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Introduction to Personal Bible Study - Videos (2007)

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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.


Wednesday, September 27, 2023

The Rich Man and Lazarus (Soul Part 2)

 Is the story of The Rich Man and Lazarus literal? 

The problem with this position is that the story is given to Pharisees. An even greater problem is that it knows nothing of faith or the cross or of God. Salvation in the story is by poverty.

One day the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torment in Hades, he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off, with Lazarus at his side.

“‘Son,’ Abraham said, ‘remember that during your life you received your good things, just as Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here, while you are in agony.

Salvation by Poverty?

The other glaring problem is "Abraham's Bosom." How could Adam, Abel, Noah, or even Abraham himself go to Abraham's Bosom? Imagine Abel. He dies and is in a conscious state somewhere that nobody told him about. Cain dies and Abel suddenly sees him being tortured by God by fire? God never warned that. The hope of Adam was deliverance from death not bodiless bliss. If that's the case, rejoice at a child's death.

What God very specifically said to Adam was

  • You shall surely die
  • For you are dust, and you will return to dust

That is the curse. The Lord calls death "the last enemy" because it was the first enemy. Death was conquered and will one day be no more. There is no hint of a fiery torture chamber wherein God metes out unending pain. The Pharisees called it "Abraham's Bosom" because they were "the children of Abraham." They make no explanation of Adam, Abel, Noah, etc. as they placed their fate on being the children of Abraham. Another contradiction to their doctrine of chambers.

Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.

"We shall not all sleep." Who cares if death means eternal bliss?

What was the punishment for not taking the Lord's Supper "worthily?" Death, which is referred to as sleep in 1 Cor 11:29-30. Now, what kind of punishment is "eternal bliss in the presence of God?" if that is what death is?  It would be a stupid warning. (BONUS! This does not happen today, that age has closed. Unless you know "many" dead from not taking the Lord's Supper correctly).

For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and MANY sleep.

The doctrine of God torturing most of his creation with merciless fire is an abominable heresy. It means that anyone you know who dies outside the Lord is now being tortured by the Lord without end, without mercy. Not only that, you should rejoice that this is the case. It is pure justice, right? It is God's righteousness, correct? There is no mercy we can have. God has none for them, why should we?////

When an unbeliever dies, no matter anything else, those who hold to eternal fiery torment by God should rejoice and praise God that the deceased is being tortured by God, without hope. That is the conclusion RC Sproul had to come to. It's horrifying and an indictment of God's character. But to be consistent, he had to say we should rejoice in seeing billions in God's torture chamber. 

Further, if you feel any sympathy for the deceased, it is sin. It is a condemnation of God's justice (in that paradigm). The "obedient" believer, to have the mind of God, must rejoice in God's justice, without mercy.

Luke 16 is not an affirmation of a never-mentioned torture chamber, it is a condemnation of a hypocritical Pharisaical doctrine. They preached to the people that poverty was good for them (they themselves being rich). The Lord was not revealing truth to the Pharisees, he was exposing their hypocrisy.

The Lord references that hades will not prevail in Matt 16. That is simply the state of death. The context of Matthew 16 is the profession of faith made by Peter, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”. The grave will not hold in (prevail) against such a profession. Gates do not attack anything. 

The Lord is partly quoting Isaiah 38:10 ("gates of Sheol/Hades"), words spoken by good king Hezekiah. He was facing death. He was anticipating being in a state of death in Sheol/Hades. He wasn't rejoicing over it! Professed Christians today have parties when someone dies because he/she is supposedly in bliss beyond our comprehension. So, isn't mourning them an act of selfishness and even stupidity? 

If my mother was whisked off to the Italian Riviera, with only bliss and happiness and perfect health waiting for her and the only condition is that she couldn't talk with me until I arrived some years later, would I weep in despair? Would I wish her back? 

Why do men suppose the Gates of Hades in either context is a place of Satanic warfare? Men teach that Satan has some sort of HQ in Hades whence he attacks us. Mythological nonsense. But it's the same mythology behind the idea of God-run torture chamber.

What would the Gates of Hades mean in a two-chamber construct? Is it the good side or the bad side that won't prevail? The bad side is just people being "justly" tortured by God. The good side is awesomeness and comfort. The resurrection becomes a footnote. What's going to not prevail and over what?

