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Introduction to Personal Bible Study - Videos (2007)

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

Friday, January 22, 2021

Ye Shall Not Surely Die - The Lie of Eden and Today

 

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die

-Genesis 3:4


We've look at this core lie of the evil one in various studies on the false doctrine of "the immorality of the soul." But today I want to pull back the lens and look at this pervasive lie and how it is currently manifesting itself in the general culture.

News programs and politicians have discovered the power of anecdotes. We do not completely discard the use of anecdotes as they sometimes do reflect a larger reality. However, we want to avoid taking an anecdote and use to make sweeping generalizations without warrant.

Let's put the idea of the lie "ye shall not surely die" along side the use of anecdotes in trying to prove a sweeping generalization.

A friend of mine recently posted a story about the recent increase in the number of people hospitalized and the number of people who have died from COVID-19. The post was meant to illicit fear and suggest that huge numbers of people are dying from the disease. To be sure, many have died (we do not minimize that fact), but the overall numbers tell a different story in terms of how deadly the disease is (in general).

Total cases: 20,346,372

Deaths: 349,246

Source:  CDC COVID Data Tracker (Jan 4, 2021)

Again, we do not minimize any death and we certainly encourage anyone who perceives any threat to his/her health to take all precautions. I am "at-risk" because of my heart condition, so I am certainly sympathetic to those at-risk (especially the elderly). But the CDC numbers above reflect a mortality rate of less than 2% of cases. 

We now turn to more info to help give us context on published death rates you may have encountered.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data last week that depicts how many Americans who have died from COVID-19 also had other contributing conditions. According to the report, only 6% of deaths have COVID-19 as the only cause mentioned, revealing that 94% of patients who died from coronavirus also had other “health conditions and contributing causes.” (fox8.com, Aug 30, 2020)

  

With these full-scale statistics before us, let us pivot to the original concern. Just as my friend posted selective numbers to try and illicit an emotional reaction, others post individual stories of those who have unfortunately died from COVID-19 to "prove" either that we need to take even more extreme measures or to pin blame for political purposes. I'm going to leave these alone and instead point to what I believe is the reason the use of anecdotes in this area has proved so successful.

The idea is to get all of us to treat almost every death as preventable. Without the notion being explicitly expressed, the idea that no one one should "surely die" is behind much of the manipulation. Almost anyone anywhere under the age of 70 who dies of almost anything causes the crusaders to find who is at fault. 

Health care being deemed a "right" is based on this thinking. That's a large topic we will not examine here, but for millenia people died from everything. We are fortunate to live in an age of fantastic medical advances. We have pharmaceuticals and surgeries today unknown and impossible to imagine in other ages. I'm alive today because of these relatively recent advancements. Yet, I never claimed a "right" to them. We will just have to leave that there.


Back to our premise and a look the Utopian Lie


We are being taught to think that every death is a political death. Every death is the fault of someone. Every death is preventable. Every death is undeserved. This creates anger and emotional responses to reality. It also plays into the lie of the Evil One. Yes, we shall all surely die.

Scripture speaks of death as an "enemy." In fact, when death is finally destroyed, it is called "the last enemy." It is the curse. It is what plagues all humans. It is the result of our birth in Adam and our own sin. It is what Christ came to reverse. We mourn the dead because all deaths are sad. But that does not mean all deaths are preventable.

The two-pronged lie poisons the greatest event in all of scripture: the resurrection of our Great God and Savior, The Lord Jesus Christ. The first prong is the prong of the "immortal soul" which supposedly lives without resurrection. The second denies that all men deserve death (at some point, not that murder is justified, etc.). Yes, the death of a child may be tragic. It may be the result of negligence, etc. But we cannot fall into lie that ALL deaths must have a villain*.

[*We pause here to note that CNN took down its ubiquitous COVID death count graphic after the inauguration [Jan 20]. As of today (Jan 22) it is still not up.]

The double lie of the immortal soul and that almost every death is the fault of a political enemy is part of another two-pronged, hallucinogenic fantasy. One prong the idea of a coming Utopia and the other prong is the misguided concept of collectivism. Where the first goes, the other follows. These are deadly, anti-God, humanistic drugs. They have no place in Christian doctrine. 

The anti-Christ murderer (and Catholic "saint") Thomas More coined the word Utopia. Wikipedia offers this brief description:


A utopia focuses on equality in such categories as economics, government and justice, with the method and structure of proposed implementation varying based on ideology.


We see another drug in there: equality. Equality is fine if it merely describes a condition such as "equal before the law," but as a basis for running a society, it becomes an addictive substance which drugs the masses into accepting things like "re-education," the cancel culture, discrimination, and the punishment of success. All of which we are seeing in this current age. 

Utopia hates Christianity and its claims of exclusivity of life in Christ alone. Sadly, many in the name of Christianity have abandoned Christ for the drug of Utopian dreams. The same church that puts an "UNDO RACISM" or "LOVE THY NEIGHTBOR (NO EXCEPTION) "sign on its property would never deign to put a "CHRIST IS THE ONLY WAY" sign in their yard.

They are deemed "brave" for the former while the truth is that all they will receive is praise from a Christ-rejecting world. The real act of bravery would be to put up the latter. for that, they would receive scorn and have an opportunity to suffer for the Lord. But, alas, the praise and the self-righteous, self-glorification (virtue signaling) are powerful and addictive narcotics.


The Unpardonable Sin and Right Division

Can a Christian in this age commit the unpardonable sin?


“Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” (Mark 3:28-29)


We have to understand what people forfeit. A believer whose hope is in the Kingdom (Millennium) can lose his place in that kingdom. We have many warnings in scripture given to believers (in fact, almost all warnings in scripture are given to believers). But we cannot lose a free gift (otherwise it is no longer free, and grace is no longer grace).

We often hear Matthew 8:12 cut up and only the latter half is shouted


thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.


But we must ask, who is the subject of that warning and what is the context?


I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt 8:11-12)


The sons of the kingdom are the Jews who were to inherit the blessings of Abraham and David. So where are they cast? They are cast out of the kingdom. The comparative is to "recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom" That is what they lose.

In Luke, the same warning is connected with the "narrow gate." Now, does anyone ever have to "strive" for the gift of resurrection Life? No. In fact the gospel of LIfe, John, never uses the word "repent" and states this clearly:


Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31)


And we're familiar with the other passages in John regarding Life ("has passed from death unto life" etc.) by faith alone. So when we go back to Luke and the narrow gate, for what must they strive? They strive to enter the earthly Kingdom.


Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” (Luke 13:26-30)


Note the Lord states that this judgment involves those who ate and drank with him, and witnessed his teaching among them. Remember, the "Gospel of the Kingdom" the Lord and his diciples preached (Matthew 4, 9, 10) had no mention of his death or resurrection. He didn't even tell his disciples he was going to die until Matthew 16 (and they didn't believe him then).

We note along this line that when he mentions the Gospel of the Kingdom going out prophetically (later) is in Matthew 24. It is again preached to and by Israel and connected to the Tribulation (the time of Jacob's Trouble).


And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matt 24:10-14)


Note again the requirement, "endures to the end." They are not enduring to have resurrection Life, but to enter into the kingdom promised to Israel (cp Acts 1:6-7 and Acts 3:12-26). They endure by resisting the false prophets, the hate, the betrayals, the lawlessness, etc.

With that said, in Mark 3 where the Lord warns of blaspheming the Holy Spirit, the context is those people, in Israel, in that day. The blasphemy was seeing the miracles and attributing them to "Beelzebul" and not to the Holy Spirit. They also said of the Lord, “He has an unclean spirit.” We cannot commit that sin in this age.

We must "rightly divide the Word of Truth." All scripture is for us, but not all scripture is to us (unless you believe you should be building an ark or you believe your descendant will sit on the throne in Jerusalem, etc.). So, not every warning, not every promise, not every blessing, not every practice is TO us.

The warning of blaspheming the Holy Spirit is not possible and you cannot forfeit a free gift.


Forever and Eternal in Scripture


Young's Literal Translation reminds us that we have to understand English words like "for ever" and "eternal" (etc.) in a time context in Greek and Hebrew. Note the wording of the warning.


but whoever may speak evil in regard to the Holy Spirit hath not forgiveness -- to the age, but is in danger of age-during judgment.


First note "is in danger of." And the idea of the punishment enduring for an "age" again points us back to individual Jews who were in danger of missing out on the blessings of the Kingdom age to come. There is no forgiveness "to the age" and it would be an "age-enduring judgment."

When we grasp this concept of obedience and the requirements for entering the Kingdom life, we can start to understand why the Lord places the commandments (to Israel) and the Law (given to Israel alone, Ex 19:5-7), in addition to faith, was given by the Lord. Obedience is never for resurrection Life, it is always the requirement (with faith) for blessings (crowns, rewards, the prize, entrance into the kingdom, the better resurrection, the New Jerusalem, etc.).

