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Among those who are rightly more than conquering through Him who loves us,
there are some who we could call pioneers. Pioneers are most definitely
conquerors or overcomers. For example, we could say that John the baptist was
not only a forerunner but also a pioneer. In fact, we could say that many of the
saints of the ancient days—Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Caleb—and
some of those more contemporary to us—Peter, James, John, and Paul—were all
pioneers.
What is a pioneer? A pioneer is one who opens the way or prepares the way for
others to follow. A pioneer could be called a trailblazer or one who cuts a way
through the bush so that others may follow—one who goes forth into territory not
trodden by others, into uncharted territory. The pioneer leaves the comfort and
security of home and willingly pays the cost to go in and occupy new territory; he
puts down his feet and declares that this is a new possession. There is great cost,
peril, danger, and even perplexity for pioneers. But they are obsessed to make it
through to the new land so that others may follow. They are not concerned that
those who follow will not have to pay the same price. They are more concerned
that others may enter into what they have occupied. Pioneers have vision, courage,
faith, and a sense of destiny. Their very life is a testimony. They go out, not
knowing where they are going because few, if any, have gone their way before.
By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a
place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out,
not knowing where he was going. (Hebrews 11.8 NASB )
All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having
seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having
confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
(Hebrews 11.13 NASB )
When we read Hebrews 11, we discover that God has had pioneers down through
the many centuries. They were spiritual pioneers who were pioneering a way into
the kingdom of the heavens —pioneers of the kingdom of God. They were so
captivated by the heavenly vision that they confessed they were strangers and
exiles on earth. They were no longer an earthly people but a heavenly or celestial
people of whom the world was not worthy (see Hebrews 11.32-40). They were
wanderers on earth, always seeking for and reaching toward the goal and the
promises of God. They were looking for God’s city, for His country, for His
purpose, for His end.
Before proceeding, a brief explanation is needed of some phrases that I use from
Scripture.
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First , the kingdom of the heavens and the reign of the heavens are one and the
same in meaning, which refers to the kingdom of God coming to this earth to rule
over the nations in righteousness, justice, mercy, and peace. The heavens do rule
and the reign of the heavens mean that heaven truly reigns or rules over all the
affairs of the nations on earth. This reign is manifested in the coming eon when
Christ, the Son of God, takes the scepter of the kingdom. This is when the great
voices in heaven proclaim: ‘The kingdoms of the world did become those of
our Lord and of His Christ, and he shall reign to the ages of the ages!’
(Revelation 11.15 YLT ). I recognize that the Lord’s people are in the kingdom of God
in some measure today, but the reign of the heavens is a specific term that refers to
when the kingdom manifests itself on earth in a way that it is clear that God rules
through His Son in the affairs of man or, more specifically, the nations. This is
when the prayer “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” is answered. This
occurs when the kingdom of Christ is established on earth.
Second , the heavenly vision is very similar in nature in that it refers to Christ who
is seated at the right hand of God today, waiting to come to this earth to reign as
the King of kings. Paul saw Christ in a blinding vision as he traveled the road to
Damascus. He was blinded by the glory of the risen Christ whom he had been
persecuting by persecuting those who were of the Way. Paul did not use this term
to indicate that we die and go to heaven, as so many hold to in our day. Paul saw
the heavenly Christ, the Celestial One, who one day will raise up from among the
dead an elect company of saints in what Paul called the out -resurrection, which is
the same as the first resurrection. They will be safely ushered into Christ’s celestial
kingdom that will come to this earth. Another way of looking at this is: the celestial
kingdom indicates the character or nature of the kingdom as well as the origin of
it. The celestials refer to another realm, the spirit realm, and this realm will come
to bear in the rule of the nations and all who are counted worthy to enter into the
celestial realm in the eon to come will be the complement of Christ in summing up
all things in the heavens and on earth.
Of course, much more could be written on these matters. The point that I want to
stress is that these terms are not about going to heaven but about heaven coming
to earth. Those who conquer in this eon will be counted worthy to enter the next
eon. They will be constituted to dwell not only on earth but also among the
celestials, and they will work with Christ as He heads up all things in the heavens
and on the earth and rules the nations in righteousness.
Now, returning to the subject at hand; upon recounting the faith of those who have
gone before us, the writer of the Hebrews epistle began to make a personal appeal
to believers: Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses
surrounding us (Hebrews 12.1). Many people seem to take this verse to mean
that all who have gone before are in heaven looking down at us and urging us on in
the race of the faith, as if they are monitoring all our activities. However, this
cannot be the meaning, for these beloved ones who preceded us are not in heaven;
rather, they are in death, asleep, waiting for the better resurrection (Hebrews
11.35), which they cannot attain apart from us (Hebrews 11.40). For example, as he
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spoke to the men of Israel following the ascension of the Lord, Peter said:
“Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David
that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day”
(Acts 2.29 NASB ). Peter contrasted David’s death with the Lord’s death. Unlike
David, the Lord was not left in the tomb, nor was His body allowed to undergo
decay (Acts 2.27). Consequently, the Lord has ascended but the saints of old have
not. Thus, they are not in heaven looking down upon us as if we are in some big
stadium, and they are cheering us on.
