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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. ...

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Forever in Scripture is Time, Place, and Lord's Plan Specific

You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever.

-Exodus 12:24 


When the Lord uses "forever" it means man has no right to stop something arbitrarily. But God is allowed to stop it. Those instructed must do it, but God can halt anything any time he wills. The feasts and blood sacrifices were "statutes forever," until God halted them for his purposes. In some cases, his "forever" was given to only a specific people (Israel, in the land, Exodus 12:25, etc.), not all mankind. Even in the land of Israel, the "forever" statutes were for circumcised Jews only. 

Even Paul had to get to Jerusalem for the Feast in the Acts.

I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus. 
-Acts 18:21

"Moses, say unto the children of Israel..." is how the Law reads, not to all men of all ages everywhere.

Even under the Law, Jonah did not go to Nineveh and preach the Book of Exodus and require them to build a tabernacle or institute a priesthood despite the "forever" verses. They couldn't "obey" anyway as they had no Levites or sons of Aaron. They had no temple, no altar, no holy of holies and the Law forbid them from participating anyway as uncircumcised gentiles. All they could do was listen to the prophet from Galilee (Jonah, the only one from Galilee before Christ) and repent.

Even the Gentiles ("strangers") living in Israel could do so in peace and blessing without participating in the feasts. They were FORBIDDEN from "obeying" SOME of the laws of the feasts unless they were circumcised. Some laws were given to Israel and also to "the strangers that sojourn among you." But there was always a distinction. And some were forbidden by the Law as well.

And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.

The Law was not about "eternal Life" (as we call it). Abraham was declared righteous by faith in uncircumcision. Adam, Abel, Enoch, Adam all knew nothing of circumcision or the Covenant of Sinai. Uncircumcised Gentiles were granted life in the Gospel age (Matthew 8) yet the "Gospel of the Kingdom" was forbidden to be preached to them (Matthew 4, 10, 15). The Law was about the land, Israel, and her role as priests for the nations. That is what the Old Covenant is about, Exodus 19:5-7 (and it will come to pass in a future age, Zechariah 8:23, etc.).

The nations will be judged as to how they treat the Jews in the tribulation. In Matthew 25, the nations that enter into blessings in the future Kingdom age are not entering because they kept the Law or merely by works of mercy alone, but because of how they treated "the least of [the Lord's] brethren." That is, how they treated the Jews.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations... Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’


When Israel was in captivity in Babylon, Daniel never went to Jerusalem for the feasts. He never went to offer a sacrifice in the Temple. The Law required him to do so. These were "forever" things. While the temple was destroyed no Israelite entered the Holy of Holies or followed the "forever' statutes of the Law. A similar truth can be seen in the Greek texts with "forever and ever." The Greek reads "the eon of eons" or "the age and ages." We will live "forever" by God's will in the ages to come in resurrection, but we will not be following the "forever" statutes of the Law. God is the one who decides when a "forever" truth ends.

That some would try to impose selected parts of the Law on believers today (the parts that they choose, not all of it) is an abomination. The fact that they try to use the word "forever" in regard to something like the Sabbath laws and selectively not with other "forever" statutes reveals their hypocrisy. Those who claim that they obey "all scripture" or that "every verse is mine" are deceived. Worse than that, they try to impose their deception on others.

There is word for those who do not follow the "forever" statutes of the Law today (despite what they may pretend). There is a word for recognizing that what God demands in one age and for one people He does not demand in all ages or for all people. There is word for no longer bringing a sacrifice to the priest for the Holy of Holies (which gentiles didn't do anyway, even under the Law). That word is "dispensationalism." As much as some claim to despise the concept, by simply not building an ark and not bringing animals to sacrifice, they are declaring themselves "dispensationalists" (at least to some degree). 

If someone claims to follow the "forever" statutes of the Sabbath laws or claims to somehow be "spiritual Israel" (the Catholic Church calls itself "New Israel") yet fails to follow ALL the "forever" statutes, he is self-deceived. Why just the forever laws of the Sabbath and not all forever laws? He is making himself into a hypocrite.

Paul was in chains for the Hope of Israel in the Acts (Acts 28:20), and testified that he spoke nothing but that which was spoken by Moses and the Prophets (Acts 26:22). He preached circumcision for Jewish believers (Acts 21). The "necessary things" in Acts 15 and Acts 21 that Gentiles were bound to keep (approved by the Apostles and by the Holy Spirit) were derived from laws in Leviticus in regard to strangers [Gentiles, uncircumcized] living among Israel in the land. These were "sojourners" living among a believing Israel. 

How many "Acts Churches" 
  • distinguish Jewish believers from Gentile believers?
  • make Gentile believers obey the necessary things?
  • teach circumcision for Jewish believers (Acts 21)?

In Ephesians Paul reveals a hope not known to the Prophets but revealed to him alone . He preached truths "since" the foundation of the ages in the Acts, and a truth "hidden" from before the foundation of the ages post-Acts. He was now in chains for Gentiles and the middle wall of partition between Jew and Greek was down (Eph), making the two into one and equal. The hope was no longer the "restoration of all things" for the "Men of Israel" (Acts 3) or the "established Kingdom in Israel" (Acts 1), but a hope in the "far above the heavens where Christ sits at the right hand of the Father" (Eph, Col).

For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery...

We no longer have earthly ordinances. These are of the earth, part of an earthly plan or an earthly hope in this age (Col). Most "contradictions" people claim dispensational theology present (in terms of practice or doctrine) arise from a failure to "rightly divide [draw straight lines] the Word of Truth" (2 Tim 2:15).

One of the worst diseases that plagues so many pulpits is the need to try and work every verse and every instruction into a "saved/lost" dichotomy. So many blessings are missed. 

Monday, January 15, 2024

The Antichrist and the Desire of Women

In these last days, it makes sense that many are trying to uncover the identity of the Antichrist. We know this figure will arise and will take his place in the events described in the Word of God. 

In my lifetime I have had numerous names tossed around as strong candidates. I am not opposed to careful speculation, but I refrain from settling on one person or another. With the passing of Henry Kissinger in 2023, one person who has been repeatedly named among the candidates has been eliminated (unless you hold to a resurrected Antichrist).

I believe speculation is a legitimate pursuit as the scripture clearly gives us descriptions of the coming Man of Sin about which we should be aware. But I caution again on being too specific in this current age. The Antichrist is tied to God's plans for the Earth and tied to his earthly people, Israel.

Daniel was sent to Israel to encourage the nation in captivity. God revealed, through his prophets, the great future that lies ahead for a believing and cleansed Israel, but in his wisdom he made the timing a matter of study and observation. The Lord gave Israel descriptions and actions, but neither a specific time or name. The events laid out in Daniel have not all come to pass. The world and the nations await its fulfillment. Part of that fulfillment will be the emergence of the Antichrist, the Man of Sin (2 Thess 2:3). 

The following verse, quoted most often from the King Kames Version (KJV) or derivatives of that translation, seems to suggest the future Antichrist either has no interest in women or that he will be a homosexual. Another possible understanding is that the Man of Sin will have no pity, not even for women and children,  But the context speaks of worship. Even in the KJV, the statement concerning women is sandwiched between descriptions concerning worship.


Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.

  -Dan 11:37 (KJV)

 

He is described as man who has no regard for any god, even the true God, for he exalts himself above all and seeks worship of himself. The characteristic of the Antichrist in regard to "the desire of women" has, thus, a religious application. Here are some thoughts from two commentaries.


Nor the desire of women This, as some think, means, nor the god that is loved and adored by women; and, taking the clause in connection with the context, this seems the most natural sense of it; for the whole verse speaks of the impiety, or irreligion, of Antiochus, that he had no regard to any god whatever. What god this was that was the desire of women, cannot be certainly said; it is probable it was the moon, (the queen of heaven, as they used to call her,) or some other of the heavenly luminaries; for the Syrian women are described in Scripture as particularly attached to these.
-Joseph Benson’s Commentary on the Old and New Testaments (1846)


the desire of women: the context shows that the phrase must refer to some deity, probably to the Phœnician god, Tammuz (pp. 631f. Ezekiel 8:14), whose worship was extremely popular in Syria...
-Peake's Commentary on the Bible (1919)


A better translation of this verse, in my opinion, can be found in the Christian Standard Bible, The Complete Jewish Bible, and The Revised Standard Version (among others).


