Featured Post

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. ...

Friday, February 25, 2022

Overview of the Entire Bible

 A few years ago, my local church asked if I'd teach an introductory series on the Bible for the young people of our fellowship. That was a 12-week (2-hours each) experience which included a lot of discussion. What I am offering in this series is a truncated version of that course.

There are seven videos in this series (playlist). Hopefully, you have seen the four very short videos linked at the top of this blog. That short series is a very brief introduction to basic theology (explaining the basics of dispensationalism, right division). This series seeks to give a context to every part of the Bible. When we land on a verse or a passage in holy writ, we need to know where we are before we can properly interpret and apply. 

As my readers know, I do not claim to be infallible. I am just someone with a decaying mind, a rebellious flesh, trying to seek my Lord with an open and honest heart as best I can. Hopefully, these videos will help young believers (young in age or young in the faith or even young in theology) to, at least, start thinking about interpreting the scripture for yourself.

It is often said that personal study can be dangerous. It is only dangerous if you seek to force others into agreement. Men have used armies and clergy to force men into their theologies. Whether you agree with none, a little, or all of what I propose in these videos, it remains true that I am not your judge. We will all stand alone. 

All that said, I hope what comes through is my love for God, my love for scripture, and my understanding of my own frailties and limitations. My personality will also come through. I can be a bit snarky, but it is all done in jest, I assure you. I like "table talk" theology. I'm not standing in a pulpit as I flip through my sloppy PowerPoint shows, I'm sitting across the table with a cup of Italian Roast, dark coffee with the full understanding that I don't have all the answers.

LINK to the playlist on YouTubeThe Bible From 30,000 feet Playlist

Individual Studies:


Genesis - Deuteronomy (The Law)

Joshua - Esther (History Books)

Poetry and Prophecy

The Gospel and Acts Period

The Epistles

The Revelation

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

More on Calvin's View of the "Early Church Fathers"

In our previous study, we referred to Calvin's Commentary on John 8 which contains this:

Nor do I approve of the ingenuity of Augustine... [in his interpretation of this verse]

Calvin contradicting Augustine. Way to go, John!

And Calvin generally liked Augustine, as did Luther.

Further, even though the Greeks above the rest—and Chrysostom especially among them—extol the ability of the human will, yet all the ancients, save Augustine, so differ, waver, or speak confusedly on this subject, that almost nothing certain can be derived from their writings.
-Excerpt, Calvin’s Institutes, “The church fathers generally show less clarity but a tendency to accept freedom of the will. What is free will?” (2.2.4, pp. 258-261)

Calvin states that the "church fathers" speak "confusedly" on the matter of free will. This excerpt was  quoted negatively in a series at the "ORTHODOX-REFORMED BRIDGE" website. Their argument is that Calvin did not submit to the ECFs as they believe he should have. I'm no Calvinist, but Calvin was right to not hold them as "authorities" (even if I disagree with Calvin's view of the will here).

I disagree with Calvin and probably hold views in regard to the will closer to some (or many) of the so-called "Church Fathers," but that does not matter. Neither Calvin nor the CFs are "authoritative" on this or on any matter.

 Look at this excerpt from The Calvinist International in regard to the authority of scripture:

In today’s post, Melanchthon begins to marshal patristic support for his understanding of the relative weight of various authorities in theology. Melanchthon’s high view of both Scripture and patristic antiquity are clear in what follows from his use of Tertullian, Irenaeus, and Basil...

This is "confused."

To argue the authority of scripture, they resort to referring the authority of "the fathers" (patristic antiquity)? I find that somewhat comical. I have a "high view" some writing apart from scripture, but my trust in scripture as my authority doesn't come from their "authority." In fact, I recognize no other authority, for there is no other authority (an idea that got Luther condemned).

Calvin was right to disagree with Augustine on John 8 (although I tend to disagree with them both). At the end of the day, neither Calvin nor Augustine nor Michael are "authoritative." My presentation in my previous post refers to E.W. Bullinger's understanding of John 8:6, and while I have a "high view" of Dr. Bullinger's writings, I would NEVER suggest they are authoritative. 

This is not a matter of semantics, it is a very serious matter. This blog is built on this pillar:

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

-2 Timothy 2:15

Many Orthodox sources claim that the "fathers" did not, nor could they, teach heresy. Now, if you believe as they believed, I could understand the "did not" position, but how could anyone hold to "could not" unless he held them as inspired? 

The "fathers" taught heresy. They had to because they contradicted each on other occasions just as the Roman popes have. Somebody has to be doctrinally wrong. 

