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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. ...

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Law-Keepers - The Enemy Within


Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law?

-Galatians 4:21


We have recently touched on the sacramentalist element of greater Christendom in my entry,  Grace Alone that Purifies Now and Later. We've noted there and elsewhere how these elements have tried to make inroads into Evangelical communities for the sake of proselytizing. But I believe there exists a greater danger to the young Evangelical believer.  

We have looked at the Gentile Twelve Tribes Heresy and other similar heresies which constitute a Judaizing infiltration among believers. But even these, although quite dangerous, come with a label that may not appeal to the Evangelical. That is, there already exists a general sense of error when "Hebrew Israelite" teachers or sacramentalist teachers come among us.  The greatest danger, in my opinion, to the young believer (or the untaught) comes from the law-keeping element among Evangelicals.

There are some who have done some good work on behalf of God's word and the message of Christ who have fallen into the delusion of law-keeping or Sabbath-keeping. I will refrain from naming any of these as I don't want to divert from this short message and warning by getting into details about certain teachers. I will say this, some of them have materials that I have enjoyed. But I believe I am squarely established in my commitment to right division that their external doctrines pose no thereat to me (and I do not recommend them to the weaker brethren).

A the end of this short post, I will list a few related entries and a couple of podcasts for those interested in further study.

The basic problem with supposed law-keepers (or those who quote from the Mosaic law as binding on believers in this age) is that while accusing some of us neglecting the law, they themselves pick and choose what they believe as binding. I know of no professing Christian believer who also claims the law for himself who suggests we should be taking animals to the temple in Jerusalem for sacrifice. So, on that obvious point, they are (whether they like it or not) dispensationalists. Neither do I see any claiming the promises of the land promised to Abraham from the Nile to the Euphrates. They recognize a change in stewardship, a change in practice, and a change in hope. That is dispensationalism.

I know a supposed law-keeper who will not use his computer on the Sabbath as the computer heats up with use and thus it is the equivalent of starting a fire on the Sabbath. I know other Sabbath-keepers who tap away on their keyboards without a second thought. And what of a Sabbath-keeper in one time zone who is communicating with a Sabbath-keeper in another time zone? These are some of the manmade issues that arise when we extract the Law from its place in God's plan and use it as we see fit.  

I could list many many parts of the law that the law-keepers tend to ignore. Similarly, I can point to many things the Lord himself taught in his earthly ministry that those who claim his words are their gospel ignore. Is it worse to try to be obedient to the calling of this age as taught by Paul while not following the letter of the law (or all the words of Christ) or to claim the law and the words of Christ as both binding and applicable today? There is a hypocrisy alive in anyone who believes he is truly keeping the Law.

Let's look at a small sample of some the commands and teachings ignored:


You shall not shave around the sides of your head, nor shall you disfigure the edges of your beard. 
-Leviticus 19:27

 

You shall not wear a garment of different sorts, such as wool and linen mixed together. You shall make tassels on the four corners of the clothing with which you cover yourself. 
-Deuteronomy 22:11-12

 

If any man takes a wife, and goes in to her, and detests her, and charges her with shameful conduct, and brings a bad name on her, and says, ‘I took this woman, and when I came to her I found she was not a virgin,’ then the father and mother of the young woman shall take and bring out the evidence of the young woman’s virginity to the elders of the city at the gate... “I found your daughter was not a virgin,” and yet these are the evidences of my daughter’s virginity.’ And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. Then the elders of that city shall take that man and punish him; and they shall fine him one hundred shekels of silver and give them to the father of the young woman... 
-Deuteronomy 22

 

Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have and give alms... 
-Luke 12:32

 

Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. 
-Matthew 5:42


We see the Kabbalistic Hasidic Jews seeking to follow Leviticus 19 more than we see the supposed Law-keeper in Christendom. 

I could go on and choose command and teaching after command and teaching from the Law and the Lord's earthly ministry that "law-keepers" and "red letter Christians" generally ignore. That last one from Matthew 5 (the Sermon on the Mount) I have used for years with those who claim that sermon as their truth. I have asked many times for help with medical bills, etc. To date, I have seen exactly zero dollars. 

The excuse given is the guiding sermon of their life is reduced to "guidelines." Similarly, just as the Lord teaches to "sell what you have and give alms" in Luke 12, the Pentecostal church sold all they had and gave to the apostles and lived communally (Acts 2, 4). Further, after Gentiles were grafted into the promises of Israel, Paul taught that it was the duty of Gentile believers to send money to Jewish believers in Jerusalem. We have covered the many differences in the Acts Age assemblies and the current age, but it seems as though no one cares. The differences are chalked up to things like "transitional truths" to "accommodation," or worse, to Apostolic error!

If you have not followed our studies on Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth, and in your heart you know that there are differences in scripture which need explanation, please look through this blog or check out my podcast on Spotify (or any of the major podcast services), "Brooklyn's Dad Talks About Everything."   

My style is conversational and I believe in the liberty of the believer. All who claim Christ alone as their only hope are my brothers and sisters, I offer explanations and an understanding of the Word that, hopefully, will free some from the bondage of the law and the bondage to the flesh. 

The law was weak through the flesh. The law was part of a covenant to expose sin and failure in God's earthly, chosen people who were and are to be "a royal priesthood," "a kingdom of priests" for the nations in a coming age under the New Covenant. Both the Old and the New Covenants are for Israel. They are earthly. The First failed through the flesh, the second shall succeed as God himself with give them the ability to succeed in the new, spiritual nature.


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

-1 Cor 15:55-56

 

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

-Romans 8:1-8

Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

-Galatians 3:21-22

And many more. 

Thursday, November 17, 2022

The Heavenly Places Where the Principalities and Powers Currently Reside

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 
-Ephesians 6:12

The principalities and powers are said to be in "high places" here in Eph 6:12. The Greek word translated "high places" in the KJV is epouránios. This word means "heavenly." It is used of the "heavenly [epouránios] Father" by the Lord (Matthew 18:35). Paul uses it 13 times in his epistles. 

Ephesians 6:12 use of epouránios is the same as the other 4 uses in Ephesians. 

1. Blessings in HEAVENLY PLACES (1:3) 
2. Christ in HEAVENLY PLACES (1:20) 
3. Believers in HEAVNELY PLACES (2:6) 

And, 4, Ephesians 3:10

to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places...

Ephesians 3:10 uses the same Greek words for principalities, powers, and heavenly places as Ephesians 6:12. Christ is in the heavenly places, but "far above" the principalities and powers (1:20-21) and "far above" that level of the heavens (4:10).