Another way of stating this verse is: So therefore also, having lying around us a
crowd of witnesses that are giving testimony to us . We are given the sense that
they are not above looking down, but they are lying around us. In a sense, they are
lying around us, for they are in the grave waiting for the resurrection. However, it
is not them per se but their testimony that is lying around us. It is their testimony
that urges us to run the race. How do they give us their testimony? They do it by
the history of their lives as recorded in the Bible. Their lives stand as a testimony to
us; and as we consider their walk of faith, along with their failures, we too run with
endurance the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12.1). They were not super-
humans. They were men and women like us who had many weaknesses and made
many mistakes along the way, sometimes big mistakes; but what counted the
most—a good testimony through faith—is recorded, for they believed God at the
crucial moment in their lives. Without faith it is impossible to please Him,
for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a
rewarder of those who seek Him (Hebrews 11.6 NASB ). They pleased God, and
that is what counts the most.
Today, the testimony of this great throng of pioneers urges and exhorts us to press
on as they did. The world system of our day is not our home. Our destiny is to be
among the celestials and our vocation is to bring the reign of the heavens to this
earth, leading the nations to Christ and teaching them righteousness through the
divine law of God. We are called to be aliens, strangers, pilgrims, and exiles in the
kosmos (world system; in it but not of it) of our day; those who are continually
pressing on toward the goal, looking for the glorious day of our Lord Jesus, setting
our sights on His coming kingdom and our glorification. This is our calling and
expectation.
Pioneers are the ones who wholly follow the Lord , who are filled with the spirit ,
and who hold to the heavenly vision .
Wholly follow the Lord.
“Surely none of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and
above, shall see the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
because they have not wholly followed Me, except Caleb the son of
Jephunneh, the Kenizzite, and Joshua the son of Nun, FOR THEY HAVE
WHOLLY FOLLOWED THE LORD .” (Numbers 32.11-12 NKJ )
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The testimony of Caleb and Joshua, who took Israel into a foreign and, at times,
hostile land, is that they followed the Lord wholly or fully. This is the testimony of
a pioneer. A true pioneer is one who wholly follows the Lord, yielding himself fully
to the Lord. There is nothing partial about a pioneer; he is all for the Lord. He has
no other ambition but to follow Him, to go wherever He leads.
While the whole first generation that came out of Egypt wanted to go back to Egypt
(the world), Caleb and Joshua wanted to press on toward the goal for the prize.
They believed God! After the Lord had led them out and within two years had
brought them to Kadesh-Barnea, they were told to go in and spy out the land
promised to them. Of the twelve men who went in to check out the land, only Caleb
and Joshua saw that it was good land. All the others feared the people of the land,
although the Lord had promised that they would possess it. In the end, the first
generation of the sons of Israel that came out of Egypt fell in the desert under the
judgment of God. We could say they are the ones who rejected the better resurrec-
tion and who will rise in the general resurrection of all the dead. Only Caleb and
Joshua were allowed to lead the second generation into the land of promise. For
the thirty-eight years that followed, Caleb and Joshua fully followed the Lord while
the first generation of the sons of Israel wandered around the wilderness in the
stubbornness of their heart.
The entire nation suffered for the actions of the many that refused to take the land
promised by the Lord. Even Caleb and Joshua suffered those long years; they
never gave up but instead pressed on toward the goal. They had vision and they
kept the goal in sight. It is like the word given through Habakkuk.
“For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the
goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will
certainly come, it will not delay.” (Habakkuk 2.3 NASB )
The heart of a pioneer declares that it will certainly come, for God has promised.
Praise God; He always has His pioneers who are fully committed to His ways and
who wholly follow Him through the trials and tribulations. The Lord never leaves
nor forsakes His people, and a pioneer holds to this fact, trusting the Lord fully.
Caleb and Joshua followed the Lord in all things. They carried their cross and
followed the Lord (Luke 14.27). They are part of the great throng of witnesses who
have shown us the way, and the way is to follow the Lord fully, not partially. When
we do, we can say that we too are going the way of the pioneers.
A different spirit.
“But My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and
has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered,
and his descendants shall take possession of it.” (Numbers 14.24
NASB )
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So the Lord said to Moses, “Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in
whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him.” (Numbers 27.18 NASB )
There was something different about Caleb and Joshua, and it dealt with the spirit.
They were of a different spirit from the rest of their brethren of their generation.
Simply, they were led not by the spirit of the world ( kosmos ) but by the spirit of
God.
Pioneers have a different spirit. They are full of the Holy Spirit. Why? Because
pioneering is a spiritual matter, and it can only be done by spiritual people! It is
not for the natural man or for the carnal person. It is not done by Christians who
have their minds set on the things of this earth but by those whose minds are set
above where Christ is seated (Colossians 3.1-2). Only through the spirit of God can
we see Christ and lay hold of Him and all that God has for us in Him. God’s spirit
gives us vision.
