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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Whose Mouths Must Be Stopped

We approach the following verses from Titus carefully. There are a number of warning passages in the epistles concerning false teaches and the like. Here, in Titus 1, we have our Apostle, Paul, addressing the current  dispensational age. One the grave concerns we should have for this age are those who handle the Word of God deceitfully, but we also must have concern for those who handle it carelessly. Many a Bible student has fallen into error merely because he becomes puffed up because of his supposed knowledge. 

We try to assess as best we can and make the distinction noted above (understanding our own frailty and with the hope of rescuing those who have fallen under the voice of a false teacher) . Some are out for self-aggrandizement or to make merchandise of the saints, while others are woefully unenlightened and unlearned  (in regard to the trusts of right division despite perhaps holding advanced degrees) and seek to put believers in bondage to their "system" (especially those who mishandle God's Law). 

I was on my way to Macedonia, in order that you might command some not to teach extraneous doctrines, 4 nor to heed fables or interminable genealogies, which give rise to disputes rather than a dispensation of God in faith. 5 And the goal of the commandment is love from a pure heart and a clear conscience and unfeigned faith, 6 from which things some have deviated and have turned away to idle talk, 7 wanting to be teachers of the law, but understanding neither what they say nor things pertaining to what they assert. 8 And we know that the law is good, if a person uses it legitimately, 9 knowing this, that the law has not been instituted for a righteous person, but for the lawless and unruly, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the irreverent and profane, for those who commit parricide and matricide, for murderers, 10 for fornicators, homosexuals, kidnappers, liars, perjurers, and anything else there might be contrary to sound doctrine, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.

-1 Timothy 1:3-11 (Far Above All)

Note how our apostle frames his warning concerning the teaching of "extraneous doctrines" [Gk: heterodidaskaléō, deviating from the truth] on the one hand and turning away to "idle talk" [Gk: mataiología, vain or empty] on the other. These are believers. These are those who call themselves teachers. Some deviate from the faith of Paul. They don't necessarily deviate from the truth of life through grace alone, but more likely, they deviate from Paul's gospel of the fullness of grace in the current age. They fail to recognize the Head and fail to recognize the current calling and hope.

We can say this with some confidence as these teachers in our passage are within Timothy's influence. Timothy and Paul would not bother commanding outside teachers or warning of outside teachers. These teachers "give rise to disputes" among believers. The truths of the Ephesian and Colossian epistles are comparatively simple to understand once tradition is discarded and context understood (most simply refuse to see the context). Yet many teachers bring complexity to scripture because they simply fail to "compare the things that differ" (Phil 1:10).

This is why Paul instructs us to do exactly that, "compare the things that differ," in Philippians 1. When we allow scripture to rightly divide itself, to interpret itself, we are safe from manmade traditions and confused contexts. When we read the address on the envelope, we won't get caught up in the complex practice of trying to piece together seemingly contradictory commands which do not even belong to us.

In our passage in 1 Timothy, Paul has a very harsh assessment concerning those who abuse (misuse) the Law in this current age ("understanding neither what they say nor things pertaining to what they assert."). He accuses them of ignorance of basic theology. Could Paul be more clear that, in this age, the Law is for the lawless? For those outside of Christ? Paul cares not if one holds a ThD or a D.Div if he fails to rightly divide. The Holy Spirit's verdict is "you don't understand what you're saying."

Note Paul's context for his assessment:

knowing this, that the law has not been instituted for a righteous person, but for the lawless and unruly, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the irreverent and profane, for those who commit parricide and matricide, for murderers, for fornicators, homosexuals, kidnappers, liars, perjurers, and anything else there might be contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.

Even in the age of the Law in Israel, it could not be obeyed in perfection (hence the sacrificial system). Peter tells us it was a harsh yoke for Israel. The obedient life, walking in the Tree of Life, and fulfilling the Law through love of God and love of others was never destructive. Trying to please God through an obedience (through a "knowledge of good and evil") which was according to the letter and not to the spirit, according to the flesh and not to the new nature, was too harsh for any honest person. I deluded man might believe he is faithful to all the Law, but he only proves his ignorance of the Law. The deluded have always believed they could fulfill the Law, but those with a heart towards God see how the Law can only condemn in the end.

