Believing 3: Who Believes our Reports?

CHAPTER 3                   Who Believes?

“Who Believes” is short form for the Bible quote, “Who has believed our report?”, within itself reports in the Bible found in the Gospel of John, and by Jesus, and in the book of Romans, from the Apostle Paul. 

A word of warning as we research on this subject through Jeremiah and the rest of the Old Testament, even the New Testament on the same subjects where it properly interprets the Old for us, it becomes often a bleak and discouraging subject.  I recall when I wrote “The Message from the Prophets”, the fifth volume of the LEARN CHRIST COMMENTARIES, with a thorough look at what happened to Israel during the long history of the Old Testament from Moses to Malachi, from struggles in the wilderness to formation of the United Kingdom and through the period of the Divided Kingdoms with Captivity, a somber even bleak mood was created like when a book or movie has a sad ending.  Later I realized that while the majority of the chapters and pages of the Old Testament book are discouraging without a good ending, the deepest message of the Old Testament in the ultimate “all things are made new” turns the bleakness into glorious hope.

3-1:  Good NEW Things in the Old Testament.

Whether it is a book or a movie, we generally like a happy ending. Israel and other nations are laboriously predicted in detail, you will find periodic shorter passages on the hope of the new earth under the new heaven.  In Ezekiel where like Jeremiah that Prophet under the direction of the Spirit of God drags us through all the wrongs back in the Temple at Jerusalem, periodically there are mentions of a “new heart” and “new spirit” for the people that will allow them to live up to the requirements of the law by faith.  At the same time as Isaiah and Jeremiah, there are many of the minor Prophets before and after, likewise dealing with the bleak and the new messages of hope.

  For example

Like with the history of Israel, God’s originally chosen people, the history of the Temple is one of ups and downs with a predominance for the bleak side of down.  Yet within those major and minor Prophets who both recorded history and made future predictions which became history, there was both the question as to whether God would ever dwell with men; and then also the greater ray of hope that God would on the new earth make a place where He would eternally dwell with men.  Bless the hearts of the fundamentalists who have allowed the Bible Notes of Scofield to dominate their eschatology, they have become so prejudiced by a false hope of a thousand years glorious kingdom on earth, that they have confused all those passages about the new earth and the new Jerusalem with such a false one thousand year kingdom.  For example you have no doubt heard of the quote from Isaiah where “swords are beat into plowshares”  (Micah 4:3), “spears into pruning hooks”, no longer nation against nation, and war no more, also “where the lion shall lay down by the lamb” referred to as Israel here on earth, even for the false one thousand year kingdom. 

A careful chapter by chapter review of Isaiah will show several chapters on God’s judgment against a rebellious people and other wicked nations, then like a ray of sunlight in the darkness either a chapter or part of a chapter like a jewel dug from the deep dark earth with a message of hope of the new earth under the new heaven.

3-2:  Revelation 21, Last Chapter of the Book.

Granted that also bleak is the dominant subject of “Den of Thieves”, in spite of primarily coming to us from Jesus and Jeremiah; but we must keep this bleakness in the total context of the messages that God has given to us in this Book called the Word of God.  Faithfulness to the total message from Apostles and Prophets will both provide a balance between the dark and the light, the good and the evil, the believe and the unbeliever, the new and the old; but also provide in the bottom lines of the New Testament the proper interpretations that make sense of the whole history of Israel, the temple, and salvation.  And it will not hurt if you can engender a little faith at the beginning of this research to recognize that like Pastor James said at the Great Jerusalem Conference on Circumcision that “known unto God are all His works from the beginning”.  Sometimes we are easily confused because of our human frailties with how much of this history God predestined, but the confident statement of James was that God knows all of these works that are going to happen.  Further from the rest of the Bible we find that God in the new earth is going to “make all things new”. Besides the new earth on which dwells a new humanity of regenerate souls but also lowered from heaven after destruction of the old heavens and earth will be a New Jerusalem; and at that time God will Himself dwell with men in a new relationship, where there is no need any more for a Temple.  In fact, the Apostle John tells us that after he saw the New Jerusalem lowered down from heaven, he failed to see any temple in the New Jerusalem, deciding that there at this point in salvation history was no need for a temple because “the LORD God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple”  (Revelation 21:22)

