Featured Post

Introduction to Personal Bible Study - Videos (2007)

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

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Quick Thought on The Gap Theory

I was reading a synopsis of a recent book critiquing the Gap Theory. It, in part, reads:

"Taking on all arguments for both Gap Theory and the Day-Age Theory, Fields outlines the clear facts and proofs for Young Earth Creationism."

I think the foundation of the error seems to be the necessity of holding to a "Young Earth." We can certainly hold to a literal 6-day creation and also hold that the earth is impossibly old. The ideas are independent. I hold to both. I hold that the earth was created in perfection, sin entered, it was cast into chaos for an indeterminate amount of time, then God started his 6-day re-creation.

For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it a chaos, he formed it to be inhabited!): “I am the Lord, and there is no other. -Isaiah 45:18 (RSV

God created an earth which was not in chaos. In Gen 1:2, that earth "became without form [chaotic] and void." What we have from the rest of the Creation account is a re-creation. We have covered that in part HERE, so I'll leave it there.  I certainly believe in a literal 6-day creation, but I also hold that the earth is indeterminately old. How old, I don't know. Scripture is silent.

When I cover the Gap in my Bible group, I try to give all sides and the reasoning behind the different teachings. But what I haven't heard (and I probably should give this author the benefit of the doubt since I've only read the synopsis) is a complete review of the "First Earth" understanding of Gen 1:1.

What if the coming "new earth" is like that "first earth?" No sea (Rev 21:1), pristine, into which Satan's sin was introduced and, by that sin, chaos? We are of Adam. Adam was formed from the dust of the current earth. We are born "in Adam," and God's revelation for this earth is our primary concern.

With that said and understood, part of that revelation is the rebellion of Lucifer and the chaotic and void earth that resulted. It is useful to understand this. The earth was his dominion. He lost that dominion until Adam and Eve gave it back to him. He is "the god of this age" (2 Cor 4:4).

When I first heard of the Gap Theory, it was dismissed as an excuse to accept evolution as part of creation. Well, I reject evolution as nonsense. The Gap has nothing to do with evolution. Believing the earth may be incalculably old does not accommodate evolution nor does it necessarily contradict a 6-day creation.

A proper understanding purports that the 6-day creation is essentially a re-creation. We do not need a "Young Earth" to reject evolution or any other witness of Genesis or scripture in general.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

A Fresh Look at the Enemies of the Cross of Christ

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 set their mind on earthly things. -Phil 3:18-19

I recently heard the phrase "enemies of the cross of Christ" used in reference to unbelievers. But if we note the context, Paul is juxtaposing Christians who follow his pattern of suffering with those who take the road of accommodation and comfort. And that comfort does not just come from the world, it comes from within Christendom.

Surely there is a temptation to avoid conflict, criticism, ostracism, and persecution by joining the world and hiding one's beliefs so as to be accepted. But there is also a temptation to subdue biblical truths in order to foster a false unity and an acceptance within Christendom.

Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has dearted for Thessalonica—Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry. And Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come—and the books, especially the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works. You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words. At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. -2 Tim 4:9-16

Those mentioned in this passage are Christians. Demas had forsaken Paul. Demas was, at one time, a close associate of Paul's in the spreading of the Gospel of the Dispensation of the Mystery revealed to our Apostle and taught in his post-Acts epistles.

Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you. -Col 4:14

Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers. -Philemon 23-24

But not just Demas, Alexander and all in Asia abandoned Paul. These were Christians. These are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. These are those who have life through his name (Jn 20:31). Life is a free gift, but obedience to revelation is choice. Rightly dividing is a command.

Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm [evil]. May the Lord repay him according to his works. You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words. At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. -2 Tim 
This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. -1 Tim

Paul hopes those who forsook him would not have that charged against them. He accuses Alexander and Hymenaeus with blasphemy against himself (Paul). These are Christians who have blasphemed and have rejected the apostle.

He prays that Alexander would have his works judged. Remember from recent studies, a Christian is justified (declared fit) for resurrection life by grace through faith alone, but must be justified (declared fit) for crowns, rewards, the prize, and the kingdom (for those who have that as their hope) via works born out of faith.

Paul speaks much of the joy and honor to suffer for Christ and the Gospel committed to him. He brings us into this part of the Christian life as he reveals who will be counted worthy to suffer for His name and the truths of this age.

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. -2 Tim 3:12

While the world did persecute Paul, and that idea is included here, the context is within Christendom. Paul's greatest persecutors (as the Lord's) came from within Judaism and Christendom.

But you remain in those things which you have learned and have been assured of, knowing from whom you learned them. -2 Tim 3:14

We follow Christ by following the example of Paul (2 Tim 1:13). This brings us back to our original thought. We are to follow the pattern of Paul by joining him in his suffering for the truths of the Dispensation of the Mystery. This persecution will come from within Christendom. It will come from those who reject the way of suffering (the cross), even suffering for Christ's sake. Those who choose the way and doctrines of comfort and profit.

Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an example. (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...) 
For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.

Paul weeps for believers who do not walk according to his example. And who would be deceiving believers? Teaching things they ought not to teach? Unbelieving Jews? No. These are those who are trying to put those who have come under Paul's preaching of the Mystery under obligation to earthly ordinances (cp. Col 2:16-23). These are not "Jews" (the word being absent from Paul's post-Acts epistles, but "of the circumcision." Since the One New Man was revealed, these is no more Jew until this age ends (we looked at this in our last study), but there are those who seek to put men under the Law and under earthly ordinances.

Those noted in Philippians are those who seek to accommodate the world when it comes to the truths of scripture and accommodate other Christians when it comes to the Gospel of the Dispensation of the Mystery. But be encouraged. When we desire to be found with Paul rather than with those who had abandoned him, we are in a place of future blessings.

The world never abandoned Paul (for he was never of the world), he was abandoned by Christians, some of whom sought to make his imprisonment for us Gentiles even worse. But Paul rejoiced in it all (and so should we).