In the current age, the Law takes its place in this Gentile dispensation. The Law is for our learning, but it is not a guide for the new nature. Gentiles never had the Law. Even in the age of the Law and the parallel Acts age, gentiles living among Israel were only required to obey the "necessary things" of Leviticus (cp. Acts 15, Acts 21). Today, even these are put aside as their is no Israel in the current age (even though she will soon rise again).

In this age, the Law is seen through "the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which [PAUL has] been instructed." That is the revelation given to Paul alone (Eph 3) and revealed Post-Acts in the Book of Ephesians. We've looked at that truth many times. This truth frames the books of this age while Paul was "in these chains FOR YOU GENTILES"  (Post Acts) as opposed to being "in bondage for the HOPE OF ISRAEL" (Acts Age). 

When we see Paul's calling and his message for Gentiles in this age, it is easy to see how the application of the Law to believers and other deviations to Paul's message have led to strife among believers. It is not hard to see why Paul is so harsh in his assessment in his instructions to Timothy regarding these teachers.

This is also the context for Paul's warnings and instructions to Titus.

Titus 1:10 For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision:

This would be Jewish believers. In the Acts age some ("certain of the Pharisees") tried to impose the Law upon Gentile believers. It was wrong even in that age, how much more is it to be considered anathema in the current age? These teachers are deceivers. We can understand that doctrine to be deceptive by design or merely by result. Many are deceived themselves. And the biggest deception is the denial of Paul's unique ministry.

Titus 1:11 Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake.

Such powerful words from the Apostle of Love. These teachers MUST (deî, need to be) be STOPPED (epistomízō, bridled, reduced to silence). The Far Above All translation reads, "who need to be silenced." Paul does not mince words. No mollycoddling here. Tolerance has a place among believers in many ways (we again look to Paul's Love chapter, 1 Cor 13), but it has no place when addressing false teaching. 

If some believers want to heap false teachers unto themselves, there is little we can do. I would suggest in those cases, we should try to rescue those who are open to rescue as we allow them to gather up to themselves those who teach the error they want to hear. Given an opportunity, we must oppose them, but that is all we can do. Each one must make his own decision who he will follow. We follow Paul's message for this age. If others choose to reject Paul, we still love them. We still look for opportunities to share the truths of this age with them. They are not our enemies. The ones whose mouths must be stopped are their belligerent and mocking teachers (despite any outward appearance to the contrary). 

So, let us be careful not to attack our fellow believers, but we hold no allegiance to teachers who reject admonition. We approach them as brothers, but treat them as enemies of the cross of Christ if they persist in trying to put men in bondage to fear and earthly ordinances. It is a delicate balance (patience and final rejection), but we continue to seek to rescue men from their way of perdition (loss). We stop their mouths by removing believers from their influence. 

Titus 1:12 One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.

A.T Robertson says of the Cretans, "The Cretans had a bad reputation on this line, partly due to their claim to having the tomb of Zeus." Titus 1:5 reveals that Paul had purposefully left Titus in Crete ("The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished..."). Is it cruel of Paul to then to refer to a general summation of Cretan culture? In our modern world we actively shun what we would call a "stereotype," but we cannot deny cultural influences and societal norms. Believers are subjected to cultural influences daily. We should note the possible cultural norms that have infiltrated our thinking and habits.

These cultural and societal distinctions are very well understood by men. We have been conditioned to reject our own common sense and recognizable truths in the modern age. 

Some distinctions are simple: we would not walk down the streets of certain parts of New York City the same way we'd walk down the streets of Tokyo. In our verse, Paul is referencing what is common in the culture has reflected itself in the false teachers Titus would encounter. We must "walk circumspectly" in the culture in which we find ourselves. 

Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

-Ephesians 5:14-16

Many in Crete loved Paul and Titus. Paul loved them so much, the thought of them being led astray into bondage angered him. His statement is not a statement on the inherent evil in simply being a Cretan, but the inherent evils in Cretan culture. In my time in the Southern USA, I have, on occasion, put some on edge because of my ethnicity and accent. I am OK with this as long as I am given the chance to show I am not what they think. Paul asks the same of those in Crete.

Titus 1:13 This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;

Paul is not calling for all Cretans to be rebuked, but rather those who have not come out from the influence of the prevailing culture; those who, perhaps unwittingly, reflect pagan Cretan culture in their faith lives. He especially refers to rebuking those who have brought in with their deceit false teachings and a denial of the gospel entrusted to Paul for this age. 

More evidence that this passage refers to believers, only believers can be "sound in the faith." 

Titus 1:14 Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.

The frame here has Judaizers on one side and those who have rejected Paul's gospel on the other. The RSV translates the verse, "instead of giving heed to Jewish myths or to commands of men who reject the truth." The word "myths" gives us the sense of some kind of derived truth that the teachers had taken from elsewhere. In this case, the adjective "Jewish" points us back to the dishonest and deceived teachers of the Law. A core myth about the Law is that it concerns all men of all ages and is somehow required on one's hope of resurrection life.

We recall that the Law has been misused in this age (then as now). It has been wantonly misapplied to Gentiles and to those who have a calling "in the far above the heavens" [Ephesians]. The Law is earthly. Its purpose today is to reveal to men the insanity of trying to reach perfection "in the far above the heavens" by that which is earthly and that which only condemns them. 

The Law is earthly. The Law is holy and good, yet is can only condemn men in the flesh. And, as noted, it pertains to an earthly kingdom promised to a specific people for a specific purpose ("Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites"). 

Titus 1:15 Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.

Let's look at the anchor word, "unbelieving." This is the Greek word, ápistos. It carries the idea of being "unfaithful" or "incredulous." In context, these are teachers who are unfaithful to Paul's gospel (the gospel entrusted to him). Their teaching is "defiled" (miaínō, stained, impure, mixed with error). A teacher may teach that life is a free gift by grace through Christ and mix that truth with all sorts of laws, commands, and complications. In this context, they may teach the way to life by faith while they also deny the hope of this age (heavenly, not earthly). They defile the truth of a hope of being where Christ sits in the far above the heavens by imposing the laws of the earthly Kingdom on that hope, etc. 

Those who understand Paul's gospel of this age can detect that which will defile it. Those who reject Paul's calling (Paul writes later that all in Asia had abandoned him) and Paul's gospel of the dispensation (economy) of the Mystery are in danger of piling on error upon error. Slavery to that which is earthly will not appear as slavery, but as religious pride. It can be a very dark and depressing road and has led to the ruin of the faith of many. Some even abandon the foundation of the finished work of the Savior through the confusion caused by fables and defilement of the message of the age.

A true servant puts his efforts towards the work assigned to him by his Master. Doing any other work, no matter how well done, no matter the volume of work, is of little interest to the Master.

Titus 1:16 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.
Titus 1:16 They profess to know God, but by their works they deny it, being abominable and disobedient, and unqualified for any good work. (Far Above All)

Remember, the context includes teachers who teach the Law. The "works" which "deny him" includes works of another age. Even in the Acts Age epistle of Hebrews (written to that people), Paul is clear that the blood sacrifice is complete in Christ. There remained no longer a need to picture the truth that has been fulfilled.  Animal sacrifices were in the Law, yet that obedience became disobedience to even the Hebrew believer. A biblical command became a wicked, Christ-denying heresy.

In the Acts Age, Paul also addressed Gentiles who sought to "obey" the Law.

Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised  [in the Law for Israelites, to whom pertain the covenants, Romans 9] that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You [Gentiles] who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

-Galatians 5:3-4

How much worse is it in this age of Paul's gospel revealed in Ephesians for those who seek to put believers into bondage to the Law? The strong language in 1 Timothy and Titus reflect the seriousness of the errors of such teachers. As Paul's anger is kindled towards the teachers, his heart is pricked for those subject to their errors.

