Monthly Archives: August 2014

We are saved by faith, but are we blessed by works?

WE ARE SAVED BY FAITH, BUT ARE WE BLESSED BY WORKS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork alone, and not by our works. So, some proceed to ask afterward: “After we are saved and on our way to heaven, will God bless us Christians when we do good works?” As always, we allow the Spirit of God to teach us through His written Word, the Holy Scriptures.

Every serious Bible student understands (or at least should understand) that God’s plan of salvation today and His truth that relates to us today, can be found in Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, alone. The doctrine, duty, walk, and destiny of the Church the Body of Christ is taught alone in the Pauline epistles. What Father God wants us to believe for salvation, what He wants us to do in our Christian lives, where He will take us when we leave this earth, and what He will do with us in the ages to come, all of these issues are fully dealt with in Paul’s epistles. We do not have to go around wondering what God is doing and what He wants us to do—all too often, this describes the majority of professing Christians!

Please understand that we study all of the Bible, for all 66 books of the Bible are God’s Word, but we also recognize that God in His Word is not always talking to us. All Scripture is for us, but not all Scripture is to us or about us. For instance, when a passage says that God is addressing the nation Israel, then we need to believe the context and not apply the passage to us because the passage says that it is not talking to or about us. Regarding our current topic, the various conflicts and confusions regarding good works and Christian living are because of a failure to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), a failure to separate the varied instructions that God has given to different groups of people throughout the ages.

Dear readers, let us proceed to demonstrate how right division is the key to understanding how God relates to us today in the Dispensation of Grace, and how He dealt with the nation Israel in time past.

HOW GOD DEALT WITH ISRAEL IN HER PROGRAM

JEHOVAH God promised to Abram/Abraham many physical and spiritual blessings. We read about them in Genesis chapters 12, 15, and 17, among other places. Abraham simply had to believe what God said and God would take care of the rest. When God brought Abraham’s descendants—the nation Israel—out of Egyptian bondage over 400 years later, Israel preferred works-religion. They did not want God’s grace, everything that God would give to them freely; they wanted JEHOVAH to bless them on the basis of their works. Their sinful, deceitful hearts had caused them to believe that they could really do everything a holy, righteous God demanded. How wrong they were!

Let us read Exodus chapter 19, where God offered to make that Covenant of Law with the nation Israel: “[5] 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: [6] 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. [7] And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him. [8] And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD” (Exodus 19:5-8).

Immediately after JEHOVAH delivered Israel from Egyptian slavery, He proved to the Jews that He would take care of them, meeting all of their physical and spiritual needs according to His grace. Study His miraculous provisions for Israel delineated in Exodus chapters 14-17—His parting the mighty Red Sea for Israel to be delivered from Pharaoh and his armies, His providing Israel with potable water and quail and manna/bread from heaven, His furnishing Israel with potable water a second time, and His giving Israel military victory over her enemies. Yet, the Israelites were so ungrateful towards JEHOVAH’S provisions. Exodus 19:8 demonstrates that the Jews believed they really could please God, and they wanted Him to bless them according to their works—they rejected the free-for-nothing Abrahamic Covenant. At Mount Sinai, Israel entered into a contract whereby she could only be God’s people IF she obeyed Him (refer back to Exodus 19:5 above); otherwise, she would be cursed of God, and under sin and Satan’s control. This system is what we call legalism.

Read Deuteronomy 28:1-2: “[1] And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: [2] And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.” JEHOVAH then listed the various blessings—great harvests of crops, large families, large herds of cattle and other livestock, military victories, plentiful rain, and so on. Verse 15 continues: “But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:….” JEHOVAH then delineated the curses—sicknesses, wars, famines and other economic hardships, pestilences, and so on. Unfortunately, as history testifies, Israel “enjoyed” more of the curses than the blessings!

Although we must stop here concerning Israel’s program for sake of brevity, suffice it to say that the New Covenant will be JEHOVAH’S solution to Israel’s Covenant-of-Law dilemma. It will be by Jesus Christ’s shed blood that God will ratify the New Covenant, thereby forgiving and cleansing Israel so they may be His people (see Jeremiah 31:31-34; Romans 11:25-32; Hebrews 8:8-13; Hebrews 10:15-17). This is yet future.

HOW GOD DEALS WITH US IN THE DISPENSATION OF GRACE

NOTE: While much of this section is review, it is needed in order to answer the question at hand.

The Holy Spirit, through the Apostle Paul, spent five whole chapters—the first five chapters of the book of Romans—to settle the issue of soul salvation unto eternal life by faith alone in Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins. When we trust God’s Son, and Him alone, for a right standing before God, the Bible makes it abundantly clear that we are instantaneously and permanently justified before God, that we are made the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). In short, what God commanded Israel to do in her own strength (Mosaic Law), He has done for us through Jesus Christ at Calvary. In Jesus Christ, because of His perfect sacrifice at Calvary, He has dealt with our sin problem. Again, this parallels the Abrahamic Covenant, where God offered to give Abraham righteousness as a free gift without his works (see Romans 4:1-25). Here are the highlights of Romans chapters 3-5:

  • Romans 3:19-20: “[19] Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. [20] Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
  • Romans 3:28: “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”
  • Romans 4:16: “Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,”
  • Romans 4:21-25: “[21] And [Abraham] being fully persuaded that, what he [God] had promised, he was able also to perform. [22] And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. [23] Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; [24] But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; [25] Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”
  • Romans 5:1: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:”

Okay, again (we repeat for emphasis), how were justified, made right in God’s sight? How were we blessed of God regarding soul salvation unto eternal life? Did we have to strive and do various religious works so God would be pleased with us? That is, did God give us eternal life after we did everything we possibly could? Absolutely not! Once we read Romans chapters 1-5 and believe those verses, we conclude that our works do not save us. Our works had absolutely nothing to do with us receiving “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). No water baptism, no tithe, no speaking in tongues, no keeping commandments, no walking an aisle, no prayer recitation, no giving to the poor, no confession of sins, no church membership, no quitting bad habits and initiating good ones, nothing, nothing, nothing we did. “[8] For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: [9] Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Nothing we did in the flesh gets us into heaven. Nothing. This cannot be stressed enough because religious tradition constantly robs James chapter 2 of its context and then cheats its church members of the clarity of salvation by grace through faith without works. Religion is 100 percent wrong when they put you on a treadmill and cause you to “work your spiritual fingers to the bone” so that you can hopefully merit favor before God. God pity the ministers who make their congregations work their way to heaven, for they too will enter the same gates of hell their congregants passed—to enjoy much hotter parts! We would hate to be in those ministers’ shoes when they stand before a holy, righteous God and have Him accuse them of misleading people to everlasting hellfire using His Son’s precious name! Oh, may these people turn away from such error and trust the Lord Jesus Christ alone, before it is eternally too late for them all!

A Christian doing good works and someone doing good works to become a Christian are two totally separate matters. The first is acceptable before God while the latter is an absolute abomination before Him. When we say that doing good works saves us, that we can become a Christian by doing good deeds, we are pushing aside Jesus Christ’s perfect sacrifice of Himself and exalting our own deeds. Which would God accept—something defiled by sinful hands and hearts, or something that His perfect Son did? Would we dare to compare ourselves to Jesus Christ, who always did His Father’s will (John 8:29)? Then we had better not attempt to substitute His righteousness with ours.

