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Introduction to Personal Bible Study - Videos (2007)

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

Monday, October 18, 2021

The Clarity on the Role of Good Works in Titus 3

I was recently chided for my continued exalting of the "finished work" of the Savior on a believer's forum. As I have noted on this blog (and more pointedly on my podcast), there is a nefarious devotion to the law in these last days. Not a call for holy living necessarily, but a call to some self-deluded belief that:

a. We can actually obey the law to perfection (its requirement)
b. That the law was given to us at all
c. That the law is necessary to maintain the free gift of resurrection life

 

We have covered this topic in a number of ways previously, but suffice it to say that the Law was never given to Gentiles and certainly never given as a requirement for resurrection (immortal) life. At best, it served as a schoolmaster to Israel to reveal her wickedness and failure. It also contained pictures of the coming sacrifice of her Messiah. Surely we can learn from the Law, we are not to be subject to it nor are we to delude ourselves into thinking compliance pleases God to the point we have claim over his mercy and grace as a debt to our supposed obedience. 

There are many passages in Paul's epistles which address the role of the Law in the life of Israel. We can find an Acts Age perspective and also a Post Acts perspective. Today, we want to look at Paul's balancing of faith, grace, and the role of works in the life of a believer in this age as found in Titus chapter 3.

For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.


The structure of this passage starts with the reminder that all of us, no matter how religious or wicked in the eyes of the world (or in our own eyes), we must recognize that all are condemned under sin. This is true for those under the law and those outside the law. Romans 2:12, 23; etc.

We also know that the Law plays no part in the work of grace, nor can it. Similarly, works of any kind are excluded from the work of grace. Romans 11:6; etc. It is in law where we see the power of sin. We also note the blasphemy of trying to add the works of my hands to the death, burial (lack of decay), and glorious resurrection of the Savior. His sacrifice was presented to the Father and accepted. His work alone.

It is shocking that we have o continue to reiterate this glorious truth among professed believers.

 

But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.


God's love displayed towards us (particularly towards us Gentiles) is found in his mercy, his wonderful, kind, and loving mercy. We dare not sully his mercy with the notion that we can "maintain" grace, mercy, love, or righteousness by the works of our hands. Again, shocking that we have to revisit this topic again and again and again with professed believers.

From the Reformed to the Ultradispensationalist, we all rest on the Finished Work of the Savior. It is on that sure foundation that we find grounds for fellowship. Without that common foundation of Christ Alone (upon which we build a structure by our service), there can be no fellowship. Together we cry "Christ alone!" to a lost and dying world deceived by its ideas of righteousness. 

This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.


Here enters the admonition to "maintain good works." Note in this age, this is not the Law. We also note that this admonition is given in light of "his mercy" which "saved us." Grace is the act of God granting us immortal, resurrection life through faith in his name (John 20:30-31). Mercy is the act of God ignoring our misguided attempts to put him in our debt via the works of our own hands.

And that confusion and blasphemy has crept into the lives of believers who fail to rightly divide the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15). The Law has its place. But the law could never save nor could it ever maintain salvation. We used to see this delusion outside the walls of faith, poisoning man's world of "religion." Today, we see it inside the walls of faith, diluting and destroying the finished work of the Savior in the minds of millions of professed believers. 

I believe there are three basic classes of disciples of this old heresy in a new home:

  1. Those who have never truly rested in grace and are still deluded
  2. Those who are in bondage to fear that they could lose (or never had) the free gift of life
  3. Those who are puffed up and deluded into thinking God is pleased (and ultimately in their debt) because of some fantasy that they can keep the Law

In all three classes, it seems the delusion is strong. 

 

But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.


This admonition from Paul needs little commentary. Note how the law-keeper is "self-condemned."  What have genealogies have to do with anyone in the one new man? Nothing. As our blessings are from "before the foundation of the ages," no law or genealogy has any bearing on our position in Christ. 

We finally turn to the greatest (blameless) law-keeper of them all:


Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. 4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith... 

-Philippians 3:2-9


Paul states clearly that he places no faith in his genealogy or in the law. He trades it all for the knowledge of Christ. This passage goes on to speak of Paul seeking to "attain unto the out-from-the-rest-of-the-dead" resurrection. Yes, there are crowns, rewards, and a prize that can be won by faithful service. But these are the houses we build on the sure foundation. These works will be tested, but the work of the Savior has already been presented and accepted. 

We are careful to "maintain good works" BECAUSE we are saved by his mercy, not TO BE saved by his mercy. Shocking we have to continually defend the work of our Savior this way in these last days. Well, maybe not so shocking. As Paul warned in the final book of God's revelation (2 Timothy), many different sorts of heresies an rebellions would arise. Among these, delusion religionists with faith in their own works. 


This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

 

 A wretched picture indeed. 


Related:


I also recommend the series on Walking in the Spirit and the Series on Walking According to the Calling to which we have been called.


Friday, October 8, 2021

Daniel 12:4 To and Fro, Knowledge Will Increase

And thou, O Daniel, hide the things, and seal the book till the time of the end, many do go to and fro, and knowledge is multiplied.'
   -Daniel 12:4


There are generally two accepted understandings of this verse in the last chapter of Daniel's prophecy. 

