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Introduction to Personal Bible Study - Videos (2007)

4 short introductory video studies First recorded in 2007, posted to GodTube in 2010  These short videos were made nearly 14 years ago. ...

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Revisiting the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13)

 After looking back at my summation of the Parable of Sower in our series on the Kingdom parables of Matthew 13, I realized I needed to add some more context and depth. The two posts work together. 

Context

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.

-Matthew 4:23

 

We need to understand that the context of the parable is not the gospel of the grace of God by faith in the death burial and resurrection of the Lord. Apart from the obvious reason that none of that had happened yet, they didn't even know it was going to happen. The Lord announced his impending death in Matthew 16:21-23 to his disciples. They refused to believe it. So, they certainly were not preaching it (as we shall see) nor was the Lord referencing here in Matthew 13.

The context of Matthew 13 is the gospel of the Kingdom announced by the Lord in Matthew 4:23 and Matthew 9:35. Young's Literal Translation calls it "the word of the reign." This is the message he sent the 12 to preach in Matthew 10:5-7. Note that it was forbidden to be preached to anyone but to Jews and only in the land of Israel (Matt 10:5-7). It involves the Kingdom and Reign of the Lord on earth. 

This is what the Olivet Discourse and the Revelation and the Prophets (and related scriptures) are about. That is, this is part of God's plan for the earth (Israel land... as is The Book of Matthew). These are the "promises made to the fathers" and "the hope of Israel" taught by Paul and the Lord's mission during the Acts Age.

Matthew starts his gospel with the genealogy of the Lord back to Abraham (the promise of the Land) and David (the promise of the throne and a Kingdom for his seed). The meek shall inherit the earth (not heaven). They will pray in the Tribulation that God's will "be done on earth as it is in heaven." The twelve are promised to sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel, in the kingdom, on the earth. Even the New Jerusalem comes down to earth (the land). Most of scripture deals with God's plan for Israel and for the earth. The Tree of Life and Paradise are not restored until the very end.


These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.


We know from Matthew 15 that the Lord, in dealing with a Gentile woman who called him "Son of David" (for which she had no right) stated that he was "not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt 5:24). He did not lie.

Peter confirms this in Acts 3 when he addresses "ye men of Israel" and promises them that if they repented, the Lord would return (we do not preach this today). Paul states in Romans 15:8 and at his trial that the Lord came to confirm the promises made "to the fathers." The Kingdom is "the hope of Israel." (As noted above)

[Here we should consider the gentile centurion in Matthew 8 and the future role of Israel as priests for the nations in Zechariah]

The Centrality of the Restoration of Israel


After the Lord's resurrection he spent 40 days teaching the disciples, who had their understanding opened about the Kingdom (Acts 1:3). They had one question: "will you, at this time, restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6). They didn't misunderstand him for 40 days about the Kingdom and the Lord does not correct them.

So, the sowing in Matthew 13 (The Parables of the Kingdom) is not about the individual gift of resurrection life (although that's part of it), it is about national Israel (which does include individuals). We note quickly here again that this specific "gospel of the Kingdom" will again be preached in the future (Matthew 24:9-14). It will preached during the tribulation "and then the end will come."


And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations [gentiles]; and then shall the end come.


In the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25 we see the "nations" judged for how they treated "the least of these my brethren" (the Jews) during the Tribulation. We must see the centrality of Israel and the God's plan for the land and the earth in the synoptic gospels (especially in Matthew) if we are going to understand the parables.

What we see in the parable of the Sower: 
the different sowings of the gospel of the Kingdom to Israel.

In Matthew 12, The Lord was accused of being "possessed of a demon." This was the unpardonable sin. From that time, he began to speak in parables as a judgment (he left the HOUSE and went down by the sea). Part of that judgment was that he began to speak to the multitudes in parables (no longer plain speech). This judgment upon Israel was prophesied by Isaiah and thus quoted by the Lord here.


Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:

‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.’

-Matthew 13:13-15 


Parables are cryptic and hard to be understood. They are given so that only the diligent will understand.

And the disciples came, and said unto him, "Why speakest thou unto THEM in parables? 11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to THEM it is not given.

A Brief Summary


The parables of the kingdom are given to Israel and are difficult to discern. The Parable of the Sower lays out the different sowings to the people of Israel in the past and in the "end" (Matthew 24). We know the seed is, specifically, "the word of the kingdom" (Matthew 13:19) here. This is for Israel. "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The restoration of the Kingdom in Israel (Acts 1:3-6) was close, if they would accept it. 

We see four sowings in the parable. In the Parable of the Tares we are told the sower there is "the Son of Man," we are not told that in the first parable. There is a surface meaning which can apply in any age. There will always be those who reject scripture, those who accept gladly, but shrink away because of persecution or love of the world; and some who are radically changed. But here the meaning is deeper and the context is the "word of the Kingdom."

As we noted, the gospel of the kingdom is for Israel alone. In this parable we see the great prophetic sowings of the gospel of the kingdom offer to Israel (the land):

1. John the Baptist: Israel hardly affected. Birds representing the evil one.

2. The Lord Jesus: we see great swelling crowds cheering the Lord. But their faith is short-lived. Within days of hailing Him as the King of Israel, they are calling for his crucifixion.

3. The Apostles in the Acts: the 12 "went to Jews only" (Acts 11) and ministered the gospel to the circumcision. They wrote epistles to the Jewish dispersion. Paul went "to the Jew first" in that age. But while there was a great move of faith in the early days, when pressure and persecution came, many returned to the slavery of the law (minus the finished work). Jews kept the Law in the Acts age, but were to never mix it with grace or to impose it on Gentiles (apart from where scripture imposed it). We also see the future persecution during the tribulation in Israel. Many considered the message, but rejected it in the end.

[The present age, hidden from the prophets (Eph 3), is not seen in the parables of Matthew 13. This is the age of the Parable of the Wedding invitation which goes out to the highways and byways to find guests for the wedding, not a Bride, Matthew 22]

4. Fruit in the Tribulation and the End: Finally, during Israel's time of distress (the time of Jacob's trouble) the true is separated from the false... then when Israel sees her king, whom she has pierced, they weep for the ultimate son of Abraham. This is the message that goes out in the Revelation. Then the New Covenant with the House of Israel (to whom it is given)l comes in.

I can't quote the New Covenant here in toto, but it should be read in Jeremiah 31 and Hebrews 8. It is yet future. It is for Israel. Just a slice of it:

“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn..."
-Zech 12:10


Israel and her promises and her kingdom and her covenants is the context (especially in Matthew).

If we do not see Israel and God's promises and plans in regard to the promised land and the promised earthly kingdom, we will not understand the parables. Quick food for thought: the Gospel of John contains no parables.


For Reference: The Prophetic Word on the Ministries of John the Baptist and of Our Lord:

The fruit shall be of Israel


But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.  For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.  And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.  He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”


There is also a future prophecy of the Lord's ministry and reign over Israel.


Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel...