With Jesus Christ’s merits at Calvary applied to our account by faith alone, we have been given an abundance of spiritual wealth. Are we going to be like Israel and ignore God’s grace, or are we going to accept God’s grace and enjoy what He has already given us in Jesus Christ? Yes, some want to live like spiritual paupers, and some Christians do live like spiritual paupers, but we do not have to live like spiritual paupers!

OUR SPIRITUAL WEALTH IN CHRIST

In Jesus Christ, God the Father has given us everything that He could possibly give us. Every spiritual blessing is ours in Jesus Christ, from the moment we trust Him alone until forever and ever. Notice:

  • Romans 8:32: “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”
  • 1 Corinthians 1:30-31: “[30] But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: [31] That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
  • 2 Corinthians 8:9: “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.”
  • Ephesians 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:”
  • Philippians 4:19: “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
  • Colossians 2:10: “And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:”

God has “freely” given (without cost to us) “all things” with Jesus Christ (Romans 8:32). Again, when God gave us His Son, He gave everything to us that He could ever give. God the Father has given us spiritual wisdom, a right standing before Him, He has set us apart for His purposes, He has bought us out of the slave-market of sin with Jesus Christ’s shed blood (1 Corinthians 1:30)—that is our identity in Christ. Father God has given us every possible spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ. The Spirit of God has given us immaterial riches (2 Corinthians 8:9) such as fellowship with God, His righteousness, His love, His mercy, His grace, His forgiveness, His life, His peace, His joy, His power, on and on and on (Ephesians 1:3). These are all the things we really need in life (Philippians 4:19). We Christians are “in Christ,” and we lack nothing in Him (Colossians 2:10). Everything that God wants to give us is in Him, and we are in Him, so we have everything God wants to give us.

We say all this to ask, Why return to the “weak and beggarly” law system (Galatians 4:9) of do good to get God’s blessings, when Jesus Christ has done all that work perfectly at Calvary, and Father God has given us everything upfront when we trusted His dear Son? Why go back to a system that will only condemn us? Why abandon God’s grace to us and try to merit something He already proved we cannot merit? Why try to gain something Jesus Christ offers to us freely? It makes no sense.

To the Galatians who were already saved but trying to “enhance” their Christian lives with their performance in religion, the Holy Spirit through Paul wrote: “[1] 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 3:1-3). The entire book of Galatians deals with the issue of mixing law and grace—it will not work, and law will only wreck your Christian life. May we not give place to Satan, causing him to use the Scriptural Mosaic Law to pollute our minds from “the simplicity that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4; Galatians 5:1-10).

WHAT ABOUT MATERIAL WEALTH IN CHRIST?

In this day and age of prosperity theology and social gospels, Christendom is being deluged by such catchphrases as, “God wants you healthy and wealthy. Christians are promised an easy life, so come to Christ and get it.” These false teachers allege that material poverty is a “sin” and that bodily illness is a “sin.” They overlook many Bible verses that demonstrate the Apostle Paul, indwelt and led by the Holy Spirit, was materially poor on numerous occasions (1 Corinthians 4:9-13; 2 Corinthians 11:22-27)—he and his ministry companions did not always have enough food to eat, drink to drink, clothes to wear, shelter to find refuge in, and so on (see Philippians 4:11-13). Among other discouraging conditions, Paul suffered various bodily illnesses (2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Galatians 4:13-14). Timothy, another man of God, was sick with his stomach (1 Timothy 5:23). Paul was also unable to heal another sick Christian, Trophimus (2 Timothy 4:20). We read about the poor Macedonian saints who gave, despite their deep poverty, to Paul’s ministry (2 Corinthians 8:1-4). Although God has given us spiritual wealth in Christ, these Scriptures confirm that He has not promised us material wealth and perfect health. He does, however, give us the grace to endure all circumstances, good and bad (2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Philippians 4:11-13).

The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul penned in 1 Timothy 6:5-8: “[5] Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. [6] But godliness with contentment is great gain. [7] For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. [8] And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” The Bible says we should be content with just food and clothing. If we want abundant material wealth, the Bible says that we need to get a job and provide that income for ourselves (2 Thessalonians 3:6-17). This is how God prospers us materially.

The Bible is often used to prove that if one gives money to “God’s ministry,” He will bless that individual’s finances. Malachi 3:8-11 is the primary passage used in such a regard: “Give your tithes and God will bless you, because He will curse you if you give too little or not at all!” Beloved, this is not only extortion, but religious tomfoolery as well; I know Christian people who give money regularly to ministries and these faithful and sincere givers are not millionaires. Furthermore, we are not under the tithe today. We give cheerfully (happily), not because someone forces us to give (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).

CONCLUSION

The Law system can be summed up with the phrase, “Do good and you will receive blessings; do bad and you will receive curses.” We cannot take the first part and ignore the second; we cannot take the second part and ignore the first. Neither the first nor the second part applies to us. We are under grace not law (Romans 6:14-15). God has given us everything in Jesus Christ because of His grace, His unmerited favor, apart from our works.

When you first trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, you realized that you did not and could not measure up to God’s righteous standards. Despite the “best” you could do, you were still unable to save yourself. The Law could not save you, your works could not save you and make yourself accepted of God. Likewise, your performance will not make you right in God’s sight. It will always be Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork at Calvary. It is His resurrection power that causes you to be raised again to have a life pleasing in His sight, a lifestyle that matches the identity you have in His Son.

According to Colossians 2:6-7, “[6] As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: [7] Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” The Bible says that our Christian lives in this the Dispensation of Grace operate just as they began: “AS” we were saved, “SO” will be our daily living. In other words, both our initial sanctification (salvation in Christ, salvation from the penalty of sin in hell) and our practical sanctification (salvation in Christ, salvation from sin’s power over our lives) operate on the same principle. According to the Bible, how we are saved from hell is the answer to how we are saved from sin having dominion over us on a daily basis (practical Christian living).

The Apostle Paul prayed for the Philippians: “[9] And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; [10] That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; [11] Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11). Every believer is to be “filled with the fruits of righteousness” indeed, but notice, the Bible’s clarificationwhich are by Jesus Christ.” Just as our salvation from hell (eternal salvation) depends on Jesus Christ’s performance, not our efforts, so our salvation from sin’s dominion over us (daily living) also depends on Jesus Christ’s performance, not our efforts (remember what we read in Colossians 2:6-7 earlier). Remember, technically, the Christian life is not us doing good deeds in order to make God happy with us (that is religion and legalism/Law-keeping); the Christian life is really Jesus Christ doing the work in and through us, living in and through us, because God is happy with us in Christ (that is grace living)! Beloved, this is why we must study God’s Word rightly divided, that He may work in us using those Scriptures.

Also see:
» Does God chasten us when we sin?
» What about hindered and/or unanswered prayer?
» Must I confess my sins?

What is the “that which is perfect” in 1 Corinthians 13:10?

WHAT IS THE THAT WHICH IS PERFECT IN 1 CORINTHIANS 13:10?

by Shawn Brasseaux

What is the “that which is perfect” in 1 Corinthians 13:10? We have no interest whatsoever in appealing to Bible “scholars,” commentaries, a preacher’s study notes, a modern perversion, a denomination, or any other man-made reference or group for enlightenment—they have caused more confusion about this verse than clarity anyway. Let us see what the Holy Scriptures teach. “For what saith the Scriptures?”

