A Scriptural Study Newsletter edited by Elder Vernon Johnson

How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!





Genesis 3:24, "So he drave out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life."

Exodus 25:18 20, "And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another;
toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be."

Ezekiel 10:20 22, "This is the living creature that I saw under the God of Israel by the river Chebar; and I knew they were the cherubims. Every one had four faces apiece, and every one four wings; and the likeness of the hands of a man was under their wings. And the likeness of their faces was the same faces which I saw by the river of Chebar, their appearances and themselves: they went every one straight forward."

When Ezekiel identified the "cherubims" as being the "living creatures," he also connected them by biblical description to the seraphims of Isaiah's vision (chapter 6) and the "four beasts" that John described in Revelation chapter 4. One thing the cherubims, living creatures, seraphims, and four beasts all had in common was they carried the messages of God and declared the holiness and glory of God. They were in fact God's messengers. Through the ages different ones have as messengers carried the messages of God. Angels have carried messages, such as the angels that appeared to Mary and Joseph and Zacharias and to the apostle John. The word "angel" literally means "messenger." In addition, during the Old Testament days God sent his messages by means of prophets. These prophets (messengers) had messages from God to deliver to the people and they faithfully delivered them. In this New Testament day we have had prophets, apostles, evangelists, and pastors and teachers who carried the messages of God to the people.

When God drove man from the garden of Eden, he placed at the east of Eden Cherubims and a flaming sword which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life. These cherubims as God's messengers no doubt declared the justice of God and man's unfitness because of sin and inability to return to partake of the tree of life. The flaming sword of God's justice also turned every way to prevent man's return.

The two cherubims in the holy place had their wings stretched forth from one end of the Holy place to the other end and their faces turned inward to view the ark of the covenant and the mercy seat. Typically, the ark of the covenant was a figure of Jesus Christ. The ark contained the two tables of stone which had inscribed the covenant of ten commandments, a measure of manna, which was typical of God's word, and Aaron's rod that budded, which was typical of life from the dead or a resurrection. Thus in type we see Jesus Christ keep the commandments of God to a jot and tittle, live by every word that proceeded from the mouth of God, die on the cross for our sins and on the third day rise again.

It is on the basis of Christ's work that we have mercy of God. The two cherubims then would typically represent God's messengers both in the old and New Testament looking on and declaring God's mercy through Christ's finished work.

The cherubims, living creatures, and four beasts are all described as having four faces. One face is the face of a lion, the next was a face of an ox, the third a face of a man, and the fourth a face of an eagle. While on the one hand this describes the character of God's messengers, it also describes the message of God's messengers. First, the character of God's messengers is such that they must be "bold" as a "lion." They are called on to be courageous and bold in the face of great opposition and persecution. Second they are to be "laborers" as an "ox." The scripture compares them to oxen thusly, "Thou shalt not mussel the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn." Next they are but "men" having all the frailties and imperfections of men. They are subject to the same temptations as the flocks they shepherd. They are not to be worshiped or exalted as God nor or they to be treated as dogs. Fourth, they are to soar as "eagles" rising up above the plain of this life while they meditate upon the things of God and God's word and while they preach the unsearchable riches of Christ.

The message of God's messengers also answers to the four faces in the four gospels. Matthew shows Christ as the "lion" (king) of his kingdom. The main theme of Matthew is the "kingdom of God" and Christ as the king. The book of Mark shows forth Christ in his labors as an "ox" laboring in the field. The key word in Mark is the word, "and," showing continuous activity. The book of Luke shows Christ as a "man." It has the details of Christ's birth and his early life. More details of Christ as a man are given in Luke than in the other gospels. Finally, the book of John gives us an "eagles" eye view of Christ as it begins with his deity before the world begins. It causes us to soar as we view him as the God that is (the great I AM).

When the cherubims, living creatures, seraphims, and four beasts gave glory and honor to God those to whom the message came also gave glory to God. In Isaiah 6, the seraphims cried "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory." This message along with what Isaiah saw and experienced caused him to see himself as a condemned sinful man, but then the seraphim laid a live coal from off the altar upon Isaiah's lips saying "this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged."

This is typical of the gospel ministry declaring Christ's work at the cross redeeming us from our sins, thus making our hearts glad and causing us to praise God. Revelation 4:9 11, "And when those beasts give glory and honor and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created."

The Justice of God

"He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he." As in all of his attributes and characteristics God is perfectly just. God has never acted or done anything that is unjust. His justice is just! According to Gen. 18:25 God is the "judge of all the earth." Isaiah declares in Isa. 33:22, "For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us."