And behold, you [Mary] will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever [for the ages], and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

Thursday, February 25, 2021

All the Bible Is For You, Very Little Is To You

We have covered the topic of "rightly dividing the Word of Truth" in many ways on these pages (it's the underlying scripture for Context or Confusion). But I wanted to pause again and remind us that while "all scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable," not all of it is written to us

We've looked at obvious examples like the command to build an ark and the command to not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil,  and the promise to sit on one of twelve thrones in the coming earthly kingdom, etc. But these age-specific commands and prohibitions and promises go far beyond our few examples. The New Covenant itself is claimed by the vast majority of Christendom while this covenant has nothing to do with the grace of this current age.

As noted, we've looked at this topic in many ways over the last few years, so I will simply pull out two of the more common abuses from the many examples of the robbing of Israel.


For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

-Jeremiah 29:11

 

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

-2 Chronicles 7:14


The ripping out of these verses from their contexts is a symptom of Christendom starting from the position that anything they want in scripture is theirs for the taking. God has a plan. That plan has many gaps in it. It has many facets. It has many families. Our goal is to find our place in God's plan and learn to "walk according the calling to which we have been called."

And much of this is coming from supposed, confessed dispensationalists. The problem gets much darker and far more sinister when we examine the current and historical evil fruits of Reformed and Replacement Theology. We have also looked at the evil coming out of the various Hebrew Roots movements

For this short study, let's quickly look at the context of the two verses we've chosen. This should remind us how we are to handle many things in scripture. First, let's look at the context of our verse from Jeremiah 29:

 

For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.


This part of an immediate and a future application for the nation of Israel. Of course, we can learn about the character of God from this passage (it is profitable), but we can't claim, as individual Christians, that God will "prosper" our business ventures or career choices or anything in particular in this age. We are not a nation being brought back to a promised land from captivity. The greater context of this promise is chastisement. Israel was brought back from a national chastisement. It's not really an individual promise at all.

Now we turn to 2 Chronicles. We looked at the context of this oft-quoted verse in a previous study from last April: CONTEXT OF 2 CHRONICLES 7

Pulling the lens back, this is what this blog is all about; rightly dividing the Word of Truth. We don't do this to be clever or to simply promote a theological position or distinction (certainly not to push any denomination). We do it so we can properly serve God in the age in which we live. We want to walk in truth. We want to walk according to the new nature according to the calling to which we have been called.

Just as sacrificing animals in this age is a denial of the work of Christ, so too are many things Christendom practices which are given to other ages and other families of God. Those sacrificing animals may feel holy, but it is an illusion. Similarly, those practicing water baptism and the Lord's Supper may feel they are being obedient, but they are missing the true blessings of the current dispensation and its hope.

We've looked at this topic in many ways on these pages. But for those who may be new to this understanding, let me link just a few studies and helpful website.


This is not to say I separate from Christians who do not see these distinctions. Rather, I simply implore my brothers and sisters to mark the things that differ in scripture and seek to rightly divide the Word of Truth.



Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Applying Right Division to Firefly

On my podcast, I've covered the topic of filtering. That is, the practice of taking all you see and hear and filter through the lens of scripture and true Christianity. Two simple examples: Supertramp's "Lord is it Mine" or George Harrison's "Give Me Love" (with one lyrical correction) can bring my thoughts to the true Lord. 

Obviously, this has its limits (we can't filter porn, for example). It might also show up in places unexpected. As we have noted on this blog in several posts, some of the "beloved hymns of the faith" contain some bad theology. Sometimes, then, I have to filter the hymns. So, filtering is not just for secular things, it should apply to all things. Another way to look at some Christian content is to eat the orange and spit out the seeds.

Taking a purely secular case, a 2002 episode of the futuristic science fiction program "Firefly" features one of the main characters being marked as a witch for her "uncanny perceptions." When we're first introduced to the town which eventually tries to burn her at the stake, we hear them thanking the Lord and we are given the impression they run their society by biblical standards.

When the character mentioned is perceived to be a witch, a townswoman quotes from Exodus 22:18

Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. 

Well, that is scriptural. It's part of the Law. It is a command from God to His people... that is, his people, ISRAEL, in the land, under the covenant of the Kingdom of priests [Exodus 19:5-7].

Before we apply Right Division to verse 18, let's look at the immediate context and verse 20.

He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the Lord only, he shall be utterly destroyed.


Did Israel go about destroying every person and every nation anywhere which sacrificed unto any other God than unto Yahweh? No. This command, as the other, is for Israel, in her land, for her kingdom. Do we obey this command in the current age (whether in the land or not)? No. So, neither Israel in the age of the Law outside the land nor we in this age anywhere take this as a "Bible command to be obeyed" without recognizing its time and place.

Whereas most people think these are ridiculous examples, they are actually quite relevant. If we're going to go about grabbing verses and commands and instructions from anywhere we want in scripture, we're going to have to deal with these verses (and the many like them).

However, when we apply the sound scriptural practice of "rightly dividing the Word of Truth," we recognize that these commands are not only not for today, they were never given to anyone apart from Israel in the land. 

Friday, February 19, 2021

What the Regression to Judaism Gets Right and Wrong

A Dangerous Movement


On this blog, I have covered the emergence of the use of "Yeshua" (the Anglicized rendering of the Hebrew name for "Jesus"). We noted that while there is nothing wrong with this use, it is not particularly biblical or more correct than any other rendering of the Lord's earthly name.


I quote from one of these studies, a Judaizer I encountered in 2016:

As one writer chastised us in a group, “Yahushua Ha maschiach is the only way , truth , and life in the Father Yahuwah!” He went on to argue, “jzeus [sic] christ [sic] is not the messiah !!!!!!!” Exclamation points in the original.

Do you see the pride screaming through? Do you see the obsession with semantics over, ironically, Anglicized words? 

This sort of argument is not only destructive, it is a condemnation of the Holy Spirit and the chosen vessels who gave us the books of what we refer to as The New Testament (the Greek Canon). In a related bit of irony, the writers of the gospels and epistles often preferred to use the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Canon, in their books. 

We  also noted there are a number of people in scripture who share the name "Yeshua" (Hebrew and Greek canons). As notd above, the Holy Spirit has inspired the writers of the Greek texts to use the Greek rendering (ιησους [ee-ay-sooce]). 

There is also the matter of pronouns. That is, pronouns are used of all sorts in scripture, but, as we know, it is context that gives us the reference. Thus, as with pronouns, The Lord knows to whom we refer in our hearts when we say "Jesus" or "Yeshua" or "Joshua" or "ιησους " etc. And even then, to which  "Jesus" we are referring. Scripture says there is "another Jesus" (2 Cor 11) that Satan and false teachers teach. The Lord warned many would "come in my name" (Matt 24:5), yet be false. It is not just the name, it is the object of the name in the heart of the user.

While there is an innocent side to the sudden ubiquitous usage of the earthly name "Yeshua," there is a dark, sinister side lurking below. We have seen elements of this in our 3-part look at the booklet, "Who is a Jew" and in other studies on the Hebrew movement.

Who is a Jew?


