Does “once saved, always saved” entitle us to abuse God’s grace?


by Shawn Brasseaux

“I understand sin being taken care of once you become saved. I have heard preachers state, ‘Once you are saved, you are always saved.’ However, I never believed that because people take advantage of that saying and do things that are ungodly. I know that you are not saved by your works. However, what about a person who becomes gay or a serial killer who claimed that they are saved and die? And people who are saved started robbing and hurting people? Don’t those people need to ask for forgiveness? What about a person who kills someone in your family and they ask of your forgiveness or God’s? I don’t understand God’s forgiveness. This can also lead to people not doing the will of God but committing sinful acts because they believe that their sins are already forgiven. Sorry about the long email but I had to ask these questions about this issue due to some of the problems I am having regarding sins.”

Thank you for submitting these questions. No apologies are needed—other readers have similar questions and misconceptions. While we have a similar Bible Q&A study titled “Is grace a license to sin?,” and I encourage you to read it (the link is at the end of this article), I would be glad to dedicate a study dealing with the specifics of your concerns. To best answer your email, I will address your comments by dividing them into three main issues.

ISSUE #1. You wrote, “I know that you are not saved by your works….”

We will begin by starting where you are in your Bible understanding, and then proceed to deeper discussions. You understand that sin is taken care of by simple faith in Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. Sin was most definitely taken care of at the moment of salvation. For example, in Romans 4:3-5, we read: “[3] For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. [4] Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. [5] But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” We need righteousness to make up for our sinful nature (unrighteousness). When we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, when we rely exclusively on Him, we are saved unto eternal life (Acts 16:31), delivered from the penalty of sin (hell and the lake of fire), and given a new nature. Our faith in Jesus’ death for our sins, His burial, and His resurrection, is the means whereby Father God can reckon (consider, think of) us as just as righteous before Him as His only begotten Son.

Although you are aware of it, I will share with you what the Bible says in Romans 3:21-28: “[21] But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; [22] Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: [23] For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; [24] Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: [25] Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; [26] To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. [27] Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. [28] Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

We could look at many other verses to prove the point, but this passage should suffice for beginning our discussion. What is unique about our present Dispensation of Grace, the Bible always emphasizes faith in Jesus Christ, not our works. The grace of God is not what we can do for Him in religion, but what He has already done on our behalf at Calvary. It is always His performance, not our performance. It is always His goodness, not our goodness. It is always His grace, not our works. Our works never save us, so our works will never cause us to be lost. We did nothing in our own strength to be righteous before God, so we cannot do anything to become un-righteous before God. Positionally, we are accepted before God in Christ. God has taken away the sin debt… permanently. And again, as you know, our salvation is apart from our works.

Romans chapter 4 continues: “[6] Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, [7] Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. [8] Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” If ever a Christian lost his or her salvation because of sins committed after he or she trusted Christ, then that would mean that God imputed sin to his or her account. Yet, the Bible says that God will never impute sin to a Christian’s account. Jesus Christ already took care of sin; why are we still dredging up something that God put away?

ISSUE #2. You wrote, “I know that you are not saved by your works, however, what about a person who becomes gay or a serial killer who claimed that they are saved and die? And people who are saved started robbing and hurting people? Don’t those people need to ask for forgiveness? What about a person who kills someone in your family and they ask of your forgiveness or God’s?”

Once again, you know that we are saved by simple faith in Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork, and that we are not saved by any works that we have done (Romans 3:19-31; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:4-5; et cetera). Yet, you are not consistently applying this logic. The very reason—yea, the only reason—we have security in Christ is because of the perfect nature of His work. If we were and are saved by our works, we would have no security because our works are imperfect (no wonder people in religion lack assurance of going to heaven). Hypothetically, if someone trusted Jesus Christ as his or her personal Saviour, they could live any way they want and not lose their salvation. As stated earlier, we were never by our works to start with, so our works do not keep us saved. Our lifestyles never saved us and our lifestyles can never make us “unsaved.” Let us deal with this in more detail.

Going to heaven or hell is not based on our performance or lack thereof; going to heaven or hell is an identity issue, an issue of what nature we have. If one is “in Adam,” unregenerate, having never dealt with that sin nature by faith alone in Christ’s shed blood and resurrection as sufficient payment for their sins, there is no imputed righteousness. That lack of a right standing before God is what results in going to hellfire. However, if one is “in Christ,” regenerated, having dealt with that sin nature by faith alone in Christ’s shed blood and resurrection as sufficient payment for their sins, there is imputed righteousness. That right standing before God is what results in going to heaven.

Please remember that it is the nature, not the works, that primarily offends God. The nature produces the works. Sinners are sinners not because they sin; they sin because they are sinners. Likewise, Christians are not Christians because they do good works; Christians do good works because they are Christians. Their Christian nature produces good works just as a sinner’s nature produces evil works. When a Christian sins, they still have their Christian nature (they just did not access it by faith). We do not lose our Christian identity when we sin; once we are in Jesus Christ we are always in Him. It is just that we do not always behave like saved individuals.

You asked, “What about a person who becomes gay or a serial killer who claimed that they are saved and die? And people who are saved started robbing and hurting people? Don’t those people need to ask for forgiveness? What about a person who kills someone in your family and they ask of your forgiveness or God?”

Remember, sin is sin and salvation is salvation. If a homosexual Christian or serial killer Christian needed to ask God for forgiveness when they pursued their particular sinful lifestyle, then lying Christians would need to ask God for forgiveness every time they were dishonest. Dirty- or evil-minded Christians would need to ask God for forgiveness when they have their illicit or foul thoughts. With that said, who is to say that we did not lose our salvation when we had a bad thought, told a lie, gossiped, used filthy language, were filled with pride, et cetera. To say that homosexual Christians and homicidal Christians lose their salvation, would be to say that God lets some Christians lose their seat in heaven but He lets lying Christians into heaven (“lying” would describe all Christians, correct?). We should not compare sins among sins. All sins dishonor the Lord Jesus Christ. All sin is doing what you want instead of what God wants. That includes lying, stealing, murdering, premarital sex, extramarital sex, cursing, pride, juvenile delinquency, lusting, envying, wrath, coveting, engaging in homosexual behavior, and so on.

As we mentioned earlier, when we start involving our performance, the uncertainties arise. Who is to say that we need to ask God for forgiveness for every single sin we have ever committed in life? Would we, at the end of each day, need to compose a list of all sins that we have committed the previous 24 hours, and ask God to forgive us of each and every act? What if we forgot some or most of those sins? Would that mean that God would never be able to forgive us? Would that mean we would go to hell now? There are sins in our past that we still do not recognize as sinful. Does that mean that God will not forgive us those sins until we confess them? Until we ask for forgiveness about things we cannot remember, does that mean that God will not forgive us but hold those sins against us? Friend, there is nothing but uncertainty, burdensome worry in these statements. We can avoid this by remembering the Bible rightly divided. We are not under Israel’s Law system, a “short-account system,” a performance-based system, et cetera. We are under grace. God has already accepted us, and now we need to behave like He has accepted us. We do not have to strive to get His blessings. He already gave us all of them in Christ!