  1. Mankind's general collection of knowledge, advanced by technology and research.
  2. Understanding of Prophecy and scripture in general by Believers

I want to be clear and state that I am not discounting either. Both are reasonable interpretations and should be considered. But here I would like to propose a third possibility wherein "knowledge" is given in the negative.

For starters, we'll consider he context of the chapter:

At the time of the end...
-Dan 11:40

At that time...
-Dan 12:1

This is the time of Jacob's Trouble (Jer 30:7, Israel) and we have a summation in Dan 12:1b-2a.

And there shall be a time of trouble,
Such as never was since there was a nation,
Even to that time.
And at that time your people shall be delivered,
Every one who is found written in the book.
And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake...

Here is how this section in introduced in Dan 12:1a

And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people...

Michael stands for the people of Israel (Daniel's people). He wars with Israel’s enemies. Israel shall face great lies and deceptions in the tribulation. Individual Jews will have o make choices. The resurrection ("shall awake") spoken of in the passage is similar to the dry bones coming together and the reunion of Judah and Israel seen in Ezekiel 37. I believe all these things are centered on "the land." At the end of this prophecy, Daniel is told to seal up the book (which, I believe, is the book which can only be opened by the Son of God as we see in the Revelation, chapter 5).  

run to and fro” is derived from the Hebrew word "shut." I'm not pretending to be a Hebrew scholar, but that could be rendered "sut" depending on how we read the markings in the Masoretic text. "Shut" means "to rove about quickly." It is used by Amos in Amos 8:12. The idea there is that men shall frantically seek revelation and not find it. That definition could still work in Dan 12.

"Shat" is also used by Ezekiel 3x (Ezekiel 16:57 ; Ezekiel 28:24 , Ezekiel 28:26 ) and it means "to despise".

they will dwell securely, when I execute judgments on all those around them who despise them...

The NAS Exhaustive Concordance states:

Word Origin [shat]:
the same as shut


If the word is "sut," we get a clearer understanding of the meaning. It would mean, directly, to revolt or apostatize. e.g. Hos 5:2, (Strong's: a departure from that which is right).


Swete’s edition of the LXX [Septuagint] reads here: heos an apomanosin, which means: “till many shall have gone raving mad.”



In regard to "knowledge" (Hebrew: da‛ath), I would point to a couple of things.
The Tree of the Knowledge [da‛ath] of Good and Evil. It is my contention (again in pencil) that familiarity with good and evil is not in itself bad, however, for those not equipped it is terrible. It leads to corruption. In the context of those in Israel revolting and going mad, aimlessly looking for God's justification of their deeds via their apostate religious activities, they dwell in the knowledge of good and evil and become even more corrupt. 
 
One version of The Septuagint reads "adikias," or "wickedness." It is also suggested by Dr. Ginsburg (Introduction to the Massoretico-Critical Edition of the Hebrew Bible), that the word that should be used is "hara’oth," meaning "wickedness." Full disclosure, I did not find that in Ginsburg's work (I'm not that smart), I found it in a commentary on Daniel. Regardless, the reference to Ginsburg is accurate.

 

So, putting that all together, we can get:

 Many shall apostatize, and wickedness shall be increased.

(As rendered by The Berean Expositor) 

If we look at the flow of the chapter, it could be seen this way:

v4  Shut up the words, and seal the book
a.  Many shall apostatize
b.  Wickedness shall be increased
c.  v5-7. three and half years
d.  v8 What shall be the end?

v9  The words are closed and sealed.
a.  Many shall be purified.
b.  The wicked shall do wickedly.
c.  v11-12 Two periods beyond the three and half years
d.  v13 "you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days"


I would conclude that while we may see the start of this period, it is primarily a prophecy to Israel as she enters her last days of the expectation of the Kingdom (Acts 1:3-7, etc.). The unveiling of the specifics are seen the Revelation (future).

Saturday, September 25, 2021

The Legacy of John Nelson Darby

 There are very few people in modern theological circles as maligned or denigrated as John Nelson Darby. A descendant of revered British Admiral Horatio Nelson (hero of the Napoleonic Wars), Darby was raised and was ordained in the Church of Ireland (essentially the Anglican Church in Ireland). When he discovered the wonders and joys of the biblical charge to rightly divide the Word of Truth for himself, he left his ordination behind and took to an in-depth and literal study of scripture. His legacy is what are called Plymouth Brethren assemblies throughout the world, a literal interpretation of scripture, and the truths of dispensationalism. 

Full disclosure, despite not being a Darbyite, I named my youngest daughter "London Darby" in honor of his literalism. I disagree on his understanding of the Rapture, the Lord's Supper, Water baptism, etc., but I admire his leaving his position in the Anglican Church to pursue a literal understanding of the Bible. As with Luther, we can (and should) admire the light he brought to scripture for the times in which he lived. I am not the judge of another man's servant. Darby will stand on his own before his Lord. Being of one mind with him on the finished work of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I can call him a brother while respectfully departing from him on certain points.

The one doctrine mostly associated with his name (namely the Rapture or "catching away" of believers before the start of the Tribulation) is where we find much of the slander against the man. Videos, web pages, booklets, etc. are filled with vitriol against the man. I do not hold to his interpretation of the relevant passages in 1 Thessalonians 4 and in 1 Corinthians 15, yet I do not find his attempt at a literal interpretation to be abhorrent. [Note: I interpret these passages literally as well, just through a different understanding of the ages and hopes and timing.]