And I hope, with or without a little faith, you will recall that this is the bottom line of both the Word of God, the outcome of the believe and unbelief, temple and no temple, house of God and church of the firstborn stories; and hopefully has been adopted and implemented for this book on the “Den of Thieves”.  Right now, up front I will warn you that a methodology of this book is to emphasize “Believe” over “Unbelief”, the positive over the negation, the good end results over the bad.  For example on the eschatology of “last things” unfortunately we have heard more on hell, more on the destruction of the old earth and heavens by fire, and the majority of the world–Jews and Gentiles–who chose unbelief over belief than we hear on the positive.  As REPORTS are given to you for unbelievers, the intent is to stress believe over unbelief, the ultimate newness of the new earth over the destruction of the old earth by fire, and the New Jerusalem where there is no need for a Temple over the fumbling efforts of men to create a place where they thought God would dwell.

  1. How simply the Apostle John in Revelation 21:1 puts the destruction of the old earth by fire with the straightforward words of “for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away” starting with the more positive statement of faith about the new heaven and the new earth, “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth”.  Now, if you can believe that John really saw this and faithfully translated it to us, which I do believe, then you have come a long way toward turning all these negatives of unbelief into faith.  One fellow Engineer, a brilliant person in the high IQ society, once said to me, “What if all this is not true”, to which I immediately replied, “Please consider that it all may be true”.  And perhaps if you are an unbeliever to whom I am addressing these reports, I would ask you to add a ray of hope to your darkness of despair by considering the possibility that this is exactly what a God of love would do for those who adopt the proper attitude toward Him.  He has never expected a majority, while loving all people, whether it be the majority of the Jewish nation or the majority of the Gentiles.  In fact the Bible often tells us how God laughs at and holds the majority in derision, especially those who consider themselves to be wise.  The primary reason God selected the nation of Israel to be His own people is because of the commitment that He made to Abraham to bless his children, and because He had chosen Israel to be the little nation that would bring His own Son into the world for the salvation of the world, also because like Paul explains in Romans God made Israel the custodian of the “oracles of God.”  If nothing else, we are indebted to Israel for Christ and for the oracles of God, the book of 66 books which God wrote through Apostles and Prophets.
  2. After John witnessed the new heaven and the new earth which will happen after the destruction of the old, he then saw the holy city of New Jerusalem lowered down from heaven.  (Revelation 21:2)  Sometimes when we read in John 14 that Jesus went back to heaven to prepare a place for us in His Father’s house of many mansions, we do not realize that this is the very “house” as part of the New Jerusalem that will be lowered to earth.  Also as we look at Jerusalem and Mount Zion today, while we see little beauty there, especially with a Moslem mosque right in the middle of the mount, we must realize that this Mount has a special place and meaning in the heart and mind of God.  And perhaps much of that comes from the fact that He long ago decided that this would be the place where He would build His New city as a light to all the nations that lived centered around the New city.  This would be the time and the place when God would finally “dwell” among men.  What God enjoyed in fellowship with man and woman in the Garden of Eden, He is going to more than restore on the new earth.
  3. John also heard things.  He heard a loud shout from heaven which said, “Behold the tabernacle of God is with men…”  (Revelation 21:3)  Please consider this the bottom line of all that will be said about temples and churches, all houses of God, in the pages of this book on “Den of Thieves”.  Here at the end and the bottom line of the story, all temples and houses of God are thoroughly cleansed as God Himself dwells with men.  In fact another bottom line which you may also miss unless you read carefully in Revelation 21 is the last verse, verse 27 where nothing that defiles shall enter the New Jerusalem, or causes an abomination or lie {please keep this in mind when we look thoroughly later at the abominations of 10 commandments violations and the lies which allow the people of the Temple and Jeremiah’s day to make the House of God into a Hideout for Bad Habits}.
  4. This requires the creation of a new kind of person, and John in that same verse 27 identifies that kind of person who carries no lies, abominations, or does not defile, as “only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”  (Revelation 21:27b)  What the ultimate goal of Jesus was when He twice cleansed the temple of God as recorded in John 2 and Matthew 21, what God through Jeremiah was really after in efforts to cleanse the Temple at Jerusalem from lies and abominations, from a false sense of security, is what God achieves right here at the end of time.  Never forget as you read the pages of this book and the discouraging pages of the Bible about the failure of God’s people, that here at the end God achieves  all that He has intended.  God throughout history has chosen a very small remnant of believers among Jews and Gentiles that He has automatically written in heaven in this Book of Life.  And the Book with the New Jerusalem will be lowered from heaven to this earth after the destruction of the old earth.  {Heaven is not destroyed with the destruction of the old earth, only the old heavens , the canopy if you would over the old earth or the space that surrounds this rotating earth.  All we know about heaven is that it must be about cloud level since the Bible tells us that God sits on the great white throne with the clouds as His feet, and we know somehow it is invisible and unfelt in a somewhat separate dimension that is outside the ability of our human sensors, like visible light and touch to pick up.}
  5. Please do not fail to note the ultimate benefits and blessings of the great ultimate reality that GOD WILL TABERNACLE WITH MEN.  (Revelation 21:3)

