of the Promised Land.

The tendency for many believers, however, is to try to manufacture good fruit from a bad tree.  Let me explain.  Paul says, “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells” (Ro. 7:18).  This is a sobering statement that many of us are slow to realize.  Does Paul really mean nothing?  Surely some things good come from the flesh?  We reason with ourselves in this sort of way, because we’d all like to think of ourselves as “not perfect, but better than the average guy”.  This is why Paul’s statement is such a heavy, piercing sword that we must either deny or agree with.  It is the same with his statement in Phil. 3:3 in which he says he has “no confidence in the flesh”.  Oh, how many of us nod in agreement with this statement, then live out every day in the confidence of our flesh?  This is what I meant when I said that we try to manufacture good fruit from a bad tree.  Any fruit that comes from our flesh will never be worthy of the Promised Land.  This is more than a doctrine, this is a truth.  We must realize that the Promise Land of fruitfulness is a Promise Land of rest.

Jesus says, “Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.  I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5).  According to this passage, our job is never to bear fruit.  Let me repeat: our job is not to bear fruit!  We are given one job, and that is to “Abide in Me”, where the “Me” is Jesus.  When we do this, God’s life produces the fruit in us.  This is the only way to produce the fruits promised in the Promised Land.  

Jesus says to abide (or stay) in Him, and He will produce fruit.  And what is the formula given to enter God’s rest: “hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,” (Heb. 3:14).  How similar they seem, and in fact, they really mean the exact same thing.  To enter the Rest and to produce fruit are the equivalent of entering the Promised Land, and they both are accomplished by the believer in one simple way: faith that Jesus has finished the work.

Does this sound too simple?  For many in the West I think it does.  They say, well, there has to be something we can do for the Lord, because He has done so much for me.  We have such a works-based attitude.  Anything we set our mind to we can do.  But please, please, say along with Paul that you will put “no confidence in the flesh”.  It may sound passive to merely abide in the Lord and He will produce fruit, but it is in fact a very active duty to rely on the Lord and not yourself.  It takes much trust, and it is the only way to produce eternal fruits.  Romans 4 makes it very clear that it is faith, not works, by which we will be justified: “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.” (Ro. 4:2).  And when this faith is real and alive, it will always produce fruits pleasing to God (see James 2:14-26).


Believing God’s Word = REST = Abundance of fruits

Doubting God’s Word –> leads to Sin = Work = NO FRUITS

for we walk by faith, not by sight –

2 Corinthians 5:7

knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him…that we should no longer be slaves of sin

Romans 6:6

reckon yourselves dead indeed to sin, but alive to God

Romans 6:11

God’s Work, Our Rest

  • Genesis 1:1-2:3 – God worked 6 days, rested on the 7th.  Man’s first day was God’s day of rest.  They never saw God create, but knew that it was done.  Dwelled in a garden filled with fruits (Gen. 2:8-9)
  • Genesis 3 – Satan made them doubt God’s Word (Gen. 3:1-5).  Doubting God’s Word led to sin (Gen. 3:6).  Specifically to Adam, God punished him by forcing him to work all of his days (Gen. 3:17-19).  The work only ends when he DIES.  Adam and Eve no longer enjoyed an abundance of fruits (Gen. 3:24).
  • John 5:17 – Jesus is busy at work during His ministry.
  • John 19:30 – Jesus declares that the work is finished.
  • John 6:28-29 – Our only work is to believe in Jesus.
  • Psalm 95:7-11 – Israelites did not believe in God’s work (v. 9).  They were not allowed to enter the Promised Land, which God calls “My rest” (v. 11)
  • Hebrews 3:7-4:16 – Psalm 95 is explained.
    • 3:6 – we dwell in Christ as long as we believe 
    • 3:7 – Even though David wrote, it is accredited to Holy Spirit
    • 3:12 – Evil heart = unbelieving heart
    • 3:14 – we share in Christ as long as we believe
    • 3:17 – word for “bodies” is more appropriately “corpses”, signified that before they physically died they did not have any life because they sinned
    • 3:17-19 – sin = disobedience = unbelief.  All of these are the same.  Belief is key.
    • 4:1 – the promise of rest applies to us today.  There is a possibility of coming short of this rest?
    • 4:2 – we come short of resting if we do not believe God’s Word!
    • 4:3 – when you believe in God’s finished work, you enter the rest
    • 4:4-5 – God had already finished the work, but they still weren’t able to rest because they didn’t believe that the work was finished.
    • 4:5-8 – Israelites did not enter the rest.  Then, about 500 years later, David wrote this Psalm 95.  The argument that the writer of Hebrews is making is that rest is available to anyone who will believe in God’s finished work, as long as the day is called “today” (this is really a catch, because every present day is called “today”).
    • 4:9 – this rest = Sabbath rest
    • 4:10 – secret of rest: do not work, but believe that God has already finished the work!
    • 4:11 – our only work is to strive to enter the rest (John 6:28-29).  This is very difficult for us, because we want so badly to work instead of trust that the work is done, and wait for Christ to work everything out in us.
    • 3:13; 4:12; 4:16 – THREE ways to help us continue resting in God’s finished work:
      • Encouragement from other believers (3:13)
      • Word of God (4:12)
      • Prayer (4:16)
  • Colossians 2:14,16-17 – We are not required to celebrate feasts, Sabbath days, and other things anymore because Christ is the substance.  Christ is our Passover Lamb.  Christ is our Firstfruits.  Likewise, Christ is our Sabbath.
  • Romans 14:5 – Celebrating a literal Sabbath day every week is optional.  Do what is right in your own mind (but do not judge others in celebrating a literal Sabbath [Col. 2:16])
  • Promised Land is known for two things: 1) Rest  2) Fruitfulness – when you are truly at rest and believing that Christ has already done the work, true fruits will follow
  • John 15:1-6 – Our only job is to abide in Jesus (we do this by faith).  It is God’s job to produce the fruits.  When we abide in Christ (this happens by walking out of faith), He will supernaturally produce the fruits in our lives.  The secret to Christianity is not in trying (this is a deception).  The secret is trusting.  God will do, He will just wait until you allow Him to work.
  • Deut. 6:10-11 – all the things in the Promised Land are noted with the phrase: “which you did not”.  God gave cities they didn’t build, houses they didn’t fill, vineyards they didn’t plant, etc.  This is the secret of our Christian walk.  To not try to build or plant, but just rest in the faith that God has already built and planted.  God has finished the work, you have NO work to do.  Only believe that it is done.
  • Phil. 3:3; Rom. 7:18 – there is no good fruit we can produce with our flesh
  • Gal. 2:20 – “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me”
  • Romans 7 – at first, Paul struggled trying not to sin (he “willed” it to happen), then he realized that sin was a law that could not be stopped.
  • Romans 7:25-8:2 – there is a law greater than the law of sin.  Our job is to trust God’s Spirit.
  • Ephesians 2:1-6; 8-10 – sitting comes before walking.  When we are standing, our weight rests on our own feet, when we sit, our weight rests on something outside of ourselves.  Only when we are sitting/resting in another power separate from our own can we really live for Christ (our resting allows God to move).  Ex: man moving in a car by sitting.  Ex: crippled man moving in a wheelchair by sitting.
  • “Christianity begins not with a big DO, but with a big DONE” – Watchman Nee

Hudson Taylor describes his experience with the REST

“…my mind has been greatly exercised for six or eight months past, feeling the need personally and for our Mission of more holiness, life, power in our souls…I prayed, agonized, fasted, strove, made resolutions, read the Word more diligently, sought more time for meditation – but all without avail.  Every day, almost every hour, the consciousness of sin oppressed me.

“I knew that if only I could abide in Christ all would be well, but I could not.  I would begin the day with prayer, determined not to take my eye off Him for a moment, but pressure of duties, sometimes very trying, and constant interruptions apt to be so wearing, caused me to forget Him.  Then one’s nerves get so fretted in this climate that temptations to irritability, hard thoughts and sometimes unkind words are all the more difficult to control.  Each day brought its register of sin and failure, of lack of power.  To will was indeed ‘present with me,’ but how to perform I found not.

“…Instead of growing stronger, I seemed to be getting weaker and to have less power against sin; and no wonder, for faith and even hope were getting low.  I hated myself, I hated my sin, yet gained no strength against it.

“…I knew I was powerless.  I told the Lord so, and asked Him to give me help and strength.  Sometimes I almost believed that He would keep and uphold me; but on looking back in the evening – alas! there was but sin and failure to confess and mourn before God…

“All the time I felt assured that there was in Christ all I needed, but the practical question was – how to get it out.  He was rich truly, but I was poor; He was strong, but I weak.  I knew full well that there was in the root, the stem, abundant fatness, but how to get it into my puny little branch was the question.  As gradually light dawned, I saw that faith was the only requisite – was the hand to lay hold on His fullness and make it mine.  But I had not this faith.

“…McCarthy, who had been much exercised by the same sense of failure but saw the light before I did, wrote (I quote from memory):

‘But how to get faith strengthened?  Not by striving after faith, but by resting on the Faithful One.’

“As I read, I saw it all!  ‘If we believe not, he abideth faithful.’  I looked to Jesus and saw (and when I saw, oh, how joy flowed!) that He had said, ‘I will never leave thee.’

“’Ah, there is rest!’  I thought. ‘I have striven in vain to rest in Him.  I’ll strive no more.  For has not He promised to abide with me – never to leave me, never to fail me?’  And, dearie, He never will.

“…it is a wonderful thing to be really one with a risen and exalted Saviour, to be a member of Christ!  Think what it involves.  Can Christ be rich and I poor?  Can your right hand be rich and your left poor? or your head be well fed while your body starves?  “The sweetest part, if one may speak of one part being sweeter than another, is the rest which full identification with Christ brings.  I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realize this; for He, I know, is able to carry out His will, and His will is mine.  It makes no matter where He places me, or how.  That is rather for Him to consider than for me; for in the easiest position He must give me His grace, and in the most difficult His grace is sufficient.  It little matters to my servant whether I send him to buy a few cash worth of things, or the most expensive articles.  In either case he looks to me for the money and brings me his purchases.  So, if God should place me in serious perplexity, must He not give me much guidance; in positions of great difficulty, much grace; in circumstances of great pressure and trial, much strength?  No fear that His resources will prove unequal to the emergency!  And His resources are mine, for He is mine, and is with me and dwells in me.

“…I am no better than before.  In a sense, I do not wish to be, nor am I striving to be.  But I am dead and buried with Christ – ay, and risen too!  And now Christ lives in me, and ‘the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.’” (Hudson Taylor)

“But are you always conscious of abiding in Christ?”  Mr. Taylor was asked many years later.

“While sleeping last night,” he replied, “did I cease to abide in your home because I was unconscious of the fact?  We should never be conscious of not abiding in Christ.”

“Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret”



  • Luke 17:7-10
    • Ministry in field is different than ministry in the house (v. 7)
    • FIRST question: Is your Lord satisfied? (v. 8)
      • “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:9)
      • Romans 12:1-2: must present bodies as living sacrifices to satisfy the Lord
      • Word search for God being satisfied: only one place in Scriptures does it mention God being satisfied – Isaiah 53:11 (God’s satisfaction is found in His work on the Cross)
  • Ezekiel 44:4-31
    • 44:9 – you cannot enter house with any flesh (Philippians 3:3)
      • 44:11 – those of the flesh could only “stand before” the people (wait for man’s commands)
    • Ezekiel 44:15: “they shall come near Me to minister to Me; and they shall stand before Me to offer to Me the fat and the blood”
  1. COME NEAR – it is not possible to minister to the Lord at a distance (although we can follow at a distance (Mt. 26:58))
  2. STAND BEFORE ME – Must stand and wait for Lord’s commands (Ex. 40:34-38)
  3. OFFER THE FAT – consecrate resurrected life (Romans 6:13)
    1. fat is excess life, surplus life…points to resurrected life?
    2. Exodus 29:10-14 –  consecration of priests: blood poured out at base (v. 12); fat burned on altar (v. 13); flesh burned outside camp as sin offering (v. 14)…sin offering
  4. OFFER THE BLOOD – blood forgives sins (Heb. 9:22)
    1. Pouring out blood = pouring out natural life (Lev. 17:11,14)
    2. Offering blood speaks to pouring out of natural life (Luke 24:39…Jesus had no blood after pouring out natural life) 
  • 44:17-18 – they could not wear clothes that made them sweat
    • sweat = work; consequence of the curse (Gen. 3:19)
  • 44:20 – hair must be short
    • a man’s short hair is a symbol of glory to God (1 Cor. 11:3,14)
    • ministry inside the house involves giving glory to our Head (Christ)
  • 44:21 – can’t have wine
    • wine is symbolic of the fruits of service to man (compare Song of Solomon 1:2 with 1:6 and 7:12), and the pleasures of the world (Ecclesiastes 10:19)
    • “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth – For your love is better than wine” (Song of Solomon 1:2)
  • Romans 6:7,10-19
    • 6:7 – first, know that you have already been crucified with Christ
    • 6:11 – second, reckon yourself crucified (this is seen in resting in God’s finished work, and choosing to walk by faith rather than sight)
    • 6:13 – third, present your resurrected life to God (consecration)
      • the word translated present has “an active sense for which the R.V. translation [King James Version] ‘present’ is greatly to be preferred.  ‘Yield’ contains a passive idea of ‘surrender’…which is not in keeping with the context here in Romans” (Normal Christian Life).
      • Presenting relates to members of your body (6:13,19)
        • God requires that all your members belong wholly to Him
      • “alive to God” (6:11), not to ourselves
      • Ex: “On one occasion a Chinese brother was traveling by train and found himself in a carriage together with three non-Christians who, in order to beguile the time, wished to play cards. Lacking a fourth to complete the game, they invited this brother to join them.  ‘I am sorry to disappoint you,’ he said, ‘but I cannot join your game for I have not brought my hands with me.’  ‘Whatever do you mean?’ they asked in blank astonishment.  ‘This pair of hands does not belong to me,’ he said, and then there followed the explanation of the transfer of ownership that had taken place in his life.  That brother regarded the members of his body as belonging entirely to the Lord.  That is true holiness.” (Normal Christian Life, 102)
      • “present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness” (6:19)
        • holiness = being separated unto God (even animals and things were said to be sanctified)
        • giving yourself wholly to Christ = holiness
      • ROMANS 12:1-2 – presenting our bodies is ministering to God!
    • 6:16 – “SLAVES”
      • slave = possession of another (Jesus purchased you by His blood, and you present your members to Him)

