Monthly Archives: December 2013

Does not Acts 15:11 disprove dispensational Bible study?

DOES ACTS 15:11 REFUTE DISPENSATIONAL BIBLE STUDY? IF NOT, WHAT IS THIS VERSE TEACHING?

by Shawn Brasseaux

What does Acts 15:11 mean? Does this verse disprove dispensational Bible study, as some claim? Does it teach there is only one gospel in the Bible, as some claim? Does it mean that every saved person in history is part of the Church the Body of Christ, as some claim? Let us search the Scriptures for the answers.

In Acts 15, some “Judaizers” (Mosaic Law teachers) from Jerusalem are going around and subverting the souls of Paul and Barnabas’ Gentile converts: “And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved” (verse 1). Paul and Barnabas have a major argument and debate with these Judaizers, and these legalists instruct Paul and Barnabas to go back to Jerusalem with some of them, and ask Israel’s apostles and elders about the matter (verse 2).

Once Paul and Barnabas arrive in Jerusalem, they declare to the Jerusalem assembly of believers (particularly Israel’s apostles and elders), all the wonderful things God has done amongst the Gentiles through their ministry (verse 4). However, some Pharisees who believe, object by saying that it was needful for Paul and Barnabas to physically circumcise those Gentiles and command them to keep the Mosaic Law (verse 5). Verse 6 says that Israel’s apostles and elders confer amongst themselves about the issue.

When a great debate is started, the Apostle Peter arises and explains to them Cornelius’ salvation (which he personally witnessed some 10 years previous). Let us read Peter’s words in Acts 15:7-11: “[7] And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. [8] And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; [9] And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. [10] Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? [11] But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.”

Notice how Peter is coming to Paul and Barnabas’ defense. Recall that when Gentile Cornelius was saved in Acts 10 under Peter’s ministry, it was under extraordinary circumstances. Up to that point, Peter saw Jews (and later some Samaritans) get water baptized and then receive the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38; Acts 8:14-17). With Cornelius, Peter saw the Holy Ghost fall on those Gentiles before they were water baptized, and the Bible says the Jews with Peter were amazed at the reversal. Read what happened with Cornelius in Acts 10: “[44] While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. [45] And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. [46] For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, [47] Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? [48] And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.”

Notice Peter’s words in verse 47: “which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?” Peter knew that these believing Gentiles at Cornelius’ home were just as filled with the Holy Spirit as he and they (the believing Jews) were. This is all in Peter’s mind when he discusses it with the apostles and elders in Acts 15, about a decade later. Hence, Peter says in Acts 15:8: “And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us.”

When Peter hears about Paul and Barnabas and how they did not teach physical circumcision and Law-keeping amongst the Gentiles, Peter may not have understood it, but he was not surprised. Peter remembered how God had departed from the “norm” with Cornelius, and Peter (unlike those in Acts 15:5) saw how God departing from the “norm” with Paul and Barnabas’ converts was not necessarily a bad thing and was not impossible. This is how Acts 15:11 should be viewed. Peter assumed that Paul’s Gentiles converts had received the Holy Spirit without legalism, just as Cornelius had received the Holy Spirit without water baptism. Peter’s words are thus indicating that it was not “needful” to physically circumcise Paul’s Gentile converts and tell them to keep the Mosaic Law (which is what the believing Pharisees were arguing for in Acts 15:5).

Peter urges Israel’s other apostles and elders not to “tempt” God, to challenge God as to whether or not He is operating properly through Paul and Barnabas by not promoting legalism amongst the Gentiles, since he (Peter) did not “tempt” God and question what He was doing when he saw God do some strange things with Cornelius and those other Gentiles. Read in Acts 15 where Peter continued recounting the story of Cornelius’ salvation, “[9] And [God] put no difference between us and them [the Gentiles], purifying their hearts by faith. [10] Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? [11] But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.” Peter does not fully understand what is going on with Paul and toward the end of his life Peter confessed he never fully did comprehend Paul’s doctrine (2 Peter 3:15-16), but he does recognize God is doing something “unusual” with Paul and Barnabas (just like he saw those unique events with Cornelius).

