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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. ...

Monday, February 27, 2023

Michael and Gabriel: The Two Witnesses of the Revelation?

There are a number of theories as to whom will fulfill the prophecy of the two witnesses of Revelation 11. One theory puts forth the angels Michael and Gabriel. Let's take a quick look at this possibility. 

Michael is associated with Israel in both the Hebrew and Greek texts.

Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come (Daniel 10:14)

At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. (Daniel 12:1)

Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (Jude 1:9)

I believe what we see in the prophecy of Daniel connects Michael to the time of the tribulation ("a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then") and Israel ("your people").  

Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, “Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months. And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire. When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves. And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.

-Revelation 11:1-8

The two witnesses are given power and given protection as they are given a ministry connected to the Temple and Altar (Rev 11:1-3). They are called "lampstands" (Rev 11:4). The conditions are said to mirror Sodom and Egypt (Rev 11:8).  In Sodom. angels took on bodies and were the target of Sodomites. They had to seek shelter. So, it would seem if angels take on a body, they can "die."

While dead, Israel mourns them as the world rejoices. They are resurrected and then taken into heaven. 

Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God [spirit] entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them. In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven.

-Revelation 11:11-13

Obviously this is conjecture based on the possibility, but I think there is at least room to consider Michael (or angels) as the witnesses. Unless, I'm not considering something, it seems worthy of consideration. Michael and Daniel both being prominent in Daniel's prophecy of the 70 weeks and the time of Jacob's trouble (tribulation) along with Michael's appearance in the warning epistle of Jude in the Acts Age. There, Michael is seen as rebuking Satan in the name of the Lord. The context being Moses.

Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

-Jude 1:9


A closer look at the lampstands should be undertaken as well. Angels being connected to the tribulation churches. The word angels can have a broader meaning, but we note it nonetheless.  Staying  in the Revelation:

The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches. (Revelation 1:20)

The olive tree imagery, as I see it, also points to Israel. Hosea 14 speaks of God restoring  Israel as he did Hosea's adulterous wife. Israel will become "Ammi" (My people) again. I won't quote the whole chapter, but it's good reading. 

Then said God, Call his name Lo-ammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God.

Ezekiel speaks of the restoration of Israel when he will take their heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26). And they will again be his people. Jeremiah 31, Hebrews 8, Zechariah 8, Zechariah 12, etc.

Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. (Ezekiel 36:28)

His beauty shall be like an olive tree (Hosea 14:6b)

So, Michael and Gabriel could be considered here. Gabriel also appears in Daniel chapter 8 connected to the end times vision (which then connects to the Revelation and the gospels). Gabriel appears in Luke as well. This is what he prophecies to Mary, in part:

He [Jesus] 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, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

This is connected to the Revelation and the restoration of the Kingdom in Israel and establishing of David's throne.

I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star. (Revelation 22:16)

The Son of David is connected to Israel and Gentiles have no claim to this title. The ministry of angels is also connected to Israel in many ways (especially Michael and Gabriel).

And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David!... But He answered her not a word... But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel...”  Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”  But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s [Israel's] bread and throw it to the little dogs [Gentiles].”

Her request was granted when she acknowledged him only as Lord and took her place as a little dog below the children (the master). Her daughter was healed from a distance )as was the gentile Centurion's servant in Matthew 8).

And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

When a child of Abraham call on him the same way, the Lord responds quite differently. 

And when he [the blind beggar] heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.” And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus. So Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?

Michael and Gabriel (as the angels in general) have a special ministry to Israel. Might they be called upon to be the witnesses to that nation in her time of great distress? It's worth considering. 

The primary candidates put forward (for a number of reasonable and scriptural reasons) are Elijah, Enoch, and Moses. As with much of the prophecies concerning the last days and the time of Israel's testing, we stay in the arena of speculation trusting that God will do what is right and the remnant of Israel will recognize the witnesses sent to her.


Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Slander Against the Children of Israel

I would like to preface this post by saying that I have no idea who, today, is a physical Jew and who is not. The Lord knows, however. I would also note that in the current age, it doesn't matter in terms of blessings and hopes (as it will again in the age to come).

I was prompted to summarize this topic (as we have previously looked at the details of the place of the Gentile during the Lord's earthly ministry and in the Books of the Acts age) because of certain slanderous posts on social media regarding supposed quotes in the Talmud. In short, the supposed quotes are purposely bad translations or they're completely fabricated. The hope of those posting the gross misrepresentations is that the reader will not seek out the quotes for himself.

I will not post all the examples of the libelous images. I will offer instead, for context, one of the more benign examples. 

 Those posting these things assert that the following is from the Talmud:

"Even the best of Goyim should all be killed."

Here is the quote as it reads in the English Talmud (1965): 

"Kill the best of the heathen in time of war." 

That's quite different than what is contained in the supposed quote. Clearly there is an attempt here to cast Jews, et al, as evil cultists.

Scripture places the Gentile living among Israel in a lower state (Lev 23, repeated in Acts 15 and Act 21). All through the Acts age, the Jew is first and superior in kingdom position to the Gentile (this is no longer the case). Paul wrote it is the duty of Gentile believers to support Jewish believers financially in the Book of Romans. 

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

Paul warns Gentile believers in Romans 11 not to become "haughty" against the "root (Israel)" lest they be "cut of" from the blessings. This warning is for Gentile believers only. We've covered elsewhere.

The Lord himself calls Israel his "children" and that he was sent to them alone. In that same passage, Gentiles are compared to "little dogs" by the Lord who must take the scraps that fall from the "children's" table. 

But he answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. 
-Matthew 15:24-27

The Lord forbids the Gospel of the Kingdom to be preached to Gentiles (Matt 10, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles..."). The twelve Apostles went to Jews only (save Peter once). The risen Lord taught the enlightened apostles for 40 days concerning the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel (Luke 24; Acts 1) as we looked at many times. At Pentecost, Jews only present. Peter's offer of the return of Christ to restore the Kingdom was to Jews only (Acts 3). Etc.

Do we accuse the Lord of being anti-Gentile? Well, in a way, he was. Do we accuse the enlightened apostles of the same? They understood the purpose of the grafting in of Gentiles and came to understand the equality in the free gift of life. But in the matters concerning the Kingdom plan for the land, both the Lord and the Apostles understood the meaning, "to the Jew first." 