Paul told the Corinthians: Now we have received, not the spirit of the
world [ kosmos ] , but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the
things freely given to us by God (1 Corinthians 2.12 NASB ).
Oh, who can know all that God has prepared for those who love Him? But God
reveals to us through His spirit what eye has not seen and ear has not heard (1
Corinthians 2.9-10). We can only enter into this great calling as spirit-filled and
spirit-led people. Of course, being filled with the spirit demands that we be filled
with the God-breathed word (compare Ephesians 5.18-19 to Colossians 3.16). The
two are inseparable.
Vision of the heavenly land.
And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, of those who
had spied out the land, tore their clothes; and they spoke to all the congrega-
tion of the sons of Israel, saying, “The land which we passed through to
spy out is an exceedingly good land.” (Numbers 14.6-7 NASB )
Because they were of a different spirit, Joshua and Caleb saw things on earth from
a different perspective than the rest of their brethren. When ten men saw the
dangers in the land, these two men saw the good in the land. They simply saw
beyond the natural and saw the spiritual reality. God had promised them the land,
and it was good.
A pioneer who is full of the spirit is one who sees things differently from the
world’s view and from the view of other believers in Christendom. Remember, the
rest of Israel that fell in the desert belonged to the Lord, for, while in the
wilderness, they had followed the rock, which was Christ (1 Corinthians 10.4), but
they lacked the vision that comes from a spirit-led life, a life that lives fully before
the Lord, a life of faith. The giants of the land did not overcome Joshua and Caleb.
They saw that the land was God’s provision, and it was His call to enter into it—to
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possess the land that was promised. By faith, they believed God and saw through
the obstacles. They saw it as an exceedingly good land. They fixed their eyes on the
Lord and stormed the land to possess it.
Now this matter of possessing the land is a type of what is in God’s heart for the
ecclesia. We are to possess the land; however, our land is not earthly but celestial
in nature. Our land is a new, glorified body in the image and likeness of our Lord
Jesus, the Celestial One (1 Corinthians 15.48-49 CV ) that will be given to all who
conquer through the life of Christ while they occupy bodies of death. Glory will
come to the conquerors through the first resurrection and transfiguration, which
will, most likely, occur in fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets and the Feast of
Tabernacles. They are the ones considered worthy to attain to the coming eon (age)
and the resurrection from the dead, being sons of the resurrection (see Luke
20.34-38).
However, in another sense, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Celestial One, is our celestial
land, our land of milk and honey. He is the fulfillment of every spiritual blessing
among the celestials. Every blessing is in Christ, and these blessings are set before
us among the celestials (Ephesians 1.3), especially in the eon to come. Of course,
this is ours today in spirit, but it is in the day of Christ that it will be fully
manifested. Our vision must be set on what lies ahead.
Who are the true pioneers today? They are the ones who wholly follow the Lord ,
who are filled with the spirit , and who hold to the heavenly vision . This is the
testimony of pioneers of the kingdom of Christ, and we see this same testimony in
Paul, the beloved apostle.
The Lord will deliver me from every evil deed, and will bring me
safely to His heavenly [celestial] kingdom; to Him {be} the glory
forever and ever. (2 Timothy 4.18 NASB [CV] )
This dear brother in Christ has left us his testimony to urge us on. Paul wholly fol-
lowed the Lord and held to the heavenly vision (Acts 26.19). He never took his
eyes off the One who had blazed the trail, who had gone before and had conquered
the world (John 16.33), the flesh (Hebrews 4.15), and the devil (John 14.30; 1 John
3.8). Although Paul’s path was a lonely one at times as others deserted him, he
knew the Lord stood with him and strengthened him (2 Timothy 4.16-17). This was
Paul’s testimony and his assurance that the Lord did deliver him from every evil
deed and will bring him safely to His celestial kingdom in the day that is coming.
Christ was the Pioneer of suffering, and Paul entered into the sufferings of Christ
as a pioneer for the ecclesia, which is the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 15.31; 2
Corinthians 1.5; Philippians 3.10).
Praise God for the testimony of the saints who have gone before. However, the key
is not to fix our eyes on the people but on their testimony, their example. When we
do, we see one thing. We see Jesus! We are to fix our eyes on Jesus, the Man who
conquered, the Man who cut the way through the bush, the Man who is the true
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Trailblazer; the one true Pioneer who says, “Come, follow Me. I have made the
way. I am the Way! ” Who was in the land with Joshua, Caleb, and the second
generation? The Lord was with them! Who was with Paul as he strove to be
counted worthy of the celestial kingdom? The Lord was with him! Who will be
waiting in the air for all His people as He comes to take the reign of the heavens ?
The Lord will be there! He is the Pioneer who forged the way for others to follow.