  • Principlaities = archḗ
  • Powers = exousía
  • High Places = epouránios = Heavenly Places

This is truth for the current age. From the beginning, Satan has always presented himself as an "Angel of Light" as we saw in the Garden and as Paul reminds us in 2 Cor 11. Paul then adds that since this is true, it is no wonder that Satan's ministers are "the ministers of righteousness." Peter tells us Satan roams about like a lion "seeking whom he may devour." (1 Peter 5:8).

We note these things for a couple of reasons. First, to point us back to the "full armor of God" of Ephesians 6 necessary to defeat the attacks from these powers and secondly to remind us that Satan is not sitting on some throne in a fiery place of torture as tradition teaches.

We have very powerful enemies, but we have even more powerful armor. However, that armor is powered by the Lord. Unbelievers do not have access to this armor and believers can diminish our ability to be properly prepared by allowing sin into our lives or by failing to make our stand.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 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, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints...

 Just a small note while we're here. Note Paul's encouragement in that last verse (Eph 6:18). Paul asks us to "watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints." The word "supplication" is the Greek word "déēsis" which means "prayer, request, petition" [Mounce]. The context of the verse is prayer, but even this last urging by Paul, on its own, teaches that we are to pary for the "saints[Gk: hágios].

The word translated "for" is the word "perí" which means "in regard to" or "concerning." There is no idea here of praying to some group of the dead called "Saints." Paul uses the word 15 times in this epistles. He is clearly references those alive at the time in Ephesus. There may be some debate as to whether the word is singular to those who are part of the Body, but it certainly does not mean some exalted class of believer who has achieved his immediate salvation through his own merits (as taught by many).

And it certainly does not pertain to the dead who can perform miracles on our behalf. We do not pray to either living or dead "saints." We are to pray FOR living saints as Paul teaches here in Eph 6:18. Saints are being perfected while living. 

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints [hágios], for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ...


That is all we will say on this subject. 

 

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Israel Was and Will Be a Chosen Race, Not the Body

But because of false brethren secretly brought in, who slipped in to spy out our freedom which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage— to them we did not yield submission even for a moment, that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. And from those who were reputed to be something (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who were of repute added nothing to me; but on the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter for the mission to the circumcised worked through me also for the Gentiles), and when they perceived the grace that was given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised; only they would have us remember the poor, which very thing I was eager to do.

Galatians 2:4-10


We have covered a number of times the distinction made between Israel and the nations (Gentiles0 in regard to both unbelievers and believers during the Acts Age. We can see that separation in unity here in Galatians. But we don't want to miss the calling of the 12 outside the narrative of the Acts or outside of Paul's epistles. Just as we have to understand Paul's epistles based on the dispensation he is under and his calling to go to the Gentiles, we must see Peter's calling to go to Israel. We just note here that Peter's entire biblical mission was to the twelve tribes (save once). After the Acts Age ended, Peter is nowhere to be seen. 

So let us turn to Peter's epitsles and just look at a few simple things to help us in our goal of rightly dividing the Word of Truth.


Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappado′cia, Asia, and Bithyn′ia, chosen and destined by God the Father and sanctified by the Spirit for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood...

- 1 Peter 1:1

As we see in Paul's letter to the Galatians, Peter was sent to the circumcised. Here in Peter's epistle, he addresses the Jewish "dispersion." These are the same believers that James writes to in his epistle addressed to "the twelve tribes scattered abroad" (James 1:1). James is unambiguous. In his epistle, he references these believers meeting in synagogues (James 2:10).

The Greek word for "dispersion" is diasporá. It is used only three times: once by Peter, once spoken of the Lord in the Gospel of John, and by James.  James 1:1 literally addresses, "the twelve tribes of the Dispersion."

James, of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ a servant, to the Twelve Tribes who are in the dispersion: Hail!

-James 1:1 (Young's Literal Translation)


The Lord still recognized Israel and the Acts Age was still a time of grafting in of Gentiles to Israel's blessings for the stated reason to "make Israel jealous." Not "make the Church jealous." That makes no sense. In that age, the promises and covenants were said to still "pertain to Israel"  (Rom 9)


Again I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says,
“I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation;
with a foolish nation I will make you angry.”

-Romans 10:19


So I ask, have they stumbled so as to fall? By no means! But through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous.

-Romans 11:11


In this short study, we turn back to Peter's first epistle, understanding its audience and the hope before them.


Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

-1 Peter 2:4-5


Peter, in his mission and calling to go to the circumcision, reminds these believers of the their calling in the covenant at Sinai. 

 

And Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself.  Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”

-Exodus 19:3-6


When teachers today want to apply this to believers in this current age, they must assume we are "the House of Jacob and the children of Israel."  But they must also assume that we are a "kingdom of priests... above all people." What people? The lost? Are we priests for the lost? If not the lost, for whom? I have heard some say a father is a priest for his family. Really? If my wife and kids are redeemed are they not also priests?

Israel is to be a kingdom of priests for the nations (Gentiles). God has chosen them for his own purposes because of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel). He has declared that a believing and obedient Israel is to be "above all other people (nations)." 

This is the true Israel Paul speaks about. Not all Israel is Israel, but believing Israel, under the future New Covenant, will be as a cleansed virgin and restored to he place in God's plan for the earth. The Body is not Israel. Israel is the chaste virgin bride of scripture.


Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded [Isaiah 28:16]. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner [Ps 118:22],  and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar [private possession] people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

-1 Peter 2:6-10


Peter lays down the conditions for the Israelites to whom he writes. That condition is that they must believe. This is always the condition for God to grant Life and for God to use anyone or any group.

We again see the reference to Israel covenant with the Lord from Exodus 19. The "royal priesthood" is akin to "a kingdom of priests."  In the Acts age, the Apostle to the Circumcision is calling on Israel to believe so the Lord might restore the Kingdom in Israel.



Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go... Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began... Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.

-Peter in Acts 3


This is after Pentecost. This is after the Risen Lord taught his disciples (who had their understanding opened by the Holy Spirit)  about the Kingdom. That teaching was about the restoration of the Kingdom in a believing Israel. Peter refeneces the prophets here as well as the Lord's covenant with Israel. Again, they were chosen to be a blessing to "all the kindreds of the earth." A blessing to unbelievers? No, to serve as a royal priesthood for the nations in an age to come. 


after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: to whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God...  When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.

-Acts 1

Israel role in the earth was spoken of by Moses and the Prophets. This is the Gospel of the Kingdom taught by the Lord in Matthew 4 and 9 and by the Apostles when they were sent out in Matthew 10. We have looked at this in previous studies. This is "the hope of Israel" for which was in chains as he told the Roman Jews in Acts 28.  This is the truth from Moses and the prophets to which Paul testified at his trial in Acts 26. Like Peter, Paul referenced what had been preached to Israel already by the Prophets. Paul testifies that he preached "no other thing" other than what had been revealed in the Hebrew texts "since the world began" as Peter preached. 