And Paul reminds us in Romans 9:1-5

I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

Readers of this blog will understand that these promises concern the promised land and the earthly kingdom. These are related to a hope given "since" or "from" the foundation of the ages. The hope of the present age were hidden from "before" the foundation of the ages. We do not recognize a difference between Jew and Gentile in this age, but that distinction will be relevant when the Kingdom comes back into view. 

Monday, January 30, 2023

The Foolishness of the Positive Profession

We want to be careful here. We do not question the Lord's ability or even willingness to bless His own. But if the Lord chooses to bless us, it is done according to His will and for his purposes. Our apostle lays down our expectation and hope in prayer in one of the epistles for this age.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 
-Philippians 4:6-7

The idea here is leaving things with the Lord, come what may. We are not Israel. We have no promises of a quid pro quo based on a level of obedience. Israel's hope was tied to the earth. Surely, individual Israelites experienced spiritual blessings as a result of their faith and obedience, but under that economy, a physical blessing was usually displayed. Job, David, Abraham all enjoyed earthly blessings as well as spiritual blessings.

In Isaiah 42, the prophet to the people of Israel expresses a dual effect of Israel's sin. The nation was looted and plundered (42:22) by a visible enemy, but also by the Lord who used a sinful nation to punish Israel.

Who handed Jacob over to become loot,
and Israel to the plunderers?
Was it not the Lord,
against whom we have sinned?
For they would not follow his ways;
they did not obey his law.
 So he poured out on them his burning anger,
the violence of war.
It enveloped them in flames, yet they did not understand;
it consumed them, but they did not take it to heart.

-Isaiah 42:24-25

For those who may be prone to be moved to despair that physical blessings do not flow as freely in this age, be comforted that quick chastisement from the Lord is also slower to rise. Surely, the Lord still chastises his own. He has done this from the Garden. He does this for our long-term good. His chastisement (or even his invasion into our earthly plans) is for our good despite the pain that may come with it. 

We must start to build our understanding of God's working in our lives, no matter the age, on the sure foundation of this statement from Job.

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.

-Job 1:21

 Job has submitted himself to God' will. Job suffered the loss of everything, even his own children, and he was not sure why. He had committed no grave sin in the eyes of the Lord. He becomes the focus of Satan's wrath for this very reason. The Lord offers Job as a great example of faith and fidelity.

And Job not only lost his goods and his children (a fate I cannot imagine), he was saddled with a thorn in his flesh in the person of his wife. His friends come along and their explanations fall short of an understanding of God's ultimate and permissive sovereignty. Job himself, in his defense before the Lord, fails (at first) to see the Lord's sovereignty.

One of the greatest lessons from the Book of Job is that the Lord never tells Job (in the text) what was happening in the spiritual realm. The Lord's response to Job's questioning is to layout the wonders of His creation. He poses this question to Job as an opening:

‘Who is this that darkens counsel without knowledge?’

We have limited knowledge as to the plans and purposes of God in our individual life. We do know that he wants us to seek him, to study his word, to cleanse our ways, to rightly divide the Word of Truth, etc. As we trek stubbornly through this life, in His love, He often has to bring unpleasant events into our lives.

For those who teach that a "positive confession" puts the Lord in their debt to respond positively to their wills, despite such a thing possibly being to the detriment of the believer, I ask that they step back. The Lord has answered the prayers of His people only for such "blessings" to result in misery.

The Lord gave Israel the King they desired in Saul, yet his reign was a terrible time for the nation. The Lord blessed Israel when the entered the land, only to have them defeated because of Achan's greed. The Lord provided a victory, Achan "coveted." Many lost their lives. 

So about three thousand men went up there from the people, but they fled before the men of Ai. And the men of Ai struck down about thirty-six men, for they chased them from before the gate as far as Shebarim, and struck them down on the descent; therefore the[d] hearts of the people melted and became like water.

-Joshua 7:4-5


“Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I have done: When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. And there they are, hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent, with the silver under it.”

-Joshua 7:21-22

Let's us change gears and look at "confessions" concerning ourselves. Those who have confessed Christ, and believe God has raised him from the dead, these have the power to be called the children of God.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.
-John 1:12

if you acknowledge publicly with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and trust in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be delivered
-Romans 10:9

When the Lord shows himself risen to Thomas, he announces a blessing to those who trust in Him and believe in the resurrection.

“Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed [in the resurrection]. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

-John 20:29-31

So, it is proper and good to rejoice in the fact that we can have life in His name. It is a wonderful thought that we are "translated into the kingdom of His Dear Son."  But such blessings have nothing to do with us. Our future resurrection and our current place in His kingdom are all of him. We are but wretched sinners delivered from the curse of death and decay by the grace of God.

Those who chastise us for referring to ourselves as wretched sinners, need to look to the apostle Paul. We do not use such a confession to signal how wonderful we are for admitting the obvious, we confess this truth to bring glory to God and to exalt the work of Christ and His resurrection..  

Note how Paul's "confession" moves. All of these verses are from later in the great apostle's ministry.

For I am the least of the apostles, that am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 
-1 Corinthians 15:9 (Approx AD 58)

Paul notes that he is unworthy of being called an apostle. He places himself as the least among that august group. This is no "woe is me" or "look how humble I am" moment, this is the inspired apostle of God rightfully acknowledging God's grace. But Paul does not stop there.

Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ... 
-Ephesians 3:8 (Approx AD 62-63)

Paul's first Post-Acts epistle which speaks of "unsearchable riches of Christ" in the far above the heavens has the apostle taking an even lower place than his previous declaration. He now places himself as the the least of all the saints. This man, who was alone given the revelation of the current age, understands how unworthy he is. And that understanding of his own unworthiness again brings glory to God and exalts God's grace.

Imagine Paul declaring he has a "spark of deity" and screaming that is "a child of the King!" and thus expecting riches and glory and accolades from the world. I believe Paul would be horrified by the thought. 

And finally, Paul places himself as the chief of sinners.

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. 
-1 Timothy 1:15 (Approx AD 64)

This is Paul's confession. He is least of the Apostles, less than the least of all the saints (believers), and the chief of sinners. Job was also a believer when he confessed:

Then Job answered the Lord and said:
Behold, I am vile;
What shall I answer You?
I lay my hand over my mouth.

-Job 40:3-4

Perhaps it would do us good to remind ourselves how vile our sin truly is. Our arrogance. Our pride. Our self-exaltation. And when we take our place as the chief of sinners, we are saddled with the flesh which wants to celebrate how humble we are. The carnal nature is surely wicked and vile, and the grace of God is surely beyond comprehension.