      (1).  God will eternally dwell with men;

     (2).  The dwellers on the new earth will be the new people of God {consider please, all people of God that God selects and from which God tries to cull a people for His name as only predecessors to the real and ultimately defined REAL people of God to be called “God’s People”, and consider also the bottom line definition of the people of God in the New Testament book of Romans where Paul as chief interpreter of the Old Testament and the bottom line tells us that the real people of God are a small number of Gentiles and even a smaller number, often called a remnant, of Jews–you see the emphasis of God is on quality rather than quantity which should not surprise you, and this is righteousness by faith quality over quantity.};

     (3).  God will not only Himself be with these dwellers on the new earth, but He will be “their God”  (21:3)

     (4).  While we would like to know much more about the living conditions and environment of the new earth, especially for us Gentiles of the nations around New Jerusalem {perhaps much like the Garden of Eden}, we do see much from the single verse of 21:4 about the living conditions:  (1) there it will be all good because there will be the complete absence of sorrow  with no more tears; (2) death is abolished as the new residents of the new earth live eternally {start getting rid of that concept of heaven on earth where all sit around eternally to look at a beautiful city with streets of gold, and consider that you will be busy in the country side that surrounds New Jerusalem}; (3) and there will be no more pain and sickness.  {All nations we are instructed later in this same chapter are required to periodically come to this abode of the Father and the Son and of the 12 Apostles over the new Jewish nation to worship, also a place of provision for the healing of all nations.}

NOTE:  There is so much more to say on the New Earth, the New Jerusalem, and the benefits when God tabernacles among men, and will be presented in later chapters; but now lest we lose the flow of “Who Believes Our Report”, or reports, we need to lay it out in this chapter, much of it of course for further Bible research and development, also for concurrent presentation with a concurrent theme of the “Hideout for Bad Habits”, hopefully in the last few chapters bringing these two contrasting themes-the good and the bad–with chapters like “Continuing Faith” and “Top Two Abominations of God’s People”.

3-3:  Full Extent of the REPORTS for Unbelievers.