Resurrection life (rescue from the curse of sin and death) has always be a free gift by grace through faith. Qualifying for the other things (depending on your hope) has always by faith and obedience.

Again, the warning of Mark 3 has nothing to do with our hope. We cannot commit that sin. Those who did were in danger of great loss, etc. We cannot confuse the gift of Life with the requirements for rewards.

There are many servants in the Lord's family... some are "good and faithful" servants, while others are "wicked and unjust" servants. Some vessels of gold and of silver, some of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. Some Some build with gold silver and precious stones, others with wood, hay, and stubble, etc. But all are servants.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Larry Ollison Misquotes Scripture (Among Other Errors)

A short video giving us a good example of how the traditions of men can poison our understanding of scripture and the Plan of God.


2 Cor 5:8 is one of the most misquoted verses in Christianity. We have taken pagan ideas related to death and have forced the scriptures to affirm what we already believe instead of allowing scripture to teach us. The doctrines of the "immortal soul" and the "intermediate state" rob from what our Lord accomplished on Calvary by dying, being buried, not decaying, and rising again. 

In his salvific work, the Lord reversed the curse of death and decay. Scripture teaches that death is our enemy, not our friend. Dr. Ollison also carelessly handles the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16. Almost his entire presentation in this clip is from human and pagan traditions. For more on this topic (and related) click on the links at the end of the video or visit bibleunderstanding.com

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Be Ye Kind One to Another

 Today we get a little conversational, informal, and practical. 

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. -Ephesians 4:32

I was behind a car yesterday which had a "Be Kind" sticker on the back window. It's a wonderful sentiment (obviously), but I wonder how effective the sticker is. I'm sure when we put stickers or magnets on our cars we don't expect to really change anything, but it can't hurt.

I tried to think about that sticker with my old mind and then with my new mind. As Christians we acknowledge the foundational Christian doctrine (at least it should be acknowledged) of our dual natures. We are born with a carnal, fleshly, earthly nature (old) and when we come to Christ by faith and accept his finished work on our behalf, placing our trust solely in Him, we become "partakers of the divine nature" (new). We can call this the "new nature" or the "spirit" (as it is referred to by Paul). 

Before I share my conclusions concerning how my old and new mind would process the sticker, I need to say that the old nature does not always manifest itself in overt wickedness (at least to the human eye). Part of being "earthly" can be craving ritual. Ritual appeals to the senses and gives one a feeling of "holiness." The flesh can manifest itself in many ways. In its religious manifestation, the flesh may be driven by a set of rules rather than by eternal convictions. We will look at how this might present itself in light of our question momentarily.

I would add here that despite the popular, Calvinist teaching that all acts by unregenerate people are tainted with gross wickedness, the scripture speaks otherwise. Just imagine the person who sees a small child fall into a raging river and, without a thought for personal safety, dives in and does everything she can to rescue that precious one. I see no gross wickedness.

For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another. 
-Romans 2:14-15

Paul's argument here is that no one can claim utter ignorance of the expectations of God. No one can say he/she has no idea there is any difference between "right" and "wrong." Surely, the carnal mind cannot be trusted to fully understand the difference (we need spiritual understanding and scripture for that), but we are all born with a conscience. Even if faulty, it testifies to some degree (before it is seared) that we are not perfect. So, sometimes, the carnal person can be convicted to do what is "right" (or even "less wrong"). 

When I was in my natural (carnal) mind, I tried to be kind. I was religious and I suppose being kind fell somewhere on the spectrum of natural empathy, learned empathy, and religious duty. This last one would engender pride (even if subconsciously). I enjoyed acts of kindness. I'm not saying that is wrong. Between nature and nurture, every human is somewhere on the kindness continuum. And, as Paul argued, even the unregenerate are capable of doing things according to God's design. (As we do not always do this, we fall short of the glory of God which necessitates our need for Christ, the culmination of Paul's argument, Romans 3:23).

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God

So, how does the new nature differ? For me, Paul's words in Ephesians strike at the divine nature. Some read scripture as a manual for "doing what's right." It can be simply a guide to "religious duty." I may have read it that way in my old, religious life, but now it strikes me deeper. My old nature may have even, on occasion, done things "contained in the law" but never on the even higher plane of "the Law of Christ." This greater law ("royal commandment") calls not only for the act of kindness itself, but the bearing of burdens, and the emptying of self. Oh, how hard it is to empty oneself of self!

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.
-Galatians 6:1-3

The hardest part may be acting kindly to ALL, regardless of race, creed, color, career, wealth, or political leanings. We may find ourselves prone to acts of kindness for those we love or for those who can repay us or laud us, but true kindness makes no distinctions. That's the hard part. This is where old nature often rears its head.

If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons [show favoritism based on an earthly honor or distinction] , ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors...
-James 2:8-9

The words "even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" from Ephesians are powerful. The God of all the universe, the one who has every right to find fault, the one I have insulted and offended in thought, word, and deed... this Omniscient, Omnipotent, Perfect God has forgiven me! He has forgiven me, not based on anything in me nor out of any obligation, but rather on account of the saving work of Christ.

This is an overwhelming thought. I no longer measure my kindness against my fellow man nor do I measure it against some religious catechism or creed. My kindness is measured against the unsearchable kindness of God.

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
-Psalm 103:8

He who has every right to be angry. He who has found no cause in us to be merciful, but his very nature ("God is love") is quick to show us mercy and grace while being slow to anger. And although his anger is righteous, warranted, and just, it is not part of his eternal plan. Part of being kind is being slow to anger and quick to show mercy.

He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
-Psalm 103:9-14 

There is a tremendous truth in the cross, often missed by Christians: "God was in Christ reconciling the word to himself, not counting their trespasses against them" (2 Cor 5:19). 

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
-2 Cor 5:20-21

God has already been reconciled to those around us.  This is the ultimate act of kindness; absolute forgiveness and the offer of the free gift of immortal life in resurrection. We are wholly undeserving. And it is the contemplation of this unsearchable idea that moves us to be kind.

The main focus of our opening verse in Ephesians is aimed at Christians dealing with Christians. This is an indictment of our old natures and our propensity to function in them. If it is sometimes difficult to forgive even our brothers and sisters in Christ, it can be that much harder to forgive and show kindness to those without. But if we truly want to "Be Kind." we have to start by walking in the Light as he is in the Light and meditating on the act of Love completed on our behalf by our Great God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour [a fragrant sacrifice, pleasing God].
-Ephesian 5:1-2

 

This is one of my favorite quotes, everyone is always judging and being hard on one another, and I feel like we all have to be kind in order for there to be peace. Words Quotes, Wise Words, Me Quotes, Sayings, Qoutes

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

A Fresh Look at the Bema

We have looked at the future judgment of Christians for our service several times before. But this is a topic which has interested me quite a bit in the last few years and it's worth revisiting from time to time. Our future judgment (assessment) is spoken of in multiple places in the Greek canon (commonly called the New testament) and there is a case for finding it in the Hebrew canon as well (Old Testament). I will quote from the two most direct verses concerning the Bema, but know there are references from the Gospel accounts all the way through Paul's Post Acts ministry.


But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

-Romans 14:10


For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

-1 Cor 5:10


I chose to use the KJV for these verses because I wanted to highlight a common misrepresentation. Or, to be more precise, the possibility of a misunderstanding from the use of the phrase "judgment seat." The words don't do great violence to the sense of the passage, but in our world we think of "judgment seat" differently than it would have been understood half a millennium ago. 

We throw around the word "judge" today as meaning "condemnation." We all know one of the favorite verses of the Libertine and the unbeliever alike is "judge not lest ye be judged." The implication of "judging" is standing above another in condemnation. Whereas that could the determination of a judgment, it certainly is not a foregone conclusion. We have courts where men are judged and acquitted. Not only do we find acquittal as a possibility, we can have a judgment to one's advantage.


Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness

-Psalm 7:8
 
Open your mouth, judge righteously, And plead the cause of the poor and needy.

-Proverbs 31:9


We will leave that there. 

The "judgment seat" in Romans and 1 Corinthians is more correctly the "Bema Seat." That is, it is the place where a race is examined or a case is heard and an umpire (of sorts) makes an assessment. In Nehemiah it is even likened to a pulpit (8:4). It carried the idea of a "step up," a place from which to determine if a competitor competed by the rules of the game. The Bema is the place from which such a pronouncement is made.

We have the idea of running a race according to the rules in Paul's epistles


Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air; but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

-1 Corinthians 9:24-27.

And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.

-2 Timothy 2:5

We are not competing for the free gift of Life. That is absurd and a denial of the finished work of Christ. We are competing (as it were) for prizes, crowns, rewards, commendations, position, etc. This is not a study of those different rewards, but rather of the event of the assessment itself.