He will not show regard for the gods of his ancestors, the god desired by women, or for any other god, because he will magnify himself above all. 
-Dan 11:37. (CSB)

 

He will show no respect for the gods his ancestors worshipped, or for the god women worship — he won’t show respect for any god, because he will consider himself greater than all of them.

-Dan 11:37 (CJB)


He shall give no heed to the gods of his fathers, or to the one beloved by women; he shall not give heed to any other god, for he shall magnify himself above all.

-Dan 11:37 (RSV)


Benson notes "the queen of heaven." This title will be familiar to those of us raised in the Catholic Church. It is one of the titles of their Mary. Benson does not just rip this from the pages of history and wildly apply it or because of  some desire to cast aspersions on the Roman system of worship and their exaltation of Mary to "Co-Redemptress." It is a title Rome has taken from scripture. 

The title "queen of heaven" is found five times in the prophecy of Jeremiah (7:18; 44:17,18,19; 44:25). Worship of this false god consisted of vows and offerings (cakes, drink offerings, burning of incense). God tells the women who worship this false god to go ahead and complete their vows. But this is a judgment, not an approval (44:25).


This is what the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, says: ‘As for you and your wives, you women have spoken with your mouths, and you men fulfilled it by your deeds, saying, “We will keep our vows that we have made to burn incense to the queen of heaven and to pour out drink offerings for her.” Go ahead, confirm your vows! Pay your vows!’


Benson notes for us that the queen of heaven is connected to moon worship. The Catholic Mary is often depicted as standing on or supported by the moon. We do not want to get too far into the doctrines and Catholic prayers. Suffice it for our purposes to note that prayers to Mary (consistent with CC teaching) are often connected to pleas for her saving powers.






"I place all my hope and all my salvation in you."


The appeal here (which is a blasphemy against Christ and his sacrificial perfection and sufficiency) is intoxicating. The Catholic Mary is often depicted with the Christ child, showing her as greater and suggests she is his master. I know I was taught that we should pray to Mary as she is more gracious than the Father and less prone to anger.

Now we turn, with these things still in view, to the reference to the god Tammuz noted by Peake in his commentary. Peake points us to Ezekiel 8:14.

Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the house of the Lord; and behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.


Again, we see it is the women weeping for the Phoenician false god, Tammuz. But how is this connected to the queen of heaven or even to the Catholic Mary? Albert Barnes give us this direction in his commentary on the verse [clarified spellings added by me]:


Tammuz being identified with Duv-zi [Dumuzid], whose loss was lamented by the goddess Istar [or Ishtar], the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, war, love, and sex.


We need to be careful here as all ancient gods went through different metamorphoses as they were adopted by different nations and as religions evolved among the pagans. Their attributes were often combined with native deities. With that said, very roughly, Tammuz was connected to fertility  and new life in Spring. He was killed by demons in the early Spring (March/April) in one account. (cf. Encyclopedia Britannica).

The constant changing and adjusting of the gods to local customs and beliefs only adds to the connections to the Catholic Mary. Paganism adopted into a more western, quasi-Christian system of Saint worship.

Another view states that Tammuz is the son of Ishtar and Baal and he was killed by a wild boar while hunting. Tammuz ascended, as Ishtar, to Baal. The period of mourning consisted of abstaining from eating meat for 40 days. (cf. East Bay Times). We see this practice in the evolved Catholic practice of Lent (which started with far more stringent food restrictions than the current manifestation). Sadly, different forms of Lent have been adopted by those who claim to trust in Christ alone. 

I want to be careful and not stray too far here. I am sure Catholics devoting themselves to "adoring" and praying to Mary have no idea of the connections or similarities to pagan worship practices. Their error and grave sin could actually be seen as worse and they pray things like "I place all my hope and all my salvation in you." The pagans did not have a completed Bible and the full witness and ministry of Christ before them as Catholics do.

We thus bring all these things back to the subject of Daniel's description of the coming Antichrist. Daniel, under inspiration, tells us that the Antichrist will regard no deities. This makes sense since he will exalt himself as the greatest of all deities. 

He will have no regard for the gods associated with his "fathers," he will have no regard for the deity worshipped by women in the land of Daniel's captivity (which had spread among the children of Israel), and he will have no regard for any deity that any people will present to him. The specific reference to "the God of his fathers" suggests he will be an Israelite or another child of Abraham. That is, he could be an Ishmaelite or and Edomite, Perezite, etc. But I refrain from being definitive on this point.

I think it is safe to conclude that the Antichrist will not necessarily be a homosexual or have no carnal interest in heterosexual sex at all. "Desire" as used in some translations (as with the KJV) does not have to be interpretative as carnal. The translation "the desire of women" is actually putting the focus on the women and not on the Antichrist. He will not share their desire.

We see this idea of "desire" in a number of places in scripture, but sticking with the KJV and using Haggai's prophecy of a future glory with his people that he brought out of the land of Egypt (Israel, Haggai 2:5). We have the same word Hebrew translated "desire" used in Daniel and Haggai (chemdâh).


For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; and I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts. 
-Haggai 2:6-8

E.W. Bullinger notes in his commentary on Hag 2:7 (The Companion Bible)


for the object of desire, which cannot be "things", for hemdath is feminine, singular, and refers to Him Who alone can satisfy the desire of all nations. 


The Lord shall be the desire of all nations (or possibly "tribes"). This has a fully worshipful and adoring application to it and no sign of any required carnal drive.

The Antichrist will have no regard for any god, including the true God of Israel. When the Messiah returns to establish the throne of David in Israel, believing Israel and the nations blessed through Israel will rejoice. The "desires" in these passages are spiritual desires. The one who will exalt himself as god will have no regard for any competition.


He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God.

-2 Thessalonians 2:4 (NKJV)


I don't usually use paraphrased version of scripture. I suggest that people that use such Bibles view them as commentaries on the text and not translations. That being said, sometimes a paraphrase is able to capture an idea in English that is lost in a direct translation. With that in mind, I think the New Living Translation (NLT) captures the essence of the truth of this verse.


He will exalt himself and defy everything that people call god and every object of worship. He will even sit in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God.

-2 Thessalonians 2:6 (NLT)

This will be a key characteristic of the Antichrist. At what point he reveals this part of his character and plan, the world will have to wait and see. But before I close, let us not lose sight of both the blasphemy of denying the true God as well as stealing glory from the true God. Both are evil and wicked and not to be compromised with. We note again the Catholic prayer to their "Queen of Heaven."

"I commit myself to serve you forever... I place all my hope and all my salvation in you."


These ideas are reflected in a number of Roman Catholic prayers to Mary. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. It is as shocking and it is disturbing and disappointing when Believers refuse to see Rome's doctrines (including the condemnation of non-Catholics) in some misguided (or worse, political) attempt to be inclusive. In a desire to be seen and non-judgmental and loving, believers deny Christ and call his sacrifice an unclean thing.

Evil comes in many forms. In comes in its own name and it comes in the name of the true God. Yet it is a Satanic deception. Satan would just as soon one worship "the desire of women" as he would have us worship no one. In many ways, the religiously deceived are harder to convince than the skeptic. The apostle Paul reminds of how Satan works:


For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.

-2 Corinthians 11:13-15 


The Antichrist will appeal to both. He will appeal to both those who are unsatisfied with Christ's finished work on our bahlf and those who have no use for man's religions of unseen gods. He will be a tangible deity, offering miracle signs and wonders so great they could even deceive the elect of God.


For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

-Matthew 24:24


We close by reminding ourselves that the book of Daniel, the Revelation, the prophecies of Ezekiel, and the gospel of Matthew are for Israel. The time of Jacob's Trouble is soon to be upon the world. The message for today is not found in Israel (as it will be soon again), it is found in the gospel of the free grace of God and fully realized in the Dispensation of the Mystery revealed to the Apostle Paul, post Acts, in Ephesians and in his seven post Acts epistles.

  

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Claiming All of Scripture for Yourself Results in Confusion and Disobedience

Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.” And the Lord said to him, “Therefore [not so], whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him.

-Genesis 4:14-15

We know Cain slew Abel. John writes in his NT epistle, “Cain who was of the wicked one (wicked seed) and murdered (slew) his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous” -1 John 3:12


The same word translated “slew” or "murdered" here is used of the Lord in the Revelation who was slain for us ("Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing" -Rev 5:15, etc.). Peter says at Pentecost in Acts 2, The Lord was “taken by wicked hands, crucified and slain” Premeditated murder.