Firstly, we must read 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 to get the context of the verse in question: “[8] Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. [9] For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. [10] But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. [11] When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. [12] For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. [13] And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”

Generally, there are three interpretations concerning the meaning of the phrase “when that which is perfect is come” of 1 Corinthians 13:10: (1) Some people believe that it is a reference to us dying and going to heaven, (2) others argue that it refers to when Jesus returns to earth, and (3) others affirm that it refers to the completed Bible. Again, if we are really interested in learning what the Bible actually teaches, then it is mandatory that we look at the Bible instead of reading books about it (commentaries, Greek grammars, interlinears, and so on). In this study, we will systematically evaluate each of these three views and see which one agrees with the context of the verse.

1. IS “WHEN THAT WHICH IS PERFECT IS COME” A REFERENCE TO US DYING AND GOING TO HEAVEN?

Let us take another look at the verse whose phrase is in question: “But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away” (1 Corinthians 13:10). This verse says nothing about us going anywhere, but it does teach that something is coming to us. Something coming to us and us going somewhere are two completely different situations. Often, because of verse 12, 1 Corinthians 13:10 is conflated with 1 John 3:2. However, 1 Corinthians 13:12 and 1 John 3:2 are not cross-references—the contexts are discussing separate issues.

Read 1 John 3:1-2: “[1] Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. [2] Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” Because of a famous hymn, verse 2—“for we shall see him as he is”—is used to explain 1 Corinthians 13:12’s phrase “face to face.” It is then assumed that 1 Corinthians 13:10—“when that which is perfect is come”—is descriptive of us going to heaven and seeing Jesus for who He really is, when we no longer wonder what He looks like but when we actually see Him “face to face.” Yet, beloved, a hymnal is not our authority; it is not inspired of God. Just because someone wrote a hymn lacking doctrinal clarity and accuracy, does not mean that we are to accept the hymn for sake of tradition. We should discard the hymn and we should believe the Bible for what it says rather than that what it is presumed to teach. After all, the hymn is to be written based on Bible truth; the Bible is the authority, not the hymnal. It would save us much disappointment and misery when we realize that the opinions of men are not going to profit us in eternity.

The phrase “when that which is perfect is come” has nothing to do with us dying and going to heaven. It is talking about something coming to us, not us going to a place. The real reason why people (particularly charismatics) take the view of us dying going to heaven in reference to 1 Corinthians 13:10 is so that the spirituals gifts—especially the gift of tongues—can be viewed as still operating (for, it is said, the spiritual gifts will not cease until we go to heaven). This is a very faulty position to take, for there is nothing in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 about dying and going to heaven. On the authority of the Scriptures, we must reject this view.

2. IS “WHEN THAT WHICH IS PERFECT IS COME” A REFERENCE TO WHEN JESUS COMES BACK TO EARTH?

This view is similar to view #1 because it too is based on a faulty reading of 1 John 3:1-2: “[1] Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. [2] Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”

Certainly, 1 John 3:2 is speaking of Jesus Christ’s return to planet Earth (often called His “Second Coming”), but to link this to 1 Corinthians 13:12 and then interpret verse 10 in light of it, it is to read something into Paul’s writings that the Apostle did not write. Despite what the Scofield Reference Bible has in its marginal notes, 1 Corinthians 13:12 and 1 John 3:2 are not cross-references—the contexts are discussing separate issues. As it is said, a text without a context makes one a conman! We must consider contexts whenever looking at any verse.

Additionally, to say “that which is perfect is come” is a person, is to support strange and awkward grammar. Do you actually think that Jesus Christ would be called “that which is perfect?” It is quite clear that this phrase is referring to an inanimate object, not a person. The phrase “that which is perfect is come” of 1 Corinthians 10:13 does not refer to Jesus Christ or His return.

By the way, modern translations re-translate 1 Corinthians 13:10 in order to make its teaching less clear, probably in attempt to make it more appealing to those who want the verse to support their denominational doctrine (if left alone, the verse would put their religious system out of business!). The Ryrie Study Bible, New American Standard Version, for example, reads in 1 Corinthians 13:10, “but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.” Its footnote says, “The perfect. A reference to Christ’s second coming.” Nothing could be further from the truth—the context does not allow such a strange view!

The real reason why people (particularly charismatics) take this view of “that which is perfect” refers to Jesus Christ’s return is, like view #1, so that the spiritual gifts—especially the gift of tongues—can be viewed as still operating (for, it is said, the spiritual gifts will not cease until Jesus comes back). Like view #1, this is a very faulty position to take, for there is nothing in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 about Jesus coming back to Earth. On the authority of the Scriptures, we must reject this view as well.

3. IS “WHEN THAT WHICH IS PERFECT IS COME” A REFERENCE TO WHEN THE BIBLE IS COMPLETED?

Let us take another look at the verse whose phrase is in question: “But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away” (1 Corinthians 13:10). As previously mentioned, this verse says nothing about us going anywhere, but it does teach that something is coming to us. The question is, what is coming to us

We should look at the verse in its context (1 Corinthians 13:8-13): “[8] Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. [9] For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. [10] But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. [11] When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. [12] For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. [13] And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”

The thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians is the heart of Paul’s three-chapter-long discourse on spiritual gifts and the Dispensation of Grace. The Corinthians were spiritually immature (1 Corinthians 3:1-2), and they were ignorant of spiritual gifts and they were misusing and abusing them (1 Corinthians 12:1–14:40). Rather than focusing on sound doctrine, the Corinthians, like today’s charismatics, were too engaged in emotional experiences—especially the gift of tongues (refer to the 40 verses of 1 Corinthians chapter 14). Paul wrote chapters 12-14 to show them that there Christian lives were not functioning properly, and if they did not correct their thinking, when the spiritual gifts would fall away, their Christian lives would fall apart!

  • 1 Corinthians 13:11: “When I was a child, I spake as a child.” This would be a reference to the gift of tongues (verse 8), the ability to speak forth God’s Word in intelligent human languages never formally learned.
  • 1 Corinthians 13:11: “When I was a child… I understood as a child.” This would be a reference to the gift of knowledge (verse 8), the supernatural ability of knowing and understanding deep spiritual truths of God’s Word before they were written down in Scripture (see verse 2).
  • 1 Corinthians 13:11: “When I was a child… I thought as a child.” This would be a reference to the gift of prophecy (verse 8), the ability to preach and identify God’s Word before it was written, particularly in reference to predicting the future.
  • 1 Corinthians 13:11: “But when I became a man, I put away childish things.” This would be spiritual maturity, when all revelation from God is given. It is then that we do away with the immature things.

Paul wrote that there was coming a day when the gift of prophecy would fail, the gift of tongues would cease, and the gift of knowledge would vanish away (verse 8). The Church the Body of Christ would move away from doctrinal immaturity and into doctrinal maturity. In other words, the completed revelation from God would be given, and this would bring about mature saints, people who fully grasped what God wanted them to know (Ephesians 4:11-14).

Let us look back at 1 Corinthians 13:12: “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” Paul acknowledged that he had not received all of the information God wanted him to have and give to us. Later, the Apostle wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:1: “I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.” Years afterward, Paul wrote his prison epistles—Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, and 2 Timothy—and they were the full revelation of God for this the Dispensation of Grace.

After all, Paul wrote in Colossians 1:25-26 that one of his divinely-ordained roles was to complete God’s Word: “[25] Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; [26] Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints.” Ephesians 3:1-4 explains: “[1] For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, [2] If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: [3] How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, [4] Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)….” We learn the knowledge God revealed first to Paul, by reading his epistles of Romans through Philemon.

