Featured Post

Introduction to Personal Bible Study - Videos (2007)

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

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

This Reformed Chart Accidentally Confirms the Dispensational Position


Reformed extremists like to post this chart. Actually, it's one of the best arguments for the Right Division position! It's not perfect, of course, and it makes a few assumptions. I'll just point out one issue. 

Number 16 argues that Ephesians and 2 Cor teach the same body/bride. However, Corinthians teaches local bodies which have their own head and Ephesians teaches a single (male) body with Christ as the head.


And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 
-1 Corinthians 12:16


Ephesians uses the picture of the place of the wife, but it does not teach that the Body is the Bride. Let's look at their reference, 


Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

-Ephesians 5:22-24


This teaching is for wives to submit to the headship of their husbands AS Christ is head of the Church. It does not equate the wife with the Church. The passage states that Christ is head of "his Body." 


We'd have to go to the prophets and the Revelation from here to establish that Israel was and will be again the wife of the Lord ("Virgin Israel" again). Too much for this short study. Simply put,  we are the Body (singular) made up of Jew and Gentile (with no distinctions unlike in the Gospels and Acts Age) with Christ as the Head. The hope of the Body is "in the heavenly places" and not in the land nor in the New Jerusalem (which is figured as wife as it is the hope of the Overcomer in Israel). 


I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.


The New Jerusalem  ("the city whose builder and maker is God" that Abraham hoped for as taught in Hebrews 11) comes down to earth. It is a heavenly city, it is a reward, it has the names of the 12 tribes and 12 Apostles to the Circumcision (not Paul) on it. The 12 Apostles will "sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel." It is an earthly hope. Our hope is in "the far above the heavens."


Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on His glorious throne, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 

-Matthew 19:28


And now I stand on trial for hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, 7 to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly serve God day and night.  

-Acts 26:6-7


One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came to me and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”  And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, her light like a most precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were written: three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb

-Rev 21:9-13


Note the verse in Acts is very late in the book. And at that trial, Paul testified that he taught nothing you could not find in Moses and the Prophets (the Hebrew canon). This differs from Ephesians wherein he writes under inspiration that he was given a special revelation unknown to  the Prophets. 


I continue to this day, testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would happen  

-Acts 26:22


At the end of the Acts, Paul says he was in chains "for the hope of Israel." In Ephesians, after the "wall of partition" is removed, he says he is in prison "for you gentiles." 


The earthly hopes and promises (restoration of Paradise, the promised land) were revealed since the foundation of the ages, but the heavenly hope of Ephesians for The Body was hidden. 


To me [Paul], the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the incomprehensible riches of Christ, and to reveal for all people what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God, who created all things through Jesus Christ


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 [overthrow] of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love


The Kingdom hope was spoken FROM the foundation (overthrow).


Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world


As we have seen repeatedly, the promises to Israel (the Parousia of the Lord and the restoration of the Kingdom in Israel) spoken by the Prophets, spoken by Christ, promised by Peter in the Acts age, and expected in the Acts epistles of Paul are exemplified in the chart above. 

There are other assumptions in the chart we could dissect. For instance, the use of the word "church" is deceptive. The word ("ekklēsía") means a called out company and is used of a mob and of local councils in the Acts, but the translators try to hide the word as it conflicts with their theology. We also see this in James. In both places, the Reformed translators use the word "assembly." In the Acts they avoid the word "church" and in James they avoid the word "synagogue." Anything to deny Israel her promises and covenants. 

So, Israel was a called out company, the local gatherings of Jewish and grafted in Gentile believers were called out companies and "the body, the church" of this age is a called out company. And, again, if we understand the expectation and hope of the Acts age was the same as the earthly hope of Israel, the chart confirms the consistent dispensational position.  

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Is the Book of Acts Descriptive and Prescriptive for the Current Age?

 An Objection

In our most recent study (Is Acts 2 a Pattern for Today? How About the Red Letters?) we looked at the clear prescriptive instructions of the Lord in the gospel accounts as well as in Paul's epistle to the Romans (the "duty" of Gentile believers to support Jewish believers in Jerusalem). But we will gladly address the legitimate claim that Acts 2 and Acts 4 are merely descriptive. But we won't stop there. In our quest to be CONSISTENT in our interpretation and application, we will expand our look at the Acts and beyond. 

Some will argue that they do not hold the actions of believers in Acts 2 or Acts 4 to be for all believers. They will say that the passages are "descriptive" and not "prescriptive." That is, all the passage is telling us what they did, not revealing a command that must be obeyed. 

Whereas we can see the reasoning, it doesn't quite explain what we see in Acts 5 in regard to the sale of property by Ananias and Sapphira. 


Now a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property. He kept back part of the proceeds with his wife’s knowledge, and brought a part of it and placed it at the apostles’ feet. (5:1)
 
The Geneva Study Bible assumes sin from verse 1:
Luke shows by contrary examples how great a sin hypocrisy is, especially in those who under a false pretense and cloak of zeal seem to shine and be of great importance in the Church.

They seem to be assuming a "cloak of zeal" and a desire to be seen as "of great importance in the Church." This isn't a wild assumption nor does it do violence to the text, but it is not based on the text itself. This is not necessarily an illegitimate way to interpret certain verses or passages, but it must be done carefully. As assumption of greed is reasonable as well, but we don't want to lose the focus of the actual series of events and the implications therein. 

We must also pause to ask of what "Church" do they write? Do they not hold that the "church" of Acts 5 is the "Church" of today and every day since Pentecost? If so, we have a consistency issue. As we will ask: what has changed, why did it change, when did it change? 

Looking to verse 3, the Geneva Bible makes a rather stunning argument:

For when they had appointed that farm or possession for the Church, they were foolish to keep away a part of the price, as though they were dealing with men, and not with God, and therefore he says afterwards that they tempted God.