Unfortunately, far too many of the attacks on his doctrine are not based on a purely scriptural argument, but upon a bit of urban legend in regard to the supposed influence of one Margaret MacDonald and her supposed "visions."

On its face it is a ridiculous charge as Darby was a cessationist. His general view would be that supposed visions are demonic or false. McDonald's "vision" was a partial-rapture. He hardly would have adopted her visions as truth. There is much evidence that Darby's understanding of 1 Thess 4:17 was formed before anyone had heard of Margaret MacDonald. 

JND was part of the movement to rescue scripture from the allegorical interpretations common in Augustinian and Catholic-influenced theology. It was his literalism that led him to see 1 Thess 4 as a literal "catching away" before a literal Tribulation in literal Israel. That's all.


"Origen was the first to lay down, in connection with the allegorical method of the Jewish Platonist, Philo, a formal theory of interpretation, which he carried out in a long series of exegetical works remarkable for industry and ingenuity, but meager in solid results. he considered the Bible a living organism, consisting of 3 elements that answer to the body, soul and spirit of man, after the Platonic psychology. Accordingly, he attributes to the Scriptures a threefold sense: ( 1 ) a somatic [body], literal, or historic sense, furnished immediately by the meaning of the words, but only serving as a veil for a higher idea: ( 2 ) a psyche [soul] or moral sense, animating the first and servingfor general edification; ( 3 ) a pneumatic [spirit] or mystic and ideal sense, for those who stand on the high ground of philosophical knowledge. In the application of this theory, he shows the same tendency as Plato, to spiritualize away the letter of Scripture... and instead of simply bringing out the sense of the Bible, he puts into it all sorts of foreign ideas and irrlevant fancies" 
(Staff, Philip, Anti-Nicene Christianity: Ad 100-325, Vol. 2 of A History of the Christian Church, Cedar Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1958)

h/t Sojourner414 at RaptureForums.com

  

Even though I come to certain different conclusions in my interpretation of the epistles than does JN Darby, I admire the man for his conviction to interpret scripture literally. To that end, I have great respect for my Plymouth Brethren brothers and sisters. And I'll have to say that the PB have been excellent on typology in the Old Testament.

For my views on the "Rapture" passage, I refer you to the following for consideration. As I'll say again, I wouldn't mind being wrong on this one!

 

[JND was] a saint more true to Christ’s name and word I never knew or heard of...
A great man naturally, and as diligent a student as if he were not highly original, he was a really good man, which is much better. So, for good reason, I believed before I saw him; so taking all in all I found him, in peace and in war; and so, in the face of passing circumstances, I am assured he was to the end. Do I go too far if I add, may we be his imitators, even as he also was of Christ?

Excerpt: John Nelson Darby As I Knew Him by William Kelly

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

The Twelve Wells of Water and Seventy Palm Trees

Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees; so they camped there by the waters.

-Exodus 15:27 


While we need to be careful when we handle pictures, types, numbers, or metaphorical language in scripture. I am a literalist, but we can surely handle figures of speech and metaphors when we encounter them. In the case of our verse above, we will try to draw from it truths that are verified elsewhere in scripture.

A number of commentators see this picture (created from a literal event) as a picture of Israel's calling in the earth. That is, Israel has been chosen by God to serve as priests for the nations. 


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

-Exodus 19:3-6


We've looked at this conditional promise and calling (If you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant) before in different ways. Here we want to note that this could never be the Body of  this age or any group wanting to usurp this promise from that people. This passage speaks of a future ministry, on the earth, for a specific people to serve other nations. If the believers today are somehow "Israel," who are these other nations and how are we priests for unbelievers?

Yes, Israel failed under this covenant, which is why the Lord has made provision for a New Covenant yet future. In that coming day, after the nation and kingdom is restored in the land, Israel shall serve as priests for the nation. To do so, she must be cleansed of her sin. That will have two prongs. The first prong involves the purging of Israel of her unbelief and her unbelievers in the Time of Jacob's Trouble and the instilling of the "heart of flesh" prophesied by Ezekiel. 


Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

-Ezekiel 36:25-27


We can never read "the church" or "the Body" into Israel. We cannot teach that God "replaced" Israel with a "new Israel" we call "the Body of Christ." To do so is to do violence to scripture. Doubtless you have hear these verses in Ezekiel quoted from the pulpit as some sort of Old Testament picture of the current age. But the context does not allow this interpretation.


Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own way and by their doings: their way was before me as the uncleanness of a removed woman. Wherefore I poured my fury upon them for the blood that they had shed upon the land, and for their idols wherewith they had polluted it: and I scattered them among the heathen, and they were dispersed through the countries: according to their way and according to their doings I judged them. And when they entered unto the heathen, whither they went, they profaned my holy name, when they said to them, These are the people of the Lord, and are gone forth out of his land. But I had pity for mine holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, whither they went. Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went. And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.


