Featured Post

Introduction to Personal Bible Study - Videos (2007)

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

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Re-Introduction to Dispensationalism

I was recently sharing some thoughts in an online community in regard to a set of videos based on the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, I want to be clear here, there is nothing wrong with studying and learning from the Lord's earthly ministry, but we need to recognize his stated ministry while in the flesh. This is one of the several distinctions which fall under the banner of "dispensationalism." To that end, someone familiar with the word, yet unfamiliar with the implications asked for a primer.

We follow the risen, ascended Christ, not the carpenter from Galilee, and future King, who was sent to none but to Jews only to fulfill the promises made to their fathers. We know him no longer after the flesh.

I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 
-Matthew 15:24


These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
 
-Matthew 10:5-7


These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
 
-Romans 15:8


Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
 
2 Corinthians 5:16-17

Those of us delineated as "ultra" or "hyper" Dispensationalists make a distinction between the ministry of the Apostles in the Acts age and Paul's ministry post Acts. But we will leave that for now and refer you to our entry on the Epistles. 

The Non-Prison Epistles - Part 4

Basically, all dispensationalism is, is understanding God's different plans for different groups for different purposes. There is an earthly plan for earthly people. In fact, most of the Bible concerns God's plans for the earth ("the meek shall inherit the EARTH," "will you at this time RESTORE the KINGDOM to ISRAEL?" etc.). These are plans slowly revealed at different times for different purposes... all revealed FROM the foundation of the ages. The Hope of Israel versus The Hope of the Body, etc.

God has a plan for the true Holy of Holies in the far above the heavens where Christ sits at the right hand of the Father. This plan was hidden in God from BEFORE the foundation of the ages. Eph 1:4, Col 1:5, etc.

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love 
-Ephesians 1:4


We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven...
 
-Colossians 1:3-5

So, something like the Law has to be read in its context. Paradise must be understood in its context. The future plan for Israel is to be understood to be part of the earthly plan for an earthly people. Etc.

If you do an internet search you'll find a lot of kooky misrepresentations of dispensationalism (admittedly a few by self-proclaimed dispensationalists, but most from our detractors).

I only say this... unless you're going to the temple to slaughter bulls and sheep and checking women to see if they're virgins (and paying related fines in shekels), you're a dispensationalist. That is, you recognize that God has different commands for different people for different purposes.

Dispensation = economy = stewardship

There is a message and a hope for the current present age which differs from the message and hope of other ages. There are families of God looking for an earthly kingdom and an earthly priesthood and there is a family looking for spiritual blessings in the far above the heavens. We must not confuse these hopes and promises. We must "rightly divide the Word of Truth."

If I drive from France to England, when I get to England on the other end of the tunnel, I have to switch to the left side of the road. Murder is still wrong. Adultery is still wrong, etc. But the specific rules as to what I should be doing and to what I am HOPING for differ. These are the groups emanating from God (which includes angelic and spiritual beings) will all come together in an unknown future age. The "pasa patria" of Ephesians 3:14-15 (every lineage of God).

We have an apostle of this age: Paul. To him alone was given this message.

 

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles— if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already...)
-Ephesians 3:1-3


Paul's Post-Acts Ministry


Paul witnessed to the hope of Israel during the Acts Age. In the Post Acts age he became a prisoner for us gentiles and witnessed to the hope of the Mystery which had been hidden from BEFORE the foundation of the ages.  We have covered this in great detail in other entries. This post is for those who may be new to the concept and have, by the grace of God, stumbled onto this blog.






Wednesday, July 14, 2021

God's Sovereignty and Man's Responsibility: A Balance

I'd like to briefly address the following from Reformed teacher, D.A. Carson:

"[For non-reformed theologies] at the end of the day, the security of the believer finally rests with the believer. For those in the opposite camp [Reformed], the security of the believer finally rests with God -- and that, I suggest, rightly taught, draws the believer back to God himself, to trust in God, to a renewed faith that is of a piece with trusting him in the first place."


I'm decidedly non-Reformed (despite recognizing some Reformed as great people of faith in regard to the essentials), but I am not Arminian. I believe, in no uncertain terms, in the absolute security of the believer. The finished work is perfect and absolute and secure.

There may be subtle differences in understanding God's sovereignty, but there is no difference in the understanding of God's ability to keep that which is his.

Might I go a little "ultra" on you for a second? This verse in Ephesians is held by many among the UD as a specific choosing of God in his sovereign choice of "the Body" for his sovereign purposes:


Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will...


I won't go into "in heavenly places" and "before the foundation of the ages" as we have looked at these elsewhere. Suffice it to say for this context, there are many "non-Reformed" who recognize both man's responsibility to respond to the witness of God (even in the very creation), while also recognizing God's absolute fidelity in keeping that which he has reconciled.


And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. 
-2 Corinthians 5:18-20


The work of Christ is absolute. God is already reconciled to men through his perfect sacrifice. Men are called to thus be reconciled to God. The offer is real and in accepting that offer, both God and man are reconciled to each other. That cannot be broken. The sacrifice has already taken away all "trespasses" and God is faithful to both his word and his satisfaction in that sacrifice.

I realize there are some semantic differences, but these are very secondary when we dwell on the finality of the cross and resurrection. So, I have no gripe with any Reformed who line up side-by-side to defend the absolute perfection of the sacrifice of the Son of God, who join me in "the ministry of reconciliation," imploring men to be reconciled to God by that work alone.

As a final note, I would add that as Carson worries about the non-Reformed, he has allowed some bad theology to slip past him. He has endorse the gender-neutral Bible translations and was part of the problematic NLT.

Not being Reformed does not make one an Arminian. These are manmade distinctions. Helpful for discussion, but they're not Biblical absolutes from which we must choose. let's be careful with absolutist labels. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Different Hopes, Different Callings, Different Commands

Are Jesus' commands and examples for our calling today?

Simple answer: No.

Some make the argument  "If Jesus said it, we should obey it." Let's examine this claim.

First, we draw a distinction between doctrinal truths and stewardship truths. "God is Love" is an eternal principle (an unchanging doctrinal truth), "build an ark" is a stewardship truth limited to a time and condition and promise and hope. 

We must understand our unique calling for the current present age. We must be careful not to choose a calling given to another people, for a specific purpose, 2400 years after ("from" "since") the foundation of the ages. Our calling is from "before the foundation of the ages." It is not subject to either the Law or the Covenants. We are not called to be priests for the nations on earth, in a kingdom as was Israel.

We can see in this distinction as separation of God's plans for the earth and God's plan for the far above the heavens. There are different spheres of God's blessings and these callings have different practices and goals. 

Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

Has the "Jesus follower" done this?


Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

I have medical bills. I've asked proponents of the "following Jesus' words" to help me pay my bills for over 20 years now. To date, I have received $0 and 0¢. We looked at this idea in our examination of the Red Letter Christians. But beyond the RLC, there is a growing number of "Law-Keepers" imposing their yokes on fellow believers. Not satisfied with their own misguided idea of obedience, they make it their goal to ensnare others.

Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe

Good luck.

The irony here is that many of them argue that all the references to the law (such as in Acts) refer to the Pharisees corrupting the true Law. While it is true that they did add to the law, we still have this admonition from the Lord and the specific application to Pharisaical law does not always fit.  

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom

Is this what we preach today? If so, this gospel has no cross, no death, no tomb, no resurrection.

These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

This passage is in Matthew 10 (this would be after Matthew 5). Are the law-keepers obeying this too?

Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour.

The centurion here is a Non-Sabbath-Keeping, Non-Law-Keeping Gentile. In this passage in Mathew 8, Gentiles are juxtaposed against the "sons of the kingdom" (i.e. Jews); Matthew 8:11-12. The Lord Jesus called Jews "children" and Gentiles "little dogs" in Matthew 15. Do we still do this? Just the distinction the Lord draws between Jews and Gentiles in his earthly ministry, is that the pattern for this hour?

But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

Putting his all these limited commands together from Matthew: Should we not preach to Gentile dogs because the gospel of the kingdom was to be preached to Israel alone? All this after we've sold everything we own? Binding on us today or no? If not, what not?

Let's keep this in mind as we examine other verses in Matthew. We are trying to be consistent in our interpretation. We want to be workmen who handle the word of truth carefully. We want to "rightly divide the word of truth." We want to "cut straight lines." 

Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven

The proponents of the law and/or taking the Lord's ministry to Israel for themselves argue that they break no commandments, ever, and you preach the Gospel of the Kingdom?

I'm guessing the answer is "no" on both counts. If so, they'd better go to Israel, refuse to preach to Gentiles. Stop talking about his death and resurrection, get circumcised, and head to Jerusalem for the feasts.

Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household.
Observe the month of Abib, and keep the Passover to the Lord your God, for in the month of Abib the Lord your God brought you out of Egypt by night.

Did the Lord bring us out of the land of Egypt? We must recognize the specific promise and goal of the Covenant of Sanai. We need only read it to see it has no place today. Read Ex 19:3-6. So, are we "the house of Jacob" or one among of the nations? 

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

 

Some will point to Peter's words in his first epistle. But this should cause us to ask to whom is Peter writing? To whom was his ministry?


But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light... 
-1 Peter 2:9
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the choice sojourners of the dispersion of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
-1 Peter 1:1 (Young's Literal)
But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, 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), and when James, Cephas [Peter], and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.

-Galatians 2:7-9 


Moses was not to speak the words of the Covenant unto all nations. How could all people be a "kingdom of priests and a holy nation?" And if the argument is that by faith one becomes part of that kingdom, for whom are they priests? Unbelievers? And why does anyone need a priest today?

Then the king commanded all the people, saying, “Keep the Passover to the Lord your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.”

-2 Kings 23:21 


Was this true during the Lord's ministry? Were they still slaughtering sheep or no? Yes they were. Why don't "Jesus followers" still do this? It's in Matthew.

Now on the first day of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?” And He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.” ’ ”

-Matthew 26:17-18

Now, if the Lord was not keeping the Passover as laid out in the Law, then would the Law-Keepers accuse him of disobedience? So, either the Lord (who came under the Law) was obedient under the Law and observed the Passover as dictated in the Law (we still must ask if Adam, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, or even Daniel observed it as in the Law), or was the Lord "disobedient" to the Law?

If the Lord was obedient to the Law and the Passover, then why not the "I follow Jesus" believers? And if he was not obedient to the Law, then they must answer why not? These are their issues, not for those who rightly divide the Word of Truth. 

Therefore you shall sacrifice the Passover to the Lord your God, from the flock and the herd, in the place where the Lord chooses to put His name.

Still relevant in Matthew, in the Lord's ministry? If so, are we obeying? If not, was the Lord in disobedience?

“You may not sacrifice the Passover within any of your gates which the Lord your God gives you; but at the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide, there you shall sacrifice the Passover at twilight, at the going down of the sun, at the time you came out of Egypt. And you shall roast and eat it in the place which the Lord your God chooses, and in the morning you shall turn and go to your tent.s

Are we headed to Jerusalem for Passover? If not, why not?


“Let the children of Israel [not ALL people] keep the Passover at its appointed time. On the fourteenth day of this month, at twilight, you shall keep it at its appointed time. According to all its rites and ceremonies you shall keep it.”

Optional for Gentiles even under the Law in the Land. Not mandatory for ALL PEOPLE. The Passover was specific to Israel. If we want to equate that to today, and we are Israel, then who are these strangers among us who have this option?

“Speak to the children of Israel, saying:... the man who is clean and is not on a journey, and ceases to keep the Passover, that same person shall be cut off from among his people, because he did not bring the offering of the Lord at its appointed time; that man shall bear his sin. ‘And if a stranger [Gentile] dwells among you, and would [desires to] keep the Lord’s Passover, he must do so according to the rite of the Passover and according to its ceremony; you shall have one ordinance, both for the stranger and the native of the land.’ ”

Animal sacrifice was still mandated of Jews in Israel at the time the Lord spoke to Israel in Matthew 5.


Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth [land].
-Matthew 5:5

Is that our hope? Inherit the earth (land)?

Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.

This is our hope? The kingdom on earth?

So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.

-Colossians 2:16-19

Before it is argued that Paul is somehow talking about the doctrines of the Pharisees, let's go back to Matthew (if that is truth for today):

Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do...

-Matthew 23:1-3


These are things FROM the foundation of the ages. These are things found in Moses and the Prophets. This is the preaching of the Kingdom ON EARTH as promises to Abraham, Moses, and David. That is for an EARTHLY calling. We have seen in other studies that there are blessings in the earth and blessings in the far above the heavens (Ephesians). We have seen there are truths spoken by the prophets since the foundation of the ages and truths revealed only to Paul (Eph 3) that were hidden from before the foundation of the ages. we must "rightly divide" these truths. 


Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come ... To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope’s sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews.

-Acts 26:22
For this reason therefore I have called for you, to see you and speak with you, because for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.”

-Acts 28:20

That was the gospel of the hope of Israel, a kingdom on earth, in the land. This will come to pass, on the earth, in the land. The 12 Apostles to the Circumcision will sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes (Matthew 19:28). That is not for Gentiles unless they are invited guests who come to sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob IN THE KINGDOM on earth, not in heavenly places (Matthew 8:11).