We pause here to distinguish those who do accept and teach the finished work of the Savior and the free gift of Life gained by grace alone, with those factions which seek to combine grace and Law for Life. While we disagree strongly on any move towards slavery to the Law or false pride in assumed obedience, we still accept, as brothers and sisters in the Lord, those who teach an all-sufficient salvation in Christ's work alone. 

With that said, and without softening in the least previous warnings, I do want to show how even a misguided movement can get some things right.

We know the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches get the Trinity right while making horrific errors on so many other matters (especially on the gift of resurrection life itself). So as we recognize a correct doctrine which may help some see the truths of Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth, we certainly are not endorsing an entire movement. In fact, I can see essentially no good in any Hebrew/Jewish movement in the current age.


The concept the Judaizes get right: Paul was a Torah-Observant Jew


Let us revisit Paul's visit to James in Jerusalem. 

“You see, brother [Paul], how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law; but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. What then? The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that you have come. Therefore do what we tell you: We have four men who have taken a vow. Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law. But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.”
-Acts 21:20-25


Paul is accused by the Jewish believers (Christians) in Jerusalem of telling Jews living among the Gentiles (specifically) they no longer had to keep the Law (note: he's not accused of teaching this to all Jewish believers). This is the Acts Age. And we note that Paul does not argue that any believing Jew should not keep the (non-sacrificial) law. Paul goes out of his way to prove to the Jewish believers that he practices and teaches that he and Jewish believers should continue to practice elements of the Law (including circumcision). We looked at the circumcision of Timothy during the Acts Age in a previous post.

But just because this was a practice then, does not mean it is a practice for Jewish believers today.

Paul is quick to note that the grafted-in Gentiles as part of God's plan to make Israel jealous, do not have to keep the Law but "that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality" (cp Acts 15). Gentiles were grafted into Israel's blessings (Rom 11), not into the free gift of Life. They were grafted in to Israel promises having to do with the land and the earthly Kingdom, not into a future resurrection. The Jew was still "first" in the Acts Age. And Gentiles alone were warned they could be "cut off" from those blessings (Rom 11). This cutting off, also, has nothing to do with the gift of Life.

The Gift of Eternal Resurrection Life has ALWAYS been by grace alone.

So, Paul was "Torah-observant" in the Acts Age. And Gentiles were only temporarily grafted-in to the root of Israel for the sake of making her jealous. We refer again to Peter's offer in Acts 3 that if ISRAEL repented the Lord would return to restore all things. We refer again to the instruction the 12 had from the Lord concerning the restoration of the kingdom to Israel in Acts 1. 

Paul, late into the Book of Acts, gives witness to the promises made to the fathers (this was the Lord's earthly ministry as well, Rom 15:8) and to "the hope of Israel." Paul went about in the Acts Age, "witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come." This changed in Paul's Post-Acts ministry.

Preaching the earthly Kingdom, the coming of the King, the blessings and promises to the people of Israel is the setting of the Book of Acts. The Acts was a continuation of the offer of the Kingdom by the King while he was on earth. The Lord was rejected, but he forgave Israel on the cross and gave her another 35 years to repent (the Acts Age). She failed.

Israel will one day come to the Lord (in the age to come), but after the 35 year trial period, the Lord revealed through Paul alone the current age. The current Dispensation. The current Stewardship. This current age was hidden from "before the overthrow of the ages." It was not known. We are in the parenthesis. This age is from before the Law, before Adam, before all other ages. It's hope is "in the far above the heavens" and is not of the earth (as are Israel's Kingdom and blessings). 

This is why we do not observe "earthly ordinances" such as feasts (including the Lord's Supper, which is Passover), Sabbaths, cleansings (water baptisms) or the like. These have the appearance of humility and obedience, but it is a "false humility" and the perceived obedience will fail the flesh. These are works for another hope, another blessing, another age. There is no reward in them.

In this current parenthesis (and scripture has a number of these parentheses), all are Gentiles. The middle wall has come down. There is no call for being "Torah-Observant." And whereas that  was commendable in a previous age, it is condemnable in this age. 

Men and women, while believing they are pleasing God by pretending they actually keep things like the Sabbath, are losing reward. They are running the race according to the wrong rules. It's as though they are building an ark for a a flood that is not coming, in an age with no Nephilim. Is building an ark biblical? Yes, But for another age. It brings no reward for "obedience" in this age.

I do not stand in judgment of those who believe they are observing the Torah. That is the Lord's purview. What I am doing is warning them of the calling of this age to perhaps rescue some and to warn those tempted by the lure of false pride and outward appearance to be taken in by their doctrines. Some who are taken in will fall into slavery and fear, others into pride. Worst case scenario, some will deny the finality of the work of Christ from the cross to the resurrection.

We recently looked at related topics:


In our most recent study, we looked at the two possible destinies of the Christian. We are either headed for Perfection (Maturity) or Perdition (Waste and Loss). We can only achieve maturity if we run the race according to the rules of the calling to which we have been called. If not, if we try to run by the rules of another calling, we may find ourselves "disqualified" from prizes, crowns, rewards, etc.


Please consider two multi-part studies on the Christian Life:






Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Perfection or Perdition, Don't Find Yourself Disqualified

 Every believer has passed from death unto Life. Every believer has this future resurrection life hid in Christ in God. God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting our trespasses against us (2 Cor 5:18-19). When we come to Christ, we are reconciled to him (for he is already reconciled to us).

From that moment, we have the choice to walk according to the flesh (old nature)or according to the spirit (new nature). We are headed either towards Perfection (maturity) or Perdition (loss).

This is the choice in every age:

For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that uses milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongs to them that are of full age [the mature], even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection [maturity]; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. -Hebrews 5:12-14; 6:1-2
 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition [waste/loss]; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul [psychḗ]. -Hebrews 10:38-39


The context here is believing Jews in the Acts Age, but the principle remains and is consistent in all of scripture. Not all who left Egypt entered the land (including Moses). Not all who have an inheritance in the coming kingdom will enjoy it (some will be cast into outer darkness). Not all who sought a place in the New Jerusalem will earn it. Not all who seek to obtain the prize will obtain it.

Not all hopes are available to all men of all ages, but that's another matter for another time. The CONCEPT here is in the idea of running a race. In every age, a believer is running a race. The hopes and rewards and rules may differ, but they all run. We run the race to obtain the prize (for we cannot "obtain" that which is a free gift; reconciliation and resurrection life).

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receives the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. -1 Cor 9:24

There are BETTER things available for those who persevere and suffer for the Lord.

Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. -Hebrews 35:35-40

Each family of God has an inheritance at stake. Again this is not the gift of life of which we speak, it is the right to the inheritance. This is the difference between a "child" and a "son" (don't trust the KJV on this point). We become children by faith, sons by right to an inheritance. A son can forfeit an inheritance. One can be a child and not the heir of an inheritance. We saw this pictured in Moses and Esau. We achieve, win, obtain, and qualify for certain hopes by both unyielding faith and our works.

The works of our hands are the "things that accompany salvation".

For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned. But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner. For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. -Hebrews 6:7-12

As we've noted in another post there are MANY sins into which a Christian may fall (which we listed). These range from gossip, to greed, to adultery, to murder. One simple sin is to become "sluggish" or "lazy." We have an inward enemy (the flesh) and outward enemy (Satan and the principalities and powers). The world system, our own old nature, and the prince and power of the air work to rob of us reward (for they cannot touch the finished work of Christ).