I added the Far Above All translation (faraboveall.com) for v.16 because it nicely sums up Paul's thoughts in the words, "and unqualified for any good work." These are unprofitable servants of God. Teachers who, despite any degrees or accolades or experience, are "unqualified" simply by rejecting Paul's revelation for this age. To be more precise, failing to see Paul's revelation for this age. 

A teacher may accurately teach the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. He may rightly offer reconciliation to God based on that finished work and God's free offer of life by grace alone through faith alone (and we praise God for such preaching). But that same teacher may also guide his listeners into error concerning their calling, resulting in both teacher and listener losing reward and missing out on unfathomable riches/blessings in the age to come. 

I conclude with a warning from Paul's final epistle, 2 Timothy. Remember, the context is a contrast among believers:

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

These will be "castaways," those who are "unqualified." We might recoil at these words for believers, but Paul warms himself in 1 Corinthians. 

"But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified [a castaway].

 These are unprofitable servants. These are rebellious sons and daughters. Note that they "creep into households" to spread their corruption. We get the idea of teachers again. It is much easier for a false teacher with a title and a degree to get into the homes of believers than some seller of a false god.

Paul continues:

Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.

There we have it. The subject is "teachers." Their folly will end with the revelation of the Lord. What "truth" will they "oppose?" I would suggest it is Paul's right division of the Word as he taught in the previous chapter.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles [rightly divides],  the word of truth. -2 Tim 3:15

This is a command to the individual to do the work of Bible Study. God will honor the honest seeker. Truths may come slowly as we are but men, but the Lord will bless the journey. Along the way, we must avoid those who come in the name of the Lord who fail to make distinctions where God makes distinctions. we must "test the things that differ."  We may fellowship with those who are His, but we must be careful to check their words against the calling of the current age.

Remember, Paul's warning in Philippians 3 concerning "the enemies of the cross of Christ." These are believers. They are not "enemies of Christ," but of doctrines that will lead to separation and suffering ("the cross of Christ"). Paul weeps for these believers who have their mind on earthly things. Philippians is a book concerning rewards and loss for believers. 

Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction [Gk: apṓleia, Strong's: ruin or loss], whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.

-Phil 3:17-19


There is a study in there on its own, but suffice to note: Paul wouldn't have need for believers to point out the ways of unbelievers. Paul wouldn't weep over their errors. Some believers will suffer loss. They seek an earthly kingdom and practice its dictates and ordinances, so they will lose out on unsearchable riches above. They "mind earthly things." 

We close with this from Colossians 2:

So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival [feats days] 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. Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.


What may seem like a doctrine of God because it is found in scripture may become a doctrine of men once it is ripped from its context and yoked upon those to whom it was never given.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

The Believer's Duty to Those in Authority - Part 1

There are a number of passages in scripture addressing the believer's interaction with government/authority. Whether it be Israel's judges and kings, or the people of Israel in exile, or Christ in the Roman Empire, or Paul dealing with both Jewish and Gentile authorities. We will not use this space to try and address every possible response to authority, but rather offer an overview and guidelines.

The seemingly competing ideas at hand in this age are;

  1. Does the believer wholly submit to all governmental authorities as being ordained of God?
  2. Does the believer have the right and/or the duty to oppose wicked or unjust rulers?

I will start by saying that I don't believe that these positions must be in conflict. Yes, there is a careful balance, but I believe there can, and should, be a balance.

This recent comment from an online friend helps us frame the question:

Daniel is one of the greatest example of submitting to the authorities of man, while remaining faithful to God.

Daniel is, indeed, an interesting place to look. In Daniel and his fellow obedient Israelites we see those that clearly honor those in authority. Daniel says to King Darius, "Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever." Now, I believe there is a context to this usage, but be that as it may, Daniel is clearly honoring the King.

Of course, Daniel says this after defying the decree of the King to worship only him. So, we are able to see in Daniel both an honoring of the true God and an allegiance to him that was in authority over him. But be sure, Daniel and his friends openly defied the law of the land. They took the punishment willingly, but that does not negate their defiance of the King's decree for the King's decree was in defiance of the true God (especially for an Israelite). 