You know that everyone in Asia has abandoned me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes. May the Lord grant mercy to the family of Onesiphorus, for he often took care of me and was not ashamed that I was a prisoner. -2 Tim 1:14-15
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; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. -Phil 1:15-17

These are Christians, my friend. Paul rejoices in knowing Christ is preached, no matter the reasoning. But why the anger and animosity towards Paul from Christians? They must have had something against him. The answer is found in those who continued to love Paul. These latter knew Paul was "appointed for the defense of the gospel" committed to him. the gospel of the Dispensation of the Mystery; the gospel of the One New Man (Ephesians). The gospel here is not simply Christ as Savior. Paul rejoices in what those who hate him preach, which must be the truth Christ crucified. They don't hate Paul because of Christ, they hate Paul for releasing all from the Law and all earthly ordinances.

Today, very few Christians would profess an animosity towards Paul (although that is not unknown by those who have placed the "red letters" above the rest of scripture), but when Paul's revelation of the one new man in Ephesians, apart from the ordinances of the future New Covenant for Israel, is taught, they reject it. By doing so, they are rejecting Paul's ministry and the man himself.

Let us be bold to speak the truths of this current dispensation as Paul our Apostle was, and be prepared for the rejection from fellow Christians which often comes with it.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. -Eph 6:17-20

We should not seek to be difficult or argumentative. Our words should be seasoned with grace. But be prepared for rejection and argument nonethelesss. We must not strive. We must remain gentle, but we must boldly proclaim the truths to any who will listen. To what degree someone is willing to listen, I will leave with you. We can still fellowship with those who reject Paul's gospel, but we need to find our primary fellowship with those who have embraced the truths of the Dispensation of the  Mystery.

If you are new to this blog, there are a number of studies concerning the gospel of the Mystery.

Here are a few for your consideration:

Are We Preaching the Right Gospel?
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
Scriptural Mysteries 
Should Christians Practice Passover?
Basics for Understanding the Bible
VIDEOS: Introduction to Personal Bible Study

Monday, November 25, 2019

So Where Am I on Modern-Day Israel?

“Thus says the Lord of hosts:

‘Behold, I will save My people from the land of the east
And from the land of the west;
I will bring them back,
And they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem.
They shall be My people
And I will be their God,
 In truth and righteousness.’
-Zech 8:7-8 

There are so many scriptures concerning the future of Israel as a nation, it is almost dangerous to quote any of them lest we leave out a crucial detail. That being said, nothing is more clear in the Word of Truth than the return of a believing remnant of Israel to the promised land and the fulfillment of all of Yahweh's promises to her (Yahweh is the God of the Covenants). This includes the New Covenant which we have covered in many other studies and which is not in place yet.

So, do I believe modern-day Israel is the Israel of prophecy? Technically speaking, no. The common teaching among classic (Acts 2) dispensationalists that the founding of the nation in 1948 is a fulfillment of Israel being "born in a day" is worth considering, but I think it's a stretch.

Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once?

The verse in question is found in Israel chapter 66. This is the chapter which ends with the dead carcasses of the rebellious ones and enemies being tossed into the valley where "the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched." This is still future.

I will not quote the whole chapter here, but we are dealing with a time when God calls his remnant from all over the earth. True Israel is born at once. It will be an act of God. Was the United States born in a day, July 4, 1776, (or July 2 when the Declaration of Independence first passed)? And what can we say of any other nation which has declared an "independence day?" Were all these born in a day?  Israel was at war in May of 1948 and is still at war. She knows no peace. In 1948 she did not control all of Jerusalem or the temple Mount. She did not control Judea and Samaria.

In addition to knowing no peace, she is in only a sliver of the promised land and almost all of Israel is there in unbelief. Most Jews not only reject the Messiah, they reject Yahweh. There is not the problem of idolatry which plagued ancient Israel, but there is (like we have in the US) a general acceptance of sexual wickedness and unbelief.

So, what do I believe is true of modern-day Israel? I believe it is a foothold for prophecy. Just as the Lord prepared the Roman Empire years before the Messiah was born in Bethlehem, so he prepares the Middle East for future fulfillment. He is still in control. From my calculations, it seems as though this placeholder will be used, but we will not know until Israel is back in the center of God's plan for the ages.

I am a supporter of the state of Israel. I support the ethnic Jews right to a homeland (I am a Zionist). I believe it is historically the land of the Jews. I believe Israel is an island of liberty in a sea of hostile dictatorships. I believe God has a future plan and a purpose for that land and a remnant of that people. But what I believe we are seeing is a crew setting up a stage for play that is yet to start. 1948 the stage was secured. In 1967 the primary piece of the set was delivered.

When we see Yahweh raise his arm to fulfill scripture, there will be no question it is the Lord.

I think Christians should support Israel, reject wicked "Replacement Theology " (examined in several blog posts), and keep our eyes on Palestine. But when it comes to declaring scripture fulfilled, we need to be very careful.

In this dispensation, in regard to the blessings of the Mystery as given to Paul, all are Gentiles. There is one, spiritual temple being constructed. There is an ethnic Jew, but no longer is the Jew "first" in the plan of God as he was from Genesis 12 through the end of the Acts Age. We are not looking for "the hope of Israel" this hour or the earthly kingdom. But rest assured, that plan will come into view soon and the kingdom will be restored.

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 1:6-7

In a coming day, the 12 Jewish disciples who asked this question will sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel in her kingdom. In the meantime, we look for his appearing (Gk: epiphanea) as they await his presence (Gk: parousia) when this age is at an end.

[We have looked at the difference between the appearing and the presence in previous studies as well.] 

Sunday, November 24, 2019

A Fresh Look at the Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector

Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” -Luke 18:9-14

The interpretation of this parable is too often filtered through the two terrible dichotomies of Christendom. That is, it is seen as a heaven/hell and saved/lost comparison. But is that accurate?

