By Allen Brooks
Several years ago, I began a furious pursuit of trying to understand the Bible from its historical and covenantal (testament) perspective. I spent thousands of hours studying the Bible, studying older theologians, and analyzing several hundred commentaries. I also began to study many of the words in the Bible in their original Hebrew or Greek language.
What is salvation? Today Christians and Pastors may say that salvation is being saved from hell to go to heaven. They also may say that salvation means believing in Jesus as one’s personal Savior in order to receive eternal (everlasting) life. These definitions come from the westernization or the neo-plutonian reading of the scriptures rather than a Hebraic first century church biblical rendering. But is that really how the Bible defines salvation? In Webster’s Dictionary salvation is defined as “deliverance from the power and effects of sin”.
In the New Testament, the word salvation in the Greek language is soteria or soterion which is translated: rescue, deliver, or save. [Strong’s Concordance #4991 and #4992]. Therefore, the word deliverance in Webster’s Dictionary is correct. The question then becomes “delivered or saved from what?” Salvation is deliverance from the power and effects of sin.
The scriptures states in 1 Corinthians 15:56; “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.” Secondly, the Bible states in Romans 6:23; “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
To restate these passages, the power (strength) of sin is the law and the effect (wages) of sin is death.
We must try and determine from scriptures what this “death” is and what is the law?
I think that most Christians think this death is biological death and that when Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, they produced physical death. This is incorrect.
Adam and Eve’s act of obtaining the knowledge of good and evil brought forth ‘sin death” or separation from God. This separation was the whole issue, not biological death.
Let us take a look at the story in Genesis.
I will paraphrase except where it is necessary to quote the scriptures. God created the world and created Adam and Eve. He placed them in the Garden of Eden and gave them one commandment. Genesis 2:16-17; “And the Lord God commanded the man saying, Of every tree of this garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die”.
Genesis 3:1-7,22 “Now the serpent was more subtile than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the Garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, ye shall be as gods [like God, see verse 22,ab], knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”
Genesis 3:22-24 “And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever. Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.”
We must pose a few questions at this point.
Did Adam and Eve eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil? Yes, they did!
When Adam and Eve ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, did they die?
Why did God remove them from the garden before they could eat of the tree of life and live forever?
Why did God not want Adam and Eve to eat of the tree of the knowledge of Good?
Why did God not want Adam and Eve to eat of the tree of the knowledge of Evil?
What are the implications of Adam and Eve eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil?
Facts: the day Adam and Eve ate of the tree of knowledge they died. God said, “the day ye eat of the tree of knowledge, ye shall die.” Therefore they died that day. Fact, they did not die biologically because they lived several hundred years after that. They died spiritually. They were kicked out of the presence of God. This is the death. They died “sin death”.
They would have died physically any ways because of two reasons:
First, Genesis 3:22-24 “And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever. Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.” God prevented eternal biological life.
Second, Genesis 3:19, ‘In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” God never gave nor promised eternal biological life. Never! He promised biological death.
To answer the third and fourth questions, we must look at the scriptures again.
First, the day Adam and Eve ate of the tree of knowledge they would die spiritually or become separated from God.
Second, the day Adam and Eve ate of the tree of knowledge they would become as GOD!
Genesis 3:22-24 “And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: ..”
And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, ye shall be as gods [like God, see verse 22,ab], knowing good and evil.
Why did God not want Adam and Eve to become as God and know good and evil?
My own opinion is that the day mankind knew good and evil, that knowledge separated mankind from God because mankind begin to judge God, themselves, and all humankind based on (their) knowledge of good and evil. Mankind became gods and humankind’s accuser, jury, and judge. The creation became their own God. This separated mankind from the one true God.
What are the universal implications of Adam and Eve breaking the one commandment that God gave them?
All mankind was born spiritually dead or separated (this is sin death) from God.
Romans 3:23, “For ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God”.