From the account in Genesis 4, we turn to the Law


“He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death. However, if he did not lie in wait, but God delivered him into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place where he may flee. But if a man acts with premeditation against his neighbor, to kill him by treachery, you shall take him from My altar, that he may die.

-Exodus 21:12-14

Let’s take a quick look at the Law against murder in Genesis, BEFORE the Law of Sinai.


Whoso sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

-Genesis 9:6


Back when Can killed Abel, Genesis 4:8 explains, “when they [Cain and Abel] were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him

The Lord did not create a City of Refuge for Cain, he clearly charges him with murder. Genesis 4:10 reads: “What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.”

So, we have the murder of Abel, whose sacrifices of the best of his flock in blood were an early picture of Christ (Christ’s sacrifice being greater than the sacrifice offered by Abel, Hebrews 11:4). Righteous Abel, the one who gives us an early picture of Christ, one approved of God, is murdered by the evil seed of Satan.

We repeat, here in Abel's sacrifice, we see Christ. And we shall see the Christ as the Lamb of God in the last book of scripture in the Revelation as well. Christ’s sacrifice is for ALL ages. It is recognized and celebrated DIFFERENTLY in different ages, but it is always exalted as the way of escape from the sin of Adam and from our own sins.

We pause to emphasize these two points which are foundational to how we approach Bible interpretation. We must rightly divide these passages. That is, we must see how they differ and how they remain the same.

  • Murder is handled differently
  • The sacrifice of Christ is honored differently

These are not contradictions in scripture. They represent how God has foundational truths that he expresses differently through different groups during different ages for different purposes. Those who claim all scripture for themselves have to reconcile these differences (which is not possible without denying the clear testimony of scripture).

Before the Law we see Christ’s sacrifice it in Abel’s sacrifice (no temple). It is seen in the almost sacrifice of Isaac on Mount Moriah, Gen 22 (then seen in the ram as a substitute). It is seen in the Passover in the wilderness before the Law, before the priesthood. In the Law, it is seen in the blood of bulls and goats in the tabernacle outside the land and then in the Temple in the land through the priesthood of the Levites.

In the Acts age the Lord’s sacrifice is seen in the Lord’s Supper (no more goats, bulls, tabernacles, temples, or Levites). In this age as the riches of his grace (Eph 1:7), in the bringing nigh of Gentiles (Eph 2:13), and in the reconciliation of Jew and Gentile, and reconciling of the things of the earth and the things of heaven (Col 1:20). We see today (or should) that sacrifice in light of the FULLNESS of God’s revelation in Christ.

All of these were acceptable to the Lord in their time, place, purpose, and context, yet they openly contradict each other on the surface. The Israelites could not substitute the Lord's Supper as taught by Paul in the Acts Age, for example. In the Acts Age or in the current age, we cannot build a tabernacle, separate out a priest-class, sacrifice animals and sprinkle the blood on a mercy seat. All of these are "scriptural," yet we are to obey ALL of them lest we DISOBEY the commands for our own age (and our hope).

All of these are united by the blood of Christ, but differentiated by the plan and hope in view. When we see these distinctions, Christ is gloried above all. The picture is no longer the focus as the picture changes. So, especially in this age when we ponder the fullness that dwells in the Body through the Head with no attached ordinance, there is no need of any mediation. A priest-class today is antithetical to the hope in view today. 

We not only lose these distinctions and the exaltation of Christ in God’s revelation of the Fullness of the Head when we fail to recognize these differences, we are for all intents and purposes “throwing out” parts of the Bible in that failure. As a "Hyper" or "Ultra" dispensationalist, I am accused of throwing out parts of my Bible. However, the truth is that those who claim to obey all of the Bible MUST disobey certain "Bible commands" as some commands contradict each other.

The sacrificial sheep not only picture Christ, they picture him in different settings and in different aspects. As I repeat often, like a broken record, if you claim all of the Law and all of the Prophets for yourself, all that is Israel’s, yet you are NOT taking bulls and goats and sheep to a priest in the Temple to sacrifice on your behalf, YOU ARE A DISPENSATIONALIST whether you like it or not!

We do not toss out God’s plans for the earth (his past temple and his future temple, his past kingdom and his future kingdom), We embrace ALL of it. If we fail to see Paul’s "good deposit" (2 Tim 1) and his revelation of the current age laid out in Ephesians, if we fail to hold fast to "sound words" as we're instructed by Paul, God will still not abandon us. He will not forsake us. But we will not experience the fullness of his blessings or revelation.

Obeying the commands for another people in another age for another purpose and another plan and another hope is disobedience. It may please the outward man. It may appear holy and good to other men. But failing to rightly divide that which is for this age by these acts of disobedience is not commendable.  

I hope I’m making my point here by circling back to Genesis. 2 Timothy is Paul’s final message and he is instructing us to rise above the things of the earth, whether secular or religious, whether they seem good or not, and even if they are taken from the Bible! HOLD FAST TO SOUND WORDS and GUARD THE GOOD DEPOSIT ENTRUSTED TO YOU! That is Paul's instruction. 

The great Apostle is in prison, facing death, having been abandoned by all in Asia (2 Tim 1:15). He isn't "claiming" Jeremiah 29:11 or any other promise to national Israel. As Paul rightly divided the ages in scripture, those who claim to follow his teaching today are abandoning the Apostle's "sound words" and "good deposit" and claiming whatever they want from anywhere in scripture.  

What they may call "throwing out parts of the Bible" on my part is actually a great reverence for God's plans for my fellow believers who have a different hope and different promises. Paul clearly teaches that the covenants belong to Israel. The promises to the (Jewish) Fathers belong to Israel, etc. They look for a land and Kingdom (as the Lord taught his disciples, Acts 1:6, cp Acts 3). I embrace every verse and I believe exactly what each teaches. No need to rob Israel of its promises by spiritualizing and then selectively "claiming" her promises (while conveniently ignoring the warnings and judgments).

Many think that experiencing God’s blessings in this age means seeing healings and financial success and other miracles. Surely God can still provide all these things. It is our privilege to pray for these blessings if he wills. But when we understand that the current plan is the heavenly plan, we can start to appreciate the blessing in the far above the heavens and the “unsearchable riches” in Christ! This hope is far beyond any signs of wonders in the earth. An Paul had no such hope as lie in prison, facing death, suggesting Timothy take a little wine for his stomach's sake (1 Timothy 5:23).

Reader's of this blog or listeners to the podcast are familiar with these distinctions. But here is our Apostle in 2 Timothy, in his final words to trusted Timothy, imploring him to HOLD FAST and GUARD THE GOOD DEPOSIT.


Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing [deposit] which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.

- 2 Timothy 1:13-14

When it comes to our service (and the reminder that rewards may be won or lost), we must start with the rock solid foundation of Christ alone and build on it by  "walk[ing] worthy of the calling to which we are called" (Ephesians 4:1)

If we want greater understanding of scripture, we must "study to show ourselves approved unto God, rightly dividing the Word of Truth" (2 Tim 2:15) and do so according the rules. 

And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things.

The rules: we commit to teaching the sound words of Right Division, we protect the good deposit of Paul’s ministry, we resign ourselves to enduring hardships for the sake of the good deposit, and we handle the word of God according to these rules. Our service is in view here. And the servant must strive according to the rules of his own calling. Sacrificing sheep brings blessing in one age and cursing in another.

Monday, January 1, 2024

Some Thoughts on the Complexity and Brevity of a Human Life

Recently, I was watching the latest episode of "Beyond Paradise" (British mystery show). It was the Christmas special (Spoiler Alert!). A man who had committed a series of petty break-ins 50 years ago broke into the same homes and left a 2023 version of what he took in 1973. A new 55" HD TV for the old 20" he took before. 540 pounds for the jar of change worth about 55 pounds back in the day, etc.

The now old thief started reading from Isaiah and how the prophet told King Hezekiah to put his house in order as the King was soon to die. The man in our story, moved by the passage, now beset with stage 4 cancer, decided to put his own house in order as best he could.

The detectives found ashes at every "crime" scene along with the items. When they finally pieced together the odd, seemingly unrelated 2023 break-ins with the rash of "opportunity" thefts in 1973, and met with the "thief" (who had been charged in 73, but let go for lack of evidence), they asked about the ashes. The man said his father made his children write down their sins and burn them as an act of remorse. (Also a good picture of sins forgiven and forgotten.)

He included this line as detectives pointed out the many years gone by when he did not make it right:

"Life keeps you busy, doesn't it though? Your priorities change and time just goes. One day you go to sleep a boy of 19 and you wake up a 70 year old man looking back on all the stupid things you did."