This is the message of the Acts Age and of Peter's ministry in his epistles. This was the expectation. Peter notes that Israel, in unbelief, is not a nation, but in faith they who were not chosen became the chosen people again. We see this in Hosea.


And she conceived again and bore a daughter. 
Then God said to him: Call her name Lo-Ruhamah [No Mercy],
For I will no longer have mercy on the house of Israel,
But I will utterly take them away.

-Hos 1:6


Now when she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah [No Mercy],
she conceived and bore a son.
Then God said:
“Call his name Lo-Ammi [Not My People],
For you are not My people,
And I will not be your God.

-Hos 1:-9


Yet the number of the children of Israel
Shall be as the sand of the sea,
Which cannot be measured or numbered.
And it shall come to pass
In the place where it was said to them,
‘You are not My people,’
There it shall be said to them,
You are sons of the living God.’
Then the children of Judah and the children of Israel
Shall be gathered together,
And appoint for themselves one head;
And they shall come up out of the land,
For great will be the day of Jezreel!

-Hos 1:10-11


Say to your brethren, ‘My people,’ [Ammi]
And to your sisters, ‘Mercy is shown.’ [Ruhamah]

-Hos 2:1

Israel has not "sinned away the day of grace" nor has the plan for Israel been replaced by the "church." This what men do when they come to the Bible and filter everything through "heaven/hell" and "saved/lost." And men refuse to see the clear words in both the Covenant of Sinai (Old) and the future New Covenant (Jeremiah 31, Hebrews 8) and ignore the clear promises to Israel so they may insert themselves. 

Israel is part of God's plan for the promised land and for the earth. We have no stake in these promises. Paul reveals in Ephesians (Post-Acts-Age) a new plan God has hidden in himself since BEFORE the world began. It is was NOT revealed to Moses and the Prophets. It was revealed ONLY to Paul. It's hope and blessings are "in the far above the heavens" with Christ at the right hand of the Father. Paul was no longer in chains for the hope of Israel, but "for you Gentiles." 

God reaching out to the Circumcision in the Acts Age (as Peter promised in Acts 3) shows that God was still offering his Kingdom plan in the Acts Age. Peter was still preaching the promises to the Fathers (of Israel) and the promises of God through His prophets in the Acts Age. Peter was still ministering to the "Dispersion" and James to "the twelve tribes scattered abroad." That message was put on hold at the end of the Acts.

But this current age  and its message does not negate God's plans or promises for Israel. God is a God who keeps to his word. Even if he placed Israel aside for a time, he will cleanse a believing Israel and restore her Kingdom. The New Jerusalem with the names of the twelve tribes and the twelve apostles to the Circumcision will come down to earth. As Zechariah prophesied, one day Gentiles will grab the shirt of a Jew and say "take me to God!" [Zech 8] because Israel will have taken her place as priests for the nations [Gentiles].

The cleansing for Israel will come with the prophesied Great Tribulation (the Time of Jacob's Trouble). The parables of Matthew 24-25 are for Israel. We can see the Lord's judgment of the gentile nations after the Tribulation based on how they treated the Jews ("the least of these My brethren") during that horrific time. All these things start to make sense when we recognize God's plans and mark the differences between them. 

As they wait for the restoration and the promises, Peter gives advice to his believing brethren in the flesh. 

Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.

-1 Peter 2:11-12

 

Visitation = epiakope, επίσκεψη  (Greek) = inspection, judgment, oversight. The same word Peter uses in verse 12, is used in the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrews texts) in Isaiah 10:3.

What will you do on the day of visitation [punishment],
in the calamity that will come from far away?
To whom will you flee for help,
and where will you leave your wealth

-Isaiah 10:3

We cannot post all of it here, but the context for Isaiah 10 is back in Isaiah 9. You will recognize what is going on:

The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined...
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever [to the ages].
 
This is the government of the promised Son. As part of this government, we have judgment of the obedient and the disobedient [works for position, never works for the free gift of Life] at his coming. Despite many today claiming this passage, it speaks specifically of the land and God's plans for the earth and for his people, both good and bad. The section including Isaiah 10:3 begins, "The Lord sent a word against Jacob."

Peter, as he did in Acts 3 when he made his offer to "Ye Men of Israel," makes reference to the prophets in his epistles. He assumes a general knowledge of the promises to Israel. In Paul's seven post Acts epistles, references to the Hebrew scriptures almost completely dry up.

We can see that the coming of the Lord in Bethlehem (the City of David) and the return of the King are part of the same story. This is the setting of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) and of the Acts Age and the Acts Age epistles. What is before us are the plans for the earth, the Kingdom in Israel, and the Nations as revealed by Moses and the Prophets.

Peter was faithful to his calling to go to the Circumcision with the Gospel to the Circumcision.  

when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me [Paul], as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles)...

-Galatians 2:7
 
Peter speaking to his audience as "sojourners and pilgrims" brings to mind Israel's captivity in Egypt. Abraham had been promised the land over 400 years before they entered Sinai. When the LORD rescued Israel from captivity, and took them into the promised land, you'll note that only those that believed were allowed to enter (note, only two of the 12 spies). Moses himself, representing the Law, was forbidden to enter. Israel has never fully taken control of all that was promised Abraham and his Seed.
 
As often happens when we rightly divide the teachings for Israel, surely will come the charge that we seek to avoid the admonitions to purity found there. But we teach no such thing. First, all scripture is profitable and for our learning and, secondly, Paul is clear in this age.

This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. 25 Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. 26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil. 28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

-Ephesians 4 


If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. 5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. 8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

-Colossians 3 



 
Our calling is much higher and there are greater rewards to be sought.

So, we are not a priesthood. We are not a kingdom. We do not seek a land. We are not awaiting a time of cleansing and trouble. There is a much higher calling the the far above the heavens, unsearchable riches, for those who will acknowledge these things.


Just a couple of podcasts for your consideration. 
These and many more, are available at Spotify.

The Church is Not Israel, Day Trip to Romans 9

The Gospel for the Current Age


A PowerPoint presentation on how to Rightly Divide the Epistles.

The Bible from 30,000 feet: The Epistles





Wednesday, November 9, 2022

How Do People Come to Support the Killing of Children for Convenience?