An Example of Consecration…

  • Mark 6:38-44
    • Loaves and fishes were presented wholly to Jesus (v. 41)
    • Jesus blessed and broke the loaves (v. 41)
    • After the breaking and blessing, the food satisfied about 5,000 people (v. 44)
    • Jesus commanded nothing to be wasted (John 6:12)

Old Testament Example…

  • Exodus 12 – PASSOVER FEAST
    • Ex. 12:1-2 – The calendar changed so that the month of Passover became the first month of the year (symbolizing a new beginning)
    • Ex. 12:3 – Lamb chosen 4 days before slaughter (Jesus chosen 4 days before His crucifixion…John 12)
    • Ex. 12:5 – Lamb must be perfect
    • Ex. 12:7,13 – blood put on outside of house, spares firstborn from dying
      • Blood is atones our sins to allow new life
    • Ex. 12:8,11 – they consumed (in haste) the perfect lamb that had been slaughtered
      • Romans 6:6 – we died with Christ
    • Ex. 12:29-30 – only Israelites (who had blood of lamb) were able to have the new life that came from their body (the first born)
      • Romans 6:11,13 – we receive new life
    • Ex. 13:1-2 – all new life was to be consecrated to the Lord
    • Ex. 13:11-12 – consecrated when you are in Canaan, the land of Rest (Ps. 95:11; Hebrews 3-4)
    • Ex. 13:16 – mark on hand and forehead is sign that you belong to the Lord

The Power of the Cross (Part I), Outline


Exodus 12 – Passover

  • Exodus 12:4-7,12-13 – Blood was needed for God to pass over the house and bring new life
  • Exodus 12:8 – Had to take in the dead lamb
    • 12:11 – “eat it in haste” 

Romans 5:1,9

  • Blood justifies us in the sight of God
    • Gives us PEACE with God
    • Deals with the sins we’ve committed

Romans 5:19

  • We commit sins because we are sinners
    • We are sinners because of Adam’s disobedience (v. 19)
      • Romans 3:23 – “all have sinned” shows the result of our nature
    • Ex: Spanish man born in U.S.

How did we become sinners?

  • “through the one man’s disobedience” (Romans 5:19a)
    • Ex: Last name is not chosen, will not change.  
    • Ex: If grandfather died at age 3, I would never exist.  

How do we change?

  • “through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19b)
    • In Christ we receive everything that is of Christ.

Romans 5:19-6:7

  • 6:1 – our nature should be different
  • Since we came in by birth, we must go out by death
    • Death is the secret: “we who died to sin” (v. 2)
    • Ex. Getting rid of alcohol.

How do we die?

  • Romans 6:3 – our death is found in Jesus’ death
  • Romans 6:6 – crucifixion
    • Impossible to commit suicide by crucifixion

How do we get “into Christ Jesus”?

  • 1 Corinthians 1:27-30
    • “you are in Christ Jesus” (v. 30)
    • “By God’s doing” (v. 30)
    • We must accept this as a divine fact
  • In Hebrews 7, all of Israel was included in Abraham collectively (even though they hadn’t been born)
  • 2 Corinthians 5:14 – when Jesus was crucified, all of us were crucified there with Him
    • The Church is called Christ’s Body (Colossians 1:24)
    • Ex: Paper inside book.
  • Romans 6:6; Galatians 2:20; 5:24; 6:14
    • All references in New Testament to being crucified are in the Greek aorist (the “once-for-all” tense, the “eternally past” tense)
  • Impossible to commit suicide by crucifixion
    • God had to put us in Christ

1 Corinthians 15:45,47

  • Beginning of letter shows us we are “in Christ”
  • Jesus = “the last Adam”
    • Relates to His death
    • Crucified as the last Adam
      • We were included (Rom. 6:5)
      • We died with Him as last Adam
  • Jesus = “the second Man”
    • He is the head of a new race
    • Relates to his resurrection
    • Resurrected as second Man
      • We were included (Rom. 6:5)
      • We live with him as the second Man
  • Cross translates us from Adam to Christ

2 Corinthians 5:14,17

  • Out of death there is brought new creation (the second Man)
  • If we are “in Adam” we naturally act sinful, if we are “In Christ” all that is in Christ comes by free grace

How does the truth of our death become real in our experience?

Romans 6-8…

  1. KNOWING (Romans 6:6)
  2. RECKONING (Romans 6:11)


Romans 6:6

  • In Jesus’ death we all died
    • We cannot have justification if we have not seen Jesus bearing our sins on the Cross; we cannot have sanctification if we have not seen him bearing us on the Cross
    • Sins have been laid on Him, we ourselves have been put into Him.
    • How did you receive forgiveness and deliverance?
      • Faith/realization
      • Ps. 106:12: All that is left is praise
  • “Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8)…“Our old man was crucified with him” (Romans 6:6)… “We died with Christ” (Romans 6:8)


  • Romans 6:6 – when Christ died, you died too
    • Hebrews 7:9-10
    • Exodus 12:11

How do we know?

  • Why do you believe that Jesus was crucified?
    • Bible says (John 19:33)
  • Why do you believe two thieves were crucified with Jesus?
    • Bible says (John 19:32)
  • Why believe you have died with Christ?
    • Bible says (Romans 6:6)
  • “It does not depend on your feelings.  If you feel that Christ has died, he has died; and if you do not feel that he has died, he has died.  If you feel that you have died, you have died; and if you do not feel that you have died, you have nevertheless just as surely died.  These are divine facts.  That Christ has died is a fact, that the two thieves have died is a fact, and that you have died is a fact also.  Let me tell you, You have died!  You are done with!  You are ruled out!  The self you loathe is on the Cross in Christ.  And “he that is dead is freed from sin” (Rom. 6:7).  This is the Gospel for Christians.” (Nee)

How are you delivered from sin?

Romans 6:6-7

  • Luke 23:18,21 – crucifixion = “away with this man”
  • Ex: Abusive husband dies.
    • Romans 6:7
  • Man tries to be stronger and stronger, God’s way is to make you weaker and weaker

 “Knowing this…” (Romans 6:6)

What is knowledge of this?

*  Ephesians 1:15-23

*  Revelation…eyes of the heart need to be opened

  • Ex: Watchman Nee’s revelation.
  • Ex: Getting into room we’re already in.
  • Ex: Thermos flask.
  • Prayers should turn to praise

*  Galatians 2:20

Hudson Taylor writes…

“Here, I feel, is the secret: not asking how I am to get sap out of the Vine into myself, but remembering that Jesus is the Vine – the root, stem, branches, twigs, leaves, flowers, fruit, all indeed.”

“I have not got to make myself a branch.  The Lord Jesus tells me I am a branch.  I am part of him and I have just to believe it and act upon it.  I have seen it long enough in the Bible, but I believe it now as a living reality.”

“I do not know how far I may be able to make myself intelligible about it, for there is nothing new or strange or wonderful – and yet, all is new!  In a word, ‘whereas once I was blind, now I see.’…I am dead and buried with Christ – aye, and risen too and ascended…God reckons me so, and tells me to reckon myself so.  He knows best…Oh, the joy of seeing this truth – I do pray that the eyes of your understanding may be enlightened, that you may know and enjoy the riches freely given us in Christ.”

References:  “Normal Christian Life” by Watchman Nee

THE BLOOD OF JESUS: An Introductory Study (Full-Text)

By Brian Holda (2005)


This study may almost seem basic at first, however, when I started looking at this stuff, I realized how much I never really knew about what should be basic things: the blood of Jesus, the power of the cross, etc.  Studying these proved to be life-changing for me.  Much of this material comes from The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee.  

Nee died in the early 1970’s and spent the last twenty years of his life in prison in China.  He is a Chinese man who is acknowledged as one of the leading Bible teachers ever.  Nee would preach in front of thousands who would come from all over the world, and a lot of his preaching was later transposed into books.  One of these books is The Normal Christian Life.


“How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10:29).  In this verse we see that one of the very worst things a human could do, in God’s eyes, is regard Jesus’ Blood as unclean or common.  Counting the Blood as a common or unclean thing deserves supreme punishment from God.  This gives strong reason why we need to talk about the Blood.  Do we count the Blood as common or unclean?  Do we see the holiness of Jesus’ Blood?

At the onset, we must understand why it is essential to study Jesus’ sacrifice.  Rev. 5:8 says, “When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”  Comparing this to John 1:35-37 (“Behold, the Lamb of God!”), we can see that “the Lamb” is another name for Jesus.  

In John 1:35-37, why does John the Baptist introduce Jesus as a Lamb?  Why not say, Here is the Messiah?  Or the Savior?  Or God?  John does not say any of these things.  The only thing he says is, “Look at the Lamb”.  To a Jewish mind, this title would remind them of sacrifice and slaughter.  They knew that the purpose of a lamb is to be sacrificed, so when they heard this they could have recognized that Jesus was sent to die.  Even when Jesus walked on earth, He would be recognized by His sacrifice.  This is the supreme reason He came, and why even after He died He is seen in heaven as a Lamb.  

In heaven, as well as on earth, He is known by His sacrifice.  It is all centered around His sacrifice.  Even the praise music centered around the Lamb – Jesus (see Rev. 5:8)!  

Look at Rev. 5:9: “You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.”  Jesus cannot be separated from His title as Lamb, and the Lamb cannot be separated from the Blood that was slain for all mankind.  This is the scene in heaven.  This is the focus of their prayers and music: the Lamb that was slain.  

It is paramount for us to realize that prayer cannot be a separate thing from Jesus’ sacrifice.  Praise music cannot be a separate thing from Jesus’ sacrifice.  All of our life must be centered around the sacrifice of Jesus.  True worship and true prayer must center around Christ’s sacrifice.  

We will look now at an incident with Samuel, the last judge in the Scriptures.  Samuel is undoubtedly one of the most underrated men in the entire Bible.  Few preachers seem to talk about him today, but in the Bible, Samuel is elevated as a hero of the faith the likes of Moses (see Jeremiah 15:1).  In 1 Samuel 7, Samuel calls forth Israel to pray over them.  While they all are gathered around to receive his prayer, the Philistines (Israel’s enemies) surround Israel in hopes of ambushing and attacking them.  When Israel realizes what is taking place, they become very distressed and yell out to Samuel to not cease praying on their behalf (1 Samuel 7:8).  In 1 Samuel 7:9, though, before Samuel prayed, we see that he sacrificed a suckling lamb first.  It was only after this that he prayed.

The order for Samuel was: 1) sacrifice the lamb, 2) cry out to God.

Verse 10 shows God’s response: “the LORD thundered with a great thunder…and confused them, so that they were routed before Israel.”  Notice also that the wording of verse 10 would imply God did this during the sacrifice of the lamb.  It may have been even before they prayed that God honored their requests because of their faithfulness to sacrifice the lamb.  In verse 13 we see that the Philistines never again came within the border of Israel, “And the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel.”

There are perhaps only a few today, if any, who have this kind of power before God in prayer against the enemy – the power that sent the Philistines to never again come within the borders of Israel.  The thing we all must notice is that Samuel, who was a great prayer warrior, before he would even pray, had to sacrifice the lamb.  He has clear priorities, and God seemed to agree with these priorities.  He was not someone who said in haste, “Let’s pray right now!  Let’s pray right now!”  No.  First, he had to sacrifice the lamb, and then he went to prayer.  

Today, we don’t take lambs to the temple to offer up for sacrifice anymore, because Jesus is the Lamb.  Our duty, then, is to understand fully what Jesus did in His sacrifice.  This is what we must do now, and this is why it is given us in the Scriptures.  This is why it is so important.  I guarantee it for your prayer life, if nothing else.  If we do not understand Christ’s sacrifice, I believe it is entirely impossible to have the power Samuel had in prayer.  We must understand the sacrifice before we can become prayer warriors.  

The BLOOD and “SINS” as compared to the CROSS and “SIN”

To fully understand Christ’s sacrifice, we would need to read the book of Romans.  Romans is the heart of the gospel in full measure – the Blood, the cross, what it means for us, etc.  We will now draw our attention to the Blood.  

The focus of Romans 3:20-26 is specifically on the blood.  Romans 3:25 speaks of Jesus as the One “whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith”.  So what does the Blood of Jesus concern?  Verse 20 says, “by the works of the law no flesh will be justified,” and verse 25 tells us that God “passed over the sins previously committed,”.  We must be clear that Christ’s Blood and Christ’s cross deal with two separate things according to Romans.  The Blood deals with the actual deeds you have done – the actual sins.  This is why the Bible tells us that by the Blood our deeds have been justified.  Whereas the cross deals with who you are – the sinner.  

There is this clear distinction in Romans.  In the first 4 ½ chapters of Romans there is a key word: sins.  This is a plural word that speaks of the actual deeds you have committed.  Another key word in this section is “Blood”.  This is because the blood is what covers your sins.  We praise God that all of our sinful deeds are covered by Christ’s Blood, but we must see that God does not want to end there.  We also, as humans, are sin factories.  We produce sins all the time.  God must kill this factory to give us a new life as well.  We have to be clear on this distinction.  

The Blood, then, answers the problem of our sins, deals with what we have done, and it changes our conscience.  Whereas the cross answers the problem of our sin (singular).  It deals with the sinner.  The nature of this study is to deal with the Blood, which handles our deeds, but in a future study we hope to see how God deals with our person and changes our lives as well.  