Colossians 2:13 says, “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;” And Colossians 3:13: “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”

When did God forgive us? Did He not forgive us of all our sins the moment the Holy Spirit put us into Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13)? If God has already dealt with our sins, why do we have to bring them up again and again in a confessional booth or prayer closet? Do we get forgiveness from God on the basis of what we do, or on the basis of what Jesus Christ did? The Holy Scriptures say that God has already forgiven us based on what Jesus Christ did. We need to leave it at that. We need to believe it.

Suppose, if you are a parent, that your child wronged you. Then, your child apologized, and you told your child that you forgave him or her. But, the next day, here comes your child again, “Oh, will you not please forgive me? Oh, I beg you to forgive me! Please, please, please forgive me!” What are you going to say? And the next day, a third time, “Oh, will you not please forgive me? Please, please, please! Oh, forgive me! Forgive me!” Over and over and over again, you are asked for forgiveness. Would it not be pointless? Would it not break your heart? Would it not break God’s heart to have His child (you, the person He told, “I have forgiven you of all your sins!”), His child come to Him as ask, “Oh, Father, will you not forgive me? Please forgive me!” What should He forgive you of? He already wiped your sin debt clean in Jesus Christ! There is nothing there being held against you! You have imputed righteousness, not imputed sins. Remember our discussion earlier about Romans chapter 4? (Friend, if God were holding sins against you, that would mean you were going to hell!) Why are you asking God to deal with something when He already did it long before you have a chance to do it?

You raised a good point. If we have done someone wrong or someone has done us wrong, forgiveness in that sense is not to be confused with God’s forgiveness. God forgiving us, or us forgiving others, or them forgiving us, are all separate issues. Surely, we should ask someone to forgive us if we did him or her wrong, but whether that person forgives us or not, we still have God’s forgiveness (and His forgiveness ultimately matters). If someone has done us wrong, and they ask us for forgiveness, we should forgive them because God forgave us for Christ’s sake when we committed greater offenses against Him! Ephesians 4:32: “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

How many sins did Adam and Eve have to commit to be kicked out of the Garden of Eden? Only one. They ate of the forbidden fruit, the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and that broke fellowship with God. Adam and Eve did not murder anyone, pursue homosexual lifestyles, rob or steal, get drunk or use drugs, et cetera. One act of disobedience—eating a forbidden fruit—and they were banished from God’s presence! To say that certain acts of disobedience (Christians being gay, Christians being serial killers, et cetera) necessitate them asking for forgiveness, but that other acts of disobedience are not as serious, is to miss that Jesus Christ paid for them all, the “major” sins and the “minor” ones. We tend to rate sins and compare sins, but each and every sin sent Jesus Christ to Calvary, each and every sin merited God’s wrath.

If they have trusted Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork, they are still saved, they still have a right standing before God positionally, they still have their Christian identity, and they are still going to heaven. Remember, in God’s eyes, positionally, Christians are not “in Adam” anymore. They are “in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17). They are “accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). Yes, Christians do not necessarily act like who they really are, and it is unfortunate. It is similar to adults behaving like children—they are not behaving in accordance with their identity. They have not matured in the Word of God. They have failed to reckon, to understand, that they are “dead indeed unto sin, but are alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:11). They are living in their own flesh, in their own resources, in their own strength, and they cannot produce godly living. They are still operating as though they are sinners instead of remembering they are saints, called unto a life of good works that are “by Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:11; cf. Ephesians 2:10; the whole book of Titus!; et cetera).

ISSUE #3. You wrote, “I have heard preachers state, ‘Once you are saved, you are always saved.’ However, I never believed that because people take advantage of that saying and do things that are ungodly…. I don’t understand God’s forgiveness. This can also lead to people not doing the will of God but committing sin acts because they believe that their sins are already forgiven.”

A brother once aptly stated, “Grace, because it is grace, can be abused. But, because it is grace, is should not be abused.” In other words, God knows that by Him offering to us grace and salvation from our sins as a free gift, He is risking that we will take the offer lightly, that we will use our liberty in Christ to then live as we please. But, God in His grace teaches us how to think about that grace system. When we think like Him, we will behave accordingly. Why did God take us out of the performance-based acceptance system of religion? Because we could not merit His favor in our own strength! He gave us grace freely because He knew we could never earn it on our own! There is no power to do good in the Law system. The Law says to do good—but it does not enable us to do good. The Law only condemns us (Romans 3:19-20). Grace says to do good because grace gives us the power to do good!

When a Christian uses grace as a license to sin, just remember he or she was doing that before he or she became a Christian! Grace is not needed to live any way we want; before we found the grace of God, or should we say, the grace of God found us, we were living however we wanted. Please read the book of Titus. Read Ephesians 2:1-10. Study Romans chapters 1-8. These passages will orient your mind to think properly about Christian living in this the Dispensation of Grace.

Again, God’s grace does not save us on the basis of our works (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:4-5; et cetera), but that does not mean that God does not care how we live. The verse after Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

Titus 2:11-14 is perhaps the best example of God’s grace teaching us how to live: “[11] For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, [12] Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; [13] Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; [14] Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

Christian good works—not to be confused with doing good works in an attempt to be a Christian—is simply the outward manifestation of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The “fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:22-23). Christian service is dealt with extensively in Romans chapters 12-16. As mentioned earlier, Paul’s entire epistle to Titus addresses Christians doing good works. Christian good works are just Christians walking in their new identity in Christ. This comes once we have an understanding of that identity, and we come to understand that identity by studying and believing Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon (the part of the Bible that describes God’s current dealings with mankind!).

But, in reality, it is not us doing the good works. It is Christ in us. We read in Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Read Colossians 1:29: “Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.” And Philippians 2:13: “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Also, 1 Thessalonians 2:13: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” And, 1 Corinthians 15:10: “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” Finally, Philippians 1:21: For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” It is the Lord Jesus Christ living His life in and through us the Christians as we walk by faith in an intelligent understanding of God’s Word to us. The Holy Spirit will then take that sound doctrine from His Word and use it to transform us from the inside out. Again, “the word of God… which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

“[6] As ye have 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” (Colossians 2:6-7). How did we “receive Christ Jesus the Lord?” By striving with all our might? By working for salvation? Paul asked in Galatians 3:2, “Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” Did we not receive Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit by “the hearing of faith,” hearing the Gospel of the Grace of God (1 Corinthians 15:3-4), how that Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day for our justification, and then believing/trusting in this (the Word of God) which we heard?

According to Colossians 2:6-7, our Christian lives (our “walk”) operate on the same basis as our salvation—it is Christ’s performance, not our performance (because as sinners, we can do nothing for God). Notice the word “as”… “as ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.” Just like we got saved, our Christian service works the same way—by faith in what Christ did, without our works and without our performance. Did Jesus Christ sin? No. When we rely on Jesus Christ, His power and His Word, we will not sin. It is when we walk in that old identity (Adamic nature) that we sin. When we do not renew our minds by studying and believing God’s Word rightly divided, we will lapse into that old thinking mode, and thinking like lost people, we will thus act like lost people (Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 4:17-32; Colossians 3:1-17).