 My father used to wonder how the German people could be swayed by the speeches of Hitler. He thought if he understood German, he could better understand the man's ability to garner such support and admiration. What would be missing, even if my father could understand German, are the conditions in Germany post World War I. Those terrible economic conditions contributed greatly to the willingness of people to find hope in any clear voice. Their defenses would be down.

We can almost understand how a desperate people, suffering under the terms of an oppressive postwar treaty that emasculated a proud people with a proud history, could be disheartened enough in their daily lives to be easily moved a positive, promising, affirming message. We do not relieve them of the responsibility of turning a blind eye to the fate of their Jewish (etc.) friends and neighbors that came with that message, but we must be careful not to assume we would act differently under the same conditions. Most of us have never lived in such desperate conditions. We are careful to not speak in absolutes. And, remember, they were lied to. 

We cannot deny that in some ways life did improve in Germany under Hitler's policies. Again, that is no excuse for the acceptance of or cooperation with evil, but we can see, at least to some degree, how a desperate people, often concerned about the bleak future their children were facing, could refuse to acknowledge other things going on in their communities. This same reasoning (personal economic inconvenience) is still used as an excuse to accept evil even in our day.

Surely, some in Germany were predisposed to approving wickedness. There is no excuse or any degree of understanding for this group. There is no "trying to understand" the source of their selfishness and hate. The answer is found in the flesh (as it usually is). These walked according to the lusts of their flesh and the longer they walked in the flesh the deeper their wickedness grew and the greater their sense of self-righteousness. Evil often calls it self good as it calls good evil.


Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

-Isaiah 5:20


My father wondered how so many could accept the wicked policies of Herr Hitler. As conditions improved (he had delivered on many of his promises) we can start to see their blindness even as we still question how it happened. 

We may still wonder at the average German citizen's decisions. What we do not spend time trying to understand is the open hatred a section of that population had for what they deemed "inferior" people who were deemed a "hindrance" to their success or the cause of their failures. There is a legitimate reason to separate the Germans who were trying to balance many different emotions in a difficult time from those who gleefully embraced evil for their selfish desires.

Some of the NAZI policies were so wicked that even a megalomaniac like Mussolini showed apprehension. Some of the Fascists in Italy could not go as far as the National Socialists in Germany. It was when Hitler invited Mussolini to review the German military that Mussolini knew Italy was in no position to question its northern neighbor. But even in alliance with Germany, many Italians did what they could to protect at least some of their Jewish neighbors.

As horrible as it is to think of innocent men and women being put into labor camps, the more terrible it is to think of children facing that fate. I could only watch the film "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" (2008) once. This brings me to my sense of wonder at how some could, often militantly, promote, encourage, and even celebrate the torture and slaughter of the unborn in abortion. 

Europe has historically had some of the most liberal abortion policies in the world (in terms of choice, outside of communist countries with forced abortions). Yet even European abortion policies acknowledge that there is a point at which slaughtering a baby is unfathomable and simply wrong. 




 The vast majority of European nations do not allow abortion after 12 weeks (30% into a pregnancy). The most liberal policy is in the UK which allows abortion up to 24 weeks (60% into a pregnancy). I am openly pro-Life and cannot imagine actively taking the life of my own child in the womb at any point (and we still mourn my wife's two early miscarriages), but I can almost understand how a single mother or young girl, scared of facing the future alone with a child to look after contemplating the act. I can almost understand how some could accept the ending of a life in the early stages in a culture that tells them these children are "not yet human." That sounds familiar. As with the German people just trying to survive, we are careful not to assume how we might act or what bad decisions our circumstances might engender if we found ourselves in the same straits. We can remember this level of empathy while simultaneously decrying the act as inherently wrong.

The loudest voices for abortion in our day, in our nation, have moved on from the "rare and safe" mantra and have moved on to "do it for your wallet and career." There is a celebration of abortion. Some women proudly brag of their many abortions. I cannot have any sympathy for these women or for their enablers. There is no room to understand a difficult decision they may have faced that led them to make a difficult decision if they are proud of that decision. Their consciences are seared and they glory in their deed.

We witnessed the abomination of Planned Parenthood selling the body parts of murdered babies. We watched them laugh with glee at the idea. When confronted with the evidence, they first denied it. They tried to blame "deceptive editing." But when the facts were clear, their true hearts were also made clear. They went from denial to the celebration of the "good" they were doing by selling baby body parts. As the German government sold the bones of murdered Jews, so too does Planned Parenthood sells the flesh and bones of the most defenseless among us.

And as we look back at the chart on European law, some American politicians are pushing for abortion up to the killing of babies in the birth canal! Horrible wickedness. Have these ever watched an abortion? The burning and dismembering of babies in earlier weeks is horrible enough to witness, but a fully developed child in the birth canal? Abominable wickedness. 

And if you can believe it, there are some who are pushing for post-birth murder. Some have suggested up to one month old! Starving a baby for convenience sake! Even more horrible when there are so many waiting to adopt. This is where compromise with evil leads. 

How have we come to this point, then?

As my father wondered how the German people could hand over their neighbors to the state police,  I used to wonder how those people in scripture could sacrifice their children to the fires of Moloch. But we're seeing what false gods can do to the unenlightened and/or unredeemed mind. God gives the the stubborn over to a depraved hearts. 

We might try to understand how a desperate people could accept certain laws, whether in Germany or in regard to abortion law, it would be impossible to understand those who gleefully embrace wicked laws. How could some "celebrate" the mass murder of "undesirables?" How could parents sacrifice  their children to Moloch?

We have the answer in scripture. We are all born with an old nature that seeks its own, but to reach the depths of wickedness and callous attitude towards the torture and murder of children, one has to feed the flesh and have such a high opinion of oneself that he sears any conscience God may have given him.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen (Romans 1)

The followers of Moloch were "religious." In fact, they were fervently religious. The children of Israel who worshipped in the high places against God's will were devoutly religious. Those who built the golden calf did it to honor the God who brought them out of Egyptian slavery. They danced and sang with all their might. The prophets of Baal cried out all night. Religious fervor is not what he Lord desires, he desires faithfulness, selflessness, and righteousness according to our calling. All of these lead to a worship of that which is seen. 

Whether atheists or occultists or scripture-denying professed Christians, we see this worship of the Creation laid out in Romans 1. We see the worship of the temporal. We see the exaltation of financial gain and security over the life of a child. Again, we have some sympathy for the young girl, scared, confused, impressionable, who may make a tragic decision to end a pregnancy for those reasons. We can never, however, have sympathy (apart from a general sympathy for the state of their minds and their eternal fates) for those who celebrate and glorify the torture and death of babies (especially the unfathomable celebration of the killing of babies in the birth canal or even after).