We have spoken previously of the Blood justifying our sins, but it must be noted that this does not excuse our sins.  In Romans 5 it says that by Christ’s blood we are justified before the Lord.  This doesn’t make our sins right, but it means that we have been justified by Christ’s Blood.  A definition of justified that speaks precisely of the nature of our justification is this: just-as-if-I’d never sinned.  This is the way I think of justified.  By no means does this say that God excuses your sins, but rather Christ’s Blood acquits your sins as if to say you are totally innocent of what you should be charged for.  He trades Jesus’ Blood for your sins.  The Cross, however, must kill the sinner, so that we can have Jesus’ new life.  

Now we must talk about sins.  Romans 5:12 says that SIN entered the world through one man and made all people sinners, and Romans 5:19 says that through the DISOBEDIENCE of one man many were made sinners.  These verses contrast Adam with Jesus.  In verse 12 it is called sin, and in verse 19 it is called disobedience.  This gives us a definition of sin: disobedience.  Disobedience from God’s nature, disobedience from God’s law, disobedience from all of what God has given.  This is what sin is.  

We turn our attention now to the beginning of creation to see all of the effects of sin, and all of where the Blood answers those effects.  In Genesis 2:15-17, the LORD God is giving commands to the man.  God is talking directly to the man, and says that the only thing Adam must obey is one negative commandment: Do not eat from that tree.  Of course we know what happens.  

Look now at Genesis 3:6-9.  Verse 8 indicates that the first result of their eating the fruit was hearing God walking in the garden.  We already saw that God was in the immediate presence of the man (Gen. 2:15-17) and gave an immediate command to them.  But after they eat the fruit, they hear God walking in the distance.  This indicates that they are no longer in God’s immediate presence.  In one sense, God can no longer see them.  

“Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” (Gen. 2:9).  This is chilling to me.  I have thought about this verse over and over.  How would it have been to have God ask where are you?  It clearly means that you are no longer in His presence.  You are nowhere to be found in God’s presence.  Where are you?  I personally think that all of heaven must have curled down right at that point when God asks, Where are you?, to his supreme creation.  They left the presence of God there, and even later they were driven out of the entire garden.  The very first effect of sin is that you cannot live in God’s presence.

The next effect of sin can be gleaned by comparing Genesis 2:25 and Genesis 3:10.  Before they ate the fruit, they were “naked and not ashamed”, but after eating the fruit their eyes were opened and they were ashamed.  This is the next effect of sin.  Their eyes were opened, and they felt ashamed.  

I think we all know this to be the pattern of sin in our own life.  When something happens, we cannot be in God’s presence.  Before we knew Jesus we could never be in God’s presence.  The next thing, though, is that we feel ashamed.  While God is over here saying, Where are you?, they are over there hiding from God.  They hid.  Sometimes we think that the only thing that separated them from God was God Himself removing His presence, but that is not all.  They did not want to see God either.  When God wasn’t there, they still didn’t want to be where God was, because they were ashamed.

Now we will look at the third effect of sin.  Genesis 1:28 tells us that Adam and his wife had God’s power to control the things of the air, water, and earth.  “Rule over…every creeping thing that moves on the earth.”  This must include serpents.  Every animal they have control over.  However, the reason they sinned was because of obeying the request of the serpent.  The serpent came and said, “Isn’t this enticing fruit?” and they answered to him.  

Genesis 3:13 reveals their loss of dominion.  Eve says, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”  Yet, she was supposed to have dominion over the serpent.  They relinquished their dominion when they let the serpent reign over their lives instead of the other way around.  They lost their power because they listened to the serpent.  This is why we are called enemies of God before we are Christians: we were on Satan’s side.  

In fact, Satan’s whole nature is accusing.  In Rev. 12:10, he is called the accuser.  Even the Hebrew word, Satan, literally means, ”the accuser”.  Satan is characterized by his accusing.  After Adam and Eve ate the fruit, though, their immediate response to God was accusing.  The man accused the wife of giving the fruit, and the wife accused the serpent.  This shows clearly that they took on part of Satan’s nature when they ate the fruit and started accusing others.  This is why Jesus calls all those who live in sin, in essence, children of the devil (John 8:44).  When we sin, Satan has usurped authority over us.  In Genesis 3:14, Satan is cursed to eat only the dust of the earth, yet it must be noted that Adam was formed of dust.  Satan had dominion (and still today has it) over all those born of Adam.  

To review, we see that the problem of sin has three parts:

  1. God-ward: separating us from God
  2. Manward: shame towards God
  3. Satan-ward: Satan gains dominion     

Since these are the effects of sin, the Blood must answer to all three of these things.  God already foreshadows this by covering the nakedness of the man and woman with animal skins (see Gen. 3:21).  To hide their shame and nakedness, God used animal skins, indicating that blood must be shed to truly cover them.  This is such a contrast with the covering of fig leaves.  Fig leaves may cover them for a season, but then wither away the next.  They will never last, and such is all covering outside of the Blood of Christ.


To answer the problem of sin God-ward, let’s turn to Leviticus 16.  This chapter focuses on the Day of Atonement.  This feast was celebrated one day of the year.  It was the only day of the year that the high priest would enter the immediate presence of God.  And, as seen by the title of this feast, this day was a day centered on atonement.

Leviticus 17:11 says: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.”  Blood is here associated with atonement.  There are 100 different places in the Bible where we see blood linked with atonement.  For this reason, it seems that we must study the Day of Atonement if we are going to study the power of the Blood, because this is the actual day given specifically for atonement of sins.  

On this Day of Atonement, the high priest would come and take two goats, sacrificing one of these goats.  Leviticus 16:15 tells us that the priest sacrificed the goat outside of the temple, where all of the people were.  Hebrews 13:11-12 shows us that this relates to Jesus, who was sacrificed “outside the camp”.  Jesus, like the slaughtered goat, was sacrificed in public for everyone to see.  In the Day of Atonement, the whole public was there with the high priest.  The high priest came and sacrificed the goat for everyone to see.  It was a public presentation of the sacrifice.  

After this, the priest would take the blood that he gathered from that sacrifice and go inside the veil of the Holy of Holies, where no one can see, and sprinkled the blood seven times on all of the things there.  Lev. 16:17 describes this.  The first thing we notice is that no one, besides the high priest, was allowed to enter.  The high priest was making atonement for everyone’s sins, yet no person could see this transaction.  The people’s sins were being taken care of without their seeing.  It is only between the high priest and God at this point, and the people were left to trust that this is what actually took place.  This shows us that, first of all, the blood is for God’s eyes.  The blood was presented for God.  

Hebrews 9:7 testifies that ONLY the high priest was allowed to enter, to forgive the sins of everybody.  Vv. 11-12 shows us that the most holy place (the Holy of Holies) that the priest entered is a symbol for heaven.  We see here that Jesus is called the High Priest, and He carried His own blood, just as a high priest carries the blood of goats during the Day of Atonement.  As a high priest, Jesus was able to go up, and only Jesus, and present His blood before God on behalf of all of us.  We never saw that transaction.  None of us were there, and really, none of us could have been there.  Jesus was the only one allowed to go there as a high priest, and we are not allowed to watch.  However, we must realize that this work has been taken care of.  Why did this happen?  Because the Blood is first of all for God’s eyes.  God is the first one concerned.  In one sense, we can say that it is between God and God!  

Also, the fact that only one person can enter the Holy Place tells us that Jesus truly is the ONLY way to come to God.  There are good verses that testify to this (John 14:6, Acts 4:12), but this Day of Atonement shows us the concept of why Jesus is the only way to God.  It is all about the Blood.  Jesus had to show this to God on our behalf, because the blood is for God’s eyes.  Jesus is the only one who can restore our relationship and fellowship with God.

In Lev. 16:20-22, we see that after the transaction, both the high priest who was in the Holy Place, and the people who were not there (they just had to believe that it happened), took the second goat and sent him to the desert.  The priest was, in essence, showing the people the reality of what took place in the transaction with the blood.  This goat was sent far away from their presence.  This is a picture of what happens when we accept that Jesus went to God the Father, after He resurrected, and offered His Blood.  We were not there.  We have to accept this.  Just as the goat went into the wilderness, our sins have been sent away too.

Romans 5:8-9 tells us that we who believe have been justified by Christ’s Blood.  We are saved – we are spared; our sins are on that goat – when we believe that Jesus presented His Blood for God’s eyes first.  What is our responsibility, then?

The focus of Lev. 16 is first on the high priest then later it goes to the people (all of the people who saw the public sacrifice).  Lev. 16:29-31 gives the people a very clear job concerning this sacrifice.  For the people on the outside, their job was to do nothing.  That was their only job, and this is really good news for us.  The only things they were supposed to do were to rest and humble themselves.  They humbled themselves because they could do nothing.  They had to accept verse 30: “it is on this day that atonement shall be made for you”.  They had to accept the finished work in that Holy of Holies that they could not be a part of.  They must accept this and simply rest, acknowledging that fact.  And actually, the way they did this was through fasting.  This becomes an interesting and powerful way to look at fasting when we see that we are not doing any work when we are fasting.  We are only humbling ourselves to let the high priest do the work.  This is a very powerful picture to realize that the Blood is first of all for God’s eyes, and our job is to rest in that work.

Another foreshadowing of the Blood of the Lamb is seen in the Passover Feast of Exodus 12.  Let us remember that both Exodus and Leviticus were written 1,500 years before Christ was ever born.  Just think of how specific everything is with what Jesus did and the work it does in us, and yet it was written centuries before Christ was even born.  It seems that in the Passover Feast, itself, the entire book of Romans can be seen.

Exodus 12:5-8, 12-13 shows some of the requirements for this feast.  

The final plague of Egypt was the killing of the firstborns.  The only thing that saved someone from this was the blood of the lamb that was spread on their doorframe.  The blood was spread on the top of the door, and the two sides.  Many have commented that this makes the shape of the cross, probably as a type for Jesus’ Blood that was shed on the cross.  But we must also remember that it was on the doorposts on the outside of the house that the blood was spread.  During this feast, the people had a specific job as seen in verse 8.  The job of the people was to stay inside when this all took place.  They were to stay inside, eating and enjoying this feast.  Specifically, they were eating the lamb that had just been slaughtered – the dead lamb.  I believe this is part of the crucifixion of Christ.  You take in His death, dying with Him.  

So they are all taking this in and eating when God comes by and looks at the blood (see v. 13).  They never saw this transaction.  It doesn’t matter though, because the Blood is first off only for God’s eyes.  God has to see it first.  That is the true power of the Blood.  And we must trust that if He sees it, then it is done.  Our job is only to take in the death of Christ, inside the house, apart from this transaction.  

Remember also that the firstborn was being spared from this act.  What does this mean?  The firstborn always symbolizes your new life.  It is the new life that comes from you when you join with another.  If you have the Blood, then, that God sees, you get to have new life.  This is a powerful allusion here.  It is the Blood that covers your sins, God erases them, and you also take in the death of the Lamb and get new life to live.  Egypt, however, did not have the blood to cover them, so their firstborn had to die.  They could not have new life.  New life begins when God sees the Blood of His Son.  

Hebrews 12:14 tells us that without holiness, no one can see or will see the LORD.  This shows the foolishness of us when we think we can make it to heaven by our own merits.  God does not care how much better you are than other people.  The only requirement to see the LORD is holiness.  We must be holy to be in the presence of God and to see God.  This is a serious matter.  It is not a matter of being better than the other people.  It is about being holy.  So how can we be holy?

1 Peter 1:18-19 shows a contrast between Jesus’ Blood and silver and gold.  The Blood is spoken of as better than silver and gold because those things perish and do not last forever, but the Blood will last longer than silver and gold.  In God’s eyes, that is enough for Him to see.  He only needs to see the Blood on the doorposts, so to speak, and He moves on.  It is enough.  We, then, need to stop trying to feel out the Blood.  We need to cease asking if the Blood really covers all of our sins.  Stop asking, Does it REALLY cover all?  There are some sins we have committed that make us question if God would really forgive us.  We have to look through God’s eyes, and see that He calls the Blood “precious” (v. 19).  When we ask what God’s value of the Blood is, who cares how much we really feel that it doesn’t cover all of our sins.  First off, the Blood is not even for you.  It’s all on the outside of the doorposts.


We see, then, that the Blood was offered when Jesus went up to God.  This transaction was only for God’s eyes, and we receive, by faith, that our sins are covered.  But what about where this directly relates to us?  We remember that when God called out to Adam and Eve that they were not in His presence, but they did not want to be in His presence either.  They would rather cover their nakedness with some temporary thing and hide in shame, than seek God.  Today, then, when God says “Yes” to us, why do we still hide in shame?

Hebrews 10:22 shows another aspect of the Blood of Jesus.  Here we read that our hearts are sprinkled from a guilty (or evil) conscience.  We must first realize that this does NOT mean that our whole heart is made completely pure.  Jeremiah 17:9 says that our heart is beyond cure.  In God’s eyes, your heart cannot be cured.  If your heart can’t be cured, God needs to give you a new heart.  In Ezekiel 36:26, God says “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you”.  These Scriptures prove that the cleansing of Hebrews 10:22 is not in purifying your old heart.  Rather, this verse speaks of cleansing your conscience.  The conscience says there is still a barrier between God and myself, that God would not want to really interact.  It tells us that we can’t have true prayer with God because of sins committed last year, earlier today, etc.