Instructions and Warnings for This Age


Now let's turn to the our apostle Paul's Epistle to the Philippians. Philippians is a parallel book to Hebrews. Both speak of moving on, not looking back, and striving. Whereas Hebrews addresses Jews and their history (in great detail) and the race that was set before them (and will be again), we find our instructions and hope for the current age in Philippians 

Paul is again encouraging striving, never for the free gift, but for maturity in this age wherein are the crowns, rewards, and prize laid out before us. Along with the aforementioned enemies which hider us, Paul warns there are fellow believers who may hinder our race as we strive to reach forward.

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind. Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction [perdition/waste], whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things...


The world has no choice but to set its mind on earthly things. In this passage, Paul is comparing his walk with the chosen walks of other believers. These are believers who have set their minds on earthly things. The key word here is EARTHLY. This is slightly different than WORLDLY things, but similar.

There are things "of the earth" which were good. The sanctuary was "of the earth." Hebrews 9 speaks of these "earthly" things which reflected other realities, but they were deficient. They had a place, and will have a place, in regard to the earth. But even in the Book of Hebrews, those there are warned not to fall back into the immaturity of these things.

It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect [mature/brought to full fruition] in regard to the conscience— concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation. -Hebrews 9:9-10

Even the Jew had to understand the limited and temporary place of the ordinances of the Law (even as he practiced them). We must be even more diligent in this age not to get caught up in earthly ordinances as we have never been given these as a matter of practice. They are particular to Israel and the earthly promises (as we saw in our look at Gentiles and the Law in Israel). In the current age, Paul warns us as well about certain fellow Christians. Note in Paul's warning to Gentile believers that the outward religion (even if holy and good) is insufficient even to deal with the flesh.

In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ... So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival [feast day] or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.


There are earthly commands for an earthly calling to accomplish God's plan for the land and the earth. These have nothing to do with the heavenly calling. They may make us feel puffed up, but they are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh. It is a self-imposed, not a God-imposed religion.

Circumcision is given as an example here as in Romans. From Adam, to Abel, to Enoch, to Noah, to Abraham, ALL believed and were redeemed in uncircumcision. The circumcision has to do with the Earth/Land. It has to do with the earthly covenant. It has to do with Israel's promises. It is never commanded of anyone else. As we saw in our last study, only Gentiles in the land, under the terms of the Old Covenant, were subject to things like the Sabbath. 

Adam and Eve were given ONE command in the Garden. They knew nothing of any covenants. They had no hope in any particular land or throne. This held true for 2000 years until Abraham. From Abraham through the rest of scripture until the end of the Acts Age, no Gentile is ever seen or spoken of except in context of a Jew. 

Jonah (the prophet from Galilee) went to the great nation of Assyria. One Jew opens up a look at the great city of Nineveh. And in that encounter, he preaches nothing of the covenant of Exodus 19 unto them, for it has nothing to do with Nineveh. That wicked nation knew it was wicked. They need to turn from wickedness unto God, not unto the Passover or tabernacle or washings, etc. The King of Nineveh called for all to "turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands" (Jonah 3:8). 

Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it. -Jonah 3:10

How does one, in the matter of one day, turn from not keeping the Passover or the Sabbath? These were unknown in Nineveh. They had what all men have, a conscience. They knew what their works and their ways were evil in the mind and in the flesh. As with the uncircumcised gentile in Matthew 8 (to who it was forbidden to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom), there was a way to life by faith alone. 

Again, we looked at this and other examples in our previous study, so we'll leave it there.

Pulling the lens back to our look at Perfection or Perdition, if we want to qualify for the prize that is set before us, we must run the race according to the rules and in light of the inheritance before us in the age in which we live.

We turn again to the obvious and simple example of Noah. Noah's race had nothing to do with the Passover. Nothing to do with the Ten Commandments. Nothing to do with a heavenly calling. Noah obeyed the word of the Lord for his day. He was not concerned with "the promises made to the fathers" (Rom 15:8)  or the other ages listed and we are not concerned with following the edicts of his age (or Adam's or Moses' or David's or of the Acts Age, or the promises made to the fathers, etc.).

We must go on to maturity by running the race of this age of a heavenly calling. This is the race which is set before us. We are not to get dragged down into the commands and practices of another inheritance for another people in another age on the earth. This may puff us up, but our end will be perdition (loss, waste). 

Friday, February 12, 2021

Gentiles and the Law in Israel

We have looked at the Old and New Covenants many times before. I encourage readers interested in the future nature of the New Covenant to search the blog for that phrase. We have also discussed the book, "Who is a Jew?" and we've post a 3-part study under that title. The answer to that question might also interest the reader.

Here we want to focus in on Gentiles in the land, under the Law, and how it apples to this age (if at all).

We start with a little background.

The covenant of the Law is introduced 2400 years from Adam and 400 years from Abraham. It has to do with the land, the kingdom, and the priesthood. In this age, we are not "a kingdom of priests" and neither was Israel under the Old Covenant since they failed. This is part of the yet future New Covenant. It is all of the earth. Do you believe you are a priest? The you must answer the question: a priest for whom?


And Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” 
-Exodus 19:3-6

This covenant is not given to "strangers." In the Law, unless one got circumcised, he remained a "stranger" [Gentile]. If he was in the land, he was not to pollute it, but that only applied to Gentiles in the land.

But, there are more than just Israelites in view in this passage. In THEIR [Israel's] kingdom, THEY will be PRIESTS. Priests for whom? Themselves? No, priests for the nations in the coming kingdom age. This promise has nothing to do with the period from Adam-Abram (the land) nor  the period from Adam-Moses (the kingdom) nor with the Post Acts Calling in the heavenly places.

The Lord Jesus Christ forbade "the gospel of the Kingdom" to be preached to Gentiles or outside of Israel (Matthew 10:5-7). This is after he commends the centurion's faith and juxtaposes it with the "sons of the Kingdom" (Jews) in Chapter 8. But the kingdom was only to be preached to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

To whom does the Lord say he was sent? *“I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Is he a liar? No. Paul tells us in Romans 15:8, the Lord Jesus was sent "to confirm the promises made to the fathers." On Pentecost, Peter preached to Jews only. He made an offer to Jews only. The 12 (save once) preached to Jews only.

In Acts 21, we see Jewish believers keeping the Law (including circumcision) and the Gentile believers limited to the "necessary" things (cp. Acts 15:28) which are laid out in no uncertain terms.

Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law. But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.” 
-Acts 21:24-25

In Romans 9, Paul speaks of the "grafting in" of Gentiles into the root of Israel.

We are told why the temporary grafting in happened. It was specifically to make Israel jealous. That is, there was still an Israel and Gentiles were grafted in (and could be cut out) to the earthly promises of Israel. Yet, they still did not have to be circumcised or keep all the Law. 