In the Acts age, as they anticipated the coming Tribulation, they didn’t demand of God wealth and comfort. They merely trusted in his promises in an age to come. 

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

-Romans 8:35-37

What a foolish notion it is that these bodies of death can offer anything in light of the glorious resurrection of our Great God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. All we can offer is faith and we can only do that because of his grace and love. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Disparaging the Chosen Apostles of Christ

When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?

-Acts 1:6 

I have come across yet another site accusing the enlightened Apostles (Luke 24:44-45) of being less informed than its 21st Century staff.

 "Jesus has spent forty days since being raised from the dead giving the disciples information on the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). Now, He is about to ascend into heaven so the Holy Spirit can come (John 16:7). The disciples are still confused." -BibleRef . com

Yeah, the Apostles are the ones who are confused. This is terribly arrogant.

 "He opened their [the apostles'] understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures."

-Luke 24:45 

In Acts 1:6, they understand after 40 days of being taught by the risen Lord the things concerning the Kingdom, that the Kingdom would be restored "to Israel." Their only question is in regard to the timing of the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel, and the Lord does not correct them. Forty days... being taught about the Kingdom... by the risen Lord... with their understanding of scripture opened.

But, again, somehow we know better. Again, this is modern arrogance

And these same ministries will try to tell us that the "second and third century" Christians and the "early church fathers" understand scripture better than we can because they're closer to the Lord's time. So, I'm supposed to submit my mind and theology to some 3rd century theologian (or 13th Century in the case of Aquinas), but I'm free to correct the doctrines of the chosen Apostles? In fact, from what these sites propose, they're all pretty much incompetent and ignorant for most of the Book of Acts. 

Do we dare do the same with Paul?

Paul's epistles (in the Acts and after) are essentially for the purpose of correcting error among believers. And in his last epistle, he notes that all in Asia had abandoned him. Yet somehow ALL errors were gone by the third century? 

This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me, among whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. 

Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica—Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia.

This is the Demas of whom Paul wrote not too long before he penned 2 Timothy:

For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis. Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you. [Colossians]

All is Asia had abandoned Paul. His trusted friend, Demas, had forsaken him. This is all during the lifetime of the great Apostle. Paul was surrounded by departures from the faith, most notably late in his Apostleship. 

having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

 But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some.

First century, contemporary with the Apostles, former students of Paul, who spreading false doctrines "like cancer." Yet we today feel free to insult the chosen apostles of Christ as they exalt men who wrote years later. 

  • Men, for the record, who contradicted each other on a number of doctrines. 
  • Men who were not the chosen Apostles of Christ. 
  • Men about whom we are never told "had their understanding opened" by the risen Lord. 
  • Men who were not taught for 40 days by the Lord himself concerning the things of the Kingdom. Men who were not promised to sit on thrones (12) judging the 12 tribes of Israel. 

Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? 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.

They make the Lord out to be a deceiver.

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.


We answer to Him alone. We can read the ECF, but they have no authority over us.

Sola Scriptura.

Friday, January 20, 2023

A Carpenter? From Galilee!? The Lord Didn't Have a Degree

This is an apocryphal scene from the 1977 TV miniseries "Jesus of Nazareth." One line has stuck in my head for decades and I finally bothered to track it down. It's an off-screen remark when Nicodemus suggests that the Lord Jesus could very well be the promised Messiah of Israel.

“With respect to those more learned than I, there is one possibility that is seems no one here is ready to consider.”

“What is it?”

“The possibility that Jesus of Nazareth may be, in fact, the Messiah awaited by our people.”
"A carpenter? From Galilee!?"

It is roughly derived from an encounter the Lord had in John 7. The people marveled that the Lord could speak with such authority having had no formal education. The people had been taught to think this way by the educated class. This reveals much of what is in the heart of religionists and their oft unwillingness to move from a position they were taught in this age. They were taught by “learned” men and they have no authority to diverge from “accepted” dogma. Then they turn upon their flocks and inflict this same standard upon them. There is an irony in there that I hope is not lost on the reader.

Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught. Then the Judean leaders were amazed, saying, “How does this man know so much, having never been taught?” Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me.

-John 7:14-16

This requirement that one have formal teaching is evident everywhere today in the modern church. We submit will and intellect to "experts" and "scholars" and "catechisms" and "councils" and "church fathers" and "pastors," etc. Men with "letters." Men with titles. May it not be said of the true workman.

Study to shew yourself approved unto God [alone], a workman that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." -2 Tim 2:15

In Acts chapter 4, Peter and John were accuse of having no education as well, but they had something better, the holy spirit and knowledge of the Lord.

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were UNEDUCATED and UNTRAINED men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. 

-Acts 4:8-13 

But seeing the boldness of Peter and John, and perceiving that they were unlettered and uninstructed men, they wondered; and they recognized them that they were with Jesus. 
-Acts 4:13 (Darby Translation)

It should not be lost on us that many who hold "letters" (degrees) disagree rather vociferously with each other. There are many schools of thought in theology. There are not only competing theologies, there are completely contradictory theologies, all taught by teachers with "letters."

The most well-known rift in what we understand as Christendom, came as the result of very educated men (Wycliff, Tyndale, Hus, Luther, Zwingli, etc.) who held even advanced degrees in the common faith of the day, denouncing their own education for the greater truths revealed by scripture alone.

"The layman, armed with scripture, is greater than the mightiest pope without it." 

-Dr. Martin Luther 

“If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy who drives a plough to know more of the scriptures than you do.”

-William Tyndale

  • James Mason as Joseph of Arimathea 
  • Laurence Olivier as Nicodemus 
  • Anthony Quinn as Caiaphas

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Is the End "At Hand" or Not?

 The phrase "at hand" is used 16 times in the New King James Version of the New Testament. Let's take a quick look at its uses in regard to time:

  • [John the Baptist] “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2)
  • From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)
  • And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ (Matthew 10:7)
  • And He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.” (Matthew 26:18)
  • Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. (Matthew 26:45)
  • Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.” (Matthew 26:46)
  • “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)
  • Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.” (Mark 14:42)
  • Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. (John 2:13)
  • Now the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles was at hand. (John 7:2)
  • The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. (Romans 13:12)
  • You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. (James 5:8)
  • But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. (1 Peter 4:7)
  • And he said to me, “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand. (Rev 22:10)

The 14 verses above clearly have the meaning "very close by" in regard to time. The Greek word used is "engízō" and essentially means "near." It is used some 42 times in the Greek Received Text. It is not always translated "at hand." This Greek word is used 17 times in Luke and is translated "near" or "nigh" [KJV] 16 times and "approacheth" once. 