The context of the passage finds it sandwiched between the Lord teaching about the coming tribulation for Israel, his return, the earthly kingdom, and the lives of those alive at the time. Their choices are compared with those of Lot and his wife (among others) as they are warned to be ready. But does this not assume his listeners are believers? Lot's wife left Sodom, but her heart was still with that city. She was not "saved" then "lost;" she lost her liberty and reward.

They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. “In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. 
-Luke 17:28-33

He who is on the housetop, etc. Is he warning unbelievers of the terrible times to come? Is he warning unbelievers to remember Lot's wife? Note the last verse. The word "life" there is the Greek word "psychḗ" which can mean life or soul (see Matt 10:28; 11:29; etc.). We have dealt with the common error and mythology of how Christendom handles the word "soul." We can see here how losing one's soul is lauded here. That doesn't make any sense in the common theology of this hour.

 We do understand the word can go both ways, so let's look back at our original passage for more context. We started in chapter 17 with a warming about the tribulation and the need to be ready. This leads into chapter 18 and we end our passage with this, "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

This cannot apply to those who have no hope in the age to come. What does it mean to be humbled? Tortured by fire by God with no hope? Of course not. We have a reminder that entrance and position in the earthly kingdom (for those who have that hope) is determined by one's heart and action. Those who do not qualify will "wail" and "gnash their teeth." They will suffer loss. But they themselves have the free gift of life. They will have life, but be humbled.

Just as the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25 cannot mean being condemned to the flame for not doing anything with a gift (does God trust unbelievers as stewards?), he also does not threaten those with the free gift of resurrection life with loss of that gift. With that understood, the parable in Matthew 25 and our parable in Luke 18 must refer to believers.

So what does it mean to be "justified?" In the case of one who has the hope of the kingdom, it means being declared worthy of the kingdom. These are those whose righteousness is greater than the scribes and Pharisees (Matt 5:20). The alternative is to be cast into outer darkness among the nations ("weeping and wailing" etc.).

Isaiah speaks of this future time. His prophesy looks ahead in great measure to the fulfillment of the "hope of Israel." He points to the darkness outside the kingdom (on earth) among the nations.

Just one example:
Arise, shine;
For your light has come!
And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.
For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,
And deep darkness the people;
But the Lord will arise over you,
And His glory will be seen upon you.
The Gentiles shall come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising.
-Isaiah 60:1-3

Remember, when the Lord first warns of this casting out (also seen in the parable of the talents), it is in Matthew 8 wherein it refers to "the sons of the kingdom." That is, it refers to those who are the heirs of the promised kingdom in Israel, not to unbelievers or the heathen. That kingdom is gained by deeds of the law, contingent upon faith. This brings the great truths of justification in Romans and James together as seen in the Acts Age ministries of the apostles...

Note what Paul says in Acts 13:

Therefore let it be known to you, brethren [Jews], that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.

From what could the law not declare you justified? It could declare anyone free from the penalty of death. "By the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified" (Gal 2:16). We receive the new nature (which is life from God) by faith alone (Gal 3:2; etc.). "The law is... holy and just and good" (Rom 7:12),  but faith is necessary beyond the law. But does this exclude the law? In terms of life, yes; in terms of the kingdom, no. Paul is adamant, repeatedly, that in regard to "the forgiveness of sins," the law is useless. It cannot declare one worthy of life. If you try to find forgiveness of sin, you will only find your sins in the law.

Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. -Romans 3:20

The context of the Romans passage is the forgiveness of sin. This is the path to life.

being justified [declared free of the penalty pf sin] freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. -Romans 3:24-28

We still have to deal with the words of James.

Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. -James 2:23

Let us first note James' exclusive audience: the twelve tribes (James 1:1). So, if a man is "justified by faith without the deeds of the law," where do justifying works come in found in James 2? Are they not excluded? Paul tells us, very clearly in Romans 11, that grace and works are mutually exclusive. They cannot both be requirements for being declared free of death (justified from the penalty of sin). So, the works to which James points are excluded from justification from penalty of death.

And what odd "works" they be if we look to them as God's requirement.  Sacrificing one's son and committing treason by lying! These "works" are the result of faith. Abraham and Rahab had long been declared "justified" from the penalty of death, but in their acts of faith they bring their faith to maturity and are declared worthy of the blessings to come.

We see these two noted in the great faith chapter, Hebrews 11. Abraham is said to have been "tested" (v.17) and Rahab is juxtaposed against those who died in Jericho because they did not believe. Because they had faith, they had life, because they had proved their faith by their works they received greater rewards.

By faith [Abraham] dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace... Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.

More on justification in my addendum in our look at the hymn "Saved by the Blood."

Remember We Are Looking At A Parable

We also should not miss that our passage is said to be a parable (Lk 18:9). Parables were spoken to the Pharisees and multitudes so that they might not understand (Matt 13). There are tremendous prophetic lessons here for Israel. She must come to the Lord in humility, acknowledge her sins, and ask for mercy.

In the Parable of the Two Sons in Matthew 21 we see the follow-up to this parable and the place of works. In Luke 18 the difference in justification is not works, but faith. In Matthew 21 the difference is not in profession, but evidence.
"A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father? They said to Him, “The first. Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him.
Here again is a tax collector as we had in Luke 18. In this case, he rebels, but then repents and does the will of his father. The self-righteous declares he will do the will of the father, but does not. This is the condition of Israel. They have rejected their Messiah, but they can still repent and enter the promised kingdom. This is message of the Book of Acts which is continuation of the Lord's ministry to Israel (Rom 15:8; Matt 15:24; etc.) seen in the gospels (especially in Matthew).

“Yet now, brethren [men of Israel], I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets [to Israel], that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, -Acts 3:18-20
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” -Matt 23:37-39

This calling has been set aside in the current age (Post Acts), but will one day soon be the condition for his return as Israel is placed again at the center of God's plan, channel, and focus.

  • There is justification from the penalty of death by faith alone (through grace)
  • There is justification for entering into rewards and promises by resulting works

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Examining My Own Song

Test All Things

In my last post I took a critical eye to the hymn "Saved by the Blood." We saw that nothing is above scrutiny. All things must be tested against scripture and sound doctrine. "Test all things; hold fast what is good" (1 Thess 5:21). In that spirit, I will now subject a song of mine to the same scrutiny.