Some of these death worshipers eventually infiltrate the true faith. This was true from Cain through Israel through Judas through the abandonment of Paul through our day. All were counted among the faithful, yet they abandoned the true for a lie. They abandoned the spiritual for the carnal. They appeal to personal greed and the promise of someone else's wealth without the effort. Those in power play on their jealousies and hatreds, teaching them that such jealousies and hatreds are actually signs of personal virtue.

The principle is seen in Jude.

But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; 7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

8 Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries. 9 Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 10 But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves. 11 Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.

12 These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; 13 raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.

How can we understand how professed "devout" Catholics like Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi support abortion, suggesting even up to birth? An abortion at any point in the pregnancy is considered a "grave sin" in Catholic theology. A grave sin, unconfessed and unforgiven, damns the Catholic soul to hell, no matter anything else.

And professed Catholics are not alone in their compromise with wickedness. We have professed Christian "reverends" and active members who teach that abortion is actually a good thing. 

Now, as readers of this blog know, I do not hold to the traditional doctrine of fiery torment nor to the idea of "sinning away" what Christ has put on our account by his perfect sacrifice. So, my answer for how so many active Catholic politicians (and even priests and nuns) can support the murder of a child is partly explained by the weakness of any "law-keeping." Even the holy and good Law of God given at Sinai is deficient. How much more deficient the laws of men?

What the Law can do is show us that what is we might acknowledge as wrong is exceedingly wicked. It is a mirror to show us our true selves. But one does not use the mirror to try and clean the dirt from his face.  

If one has deluded himself into thinking he can fully keep all (or even any) of the Law, he has deceived himself and finds a righteousness in himself and a virtue in his flesh that is not there. He has exchanged the truth for a lie. He has refused to see the function of the Law. And these are those deluded into thinking they are "good" in themsleves, how much more deceived are those who discard all knowledge of God?

We could do a whole study on examining how the Law becomes "the power of sin," but the simple answer is that while the Law of God is spiritual, it applies to the flesh. And men in the flesh will fail it. We must walk in the new nature

That being said, we come back to the main idea: how could some men and women celebrate the ending of the life of a child in her mother's womb? How did we possibly get to this point? Dismembering a baby in the birth canal? Unimaginable just a few years ago.

The woman who celebrates her 8 abortions almost certainly did not celebrate the first one. Her conscience has become seared over time with each new act of selfish murder, aided and abetted by politicians and preachers who saw power and money (and self virtue) in her acts of selfishness. 

We are reminded that the scripture teaches us to put no faith in the flesh. No Law can tame the flesh. The flesh is prone to evil while at the same time it sees itself as virtuous. Combine this exaltation of the carnal in this age with the spiritual war against all of us from principalities and power in heavenly places (Ephesians) and we start to understand levels of wickedness some of us thought we'd never see. And as the end times approach, even the little restraint some men have will be lifted to reveal the true depravity of the person outside of truth.

I leave with two thoughts:

  • Believers need to walk in the new nature from above, recommit to the finished work of the Savior alone, abandoning all hope in the flesh.
  • Recommit to speaking for the most vulnerable among us. 

Many Germans would not speak up for their Jewish and Gypsy and other "undesirable" (deplorable) neighbors as they were carted off to the death camps, let us not take the same silence as our government glorifies women as they cart their babies off to their horrible deaths.

Even if we cannot win the legal battle, we must still speak up for those who have no voice. 

For those interested in walking according to the new nature, I have a 6-part series on the topic starting here:


Saturday, October 29, 2022

The Believer's Duty to Those in Authority - Part 2

 Let's look quickly at the two passages before us in Paul's epistles. Let us rightly divide them. The oft-referenced passage in Romans 13 needs to be carefully dissected.  


Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.  Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.


We read these directions in light of the Acts Age. The Apostles had the authority to subject believers under their authority (1 Cor 4:21). There is an assumption in this passage that the rulers that are addressed are ruling righteously. Whether temporal or spiritual, leaders are subject to God's standards. 

Believers are given a clear command in Acts 5:29, "Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men." There is no ambiguity here. Even in an earthly context, the spiritual (that which comes from God) holds both civil authority and believer in submission to the will of God. When the civil authority acts in accordance with the will of God, such action is to be recognized and honored.

If I commit a robbery, the state is the vessel charged with administering some form of justice. In doing so, they act in accordance with the will of God. The spiritual powers should also act accordingly in their sphere. In both instances, to be in the will of God, the punishment must be consistent with justice (not too harsh, not too lenient). 

The Apostles did not carry the sword. They did not mete out the death penalty, etc. Paul is telling the Romans that their faith is no excuse for wicked actions and does not annul the right of the state to mete out justice, even the penalty of death if it is warranted. As we will see, Paul refers back to the earthly law of God in the Ten Commandments as a guide. 

To emphasize the place of civil government as a tool of the Lord, we again look to God's expectation of the state in the carrying out of its duties:

'By Me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By Me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth' 
-Prov. 8:15-16
Let's take a quick look at this passage in the Far Above All translation:

By me, kings reign,
And potentates legislate justice.
By me princes rule, and leaders
All those who administer justice.

Civil authorities are to "legislate" and "administer" JUSTICE, Hebrew "tsedeq," often translated righteousness in regard to the Lord. We also note that the powers on the earth are connected to the principalities and powers in the heavens. They can be tools of injustice as well as tools of justice. This is an important distinction we must make when speaking of obeying authorities.


'The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia'. 'And now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come ... there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince'

-Daniel 10:13,20,21


I'll pause here and defer to a mind much wiser than my own:


'The idea of sinister world powers and their subjugation by Christ, is built into the very fabric of Paul's thought, and some mention of them is found in every epistle except Philemon. There is the Satan who is constantly frustrating Paul's missionary work (1 Thess. 2:18; 2 Cor. 12:7). There is the mystery of lawlessness which Paul at one time believed to be on the point of open rebellion against God (2 Thess. 2:7). There are the elemental spirits of the world by which both Jew and Gentile were held in bondage, and which appear to have close links with the law on the one hand and with astrology on the other (Gal. 4:3; Col. 2:8,20). There is the god of this age who "has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not behold the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ" (2 Cor. 4:4). There is the ruler of the authority of the air who is also described as the spirit now at work among the sons of disobedience (Eph. 2:2). There are the rulers of this age who crucified the Lord of Glory and thereby compassed their own downfall (1 Cor. 2:6). There are the principalities and authorities over which Christ celebrated His triumph on the Cross (Col. 2:15). In spite of this defeat, the world-rulers of this darkness are still operative, and the Christian must wrestle with them (Eph. 6:12); they still hold the whole creation in bondage to futility, though they cannot separate the Christian from the love of God (Rom. 8:20,38). But the day must come when every principality and every authority and power will yield to Christ, since "He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet" (1 Cor. 15:25). This, however, is not Paul's last word concerning the destiny of the powers, for he came to believe that they were created beings, created in and for Christ, whether thrones or lordships or principalities or authorities (Col. 1:16; 2:10), and that it was God's purpose that they should be reconciled to Him by the blood of the Cross (Col. 1:20), that angelic as well as human tongues should confess Jesus as Lord, that to the principalities and authorities in the heavenly places there might now be made known through the church the manifold wisdom of God' (Eph. 3:10). 
-Principalities and Powers by G. B. Baird