God answers this in the first part of Heb. 10:22: “let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith”.  We can see here that faith and our conscience are linked together.  This is consistent throughout the Scriptures (1 Tim. 1:19, for instance).  From our personal experience, how often has a guilty conscience plagued us from having a strong faith?  You may have faith in the Lord, and faith that you can pray, but if you have a guilty conscience, how long does your faith usually last?  We all know that our faith never lasts long in such circumstances.  We may have much faith, but still say, “I can’t talk to God, because my conscience is so guilty.”  Faith and conscience go together here.  But if we see, through the power of the Word, that Christ’s Blood cleanses our guilty conscience, and take this statement in faith, we will be granted a new faith and a new boldness in approaching God.  We don’t have shame and guilt anymore and we can’t have shame and guilt anymore.  Guilt and shame are not the work of the LORD, because our conscience has been cleansed by the Blood of Jesus.  

Hebrews 10:19 shows us that we enter God’s presence with confidence by the Blood of Jesus.  If we realize this fact, that we are allowed in prayer – in faith – to enter by the Blood of Jesus, then the struggle is done.  You can never have a guilty conscience.  Christ’s Blood excludes a guilty conscience.  We must enter by the Blood.

What does it mean to enter by the Blood of Jesus?  I believe this is an accepting that, first of all, the Blood is for God’s eyes and the justification is done – God only needed to see the Blood to pass over your sins.  The second action of entering by the Blood is a confessing of sins to God as He exposes those sins.  Entering by the Blood is accepting that I can’t be holy except by the Blood of Jesus.  To enter by the Blood is resting in the work of Jesus’ Blood, in the work that our High Priest did.  Not only does this allow us to come to the presence of God, but it allows us to come with boldness and confidence (Heb. 10:19).  My feeling is that today, in this place, we don’t have much boldness in our prayer life and in our asking.  There is a true lack of boldness.  

For example, look at the manner of prayer Jesus teaches us to pray.  We all know this: “Our Father/ Who art in heaven…”  In Matthew 6:11, Jesus tells us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.”  How many of us can say that we talk to God in this manner, “Give us”?  How many are that bold to ask of God and say, “Give us”?  Jesus says, though, that this is our model prayer.  We are much more likely to say, “Please, if you will…”.  Many times I’m afraid our prayers are watered down because we don’t understand the value of the Blood.  We don’t understand that we are brought in and purchased by the Blood.  We don’t understand that our conscience has been cleansed.  If we begin to understand the power of the Blood, we can have much boldness in our prayer life.  Do we see this?

We can know, by the Blood, that we can ask God for things that we previously had no right to ask.  This is our problem, that we know we have no right to come before God and ask anything of Him.  We know He’s already done too much for us.  We know this, so we start wondering if we can really be so bold to ask for much from God.  But this seems to be an unscriptural attitude.  We must see the value of the Blood.  We should have boldness in the LORD now, and see that our conscience has been cleansed.              

Ephesians 2:13 explains that the Blood first brings us near to God.  Consequently, as seen in Hebrews 10:22, we later are called to draw near ourselves through the power of the Blood.  So first, the Blood brings us to God’s presence, and then, after this, we must draw near.  This is the pattern.  The blood brings us near, yet we must also draw near by the Blood.  This is not a one-time deal.  Every hour, every minute, every second, we are to enter by the Blood.  We are to understand that our conscience has been cleansed – all of the shame is done.  

I believe an example of coming by the Blood can be seen in Daniel 9.  Daniel is here praying on behalf of the entire Israelite nation.  Israel was being beaten and enslaved, yet Daniel came boldly before God in prayer.  In Daniel 9:15-16, we can see his example.  In verse 15, Daniel confesses the sins of Israel.  This is part of what it means to come by the Blood: to recognize that you have sinned and messed up.  After this, though, Daniel appeals to God by saying, “in accordance with all Your righteous acts” (Dan. 9:16).  Remember, Daniel is praying that an entire nation be freed from their slavery and punishment that they deserved.  This was not, then, any small request, but he appeals to God’s righteousness.  He gained his boldness by leaning on God’s righteousness.  He understood what too few of us seem to grasp.  He could ask bold prayers, not because he’s had a good day.  Not because he’s prayed a little more today or been reading the Bible a little more today, or because he’s done a good deed today.  He didn’t come with any of those things.  He didn’t say to God, “Answer me now because I have done this for you and that for you.”  No.  He knew that even though he, himself, may not have acted sinfully, the whole people have sinned and he was part of them.  He knew this, and yet understood a precious truth: God will answer when you appeal to His RIGHTEOUSNESS.  And His supreme act of righteousness is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  

When we appeal today to the Blood of Christ, we know we can ask bold things.  This is a precious truth.  Too many times we have all believed that it is only on “good” days that we can pray powerfully to God.  We believe that it is only when I have done a little extra “goodness”.  It is only when I have done something good.  And on those bad days when we mess up and acted in disobedience in some way, we never have a good prayer life.  This is all due to our mixed-up priorities.  We think it is about how good we have been, when according to God, it is all about His Blood – entering the prayer room by His Blood, entering closer to Him, by His Blood.  We must understand that no matter how bad you’ve sinned, Jesus’ Blood has covered it, if you are willing to receive the work of His Blood.  

In Hebrews 10:1-4, the author of Hebrews is comparing Jesus’ blood with the blood sacrificed in the Old Testament Law.  The author says that the blood used in the Old Testament was not worth as much as Jesus’ blood.  Verse 2 says, “If it could, would they not have stopped being offered?  For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins.” (NIV).  If the blood they used was as worthy as Jesus’ blood, they would have no longer felt guilty.  For us, then, we should no longer feel guilty.  There should be no guilt here.  By Jesus’ blood, your conscious has been cleansed.  

Our guiltiness is much of Satan’s work (as we shall see shortly) in accusing us and telling us that we’re not good enough.  This happens when our eyes look away from Jesus’ blood.  The blood, though, is first for God’s eyes.  During the Passover, He only had to see the blood on the outside, no matter what was happening on the inside.  It is first for God’s eyes, we must know this.  There should be no more guilt, because the Blood of Jesus is all sufficient.  We need to be certain not to treat the Blood of Jesus as a common or unclean thing (see Heb. 10:29).  The Blood of Jesus is a supremely Holy thing.  No matter how bad you may sin, you cannot change the power and holiness of the Blood.  God has already accepted this, and we must too.  


Finally, we need to study the answer that the Blood gives Satan-ward.  This is our last problem.  We see how God accepts the Blood.  We see how our conscious has been cleansed.  Now we need to deal with Satan’s work.  

As we have said, the chief duty of Satan is to accuse.  There are two ways that Satan can accuse.  He used to be allowed in the presence of God, and he would go and accuse people in God’s presence.  He used to be able to go to God and point at so-and-so, and say, He messed up here, here, and here.  And God had to say, “Yes, you’re right, and I can’t [in one sense] do anything about it, because he is on your side.”  

This was the power Satan had over them before the Blood of Christ.  He could accuse us before God and he could accuse us before ourselves as well.  He could say to us, “You’re not worthy!  You’re not worthy to receive anything from God!”

We need to look at how this has been answered by Jesus’ Blood.  In Hebrews 9:7 we see that the high priest could enter the Holy room only by the blood.  This means that Jesus was qualified to enter because He carried his own Blood.  He could enter the Holy room and be in God’s presence.  As High Priest, Jesus is allowed to do many things on our behalf.  

Hebrews 7:24-25 tells us that Jesus, as High Priest, is now able to intercede on our behalf.  Remember that when man sinned he joined the side of Satan, because Satan had total accusation against him.  Satan could truly say about man that he had sinned and messed up, because Satan knows that God’s only standard is holiness and man fell short of this standard.  (We have all fallen short of the glory of God).  Everyone has fallen short of God’s standard.  But then Jesus came and, by His Blood, entered the presence of God where He can now act on our side.  This is only because of His Blood.  It’s not because we’ve done something good.  He could act on our side because of His Blood, and He can start interceding for us, against Satan.  

Since this has happened, what is Satan able to say against us now?  What can he do now that Jesus is in the presence of God?  How can he be against us?  Romans 8:31 says, “What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who is against us?”  Paul asked the question before I did.  If Jesus did all of these things for us, if He is on our side making intercession, who can be against us now?  

Rom. 8:32-33 says, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?  Who will bring a charge against God’s elect?  God is the one who justifies”.  Paul asks the question again: Who will now bring the charges?  Satan was able to do this.  He was able to come to God and say, “He’s done this, he’s done this, he’s done this, he’s done this…” and he was fine to say that.  But Paul asks who can do this now?  Why can’t Satan?  Because it is God who justifies.  By Christ’s Blood you have been justified.  Satan can’t sit there anymore.  Jesus says that He saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven (Luke 10:18).  Without treating this subject in depth at this time, we can see that Satan used to be able to go before God and accuse the people.  But now, who can do that?  When God is on your side, when you’ve joined the side of God, when you’ve given your life over to the LORD, who can do that now?

Romans 8:34 says, “who is the one who condemns?  Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.”  Who, then, can really kill us?  This says that Christ Jesus died and rose, so Satan can’t get us there.  Jesus is also there now making intercession for us.  He has been doing this for 2,000 years, on behalf of all those who have joined His side and accept His Blood.  Satan has no way anymore.  This may be one of my favorite aspects of the Blood.  Think about it, Satan was able to charge me on everything I’ve done.  He could say, “You’ve done this, you’ve done this, you’ve done this…” and I had no power because I knew he was right.  I knew I had messed up.  But who can do that anymore when Christ is on your side?  Jesus is making intercession because of His Blood.  

1 John 1:7 says, “but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”  This tells us that Jesus cleanses us from all sin.  All sin.  This does not mean all sin in a general or vague sense, but it may be more accurate to say every sin, as the Greek implies here.  Every single sin.

This gives us a problem and a solution.  This scripture states, “if we walk in the Light”.  This is a problem because our darkness is exposed when we are walking in the Light, in the presence of God.  The Light exposes all of our darkness.  This is a very real problem for us, and if this verse stopped there, we would be in danger.  If we’re walking in the presence of God, then He has light on all of us.  Every single thing you did.  What you did ten years ago, five years ago, and this morning.  We are totally in the light now.

This reminds me of Song of Solomon.  In this book you have a beautiful picture of the Bride and Husband which is symbolic of Christ and the Church.  One of the first things that happened in this book is the drawing away of that beautiful Bride into the bed chambers of the Husband.  Immediately she is taken into this intimate place with the Husband.  When she was there, though, the light of the Husband’s presence showed that she had been darkened by the sun.  This was exposed when she was in such an intimate presence with the Husband.  This is what happens to us.  When we are brought into an intimate presence with Christ, our darkness is brought into the light.  This would not be a good thing for us.  God literally cannot stand to be in the presence of anything short of holiness.  He must have holiness.  But the reason we can now have fellowship in the Light is because of the Blood of Jesus.  The blood cleanses us of every sin.  Every sin.  This is why Song of Songs 1:5 has the bride saying she is “dark but lovely”.  She is dark because the light exposes her darkness, but lovely because the Husband has remedied her darkness (with the Blood of Christ).  

Before the Blood of Christ, Satan could go to God and say, “Well such-and-such has done this, this, and this.”  And God could only say, “You’re right.”  We all used to be enemies of God in a very real sense.  But now, everywhere Satan points, God can answer back with the blood of His Son.  Satan will point to this, and God answers with the Blood.  Satan will point to that, and God answers with the Blood.  Every sin has been covered.  

It reminds me of the introduction to James Bond movies.  In these, James shoots the TV screen and a red color (symbolizing blood) fills the screen.  There is then a covering of blood between the viewer and James Bond’s character.  This is helpful to think about.  It is as if I am like James Bond, and God is watching this picture of what I am doing, but there is a lens of Blood that covers everything that I do.  This is a direct answer to Satan’s accusations.  There is nothing he can point to that is not covered by the blood.

1 John 2:1-2 says: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.  And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”  Here we see that God hopes that we live without sin, and He gives us His Word to combat our sinful nature.  BUT, we also need to realize that Christ is now our advocate if we sin.  Every sin we commit is answered by our Advocate, Jesus Christ.  It is through His Blood that He acts as advocate whenever we sin.  We need to see that Christ’s Blood has given provision for all sins that we could commit.  Past, present, and future.

It seems that a similar picture is spoken of prophetically in Zechariah 3:1-5.  Joshua is seen here with two figures standing before him: “the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him”.  (The angel of the LORD is thought to be Jesus).  Satan is seen here accusing, as his nature entails.  In this scene, it is the Lord who rebukes Satan and his accusations.  Joshua, though, was still clothed with filthy garments for Satan to accuse.  In order for the LORD to rebuke Satan’s accusations, He must remove the filthy garments from Joshua’s life.  He does this, and gives him new garments so that Satan has no room for accusing.  Revelation 19:8 shows that clean garments are the righteous acts of the saints, and Romans says explicitly that our righteousness comes from Christ’s blood, so it seems that the garments given to Joshua in Zechariah 3 speak of Christ’s Blood shed on our behalf to wash us clean.

As we have seen, Satan has lost all of his power to accuse people before God, on account of the Blood of Jesus.  He used to be able to point out our sins in the presence of God, but now there is not one sin he can point to that has not been covered by the Blood.

Revelation 12 shows Satan being hurled down from heaven, not allowed there anymore.  But his presence is still very much upon the earth.  Rev. 12:17 shows Satan being enraged with Christians, and reveals that he will constantly attack us.  Even in Gen. 3:15, although Satan’s head will be crushed, he still will be able to strike the heel of the offspring of Jesus.  He has lost all accusations before God because of the Blood, but he still seeks to accuse the conscience of Christians today.

Satan will say to Christians, “You have sinned, and keep on sinning.  You are weak, and God can have nothing more to do with you.”  Immediately, our response is either to look within and self-defend, or to travel into depression and despair.  We will try to convince ourselves and Satan that we are strong and can stop sinning on our own.  But, as soon as we do this we have lost the battle.  Satan will always win if we try to look for our own righteousness, and ignore the righteousness of Jesus.