The song below is just one example. I am sure there are errors, subtle and not-so-subtle, in other songs from the early years. Nothing is above scrutiny. Every teaching, every hymn, every song, every work must be measured by scripture, rightly divided. There are posts on this blog which, if I went back over every detail, I would correct or make more clear based on my continued study. In the end, your theology is your own. I will answer for how I handled scripture as will we all. God is a loving, patient God who understands we are but dust. But that is not an excuse to fail to study and rightly divide the Word of truth.

Come On Home

When I discovered and surrendered to the sufficiency of the sacrifice of Christ and faith alone in that sacrifice, his burial without decay, and his resurrection that we might have life, I was playing in a band. I had gone from a devout Roman Catholic (teaching Religious Education in my parish at the time) to being a newborn babe in Christ. This had an immediate effect on my songwriting.

In those early days I penned songs such as "Give Thanks Unto the Lord" and "Don't Worry Anymore" and "No Forgiveness" (based on Hebrews 9:22) among other Christian-themed works. These early works reflected my fresh, yet still growing faith. My faith was still maturing. This is natural process and God is patient with all his children. In the modern age, however, since we have the ability to freeze time via video or sound recording, our less than mature work can get locked in time.

One of the songs I wrote during that era was inspired by looking back at my Catholic students and friends who were still mired in darkness (filtered through Catholic imagery). (There is a subtext based on the creed of my college fraternity with whom I was exchanging letters at the time, but perhaps that story at another time.)

The original draft and recording was written  in a minor key as it was meant to be delivered with a sense of sadness. Later the chorus progression was changed slightly to give it a more hopeful balance. The song is called "Come On Home."

No Love, they give you no love;
No Light, they give you no light;
Sitting in the darkness as they speak their empty lines,
Their minds are cluttered with the thoughts of foolish wine. 
No Truth, they give you no truth;
No Life, they give you no life;
Thinking in their natural minds the thoughts of natural men,
Hoping they'll get saved, they're just not so sure when. 
Come on home, my son,
Come on home, my son,
The work has been done,
Come on home, my son. 
No faith, they give you no faith,
No grace, they give you no grace,
Created righteousness, they trust in flesh and bone,
In filthy rags they'll stand at the Great White Throne 
No hope, they give you no hope,
No peace, they give you no peace,
Slaves of ritual, they tell you what to see,
But the debt's been paid, and Jesus wants you free. 
Come on home, my son,
Come on home, my son,
The work has been done,
Come on home, my son. 
Come on home, we're waiting for you,
Leave the works of flesh behind you,
Fall upon your knees and cry out,
Come on home, my son,  we're waiting here,
We're waiting here.
(This outro was deleted for the final studio version)

OK. Shakespeare I am not. While my intent is good and heartfelt, I cannot deny that the song contains error. As straightforward as it may appear, there is subtle error. In the line, "In filthy rags they'll stand at the Great White Throne," I warn the listener that those who are trusting in their own righteousness to any degree will face judgment at the Great White Throne of Revelation 20:11-15. This is not "rightly dividing the Word of Truth."

This is not a study of the Great White Throne (GWT), but for our purposes here, suffice it to say I have wrongly presented the GWT as some sort of judgment of all unbelievers of all ages. I have taken it from its context and fallen for the false dichotomy of "saved/lost" and "heaven/hell" which we have covered previously.

As we have seen in other studies many times, only those who have professed faith in Christ alone have "life." Only those who have the Son have life. The others will not see life. That is, only those who have been reconciled to God by faith in the death, burial, and resurrection (since Christ finished his ministry on earth) have a hope of resurrection. Those who reject Him or have faith in the works of their hands, will not see life. They will not see resurrection.

In context of my song, it should reflect that those who do not "come on home" to Christ will not, as I wrote, appear at the GWT, rather they will not see resurrection or life at all.

I can say this, as bad as my error here may be, it is not nearly as bad as the errors regarding judgment in the 19th century hymn, “Judgment.” Being a hymn couldn’t rescue it from teaching terrible error.

In regard to the hope of this dispensation and the hopes of other dispensations and the place of the GWT, I leave you with this quick reference chart from Oscar M Baker (source: HERE)

THE HOPE OF ISRAEL was to be resurrected and possess the land promised to their fathers. They had the 10 Commandments, diverse laws and ordinances, and circumcision. There is nothing in the Old Testament about men going to heaven after death.
THE HOPE OF THE CHURCH OF GOD was to be caught up, either dead or alive, into the air to meet and come back with the Lord when He comes to set up His Kingdom on the earth. This church was made up of both Jew and Gentile with the Jew first. There were two faiths, and two gospels. The middle wall of partition was between. They were to observe water baptism and the Passover. They were still subject to the law, (except Gentiles as in article before).  
THE HOPE OF THE CHURCH WHICH IS THE BODY OF CHRIST is to have an earlier resurrection, to be caught up into the super-heavens and manifested with Him in Glory. This is His coronation where He is made King of Kings and Lord of Lords. This happens before either the hope of Israel or that of the church of God.
That leaves the nations which were before Abraham which are not included in the three groups above to appear at the Great White Throne. There are the four future resurrections.  In which will you appear? What is your hope?                                     
                                        Originally Published Oct. 1948

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Examining a Popular and Beloved Hymn - Saved By the Blood

The intent of this post is not to condemn the hymn "Saved By The Blood," but rather to simply examine it in light of scripture. It's not a horrible song, but it does perpetuate a biblical error. It feeds the lie that we have life by the sacrifice of Christ. It feeds the "saved/lost" interpretation of scripture which we have covered before.

To be sure, the work of Christ on the cross is fully sufficient to pay for all of our sins (past, present, and future), and it has. We dare not offer the works of our own hands as payment. However, we must find resurrection life by grace through faith in that sacrifice. That is, we must believe that without the Lord's resurrection, the forgiveness of sins (on its own) would not give us life.