We are to try to walk worthy the calling to which we have been called (Eph 4:1). Not a calling 2400 YEARS after or SINCE the foundation of the ages. This calling is HEAVENLY (in the "far above the heavens" in "heavenly places where Christ sits"), it is not OF THE EARTH. We must discern the different hopes. Abraham discerned the difference between the hope of the land and the hope of the New Jerusalem (which comes down to EARTH) (Heb 11:10; Rev 21:2; etc.)


Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ... raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus [Holy Spirit's choice: Christos Ieseus]

-Ephesians 2:6 


This was NOT revealed in Matthew or in the Acts Age. Paul preached NOTHING that was not revealed by Moses and the Prophets. The Lord and his disciples preached the kingdom to no one but to Jews only. This was the hope of Israel. This was the hope of the twelve tribes. And EARTHLY hope of an EARTHLY Kingdom, in the LAND, as priests for the nations (Ex 19:3-6). All this proclaimed FROM the foundation of the ages.

When Paul attends the synagogue in the Acts age, he preaches from Moses and the Prophets. When Paul meets with the Gentiles on Mars' Hill (Acts 17) he knows nothing of Moses and the Prophets and takes them back to creation and the "common blood" of all men. Scripture witnesses that in the Acts age, Paul went to "Jews first" in every town that had a synagogue. 

Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: and Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures [Moses and the Prophets]...

-Acts 17:1-2

We have a HEAVENLY calling and hope separate from Israel. It was HIDDEN from the prophets and is from BEFORE the foundation of the Ages. Before the Law. Before the Covenants. It is a witness in HEAVENLY PLACES.

which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power. 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/stewardship] 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 manifold 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 [Holy Spirit's choice: Christos Ieseus kyrios], in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.

-Ephesians 3:5-12 



Before the foundation of the world. Before the Law. Before the Covenants. Not subject to the Law (Gentiles outside the land never were anyway).

We've looked the "grafted in" argument [Romans 11] in other studies. I won't go over it all again. But if that is the go-to for everything in scripture (including late in the Book of Acts) all for today is built on that, I refer us all again to the warning given only to Gentile believers in Romans 11 that they alone [Gentiles] may be "cut off" from that root. Their sin? Being haughty against the root [Israel]. Is that still true today? Do you still separate Jewish and Gentile believers? If they were all one, why did Paul make that distinction? Why are only Gentile believers warned? What does it mean to be "cut off" from the root? Loss of the free gift Paul so diligently lays out in the opening chapters of the same epistle? If we are all "the commonwealth of Israel" today, how can Israel be cut off from Israel?

We must remember to "compare the things that differ" (Phil 1:10). And differentiate the different hopes and blessings in scripture. Otherwise, I refer you to the command in Matthew to give to those of ask and help me pay my medical bills (and anything else going forward)... among all the other commands in Matthew and beyond.

I'm already holy and blameless in Christ. Apparently some think they are holy and blameless by keeping the Law.

Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?

-Galatians 4:21

O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? 2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

-Galatians 3:1-6

Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

-Galatians 5:4

This age was determined before the foundation of the ages. Its blessings are from before the foundation of the ages, before the Law. 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ [kyrios Iēsoûs Christós], who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.

Note Paul is writing to BELIEVERS.

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus... Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.


Some are wallowing in the Law and the things and hopes of the Earth. Yes, Israel shall have her New Covenant in the future. She shall have ALL the blessings promised SINCE the foundation of the world. But our calling in the present age is from BEFORE the foundation of ages. Long before the Law was given (which was not even given until 400 after Abraham and 2400 years after Adam).

The Law cannot nullify the promises to Abraham on earth (Gal 3:16-18) nor to me in the heavenly places. The gift of life by grace cannot be annulled for Abraham nor for us. The Law has no bearing on the free gift.

Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

We must rightly divide the earthly from the heavenly; that which is since the foundation of the ages from that which is before the foundation of the ages; that which is for an earthly people from that which is for a heavenly people. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Paul Dealt With Jews and Gentiles Differently in the Acts Age

There several different strains in Christendom today which, to one degree or another, are trying to put professed believers under the Mosaic Law (primarily Sabbath-Keeping). So, let's look at how the Apostles, particularly Paul, dealt with the different nations in their day. And we are quick to note that this is the Acts Age. We no longer live in the Acts Age, but even then (as in all scripture from Moses to the end of the Acts), Gentiles and Israelites were dealt with differently.

From Pentecost to Paul


“Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” 12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?” -Acts 2


Here at Pentecost, these were all Jews (see Acts 2:22), yet they do not comment that the Apostles spoke in Hebrew. No, they spoke as "Galileans." And then the Holy Spirit had these non-Aramaic, non-Hebrew speaking Jews say, "how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?" and "we hear them speaking in our own tongues."

The Apostles also wrote in Greek. Can you imagine Paul writing to Gentiles in Ephesus and Colossae and Philippi in Hebrew? Did he speak to the Greek Philosophers in Athena at the Areopagus in Hebrew?

Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. 23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD [Greek: theós]. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. 24 God [Greek: theós] that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands... -Acts 17


Not "Yah" as the Hebrew Roots movement demands, but "theós."

Note that Paul does not reference the Law to these Greeks, but appeals to the work of the Messiah alone and to the need of all humanity. For the Greeks were never given the Law.


neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he [PRONOUN] needed any thing, seeing he [PRONOUN] giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26 and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27 that they should seek the Lord [Greek: kýrios], if haply they might feel after him [PRONOUN], and find him [PRONOUN], though he [PRONOUN] be not far from every one of us: 28 for in him [PRONOUN] we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his [Greek using a PRONOUN to refer to God] offspring. 29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God [Greek: theós], we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. 30 And the times of this ignorance God [Greek: theós] winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: 31 because he [PRONOUN] hath appointed a day, in the which he [PRONOUN] will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he [PROUNOUN] hath ordained; whereof he [PRONOUN] hath given assurance unto all men, in that he [PRONOUN] hath raised him [PRONOUN] from the dead.


No mention of the Law.

Note the difference when Paul speaks to Jews and proselytes in the synagogue:


And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on. 16 Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience. 17 The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it. 18 And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness. 19 And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot.


Who are the "Men of Israel" and "this people of Israel" at that time? The Church which is his Body made up of Jews and Gentiles? Surely not. How can we say, then, that the One Body is the new Israel?

We have looked at the use of "Yeshua" or "Yehoshua(Hebrew for Jesus) several times on this blog and on the podcast. As this is also a characteristic of the Hebrew Roots movement, we turn our attentuion in Acts 17 to this issue. This chapter speaks of a sorcerer who is called "Son of Jesus" or "Son of Yeshua."