In Philippians 3:3, Paul says he puts no confidence in his flesh.  NO confidence.  He has learned that it is not the flesh that will defeat Satan.  In fact, the Serpent feeds off of the dust of the earth (Gen. 3:14).  Since Adam was made of dust, and we are his offspring, we only feed Satan when we live by the flesh and look for victory in our flesh.  Our key is to stop looking at ourselves to defend against Satan, and look instead to Jesus and His finished work.  Hebrews 12:1-2 talks of running the race by “fixing our eyes on Jesus”.  Any runner who looks downward at himself will only trip up and fall.  When Satan accuses us, we must rather point to Jesus’ finished work and the Truth of God’s Word.  When Satan says, “You are weak and sinful and God wants nothing to do with you,” we need to learn to say, “IT IS WRITTEN that Christ’s Blood covers every sin.”  We need to learn to constantly point to Jesus and His work, because His work will never change.  We will always have good and bad days, but Jesus’ work will never change.

A man who is under accusation is a man not trusting in the Blood.  The Blood always speaks in man’s favor.  It answers every unrighteous act we have committed or will commit.  We need to know God’s Word on this matter and stop listening to Satan.  Christ is truly our Advocate, but the accused have sadly sided with the accuser (Satan).  It is God ALONE who can answer Satan’s accusations, by His Blood.  For even Michael the archangel did not try to argue with Satan, but rather said, “The Lord Rebuke you!” (Jude 9).  

We will win against Satan’s accusations if we always answer him with the Blood.  Our faith and obstinacy in the precious Blood silences Satan and puts him to flight (see Romans 8:33-34).  In Revelation 12, when Satan is thrown down from heaven and goes to accuse the Christians, they were able to overcome him using 3 weapons.  The very first weapon they used was the Blood of the Lamb:  “the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.  And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb…” (Rev. 12:10-11).  This is a most precious Truth about the Blood of the Lamb.


We have seen that the Blood of Christ has answered every problem created by sin.  First God-ward, then Man-ward, and finally Satan-ward.  It is also by this very same blood that we were purchased as slaves of righteousness unto God (1 Cor. 6:20).  At the end of our study, then, we must ask one final question: 

What would happen if we valued Christ’s Precious Blood the way God values it?

APPENDIX A – Appropriating the Blood in our life.

Excerpt from “If Anyone Sins” by Watchman Nee…


…we must first realize that the Lord Jesus has borne all our sins on the cross. All the sins which we have committed, as well as those we are committing and will commit during our whole life, were borne by the Lord on the cross.

However, on the day we believed in the Lord, under God’s light we only saw the sins that we had committed before we had believed. A man can only be conscious of the sins which God shines His light upon; he cannot feel the sins which he has not yet committed. Therefore, the actual sins the Lord Jesus bore on the cross are more than the sins that we see. The Lord Jesus bore all of our sins on the cross, but we see only the sins which we have committed.

You may have been saved at the age of sixteen, or you may have been saved at the age of thirty-two. All the sins you committed before your salvation are absolutely and totally forgiven by the Lord. However, at the time of your forgiveness, the number of sins that you were conscious of was actually much less than the actual number of sins which the Lord bore for you. Your experience of the Lord’s grace went only so far as your personal experience of your sin. But the Lord’s work on our behalf was based on His knowledge of our sins. We must realize that even the sins that we are not conscious of are included in the Lord Jesus’ redemption.

Perhaps you were saved at the age of sixteen. Suppose you had committed a thousand sins during the first sixteen years of your life. You might have said at the time you believed in the Lord, “I thank You. My sins have been forgiven because You have taken away all my sins.” In saying that the Lord had taken your sins away, you meant that the Lord had dealt with your one thousand sins. What would have happened if you had been saved at the age of thirty-two instead? Proportionally, you probably would have committed two thousand sins by the age of thirty-two. You might have said the same thing: “0 Lord, You have borne all my sins.” If you were saved at sixty-four years of age, you would have said the same thing: “0 Lord, You have borne all my sins.” It is quite clear then that the Lord has dealt with the sins that were committed during the first sixteen years of your life as well as the sins that were committed from age sixteen to age sixty-four. The Lord dealt with all of your sins on the cross. The criminal on the cross did not believe in the Lord until just before he died, but the Lord took away all his sins (Luke 23:39-43). In other words, the Lord took away the sins of our whole life on the cross. Although, when we first believed in the Lord, we only felt the forgiveness of our past sins, in actuality, the Lord took away all our sins, even those we commit after we are saved. We must understand this fact before we can understand how to recover our fellowship with God.


We have a picture of the Lord’s vicarious death for our sins in the type of the ashes of the red heifer.

Numbers 19 is a very special chapter in the Old Testament. A heifer was used, which speaks of something special. This heifer was used not to meet a need at that moment but to meet a need in the future. This, too, is very significant.

In verse 2 God told Moses and Aaron, “Tell the sons of Israel to bring you a red heifer without blemish, in which there is no defect, and upon which a yoke has never come.” A heifer, not a bull, was offered here. In the Bible gender is very meaningful. Male signifies everything related to the testimony of the truth, while female signifies everything related to the experience of life. This is a principle we should be familiar with in reading our Bible. Abraham speaks of justification by faith, while Sarah speaks of obedience. Justification by faith is objective; it has to do with truth and testimony. Obedience is subjective; it has to do with life and experience. Throughout the Bible the church is symbolized by females, because the church is subjective, being related to the Lord’s work in man. A heifer is used here instead of a bull because it represents another aspect of the Lord’s work His work toward man. The red heifer signifies a work that is subjective rather than objective.

What happened to the heifer? It was slaughtered, and its blood was taken and sprinkled seven times directly in front of the tent of meeting. In other words, the blood was offered to God because the work of the blood is always for God. The heifer’s blood was sprinkled seven times in front of the tent of meeting, signifying that it was for God and for the redemption of sin.

After the red heifer was killed, it was burned. The skin, the flesh, the blood, and the dung were all burned. The whole red heifer was burned. As it was being burned, the priest cast cedar wood, hyssop, and scarlet into the midst of the fire. What do cedar wood and hyssop signify? First Kings 4:33 said that Solomon discoursed about trees, from the cedar to the hyssop. Cedar wood and hyssop therefore signify all the trees. In other words, they signify the whole world. What does scarlet signify? This word is also translated scarlet in Isaiah 1:18, which says, “Though your sins are like scarlet, / They will be as white as snow.” Scarlet, therefore, signifies our sins. For the cedar wood, hyssop, and scarlet to be burned together means that the sins of the whole world were gathered together with the red heifer when it was offered up to God; they were all burned together. Here, we see a picture of the cross. The Lord Jesus offered Himself up to God. He embraced all our sins. The gross sins were there as well as the lesser sins. The sins of the past, the present, and the future were also there. The sins for which man feels the need of forgiveness, as well as the sins for which man does not feel the need of forgiveness, were there. All sins were upon the heifer, and they were all burned with it.

After they were burned, what was done next? Numbers 19:9 says, “A man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and place them outside the camp in a clean place; and they shall be kept for the assembly of the sons of Israel for the water for impurity; it is a purification of sin.” What does this mean? This is what makes the red heifer so distinct. After the cedar wood, the hyssop, and the scarlet were burned with the heifer, the ashes were gathered up and kept in a clean place. Thereafter, if any of the Israelites touched something unclean and became unclean before God, another clean person could mix the water for impurity with the ashes and sprinkle it on the unclean person. This would remove the person’s uncleanness. In other words, the ashes were used to remove uncleanness. They were prepared for the future. They would be used when uncleanness was detected at a later time.

In the Old Testament, sinners needed to offer up sacrifices to the Lord. If a person had offered up a sacrifice and then touched something unclean, he would become unclean again before God and could no longer fellowship with Him. What did he have to do? Another person would take some ashes of the red heifer on this person’s behalf, put them in a vessel, pour in living water, mix it into the water for impurity, and sprinkle it on his body. The man’s uncleanness would then be removed and his sin forgiven. When an Israelite brought a bull or a lamb to the Lord and offered it up as a sin offering, he did it because of some known sin. But the red heifer was related to another matter. The burning of the red heifer was not for known sins which had been committed in the past, but for future uncleanness. The burning of the red heifer was not for past sins but for future transgressions.

This shows us another aspect of the Lord Jesus’ work. One aspect of the Lord’s work is like that of the ashes of the red heifer. The efficacy of redemption is signified by the ashes. The sins of the whole world are in it, and the blood is also in it. Whenever a man becomes unclean or has touched some unclean things, he does not need to kill another red heifer and offer it to God. He only needs to take the ashes of the red heifer that was offered once and mix them with water and sprinkle them on the body. In other words, there is no need for the Lord to do anything a second time. His redemption accomplished everything. He made provision for all of our future uncleanness and future sins. Everything has been fully accomplished by His redemption.

What do the ashes signify? In the Bible, ashes signify something in its final form. Whether a bull or a lamb, its final form after being burned is ashes. Ashes are very stable; they do not corrupt into something else. We cannot corrupt or destroy ashes. Ashes signify something in its final form.

The ashes of the red heifer signify the eternal and unchanging efficacy of the Lord’s redemption. The redemption which our Lord accomplished for us is most stable. Do not think that rocks on mountains are stable. Even rocks can be burned into ashes. Ashes are more stable than rocks. The ashes of the red heifer signify the Lord’s redemption which He has prepared for us. It is forever unchanging and incorruptible. We may apply it any time. If a Christian touches something unclean by accident and there is uncleanness in him, he does not have to ask the Lord to die for him again. He only needs to trust in the eternal and incorruptible efficacy of the ashes and to sprinkle his body with the water of life, and he will be clean. In other words, the ashes of the red heifer tell us that the past work of the cross is applicable for our use today. We also can say that the effectiveness of the cross covers all the needs we will ever have in the future. These ashes are specifically for the future. Only one red heifer needs to be burned, and it only needs to be burned once. Its ashes are enough to cover one’s whole life. Thank the Lord that His redemption is sufficient for our whole life. His death has taken away all our sins.


We have covered the side of the Lord’s work, which is redemption and the removal of our sins. What should we do on our side?

First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” In this verse the word we refers to believers, not to sinners. When a believer sins, he must confess his sins. Only after he has confessed his sins will he be forgiven. When a believer sins, he should not ignore it or cover it up. Proverbs 28:13 says, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: / but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” When a believer sins, he must confess his sin. Do not give sin a nice name. Do not excuse yourself. Lying is a sin. When you lie, you should confess that you have sinned. You should not say, “I have said a little more (or less) than I should have.” You should say, “I have sinned.” You should not explain it away or cover it up. You should confess that you have committed the sin of lying. You must condemn lying as sin.

Confession means to stand on God’s side and judge sin as sin. There are three things here: God, ourselves, and sins. God and sins are at the two ends, and we are in the middle. What does it mean to commit a sin? It means that we stand on the side of sin and that we are away from God. Once we sin, we are away from God. Once we join ourselves to sins, we cannot be together with God. As soon as Adam sinned, he hid from God and dared not meet Him (Gen. 3:8). Colossians 1:21 says, “And you, though once alienated and enemies in your mind because of your evil works.” Sin alienates us from God. What does it mean to confess our sins? It means to come back to God’s side and to acknowledge that what we have done is sin. We have come back to God. We are no longer with sin. We are standing opposite of sin and calling sin a sin. This is confession. Only those who walk in the light and who have deep feelings and a repulsion for sin can have genuine confession. Those who are callous to sin, who consider it natural to sin, are not making any confession when they merely acknowledge something with their lips in a heartless way.

Believers are the children of light (Eph. 5:8) and the children of God (I John 3:1). They are no longer outsiders but members of God’s family. In a family one should behave in a way that is worthy of the family. You are a child of God, and you should know sin. You should have the same attitude towards sin as your Father. The way the Father considers sin should be the way you consider sin. Confession in God’s house comes when His children take the same attitude as their Father towards sin. They condemn sin in the same way that their Father condemns sin. They take the same attitude as their Father with regard to sin. When a child of God sins, he should condemn sin as sin just as the Father does.

If we confess our sins this way, God “is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” When we sin and when we know our sin and acknowledge it as sin, God will forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. God is “faithful,” which means that He must honor and fulfill His own words and promises. He is also “righteous,” which means He must be satisfied with His Son’s redemptive work on the cross and must recognize it. Based on His promise and based on His redemption, He has to forgive us. He is faithful, and He is righteous. He must forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

We have to pay attention to the words every and all in I John 1:7 and 9. “Every sin” and “all unrighteousness” are fully forgiven and cleansed. The Lord has done this. When the Lord says “all,” He means all. We should never change it to something else. When He says every sin, He means every sin, not just every sin committed before we believed or every sin committed in the past. He has forgiven us of all sins.


First John 2:1 says, “My little children, these things I write to you that you may not sin.” These things refer to the forgiveness and cleansing from our sins through God’s promise and work. John wrote these things to us so that we may not sin. It shows us that the Lord has forgiven our many sins and that, as a result, we do not sin. When we find out that we are forgiven, we do not become free to sin; rather, we will not sin.

Following this it says, “And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous.” “With the Father” this is a family affair; it is something that happens after we are saved. We have already believed and have become one of God’s many children. Now we have an Advocate with the Father, who is Jesus Christ the Righteous; “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins.” Through the Lord Jesus’ death and by His becoming the propitiation for our sins, He has become our Advocate with the Father. These words are spoken to Christians.

The propitiation spoken of here is the reality of the type of the ashes of the red heifer in Numbers 19. It speaks of God’s forgiveness of our future sins according to the accomplished work of the cross. There is no need to have a new cross. We only need the work of the cross once and it is sufficient. With the eternal redemption of the cross, our sins are forgiven. That sacrifice was not an ordinary sacrifice. It was a sacrifice whose efficacy could be applied at all times. It was ashes; therefore, it was applicable all the time. Based on His blood, the Lord Jesus Christ has become our Advocate. He has accomplished redemption on the cross. Based on His accomplished work, we can be cleansed. If we sin by accident, we should not be disheartened by our sin; we should not wallow in it or remain in it. When we sin, the first thing we should do is confess our sin to the Lord. God says that it is a sin, and we should acknowledge it as a sin. God says that this is wrong, and we also should say that it is wrong. When we ask God to forgive our sin, He forgives our sin, and our fellowship with Him is restored immediately.