Ain't it the truth?

I had just completed, the night before, my podcast in which I spoke of the complexity of others. We understandably melt our deceased loved ones down to a few characteristics at the Celebration of Life, but there is no way in an hour or two to properly celebrate a life.

My father lived over 82 years. Yes, he liked Sinatra and the Brooklyn Dodgers. But he lived over 30 thousand days. He was far more than that. Every single day with its 24 hours or 1440 minutes or 86400 seconds. That's a lot of seconds to live over 30,000 days. We do the best we can to try and capture someone, but we must never forget the complexity of life and the moment by moment experiences that make up the full story.

As much as my interest in baseball, or the Beatles, or the bass, or Snoopy fit and define in some ways my outward man, the inward man would happily chuck all of it for his family and loved ones and certainly for his Lord. As Isaiah called on Hezekiah to get his house in order before he went down to the gates of Sheol (Isaiah 38:10) in death, I pause on the brink of 2024 to review my house and to remind myself of my priorities.

I said,
“In the prime of my life
I shall go to the gates of Sheol;
I am deprived of the remainder of my years.”
-Isaiah 38:10
 
I also remind myself that other people are more complex and have much bigger stories than I could ever know. They've lived countless minutes I will never know, but the Lord knows. He holds his own in His hands. Scripture teaches us that life is but a vapor, it is people and it is the eternal things that matter.

I try to remember this when I read scripture. I can read David's entire life in a few sittings, yet he lived day by day, minute by minute, and second by second. I only see a glimpse of his relationship to the Lord and to those around him. The Lord knew David's every experience and the Lord knows our every experience.

“Lord, make me to know my end,
And what is the measure of my days,
That I may know how frail I am.
Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my age is as nothing before You;
Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Selah
Surely every man walks about like a shadow;
Surely they busy themselves in vain;
He heaps up riches,
And does not know who will gather them.
And now, Lord, what do I wait for?
My hope is in You..."
 
-Psalm 39:4-7

 

In 2024 may be renew our commitment to the eternal in light of the brevity of life. May we also remember that we have limited knowledge when it comes to our fellow man. When it comes to our brothers and sisters in Christ, we must remember that they are God's ervants and God will be the judge of that service. For we are not the judge of another man's servant.


Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.

-Romans 14:4

 

From "Beyond Paradise" December 2023


Friday, December 29, 2023

Commenting on God's Future Plans for the Earth and for Israel

The Gateway Pundit (TGP) presents itself as a home for Constitutional conservatism. It is also a  Trump-worshipping site which purports to support free speech. As with many such sites, they are really big-government, old-school Democrats. The needle has moved so far to the Left that Trump's big-government, patriotic, "moralist" approach looks like conservatism and Libertarianism by comparison. There is a spiritual and end-times element to be considered here, but we only mention it hoping that the big picture context is being considered.

Unfortunately, a number of my comments at TGP get flagged for review (which never comes and the comments go off to die in silence). Part of TGP's big government blind spot is in its embrace of "traditional Catholicism." What is lost on these folks is that the Catholic Church has long been the enemy of the American Republic (Pius IX and others condemning it in one form or another).  The Catholic Church continues its assault on the Constitution into 2024. The Left side continues its almost two centuries of pushing "Social Justice" and the Right side pushing a moralist, big government conservatism. 

I am assuming it is the use of the word "Jew" in my comment that upset their algorithm here? Ironic, as my statement is very pro-Israel, especially in light of claims of the Catholic Church in regard to Jews. The missing context here is a comment a "conservative" Catholic posted against on my initial comment. The assertion of my dissenter is at the CC is the "New Israel" of the New Covenant. While pretending to be the historic defender of the Jews (a laughable and even cruel assertion), he defended Rome's adoption of itself as the "New Israel" of scripture (absent in the texts, however).

So here, unedited it my rambling response that TGP, in their commitment to free speech" decided to silence:

Paul states clearly in Romans (and elsewhere) that the promises in regard to the Kingdom and the plan for the earth are still Israel's, his brethren. The Lord, while healing and giving life to Gentiles, stated clearly that he was sent to none but to Israel. The Gospel of the Kingdom was forbidden to be preached to anyone but to Jews. The Peter himself offered the return of Christ and the restoration of the Kingdom (which is the Lord's plan for Israel one day as he taught them for 40 days after his resurrection, Acts 1) in Acts 3 (post Pentecost). Peter refers to Israel as Israel and Jews as his brethren. He knows no such thing as a Gentile Bride. Gentiles were grafted into the existing root of Israel (didn't happen until long after Pentecost despite Gentiles having faith before Pentecost) for the expressed purpose of making Israel jealous. Gentiles were grafted in to Israel to make "the Church" jealous. And in that grafting in, Gentiles were treated differently from Jewish believers (Acts 15, Acts 21). Paul was in chains "for the hope of Israel" until the end of the Acts. Paul spoke nothing to the Jews at Rome, or at any time in the Acts that was not spoken by Moses and the Prophets. He testified to that under oath and in Rome. He does not reveal the heavenly plan until after the Acts age in the Book of Ephesians wherein he is in chains "for the hope of you Gentiles." Gentiles never became Jews (apart from becoming proselytes). In the Lord's ministry, they merely ate the crumbs that fell from the "master's" table, the "children" and "sons" of the Kingdom.

James writes to the twelve tribes and Peter to the Jewish dispersion. It's a big topic I won't try to discuss in a comments section. I just put some things here for any interested in God's plans and blessings for the earthly kingdom to come in Israel and his plans and blessings for the "far above the heavens." The prophets tell us the sacrificial system will be reestablished in Israel and the day is coming when Gentiles will grab the shirt of a Jew and beg him to take him to God for God is with them. Both covenants are for earthly Israel (in faith). Read them for yourself. The gift of resurrection life is not a covenant (it's free by faith). Grace is not a covenant (it's free by faith). Neither covenant has to do with "going to heaven." They are covenants by which Israel will become a holy nation and a royal priesthood for the nations. Again, you can reject all that. All I'm doing is pointing folks to scripture, rightly divided. We must separate salvation from death and decay with blessings and service. Good luck.

 What I hope to accomplish with such big picture commentary is not the conversion of the other commenter. While that would be wonderful, I know I am dealing with hardcore papists who have no time or respect to consider anything that doesn't advanced popery (ironic as these people hate the current pope and love to defy him). 

My hope is that possibly someone just "listening in" (as it were) might consider the greater idea of Right Division of scripture and the distinction between God's future plans for the earth and his future plans for the far above the heavens.  

Friday, December 1, 2023

The Annual Misguided Christmas Tree Jeremiah 10 Comparison

 Every year we get a few professed Christians who think they've found something in Jeremiah 10 they can inflict on the rest of us. For starters, the passage is to Israel. Of course, that does not mean we cannot take truths from it or learn from it (all scripture is profitable), but we need to be careful when it comes to application and doctrines. 

Right Division demands the following:

  • The PERSON who wrote it
  • The PEOPLE to whom it is written
  • The PLACE it involves
  • The PERIOD (or age) in which it was written
  • The PURPOSE for which it is written
  • The PLAN around which it is written

In this study, in one way or another, we'll have to consider all of these. 

Here is the passage in Jeremiah chapter 10 under consideration:

Hear ye the word which the Lord speaks unto you, O house of Israel:

thus says the Lord,

Learn not the way of the heathen,
and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven;
for the heathen are dismayed at them.
For the customs of the people are vain:
for one cuts a tree out of the forest,
the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.
They deck it with silver and with gold;
they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.
They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not:
they must needs be borne, because they cannot go.
Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil,
neither also is it in them to do good.


Let's start with the good stuff. "Learn not the way of the heathen."  Can't find any fault with that in any age. But when we rightly divide the Word of Truth (2 Tim 2:15), it is not only the way of the heathen we should avoid, we must also avoid practicing the truths for other ages and other hopes. We shall see that scripture has different warnings for believers in different ages under different hopes.

We have covered many of these on this blog (and additionally on the podcast). Too many professed believers today tend to grab anything from anywhere in scripture and assume God is pleased with them for observing what's there. Similarly, they take anything they find and try to find some equivalent for which there is no equivalent. For example, we often here in response to the so-called Great Commission that when the Lord commands the apostles to start in Jerusalem, he really means whatever city you happen to be in. This does violence to the text and to the plan of God for the earth.