“When that which is perfect is come” is a reference to when partial knowledge and partial prophesying are done away. Verses 9 and 10 again: “[9] For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. [10] But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” This is talking about the completion of the Bible’s canon of books, which was settled in God’s mind in the first century A.D. Once Paul wrote the epistle of 2 Timothy, the Bible was complete, and there was no more revelation needed from God (cf. Colossians 1:25 and 2 Timothy 3:16-17). This is the only view that the context of 1 Corinthians 13:10 allows. For God to have us grow up spiritually is something He wants now, not when we go to heaven (view #1) or when Jesus comes back (view #2): God wants mature Christians now (view #3).

By the way, the word “perfect” in 1 Corinthians 13:10 is not sinless perfection, but the completion of God’s revelation (the Holy Bible) and the spiritual maturity it brings to those who read and believe it. Notice some examples of how the Scriptures use the term “perfect” in that sense:

  • Philippians 3:15: “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.”
  • Colossians 1:28: “Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:”
  • Colossians 4:12: “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”
  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “[16] All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: [17] That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”
  • Hebrews 5:14: “But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

CONCLUSION

Generally, there are three primary interpretations concerning the meaning of the phrase “that which is perfect is come” of 1 Corinthians 13:10: (1) Some people believe that that is a reference to us dying and going to heaven, (2) others believe that it refers to when Jesus returns to earth, and (3) others believe that it refers to the completed Bible. The only sound view—in light of context, in light of grammar, in light of Scripture—is that 1 Corinthians 13:10 is referring to the completed canon of Scripture of the first century A.D. There are no spiritual gifts
operating today because we have the completed 66-book Holy Bible. If we are to people of faith, we must throw away our doctrinally-deficient hymns, we must discard our faulty theological systems, and we must break away from our pre-conceived ideas. We are to embrace the simple truths of the English Bible. In the end, God’s Word—not theological systems, not Bible commentaries, not preachers or teachers—alone will matter.

Also see:
» Must I pray or speak in “tongues?”
» Can I trust the Holy Bible? (TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)
» What about spiritual gifts in the Dispensation of Grace? (TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)

Were Gentiles saved before our Dispensation of Grace?

WERE GENTILES SAVED BEFORE OUR DISPENSATION OF GRACE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Could Gentiles be saved before Paul’s ministry, before our Dispensation of Grace began? If so, how were they saved? As always, the Holy Bible is our final authority, so let us look at it, and it alone, for answers.

Ephesians 2:11-12 describes the situation before our Dispensation of Grace: “[11] Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; [12] That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:”

In what the Bible calls “time past,” before our Dispensation of Grace began (that is, before the “but now” of verse 13 began), God was dealing almost exclusively with the nation Israel. At that time, our Gentile (or, non-Jewish) ancestors were “without Christ” (Christ’s earthly ministry was to Israel only; Matthew 10:5-7; Matthew 15:24; John 4:22; Romans 15:8), our Gentile ancestors “had no hope,” and our Gentile ancestors were “without God in the world.” Although “time past” involved God’s dealings with the nation Israel, that does not mean that God did not care about Gentiles. According to the Scriptures, the very reason why God was dealing with the nation Israel was to form an earthly people through whom He could then send salvation and spiritual light to the Gentiles. God was dealing with the nation Israel, to save the nation Israel, so then redeemed Israel would minister to Gentiles, that the Gentiles receive and believe the God of Israel, the one true God of creation.

Read the Abrahamic Covenant, the promise God made with Abram (later changed to Abraham) in Genesis 12:1-3: “[1] Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: [2] And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: [3] And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Again, it would be through redeemed Israel that God would reach the Gentiles (see Exodus 19:5-6; Isaiah 60:1-3; Zechariah 8:20-23; also Genesis 22:18; Genesis 28:14; Isaiah 2:1-4; Isaiah 11:10; Isaiah 45:22; Isaiah 49:6,22-23; Isaiah 60:14; Isaiah 61:1,2,6,9; Isaiah 62:2; Isaiah 66:19; Jeremiah 3:17; Micah 4:1-3; Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Acts 3:25; Galatians 3:8; 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 21:23-27).

In order to prove that, overall, He did care about Gentiles, God dealt with some Gentiles in “time past.” Yet, and this is the important condition to remember, in time past, God dealt with Gentiles on the basis of Israel. As per the Abrahamic Covenant quoted above, God would only deal with Gentiles if Israel were somehow involved, if the Gentiles somehow blessed Israel or placed themselves under Israel to receive God’s blessings. Let us see some examples of this from the Scriptures, how God dealt with Gentiles outside of our Dispensation of Grace, but always involving the nation Israel.

RAHAB

Consider Rahab the Canaanitess (Gentile) prostitute who lived in the city of Jericho. As the Israelites were entering the Promised Land under Joshua, Israel encountered Jericho’s walls. Before Israel defeated the city, Joshua sent two Jewish spies to scout out Jericho. The Bible says that Rahab hid these two Jewish men when her Gentile city officials came looking for them (Joshua 2:1-24).

Read Rahab’s confession in verses 9-11: “[9] And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. [10] For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. [11] And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.”

The spies reassured Rahab that she and her household would be saved when Israel would overrun and defeat Jericho (see the end result in Joshua 6:22-25). Hebrews 11:31 summarizes, “By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.” According to the Holy Spirit, Rahab was a Gentile believer of the Old Testament, a saved (redeemed) Gentile in time past (see also James 2:25). As an interesting side note, according to Matthew 1:5, Rahab was actually an ancestor of Joseph, Jesus’ foster father; additionally, Rahab was Ruth’s mother-in-law, and an ancestor of King David.

RUTH

Recall that Ruth was a Moabitess (Gentile) and her mother-in-law, Naomi, was a Jewess. Naomi, now bereaved of her husband and her two sons (one of whom was Ruth’s husband), wanted to leave Moab (east of the Dead Sea) and return to Judah (the area of Jerusalem, northwest of the Dead Sea), now that Judah’s famine was over. Naomi said that she would go back to Canaan and instructed Ruth to return to her (pagan) relatives in Moab. Ruth refused. “And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried…” (Ruth 1:16,17a). Ruth renounced her heathen (Gentile) religion and she desired Israel’s God to be her God! Eventually, she accompanied Naomi back to Judah. Ruth was another instance of a saved Gentile in “time past.” Furthermore, finally, Ruth became the mother of Obed, who was the father of Jesse, who was the father of King David, and King David was… the ancestor of Jesus Christ (Luke 1:32). God used (Gentile) Ruth to establish Jesus Christ’s bloodline!

As a fascinating side note, Zechariah 8:22-23 describes believing Gentiles in the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ: “[22] Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD. [23] Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.” Amazingly, this is basically what Gentile Ruth said to Jewish Naomi some 3,000 years earlier!

NINEVEH

In another well-known Old Testament account, JEHOVAH God commanded the Prophet Jonah, a Jew, to preach to wicked Nineveh, a Gentile city and the capital of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. You can read all about his ministry in the little Bible book of Jonah, which speaks of how God wanted these Gentiles to repent of their pagan idolatry and believe/trust Him as the one true God. While Nineveh did reform after hearing Jonah’s preaching, the city, centuries later, returned to heathenism and was eventually overrun by its enemies (prophesied in the book of Nahum). Although the Bible is unclear as to which of the Ninevites, if any, were saved unto eternal life, Jonah’s ministry is another indication that God did care about Gentiles in time past. As an interesting side note, Jonah’s rebellion typified Israel’s unbelief and utter refusal to be the nation God desired to use to minister to Gentiles. Just as Jonah eventually changed his mind and preached to Gentiles, so Israel will one day enter her earthly kingdom and fulfill her God-given commission (Isaiah 60:1-3; Zechariah 8:20-23).