We have to interject here and warn, once again, the dangers of the "heaven/hell" and "saved/lost" approach to scripture. We've noted many times that the warnings of scripture are almost all aimed at believers. Three errors result from this which we will simply note here.

  • The fear that one might lose the free gift of life and be enslaved to a system which puts faith in the works of our own hands and not in his finished work. Grace is no longer grace (Rom 11)
  • The use of the free gift of Life by grace as an excuse to live a life indulging the flesh (Gal 5)
  • Failing to study and rightly divide the Word of Truth as a workman (2 Tim 2)

Hanging over many Christian heads is the mythological idea of God torturing people with fire. We have covered that as well elsewhere, but suffice it to say, once we get past that and back to scripture, we can focus on our service and not on our fear. The one who finds no rest and no security in the finished work of Christ will often remain a babe, focusing all his efforts on not "losing" a free gift. This proves a hindrance to building on the sure foundation of Christ.

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

-1 Corinthians 3:11-15

It is what we build on the foundation that will be tested.

Since our sin was judged in Christ, our sin will not be present on that day. However, that is not a license to sin. Sin has a two-fold effect in a believer's life. First, if left unconfessed, God will chasten his own. In some cases, it may even bring premature death. Now, in man's tradition, that would be a ticket to glory and unimaginable bliss, but that is not death as scripture presents it. When you're dead, you're dead. 


So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep [died]. But if we [judge] ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world. 
-1 Corinthians 11:27-32


The context here is the Lord's Supper. First we note that these conditions no longer apply. God is not punishing with sickness and even death those who take the bread or cup unworthily. But the Lord's dealings here are similar in our age. It is possible in the present age for a believer to sin in such a way the Lord ends his life. However, in the Post Acts Age, the Lord's work is done in silence. Disobedient  Christians dropped dead in the Acts. The return of the King to Israel was imminent. In our age, the Lord may still bring sickness or death, but his hand his slower to move and his intervention subtle. 

But direct, harsh judgment that is not all that is seen here. Note the discipline (chastisement) of the Lord in the passage. If we are in a pattern of sin or we commit serious sins, the Lord may chastise us. 

I want to be careful to note what this passage teaches about judging ourselves. If we come under conviction of our sin and judge ourselves, we may escape death or sickness, but we may still be chastened of the Lord. In this age, with God working more subtly, it is very important that we examine our daily walk often. But if we do find ourselves mired in the world or in sin that we judge ourselves and accept the chastisement of the Lord.

The end is not the restoration of a lost free gift (as we have seen, that is not in view here), but a turning back to the race before us. God chastises his own. A child remains in the family even in punishment.


“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor lose courage when you are punished by him.
For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.


It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers to discipline us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

-Hebrews 12:5-11 


So, we are not judged at the Bema for our sin, we are judged for the house we build on the sure foundation. What goes into building this house in this present age? Might I suggest a few building blocks (not an exhaustive list).

  • Right Division of the Word
  • Preaching the Word
  • Relationship with our fellow believers
  • Relationship to the world
 
Remember, the Bema is not about sin, but about service. We looked at how evil Christians can be if we walk according to the flesh (the old nature), and we are warned repeatedly to walk in the new nature (spirit). For we cannot build a worthy house except by the spirit.

In our service for the Lord, we are not to do anything for the praise of men. I covered this dangerous current trend in Christendom to "virtue signal." Such a practice is solely so men will approve of us. We must resist the temptation to be seen as acceptable by the world. This drive leads us to try and find an interpretation of scripture and of the faith that will not offend. 

Whereas something done in the flesh such as adultery is an "evil" which will both lead to the Lord's discipline (if we are blessed with his hand of discipline and open to his leading) and the stunting of our service for him. But any parallel "bad" service resulting will be revealed at the Bema.

Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality. 
-Colossians 3:23-25


The word translated "wrong" here is the Greek word adikéō. It appears 27 times in Greek canon. It carries with it the idea of acting "unjustly." The idea behind the passage is that "whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap" (Gal 6). Contrast this with Paul's use of kakós in his warning to believers in Colossians 3:5. Bullinger defines this word as "depraved." 


Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.


Surely, all these things are connected. The Christian who chooses to walk in the old nature and fall into a depraved lifestyle (obviously possible from this any many other passages) will not be able to offer good service. His house will be a weak and unstable one.

But imagine with me the carnal, adulterous Christian who manages to hide his sin from the world. He may even have an outwardly "successful" ministry. But we know from Paul that even if he is the one sowing and watering, it is God who gives the increase (1 Cor 3:7). It is the Word which convicts and converts men. We are but instruments. And the Lord, on occasion, has even used wicked instruments. 

So, to man this worker may seem "blessed" of the Lord and the creator of a glorious house of gold, but of the true value of his work, "the Day will bring it to light." He may be left with a burning structure and nothing to offer to God for his life's service. We are not the judge of another man's servant. Outward appearances may be deceiving. God judges the intent of the heart. 


The Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

-1 Sam 16:7b


There are probably countless "good and faithful" servants of the Lord that toiled in relative obscurity, forgotten by history, even mocked by contemporaries. We will not know until that Day reveals all.

Looking back at our select bulleted list of building guidelines, we now expand on these ideas:

 

  • Right Division of the Word - We must teach and live by the rules of the age in which we live. Men may strive to please God by the commands of another age, but to God, he is deceived and unworthy of reward. In the worst case scenario, he falls into pious conceit and drags others into his error. These outward religious acts of another age, "have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting rigor of devotion and self-abasement and severity to the body, but they are of no value in checking the indulgence of the flesh."
  • Preaching the Word - "be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching" even though most of professing Christendom has abandoned the place of the scriptures alone as the only infallible source of truth.
  • Relationships with our fellow believers - We are to "Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if any one thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself." And while we examine all by the Word of God, it is not our place to judge the intents of the heart of God's servants. And if we find a brother or sister in sin, we are to restore such.
  • Relationship to the world - We must not love nor cavort with the world. Paul noted that we must deal with the world for we live in the world, but we must not be part of its systems; especially its religious systems. The ways of the wicked are obvious, less so the religious world, "If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations, 'Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch '(referring to things which all perish as they are used), according to human precepts and doctrines?" 

How many in Christendom cleave to things like Advent and Lent with their outward piety and (in the case of Lent) the self-abasement of the body? How many in our day participate in outwards displays of virtue for the praise of men? These traditions of men only sidetrack the believer from the difficult task of building his house.

We will stand before the Bema and our houses will be inspected. Make sure you are building with the correct materials and you build only for the one to whom we will all answer. Men (saved and unsaved) may mock. Denominations may seek to put you into bondage. The world may seek to entice. Satan may present you a religious path which has an appearance of wisdom and piety. But in the end, we all stand alone at the Bema. Do not forfeit your home to the whims of another.






Thursday, December 10, 2020

The Dual Error in Regard to Homosexuality

In our look at Brennan Manning, we touched on the topic of homosexuality and the Christian. We have looked this topic in another study, but today I want to hone in on a passage which I believe quiets both the Anti-Grace Moralist and the Libertine.


The Denial of Christ By the Moralist 


We've looked at 1 Corinthians 6 in a previous study. We saw that the warning in 1 Cor 6 was given to Christians. Unfortunately, here is how Anti-Grace Moralist, David Cloud, sums up the passage:

In this passage [1 Cor 6] we see that the members of the church at Corinth had been guilty of homosexuality as well as many other sins, but they had been converted. The homosexuality is spoken of in the past tense... The blood of Christ is sufficient, but God demands repentance from sin and faith in Christ’s cross work. Jesus twice warned, “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13;3, 5).


First let's deal with the last part. Either the blood of Christ is sufficient or it is not. If it is sufficient, and we have a choice to walk in the new nature or the old nature (flesh), then we must conclude that a person can be both a Christian (saved by grace through faith alone) and walk in the flesh (something for which he will be judged, "the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality," etc.).

It is the first part of his quote which puzzles me as well. Yes, some "were" homosexuals and were cleansed. That is clear. So, if they were cleansed (read: saved, given new life in Christ), why would Paul have to warn them about the lifestyle if believers cannot be homosexuals? Of course it's possible just as it is possible for a Christian to be an adulterer, a thief, or one who lies with prostitutes (all in 1 Cor 6).

I can say to my child, "Don't make a mess in your room. Remember, we cleaned up your mess. It is the messy children you don't keep their rooms clean, so don't be like them." Now, would I have to make such a statement if it's impossible for my child to make a mess in her room? Is God wasting inspiration in 1 Cor 6? Men like Cloud understand neither grace nor the Christian life. The first is a free gift, the latter is a personal responsibility. 