The word “grace” in Acts 15:11 is probably the greatest cause of stumbling for many, and it should not. “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.” While this sounds like Paul’s Gospel, the Gospel of the Grace of God, it is not. Remember, God’s grace is not exclusive to Paul’s ministry: God’s grace is found throughout the Bible (look at Genesis 6:8, for example), but the way in which God manifested His grace is different in various dispensations. For instance, the very nature of the New Covenant that will be given to Israel is “grace and truth,” which will replace the Old Covenant of Law with its wrath and punishment (John 1:17). God will give Israel grace (what she does not deserve) through the New Covenant, despite the fact that she broke the Old Covenant of Law.

In Israel’s program, God deals with a Jew in two ways: on an individual basis and on a national basis. Any believing Jew received forgiveness of sins when he or she confessed the breaking of the Old Covenant, got water baptized, and trusted Jesus as Messiah (Acts 2:38; 1 John 1:9; 1 John 2:12)—this was then credited to them, to be permanently forgiven when the rest of Israel was converted. However, the Old Covenant was given to the entire nation Israel, not just to one Jew. The entire nation Israel broke the Old Covenant, so God deals with them on a national level too. Israel’s national sins must also be dealt with, and they will be blotted out at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (Acts 3:19; Romans 11:26-27; cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:8-13; Hebrews 10:15-17). This is why Peter speaks of their [Israel’s] salvation as future: “we shall be saved” (Acts 15:11). Peter acknowledges that God will save Paul’s Gentile converts through grace, too. In other words, Peter is saying that Paul’s Gentile converts are saved, despite the fact that they do not have physical circumcision and Law-keeping.

What Peter does not understand is that this dispensational change with Paul’s ministry involves God’s grace now being manifested through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork, and that God is offering His grace to every person (lost Jew or lost Gentile) through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as sufficient payment for their sins, and without Law-keeping (Peter emphasized Law-keeping to Cornelius in Acts 10:35, and notice Peter did not link Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork to Cornelius’ salvation like Paul would do with his converts and us)—we learn this “Gospel of the Grace of God” only from Paul’s ministry (Acts 20:24; Romans 3:24; Romans 4:4,16; Romans 5:15,17,20,21; 1 Corinthians 1:4; 1 Corinthians 15:10; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Galatians 1:6,15; Gal. 2:21; Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 2:5,7-8; Ephesians 3:2,7; Colossians 1:6; 1 Timothy 1:14; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 2:11; Titus 3:7).

So, Acts 15:11 does not disprove dispensational Bible study. It simply shows that God saves sinners in every dispensation and that that salvation is not what they deserve (remember, grace is what we do not deserve). Peter did not understand it all, but he did recognize that Paul’s Gentile converts were acceptable to God without physical circumcision and Law keeping, just as he witnessed how Cornelius received the Holy Ghost without water baptism. In Acts 15:11, Peter used this reality to come to Paul and Barnabas’ defense, and evidently, this caused James to understand some of the matter (Acts 15:14ff.), and, consequently, this saved Paul’s ministry from being hindered and saved his converts from additional trouble with Israel’s believing remnant (Acts 15:19-32).

Also see:
» Do not Hebrews 13:8 and Malachi 3:6 disprove dispensational Bible study? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)
» Was Cornelius a member of the Church the Body of Christ? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)
» If dispensational Bible study is true, how come few people believe it? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)

“Walking in the Spirit” and “living in the Spirit.” Is there a difference?

Does “walking in the Spirit” mean the same as “living in the Spirit?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

What does walking in the Spirit” mean? What does living in the Spirit” mean? Are they really the same concept? Let us search the Scriptures for the answer.

The terms “walk in the Spirit” and “live in the Spirit” only appear in Paul’s epistle to the Galatians, so we will focus on this Bible book for now. Galatians 5:16 says, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” Galatians 5:25 says, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” I assume that the question involves these verses. To answer the question, “walking in the Spirit” and “living in the Spirit” are not the same concept, for the Bible says in Galatians 5:25, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” The word “also” indicates that the terms are similar, but not synonymous.