Even as Paul and John come together with a quote from Isaiah 53:1 on “Reports” (John 12:37-41 and Romans 10:16), so also this book comes together with chapters on “Hideouts for Bad Habits” and “Reports for Believing” in the book of this book of “Den of Thieves”, more specifically are brought together in the last chapter of “Called God’s People versus Chosen God’s People”.  If you read carefully about God’s people, the new Israel, as defined by Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, also the teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of John as in other Gospels, and the comments John made like in John 12:37-41 on Reports, you will find a consistency and unity which can easily convince you of the Bible as the Word of God. Having considered briefly the end, and hopefully encouraged by it, the bottom line of the Bible story, we must now fill in some of the middle history in order to understand and fully appreciate the twin simultaneous themes of this book:  (1) Churches today which make themselves a “Den of Thieves” {our preference is for the phrase “Hideout for Bad Habits”}; and (2) some justice to the Bible on the Reports for Unbelievers.  Unfortunately most of the “unbelievers” we are given examples about in the Bible for our own help are unbelievers among God’s own people, first in the Jewish congregation and then in the churches.  In fact we must explore the possibility that by the time of Malachi and even before that, as Paul will explain to us in Romans, there was always only a “remnant” of God’s adopted people from the great body of God’s selected people.  Sometimes it almost seems that God selects like out of Egypt a large body of people uniquely for Himself, so that later from that larger body He can whittle down to a very small remnant of His real adopted people. And even as in the time of the Fullness of Gentiles, also written about from Paul in Romans, God’s people in America as the fullest of all Gentiles, have temporarily replaced the Jewish nation as the majority of the selected people of God, so after completion of the fullness of the Gentiles, we in American may expect an almost complete Falling Away from the status as God’s people like was experienced in Old Testament times and later in the time of Jesus.  What we have in the book of Hebrews is a brief history of the Falling Away of the Hebrews in the wilderness for 40 years, as they saw the works of God and still developed an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God, and that of course was early in their history of development as a nation, also as a somewhat selected people of God–of course we know that only approximately four of them survived to be adopted people of God, that is over the age of 20; what we have in Jeremiah is an almost complete Falling Away among temple attendees–the “generation of His wrath”–except of course for a small remnant, “two and one, clans and cities” which would include some of the captives like Daniel in Babylon; and what we have in II Timothy 4:3,4 is a complete Falling Away of God’s people, primarily the Gentiles and the Gentile leaders in America, in churches and denominations as they: (1) become intolerant toward sound doctrine; (2) make Christian and church decisions based more on their own “desires” than on any control from Christ; (3) heap up Bible teachers and preachers, even prophets, of “itching ears” in churches, over TV, in their pulpits and Sunday school classes; (4) churches turn away from the truth; and (5) churches turn into fables.  While we might consider these are the great Falling Away, recalling that the Great Apostasy is reserved for just before the Second Coming of Christ according to Paul and II Thessalonians, it would seem that both the Old Testament history is a long record of different periods of falling away as is the history of the Christian churches starting with the history of the seven churches of Asia Minor where lack of love and unsound doctrine precipitated a threat from the Ascended Christ to remove their candlestick, and the perilous times of II Timothy 3:1-9 speak of ups and downs among Christians and their churches which are like mini-falling Away.

  1. “LORD, who has believed our report?” (Romans 10:16 and Isaiah 53:1) We could laboriously dig our way through Isaiah, Jeremiah, the Old Testament Prophets and history to get a proper God-given history on these matters and the REPORTS, also the same for the 27 books of the New Testament which give us the proper interpretations of these Old Testament matters; but why do that when God in His providence of the writing of Scriptures has provided the Apostle Paul, the book of Romans, and Paul’s summary of the REPORTS in Romans chapter 10.

     (1).  Notice this is a plea to God that so few people have believed our reports about Jesus and salvation, a tacit recognition that unbelief among Jews and Gentiles is more prevalent than faith; and also a recognition that the majority not only do not believe what is necessary, but that the majority of humanity, Jews or Gentiles, do not achieve the ultimate salvation of the new earth.  Also that the struggle to be God’s people in Temples and churches is seldom graceful and successful; and not only does God identify that as the trend of history, but also that He has ordained that it be this way!  {This is getting a little ahead of what we will find in Romans 10, and in the larger context of Romans.}