CONVERTED GENTILES IN ESTHER’S DAY

After Persian king Ahasuerus decreed that no one persecute the Jews in his land, the Bible says, “And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them” (Esther 8:17). The way these Gentiles “became Jews” was to become physically circumcised, a convert to Israel’s religion of Judaism (see Exodus 12:48, for instance). The Scriptures do not disclose how many of these proselytes were actually saved unto eternal life.

However, oftentimes, through the centuries, Israel’s formalistic religious leaders placed too much emphasis on religious performance rather than stressing faith/trust in the JEHOVAH God who gave the ordinances. Hence, the Lord Jesus commented that many of the proselytes of His day were lost, going to hell. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves” (Matthew 23:15). Like many churches today, they were merely seeking members to “join and support the program”—they were not seeking lost people to see them saved!

ROMAN CENTURION IN JESUS’ EARTHLY MINISTRY

In Matthew 8:5-13 (and Luke 7:1-10), a Gentile Roman centurion (a commander of 100 soldiers) begged Jesus to heal his servant who was greatly suffering with paralysis. In fact, Luke 7:2 says this servant is “dear unto him” and “ready to die.” This centurion loved this dying servant, and he desired the Lord to heal him before he passed away. Jesus declared He would come and heal the dying servant. Luke 7:3-5 explains: “[3] And when he [the centurion] heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant. [4] And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this: [5] For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.”

As soon as the Roman centurion heard of Jesus’ entrance into Capernaum, he himself did not approach Jesus. Actually, the centurion knew that he could only access God through Israel, as per the Abrahamic Covenant of Genesis 12:3. He knew that Jesus was sent to the nation Israel and not to Gentiles such as him (Romans 15:8). Thus, he sent some Jewish elders to Jesus on his behalf. Note the centurion loved Israel and he even built the Jews a synagogue. He was one of the few Gentiles who was not saturated with paganism—he recognized Israel’s God was the true God, and he understood that Jesus was Israel’s Messiah (something most of Israel did not care to realize)! He had blessed Israel, and God blessed him (Genesis 12:3). It seems likely that this Roman centurion was saved unto eternal life.

CANAANITE WOMAN IN JESUS’ EARTHLY MINISTRY

In Matthew 15:21-28 (and Mark 7:24-30), when a Canaanitess / Greek Syrophenician (Gentile) begged Jesus to heal her devil-possessed daughter, the Bible says, “he [Jesus] answered her not a word” (Matthew 15:23a). Jesus told His disciples, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 15:24). “But he [Jesus] answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s [Israel’s] bread, and to cast it to dogs [Gentiles]” (verse 26). Jesus reaffirmed that His ministry was to Israel, and He could not give to Gentile dogs what belonged to the children of Israel (His miracles, His blessings, His ministry). This dear Gentile woman recognized Israel’s preeminence, so she agreed with Jesus: “Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table” (verse 27). She recognized that Jesus was sent to Israel, not to Gentiles such as herself and us. Only because she had faith in that fact, Jesus healed her daughter. She had placed herself under Israel’s table of blessing, and thus was blessed of God. Like the Roman centurion, she seems to have been saved unto eternal life.

SAMARITAN WOMAN IN JESUS’ EARTHLY MINISTRY

Although the Jews and the Samaritans had Jacob as their ancestor, the Jews did not like the Samaritans and tried to avoid them because the Samaritans had some Gentile ancestry and were not full-blooded Hebrews (see John 4:9,12). In John chapter 4, the Lord Jesus met and spoke with a promiscuous woman of Samaria. Notice what He told her in verse 22: “Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.” Jesus told her that salvation was sent to Israel, not her, and she readily understood that. This woman, although not a full-blooded Jew, was still willing to believe Jesus as Messiah (verses 25-29), and she brought many of her neighbors (other Samaritans) to see Jesus Christ; the Bible says that many Samaritans believed on Jesus Christ there (verses 34-42). Once this woman understood her position, that salvation went to Israel first, then Jesus Christ saved her.

PROSELYTES ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST

We read about “proselytes” (Gentile converts to Judaism) in Acts 2:10. Undoubtedly, the Bible did not consider them Gentiles anymore. They were now Jews in God’s mind, for Acts 2:5 says, “There were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, of every nation under heaven.” These were members of the Apostle Peter’s audience on the day of Pentecost. Evidently, they were not saved just religious attending a religious festival, for they heeded Peter’s gospel message in Acts 2:36-41, and were thus saved.

GENTILE SALVATION AFTER OUR DISPENSATION

After our Dispensation of Grace ends with the Rapture—when the Church the Body of Christ is caught up in the air to meet the Lord Jesus Christ there (1 Corinthians 15:51-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)—then God will resume dealing with Gentiles in the same manner He did before our dispensation began (refer to the foregoing passages and paragraphs). The Abrahamic Covenant will be in effect once more, and Gentiles during the seven-year Tribulation will have to bless Israel if they are to blessed of God (Matthew 25:31-46, note especially verse 34). These believing Gentiles will enter Jesus Christ’s earthly kingdom, to have God’s Word preached to them so they can believe it (Exodus 19:5-6; Isaiah 2:1-4; Isaiah 60:1-3; Zechariah 8:20-23; Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Revelation 21:23-27).

CONCLUSION

A survey of the Scriptures outside of Paul’s epistles yields the conclusion that Gentiles can have a relationship with the God of the Bible in Israel’s prophetic program via three methods: (1) Become a Jew/proselyte, a convert to Judaism, (2) bless Israel in some way, and (3) submit to Israel’s preeminence in God’s dealings with man. When one understands the dispensational layout of Scripture, we can contrast this with how God deals with mankind today, how He deals with Gentiles today.

We read Ephesians 2:11-12 (what we read earlier) with verse 13 now: “[11] Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; [12] That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: [13] But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”

In our program, our current Dispensation of Grace, salvation is available to all, not through Israel’s rise to kingdom glory, or through Israel in any way, but through Israel’s fall, through her spiritual blindness (Romans 11:11-12,25)—Gentile salvation was never a secret in the Bible, but our Gentile salvation apart from Israel was the secret that God had kept hidden until He revealed it first to Paul (Romans 11:25; cf. Romans 16:25-26; Ephesians 3:1-11). Furthermore, technically, everyone is a Gentile today, for Israel has no current status before God (this is temporary, remember). Today, we are saved by simple faith/trust in Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork (note His shed blood of Ephesians 2:13) as sufficient payment for our sins: this is the Gospel of the Grace of God associated with the Apostle Paul’s ministry (Romans 11:13). We do not have to join a special religion, we do not have to bless Israel with material goods to be blessed of God, and we do not have to submit to Israel’s preeminence to be saved (Israel is temporarily fallen before God anyway, according to Romans chapter 11). We are saved by becoming members of the Church the Body of Christ, an agency completely separate from the nation Israel.

How clear the Bible becomes when one will, “Study to shew [himself] approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Also see:
» What is “the Dispensation of Grace?”
» Did Peter and Paul preach the same Gospel?
» What is “Replacement Theology?”

When will the Old Testament saints be resurrected?

WHEN WILL THE OLD TESTAMENT SAINTS BE RESURRECTED?

by Shawn Brasseaux

When will the Old Testament saints be resurrected? Will that resurrection include those saved before the Dispensation of Grace? Let us be Bereans and search the Scriptures to see what they say about this topic (Acts 17:10-11).