In the eyes of God, no brother or sister should sin. However, if anyone sins by accident, the first thing to do is deal with it immediately before God. He or she should take care of the problem of sin immediately. Never delay. Deal with it as soon as possible. You must confess immediately. Tell God, “I have sinned!” Our confession is our judgment of ourselves. If we confess our sins, God is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

When a child of God sins and does not confess his sin but instead remains in his sin, he loses his fellowship with God. There will be no further fellowship between him and God. There is a leak in his conscience, and he will not be able to stand up before God. He may still have a little fellowship with God, but that fellowship will not be pleasant. Indeed, he will suffer. When a child who has done something wrong comes home, he will feel that something is not right because his father will not speak to him. He cannot have an intimate fellowship with his father. He knows that there is a barrier between him and his father. This is the pain that results from a loss of fellowship.

There is only one way to recovery–it is to go to God and confess our sins. We have to believe that the Lord Jesus Christ has become our Advocate and has borne all our sins. We have to confess our failures and shortcomings before God in a humble way. We have to look to Him so that we will no longer be proud or loose when we set out on our journey again. We have to realize that we are no better than anyone else, and that it is possible for us to fall at any time. We have to ask God for mercy and strength to go on step by step. Once we confess this way, we will immediately recover our fellowship with God, and the joy and peace that were lost will come back.

Finally, we should point out once more that Christians should not sin. Sin results in suffering and loss. May God have mercy upon us, keep us, preserve us, and lead us on in the way of unceasing fellowship with Him!


Much material taken from Watchman Nee’s, Normal Christian Life

“Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common [unclean, unholy] thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?”

(Hebrews 10:29)

Why study Jesus’ sacrifice?

John 1:35-37

  • John calls Jesus the Lamb
    • In Jewish law, Lamb brings to mind one thing: SACRIFICE
      • Genesis 22:7; Exodus 12

Revelation 5:8-9

  • Lamb is at the center (Revelation 5:6)
    • Lamb = Jesus (Revelation 17:14)
      • His sacrifice makes Him worthy to take the scroll
    • Prayer is seen as precious to God
    • Prayers and music center around the Lamb

1 Samuel 7:7-10,13

  • Samuel sacrificed the lamb before he prayed for deliverance (v. 9)
  • As the sacrifice of the lamb was offered, God interceded for Israel (v. 10)
  • Samuel’s prayers were respected by God (v. 13; see also Psalm 99:6; Jeremiah 15:1)
  • Application:  It is essential to understand the sacrifice of the Lamb for effective prayer (among other reasons) 

What is the difference between the work of the Blood and the work of the Cross?

Romans 3:20-26 – focus: the Blood

  • Refers to “deeds” (v. 20) and “sins that were previously committed” (v. 25)
  • If we have faith in Jesus (all of who He is and what He did), our unlawful deeds are replaced with God’s righteousness
    • When?  “now”, ever since Jesus died and rose again (v. 21)
  • The blood deals with what we do
    • Hebrews 9:22 – forgives our sins
* Is focus of Romans 1:1-5:11* Is focus of Romans 5:12-8:39
* Answers the problem of our sins (plural)* Answers the problem of our sin nature
* Deals with what we have done* Deals with who we are
* Changes our conscience* Changes our life
The Blood and Cross Compared, According to Watchman Nee

What is sin and what are its effects?

Romans 5:12,19

  • Both of these verses speak of the same incident – Adam eating the fruit in the garden
    • Adam’s act was called a sin in v. 12 and disobedience in v. 19
      • Sin = disobedience towards God
  • Romans 5:12 – “all sinned”…everyone has disobeyed God

The 3 main effects of sin:

Genesis 3:4-13

  1. Separates God from man
    1. Compare Genesis 2:15-17 with Genesis 3:6-9 
    2. Genesis 3:24
      1. Only High Priest was allowed in the immediate presence of God according to the Law
  2. Creates guilt in man; a feeling of estrangement towards God
    1. Compare Genesis 2:25 with 3:7-8
      1. Even though they were not in fellowship with God, they still hid from Him instead of seeking Him
    2. Luke 15:18 – he becomes conscious of his sin, says “I have sinned”
  3. Gives Satan ground to accuse man before God, and accuse man in their hearts
    1. Compare Genesis 1:28 and 2:24 with 3:12-13
    2. Revelation 12:10
    3. “Satan” means “the accuser”
  • Atonement of blood is foreshadowed by the skins of animals used to clothe them (Genesis 3:21)

The Problem of Sin has 3 parts:

  1. God-ward
  2. Man-ward 
  3. Satan-ward 

The Answer of the Blood – God-ward:

  • In Old and New Testament, “blood” is used in connection with the idea of atonement probably over a hundred times (see Leviticus 17:11)

Day of Atonement – Leviticus 16

*  A day specifically for the atonement of Israel’s sins (instituted around 1400 years before Christ was born).

  • Leviticus 16:15 – sin offering was offered publicly in court of tabernacle
    • FULFILLED: Jesus was crucified publicly (Hebrews 13:11-12)
  • Leviticus 16:14-15 – Blood taken from the sin offering and brought into the Most Holy Place
    • FULFILLED: Jesus, as our High Priest, offered His own blood to God in Heaven (Hebrews 9:11-12)
  • Leviticus 16:17 – Only High Priest could enter, even though it’s for forgiveness of all the people
    • FULFILLED…only through Jesus’ blood can we come to God (Hebrews 9:7,11-12 (John 14:6))
  • Only act of High Priest was presenting the blood before God
    • Transaction was only between God and High Priest
      • Happened in the Sanctuary…away from the eyes of the men who were to benefit by it
  • Leviticus 16:20-22 – after God saw the blood, the sins of the people went away
    • Symbolized by a scapegoat running to the wilderness
    • Romans 5:8-9
      • “justified” (v. 9) = Just-as-if-I’d never sinned
  • What were the people required to do for their sins to be cleansed?
    • Leviticus 16:29-31 – REST IN THE PRIEST’S FINISHED WORK
  • Blood is firstly not for us but for God

Passover Feast – Exodus 12

*  Feast instituted around 1400 years before Christ was born

  • Exodus 12:5-8,12-13 –
    • Blood was shed in Egypt so that Israelites could be saved (v. 13)
    • Blood was put on lintel and door-posts (v. 7)
      • The flesh of the lamb was eaten inside the house (v. 8)
    • “When I see the blood, I will pass over you” (v. 13)
      • The blood was first for God to see 
      • Those feasting inside never saw this transaction
        • Their only job was receiving into their bodies the dead lamb.
      • Romans 3:25
    • Israel’s firstborn were spared because of the blood (vv. 12-13)
      • Firstborn represents new life, being born again
        • For new life to happen, God must first see blood

God requires men to be sinless (Hebrews 12:14)

  • Romans 3:23 – every man falls short of God’s glory and holiness
  • Romans 5:8-9 – Only Christ’s Blood wholly satisfies God
  • Don’t try to feel God’s value of the Blood…the Blood is first for God to see
  • It is matter of faith in God’s Word (Hebrews 10:14; 1 Peter 1:18-19)
    • If Holy God is satisfied with the Blood, it must be acceptable…no matter how much you feel that your sins are too great for the Blood to cover
    • Blood is contrasted with things that perish to show that the Blood will never lose it’s value (1 Peter 1:18-19)

The Answer of the Blood – Man-ward:

  • Hebrews 10:19-22 (9:13-14)
    • What does the blood cleanse?
      • Not our whole heart
  • Jeremiah 17:9 – heart is desperately sick
    • We don’t wash what needs to be trashed
  • Ezekiel 36:26 – we need a new heart
  • Blood cleanses heart in relation to the conscience (Heb. 10:22)
    • Conscience says there is barrier with God (guilt, etc).
  • How does this relate to our faith?
    • Conscience and faith are intimately connected
    • Heb. 10:22: “full assurance of faith” – When these verses are believed and accepted, conscience is cleared towards God
  • By what do we enter God’s presence?
    • Heb. 10:19: “by the blood” – only way to enter God’s presence is by the Blood
      • “By the Blood” – Recognize sins, confess need of cleansing and atonement, come to God on basis of finished work of Jesus (see 1 John 1:7-9)
        • Not on ground of being extra kind or patient or that you’ve done something great
        • Do you approach God on uncertainty of your feelings? Or truth that God is satisfied with the Blood?
  • In what way do we enter God’s presence?
    • Heb. 10:19 – “having boldness”
      • When we realize the truth of the blood, we can approach God in boldness
      • In Lord ’s Prayer, we are told to pray, “give us…forgive us, etc.”…these are very bold words to pray to a Holy God, and only by the blood is it possible to pray such words (see Matt. 6)

How do we enter God’s presence by the blood?

  • Ephesians 2:11-13
    • First, we were brought near by the blood
  • Hebrews 10:19-22
    • To continue, we must come by the Blood every time
    • Daniel 9:15-16, 21-23
      • Daniel was able to pray boldly because he prayed on the merits of God’s righteousness (v. 16)
        • His prayers were answered powerfully! (vv. 21-23) 

What about the shame of sins?

  • Hebrews 10:1-4
    • “no more consciousness of sins” (v. 2)
      • Romans 4:8 – we must see how blessed we are because of Jesus’ blood
      • Romans 5:1 – “peace with God”

How do we serve God?

  • 1 Corinthians 6:20 – we are slaves to God
    • bought by Christ’s blood (Acts 20:28)
  • If we accept His Blood, we become a slave to God (Romans 8:18)

The Answer of the Blood – Satan-ward:

Satan accuses us before God…

  • Revelation 12:10 – Satan’s most strategic weapon is accusation
    • Accuses man before God and in our own conscience 
  • Genesis 3:12-13, 22-24
    • Man joined forces with Satan at the Fall (vv. 12-13)
      • Taking on Satan’s nature of accusation
    • Man is now outside of the garden (vv. 22-24)
      • Beyond reach of God’s glory (Romans 3:23)
  • The Blood removes the barrier
    • Blood puts God on the side of man against Satan
    • Since God is on man’s side, he can face Satan without fear
    • Hebrews 9:7 – Jesus is High Priest because of Blood
      • Hebrews 7:24-25 – As High Priest, Jesus makes intercession for those who are His
  • 1 John 1:7
    • We are cleansed from “every” sin, not “all” sin in the general sense
    • God is in the light
      • All of our darkness is exposed to God (Song of Solomon 1:4-6)
        • He can see every sin
        • Blood is able to cleanse every sin He sees
        • God is in the light and I too am in the light, and the precious Blood cleanses me from every sin.
    • every – our sins are not too big to be forgiven…big sins, little sins, conscious sins, unconscious sins, remembered, or forgotten
      • the Blood does so because in the first place it satisfies God
  • Since God sees all our sins by His light, and can forgive them on the basis of the Blood, what can Satan accuse us of?
    • Romans 8:31-34
      • Satan can’t be against us if God is for us (v. 31)
      • God points Satan to Jesus’ blood (v. 33)
      • Romans 8:33-34 – God answers Satan’s every challenge
        • Christ is intercessor (v. 34)
    • 1 John 2:1-2
      • Christ, by His blood, is Advocate if we sin
      • Seen prophetically in Zechariah 3:1-4

Satan’s accuses us before our conscience…

  • Satan says: “You have sinned, and you keep on sinning.  You are weak, and God can have nothing more to do with you.”
    • Our temptation is to look within and self-defend, or go to depression and despair
    • Satan wins if we try to look for our own righteousness
      • Philippians 3:3; Hebrews 12:1-2 – stop looking at yourself to defend against Satan’s accusations
  • A man under accusation is a man not trusting in the Blood
    • The Blood speaks in man’s favor, but he listens to Satan
    • Christ is our Advocate, but the accused have sided with the accuser
      • God alone, by His Blood, can answer the accuser
  • Always answer Satan with the Blood…this is how we Win!
    • Our faith and obstinacy in the precious Blood silences Satan and puts him to flight (Romans 8:33-34)
    • Revelation 12:11

What would happen if we saw Christ’s Precious Blood the way God sees it?


By Brian Holda (2005)

(much material adapted from Derek Prince)


In this Bible study, we are dealing with subjects that are neither visible, temporary, nor exist in the present, but rather the doctrine of eternal judgment touches upon the invisible, the eternal, and those things that exist in the future.  In light of this, the only knowledge we have on the subject is that which the Bible mentions.  There are many things we may want to know about this topic that are simply not mentioned in the Scriptures.  Whatever is not mentioned, we must be content to leave alone and trust that the Holy Spirit had a reason for not writing.  In other cases, there are passages of Scripture that have had many different interpretations in the history of the church, or passages that give us room to infer certain things without saying them directly.  We have tried to indicate where these things are so and ask for you to keep in mind that this is our most humble and honest attempt to get at the truth of the matter.  As always, if the reader is persuaded by the Scriptures that what we have written here does not line up with God’s Word it is paramount that he or she rejects these writings and holds fast to the Scriptures.  With all this in mind we hope you enjoy the supremely important and amazing doctrine of eternal judgment.


In Hebrews 6:1-2 we have six foundations for our Christian walk.  Eternal judgment is the last foundation that needs be secure to build a mighty house before The LORD.  

Let’s look now at Hebrews 12.  First we are asking, What is God’s nature?  To answer this, we must back up to see the full picture of God.  At the beginning of Hebrews 12, the writer talks of a cloud of witnesses and running the race for The LORD.  He continues with this analogy and says that, in fact, as Christians, “you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.” (Heb. 12:22-24).  