God as the "judge of all the earth" and the only Creator of all things certainly has the right to establish and set forth any law that pleases him. David said in Psms. 19:7 that "The law of the Lord is perfect..."  All laws that God sets forth are perfect as is everything that God does. In the beginning when God had created all things in this natural universe, he placed Adam in the garden of Eden and gave him one commandment, "Of every tree of the 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 that thou eatest thou shalt surely die." Adam was free to eat of every tree of the garden but one. God certainly had the right to place this restriction on Adam, because He created all things and all things belong to him. The penalty for breaking the law was death. The marginal reading for "die" is "dying thou shalt die." This indicates an immediate death followed by another future death. Once this law went forth from the mouth of God and because God is Just, the sentence absolutely had to be carried forth, as God uttered it.

As soon as Adam transgressed he died in trespasses and sin, that is, his innocent nature changed into a totally depraved state absent any fellowship with God and separated from all godliness. Furthermore, the motions of sin in his mortal body began the process of bringing the mortal body back to the dust of death. In addition, when Adam transgressed he brought himself under the eternal wrathful judgment of God known as the second death. According to Rom. 5:12, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sins; and so death passed upon all men for that all have sinned." This teaches us that Adam was the representative of all his posterity and that the consequences of what he did passed upon all men. It also teaches us that the sin nature is hereditary. It passes from father to child. Please note that by one man sin entered into the world. Eve was the first to sin and she fell, but sin did not pass from Eve to the children, it passed from Adam to the children.

As the judge of all the earth God gives us his laws. Sin is defined in 1 John 3:4 "for sin is the transgression of the law." No sin is ever committed, but that God knows it as Heb. 4:12, 13 teaches us: "... God discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart...all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do." Prov. 24;9 says "The thought of foolishness is sin." Further David said in Ps. 139:2, "thou understandest my thought afar off." God knows our thoughts even before we think them and the thought of foolishness is sin the eyes of God. Thus the idea that someone can hide their sins from God is foolish indeed. Some people think that because they see no immediate consequences to their sins that they have therefore "gotten away with sin." This is faulty thinking as we read in Heb. 2;2 "every transgression and disobedience receives a just recompense of reward."

Remember God is just and there is no such thing as anyone getting away with any sin that they have ever committed. All sin is brought before the judgment seat of God. Every sin bears the same penalty as stated in Rom. 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death..." Since we have all died in Adam and because we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God, we were all under the same judgment of condemnation before God.

We like to think upon the mercy and grace of God. However, God does not lay aside his justice in order to show mercy and grace. His justice must be executed because He is perfectly just. Since all of us have sinned and come under the condemnatory judgment of God, how can we escape the wrathful execution of that judgment? This we will show but first consider Ps.85:10, "Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other." Mercy and truth would seem to be opposing principles. Likewise righteousness and peace with God for a sinner would at first appear to be impossible. However, God has made a way.

Throughout the old testament God has illustrated the principle of substitution through animal sacrifices. The idea was that ceremoniously the sins of the people would be laid upon the sacrifice. However, Heb. 10:3, 4 teaches us, "But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins." While this teaches us that only a human can be a substitute sacrifice for another human, those sacrifices also taught us of the requirement of perfection. Not just any sacrifice was suitable, but it had to be without spot or blemish.  God would/will accept only perfection. Thus I could not be a substitute for you, nor you for me.

For someone to be a substitute in God's execution of justice he had to be perfect (without sin). Furthermore, he could not even possess the sin nature of fallen man. When Jesus was born of the virgin he was born without sin. He was declared to be that Holy thing and In Matt. Jesus said "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, but I have come to fulfill it. One jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled.

According to Heb. 7:26, Jesus was "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens." Thus Jesus was qualified to be the substitute atoning sacrifice for His people. God made Jesus to be sin for us on the cross in order to satisfy his divine justice. According to II Cor. 5:21, "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." In the three hours of darkness God meted out on Jesus all that His divine justice required because of all our sins. His justice was perfectly executed and satisfied and it was here at the cross that mercy and truth met together and righteousness and peace kissed each other.

I Tim. 5:24 summarizes and illustrates God's justice, "Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment, and some men they follow after." For those for whom Christ died their sins went before to judgment (at the cross). For those who are not redeemed, their sins follow after and judgment will be according to their works and they will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:11 15). Thus every sin is brought to judgment for God is Just.

 I AM - The God That Is

Exo. 3:13, 14, "And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? What shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you."