Romans 5:12, “Wherefore, as by one man [Adam] sin entered into the world and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned.”
Romans 5:18, “Therefore as by the offence of one [Adam] judgment came upon ALL MEN to condemnation….” What is the condemnation? Separation!
1 Corinthians 15:22, “For as in Adam, ALL DIE….”
To give further clarity to the idea of death being spiritual and not biological, let us move to some New Testament scriptures to define death.
Ephesians 2:1, “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.”
John 11:26, “He that liveth and believeth in me shall never die. This is not biological death.
John 5:24, “Verily, verily, I say into you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (not biological death, but spiritual death. ie, separation from God)
John 8:51. “Verily, verily, I say into you, if a man keep my saying, he shall never see death”. Jesus is not talking about biological death, but spiritual death.
Romans 8:6, “To be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Is he talking about biological death? NO!
The story of the Prodigal Son is the epitome of the symbolism of spiritual death.
Luke 15:24 states; ”For this my son was dead, and is alive again, he was lost, and is found”.
The son was NOT dead biologically, he was separated from his father which the Father equates with death.
Folks, please do research in your Bibles. God always equates death with separation from Him. Especially, look at Israel. Secondly, if Jesus is not equating death to biological death, but spiritual death, then we must look at spiritual life and also resurrection as spiritual and not biological. That is a later discussion.
We must note that this death was universal to all mankind. One should also note that what Adam and Eve did affected all mankind even though one today did not have any thing to do with them putting mankind into spiritual death. This is important. Did you personally have anything to do with Adam and Eve breaking the one commandment? NO! Did it affect you? YES!
What is the law? There are two laws we must analyze. The first law was given only to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and had universal implications. We have reviewed the first universal law. The second written law (Old Testament) was given to Israel at Mount Sinai and pertained only to Israel, but had universal implication.
Let us review this LAW given to Israel.
Let me make a few statements about the Old Testament, especially the Torah and the prophets (the law). First, the 613 laws or commandments of the Old Testament were given only to Israel and never given to a Gentile. The commandments of the Old Testament did not and do not pertain to any Gentile. I will use the very words of Jesus in the New Testament to validate my claim. Today, anyone claiming that the Old Testament was given to any gentile then or now is making presuppositions not supported by scripture.
The law was given only to the Israelites. The law also includes the prophets.
Exodus 19:3, “And Moses went up unto God and the Lord called unto him out of the mountain, saying. Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel..”.
Exodus 31:1, “And the Lord spake unto Moses.”
Deuteronomy 31:24-26, “And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished, That Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying, take this book of the law and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee”.
Isaiah 1:1, “The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz,which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.”.
Jeremiah 1:1, “The words of Jeremiah..to whom the word of the Lord came in the days of Josiah…”.
Daniel 10:14, “Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall THY PEOPLE [Israel] in the latter days…”.
John 1:17, “For the Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ”
Romans 9:4, “Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God and the promises”.
Hebrews 1:1. states, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) by the prophets..”. All the prophets were Israelites.
The Gentiles were not given the law. The following scriptures validate that fact.
Jesus spake through Paul in Romans 2:14, “For when the Gentiles which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these having not the law, are a law unto themselves.”
Ephesians 2:11-15, ‘Wherefore remember, that ye being in times past Gentiles in the flesh who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no..”.
It is very clear and easy to establish that the law (All of the Old Testament was written by and to Israel only and not Gentiles). All I am trying to establish is that the Old Testament, (Law, Psalms, and Prophets) were given only to Israel. I think this is clear.
Now we must find out why the law was given since it was the power [strength] of sin unto death. The Gentiles did not have a covenant with God from Mount Sinai.
God made his covenant with the house of Israel and gave them the law for them to live by until the seed [Jesus] would be born. The Old Testament (covenant) is that agreement to Israel. We must understand that Jews or Israelites were born into this covenant by physical, fleshly birth. Jesus came to establish a new covenant (testament) that included Israelites and Gentiles. Romans 10:4; “For Christ is the END of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth..”.