Others may perform rituals and practice ordinances connected to an earthly hope and promises made to an earthly people (Israel). We have to leave these issues there and only encourage the reader to seek out related entries.

Jeremiah 10 is specifically spoken to Israel. Still, it is always true that we shouldn't be worshipping anything or anybody but the true God of the Bible. We cannot argue with that, of course. But the conditions and instructions as to what constitutes God's evaluation of our actions differs between hopes and companies of believers. The same one who refuses to put up a Christmas tree because of Jeremiah 10 may also be found to be trying to obey the Lord's words in Matthew 10:5-10 or in Luke 12:33 or the Apostles' instructions to the believers in Jerusalem in Acts 15 and Acts 21 (separating Jewish believers from Gentile believers).

In their correct contexts, these passages have no instruction for us in this age apart from the general principles at hand. Trying to obey them is not only foolhardy, it's disobedience. 

Now, let's break down the Jeremiah 10 passage beyond the context of verse 1.

"Learn not the way of the heathen"

"Heathen" here is a reference to the nations. Hebrew = gôwy. Gentile nations. In the current age, all are Gentiles. We come out from among the rest of the Gentiles and are sanctified (some into The Body, but we'll have to leave that there). Israel was a nation with a Covenant. They were to be God's "holy nation and a royal priesthood" (Ex 20, Old/Sanai Covenant). Priests for whom? For the nations. This is God's plan for the earth which will be fulfilled one day on the earth. Peter, writing to the believing Jews of the dispersion (cp 1 Peter 1:1) refers to this prophetic future (1 Peter 2:9). 

The hope in view today is a heavenly hope. It does not involve a hope for the nation (any nation). We must draw a straight line between the hope of Israel (the earthly plan of God) and the hope of the Body (the heavenly plan of God). There is an earthly kingdom and temple to come, there is a heavenly kingdom and temple being built (Eph 2:21). 

Can we go into the Law, which was never given to anyone but to Israel, and pick and choose what is for today and what is not? Can we do this with the words of the Lord in the Gospel accounts? We may be inclined to say "no," but this is exactly what most of Christendom does. 

The people of Nineveh were of the nations (Gentiles, heathen) while Israel was under the Old Covenant and while God was working out his earthly plan through Israel. When the Ninevites repented and believed, they were still of the nations. They did not become Jews. They did not become part of Israel or partakers in her covenants, promises, or hope. Jonah did not preach the Law unto them. They gained resurrection life by faith, but remained "heathen." That is, they remained of the nations outside of Israel.

We know from Romans 15 that the plan of God for the earth always included believing Gentiles. These people would be blessed through Israel. There were believing Gentiles living among Israel in the Pentateuch. It is from the laws directed to these Gentiles in Leviticus from which the Apostles and the Holy Spirit derive the rules for the grafted in Gentiles in Acts 15. After the call of Abraham, we do not see a Gentile in scripture unless he/they come in contact with a Jew (such as in Jonah). 

In the current age, after the Acts age ended and the middle wall of partition was taken down (Ephesians), all are essentially Gentiles. Paul was no longer in prison for "the hope of Israel" (Acts) he was in chains for "the hope of Gentiles" (Ephesians). In the age to come, God will call 144,000 to go out as his witnesses in all the earth (Rev 14). God will again be working with his plan for the earthly hope in Israel and the blessing of the New Jerusalem which comes down from the heavens to the earth (Rev 21).  

It is the prophet Jeremiah through whom the Lord announces the yet future New Covenant (Jer 31:31-34). That covenant is for the same people with God had an Old Covenant. It is for "the Virgin of Israel" (Jer 31:4, 21). Jeremiah was a prophet sent to Israel. We have no right to place ourselves into either covenant (old or new) nor into the nation of Israel in this age. When Gentiles were grafted into Israel (see our study: Has the Church Been "Hellenized"?), Gentiles were still second to the Jew. Hebrews 8 restates the New Covenant and emphasizes again that it is for the people of the Old Covenant (Hebrews 8:7-13). 

When Paul visited the Gentile worshippers in Acts 17, he did not quote Moses and the Prophets to them as he did in the synagogues. The Old Covenant was not for Gentiles and the Prophets were sent to Israel. On the few occasions the Prophets preached to Gentiles, it was in their relationship with Israel. The worshippers on Mars Hill in Athens had no connection to the Covenant of Sinai nor to the nation of Israel. The Lord was seeking to graft in Gentiles at that time to make Israel jealous (Rom 11:11). Paul references creation and even their own poets in his witness to them, but no reference to the Law or Prophets as he did with Jews.


Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious [religious]. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: for in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men every where to repent: because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

-Acts 17:22-31


 In the Acts Age, in light of God's plans for the earth, Paul makes no reference to these Gentiles to the prophecies which concern Israel. He does not speak of the hope of Israel as to does he to the Jews in Rome as late as Acts 28. He does not reference a Kingdom or the promises of the covenants which pertain to Israel alone. He will only point them to scripture in his epistles after they have already been grafted into the root, which is Israel. 

In his testimony and trial in Acts 26 Paul plainly states that he spoke "no other thing than that which was spoken by Moses and the Prophets."  As with Jonah and the Ninevites, Paul speaks only the basic, earthly truths to those Gentiles at Athens. For in that age, Israel was still at the center of God's plan (as the earthly plan was still in sight). 


For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: who are Israelites; to whom pertains 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.

-Romans 9:3-5


This is another topic we have covered elsewhere, but we note it here to further stress how God's earthly plan differs not only in its scope, but in its blessings. God's earthly plan involves a temple, a priesthood, a land, a Kingdom, a King, and nations coming to Israel to worship.

In our passage at hand, the Lord is speaking through Jeremiah and warning Israel not to learn the ways of the "superstitious" and/or "religious" nations around them. This is key. The nations had false gods. We need to apply this principle to the superstitious and religious elements of the world that have crept into Christianity. 

Pastor and radio preacher, David Jeremiah, was once so impressed with kneelers in another church, for example, that he had them installed in his church. I don't recall such things in scripture (but I can't find a lot of what I see in churches today in scripture). He is free to do whatever he wants, but when he imposes his convictions and religious activities on others, he is guilty of imposing unbiblical superstitions on others. We have no scriptural authority to do this.

Learn not the way of the heathen,
and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven;
for the heathen are dismayed at them.
For the customs of the people are vain

The "customs" here in Jeremiah 10 is a reference to the "ordinances" of the gentiles. In the Book of Colossians, we are warned against the supposed "good" ordinances in the Law. In this current age, we are to not only shun the ordinances of the world's religions, but even "biblical" ordinances that God gave to another people for another purpose. 


And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened [made alive] together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

-Colossians 2:13-14

Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (touch not; taste not; handle not; which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honor to the satisfying of the flesh.

-Colossians 2:20-23

This seems counterintuitive to believers because many fail to rightly divided the Word of Truth (2 Tim 2:15). They fail to compare the things that differ (Phil 1:10). They fail to distinguish the plan of God for the earth (revealed from or since the foundation of the ages) from the plan of God for the far above the heavens (hidden from before the foundation of the ages and revealed only to Paul, post Acts, Ephesians 3).

The danger to the believer in this age comes from ordinances connected to Israel and the earthly hope and from the mind and religion of men. Some who would warn us about our Christmas trees are themselves enslaved to ordinances; whether ordinances meant for Israel or ordinances (rules) created by the world of religion.  

The Berean Expositor (Volume XXV, 1935) comments:

The association of observances, ceremonials, and the elements of the world with Christianity, made easy the deception of the Colossians and the introduction of angelic mediation and worship a natural consequence. But the believer has died with Christ, and is completely free from the domination of all these things— whether pagan or Mosaic, whether deceitful philosophy or holy law and covenant. From all and everything that would impose upon the flesh, having sanctification in view, he is separated:-- "Wherefore if ye died with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why as though living in the world are ye subject to ordinances?" (Col. ii. 20). "Subject to ordinances" is the translation of one word in the original, and has been rendered "ordinance-ridden". Then follow specimen prohibitions as "Touch not; taste not; handle not". The apostle, writing to Timothy and referring to the false teaching of the latter times [this current age], shows that the doctrine of demons, far from teaching men to be immoral, would veto even those things that God has sanctioned, thus creating a false ground of holiness, and leading away from Christ by some supposed personal merit. 
[highlights mine]


One the grand illusions of the current age and especially in western Christendom is the illusion of self-holiness. This deception often plays itself out in local assemblies of believers adopting things like Advent Candles or Ash Wednesday or any sort of "Church Calendar" event. Those who participate often feel a sense of personal merit or self-holiness by participating. I'm quick to add, not always, but the danger is present.