We have enemies who rule from high places. There are powers of darkness among us. There are wicked rulers who make themselves the enemies of God. These must be taken into account when deciding to what degree we are to obey any earthly authority. Cicil authorities may be ordained of God, but they may still act unjustly and may be influenced by principalities and powers in the heavenly places. We must obey God rather than man when there is a conflict. 

For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand...

-Romans 13:6-12a

Just as I am not above abuse of God's grace or a failure to uphold the calling to which I have been called, so too can the authorities raised up by God fail to uphold righteous judgment. Sometimes, God allows us the ruler we want (as he did with Saul and with the Northern Kingdom) to reveal what unjust rule is like. 

"The night is far spent, the day is at hand" gives us the theme of the Acts Age: the soon-coming tribulation and then return of the Lord to receive his earthly rulership and Kingdom. Paul appeals to the Law of Israel. He is thus stating that suffering for defying these commands is to be expected (whether brought upon him by the Apostolic leadership or by the state). Paul refers to the overarching command of the Lord in his summation of the Law, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." If this is followed, the believer need not fear condemnation from any authority. 

We are to act justly in any age. The state will be judged if it acts unjustly. In the Acts Age, they saw Herod drop over dead immediately. In this age, we live in the silence of God. But even in his silence, the Lord still judges by his standards. That is, a Herod may not drop dead before us today, but we are still to recognize an unjust ruler if he/she simply does not give God the glory (according to God's standards)

And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.

-Acts 12:21-23

This further clarifies the command to obey the civil authorities. If a civil authority refuses to acknowledge God, we may be subject to their system of justice, we we can be assured that God has already judged them to have failed as the ordained of God.

Peter reminds us of some of the sins possible for a believer (adding to Paul's multiple lists):

If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or a wrongdoer, or a mischief-maker; yet if one suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but under that name let him glorify God.

-1 Peter 4:14-16

The state is just to punish the believer who is guilty of murder, thievery, etc. (note that these sins do not make one "not a believer,"  just not a good servant).  But if one suffers as a believer, should he believe the civil authority is just in doling out the punishment? Of course not. If a government acts unjustly, it is no longer in God' will.


Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior...

-1 Timothy 2:1-3


As Paul directed me, I pray for those in the authority for the expressed purpose that I might live a quiet and peaceable life. That in no way requires me to submit to their wicked decrees. Obey the speed limit? Sure. No problem. Turn in my neighbor for having a Bible or a gun (that day will come), nope. Not gonna obey that. 

"Have you any dissenters in your basement? The law requires you tell us!"

"Nope. Nobody here but us peasants, sir."


Part of my prayer should be that God guide them despite their own hearts. 

We should be ready to die in defense of the will of God. I'm not suggesting you disagree with that. I'm just summing up the position that defiance is often the will of God. Serving the state is easier than serving God. Delayed reward is harder to seek than immediate relief. We must focus on things above and seek to please the Lord first. Just as we do all things before his eyes (Col 3:22-23), we will be judged for our obedience to him above obedience to the state. 

Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.

-Exodus 14:12 


This is short-sighted, carnal thinking. It was the better choice for the children of Israel that they did not submit to Pharaoh's army and commands and instead trusted in the stated will of God. Fortunately, the faithful followed Moses as God had commanded. We stop only to encourage the reader to seek out the word "better" in the Book of Hebrews. Often getting "better" things comes with patience and a focus on the will of God despite what is happening around us. Delayed blessings, as it were.

Friday, October 28, 2022

Grace Alone that Purifies Now And Later

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

-Titus 2:11-14


When we think of the grace of God, we need to pull the lens back and realize the tremendous breadth of this word.  God's grace has always been the only way for a sinner to be reconciled to a thrice holy God. God's holiness is so great, we cannot comprehend its full glory. Our sin is so offensive to God's holiness that inconceivably great grace is the only possible remedy to reconcile inconceivably great holiness.

The Law was given to make sin (which already existed) even more sinful. The Law being holy and good serves to expose the wickedness in even the chosen children of Abraham to who it was given.


Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

-Romans 7:12-14

 

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

-Romans 8:2-4


Yet so many men (even many who take the name of Christ) believe somehow trough the works of their own hands they can approach God's holiness or add to what Christ accomplished on our behalf. They actually believe they can put God in their debt and through their own efforts they can force God to grant them forgiveness and resurrection life for the ages to come.

This is the pride of men from which we must rise if we want to start to understand grace. 

The idea men have of a "saint" is one whose works are so tremendous and numerous that God is obligated to take care of that one forever. In fact, the Roman doctrine teaches that some have such an overabundance of good works that he/she can put those works onto my account. So, God is then obligated to take care of me forever based not only the work of Christ, not only the works of my hands, but on account of the works of others. 

The Roman doctrine of Purgatory teaches that Christ's work is not able to deliver from the flames, but the works of "Saints" and even my family and friends can. Christ and the cross are robbed of the glory. Men have sought since the foundation of the ages to rob God of His glory. May it never be said of us!

According to the doctrines of visible and ecclesiastical Christendom (as far as our fate and hope are concerned), we owe our blessings in the heavens not only to the work of Christ on Calvary, but also to our own works, and to the works of others (via sacraments, blessings, etc.). They may have an outward appearance of piety, but just as with the whited sepulchres who opposed the Lord's earthly ministry, religious men in our age exalt their own works.


And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

-2 Cor 11:14-15


The religious institutions of our day, as that in the time of the Lord's earthly ministry, demand we give them titles, demand we look to the for blessings and even for the forgiveness of sins. They demand of us our money with the promise of the forgiveness of sin. The Catholic Church is not alone in this exaltation of a clergy class, to some degree, so do all organized "churches" in our day.   

The Orthodox look to their priests for blessings. This is brief summation in their own words:

 

It is important to show respect and reverence to Orthodox priests and bishops when greeting them. After all, they are not just “one of the boys.” They serve as your spiritual fathers, your guides. They are icons of Christ we should all seek to emulate. When you kiss their hands, you show respect for their office — they are the ones who “bless and sanctify” you and who offer the holy gifts on your behalf. So, next time you greet your priest or bishop, do not shake his hand. Instead, ask for his blessing.