One of the names for God the children of Israel knew him by was "I AM." The term, I AM, indicates an unchanging ever present God. A God that is "the same yesterday, to day, and for ever." 

When Jesus told some unbelieving Jews in John 8:58, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am," they knew he was claiming to be the great "I AM" and thus took up stones to cast at him.

The gospel of John presents a picture to us of Jesus as being the great "I AM." Jesus referred to himself as I am the ____ in eight different ways as follows:

1. I am the light of the world (John 8:12; 9:5).
2. I am the bread of life (John 6:35).
3. I am the good shepherd (John 10:11, 14).
4. I am the door of the sheep (John 10:7).
5. I am the door (John 10:9).
6. I am the resurrection and the life (John 11:25).
7. I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).
8. I am the true vine (John 15:1).

First Jesus said, "I am the light of the world." It is a particular world that Jesus is the light of. He is not the light of the world of darkness, nor of the world of iniquity, nor is he the natural light of the natural world (He created the sun, moon, and stars for that purpose). He is, however, the light of the spiritual world. To see takes eyes and light. Without either it is impossible to see. When a person is born again he receives spiritual eyesight and Jesus becomes his light (that which manifests) and he is able to perceive spiritual things (I Cor. 2:9 14). Jesus in his life has made manifest to us thru his word everything that is good!

Second, Jesus said, "I am the bread of life." We don't normally think of bread as something that gives life, but something that sustains life or gives sustenance to life. When we eat natural bread it may satisfy our appetite for a little while, but after a while we hunger again, thus we eat more. However, the bread that Jesus is, is something we eat and satisfies our hunger so that we never need hunger again. When I came to realize that Jesus has saved me from my sins by his finished work at the cross, I have never had to hunger for another savior. I am satisfied he saved me and I no longer need or desire another savior. This bread of life (Jesus) satisfies me.

Third, Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd." As the good shepherd he gave his life for the sheep. Jesus is also called the "great shepherd" of the sheep. There have been many down thru the ages who have given their lives that others might live. Not one of them, however, ever redeemed one person from even one single sin! Jesus, by being the good
shepherd manifests his love for the sheep, and by being the great shepherd, manifests his ability to save them. The fact that he is my shepherd makes these thoughts precious.

Fourth, Jesus said, "I am the door of the sheep." He also said, "All that ever come before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them." Thus Jesus is our eternal security. We are preserved in him. No one can touch our eternal life for they must go thru the door (Jesus) to get to us and this is impossible. Aren't you glad that your eternal life is preserved and secure in Jesus Christ?

Fifth, Jesus said, "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture." A distinction is made between this door and the previous door. The previous door speaks of Jesus as our eternal security and preservation. This door speaks to us of the kingdom of heaven, i.e., the church kingdom on earth. It is thru the finished work of Jesus and our obedience to his word that we are saved from a condemning conscience as taught in I Pet. 3:21, "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God, ) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ." Also thru the completed work of Jesus and his word, we are fed of this spiritual food thru the preaching of the gospel and thru reading and studying God's word.

Sixth, Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life." Death is a reality we all face. Yet, it is not the end of all things, but only a passageway, thanks to Jesus. Jesus himself died on Calvary's cruel cross, yet three days later he arose a victor over death, never to die again. He has the power over death. When we think of death usually it is the death of the body we are thinking about. Yet the scriptures say, You hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins. When we were dead (absent of spiritual life) God quickened (gave spiritual life) us as we read in John 5:25, "Verily, verily I say unto you, the hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the son of God, and they that hear shall live." Both the new birth and the resurrection of our bodies are "life from the dead" by the power of Jesus who is the "resurrection and the life."

Seventh, Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." "There is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." Jesus is "the way" of salvation. It is because he is "the truth" personified that he was a fit savior, for he was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners, who kept the law to a jot and a tittle and thus became the only savior of sinners. It is because he is "the way" and "the truth" that he is "the life" giving us eternal life.

Eight, Jesus said, "I am the true vine and my Father is the husbandman." He also said, "I am the vine and ye are the branches." It is only as we abide in him, his love, his words, and his commandments that we as the branches (his disciples) can bring forth fruit to the glory of God. Jesus said, "Without me ye can do nothing." We are dependant on him to do anything godly and good in his sight. As "the vine" he supplies all we need to be fruitful. His chastisement purges us that we may be even more fruitful.

In each of these things that Jesus said "I AM" there is a present reality of the presence of God manifests towards us that gives us hope and consolation as we live our present lives. Jesus truly is "the God that is.

Primitive Baptist