Even as Christians, we can strive to perform and try to accomplish all the religious duty at church, and eventually we will mess it up. Just like with salvation, our failure to fulfill God’s standards also happens in Christian service. The Apostle Paul “delighted in the law of God after the inward man” in Romans 7:22, so we understand Paul here is speaking of his Christian life (not the life he had when he was lost, for no lost person delights after God’s Word). “For to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (verse 18). Paul is trying to live the Christian life, and guess what, he failed. Verse 24 says, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Paul concludes Romans chapter 7 in defeat. He is not letting Christ live His life in him, he is trying to live Christ’s life, and that just is not enough. Just like his working for salvation was futile, his living the Christian life was futile.

Romans chapter 8 is the key to the Christian life, as Paul writes, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (verse 1). This is not talking about salvation unto eternal life and heaven (as commonly assumed)—the context is Christian living, Christian good works. A Christian’s service will not be condemned by God and self if it is the Holy Spirit working within the Christian (link the “walk” here in Romans 8:1 with the “walk” we read about earlier in Colossians 2:6-7). The believer must “walk after the Spirit” if he or she is to live a life pleasing to God. How? By us performing? The Galatian believers thought so, and Paul had to tell them No! Galatians 3:3, “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” The “flesh” there is their performance.

If the believer’s service is to be acceptable to God, it must be the Holy Spirit working through the believer. The only way this can happen is if the believer is studying God’s Word and then, by faith, letting the Spirit of God work in him or her. Again, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). This will then motivate the believer to do good works (but notice, it did not originate with us, it originated with the indwelling Holy Spirit). Again, “the word of God… which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

If it is you living in your own resources and your own capacity, your Christian life will be in ruins (see earlier comments about Romans chapter 7; you can also see Galatians 5:1-6). But, if you study and believe the Bible (using dispensational Bible study), God the Holy Spirit will “renew your mind” (Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 4:23; Colossians 3:10) and then you can make informed decisions as to what God would have you to do regarding an issue. In His Word, the King James Bible, God has given us instructions on what we are to do, and that is in Paul’s epistles. Romans through Philemon. We do not have to guess what we think is right, or wonder what God wants us to do—we know what He wants us to do! His grace tells us all about it.


Grace, because it is grace, can be taken for granted and abused. However, because it is grace, it should not be abused. Grace is free to us because it cost Jesus Christ His life! We should never diminish the extraordinarily high cost of grace. Grace was not cheap, and it was not free. If we appreciate the fact that sin is what killed our Saviour, we will think about sin differently. If we appreciate the fact that sin is not who we are anymore, we will not sin. We are in Christ, called unto good works. Father God wants to accomplish in and through us some wonderful things. Since we are still in these bodies of sin, we can (and will) lapse back into the old way of thinking and living. Still, God will not give up on us. He has accepted us in the Beloved always. He has forgiven us always, and we need to move on to maturity. Grace teaches us to put away sin just as Jesus Christ put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Grace teaches us that we are dead indeed unto sin and alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. We were not saved by our works, so we are not kept saved by our works. It is not our performance, but Jesus Christ’s performance at Calvary, that gives us the victory over sin—whether eternal hellfire or daily failures.

Also see:
» Is grace a “license to sin?”
» Must I confess my sins?
» We are saved by faith, but are we blessed by works?

Did the 12 preach the Gospel of the Kingdom after Christ ascended?


by Shawn Brasseaux

“Did the 12 preach the Gospel of the Kingdom after Christ ascended?”

Simply put, “Yes.” As always, we let the Holy Scriptures speak, and we give an eye to read, an ear to hear, and (most importantly) a heart to believe.

We begin in Matthew 10:5-8, the first part of the so-called “Great Commission:” “[5] These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: [6] But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. [7] And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. [8] Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.The Bible says in Matthew 4:17,23: “[17] From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. [23] And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.” Now, we compare the above passages with Mark 1:14-15: “[14] Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, [15] And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

The Bible could not be clearer that Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom. He preached, “Repent, the kingdom of heaven (or, ‘the kingdom of God’) is at hand.” John the Baptist preached that same message: “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). Paul affirmed, “When John had first preached before his [Jesus’] coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel” (Acts 13:24). John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and the 12 Apostles preached water baptism and repentance as part of their salvation message.

Jesus said in famous Second Olivet Discourse, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14). The word “this” again affirms that Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” is the Gospel of the Kingdom (Jesus’ coming being a fulfillment of Israel’s King coming). (The Gospel of the Kingdom, as Matthew chapter 24 says, will be preached again after our Dispensation of Grace.)

We will now look at Hebrews 2:3-5: “[3] How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; [4] God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? [5] For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.”

Hebrews 2:3-5 says that the early Acts period (pre-Acts chapter 9) was a continuation of Christ’s earthly ministry. Whatever Jesus preached and did in the books of Matthew through John, the 12 Apostles were preaching it and doing it in early Acts. The Holy Spirit had come down (Acts chapter 2) and He was enabling Israel’s 12 apostles to do what Jesus Christ had done the three years prior during His earthly ministry. In Acts chapter 1, Jesus Christ had left Earth as a Royal Exile, ascended back to Heaven, gone to sit at the Father’s right hand, until His enemies were to be made His footstool (Psalm 110:1; Acts 2:31-36). To continue what Jesus started, the 12 apostles of Israel preached the Gospel of the Kingdom and performed various healing miracles!

The message that Peter and the 11 preached in early Acts was nearly the same message that John the Baptist and Jesus had preached during His earthly ministry. But, God had commissioned the 12 apostles of Israel to preach an advanced revelation—Israel had since crucified Messiah Jesus, He had since resurrected, and the Holy Spirit had come down from heaven. The crucifixion, the resurrection, and the coming of the Holy Spirit were the three advancements in the Kingdom message. Jesus Christ was still Israel’s Messiah-King, He was still coming to establish His earthly kingdom, and miraculous demonstrations proved it. That did not change in early Acts.

We read of this post-resurrection passage that transitions from the Four Gospels into the book of Acts, Luke chapter 24: “[46] And [Jesus] said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: [47] And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. [48] And ye are witnesses of these things. [49] And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.”

The 12 followed Jesus’ instructions in the book of Acts. Note what was preached in Jerusalem in Acts 2:38, in perfect accordance with Luke chapter 24: “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” And Acts 3:18-21, also preached in Jerusalem: “[18] But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. [19] Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. [20] And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: [21] Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”

Whether it was John the Baptist or Jesus in the Four Gospels, or Peter and the 11 in the early book of Acts, they all preached repentance and water baptism to prepare Israel for her King and coming kingdom (Jesus being the King, Israel being a “kingdom of priests;” Exodus 19:5-6; 1 Peter 2:9). In stark contrast, Paul never preached such a message; Paul never offered Israel her kingdom. He never did it in the book of Acts and he never wrote about it in his epistles, Romans through Philemon. Paul never preached water baptism and repentance for salvation. He never did it in the book of Acts and he never wrote about it in his epistles, Romans through Philemon.