I use the phrase "Anti-Grace Moralist" not to degrade morality. For there is no uncertainty that a moral life is the goal. A mature Christian shuns the deeds of the old nature. Reward (including an inheritance) comes from a life of walking in the light. The Phrase refers to tagging morality as a necessary requirement for grace. Cloud is unwittingly teaching the Catholic doctrine of "grave [mortal] sin" which damn the soul after saving faith. It is a monstrous attack on the work of Christ.

David Cloud tries to modify the first part of his argument (recognizing its implication) by the inclusion of the second. But never the twain shall meet. Grace is sufficient and Christians can choose to walk in the flesh. I admit this is my interpretation of his words, but he seems to be trying to straddle the fence between a true and a false gospel of grace.


More Confusion from Anti-Grace Moralism


I turn now to John MacArthur's words from Part 1 of his message on homosexuality.


The kindest thing you could ever say to someone engaged in homosexual sin is it is a sin that will damn you and it will exclude you from the kingdom of God forever.

This is erroneous in a couple of ways. First, MacArthur conflates the kingdom of God with his version of heaven. He singles out sin as that which excludes from the gift of life. Again, we are back to the Catholic doctrine of "grave [mortal] sins." 

John's entire comment is tainted by his failure to rightly divide the word of truth and his subjection to Greek Mythology (the expanded story teaches a fiery hell for sinners and a place in heaven for all believers). And while that is at the root of John's error, let's look at our two points and see just how terrible they are.

Homosexuality doesn't damn anyone. Not believing leads to condemnation. We saw this in our look at the cause of atheism. Paul teaches in 2 Cor 5 that God is holding no sin against anyone. He has already been reconciled to humanity via the cross.


He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

-John 3:18-19


God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

-2 Cor 5:19
 
And since 1 Cor 6 is a warning to believers not to RETURN to sin, it is very dangerous to say that someone engaged in this sin is therefore "condemned." Of course, he is "condemned," but not to death without hope. Here we must put the warning of Romans 8 to the believer with the warning of 1 Cor 6 to the believer. As Paul repeatedly teaches, the believer has a choice between walking in the new nature and walking in the old nature (flesh). This is why Paul implores the believer to walk in the light of the new nature.

And just as Romans warns the believer to walk in the new nature lest he find his life's works condemned, the book also is clear to say that nothing can sperate the believer from the love of God. God knows no "grave sin" for the true believer than can erase the work of Christ. 

This is abundantly clear in Ephesians chapters 4-6 and Colossians chapters 2-4 as well as the abundantly clear passage in Galatians 5 in regard to the fruits of the new nature and the fruits of the old.

We've covered this in one way or another in a number of studies, including our series on Walking in the Spirit and Walking Worthy. (See links at the end of the post)


The Chapter in Regard to the Possibility of Christian Sin


1 Corinthians 5 clearly addresses Christians.

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles...

 

Believers guilty of sin that even the world may condemn.

 

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

 

Here, again, we must rightly divide the word "saved." Neither Cloud nor MacArthur would contend that the free gift of Life could be lost by sinning (lest we all lose it as we all sin), yet they imply it. This passage in 1 Cor 5 is a warning (as in 1 Cor 6) to believers looking for a place in the expected "kingdom of God" on earth which was " at hand." If you do not understand that distinction, you will be enslaved to fear or risk loss of reward via an immoral life (as we ill examine in a moment).

In light of the gross immorality in Corinth, Paul calls on BELIEVERS to act.


Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.


More instruction on how to handle IMMORAL CHRISTIANS. Paul is abundantly clear the sexually  immoral in this passage are BELIEVERS.


I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.


This is within the company of believers. This passage silences those who teach an anti-gospel of "Lordship Salvation" and puts to shame the gospel of Brennan Manning which teaches that we accept all sin and let God sort it out in some future day. We must judge within, for the sake of our witness and for the sake of the one ensnared in sin. This last thought is emphasized in Paul's closing statement of the chapter.


For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.”


Here, an immoral believer is referred to an "evil person." We are called to "judge" immorality within the camp. We leave the judgment of those outside the camp with God, but within, we must maintain a standard. 

Scripture silences both sets of false teachings. Neither the Anti-Grace Moralist nor the Libertine has any room to work in 1 Cor 5. That is, unless the Anti-Grace Moralist wants to deny that "the blood of Christ is sufficient."


The Wicked Doctrine of "Lordship Salvation"


The false gospel of Lordship Salvation (we can only briefly examine it)  and the Libertine doctrine of no judgment are both dangerous. The first leads to a false faith in the works of one's hands as the focus of salvation, the latter to destroyed lives and buildings of shame at the Bema Seat of Christ.

David Cloud demands repentance (a word not found in the Book of John) and suggests from his application that biblical repentance is the cessation of certain sins of his choosing. He doesn't think the blood of Christ is sufficient.


"The blood of Christ is sufficient, but God demands repentance..." 


Here is why John wrote his gospel:

 

And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.


Some people do not come to Christ because their "deeds are evil," as John also teaches (Jn 3). John argues that those who do not have life, do not have life because they failed to believe. Why? Because they love darkness more than Light. The two are related. We looked at this in our study on atheists. But nowhere is the act of forsaking all carnal appetites a requirement for the free gift of Life. Again, John never uses the word "repent."

We will love the light if we recognize our deeds are evil and seek remedy in Christ. This is how the two come together. It is in this faith alone, however, that the free gift of grace is imparted. If one loves his darkness, he will not come into the light of faith. John places them together, but faith is not "committing a life of discipleship" (which leaves open a gaping hole of interpretation); it is a desire to come into the Light. 

If we want to interpret "repent" as a change of heart toward God in Christ by an act of placing all hope in his death, burial, and resurrection because we've recognized our deeds are evil, perhaps there is a place for repentance. But "Lordship Salvation" (a phrase not found in scripture) demands a strict discipleship and an understanding and hope beyond the cross; a doctrine that will lead many to a false hope in their own discipleship and perceived obedience rather than a reliance on the finished work. The repentance unto service has another application not connected to the free gift.

I'll close this section with a quote from the blog of David J. Stewart, a man who says he agrees with David Cloud on 95% of his teachings.


David Cloud is teaching “another gospel” that effectively adds works to faith. Cloud says if you're not ready to follow Christ, which is discipleship, then you're not ready to get saved. May I say, discipleship has nothing to do with sonship. David Cloud errantly associates repentance unto life for salvation with following Christ in obedience and surrender, which is a satanic lie. Cloud's false plan of salvation insults the imputed righteousness of God (Romans 4:5-6), and corrupts the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23).

  

There is a tremendous lesson here. Even if Cloud (or Manning, or MacArthur, etc.) is right 95% of the time, it only takes a little leaven to infect the entire lump. 

Again, we see why Evangelicalism is failing. Men get stuck in their interpretations, even when they prove inconsistent with the witness of God and context.

And overreaching all these things is the forgotten doctrine of the forgiveness of all the sins of man. God holds no sin against any man. Death is upon all men because (as John argues) they choose death (darkness). No sin stands in their way of reconciliation. No work is required. If you believe God holds sin against men, you deny the blood of Christ and the finished work. We call on men to be reconciled to God because God has already been reconciled to men. But all are free to choose darkness.

 

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

-2 Cor 5:18-19


There is dispensational element in this passage in regard to the widening of the call to reconciliation from Israel to "the world," but the effect is the same.


Breaking Down the "Conversion" Argument


Lastly, we turn back to another quote from David Cloud. We opened with him referring to 1 Cor 6, and we see again in another article how he is stuck on his interpretation of this passage. 


Those who hold this view do not believe in repentance and supernatural conversion, as taught so plainly in 1 Corinthians 6. “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor EFFEMINATE, nor ABUSERS OF THEMSELVES WITH MANKIND, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And SUCH WERE SOME OF YOU: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Co. 6:9-11).


I cannot quote the entire article here (it is linked above), but in his flow of argument you will note that Cloud conflates an acceptance of homosexuality and the exalting of that lifestyle with the idea that the old nature (flesh) is capable of any and all kinds of sins (see the bulleted list below). This is very deceptive. I would go as far as calling it wicked if I didn't believe that Cloud is just guilty of his own conclusion-seeking. 

He takes as an example an active homosexual "priest" who performs same-sex weddings and tries to argue that is exactly the same (for all intents and purposes) as saying that those who have homosexual feelings are having sinful feelings, but they are not to be excluded from congregations of believers. These positions are light years apart.

We can then discuss how one who is having such feelings in his old nature should handle them. But this is what we do with all tendencies of the old nature. You can place the finest Brandy in all the world before me and it means nothing. It meant nothing to me as an unsaved man. But that is because that sin has no allure for me. But that certainly does not mean that I am incapable of all sin nor does it mean the Christian who is tempted is in a worse state than I.