Form the text we can glean that they were foolish to lie to God, but Peter clearly states they were under no obligation to either sell the property or to give the proceeds to "the church." 

Remember, the writers and theologians behind this commentary believe "the Church" of Acts 5 is the same church to which they belong. We keep reiterating because it is essential if we want to interpret scripture consistently. They must therefore believe that when we deal with "the Church" today we are dealing, not with men, but directly with God as they were in Acts 5 and, thus, we are subject to the same punishments. If that is not the case: what has changed, why did it change, when did is change?


While it remained unsold, was it not your own? And when it was sold, was it not under your authority? Why have you conceived this deed in your heart? You did not lie to men, but to God.” (5:4)

 

I don't want to wander off into the weeds here. We know thus far that Ananias and Sapphira were not obligated to sell their property and not obligated to give all the proceeds to the Apostles. But even one hold that this passage is merely descriptive, he has to explain the direct act of God. If God does not act in the same way today, what has changed, why did it change, when did it change?

Peter tells the couple in verse 4 that they were apparently under no obligation to sell the property and that even if they chose to do so, the proceeds are 100% theirs. Right here, we can toss out any idea of a  "pattern" set for all believers of all ages from Acts 2 and Acts 4. The argument for "Church Socialism" is therefore not a command or even expectation of God. We solidify both the "descriptive" argument and our conclusions from our previous study.

But that is not the argument we are addressing in this section. The authors and theologians behind the Geneva Study Bible are conceding that. This is their commentary on verse 4:

By this is meant an advised and purposeful deceit, and the fault of the man in listening to the devil’s suggestions.
OK. The couple did plan to deceive. They very well could have been tricked by Satan. My sense is that it simply was an act of the flesh. The flesh (the old nature) can be used by Satan, but it is certainly evil and greedy and full of lust on its own. So, let's say that, in general, I have no problem with the larger assumption here: they purposefully and selfishly lied. Let's even concede for now that the couple listened to the devil's suggestions. Do we then limit that possibility to then and there? If so: what has changed, why did it change, when did it change?

On hearing these words, Ananias fell down and died. And great fear came on all those who heard these things. (5:5)... About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for this amount?” She said, “Yes, for that much.” Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” At once she fell down at his feet and died. (5:7-10)


Here is where we're going to run into the "pattern" problem. If selling the land and not giving all the proceeds was not a command, but the decision to tell "the Church" that was your plan makes you bound to your word upon the threat of immediate death at the hands of God: what has changed, why did it change, when did is change? I ask assuming we all can see this is hardly what happens today. Even if not "prescriptive," the results of their decision are surely possible today. Surely many believers lie to God. Prescriptive or not, we do not see God acting this way today. Something has changed.

Are we thus arguing that the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira are simply "descriptive?" One could certainly argue that. But where do we stop with this interpretation in looking at the Book of Acts and even in the epistles? Do the actions taken by the Apostles (approved by the Holy Spirit) and given in "prescriptive" form in other parts of the Acts and Acts epistles no longer apply today? If not: what has changed, why did it change, when did it change?


For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to put on you no greater burden than these necessary things: Abstain from food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, from strangled animals, and from blood. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.

-Acts 15:28-29

 

These commands (taken from the Law in regard to Gentiles living among the Jews) are reiterated in Acts 21. We are now in the Acts  ministry of Paul and well into the Acts age. In Acts 21 Paul is accused of teaching Jewish believers not to circumcise their sons. This appalls the Apostle. Paul then he clearly states, under inspiration, that Jews would continue in the non-ceremonial law (as the perfect sacrifice was complete) and Gentiles would continue to observe the instructions (prescriptive) from Acts 15, which were taken from the Law of Moses. If these prescriptive teachings are no longer applicable, what has changed, why did it change, when did it change?


Take these men and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may have their heads shaved. Then all will know that what they were told concerning you is nothing, but that you yourself [Paul] live in observance of the lawAs for the Gentiles who believe, we have written and concluded that they should observe no such thing, except that they abstain from food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, from strangled animals, and from blood.”

-Acts 21:24-25


This is not simply describing voluntary acts. The Jewish believers were to "live in observance of the law" (prescriptive) and gentile believers were to "abstain" (a command) etc. If this is no longer applicable: what has changed, why did it change, when did it change?

The Geneva puts forth the common argument that Paul's conformity to the law and the separate instructions were to appease the unlearned among them.

In things indifferent (of which sort the traditions of the Pharisees were not, but rather the ceremonies of the Law, until the time when Christian liberty was more fully revealed to the Jews) charity exhorts us to conform or apply ourselves willingly so far as we may, to our brethren who do not stubbornly and maliciously resist the truth (but are not thoroughly instructed), especially if the question pertains to a whole multitude. (21:20)

The appeasement argument would then teach us that appeasement is approved and seems good to God.

The idea they proffer is that some were not ready for the deeper truth of full liberty in Christ. That may seem reasonable, but Paul's gospel was taken solely from the Law and the Prophets. That is, there were truths there concerning the eventual blessing of Gentiles through Israel (this is the thrust of Romans 15) and that the Messiah and his ministry was prophesied. 

So these truths were clearly in the revealed texts of what we call the Old Testament, but not clearly seen. They are given in picture form in the Law but not clearly understood. No other truths were revealed. The focus is still the plan for Israel and the plan for the land/earth.

The gospel of Ephesians, the blessings in the far above the heavens, and the pulling down of the wall of separation ("the middle wall of partition") between Jew and Gentile (revealed to Paul alone, Eph 3) was not yet made known.

Paul testified truthfully as late as Acts 26:

 

Therefore having obtained help from God, I continue to this day, testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would happen: that the Christ must suffer, that He would be the first who would rise from the dead, and would announce light to His own people and to the Gentiles.”