Whenever I use the term “Old Testament saints” in this study, I am referring to every person who was saved outside of the ministry of the Apostle Paul. Technically, for the sake of simplicity, we can include in the term “Old Testament saints” those who will be saved after our dispensation as well (all the saints from the seven-year Tribulation), since they too are part of the prophetic program that began in the “Old Testament” Scriptures. Another term we can use is “Israel’s kingdom saints.” The reason why we lump all the believers in the prophetic program together is because the Bible calls their resurrection “the first resurrection” (Revelation 20:5-6).

Everything that is in the Holy Bible that is outside of our “mystery program” (the Dispensation of Grace and the Apostle Paul’s ministry) is what Scripture calls the “prophetic program” (contrast Acts 3:21 with Romans 16:25-26). The goal of the prophetic program is to have redeemed Israel fulfilling God’s will in the earth (Exodus 19:3-6; Psalm 24:1; Matthew 5:5; Revelation 5:10; Revelation 11:15)—that is what we call the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ, or the 1,000-year kingdom, or what the Bible calls “the kingdom of heaven,” et cetera.

Notice what Jesus Christ said in Matthew 25:34 in reference to His earthly kingdom: “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” The promise of God’s earthly kingdom goes all the way back to Adam when God first placed man on the Earth (Acts 3:21) and it continues with Israel (Genesis 12 onward until we come to Paul, and everything after our dispensation): everyone justified before God from Adam all the way up to those saved outside of Paul’s ministry in the book of Acts, they have an earthly hope. The oldest Bible book, Job, makes it clear in Job 19:25-27 that these saints had a hope, not to die and go to heaven [our hope], but a hope to be raised again and go into that earthly kingdom. Job 19:25-27: “[25] For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: [26] And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: [27] Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.”

All who will be saved after our Dispensation of Grace, they too have an earthly hope: our Dispensation interrupts Israel’s prophetic and earthly program. Thus, all people saved unto eternal life outside of our Dispensation of Grace, outside of Paul’s ministry, they will all be resurrected together, for they all need go into the earthly kingdom that God promised them. They need to be resurrected after Jesus Christ comes back at His Second Coming, but before He initiates His kingdom on Earth. After the Rapture (when the Church the Body of Christ is taken into heaven), and after the seven-year Tribulation, Jesus Christ will return to Earth (Revelation 19:11-21).

It is here on the Bible timeline that Revelation 20:4-6 will be fulfilled: “[4] And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. [5] But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. [6] Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” Note the believing Jews slain during the Tribulation, are clearly referenced in verse 4. This is the “Old Testament saints’ resurrection,” the resurrection of Israel’s kingdom saints, and it will occur just after Jesus Christ returns to Earth at His Second Coming. Notice how verse 6 speaks of Israel’s ministry as a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:5-6; Isaiah 61:6; 1 Peter 2:8; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10).

According to Jesus Christ, Israel’s patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be resurrected to enter and reign in their kingdom; obviously, their resurrection would be before the 1,000 years begin. Matthew 8:11: “And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.”

Please understand that Israel’s 12 apostles also need to be resurrected before the Millennial Kingdom can begin, for they will sit on 12 thrones judging Israel’s 12 tribes in her kingdom: “[27] Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? [28] And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. [29] And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. [30] But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first” (Matthew 19:27-30). Mark records similar statements in Mark 10:28-31, which see.

Daniel 12:11-13 provides more info about the timeframe of the Old Testament saints’ resurrection: “[11] And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. [12] Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days. [13] But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.

Usually, the seven-year Tribulation, Daniel’s 70th week, is divided into 3 1/2 years and 3 1/2 years, or 42 months and 42 months, or 1260 days and 1260 days (see Revelation 11:2-3, Revelation 12:6, Revelation 13:5, et cetera). According to Daniel 12:12 above, from the time the Antichrist defiles Israel’s newly-rebuilt temple to one important event associated with Christ’s coming is 1290 days. Notice this is 30 days past the often-used figure of 1260 days. Daniel chapter 12 also speaks of 1335 days, or 75 days past the 1260 days. At this time, we cannot be sure what the 30-day mark and 75-day mark actually signify, but there is a “window of time” involved with Jesus’ Second Coming and the Old Testament saints’ resurrection. According to Daniel 12:12 (quoted above), it seems like the Old Testament saints will be resurrected approximately a month or two after Jesus Christ returns. Verse 13 leads me to conclude that they will be resurrected at the very end of those days listed, and that would be the 75-day mark, or 1335 days after the Antichrist defiled the temple. Generally speaking, the Old Testament saints, such as Daniel, will be resurrected after the seven-year Tribulation, after Jesus Christ returns to Earth at His Second Coming.

CONCLUSION

“When will the Old Testament saints be resurrected?” They will be resurrected within a month or two after Jesus Christ’s Second Coming to end the seven-year Tribulation and establish His literal, physical, visible earthly kingdom. “Will that resurrection include those saved before the Dispensation of Grace?” Yes, the Old Testament resurrection will include all those saved before our Dispensation of Grace and all those saved after our Dispensation of Grace, too. That would be all saints from Adam to those saved under Peter and 11’s ministry in early Acts, as well as all believers martyred during the seven-year Tribulation. They will all be resurrected to enter and enjoy Jesus Christ’s literal, physical, visible, earthly kingdom. Remember, none of these events have anything to do with us!

Also see:
» Who will accompany Jesus at His Second Coming?
» What will the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ be like? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)
» Why does Israel have 12 apostles?

Who will accompany Jesus at His Second Coming?

WHO WILL ACCOMPANY JESUS AT HIS SECOND COMING?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Will we (the Church the Body of Christ) return to Earth with Jesus Christ at His Second Coming, as commonly assumed? If not, who are those who accompany Him? Rather than repeating what others believe and teach, we need to look at the Holy Scriptures for ourselves to see what they actually say. If we are going to be Bible believers, we are going to have to look at God’s Word; otherwise, it is not faith, “for faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).

The Apostle John most clearly identified Jesus Christ’s literal, physical, and visible return to Earth to conclude the seven-year Tribulation in Revelation chapter 19. We read the following in that chapter: “[11] And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. [12] His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. [13] And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. [14] And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.”

Verse 14 is assumed to be a reference to members of the Church the Body of Christ. After all, it is believed that these individuals wearing white and clean fine linen are Christians. Verses 7-9 lead many to that conclusion: “[7] Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. [8] And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. [9] And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.”

While Revelation 19:14 is often assumed to be referring to us (the Church the Body of Christ), Jesus Christ provides the correct interpretation regarding who will accompany Him at His Second Coming:

  • “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory” (Matthew 25:31).
  • “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his holy angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works” (Matthew 16:27).
  • “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels(Mark 8:38).
  • “For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels (Luke 9:26).

The creatures described that accompany Jesus Christ are angels, not us: angels wear white clothes (Mark 16:5; Acts 1:10). Are we going to believe the words of the Lord Jesus when He says that angels will accompany Him, or will we continue to believe church tradition that the Body of Christ will accompany Him at His Second Coming?

In fact, the little book of Jude identifies that those returning to Earth with Jesus at His Second Coming are not angels. Jude writes: “[14] And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, [15] To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” Could Enoch have been prophesying about the Body of Christ nearly 5,000 years ago? Of course not, because God kept the Body of Christ secret from the Old Testament prophets (Romans 16:25-26; Ephesians 3:1-11; Colossians 1:24-27). Obviously, Jude and Enoch are referring to angels (the word “saints” simply means, “holy ones,” and this term is not exclusive of humans—in Deuteronomy 33:2, which Moses wrote about Christ’s Second Coming, angels are called “saints”).