He is the One who paid the full price for all to follow Him. He waits with
anticipation for that glorious day when He will receive His people. What a glorious
day that will be!
The one, true Pioneer.
Can anyone doubt that our Lord as Man is the Pioneer? Is He not the One who has
gone before to prepare the way for the rest to follow? Is He not the One who
entered uncharted territory into which no man had ever gone? No one had ever
followed His path before. He is uniquely the Pioneer, the Forerunner, the Trail-
blazer. Just consider these facts—
He took on the form of man. God had never entered into His creation in this way.
This was uncharted territory for even God; to be humbled by a human body, so
frail, weak, and limited. He shared flesh and blood (Hebrews 2.14). He was even
made a little lower than His created messengers (Hebrews 2.9).
He is the first Man to obey God in all things (John 5.19; 8.28). No man has ever
done this (Romans 3.10, 23).
He is the first Man to be tempted in all things and yet be without sin (Hebrews
2.18; 4.15). All born of Adam’s race have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
(Romans 3.23).
He is the only Man to reconcile mankind to God, having made peace through the
blood of His cross (Colossians 1.20). His blood is the only blood that effectively
cleanses an evil conscience (Hebrews 10.19-22).
He is the only Man to descend to the lower parts of the earth and ascend on high,
far above all the heavens (Ephesians 4.8-10), even far above all rule and authority
and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age
(Man’s day), but also in the Kingdom Age to come (Ephesians 1.21).
He is the first Man to render powerless the one who had the power of death, the
devil (Hebrews 2.14).
He is the first Man to conquer the grave and the world (Acts 2.32; John 16.33).
He is the first Man to enter within the veil and appear before God for all of hu-
manity (Hebrews 9.24).
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He is the first Man to be crowned with glory and honor (Hebrews 2.9).
He is the first Man to be exalted and seated at the right hand of God in heaven
(Acts 2.33; 7.56; Hebrews 10.12).
He is the only Man who holds the keys of death and hades, which will not prevail
against His ecclesia (church) (Revelation 1.18; Matthew 16.18); that is, death shall
not prevail because, in due time, He will raise His people from among the dead.
The earth is like a great coffin that has held man in the grave since Adam. Praise
God; this Man broke through this mighty coffin and ascended to the throne of God.
At the resurrection of the dead, it will be shown that the gates of hades (the
unseen) cannot and will not prevail against His people, for His blood-bought saints
will rise from among the dead; mortality will put on immortality (1 Corinthians
15.50-57). At the end of Christ’s millennial reign, death itself and hades will be
thrown into the lake of fire forever (1 Corinthians 15.26; Rev. 20.14). Death will be
swallowed up in victory! Ultimately, all mankind, without exception, will be set
free from death.
He will be the first Man to truly rule over all creation and sit upon His own throne
to rule in righteousness (Revelation 3.21; 11.15). He is the King!
He is the only Man who will sum up all things in the heavens and on the earth
(Ephesians 1.10) so that God the Father may be all in all (1 Corinthians 15.28).
Today, the Man sits in glory as all His enemies are made a footstool for His feet
(Hebrews 1.13); but the day is coming when He will leave the throne of His Father
and descend to this earth, take the scepter of the kingdom over this earth and reign
until He puts all things in subjection under His feet (1 Corinthians 15.27). His reign
will sum up the entire 7,000-year history of the heavens and the earth, which will
ultimately lead to the grand Jubilee of creation sometime in the eons to follow.
This only touches upon the fringes of all that the last Adam, the Second Man (1
Corinthians 15.45, 47) has accomplished and will accomplish. Do you see the
vastness, the greatness of this Pioneer? There is none like Him in heaven or on
earth.
Now, the word pioneer is not used in most Bible translations; however, two
translations do use it in four verses. Going forward, I will quote mostly from the
James Moffatt Translation. In the New Testament there is one Greek word that is
used exclusively for our Lord Jesus, and it is found in Acts 3.15, 5.31, and Hebrews
2.10, 12.2. It is the word archegos , which has been translated in the many versions
of the Bible as “chief leader, author, captain, prince, pioneer , originator, or
source.” Its meaning implies that Christ began something. He is the source of it. It
all originates with Him. He blazes a trail to it. He goes before all the rest as a fore-
runner. But it also means that He finished the course. He arrived at the conclusion.
He completed what He set out to do. Also, He has called His people into all that He
has possessed. These four verses point to the coming King and His kingdom.
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Pioneer of life raised from among the dead.
“Pilate had decided to release him, but you repudiated the Holy
and Just One; the boon you asked was a murderer, and you killed
the pioneer of Life. (Acts 3.14 JMT )
The Son of God is the very source of life. In Revelation 3.14, we read that He is the
originating source of the creation , the chief of creation , or the origin and begin-
ning of creation . In Colossians 1.16-17, we discover that He created all things and
He holds all things together. He is life itself. Without Him, there would be no life in
the universe because by His very life the whole of creation is held together. Destroy
the Son and all of creation is destroyed. But thank God; nothing, not even death,
could destroy Him. He broke the stranglehold of death and defeated it, rendering
death powerless forever. The world tried to destroy its very lifeblood, but God
raised Him from the dead. Hallelujah!