Our word is used 6 times in the Acts and is translated "near" or "nigh" all 6 times. Likewise, all the uses in James (3) and Hebrews (2) are translated as "near" or "nigh" or "approaching" [KJV]. Let us just quote Hebrews 10 for now:

not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

-Hebrews 10:25

There is one difference I need to note with the English and Greek. In 2 Tim 4:6, Paul's tells us his departure is "at hand." That will become relevant as we progress, but I should note that Greek word used is "ephístēmi" and means "at present." Different word, similar connotation.

Now let's compare the above verses with Paul's only use of  the idea in his Post Acts epistles.

  • Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. (Phil 4:5)
  • For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. (2 Tim 4:6)

We must stop and notice that Paul expecting his death to come "presently" is hardly an anticipation of the coming of the Lord or of the Kingdom. He is also not expecting the events of the Tribulation. In Philippians, "the Lord" is said to be nigh, not His coming. We have studied elsewhere the difference between the Lord's "Parousia" and his "Epiphenea." That is, there is a different expectation between the Lord coming back to live among men in the Kingdom (his physical presence) and his sudden appearing.

Paul never speaks to us in this age of the Lord's "Parousia" (physical presence). That is, the idea is abset from is seven Post Acts epistles. In previous ages and in the age to come, they looked and will look for his physical return in the clouds, to the land. We look for his appearing. These are different things. This is not the "rapture" spoken of in Thessalonians as they were also looking for his "Parousia." The coming in the clouds there to meet believers is his coming in the clouds back to the earth to set up the Kingdom in Israel. 

This is an earthly hope. The hope of this age is in the "far above the heavens." 

We cannot say "at hand" or "near" or "approaching" or "at present" can mean "any time in the future." It means what it says. The subject or event is close by. It has not yet come, but to those to who the words are spoken, these things are close at hand.

The verses quoted above state: 

  • The Kingdom was close at hand.
  • The Lord's betrayal was close at hand.
  • The return of the Lord was close at hand. 

But the Lord's return was conditional. Peter said Israel had to repent nationally first (Acts 3). None of those can mean "any time over the next two thousand years." 

Literalism is the only way to interpret scripture. But we must take the words in their contexts. The Kingdom was literally "at hand," but that condition and promise is not a generic or symbolic truth for all men of all ages. Again, if that's how we want to read "at hand" or "approaching" or "near," then the idea becomes meaningless. Not everything in scripture is directed TO us while all is FOR us.

If people think every word in scripture is to them, they are free to read it that way. But, inevitably, they'll end up spiritualizing and explaining away almost everything, and disobeying most of it, but that's their right. "At hand" will lose its meaning. Events will become symbolic. And the very Word they claimed all for themselves will no longer mean what it says. Ironic.

Monday, December 5, 2022

The Kingdom is Within You - The Dangers of Spiritualizing All the Kingdom (2)

Part 2 of 2

I noted that the Kingdom has both a spiritual aspect and a physical one. Just because one aspect may be spoken of (the Kingdom of His Dear Son) it does not annul the other aspect. Just because the Kingdom has a spiritual side (rulership over principalities and powers) it does not mean there is no future physical kingdom as counteless passages witness to.

The context of Luke 17 itself is future. It speaks of real events and earthly consequences.

"BUT FIRST He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be IN THE DAY when the Son of Man is revealed."

They didn't even know he was going to die. The Kingdom he preached and sent the disciples to preach in Matthew 9-10 was for Israel alone (Matt 10:5-8). It involved no death, no burial, no resurrection. The Gospel of the Kingdom is not salvation by grace. As noted above, the Kingdom is not equal to salvation or we have a lot of problems.

And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every infirmity.

-Matthew 9:35
And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity. These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And preach as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying, give without pay.

-Matthew 10: 1, 5-7

The Gospel of the Kingdom is associated with miracles, especially healing. 

We see this gospel again referenced in the Lord's prophetic discourse in Matthew 24.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 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 wickedness is multiplied, most men’s love will grow cold. But he who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come. So when you see the desolating sacrilege spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountain..."

-Matthew 24:9-15

This prophecy is very specific to Israel. l will one day be the Lord's witness to the world (oikouménē) and to the nations (ethnos). It is specific to the promised land as well. The Lord warns "those who are in Judea" and he references the Prophet Daniel who prophesied to that nation. We cannot spiritualize these specific references. 

We remember as we read of Israel's future time of testing and time of restoration that those who endure are the ones who will rescued into that restoration. Not all Israel is Israel (Romans 9:6). The Jew must believe. He must be faithful to Christ alone. And even among believing Israelites, there will be some who fail to inherit the Kingdom. Some "sons of the Kingdom will be cast into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 8).

The parallel aspects of the Kingdom (the spiritual on one rail and the physical on the other) are ever before us.

Moses was forbidden to go into the promised land. That was a very real warning. But was Moses lost spiritually? No. He is a picture of loss of reward. Paul warns of "not inheriting the Kingdom" and as the Lord warns the "Sons of the Kingdom" of loss and casting away. We cannot see these as a "spiritual" thing. We also then have the problem of those who are NOT "sons of the kingdom" sitting down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the future.

If the Kingdom does not have a physical aspect, if the city whose builder and make is God (Hebrews 11) which comes down from heaven to the physical earth (Revelation 22) in the physical promised land, to what to the kingdom warnings refer?

When Paul lists the sins of the flesh and warns that one who practices such would not inherit the Kingdom, what does that mean to the one who teaches only a "spiritual" Kingdom? And do they apply that to all references to the Kingdom? They must if they want to be consistent.

We do not bring preconceived notions of the Kingdom to the scripture. Just as faith and works go together, so do the spiritual and physical aspects of the Kingdom. We must see the unobservable Kingdom along side the observable Kingdom as scripture witnesses to both. 

Some will see (observe) the Lord coming into the physical Kingdom.

"Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." -Matt 24

To the High Priest, "I say to you, hereafter you will see (optánomai, behold) the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven." -Matt 26

"When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him..." -Matt 25

The "tribes" mentioned in Matthew 24:30 are "phylḗ." Thayer notes in his concordance, "in the NT all the persons descending from one of the twelve sons of the patriarch, Jacob." That is, the Jews. The Lord is refencing a literal return. 

There is not enough bandwidth to cover what is in the prophets concerning a literal land, a literal kingdom, a literal priesthood, a literal nation under a literal New Covenant, and then a literal new earth. This is all yet future, even if the spiritual aspect of Kingdom can be experienced now.

"Thus saith the Lord of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the shirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you." 
-Zecheriah 8:23

This prophecy has not happened yet, but will most assuredly happen in a literal "kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exodus 19) as promised by the Lord, in the promised land. The New Covenant involves grace, but it is not the Gospel of Grace. It is for Israel and it is for the earth (Jeremiah 31, Hebrews 8)

We note again, there are spiritual aspects of the Kingdom and physical aspects of the Kingdom.

That is how we discern context. Audience and event and economy (dispensation). Paul's warning about not inheriting the Kingdom? Audience, event, economy. The Lord's words to Pharisees? Audience, event, economy. The Lord's words to his disciples? Audience, event, economy.

You cannot make the Gospel of the Kingdom the same as the Gospel of the grace of God, for example. All these things must be understood as noted above, in their contexts. They must be rightly divided (2 Tim 2:15) or we end up in confusion. And what is worse than confusion is a dismissal of the promises of God which accompanies a spiritualization of scripture.

Saturday, December 3, 2022

The Kingdom is Within You - The Dangers of Spiritualizing All the Kingdom (1)

Part 1 of 2 


Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”

-Luke 17:20-21 

The problem with basing an understanding of the kingdom in all its aspects on this exchange with the Pharisees is that one has to ignore the vast amounts of scripture from Abraham through the prophets through the Apostles through the Revelation to conclude that all the passages about a literal land, a literal kingdom, a literal, city, a literal meal, etc. are all spiritualized.

To try and cover this topic in a blog entry is impossible. Suffice to say, a couple of hand-picked verses taken out of context to try and disannul the full witness of the scriptures is hardly evidence. "The Kingdom of His Dear Son" (Colossians 1:13)  is greater than the land and the kingdom and even the City of God which comes down to earth (literal city, literal earth/land). So, the spiritual aspect of the Kingdom lives along side the earthly manifestation of the promises of the Kingdom.

Related to that, one then has to interpret the warnings about losing the kingdom in light of what? Salvation? The free gift? No, the free gift of Life through his name (resurrection life) cannot be lost, but a place in the physical kingdom can be lost. A place in the City of God (the New Jerusalem) can be lost. A place in the city whose builder and maker is God must be earned, but never the free gift.

By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Hebrews 11:8-10

The city is earned by faith expressed through one's actions. Caleb and Joshua were the only two among the twelve spies who were allowed to enter the promised land because they believed God. Moses also believed God, but he was not allowed into the promised land because of his actions. Was Moses not saved? Of course he was. He is not a picture of lost salvation, but of failure to receive a prize or reward or crown.

There was no prophet greater than Moses, yet he was not allowed into the promised land

And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face... and by all that mighty power and all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.

-Deuteronomy 34:10,12

Because ye trespassed against me among the children of Israel at the waters of Meribah-Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because ye sanctified me not in the midst of the children of Israel. Yet thou shalt see the land before thee; but thou shalt not go thither unto the land which I give the children of Israel.

-Deuteronomy 32:51-52

Moses loss was based on lack of faith and on his actions. Lack of faith in striking the stone the second time which brought disrepute upon the name of God. In all ages, God honors faith which is exemplified in faithful actions.

The oft-quoted passage in James (written to the Twelve Tribes of Israel, James 1:1) concerning faith and works reveals this. James uses two examples of works which can only be explained by faith. The works he cites are hardly examples of how we are act today to "earn" God's free gift of Life. They are hardly the actions of the Parable of the Sheep and Goats from Matthew 25 often taught by some as the way of salvation. 

Just as the works in Matthew 25 by the nations in regard to the physical brothers of the Lord (Israelites) revealed their faith in God's promises, so, too, do Abraham and Rahab express their faith in certain works. James quotes sections of the Law and refers to caring for one's brother or sister (again, a Jewish context to the twelve tribes), yet when he gives his scriptural examples, the Holy Spirit inspires two rather interesting characters.

Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

-James 2:21-25

The "works" cited are human sacrifice, lying, and treason. Hardly things worthy of praise in other contexts. How many preachers or priests when preaching of faith and works use the full chapter? They gladly pull from the actions in Matthew 25 yet do not seem to ever suggest that the way to salvation is through child sacrifice and false witness. In both passages works are the evidence of faith. In the case of Moses (the greatest of all the Prophets) his failure to believe God at one point and his acting in the flesh is used to picture loss, but not loss of the free gift.

And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.

-Matthew 17:1-3

By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.

-Hebrews 11:24-25

Moses surely has a place in the coming Kingdom. God used him in regard to Israel and the land to teach that the Lord is not a respecter of persons. Moses' loss is a picture of our possible loss according the promises, rewards, prizes, and crowns of our own age.

There are a number of these warning passages regarding the "kingdom." But what does one do with these warnings if the kingdom is salvation? What does one do with Paul's warning to the Galatians? 

"Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." 

What are they failing to inherit by the works of their hands? By their actions? By their works? Our "salvation" is based on our behavior? Is that what we take from Paul's passage concerning the works of the flesh in Galatians? Of course not. That not only contradicts the offer of Life elsewhere, it contradicts Paul's argument in the Book of Galatians itself in regard to the surety of the promises of God. The Holy and Perfect Law of God could not annul the promises to Abraham. The Law has no claim over a free gift.

The Lord contrasts the children of Israel with Gentiles in Matthew 8. When the centurion shows faith, the Lords states:

"I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the KINGDOM of heaven. But the sons of the KINGDOM will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

What does one do with that if the Kingdom has only a spiritual aspect? Who are the sons of the "spiritual" kingdom who are cast out is this is the case? Why do some come from outside the "spiritual" kingdom to sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? How does one even do that? People are free to try and spiritualize ALL the references to the land and the Kingdom in scripture, but they must then to do for every reference.

Again, if one wants to hold that the Kingdom, in toto, is merely spiritual with no physical promises, they may to do so. But then they must interpret ALL passages regarding the land, the Kingdom, the promises, the government, the actions, the people, the punishments, etc. the same way. ALL must be spiritualized. 

