(EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the third of a five-part series written by Thomas M. (Tom) Saltsgiver, the president of Muncy Homes Inc. and Wirerope Works Inc. He has been involved in philanthropic giving and Christian ministry since 1985, when the Lord touched and changed his life. He has served in various positions on advisory boards of his local church, Prison Fellowship Ministries, Episcopal Renewal Ministries, Acts 29 Ministries, Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship International, The Sentinel Group, Regent University and The Christian Broadcasting Network. Tom teaches the adult Bible study at 9 a.m. Sunday at the G.A.P. Fellowship, 312 Maynard St., corner of Third and Maynard streets, in Williamsport.)
If you look at the nation Israel, we say they were saved.
They ate the flesh, they had faith, they were justified, but they then disbelieved God and they perished. If you read the book of Jude, Jude lists the nation Israel with the fallen angels and Sodom and Gomorrah and it says, "They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire." Now you take that along with the fact that God said, "They will never enter my rest," and it says to me that the nation Israel was saved, but later lost their salvation through disobedience and unbelief.
Now you have the discussion between Calvinism and Arminianism. The Calvinists would say, "once saved, always saved" and the Arminianists would say, "No, you can lose your salvation."
At this point in the Promised Land journey the foreshadowing establishes that it is possible to lose your salvation while in the wilderness, through disobedience and unbelief.
Remember that Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you."
Two things are required to have life, the Holy Spirit in you. You must eat the flesh and you must drink the blood.
Ephesians 5:26 speaks of Christ cleansing the church by the washing with water through the word.
Eating the flesh is believing the word, is being washed by the water of the word, is being born of water, is being born of God (a term used by John: 1 John 5:4-5 (KJV) (4)For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. (5)Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? God delivers us out of Egypt with a mighty outstretched arm. Faith, a gift of God, delivers us out of the bondage of Satan and puts us in the wilderness.
Leviticus 17:11 says the life of a creature is in the blood.
That means that the life Jesus is referring to, the Holy Spirit is in his blood and drinking his blood would put the Holy Spirit life in you. 1 Corinthians 12:13 (NIV) (13)For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body - whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free - and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
Consider the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit." Again, these two experiences - "born of water and born of spirit" have the same meaning as "eat my flesh and drink my blood."
Remember that Israel was God's elect in the natural and the church is God's elect in the spiritual. The Mosaic covenant states: Exodus 19:5-6 (NIV) (5) Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, (6) you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites." This covenant was conditional and was prefaced with "if you obey me fully and keep my covenant," which the nation Israel did not do through their disobedience and unbelief. Consequently, Peter says to the church: 1 Peter 2:9 (NIV) (9) But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
So, we are to be a chosen people, a royal priesthood, and a holy nation. Now, one thing you must keep in mind is that God is very consistent in his application of words. So, the words "chosen," "royal," "priesthood" and "holy" have specific and consistent application as to which group of people they make reference to, and these terms are all applicable to the true church of Jesus Christ.
If you look at how a priest is consecrated in the Old Testament, first of all, they have to go to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting and be washed with clean water. (Does this sound familiar?) Then, they had anointing oil poured over their head (an anointing done to kings - royalty).
It was done to King Saul and it was done to King David. Then, they took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood of the sacrifice, mixed it together and sprinkled it on the priests.
The priests are the only people in the Old Testament that got sprinkled with the blood of the sacrifice (except for Exodus 24 which is under the heading of 'Ratifying the Covenant" a separate teaching not covered here). Now, having been washed with clean water and having been sprinkled with the blood of the sacrifice they can now enter into the very presence of God and He will not raise his hand against them (the same point that was established in Exodus 24).
Being sprinkled with the blood of Christ is the same as drinking the blood of Christ. 1 Peter 1:1-2 (NIV) (1)Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God's elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, (2)who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: It is receiving the promise of the Father.
Acts 1:4-5 (NIV) (4) On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. (5) For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."
It is being baptized with the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12:13 (NIV) (13)For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body - whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free - and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. it is the blood of Jesus being applied to the person by Jesus himself, instead of placing it on the door frames as in Egypt.
So, if we are sprinkled with the blood, if we have drunk the blood of Jesus, we now have the Life giving Holy Spirit residing in us. We are born again of the spirit.
Lets look at these two experiences, eat my flesh and drink my blood - born of water and born of the Spirit - washed with the water of the Word and sprinkle with the blood of Christ, and see how they are played out in our journey from Egypt to the Promised Land.
Now remember, when we "believed" we went from Egypt into the wilderness. Now the second generation Joshua took across the Jordan.
Joshua is the name Yeshua, and Yeshua takes us across the Jordan. God delivers us out of Egypt, but Jesus takes us across the Jordan.
Acts 2:32-33 (NIV) (32) God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. (33) Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. When they crossed the Jordan, how did they do it?
First of all, the priests had to carry the Ark of the Covenant, but that was not the priests' job; it was the Kohathites of the Levites who were supposed to carry the ark, but on this extraordinary occasion God said the priests were to carry the ark.
Who is our high priest? Jesus is our high priest. The priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant had to step into the Jordan River first.
What's in the Ark of the Covenant?
The stone tablets, manna, and the budding rod, all three of which represent Jesus.
So the picture is that Jesus had to step into the Jordan first before the elect could cross over. When did he do that? When he was baptized by John in the Jordan. Jesus having been baptized in the Jordan by John, now allows the elect, the church, to cross over the Jordan into the Promised Land. Crossing into the Promised Land represents entering into the kingdom of God and Kingdom living.
There were two and one half tribes of Israel that did not want to cross the Jordan and go into the Promised Land.
They wanted to stay in the wilderness.
They had seen the green grass there and thought it would provide prosperous living.
They were told, "You have to go in and help your brothers to possess the land. Then if you want, you can go back and live in the wilderness."
So, two and one half tribes after crossing the Jordan went back across and lived in the wilderness.
This story portrays the four positions of mankind relative to their standing before God and their position for eternity.
The four positions are (1) those in Egypt, they are lost (2) those that have only progressed into the wilderness through faith, and they can lose their salvation through disobedience and unbelief (3) those who have crossed the Jordan but afterward chose to go back and live in the wilderness, they were sealed guaranteeing their inheritance - they are in Christ (4) those who crossed the Jordan and became fruitful, they were sealed guaranteeing their inheritance - they are in Christ and will be the bride of Christ.