     (2).  You will find as you turn to Isaiah 53:1 that these are primarily REPORTS about Jesus and about faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Also they are reports about salvation as the complete verse is:  “Who has believed our report?  And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?”  (Isaiah 53:1),  “arm of LORD” being often and consistently used in Isaiah and in other books of the Bible as synonymous with the “salvation of God”.  And when you read into chapter 53, a famous chapter on Jesus as the Saving Servant of God, you will see that the “He” of many verses is Jesus:  (1) He grew up non-illustriously with little attention in a little city of Palestine at a time the nation of Israel itself was somewhat insignificant in the world; (2) He was despised and rejected by men, although the very Son of God; (3) He bore our sorrows, was bruised for our iniquities in the Crucifixion, wounded for our transgressions; (4) He did not open His mouth during the mock trial and Crucifixion; (5) He was cut off from the land of the living; and so on with so many predicted details of the life, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ as to be without denial that the “He” is Christ, the Jesus of Nazareth born in Bethlehem.  {It is interesting that some of the “scoffers” which will be addressed later, but which you already know about and hear from often, would claim a time of writing for the book of Isaiah after Christ until at least one copy of the manuscript of Isaiah in the Dead Sea Scrolls was dated as at least two hundred years before Christ.}

NOTE:  At any point such as this, we could bog down in the details; but the flow on REPORTS must continue, be placed instantly in one chapter before us, and then reviewed and further developed in later chapters.

  • Even as there is an obedience toward the gospel of Christ, there is also the opposite of disobedience toward the gospel.  Believers practice the obedience and unbelievers practice the disobedience.  {Later you will read a chapter about the people of Israel in the Old Testament under the title of “to obey is better than to sacrifice.”  While humanity has found and still finds many ways to make sacrifice, and the sacrifice of service, always to God and made clear in the Old and the New Testament histories has it been more important to God Himself to see obedience.  God said often and said early in the Old Testament, in fact in the words that He spoke Himself to the Hebrew congregation before Mount Sinai, that far more important to Him than the sacrifice of blood animals was the obedience to His commands and covenants.}

“But they have not all obeyed the gospel…” Paul writes in Romans 10:15, just before the REPORT quote from Isaiah, and with somewhat of a summary of how most of Israel up to that very time of his life as a leader and lawyer in the Hebrew nation had not believed in God, and they were the select people of God!

  • In the very next verse, Romans 10:17, is careful to be more positive than negative about the unbelief of Israel, with a definition of how faith comes:  “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”  The REPORTS to which Paul and Isaiah make reference, especially the reports on Jesus, are designed just like in this book to generate faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; that faith can only come if you hear the Word of the reports or in this case read the reports. This book and Romans and Isaiah, indeed the whole of the Bible, is based on the Bible as the Word of God.  Read any of them, like in Isaiah, and you will find that the Prophets are only recording, just like the Apostles, what God told them to say.  “God said”, “I decided” where the “I” is God, and “Thus saith the Lord” clearly identify for the reader who has eyes to see and ears to hear that God the Father is the source of the words.
  • Passing on to the flow of the REPORTS in Romans 10, with a summary of much of the rest of the Bible, Paul begs the issue of perhaps even though the REPORTS were given to Israel maybe they did not hear.  {Unbelievers today would also like to proclaim a certain ignorance of hearing of the Word Reports; but we know from the Bible the many incessant and constant and world-wide manner in which they continue to hear from the Holy Spirit who convicts the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; of from other Christians and preachers; even from the Bible itself sometimes; from their own conscience that God has put in every one of His human creations; and yes, even nature and the collective Conscience of American Society.}  The answer of Paul is a quote from Psalm 19:4 that the sound of the Word has gone out across the whole earth, the words to the end of the earth.  {Likewise we know from Jesus and Matthew 24 that after the gospel goes to every nation, a process He started with His kingdom when on earth, then “will the end come”; and we can legitimately feel that by now through the past efforts of the U.S. and other Christians and churches, and in the process of the fullness of the Gentiles lead by the U.S. the gospel has indeed gone out to every nation.}
  • Well, okay the argument {Paul was always a lawyer and master of logic based on the Bible} of Paul proceeds:  perhaps they heard but did not understand with the words “did Israel know?”  (Romans 10:19)

     (1).  Yes they knew, and Paul quotes first from Deuteronomy 32:21; and you know that to be Moses and the people of God before Palestine to the extent that already Israel was REPORTED to about the salvation of God for the Gentiles, and the threat and promise to them at that time of how they would be “provoked to jealousy” by a nation that did not even exist {yes, that is us and the other Gentile nations of the world}, a foolish nation {yes, that is us also, now}.