They must go through Genesis through the prophets, through the Covenants, through the Apostles through all the promises and warnings connected to the Kingdom and spiritualize ALL of them. And, again, do not miss the warnings. If the kingdom warnings are merely spiritual, you are in danger of teaching a false Way to Life, a false gospel of works.

Examining the Statemen to the Pharisees in Luke 17 in Context

Let us quickly look back at Luke 17 as the Lord continued. He now addresses, not the Pharisees, but his disciples. 

Then He said to the disciples, “The days will come when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. And they will say to you, ‘Look here!’ or ‘Look there!’ Do not go after them or follow them. For as the lightning that flashes out of one part under heaven shines to the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His day.

This refers to a physical and literal event. The Lord now reveals something that was not part of The Gospel of the Kingdom taught by John the Baptist or by the Lord when they decalred that gospel in Matthew chapters 4-9. In Matthew 10 when the Lord sends out his disciples, he says to preach the Kingdom, to Jews only, with no mention of His death. He had not yet revealed that Mystery. He does so in Matthew 16 (and they don't believe him) and here in Luke 17. 

But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

These things have not yet happened. God has not wrought his destruction yet. Note that his examples are from before Abraham (the Flood) and after the promises to Abraham (Sodom and Gomorrah) and before the Law.

In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left. Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left. Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left.” 

Do we want to spiritualize this passage?  "In that day" tells us the Lord speaks of a future day. So, the "kingdom within" and the "kingdom" among them refer to some of aspects of the Kingdom that will be manifest in the literal earthly kingdom of God. 

Does this passage speak of saving one's spiritual life? Spiritual sleeping? Spiritual grinding? Or does it speak of a future, literal event? The physical kingdom was surely not there "within" the Pharisees. 

And they answered and said to Him, “Where, Lord? So He said to them, “Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together.”

Luke uses the Greek word "soma" for "body" (which can be living or dead), but the passage in Matthew 24 uses the word meaning carcasses (dead bodies). 


Matthew 24:28 For wherever the carcass [ptoma] is, there the eagles will be gathered together.

The idea of carcasses should take us to Isaiah and to the Revelation which picture the throwing of the carcasses of the rebellious ones into Gehenna. Gehenna ("hellfire" KJV) is a physical place in a physical land. Carcasses are physical dead bodies that will be thrown into Gehenna in a future day.

“For as the new heavens and the new earth
Which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the Lord,
“So shall your descendants and your name remain.

And it shall come to pass
That from one New Moon to another,
And from one Sabbath to another,
All flesh shall come to worship before Me,” says the Lord.

“And they shall go forth and look
Upon the corpses of the men
Who have transgressed against Me.
For their worm does not die,
And their fire is not quenched.
They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.”

-Isaiah 64:22-24


 The Lord's warning to Israel in Mark 9 will hopefully now make more sense.

If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to [Gehenna], into the fire that shall never be quenched where

‘Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’

And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into [Gehenna], into the fire that shall never be quenched

This a warning of a future judgment, based on works, based on the flesh, regarding a physical new earth. 

While we're in Mark 9, just a reminder that no one yet understood the Lord's destiny to die and rise again.

Then they departed from there and passed through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know it. For He taught His disciples and said to them, “The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day.” But they did not understand this saying, and were afraid to ask Him.

This was not a spiritual killing or a spiritual rising. A physical Son will come into his physical kingdom one day and sit on the physical throne of his father David. 

The Gospel preached in Mark (as in Matthew and Luke) is a Gospel of the Kingdom in light of the prophecies and covenants with Israel. These are all things spoken "since the foundation of the ages." The promises of Ephesians were hidden from "before the foundation of the ages." We are indeed translated into an aspect of God's Kingdom, but our sphere of hope and blessing is in "all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places" in the "far above the heavens" and not in the earthly kingdom. But this does not annul the earthly promises or earthly kingdom or earthly Gehenna judgement or the earthly New Jerusalem. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Unimaginable Evil

Cain said to Abel his brother, “Let us go out to the field.” And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand...

-Gen 4:8-11

When we visit this account in Genesis 4, we look to the previous chapters to try and find a "law" against murder. We find no such law. Before we continue, let us dismiss the argument posited by some that the law was given, just not yet in writing. This argument should be dismissed with prejudice for many reasons, but we can simply point to two obvious reasons.  

  • There was no Israel at this point as specifically denoted in the Law of Sinai
  • Paul's argument for grace states unequivocally that the Law was given 430 years after Abraham

Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

-Galatians 3:16-18

We have covered the place of the Law in previous studies. We now return to Cain. It is clear from the passage in Genesis 4 that the taking of Abel's life was clearly wrong. It was clearly sin. Cain brought a curse upon himself. He knew in his conscience that he had done wickedly despite attempts to sear that conscience.

In the previous chapter, Adam and Eve violated the only Law they had at the time, "Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?" The Lord had "commanded" them not to eat from a specific tree. Is this a "law" for this age? No. It makes no sense in this age. The economy is quite different today.

But let us not miss another aspect of God's words to Adam.


But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of thee in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked?..."

At this point, being naked was natural and good. This was not so afterward. Of course, the only people at that time were Adam and Eve (husband and wife) and nakedness is no sin in that relationship. But we must note that the Lord clothed them before the birth of Cain ("And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins, and clothed them" Gen 3:21). This may have been in preparation for the birth of Cain, but regardless, conditions and expectations (economies, dispensations) and rules changed.

What did not change with the birth of Cain was the understanding that murder was wrong. Some things are inherently wrong. The act of the Serpent to deceive Eve was counted as wickedness despite no specific law being violated. Adam and Even were essentially Gentiles. Paul notes that even Gentiles without the law understand certain things are wrong and/or evil.

For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.

-Romans 2:12-16

What "law" do they have written in their hearts? Check virgins for purity? Do not wear clothes of mixed fabrics? Pay 50 shekels for a defiled daughter? The law have we all have written in our hearts tells us stealing is wrong. Murder is wrong. Lying is wrong. Cain needed no written law. The inward law is confirmed in the conscience.

The conscience can be seared, however. Refusing the witness of the conscience or simply caving to the desires of the flesh can quench any voice within (for both the believer and for the unbeliever). This will be especially true in the last days.

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron...