Ironically, I took the words below from the site "Timeless Truths."

  1. Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
    Now ransomed from sin and a new work begun,
    Sing praise to the Father and praise to the Son,
    Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
    • Refrain:
      Glory, I’m saved! Glory, I’m saved!
      My sins are all pardoned, my guilt is all gone!
      Glory, I’m saved! Glory, I’m saved!
      I’m saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
  2. Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
    The angels rejoicing because it is done;
    A child of the Father, joint-heir with the Son,
    Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
  3. Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
    The Father He spake, and His will it was done;
    Great price of my pardon, His own precious Son;
    Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
  4. Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
    All hail to the Father, all hail to the Son,
    All hail to the Spirit, the great Three in One!
    Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!

First, let me take a line which is not in error. We can find some good truth in this hymn along with the error.
My sins are all pardoned, my guilt is all gone!
This is true, because it is true of all men. It is certainly a glorious truth and it is built on the fact that the Lord shed his blood for the sins of the whole world. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. We again look to 2 Cor 5. There we are given our charge, our ministry. We have a ministry of reconciliation as we call men to be reconciled to God, for he has already been reconciled to them in Christ. Their sins are already forgiven.

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. -vs 18-19

So, yes, my sins are all pardoned, my guilt is all gone! But is that truth the same as having life? No. To have life, men must believe. They must believe in the sacrifice and the resurrection. This is what we call men to do. We call them to be reconciled  to God.

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. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. -vs 20-21

We call men to be reconciled to God by believing on the Son of God and by believing they will have life (John 3:16; 3:36; 5:24; 8:12; 20:31; etc.). When men believe on the Son and profess faith (his death, burial, and resurrection), they are "saved" [they have life] by his resurrection.

But for us also, to whom [righteousness] shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. -Rom 4:24-25

The Lord was delivered to the cross and to his death because of our sins, but it is in his resurrection that we find our hope of resurrection life. "He who has the Son has life, he who has not the Son has not life" (John 5). Men have life through faith. We confess faith in his sacrifice and in his resurrection.

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. -Rom 10:9-11

We might be tempted to slough off these differences as semantic, but they are central to rightly dividing the Word of Truth and central to correctly applying the stewardship of the reconciliation which have been called to minister. Our message to the world is that God has already been reconciled to you through the Son's sacrifice, you must now be reconciled to him.

This truth cannot be understood if we persist in the "saved/lost" or "heaven/hell" error. All those in Adam will die. One must be found in Christ to be made alive again (resurrection). One is mortal unless he is clothed in immortality in resurrection. (1 Cor 15).

We covered those two erroneous dichotomies (drawn from mythology and false teachings), but in short: the problem men have is death which is the result of being born in sin and our own sinful acts and thoughts. Those who have life through Christ have life made possible because of his sacrifice, but it is secured through resurrection (his and ours). 

So, when we separate the "saved" from the "lost" it is not "those going to heaven by the blood" against "those who will be tortured." The blood of Christ paid for ALL sin, but one cannot enter blessing apart from faith. This has always been true in scripture. And the blessing to which will enter depends on the hope that is before him. Israel has no hope of "heaven." Their hope is the millennial kingdom and the New Jerusalem which comes down from heaven. Those in the Body for which Christ is the Head have a hope in the "far above the heavens where Christ dwells" (Eph).  

The blood of the crucified one is necessary for resurrection to be possible, but if you believe it does not pay for the sin of the whole world, you have accepted the lie of limited atonement and you have called John (and the Holy Spirit) a liar.

It is a beautiful hymn, but nothing is above scriptural scrutiny. It is one of the most popular hymns and still appears in hymnals across the English-speaking world. But neither popularity, solemnity, nor antiquity make something true. 

Lots of truth in this hymn (lots of wonderful praise), unfortunately, it is overshadowed by a doctrine which falls short and perpetuates an error.
The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world [Gk: kósmos]. -John 1:29
And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. -1 John 2:2
But men must believe and be reconciled to God to have life, but their sins are not imputed to them.
He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life... -John 3:36a


Addendum in regard to Justification:

A favorite passage among Christians is found in Romans chapter 5:

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. -Rom 5:8-10

 Verse 10 is a summation. We were enemies of God when Christ shed his blood on our behalf. It was while were still enemies that were reconciled to God. But that did not save us. It is through his resurrection that we are saved. No one is saved because of the Lord's ministry to Israel as he walked the earth. The "life" in verse 10 is resurrection life.

We see that clearly in the passage we quoted from Romans 4. He was raised for our justification.

We must be careful with the word "justification." It is to be understood according to its context. The Lord Jesus Christ is said have been "justified in the Spirit" in 1 Timothy. This refers back to the testimony of the Father who declared him his "beloved Son" in whom he was "well pleased" as the Holy Spirit descended at his baptism by John.

Paul speaks of justification by faith as James speaks of justification by works. The context in each is a declaration and recognition by God. Abraham believed and his faith was reckoned as righteousness by God (Rom 4:3; Gal 3:6). James draws from the same truth in Genesis in his argument for "justification by works." He also points us to Rahab hiding the spies in Jericho. Since Paul makes it clear in Romans 11 that the free gift of grace and our works are mutually exclusive, we must conclude that "justification" is not the same as the free gift. It is that by which God is able to declare something.

When we apply this to the passage in Romans 5, it becomes more clear.  We are DECLARED reconciled to God "by His Blood," but we are DELIVERED from the penalty of sin (death) "by His life (resurrection)."

In Romans 11, Paul also refers to the "remnant according to the election of grace." This, according to the context, is in regard to Israel in God's plan. They are an elect people, but the individual Jew can only be declared a member of the "elect" by faith, no matter his works. James wrote his epistle to "the twelve tribed scattered abroad," that is, to Jews.