The irony here is that I agree with the "fathers" (generally) on the role of the will, I also agree with some of them (to some degree) on the fate of the lost.

The mass of men (Christians) say there is to be an end to punishment and to those who are punished.—St. Basil the Great

There are very many in our day, who though not denying the Holy Scriptures, do not believe in endless torments. -- Augustine (354-430 A.D.)

I am NOT a universalist and I don't believe in any degree of torture of the lost. These are not mutually exclusive ideas. On the latter point, clearly I find more in common with denying "endless torments" than with the "hellfire" preaching of many Evangelical preachers.

On the most important issues (redemption, scripture, etc.), I obviously find myself aligned with the Evangelicals. I am not seeking to bash anyone, only to say that none of us is infallible. The "fire and brimstone" Baptist preacher of old and the "fiery, physical" Purgatory of Aquinas are both abhorrent to me. But the latter is even more abhorrent for it touches on the finality of the Lord's death, burial, and resurrection and limits his offer of forgiveness.

Jerome taught even the redemption of Satan. Whereas I do not believe this is accurate, I would be more inclined to accept the idea than to consider the God of scripture as the eternal fiery torturer of the mass of humanity. 

I know that most persons understand by the story of Nineveh and its king, the ultimate forgiveness of the devil and all rational creatures. --St. Jerome

Jerome's conclusion is, at least, built on the forgiving and redeeming character of God. The fiery torment of his creation gives us quite the opposite picture of our loving Father and our gracious Savior. If one refuses the free gift of Life, he has refused to be reconciled to God. But God was already reconciled to the sinner through the cross! He is satisfied. He has no need to extend his wrath for eternity. His son suffered his wrath and took the penalty of death which sits on all of us (in Adam).

And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 
-2 Cor 5:18-19

For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
-1 Cor 15:21-22

Some of the "fathers" were essentially universalists. Just a few examples:

While the devil imagined that he got a hold of Christ, he really lost all of those he was keeping. 
--Chrysostom, 398 AD

Mankind, being reclaimed from their sins, are to be subjected to Christ in he fullness of the dispensation instituted for the salvation of all. 
--Didymus the Blind

The Son "breaking in pieces" His enemies is for the sake of remolding them, as a potter his own work; as Jeremiah 18;6 says: i.e., to restore them once again to their former state. 
--Eusebius of Caesarea

When death shall no longer exist, or the sting of death, nor any evil at all, then truly God will be all in all. 

All men are Christ's, some by knowing Him, the rest not yet. He is the Savior, not of some and the rest not. For how is He Savior and Lord, if not the Savior and Lord of all? 
--Clement of Alexandria

The Orthodox Church in America (OCA) calls the teaching of universalism a "fad" and the result of modern thinking. I've been around the block a few times with the sacramentalist religions. To be sure, I am certain they have explanations for the opinions of some "church fathers" (one I read stated these men just loved people so much they held to universalism... they love more than God?). But we can escape all these issues if we seek God diligently in his word, rightly divided.

There is one authority, scripture. We approach it as broken beings, fallible, and humbled by our own sin. But if we seek the Lord with a pure heart, he will reveal his truth as he sees fit. Surely, there are those who are teachers among us, but all must be tested against the whole word of truth, rightly divided. 

Whether it is Calvin or the Orthodox themselves, many who look to the "church fathers" really don't look to the "church fathers." It is my prayer they all wake from that slumber and submit themselves to the scriptures alone. Read all you want, submit to none but that which was inspired by the Spirit for this age. 

Saturday, February 19, 2022

What Did the Lord Write in the Dirt in John 8?

Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them.
John 8:1


The account of the woman taken in adultery is one of the more well-known parts of scripture. The main takeaway for most preachers and people is that the Lord asks those without sin to cast the first stone, does not condemn the woman, and tells the woman she is forgiven and to go and sin no more. I can't quibble with any of that.

But in the course of John's reporting on the incident, after the Pharisees try to corner the Lord by pointing to the Law, we see this odd detail:

Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.

Many thoughts have been offered on what the Lord was writing. Here is just a sample:

And Jesus stooping down. By this attitude he intended to show that he despised them. Those who conjecture that he wrote this or the other thing, in my opinion, do not understand his meaning. Nor do I approve of the ingenuity of Augustine, who thinks that in this manner the distinction between the Law and the Gospel is pointed out, because Christ did not write on tables of stone, (Exodus 31:18,) but on man, who is dust and earth. For Christ rather intended, by doing nothing, to show how unworthy they were of being heard; just as if any person, while another was speaking to him, were to draw lines on the wall, or to turn his back, or to show, by any other sign, that he was not attending to what was said.

-Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

The finger which wrote in the ground was the same which had written the law in the tables of stone. What He wrote we do not know; but it was symbolical of the fact that the law against man is written in the dust, the dust of death. Not alone had the woman deserved death, but all were equally guilty.

-A.C. Gaebelein Annotated Bible

Wrote with his finger, as one that was musing about something else.

-Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

God wrote once in the Old Testament; Christ once in the New: perhaps the words which he afterward spoke, when they continued asking him. By this silent action, he, 1, fixed their wandering, hurrying thoughts, in order to awaken their consciences: and, 2, signified that he was not then come to condemn but to save the world.

-Wesley Explanatory Notes

These are all worthy of consideration. They have some merit. The references to the Lord writing with his own finger once in the OT and once in the NT is an intriguing point. It may very well supplement what I am going to propose.  Also, writing "in the dust" as as opposed to the writing in stone of the Law is interesting. The Law that failed under the Old Covenant will one day be written on the hearts of the children of Israel under the future New Covenant. And, even in the age of the Law, the law was written, in a sense in the hearts of Gentiles as Paul argues in Romans 2:14-16.

For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

So, under the Law, there is none who has excuse. In this case, Adultery is inherently wrong. The heart will condemn the atheist until he hardens his heart against his conscience.  

So now let's look at an interpretation of John 8:6 offered by E.W. Bullinger.


The temptation was in the word "such" [verse 5, "Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned..."], and of two cases they mention the punishment without defining what it was: for the one in Deuteronomy 22:23 , Deuteronomy 22:24 (a virgin) the death was stoning; but in the case of a "wife" the punishment was not stoning, but required a special procedure (Numbers 5:11-31) , which left the punishment with God.

Let's look at the referenced parts of the Law, plus verse 22:

If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.

-Deut 22:22
If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbor's wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.

-Deut 22:23-24

When comparing these two punishments, we notice that death by stoning is not required in verse 22. I suppose the punishment could be by stoning, but such a form of execution is not laid out. In both cases, it is BOTH the offenders who are to die. We know from the account in John 8 that only the woman is brought forth.

Let's step back to John 8:

So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

I would like us to see here the use of "heard" (Greek: akoúō). That is, the listeners were "convicted by their conscience" not at the writing alone, but at the words "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." Perhaps they read something which appealed to their consciences? I'm inclined to believe we see the results of both hearing and reading. The word "then" follows  "And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground," (for he had written in the dirt right after the scribes and Pharisees posed their question). He wrote "again" (v.8), and "then" (v.9) they were convicted and started to leave. 

So what may he have been writing? E.W. Bullinger proposes he wrote the Law as it applies in this matter. We refer back to the last part of our quote above from Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes, "the punishment was not stoning, but required a special procedure (Numbers 5:11-31) , which left the punishment with God."

When we turn to this passage in Numbers 5, we first want to know the target audience:


And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them...

 The context is the Law, given by Moses, to the children of Israel. You can do this on your own, but try and read this chapter and try to insert the "church" of this age into the passage as some sort of "spiritual Israel" still under the Law. That is not central to this study directly, but we must always note where were are in the Word of Truth.

We will walk through this passage in chunks and I believe we'll see that it differs from what the Pharisees and others called for in John 8 (i.e. stoning).

If any man’s wife go aside, and commit a trespass against him, and a man lie with her carnally, and it be hid from the eyes of her husband, and be kept close, and she be defiled, and there be no witness against her, neither she be taken with the manner; and the spirit of jealousy come upon him, and he be jealous of his wife, and she be defiled: or if the spirit of jealousy come upon him, and he be jealous of his wife, and she be not defiled: then shall the man bring his wife unto the priest, and he shall bring her offering for her, the tenth part of an ephah of barley meal; he shall pour no oil upon it, nor put frankincense thereon; for it is an offering of jealousy, an offering of memorial, bringing iniquity to remembrance.