-Acts 26:22-23


As late as Acts 28 Paul declared he was in chains "for the hope of Israel" (Acts 28:20). The hope of Israel is how the Book of Acts opens (Act 1:1-8), the risen Lord teaching the enlightened Apostles (who were promised to sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel, Matthew 19) for forty days about the coming Kingdom. They asked one question after 40 days of Kingdom teaching by the King, "will you, at this time, restore the Kingdom to Israel?

Those Apostles were still dealing with a plan for Israel, God's plan for the earth. They knew nothing of a Gentile church. Those apostles never went to Gentiles save once (Peter with the Keys of the Kingdom to graft in Gentiles for STATED purpose of "making Israel [ not "the Church"]  jealous"). After Peter reported that Gentiles received the same spiritual gifts as the Jews, they were astonished and went out a "preached to Jews only." 


When they heard these things, they were silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then God has granted to the Gentiles also repentance unto life.”Now those who were scattered by the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, preaching the word to no one except Jews...
-Acts 11:18-19

If the distinction today between Jew and Gentile has changed: what has changed, why did it change, when did it change? 

The apostles in Jerusalem waited for prophecy concerning Israel to be fulfilled. This is Peter's testimony in Acts there wherein he promises "You men of Israel" that if they repented, the Father would send back Jesus "to the restoration of all things." (Acts 3). Peter knew of no "New Israel" called "the Church." Paul certainly knows of no such thing when he speaks of Israel in Romans.

Peter and the twelve were commissioned as "Apostles to the Circumcision." They never went to Gentiles (except the one time by Peter as noted). James wrote his epistle to "the twelve tribes scattered abroad" and Peter wrote his epistles to "the dispersion." 

Peter's words to Israel in Acts 3 (after Pentecost) were not merely "descriptive." The offer was very real. The hope of the Book of Acts (and the Acts epistles and the Gospels and the Revelation) was and is the restoration of Israel, the cleansing of the Virgin of the New Covenant, and the fulfillment of all the words of the prophets in regard to a faithful Israel.

The Apostles knew nothing of some spiritual Gentile Church becoming "spiritual Israel."  


Prescriptive Isn't Always Prescriptive

And just one final note along these lines. We've shown how even prescriptive verses from the New Testament are no longer prescriptive  today and we've tried to answer the "why" and "when" questions. I'd like to address briefly how modern theology often gets close to the truth while failing to see the final step. That is, they stop short of a consistent interpretation of scripture, often without even attempting an explanation. 

To wit: I watched a video on a YouTube channel which rightfully exposes false prophets of today. These false prophets of prosperity often claim the words of the Lord and randomly grab verses and passages from anywhere in the Bible. We're never told why one can't do that. He does expose how some verses are ripped from their contexts, but often fails to explain why some verses used areen't applicable to believers today, especially those from the red letters.

Several times he uses red letters to contradict what a "prophet" has used from the red letters. 

They will quote (for example):


Give, and it will be given to you: Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will men give unto you. For with the measure you use, it will be measured unto you. (Luke 6:38)


And he will respond, as he did on one occasion, with:


Give us this day our daily bread. (Matthew 6:11)


Both are clearly true. Just quoting from the so-called "Lord's Prayer" doesn't explain Luke 6. It doesn't explain other very prescriptive things in Matthew 5-7 either! 

The YouTuber is right to expose these charlatans. But as part of his condemnation of them he quotes on several occasions Deuteronomy 18:


But the prophet who presumes to speak a message in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods—that prophet must die. And you may say in your heart, “How can we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?” When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not occur or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You shall not be afraid of him.


There is no doubt that this passage is very prescriptive. God commands that the false prophet must die. The YouTuber does not call for the death of these false prophets of today (after exposing the failure of their prophecies, given in the name of God, fail to come to pass). By doing so, he rightly acknowledges that even clearly prescriptive passages in scripture are not for all people of all ages.  

As with all these things, we ask again: 

  • what has changed?
  • why did it change? 
  • when did it change? 

Friday, March 29, 2024

Is Acts 2 a Pattern for Today? How About the Red Letters?

Should we be looking to Acts Chapter 2 (or Acts Chapter 4) as an instructional guide for the Christian life in 2024? Are Christians to live communally is some sort of Socialist or Marxist paradigm? 

They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in the prayers. Fear came to every soul. And many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common. They sold their property and goods and distributed them to all, according to their need. And continuing daily with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart...

-Acts 2:42-46

The note that they continued "daily... in the temple" should immediately clue us in that this is not soem of Bible command for all people of all ages. It wasn't even practiced by all believers in the Acts, as we shall see. I only note it here to suggest the idea that it is universally applicable should be questioned immediately. But we will ignore the Israeli temple attendance and focus on the communal livng.  

The communal practice in Acts 2 and 4 worked for Jewish believers living with the Apostles in Jerusalem, but it was not a "pattern" and certainly not a command. As we will see, Gentile believers didn't do this, nor did others outside of Jerusalem. 

And as with the attendance, daily, at the temple, we must also notice what these particular believers with the proceeds from the sale of their good. When we see this practice in action in Acts chapter 4, we see the proceeds being laid at the Apostles' feet. (This is, of course, impossible today despite charlatans claiming the title of Apostle.)

All the believers were of one heart and one soul, and no one said that what he possessed was his own. But to them all things were in common. With great power the apostles testified to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was on them all. There was no one among them who lacked, for all those who were owners of land or houses sold them, and brought the income from what was sold, and placed it at the apostles’ feet. And it was distributed to each according to his need.

-Acts 4:32-35

We should note there that when the "pattern" was violated, the death penalty was immediate. I don't see those claiming this for the "church" either selling all their goods or dropping dead for not bringing all the proceeds to the apostles (if that were even possible). As an aside (which we will address in our next study), Peter tells Ananias and Sapphira that they were under no obligation to sell their property OR to give all the proceeds to the Apostles. Both the home and the proceeds remained under their own "authority." For this study, we note it to show that communal living wasn't even a command in the Acts church.  