When we put all of these truths together in their place, we can start to understand the Plan of God in the Acts (with application beyond). Israel was chosen by God as a nation. The individual Jew, however, could only be declared righteous by believing God (regardless of works). The evidence of that declaration, then, is found in the resulting works. Rahab is given to us to show there is also an application to the Gentile.

  • Abraham was chosen by God through no action of his own.
  • Abraham chose to believe God and in that alone he was declared righteous.
  • Abraham demonstrated that declaration in full in the sacrifice of Isaac.

Surely we would not argue that the decades of Abraham walking with God before that day on Mount Moriah with Isaac found him wtill under the wrath of God and without hope! No. He was decalred righteous the moment he believed, remained so even through his failings and sin and unbelief in the years that followed. That saving faith then reached full maturity in his obedience on Mount Moriah.

Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? [mature] And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. -James 2
It is folly to believe that Abraham did not have life or did not have a relationship with God for decades before his day with Isaac. When it comes to grace, works are excluded. All things in context.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Christ Above All

One of the dangers in Bible study is that in our desire to understand the scriptures (a noble and good thing), as we dig, we lose sight of him who makes it all possible. On this blog, we have studied how God has dealt with different people at different times according to different administrations. But there are truths central to all.

We have noted that while some things are limited to certain peoples or dispensations (such as Sabbaths and sacrifices) other truths know no bounds (God is love). In all administrations, the unifying truth and path to life is by faith. No matter the age, no matter the dispensation,  no matter the revelation, faith is the path into entering any blessing.

Central to faith is the Lord Jesus Christ. He declares himself in the Revelation as the "alpha and the omega" (the first and last letters of the classical Greek alphabet), "the first and the last," and "the beginning and the end." He is almighty God. He is one with the Father. He is a member of the triune God.
“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel,
And his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
‘I am the First and I am the Last;
Besides Me there is no God.
-Isaiah 44:6
We see that he is the "Aleph-Tav," the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet of Genesis 1:1. Genesis 1:1 contains an untranslatable word. The verse contains 7 words and 28 (4x7) letters.
בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֑ים אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ׃
Although Hebrew commentators dispute the Aleph-Tav reference to Christ and argue its use is simply a grammatical marker, we have further revelation to help us see the reality.
In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. This word was with God in the beginning. Everything came into being through [the Word], and not one single thing that has come into being came into being apart from [The Word]. -John 1:1-3 (Far Above All)
[The Son] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. -Col 1:15-17 (NKJV)
He is worthy of worship along side the Father and the Spirit of God. In the true "Lord's Prayer" of John 17, the Lord Jesus Christ prays this:
I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
The Lord Jesus Christ is our Great God and Savior for whom we look.
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 2:13-14
There is so much more to be said of our Savior. He gave his life so we might have life through his name by faith. If you don't know our Great God and Savior, the Book of John is sent to you.
Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. -John 20:30-31
You can read it or listen to it HERE: Gospel of John 

For those of us who have placed our faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (especially we Gentiles in the current dispensation), let us pause regularly to reflect upon his glory and the hope of our resurrection life hidden in Him. Let is walk worthy of our calling.
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. -Col 1
The "things of the earth" consist of both activities outwardly sinful and inwardly sinful as the Lord deems them (even if men do not). That is, we must not only seek to live "clean" lives, we must live according to our calling, and that calling concerns a future life "far above the heavens."  We must not get bogged down in "religion." We must not look to Israel's earthly promises and partake in her earthly ordinances. These are all holy and good in their place, but our calling is not of this world.

So, first, we must find our life in Christ alone. He is our first and our last! We must pass from death to life (John 3:16; 5:24-28), then we must walk according to calling to which we have been called (Eph 4:1). The free gift of life can never be taken away, but we must build upon it to his glory.

Hopefully, you will find information regarding both the free gift and the worthy walk throughout this blog. In all, may his name be ever glorified and shine through. He is the foundation and the core of the Christian life. Without him, we can do nothing.

Lift him up, higher and higher!
He must increase, but I must decrease. -John 3:30

Friday, November 8, 2019

The Name of God and the Hebrew Roots and Messianic Movements

Let me be sure to say, as I usually do, that questioning a particular teaching does not mean I necessarily condemn everything someone may teach. In this case, Alan Horvath may have some profitable material. I used to follow his YouTube page (although I didn't really watch many of his videos) because he was recommended to me. I've linked his videos in his name above so you are free to judge for yourself.

That said, he falls for the "Yeheshua" error which we have looked at in previous studies. Those posts are linked below. The second is also about Alan Horvath, but I wanted to revisit the topic as this trend, along with the dangerous Hebrew Roots and Messianic movements, is gaining traction within Christendom. I'll take a slightly different tack this time.

The use of "God" and the Dangers of Earthly Practices

Gentiles were strangers to the promises and covenants and we were never under the Law. It is only in this dispensation of the Mystery,wholly independent of Israel, that we have our own blessings and hopes.
Remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands, that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. -Eph 1:11-13

Our epistles are all in Greek. As we have seen, Paul uses the Greek "Theos" to refer both to pagan false gods and to the one, true God. We also noted that the same pronouns are used in scripture to refer to both the true God and to Satan. But God understands, as we do, how pronouns are used. Horvath and other fear-mongers want to scare you into thinking you are actually worshiping Satan if you don't use the "right" words (and Hebrew words at that).

Using Jewish titles doesn't mean God hears you. Don't be enslaved to fear by Horvath's unbiblical teaching. In Matthew 15:22, a gentile woman calls out to Jesus, "Lord, Son of David" (κυριε υιε δαυιδ). She is ignored despit using a true and accurate title of the Lord Jesus. In Matthew 20:31-32, when two Jews cry out "Son of David!" our Lord responds. We need to understand the difference.

Further, the crowds that called for him to be crucified worshiped Him as "Son of David" as He entered Jerusalem. One day worshiping him as the rightful heir of the throne only to reject him and hand him over to be killed shortly after.

We must look at the the heart and the intent of the user. In the case of the gentile woman, to her He is not the "Son of David." That was a title to be used by Jews, not gentiles. But when she drops it and only uses "Lord," she is heard. He is Lord of all. The Lord knows the heart. 