The Lord concludes his scathing indictment of the Pharisees by saying they would not believe "even if one rose from the dead." The resurrection is the conquering of death, not someplace called "Abraham's Bosom." And there is no teaching in the Acts or Epistles of some chamber of hell being brought to heaven. To date, there has been  only one resurrection. Some have come back from the dead, but not into immortal bodies. The resurrection is yet future (1 Cor 15).

I won't lay it out again, but if the Lord was in some bodiless state in Abraham's Bosom, he is now, at least, a dual being. Adding in the "spirit" going back to the Father, he becomes triune on his own. That makes the Trinity now a 5-part God. No. The Lord was in the heart of the earth as he said he would be. Period.

Death is like sleep. This is clear in both the OT and NT. The resurrection isn't an asterisk on a reward. It is not a non-event of little significance. It is the undoing of the curse. It is everything.

For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.

-Ecclesiastes 9:4-5 

Friday, September 22, 2023

What is a Soul?

 It's important to revisit some of these basic doctrines. If one does not rightly divide these foundational concepts and truths, much confusion will ensue and terrible error can creep in unaware. One of the most important foundational pillars is the idea of the soul. 

Of course, the soul is an important biblical truth. But it must be understood through the witness of scripture and not through the lens of commonly held beliefs or mythologies. 

Soul is who you are, not what you have. You are not a triune being (and neither is the Lord Jesus).

"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath [Hebrew: nᵉshâmâh, English: spirit] of life; and man (Adam) became a living soul" 
-Gen 2:7

Adam was made from dust (as we are, indirectly in Adam, and to which we return in death bc of the curse of Adam on all of us "in Adam all die"). When Adam was made, he was a soul, but not a "living soul." When "spirit" was put in him, he BECAME a LIVING soul.

When the Lord was on the tree, he breathed his last and gave up the spirit (the breath of life) and died.

And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ ” Having said this, He breathed His last. 
-Luke 23:46

We are told the Lord's "soul" was in "hades" (Acts 2:31) That is, who he was was in a state of death known to God. He told us "the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matt 12:40). The Lord was not simultaneously in heaven where he gave up the Spirit, and in a place called Hades where his soul was, and also in the heart of the earth. His body was in the tomb (the earth) and who he is was in a state of death (hades).

The tomb and Hades are conquered by resurrection. In resurrection the spirit (breath of life) returns to the body. That is our hope. Paul mentions Hades one time, and it is context of believers and resurrection (rescue from the state of death).

So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality [in resurrection], then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades [grave, state of the dead], where is your victory?” - 
1 Cor 15:54-55

We await resurrection from the state of death. Our immortal and incorruptible life is hidden in Christ to be revealed in resurrection. We "groan" not to be naked, but to be clothed in resurrection (2 Cor 5:1-102 Cor 4:7-14)

For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 
-Col 3:3

You ARE a soul. Each person IS a soul. Scripture proclaims, a soul can die. The one who sins is the soul who sins. It is not an entity, it is the person.

  • The soul who sins shall die. (Ezek 18:4)
  • The person who sins is the one who will die. [HCSB]

The gospel saves souls/people from death and destruction (not bodiless torture by God).

let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death [thánatos, same word Paul uses in 1 Cor 15:55] and cover a multitude of sins. 
-James 5:20

We are all living "souls." We die because we have sinned. We are rescued from death and Hades in resurrection. We then become (are made) immortal souls.

Next time we'll look at "Abraham's Bosom" from the story of The Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

God's Mercy is the Undoing of Death in Resurrection for All Who Believe in Any Age

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope in His mercy,
To deliver their soul from death,
And to keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the Lord;
He is our help and our shield.
For our heart shall rejoice in Him,
Because we have trusted in His holy name.
Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us,
Just as we hope in You.
-Psalm 33:18-22

When we seek to glean truth from God's word, we have to mine on several levels. But no matter the level, if we do not seek to "rightly divide the Word of Truth" (2 Tim 2:15) we will miss truth on the one hand or we may slip into confusion and doubt on the other.

No matter how often I try to get away from speaking about the plague of "heaven/hell" and "saved/lost" theology (reading every book, chapter, and verse through those false dichotomies) which permeates the professing church, I am almost daily confronted with these errors flowing out of Evangelical Christianity (the only cohort with whom I am concerned). 

As I have covered the larger topic here and elsewhere (podcasts posted below), I want to examine Psalm 33 in light of these errors and in light of right division. When we interpret scripture, we seek to be consistent. Consistent to audience and hope. That is, to whom is it speaking (directly) and what hope is before them. 