Now a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property. He kept back part of the proceeds with his wife’s knowledge, and brought a part of it and placed it at the apostles’ feet. Then Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to deceive the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, was it not your own? And when it was sold, was it not under your authority? Why have you conceived this deed in your heart? You did not lie to men, but to God.” On hearing these words, Ananias fell down and died. And great fear came on all those who heard these things. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.

-Acts 5:1-6

The next problem in trying to maintain that communal living is some pattern for all believers of all ages everywhere is that Paul knows of no such pattern when he write to the Roman church (which was made up of both Jewish and Gentile believers). He has a very different command there (a "duty"), and that command was specific to Gentile believers. This is not mere "descriptive" of what they did, it was a "duty" to which they were bound (i.e. it was "prescriptive")

Greek: opheílō = duty = to be under obligation (ought, must, should) (Strong's #3784)

A definite patter of the Acts age is the distinction between Jews and Gentiles. Never in regard to the gift of Life (which had not changed since Adam), but in regard to practice, place, and expectations. 


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

-Romans 15:25-27


The Gentiles still owned carnal things, thus making it possible to support the Jewish believers in Jerusalem to whom they were in debt spiritually. We don't make these distinctions today. And Paul did not ask the Roman Gentiles to sell all they had. These three verses are packed with Acts age truth

  • Not every believer sold all and lived communally
  • Gentiles were under obligation and positionally second to Jewish believers 

In first Corinthians there are references to eating at home (11:34) and asking one's husband while at home (14:35). This would be odd if it were a communal home. But even if that was the case, in the post Acts age we see even more individual references to the home.

But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them learn first to show piety at home and to repay their parents. For this is good and acceptable before God.

-1 Timothy 5:4


Likewise, older women should be reverent in behavior, and not be false accusers, not be enslaved to much wine, but teachers of good things, that they may teach the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, and to be self-controlled, pure, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored.

-Titus 2:3-5

And the only Apostle the Gentiles had was Paul. As such, the Gentiles would be selling all and laying the proceeds at Paul's feet. We never see this once in the Acts age or in the Post Acts age. Paul was not managing communes and collecting proceeds from land sales across the Roman Empire. In First Corinthians 11 Paul specifically refers to believers going back to their individual houses and individual families.

Do you not have houses [plural] to eat and to drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing?

Strong's
Greek: oîkos = house, home - From G3624; properly residence (abstractly), but usually (concretely) an abode (literally or figuratively); by implication a family (especially domestics): - home, house (-hold).


That said, the idea used in Acts 2 and Acts 4 of sharing our assets with believers is admirable. If a believer has a large home and plot of land in the mountains, say, it would be a blessing for him to try and house and feed other believers there should the need arise. But there is no scriptural call or command for him to sell the property and lay the proceeds at anyone's feet.

We need to try to be consistent in our interpretation of scripture. We must discern between learning from actions and being expected to obey the commands of an age. Fact is, for those who claim the "red letters" and the words and commands of the Lord for themselves, they should have already sold everything, given to the poor, and should be waiting for the Lord to provide (after they quit their jobs).

Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, what you will eat, nor for your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouses nor barns. Yet God feeds them. How much more valuable are you than birds? Who of you by worrying can add one cubit to his height? If you then cannot do what is least, why are you anxious about the other things? “Consider how the lilies grow. They neither spin nor weave. Yet I say to you that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith? And do not seek what you will eat or what you will drink, nor be of an anxious mind. For the nations of the world [Gentiles] seek all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be given to you. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give alms. Provide yourselves purses that do not grow old, an unfailing treasure in the heavens, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

-Luke 12:22-34

We don't obey this command or follow these teachings because they are not for us. We cannot dismiss them as merely "descriptive" either. There is clear a prescribed action by the Lord to those of his "flock" (i.e. believers, disciples). The chosen apostles of the Lamb sold all ("Peter answered Him, See, we have left everything and followed You. What then shall we have?" -Matt 19). The "red letter" Christian must take this for himself as well.

These who are taught to sell their possessions are also instructed that, as they go from town to town, to stay in the houses of individual believers who obvious did not also sell everything nor did they leave their homes to follow the Lord. Only certain believers in that age "obeyed" the "red letters." Does that mean they were disobedient? Of course, not. Not all were instructed to sell all. The Lord commends some who would not sell their homes for housing the homeless apostles on their journey according to their calling in Matthew 10:5-10. This would seem odd if the commands of the red letters in Matthew were/are for all believers.

In whatever city or town you enter, inquire in it who is worthy. And live there until you leave. When you come into a house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. Whoever will not receive you, nor hear your words, when you depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.
-Matthew 10:11-14
 
None of this is for the current age, The Gospel of the Kingdom they were sent out to preach is not for this age. The Lord exclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom in Matthew 4 and Matthew 9. He didn't even reveal to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem to die until Matthew 16 (and they don't want him to go!). Clearly, the gospel they were sent out to proclaim in Matthew 10 was not the gospel we preach which was given to us by the Apostle Paul.

Are there things we can learn and profit from here? Certainly. But we must learn to rightly divide the context (to whom, when, where, why, etc.). There are some who say Paul corrupted the gospel of the Kingdom. But to those who want to hold such a position, are you proclaiming the gospel of Matthew 4 and 9?

Late leftist Pastor, Tony Campolo, (who liked to yell at Christians for not accepting homosexuals and every cult member as fellow believers and claimed "the red letters" for himself and for us today), he who used the words of the Lord in the parable of the sheep and the goats (among other words) to yell at me for not turning Christianity into a social program, that Tony Campolo died with a net worth of $4 million. 

"Jesus said to His disciples, Truly, I say to you that it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven."


He neither sold all, as the red letters say, nor did he heed the warning about the wealthy not gaining easy access to heaven, as the red letters warn. Again, these passages are not for today nor to all believers of all ages, but if Campolo and the "Red Letter Christians" want me to take them seriously, they need to actually follow the red letters they claim I must follow.