Calvary was not good news in the early Acts period (that is, prior to God’s revelation to Paul). The crucifixion was something preached as evil, something Israel had done to bring God’s wrath upon them (see Acts 2:22-36; Acts 3:12-26; Acts 4:9-12; Acts 5:27-32). It is only when we come to Paul’s ministry and message that God reveals that Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork is now the means whereby He will save Jews and Gentiles alike by simple faith in that crosswork. Peter and the 11 did not preach in early Acts, “Christ died for our sins.” Paul did preach that message, however (1 Corinthians 15:3, written during the book of Acts). Paul simply preached faith and faith alone in Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as means for forgiveness, for salvation from sins, to receive the Holy Spirit, et cetera (Acts 13:38-39; Acts 16:30-31; Romans 1:16; Romans 3:22-28; Romans 4:1-8; Romans 4:24-25; 1 Corinthians 1:21; Ephesians 1:13-14; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; et cetera)—Romans and Corinthians were written during Acts.

Also see:
» Can you please explain Paul’s “Acts” ministry?
» Can you compare and contrast Peter’s ministry and Paul’s ministry?
» Was Paul saved by the Gospel of the Kingdom?

What part of us is justified at salvation?


by Shawn Brasseaux

“At time of salvation, when the Bible says we are justified by grace through faith, can you tell me which part of our being is justified? Is it our spirit that is justified, or our soul, or both? In your writings, you always mention ‘soul salvation’ at the time of salvation. What about the other parts of our being—our body and our spirit? In short, can you tell me what happens to our spirit, soul and body at the time of salvation?”

Thank you for these questions. I will try to briefly answer them for you here using the Scriptures. While we may get technical, please study these verses on your own and prayerfully consider them.

Whenever I write about “soul salvation,” I am referring to deliverance from the penalty of sin (spiritual death—hell and the lake of fire). Hebrews 10:39 talks about “the saving of the soul.” (That is what I mean by “soul salvation.”) I do this because I am distinguishing between other “salvations” in Scripture. For example, in the Bible, we read about being saved from false teaching (1 Timothy 4:16), salvation from misery (Romans 8:24), salvation from this physical world when Jesus Christ physically removes us from the planet (1 Thessalonians 5:9), we Christians being saved from the seven-year Tribulation period (2 Thessalonians 2:13), salvation from daily sins (Romans 5:10), and so on. These “salvations” are unrelated to being delivered from hellfire (“soul salvation”). Another way to say or write “soul salvation” is “salvation unto justification and eternal life” (that is longer, obviously).

In order for you to better understand this issue, I will introduce the Bible’s definitions of “spirit” and “soul.”


Since they are both invisible, both the “inward man,” and both inside the “outward man” (physical body), we sometimes use the terms “spirit” and “soul” interchangeably. Still, the Bible distinguishes the two, and we would do well to differentiate them, especially in this discussion. Hebrews 4:12 says, “The word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Paul wrote, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). The soul and the spirit are separate and distinct, and they are certainly not to be confused with the physical body. They are both invisible, which makes them hard for us to separate, but God can tell them apart.

The word “spirit” in the Bible usually refers to “the mind, a mental disposition, an attitude.” Here are a few examples:

  • Ephesians 4:23: “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;”
  • 1 Corinthians 6:17,20: “But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit …. glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
  • Romans 12:11: “fervent in spirit or Rom 1:9: “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son….”
  • 1 Peter 3:4: “But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”
  • Galatians 6:1: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”
  • Ephesians 2:2: “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.”

Again, usually, when the Bible talks about the “spirit” of a human, it refers to the mental attitude or mindset of a person, their memory, et cetera.

First Corinthians 2:9-16 is helpful in understanding the “spirit”/mind of man: “[11] For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. [12] Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God…. [16] For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.”

The Bible links the spirit with the mind and knowing things—here, the mind and the spirit are the same. Any two humans can communicate and understand one another because they both have a human mind, a human spirit. But, a lost person cannot communicate with God and understand His Word because the lost person does not have God’s mind or God’s Spirit. The Bible says, however, that we as Christians do have the mind of Christ because we have the indwelling Holy Spirit who explains the Scriptures to us as we read them. We will talk more about this later.

The spirit is what we know—memory, thoughts, et cetera, but the soul is the “real” us. Our soul is our seat of emotions, our heart, our will, what we use to have faith in things, et cetera. The soul is the part of us whereby we put into practice our spirit (the things we know). “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness” (Romans 10:10a). Again, the “heart” is part of the soul. While we can know many things (spirit), only the things we have faith in will be brought down into the soul. The way God communicates with us is through our spirit (for God is a Spirit; John 4:24, and also 1 Corinthians 2:11-16). We can then accept by faith what He says, bringing that information into our soul, or we can just have a head knowledge of it (in the spirit) and it will do us no good because it is not put into practice by faith. Once the soul (will) makes a decision, whether to follow God’s Word or do whatever it wants, a physical action will result.

Here is a brief review of what we have discussed thus far.

“Spirit” and “soul” are both called “inward man” (2Corinthians 4:16) or “inner man” (Ephesians 3:16)—these are invisible entities. The physical body is the “outward man” (2 Corinthians 4:16)—this is the visible entity.

SPIRIT – memory, vocabulary, frame of reference, and perception. The spirit is what makes us “God-conscience”—it is how we interact with God. In a lost person, the spirit is dead (in Adam, our spirit is dead). See Ephesians 2:1-3. A lost person’s spirit is still there (they still think, they still remember things, they have a vocabulary they use), their spirit still functions, but that spirit cannot function as God intended. Their spirit cannot communicate with God: their spirit is dead and God is living. They do not think like God, they do not use God’s Word as a frame of reference for living, they do not have any real and full sense of right and wrong, et cetera. In Christ, when we trust Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, our spirit is regenerated, or given life. That is the “regeneration” of Titus 3:5. Again, please read Ephesians 2:1-3. In Christ, our spirit is made alive so we can then understand what God says, think like God thinks, and so on (1 Corinthians 2:10-16). Again, that is the “mind of Christ.” As we read God’s Word, He daily cleanses our minds (Romans 12:1-2). You may also see Romans 8:16 and Ephesians 4:23.

SOUL – heart, conscience, will, and emotions. The soul is what makes us “self-conscience”—it is how we interact with ourselves. In a lost person, the soul is darkened (in Adam, our soul is darkened). “Their foolish heart was darkened…” (Romans 1:21). God wants to give us light, spiritual light, and that spiritual light will enable us to see what is good in God’s sight, and by faith, we can go do that (thus doing God’s will). “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Psalm 119:105). “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). In Christ, our soul is enlightened, and this will cause us to act differently (good works instead of sins).