One who shuns a Christmas tree may feel personal merit in the human ordinance "touch not the Christmas tree" rule. And even if he tries to wrestle it out of Jeremiah 10, it still has no basis in God's instructions for this age. Ironically, the same one who sees an idol in the tree is often the same one who participates in other pagan or earthly ordinances. He may observe feast days and Sabbaths and feel as though God is pleased in his personal merit. He may demand we use the Hebrew "Yeshua" for the Lord and declare all other rendering as Satanic. Yet these are concerns for a corrupted faith (or evidence of no real faith at all).


So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a 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.

-Colossians 2:16-19


That which brings a sense of personal merit may actually be the thing which speaks of a denial of Christ. "Holding fast to the Head" is the calling of this age. We hold to Christ alone. No ordinance stands between us and our Head. Religious acts serve to distance the Lord and puff up the flesh in its vanity.

Israel and King Saul were following the sacrificial laws of Moses, yet God was not asking them to obey those ordinances in regard to the Amalekites. The specific command for that battle was to destroy all. Nothing else mattered apart from God's specific instructions for that people in that time. We cannot apply the command to destroy all in any way today. But Saul did not obey that command and the people went to another of God's commands in regard to sacrifices. When we bring the disobedience in the guise of obedience to another part of God's word, we displease the Lord. 


And Saul said to Samuel, “But I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me, and brought back Agag king of Amalek; I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the plunder, sheep and oxen, the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” So Samuel said:

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.

For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,
And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
He also has rejected you from being king.”

-1 Sam 15:20-23

How many today try to bring the offerings of another age, of another people, or of another hope and expect the Lord to bless it?

The other side of this coin is seen in the misapplication of Jeremiah 10 upon others. Imposing the "touch not" ordinances on others. The passage in view makes no case for not having plants or trees in the home, the warning is against idolatry and worship of the tree. I would suggest to you that the one who is most concerned about such a thing probably has idols in his or her life. Admittedly, that is speculation, but it is born out of personal experience. Regardless, these are things for which we all must be on guard.

 Let's back up and look at Jeremiah 10:2


And do not be afraid of signs in the sky,
For the Gentiles are afraid of them.
 
(Far Above All Version)

 

It is not the one free from ordinances and the rudiments of this world who lives in fear of "signs." It is the superstitious and religious who live in fear. Their warnings about Christmas trees seem to come, not from a teaching position, but from a position of superstitious fear (along with a sense of "personal merit"). Again, speculation, but Paul warns here in Colossians and again to Timothy of those who will arise in our midst with these ill-intents.

We move on.

For the customs of the people are vain:
for one cuts a tree out of the forest,
the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.
They deck it with silver and with gold;

All that needs to be said here is that no one is cutting down a Christmas tree believing it will bring hope and blessings or that it will answer prayer. That would be a "vain" [empty] thought and hope. There are many other things, however, that bring "vain" hopes to some believers: the aforementioned observances of days and rituals, the "claiming" of verses never given to them, the confusion of the earthly hope with the heavenly hope, etc. How many "honor the Sabbath" as they see it believing God is pleased with them?

We don't put gold or silver on our tree, we put ornaments that have our children's names on them covering many years. Regardless, I've never sat back and expected my tree to speak to me or give me any hope. I have zero faith in the tree. My tree isn't even a real tree. It meets none of the warnings of Jeremiah 10.

They are upright, like a palm tree, And they cannot speak; They must be carried, Because they cannot go by themselves. Do not be afraid of them, For they cannot do evil, Nor can they do any good.”

I can assure you I am not afraid of my tree. Even if Jeremiah was directing his warning to me, he should have no worries. I don't plan of worshipping my tree. I don't expect it to speak to me. I have no hope it will help me. And I have fear it will bring me evil.

That last line should be heeded by the Christmas-tree-phobic. Don't worry about the tree in the house that will be chucked in the trash (or stuck back in the attic) somewhere around New Year's Eve. It can't hurt you. I fear you're the one who is suffering from superstition and religion. 


Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.

-Acts 17:22


Number of worshippers: zero

Friday, November 24, 2023

Has the Church Been "Hellenized"?

For if God did not spare the natural branches [Jews], He may not spare you [Gentiles, unnatural branches] either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you [unnatural branches] continue in His goodness. Otherwise you [unnatural branches] also will be cut off. And they [Jews] also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them [Jews. natural branches] in again. For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature [unnaturally] into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these [Jews], who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

-Romans 11:21-24 


I saw another interesting post on Social media recently. The person posting was charging Christians with following what he claims is a false "Hellenized" version of the faith. Part of the prosecution of his case is a reference to Paul's warning in Romans 11:18 to the (unnatural) branches to not become haughty or boast against the root (Israel) or the other (natural) branches (Jews).


Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. (KJV)
But you must not brag about being grafted in to replace the branches that were broken off. You are just a branch, not the root. (NLT)


The warnings in Romans 11 are conditional ("if") and specific (to the unnatural branches). They cannot be connected to the free gift of resurrection life through his name by grace alone.  Such an application makes no sense and is an offense to the work of Christ. Gentile believers are warned to continue in the goodness of God's grace in placing them into the blessings of the root, Israel ("IF you continue"). The Lord also warns the unnatural Gentiles not to boast of become haughty against the natural Jews ("but IF thou boast"). 

This conditional warning is clearly for Gentile believers. We cannot stress this enough. The context allows for no other application. Gentiles were not, nor could they ever, the root God has created for His plans for the earth. The greatest a Gentile believer could ever be, in regard to the earthly hope, is to be an unnatural branch grafted in. The context of the chapter juxtaposes Gentile believers with the remnant of believers in Israel, those who are the seed of Abraham by birth.


I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, “Lord, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life”? But what does the divine response say to him? “I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work. What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect [of Israel] have obtained it, and the rest were blinded.

-Romans 11:1-7 


God has never abandoned His people (Israel). God forbid! But that does not mean that God either has no other people or that God has no other hopes. Just because God has a chosen people for one hope does not mean that he must use the same people for all hopes. We can see how some are confused when they fail to rightly divide the Book of Romans and understand the hope there in view.

The hope for the earth, started in Adam's hope of a return to Paradise in the Garden, and expanded to a land promised to Abraham and his Seed, and culminated in the promise to David that his descendant would sit one day on his throne in a restored Kingdom in Jerusalem.

Christ satisfies all of these:


And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. -1 Corinthians 15:45

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. -Galatians 3:16

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. -Luke 1:32


We see Paradise restored and the Davidic throne restored in the Revelation. We see the promises made to Abraham realize in the age to come as well. Each of these wonderful hopes is a study in itself, so we will have to leave these here as we continue to look at the claims of Paul in Romans 11.

The gospels and the epistles of the Acts age all have the restoration of the Kingdom in Israel in sight (Acts 1:6, etc.). The gospel of the Kingdom preached by the Lord to Israel alone in the gospel accounts is continued and expanded in the Acts age and the related epistles, In this very epistle of Romans, Paul states without ambiguity that all the promises and covenants apply to Israel, not to some "Gentile Church-Israel." The juxtaposition of believers in Romans 9 to the promises still given to Israel makes a melding of these two impossible.

So, to what is the grafting in in Romans 11 referring? Are Gentile believers then and now somehow a "New Israel?" No, not at all! For in the very warning  in Romans 11 the social media poster uses to argue for some Hebrew church connected to Israel we see a clear distinction. The warning is for Gentile believers only. Gentiles are the unnatural branches grafted into the root and these believers are warned they could be "cut off" from the root. 


Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.

-Romans 11:22 


"Also" is a reference to unbelieving in Israel. Paul's argument is that Gentile believers in that age should not boast against the Israelites who were cut off from the root even as they were grafted in. But ultimately cut off from what and grafted into what? A political Israel? A nationality?

They unbelieving Jews were cut off from the promises and covenants and the blessings and the adoption and the priesthood. And even as grafted in believers, they were still second to the Jew, hence Paul's warning only to Gentiles. A Jewish believer would not boast or become haughty against the root which is Israel.

We have explored Israel's calling and hope in the Acts age elsewhere (on the blog and on the podcast), so we will refocus on the idea that some "Hellenization" occurred that has corrupted this view of the "church." 