Israel was chosen and given the law until Jesus would be born.
Galations 3:19, “Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, til the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. Is the law against the promises of God? God forbid; for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded ALL under sin that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe”.
Romans 7:12, “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just and good”.
1st John 3:4, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law ; for sin is the transgression of the law”.
Romans 5:13, “For until the law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law”.
Romans 7:12, “Was then that which is good made death unto me”? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by commandment might become exceeding sinful”. The law was given to make sin more sinful..even exceeding sinful states Paul. Romans 8:7, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” Does flesh mean the human body? NO! The reference here is to the LAW [flesh].
Hebrews 7:19, “For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did, by which we draw nigh unto God”.
Hebrews 9, “Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary…which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience, which stood only in meats, drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the times of reformation”.
Hebrew10, “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect”.
The first covenant (the law) was given to make sin more sinful, the law was a shadow of things to come, the law prepared the way for Christ to be born, and the law condemned all men for all have sinned. Man could not fulfill the requirements of the law due to the weakness of his flesh.
Galatians 3:14, “That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith”.
Galatians 4:4, “But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them [Israel] that were under the law, that we (Israel) might receive the adoption of sons”.
Luke 1:67-75, “To perform the mercy (grace) promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant; the oath he sware to our father Abraham..(that all families of the earth would be blessed)”.
His holy covenant is Hebrews 8:10-13, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God , and they shall be to me a people. They shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord, for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more”. In that he saith, A NEW COVENANT he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old, is ready to vanish away”. Also, see Jeremiah 31:35. This is the same scripture Jesus is quoting.
I want to elude just one moment to the two covenants that the Apostle Paul speaks of in Ephesians 4:21-30, “Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bond-maid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants: the one from mount Sinai which gendereth to bondage, which is A’gar. For this A’gar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all”. Vs28-3, “Now we [Paul and the first century church] brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is NOW”. [Paul’s time] Nevertheless what saith the scripture: Cast out the bondwoman and her son; for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free”. (1) Paul is plainly stating that the OLD Covenant was still in existence at the time of his writing around AD 58 after the cross and resurrection of Christ. The cross was the definitive atoning work, but it was only part of the full atonement. Full salvation could not be accomplished until there was a change of covenant. I am putting this in so one can understand that the OLD Covenant and NEW Covenant stood side by side until the destruction of the temple, the end of the Mosaic Law, and the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. Also, until all of the OLD TESTAMENT (OLD COVENANT) was fulfilled, salvation was not delivered. Matthew 5:18 states,” For verily I say unto you, “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled”. One covenant was waxing old and decaying, while the other was being brought into being by Jesus and the first church body during a forty year period from AD30 to AD70. Just as the time from the release of Israel from Egypt until Israel entered the promised lasted was forty years, so was the transition from the Cross to the fulfillment of every jot and tittle of the Old Covenant (heaven and earth is an old testament euphemism for the covenant made with Israel).
Jesus came to create a new covenant with the Jews and graft the Gentiles into that covenant. Read Romans chapter 11.
Romans 11:17-18, “And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thous bearest not the root, but the root thee”.
Romans 15:8-9, “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision [Israel] for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers”.
Matthew 15:24, “But He [Jesus] answered and said, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of Israel”.
Romans 11:17-18, “And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them partaketh of the root and fatness of the olive tree; boast not against the branches. But if thou beareth not the root, but the root thee.” Jesus was not sent to the Gentiles. I am restating this to show that the Gentiles were grafted into the new covenant.
Jesus would create a New Covenant by fulfilling the law.
Matthew 5:17, “Think not that I have come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” Jesus came to fulfill ALL of the Old Testament and that includes ALL of the Old Testament books. Secondly, Jesus came to abolish the 613 laws of Torah or the Old Testament that was the strength of sin and kept mankind separated from God.