They stand between the believer and Christ. Blessings and sanctification are sought through them. And this is just the tip of the iceberg, but alone this is offensive to the work of the Savior and to his overabundance of inconceivable grace. It has the markings of holiness as it denies the true ugliness of sin, by diminishing Christ and exalting sinful men. 


Bishops and priests are bearers of grace. They are called to guide and sanctify the faithful and to call down upon them God’s blessing... In bestowing a blessing, a priest makes the sign of the Cross, holding his fingers in such a way that they represent the initial letters of the Lord’s name, Jesus Christ. In order to receive a blessing upon meeting a bishop or a priest, one joins his hands, right over left, palms upward, and says, "Bless me, Father," to a priest, or "Bless me, Vladyka (Master)," to a bishop. The blessing should then be received with faith that one will receive God’s grace. On receiving a blessing, one kisses the hand that gives the blessing, as if kissing the invisible hand of the Savior.


Glory and Never-Ending Life can be attributed to, under the understanding of most of Christendom, to:

  • Christ
  • Plus My works
  • Plus the blessings of a clergy
  • Plus The works of others who have fully redeemed themselves 
  • Plus the intervention of an earthly "church" 

In some corners, faith in Christ isn't even necessary. John Paul II taught (and the Catholic Catechism teaches) that Muslims may attain salvation, albeit imperfectly, via Islam. 

“But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place among whom are the Muslims: these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.”

-Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium 16, November 21, 1964 
(repeated in the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church)


Note the inclusion of "in the first place" which places the Muslim ahead of even the Jew. Now, the Jew and the Muslim are in the same boat, as it were. Without faith in Christ Alone, both are lost, neither has hope. This would reflect the historic condemnation of the Jews by the Roman Church clearly stated by Pope IV is "Cum nimis absurdum." In that papal decree, Jews had to live in Roman ghettoes, wear yellow markers on their clothing, and were forbidden from holding professional jobs. Sound familiar?

The word "absurdum" is based on this in the opening. It was deemed "absurd" to deny the condemnation of Jews to eternal slavery. 

 

"Since it is absurd and utterly inconvenient that the Jews, who through their own fault were condemned by God to eternal slavery..."


This idea of condemnation is applied to all those outside of Romanism by previous ad later Popes and Councils. This idea was not isolated to Paul IV. We choose just one example.


It firmly believes, professes, and proclaims that those not living within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics cannot become participants in eternal life, but will depart “into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels," unless before the end of life the same have been added to the flock; and that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is so strong that only to those remaining in it are the sacraments of the Church of benefit for salvation, and do fastings, almsgiving, and other functions of piety and exercises of Christian service produce eternal reward, and that no one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has remained in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.

-Pope Eugene IV ("Cantate Domino" AD1441)


 This entry is not an exhaustive defense of the sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice nor the sufficiency of grace alone and faith alone. Those arguments can be found elsewhere. I just want to focus on the power of grace before and after one comes to rest in Christ. The quotes above reflect the teaching from the largest entity in Christendom and the denial of the sufficiency of Christ (which reflects itself in its contradictory understanding of grace).

In our passage from Titus 2, we see the reason for living a Godly life and the source of the power to live a Godly life. We do not do this to obtain or maintain a free gift, we seek to liv righteously because we have been redeemed.

We were redeemed by Christ alone so He could call a people unto Himself. He gave Himself as a sufficient sacrifice so we could redeem us from iniquity. 

 

our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good work


He finds us where we are and His gift creates in us a new nature. From that moment the war has begun. As a redeemed people we   are zealous of good works in the new nature as our old nature rebels against the new order. We "should" seek to live soberly for two reasons.


For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age


The grace of God teaches us that we "should live" righteously. Now, the second reason has to do with "this present age." Would we dare conclude that, in other ages, believers had no call on their lives to live righteously? Of course not. But in this present age we are looking for what they knew not: the sudden appearing (Gk: epipháneia) of the Lord Jesus Christ. 


looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ


We close this short study with a reminder from Titus 3:3-8:


For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.


We are saved according to God's mercy made possible in Christ, and because of this wonderful gift, we should be careful to maintain good works. But grace never wavers.

The servant has a choice. The consequences of his choice will determine his judgment of works in an age to come. But he will never face the damnation of death as that debt has been fully paid. Choose to walk in the new nature.


For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?


In the Acts age, those under grace could commit terrible sins (as they can to this day, even in the present age), but they would always remain in that body. 1 Corinthians 5 and 6 list many terrible sins possible for the believer who walks in the flesh and not according to the new nature, but we will point out just one which illustrates our point.

 

Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.

In the current age, as in Titus. we are similarly encouraged by our Apostle in Ephesians.


I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the calling wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love...


After receiving the Lord's gracious gift of Life through his name by faith, we have a choice as to how we will walk. We can walk in the new nature or in the old nature. One is the way of peace and blessing and the other way is the way of misery and loss (perdition).

But despite all these warnings and admonitions, grace never wavers. Never.

Christ's work was absolute, pure, sufficient, holy, and perfect. Suggest even the slightest doubt of its ability to save to the uttermost is to blaspheme the only Savior and the Father who accepted His work of salvation. 

 

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Should We Follow the Pattern of the "Early Church?"

I have heard often from many believers how we need to follow the pattern of the "early church" (The Acts church and/or the church before Constantine). But what is the pattern of the early church that we see in the Acts age? Is anyone actually following the pattern? Should we even be trying?


These are just a few of the patterns of that church:

  • · They raised people from the dead and drank deadly things unharmed (Mark 16)
  • · They were waiting for the Kingdom to be restored in Israel (Acts 1)
  • · They promised that if Israel repented, God would send Jesus to restore all things (Acts 3)
  • · They sold everything they had, gave proceeds to the Apostles, lived communally (Acts 2, 4)
  • · Lying to the Holy Spirit brought immediate death (Acts 4)
  • · Some were called to preach to Jews only (Acts 11, Gal 2)
  • · Apostles to the circumcision wrote to believing Israel (James 1; 1 Peter 1)
  • · Jewish believers still met in synagogues (James 2; Acts 15)
  • · They had separate rules for Jewish and Gentile Believers (Acts 15, 21; Rom 11)
  • · Gentile believers came under Leviticus 17 - Eating kosher, etc. (Acts 15, 21)
  • · Gentile believers could be cut off from the root which was Israel (Rom 11)
  • · Gentile believers were not get haughty against Israel
  • · Gentile believers had a duty to support Jewish believers (Rom 15)
  • · They preached the fulfilment of the promises made to the fathers (Rom 9; Rom 15)
  • · Evangelists went to Jewish synagogues to preach to Jews first in every city with Jews (Acts 17)
  • · They observed the Jewish feasts (Acts 18)
  • · Taught Jewish believers to circumcise their sons (Acts 21)
  • · They taught nothing that was not taught by Moses and the Prophets (Acts 26, 28)
  • · They looked for the Hope of Israel (Acts 28)
  • · Paul was bound in chains for the Hope of Israel (Acts 28)
  • · It is better that very few marry (1 Cor 7)
  • · Widows should not remarry (1 Cor 7)
  • · They had instant knowledge and performed miracles (1 Cor 12, etc.)