“LIVE IN THE SPIRIT”

The Spirit of God imparts spiritual life to us (Romans 8:1-13). Romans 8:10-13 summarizes, “[10] And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. [11] But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. [12] Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. [13] For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”

We Christians were put to death at Calvary’s cross: “[6] Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. [7] For he that is dead is freed from sin. [8] Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him” (Romans 6:6-8). “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me…” (Galatians 2:20abc). The only life we have now is in Jesus Christ, in His Spirit, the Holy Spirit.

Since our life is now in Jesus Christ and in His Spirit, we need to walk in that identity we have in Him. This is why Galatians 5:25 says, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” “Walking in the Spirit” is us simply walking by faith in the life we have in the Spirit of God (our “life in the Spirit”).

“WALK IN THE SPIRIT”

Galatians 5:16 says, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” Galatians 5:25 says, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” If we want to serve the Lord in our Christian lives, we need to remember whom God the Father has made us in Jesus Christ. As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6-7). We are to “walk in [Jesus Christ],” or “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16,25). It would help us to read the verses in between Galatians 5:16 and Galatians 5:25 in order to better grasp these concepts.

“[16] This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. [17] For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. [18] But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. [19] Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, [20] Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, [21] Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. [22] But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, [23] Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. [24] And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. [25] If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. [26] Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.”

It is apparent from this passage (especially verse 25) that, the phrase live in the Spirit” emphasizes the believer’s position in Christ, but the termwalk in the Spirit” focuses on the believer’s lifestyle (the believer appropriating that identity by faith, allowing the Holy Spirit to give him power and victory over daily sins, “the flesh” of Galatians 5:16 and “the law” of Galatians 5:18). God has given us life in His Holy Spirit (“we live in the Spirit”). Will we now, by faith in Paul’s epistles to us, allow that Holy Spirit to work in us and accomplish His will? Will we walk in the Spirit?”

It is apparent from this passage (especially verse 25) that, the phrase live in the Spirit” emphasizes the believer’s position in Christ, but the termwalk in the Spirit” focuses on the believer’s lifestyle (the believer appropriating that identity by faith, allowing the Holy Spirit to give him power and victory over daily sins, “the flesh” of Galatians 5:16 and “the law” of Galatians 5:18). God has given us life in His Holy Spirit (“we live in the Spirit”). Will we now, by faith in Paul’s epistles to us, allow that Holy Spirit to work in us and accomplish His will? Will we walk in the Spirit?” Or will we walk after our flesh (legalism, the context of Galatians)?

You can also study Romans 8:1-39 to learn how the Spirit of God works in us Christians to give us victory over daily sins. “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6-7). We received Jesus Christ by faith in His performance as sufficient payment for our sins, so we need to walk by faith in His performance (not ours) as means for triumphing over daily sins.

 

Also see:
» Should I be “filled with the Holy Ghost?” Should I be “slain in the Spirit?” (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)
» What is God’s will for my life? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)
» Must I keep the Mosaic Law as means for Christian living? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)

What is “the word of truth” in 2 Timothy 2:15?

WHAT IS “THE WORD OF TRUTH” IN 2 TIMOTHY 2:15? Is IT THE GOSPEL, OR THE BIBLE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Some years ago, I was amazed to learn that, within the grace community, there is confusion regarding 2 Timothy 2:15 (of all verses). Strangely, some who claim to “rightly divide the word of truth” really have no solid understanding of what “the word of truth” even is in the context of the verse they claim to be following (2 Timothy 2:15). Is “the word of truth” the Gospel, or is it the Bible? As always, context is key to understanding Bible verses!

The Bible uses the term “word of truth” five times (with two additional forms). We will look at these instances now (we will analyze 2 Timothy 2:15 later). It will be demonstrated that this term, “the word of truth,” does not always carry the same meaning in each of the verses it appears.