We turn to the Orthodox Jewish Bible translation:

Having passed through the whole island as far as Paphos, they found a certain ish, a magician, a Jewish navi sheker, by name of Bar-Yehoshua (Acts 13:6 OJB)


Is anybody confused by this reference? Do we conclude this sorcerer is the son of the Christ? Are we confused by pronouns too? 

Scripture, using any language, uses the SAME pronouns for Satan nd for the true God, the SAME word for the true God as the false gods (in Hebrew and in Greek) and "Yehoshua" is used of a number of 
people in scripture. Do we conclude these are all the same? Of course not.

  • Just as at Pentecost, we know of whom the scripture speaks by enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.
  • We know how to read pronouns and understand context.

Paul at Mars' Hill uses "theós" of the true God and of the false God of the Greeks. Paul is not a blasphemer as the true God knows the intent of his heart as he does ours. Many people today using "Jesus" or "Yeshua" preach a false gospel. The name alone does not define faith, but the finished work connected to the name (no matter the language we hear being preached - see Pentecost).

Thursday, May 6, 2021

The Gentile "Twelve Tribes" Heresy

Quick Review 

Gentile believers were separate from Jewish believers in the Gospels, and in the Acts Age. After the Acts Age there were no more Jews as there is now a pause in the plan for Israel (but that plan shall come to pass). The earthly plan and the earthly kingdom was temporarily put aside and God revealed a heavenly plan through Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles. 

The underlying belief of a group called The Twelve Tribes Community (IMHO) is a denial of the finished work of Christ on Calvary and in resurrection. This is abundantly clear on their "beliefs" page (which is so confused and contrary to the witness of scripture, there is no space here). 

From The Twelve Tribes Community (TTC) website:


When we say "Twelve Tribes", it is not just some denominational title or brand name that we invented. Rather, we are speaking of people actually dwelling together in unity, living a tribal life in twelve different geographical areas on the earth, so as to be a light to the nations. The twelve-in-one nature of this spiritual nation is described in the Scriptures as the nature of the New Testament Church.

(The Twelve Tribes Community)  


This is in no way a scriptural description of the twelve tribes as seen in the pages of the Bible (the listing of which varies throughout scripture). 

They continue:


When Paul, in his defense before Agrippa, referred to “our twelve tribes” in Acts 26:7, surely he was not referring to the Jews who were accusing him. There was no point in flattering them about “earnestly serving God night and day.” The Master had already prophesied to the Jews that, “The kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it.” A new nation had to take the place of the old, and bear the fruit that the old nation didn't bear.

(The Twelve Tribes Community) 


We'll ignore the anti-Semitism for now.

The TTC assumes that there is no way Paul could mean "Jews" as it was unbelieving Jews accusing him, yet the witness of Paul all through the Acts and in the Acts Age epistles is that unbelieving Jews remained Jews and unbelieving Israel remained Israel. If we do not see that, Paul makes no sense in his actions and pleadings to both Jews and to Israel (as we shall see). 

Just in reading the TTC materials, we can see they are very selective in what they want to call Jews, Israelites, or twelve tribes. They ignore some uses inconvenient to their desire to say they are Jews when they are not. They pull out half a sentence and build a universe around it. 

Paul was surely witnessing to the continued hope of the twelve tribes of biblical Israel. We covered related topics in our look at Romans 9 (Israel According to the Flesh) and in our series, "Who is a Jew?" Paul maintained all through the Acts Age that he was in chains "for the hope of Israel." 


Paul's Witness to Unbelieving Jews and Unbelieving Israel


In Acts 28, Paul is clearly speaking to unbelieving Jews in Rome. Scripture testifies that Paul went to Jews first in every city that had Jews ("as was his practice"). These unbelieving Jews in Rome are the "Israelites" Paul refers to in Romans 9. Paul wished himself "accursed" for the sake of "Israelites." And in case we miss the point, he specifies "my brethren according to the flesh." We cannot cram in Gentiles or some new twelve tribes or some lost tribe of gentile Ephraim. Why would Paul wish he was accursed for the sake of believers?


For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came


These are clearly the unbelieving descendants of Jacob. We cannot cram gentiles in there. And we also note while we're here, that the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises, an the fathers all still pertain to Israel, the descendants of Jacob. God's promises are yea and amen, he will fulfill his promises to the apple of his eye. We will reiterate this again later in this post as it must be understood if we are to "rightly divide the Word of Truth."


Paul's Post-Acts Ministry


Let's look at how Paul's ministry changes during and after the Acts Age:


For this reason therefore I have called for you, to see you and speak with you, because for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.”

-Acts 28:20


For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles— if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already...

-Ephesians 3:1-3


All through Paul's epistles, he makes a clear distinction between Jews and Gentiles. In the Acts Age, even among believers, Paul continues to draw distinctions. It is only after the Book of Acts that Paul reveals the plan hidden in God from "before the foundation of ages," on a Body made up of "one new man" consisting of Jew and Gentile with a hope in the far above the heavens.

At no point, either in the Acts Age or after, can Gentiles be called Jews. Let's take another look at Paul's trial in its context. 


“I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, especially because you are expert in all customs and questions which have to do with the Jews. Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently. “My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know. They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope’s sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews.  Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?

-Acts 26:2-8


This is the "hope of Israel." It consists of the promises made to the Fathers. Israel's fathers. The Land and the Kingdom. These are earthly promises. The Lord came to witness to that promised kingdom. He taught the twelve apostles of the Lamb for 40 days after his resurrection about that kingdom (Acts 1:3-6) as these will "sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" ON EARTH in the regeneration of the Earth (Matthew 19:28).

When the TTC quotes from the Acts 26 passage, they remove it from its context. If Paul is somehow referring to Gentile twelve tribes, the passage becomes incoherent. Paul refers to "OUR twelve tribes" and "OUR fathers" and a hope which had not yet been attained. That cannot be the sending of the Savior.


The Earthly Promises are Still Future and Still for Israel


As we have seen in Romans 9, the promises made to the fathers, and the covenants, etc. still pertain to Paul's brethren according to the flesh. This not some "spiritual Israel" made up of Gentiles. The Lord testified that he was "sent to none but to the lost sheep of the House of Israel" (Matt 15:24). When he sent the twelve out with the message that the Kingdom was at hand, they were forbidden to preach that message to Gentiles (Matthew 10:5-7).

Paul affirms the Lord's mission in Romans 15:8-9. The came to Lord confirm the promises made to THE FATHERS (one group), that the nation would  serve as a witness for the Gentiles (as scripture prophesies repeatedly and which is the goal of the Covenants with Israel).


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

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


Paul quotes David (Psalm 18:49), the King of Israel, from the Tribe of Judah, through whom the Messiah and future King of Israel shall come. 