-1 Tim 4:1-2

It is for the seared in heart and mind to whom the law is concerned. The Gentile does not need the law to tell him murder or sexual depravity is wrong. Romans 1 lays out the decay of the Gentile mind from conscience to wickedness. It is only here that we might introduce the law, solely to, perhaps, revive the conscience. 

But we know that the law is good if one uses it according to the rules, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers...

-1 Timothy 1:8-10

AC Gaebelein notes of 1 Timothy, "To use the law is for the believer a denial of grace." The believer may sear the conscience in his old nature, but he has a new nature (holy spirit) to which we can appeal. We do not need the law. In his Roman epistle Paul speaks of the believer being dead to the law. We will examine that further in our next entry.

The immediate context of the 1 Timothy 4 passage above is those who speak lies with no pang of conscience left in themselves. This passage goes on to state that while these have internally seared consciences, they will impose external laws and expectations on others (particularly in a religious context, but we can see a greater application). We have seen some of the greatest wickedness over the centuries from those within a religious context (as we are careful to note atrocities also arising out of atheistic philosophies). 

forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth

Imposing an external set of laws on others gives one a sense of righteousness not found in the darkened heart. This is why some of the most Draconian laws and the loudest voices against perceived and manmade evils come from those involved in true wickedness.

Crimes against children are heinous and clearly wicked. Yet, in our day, children suffer unimaginable horror at the hands of many who seek to impose manmade measures of "righteousness" upon the rest of us. They practice wicked ritual involving children and other vulnerable and they signal their self-defined virtue to the world about them. They hold up banners of heroism in themselves as they commit acts that we dare not eve mention the level of wickedness is so high. 

It is often the sexual deviant who screams the loudest about popular movements of the day. It is the supporter of torturing and murdering children in the womb who often carry the banner of "love" and "acceptance," pitting themselves against imagined windmills of perceived evil.

I believe this is partly because of the searing process for the conscience and a manifestation of the fallen nature which exalts itself above all that is of God. Do not be fooled when this external virtue comes in the cloak of religion. It is in this context that itcan the most deceptive and attractive. Paul warns us that this tactic will be the case. We must recognize that Satan presents himself as an Angel of Light and his ministers as the ministers of righteousness (2 Cor 11). This is a powerful warning.

It has often been unfathomable to me how anyone who comes in the name of the Lord can "celebrate" the torture and murder of babies in the womb (and now some are calling for legalizing this slaughter in the birth canal). Similarly, it seems unfathomable that millions would turn a blind eye to the exploitation and horrible abuse of children.

The pattern has been the same with many evils.

  1. Deny the evil exists and that it is only a conspiracy theory
  2. Exposure
  3. Embrace the evil as good
We saw this with Planned Parenthood selling baby body parts. First, they claimed "doctored video," but after the unedited video was released revealing the truth, the use of baby body parts was deemed a net "good" for society.

This is why trying to convince certain people with facts is useless. They are deluded in self-righteousness. The move from "That is a Lie!" to "Of course it's true and it's good" pattern works in the mind convinced it is inherently good. Of course, this "goodness" is filtered through the eyes of men and not through the eyes of God.

In John's gospel he recounts the Lord's words for his greater flock:

They will put you out of the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do this because they have not known the Father, nor me.

-John 16:2-3

These are people doing things in the name of God. They think they are the righteous ones.

In the religious world (even in the Evangelical world) even the holy and good Law can be misused by those determined to enslave others to a Law that could neither cleanse nor save. The only hope is walking in the New Nature granted by grace through faith. This is the "holy spirit" spoken of in scripture. There is a Holy Spirit which is God and a holy spirit which is the new nature in the believer.

But even in the believer the voice of the New Nature can be quenched if one chooses to walk according to the old nature. We must remember that ALL men have the old nature. Unbelievers have only the old nature with its faulty conscience while believers have both and old and a new nature. We are still in danger of walking in the latter. We have discussed the two natures in previous studies.

Let me close by saying that I think the unimaginable evil being practiced today will only get worse and that the imposition and use of religious terminology will accompany some of the wickedness as the self-declared "virtuous" ones will present themselves as Angels of Lights like their father does.

This sickness has even infected the company of believers as Paul warn us. And why is this? This is nothing new. Wickedness and sin from Adam to the worshippers of Moloch to the Pharisees to the Popes has come in the name of virtue and religion and righteousness. When wickedness is exposed, it often becomes virtuous and this transformation is often done in the cloak of religion.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Law-Keepers - The Enemy Within

Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law?

-Galatians 4:21

We have recently touched on the sacramentalist element of greater Christendom in my entry,  Grace Alone that Purifies Now and Later. We've noted there and elsewhere how these elements have tried to make inroads into Evangelical communities for the sake of proselytizing. But I believe there exists a greater danger to the young Evangelical believer.  

We have looked at the Gentile Twelve Tribes Heresy and other similar heresies which constitute a Judaizing infiltration among believers. But even these, although quite dangerous, come with a label that may not appeal to the Evangelical. That is, there already exists a general sense of error when "Hebrew Israelite" teachers or sacramentalist teachers come among us.  The greatest danger, in my opinion, to the young believer (or the untaught) comes from the law-keeping element among Evangelicals.

There are some who have done some good work on behalf of God's word and the message of Christ who have fallen into the delusion of law-keeping or Sabbath-keeping. I will refrain from naming any of these as I don't want to divert from this short message and warning by getting into details about certain teachers. I will say this, some of them have materials that I have enjoyed. But I believe I am squarely established in my commitment to right division that their external doctrines pose no thereat to me (and I do not recommend them to the weaker brethren).

A the end of this short post, I will list a few related entries and a couple of podcasts for those interested in further study.

The basic problem with supposed law-keepers (or those who quote from the Mosaic law as binding on believers in this age) is that while accusing some of us neglecting the law, they themselves pick and choose what they believe as binding. I know of no professing Christian believer who also claims the law for himself who suggests we should be taking animals to the temple in Jerusalem for sacrifice. So, on that obvious point, they are (whether they like it or not) dispensationalists. Neither do I see any claiming the promises of the land promised to Abraham from the Nile to the Euphrates. They recognize a change in stewardship, a change in practice, and a change in hope. That is dispensationalism.

I know a supposed law-keeper who will not use his computer on the Sabbath as the computer heats up with use and thus it is the equivalent of starting a fire on the Sabbath. I know other Sabbath-keepers who tap away on their keyboards without a second thought. And what of a Sabbath-keeper in one time zone who is communicating with a Sabbath-keeper in another time zone? These are some of the manmade issues that arise when we extract the Law from its place in God's plan and use it as we see fit.  