If we're going to take some of the Lord's words as directly to us, we're going to have to explain why we don't take all, or why some and not all. If I have to visit the sick (the least of Tony Campolo's brethren in Matthew 25) to make God my debtor for eternity in heaven, why didn't Tony "Sell [his] possessions and give alms?" Because he liked to pick and choose what he would obey. Yes, that's my assessment, but what else can I conclude in light of "sell all" and the warning the "rich man" being red letters to a man worth millions as he preaches the red letters?

They must answer (as will ask more pointedly in our next study): 
  • what has changed?
  • why did it change?
  • when did it change? 

We do not follow Matthew 10 nor Matthew 19 nor Matthew 25 nor Mark 10 nor Luke 12 nor Acts 2 nor Acts 4 nor Acts 15 nor Acts 21 nor Acts 26 nor Acts 28 nor Romans... nor any of the Gospels or Acts or Acts-age epistles as directly to us. They are certainly for us, but not to us. Again: what has changed, why did it change, when did it change? 

No Red Letter Christian, nor any professed believer I know, is not headed to Jerusalem to the temple for the Passover sacrifice next month. Why not? It is a BIBLE COMMAND (prescribed) and the PATTERN is in the red letters!

Observe the month of Aviv and keep the Passover to the Lord your God, for in the month of Aviv the Lord your God brought you out of Egypt by night. Therefore, you must sacrifice the Passover to the Lord your God, from the flock or the herd, in the place where the Lord shall choose to place His name.

-Deuteronomy 16:1-2

This next is better because it several elements to it. This is after the instruction to "sell all" in Luke 12:

He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.’ ”

-Matthew 26:18
 
 

  • The Lord was keeping the Passover
  • They did not bring an animal for sacrifice to the priest in the temple
  • He was at someone's house that they had not sold 

How do we reconcile all these seeming discrepancies and inconsistencies? By recognizing that scripture does not always address all people of all ages. We ask: what has changed, why did it change, when did it change?  None of us today nor anyone else but the chosen twelve apostles would claim the following promise (at least I hope not):

Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on His glorious throne, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.


This is why we must practice the right division of the Word (2 Tim 2:15). We must recognize distinctions among the families of God and the commands and instructions and promises of God in scripture. The theological word for this "dispensationalism." Satan has done has his best to vilify this word. But not only is it God's way of interpreting His Word, it's a biblical word. We live in "the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to Paul for us Gentiles" (Ephesians 3:2). We live in the dispensation of the revelation given to Paul to fill-up [complete] the revelation of God (Ephesians 1:10, 25). 

There are no "prophets" today, no new "word from the Lord." 

If you choose to ignore the lines God has drawn in scripture, you will have either a shallow Christian understanding or a confused life of possible disobedience. If you claim the red letters, you must claim ALL the red letters. The only way to do that and not live in contradiction is to not look too deeply or to not take your own supposed convictions seriously.

Tony Campolo left $4,000,000 in net worth behind and a bunch of books and teachings yelling at me for not living up the red letters. He was a hypocritical and selective servant as are all who try to claim the Law, the Ten Commandments, the prophets, the Gospel accounts, or the Book of Acts and its epistles for themselves. 

This short study addressed the idea that the actions of the believers in Acts 2 and Acts 4 is God's expectation for this current age. We have seen that is clearly not the case. The idea is inconsistent with the actions of some believers in Book of Acts itself, the commands of the Lord in the Gospel accounts, and in the Acts Epistles. There is no Marxist command in the Acts and there is no Marxist pattern in the Acts.

There is another objection worth considering, however, which we briefly alluded to which  we will try to address next time. That objection is the interpretive guide which asks us to discern between the "descriptive" passages (those that simply tell us what is happening) and "prescriptive" passages (those with clear instructions or commands). 

In this study we looked at the clear prescriptive instructions of the Lord in the gospel accounts as well as in Paul's epistle to the Romans (the "duty" of Gentile believers to support Jewish believers in Jerusalem). But we will gladly address the legitimate claim that Acts 2 and Acts 4 are merely descriptive. But we won't stop there. In our quest to be CONSISTENT in our interpretation and application, we will expand our look at the Acts and beyond. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

How Right Division Saves Us from Being Duped by Charlatans (My Testimony)

This event early in my Christian life when I was not yet grounded helped start me on the road to a more sound understanding of scripture and the will of God for this current age. It was one of my early experiences that reminded me that just because someone had a title, it doesn't mean they are my authority. The seeds of "studying to show [myself] approved unto God" (2 Tim 2:15) were starting to germinate. 

In  the Fall of 1991, when I was first shocked out of my Catholicism and religious self-righteousness, and struggling with a parallel deep depression, I was so hungry for anything "Christian" that one of the first books I read was "Good Morning, Holy Spirit!" by Benny Hinn. The charismatic/Pentecostal wing of Christendom was the most prominent wing on television and radio in those days.

I was so hungry in my new faith that I was watching and listening to Christian radio programs, TV programs, and messages available on tapes and CDs. Thankfully, I had developed and early, rudimentary skepticism (after all, I'd been living a 25 year religious lie to that point), but I was not well grounded.

One radio program I regularly listened to was a ministry by a local "evangelist" He was essentially the typical, rural Southern preacher that we'd all seen in popular culture parodies. This "man of God" was going to have a Friday night revival in Thomasville, NC (a small town about 25 miles away from Greensboro in a rural county to our southwest). He would advertise on his radio broadcast," Come and meet God in Thomasville!"

So, I went to meet God in Thomasville. I drove down to Davidson County in the pouring rain and found the small building where I was going to "meet God." It was just behind one of the many barbeque joints in the town. (Fortunately, Thomasville has some of the greatest barbeque in the world, so it wasn't a complete loss.)