What is the significance of being a pioneer? Simply put, man was dead in his
transgressions. We all were destined for the grave, with no hope of any release; but
the Pioneer entered into death and conquered it for man. This was a tremendous
accomplishment. No one had ever done this. It was truly uncharted territory. But
thank God; it is no longer uncharted. He entered it and defeated it. It is finished!
Now, as the Pioneer of Life, He leads us into His life, which is the overcoming,
conquering life—the life that has conquered the world, the flesh, and the devil. The
Pioneer calls us to follow Him into the depths of His life. He has opened the grave
and cleared a path to His celestial kingdom that we might be with Him in His day
(future day). Oh, what a tremendous trail He has blazed for us!
But there is more to this verse. He is the Pioneer of Life, whom God raised from
the dead— a fact . It is not some myth that the Pioneer was raised from the dead; it
is a fact that was witnessed by at least 584 people (1 Corinthians 15.5-8) after His
resurrection from among the dead.
Consider this: The thought of being resurrected from the dead was not new to the
Jews. They believed that all the dead (righteous and wicked) would be resurrected
at the same time and judged. What was new was the concept of being resurrected
from among the dead. We see this very clearly in Martha’s response to Jesus
when, in reference to raising her dead brother, Jesus stated, “Your brother
shall rise again.” Martha responded, “I know that he will rise again in the
resurrection on the last day” (John 11.23-24). We see the same understanding
with the three disciples who witnessed the Lord’s transfiguration.
And as they were coming down from the mountain, He gave them
orders not to relate to anyone what they had seen, until the Son of
Man should rise from the dead. And they seized upon that state-
ment, discussing with one another what rising from the dead
might mean . (Mark 9.9-10 NASB )
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Thus, resurrection of all the dead at the same time was the common understanding
of the Jews, but rising from the dead, that is, from among the dead was something
entirely new to them.
Christ has set the course for those who will follow Him at the end of Man’s day. He
is the first fruit (singular in the Greek) of those who have fallen asleep in Jesus (1
Corinthians 15.20; 1 Thessalonians 4.14). As the first fruit, the first Man to come
out of the grave, He will lead many out from among the dead at His coming (1
Corinthians 15.23). He will not lead all the dead at His coming, only those who
have believed on Him and conquered through His victorious life [one new man in
Christ (Ephesians 2.15)] while they lived.
It is significant that the words of the verses in Acts 3 were addressed to the nation
of Israel that was offered the kingdom of the heavens, but many from the ancient
nation lost the right to this glorious privilege. The Pioneer declared: “Therefore I
say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be
given to a nation producing the fruit of it” (Matthew 21.43 NASB ).
Pioneer and Savior to grant repentance.
“God lifted him up to his right hand as pioneer and saviour, in
order to grant repentance and remission of sins to Israel.” (Acts
5.31 JMT )
This verse refers to Christ as the Pioneer in reference to granting repentance to
Israel. In one sense, this has been fulfilled. Repentance was offered to Israel and a
remnant believed on the Lord in that day, thus continuing the line of spiritual
Israel of which we who believe in this day have been made to be partakers.
The fact that the Pioneer and Savior has been exalted to the right hand of God is
significant, and we see this in the account of Stephen’s martyrdom. Stephen was a
man full of grace and power, being full of the Holy Spirit (Acts 6.8, 10; 7.55).
Some men rose up to dispute Stephen, but they were unable to cope with the
wisdom and the spirit with which he was speaking. So they schemed to accuse him
of speaking blasphemous words against Moses and against God. This stirred up the
people, the elders, and the scribes, and they came upon him and dragged him
away, and brought him before the Jewish Council. They put forward false
witnesses who made accusations against him, saying, “This man incessantly
speaks against this holy place, and the Law; for we have heard him say
that this Nazarene, Jesus, will destroy this place and alter the customs
which Moses handed down to us.” All who fixed their gaze on Stephen saw
his face like the face of an angel (see Acts 6.10-15).
Stephen, speaking to the Council, began to give a summary of the history of Israel
and concluded it with the most severe of rebukes.
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“You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and
ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as
your fathers did. Which one of the prophets did your fathers not
persecute? And they killed those who had previously announced
the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers
you have now become; you who received the law as ordained by
angels, and {yet} did not keep it.” (Acts 7.51-53 NASB )
When the men of the Jewish Council heard this, they gnashed their teeth at him,
but this did not matter to Stephen. He was full of the spirit, which led him to look
up and gaze into heaven. At that very moment, heaven opened to Stephen. He saw
the throne of God and the glory of God. What a vision! Stephen declared:
“Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at
the right hand of God” (Acts 7.56 NASB ). With this statement, the Jews stormed
Stephen, drove him out of the city (outside the camp), stoned him to death (Acts
7.57-60), and sealed their fate for the coming eon in which Christ will reign over
this earth. Essentially, they gave up any right to the better or first resurrection as
the many that had preceded them had valiantly pursued and will enter into in the
day of Christ.