When we turn to sexual sin, we have seen that 1 Cor 6 (and certainly 1 Cor 5) teaches that Christians are fully capable of falling into sexual sin. And this reality is not just for "weak" Christians. Let's look ahead at 1 Cor 7:5-7 and see Paul's warning TO CHRISTIANS there.

 

Do not deprive one another [in martial sex] except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. But I say this as a concession, not as a commandment. For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that.


The Apostle here argues that if a spouse denies his/her spouse from sex, that CHRISTIAN may be tempted of Satan. The warning is to the spouse because Paul acknowledges we all still have an old nature. Does David Cloud deny this? I hope not. But that is what he seems to argue. If we do not have an old nature capable of absolute wickedness, the Apostles wasted a lot of time on warning Christians about our own lives and the restoration of those who do fall.

We looked at this in our study on evil in the Christian and elsewhere. We looked at some of the multiple warnings from Paul to Christians in regard to our walk. We are fully capable of walking in the flesh. Peter states that Christians are not only capable of being thieves, we can be murderers (Paul argues the same in Galatians 5).

 

But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters.

-1 Peter 4:15 

 

In Cloud's opening sentence, after his attempt to put all positions not his in the same basket, he refers generically to some "view." To what view does he refer? The view that a Christian can suffer from same-sex attraction.


they believe the homosexual is destined to live as a “same-sex attracted” person, either celibately or not


The implication is that those having or recognizing this attraction, "do not believe in repentance and supernatural conversion." Well, David's' view on "repentance" is heretical and Christ-denying, but we've touched on that above and in our quote from David Stewart's blog. For our purposes here, we want to look at what he could possible mean by "supernatural conversion."

Clearly by this phrase he believes that conversion means some sort of inability to sin. That's the only way his argument makes sense. Surely he would deny that, but he certainly applies it to sexual sin. From Cloud's article:

God’s Word says that wrong lusts are sin in themselves even when not acted on. Jesus taught that for a man to look upon a woman to lust after her is adultery (Mt. 5:28). The same would be true, then, a man to lust after a man or a woman to lust after a woman

Again, he conflates an attraction with "lusting after." First, we must ask if he believes this is possible for a believer. Of course it is. Just as all sexual sins are possible. But let's take a step back. Is it not possible to be attracted to someone who is not your spouse and then not "lust after?" Of course it is!

We saw in 1 Cor 7 that Paul teaches that a spouse is not to withhold himself/herself lest the other spouse be TEMPTED. It is very possible to be tempted, but that is not carte blanche to "lust after." And in the case of same-sex attraction, we still say that there should be no "lusting after."

Do you see the chicanery and deceitfulness in Cloud's argument? He is arguing that feeling an attraction, any attraction, is akin to "lusting after." This is madness. He finds no other women, other than his wife, attractive? Would he argue he never found her (or any other woman) attractive until he was married to his wife? And if he did find her attractive before they married, was that fornication? If so, he's right back in the warning in 1 Cor 6 and we must conclude he had lost his salvation. 

David makes his illogical and inconsistent interpretations knowing his eager reader will fall into the snare without question because it feeds the conclusion he wants.

In arguing against "lusting after" and the Lord equating it with adultery, Cloud adds this:

man’s desire toward women is natural, same-sex desire is unnatural

I am not going to argue his point that the first is natural and the second unnatural. However, the first being natural does not negate the sin of "lusting after." Follow me know as I follow Cloud. See what he is arguing as true prima facia? Men are attracted to women! Now, does it follow that all such attraction is adulterous? We ask again, is all such attraction sin? Of course not. I can't imagine Cloud would argue that, but he must if his logic is to hold. 

One cannot argue that men are attracted to women, but only when he "lusts after" her does it become sin and simultaneously argue that just being attracted is sin. That would mean all heterosexual men are guilty of adultery and fornication, regularly, by simply finding women attractive. They all, thus, come under the condemnation of 1 Cor 6 in Cloud's theology.

The inclusion of homosexual attraction being "unnatural" is a way to avoid the logic. The same argument holds. One can be attracted, but refuse to "lust after."  Sin dwells in the old nature. This is why Paul warns the Corinthians against many forms of sexual sin BECAUSE IT IS POSSIBLE. And why Paul warns spouses not to withhold themselves, BECAUSE THE OLD NATURE WILL BE TEMPTED TO SIN.

Surely, there are some who accept those who struggle with same-sex attraction without condoning these same people "lusting after" others or attempting to equate the attraction with the natural attraction of man and woman. These are all very different things.

David Cloud leaves room for nothing. He wants his simple-minded readers to believe that salvation and regeneration mean an end to the old nature (flesh) on the one hand ("supernatural conversion"), while arguing that lusting after a woman is akin to adultery for a believer on the other. You cannot have it both ways. If, as a heterosexual, I am capable of lusting after a woman, then "supernatural conversion" CANNOT mean I am incapable of that sin. Yet Cloud argues that "supernatural conversion" means a former homosexual is incapable of that sin. 

You cannot teach the full assurance of eternal life because of the finished work AND that certain sins negate that work. The latter is a denial of the former. And then we have to start separating which sins are "grave [mortal] sins" and which are not. If 1 Cor 6 is our guide, then adulterers are in the same boat, and by extension, every heterosexual Christian man who ever looks lustily at a woman. 

Unless we are gifted as Paul was (For I wish that all men were even as I myself), we are all capable of "lusting after" one who is not our spouse. But the epistles do not limit the sins CHRISTIANS are capable of committing. It is rather ugly list. 


These are all said to be possible for BELIEVERS:

  • Thievery
  • Gossip
  • Whore Mongering
  • Lying with a Prostitute
  • Adultery
  • Murder
  • Incest
  • Covetousness
  • Slothfulness
  • Homosexuality
  • Extortion
  • Fornication
  • Uncleanness
  • Lewdness
  • Idolatry
  • Sorcery
  • Hatred
  • Contentions
  • Jealousies
  • Outbursts of Wrath
  • Selfish Ambitions
  • Dissensions
  • Heresies
  • Envy
  • Drunkenness
  • Loving the World
  • Revelries
  • and the like
 
Yes, such WERE some of you (1 Cor 6)... so beware and do no fall back into these sins. Do not be like the Gentiles. Come out an be separate. Yes, this is what we teach. What we do not teach is that if you fall back into sin, you have lost your salvation or that it means you were never saved. We certainly would never teach that if you are tempted by any sin of the flesh, you were never saved.

That is a horrible, Christ-denying doctrine of demons.

Cloud's error is born out of his mythology of "heaven/hell" and "saved/lost." Since he has all believers going to heaven, he struggles with the concept of disobedient Christians. What of them? He doesn't recognize the "wicked servant." If all just go to heaven, what's the difference? The Christ-Denying, Anti-Grace Moralist has to conclude that the wicked servant was never truly a servant (or he adopts the Christ-denying doctrine of a lost salvation via some "grave sin.").
 
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles

-1 Cor 5:1a

 

Yes, Christ-denying Moralist, it is possible for Christians (even you) to fall into sexual immorality so awful, it is not even accepted by the world.



Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified.

-1 Thessalonians 4:3-6


We have a choice how we are going to live. The Grace-Denying, Christ-Denying Moralists want us to conclude the choice in how to live is what saves us. We must note a clear distinction between the condemnation of sin (all sin) for the sake of restoration and the future judgment of believers for deeds done in the flesh and the doctrine of the free gift of life by grace alone through faith alone.

We must reject both the Moralist and the Libertine. Both present faith-destroying paths. Both can lead to false gospels. Both fail to rightly divide the word of truth. 


Help in Walking the Christian Walk


If you struggle with sin and are looking for a path to walk in the new nature (and not in the old nature), I have two series of related studies. One on the Christian walk and the other Walking worthy. I will link to Part 1 of each below.

And you can do neither fully properly unless you understand the present age.

Listen to "Episode 18 - The Prize of the High Calling, It Must Be Understood and Pursued" on Spreaker.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Words of Warning from William MacDonald

The Humble Servant


William MacDonald was a Bible teacher and the former president of Emmaus Bible College in Iowa (associated with the Plymouth Brethren assemblies). He is the author of a number of books on the Christian faith, including Believer's Bible Commentary (with Arthur Farstad). He passed away on Christmas Day in 2007 at the age of 90.

Before dedicating his life to the Christian faith, Bill had a successful career as an investment analyst. He held an MBA from Harvard Business School. From what I understand, once he committed his life to Christian ministry, he led a very simple life, eschewing anything beyond the basics. 