  1. THE BIBLE: The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 119:43: “And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; for I have hoped in thy judgments.” This “word of truth” is not the Gospel, for all of Psalm 119 is focused on God’s Word as a whole, not a gospel message. According to the context, the “word of truth” in Psalm 119:43 is all of God’s Word, the entire Bible (which was just the Old Testament at that time).
  2. THE BIBLE: The angel Gabriel told the Prophet in Daniel 10:21: “But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince.” Here, “the scripture of truth” is the Bible. We have no reason to believe that “the scripture of truth” is not another way of saying, “the word of truth.”
  3. THE GOSPEL OF GRACE: In Colossians 1:5, the Apostle Paul wrote about, “For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel.” Here, the “word of truth” in this verse is the Gospel of the Grace of God.
  4. THE GOSPEL OF GRACE: “The word of truth” is also the Gospel of Grace in Ephesians 1:13: “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.”
  5. EITHER THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM, OR THE BIBLE: When James wrote in James 1:18, “Of [God’s] own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures, this “word of truth” is at least the Gospel of the Kingdom (the Gospel of the Circumcision, Jesus Christ is Israel’s King [Matthew 3:2] and all of the world will be blessed in and through Israel’s kingdom; Galatians 2:7-9), but in light of 1 Peter 1:23-25, it may be a general reference to the Bible.
  6. EITHER THE GOSPEL OF GRACE, OR THE BIBLE: The context of 2 Corinthians 6:7 does make it apparent whether “the word of truth” in this verse is the Gospel of Grace or the Bible: By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.” The context does not seem to restrict it to one or the other.

As we can see, the “word of truth” is not necessarily the Gospel of Grace, the Gospel of the Kingdom, or the Bible, in every instance. The context demonstrates what shade of meaning this term carries in that particular passage. Just as we looked at the context in those verses, we need to look at the context of 2 Timothy 2:15 to determine what shade of meaning “the word of the truth” conveys in that verse. What a concept!

I find it quite strange and equally fascinating that some who claim to be mid-Acts (or Pauline) dispensationalists really do not grasp one of the key verses that teach dispensational Bible study. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Oddly, some will say that this “word of truth” is “the gospel” (as in, we have to “rightly divide the Gospel of Grace,” but exactly how we are to “rightly divide” the gospel, Paul never delineates, so this notion seems unlikely to be Paul’s instruction). While “the word of truth” in Colossians 1:5 and Ephesians 1:13 is most certainly the Gospel of the Grace of God (we saw that these verses clearly say it is), that does not force “the word of truth” in 2 Timothy 2:15 to also be the Gospel of the Grace of God. Recall that we already saw the Bible also uses “the word of truth” to refer to itself, not to a gospel message.

The Gospel of Grace does not belong to everyone in the Bible (one can simply read Galatians 2:7 and Acts 20:24 to see that). Galatians 2:7: “But contrariwise, when they [James, Cephas/Peter, and John] saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me [Paul], as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;” and note what Paul said in Acts 20:24: “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” In fact, the heart of the Gospel of the Grace of God (the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as sufficient payment for our sins; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4) was not even revealed by God until we come to Paul’s ministry (Romans 2:16; Romans 16:25; Galatians 2:7; Ephesians 3:1-11; 1 Timothy 1:11; 2 Timothy 2:8). Israel’s 12 apostles were not preaching the Gospel of the Grace of God, for they did not even know Jesus was going to die, let alone resurrect (Luke 18:31-34; John 20:8)! We cannot “rightly divide” (?) the Gospel of Grace among the various dispensations as some teach, for those dispensations have their own sets of good news from God. However, we can certainly “rightly divide” the individual passages scattered throughout the Bible and leave them with their audience (that is, not force those verses on ourselves). It for this reason that “the word of truth” in 2 Timothy 2:15 cannot be a reference to any gospel message in Scripture (the Gospel of Grace, the Gospel of the Kingdom, et cetera). We need to let the context determine the meaning.

Let us read 2 Timothy 2:15-18: [15] Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [16] But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. [17] And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; [18] Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.”