I could list many many parts of the law that the law-keepers tend to ignore. Similarly, I can point to many things the Lord himself taught in his earthly ministry that those who claim his words are their gospel ignore. Is it worse to try to be obedient to the calling of this age as taught by Paul while not following the letter of the law (or all the words of Christ) or to claim the law and the words of Christ as both binding and applicable today? There is a hypocrisy alive in anyone who believes he is truly keeping the Law.

Let's look at a small sample of some the commands and teachings ignored:

You shall not shave around the sides of your head, nor shall you disfigure the edges of your beard. 
-Leviticus 19:27


You shall not wear a garment of different sorts, such as wool and linen mixed together. You shall make tassels on the four corners of the clothing with which you cover yourself. 
-Deuteronomy 22:11-12


If any man takes a wife, and goes in to her, and detests her, and charges her with shameful conduct, and brings a bad name on her, and says, ‘I took this woman, and when I came to her I found she was not a virgin,’ then the father and mother of the young woman shall take and bring out the evidence of the young woman’s virginity to the elders of the city at the gate... “I found your daughter was not a virgin,” and yet these are the evidences of my daughter’s virginity.’ And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. Then the elders of that city shall take that man and punish him; and they shall fine him one hundred shekels of silver and give them to the father of the young woman... 
-Deuteronomy 22


Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have and give alms... 
-Luke 12:32


Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. 
-Matthew 5:42

We see the Kabbalistic Hasidic Jews seeking to follow Leviticus 19 more than we see the supposed Law-keeper in Christendom. 

I could go on and choose command and teaching after command and teaching from the Law and the Lord's earthly ministry that "law-keepers" and "red letter Christians" generally ignore. That last one from Matthew 5 (the Sermon on the Mount) I have used for years with those who claim that sermon as their truth. I have asked many times for help with medical bills, etc. To date, I have seen exactly zero dollars. 

The excuse given is the guiding sermon of their life is reduced to "guidelines." Similarly, just as the Lord teaches to "sell what you have and give alms" in Luke 12, the Pentecostal church sold all they had and gave to the apostles and lived communally (Acts 2, 4). Further, after Gentiles were grafted into the promises of Israel, Paul taught that it was the duty of Gentile believers to send money to Jewish believers in Jerusalem. We have covered the many differences in the Acts Age assemblies and the current age, but it seems as though no one cares. The differences are chalked up to things like "transitional truths" to "accommodation," or worse, to Apostolic error!

If you have not followed our studies on Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth, and in your heart you know that there are differences in scripture which need explanation, please look through this blog or check out my podcast on Spotify (or any of the major podcast services), "Brooklyn's Dad Talks About Everything."   

My style is conversational and I believe in the liberty of the believer. All who claim Christ alone as their only hope are my brothers and sisters, I offer explanations and an understanding of the Word that, hopefully, will free some from the bondage of the law and the bondage to the flesh. 

The law was weak through the flesh. The law was part of a covenant to expose sin and failure in God's earthly, chosen people who were and are to be "a royal priesthood," "a kingdom of priests" for the nations in a coming age under the New Covenant. Both the Old and the New Covenants are for Israel. They are earthly. The First failed through the flesh, the second shall succeed as God himself with give them the ability to succeed in the new, spiritual nature.

The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

-1 Cor 15:55-56


There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

-Romans 8:1-8

Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

-Galatians 3:21-22

And many more. 

Thursday, November 17, 2022

The Heavenly Places Where the Principalities and Powers Currently Reside

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 
-Ephesians 6:12

The principalities and powers are said to be in "high places" here in Eph 6:12. The Greek word translated "high places" in the KJV is epouránios. This word means "heavenly." It is used of the "heavenly [epouránios] Father" by the Lord (Matthew 18:35). Paul uses it 13 times in his epistles. 

Ephesians 6:12 use of epouránios is the same as the other 4 uses in Ephesians. 

1. Blessings in HEAVENLY PLACES (1:3) 
2. Christ in HEAVENLY PLACES (1:20) 
3. Believers in HEAVNELY PLACES (2:6) 

And, 4, Ephesians 3:10

to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places...

Ephesians 3:10 uses the same Greek words for principalities, powers, and heavenly places as Ephesians 6:12. Christ is in the heavenly places, but "far above" the principalities and powers (1:20-21) and "far above" that level of the heavens (4:10).

  • Principlaities = archḗ
  • Powers = exousía
  • High Places = epouránios = Heavenly Places

This is truth for the current age. From the beginning, Satan has always presented himself as an "Angel of Light" as we saw in the Garden and as Paul reminds us in 2 Cor 11. Paul then adds that since this is true, it is no wonder that Satan's ministers are "the ministers of righteousness." Peter tells us Satan roams about like a lion "seeking whom he may devour." (1 Peter 5:8).

We note these things for a couple of reasons. First, to point us back to the "full armor of God" of Ephesians 6 necessary to defeat the attacks from these powers and secondly to remind us that Satan is not sitting on some throne in a fiery place of torture as tradition teaches.

We have very powerful enemies, but we have even more powerful armor. However, that armor is powered by the Lord. Unbelievers do not have access to this armor and believers can diminish our ability to be properly prepared by allowing sin into our lives or by failing to make our stand.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints...

 Just a small note while we're here. Note Paul's encouragement in that last verse (Eph 6:18). Paul asks us to "watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints." The word "supplication" is the Greek word "déēsis" which means "prayer, request, petition" [Mounce]. The context of the verse is prayer, but even this last urging by Paul, on its own, teaches that we are to pary for the "saints[Gk: hágios].

The word translated "for" is the word "perí" which means "in regard to" or "concerning." There is no idea here of praying to some group of the dead called "Saints." Paul uses the word 15 times in this epistles. He is clearly references those alive at the time in Ephesus. There may be some debate as to whether the word is singular to those who are part of the Body, but it certainly does not mean some exalted class of believer who has achieved his immediate salvation through his own merits (as taught by many).

And it certainly does not pertain to the dead who can perform miracles on our behalf. We do not pray to either living or dead "saints." We are to pray FOR living saints as Paul teaches here in Eph 6:18. Saints are being perfected while living. 

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints [hágios], for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ...

That is all we will say on this subject.