Try replacing "Israel" in this passage from Ezekiel 36 with "the Body of Christ."  It makes no sense, particularly in light of how many want to use verses 25-27. God is angered with the Body of Christ and has punished us among the nations? And even if we want to cram ourselves in there, we necessarily render the supposed "gospel message" of a heart of flesh meaningless. Believers have a new heart of flesh, then punished by God by scattering us, only to give us a second "new" heart?

There is very large movement is these last days to try and claim the promises to Israel for "the church." This is dangerous and foolish in two ways:

1. By failing to rightly divide the different hopes and blessings in scripture, we fail to serve God in a way that is pleasing to him.

2. We will miss the unsearchable riches in Christ in the heavenly places if we are hoping for blessings related to the land and the earth. 


So, with the goal of rightly dividing the plans of God in mind, we can look at the picture of the twelve wells of water and the seventy palm trees with more clarity. The true, believing twelve tribes of the physical sons of Abraham and Jacob (Israel) will one day bless the 70 nations of the earth and serve as priests (representatives between God and man).

After the flood, God recognized 70 nations from among the descendants of Noah. To these he assigned angels, keeping Israel for himself.  

These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.

-Genesis 10:32

 

Here we have the beginning of the nations. God knows them and keeps track of the nations of the earth. The order of the sons of Noah is here changed. Japheth comes first. Ham’s place is unchanged. Shem comes last. This order is given in view of Noah’s prophecy. 
[Excerpt: A.C Gabelein's Annotated Bible]

For the LORD hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure

-Psalm 135:4

For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.

-Deuteronomy 14:2

When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations,
When He separated the sons of Adam,
He set the boundaries of the peoples
According to the number of the children of Israel [sons of God - LXX].
For the Lord’s portion is His people;
Jacob is the place of His inheritance.


-Deuteronomy 32:8-9

 

This verse [Deut 3:8] carries us backward. The boundaries of the nations were made by God with a direct reference to the children of Israel. The name of God used here, “the Most High,” is the millennial title, which He will have when His blessed Son our Lord receives His Kingdom. (See Genesis 14:19 .) When that time of blessing comes and Israel converted is no longer the tail but the head of the nations, this divine division will then be fully made known. And how they are reminded again what Jehovah did for them! “He found him, He led him, instructed and kept him.”
[Excerpt: A.C Gabelein's Annotated Bible]


We are hard-pressed to try and jam "the church" into these promises and prophecies. We make the Word of God of no effect by our traditions (Mark 7:13). Let God lay out his plan as he will. God's plan "since the foundation of the ages" is built on his plans for his earthly treasure, Israel. His plans for us in the current age, which was hidden from "before the foundation of the ages" point us to unsearchable riches in the heavenly places where Christ sits at the right hand of the Father. Let us not confuse these.

The 12 tribes watering the 70 nations involves God's plan for the earth. While this does not apply to us in this age, we can marvel at God's goodness and his faithfulness to his promises. Israel is currently "Lo-Ammi" (not my people), but very soon Israel will again be "Ammi" (my people). We dare not step on that plan lest we offend the Lord and miss our own calling.


Wednesday, September 1, 2021

A Response to Dr. Heiser's Critique of the Gap Theory

We've discussed the Gap Theory previously (and its importance to proper interpretation of a number of truths), but I'd like to post a quick response to this Michael Heiser clip wherein he rejects it. 


 Here are links to previous, related blog entries:


In regard to the content and premise put forth by Dr. Heiser, I'd just say that not all Gap Theory adherents teach that the fossils were formed during the Gap. I personally believe the fossils were formed during Noah's flood (but I don't think it's terribly important). In any case, Dr. Heiser doesn't seem terribly familiar with the full biblical argument (and he gets the scripture reference wrong). If he is familiar with the full argument, he doesn't do it justice.

He bases the bulk of his argument on the word translated "was" in Genesis 1:2. As we will see, I believe "was" is not a proper translation of the Hebrew (nor can it be). But even with the word "was," we have the whole witness of scripture which witnesses to a Gap and great destruction between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. The Plan of God and the implications for the ages is seen in a proper understanding of Genesis 1.

And the earth was [became, Hebrew: hâyâh] without form [tôhû], and void [bôhû]; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

The word translated "was" in Gen 1:2 is "hâyâh" which clearly means to "become"

Brown-Driver-Briggs' 
to be, become, come to pass, exist, happen, fall out
1a1a) to happen, fall out, occur, take place, come about, come to pass
1a1b) to come about, come to pass
1a2) to come into being, become
Strong's Concordance
A primitive root (compare H1933); to exist, that is, be or become, come to pass (always emphatic, and not a mere copula or auxiliary): - beacon, X altogether, be (-come, accomplished...)

Heiser references scripture, but fails to quote it. He refences the context, but does not give it. Be your own judge. He references Isaiah 34:11 for some reason, but the proper reference is Isaiah 45:18

"Thus saith Jehovah that created the heavens;
Elohim himself that formed the earth, and made it;
He hath established it,
He created it not [
tôhû]." [i.e. not empty]

He likes the NKJV, so here it is there:

For thus says the Lord,
Who created the heavens,
Who is God,
Who formed the earth and made it,
Who has established it,
Who did not create it [empty or a waste],
Who formed it to be inhabited:
I am the Lord, and there is no other.

Heiser also references Jer 4:23, but only points to the darkness and seeks to justify it. His argument is that God "hides in the darkness" Yet we need to read the entire passage.