BODY – the physical body acts out what information we have stored inside, in the spirit and soul. The body is what makes us “world-conscience”—it is how we interact with others. The physical body manifests our heart and mind, whether it is good (righteous deeds) or bad (sins). As Romans 6:16 says: “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” In Adam, a lost person, he or she cannot behave right in God’s sight. That is what sin is, but remember, sin starts inside before it is manifested outside by the physical body. God has to deal with the body, the soul, and the spirit if He is to use a person. Unlike what people do in religion, He does not simply reform their outward behavior. He changes their inside so their outside will be different. Thus, God put to death these physical bodies, these “bodies of sin,” He crucified them with Christ. Romans 6:6: “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.” Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Actually, we Christians are really walking dead people—we are dead with Christ and yet we are alive with Christ. In God’s mind, these physical bodies are dead. It is Christ’s life now living in us. One day, God will give us glorified bodies, bodies like Jesus Christ’s, and He will do this at the resurrection, the Rapture, when Jesus Christ comes to get us and brings us back to heaven with Him. That is the “redemption” of Ephesians 4:30, Romans 8:23, and Philippians 3:20-21. Those glorified bodies, which we will indwell, will then be able to enter heaven! For now, we must remain in these physical bodies that are prone to sickness and physical death. In due time, God Himself will give us new bodies!


The best way to conclude is to think about it like this:

How the world works—The world communicates with us through our fleshly (physical) body, which then reaches our spirit, and if we believe it with the heart, it gets into our soul. We read about this in James 3:15… “earthy, sensual, devilish.” (Physical/earthy body, sensual soul, and devilish spirit). This is contrary to how God designed us to function.

How God works—God wants to communicate with us through our spirit because He is a Spirit (John 4:24), that we then believe/trust that information and put it into our heart/soul (Romans 6:17), and that will motivate our physical body to move and do righteous works (Romans 6:17-23). See 1 Thessalonians 5:23.

To answer your question in short, at salvation, our dead spirit was regenerated, our darkened soul/heart was enlightened, and our physical bodies were crucified. While our spirits and souls are redeemed, bought out of Satan’s domain, no longer under sin’s control and in sin’s darkness, our physical bodies have yet to be redeemed…they are still biologically, genetically, connected to Adam (a sinner). God will take care of our physical bodies at the Rapture, when Jesus Christ returns to take us His Body back to heaven with Him (see 1 Corinthians 15:51-55; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Philippians 3:20-21)—that is the resurrection. Hope that explains it!

Also see:
» We are saved by faith, but are we blessed by works?
» Can Christians lose their salvation?
» I am new to the Bible, so where should I begin?

Why does the Bible say Jesus was hanged on a “tree?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

“Jesus was ‘hanged on a tree?’ What exactly does that mean? Why does the Bible say ‘tree’ instead of ‘cross?’” Thank you for that question. You are evidently misunderstanding the verse because of its usage of “tree.” When the King James Bible says Jesus was hanged on a “tree,” the Greek word thus translated is xulon (“wood”). Note those five occurrences:

  • Acts 5:30: “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.”
  • Acts 10:39: “And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:”
  • Acts 13:29: “And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.”
  • Galatians 3:13: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:”
  • 1 Peter 2:24: “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”

It would be profitable to see how our 1611 translators handled that Greek word xulon elsewhere in the New Testament.

  • When the multitude came with Judas to arrest Jesus, the Bible says they came with “swords and staves” (Matthew 26:47). “Staves,” wooden clubs, in Greek, is xulon (also translated “tree”). This word appears again in verse 55.
  • In discussing the quality of the Christian’s doctrine evaluated at the Judgment Seat of Christ, Paul talked about “gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble” (1 Corinthians 3:12). “Wood” is xulon.
  • Jesus Christ, dictating to the Apostle John what he is to write to the Jewish assembly at Ephesus, said: “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7). In the New Heaven and New Earth, we read about the “tree of life” bearing twelve manner of fruits, yielding fruit every month, and the “leaves of the tree” were “for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:2). Xulon is translated three times in these three verses, “tree.” The “tree of life” is again mentioned in Revelation 22:14.
  • While describing the wealth of the Antichrist’s government, and its economic collapse, we read of gold, silver, precious stones, pearls, fine linen, purple, silk, scarlet, thyine wood, ivory vessels, precious wood vessels, brass, iron, and marble (Revelation 18:22). Xulon is twice translated “wood” in this verse.


When the Bible says Jesus was hung on a “tree,” tree is being used in the general sense of “a structure made of wood” (The Oxford American Dictionary says this is the archaic and poetic/literary definition of “tree”). It was not a tree in the sense of Jesus being nailed to something growing in the ground with branches and leaves. It was some type of wooden structure, a tree that had already been cut down, stripped of leaves and branches, and trimmed into beams that could be carried by men (Matthew 27:32; Mark 15:21; Luke 23:26; John 19:17).

Also see:
» What was the shape of Jesus’ cross? (COMING SOON!)
» Did Mary, Jesus’ mother, have a sister also named Mary?
» Why does the Bible say that Jesus was “slain and hanged on a tree?”

Is “Jerusalem” my hometown?


by Shawn Brasseaux

In an effort to promote missions and evangelism, some sincere people have greatly abused Acts 1:8: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Jerusalem is said to be our hometown, Judaea is allegedly the larger region around our hometown, Samaria is supposedly the rest of our nation, and “the uttermost part of the earth” is said to be the nations of the world. Acts 1:8 is said to be our pattern for soul winning—start in our hometown before moving outward to the world’s nations. We are convinced that Acts 1:8 has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with us witnessing in our hometown and then pursuing worldwide missions. Let us see what the Bible really says!

The fact of the matter is Jerusalem in the Bible means Jerusalem. Judaea means southern Israel. Samaria is northern Israel. These are literal places in the Middle East. They are not in North America, Europe, South America, Australia, et cetera. It is a very dishonest approach to Bible study to use Bible terms and attach new meanings to them or extra-biblical meanings to them. Denominations and cults are notorious for doing such things with God’s Word and we should not follow them in their error. We should not wrest or twist the Scriptures to make them support our belief or program. Again, denominations and cults are notorious for doing such things with God’s Word and we should not follow them in their error. We should use the Holy Bible to form our theological system; we should not force the Holy Bible to agree with our theological system.

Some may ask, “Was not Jerusalem the hometown of the apostles?” In Acts 1:11, the two angels asked those same apostles, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?” The 11 apostles (Judas is dead) were from up north, from Galilee, not from southern Israel (the setting of Jerusalem). The only apostle who was from southern Israel was Judas Iscariot, and he had killed himself weeks earlier (Matthew 27:3-10; Acts 1:16-20). “Iscariot” means “man of Kerioth,” Kerioth being in southern Judaea (Joshua 15:25).