There is a clear comparative here. We cannot read "the circumcision" as being Gentiles and we cannot read "the fathers" as referring to Gentiles. The fathers are clearly of the circumcision (Israel) and the Lord was a servant to them with the prophetic end that all the nations (Gentiles) would be blessed THROUGH ABRAHAM.

 

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
-Galatians 3:13-14


Who is the "us" in this passage? It is Jews. Israel was redeemed from the curse of the Law as the Law was only given to Israel (Exodus 19:3-6; Romans 9:4; etc.). With the curse removed, the earthly blessings of Abraham would become available to Gentiles. This is the ministry found in the synoptic gospel accounts and the goal of the "grafting in" of Gentiles of the Acts Age. That grafting in was for the specified purpose of making Israel jealous (Romans 10:19; 11:11). The Lord did not "save Israel" to "make ex-Israel jealous" as we would have to teach if Israel has been replaced as TTC proposes. 


Israel is Still Israel in the Acts Age


We continue to see the clear differentiation between Jews and Gentiles in Romans 11.


For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:

“The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.”


If we try to read this passage with the teaching that God replaced Israel with some "spiritual Israel" made up partly or wholly of Gentiles, or that Israel now means all believers, it makes no sense.


For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to BELIEVERS until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all BELIEVERS will be saved, as it is written:

“The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from BELIEVERS;
For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.”

-[WRONG DIVISION of the WORD of TRUTH}


You have to ignore many passages to somehow make Gentiles fit into "Israel" and also fit in the "Twelve Tribes" and "Jacob" and "the House of Judah," etc. 


The Hope of Israel is Earthly, Not Heavenly


The hope of Israel was the promise to Abraham of a land (on earth) and a kingdom to David (on earth) the throne of which will be occupied by one of his house (Judah). Peter addresses unbelieving Jews in Acts 3 as "ye men of Israel." They were still Israel. "The fathers" were still and will always be the fathers of Israel (not of Gentiles). Abraham is the father of all who believe, but the promises of the land belong to his physical descendants. 


Ye men of Israel... The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of  our fathers. 

-Peter, as an Apostle to the Circumcision, to unbelieving Israel in Acts 3


Peter promises those Jews of Israel that if they repent, the Father would send back the Lord Jesus to restore the Kingdom to Israel [Acts 1:6]. Can we preach this today?


Ye men of Israel... 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. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. 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.

 

  • To unbelieving Israel, after the resurrection and ascension, after Pentecost:
  • Promise of the times of refreshing if they repent
  • The fathers are still unbelieving Israel's fathers 
  • Things spoken "since the world began
  • Prophets foretold these days
  • They were still the children of the Prophets
  • Covenant made with their fathers that through them Gentiles would be blessed


Israel will be turned away from her iniquities when the New Covenant comes in (Ezek 36; Jer 31; Heb 8; etc.).

The "Twelve Tribes" group teaches that the twelve tribes are now all Gentile? Since when? Apparently, Peter and Paul were unaware. Even if they limit it to the "Tribe of Ephraim" theory, they run into the same problem (we will address this briefly later).


Paul Witnesses to The Hope of Israel in the Acts Age


We reiterate, during the Acts, Paul said he was in chains "for the hope of Israel" (Acts 28:20). This was the promise the "twelve tribes" still sought (Acts 26:7). This is the hope Paul spoke of to the unbelieving JEWS in Acts 28. Paul testifies this late in the Book of Acts to unbelieving Jews. He refers to these unbelievers as both "Jews" and "brethren" in the context of "Israel." Again, he notes "OUR fathers." He speaks from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. We cnnot read any of these as to pertaining to believing Gentiles.


And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the JEWS together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. Who, when they had examined me, would have let me go, because there was no cause of death in me. But when the JEWS spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Cæsar; not that I had ought to accuse my nation of. For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain. And they said unto him, We neither received letters out of Judæa concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came shewed or spake any harm of thee. But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against. And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not.

-Acts 28


When we note in this passage that Paul is witnessing to clearly unbelieving JEWS in the context of the hope of Israel (just as Peter referred to unbelieving Jews as "Ye men of Israel"), we can see that the other unbelieving JEWS who  spoke against his message at his trial were still part of the Biblical Twelve Tribes of Israel (i.e. Jews). The TTC calls ignores all this evidence to conclude that since Jews accused Paul at his trial, they could not also be the Biblical Twelve Tribes.

The single verse pulled out by the TTC does not hold up in the context in which it was spoken, in the context of this meeting Paul had in Rome after his trial, nor in Paul's Acts Age epistles. Let's look again at their position.


When Paul, in his defense before Agrippa, referred to “our twelve tribes” in Acts 26:7, surely he was not referring to the Jews who were accusing him. There was no point in flattering them about “earnestly serving God night and day.” The Master had already prophesied to the Jews that, “The kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it.” A new nation had to take the place of the old, and bear the fruit that the old nation didn't bear. [Twelve Tribes website] 


When Paul was witnessing "the kingdom of God" to Jews in Acts 28, he is "persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets." Paul references Jews as his "brethren" and his "nation." At his trial, Paul states he taught NOTHING that Moses and the prophets did not say would come. They taught that a Kingdom was coming for national Israel and that Gentiles would be blessed through that Kingdom. When Paul witnesses to the Greeks in Acts 17, he makes no mention of Moses and the Prophets, he refers only to the God of creation.  

God had not set aside his people nor the Plan of God for the fulfillment of promises made through Moses and the Prophets of an earthly kingdom in Israel. The Lord lays out this plan in the Gospel of Matthew and in Acts 1:3-6. He came to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to Israel alone (Matthew 4, Matthew 9, Matthew 10) and he sent the 12 out to preach it in the Acts, to Jews only. The "Apsotles to the Circumcision" were commissioned to Israel, true Israel, not some new Israel (Matthew 10:5-7; Acts 11:19; Galatians 2:7-9). 

Gentiles were temporarily grafted in during the Acts Age (under Paul's ministry), not because Israel had been rejected, but because God was reaching out to his people (who were still his people). Paul, again, identifies with them (separate from believers, separate from Gentiles).


I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew.

-Romans 11:1-2

I say then, have they [Israel] stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them [Isarel] to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!

-Romans 11:11-12


I posted these in reverse order to my references above that we may look at this latter verse in light of the assertions of the Twelve Tribes group. 

"They" refers to "His people" which refers to Israel. Paul continues to identify with both Israel and with his tribe, Benjamin. It is only after the Book of Acts that he counts his pedigree as dung (Phil 3:5-7). This is because Paul no longer had an earthly hope of a land and a kingdom (or even of the New Jerusalem which comes down from heaven), but he has a hope "in the heavenly places" which was not spoken of my Moses and the Prophets, which was hidden from BEFORE the foundation of the Ages. This the revelation found in the Book of Ephesians and the Book of Colossians (both post Acts).