There have always been believers not part of Israel from Adam on. They are separate. They do not come under Israel or the Law by faith (and neither do we). Solomos speaks of a believer who comes from outside Israel. Such a person is not subject the rules of the land. Gentiles observing with Israel are only those in the land, for the sake of the land. They have no promise of a priesthood, etc., but they cannot pollute the land. 

Moreover, concerning a foreigner, who is not of Your people Israel, but has come from a far country for the sake of Your great name and Your mighty hand and Your outstretched arm, when they come and pray in this temple; 3then hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, that all peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this temple which I have built is called by Your name.  
-2 Chron 6:32-33

I can't do an entire survey of the OT, but there are promises and warnings specific only to Israel and only in the land. Gentiles to whom Jonah preached in Nineveh, for example, since they did not live in the land, did not have to keep the Law. Daniel, outside the land, never told a Gentile to keep the law. It is land, kingdom, priesthood specific. And even then, a Gentile could not participate in the Passover unless he was circumcised (Ex 12:48; Num 9:14).

When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against You, when they pray toward this place and confess Your name, and turn from their sin because You afflict them, then hear in heaven, and forgive the sin of Your servantsYour people Israel, that You may teach them the good way in which they should walk; and send rain on Your land which You have given to Your people as an inheritance.


There were believers under the Covenant in Israel and "strangers to the covenants and promises" yet believers. The Covenants (both Old and New) have always dealt with the land; always with the priesthood of Israel. And the New Covenant is yet future. It is not here. There is no priesthood. And if there were, a priesthood for whom?

The Case of Cornelius


Cornelius was not the first Gentile to have faith unto Life. We saw the Centurion in Matthew 8 and the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15 have faith. But the disciples were forbidden to preach the "gospel of the kingdom" or that the kingdom was "at hand" to Gentiles. That did not mean Gentiles could not have Life. And did the centurion or the woman (called a "little dog" separate from "the children") obey the Law? No.

What astonished the 12 about Cornelius was not that he believed, but rather that he received the same gifts of the Spirit as they (Jews). This was start of the "grafting in." They knew Gentiles could believe, they'd seen it in the earthly ministry of Iēsoûs Christos [Jesus Christ]. Cornelius was a believer when Peter arrived. He then had the Spirit fall and he displayed gifts (before he was baptized, btw).

Then Peter said to them, “You know how unlawful it is [present tense] for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation [gentiles]. But God has shown me that I should [no longer] call any man common or unclean. 
-Acts 10:28 
 
Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all— that word you know...
-Acts 10:34-37a

Cornelius knew the preaching of peace through Jesus Christ. So, why did he not already have the gifts seen on Pentecost? Because the grafting in started with him, and its purpose was to make Israel jealous. This is the purpose of the Acts Age. In our study on the Parable of the Sower, we saw that this is parallel to the third sowing (the first being John the Baptist and the second by the Lord Jesus).

The Canaanite woman in Matthew 15 (during the Lord's earthly ministry) addressed him as "Son of David." Gentiles do not have the right to address him that way. when a Jew addressed him that way, he listened. When the gentile woman used that title, the Lord ignores her and compares her to a little dog.


Earthly Ordinances


We saw that Gentiles living outside the land were never preached the Law nor the Gospel of the Kingdom.  We that the Lord forbade his disciples from doing so. These are not what we would call "salvation" truths. They are obedience and maturity and reward truths. They are connected to the promises of the land and the Kingdom in Israel as we have seen.

So, while in the land, a stranger could live among Israel, but he was required to observe the things pertaining to the earthly. These are the "earthly ordinances" of the hope of the Kingdom. 

We must distinguish between these two enemies of the Christian: things that are "worldly" (which appeal to the lower nature of the flesh) and thins that are "earthly" (which appeal to the religious nature and pride of the believer). Both can rob you of your reward. We must walk according to the calling to which we have been called (Eph 4:1).


Keep the Law


Why does the Lord tell the young ruler to keep the law to enter into life, he is speaking of the Kingdom on earth, not resurrection life in the far above the heavens. Matthew 19



Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good[Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”

So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

He said to Him, “Which ones?”

Jesus said, “‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”

The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”

Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect [mature/qualified], go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.


The Lord does not contradict that the man kept the commandments listed and adds a layer of requirement to test his heart. Is the Lord teaching "Justification by Law Plus Philanthropy" (we note "justification" as well as "salvation" are context dependent)? No. The Lord is still preaching the coming Kingdom. This is especially true in all of Matthew.

We see the Lord reference the "gospel of the Kingdom" (which he preached in Matthew 4 and 9) in regard to Israel and the Tribulation in Matthew 24.


But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.


We do not believe this is "justification by endurance." This is physical salvation during the Tribulation. They must endure both in body and spirit. This does not mean martyrs miss out on anything. Quite the contrary. But he is about to tell "those who are in Judea flee to the mountains." The context is heeding his warning with promise of deliverance if they endure.

Remember, the gospel of the kingdom was to be preached to JEWS ONLY. When the Lord returns to rescue faithful Israel and take David's throne in the land THEM the gospel of the Kingdom will be preached by Israel to the nations [gentiles].

All of this is predicated on understanding God's different plans for different companies of believers and understanding the different between God's plans for earth, the New Jerusalem, the new earth, and the far above the heavens. 

Adam looked for Paradise restored. Abraham looked for the New Jerusalem. David looked for his seed to sit on an age-enduring throne. Israel looks for its promises in the land and kingdom and as a Kingdom of priests. We look for a calling with is not earthly, but rather it is in the "far above the heavens where Christ dwells."

If we muddle up those different callings, we'll miss our calling and our reward.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Back to Basics: We Must Rightly Divide to Understand the Bible

The following is representative of something one might hear about Bible commands. We must get back to the basics of carefully handling the Word of God. 

If God says we should do it, we should do it!

Just using this as a jumping off point (allowing that the point may be that we should do whatever God commands us, regardless of how we feel about it), we have to be careful with how we handle Bible commands and instructions. "It's a Bible command" is looking backward at scripture. How about cooking your bread over dung? Another Bible command... etc. We do not do something just because it is in the Bible. We know not to follow these commands, but what about the countless other commands and instructions in the Bible? How do we handle them?

When we approach the Bible, we must first see the Plan of God. It is only then that we can find our place in that Plan and discover what the Lord would have us do for our own calling. So if God says "build an ark," we have to recognize where it fits in God's Plan. Did God say "we" should do it?

Let me use our example to stress this point. 


God commanded Noah to build and ark because of the age and conditions in which he lived, for a specific purpose. Building an ark today would be wrong on two counts:
  1. There is no flood coming
  2. God wasn't speaking to us

This is part of "rightly dividing the Word of Truth." The same is true of the promises. Clearly, no one is going to start building an ark (at least I hope not), but we too often fail to apply the same reasoning to other commands, promises, and plans of God in scripture.

Do we claim the following Bible promise from the lips of our Lord?