In Revelation 19, we have two sets of creatures wearing white, and they cannot be confused with one another, and they cannot be confused with us either:

  1. Verse 14: “And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.” As we have already proven from the Scriptures, the Lord Jesus identified these individuals following Him, as angels. Either we believe Him or we do not. Angels are God’s armies in heaven. This is never the language used in the Bible to describe Christians.
  2. Verses 7-8 say: “[7] Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. [8] And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” These creatures here—collectively called “she”—are believers, but they are on the earth, and they are identified as the Lamb’s wife. Jesus Christ, of course, is the Lamb, and the context is Him returning for the nation Israel. The Lamb’s wife is Israel’s believing remnant, her little flock, the Messianic Jews who physically survived the seven-year Tribulation period. These Jews will be looking up in the clouds to see Jesus returning (Zechariah 12:10; Zechariah 13:6; Luke 21:25-28; Revelation 1:7). Verses 7-8 and verse 14 of Revelation 19 are not to be combined as if they refer to the same group of individuals.

HOW WE RELATE TO JESUS CHRIST’S SECOND COMING

The Apostle Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, never explicitly state that we come back to Earth. Thus, I prefer to believe the Holy Spirit through Paul than believe the words of any preacher or teacher, any day (what I was taught for years about this doctrine was wrong, and I have no problem discarding error and embracing God’s truth when I see it in His Word). The Church the Body of Christ does not accompany Jesus Christ at His Second Coming; Paul would have said it if we did. In fact, our Apostle Paul will not be allowed to enter Israel’s earthly kingdom (he blasphemed the Holy Spirit in Israel’s program, Matthew 12:31-32, and cannot enter that kingdom). Paul and all other members of the Body of Christ are saved unto heaven, not earth. We have glorified bodies “eternal in the heavens (2 Corinthians 5:1)—that is our realm of influence. Our realm is the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:20-23). To have us ruling on the Earth means there would be no one to rule in heaven in the places of the fallen angels God removed in Revelation 12:7-10.

Despite what church tradition says, we the Church the Body of Christ have no relation whatsoever to Christ’s Second Coming. It is very dangerous to confuse the nation Israel with the Church the Body of Christ. We are to, “Study to shew ourselves approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). If we are to understand the Bible, we must separate the dispensations from each other. We cannot combine passages that have no relation to one another, mixing Israel’s verses and program with our verses and program, et cetera. This will only lead to heartache and confusion (this is why Christendom is in such a doctrinal mess!).

At the rapture (which could happen at any moment), and before the seven-year Tribulation begins, God will secretly and instantly will remove from earth all people who have trusted exclusively in Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour, those who have relied completely on Christ’s dying for their sins, His burial, and His resurrection for their justification (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Paul described the rapture in two main passages: 1 Corinthians 15:51-58 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

If God will one day remove us (the Body of Christ) from the earth, would it make any sense for us to return to Earth at His Second Coming? No, it does not, for we the Church the Body of Christ belong in the heavenly places (2 Corinthians 5:1; Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 2:6,7; Colossians 3:1; 2 Timothy 4:18), just as the nation Israel is God’s earthly people (Exodus 19:5-6; Isaiah 11:1ff.; Zechariah 8:20-23; Revelation 5:10). Again, God will give us glorified bodies “eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1-5): our glorified bodies will not be meant to function on earth. We are God’s heavenly people. Our rightful place is heaven. Israel is God’s earthly people, which is why Israel will inherit the earthly kingdom. We as members of the Church the Body of Christ have no reason to come back to Earth with Jesus Christ at His Second Coming. We have a heavenly hope, not an earthly hope.

At His Second Coming, Jesus Christ will be coming for Israel: we have no relation to that event. Jesus Christ’s Second Coming is to rescue Israel from the Antichrist and her other enemies. When we understand dispensational Bible study, we see that we have nothing to do with God’s dealings with Israel. Beginning at the rapture and down through the ages of eternity future, we, the Body of Christ, will function in heaven. We will have no need to ever return to earth: earth will be Israel’s territory. Again, Israel is God’s earthly people (Exodus 19:5-6; Psalm 37:9; Matthew 5:5; Revelation 5:10); we the Church the Body are His heavenly people (2 Corinthians 5:1; Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 2:6-7; 2 Timothy 4:18).

CONCLUSION

Jesus Christ clearly identified these creatures returning with Him at His Second Coming, as angels (these are the creatures in white of Revelation 19:14). They are not Christians. There will be some believing Jews waiting on the Earth to receive Jesus Christ as their Messiah King at His Second Coming (these are the creatures in white of Revelation 19:7-8). Israel’s believing remnant will be on the Earth at Christ’s Second Coming, and they will watch Him come back in the clouds (Zechariah 12:10; Zechariah 13:6; Luke 21:25-28; Revelation 1:7). These angels will gather Israel’s believing remnant on Earth (see Matthew 24:30-31). Since Revelation 19:14 calls them “the armies of heaven,” these angels will obviously fight Satan’s armies on earth when Jesus Christ returns.

What about the Old Testament saints’ resurrection? Please see our study below.

Also see:

» Who is “the Bride of Christ?” (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)
» What is “the Marriage Supper of the Lamb?” (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)
» When will the Old Testament saints be resurrected?

Must Christian women wear head coverings?

MUST WOMEN WEAR HEAD COVERINGS IN THE LOCAL CHURCH?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Must Christian women wear head coverings in the local church in light of 1 Corinthians 11:1-16? Let us study this peculiar, and sometimes confusing, passage and see what the Scriptures really say. As always, context is key to clarity!

Verses 1 and 2 of 1 Corinthians chapter 11 are self-explanatory: “[1] Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. [2] Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.” In light of the verses of the previous chapter, the Apostle Paul confessed that he wanted these Christians in Corinth to follow his example as he followed Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:17; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-10), since he was God’s spokesman to them (Paul is “the apostle of the Gentiles;” Romans 11:13). The Apostle praised them for remembering the doctrine he delivered to them, the doctrine they believed. Even though we are under grace not law (Romans 6:14-15), Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon give us guidelines regarding Christian living and doctrine (1 Thessalonians 4:2, 2 Thessalonians 3:10, et cetera).

Verse 3 begins a new thought. The Holy Spirit through Paul focuses on a doctrine that the Corinthians were not understanding, a doctrine that needed to be corrected in their minds: “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”

The overall issue regarding head coverings is here identified as headship. Every man is to submit to Jesus Christ’s authority and every woman is to submit to male authority (Genesis 3:16; Ephesians 5:22-23; Colossians 3:18; 1 Timothy 2:12-15), just as Jesus Christ willingly submitted to God the Father’s authority (Matthew 26:39,42; Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 10:5-9). Please note that the issue is not superiority, but authority/leadership.

Verse 4: “Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.”

In the Corinthian culture, a head covering denoted submission; likewise, the lack of a head covering symbolized dominance/leadership. The Bible says that a Christian man in Corinth did not need a head covering in the local assembly because God had placed him in the leadership position. Remember that the lack of a head covering meant leadership, so if a Christian man wore a head covering in the local assembly in Corinth, he would be acting like a submissive woman, reversing gender roles, causing confusion—in other words, “dishonoring his head,” acting like a coward, ignoring his God-given role of leadership. Verse 7 continues: “For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God.” God had put him in charge of the assembly; by behaving in the leadership capacity God gave him, the man was glorifying God. For the Corinthian man to put on the head covering was to dishonor God, because he was indicating he was not fulfilling his leadership role.