Pay very close attention to the flow of thought here. Paul wrote that if we want to avoid “profane and vain babblings” (empty, worthless chatter), we must “study to shew [ourselves] approved unto God… rightly dividing the word of truth.” This cannot be restricted to the Gospel of Grace, for there is more to the Bible than just gospel messages. Plenty of people today promote “profane and vain babblings” that do not involve gospel messages, but do relate to other Bible verses. Thus, “the word of truth” in 2 Timothy 2:15 must be a noun of wide application: that is, more than a gospel message is involved in this verse. Also note that, unlike in Colossians 1:5 and Ephesians 1:13, Paul did not write in 2 Timothy 2:15, “the word of truth of the gospel” or “the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation,” he simply wrote, “the word of truth.” This should catch our attention!

Verses 17 and 18 of 2 Timothy chapter 2 speak of false teachers, people who do not “rightly divide the word of truth,” whose names are Hymenaeus and Philetus, and they teach that “the resurrection is past already” and “overthrow the faith of some.” This really has nothing to do with the Gospel, this has to with the failure to place this “resurrection” on the proper place of the Bible timeline. They are not denying the resurrection, just getting its timing wrong. We must go to 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 for insight: “[1] Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, [2] That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. [3] Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;….”

What is going on in Thessalonica is evidently what is occurring in 2 Timothy 2:18. There are false teachers (or, in the case of Thessalonica, at least one forged, or counterfeit, Bible manuscript) circulating the idea that the rapture (the resurrection of Christians for this Dispensation of Grace; 1 Corinthians 15:51-55; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) has already happened. The implication is, if the rapture has already happened, then Israel’s prophetic program has resumed, and that would mean that people who thought they would be saved from God’s wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9) are now experiencing it in the seven-year Tribulation! Notice how this troubled the Christians at Thessalonica: “[2] That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. [3] Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first,” (2 Thessalonians 2:2-3). Even today, people teach strange doctrines about a “mid-Trib” rapture, a “post-Trib” rapture, a “pre-wrath” rapture, or no rapture at all—people are still confusing the simple doctrine of the rapture.

Jesus Christ prayed to His Heavenly Father in John 17:17, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” All of the Bible is true, but certain portions are not true for everyone. All of the Bible is true, but it is not all true today. That is, one set of Bible directions is true for one group of people, but it is not true for another group of people (these people have a set of directions that are true for them). For instance, is a global flood threatening us today, such as in the days of Noah? No, but that was true in Noah’s day!

So, when 2 Timothy 2:15-18 says, [15] Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [16] But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. [17] And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; [18] Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some,” the only sensible answer as to what the word of truth is, is that it is referring to all of the Bible (specifically, how we are divide our mystery program, the Dispensation of Grace, from Israel’s prophetic program, lest we confuse ourselves and think we are in the prophetic program). The “word of truth” in 2 Timothy 2:15 can only be the Bible, not a gospel message, for the context does not allow any gospel message to be involved.

 

Also see:
» What is “rightly dividing the word of truth?” (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)
» Is dispensational Bible study heresy? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)
» If dispensational Bible study is true, how come few people believe it? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)

Was God “bored” before creation?

WHAT WAS GOD DOING BEFORE CREATION? WAS HE NOT “BOReD” WITHOUT ANGELS, ANIMALS, AND HUMANS TO WATCH?

by Shawn Brasseaux

God has always existed, and He will always exist. Imagine that! Read it again. God has always existed, and He will always exist. We cannot begin to imagine such a concept, but we take it by faith because the Bible testifies this to be true.

Everyone knows Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Yet, the question often arises, “What was God doing before creation?” Was God bored without the angels and man? Besides God, nothing existed. No angels, no people, no animals, nothing. So, was God “bored?” No, He was not bored. Why? The doctrine of the Trinity answers this question. Although we cannot give a detailed answer, we can grasp a better understanding of what God was doing before creation.