And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; 30 that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Luke 22:29-30)


And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matthew 19:28)


No, we don't claim that because he wasn't speaking to us. This is a very important lesson. We don't build and ark, we don't bake bread over dung (Ezek 4:12-15) , we don't refuse to preach to Gentiles (Matt 8)... all "Bible commands," because the Lord was not addressing us or our age. Further, can I come to your church and make the following promise:


Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; 20 and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 21 whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began (Acts 3:19-23)


The resurrected Lord taught the disciples (who had their understanding opened) for 40 days about the Kingdom (Acts 1:3). After 40 days of being taught about THE KINGDOM, they had one question, "will you, at this time, restore THE KINGDOM to ISRAEL?" (Acts 1:6). He does not correct them. That was their calling and ministry.

The whole of Acts 3 should be read. Note the context:


Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? 13 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. (Acts 3:12-13)


Can I come and warn only Gentile believers of the following:


For I speak to you Gentiles... Be not highminded, but fear: 21 for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. 22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. (Romans 11:20-22)


We must draw lines in scripture where God draws lines and in line with his purposes. We must recognize that the Lord's earthly ministry as recorded for us in the synoptic gospels (Matt, Mark, Luke) are given with Israel as "first." The "gospel of the Kingdom" was for Israel alone.


The Gospel of the Kingdom was for Israel


Note that when the Lord preaches the "gospel of the Kingdom" it is at the start of his ministry (Matt 4) and before he sends out the twelve (Matt 9). He doesn't even tell them he is going to die until chapter 16. They were not preaching what we preach. They were preaching "the Kingdom of heaven is at hand." This is not the gospel for today. It was for Israel alone at that time (and will be again in a coming age).


And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. (Matt 4:23)


Then he sends out the twelve (including Judas, btw) with these instructions:


These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matt 10: 5-7)


Not going to Gentiles is a "Bible command" from the lips of the Lord. But we know it is not for this age. In the same way, the gospel of the kingdom of heaven is not for this age.

As noted, this gospel of the Kingdom is again preached in the coming Tribulation age (Matt 24:14) by Israel.

We see Jews in Matthew address him as "Son of David" and he responds (Matt 9:27-28, after he proclaimed the gospel of the Kingdom again). They had that right. That was part of his calling. But Gentiles had no such calling. Watch what happens when a Gentile tries the same thing:


And, behold, a woman of Canaan [Gentile] came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. 23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. 24 But [the Lord] answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. 26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. 27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. 28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour. (Matthew 15:22-28)


When does he answer her? When she drops "Son of David" and calls him only "Lord." For he is Lord of the Gentiles, but "the promises made unto the fathers" were not made to Gentiles. He did not lie to her and the Lord is not a racist. He was moving accordance with God's promises and plans.


Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: 9 and that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. (Romans 15:8-9)


Side note, the Lord heals two Gentiles in Matthew, he sees neither one of them. They are both healed at a distance. There is great lesson concerning the Centurion's son and the "sons of the Kingdom" (Jews) in Matthew 8, which we will look at briefly below.

The Lord's ministry to Israel always had Gentiles in mind (Luke 2:32; Rom 15; Gal 3; etc.), but in their place, in regard to the earth and the promised land and Kingdom. In my previous posts in this thread I laid out the conditions of the Acts age wherein Jewish believers were keeping the Law (not for Life) and Gentile kept the four "necessary" things of Acts 15 and 21 (with no Sabbath).

Back in Romans 15, Paul tells Gentiles they were responsible to care for Jewish believers. Is this a command for today?


But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. 26 For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. 27 It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things. (Romans 15:25-27)

The Lord came to Israel alone for he was sent to them alone (as he said). It was not until Acts 10 that Gentiles were grafted into Israel's BLESSINGS, not into salvation. The centurion in Matthew 8 was "saved." Cornelius didn't open the door to Gentiles getting saved, he was first to get the SAME GIFTS as Jews (as Peter testifies in Acts 11). This shocked Jewish believers. (Side note: Cornelius spoke in tongues BEFORE he was baptized.) God tells us the purpose, "to make ISRAEL jealous." (Romans 10:19-20)

This takes us back to Romans 11 and the "grafting in" of Gentiles into the Olive Tree (ISRAEL) and why Gentile believers are warned they can be "cut off." They could never be "cut off" from life, but from the coming blessings of Israel in the Kingdom age to come.

Everybody talks about "heaven and hell" when the scripture is almost entirely about the earth. Even the New Jerusalem (the hope of the Jewish patriarchs, Heb 11) comes down TO EARTH. God has a plan for Israel laid out in the prophets. He has an earthly kingdom planned and eventually a new heavens and a new earth.

Side note: Paul mentions "Hades" twice. Once in regard to the Lord in his time in the earth and the other in regard the resurrection of believers. Believers are in "Hades" until resurrection. It is not God's torture chamber. We also note that Isaiah 66 tells us what and when bodies are thrown into "Gehenna fire." These are DEAD BODIES (corpses) thrown into a literal fire, on the earth, in Israel. This takes place after Israel are made priests and Levites, at the time of the end (read all of Isaiah 66).

In that coming kingdom, Israel will serves as a kingdom of priests (God's covenant, read Exodus 19:5-7) for the nations. If you have priests they must be priests for somebody. Yet, some "sons of the Kingdom" (Jews) will not qualify. They will be deemed "wicked servants" (etc.) and "cast into outer darkness." That is, cast out of the land and among the nations (darkness). Some gentiles will come in and sit down with the patriarchs at the great supper in that Kingdom.


And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the [sons] of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant [whom the Lord never saw] was healed in the selfsame hour. (Matthew 8:11-13)


We must "rightly divide the word of truth." We can't just say "the bible says it and I'm claiming it" or "the Bible commands it, I'm doing it." Unless we plan on building that ark... and that temple... and... plan on sitting on one of the 12 thrones... and one of our offspring will sit on David's throne... and... and... and... etc.

Rightly divide the Word of Truth (2 Tim 2:15) and compare the things which differ (Phil 1:10).

Friday, January 22, 2021

Ye Shall Not Surely Die - The Lie of Eden and Today

 

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die

-Genesis 3:4


We've look at this core lie of the evil one in various studies on the false doctrine of "the immorality of the soul." But today I want to pull back the lens and look at this pervasive lie and how it is currently manifesting itself in the general culture.

News programs and politicians have discovered the power of anecdotes. We do not completely discard the use of anecdotes as they sometimes do reflect a larger reality. However, we want to avoid taking an anecdote and use to make sweeping generalizations without warrant.

Let's put the idea of the lie "ye shall not surely die" along side the use of anecdotes in trying to prove a sweeping generalization.

A friend of mine recently posted a story about the recent increase in the number of people hospitalized and the number of people who have died from COVID-19. The post was meant to illicit fear and suggest that huge numbers of people are dying from the disease. To be sure, many have died (we do not minimize that fact), but the overall numbers tell a different story in terms of how deadly the disease is (in general).

Total cases: 20,346,372

Deaths: 349,246

Source:  CDC COVID Data Tracker (Jan 4, 2021)

Again, we do not minimize any death and we certainly encourage anyone who perceives any threat to his/her health to take all precautions. I am "at-risk" because of my heart condition, so I am certainly sympathetic to those at-risk (especially the elderly). But the CDC numbers above reflect a mortality rate of less than 2% of cases. 