The key to discerning these verses is the number three.  Three main things are mentioned: 1) The description of God’s dwelling place.  2) Then, those who dwell there with God.  3)  And God Himself.  And all of these three things break down into three more things.        

Let’s first look at the description of God’s dwelling place as noted in verse 22.  It is called: 1) Mount Zion, 2) The city of the living God, 3) The heavenly Jerusalem.  So we see there are three descriptions of where God dwells.

And in the center of this all is God the JUDGE (see v. 23).  Now who are those who are dwelling there with God?  Beginning with the end of verse 22 we see there are: 1) myriads of angels, 2) the church of the firstborn (those who were saints after Christ came to earth), and 3) the spirits of the righteous made perfect (those saints who died before Christ ever came).  These are three groups of people all surrounding God the JUDGE.  

Now we must ask ourselves, if we have a Holy God here, how is it possible for sinful men to dwell in His presence, in the presence of God the JUDGE?  I believe that if it were only God the JUDGE mentioned here, it would not be possible, because no one can match up to the holiness of God Almighty.  However, we are given further details about God.  In verse 24, we see that there stands a mediator, Jesus Christ.  And His method of mediating is seen in the picture of “the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel”.  This is the only means by which men can stand in the presence of the Truly Just Judge, God Himself.

So in these verses we have a picture of God as Judge, yet showing mercy.  As the Bible says in another place, “mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13).  Throughout the Bible we see God as Judge, but his truest nature is not of judgment.  Isaiah 28:21 says that judgment is a “strange” and “alien” act to God.  Judgment is strange to God because his truest nature is mercy, mercy, mercy.  

We can see this in Jesus’ coming.  The day of the LORD’s coming to earth was spoken of as a terrible day in Malachi.  Yet, the terror and judgment of that day fell on God’s Son, not upon the people who truly deserved it.  This again shows us that God longs to give mercy over judgment.

Even the way that God chose to judge shows His mercy.  We must not forget that although God prefers mercy, He still must be a Perfect Judge.  1 Peter 1:17 tells us that God the Father must impartially judge.  For sure, the Father does have this role of Judge, but look also at John 5:22.  In this verse Jesus explains that the Father does have a responsibility to judge, however, He has deferred all of His judgments to the Son.  In this verse I believe you can see the mercy of God.  It is as if God was exceedingly joyful to not have to exercise his role as judge, and delegate it to His Son instead.  

Jesus also has a peculiar way of enacting his judgments.  In John 12:47, Jesus explains that He did not come to judge the world, but to save it, even though just chapters earlier He explained that He would judge the world.  So how can this be?  Judgments must be enacted, but they will not be handled by the Father or the Son, instead, Jesus says, “the word I spoke is what will judge him on the last day” (John 12:48).  Jesus, then, defers His judgment to the Word.  This is the picture given in the book of Revelation of Jesus’ returning.  Revelation 19 explains that Jesus will come back with a double-edged sword out of His mouth.  This shows that the judgment of Jesus will come forth from his mouth just as the sword came out of his mouth.  It is the very words from Jesus’ mouth that will judge ALL when He returns.  And, in fact, Hebrews 4:12 and Ephesians 6:17 explains that the sword is that mighty Word of God.  Jesus will therefore come back with a sword, which is the Word of God, and deliberate His judgments through this means.  This is the way we will all be judged – how you line up with the Word.  

It is paramount, then, that we study what the Scriptures say regarding how the Word of God will judge us.  In Romans 2:1-16 we see 4 different ways that people will be judged by the Word of God:

  1. TRUTH.  Romans 2:2 shows us that God judges by truth.  It is interesting to note that Jesus says in John 17:17 that God’s Word is Truth.  The ultimate standard of truth is the Word of God.  Every person is going to be asked to give an account of how much their life lined up with the Truth of the Bible.  You will be judged by how much you have gone astray from the truth of this Word.  You will judged by how much you lived in line with the truth of this Word.  This is how you will be judged.
  2. DEEDS.  Romans 2:3-5 shows that God will judge every person according to the deeds they have done.  Romans 2:16 shows clearly that it is not only the external deeds, but also the things that are “secret” that will be judged as well.  Judgment is not limited to what is seen, but extends to what is done in secret as well.
  3. “NO RESPECTER OF PERSONS” (Romans 2:11, KJV).  This phrase is used 16 times in the Bible.  For us, we always look at what people are like.  We may judge by races, by sex, by positions, or whatever, but these things do not matter to God at all.  He is “no respecter of persons”.  This is a solemn attribute about God.  So we must see that it is all about what you have done and how you lined up with the truth, and never about who you are in any visible sense.
  4. AMOUNT OF LIGHT YOU HAVE.  Romans 2:12 shows that God will judge people by the amount of light that they have received.  This is confirmed in many other places in the Scriptures.  For those who had the Law with them, the Jews, they will be judged by a harsher standard.  But even Gentiles have light by which they will be judged.  For instance, they can see creation itself and the moral law within as measures of light that God has given them.  By the amount of revelation, of light you have, you will be judged by this standard.  America sits as a place that has received an abundance of light.  There are so many opportunities here, and based on these Scriptures, we should expect to incur a stricter judgment than other nations perhaps.  

We must next address the issue of the two types of judgment in Scripture.  There are judgments that take place in history.  For instance, in some places in the Bible it is noted that what you do will affect your children and your children’s children, and so on all the way down.  Yet there is also the issue of eternal judgment.  This is the issue that we are presently studying – what happens after you die and for the rest of eternity.  

Exodus 20:4-6 gives an example where God says He will punish even the third and fourth generation (see verse 5).  And we see similar phrases throughout the Bible.  Even today there are judgments of God that occur in our history.  Sodom and Gomorrah give another example of a judgment that took place in history.

However, in Ezekiel 18:1-4 God shows a picture of a different judgment taking place.  Do you see here what the Israelites are actually saying to God to justify their immoral behavior?  They had a proverb that was apparently commonly spoken, speaking of their fathers eating sour grapes which cause their own teeth to be set on edge.  In other words, they blamed their moral bankruptcy on the sins of their fathers.  But God rejects this type of reasoning, and later says that each person is responsible for their own sins (see verse 20).  The most important principle that God is showing us here is that in eternal judgment you stand alone before God.  You cannot go before God and say, “Well my dad did this,” or, “well, my parents…”  No.  It all falls upon you.  There will be no room for excuses, nor favoritism either.  You may have heard the expression that God does not have grandchildren.  This speaks of a true principle.  You cannot say, “My parents were children of God, therefore I get in”.  No.  God says it all falls upon you.  

So in eternal judgment, the question that will be asked is “What have YOU done?”  What have you done?  You cannot say what your fathers have done.  This explains these contrasting scriptures of Exodus and Ezekiel.  There are other instances of this as well.  For instance, in Ecclesiastes we read that some things we may not see judged on earth, but those people have what is coming for them.  Solomon writes that though there may be some things that are hidden, God yet knows those.  And in 1 Timothy 5:24-25, a similar thing is uttered.  

When studying eternal judgment, then, we must ask what will happen when we exit the realm of time and history and enter the realm of eternity, before Christ returns.  (This question, of course, will not discuss historical judgment, as it is outside the scope of this study to do so).  At death, in this present age, our body returns to the earth and our soul and spirit will ascend up to God the Father where He will consign you to either a place of torment and torture or you will be allowed to stay in the presence of God.  This is what takes place today whenever someone dies.  As we have seen already, the fifth foundation listed in Hebrews 6:1-2 is the resurrection of the dead, and the sixth foundation is eternal judgment.  This is the order – resurrection, then eternal judgment.  This is the theme throughout Scripture – resurrection, then eternal judgment.  Even in the pattern of Jesus we see that He came and received His new, resurrected body after He was dead for three days, but it was yet to happen that He would ascend to the Father where He received all of His glory and rewards (see Philippians 2), and He was called “The King of Kings”.  The example, then, set before us shows there to be a resurrection that is yet future, where we will all inherit a body that will last forever, and in that body there will be a judgment.

In 2 Corinthians 5:10 we see why there must be a resurrected body before there can be a judgment.  First, notice that Paul uses the word “we” in describing the judgment.  This is not a judgment confined to only non-believers.  That word “we” shows this to be a judgment that encompasses Paul and the church at Corinth, and by extension, all people as well.  Next, we can see that we will be before the judgment seat of Christ to receive judgment for deeds done in the body.  These are all of the actions we have done while living in this body.  This is the reason we must appear before God in our whole personality: spirit, soul, and body.  We must be present in our new body because we will be held accountable for what we have done in “the body”.

We must now study more thoroughly what will happen when Christ returns.  For light on this subject, we will look at Matthew 25.  In verses 31-33, we see that there is a clear order of events in the end times.  First, the Son of Man will come in His glory to the earth with all the angels with him.  Then, He will sit down on His throne to gather the nations.  And next, He will separate all the nations, putting the sheep on His right hand and the goats on the left.  The righteous are shown in the sheep who are at his left hand, and the unrighteous in the goats at his left.  Before going further into this teaching, we must see that the first thing Christ will do when He returns is a mighty work of separation.

After this separation, there is given an order of this eternal judgment.  In verse 34, we see that Jesus will first speak to the believers, the sheep on His right side.  Peter affirms this truth when he writes that judgment is to begin with the household of God (1 Peter 4:17).  

It is now important that we distinguish between those who merely think and say they are in the household of God, and those who truly do belong to this household.   Christ says that He will come back for those who are His (1 Corinthians 15:23, 2 Timothy 2:19).  He knows who are His, and for these He will return.  He does not say He will come back for those who make a profession of faith, or for those who prayed a certain prayer.  He only promises to come back for those who are truly His.  So what happens to those people who say they belong to Christ, but truthfully don’t (i.e. Matt. 7:21)?

In Matthew 13:24-30 we are given another parable that helps explain dealings in the kingdom of heaven.  In this parable, there is first a farmer who comes and plants good seeds of wheat.  But while he is gone, the tares (or weeds) grow simultaneously with wheat.  So we are clear, a tare is a weed that looks almost identical to true wheat, but is in actuality worthless and harmful to the farmer.  Only those with the discerning eyes of the farmer can tell the difference between the wheat and the tares.  This parable shows us that there will be two kinds of people who will raise up in the world (and seemingly in the church) – the wheat and the tares.  In fact, Jesus instructs us to not try to uproot those that we think are false, for we may make a mistake and accidentally uproot true wheat (v. 29).  It is only the job of God to judge those who are His and those who are false.  Instead, we are told to wait until the Lord’s returning and then He will judge between the two.  First, he will gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, then, he will gather the wheat into his barn (v. 30).  This is a great separation that occurs when Christ returns, as is explained in verses 36 through 43.  In these explanatory verses we find out that all over the world Satan is doing a dreadful work of planting people in assemblies who look like they are truly Christians, but in fact are not Christians.  This is not wrong to state this fact, for Our LORD already said the same thing.  We must remember, though, that it is not our job to figure out if they are Christians or if they are not.  That job belongs solely to The LORD, lest you accidentally make a wrong decision.  We should take this warning not to be too quick to label someone a believer or a non-believer, for it is only God who truly knows these things, and at the end of the age this great sifting out will occur.   

At this point, we are inclined to wonder what the true order of events of judgment at Christ’s return will be.  I believe that two possibilities emerge when studying these parables from Matt. 13 and 25.  The first possibility is that Jesus will first bundle the unrighteous, but later they will be burned.  This theory is realized when we see that Jesus merely mentions that the tares will be bundled before the wheat, but relegates the burning of the tares to a later time period.  The other possibility is that in Matt. 25, when Jesus refers to the separation of the sheep and the goat, there may also be a separation not mentioned that occurs between those who look like sheep and those who are actually sheep (like the wheat and the tares).  Therefore, the statement that Peter makes concerning judgment beginning with the house of God would include both those people who are truly in the house of God, and those who are only appear to be in the true house of God.  I believe that both interpretations have merit in light of the rest of the Scriptures.

Regardless of the actual order of judgment, we can see that there will be a division between the righteous and the unrighteous, and God will pronounce judgment upon the deeds of Christians.  To this end, we turn now to Romans 14:10-12 to observe the main features of Christian judgment.  In this passage we can clearly see that every Christian will also have to appear before the judgment seat of Christ.  Notice also the words used in verse 12 – “each of us will give an account”.  This confirms the words of Ezekiel 18:4 in which God says that each man will be judged by what he alone has done, without attention paid to anyone else.  Every individual person will appear alone before The LORD at that time.  Your parents will not be there.  Your pastor won’t be there.  Your friends won’t be there.  You will stand alone before the throne of Christ (Greek, Bema Seat) and God will ask you what you have done with the Word He has given you.

Turn also to 2 Corinthians 5:10.  We have already seen in this verse that we will appear in our resurrected bodies at the judgment seat of Christ, to receive the judgment of deeds we have done in our body on earth.  But notice also the last four words of this verse: “whether good or bad”.  There are only two categories of deeds we have committed, those that are good and those that are bad.  We have no category for deeds that are neutral, for they simply do not exist.  There is no such thing.  Everything you have done is going to be considered either good or bad.  And the bad deeds, of course, will be those things that will burn in the fire, whereas the good deeds will inherit rewards.  Romans 14:23 says that anything not done in faith is sin, so anything you do that is not done in faith for The LORD is considered sin.  This helps us see that there are truly only 2 categories: good and bad.  Or we could say, those things done out of faithfulness to The LORD, and those things which were faithless before God.

There is another issue towards the judgment of Christians that is seen in John 3:18.  In this verse, Jesus says with absolute certainty that Christian judgment has nothing to do with condemnation.  I believe this fact should give way to much praise to God, for in the presence of God the JUDGE we deserve hell.  This is the truth, yet this is why we need the Mediator, Jesus.  And when you believe in Him you will not be judged.  You will not receive condemnation.  What, then, does Christian judgment involve?