We have the case of a woman who may or may not have slept with a man who is not her husband. In John 8, the text tells us, "this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act" (John 8:4). This brings clarity to the situation (if their witness is true), but Numbers 11 still applies. It is just easier to apply. Let's assume they are telling the truth and she is "defiled." 

if thou hast gone aside to another instead of thy husband, and if thou be defiled, and some man have lain with thee beside thine husband: then the priest shall charge the woman with an oath of cursing, and the priest shall say unto the woman, The Lord make thee a curse and an oath among thy people, when the Lord doth make thy thigh to rot, and thy belly to swell; and this water that causeth the curse shall go into thy bowels, to make thy belly to swell, and thy thigh to rot: And the woman shall say, Amen, amen. And the priest shall write these curses in a book, and he shall blot them out with the bitter water: and he shall cause the woman to drink the bitter water that causeth the curse: and the water that causeth the curse shall enter into her, and become bitter. Then the priest shall take the jealousy offering out of the woman’s hand, and shall wave the offering before the Lord, and offer it upon the altar: and the priest shall take an handful of the offering, even the memorial thereof, and burn it upon the altar, and afterward shall cause the woman to drink the water. And when he hath made her to drink the water, then it shall come to pass, that, if she be defiled, and have done trespass against her husband, that the water that causeth the curse shall enter into her, and become bitter, and her belly shall swell, and her thigh shall rot: and the woman shall be a curse among her people. And if the woman be not defiled, but be clean; then she shall be free, and shall conceive seed.

I'd like to know what those who hold that believers today are "spiritual Israel" are supposed to do with this passage. The supposed law-keepers have to deal with this. Even if the argument is presented that the sacrifices, specifically, were done away with in Christ, they still have to deal with the curse, the priesthood, and the procedure. If they maintain that ALL of that is done away in Christ, their clinging to any part of the law must them go away. 

The last three verses of this chapter are specific to the Law of Moses and do not refer to any sacrifices.

This is the law of jealousies, when a wife goeth aside to another instead of her husband, and is defiled; or when the spirit of jealousy cometh upon him, and he be jealous over his wife, and shall set the woman before the Lord, and the priest shall execute upon her all this law. Then shall the man be guiltless from iniquity, and this woman shall bear her iniquity.

We have looked at other passages where fathers are required to have their daughters' virginity checked and, in certain cases, specific fines paid by husbands, etc.

If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her, and give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a [virgin]: then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel’s virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate: and the damsel’s father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her; and, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a [virgin]; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter’s virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him; and they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days. But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.

False accusation will cost you 100 shekels, but if the charge is true, she is to be stoned to death. This is Deuteronomy 22:14-21. As we have noted, verse 22 does not mention stoning. The next charge does bring stoning, but that punishment is missing from 22 (as we've noted previously).

This brings us to another point I believe worth considering. What if the woman accused of adultery was actually being raped? 

But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die: but unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter: for he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her.

A betrothed virgin who is forced shall receive no punishment.

If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.

A virgin who is not betrothed is not punished either. The man must pay her father 50 shekels and must marry her. Perhaps the woman in John 8 fell into one of these latter categories? Regardless, the righteous judge does not accuse her. Either she had committed no sin or her sin was forgiven. 

Since the Lord calls on her to "go and sin no more," it is not unreasonable to believe she was caught in sin. The Lord, under the Law, in light of her guilt, did not see her sin falling under Deuteronomy 22, but rather under Numbers 5. In his office as priest in the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:6), he declared that he would not accuse her and lifted the punishment. The priesthood of Melchizedek is before the Law (Gen 14:5). 

The Lord was not a high priest under the Law, but just as Abraham was declared righteous by faith 400 years before the Law, so the Lord was declared a high priest in the order of Melchizedek, who was before the Law.

So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec [Ps 110:4]. Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.

-Hebrews 5:5-10

Even in these very Jewish contexts, the truths of Galatians and Romans shine forth. The gift of life is by grace through faith apart from the works of the Law. This high priest is not subject to death. He has satisfied the Law and has declared grace.

The account of the woman caught in adultery is in John's gospel. This is the gospel of the Lord's deity (John 1:1), the gospel sent to "the world" (John 3:16). As God, as one who had no beginning, who had no mother or father (as scripture testifies), he did not accuse the woman as those under the Law had.

What we see in the passage is the Law, most likely wrongly applied, come to life in the God of Numbers 5 who judges this woman to be free of any guilt. How wonderful for her and even more wonderful for those of us in the Body of Ephesians in this age. We were declared blameless and without blemish from "before the foundation of the ages." We are not in Abraham. We are not subject to any earthly priesthood. We are hidden in Christ in God, waiting to be revealed. The Lord has reconciled us to himself by the cross and justified us in his resurrection. 

Do not let men spoil you with the vain deceit that you can keep a law that could never save, a law that was never given to Gentiles. It is not for this age.