After dinner ("supper" in Thomasville), I took my place in that small building. The room where God was apparently accepting visitors was on the ground floor of a nondescript structure with about 40 (as I recall) movable chairs split in two groups of 20 with an aisle between. There were about 25 people in there and a very small band in the corner. There wasn't really an "altar" or platform, but a small raised area up front (about 6" high, IIRC). In any case, there was an area up front separated from the rest of the small room.

The evangelist, in full white suit, preached his message (from a verse in the KJV, of course). I'm guessing he was Matthew 18:16. He kept saying we need to be "Ek-stablished in the Word!" Just like that "EK-stablished in the Word!" as he walked up and down the small aisle. Don't remember anything else from his message.

The time came for prayer. He went up front, the music started, and some jaunty song about "sending that ol' Devil down!" was in full swing. As I did at any meeting I attended in those days, I was right up front. Again, a relatively small crowd, so it wasn't that difficult.

All around me, people dancing and jumping and singing. One man crumpled up his pack of cigarettes and threw them up on the small stage (big deal in North Carolina!). The preacher was doing his deep growling and loud praying over the small throng. Then he started to my right and was praying over individuals.

OK, here he comes. I'm gonna get to meet God. I'm gonna get my prayer answered. My fiancée is going to come back to me (her leaving the source of my depression)! He extends his hand over the first guy and prays loudly (music still going, still sending that ol' Devil down), touches him on his forehead, he faints backward. Guy to my immediate right is next. Same shtick. He falls.

Now, we pause to remind our audience, I was not yet familiar with being slaughtered by the Spirit (I know it's "slain" but I call it slaughtered). So, when he prays over me, and then hits my forehead, I do not fall back. He keeps pushing on my forehead, I just keep praying. Finally, he and the two guys behind me, finally move on to the guy on my left. He falls on cue.

I left a bit confused. Ironically, the first place I fellowshipped (and where I was baptized, a HUGE deal for an ex-Catholic as it's essentially the spiritual death penalty) was an Assemblies of God (on advice from the 700 Club). Lovely people. Small church. Very important in my first steps outside of Rome. But, fortunately, I didn't just swallow anything I heard (still don't). It was a positive experience, until the barking started. But that's another story for another time. 

I should say the dog barking from some claiming to be overcome by the Holy Ghost was the last straw in a series of experiences that moved me closer to the principles of Right Division. Hearing incoherent babblings and repetitive vocal emissions that I was supposed to believe was some heavenly language turned me into skeptic. I never "spoke in tongues" myself, and it seemed to me that the tongues of Pentecost and the Book of Acts were known languages (but what I did I know, I didn't have a seminary degree!).

I was invited by a friend to attend a small Plymouth Brethren assembly in south Greensboro. I attended a Friday-Saturday mini-conference on the topic of dispensationalism (Classic, Acts 2 dispensationalism, but a vey helpful introduction to the idea). The confusing world of Benny Hinn and his ilk started to make sense to me. There was some sort of mass hypnosis going on. Many sincere folks in that movement, to be sure. But when I stepped back and compared what I saw in that world with what I saw in scripture, something was wrong.

Eventually, even in an Acts 2 Classic dispensationalist construct, I could not make heads or tales of the Book of Acts or a number of passages in the epistles. One book which helped me immensely in trying to understand the Book of Matthew had been A.C. Gaebelein;s commentary on the gospel account. I still highly recommend it. But it didn't really help with the post-Gospels period.

Next, I found "The Silence of God" by Robert Anderson in our Plymouth Brethren Assembly library and that moved my understanding a little farther down the road. I'll skip to the end here and just note that it was actually in an online Southern Baptist forum that I met a man named Paul (ironically) who introduced me to a 6-part series on the Book of Acts by Stuart Allen. This started me on my road of personal study (comparing scripture with scripture) whereby I developed my own understanding of the Mystery revealed to the Apostle Paul in Ephesians for the Post-Acts age. The separation of God's plans for the earth from his plans for the far above the heavens opened my eyes to greater understanding.

Today, as super cessationist (I think John Macarthur is too charismatic on this point!), I am in little danger from the likes of Hinn, Copeland, Bickle, etc. That does not mean that I do not love my Charismatic brethren (and sistren). I love many of the Calvary Chapel teachers, for example. I can still find value in many different corners of Evangelicalism.  I'm just not looking for anything from them in regard to rightly dividing the Book of Acts or from the Gospels in the current age. I believe I have a better understanding of the covenants of scripture, but that does not mean that I cannot find conviction in a teaching on the Christian life, for example.

I'm still a little miffed that Benny Hinn got some money from me purchasing his book! 

Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

For a video walkthrough of the entire Bible, checkout my 7-part series:

For a much shorter overview of studying scripture for yourself, 
please try my 2-part podcast:




Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Addressing the "God Can Us It" Argument and Globalist Rome (The Chosen)

 So much is wrong in Christendom (the vast majority of people who call themselves Christians think they are participating in salvation by their works) and much of that error comes from careless and deceitful handling of the Word of God. Tens of millions of Catholics will watch The Chosen and not be moved one inch from their false faith (or commit to it even more). The gospel of the grace of God is not found in Matthew. Roumie is indoctrinating people into a false hope under a false gospel.


I have noted previously that I was a HUGE fan of the 1977 miniseries, Jesus of Nazareth. I watched it every year, then on video. It did me no good. It didn't bring me anywhere near the gospel of grace. It only drove me further into the false gospel of the Roman Church.

Christians were PROMISED worship services breaking out in theaters when Men's Gibson's "The Passion" was released in 2004. We were promised a revival. All that has happened since 2004 is the decay of the West and a grand apostasy in the professing church. Catholics put Obama in office with a clear majority supporting him.