God exists in three Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—but He exists in one “Godhead” (see Acts 17:29 KJV, Romans 1:20 KJV, and Colossians 2:9 KJV). For instance, Jesus said in John 10:30: “I and my Father are one.” The Lord Jesus and God the Father are separate Persons, yet they are one God. Speaking of Jesus Christ, the Bible says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). There are many references in the Bible to the Godhead, but here are the three most obvious:

  • Matthew 28:19: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:”
  • 2 Corinthians 13:14: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.”
  • 1 John 5:7 KJV*: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” (*Unfortunately, 1 John 5:7 is omitted from many modern English Bibles.)

To get a brief glimpse of what God was doing before creation, we look at what the Lord Jesus Christ prayed to His Father in John chapter 17. Verse 5: “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” What was before the creation of the world? The glory that God the Father and God the Son shared with each other! There was fellowship among the Persons of the Godhead: the Father and the Son shared glory. Let us continue reading in the Scriptures.

John 17:24 reads (Jesus still praying to His Father): “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” What occurred between God the Father and God the Son before the foundation (or the creation) of the world? Love! The Father loved the Son, and the Son loved the Father. The Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Godhead, was there to witness the love between God the Father and God the Son!

Also, we can also add that before the events of Genesis 1:1, the triune God was “laying out blueprints” for the timeline of human history. For instance, Ephesians 1:4 reads: “According as he [God the Father] hath chosen us in him [Christ Jesus] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” What was God doing before creation? He was choosing His servants, people who would serve Him—us, members of the Church Body of Christ—and He was planning our role in human history and His plan for the ages. (Please take note that He was not selecting us for salvation [as Calvinism teaches], He was selecting us for service. God was determining our role as members of the Church the Body of Christ.)

In the eons of eternity past, prior to creation, God was also setting the stage for His own death, as we see what Peter says to the Jews in Acts 2:23: “[Jesus Christ] Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” The triune God already knew and planned Christ’s First Advent and His crucifixion from the foundation of the world! He already knew He would have to die for man that would come on the scene later.

While it is possible we have not answered the question to your satisfaction, this is all the information God has chosen to reveal to us in His Word. It is not important to know what God was doing in eternity past; otherwise God would have gone into great detail about it in His Word. Anything beyond what we have discussed here from the Scriptures would simply be speculation, with no supporting Scripture.

Also see:
» Is the Trinity/Godhead a Biblical doctrine?
» Why did God create us? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)
» Does God really exist? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)

Is “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock” really a Gospel invitation?

WHAT IS THE REAL MEANING OF REVELATION 3:20?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Revelation 3:20 is often quoted during “Gospel invitations.” Lost people are told that Jesus is knocking on their heart’s door, and they are urged to open the door and let Him come into their hearts and save them. Is that really what Revelation 3:20 is teaching? We will let the Bible be our final authority in that regard, and not promote denominational doctrine as though it were true.

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). As always, we look at the context so that we can understand a verse, lest we make the verse say something that it does not say. We will read from Revelation 3:

“[14] And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; [15] I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. [16] So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. [17] Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: [18] I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. [19] As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. [20] Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. [21] To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. [22] He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”

Revelation 3:20 has a context, and that verse is written to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans, Jewish believers who will endure the future seven-year Tribulation (verse 14). These Laodiceans are “lukewarm,” “neither cold nor hot” (verse 15,16): they are materialistic and their works displease God (verses 17,18). They are “straddling the fence,” so to speak; therefore, the Lord through the Apostle John admonishes these them, “be zealous therefore, and repent [change your thinking!]” (verse 19).

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock” is best understood when compared to James 5:8,9 (also written to Jews during the Tribulation): “[8] Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. [9] Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.” In the context of Revelation 3:20, Jesus Christ’s Second Coming is near, and God is warning these believing Jews to “get their act together” so they can be ready to accept their Messiah-King, and so their deeds and hearts (attitudes) are acceptable to Him (Matthew 23:42-51; Luke 19:12-27; Revelation 22:11-12; et cetera).

Return to the context of Revelation 3:20: “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (verse 21). This refers to believing Jews entering their earthly kingdom (which Christ will establish at His Second Coming). How plain! Revelation 3:20 belongs to Israel, not us.