  • Is it an individual or a group? 
  • Are they of the nation or outside he nation?
  • Is God dealing with a nation or all of mankind in the age?
  • Is the hope before us earthly or heavenly?

In Psalm 33, we have the writer addressing God as Creator

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth

God, as Creator, focuses us clearly on the seen heavens and earth (Gen 1:1). In the fist two millenia of the story of man, there is no promise of a "nation" or a "land." The hope is the restoration of Paradise lost in Adam and salvation from the curse of death. It is only when the Lord chooses Abraham that he reveals his plan for a land, a nation, and an earthly priesthood (removed from the heavenly priesthood of Melchizedek). 

The Psalmist is looking at all Creation. What should not be lost here is that God always had a plan for the Gentile nations. Before Abraham, all scripture knows is God's plans for all men. No nation above any other. When God chose Israel, he did not abandon the Gentile. His plan for the earth and the earthly Kingdom connected it made provision for the Gentiles. Israel was to be the twelve wells of water for the 70 palm trees (Exodus 15:27).

We note again that the Lord Jesus Christ came to confirm the promises made to Israel in regard to the land and the earthly kingdom and priesthood. He tells us, in no uncertain terms, that he "was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). And he came to confirm the promises to the same people. 

As the Apostle Paul notes in Romans 15:8-12 this two-fold ministry and plan of the Lord:

Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written:

“For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles,
And sing to Your name.”

And again he says:

“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people!”

And again:

“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles!
Laud Him, all you peoples!”

And again, Isaiah says:

“There shall be a root of Jesse;
And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles,
In Him the Gentiles shall hope.”

The House of Israel and the House of Jacob are central to both the Old (Exodus 19) and the New (Jer 31, Heb 8) Covenants. God's plans for the earth are centered on these people and their nations.

In Psalm 33 the lens is pulled back. While God was dealing with men through Israel in that age (no Gentile is seen in scripture unless he comes in contact with Israel or with a Jew), God has never stopped dealing with all nations. 

The Lord looks from heaven;
He sees all the sons of men.
From the place of His dwelling He looks
On all the inhabitants of the earth;
He fashions their hearts individually;
He considers all their works.

God has always seen all nations and has always seen every individual. Scripture deals with the hope placed before men in the restoration of Paradise until the plan for a nation at the head is revealed. The hope from Abraham to the end of the Acts was God's plan of an earthly, righteous kingdom of priests via the nation of Israel. But as scripture lays out the plan of God and his dealings with Israel (and the Covenants given to Israel for the land and the earth), he continues to see all men. This is brought out by the Psalmist.

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope in His mercy,
To deliver their soul from death,
And to keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the Lord;
He is our help and our shield.

We have a change here toward the end of the Psalm. The focus turns from "those who fear Him" to "our soul" and "our shield." But let us stay on the thoughts for those who fear Him of any nation. We first note that these are those who "hope in His mercy." This is the gospel of grace that has been declared since God spared Adam after he sinned. A righteous man needs no mercy, only the sinner needs mercy. The germ of this truth is found in the declaration of God in Genesis 3:15.

This section of Psalm 33 finishes with a dual identity (as I see it). The Psalmist identifies with ALL men who need His mercy (for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God). And the Psalmist stands here for Israel who also need the Lord's mercy for the nation surely failed the Lord.

In there, we see that every man needs the mercy of God to have his soul delivered from death. What would this mean in a "saved/loss" theology? From what is God "delivering" the "soul?" We can read verse 19 two ways, but either way, the "soul" dying is before us.

One who has God's mercy has the certain hope that his soul (his being) will be delivered from the state of death that all men experience. That deliverance will come when the hope of resurrection is experienced. How this was mercy was to be secured was not fully understood. Blood had to be shed, and God would supply a substitute in his mercy, but this was only seen in type before Christ. But we see the hope of resurrection and immortality (dual freedom from the death of the soul) in Christ!

For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

“O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”

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

-1 Cor 15 

We see clearly in Christ what the Psalmist saw in God's mercy. He knew the Lord is merciful. He knew the Lord forgives sin. He knew the Lord would deliver his soul (life) from death (grave and Hades), but he had to look forward. We look back to the finished work of the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ!

If we turn back to Psalm 32, we see the Psalmist rejoicing in the knowledge of sins forgiven. This is BEFORE the "New Covenant" of Jeremiah was revealed. That covenant is not "salvation by grace," for God has saved by grace from the beginning. 