Ephesians 2:11-15, ‘Wherefore remember, that ye being in times past Gentiles in the flesh who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world; But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in the ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace.”
The law of commandments contained in the ordinance are the 613 commandments (not just 10 commandments) in the Torah or Old Testament. These were the strength of sin.
Romans 5:13, “For until the law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed (charged) when there no law”.
1st John 3:4, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law; for sin is the transgression of the law”.
Here is the bottom line. Jesus came and fulfilled the Old Testament(the law), abolishing the law by putting away sin in His flesh, creating a New Covenant of forgiving the sins and iniquities of Israel, grafting the Gentiles into that New Covenant, and fulfilling his oath to father Abraham that ALL families of the earth would be blessed. This is the complete story of the Bible.
Salvation is covenantal, not individualistic. The first Adam brought universal separation, the second Adam, brought comprehensive reconciliation. It is what God has done through the work of His Son Jesus. God alone did the work on mankind’s behalf. God alone has provided salvation: deliverance from the power and effects of sin. The power of sin was the law and the effects of sin were separation (sin death) from God. Jesus had both abolished the strength (the law) of sin and defeated death, the separation of mankind from God.
Praise and honor to our Lord Jesus, who came to do the will of the Father. The will of the Father was to reconcile mankind back into HIS PRESENCE that God may be ALL in ALL. The death (separation from God) that Adam caused in the garden was defeated by Jesus. Jesus, the second Adam, reconciled (restored) mankind back to GOD.
1 Timothy 2:3-6: “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for ALL, which is the testimony given at the proper time”.
1 Timothy 4:10: “For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of ALL people, especially those who believe”.
John 12:32: “and I [Jesus,] when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw ALL people to myself.”
Romans 14:11: “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”
Philippians 2:9-11: “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
3:3- For what if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid.
3:20 - Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
3:21-But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested being witnessed by the law and the prophets.
5:8-But God commendeth (proved) his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
5:10-For if, when we were his enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
5:15-But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
5:18-Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
5:19-For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
8:32-He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us ALL, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
11:27-For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sin.
11:29-For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
11:30-For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their (Israel) unbelief.
11:31-Even so have these (Israel) now not believed, that through your (Gentiles) they (Israel) also may obtain mercy.
11:32-“For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.”
14:11-For it is written, as I live saith the Lord, “Every knee shall bow to me and every tongue shall confess to God”.
1 Corinthians 15:22- For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
1 Timothy 2:3-6: “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for ALL, which is the testimony given at the proper time.”
1 Timothy 4:10: “For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of ALL people, especially those who believe.”
2nd Corinthians 5:19, “To wit that God was in Christ; reconciling the world unto himself; not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”
Now if salvation is covenantal and means being delivered from the fall of Adam and delivered from the power(the law) and effects of sin(spiritual death or separation from God), does that mean everyone is going to heaven? Not necessarily. Does it mean that no one is going to a place called hell? These are really the wrong questions. See my research on hell to understand Jesus’ meaning of hell.
But if salvation is deliverance from the strength of sin (the law) and the effects of sin (separation from God), then salvation is comprehensive and universal!
Salvation is universal through the second Adam, Christ.
Salvation was never about one’s afterlife in heaven or hell! Jesus did not come to get one to heaven or save one from hell. He came to give abundant, eternal life in this world and to bring to the earth the kingdom of God (the New Covenant).
In Part two we will elaborate further what it means for humanity to be in the new covenant world or what it means for ALL humanity to be reconciled back to God by a change of covenant.
What does eternal life mean according to Jesus?
Does this change of covenant do away with individual sin, evil, and its effects on humanity?
What has the New Covenant to do with morality?
What does the New Covenant mean for humanity and the earth today?
Why do ALL Christians still sin (verb) today?
Why is the world still in such a mess today if God changed the covenant?
Were Jesus’ words in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 about the destruction of our material and physical world or the Old Covenant world’s destruction?