It is not a Hellenization that has occurred, but a putting aside of the hope of Israel, the restoration of the Kingdom and the throne of David, and the revelation to Paul in the book of Ephesians of the new hope of blessings in the heavenly places (in the far above the heavens where Christ sits at the right hand of the Father). This is a post-Acts revelation. It followed the elimination of the middle wall of partition. The current age knows no Greek (Gentile) or Jew for any reason. 

The earthly plan and hope must be distinguished from the heavenly plan. Paul went from being in chains for the hope of Israel in the Acts (Acts 28:20) to being in chains for Gentiles (all men being gentiles when the middle wall came down) post Acts (Ephesians 3:1).

The twelve were promised they would sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel before the cross (Matthew 19:28, Luke 22:30). The resurrected Lord taught his disciples for 40 days and nights about the restoration of kingdom in Israel in Acts 1. Peter promised Israel a restoration of all things if they would repent in Acts 3. James wrote to the twelve tribes (James 1:1) who met in synagogues (James 2:10). Peter wrote of a priesthood to the dispersion in his epistles (1 Peter 1:1).

The Apostles made clear distinctions among Jewish and Gentile believers in the Acts Age (see Acts 15 and Acts 21, for example). This is the context of the warning in Romans 9. We note again that Gentile believers were grafted into a root which they could never become. The point of the grafting is clear: to make Israel jealous. real Israel. Post Pentecost Israel. The "church" (as it is taught in many places today) is not Israel.


First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.

-Romans 10:19


I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew... I say then, Have they [his people, Israel] stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.
 
-Romans 11:1-2; 11


In light of this change, may we ask if God has indeed abandoned his people? Of course not. Just as at certain times in Israel history God set them aside, he has set them aside in the current age to call out a different group for a different hope. But do not be deceived. God will again deal with his earthly people for an earthly purpose in an age to come. The Kingdom will be restored in Israel. David's throne will be established.

So, the Replacement Theologian is wrong to say God is done completely with any earthly plan and any earthly children of Abraham and also the Theologian who says that we must return to a Hebrew-Israel based faith system as taught in Romans is wrong. They fail to rightly divide the promises and hopes and plans of God for heavenly places and for the earth.

Once you see this distinction, the prophets and prophecies will come alive as well as God's workings in the Acts and in the Acts Age epistles. We no longer have to explain away the actions and doctrines of the epistles as either "transitional" or as (more insultingly) "racist." 

God is currently calling out a heavenly body which has a a heavenly hope. We have no earthly ordinances. Even in regard to Abraham himself, Paul teaches us we have but "one Father." That is, God alone is our father. We have no "Father Abraham." We have but "one baptism," that of the spirit and not of water and spirit. 


There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 
-Ephesians 4:4-6

The heavenly hope was hidden from before the ages began while the earthly hope was revealed since or from the time the ages began. We have covered that elsewhere, so we pause here to only reiterate that difference. Paul, in the Acts, witnessed to the hope of Israel (Acts 28:20) and spoke "no other thing except that which Moses and the Prophets said would come" (Acts 26:22). Yet in Ephesians Paul revealed a hope hidden from before the ages and a hope that was not known by Moses or the Prophets. 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:... Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus

Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel


Paul knows no root or branch or hope in an earthly kingdom. The message for the current age is a hope far above where Gentile is a fellow heir. In this same book, Paul proclaims that the middle wall of partition between Jew and Greek (an allusion to the separation in the earthly temple) has come down (Ephesians 2:14). God is now building a spiritual temple in the far above the heavens (Ephesians 2:19-22) .

Paul speaks of walking in the calling to which we have been called (Ephesians 4:1). This is the calling of the present age. The calling of the hope in heavenly places. The calling which knows no distinction between Jew and Greek in Christ. The calling which has no Sabbaths, no holy days, no Feasts (Col 2:16). This calling knows no earthly ordinances (Eph 2:15, Col 2:20-23). 

In this age, the root of Israel does not bear us. Our hope and calling are distinct and separate from the hope and calling of the root which is Israel. The earthly plan will come to fruition. Be assured of that. Yet we are careful not to try and combine the two hopes.

Both the denier of prophecy for Israel yet to come (Replacement Theology, et al) and those recognizing Israel has a future (Classic Dispensationalists, et al) claim the Acts Age and its epistles for themselves thus leading to both groups being lost in a land of confusion.

See to rightly divided the epistles and rightly divide the earthly hope and calling from the heavenly hope and calling and many things will start to make sense. And you won't have to resort to charging the chosen Apostles of God with racism and/or stubbornness and/or stupidity. 

The Lord forbade the Gospel of the Kingdom to be preached to anyone but to Jews and not outside of Israel (Matt 10). He stated (and he cannot lie) that he was sent solely to the lost sheep of the House of Israel with that gospel (Matt 15). He didn't even tell them he was going to die until Matthew chapter 16. So, do we preach the same gospel of the kingdom the Lord preached and the Apostles preached? No!

We preach Paul's revelation of Ephesians 3. We have a different calling and a different hope. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

The Sick and Dead Connected to the Lord's Supper in 1 Cor 11

I recently saw on social media a defense of the lack of sickness and death today connected to the Lord's Supper as Paul warns the body in Corinth in 1 Cor 11.It was argued that Paul is referring to general drunkenness and overeating as the cause of death and, thus, Paul's warning.  People to this day do not necessarily die from these activities. Some live very long lives. Paul's warning in 1 Cor 11 is clearly in regard and in context to the Lord's Supper.


"For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation [condemnation] to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged."


The modifier is "unworthily" which required self-examination and self-judgment. If I'm a drunkard and then judge myself as such, am I excused from any bodily damage from alcohol abuse because I judged myself? It does not fit either common sense or the text.

I do not hold that this ordinance is for this age (it is the Passover as the Lord said it was and it certainly is connected with the New Covenant which is for Israel), but on its own, the passage is addressing specific behavior at a specific time and place.

"For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. What? have ye not HOUSES to eat and to drink in?"


If it's a general warning about drunkenness, why does Paul care if they have homes to do it in? Are they excused from bodily harm if the eating and drinking is done in the home?

God KILLED Ananias and Sapphira for lying to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5). That was a condition in that age. It was for all, not just for them.

"And great fear came upon ALL the church, and upon as many as heard these things."

 

Do we hold this is for today?
Is this still happening? If not, why not? It's the same issue. People are not dropping dead for lying to the Holy Spirit in this age and people are not getting sick and dying because they take the Lord's Supper "unworthily" in this age.

"Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, UNWORTHILY, shall be GUILTY of the BODY and BLOOD of the LORD."

That's not getting sick because of overeating. That's a very specific condemnation.

Strong's: unworthily = anaxios = irreverently.

Is it irreverent to be overweight? Unhealthy, yes, but irreverent? Try teaching that from the pulpit. The conditions of the Acts Age and the earthly hope are not longer applicable, so there is an attempt to explain away things like the killing of Ananias and the sickness and deaths at the Lord's Supper.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

So Many Professed Believers Hate Jews Based on Prejudice and Wrong Division

The believer (or professed believer) who shows animosity and hatred towards the Jew quote us:

“[Jews] Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:”

-1 Thessalonians 2:15
Those, in my experience, who cast aspersions on the Jewish people, would never refer to Israel or the Jews and "brethren" or as God's "children." Yet this is how they are referred to in the Gospels and Acts Age. They will God's priests in an age to come (spoiler: believers today are not priests).

Peter and Paul called the Jews "brethren." The Lord referred to Jews as "children" and, by contrast, he called Gentiles "dogs" (including believing Gentiles). When a Gentile approached him as "Son of David" in Matthew 15, he told her he was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. He would not even heed her request. She had no right, as a Gentile, to refer to Him as "Son of David." Only when she comes to him only as her "Lord" does he listen. For is Lord of the Gentiles too. But in listening to her request, he reminds her the children come first.

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! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.” 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 bread and throw it to the little dogs.” 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.

  -Matthew 15:22-28 


This is not the Lord lying to make some point for today's church (as we know it). We do not level such a charge to the Lord. It is a metaphorical comparative, but a very real one. As the Lord says in John, salvation is of the Jew. As Paul wrote, the gospel is to the Jew first. We must understand these dispensationally, but tin Matthew 15, we take the Lord at his word.

In his Acts age epistle, James writes "to the twelve tribes." Peter writes "to the dispersion" of the Jews. As noted, Paul wrote that the gospel was "to the Jew first." Paul even warned gentile believers not to become haughty against Israel lest they be "cut off" (Romans 11). Paul wrote that the promises and covenants (both) belong to Israel (Romans 9). You cannot read "the church" into that passage. It would make no sense as Israel is juxtaposed against believers there.