Paul's Post-Acts Ministry (Again)


As noted, Paul testified at his trial that he taught NOTHING that was not spoken of by Moses and the Prophets (Acts 26:22) SINCE  the foundation of world, which he witnesses to the Jews (of Israel) in Rome in Acts 28. Again, this is distinctly different compared with what he taught in Ephesians which was a truth hidden from men and from the prophets since BEFORE the foundation of the world, revealed only to Paul.


Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come.

-Acts 26:22

And when they [The Jews in Rome] had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.

-Acts 28:23

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.

-Ephesians 1:4

Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God.

-Ephesians 3:8-9

What Paul taught Post-Acts was no longer a kingdom and priesthood in the land on the earth (or even the New Jerusalem which comes down to earth), but a new, previously hidden, heavenly hope of unsearchable riches.

We have covered these things numerous times, but it is essential to grasp and accept these differences if we are to make sense of what we are reading in the Gospels and in the 3-sets of Epistles in what we call The New Testament. (7 by the Apostles of the Circumcision to Jews, 7 by Paul in the Acts Age, 7 in the Post Acts - Current Age).


From a Prisoner for Israel to a Prisoner for Gentiles


We note again, after the Acts Paul said he was "the prisoner of Christ Jesus [Christos Iesus] for you Gentiles."  During the Acts Age, Gentile believers were responsible to support Jewish believers. This is just one of countless examples of the distinction made in the Acts Age between Jewish and Gentile believers. How do we understand this simple division in Romans 15 if we don't recognize the truth of Romans 1?


For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

-Romans 1:16

For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem. It pleased them [the Gentiles] indeed, and they are their [the Jews] debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their [the Jews] spiritual things, their [the Gentiles] duty is also to minister to them [the Jews] in material things.

-Romans 15:26-27


Can I come preach this at your assembly?  That Gentile believers are bound to support Jewish believers? That Gentile believers are debtors to Jewish believers? This is no longer the case, but it was the case during the Acts Age. But the TTC teaches that God took his kingdom promises (which are yea and amen, confirmed and assured) from Jews and gave them to Gentiles. This is a wrong division of the Word of God and a denial of God's faithfulness. God will "restore" the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:3-6; etc.). 

During the Acts Age, as we see in Acts 15:19-29  and Acts 21:23-25, Jewish believers and Gentile believers lived under different decrees (Acts 16:4). These were done away with in Paul's new revelation of Ephesians and the Post Acts epistles. This is the middle wall which came down and the creation of the "one new man" (Ephesians 2:13-15). Again, another study for another day. But we must recognize these differences (as we have noted in numerous previous studies).


Putting Their "Proof Text" in Context.


The TTC group pulls a verse of its context and builds and entire theology on it.


The Master had already prophesied to the Jews that, “The kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it” [Matt 21:43]. A new nation had to take the place of the old, and bear the fruit that the old nation didn't bear. 
(The Twelve Tribes Community) 


Let's look at this in context (especially in Matthew). It's taken from a parable. Building a doctrine on parables is delicate and dangerous thing as they are meant to be difficult to understand (Matthew 13:10-11). But we'll have to leave that there. 

We have not the space to break down all of Matthew 21, but this Jewish/Kingdom gospel of Matthew continues that theme in this chapter. Remember, the Kingdom was to be preached to Jews only. Red-Letter Christians take note of the words of our Lord:


Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

-Matthew 10:5-7 


In Matthew 21, the Lord is contrasting the lowly of Israel (publicans and harlots) with the elite in Israel. He is not teaching a new truth about a Gentile Kingdom. Remember, the preaching of the Kingdom is only for the lost sheep of the House of Israel as contrasted with Gentiles.

The parable from which they base their entire theology concerns "two sons" (Matthew 21:28) and it was spoken as a judgment against "the chief priests and the elders" (Matthew 21:24). All involved were of Israel. All involved were Jews. The Kingdom was still being offered to Jews only. 


the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you

-Matthew 21:31b


Isaiah 66 speaks of a coming day when Zion shall give birth to a new nation. That nation, in that passage, is contrasted with Gentiles. It is the promises fulfilled to Israel. It cannot be Gentiles. I encourage a reasding of the entire chapter, but we will pull out this short passage for your  consideration:


Then they shall bring all your brethren for an offering to the Lord out of all nations, on horses and in chariots and in litters, on mules and on camels, to My holy mountain Jerusalem,” says the Lord, “as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord. And I will also take some of them for priests and Levites,” says the Lord.

Isaiah 66:20-21


The secondary place of Gentiles in both the preaching of the Gospel of Grace in the Acts Age and the secondary place of Gentiles in the Acts church contradict the interpretation that God has forsaken his promises to Israel (God forbid!). The TTC call God a liar whose word cannot be trusted.


The New Covenant With Israel


Therefore say to the house of Israel

When we examine the New Covenant, we see its point (and the New Heart for ISRAEL - Ezekiel 36:16-38) is that Israel may one day serve as "a kingdom of priests" and a "holy nation." This was the goal of the Old Covenant (Ex 19:3-6). They want to play fast and loose with words like "Israel" and "Jews" and "Gentiles." There is so much here I can't go into for the sake of space, but I'll leave with a future prophecy (in addition to our reference to Ezekiel 36), the Lord's separation in Matthew, and another word from Paul.


Thus saith the Lord of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: and the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts: I will go also. Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of hosts; In those days [FUTURE] it shall come to pass [FUTURE], that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations [GENTILES], even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a JEW, saying, We will go with YOU: for we have heard that God is with YOU. 
-Zech 8:20-23)


These are not suddenly Gentile Jews in Zechariah. I won't post the entire chapter, but you can go read it and see it is clearly a physical promise to a physical people in a physical land. And it will come to pass. This is far more to be noted along this line in scripture, but just staying in Zechariah:


In that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them.  And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon. And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart; all the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart.

-Zech 12:8-14 


This is picture of the future repentance of true Israel (not some fake Gentile Israel).

When the non-Proselyte, non-law-keeping, non-Sabbath-keeping Gentile approaches the Lord in faith in Matthew 8, the Lord CONTRASTS Gentiles with Israel in the future kingdom. Yes, some Jews will be cast out (unfaithful servants) and some Gentiles will be invited guests (compare Matthew 21:1-14). But it will be Israel's blessing. The New Jerusalem will have the names of the 12 tribes on them. 


When Jesus heard it [the faith of a Gentile], he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

-Matthew 8 


Similarly, when a non-proselyte, non-law-keeping, non-Sabbath-keeping Gentile woman approaches the Lord as "thou Son of David" he ignores her. But when she comes in faith to her "Lord" (alone), he grants her request. Our Lord refers to Gentiles as "little dogs." The "Red Letter Christians" and those who claim to hate Paul and "only follow Jesus" neglect this passage.


Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan [GENTILE] came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread [JEWS], and to cast it to dogs [GENTILES]. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ [JEWS] table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith [FAITH, not LAW-KEEPING]: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

-Matthew 15:21-28


This remained true all through the gospels and Acts Age. The difference in the Acts Age was that the Lord grafted in gentile believers into the "fatness" (Rom 11) of Israel's blessings for the cause of making Israel jealous. Again, we note, there was still an Israel and an Israel to be made jealous. And in all this, the gospel was still "to the Jew first"  (Romans 1:16; Romans 2:9-10). In the Acts Age, Paul always went to Jews first in any town where there were Jews "as his manner was" (Acts 17:1-3). 


Jews Have Never Been "Replaced" by Gentiles


 In Acts 15 and Acts 21 Gentile believers are still treated differently from Jewish believers. In Romans 11, it is only Gentile believers who are warned they can be "cut off" from the "fatness of the root" (Israel's blessings in the Kingdom). If Gentiles are now Israel, what do we make of all these distinctions?

Can I preach that at your assembly today? Do we separate Gentile believers and Jewish believers as Paul did? Do we threaten only Gentile believers today that if they become haughty against Israel they will be "cut off" (cut off from what today?)? Do we ask Gentile believers to support Jewish believers in physical things? Do we go to the Jew first in our evangelism? Are we waiting for the Kingdom in the land or the blessings in the far above the heavens (Ephesians)? 

  • Mark the things that differ (Phil 1:10)
  • Rightly divide the Word of Truth (2 Tim 2:15)

As for the listing of the twelve tribes themselves, the lists vary throughout scripture for different reasons. But that is another study for another time.

I finish with the testimony of Paul, even during the Acts Age as to whom are Israelites and to whom pertain the promises of the Kingdom on Earth  (which the Twelve Tribes Community claims).


 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. 
-Romans 9:3-5


Context. Paul is referring to unbelieving Israelites this late in the Acts Age. To THEM still pertain the adoption, the covenants, the law, and the priesthood. Our blessings today are in the "heavenly places" where Christ sits as taught by Paul as a new revelation in the Book of Ephesians. We do not have a hope on the earth. We do not seek an EARTHLY Kingdom. Our blessings are spiritual, not carnal.


 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. 

-Eph 1:3

And you [GENTILES] hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we, being dead to sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus... 

-Eph 2: 1-6


We should step into these blessings, rejoice in them, praise the Lord for them and honor God's earthly promises to Israel (which will come to pass).

Monday, April 26, 2021

Quick Housekeeping Note and a Blog Stat Summary

 The hits on this blog have surpassed the 70,000 mark. In the grand scheme of things, perhaps not an overwhelming number. But for a little man with a particular theological bent, it's well appreciated. 

Traffic dropped off after China clamped down on internet traffic in Hong Kong, but we still average 100-300 hits per day here. Just for reference, we had 244 hits yesterday and we're averaging 168 hits/day in April. Not turning the world upside down but much appreciated, again.  

The all-time top location hitting the page, even with the clamp down, is Hong Kong with nearly 31K visits. China comes in at number 5 with just under 4K visits. During the height of the protests in Hong Kong, when visits to the blog were very heavy, I posted this encouragement:

Our Brothers and Sisters in China and Hong Kong: Suffering and Reward

Another curious stat are the peak visits from Israel. This could be a function of VPN software routing through Israel, but they seem to come in bunches. It's a curious stat, but Israel is second to Hong Kong at over 13.7K visits. The USA comes in at third with just over 8K. Indonesia is similar the numbers for China (both around 3.8K visits each).

The Top Ten most visited individual studies (separate from simple visits to the main page) are thus:

  1. The Most Misquoted Verse in Scripture (2 Cor 5:8)
  2. Why Was Timothy Circumcised in Acts 16?
  3. The Monkees, the Messiah, & Me
  4. Are We Preaching the Right Gospel?
  5. Is the Masoretic Text Corrupted? (Quick Take)
  6. David Hocking, Gentiles, and the Acts 15 Council at Jerusalem
  7. Comparing the Different Listings of the Twelve Tribes
  8. Basics for Understanding the Bible
  9. Introduction to Personal Bible Study - Videos (2007)
  10. The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats - Part 1


I put a lot of time into my series on "Walking in the Spirit" and my "Walk Worthy" series. But I guess the people want what the people want! LOL!

SO... as we move along in 2021, PLEASE NOTE this change from GOOGLE:

the email subscription service will be discontinued in July 2021.
After July 2021, your feed will still continue to work, but the automated emails to your subscribers will no longer be supported.

If you find any value in these posts, please bookmark. I post an average of about 5 times a month.

Cheers and Godspeed!


 

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Quick Reminder About Death and Mortality and Resurrection

If I assembled a room full of people (Christians, Muslims, Animists, Atheists, Agnostics, Mets fans, you name it), there is one thing we can agree on... in one way or another, our bodies are mortal. We are all going to die.

That is the central problem of mankind, death

Rom 5:12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.


Ezek 18:20a The one who sins is the one who will die.

In Christianity, we understand from Paul that "the wages of sin is death" (Rom 6:23). This might freak out some Christians, but when someone is told that he cannot pay his sin debt, that someone is wrong. You can pay your sin debt. Die. Not "die" simply in terms of "passing away" but "die" in terms of really dying. Going back to the dust. Exercising your mortality. Ceasing to be.

God has already been reconciled to humans. He is not holding their sins against them. However, people must individually be reconciled to God. We don't preach judgment, we preach reconciliation.

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 Corinthians 5:18-9


God is a God of justice. In the end, all will "surely die" (as God warned Adam and Eve in the garden) if they refuse the free gift of "life through his name" (John 20:30-31). For the believer, the scriptures tell us in Isaiah 53 and in 1 Peter 2 "by His stripes we are healed." He took the temporal stripes of our punishment and suffered death. But whereas our punishment and death would be the final result of our sin, He rose again to conquer both sin and death!

God's free gift is "life" through Christ (Rom 6:23; John 20:30-31). When we place our faith in Christ, we are passed from death, unto life (John 5:24).

When one owes a debt and pays it, he doesn't get a free gift. He simply paid the debt. If there is a gift it must be received. This is the essence of Christianity. God offers a free gift of immortal and incorruptible life in resurrection.! This is a true gift.

This gift cannot be earned (lest it cease to be a gift) or lost (lest it cease to be free).

Of course, to be freed of the obligation of never-ending death and to have that obligation obliterated so an alternative can be offered, a substitutionary death must be presented to pay the debt of never-ending death. That is where Christ's death, burial (lack of decay) and resurrection (undoing of death) come in. He died for our sins (in our place) so we are no longer obligated to "cease to be." We can be "hid in him" and live again (undo physical death).