Many assume the audience for The Chosen TV and Movie series of our day is unbelievers. I'm certain part of the star of the series, Jonathan Roumie's, goal is recruiting for the Catholic Church from both Evangelical (Protestant) and unbelieving viewers. He essentially says that in interviews with Catholic media. 

No one, no matter how noble the cause might be, should be playing with what the Holy Spirit inspired. The writers of The Chosen (as with almost TV and film adaptations of scripture) play fast and loose with the texts as we saw in our last study. The goal is not accuracy and it is certainly not to bring viewers to a saving knowledge of the finished work of the Savior. Is it mere chance that Roumie's new Rosary app comes out at the height of the popularity of the series? An app that cost countless dollars to produce and maintain? It's all part of the strategy. a strategy we must recognize and expose.



I don't have a problem with paraphrased Bibles as long as they present themselves as paraphrases. If The Chosen producers opened with a disclaimer that they are giving you their take and that some scenes and characters are fictional and that the events depicted do not necessarily reflect the inspired texts, then, perhaps, it would be OK as the viewer is warned and encouraged to read for himself. But they present the series as accurate.

But that is not what Mel Gibson or Jim Caviziel (who played Christ in The Passion) or Roumie are about. They are about proselytizing. And they're not shy about it if people would just watch them and listen to them. Caviziel was a bit slick when he was on the speaking tour for The Passion. He would not allow his meetings with Catholics to be recorded without consent. He did not make this a requirement for Evangelical groups.

Can the Lord use The Chosen? Sure. But that can be said of a lot of things. The Lord used a Monkees concert in my testimony. Doesn't mean I'm going to endorse anything or claim anything is "Christian" in the off-chance He does use it. Paul was sent to Gentiles. The Lord in Matthew states that converseley he was NOT sent to Gentiles and neither does he send his twelve disciples to Gentiles. Paul has our gospel and it is not The Gospel of the Kingdom. To preach the Gospel of the Kingdom today is to preach "another gospel," a gospel that Paul did not preach. It will bring a curse. (Gal 1:8-9)

Believe it or not, I actively got out of my ministry to Catholics because I saw so little fruit. I was far more effective working with youth and unbelievers. But it feels like God keeps dragging back to them. And I feel like I have to warn people about them.

I'm no Paul, but Paul warned against going back to the Law and he warned Gentiles against "the concision" in his Post-Acts ministry. Atheists are less of a threat to believers than Religionists. Religionists abandoned Paul (2 Tim 1:15). Jonathan Roumie, Jim Caviezel, Mel Gibson, Mark Wahlberg, Tim Ballard, etc. all have confidence in the flesh. "Satan presents himself as an angel of Light" and "it is therefore no wonder his ministers are the ministers of righteousness." Atheists don't have the numbers, power, influence, or money Rome has. Nowhere near it!


Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you indeed is not grievous to me, but it is a safeguard for you. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the Concision. For we are the Circumcision who worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh

Roumie is working for Rome.

[Roumie] gets hundreds of testimonies of people changed by the series, including coming back to the [Catholic] church.
-The Catholic Review

Another fan of the show is discerning priesthood, “and he said this (show) has had a direct impact. So glory to God! It’s just that. It’s incredible how much of an impact a television show can have on a person."

I get the occasional complaint that I focus too much on what Rome is doing. I used to think that too. But now I think of it this way:



image1220×822 129 KB


Biggest, richest, most powerful globalist kid on the block. They've got their meat hooks in everything, including The Chosen.

Thursday, March 7, 2024

We Must Observe the Events in Scripture in their Timing and Context (The Chosen)

 The popular TV show, The Chosen, is like many other films and shows based (loosely) on scripture. Almost all of these visual depictions are made by religionists and not by believers. Yes despite these two glaring problems, many are taken in by the dramatic scenes and visual wonderlands set before them. Too often discernment is cast aside for emotion. 

Almost always, these movies and shows play fast and loose with scripture. They pay little attention to the origin of the account (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John), the sequence and timing of the events, or to the exact people involved. They necessarily have to impose an interpretation (to one degree or another) on the texts used. This last would fine if they were upfront about it. But they just present their presentation as a factual and indisputable depiction.  

The healing of the Gentile Centurion's servant is in Matthew 8. When the Lord sends out the twelve to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom (Matthew 4, Matthew 9) in Matthew Chapter 10, he forbids them from preaching it to Gentiles. In Matthew 15, he tells the Gentile (Canaanite) woman that he was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He ignores her when she addresses him as "Son of David," a title she has no right use.

And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 10:7)
-the gospel the 12 were sent to preach which was forbidden to be preached to Gentiles 

Israelites are referred to as "children" (by the Lord), while Gentiles are referred to as "little dogs" (by the Lord) in comparison. The Gentile woman refers to Israel as "masters" over the Gentiles. It is only when she takes her place as a little dog, drops the reference to "Son of David," acknowledges her masters, that the Lord heals her daughter. The Lord never sees nor touches her daughter nor the Centurion's servant. He touches the Israelites he heals.

And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. 
-Matthew 15:21-28

 

  • O Lord, Son of David... But He did not answer her a word.
  • Lord, help me... And He answered...
  • Yes, Lord... dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.
  • He daughter was healed instantly

When the Lord announces he must go to Jerusalem and die in Matthew 16, his disciples refuse to believe it and try to keep him from going ("And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you"). So, obviously, the Gospel of the Kingdom announce by John the Baptist, then by the Lord in Matthew 4 and Matthew 9 had nothing to do with the Lord's death, burial, or resurrection. So, the gospel the 12 were sent to preach in Matthew 10 also had nothing to do with the Lord's death, burial, or resurrection. The King, the Son of David, had come to Israel.

Those basic lines of truth from the Lord's earthly ministry are all lost in these TV and movie depictions. They carelessly present events regardless of the message being spoken in scripture. The gospel we know and preach today supplants the Gospel of the Kingdom the Lord spoke to Israel alone in the flesh. They ignore the very teachings of the Lord. These muddled movies become a substitute for scripture for many.