 In the Acts age, Gentile believers were grafted into Israel's promises and could be cut off from Israel's promises. Gentiles never became Israel. The Body is not Israel.

"For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to ISRAEL until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so ALL ISRAEL will be saved."

"you [Gentiles], being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them [Israel], and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches [Jews]. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root [Israel], but the root [Israel] supports you [Gentiles]."

You cannot read these with Israel meaning believers. Blindness in part had come upon "the church" until the fullness of the Gentiles come in, then all the church will be saved? Gentiles were grafted into the church and can be cut off from the church?

This is all after the cross, the resurrection, and after Pentecost.

There was still an Israel in the Acts age, there will again be an Israel in an age to come.

"For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen."

-Romans 9 


Jew-haters of our day would never call Jews their "brethren" and they believe themselves to be Israelites.

Paul near the end of the Acts age:

And it came to pass after three days that Paul called the leaders of the Jews together. So when they had come together, he said to them: “Men and BRETHREN, though I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans, who, when they had examined me, wanted to let me go, because there was no cause for putting me to death. But when the Jews spoke against it, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar, not that I had anything of which to accuse my nation. For this reason therefore I have called for you, to see you and speak with you, because for the hope of ISRAEL I am bound with this chain.”


The risen Lord taught his enlightened disciples for 40 days "things pertaining to the Kingdom of God" and they had one question: "will you, at this time, restore the Kingdom to Israel?" They are promised to sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel in the coming kingdom (Matthew 19:28, Luke 22:20). Jews are The Lord's brethren.

No, the Israel in the land today is not there in faith. That is why a day is coming when God will sift her. But to hate them and call for their annihilation is foolish. And from a practical sense, it's a game of "eat me last." There is a plan for the earth and God will fulfill it through that nation, cleansed and believing.

Paul's statement in 1 Thessalonian 2:15 changes nothing in regard to the witness of scripture in regard to God's plan for the earth and his plans for the Kingdom restored in Israel and the twelve tribes. The Jews were (are) an enemy of the gospel, but the Lord grafted in Gentiles to ISRAEL, SPECIFICALLY "to make them [Israel] jealous" (cf. Romans 10:19, 11:11, 11:14)  because, as Peter preached, the Lord could not return UNTIL ISRAEL repents (Acts 3). Did Peter mean the church must repent and accept the Lord? Did Paul mean Gentiles were grafted into the church to make the church jealous? And why could only GENTILES be "cut off" from Israel ("the church")?

Romans 9, quoted above, states that the promises and covenants and prophecies all belong to Israel. When the Lord returns, he will judge Gentiles (Greek: ethnos) as to how they treated "the least of these my brethren" (Matthew 25) which refers to Jews by contrast. The Lord =, in his earthly ministry, FORBADE the gospel of the Kingdom to be preached to Gentiles (Matthew 10). We must distiguished God's gospel and plans for the earth, in the Kingdom in the land, and his plans for the far above the heavens.

We do not preach "the gospel of the Kingdom." That gospel was for Israel alone (Matthew 10). The Lord was sent to Israel alone and the Kingdom Gospel is for Israel alone. It was forbidden to be preached to Gentiles. It had no cross, no resurrection. It is not preached today. We preach a heavenly hope. What Peter and Paul preached in the Acts age was Israel's earthly hope (see Acts 3, 15, 21, 22, 26, 28, etc.). You cannot make this the hope of "the church" (as men define it).

Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.
-Revelation 3:9

This verse in the Revelation is trotted out by the Jew-haters as an accusation against Israel and Jews today. We first must note that the Revelation is for Israel in a coming age. But let's look at how they want to use it today. 

The "synagogue of Satan" is a description of "those who say they are Jews and are not." Why, then, does the Lord care if being a Jew is meaningless? If Jews are cursed and God is done with them, why would anyone call himself a Jew? But you know who does call themselves Jews and are not? The Replacement churches. The Greek OC call themselves "New Israel." The Catholic Church and the Reformed have claimed Israel's covenants. They say they are Jews and are not.

How can one argue that "Jews" are cursed, but the same "call themselves Jews and are not?" 

Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
-Matthew 10:5-7

He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
-Matthew 15:24

They were lost, but they were still those of the House of Israel. But the argument from the Replacement theologian is that this somehow transferred to a Gentile church after the cross (or after Pentecost).

How can they ignore the context of the commission in Acts 1? The Lord taught the future judges of the twelve tribes in the Kingdom for 40 days about the restoration of the Earthly kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:3-6). That is the message they were sent with. Were they stupid? 40 days being taught about the Kingdom and they didn't get it, but you do? Was the Lord making false promises? First concerning their future as judges over the twelve tribes in the kingdom and, second, the fact that a kingdom would be "restored" to Israel?

Peter preaches that restoration to his "brethren" the "men of Israel" (not the church) after Pentecost (a Jew-only event) in Acts 3. The Kingdom is God's plan for the earth, centered in Israel. When they believe, they will have their kingdom, they will have all the land from the Euphrates to the Nile (Gen 15:18). We need to distinguish the difference between God's plans for the earth as spoken by the prophets and God's plan for the far above the heavens, not revealed to the prophets (Ephesians 3). If we fail to see the differences in the hopes of scripture, will will never see the truth and we will never experience the fullness of "the unsearchable riches of Christ." 

Believers who do not step into these blessings from above, blessings hidden from the prophets, find themselves concerned with earthly matters. They seek ordinances and the law. They seek an earthly and a heavenly kingdom and by doing so deny both. 

In the Acts, Paul ministry was "to the Jew first" (was that the church?). In EVERY city, he went to the Jew first "as was his manner." Why? Do you do that, dear reader? Paul spoke NOTHING that was not spoken by Moses and the Prophets. NOTHING (Acts 26:22). He said he was in chains for "the hope of Israel" in the Acts. All the way until Acts 28. Is that our message for this current age?

"For this reason I have called for you [Jews of Rome], to see you and speak with you, because for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain" 
-Acts 28:20

These were "Jews" late in the Book of Acts. They looked for "the hope of Israel." These are not believers looking for, looking for, looking for what, exactly? Were these false Jews looking for the church in Moses and the Prophets?

Peter and Paul witnessed to truth revealed FROM/SINCE "the foundation of the world [ages]" regarding God's plans for the EARTH. In Ephesians 3 Paul reveals a hope unknown to the prophets and revealed to him, a hope hidden from BEFORE the foundation. This is a different hope. It is a hope dealing with the far above the heavens where Christ sits. That's what we preach today.

Paul was in chains "for the hope of Israel" in the Acts age. Post Acts, he was in chains "for the hope of you Gentiles." When the times of the Gentiles is complete, God will turn again to Israel. She will go through a terrible time, but a remnant of believers will be rescued and the Kingdom restored to Israel


For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, [to whom] Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen. 
-Romans 9:3-5

Paul knew the promises and covenants (earthly) are for Israel. Paul knew who the Jews were. Peter the same. They didn't spit on them and wish them dead as some do today in the name of Christ. Truly, in the current age, some are the enemies of the gospel, but we leave that with God.

If we believe the "church" today is Israel, try reading the church into every reference to Israel in the Acts and the Acts epistles. Acts 3, 26, 28; Rom 9, 11 just for starters. Do you believe the twelve tribes and the Dispersion are also the church in the epistles? 

James writes, "when you come into the synagogue" when he writes to the twelve tribes. The KJV translators translated the Greek "synagōgḗ" as "synagogue" 54x out of 56. They use "assembly" in James because they wanted to un-Jew it, but it's a very Jewish book. They lied to us. They did not do it on purpose, however their prejudiced theology caused them to steer us away from the truth revealed in James.  


A special word to those who believe they are safe from jihad, because (as I was told) "Muslims teach Christians are also 'people of the book'."


Tell that to the Armenian Christians.


In Islam, "People of the Book" also refers to Jews. How's that working out for them?


‘Ahl al-Kitab‘ means those who possess the scripture or the divine book. The term, along with another term outou al-kitab ‘those who were given the Book’, occurs more than 50 times in the Qur’an. Both expressions denote the JEWS, believers of the Torah, and the Christians, believers of the Gospel. (See al-Baqarah 2: 113; Al-Imran 3: 64-65).

-Bashar Bakkour (Syrian researcher in Islamic Studies)


Don't let your hatred of Jews cloud God's plans for the ages.