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 explains that the judgment of Christians is based on rewards, instead of condemnation.  The start of this passage points to Christ as the foundation of the works, showing us that this, too, describes judgment befalling Christians, not non-believers.  Therefore we do not see a judgment of condemnation here, for every soul that rests in Jesus Christ is absolutely secure.  Christ has been made our righteousness to the glory of God, that no condemnation can touch us.  It cannot be a judgment, then, based on righteousness, because believers have the righteousness of Jesus in us.  This is not a judgment based on who you are, but on what you have done now that Jesus is your foundation – How have you built on your spiritual house?  

The means, though, by which our works will be judged, is through fire.  Look at 1 Corinthians 3:12 and pay specific attention to the material mentioned.  The first three materials are the good materials, and the last three are the bad materials.  We know that gold, silver, and precious stones are refined, purified, and survive through fire.  However straw, hay, and wood are burned up and destroyed in the flames.  So we see that fire is the single test for the kind of material you are using.

It is also worth mentioning that quality is far more value in God’s eyes than quantity.  Gold, silver, and precious stones are things that are not found in great quantities.  However, straw, hay, and wood are usually found in exceedingly large quantities.  This is a sobering truth here.  It would appear that many may perhaps go to the judgment seat of Christ with very large quantities of stuff that will be instantly devoured by the flames, because the material was not of pure quality.  We must be absolutely clear on this fact.  It is NOT about quantity.  Today, a lot of people think they are not doing enough for God, but in reality, many people are actually doing too many things that will be completely burned up.  

This naturally prompts us to wonder, What things will withstand the flames?  We can say with certainty that only true and enduring value will survive and be purified and refined by the fire.  

The first thing to consider is motive – why are you doing things?  1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  For us, eating and drinking would appear to be neutral activities, yet God only sees good or bad.  We must ask ourselves, are we doing things for the glory of God?

Next, we must look at our obedienceAre you doing things according to what the Word has said?  In Matthew 7, Jesus explains that some people will come to Him and they will say, in essence, “Lord, Lord, we are ready to be with You.  We have done all of these cool things for You.  We did miracles, cast out demons, and prophesied in your name.”  And Jesus is going to look at them and say, “I never knew you.  Depart from my presence.”  This is a very tough word, and we might well ask how it is possible that they could do such mighty works and yet be rejected.  But no, Jesus explains that it will be “those who hear and do what I have said” that will have something that will last.  That is the test here, your obedience, according to God’s Word.  Jesus is The Word made flesh, and He says that all of the Word is the revealer of whether your works will last the fire.  Many people are doing Christian works that have nothing to do with the Scriptures.  And in actuality, many of them are contrary to the Scriptures.  This only leads to flames.

The last material we will consider is power.  Specifically, the Holy Spirit is the power referred to in the Bible.  One person talked about a vision they had of the judgment seat of Christ.  She explained that when she was before God, He revealed all of her life and showed what lasted through the flames.  This young woman did not become a believer until the age of 15, and she told how she saw God incinerate all of those first 15 years of her service because she did not do one thing out of the power of the Holy Spirit.  Those years vanished in a twinkle of an eye in the presence of God.  I believe this vision confirms the witness of Scripture, and it shows how meaningless our works are outside of the power of the Holy Spirit.  In Romans 15:18-19, Paul says that he will not even speak of the things he has done without the power of the Spirit.  It is, quite frankly, useless to even speak of such things.  Instead, he confines himself to speak of only what happened with the Spirit – the miracles, people receiving salvation, etc. – all of the things that had been accomplished through the power of the Spirit.  We must ask ourselves if we are doing activities through our own power or the power from above.  

These three things – motive, obedience, power – are three things that can be seen consistently throughout the Scriptures as work that will be eternal.  They are the workings that will last the flames.      

Many are familiar with the picture of Christ seen in Revelation 1:12-16.  Among other things, Christ is pictured with eyes like flames of fire and feet like “burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace”.  In light of the fact that fire is the ultimate tester of our works, the works of both Christians and non-Christians, it seems that the feet of Christ will judge the non-believers and His eyes will judge the believers.  This brings light to the great focus in the Song of Songs of the eyes, specifically, the eyes of the groom staring at the eyes of the bride.  This is the great romance we have with Christ.  He will test our work by looking into our eyes with his eyes of fire.  Our staring into his eyes will quickly show us what will last and what will be burned up.  

This does give us a true picture of judgment upon Christian works that will not last, however, we must also look at the great glory and celebration surrounding Christian works that are built upon pure and costly foundations.  In Matthew 25:14-30 Jesus compares his coming with a man distributing different amounts of talents for his servants to steward until he returns.  In verse 15, we see that each man was given talents “according to his own abilities”.  He never gave more than they could handle.  He gave to everyone according to their abilities.  It is the same with us.  God gives us resources as He knows what our abilities are.  

The man with five talents ended up doubling what he had.  His faithfulness produced life in this, and he received a hundred percent increase.  The man with two also doubled what he had.  Now compare verse 21 with verse 23.  The master spoke the exact same words to each servant.  It did not matter how many talents they produced in terms of number, but rather he was concerned with what had been done with the talents they had.  For this reason, I plead with everybody to stop comparing your number of talents with someone else’s.  Stop saying, “If I only had what they had.  If I could only do what they do.”  This is very wrong in The LORD’s sight.  The men with more things will actually incur a stricter judgment because they were given more and more will be expected of them.  He has placed every member in the Body exactly where He wants them to be.  Everyone has a purpose of where they are and what they have.  He truly does give each according to their ability, and He asks us to be faithful with what we have.  

Now the third servant hid his single talent.  He kept it to himself and never used it.  Matt. 25:26 says that his master called him a “wicked, lazy servant”.  He has been called wicked because he never did anything.  This is contrary to how we commonly think of wickedness.  We assume wickedness is always doing something wrong.  But according to Jesus, wickedness is also not doing right.  “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17).  Wicked and lazy are put side-by-side here.  This is an interesting juxtaposition: wicked and lazy.  Yet according to Jesus, these are the same thing.  Not doing anything with what He has given you is wickedness, it is sin.  

There is another parable in Luke 19 that speaks of very similar things.  In this parable, however, instead of 3 people receiving differing amounts of money, 10 people receive the exact same amount of money: ten minas.  One person gained five minas, another gained two minas, and another person did nothing with the minas he had been given.  It resulted that the person who gained a greater percentage of what he was given, received more rewards from the Master.  He was given the chance to have authorities in heaven over kingdoms.  

After studying both of these parables, we may safely say that not to use is to lose.  Jesus said that even that which you have will be taken from you if you do not use it.  We also see that if you do not do good when you can, this is sin.  And perhaps the most sobering truth we find is that all who did nothing were totally rejected.  To be honest, this is a very tough word.  Matthew 25:14 says, “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered the goods to them.” (NKJV).  According to this parable, all three of these people were his servants, at least at one time.  So why is it that a servant who did nothing was thrown into hell (Matt. 25:30)?  This is a very tough word that must be taken seriously.  I do not claim to have all of the answers to this, although I have my own ideas of what this might mean.  But regardless, we must see truly how serious a matter this is to Jesus, and remember that it is by His Words that we will be judged.  Not doing anything with what He has given you, not using the talents you have, these are detrimental things, and should be very serious warnings for us.  

The last thing we should look at in this study of eternal judgment is Revelation 20:11-15, for it shows what will be the judgment of non-Christians.  The first image we are drawn to here is the book of life (see v. 12).  If your name is in this book of life you are saved from the lake of fire, and from other Scriptures, it seems that the names written in this book are all those who have repented and believe in Jesus in their hearts, thus giving ownership of their lives over to God.  There are also other books mentioned here as well.  These books record all of the deeds you have done.  They will judge us by those things mentioned in Romans 2 – by truth, by deeds, by the light you have received, and so forth.  All of these other books show your deeds.  

To understand all of the vision presented in Revelation 20, it is helpful to grasp the two deaths and two resurrections mentioned in this chapter and other places as well.  The first death is your spiritual death.  Everyone takes part in this death, because every person born is spiritually dead at birth, as a descendant of Adam.  This is why salvation is described as going from death into life.  Death is the state we are in before we become Christians.  The first resurrection, then, is being born again.  This is a spiritual resurrection.  The second resurrection is the resurrection of the dead, in which you receive your new bodies.  And the second death is the lake of fire – the eternal punishment that will never end.  A punishment that occurs after you have been given your eternal bodies.  The Christians, though, do not take part in this second death, because they took part in the first resurrection.  It is interesting to note that your physical death is not of primary concern to God.  It is the spiritual death and the eternal damnation that are far more consequential.

With this in mind, look now at Rev. 20:13: “The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them” (NKJV).  The sea is spoken of in Rev. 17:15 as symbolic of the world, and could be inferred to be specifically the Gentiles.  So the sea spoken of in Rev. 20:13 is probably referring to the people who were living when Christ returns.  If they are living, then, how can the Bible refer to them as dead?  This is the spiritual death we alluded to earlier.  This verse explains that people here who are spiritually dead will be given up to Christ.  Then, we also see Death and Hades giving up their dead.  This is where those who will have died before Christ’s return will reside.  You may have heard it referred to as the underworld perhaps.  Though Death and Hades are the temporary residence of the deceased, places no doubt filled with torture of the caliber of Luke 16, these places also will receive the judgment prescribed by Our LORD.  In this passage, they are personified and seem to be almost creatures in themselves.  Regardless of what their personalities may entail, we see that they, too, will be thrown in the lake of fire, never to rise again.  It can be clearly seen that these verses refer to non-believers as opposed to those who will not receive condemnation.  These were the ones who did not have their names written in the book of life, and they were cast into the lake of fire.  It should be noted that the place of torture and anguish that the rich man received when he sinned against God and Lazarus, this place that Jesus mentions, a place that was so hot that the rich man begged for one drop of water to cool his tongue, this place is actually only a temporary place (Luke 16).  When non-believers die today, they will go to this place of torture.  But the harsh reality is that this place is not even the worst yet.  The lake of fire is still a future destination of all who suffer in Death and Hades today.  This is the seriousness of the gospel for all of us and for all the people we know who don’t have the gospel.  There will truthfully be people who will come from this temporary place of torture – where their souls and spirits inhabit without bodies – and later they will receive new resurrected bodies that cannot perish.  However, it is most awful that many will receive these new bodies only to be cast into the lake of fire.  It is beyond our comprehension to imagine such torture without relief that will take place in these bodies that cannot die.  The best way we can perhaps describe it is by thinking of the burning bush in Exodus 3.  The bush is described as burning without being consumed.  This is the picture of this most serious and dreadful reality.  

We can sum up then by saying that Christian judgment will be a day of celebration and rewards, and non-Christian judgment will be a time of torture that should break all of our hearts.  I honestly believe that if The LORD revealed even a small bit of it, our hearts would be completely broken.  

To close, I want to look at 1 Corinthians 11:31-32: “For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.  But when we are judged, we are chastened by the LORD, that we may not be condemned with the world.” (NKJV).  These verses tell us that it is far better to receive the chastening of The LORD now, then to reject this chastening and wait for the judgment that will have eternal repercussions.  

May we all move in the fear of the LORD and the power of His Spirit to the glory of God.  Amen.                                                                    

Scriptures on What Happens to Individuals in the Afterlife

Heaven, Hell, and the End of the World: Individual Eschatology

What happens when someone dies? Where will people spend eternity?

When a believer dies. . .

II Corinthians 5:8

8Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

Philippians 1:21–23

21For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

Luke 23:43

43And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

When a believer dies, they go immediately into the presence of the Lord. This is a conscious experience.

There is a doctrine commonly known as “soul sleep” that is taught by some so-called Christian groups. The doctrine of soul sleep says that when a person dies, they become unconscious, and that when a believer dies, they are unconscious until the resurrection. In other words, there is no conscious existence apart from the body. The Bible does not teach the doctrine of soul sleep.

Scripture does refer to the death of believers as sleep.

I Corinthians 15:6

6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.

I Thessalonians 4:13

13But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.

But why?

John 11:25–26

25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

However, the scriptures do not teach that when a person dies, they become unconscious until the resurrection. In fact, the scriptures clearly teach a conscious existence after death for both the saved and the lost.

What about purgatory?

The Bible does not teach the doctrine of purgatory. In fact, the doctrine of purgatory is clearly contrary to scripture.

The doctrine of purgatory makes the redemptive work of Christ inadequate to pay for a person’s sins.

What about unbelievers?

When an unbeliever dies, they enter immediately into a state of conscious suffering.

Luke 16:19–31

19“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.'”

But these two states, the disembodies conscious blessedness of the redeemed, and the disembodies conscious misery of the lost, are not final and eternal.

People will not spend eternity as disembodied spirits.

Death is a temporary cessation of bodily life and a temporary separation of the soul from the body.

All people, both believers and unbelievers, will be resurrected bodily.

John 5:25–29

25“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

Daniel 12:2

2And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall) awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

So we will not actually spend eternity in heaven – at least not in the usual sense. Instead, we will be raised from the dead to spend eternity in glorified, immortal bodies.

I Thessalonians 4:13–18

13But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words.

I Corinthians 15:50–57

50I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”

55“O death, where is your victory?

O death, where is your sting?”

56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

So where will believers spend eternity?

Revelation 21

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

 5And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

9Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed— 13on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. 14And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. 16The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal. 17He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel’s measurement. 18The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. 21And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass.

 22And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Cf. Romans 8:18–25

18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

In addition to being raised from the dead, both believers and unbelievers will be judged.

The judgment of believers:

Romans 14:10–12

10Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” 12So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

II Corinthians 5:10

10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

Believers are judged, not to determine salvation, but to determine rewards.

I Corinthians 3:12–15

12Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw – 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

Revelation 11:18

18The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, 
both small and great, and(D) for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”

The judgment of unbelievers and the reality of hell:

Matthew 25:41, 46

41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

Revelation 20:11–15

11Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Revelation 14:9–11

9And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.