I don't see law-keepers or "spiritual Israel" trying to apply all the standards of either Deuteronomy 22 or Numbers 5 amongst themselves. And if they are trying, they are fooling themselves. By trying to usurp Israel's place in God's plans for the earth, they are forced to make the Word and Promises of God of none effect. This is why we must "rightly divide the Word of Truth." 

The people in John 8 wanted to pick and choose what suited them and we see the same thing today in those who call themselves Jews ("spiritual Israel," "Hebrew Roots," etc.) and are not. I would suggest these are guilty of terrible heresies. 

Saturday, February 12, 2022

A Quick Word on Sola Scriptura and Gainsayers

Why Sola Scriptura? Why the scriptures alone as our authority? How can we ignore things like tradition and practice and the thoughts of "holy" men? 

I taught the catechisms of "Sacred Tradition" and was schooled in it for 25 years. I don't think Sola Scriptura is anything but a way of stating succinctly a central spiritual truth. Paul is my Apostle, not Augustine or Aquinas or Cyprian... or whomever. We all stand alone, naked, before him with whom we have to do. We all must study to show ourselves approved unto God, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. 

We bring nothing in our hands that he wants. All of our works are comparatively filthy rags to God. In Christ alone can we show fruit. This is not fruit that puts God in our debt in any sense, but fruit that witnesses to his mercy, grace, and glory. Any other understanding robs Christ of his glory.

As Luther noted, the men deemed the arbiters of faith (in our case) often contradicted each other (and still do). As he said in his defense at Worms:

 "Let my errors be proven by scripture... unless you can convince me by scripture (and not by popes and councils who have often contradicted themselves), unless I am so convinced that I am wrong, my conscience is captive to the Word of God. To go against conscience is neither right nor safe. I can not and I will not recant. Here I stand. I can do no other. So help me God."

Luther was accused at his trial of opposing "established truths which have passed into usage, rite, and observance... things you are obligated to believe." That he did, and rightly so! The Roman Chch doesn't even uphold its own traditions. As with all doctrines of men, they ebb and flow with the tide of men's desires and follies and whims. Scripture is the only solid rock upon which to build.

Now, to those who want to look to things like "church fathers" and "traditions" and "long-held truths," I say, feel free to do so. You have a free will. You have a choice to make. I know what my choice is and I demand no one follow me. It matters not to me what choice others make.

The East-West Great Schism should be enough to show us the uselessness of trusting "authorities" (if the contradictions among popes and councils isn't sufficient evidence):

In 1054, Pope Leo IX sent an emissary, Cardinal Humbert, from Rome to Constantinople. The cardinal's visit with Patriarch Cerularios was meant to be a mission of conciliation. It became anything but. The cardinal excommunicated the patriarch who, in turn, excommunicated the cardinal. The main point of contention was the use of leavened bread during the celebration of Mass… While it is commonly accepted that the separation of Rome and Constantinople into two Christian Churches was the result of centuries of conflict, the event became known as the Great Schism of 1054. The schism, which reflected numerous long-standing tensions between the eastern and western Roman empire, may have been inevitable. The Church had remained united for centuries without solving several theological disputes. 

Excerpt from EWTN (Catholic Source) 

So, by their own admission, there were theological disputes for which there was neither agreement nor direction. What was the layman to do? He was subject to the whims of men. And over time, those whims would change.

This is why we call each individual to study to show himself approved unto God, rightly dividing the Word of Truth (2 Tim 2:15).

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Revisiting Romans 9 and the Promises to Israel

One of the oddest things in Reformed/Replacement theology is its reliance on the "grafting in" passage in Romans 11. This truth of the Acts Age was part of the continuing offering of the earthly kingdom to Israel. Israel was never "replaced" in God's plans or promises regarding the Kingdom or the land. As we have seen in other studies, the Lord taught his disciples for 40 days after his resurrection about one thing: the kingdom in Israel (Acts 1:6). These are the men who were promised by the Lord they they shall "sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel."

Judging some "spiritual twelve tribes" in some "spiritual Israel" made up of Gentiles? This promise given not long after the Lord called Gentiles "little dogs" and told a Gentile woman he was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. The House of Spiritual Israel made up of Gentiles?

It is nonsensical to apply some sort of "spiritual Israel" to all these promises (or to the hundreds of connected prophecies in Moses and the Prophets). The "Israel" of God's earthly plan was still at the center of his working in the Acts Age. Paul tells us why the Lord used the grafting in of "little dog" (Matt 15) Gentiles into the root of Israel (not into some Gentile "spiritual Israel").