I beheld the earth, and indeed it was without form, and void;
And the heavens, they had no light.
24 I beheld the mountains, and indeed they trembled,
And all the hills moved back and forth.
25 I beheld, and indeed there was no man,
And all the birds of the heavens had fled.
26 I beheld, and indeed the fruitful land was a wilderness,
And all its cities were broken down
At the presence of the Lord,
By His fierce anger.

The land became "without form and void" because of the Lord's "fierce anger." This is not simply God dwelling in dark secrecy, this is a display of God's destruction because of sin in his anger. Thus, we have verse 3 in Genesis 1 starting with "let there be light." The heavens "had no light" as a result of God's anger. These are parallel, biblical ideas.

Darkness is very much connected to judgment.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, darkness which may even be felt.” So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days.

-Exodus 10:21-22 


This truth has relevance to our redemption. Paul recalls this calling of light ("let there be light") out of "darkness" as a picture of own re-creation in the Lord. The Lord in Genesis 1 commanded light to shine out of darkness which parallels calling us out of "darkness" (judgment) into his glorious light. 

For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

-2 Cor 4:6

He has called Israel out of her darkness and judgment under the law into the light of his promises.


But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light...

-1 Peter 2:9

Satan (Lucifer) was in Eden before Adam. He was there in blessing and perfection. So, we must conclude that he either fell sometime before the creation of Gen 1:3 or sometime after Day 7. 

“How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
You who weakened the nations!
13 For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.’
15 Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
To the lowest depths of the Pit.

-Isaiah 14

 

You were the seal of perfection,
Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
13 You were in Eden, the garden of God;
Every precious stone was your covering:
The sardius, topaz, and diamond,
Beryl, onyx, and jasper,
Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold.
The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes
Was prepared for you on the day you were created.

14 “You were the anointed cherub who covers;
I established you;
You were on the holy mountain of God;
You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones.
15 You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created,
Till iniquity was found in you.
-Ezekiel 28


If this is Lucifer in the Garden with Adam after Day 6, then he was doing all these things in Eden in perfection. God was done creating Day 6, so Lucifer had to have already been created. Do we want to place Lucifer, in perfection, in Eden after Day 6? If that is so, when was his fall?

And [the Lord Jesus Christ] said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.

-Luke 10:18 



This could be prophetic (Rev 12:9) or it could be a reference to the casting out of Satan to earth after Genesis 1:1. I only include it for your consideration. All of the "very good" creation (including all in Eden) came out of the darkness of Genesis 1:2. If what was created in Genesis 1:1 includes the darkness, can we say it was "good?" This in not a conclusive argument, just part of the whole. When we interpret scripture, we must consider the implications of our concluisons.

Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.
-Genesis 1:31; 2:1-2

 

We then must look at Peter's testimony.


For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. -KJV


`Where is the promise of his presence? for since the fathers did fall asleep, all things so remain from the beginning of the creation;' -YLT


This cannot be Noah's flood since the context is all things continuing "from the beginning of the creation." So, we have "the heavens" which "were of old" and the "earth" "perished" [Thayer's, Strong's Mounce's: to destroy) in water. The flood of Noah was obviously after the creation. This "destruction" of the earth  was before the current creation, thus things NOW continue as they have from that beginning.

The first heavens and earth were not created void [empty] as we have seen (Is 45:18). The earth became without form and void, in darkness, in God's fierce anger when Lucifer was judged (Is 45:18; Jer 4:23), etc.

That first earth was destroyed 2 Peter 3:6

The following possibility is included for your consideration, it is speculation on my part... I'm not fully convinced of this, but... I believe we live in the second earth and second heavens and there will come a day when we have the "new heavens and the new earth" which will be the third heavens and the third earth (as such).

You don't have to hold to the Gap Truth, it's not necessary for either "Life through his name" (John 20:3-31) or for fellowship, but Heiser is a bit sloppy here, in my opinion. I think there is much truth to be understood when we recognize the Gap. And having time between verses in not unbiblical.


The Gap of Time in Isaiah


Dr. Heiser contends (or at least implies) there is no biblical basis for large gaps in verses. Let's see how the Lord Jesus Christ "rightly divided" a verse into two timeframes separated by thousands of years:

So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”


Do you see it? Isaiah was being fulfilled in their hearing with the Lord in his earthly ministry... but was all of Isaiah 61 being fulfilled? No. What is the other half of that final verse in Isaiah?

and the day of vengeance of our God

That coming day was not yet here when the Lord read Isaiah in the synagogue, so he stopped reading mid-verse. It is part of a future judgment and the restoration of Israel in the land. This verse is split by thousands of years. The passage continues and clearly speaks of future events.


And they shall build the old wastes,
they shall raise up the former desolations,
and they shall repair the waste cities,
the desolations of many generations.

5 And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks,
and the sons of the alien [foreigner] shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.
6 But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord:
men shall call you the Ministers of our God:
ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles,
and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.
[Etc...]


Thus, another GAP of 2000 years or so in seen in Isaiah 61, as taught by the Lord in Luke 4 (despite the Hebrew in Isaiah). There are other examples of gaps of time in statements in scripture. Dr. Heiser's presumptuous arguments do not stand up to scrutiny, in my humble opinion. 