I was a huge fan of Jesus of Nazareth, the 1977 miniseries. After I got saved, I saw it was going to be on TV the next Easter season. I was excited, until I watched it. I had seen it many times, but now I could see all the errors and the obvious interpretation inflicted on the texts. The brief section I saw of The Passion when it came to television was the same. Emotional? Yes. Based on a true story? Yes. But full of Catholic "visions" and mythology. Well, Mel Gibson told us it was based on the visions of a Catholic mystic. I believed him. Why did so few Evangelicals? 

Jonathan Roumie (cast as the Lord in The Chosen) is suckering people in. He has used his platform to sell Catholicism. HUGE money is behind the Mary-worship app he pushes. Catholic magazines celebrate Evangelicals looking into Catholicism and lapsed Catholics going back to Rome.





I'm not telling anyone what to do, I'm just telling you what I know Roumie's goal is. Jim Caviezel (cast as the Lord in The Passion) and Mel Gibson's goal was to get people into the CC using their film. That's Roumie's and The Chosen's goal. And he'll use the emotion of the films to get believers off-guard. He'll mold the Biblical accounts to fit his theology. Very few will bother to put the healing of the Centurion's servant into its proper context in Matthew. It was near the start of the Lord's public ministry, while the Lord is still preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom to Israel alone. Is that where The Chosen places it?

We know violence has been done to the biblical text and message. The gospel accounst are mixed up and wrongly divided (cp. 2 Tim 2:15). Roumie and the people behind the series have a Jesus that does not come from the inspired texts, but rather from religious tradition (just as the Jesus in the Jesus of Nazareth miniseries and The Passion film did).

If the argument is made that "God can use it," I would say that God is free to use anything He wants, but we are not free to do so. Certainly we are not free to add to, subtract from, or wrongly divide the Word of Truth. 

Saturday, February 24, 2024

The Destruction of the Harlot for Today - Revelation 17

I note regularly that popular conservative commentator, author, activist, podcaster, and contributor at The Daily Wire, Matt Walsh, is a papist. Walsh opposes the sickness and extended evil political transgender movement. By attention to his moral crusade, we often lose sight of the fact that his religion is evil. These are different evils for different reasons. We can differentiate these evils by understanding that the sexual evils originate in man's fallen nature while the religious false light of Walsh's church ("for Satan presents himself as an angel of Light") originates in the spiritual world.

So, while we shouldn't align with false religions on any spiritual matter, I don't see opposing, with them, political policies which threaten children. The same can be said of other false faiths. We can oppose the immoral policies of the state along side Muslims, for example, without presenting we believe the same thing or even serve the same God. I would note here that Walsh's Catholic Church formally teaches that Islam "adores" the same god the CC adores (John Paul II raised that to "worships"). 

All these false systems, we must remember, will one day be destroyed. The focus of scripture in regard to the coming destruction gives us the idea of a system which mirrors the truth. This is again consistent with Paul's warning "[Satan's] ministers are the ministers of righteousness." Throughout all of history, God's true people have been deceived by counterfeits. 

The destruction of the Harlot  in the Revelation is an interesting bit of God's will.
Then he said to me, “The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.  And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. [Rev 17]

Two chapters later:

After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God! For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her.” Again they said, “Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever and ever!” [Rev 19]


The Beast system destroys the Harlot, but that is God's will. The harlot is a wicked force that has deluded God's people over the years.

The church at Thyatira is chastised for being seduced by this Jezebel:

Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality [fornications], and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works. [Rev 2]

So, it is correct to oppose the spirit of Jezebel (as it is manifested in one way or another in each age). It's not only correct, it is expected of believers. We are careful to note that the Revelation is for Israel in a coming day (and we note the plural "churches"), but the Lord has never approved of compromise with religious systems opposed to the truth.

The Harlot system is religious and deviant. It will take full form in the future, but it is already here in a similar form. The combination of outward piety and deviancy is what makes compromise so obnoxious to God. God has always hated deviancy combined with religious fervor. The prophets of Baal cut themselves and cried out with loud voices to no avail.

And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under. And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.

-1 Kings 18:25-29 


Fervency has never equaled soundness nor commitment (more on that in a coming post).  I believe the Beast system will hate the religious aspect. It will serve a purpose to a point, and then it will no longer be of value.

As I've noted, God hates the Harlot. The Antichrist will use the Harlot and then be done with it; destroying her which is consistent with God's will. Do we conclude that since God hates the Harlot for one reason and the Antichrist hates the Harlot for another reason that God is therefore aligned with the Antichrist and doing the Antichrist 's will? Of course not. This is a truth we must understand when it comes to seemingly equivalent beliefs. The Roman Church may appear to believe what we believe, but an honest examination of her dogmas and doctrines reveals an eternal chasm. 

If we don't recognize that Satan comes in the form of religion and we sacrifice the truth of the gospel on some ecumenical altar for political purposes, we have betrayed our Lord and His truth and His gospel. Matt Walsh, and other Catholic commentators, will seek our support. It is OK, as I see it, to agree on certain issues with them, but we must always be clear that we will never gather with them under the banner of an insufficient sacrifice. Better to abandon a political movement than to have to stand before our Lord and have to explain why we abandoned the foundational doctrine of His finished work on our behalf.





Thursday, January 18, 2024

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

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

-Exodus 12:24 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, January 15, 2024

The Antichrist and the Desire of Women

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

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

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

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

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


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

  -Dan 11:37 (KJV)

 

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


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


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


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


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

 

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

-Dan 11:37 (CJB)


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

-Dan 11:37 (RSV)


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

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


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


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






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


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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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


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

-2 Thessalonians 2:4 (NKJV)


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


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

-2 Thessalonians 2:6 (NLT)

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

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


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

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


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

-2 Corinthians 11:13-15 


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


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

-Matthew 24:24


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