Verses 5-6: “[5] But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. [6] For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.”

A Christian woman, however, needed to have a head covering, a veil, in the local culture of Corinth, lest she bring reproach to Christ. In Corinth, an unveiled woman was equivalent to a woman with a shaved head—the infamous pagan priestess prostitutes in Corinth had shaved heads! The argument is that if it is shameful for the Christian woman in Corinth to have a shaved head, it is equally shameful for her to have an uncovered/unveiled head. The Apostle Paul urged the female believers in Corinth not to bring approach to the name of Christ by dressing or behaving immodestly. A Christian woman should not enter the local assembly if her appearance resembled a presumptuous or arrogant woman (a “manly” woman, a woman who did not submit to male headship in the assembly). The overall idea was for Christian women not to resemble or behave like prostitutes, wild or unruly women, feminists, authoritarian women who usurped male leadership, et cetera.

Verses 7-11: “[7] For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. [8] For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. [9] Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. [10] For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. [11] Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. [12] For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.”

In respect to creation (see verses 8-9 especially), in the order the God of the Bible ordained in the home/marriage relationship, the man is appointed to leadership capacity, not to bully his wife or his children, but rather to guide them in God’s ways as Jesus Christ leads us the Church His body in His truth using love, gentleness, discretion, and so on (see Ephesians 5:21–6:4; Colossians 3:18-21). The man’s behavior was the reflection of God (verse 7)—after all, God had placed him in authority. The woman’s behavior was the reflection of the man’s spiritual leadership (verse 7)—she was to follow the man’s example. How the man behaves will either glorify or dishonor God, and how the woman behaves will either bring praise to her husband or cause him shame (verse 7).

Verse 10 of 1 Corinthians 11 is fascinating: “For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.” How angels are affected here is an interesting concept that many people overlook. In order to learn more about what the Lord Jesus Christ is doing, angels watch us Christians live our lives. As 1 Corinthians 4:9 says: “For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.” The angels watched the apostles, just as people watched the apostles. And Ephesians 3:10 reminds us that the angels watch the members of the Body of Christ: “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,….” In 1 Peter 1:12, we read “which things the angels desire to look into”—angels are curious. In the context of Peter’s words, angels attempted to understand the prophecies about Jesus Christ’s sufferings and His glorious reign (verses 10-11). Nevertheless, these angels could not figure out the Old Testament Messianic prophecies until after they were fulfilled in Christ’s life and then the apostles preached those truths (and it was then that the angels learned God’s wisdom). Even today, angels still cannot read the Bible like we can, so they watch us Christians have lives that reflect sound Bible doctrine. Angels “read” the Bible—they learn God’s manifold wisdom—by watching us Christians apply its doctrine to our lives. Paul was reminding the unruly Christian women in Corinth that their behavior of usurping male authority was disrupting God’s order in creation. These defiant women were confusing the angels who were observing their disobedience. We must be careful what we do because angels are watching us right now!

Notice the concluding verses of this section of 1 Corinthians 11: “[13] Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? [14] Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? [15] But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. [16] But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.”

Paul left the Corinthians to determine for themselves what was the mature action to take about head coverings, what was the proper way to look at the matter. (By the way, it is in light of 1 Corinthians 7:1 that I conclude the issue about head coverings was one of the many questions that the Corinthians sent to Paul in the form of a list, and the Apostle used the epistle of 1 Corinthians to reply to their questions.) Nature teaches us that men should have short hair and women should have long hair. A woman’s long hair is her covering—even in nature, women have a covering (long hair), and Paul was arguing how nature demonstrates there should be male headship and female submission (again, not male superiority, but male leadership for the sake of doctrinal integrity, lest Satan use female leadership to his advantage, as he did when he deceived Eve; 1 Timothy 2:11-15).

Verse 16 of 1 Corinthians 11 is particularly interesting: “But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.” This epistle of 1 Corinthians was not just sent to Corinth. Here we are reading it today, and we are not in Corinth. Like all the other books of the Bible, the epistle of 1 Corinthians circulated amongst all the Christians scattered throughout the Roman Empire. The Holy Spirit anticipated that some would go to extreme, some legalistic hobbyhorse, demanding all Christian women wear head coverings in every local church. Nowhere else in Paul’s epistles do we find references to this matter of head coverings: again, it was a local custom in Corinth (and thus confined to the Corinthians’ epistle). Overall, members of the Body of Christ were scattered around the then-known world, and the custom of head coverings was not a global issue. “We have no such custom, neither the churches of God.”

CONCLUSION

Women wearing head coverings was a local, cultural issue applicable to the Corinthians’ situation and time, so following their cultural practices would not be for us. There is, however, a doctrinal issue associated with this matter that reaches beyond cultural boundaries, and it is this doctrine of headship that we need to stress and apply.

In the culture at Corinth, a Christian woman’s veil (head covering) in the assembly identified her as submissive and humble (not weak, but meek). She did not appear to be arrogant or boisterous; she did not appear to be attempting to dominate the assembly and usurp male leadership. However, some Christian women were behaving improperly in the Corinthian assembly in this regard. They were abusing spiritual gifts, especially the gift of speaking in tongues, and Paul had to instruct these women to be quiet because men were to lead the church assembly (1 Corinthians 14:34; cf. 1 Timothy 2:11-15). In chapter 11, some female Christians in Corinth were not wearing head coverings, but the underlying problem went beyond outward appearance. It was the same as in 1 Corinthians 14:34—a heart/attitude of rejecting and usurping male headship in the local church. These women were not having power over their heads (1 Corinthians 11:10). Their action of not wearing head coverings was demonstrating that they were trying to usurp the authority of male leadership in the local church of Corinth.

Assorted groups and local churches today demand that their female members or visitors wear hats, shawls, or scarves on their heads in the assembly, as if doing so is a sign of spirituality. They are emphasizing the external appearance and overlooking the more important doctrinal implication of headship. In my American culture, head coverings are unnecessary in church settings. I do not demand that any female Christian wear a hat, scarf, shawl, beanie, et cetera in a local assembly here because that is not a custom in our culture. Furthermore, just as 1 Corinthians 11:16 says, the head coverings matter was not written in Scripture to lay down a law demanding all Christian women everywhere throughout the centuries must wear head coverings. It was a cultural issue isolated in Corinth (again, it was mentioned nowhere else in Paul’s epistles or ministry).

What we need to be sure to do is recognize and apply the fundamental doctrine being communicated in the issue: male headship in the local church and female submission in the local church (1 Corinthians 14:34; cf. 1 Timothy 2:11-15) and the home (Ephesians 5:21–6:4; Colossians 3:18-21). Please do not misunderstand. All Christians, men and women, are equally blessed in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:28); we just have different God-given roles (the head coverings in Corinth distinguished the roles of men and women). As a general rule of thumb, whatever appearance and behaviors are attributed solely to men in a particular culture, the Christian women in that culture should avoid identifying with those appearance and behaviors. Beloved, may our Christian sisters never appear to be usurping male authority in the local church or in the home, and may they not usurp male authority in the local church or in the home.

 

Also see:
» What roles should women occupy in the ministry? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)
» Must I pray or speak in “tongues?”
» Which local church should I attend? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)