And when we fail to see the Gap (and the related "overthrow" and "overflow" of the earth, we will not rightly divide or understand when the scriptures speak of "the foundation of the ages [world]." And if we fail to see the overthrow and overflow, we will not understand the current calling from "before the foundation of ages" against the callings "since the foundation of the ages.




Friday, August 27, 2021

Quick Thought on the Laying On of Hands

Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

-Hebrews 6:1-2

The laying on of hands was part of the early faith and is not essential to a mature faith. It is seen as both symbolic and the means of transference. If we maintain this practice today (which is not unreasonable), we must understand it merely in its symbolic aspect.

The laying on of hands in the Acts Age carried with it an apostolic transference in some instances and merely as a symbolic recognition of that which already existed. Note that nothing was conferred upon Stephen when he had hands laid upon him (and the other deacons).


And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.


Stephen was one of a number who already had the gifts and wisdom. He was charged with a duty, not with any gifts or empowerments (this was in the Acts Age in any case, but even here there is no transference) . Those chosen were already "full." They received no more "faith" and no further "gifts" of the spirit. They were neither "more saved" nor "more empowered." 


Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost [gifts] and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.


Paul and Barnabas had hands laid upon them, but they were already certainly full of all gifts, wisdom, and calling.


As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.


On the other side, there is a conferring of gifts connected to the Apostles. Gifts were only conferred by Apostles (that I can see) while offices could be conferred by others as well.

We must also note that Timothy's selection as the "faithful" man Paul chose had been part of a prophecy:

This charge I commit to thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies as to thee
preceding
, in order that thou mightest war by them the good warfare, maintaining faith
and a good conscience; which (last) some having put away, have made shipwreck as to
faith...

Timothy is charged with defending the faith, the correcting of those who had fallen away from sound doctrine. This charge is not a supernatural power. This charge is conferred upon some to protect the flock. These have a high calling and will be subjected to many attacks (from within and without) and a face a stricter judgement of their service. This charge must only be given to "faithful" men. Etc.

Thou therefore, my son [Timothy], be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 
Lay hands suddenly on no man.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

The Seed of David in 2 Timothy 2

Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, raised from the dead according to my gospel

-2 Timothy 2:8


This verse has long puzzled me. Let me explain. Second Timothy is Paul's last epistle. It closes out the Word of God (not the last prophecy, but the final revelation). In Paul's seven post-Acts epistles, "seed of David" is only used this one time. A similar phrase, "Son of David" is never used post-Acts. So the question arises: why, at the end of his ministry in the current age, does he use this earthly reference to the Lord?

"Son of David" is used 17 times in the New Testament. 15 times of the Lord, one time each for Joseph and Nathan. It is used exclusively in the Gospel accounts (Matthew 10; Mark 3; Luke 4). It is exclusive to Israel. The Greek canon starts with the phrase in the Kingdom Gospel of Matthew. It is in Matthew in which the Lord restricts the preaching of the Kingdom to Israel alone (Matt 10:5-7) and states that he was sent to no one, but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt 5:24). We have looked at these thoughts in previous studies.


The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham

-Matthew 1:1


We've noted in other studies the use of "Son of David" by the Canaanite woman (Gentile) in Matthew 15:22, and how the Lord ignores her request. We noted that this is because the promises connected to the kingdom (healing being the one she was seeking for her daughter) were not promised to Gentiles. But when she pleads with him as "Lord" only (not as "Son of David") and takes her place beneath the "children" (Israel), the Lord answers her plea (Matthew 15:23-28). 

The name "David" appears some 56 times in the New Testament, but only once post-Acts. The name "Abraham" appears around 70 times, yet not once in Paul's seven post-Acts epistles. These names are connected to the promises of the land and the kingdom to the descendants of these men. The lack of references post-Acts makes sense as the land and the Kingdom promises are not in sight. That plan was put on hold. Israel was temporarily set aside. The hope of Paul's post-Acts epistles is the "far above the heavens." Unsearchable riches from the risen and ascended Lord who sits at the right hand of the Father in the far above the heavens (Ephesians). 

So, why this one reference to David in 2 Timothy 2?

I believe the answer can be found in the context of the passage surrounding its use. While our hope is in the "far above the heavens," our daily lives are lived here below. In the context of suffering here, our Apostle asks us to "remember" the Lord in his patience and endurance while in the flesh. 


Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect [chosen ones], that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

This is a faithful saying:

For if we died with Him,
We shall also live with Him.
If we endure,
We shall also reign with Him
.
If we deny Him,
He also will deny us.
If we are faithless,
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself.


Let's pause and pull out the word "obtain" from our passage. This is not a section dealing with the free gift of life through his name by grace alone. We have as our scope the attaining of that which is beyond the gift. A gift is never "attained." Just one example:


If by any means I may attain unto the out-resurrection, out from among the dead.

-Philippians 3:11


To qualify for the crowns, rewards, or the prize of the high calling, we are called on to suffer for the Lord. In our look at those who are "the enemies of the cross of Christ" in Philippians 3, we noted these are believers. They are not our enemies. They are not the enemies of Christ. They are the enemies of the "cross of Christ," that is, the sacrificial life of suffering when one seeks to do God's will.  