Praise God; the One who is at the right hand of God, one day very soon, will stand
again and descend to this earth. The Man in glory is coming! When He comes,
heaven will be opened for all to see the King of kings riding on a white horse
(Revelation 19.11) to reveal Himself as the Savior and King of the earth who will
rule the nations.
Pioneer of their salvation through suffering.
In bringing many sons to glory, it was befitting that He for whom
and by whom the universe exists, should perfect the Pioneer of
their salvation by suffering. (Hebrews 2.10 JMT )
At first glance, it might appear that the writer of the Hebrews epistle (most likely
Paul), when referring to “their salvation,” meant eternal salvation. However,
contextually, this is not the matter that is set before us in this letter. The subject of
Hebrews is the eon or age to come and the way to come into the eon. Under the
inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul stated the subject matter uppermost on his
thoughts.
For He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning
which we are speaking. (Hebrews 2.5 NASB )
Thus, all that preceded in chapters one and two, and that which follows as well,
deals with that which is to come, variously called the Kingdom of Christ, the
Kingdom Age, and the Tabernacles Age. All of chapter one deals with the Son of
God coming into His inheritance as the heir of all things, which is the fulfillment of
Psalm 2 in the age to come.
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“But as for me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy
mountain. I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to
me, ‘Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee. Ask of me, and I
will surely give the nations as Thine inheritance, and the {very}
ends of the earth as Thy possession.’” (Psalm 2.6-8 NASB )
Sonship means rulership , and God’s Son will rule over the nations and the entire
earth during the millennial reign.
During Man’s day, the angels, as sons of God, have ruled among the celestials
(Ephesians 6.12; Revelation 12.7-10), for the heavens do rule (Daniel 4.26 ASV ).
However, as Scripture states, the world to come, which must be viewed as the eon
to come, will not be subjected to (put under) the angels. In that day, the Son of God
will ascend the throne of the kingdom of glory to rule and reign with many sons
whom God will bring to glory. Angels that now rule among the celestials will no
longer occupy this place of authority, for God’s adopted sons (Romans 8.12-25;
Galatians 3.26-4.7), taken from the one new man in Christ, will rule with Christ.
This is seen in type through God putting Adam to sleep, taking a rib from his body,
and fashioning Eve. Eve was a part of Adam’s body, not all of his body, and she
became Adam’s helpmate (Genesis 2.20-22). In the antitype, the body of Christ is
Christ’s body (1 Corinthians 12.12). All that believe on Him are in Christ and thus
part of His body (1 Corinthians 12.27). In the eon to come, Christ also will have a
helpmate to rule with Him, based on God’s principle that was set forth in the
beginning.
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I
will make him a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2.18 NASB )
Why was it not good for man to be alone? Scripture gives us the answer.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our
likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the
birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over
every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” And God created
man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male
and female He created them. And God blessed them; and God said
to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue
it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky,
and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1.26-
28 NASB )
It was not good because God created male and female to rule together over the
earth. Rulership requires a king and a queen, a bridegroom and a bride, a male and
his female helpmate, and especially, a father and a mother, that is, parents. God
laid down this principle in the beginning when He created man, and it cannot be
broken.
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Thus, God’s King, who is the rightful heir of this earth, must rule with a queen, a
bride, and a helpmate. But from where will His helpmate come? She will come
forth in the same fashion as Eve did from Adam. She will come from His body, the
body of Christ. In other words, not every one who is in the body of Christ will be
taken out of the body and brought to His side as His bride in the day of His
millennial kingdom. To be part of the bride, a believer must be adopted (placed) as
a son, for only sons can rule with Christ.
Now, this poses a question: How does one who is in the body of Christ come to the
place of being adopted as a son in the kingdom? Again, Scripture gives us the
answer. One of the main themes of Hebrews is the salvation of the soul, which to
me, pertains to sanctification and practicing righteousness through the love of
God, that is, moral living.
For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in
sanctification. (1 Thessalonians 4.7 NASB )
Our spirit is saved when we first believe, our body is redeemed at the resurrection
(and transfiguration) when Christ comes, but our soul must be saved while we live
in the body, which simply means that one lives by the rule: “Not my will, but Your
will be done.” Our soul life is saved by losing it to the will of God. The Hebrews
epistle deals with the matter of the soul. But we are not of those who draw
back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul
(Hebrews 10.39 NKJ ).
One aspect of the salvation of our soul and coming into glory [a reference to the
kingdom and glory (1 Thessalonians 2.12)] is the connection between suffering and
coming into glory. Paul clearly explained this to the believers in Rome.