To say that “Jerusalem” really means something else (that is, our hometown), reminds me of the never-ending effort of the Roman Catholic Church to say that Saint Peter was indeed in Rome. Without Peter ever being in Rome, he could have never been “Bishop of Rome,” and the “Petrine” papacy would be utterly destroyed. They thus grab any verse in the Bible and twist it to make it fit their system. How so? When Peter mentioned “the church that is at Babylon” (1 Peter 5:13), Roman Catholic apologists go to great lengths to say that “Babylon” is “code-name” for “Rome.” If that be the case, then who is to say that “Peter” is not a codename for someone else other than Simon Peter? (After all, some “scholars” deny the Apostle Peter wrote either epistle commonly attributed to him!) How do we know it was the Apostle Peter who wrote that letter from codename “Babylon/Rome?” It could have been any Christian… and then 1 Peter 5:13 would utterly useless to prove Peter was in Rome. Using the scholars’ logic, Peter may have not been that individual who wrote the letter. Who is to say that “the whore of Babylon” (Revelation chapters 17 and 18) is not “codename” for “the whore of Rome?” (No Roman Catholic apologist has yet to claim that “Babylon” is Rome!)

See, dear friends, we get sillier and sillier when we “spiritualize” passages, when we say Bible terms mean something else than what their literal reading would have us believe. How do we determine anything sensible in the Bible if we are always looking for “codenames,” “symbolic names,” and so on? We need to leave the King James Bible text alone and just believe it.

Certainly, we should preach the Gospel of the Grace of God to every person we can, whether in our community or around the world. This is made abundantly clear in 2 Corinthians 5:14-21. However, as dispensational Bible study makes so very clear, Acts 1:8 has nothing to do with us!

Also see:
» Are all Christians “ambassadors,” or just Paul and his ministry companions?
» Was Judas forgiven?
» Why does the Bible give two accounts of Judas’s death?

Did Mary, Jesus’ mother, have a sister also named Mary?


by Shawn Brasseaux

“Is John 19:25 saying that Jesus’ mother Mary had a sister named Mary? I thought perhaps Mary’s sisters’ name wasn’t mentioned here, being the second person in this listing of 4 women, 3 of whom were named ‘Mary.’ ‘Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene’ (John 19:25).”

So, basically, we can summarize your question as: (1) Are there four women—three named “Mary” and one unnamed? Or, (2) Are there only three women all of whom are named “Mary?”

If you look at the wording, it appears to be three women who are all named, rather than four women with only three named. Notice the verse does not say “Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, and Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.”

The correct wording is: “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, AND his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, AND Mary Magdalene.” There are only two “and’s” not three, which leads me to conclude there are only three women in this verse: three “ands” would have indicated four women.

Yes, it seems awkward for Mary to have a sister named Mary—imagine how confusing that was!—but perhaps they were half-sisters?


“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene” (John 19:25).

This verse seems insignificant, but it conveys a marvelous Bible truth.

You should have noticed that there are three Marys listed in this verse. Although not explicitly named here, we find in other Scriptures that Jesus’ mother’s name is “Mary” (Matthew 1:16; Luke 2:6-21; et cetera). So, in John 19:25, we have: (1) Jesus’ mother named Mary, (2) the wife of Cleophas named Mary, and (3) Mary Magdalene. There were thousands of people who stood by Jesus’ cross, so why did the Holy Spirit select these three people to list, all of whom are named Mary?

“Mariam” is the Greek form of the Hebrew name “Miriam,” from which we get “Mary.” The New Testament was written in Koine Greek, so these Jewesses’ Hebrew names were rendered in Greek, and then that Greek name “Mariam” was translated into “Mary” in our English Bible. Now, think about it: Who was Miriam in Scripture?

The Bible says that Miriam was the sister of Aaron and Moses (Numbers 26:59; 1 Chronicles 6:3). Miriam rebelled against Moses’ leadership in Numbers 12:1-16, and God judged her with leprosy (a skin disease) because of it. Interestingly, the Hebrew name “Miriam” means “rebelliously.” Now, we can begin to think of John 19:25 in light of this information.

Of the thousands of people standing near Mount Calvary during Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, God the Holy Spirit selected three women who stood by, and He names them in His Word. It is no coincidence that the three women who are named are named Mary (John 19:25; cf. Matthew 27:55,56; Mark 15:40,41; Luke 23:49). What could God be teaching us through that?

Jesus Christ is hanging on Calvary’s cruel cross, dying for the sins of the people who hated Him. He was surrounded by Marys… He was surrounded by rebels… He was surrounded by sinners! In His own words, “They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mark 2:17). Amazing! The three people named Mary in the verse was God’s way of emphasizing how there were many “rebels”/sinners surrounding Jesus’ cross.

Also see:
» What is the Immaculate Conception?”
» Why was Saul of Tarsus’ name changed to Paul?
» Was Jesus Christ really crucified on Friday?

Why did Jesus weep when Lazarus died?


by Shawn Brasseaux

“Why did Jesus weep when Lazarus died, since He knew that He would raise Lazarus from the dead?”

What a question! I can think of three reasons why Jesus wept.


Jesus Christ is the most unique Person in all the universe because He is fully God and fully Man. He is not 50 percent God and 50 percent Man, but 100 percent God and 100 percent Man. Because He is God, He has the power to take upon Himself a human nature. That is exactly what He did at His incarnation in Mary’s womb. Hence, Jesus would eat, sleep, exercise emotions, et cetera. While weeping is normally considered feminine (not masculine), Jesus Christ Himself corrected such an invalid view. Yes, He knew He would raise Lazarus, but until He raised Lazarus, as a Man, Jesus wept. It was not weakness; it was just an exercise of the seat of emotions that He had gained when He became Man.


We read in John chapter 11: “[31] The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there. [32] Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. [33] When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled. [34] And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.”

When Jesus saw Lazarus’ sister Mary weeping, and when Jesus saw the crowd of Jews weeping with her, He was deeply moved in His innermost being. Thus, He was influenced to weep with them. He knew their pain, He too loved Lazarus, and He showed them that He felt that pain. The Lord Jesus Christ was not a callous, apathetic Man who found enjoyment in the suffering of others. He was a compassionate Man! He was a dear, personal Friend.


Verse 35, the Bible’s shortest verse, says, “Jesus wept.” By weeping, Jesus showed how much He loved Lazarus. Verse 36, “Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!” Had Jesus just stood emotionless at the tomb, He would have given the impression that He was glad or unconcerned (apathetic) about Lazarus’s decease. What would you think of someone who stood by a loved one’s tomb, someone who exhibited no melancholy emotions? This person had been friends with the deceased, and yet he or she would show no sense of sadness? It would be awkward. Jesus did not want to come off as rude or uncaring; He was a personal God who needed to show personal affection!


Jesus was fully God and fully Man. He was undiminished Deity and perfect Man. He was just as human as we are (He slept, ate, felt emotions, et cetera), but without sin. That is why He cried. Yes, He knew He would raise Lazarus again, but He felt the sting of death anyway. He identified Himself with those who were also mourning for Lazarus. The Lord Jesus Christ was a compassionate Person. He had (and still has) pity on us humans, we who are suffering under the effects of the curse of sin (sickness and physical death).

Martha confessed that Lazarus would rise again at the last day, and yet surely she mourned: “[23] Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. [24] Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” The Jews came to comfort Mary and Martha, indicating they were both mourning (verse 19). Although we know the Lord will one day resurrect our deceased loved ones in Christ, we still stand by their graves and cry, do we not? Likewise, Jesus knowing the future still felt the grief of Lazarus’ temporary departure.