We've noted in several studies how the great faith chapter from the Acts Age in Hebrews 11 speaks of those who, by faith, sought a "better resurrection" and "a city whose builder and maker is God.


That they might obtain a better resurrection.

-Hebrews11:35


In 2 Timothy, Paul is instructing Timothy to pass on the truths of this age to faithful men. Defending the scripture and the revelation given to the Apostle Paul alone will come with rejection and suffering. Ony truly "faithful men" will suffer in the flesh while having an eye on the blessings in heavenly places.


You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

-2 Timothy 2:1-3

 

The word translated "endure hardness" (Greek: kakopathéō) is also translated "suffer trouble" and "endure afflictions" elsewhere. This is the call on our lives in this world. This section of 2 Timothy is all about living in the world while not being part of the world. We have no hope here.

2 Timothy 3 speaks of "the the last days" in which "perilous times will come." We must always be prepared to endure hardship as the Lord did in his earthly walk. We look back at 2 Timothy 2 and we read this reminder as we "remember":

Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

-2 Timothy 2:14-15


We must "rightly divide the Word of Truth" as we walk this earth. When we do so, we will be rejected of men, both in the world and in professing Christendom.


But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor.

-2 Timothy 2:20


All of God's own have the free gift of life through his name by grace alone, but not all will be found honorable. As we seek to lead an honorable life, we look to the Son of David in the flesh who endured hardship and shunned all temptations of the world system. It is in this context that Paul introduces this lonely phrase. Let us find strength in his strength to endure suffering and walk uprightly.


Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

-2 Timothy 2:21-26


Other words of note:





 

Saturday, August 14, 2021

The Sure Foundation of the Work of Christ Plus Nothing

Recognizing Our Limitations on All Things and Our Need for Christ


We're all going to find out that we had something wrong (why I choose to write in pencil on a number of issues), but the centrality of Christ and his sacrifice for sin as the remedy for the plague of sin and death is a firm foundation that many refuse to accept. This is not generally because they've studied it out, but because they refuse to see themselves as having nothing to offer and on the same level as the worst criminal in the eyes of a thrice holy God. but we know from the witness of scripture, that, without Christ, we are all in the same condemned boat.

What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
-Romans 3:9-11

But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified 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.

-Romans 3:21-26


I came kicking and screaming into grace. In all my study and religion, I could not allow myself to accept the clear teaching of scripture of my lost and hopeless state. How could that be true after years of service and devotion to the "Church?" God had to crush me beneath my sin.

Those who cannot see the glory and completeness of grace cannot see it because of a "false humility" which attempts to offer the works of their own hands to God. This is the way of Cain.

By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. 

-Hebrews 11:4

But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain... 

-Jude 10-11a

Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. 

-1 John 3:12


What was the difference between righteous works and the evil works? The sacrifice they presented. We present only the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world and nothing of our own hands. The door was always open to Cain.

The Lord's Perfect Sacrifice is Not Far from Any Who Seek

And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin [offering] lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. 

-Genesis 4:2-7

The sin-offering here is, of course, a type of Christ. The reality is here. It is a sweet-smelling savor unto the Lord. Anything we seek to add to that is both sin and foul-smelling.

walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. 
-Ephesians 5:2

Christ's work is complete and his love asks for nothing in addition. Nothing. It was a joy for him to provide all we need. It is an insult to both Christ and the Father should we seek to add anything (especially in a "false humility").

Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

-Hebrews 10:5-10

 

looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 

-Hebrews 12:2

The work is complete. The father is satisfied. We dare not try to add anything to that.

In the true humility of giving ALL glory to Christ by recognizing our frail state and our corrupt flesh and minds, we must approach secondary issues recognizing that Christ comes first.

Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (touch not; taste not; handle not; which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

- Col 2:18-23

Thursday, August 12, 2021

How Was the Lord Tempted "As We Are"

Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. (Matthew 4:1)


For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

-Hebrews 4:15 

 

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man

-James 1:13

Temptation has two aspects... external and internal.


  • You can "tempt" me externally with the finest whiskey known to man... I will have no internal temptation. There is nothing in my nature that cares.
  • You can "tempt" an alcoholic with the same and he will be tempted internally.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  • You can tempt me externally with a date with Kelly Preston (c.1986) and I'd be tempted internally
  • You can tempt a homosexual with the same, and nothing internal.

Satan "tempted" the Lord externally, but there was no sin in him to be tempted internally. Each of us has different sins which appeal to our old nature (our flesh). The Lord has no old (Adamic) nature. Satan knows our weak points and will try to exploit them. This is why we are warned not to give him a foothold in these areas and the reason we are given several items of defense in Ephesians 5 and only one offensive weapon (the Word of God).

Couple of quick thoughts for starters.


As noted, we know that God cannot be tempted with evil (James 1:14). We also know that men have tempted God in the past, and there was no evil on God's part. There was nothing in God which could fail the "test." Let's keep the word "test" in mind.

Israel tempted the Lord on occasion. 

 

And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust.

-Psalm 78:18


Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times 

-Numbers 14:22



God never had a desire (internal lust) to do evil. He was merely put to the test by Israel again and again and again, but always without lust or sin. So when we come to our verse in Hebrews 4, we have to turn to the idea of "in all points like as we."