William MacDonald did not hold to the all the beliefs I espouse. He was what I call a "Classic Dispensationalist." But that's OK. His commentary has some very valuable notes. I can disagree with a Bill MacDonald on some points and still recognize his commitment to Christ. He will stand before his Savior and answer for his service and his work as a student of the Word (as we all will). The man dedicated his life to the basic premise that the Bible is the absolute and infallible and sufficient Word of God and to the doctrine of the finished work. His foundation was solid. What he built on it is for his Lord to judge. That does not mean I am not allowed to critically examine his teaching (and you mine), but that is not the focus of this entry.

As we noted in our study on the words of Brennan Manning, we can disagree, but we must find fellowship around the essentials. For example, my belief on the state of the dead is closer to what a Jehovah's Witness might believe than to most Evangelicals. However, the JW is so horribly apostate on Christ himself and His finished work, all that is left is an insignificant agreement on a secondary issue. I would encourage all of us, no matter how much we admire or appreciate the words and works of anyone, we never lose sight of the foundational truths of regenerative faith. Christ is all and his work perfect. That can never be sacrificed on the altar of "unity." Ephesians speaks of "the unity of the faith." That is where we find true unity, not in sacrificing Christ afresh on an altar of inclusivity.


A Prescient Warning


I had the pleasure of hearing Bill speak at a Bible Conference in late 1993. I was a young Christian and relatively new to the concept of self-study of scripture (despite having been a Religious Education Teacher). I was also blessed to attend a seminar at the same conference by Arthur Farstad (who was the primary editor of the New King James) on Bible translations and manuscript evidence. 

William MacDonald was the keynote speaker for three group sessions. He gave series on Christian Commitment:

  • Commitment to the Assembly
  • Commitment to the Bible
  • Commitment to Christ


I believe it was in his second message (Commitment to the Bible) that he told the story of being invited to speak at a conference and discovered one of the other speakers was not committed to the infallibility of scripture. When he spoke to the organizers and asked them why they invited this man, they said the following words to him:


 "You don't know the brother, he loves the Lord." 


MacDonald said it slowly so it would sink in, and it did. He warned it would be the excuse used to allow wolves into the fold. I have heard that excuse in one form or another many times over the years. In fact, there was someone at the 1993 conference I attended who was an invited speaker at my local assembly many times. Just a few years after the conference, he spoke very similar words to me.

After the invited speaker gave his message, I was part of a group which was invited to dine with him. He spoke about a friend of his who is a known denier of biblical truth. I started a conversation, told him a personal story about the man, and noted several of his unbiblical positions. Then it came, the conversation about what the man teaches was ending because "I know him, and he loves the Lord."

I was floored. I reminded him that's exactly the excuse William MacDonald had warned us about. He didn't care. Now, if it was just some friend of his, that would be one thing. But this is a very influential speaker and writer. It's great that he loves the Lord, but in his doctrines and practice he denies the very basics of both what it means to be a believer and what it is to live the Christian life. It is our duty to kindly and with great humility refute (reprove, rebuke with all patience and doctrine) his teaching. He privately told me he did not agree with the man's teachings, but he would never publicly oppose him. Hopefully, he has thought better in the intervening years. 


The Enemy is Within the Gate


Our apostle, Paul, had many enemies within the cloak of Christendom. Paul names some of them. He points to Hymenaeus and Alexander and states, "whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme." He says of Hymenaeus and Philetus, "And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth..." In one epistle Paul notes Demas as his companion, only to tell us he had abandoned Paul by the time of his final epistle.


Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works. You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words.


In the Book of Philippians, Paul tells of "the enemies of the cross of Christ." And we have seen from our look at that passage, that these enemies are fellow Christians. Also in that book. Paul rejoices when the basic truths of Christ are preached while simultaneously warning against any false doctrines these may also teach.  By the end of his ministry, Paul says that "all in Asia" had abandoned him. 

In our day, there are a few who may get the foundation right and still preach grave errors, but it seems the problem is more that the teachers of this age are also attacking the foundation. The foundational truths of the finished work and the sufficiency of scripture are under assault by "Christian" teachers.


The Red Letter Error


We have touched on "Red Letter Christians" who have exalted the words of Christ in the gospels above all other God-breathed revelation in previous studies.  I've attached the audio from my podcast on this topic at the bottom of this post. You will note, that they don't really follow the red letters, but the insinuation that the red letters are superior to all other revelation is demonic. 

The proponents of this approach have wantonly grabbed the words of the Lord for themselves despite both the Lord and Paul teaching that his earthly ministry and the earthly kingdom are for a future, believing Israel. The gospel of the Kingdom preached in Matthew has no cross and no resurrection and is limited to Jews only. Many of these teachers, unironically, side with Israel's enemies in our day. Of course, Israel is in the land in apostacy, but her enemies spit on God, spit on Christ, and are filled with murderous hate. The sellers of some generic love have sided with those who openly spew hate and teach their children to hate. They seem to be OK with hatred towards Jews and Christians. 

This is yet another example of those who land in the Bible not knowing where they are and start to claim whatever they want for themselves (as we saw in our post on the failure of Evangelicalism). Even among the "red letters" they pick and choose (check out the attached audio file).


Consequently they know little or nothing of other callings and imagine that God's plans revolve solely around themselves. This is a species of slavery to self that we all need to be delivered from.

-Stuart Allen

 

Remember How Satan Works


George Harrison loved his sweet lord, but his lord is not my lord. That's George Harrison's business. He's free to believe what he wants. But I wouldn't invite him to speak at a conference because he "loves the lord."  

We do well to recall Paul's warning as to how Satan works. Satan is not in the pool hall or in the brothel (the flesh leads people there), he is in the pulpit.



For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And it is not a thing to marvel at, for Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. So it is not a great thing then if his servants also transform themselves, as if they were servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.

-2 Corinthians 12-15


We battle against wicked powers in "heavenly places" and the wiles of the devil. He is a clever foe. He can use the flesh as we are warned in 1 Cor 7 in regard to a spouse withholding himself/herself and in Ephesians 4 in regard to our anger. But his main attack is an appeal to our pride and the related desire for religious duty we can fulfil. We have rejected the grace of God and spiritual blessings and grasp onto earthly ordinances and temporal goals. We are witnessing to "principalities and power in the heavenly places" (both good and evil) of the grace of God. We make a mockery of God's plan for this age when we steal from other ages. We have failed in our mission.


To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the dispensation of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the many-sided wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.

-Ephesians 3:8-12

We must recognize the revelation of God through Paul (alone). It is those who recognize the Dispensation of the Mystery (see attached audio as well as our previous study) who are called on to witness to these powers (both good and evil) for a purpose we ponder later. 

And while many fail to recognize this distinction, some still preach a solid foundation. This is, at least, some sort of a witness to the grace of God for wicked sinners. Sadly, however, the rejection of Paul's revelation has also spawned those who also attack the foundation (if subtly so). Sin is no longer sin as defined by God. What is sin because as selective as the passages many grab for themselves from other dispensations (from other families of God). 

We are not sure what these principalities powers encompass, but they are currently in the heavenly places (note: not in man's "hell") and their attack is against the mind as they appeal to the will.


Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
-Ephesians 6:11-13


Judge Not (Except Those We Want to Judge)


Ironically, the heretic I referenced has no problem lashing out at "fundamentalists." In fact, when I saw him, every lash was met with cheers. Yet criticism is shouted down with accusations of "a lack of love" or "gracelessness." 

He said of those who oppose one plank of his agenda that they are "instrument[s] of the devil!" He openly mocks believers in a way he would never apply to those who deny the very basics of the faith (he openly praises Islam, for example). Now, it can be argued that I am calling him an "instrument of the devil." And that is true. I am. The difference is that I'm not pretending that the core beliefs of Christianity are not about the ages to come, but about making this place the best it can be (as they teach). I'm not saying kindness is more important than the Plan of God. These ideas are surely not mutually exclusive, but they must be seen in their order. We are warned of those "having a form of godliness but denying its power."

If he thinks kindness and the mysticism of Catholic mystics and Muslim Sufis is pleasing to God and my dispensationalism is "unbiblical to the core" (as he has said), fine. He can believe that. But the corruption should be evident. Would he ever say Catholicism or even Islam is "unbiblical to the core?" No, but watch this, if *I* say that, I'm projecting an unbiblical Christianity! He can attack my beliefs with extremes, but if I use the same words in regard to faiths which openly deny Christ himself, I'm being unchristian? Madness.

He can call me what he wants. I don't care. That's not the point. The point is the hypocrisy of criticizing Christians who focus on the ages to come and accusing them of teaching a "false theology" (their words) which is "unbiblical to the core" (their words) as he embraces two of the greatest persecutors of the finished work in world history! But if I say either he or Islam represent a "false theology" which is "unbiblical to the core," I am met with accusations of "hate." 

He wrote, aimed at fundamentalists, that Jesus was concerned about "intolerance." This from a man who embraces the enemies of the gospel and openly attacks conservative Christians. This is a common theme among "Red-Letter Christians" (who, as we have noted, don't actually hold to all the red letters).