You can use the "right" name all you want, but it (a) won't make a difference if you have not been reconciled to God by faith or (b) you use a title, although Biblical, which does not pertain to you. In 2 Cor 4:4, Satan is referred to as a "theos" (god) just as the true God is referred to as "theos," including the great verse on the full deity of Christ as Creator (John 1:1). Do we thus conclude Jesus is Satan? Nonsense.

The Church Which Is His Body Is Not Israel

Israel has her own promises and hope, and these will surely come to pass in ages to come. However, their hope differs from the hope of the present calling.

This slavery to the use of Hebrew terms is not only unbiblical (you can find none of these in even the Jewish epistles), it also moves free believers into slavery to Jewish practices. These practices are holy and good in their place. They were given to Israel for a purpose, yet that burden was never placed on Gentiles. Even under the dual gospels in the Acts age, Gentiles were excused from the weightier matters of the Law (Acts 15).

In the current dispensation, earthly ordinances and practices are not only wrong, they are condemned. When scripture  warns us against minding "the things of the world," included in that warning are ordinances related to the earthly kingdom.

We have no ordinances in this dispensation. What we call "the Lord's Supper" is the Jewish Passover. Water Baptism (cleansing) has no place in this age. This is not just a question of liberty, but of obedience and hope.

If we believe we are pleasing God by participating in earthly ordinances, we risk missing our hope and calling in the "far above the heavens." Israel will have a new temple one day (Ezek), but we look for a future where the heavenly Holy of Holies is, with Christ, far above all heavens.

Enemies of the Cross of Christ Who Mind Earthly Things

The "enemies of the cross of Christ" who "mind earthly things" are Christians. They do not understand our citizenship is not earthly. The "cross of Christ" speaks of suffering for his name here and "earthly things" pertains to ordinances and practices connected to the earthly promises to Israel. These are not "enemies of Christ," but they are enemies of the truths of this dispensation. Thes are like those who abandoned Paul (2 Tim). They are Christians, but of the world because they do not understand, or they reject, the dispensation of the Mystery revealed through Paul.

We need fresh eyes to read the following passages. The context is fellow believers, yet these are almost exclusively presented as attacks from outside the family of faith. When you have your eyes enlightened to this truth, you will start to see how Christendom has many believers enslaved to earthly practices and dangerously close to losing all rewards.
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 set their mind on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ... -Phil 3:18-20
For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me, among whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. The Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain... -2 Tim 1:12-16
In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the [i]handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. 16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. 18 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, 19 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. 20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— 21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 22 which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh. -Col 2

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Looking at How the Lord Healed Via Right Division

There came a man, whose name [is] Jairus, and he was a chief of the synagogue, and having fallen at the feet of Jesus, was calling on him to come to his house; because he had an only daughter about twelve years [old], and she was dying... And having come to the house, [Jesus] suffered no one to go in, except Peter, and James, and John, and the father of the child, and the mother; and they were all weeping, and beating themselves for her, and he said, `Weep not, she did not die, but doth sleep; and they were deriding him, knowing that she did die; and he having put all forth without, and having taken hold of her hand, called, saying, `Child, arise;' and her spirit came back, and she arose presently, and he directed that there be given to her to eat. -Luke 8 (YLT)
A Canaanite [Gentile] woman from that region came out and cried, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. -Matthew 15 (RSV)

We have  looked at the case of the Gentile woman's daughter in other studies. We noted that when she addresses the Lord as "Son of David," he ignores her. We contrasted this with the stories of the blind men who called on him as "Son of David." He answered these and healed them. In both instances we are told he "touched" them. In the case of the Gentile woman's daughter, the Lord heals her without ever seeing her, and only after the Gentile takes her place beneath Israel and acknowledges him as "Lord" (for "Son of David" was a title meant only for the lost sheep of the House of Israel).

Today we look at a similar healing from a slightly different angle. In Luke 8 we see Jairus' daughter dying (note there is no rejoicing that she is "Abraham's Bosom" in bliss, etc.). Jairus was a chief in the synagogue. He was Jewish, a son of  the Kingdom, a son of Abraham. In this case we see the Lord touch his daughter and call her "Child." She is raised from the dead.

Now let's look at a Gentile leader who makes and appeal to the Lord.
As he entered Caper′na-um, a centurion came forward to him, beseeching him and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion answered him, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard him, he marveled, and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.” And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; be it done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment. -MT 8

We see, again, a Gentile being healed from a distance. The Lord never touches him. We also note a warning to "the sons of the Kingdom." This is warning to Israel. If they lack faith, they stand to lose their place in the promised land and kingdom in a coming age. Clearly this is look to the future as Abraham, Issac, and Jacob have been raised.

In the very same chapter (Matthew 8), before and after this healing of the Gentile, we have healings of Israelites. The leper is healed as is Peter's mother-in-law. In both cases, it is noted that Jesus "touched" them.

Paul directs us to "compare the things that differ" (Phil 1:10) in scripture. This is one the most essential things we must do if we want to truly understand and interpret scripture. We see in the Lord's earthly ministry (which extends in parts into the Acts age), a dispensational truth in regard to Israel and Gentiles.

Since Adam, all who have the promise of life in the ages to come receive that gift by grace through faith. But, clearly, how the Lord administers his plan and to what we must believe changes. There are "things that differ" among all the dispensations.

let's look at another healing.
Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.” The Lord then answered him and said, “Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” -Luke 13
 Again, we see the Lord laying hands on a "daughter of Abraham."

This is all part of "rightly dividing the Word of Truth" (2 Tim 2:15). We must not read the gospel accounts of the Lord's ministry, the Book of Acts, or the Acts Age epistles into the current (Post-Acts) dispensation).