So, Revelation 3:20 has nothing to do with salvation from sins and hell. It has nothing to do with “Jesus knocking at the door of a lost person’s heart” or “asking Jesus into your heart.” Contrariwise, it actually entails judgment!

Dispensational Bible study helps us understand Revelation 3:20 is not even talking to or about us anyway. First, John is its author (Revelation 1:4). John is not writing to us in the Dispensation of Grace; he is an apostle of Israel, writing to Jews in their kingdom program (Galatians 2:9). We need to leave Revelation 3:20 where it is in the Bible, and not rip it out of its context so that it promotes our denominational doctrine.

 

Also see:
» Must I walk an aisle to show I am saved?
» Must I confess my sins?
» Must I audibly confess “Jesus is Lord” in order to be saved? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)

Do not Acts 9:7 and Acts 22:9 contradict each other?

Was Judas forgiven?

DID JUDAS HAVE ETERNAL LIFE? DID HE DIE A SAVED MAN?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Was Judas Iscariot forgiven of betraying Jesus Christ? That is, did Judas die as a saved individual? The final moments of Judas’ life are recorded in Matthew 27:3-10 and Acts 1:16-20, and we need to look at those passages in order to answer these questions.

In Matthew 27:3-10, we read: “[3] Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, [4] Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. [5] And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. [6] And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. [7] And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. [8] Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. [9] Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; [10] And gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me.”

Verses 3 and 4 say, “Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood.” Based on these verses, it would seem like Judas became a saved man, a Messianic Jew, after Jesus’ arrest, would it not? After all, Judas did confess, “I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood.” Judas admitted Jesus was the only innocent Man who ever existed, and he returned the 30 pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders. When they refused the money, Judas threw it down in the Temple, and then went out and hanged himself. However, the Bible is silent about Judas approaching any of the other apostles, or even Jesus, seeking forgiveness. The Bible does not say Judas prayed for forgiveness. Furthermore, if Judas was forgiven, I do not think he would have committed suicide.

In Acts 1:16-20, we read about Judas’ final moments as told by the Apostle Peter: “[16] Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. [17] For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. [18] Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. [19] And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. [20] For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.”

As a side-note, the apparent contradiction between Peter and Matthew’s account can be reconciled in the following manner: after Judas hung himself (Matthew 27:5), Jesus died and then there was an earthquake (verse 51), and this earthquake caused Judas’ corpse (which was still hanging evidently) to violently fall headfirst to the ground, and his body was so badly mangled that his insides spilled out. Again, if Judas was a man forgiven of that sin of betraying Jesus, I do not think he would have hanged himself.

Peter continues in Acts 1:25, referring to Judas’ replacement, “That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” This verse says that Judas went to “his own place” after he died, which does not sound good. Personally, I believe Jesus Christ, in John 17, identified this place.

Just moments before He was betrayed by Judas and arrested, the Lord Jesus prayed to His Heavenly Father, “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled” (John 17:12). Obviously, Jesus is referring to Judas Iscariot, whom He calls “the son of perdition [damnation].” The Apostle Paul referred to the antichrist, the coming satanic world ruler, as “the son of perdition” (2 Thessalonians 2:3). According to the Bible, Judas and the antichrist are the two individuals who are most profitable in furthering Satan’s policy of evil, than any two other people in history. It does not sound Judas was a saved individual.

Jesus Christ could have certainly forgiven Judas, even of that betrayal of Him, since He forgave the Apostle Peter of denying Him three times (John 21:15-17). However, it does not seem like Judas was interested in being forgiven (the Bible does not say he prayed for forgiveness, or that he approached Jesus or the apostles hoping to make things right, et cetera). On the basis of these verses and facts, it does not seem like Judas died with a right standing before God, it does not seem like Judas had eternal life, and it is more than likely that Judas is still consigned to everlasting hellfire today.

Also see:
» Is not hell only reserved for “bad” people?
» Why does Israel have 12 apostles?
» Exactly what is Satan’s “policy of evil?”