A. Islam represents a false theology which is unbiblical to the core (UNACCEPTABLE HATE)

B. Fundamentalism represents a false theology which is unbiblical to the core (CHEERS)


A. The Bible condemns greed and covetousness as terrible sins! (EXPOSE AND REBUKE)

B The Bible condemns sexual immorality and deviancy as wicked (DO NOT JUDGE)


Brennan Manning (who we examined in our most recent study) states that we have no business telling even a prostitute that what she is doing is wrong. In "Ragamuffin Gospel" (embraced by a number of contemporary Christian artists) Manning excuses a prostitute, a homosexual, and a woman who had an abortion, none of whom had any remorse. That is neither loving nor biblical.  He had a "let God sort it out" philosophy. However, he had no problem lambasting Christians for things like "covetousness." Why? Because the world will love you for both positions. 

From my post:

We can love the prostitute, the homosexual, and the woman who had an abortion of Manning's book, but to leave them unreproved and unwarned is an act of a different sort of love. It is an act of self-love. The failure to warn those walking in darkness (whether believers or not) in the name of love will bring accolades from the world and a sense of self-glory. But is an act of hate to leave people in darkness in fear of offending them and an act of hate towards the testimony of scripture. Those who practice this sort of love risk nothing. It is the height of pride.


Convince, Rebuke, Exhort, with all Longsuffering and Teaching


Approve of and embrace Christ-deniers and the cheers will ring out. Attack believers who hold to core evangelical beliefs and they again cheer (I cheered as an unbeliever). Yet when I tried to point out his madness and the dangers of his movement and one of its most public adherents, (and its abandonment of the finished work of Christ) to someone who knows what I'm talking about, all of it was dismissed with, "You don't know the brother, he loves the Lord."

He doesn't have to invite me to his conferences and I don't have to invite him to mine. A core teaching of this blog is the individual responsibility of the believer to study on his own as each will answer for his own theology before God. My concern is his influence. If you want to excuse the wolf, fine, excuse him. But don't give the pretense of acceptance. 

I write these posts knowing I will answer for every jot and tittle. I have repented of many things I used to teach. I only pray that the damage I may have done in teaching those things will be corrected by God in my hearers. If any of these teachers are true believers, it better for them to examine themselves now and accept the chastening of the Lord.


For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.

Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, for you know that we who teach shall be judged with greater strictness.


 If you start to listen closely, you will begin to here William MacDonald's prophecy play out in your circles. "He loves the Lord," will be tagged on to excuse denials of the very foundations of the faith.

Would you hire a "fundamentalist" accountant or a "sincere" accountant to do your taxes? When the IRS shows up at your door, "but he really loves the tax code" will be no excuse for his errors. You'll both end up in the ditch. 


From the last chapter in the last inspired writing to date (not in red, but still inspired):


I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

-2 Timothy 4:1-4


For those who think I excuse all things in fundamentalism, you're not familiar with the breadth of my posts. I will soon post another examination of David Cloud's mangling of Paul's warnings in his gospel-denying doctrine that one cannot be a Christian and a homosexual. Of course that's possible. Peter teaches us that Christians cane be murderers. If a Christian can commit adultery, a Christian can be a homosexual. We excuse none of these things, but Cloud (and those who ignore the context wherein we find these sins) strikes at the foundation of Christ and his finished work by teaching that a Christians committing certain sins, cannot have Life. 

We previously looked at David Cloud and his position on contemporary Christian music

We must balance God's grace on the one hand, and the heinousness of sin and the Judgment Seat ahead.


PODCASTS:

 Red Letter Christians (You Tube)

Dispensation of the Mystery (YouTube)

Red Letter Christians (Spreaker)

The Monstrosity Which Calls Itself Christendom  (Spreaker)

Monday, December 7, 2020

Gentiles and Christmas

Tidings of Great Joy to All People


In our recent look at how Christmas (as we refer to the birth of the Lord in western culture) was the start of the fulfillment of promises made specifically to Israel, we noted how Gentiles would be blessed through Israel. We saw that in the dispensation covered by the Lord's earthly ministry and through the Apostles in the Acts Age, the message was that the Son of David had come to offer the restored kingdom to Israel and such a kingdom would be a blessing to all nations (Gentiles).

In doing so, we do not want to dismiss the glory of Christmas for Gentiles. The Book of Acts is the story of the Apostles continuing the earthly ministry of the Lord's mission to Israel ("to confirm the promises made to the Patriarchs") and the revelation of the grafting in of Gentile believers into those blessings.

These two callings can be seen in the dual ministries of the Apostles. Peter and the twelve had a calling to go to "ye men of Israel" and "to Jews only" while Paul was  called to go "the Jew first, but also to the Gentile." In the Acts Age, whether the twelves' ministry or Paul's, the primary calling was to Jews. The addition of Gentiles to Paul's calling was not that Gentiles could suddenly have life by faith (that has always been true), but that Gentiles could partake of Israel's earthly blessings (in part).

The Lord has not left Gentiles out of the gospel accounts, but we must rightly divide these accounts. This is not a study of the focus of the four gospel accounts or an overview of the Book of Acts. However, in light of Christmas, we do want to note the differences between Matthew's account and Luke's. neither Mark's gospel nor John's has any information about the Lord's genealogy or birth. In short, this is because Mark's gospel presents the Lord as a servant and John's as God. Neither servants nor God have need of a genealogy.


Matthew's Accounting of the Lord's Birth 


We looked at Matthew's account of the Lord's genealogy in our post on Israel and Christmas, but we need to summarize it here so we can better see the context for Gentiles in Luke's account. 

Matthew takes us back to David (connecting the Lord to the throne) and to Abraham (connecting the Lord to the promises to Abraham regarding the land). 


The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham... So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.


 Pronouns are very important in scripture. We've noted the scripture's use of pronouns and how context is very important in this regard. let's return to the inspired account in Matthew:


But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins...
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judæa in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.


We've looked previously as to how the Lord deals with the title "Son of David." As just one example, when Jews called on him so, he answered quickly. But when a Gentile tried the same, she was rebuffed, for he is not the Son of David to Gentiles, but rather our Lord. We note quickly that "Son of David" is used 10 times in Matthew, 3 times in Mark and Luke (each), and not at all in John (though his lineage is disputed in Chapter 7).

 

And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” When he entered the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” (Matthew 9)
And behold, two blind men sitting by the roadside, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent; but they cried out the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” And Jesus stopped and called them, saying, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they received their sight and followed him. (Matthew 20)


Now compare these responses from the Lord to his response to a Gentile woman who invokes "Son of David":


And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite [Gentile] woman from that region came out and cried, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed 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 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 fair 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 is the account of the Son of David sent primarily to Israel. It deals with her promised Kingdom (David's son was heir to a throne) and her promised Land (Abraham's son was offered on Mt Moriah/Calvary). Gentiles would be blessed, but through Israel and through the crumbs that fall from Israel's (their master's) table. This is all in regard to the earthly kingdom. This has nothing to do with the free gift of Life or the present age.


In Matthew we have the proclamation of "the gospel of the Kingdom," and this gospel:

  • Has no mention of his death and burial and resurrection (Matthew 4, 9)
  • Was to be preached to Jews only (Matthew 10)

These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And preach as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ (Matthew 10)


The Lord does not mention his death until Chapter 16. As we transition to Luke, we note the internal change in Matthew which lead us, in part, to the conditions in the Book of Acts (written by Luke). Here is a summation of the change from Charles Welch:


The great teaching of the apostle [Paul], which included the Gentile within the sphere of the promise of Abraham (Romans and Galatians), is scarcely suggested in Matthew's Gospel.

Matthew's Gospel is divided into two parts;  and each part is connected with the relationship and covenants indicated in Matt.1:1 ["The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham]

The first part, covering Matthew.4:17.to.16:20, is associated with the kingly title, "Son of David";  the second portion, commencing with the announcement of suffering, death, and resurrection (Matt.16:21), is the fulfilling of the title, "Son of Abraham".


The second phase of the Lord's ministry could not be made a matter of public proclamation until the great transaction of Calvary had removed the curse,  and made it possible for the blessing of Abraham to flow out to the Gentiles (Galatians.3:13,14).

Luke's Accounting of the Lord's Birth 


Matthew's parables and teachings on the Kingdom are Israel-centric. Luke's gospel broadens the scope as he is reflecting the teaching of Paul's ministry from the latter half of the Acts Age. To that end, he does not start his genealogy with Abraham, he goes all the way back to the progenitor of all humankind, Adam. Paul, at Athens, states to Gentiles there "[God] has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth." This is quite different from his dealings with Jews in the synagogues. Luke's gospel reflects Pauls' two-fold ministry (with the Jew still first). 