Also see:
» Is Jesus Christ JEHOVAH God? (COMING SOON!)
» Does the Bible teach the concept of the Trinity/Godhead?
» What happened to those saints raised from the dead in Matthew 27:52-53?

What does “kicking against the pricks” mean?


by Shawn Brasseaux

“And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks” (Acts 9:5). What did the Lord Jesus mean here when He said Saul of Tarsus was “kicking against the pricks?”

The King James Bible uses the term “pricks” thrice—Acts 9:5; its parallel verse, Acts 26:14; and Numbers 33:55. “Pricks” is defined in the last reference. God instructed Moses to advise Israel when she would enter into her Promised Land: “But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell” (Numbers 33:55). Notice that “pricks” and “thorns” are associated with one another (cf. Ezekiel 28:24). They are very similar. In fact, our King James translators rendered the Greek word for “pricks” (Acts 9:5; Acts 26:14) as “sting” in 1 Corinthians 15:55-56 and “stings” in Revelation 9:10.

Prior to Paul’s salvation, God had been forming the nation Israel (often likened unto a flock of sheep). God had also sent His Son, Israel’s Messiah-King, Jesus, as the “good shepherd” (John 10:11), to lead wayward Israel back to Him. Jesus declared, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24; cf. Matthew 10:6; Luke 15:1-10). Saul of Tarsus was one of those lost Jews, bitterly opposed to Jesus Christ: “I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth” (Acts 26:9). He imprisoned and murdered Jewish Messianic believers, men and women (Acts 26:10-11; cf. Acts 7:58–8:4; Acts 22:3-5; 1 Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:13-14,23; 1 Timothy 1:13).

God described Saul’s activities as “kicking against the pricks.” “Pricks” (or, goads) resemble thorns; they are pointed objects used to prod and drive rebellious livestock or other animal herds. Essentially, Jesus Christ referred to Saul as a disobedient sheep, sinfully opposing God’s will for Israel (Saul rejected Christ, and was killing those who accepted and trusted Him). Saul was a mighty instrument that Satan used to keep Israel from becoming the nation God had intended her to become. She was to be “a kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:3-6) and yet she could not become it because she refused to accept her King, Jesus!

On the road outside of Damascus in Acts chapter 9, Saul of Tarsus learned his fighting against the Creator God was futile, for he was unsuccessful in annihilating believing Israel. In fact, hell-bound Saul eventually quit striving against God. He trusted Christ, and ultimately became the Apostle Paul, God’s apostle to us Gentiles!

Also see:
» Do Acts 9:7 and Acts 22:9 contradict one another?
» Have I blasphemed against the Holy Ghost?
» Who was Judas’ replacement—Matthias or Paul?

Did John really write “The Gospel of John?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

“Tradition teaches that John is the author of ‘The Gospel of John’ yet it really doesn’t clearly prove he was. A closer study of this gives far more weight to Lazarus. Brother Brasseaux, what are your thoughts here?”

Yes, brother, while commonly called “the Gospel according to Saint John,” we cannot ascertain with certainty the identity of the writer of this fourth Gospel Record of Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry. As in the case of the book of Hebrews, “John’s Gospel” merely opens with a reference to God (while God the Holy Spirit is the Author, the human writer He used remained anonymous).

What makes the “Gospel of John” unique is its frequent usage of the term “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” That phrase appears five times in our King James Bible:

  • John 13:23 says, “Now there was leaning Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.” This person leaned on Jesus’ breast at the so-called “Last Supper.” Reclining in this position indicates that he was a very close friend of Jesus.
  • This disciple “whom he loved” was the one to whom Jesus, when dying on Calvary’s cross, entrusted Mary His mother (John 19:26).
  • The disciple “whom Jesus loved” also ran with Peter to Jesus’ empty tomb after Mary Magdalene relayed the news of the resurrection (John 20:2-6).
  • John 21:7 says that this disciple “whom Jesus loved” was in the boat with Peter. This disciple told Peter that the resurrected Lord Jesus was standing on the shore.
  • At the conclusion of this fourth Gospel Record, the writer reveals that he is “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20-25):This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.”

If we could somehow determine the identity of this “disciple whom Jesus loved,” then we would know who wrote what is commonly called “John’s Gospel.”


Yes, as you mentioned, some people suggest that Lazarus was in fact the author of “the Gospel of John.” They say this in light of verses such as John 11:5, “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.” Another verse is found in John 11:35-36, when Jesus went to Lazarus’ sealed tomb: “[35] Jesus wept. [36] Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! Other than these verses, I am not sure what else in Scripture would be suggestive that Lazarus was the writer of the Bible’s fourth Gospel Record. If these verses lead you to believe Lazarus wrote “John Gospel,” I certainly would not fault you.


The more common, and traditional, view is that John was “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” and thus he is seen as the writer of the fourth Gospel Record. All four Gospel Records—Matthew, Mark, and Luke—were not attributed to a specific writer until about the second century A.D. (several decades after they were written). People, especially “scholars,” have argued and continue to debate over the identity of the writers and dates of the penning of the Four Gospel Records. If it is to be of faith, we need to find a verse and believe the verse (Romans 10:17). We are not really interested in what “scholarship” says (Luke 10:21; 1 Corinthians 1:19-31; 1 Corinthians 2:1-16). We are interested in believing what the Bible says.


When discussing whether the Apostle John or Lazarus wrote “John’s Gospel,” I cannot help but go back to Galatians 2:9. It is fascinating that Galatians 2:9 lists Israel’s apostles as “James, Cephas, and John” (“Cephas” is Jesus’ name for Peter; John 1:42). Usually, in the “Four Gospels,” we find the order as, “Peter, James, and John” (Jesus’ “inner circle” of apostles). Why this order of “James, Cephas, and John?”

Regarding the Bible canon’s final nine books, it is fascinating that we find the following order: Hebrews; James; 1 & 2 Peter; 1, 2, & 3 John; Jude; and Revelation. In Galatians 2:9, could the Holy Spirit through Paul be hinting as to the anticipated order of the Hebrew epistles in the New Testament’s canon? Was the Holy Spirit signifying to us in Galatians 2:9 what books would be added later to the Bible? (I say this because there are many places in the Bible where additional Bible books were hinted at, although these additional books would not be written until decades or centuries later. It is beyond the scope of this study, but it is fascinating that the Old Testament prophets’ writings predicted exactly four Gospel Records and the book of Proverbs foresaw the nine Hebrew books of Hebrews through Revelation.)

The writer of “John’s Gospel;” and the writer of 1, 2, & 3 John; are probably the same person. In fact, 2 John and 3 John are addendums to 1 John. These four books of “John” (including the Gospel Record) read very similar, as if all written by the same human individual.