If I stood beside certain powerful American politicians and administrators, I would not scoff at their decrees, but I would surely tell them that they in defiance of God's word and will.

That's the crux of what I am saying. I'll acknowledge my superiors in the workplace. I submit to the establishment's rules. I'll follow the state governor's guidelines... except where they are in defiance of God's word and will. That is the crux of the matter. If my place of employment has a provision whereby I can protest a decision or policy, it is within my rights to do so.

An American politician is not a king. The current system of government functions under the premise that politicians serve at the will of the people and serve the people. We swear no allegiance to them, but to the Constitution that limits them. 

I would thus suggest that the powers that rule us are not necessarily of God. They are part of God's permissive will (like my sin), but I would not conclude that God is complicit with their rulership or that it is his necessarily directed will. The Antichrist will be part of God's permissive will, but that does not mean believers will be required to submit to his rule. We are all familiar with the "mark" of the Antichrist and we all know defiance of taking this mark will come at a price. But, as we all know, it is God's will that this decree (and the other dictates from "Babylon") should rightfully be resisted.

It is God's permissive will that allows both the Antichrist and Babylon to rise in power, but they are in no way to thought of as "in the will of God."

Saul and Jeroboam fall into this category.

And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.

-1 Samuel 8:7

Was the placing of Saul as King over Israel God's will? No. It was only part of his permissive will.

Although I don't believe we have anything to do with Israel and God's will for the earthly kingdom, it still stands true that the seating of Saul (wrong tribe) and Jeroboam (wrong line) were allowed by God, but in no way could be seen as his will. David obeyed Saul in any way that was consistent with such required obedience, but he clearly defied the king when he was outside God's will.

When the army of Pharaoh was chasing the children of Israel, was it their duty to submit? Was it the Lord's will that they go back to Egypt as Pharaoh desired because it was Lord who placed him over his people?  

As noted, in a representative Republic, power resides with the people. All power of rulers is derived from the will of the people. We have full recourse to oppose anything that defies God's will, God's word, or the restrictions placed on leaders by the Constitution.

Our rulers rule by "the consent of the governed" and I have rights delineated by the Constitution. I have local and state authorities which are independent of national authorities. Our situation is complex, but properly understood, the power of a Republic lies in its recognition of God-given rights, not in its authority to grant rights. This is the basis for the American ideal of government. 

The very Declaration of Independence is a list of grievances against the King and even Parliament. It basis its argument on the notion that the "Creator" has gifted men certain "unalienable rights." Even in the Kingdom in Israel, the King was bound by certain unalienable rights of the people. 

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—-That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.


We, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, Free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great-Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved

US Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776, excerpts) 

In the case of Daniel, note that the King was bound by his own decree. He was held to his own word. Daniel was bound to defy the King's word and the King was bound to enforce it. I have no issue with either. The executive branch must be bound to enforce the decrees of the legislative and judicial branches (in the USA). I am bound to defy that which goes against God's word, God's will, or the texts of the Constitution. I retain the right to defy an authority which steps outside its limitations (such as requiring police to have a warrant and probable cause).

The Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that women have a "right" to torture and kill their own babies. Divine will and rule says to me that I must oppose that decree. I must oppose it vehemently. From a purely terrestrial view, the Constitution recognizes no such "right" (and God has certainly not granted it as an unalienable right). As a citizen, I have a right to object.

We may delve deeper into the following aspect later, but for now, I will merely note it. Do we expect unbelievers to be obedient to righteousness? The short answer is "yes." When Paul lays out the progression of sins in society in Romans 1, the charge is against all. It may not matter if the unbeliever remains in unbelief, but the actions of the unbeliever may negatively impact others. Even though we expect them to be ruled by the flesh, we can still support laws which protect the innocent against the carnal acts of the wicked.

So, that leaves us with the question, how do I, as a believer, respond to wicked rulers? For me, that's a simple question in the American system. I am free to oppose anything through the Constitutional process. I am also free to oppose, and required to oppose, anything I deem contrary to God's will or God's word.