When we read about the Lord's earthly ministry (words and deed) we must understand why he came, and to whom he was sent. Surely, part of his ministry was to "take away the sin of the world" (John 1:29), but his coming was a King to his people to confirm the promises made to Israel alone. We've seen in other studies how "the gospel of the Kingdom" is not for us today and is limited to Israel. Similarly, the gospel we preach today is separate from the promises to Israel.
Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision [Israel] for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers. -Rom 15:8
 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” -Matt 15:24
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. And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick... -Matt 10:5-7
We want to be careful here and add that in all ages and dispensations, the Lord Jesus is to be exalted. He is the Creator God. He is the promised seed. He is the sum and substance of all hopes of all men of all time. But that does not change the Plan of God in regard to the ages. We need to learn to rejoice in the promises of this dispensation. We have a gospel which was hidden from "before  the foundation of the world" and only revealed to Paul after the Acts age.

Israel has her hope and promise, and we have ours.

Paul prays that we will be enlightened unto this glorious gospel. Israel looks forward to her millennium. But even that blessed age, on earth, will have rebellion and turmoil. Our blessings are in the far above the heavens, in the holy of holies where Christ sits at the right hand of God!

May we continued to be enlightened unto this truth. What riches we have!
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. -Eph 1:15-23

Monday, November 4, 2019

A Fresh Look at the Two Roads

As we look at different scriptures in regard to the Christian walk and related topics such as rewards, crowns, the prize, maturity, and waste, I want to be sure that we understand in all of these things, resurrection life is a free gift.

The one thing we can all grasp and agree upon, from the atheist to the polytheist, is that we all die. One of the central themes of scripture is death. It is part of the curse. It is the last enemy. It is that which will one day be destroyed. It is what Christ came ti suffer on our account.
"All in Adam will die, but all in Christ will be made alive." 
It is in light of the free gift of Life and its certainty that we look at scriptures regarding our walk.

So, as we approach the metaphor of the two gates, we do not lose sight of this truth. Those on the two roads are believers. They all have the free gift of life. They all have a new, divine nature given freely by God by grace through faith.

Before we get to out passage in Matthew 7, we must pass through a number of instructions and warnings from Christ Jesus to his brethren in Israel.
  • Judge not, that you be not judged.
  • For with what judgment you judge, you will be
  • Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?
  • Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine
  • Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find
  • knock, and it will be opened to you.
  • Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophet
The Lord is clearly speaking to believers. We have acknowledged these are part of his ministry to Israel (Matt 15:25; Rom 15:8; etc.), but all scripture is profitable and we take principles from here. The believer deals with his "brother" and he deals with "dogs." But in either case, the hearers are assumed to be believers. This leads us into our passage.
Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. -Matt 7:13-14
The Lord is telling his Jewish followers  to enter by the difficult and narrow way. Now, is the Lord's burden heavy? Must we work hard to obtain the free gift? No. We are clearly told in Romans 11 that works and grace are mutually exclusive ideas in regard to the free gift. However, entering into certain blessings requires we bear "the cross of Christ."

We have looked previously as how the scriptures instruct the believer in the epistles. We are either moving towards perfection (maturity, completion of the race we are running) or perdition (loss and waste).

For the Israelite, this has to do with a place in the Kingdom. In Matthew we will see the Lord commend the faith of a gentile and warn the Israelites.
And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” -Matt 8:11-12
Are unbelievers the heirs of the kingdom? No, the earthly kingdom is promised to Israel. But some will miss out on its blessings. They will weep, not because God is torturing them (as is often taught from this passage), but because they dis not enter into their blessings by faith.

This is where James' epistle to the "twelve tribes" (James 1:1) gives us some light. The faith here, and in James, produces good fruit. It produces action. Faith is necessary to enter into blessing, but it must be faith that takes action.

Another good illustration is found in the twelve spies who spied out the promised land. While twelve entered (all redeemed out of Egypt and identified with Moses in the Red Sea) only two believed God. Therefore, only these two entered the land of blessing (Numbers 14:29-30).

In Ezekiel 20, the Lord is chastising Israel through the prophet. He reminds them of what he has done for the nation and gives them a grave warning about entrance into the promised land.
I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; I will purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the country where they dwell, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord. -Ezek 20:37-28
Let us return to Matthew 7. As we continue the Lord's discourse we see additional warnings.
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
 While it is true that men, in general, are known by their fruits, here we see the warning in regard to testing prophets. This is, again, clearly for Israel. This is the Lord warning believing Israel test prophets and not to listen to all of them. It is assumed his listeners are sheep and the false prophets only appear so. The point being that sheep can be led astray, or led down the broad road, by false prophets.
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
This passage, I believe, continues to warn Israel about false prophets. These will not enter the kingdom, so don't follow them! No matter what miracles they seem to do, no matter what swelling words come forth from their mouths, beware! They will lead you down the broad road which leads to waste.

"Destruction" can be applied  to either a being or a being's works and rewards. Whereas the lost will themselves he destroyed, so shall the works of the flesh of the believer at the Judgment Seat (though he himself shall have life).

There will be Jews who miss out on the millennial kingdom. These warnings are not directed at believers of this age, but there are principles pointing us to the character of God. In this age, some may miss out on many other blessings through lack of faith or by leading wicked lives. These warnings are found in Paul's seven final epistles (especially in Ephesians, Colossians, and Philippians).

The biggest blessing a believer of this age can miss is failing to enter the blessings in the heavenlies by rejecting Paul's gospel of this hour. Paul revealed a "Mystery" (hidden from before the foundation of the world) gospel of blessings in heavenly places. Many have rejected Paul. They still have the free gift of life, but by chasing the rudiments of the world and robbing from others (primarily Israel), they cannot enter into full blessings. Others walk in the flesh and forfeit rewards, crowns, and the prize of high calling.

It is absolutely essential that you believe in His name, confess his death, burial (lack of decay in the grave) and his glorious resurrection as the full payment for your sins and your full justification in his resurrection. God has already been reconciled to you in Christ, you need only be reconciled to him by faith. But after faith, seek to walk in to new nature you receive.
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. -John 5:24
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, -Eph 4:1