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are chil-
dren of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow
heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with {Him} in order that we
may also be glorified with {Him.} For I consider that the suffer-
ings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the
glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the
creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. (Romans
8.16-19 NASB )
The operative words are if indeed we suffer with Him. In other words, adoption as
sons and becoming fellow heirs with Christ in glory come through suffering. If is a
conditional statement. If we do not suffer (in the right manner, see 1 Peter 2.18-25;
3.13-4.19), then we will not be joint heirs with Christ in His kingdom and be
glorified with Him. The right kind of suffering, that is, suffering that comes from
following the Lord, taking up our cross, and being led by the spirit of God, leads to
the salvation of our soul.
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Now, returning to Hebrews, Christ is the author [Pioneer] of their salvation
through sufferings . It is true that Jesus’ death on the cross was a suffering, but His
sufferings go much deeper than merely a physical suffering. In fact, His greatest
suffering occurred in the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus took Peter, James, and
John with Him to the place in which He would pour out His soul in prayer to His
Father. As He did this, He became grieved (sorrowful) and distressed (heavy).
Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death;
remain here and keep watch with Me” (Matthew 26.38 NASB ). Three times,
Jesus went a little beyond the three disciples and fell on His face and prayed,
saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as
I will, but as Thou wilt” (Matthew 26.39 NASB ).
What was the suffering of Christ in this dark hour? It was the suffering of His soul.
His soul was going to the place of death. When the soul comes to this place, there
is only one cry to the Father, and that is, “Thy will be done!” We could say that in
that hour, His soul was lost that it would be gained. He was living the very charge
that He has given to all who desire to be His disciple.
“For whoever wishes to save his life [soul] shall lose it; but whoever
loses his life [soul] for My sake shall find it.” (Matthew 16.25 NASB )
The Lord experienced everything that we are called to experience in our following
Him, which leads to the salvation of the soul. Through these sufferings, He was
perfected or made complete as Man. He suffered in His soul to the point of death,
which is the ultimate point in losing the soul. In referencing Christ as our Great
High Priest, the Hebrews epistle states that He was tempted (yet without sin) and
He suffered in these times for our benefit.
For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered,
He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. (Hebrews
2.18 NASB )
For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our
weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as {we
are, yet} without sin. (Hebrews 4.15 NASB )
At Gethsemane, Christ set the example of a soul going into death and being gained
in resurrection. As Scripture testifies: Because Thou wilt not abandon my
soul to hades, nor allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay (Acts 2.27; Psalm
16.8-11 NASB ).
A disciple of Christ must follow this same path in order to gain the salvation of his
soul. Our Lord Jesus is truly the Pioneer of the salvation of our soul through
sufferings . He was perfected through His sufferings and so are we so that, one day,
we might be complete in Christ (Colossians 1.28). He has pioneered the way to the
salvation of our soul, and we are called to follow in His steps (Matthew 16.24).
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Pioneer of the faith for the joy.
To run our appointed course with steadiness, our eyes fixed upon
Jesus as the pioneer and the perfection of faith…. (Hebrews 12.2 JMT )
…The pioneer and perfecter of [the] faith…. (Hebrews 12.2 MON )
Again, Hebrews encourages us with another facet of Christ as the Pioneer. In this
verse, He is the Pioneer of the faith. Some translations state our faith and others
state faith alone instead of the faith. The faith is a specific aspect of faith that refers
to the reign of the heavens and the kingdom of glory that is explained through the
word of the kingdom . In a sense, all of these expressions have instructive value in
light of the entire verse; therefore, it is beneficial to look at each one.
The faith.
Pioneering is a kingdom matter, for it is about reigning with Christ. Our Lord
endured the cross, despising its shame, for one reason—the joy that was set before
Him. What was this joy? It was vision (spiritual sight) of the future eon that would
occur 2,000 years after Calvary when many sons will come unto glory. We also
need to be reminded that there was much more to this vision, for it includes all of
mankind that will be saved one day as well. His passion in the darkest hours of His
life on earth was seeing a people, the one new man in Christ, set free from the
bondage of death and corruption and brought into the glory of His kingdom (1
Thessalonians 2.12). In His day, the day of Christ (Philippians 1.6, 10; 2.16), His
loved ones will come into the freedom of the glory of the children of God (Romans
8.21).
Glory has a purpose, and that purpose is for a people to reign with Christ. We are
not saved “to go to heaven.” We are saved to reign with Christ wherever He is. This
is what our beloved Lord Jesus desires—a people to sit down with Him on His
throne as He has sat down on His Father’s throne (Revelation 3.21). This is why
the writer of Hebrews reminds us that He has sat down. When He brings the many
sons unto glory they too will sit down.
Reigning with Christ means to be on His throne when He comes in all His glory, to
establish His right over all the nations as King of the nations. In that day, there will
be only one King over all the earth (Zechariah 14.9). He will be King of all! The
King is the Pioneer of the faith!
Our faith.