1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit.
3 When I kept silent, my bones grew old
Through my groaning all the day long.
4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah
5 I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I have not hidden.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

So, it is the "soul" that is saved from "death" by grace through faith. Once again, scripture testifies that the hope of all in Adam is the hope of resurrection in Christ.

For since by a man came death, by a Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.

-1 Cor 15:21-22

The New Covenant does not create salvation by grace, it has always been there. The New Covenant for "O Virgin of Israel" (Jer 31) and the security of rescue from death are both sealed by the complete work of Christ, but remain independent truths,  


Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Fidelity to the Truth is More Important Than Sincerity to a Cause

I marched on Washington, DC, against abortion as a teen. I was very sincere. I don't doubt many people caught up in Q or in Trump are sincere and "well-meaning." I'm just wary of leaders, all leaders. Every movement gets usurped by "leaders" who basically become the Pope and Magisterium of that movement. 

Personally, I suspect Donald Trump is, at least, part con-man. He knows how to play the crowd. The crowd may be very sincere, but I don't believe Trump is. He hugs an American flag, people melt, then he displays a rainbow flag and becomes a salesman for the Covid gene therapy and Pharmaceutical companies. Maybe he's somewhere in-between. The greater point is that he has become, as most leaders do, above question. This is common on all sides of every issue and it is dangerous no matter the person, no matter the cause.

If you try to point out that his cabinet and Department of Justice were filled with the same old Washington bureaucrats (the Swamp) that his followers supposedly detest, you feel the wrath of those same followers. Then he hugs another flag and all is forgotten.

This pattern can also be applied to those connected to projects such as The Passion movie of 2004, the current TV show, The Chosen, and even the popular movie out now, Sound of Freedom.

Those who go to see Sound of Freedom are very sincere. The people at my church who went to see The Passion of the Christ (TPOTC) were very sincere. I just think they were being played. Not necessarily played because Mel Gibson had some evil plan, but played because Mel Gibson (and Jim Caviezel) were sincerely putting forth their version of the truth and allowed great, swelling promises to accompany their vision without protest. 

They didn't make any promises, they let the crowds of Evangelical Christians do that for them. Caviezel and Gibson want you in the Catholic Church. They think that is a "good" goal. They were pretty open about it, yet very few listened. They took the Hopium, got believers hooked on it, and handed hundreds of millions over to papists.

There is always a great anticipation around these things. Some hope of some "great spiritual awakening" is in the air. But the people behind these things are rarely doctrinally sound (even on basic matters of the faith). I know pastors who love "The Chosen." I watched 20 minutes of The Passion and saw several key errors. 

TPOTC was hardly "the most accurate film about Christ ever  made" as we were promised. It was not based on scripture, but rather on the visions of a Catholic mystic. And that's not rumor or a theory, they were very open about that. It's just that people did not want to listen.  I watched 10 minutes of The Chosen and saw a healthy dose of supposition and error. How can those pastors not see what I saw? Hopium. They want to believe a revival will follow.

Look at America since TPOTC was released. Moral decay. Attacks on the family. Evangelical believers denying core tenets of the faith and seeing declining numbers. There were no "church services breaking out in theaters" or people "crying out for salvation" as we were promised.  What we did see was Evangelicals handing $1,000,000,000 to devout papists who have a very low regard for their gospel. 

This week Pope Francis met none other than Jesus in St. Peter’s Square. While greeting faithful on Wednesday, Aug. 11, the pope spoke with Jonathan Roumie, who portrays Christ in the series “The Chosen” and was visiting Rome to promote the show. “Meeting the pope was essentially having a childhood dream be realized,” Roumie told Religion News Service later that day at Rome’s Hotel Indigo St. George.

It is well-known that The Chosen is produced by Mormons and Catholics. Do we believe they will show fidelity to a right division of the Word? I don't. But the reason many Evangelicals won't see the problem is because most Evangelicals fail to understand the Lord's earthly ministry. He was sent to Israel alone. That is not some weird, dispensational twist, it is exactly what he said (Matthew 15:24). He forbade the Gospel of the Kingdom to b preached to anyone but to Jews in Israel (Matthew 10:5-8).