We now turn to more info to help give us context on published death rates you may have encountered.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data last week that depicts how many Americans who have died from COVID-19 also had other contributing conditions. According to the report, only 6% of deaths have COVID-19 as the only cause mentioned, revealing that 94% of patients who died from coronavirus also had other “health conditions and contributing causes.” (fox8.com, Aug 30, 2020)

  

With these full-scale statistics before us, let us pivot to the original concern. Just as my friend posted selective numbers to try and illicit an emotional reaction, others post individual stories of those who have unfortunately died from COVID-19 to "prove" either that we need to take even more extreme measures or to pin blame for political purposes. I'm going to leave these alone and instead point to what I believe is the reason the use of anecdotes in this area has proved so successful.

The idea is to get all of us to treat almost every death as preventable. Without the notion being explicitly expressed, the idea that no one one should "surely die" is behind much of the manipulation. Almost anyone anywhere under the age of 70 who dies of almost anything causes the crusaders to find who is at fault. 

Health care being deemed a "right" is based on this thinking. That's a large topic we will not examine here, but for millenia people died from everything. We are fortunate to live in an age of fantastic medical advances. We have pharmaceuticals and surgeries today unknown and impossible to imagine in other ages. I'm alive today because of these relatively recent advancements. Yet, I never claimed a "right" to them. We will just have to leave that there.


Back to our premise and a look the Utopian Lie


We are being taught to think that every death is a political death. Every death is the fault of someone. Every death is preventable. Every death is undeserved. This creates anger and emotional responses to reality. It also plays into the lie of the Evil One. Yes, we shall all surely die.

Scripture speaks of death as an "enemy." In fact, when death is finally destroyed, it is called "the last enemy." It is the curse. It is what plagues all humans. It is the result of our birth in Adam and our own sin. It is what Christ came to reverse. We mourn the dead because all deaths are sad. But that does not mean all deaths are preventable.

The two-pronged lie poisons the greatest event in all of scripture: the resurrection of our Great God and Savior, The Lord Jesus Christ. The first prong is the prong of the "immortal soul" which supposedly lives without resurrection. The second denies that all men deserve death (at some point, not that murder is justified, etc.). Yes, the death of a child may be tragic. It may be the result of negligence, etc. But we cannot fall into lie that ALL deaths must have a villain*.

[*We pause here to note that CNN took down its ubiquitous COVID death count graphic after the inauguration [Jan 20]. As of today (Jan 22) it is still not up.]

The double lie of the immortal soul and that almost every death is the fault of a political enemy is part of another two-pronged, hallucinogenic fantasy. One prong the idea of a coming Utopia and the other prong is the misguided concept of collectivism. Where the first goes, the other follows. These are deadly, anti-God, humanistic drugs. They have no place in Christian doctrine. 

The anti-Christ murderer (and Catholic "saint") Thomas More coined the word Utopia. Wikipedia offers this brief description:


A utopia focuses on equality in such categories as economics, government and justice, with the method and structure of proposed implementation varying based on ideology.


We see another drug in there: equality. Equality is fine if it merely describes a condition such as "equal before the law," but as a basis for running a society, it becomes an addictive substance which drugs the masses into accepting things like "re-education," the cancel culture, discrimination, and the punishment of success. All of which we are seeing in this current age. 

Utopia hates Christianity and its claims of exclusivity of life in Christ alone. Sadly, many in the name of Christianity have abandoned Christ for the drug of Utopian dreams. The same church that puts an "UNDO RACISM" or "LOVE THY NEIGHTBOR (NO EXCEPTION) "sign on its property would never deign to put a "CHRIST IS THE ONLY WAY" sign in their yard.

They are deemed "brave" for the former while the truth is that all they will receive is praise from a Christ-rejecting world. The real act of bravery would be to put up the latter. for that, they would receive scorn and have an opportunity to suffer for the Lord. But, alas, the praise and the self-righteous, self-glorification (virtue signaling) are powerful and addictive narcotics.


The Unpardonable Sin and Right Division

Can a Christian in this age commit the unpardonable sin?


“Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” (Mark 3:28-29)


We have to understand what people forfeit. A believer whose hope is in the Kingdom (Millennium) can lose his place in that kingdom. We have many warnings in scripture given to believers (in fact, almost all warnings in scripture are given to believers). But we cannot lose a free gift (otherwise it is no longer free, and grace is no longer grace).

We often hear Matthew 8:12 cut up and only the latter half is shouted


thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.


But we must ask, who is the subject of that warning and what is the context?


I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt 8:11-12)


The sons of the kingdom are the Jews who were to inherit the blessings of Abraham and David. So where are they cast? They are cast out of the kingdom. The comparative is to "recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom" That is what they lose.

In Luke, the same warning is connected with the "narrow gate." Now, does anyone ever have to "strive" for the gift of resurrection Life? No. In fact the gospel of LIfe, John, never uses the word "repent" and states this clearly:


Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31)


And we're familiar with the other passages in John regarding Life ("has passed from death unto life" etc.) by faith alone. So when we go back to Luke and the narrow gate, for what must they strive? They strive to enter the earthly Kingdom.


Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” (Luke 13:26-30)


Note the Lord states that this judgment involves those who ate and drank with him, and witnessed his teaching among them. Remember, the "Gospel of the Kingdom" the Lord and his diciples preached (Matthew 4, 9, 10) had no mention of his death or resurrection. He didn't even tell his disciples he was going to die until Matthew 16 (and they didn't believe him then).

We note along this line that when he mentions the Gospel of the Kingdom going out prophetically (later) is in Matthew 24. It is again preached to and by Israel and connected to the Tribulation (the time of Jacob's Trouble).


And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matt 24:10-14)


Note again the requirement, "endures to the end." They are not enduring to have resurrection Life, but to enter into the kingdom promised to Israel (cp Acts 1:6-7 and Acts 3:12-26). They endure by resisting the false prophets, the hate, the betrayals, the lawlessness, etc.

With that said, in Mark 3 where the Lord warns of blaspheming the Holy Spirit, the context is those people, in Israel, in that day. The blasphemy was seeing the miracles and attributing them to "Beelzebul" and not to the Holy Spirit. They also said of the Lord, “He has an unclean spirit.” We cannot commit that sin in this age.

We must "rightly divide the Word of Truth." All scripture is for us, but not all scripture is to us (unless you believe you should be building an ark or you believe your descendant will sit on the throne in Jerusalem, etc.). So, not every warning, not every promise, not every blessing, not every practice is TO us.

The warning of blaspheming the Holy Spirit is not possible and you cannot forfeit a free gift.


Forever and Eternal in Scripture


Young's Literal Translation reminds us that we have to understand English words like "for ever" and "eternal" (etc.) in a time context in Greek and Hebrew. Note the wording of the warning.


but whoever may speak evil in regard to the Holy Spirit hath not forgiveness -- to the age, but is in danger of age-during judgment.


First note "is in danger of." And the idea of the punishment enduring for an "age" again points us back to individual Jews who were in danger of missing out on the blessings of the Kingdom age to come. There is no forgiveness "to the age" and it would be an "age-enduring judgment."