In part 2, we will step back into scripture, rightly divided, and look at some Biblical guidelines for this current Age. 

Saturday, September 3, 2022

People Are Free to Believe Whatever They Want

There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling

-Ephesians 4:4

In the Post-Acts age (the current age), there is One Body and the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile has been taken away (Ephesians), but that wall was clearly still up in the synoptic Gospels and in the Acts age. There are differences in conditions and commands all through scripture. You do not have to acknowledge the differences, but if you don't, you must explain (to yourself) any inconsistencies in the biblical commands and conditions revealed. 

If you read the vast majority of scripture, including the gospels and the Acts age, there certainly was an enormous gulf fixed between the hope of Israel and the hope of Gentiles in God's plan and communication. From Adam, the gift of resurrection Life has always been by grace through faith, but that does not mean all people in all ages from all nations had the same hope. In a future age, the Kingdom will be restored to believing Israel (Acts 1:6, Acts 3; etc.). That is not my hope and that hope was forbidden by Christ himself to be preached to anyone but to Israelites (Matthew 10).

There are earthly hopes and a hope in the far above the heavens. There are hopes given SINCE or FROM the foundation of ages and a hope hidden from BEFORE the foundation of the ages. We must mark the differences that scripture marks. If someone wants to believe these are all the same hope, good luck. Feel free to do so. If some think Matt 5 and Matt 10 and Mark 16 and Acts 3 and Acts 15 and Acts 21 and Acts (etc.) are for them, good luck. Have at it. But if one believes these are for and to him, he is bound to obey it. He is bound to reconcile the practices, conditions, and commands in these passages with his personal faith.

As late as Acts 26 Paul testified, "Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come." NONE. Yet Ephesians speaks of a truth hidden from the prophets from before the foundation of the ages and revealed to Paul alone. Again... if people want to mash it all together, good luck. I say, feel free to try and practice ALL these things together. No skin off my nose.

People are free to pretend they take all scripture for themselves, but they clearly don't (and that is easily demonstrated). I'm not here to convince anyone. If somebody thinks all the commands and conditions of scripture are for all people of all ages, have at it. Clearly some practices and commands contradict others (if we assume all scripture is to all people). But I am not the judge of another man's servant. But, please, if you're going to claim that ALL scripture is to you and for you, then you're going to have to explain some things.

Here's an easy one... BIBLE COMMAND: build a boat of gopher wood, with one door, and pitch it in and out with pitch because a worldwide flood is coming. BIBLE COMMAND! Good luck. Not to me. How do I know? No flood coming. Commands and conditions do not apply in this age. Does the one who claims ALL of scripture is TO him believe he should build an ark for a coming judgment of a worldwide flood? I've never met anyone building an ark, but I've met a lot of people who claim I'm "tearing out parts of the Bible" because I do not believe all of it is spoken TO me.

Do these folks take a sacrifice to Jerusalem for the Feasts? Why not? Do they perform miracles? Do they avoid the Tree of Knowledge? Do they walk around naked? Do they preach to Jews that God will restore all things if they repent? Do they give only gentile believers "four necessary things" to obey? Do they start their preaching in Jerusalem? Do they only speak that which Moses and the Prophets promised? Do they warn gentile believers they will be cut off from Israel if they become haughty against that root? Etc... 

They're the ones denying the scriptures they claim for themselves.

Even Mark 16 should be a clue that conditions have changed since the gospel/Acts age (and that's mild compared to the myriads of other commands and practices of scripture). But, again, folks are free to try and "obey" everything they read. Good luck!

If you acknowledge that, at least to one degree or another, that not every condition and command in the Bible applies directly to you, you'll be happy to know there is a theological word for that. It starts with a "Dis" and ends with "pensationalism."

Dispensationalism. Simply the belief that we must rightly handle the Word of God according to the context (2 Tim 2:15) and mark things that differ (Phil 1:10).

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

-Stuart Allen

Michael's Podcast: The Red Letter Christians Don't Read All the Red Letters