I think these religious things are the ecclesiastical side of the secular "trust the plan" Hopium. They lead to complacency ("I don't have to do anything, just wait for the movement to do it!"). I'm not arguing there is necessarily a direct correlation between The Passion and the quick decay of the West, but it certainly did nothing to save the West from decay

I well remember the  (friendly) Passion wars I was in with believers in 2004. Now, understanding I'm biased here, remembering my many discussions on the topic in deep red and Bible Belt Alabama, I think my assessment was right. The film was not the answer, it would not bring national revival. And America has been in steep decline since. The Passion opened in 2004, Barack Obama elected POTUS in 2008 along with a Marxist House and Senate. The GOP then nominated a Mormon in 2012. Gay marriage declared a constitutional right in 2015.

2016 saw two of the most immoral and unethical public figures in US history as the choice for the presidency. Then came the authoritarianism of Covid policy, forced vaccinations, and finally, an entire political party committed to allowing pornography in grade school libraries while promoting men in women's bathrooms and girls' locker rooms as they shake their genitalia in the face of children.

The rot is evident on both sides and both sides demand absolute orthodoxy or you will be shunned and shamed.   

Oppose any of the Progressive sexual agenda to any degree and you will be labeled a fascist, racist, misogynist, transphobe. There is no tolerance for dissent on one side as we tolerate the historical enemies of the faith if they tickle our ears with what we want to hear. 

We should reaching out to those who might be realizing that we've gone too far. Perhaps they'll listen to a real hope. A hope that has a future beyond this earth. But too many are focused on an earthly gospel and an earthly kingdom to see greater truths. 

Shearing the sheep by selling them Hopium hasn't worked before and it won't work now. Our focus should be getting out the truth, defending the truth, teaching the faithful, and encouraging one another. Rescue those we can while there is still time. Sound of Freedom is nice, but it is no substitute. And I fear will only enrich the enemies of the gospel (again) in the end.

Actor Jim Caviezel speaking on Trump: “I’m still Jesus, but he’s the new Moses”


Wednesday, July 12, 2023

The Old and New Covenants Veil the Truth of Liberty in Christ

But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, Who is the image of God, should shine unto them

-2 Corinthians 4:3-4 (KJV)

At first glance, this passage may have an obvious application. And in some ways it does. But we need to be careful to read and interpret all things in their contexts and according to the age and company addressed. We also need to be careful as some translations are poisoned by the traditions the translators knowingly or unknowingly perpetuate.

Let's look a at few words in the passage and see if we pull out a fuller and more precise meaning.

Hid = kalýptō (Greek)

to hide, veil;  to hinder the knowledge of a thing (Thayer)


Lost = apóllymi (Greek)

to destroy (Thayer)
to destroy fully, perish (Strong)
to destroy (Mounce)
perishing (Bullinger)
to waste (Far Above All)

In = en
in, by, with (Thayer)
A primary preposition denoting (fixed) position (in place, time or state) (Strong)

Whom = hós

who, which, what, that (Thayer)

A number of other translations render kalýptō as "veiled." Charles Welch notes this:

The symbol of the old covenant is the veiled face of Moses (II Cor. iii. 13); the symbol of the new is the unveiled face of Christ (II Cor. iv. 6). The figure of the veil is continued in the words of II Cor. iv. 3, 4

-The Berean Expositor XXIII

Before we continue in this vein, let's quickly look back at our verse as presented in the KJV:

But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost

On its own, "in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not" is a bit awkward if we the "lost" which precedes it as the commonly used meaning of that word. As given to us, are we to understand it as:

if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are [unbelievers]: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which [are unbelievers]

The modern version try to make better sense of this:

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. [ESV]

I don't see a justification for using "in their case." I see why they want to use it there as it cleans up the problem left by the KJV translators. "In whom" in the KJV. But I believe both translations are the result of some wanting to see the heaven/hell, saved/lost dichotomy here. In doing so (as is often the case with this sort of imposition on the text) a greater truth is lost.

The idea in this passage is that the gospel Paul was preaching (to Jew and Gentile, but primarily in his calling to graft in Gentiles to Israel in that age) was "veiled." by that which was perishing and headed for perdition (destruction). That is, The Old Covenant. Let's quickly look at Paul's conclusion in Hebrews 8 after reiterating the New Covenant found in Jeremiah 31. 

In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

-Hebrews 8:13

"Ready to vanish away" is a translation of the Greek engýs aphanismós, literally, "imminent destruction/disappearance." As we have touched on many times before, the Lord's return was also "imminent" ("at hand"). The ushering in of all the promises of the New Covenant (for "Virgin Israel") was at the door. 