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

-Romans 10:19

And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back always. I say then, Have they [Israel] stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their [Israel's] fall salvation [the kingdom] is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them [Israel] to jealousy. Now if the fall of them [Israel] be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them [Israel] the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?

-Romans 11:9-12

 We have looked at the grafting in in other studies. Here I just want to look at Paul's clear statement in Romans 9:1-5.

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

Let us bullet point these biblical truths and promises. 

To Israel pertains (present tense):
  • · The Adoption (an inheritance)
  • · The Glory
  • · The Covenants (plural)
  • · The Giving of the Law
  • · The Service of God (Worship/Priesthood)
  • · The Promises (to the fathers, Romans 15:8)
  • · The Fathers (from whom came Christ)

Just a quick note on this last one, “fathers.” In the Book of Acts alone, we have 25 or so references to the “fathers.” Men want to spiritualize all these references (and the references in the epistles), thus doing violence to the promises of God, rendering them almost meaningless. They thus accuse God of being a liar and dare to correct his meaning and apply these to themselves. 

While we’re here, I think I found 9 references to “the fathers” in the sense of those given the promises in the epistles written during the Acts Age. The word "father" is found 3 times in the Post Acts epistles , every time referring to the father of children. This is a concept exclusive to Israel (in the context of God's earthly plan for the land and for the priesthood).

This is earth's and Israel's future:

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

-Zech 8:23

This is the fulfillment of Israel's Covenant. She shall finally serve as a holy nation and as a royal priesthood. Zechariah speaks of a priesthood of Jews. This is not Gentiles grabbing the skirt of a "Spiritual Jew-Gentile." This is the culmination of the "covenants" (which also includes a descendant of David sitting on a literal throne, in the land).

And Moses went up unto God, and the Lord called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth/land is mine: and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

-Exodus 9:3-6

The Lord did not bring "spiritual Israel" or a "gentile Body" out of Egypt.  

Israel did not obey the covenant, which is why the Lord had to create a new covenant with the same people:

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them [Israel] out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

-Jeremiah 31:31-34

The context here is future. When we turn to the Book of Hebrews, written during the Book of Acts, written to Hebrews, this covenant is still future. 

Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer. For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount. But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: and they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

-Hebrews 8:1-13

This is the same people of Exodus 19 and the same people of Jeremiah 31 and the same people of Zechariah 8 and of all the prophets. Note the last verse (8:13), the "old" covenant was vanishing away as the New Covenant was ready to come in. The condition was Israel's redemption by faith. Peter offered this in Acts 3 to "Ye men of Israel." Did he mean, "ye men of spiritual Israel?" No, there was not a Gentile in sight!

You cannot cram a Gentile Body in here:


Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

The Replacement believerer (especially those who spew anti-Semitic hatred) would never call "Ye men of Israel" their "brethren." But both Paul and Peter do. Is this a promise to us today? If Gentiles repent, God will send Christ and restore all things as his Prophets have spoken?

We have covered how this current age and the current hope were hidden from "before the world began" (Ephesians) and have nothing to do with Moses and the Prophets who spoke "since the world began," I will leave that there and only note that Paul testified at his trial that he spoke NOTHING except that which was spoken by Moses and the Prophets in his Acts Age ministry (Acts 16:22; 28:23) . The Lord saved that which was hidden until Paul revealed in in the Book of Ephesians, Post Acts. Why would we want to look to earthly blessings when "unsearchable riches in heavenly places" await us?

A final word on modern-day Israel.

I am a Zionist. That is, I believe that the land God promised the physical seed of Abraham (from the Nile to the Euphrates) will come to pass. Israel will serve as a holy nation and a royal priesthood. But that does mean that I believe that the Israel in the land today is that nation. Surely not. She is still damaged by sin and unbelief. God's plan for this hour is to call Jew and Gentile into one, heavenly Body. But that does not change those who are the Lord's and Paul's and Peter's brethren "according to he flesh."

In the coming age of Jacob's Trouble, there will be those who "call themselves Jews, but are liars." These God tells us are of "the synagogue of Satan." That age concerns the earth again. It will be as the Book of Acts again. God will distinguish his brethren according to the flesh as he calls twelve thousand men from each of the twelve tribes of Israel (Rev 7). I suspect there will be those claiming to be believers, who are Gentiles, who will claim to be "spiritual Jews." It will be a grave sin then, and its sister sin in this age is a grave error.