Rom 4:25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

1 Cor 15:3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures...

1 Cor 6:14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.

God is not in the torture business. You may pay your sin debt through mortality and death or you may choose to seek the free grace of God through Christ Jesus (resurrection life).

Of course, choosing death does not mean that you won't have to face your sin. Who you are (soul) is known to God and he may restore a mortal body to display his just decision to allow you to die by having you face your sins and face your choice to choose never-ending death over the free gift of life, but I will leave that in His hands. To be honest, I can see it both ways. I honestly am not sure how that will play out for the unbeliever. Fortunately, because of Christ alone, I'll never have to experience it. One thing I am sure of for those who reject the gift of resurrection life: they will perish.

Faith is an individual matter. The choice is therefore laid out for the individual: you can either choose to seek the free gift of immortal and incorruptible life in a celestial body that will know no sickness or death or you may choose to die. No church, no pastor, no catechism will answer for you or can make your decision for you. It is your choice.


The Elements of Death Removed from Those Who Receive the Free Gift
    • The sting of death (1 Cor 15:55)
    • The victory of death (1 Cor 15:55)

It is never said of an unbeliever in scripture that he "sleeps" at his death, but this is how believers are to view death. We do not feel the "sting" of death. It is though we make our bed in death (Psalm 139) and await awakening in resurrection.

For one to receive this gift he must understand that he needs to be freed from the condemnation of death and from "the law of sin and death" (Rom 8:1-2). Do you understand that you have sinned and that the wages of your sin will be death? One needs not only understand that, he must seek the remedy. And the only remedy to the law of sin and death is the substitutionary death of the Christ and his conquering of the grave by his not decaying and rising again!

Death is the enemy Christ came to destroy.

1 Cor 15:26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

Romans 6:9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.

Rev 21:4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death

Death is "the last enemy." Death is how the history of man begins and the destruction of that curse is how it will end. The introduction of the Greek mythology of a fiery torture chamber robs Christ's death of its glory. His death should be valued as the substitute for our death. He (a) did not decay in the grave and (b) he rose from the dead. It is death that hangs over the world. We need to tell people they can be freed from the penalty of death and freed from the power of sin that requires death.

So WHEN this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, THEN shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

Paul teaches that it is the goodness of God that leads us to turn from sin and turn to him in faith (Rom 2). Contemplate the wonderful goodness of God found in the free gift of eternal life won by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ! Christian rejoice in it, and pray others find salvation and the free gift of life in it!

 
He's coming!

Monday, April 19, 2021

Alternate Understanding of Ephesians 2:1 "Dead in sin?"

Allow me to offer an alternative understanding of Eph 2:1. Here is how it is rendered in the NKJV (and most English translations):

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins

We know in Christ we are "dead to sin" (present tense)

God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

-Romans 6:2 


That we understand. In Christ we are DEAD to sin. Let's look at some similar verses in regard to how this idea is translated.

Let's take a look at this last one in full.

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.


We being "dead" is the state of the Christian to his flesh NOW. The admonition is to recognize this death (and the eventual physical death of the flesh, the curse) so we can seek to live free from its wants, desires, lusts (including religious traditions and religious pride). The expanded Rom 6:11 puts it succinctly.

Likewise reckon [consider] ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Let's now try the opposite and try to apply the KJV rendering in Ephesians 2 to our understanding in Romans 6 (etc.) and see where that gets us:


For in that He died, He died IN SIN once (bad translation of Rom 6:10)
Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed IN SIN (bad translation of Rom 6:11)

That makes no sense (it's blasphemy in the first example and terrible in the second). Christ died "unto sin" (not "in sin") and we are to consider ourselves dead "to sin." So, we cannot go back to those verses and apply the KJV in Ephesians rendering.

Let's now jump back to Ephesians 2 and look at these verses in light of the understanding of our death unto sin as it is correctly translated in our bulleted examples above. We also note (without going into detail for the sake of space) that "were" should be rendered "being" from the Greek (ontas, present participle). The KJV translates the same word (ontas) "being" in Col 2:13, so it's not crazy.

And you hath he quickened, who being dead to trespasses and sins

-Ephesian 2:1 (corrected)  


Let us also correct Ephesians 2:5

Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved) - KJV
Even when we being dead to sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved) - Corrected

There is no "en" in the Greek nor a word for "when" used in the KJV. The context in the passage is the exalted hope (greater than the land, greater than the Kingdom, greater than the New Jerusalem) of sitting "in heavenly places." We see the "rich in mercy" (2:4) and "exceeding riches" (2:7) of this current hope which was hidden from "before the foundation of the world" (Eph 1:4) and revealed by Paul.

Ephesians 2:6

 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus

The hope of Paradise restored. The hope of the land from the Nile to the Euphrates. The hope of the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel. The hope of the New Jerusalem which comes down to earth... all these pertain to earthly blessings and covenants. In Eph 2 we are on the exalted ground of blessings far above the heavens where Christ sits.

The passage is teaching that SINCE we are (now) DEAD TO SIN, we should walk according to the new nature. Because we were saved by grace through faith, we should walk in the good works God has prepared for us (Eph 2:8-10).

We are to consider ourselves dead now. The importance is found in our hope. We live in light of our lives, hidden in Christ in God, waiting to be revealed in us, because WE ARE DEAD TO SIN.

For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 
-Col 3:3


For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.
 
-Romans 8:18-19


These truths underlie our series on "Walking in the Spirit" and "Walking Worthy."

We differentiate our life now (considering our flesh to be dead) and the life to come in resurrection. When the Lord contrasts death and life in John, it is in light of the resurrection.

For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will... He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.

-John 5:21-25 


In sum: We walk in bodies of death today. As believers we are to consider our flesh DEAD and "walk in the newness of life" (Rom 6:4) today. We no longer walk according to the flesh (the old nature), but according to the spirit (the new nature) today. Die to the old, live in the new, That is context of the death and life spoken of in Ephesians 2.

Ephesians 2:1 and 2:5 are emphasizing this point, not our state of death before we believed.

Likewise reckon [consider] ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.


A quick plug for the Far Above All translation. Here is how Ephesians 2:1-5 is rendered there:

Including you who are dead to transgressions and sins, in which you once walked, according to the age of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, of the spirit which is now active in the sons of disobedience, among whom we all also once had our mode of life, in the desires of our flesh, doing the will of the flesh, and of the mind, and we were children of wrath by nature, as the rest are too, but God, being rich in mercy, on account of his great love with which he loved us, made us, being dead to transgressions, alive together with Christ – you have been saved by grace