The Old Covenant was on its last legs. It was about to vanish the moment Israel repented (Acts 3). We see in Hebrews 13 that the Old Covenant is [palaióō] "becoming obsolete." The KJV uses "decayeth." This is the idea of wasting away. Thayer defines it as "worn out" and "about to be abrogated." It is not yet gone, but nothing can stop the New Covenant coming to fruition upon Israel repentance. 

Remember, Peter promised Israel after Pentecost that God would send back Jesus "unto the restoration of all things" if Israel would repent. At Pentecost itself, the prophecy of Joel was only partly fulfilled. There was a stumbling block. That stumbling block was Israel's unbelief and her insistence on holding onto the Old Covenant.

We need to be careful here. The Old Covenant contained the Law, but it is not the Law. The Old Covenant was made before the Law was given. It was a conditional promise that Israel would become a special people above all. 

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”

-Exodus 19:5-6

It was conditional upon adherence to the Law, but it was not the Law itself. As we know from Acts 15 and Acts 21, provisions in the Law were still given to Jewish believers and Gentile believes out of the Law. Not a condition for the gift of eternal life as adherence was never a condition of the free gift of resurrection life. That gift is given by God's grace based on our faith.

The Old Covenant was about to disappear in the Acts Age. It just needed Israel repentance. Israel's New Covenant was about to come in. Let's turn back, then, to our passage in 2 Corinthians. We've noted the redundancy which is found in most translations. Remember, if we see the unbeliever as both the "lost" and the "in whom" [KJV], making the sentence redundant and awkward. 

But if we see the verse referring to that which is "perishing" or "decaying" and ready to "vanish away" and be "abgrogated,"  the idea of "by which" fits much better and the point becomes clearer and not redundant at all, 

But if our gospel be veiled, it is veiled by those things which are perishing, by which the god of this age has blinded the minds of them which believe not

That which was a veil over the faces of those who would not believe was the perishing Old Covenant and the attached Law. We see that the Law was a stumbling block for many in Israel. It is a tool of the god of the Acts age. I would venture to say it is still a tool used to veil the truth of the Mystery of Ephesians in our age. Even those today who claim to be a "New testament (or covenant)" church still lean on the Law and have tried to claim the promises of both covenants. Even the mpst hardcore Acts 2 dispensationalist claims a priesthood as spoken by Peter (an Apostle to the Circumcision) who wrote his epistle to "the dispersion." 

For a little context, let's turn back to 2 Corinthians 3:

But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones [the Law], was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious. Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech— unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

The eyes of "the children of Israel" [Jews] could not look on the glory on Moses' face. The Law has its own glorious. It is certainly "holy and good," but it can only minister death. And just as the glory was fading from Moses' face as he hid his face with a veil, so does a veil cover the eyes of those who refused to see the glory of The Old Covenant passing away. A New Covenant was awaiting its enactment upon the repentance of Israel.

“Yet now, brethren ["ye men of Israel"], I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers.  But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world [ages] began. For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you."
-Acts 3 17-22

We are purely on Jewish ground. The prophets were sent to Israel. The fathers are of Israel. The Lord Jesus Christ was raised up a prophet for Israel. We know from Paul's witness in Ephesians that the truth revealed there was unknown to the prophets and hidden from before the ages began. 

Before we end this part of our study, let me present on alternative translation of 2 Cor 3:3-4:

But if on the other hand our gospel is veiled, it is veiled among those who are on the road to perdition, among whom the god of this age has blinded the minds of those who do not believe, so that the light of the of Christ, who is the image of God, does not shine on them.

-Far Above All 

If we allow this application of those on the road to perdition (decay, perishing), we can still see the Jewish context. The veil, the blinding, the light of Christ. 2 Cor 3 still gives us the greater context of the comparison of the glory of the Law against the glory of Christ.

It is important to mark these distinctions in the Acts and in the Acts Age epistles (before the "wall of separation" between Jew and Gentile comes down post-Acts).

There are many today who veil the minds of believers and unbelievers alike with the faded glory of the Law, not allowing the full brightness of the glory of Christ to shine in their hearts. We may have a different hope before us in this age, but that only makes the deception far worse. There is no New Covenant for us to look to in this age. There is a greater hope in the far above the heavens.

So, the ability to see the truth of the current dispensation is veiled by by both the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. Teachers and preachers today keep their flocks in the dark by insisting they focus on the things of the earth. Its ordinances, its hopes, its holy days, its promises.  

Veiling the glory of Christ and his Kingdom is one thing, veiling the hope of a place seated at the right hand of the Father a far greater loss.