In the other sense, coming into the reign of the heavens requires an active, living
faith. We must follow our beloved Lord, but how do we do this? It is by faith. But
whose faith is it? It is the faith of the Son of God! As some versions translate it, He
is the author or originator of faith. It is His faith, but His faith is to be our faith. He
is the One who walked this earth, always entrusting Himself to His Father. We are
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called to walk in His way. How do we do it? By fixing our eyes upon Jesus, the
Pioneer of faith! There is no other way. We must be like Peter who stepped out on
the water and walked toward the Lord. He stayed above the water as long as he
fixed his eyes on his Master. But when he looked down and saw the danger of the
water, he began to sink. Oh, ye of little faith (Matthew 14.22-33).
Pioneering is like walking on water. What does water represent? It is uncharted
territory, an unknown; and we must be willing, by faith, to step out and onto it.
The toils, trials, and dangers of this world will come when we step out. The bush
stands in front of us as an obstacle saying: “You cannot come this way. Go back to
the comfort of the world. Go back to the city. The world has an easier life. The city
is better. You will never make it going this way. Even better, go back to religion; it
is safer, more comfortable.” Oh, what a lie of the enemy! We are called to walk on
this water every day, not looking down but fixing our eyes upon the One who has
gone before. If we do, then we will not sink but will conquer as He conquered this
world. We will cut a path through the bush. We will show others the way to the
living God; to the Pioneer of Life, Salvation, and Faith, even the faith. We will cut a
path for others to see the glory of the Lord, and by the power of the Holy Spirit to
enter into His glory in that day.
His kingdom shall have no frontier.
Dear brethren; our Pioneer has opened a whole new territory for those who are
running the race of the faith to receive the victor’s crown. As mortals, we are
limited to frail, dying bodies that are set within the limits of this earth. Our
territory is limited while we are in these bodies of flesh and blood. Praise God; a
day is coming in which we will be set free from these bodies of death (Romans
7.24) to take on glorified bodies conformed to the glorified body of our Lord
(Philippians 3.20; 1 John 3.2).
We are limited in this day, but we are being called into something that has no
bounds. The Pioneer’s work is so complete that there is no territory untouched by
Him. He went forth and conquered all that there was to be conquered for God and
for man.
The old Moravian version of the Bible says in Luke 1.33: And his kingdom shall
have no frontier. Isaiah declared: There will be no end to the increase of
{His} government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his
kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness
from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will
accomplish this (Isaiah 9.7). Isaiah could be reworded as the greatness of His
empire shall have no border .
Do you see the significance of these verses? Christ has conquered all; there will be
no end to His kingdom. It will have no boundaries and no limits. The frontiers that
will be opened to His people will extend forever. Hallelujah! When He takes the
scepter of the kingdom of this world to bring the reign of the heavens to this earth,
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His government shall have no end and will extend forever, first starting with the
Kingdom Age and then extending into God’s day and beyond when God is all in
all in all new (1 Corinthians 15.28) when all of creation and mankind are brought
into the grand Jubilee. Forever it will be the throne of God and of the Lamb
(Revelation 22.1, 3)
It is time to press on like a pioneer, fixing our eyes on the Pioneer! He is calling
you into His boundless kingdom.
Let us wholly follow the Pioneer into His celestial kingdom that has no frontier!
In conclusion, I leave you with the words of a song titled Pioneer . Every time I
listen to this song I cry and my heart aches. Perhaps I have the spirit of the pioneer
in me or perhaps I long for it. How about you?
Pioneer. Pioneer.
Keep pressing onward beyond your fear.
Only the Father goes before you, to your own frontier, you’re a pioneer.
Uncharted wilderness stretches before you, and you thrive on going where no
one has gone.
Still it gets lonely, when darkness deepens, so sing by the fire until the dawn.
You travel light. You travel alone. And when you arrive, nobody knows.
But the Father in heaven is glad you can go, for those who come after you will
need the road.
Pioneer. Pioneer.
Keep pressing onward beyond your fear.
Only the Father goes before you to your own frontier, you’re a pioneer.
And what you have done others will do, bigger and better, and faster than
you.
But you can’t look back, you gotta keep pressing through, there’s a wilderness
pathway, and it is calling you.
Calling you. Calling you.
Keep pressing onward, you can’t stay here.
Only the Father goes before you to your own frontier, you’re a pioneer.
Only the Father goes before you to your own frontier, you’re a pioneer.
Words and music by Nancy Honeytree © 1990 Oak table Publishing, Inc.
ASCAP, as recorded on First Love, The Music of Contemporary Music
Pioneers, A Collins Greisen Production, 1998
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Scripture Abbreviations:
ASV
American Standard Version 1901
CV
Concordant Version (Literal New Testament)
MON
The Centenary Translation: The NT in Modern English (Montgomery)
NASB
New American Standard Bible
NKJ
New King James Bible
YLT
Young’s Literal Translation
By: Stuart H. Pouliot
Article #14
October, 2008
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JMT
James Moffatt Translation