When we grasp this concept of obedience and the requirements for entering the Kingdom life, we can start to understand why the Lord places the commandments (to Israel) and the Law (given to Israel alone, Ex 19:5-7), in addition to faith, was given by the Lord. Obedience is never for resurrection Life, it is always the requirement (with faith) for blessings (crowns, rewards, the prize, entrance into the kingdom, the better resurrection, the New Jerusalem, etc.).

Resurrection life (rescue from the curse of sin and death) has always be a free gift by grace through faith. Qualifying for the other things (depending on your hope) has always by faith and obedience.

Again, the warning of Mark 3 has nothing to do with our hope. We cannot commit that sin. Those who did were in danger of great loss, etc. We cannot confuse the gift of Life with the requirements for rewards.

There are many servants in the Lord's family... some are "good and faithful" servants, while others are "wicked and unjust" servants. Some vessels of gold and of silver, some of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. Some Some build with gold silver and precious stones, others with wood, hay, and stubble, etc. But all are servants.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Larry Ollison Misquotes Scripture (Among Other Errors)

A short video giving us a good example of how the traditions of men can poison our understanding of scripture and the Plan of God.


2 Cor 5:8 is one of the most misquoted verses in Christianity. We have taken pagan ideas related to death and have forced the scriptures to affirm what we already believe instead of allowing scripture to teach us. The doctrines of the "immortal soul" and the "intermediate state" rob from what our Lord accomplished on Calvary by dying, being buried, not decaying, and rising again. 

In his salvific work, the Lord reversed the curse of death and decay. Scripture teaches that death is our enemy, not our friend. Dr. Ollison also carelessly handles the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16. Almost his entire presentation in this clip is from human and pagan traditions. For more on this topic (and related) click on the links at the end of the video or visit bibleunderstanding.com

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Be Ye Kind One to Another

 Today we get a little conversational, informal, and practical. 

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. -Ephesians 4:32

I was behind a car yesterday which had a "Be Kind" sticker on the back window. It's a wonderful sentiment (obviously), but I wonder how effective the sticker is. I'm sure when we put stickers or magnets on our cars we don't expect to really change anything, but it can't hurt.

I tried to think about that sticker with my old mind and then with my new mind. As Christians we acknowledge the foundational Christian doctrine (at least it should be acknowledged) of our dual natures. We are born with a carnal, fleshly, earthly nature (old) and when we come to Christ by faith and accept his finished work on our behalf, placing our trust solely in Him, we become "partakers of the divine nature" (new). We can call this the "new nature" or the "spirit" (as it is referred to by Paul). 

Before I share my conclusions concerning how my old and new mind would process the sticker, I need to say that the old nature does not always manifest itself in overt wickedness (at least to the human eye). Part of being "earthly" can be craving ritual. Ritual appeals to the senses and gives one a feeling of "holiness." The flesh can manifest itself in many ways. In its religious manifestation, the flesh may be driven by a set of rules rather than by eternal convictions. We will look at how this might present itself in light of our question momentarily.

I would add here that despite the popular, Calvinist teaching that all acts by unregenerate people are tainted with gross wickedness, the scripture speaks otherwise. Just imagine the person who sees a small child fall into a raging river and, without a thought for personal safety, dives in and does everything she can to rescue that precious one. I see no gross wickedness.

For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another. 
-Romans 2:14-15

Paul's argument here is that no one can claim utter ignorance of the expectations of God. No one can say he/she has no idea there is any difference between "right" and "wrong." Surely, the carnal mind cannot be trusted to fully understand the difference (we need spiritual understanding and scripture for that), but we are all born with a conscience. Even if faulty, it testifies to some degree (before it is seared) that we are not perfect. So, sometimes, the carnal person can be convicted to do what is "right" (or even "less wrong"). 

When I was in my natural (carnal) mind, I tried to be kind. I was religious and I suppose being kind fell somewhere on the spectrum of natural empathy, learned empathy, and religious duty. This last one would engender pride (even if subconsciously). I enjoyed acts of kindness. I'm not saying that is wrong. Between nature and nurture, every human is somewhere on the kindness continuum. And, as Paul argued, even the unregenerate are capable of doing things according to God's design. (As we do not always do this, we fall short of the glory of God which necessitates our need for Christ, the culmination of Paul's argument, Romans 3:23).

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God

So, how does the new nature differ? For me, Paul's words in Ephesians strike at the divine nature. Some read scripture as a manual for "doing what's right." It can be simply a guide to "religious duty." I may have read it that way in my old, religious life, but now it strikes me deeper. My old nature may have even, on occasion, done things "contained in the law" but never on the even higher plane of "the Law of Christ." This greater law ("royal commandment") calls not only for the act of kindness itself, but the bearing of burdens, and the emptying of self. Oh, how hard it is to empty oneself of self!

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.
-Galatians 6:1-3

The hardest part may be acting kindly to ALL, regardless of race, creed, color, career, wealth, or political leanings. We may find ourselves prone to acts of kindness for those we love or for those who can repay us or laud us, but true kindness makes no distinctions. That's the hard part. This is where old nature often rears its head.

If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons [show favoritism based on an earthly honor or distinction] , ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors...
-James 2:8-9

The words "even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" from Ephesians are powerful. The God of all the universe, the one who has every right to find fault, the one I have insulted and offended in thought, word, and deed... this Omniscient, Omnipotent, Perfect God has forgiven me! He has forgiven me, not based on anything in me nor out of any obligation, but rather on account of the saving work of Christ.

This is an overwhelming thought. I no longer measure my kindness against my fellow man nor do I measure it against some religious catechism or creed. My kindness is measured against the unsearchable kindness of God.

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
-Psalm 103:8

He who has every right to be angry. He who has found no cause in us to be merciful, but his very nature ("God is love") is quick to show us mercy and grace while being slow to anger. And although his anger is righteous, warranted, and just, it is not part of his eternal plan. Part of being kind is being slow to anger and quick to show mercy.

He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
-Psalm 103:9-14 

There is a tremendous truth in the cross, often missed by Christians: "God was in Christ reconciling the word to himself, not counting their trespasses against them" (2 Cor 5:19). 

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
-2 Cor 5:20-21

God has already been reconciled to those around us.  This is the ultimate act of kindness; absolute forgiveness and the offer of the free gift of immortal life in resurrection. We are wholly undeserving. And it is the contemplation of this unsearchable idea that moves us to be kind.

The main focus of our opening verse in Ephesians is aimed at Christians dealing with Christians. This is an indictment of our old natures and our propensity to function in them. If it is sometimes difficult to forgive even our brothers and sisters in Christ, it can be that much harder to forgive and show kindness to those without. But if we truly want to "Be Kind." we have to start by walking in the Light as he is in the Light and meditating on the act of Love completed on our behalf by our Great God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour [a fragrant sacrifice, pleasing God].
-Ephesian 5:1-2

 

This is one of my favorite quotes, everyone is always judging and being hard on one another, and I feel like we all have to be kind in order for there to be peace. Words Quotes, Wise Words, Me Quotes, Sayings, Qoutes