     (2).  Isaiah (65:1) states it more clearly, Paul argues in Romans 10:20 where God Himself states:  (a) that He was found for those nations who did not seek Him {more of the grace and plan of God}; and (b) God was manifested to those who did not seek Him.  {For more on how God and Jesus manifest themselves to believers and not to the world, please refer to John 15 with the three questions from Apostles and the three answers of Jesus of “how He will manifest Himself to us and not to the world.”}

     (3).  Finally Paul comes in 10:21 and with a quote from Isaiah 65:2 to give God’s summary of the history of how Israel has heard and known.  {This is a reaction, if you would of the majority of the nation of Israel to the REPORTS from God Himself.}

“‘But to Israel he says {see once again how in the Bible it is God that does the talking}, ‘All day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and contrary people.’”  (Romans 10:21 and Isaiah 65:2)

NOTE:  I promised that Paul in Romans would not only summarize the Old Testament for you on the unbelieving history of God’s own people, but how Paul through the Holy Spirit of God would also give the proper meaning and interpretation!

Paul continues the REPORTS and arguments of Romans 10 with the question in Romans 11 of “has God cast away His people?”  This is another way to talk about the remnant that God chooses from all His people, Jews in the past and even some in the present, and mainly Gentile church members in the present.  It also begs the issue that is a burden of this book, and as introduced by Christ in John 15 where God does cast out many of His unfruitful people–also the threat of candlestick removal of churches by the Ascended Christ; that God today for churches like for God’s people in the past of the Jewish nation does cast out those selectively called His own people, but not yet fully adopted.  Also, you see in this I know, the difficult issue of the predestination of God versus freedom of choice; however we cannot neglect it from the words of Romans, nor can we neglect its importance for the twin themes under discussion in this book.

NOTE:  Of course, you can free download this message in PDF or in Word documents from SunGrist on www.sungrist.org/Believing3_WhoBelieves.pdf.  And if Bible Reports for Believing grows on you, as it can for those of faith as dominated by the gracious and evangelistic Gospel of John from the Apostle of love, the Apostle John of the 5 books of the NT, Revelation, the Gospel of John, and the 3 little epistles of John.  Even more so as you catch onto the Way of Continuing Faith of I John 5:13.  There is BELIEVE and then there is continuing to believe;

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” (I John 5:13)

When you get enthused about the Gospel of John and the SunGrist book BIBLE REPORTS FOR BELIEVING, the way of continuing faith, you may want to browse and/or order on Amazon, the paperback copy or Kindle edition, there for expanded distribution of the Word of God.  However be careful, do not be deceived in the ad as shown below with ingenuity and greed of some Book Distributors that make money by charging extravagant profits just because they can.  For example, and it is somewhat unbelievable until you see, at https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/1448680344/ref=tmm_pap_used_olp_sr?ie=UTF8&condition=used&qid=&sr= is the following ad below:

A screenshot of a cell phone

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A screenshot of a cell phone

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At least they recognize a bargain, so do not let it discourage you.  Buy only the Prime and the profits will go to SunGrist.  Prime on this paperback book is 16.38, you will notice, and since 2008 has been one of the best bargains in Bible books online.  The Kindle edition in Canada is 1.30 and thanks to Amazon can be read on your device with Amazon’s Free App.

A screenshot of a cell phone

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In short the Bible bargain of the year, or any year, Bible Reports for Believing in Paperback is found on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Bible-Reports-Believing-Continuing-Faith/dp/1448680344 . You will see the image below for the USA Amazon.

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