Matthew's genealogy starts with Abraham and comes forward in time. Luke starts with the Lord and works backward, through David and Abraham, to Adam. We will not delve into it here, but we do note that if you read both genealogies you will note they diverge after David. That is because Matthew's genealogy is Joseph's' (the husband of Mary) through Solomon giving the Lord the right to the throne. Luke's list is Mary's through Nathan, avoiding the curse on the line of David from Jeconiah ("'for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah'"). And it was to Eve that the promise was made of the coming Messiah ("I will put enmity between you [the Serpent] and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” Gen 3:15). 

Charles Welch makes this observation concerning the genealogies:

Luke's Gospel goes back behind both Abraham and David, and traces the genealogy of the Savior back to Adam. This forms the basis for Paul's message to the Gentiles; and indeed, it is Paul alone of all the New Testament writers who makes known the wondrous and far-reaching connection that is established in the purpose of God between Adam, mankind (including Jew and Gentile), and Christ. Romans.5: associates the reconciliation with Adam. This scope is wider than that of Matthew. 

Luke does not dismiss the Lord's mission as the coming King of Israel. But just as Paul's ministry declared the kingdom AND the inclusion of the Gentile in the Plan of God for that age, Luke includes both aspects. The angel announced in Luke chapter 1:

 

He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High;
and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,
and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever
;
and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1)


These words are not to be "spiritualized." They are literal promises based on literal prophecies.

Mary continues with her words of praise in Luke.

 

He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his posterity for ever.”


John the Baptist's father continues with a prophecy:


Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people,
and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
that we should be saved from our enemies,
and from the hand of all who hate us;
to perform the mercy promised to our fathers,
and to remember his holy covenant,
the oath which he swore to our father Abraham


But when the Lord is presented to Simeon, about whom the scripture tell us had the Holy Spirit upon him, he includes Gentiles as Paul would. The scripture also tells us in Luke 2 that Simeon "waited  for the consolation OF ISRAEL."

And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.  (Luke 2)
“Lord, now let thou thy servant depart in peace,
according to thy word;
for mine eyes have seen thy salvation
which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to thy people Israel.”
(Luke 2)

 

So, we see the truth revealed SINCE the foundation of the age that Gentiles would be blessed through Abraham and Israel. We stay consistent with Paul's scriptural and prophetic arguments in Romans and Galatians that we looked at in out previous Christmas study. While these truths were not clearly understood, they were part of the revealed Plan of God in Moses and the Prophets (as Paul testifies at his trial in the Acts). As late as Acts 28, Paul is teaching "the hope of Israel" to Jews.

We pause here to note that the present age was hidden from "before" the foundation of the ages and revealed after the Acts Age had ended and the Plan of God for Israel put on hold.


The Ministry of John the Baptist


We now turn to the ministry of John the Baptist and compare the things that differ.


In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias [Isaiah], saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. (Matthew 3)


Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias [Isaiah] the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God. (Luke 3)


The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand is emphasized in Matthew's account while Luke adds "all flesh shall see the salvation [rescue] of God."


Of Wise Men and Angels ad Public Ministry


One of the other differences in the gospel accounts is found in Matthew's inclusion of the wise men who ask a King "where is he who is born the King of the Jews?" This is absent from Luke's gospel, but Luke does include the announcement by the angel to the shepherds.

Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people ... Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men" (Luke 2)

These differing callings are also reflected in how the Lord starts his public ministry in the gospels. Just as John the Baptist came calling on all to "repent," so does the Lord in Matthew's choice of where to being the telling of the story (in Capernaum). Matthew quotes the prophet Isaiah, then we see the first announcement of the Lord's public ministry. 

The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light,
And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death
Light has dawned... (Matthew 4)
"Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4)


Luke chooses to start telling the story from the Lord's address to the synagogue in Nazareth. He starts his ministry in the synagogue (as Paul did all through the Acts Age) and quotes Isaiah. We looked at this verse in our previous study noting how the Lord stops before "the day of vengeance of our God," but here we simply note the content and context of his initial message.

 After the Lord announces the prophecy of Isaiah was being fulfilled in their presence, they reject him and become indignant. In light of this rejection, he turns to scripture and chooses two interesting accounts.


But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” (Luke 4)

 

The two referenced here by the Lord, the widow and the leper, are both Gentiles. We take two distinct things from our Lord's choice: Gentile blessing was not impossible under the Old Covenant and Gentile blessing was the result of rejection by Israel. This is Paul's message in Romans and in the latter half of the Acts Age. Luke reflects this in his gospel account (as inspired).

Peter starts his miraculous ministry by healing a lame Jew in the Temple. Paul starts his by blinding a Jew. This is fascinating story and a stark contrast to Peter's miracle.


But Elymas [a Jew] the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul [a Gentile] away from the faith. Then Saul [Hebrew], who also is called Paul [Roman/Gentile], filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.”

And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord.


Summation: Paul starts the last half of the Acts:

  • changing his name from a Hebrew name to a Gentile name
  •  by blinding a Jew "for a time"
  • the blinding of the Jew leads to the faith of a Gentile

We're careful to note this is NOT the start of the Dispensation of the Mystery spoken of by Paul in Ephesians. It is the expanding of the call in the Book of Acts which is the grafting in of Gentiles into ISRAEL (explained in Romans 9-11) for the sake of making ISRAEL jealous. The Acts Age was still concerned with Moses and the Prophets and the hope of Israel (as Paul attests). 

Luke's and Paul's ministry reflects this rejection by Israel and the grafting in of Gentiles in order to provoke Israel to jealousy. We have looked at Matthew's parables on the past and have noted their focus on Israel, the Kingdom, the judgement of her service to come. Luke's parables contrast those who seem blessed (the rich, the elder son, the cleansed lepers, and the steward in the master's house), but each has been corrupted. We quickly point to several of Luke's parables:


  • The prodigal son: the elder (Israel) remains with the father, but in pride
  • The Good Samaritan is juxtaposed against religious Jews
  • 10 lepers cleansed, only one returns to than the Lord, a Samaritan
  • The Unjust Steward loved money and lost his stewardship
  • The Pharisees love of wealth seen in the parable of the rich man in Abraham's Bosom


These reflect what was goin on in the Acts and are given as a warning to Jews in regard to their special calling and stewardship. Pride, dead religion, pursuit of riches, unthankfulness, deceit drive men to forsake their blessings. These are a danger to all believers of all ages, but in Luke, the write is reflecting Paul's message in the latter half of the Acts Age. 


Luke Reflects Paul's Acts Ministry


Luke's gospel is explained by the Book of Romans. There, the Jew is still "first" and has an advantage "much in every way," but because of his stubbornness, (as we have noted) God has grafted in the Gentile. we must be careful here. This is not the condition of this hour. We will not break down the book here, but we refer the reader, again, to Romans chapters 9 through 11. 

In Luke's writings (again we note Luke and the Acts are Volumes 1 and 2 of the same book), we have reflected Paul's call to widen the call of the physical and promised Kingdom which is to come. That being said, Luke is not the gospel of this hour. In the current age, the Book of John is where we start.

John the Apostle does not have the Baptist announcing a call to repentance. John has no genealogy for the Lord Jesus is presented not as the King of Israel (as in Matthew) or as the Last Adam and Perfect Man (as in Luke), but as God. And God has no genealogy.

We do not point to a babe in a manger, we point in this age to a risen Christ, far above the heavens. John's call is for men to believe on the Son of God and by believing have "life through his name." We can find joy in the announcement in Luke, but we must move on to the cross, the burial, and the resurrection before we see the glory.

The full passage from Luke is famously quoted by Linus in A Charlie Brown Christmas. It's a beautiful passage. However, we need to be careful. Christmas (the birth of he Lord) was surely the start of the promise of a joy available all people, but it is empty without his sacrifice and resurrection.

And in this age (unlike in the Gospels, in the Acts Age, and in an age to come), there is no more Jew or Gentile.  

There are many many more of these interesting differences between Matthew and Luke. We refer the reader to Charles Welch's "The Apostle of the Reconciliation." The Lord came to reconcile Israel to himself (as seen in the first part of the Acts Age) and then extends the reconciliation to Gentiles (in the latter half of the Acts Age). We must note again here that neither of these conditions in regard to the earthly kingdom are in effect in this present age.

Step back and take a look at the Bible as a whole before you try to find your place in it. Otherwise, we end up taking any verse from any passage in any book and try to apply to ourselves. That method has led to thousands of worthless denominations and hundreds of millions who never find the truth for the present age. If you don't get past a "saved/lost" approach to the Bible, you'll never find the gospel of the unsearchable riches of Christ.



A LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE



THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING SCRIPTURE IS ISRAEL