If we want to go back before the cross (in the gospels):

  • · John the Baptist and the Lord preached "the Gospel of the Kingdom" (Matt 4, 9; Mark 1)
  • · That gospel had no cross, no resurrection, and required repentance.
  • · The structure had a Sanhedrin and a death penalty for use of certain words (Matt 5)
  • · They healed the sick and raised the dead (Matt 10)

· Entrance into that Kingdom is by faith, then by works and faithfulness and the message was to the Jew only until Acts 10 and then to the Jew first until the end of the Acts age:

  • · The 12 were forbidden to  preach to Gentiles or outside of Israel (Matt 10)
  • · They didn't give that which was for Israel to little dog Gentiles (Matt 15)
  • · They told no man Jesus was the Christ, they were commanded so by the Lord (Matt 16)

After the Acts:

  • · Paul was in chains for Gentiles (Eph 3)
  • · He revealed a truth hidden from Moses and the Prophets and revealed only to him (Eph 3)
  • · The middle wall of partition between Jew and Greek seen in the Acts age was taken down
  • · The hope no longer was the restoration of the kingdom in Israel, but "unsearchable riches" in the far above the heavens where Christ sits at the right hand of the Father
  • · This truth was hidden from "BEFORE" the foundation of the ages. Before Adam. Before Eden. Before Abraham. Before the Law and not subject to it. It has no earthly hope
  • · All the latter (Law, Israel, Kingdom, Acts) were revealed "SINCE" or "FROM" the foundation of the ages
  • · We have to study, take medications, etc., because there are no longer Kingdom gifts.

In Paul's last book (2 Timothy) he notes:

This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me


Paul was abandoned. We see this starting in the Book of Philippians.


Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains


The "early church" (Post Acts, before Constantine) was in bad shape by the end of Paul's life. Many had turned back to Jewish ordinances and doctrines (Phil 3, Col 2-3, etc). Many had rejected what Paul had revealed as the current hope in the Book of Ephesians, continuing in his Post-Acts epistles. 

We must avoid going back.

For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace (Eph 2)
For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. (Phil 3)

Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances (Col 2)

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Tim 2)


Some good news, widows, you can get married again in this age! In fact, you SHOULD remarry! (1 Tim 5). Why the change? Because we're waiting neither for Tribulation nor a City from God nor an Earthly Kingdom. Paul advised the believers in Corinth to not bother to marry, unless they just couldn't control themselves (1 Cor 7). The calling of that age was abstinence. Is that being taught today?

While we're in the early church, hopefully this should spread some light on the supposed "authority" of the so-called "early church fathers."  Post Acts, error was rampant and most had abandoned Paul. The ECF are no more authoritative than you or I.  

Summation: we see nothing like the "early church" today and, apart from things like compassion, they are not our pattern. Those claiming to follow the pattern of the earl church and/or yield to the supposed "authority" of "church fathers" are like those in Asia during Paul's life. We must not abandon Paul, the great Apostle of this age.


Related:


Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Which Generation Is the Lord Referencing in Luke 17

But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.

-Luke 17:25

 

Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.

-Luke 21:32

Just a short study on how to understand "this generation." Of what generation does the Lord speak in these verses and passages?

There are two settings answering two sets of questions in the return of the Lord passages. As with certain things spoken in the Acts age, some things were conditional (e.g. Peter's offer to Israel in Acts 3). We also see in these return verses the Lord's appearance in the clouds:

"They shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." 

-Luke 21:27

If the first part is treated as literal, so must the last.

"And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."

-Matthew 24:31

This is suggestive that the prior is conditional. That is, there are other things in this passage that have not come to pass. That is, if the condition is "all be fulfilled," clearly we are not there, this the generation in sight is not in sight. Had Israel repented, perhaps it would have been that generation listening to the Lord, but clearly not all has been fulfilled and the Lord has not returned in the clouds.

"geneá" [translated generation] is used 13x in Matthew. The general understanding is a reference to a specific people group. You can look up the references if you wish. A "40-year group" doesn't quite fit. 

Just one example, Matt 11. The group addressed is the specific group in his presence, not a 40-year window of people, 

"But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented." 

He then goes on to condemn them for the rejection of John the Baptist and accusing the Lord of having a devil. The "they" in those verses refers to those people, not a 40-year window of people. "This generation" is to be understood in its context. 

There is word left untranslated in the KJV, Luke 21:32. It is the Greek word "ἄν." Some KJV bibles put asterisks there to show its absence since they weren't sure what to do with it. Strong's defines its use: "usually untranslatable, but generally denoting supposition, wish, possibility or uncertainty" [emphasis mine].

More from Strong's: ἄν (1), a particle indicating that something can or could occur on certain conditions, or by the combination of certain fortuitous causes.

The HELPS Word Study notes, "not easily translatable, it always conveys important meaning. (The KJV sometimes translates an as "perchance," "haply"). It further adds, "ἄν is used about 300 times in the NT, introducing statements that have conditional or hypothetical meaning."

So we have this insertion by the Holy Spirit of an uncertainty. Certainly not an uncertainty as to the fulfillment of prophecy, but an uncertainty (from our perspective) as to when, and therefore, as to whom that "generation" who witnesses those things will be. 

Let's look at the greater context of Luke 21:32

Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away ἄν till all things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

Clearly this is a conditional statement. The listeners cannot know of which generation the Lord speaks. Whatever generation is represented, it must be the generation witnessing the "things happening" from the sermon in the chapter. We have the conditional ἄν inserted by the Holy Spirit.

We should not miss another clue: the Kingdom of heaven will be near. The Kingdom of Heaven did not come to fruition to the generation the Lord was addressing in Luke. We can thus conclude there is a yet a a generation to come that will witness the Lord's prophetic words coming to pass and it will be they who will not pas away until all things come to pass.