Let's stay in Hebrews and look at the concept of temptation. Context, as it were.


Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith, Today if ye will hear his voice, 8 harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: 9 when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. 10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. 11 So I swore in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.

- Hebrews 3:7-11


(Little aside on God's "works"... did they make or maintain his Godhood or merely reveal his Godhood? Works never secure or add to anything, they merely reveal.)

Tempted = peirázō = tested
Proved = dokimázō = tried

The tempting of God by Israel in the wilderness was a testing of God's faithfulness. This did not please the LORD, but it did prove his trustworthiness and his faithfulness to his promises. His works proved his being. So we see he was "tempted," but obviously all that did was to "prove" his sinlessness. God cannot lie. God cannot be tempted with evil.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.


tempted = peirázō = tested

The context of the Book of Hebrews is about going on to perfection (maturity) versus falling back into perdition (loss). The goal, for those servants, would be to attain the New Jerusalem. Abraham did not settle for the land, but looked for a city whose builder and maker is God. They looked for a "better resurrection." Resurrection life is a free gift by grace BUT crowns, rewards, New Jerusalem, etc. are attained by faithful service.


Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection... 
-Hebrews 11:35, etc.


In that endeavor, one must suffer testing (temptation). And to that end, they had a high priest who was tested in every way, yet without sin. Are we to hold that tested in "all points" must include every temptation of man? That is, things from heroin to pornography to child sexual assault to murder to homosexuality to self-mutilation (and on and on and on)? Do we want to say the Lord was tempted with a desire (lust) to commit all these sins?

I contend again that heroin has no appeal to me. Am I thus greater than the Lord? Or do we again note that I can be tempted externally with zero internal draw. I can be tested by heroin and in this area and  proved to be free from a desire for that sin. One who may be tempted by heroin can find hope in the Lord in that the Lord was tempted (externally) yet his nature was pure. There can be victory in the new nature.

This the difference is found between our decision to walk according to our OLD NATURE or walking in our NEW NATURE. Adultery, say, may appeal to my old nature (my flesh), while my new nature (spirit) is repulsed by the idea. The Lord had no old nature.


The Temptation (Testing) of Abraham


Let's turn back to Abraham (I love that the Lord chose this example in both Hebrews and James as a great work born out of faith). God instructed Abraham to commit human/child sacrifice (is this a work we should emulate?). Abraham's faith was tested and made perfect (mature).


By faith Abraham, when he was tried [peirázō = tempted], offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son 
-Hebrews 11:17

 

Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect [mature]? 23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

 -James 2:22-23



Abraham had already been declared righteous by faith alone (as both James and Paul attest), yet the testing of his faith wrought the works that proved his maturity. It was that loving struggle (no evil involved) that strengthened his faith and led to his inclusion in the great faith chapter, Hebrews 11.

Would we ever conclude God tempted Abraham to sin? God forbid. "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man"

The idea of being "tried" in the context of moving on to maturity can be seen in light of the opposite. That is, the "untried." These are those of no skill, the immature. The opposite of peirázō is a-peiros (tried and untried). It would not be those that tempted the Lord in the wilderness that would enter the land, but the babes and sucklings (the untried, unskillfull). That's just to show the full richness of the concept.

OK, back to Hebrews 4:15. Commentators want to read "yet without sin" as "not sinning." But do we believe the Lord desired to kill, steal, fornicate, (see above) etc., but resisted? He desired any sin that any man has ever desired? Is that was "yet without sin" suggests? Lust that just did not give way to action?

What is the Greek here? "Yet" is added for English reading. The two words there are "chōrís hamartía." A little help from Hebrews and Matthew (the scriptures in view).

"For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate [chōrízō] from sinners, and made higher than the heavens" 
-Hebrews 7: 26


Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder [chōrízō]
 
-Matthew 19:6


So, the idea in Hebrews 4, in context of going on to maturity, in context of seeking the "better resurrection," in context of not falling back into loss, in context of seeking and welcoming trials and testing (James 1:2) (for in them we grow more into maturity)... in that light, Heb 4:15 is saying that the Lord is with us in our testing. He was tried and found faithful. There is no idea of lust in his heart to do evil.

The idea is "the Lord was tested as we are, but he was always remained separate from sin."


God Neither Tempts Nor Can Be Tempted With Sin


God does not have any desire to sin. God cannot be filled with a lust to sin. There is nothing in God's character that could fail any test. He is the example of perfection and maturity. He was tested and found pure. Gold is tested (tempted) to test its purity. We have dross rise to the top in trials, the Lord had no dross to rise. He was found to be pure, separate from sin.

Note we read that God tempts no man (James), yet we read that God tempted Abraham (Hebrews)? Is this another contradiction? Of course not. Here again we see the two sides of the coin. The idea of "evil" is suggested and needs to be understood in James 1.

"Let no man say when he is tempted [to do evil], I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man [with evil]". But every man is tempted [to do evil] when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed" 
-James 1:14

The Lord could not be drawn away of his own lust as he had none. He tempts no man with evil. The context of the word "tempted" ("tested") is paramount in understanding this issue. May we not find ourselves accusing the Lord with a desire to do wicked by failing to consider all the Word of God. 

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. 

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