Recently, a section of scripture that came up in conversation caught my attention. It was Romans 11:26 which states that “all Israel will be saved”. The verse got me thinking, for it speaks of the literal Israel in that it distinguishes the “natural branches” referring to Israel and the branches that are grafted in as being the gentiles (Romans 11:16-24). What Paul states here about the salvation of Israel is undisputable. A pressing question then is: how will they be saved, given that millions of Jews have already passed on. The common explanation is that the salvation of Israel will take place in the end times, when Christ returns. Of course there are varied perspectives out there on this. Nevertheless, it would seem that God has made a special arrangement for Israel. Therefore, these perspectives overemphasize Israel’s salvation and neglect the gentiles. But Romans 11:32 states: “For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all [Jew and Gentile alike]” (Amplified).
So, in considering the salvation of the millions that are not only alive but have also passed on from the body-realm, I want to consider with you the glorious ministry of God in the Spirit. I hope you will be able to take away the verses that are shared here and allow the Holy Spirit to give you deeper insight into them.
First fruits of the Spirit
First, we need to realize that there is a ministry that far transcends any meeting, conference, missionary outreach and revival that we have ever experienced. There are those who still hold on to and contend for these ministries and refuse to open their hearts for the greater ministry of reconciliation that God has through His adopted sons. The ministries that we have partaken of most of our Christian walk, largely driven by man’s methods and energy, are only first fruits, they are an in-part ministry. Paul states “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part [for our knowledge is fragmentary and incomplete]. But when that which is complete and perfect comes, that which is incomplete and partial will pass away” (1 Corinth. 13:9-10).
What most of the church has spiritually partaken of so far are Passover and Pentecost. As wonderful as these experiences in the Lord have been, both Passover and Pentecost are feasts of the first fruits (Exd. 34:22; Deut. 16:16). Therefore, Passover and Pentecost are not the complete or full harvest. They are not the full experiences in God. On the other hand, the Feast of Tabernacles, also referred to as the Feast of Ingathering, is the full harvest. “You shall celebrate the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles) seven days, when you have gathered in [the grain] from your threshing floor and [the wine] from your wine vat” (Deut. 16:13). The Feast of Tabernacle is a celebration of the final gathering in and processing of the grains and grapes. The spiritual parallels of Passover (our initial new birth) and Pentecost (baptism of the Spirit) are clearly outlined in the scriptures. But, how about Tabernacles?
May God open our hearts to realize that Pentecost is not the ultimate experience in God. Through Passover and Pentecost what the church has experienced is the first fruits of the Spirit. Paul states: “and not only this, but we too, who have the first fruits of the Spirit [a joyful indication of the blessings to come], even we groan inwardly” (Rom. 8:23). Again we see in scripture that the Spirit of which we partook in Passover and Pentecost is a “first installment” or a guarantee of the fullness of the spirit that we are to inherent. This is also relayed in Ephesians 1:14: “the Spirit is the guarantee [the first installment, the pledge, a foretaste] of our inheritance until the redemption of God’s own [purchased] possession [His believers], to the praise of His glory.”
However, there is a more glorious experience that God has prepared for the elect of God who see with unveiled eyes and hear with spiritual ears the call to partake in the Feast of Tabernacles; of the fullness of the Spirit. Jesus Christ is the pattern Son who partook of the fullness of this feast for John the Baptist says of Him that He does not have “the Spirit by measure” (John 3:34) and John the revelator also saw “Him who has the seven Spirits of God” (Rev. 3:1). Seven in biblical numerology represents completeness. This Lord Jesus, who had the seven Spirits of God and who operated in the fullness of the Spirit in accordance with the Father’s perfect will in His earthly ministry, affirms to us that we will do greater works (John 14:12). Let me assure you, these greater works cannot be carried out in the realms of Passover and Pentecost. For when that which is complete and perfect comes then will the incomplete and partial pass away (1 Corinth 13:10).
The ministry of sonship
Accordingly, there is yet a glorious ministry that far exceeds the ministry in Pentecost. The ministry of sonship is a ministry in the Spirit by the Spirit in those who have come to maturity and have passed on from the in-part realm of Pentecost to partake of that which is perfect. This is a ministry that directly ministers to the spirit of man. It is a ministry that is neither bound by time or space. In this ministry, there is a sound that goes out that does not need the mediums of man nor physical ears to receive. Of this sound, Paul speaks through various scriptures. In Romans 10:14-18, Paul first describes the ministry of Passover and Pentecost; where a preacher must be sent to preach in order for one to hear and to believe. However, having said this, Paul shows us that there is more to ministry than this. He states: “But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: ‘Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world.’ (Rom. 10:18).
So, despite preachers being sent, Paul is implying here that the sound of the gospel has already gone out to all the earth. Notice also that this sound is ‘words’. For some may argue that this sound is that of natures’ in reference to Psalm 19. However, the heavens and firmaments stated in Psalm 19 through whom, “there is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard” is not referring to nature. One may be confronted with the beauty and magnificence God’s creation and be pointed to the existence of a Creator. But let me ask, who has come to know of the gospel of Jesus Christ, of the cross and of salvation having observed nature? Have we not acknowledged that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17)?
So, this ministry of sonship will go out even to the ends of the earth and will be heard in every place for it’s a ministry in Spirit. Jesus told His disciples: “you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Well, did the disciples witness to the ends of the earth? They went as far as Rome but Rome is of course not the end of the earth. Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians states: “for from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place” (1 Thess. 1:8). Again, we are told in scripture that “through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” Hallelujah!
Beloved saint may God open your hearts to the greater and glorious ministry that far transcends programs, meetings, missionary outreaches, and televangelism. May we realize that there is a congregation in the Spirit, in that city of the living God the heavenly Jerusalem that far surpasses any meeting we will ever attend. From that realm of Spirit that transcends time and space, a sound is going out that is reaching the spirits of men in every corner of the world. Indeed that sound has reached us and is ministering to us.
Preaching to spirits
It is said of Jesus in 1 Peter 3:19 that “He went and preached to the spirits in prison.” As we read on we realize that He preached to those who were disobedient in the times of Noah and who had died in the flood. This section of scripture challenges any notions that an individual has to hear the gospel with physical ears or that one has to have a beating heart to hear the good news of the gospel. God’s notion of the ‘living’ is absolutely contrary to man’s. Notice what Jesus said to the Sadducees: “but even Moses showed in the burning bush passage that the dead are raised, when he called the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him” (Luke 20:37-38).
We see again in 1 Peter 4:6 “for this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” There are obvious contentions in this verse that the “dead” refers to spiritual death and not physical. A spiritual interpretation of the word ‘dead’ makes the verse incoherent as there would be no need to mention ‘men in the flesh’ in the following sentence.
The truth imparted to us in the scriptures and those exemplified by the Lord Jesus, who preached to the spirits, is that there is a sound going out in these last days, it is a sound of the last trumpet to those who will partake in the spirit in the full harvest of Tabernacles. Those taking part in this feast are like Ezekiel being led of the spirit to prophesy to dry bones. They speak wisdom among those who are mature (spirits) and declare the full gospel of the Kingdom in the sight of God in Christ (2 Corinth. 2:17).
In this ministry, not only will Israel be saved but the ingathering of the full harvest will take place through manifest sons transformed into the image and likeness of Christ. For this cause: “the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God… because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom. 8:19, 21).