Firstly, John’s Gospel (1:1) and 1 John (1:1) begin by calling Jesus the “Word.” No other Bible writer does this. John’s Gospel and 1, 2, & 3 John all focus on God’s love (cf. John 3:16 with 1 John 3:16). They all emphasize God’s love for people and believers’ love for their brethren and believers’ love toward God. We would expect these themes from the writings of “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” (Compare John 3:16; John 11:5,36; John 13:1; John 13:34-35; John 14:15,21,23; John 15:9-19.) (Compare 1 John 3:1,11-23 and 1 John 4:7-21.) (Compare 2 John 5-6.) (Compare 3 John 6.) These parallels cannot be dismissed as “coincidences.” The Holy Spirit had the “disciple whom Jesus loved” pen very much material about love—God’s love for man, believers’ love for each other, and believers’ love for God.


Brother, here is what I think is most important about this issue. God chose not to conclusively reveal the identities of the writers of the four Gospel Records. Rather than focusing on discovering the identity of the person who wrote “John’s Gospel,” I have come to appreciate and understand the title of that person, “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”

Did not Jesus love all of His disciples? Yes, but this disciple (whoever it was) had a greater consciousness of God’s love for him, than the other believers had awareness of God’s love for them. This disciple seemed to be the most spiritual and most mature of the disciples of Christ’s earthly ministry. As mentioned earlier, “John’s Gospel,” and the three books near the end of the Bible’s canon—1 John, 2 John, and 3 John—have love (especially God’s love) as a primary theme. The same person who wrote “John’s Gospel” also wrote these three epistles. That believer was aware of God’s love for him, so he would write extensively about God’s love demonstrated to us at Calvary. He would (and did) write about believers’ love for other believers and believers’ love for God.


Honestly, I do not spend too much time concerned with the identity the writer of John’s Gospel. Maybe it was John; maybe it was Lazarus. Perhaps Galatians 2:9 holds the key to the matter? Perhaps John chapter 11 holds the answer? Regardless, I refer to the fourth Gospel Record as “John’s Gospel” simply because that is its common name, and that is how people usually identify it. I want those people I teach to be “on the same page” with me when I am teaching (sorry for the pun!). Just remember, if we start calling it “the Gospel of Lazarus,” someone may just get the wrong idea and assume we are referring to pseudepigrapha (= “false writings claiming to be Scripture,” such as “the Gospel of Judas,” “the Gospel of Mary Magdalene,” et cetera). It would probably be best to use its traditional title (since the Bible is not clear on the subject).

What I always try to focus on is that the writer of that Gospel Record had an acute mental awareness of how great God’s love for him really was. He did not bother to brag about his love for God. His love for God was weak and fickle. “The disciple whom Jesus loved” was so caught up in God’s super-abounding, unconditional, unending love for him that it dominated his life and thinking.

In Christ, we enjoy that same love of God. We can be reminded of “His great love wherewith he loved us” (Ephesians 2:4). Through simple faith alone in Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork at Calvary alone, we can experience God’s wonderful, unending, unconditional, abounding love for and toward us. If we would simply study what the Bible says about God and His love demonstrated to us at Calvary (try Romans 5:1-11, for example), and simply set our minds on those truths, you and I can be “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” too! 🙂

Also see:
» Who wrote the Book of Hebrews? (COMING SOON!)
» When did John write the Book of the Revelation?
» Are Matthew through John “Old Testament” or “New Testament” books?

Was the Holy Spirit really given in John 20:22?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Did God the Father really pour out His Spirit on Israel’s little flock in John 20:22? Or, did He pour out His Spirit in Acts chapter 2? While it is often a conundrum to theologians and Bible readers, we trust that the Word of God will speak for itself and interpret itself, thereby eliminating any confusion we have. Secular education and denominational doctrine can cloud even the simplest passage, but we can avoid such perplexity by simply leaving the Bible text alone and just believing it!

In His post-resurrection commission of John’s Gospel (chapter 20): “[21] Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. [22] And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: [23] Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.” (By the way, this is a favorite Bible passage of the Roman Catholic Church. It is needed to bolster the “Sacrament of Reconciliation,” the dogma that assumes priests have been granted God’s permission to hear confessions of sins and have been given God’s power to grant the sinners absolution!)

The Berean Bible student knows that Father God poured out the Holy Ghost on Israel’s believing remnant in Acts chapter 2, the day of Pentecost. We know that the Holy Ghost was not actually given in John 20:21-23 because of what the Lord Jesus Himself said in John 7:39: “(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified).” When was Jesus Christ glorified? Was it in John 20:21-23? Certainly not. According to the Bible, the Holy Spirit was given only after Jesus was glorified in Heaven at the Father’s right hand.

Notice what the Apostle Peter preached to Israel on the day of Pentecost. Acts chapter 2: “[32] This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. [33] Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. [34] For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself [Psalm 110:1], The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, [35] Until I make thy foes thy footstool. [36] Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

So, why did Jesus say in John 20:22-23, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.”? He was explaining to these disciples how He would equip them to fulfill that commission in His absence. They were failing men, sinful men, and yet they were commanded to preach God’s Word and do God’s work. How would they ever remit and retain sins as Jesus said in John chapter 20? How would they ever be able to perform all those miracles of Mark chapter 16? How would they preach to and teach all nations everything that Jesus taught them for three years, as instructed in Matthew chapter 28? How would they ever manage to preach repentance to Jerusalem first and then to all the world as commanded in Luke chapter 24 and Acts chapter 1? It would be by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Person who would come on them in Acts chapter 2!

Remember, Jews from every nation under heaven had gathered in Jerusalem in Acts chapter 2 to celebrate the feast of Pentecost. In order to evangelize these lost Jews, the apostles had to preach in human languages they had never formally learned. This problem was solved by the gift of tongues brought on by the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:1-11). The Holy Ghost also brought Jesus’ teachings to the apostles’ memories. After all, Jesus had told them: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26; cf. John 14:16-18, John 15:26,27, and John 16:7). Furthermore, the Holy Ghost empowered the apostles to perform miracles, signs, and wonders (Luke 24:49; Mark 16:17-20).


No, the Holy Spirit was not actually given in John 20:22. Jesus Christ had not yet been glorified in the third heaven (John 7:39; Acts 2:33). John chapter 20 was simply a preview of the power that Israel’s apostles would have when the Holy Spirit would come several days later in Acts chapter 2. The Holy Ghost would enable them to continue doing the work that Jesus Christ had begun in His earthly ministry. Jesus spoke those words about the Holy Ghost in John 20:22 in order to show His apostles how He would equip them to do what He wanted them to do in verse 23. He wanted them to be His representatives on Earth while He was away in heaven, and the Holy Spirit would empower them to do it.

An interesting side-note…. The Bible says, “[Jesus] breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:22). Breathing in the Bible is the idea of speaking forth words. The Greek word translated “Ghost” (or “Spirit”) is pneuma, which is also rendered, “air” or “breath,” in other places. It would be by the power of the Holy Ghost that Israel’s apostles and little flock would speak forth God’s Word. Throughout the Bible, the Holy Spirit is associated with the communication of God’s Word (for example, 1 Peter 1:10-11 and 2 Peter 1:21). Jesus “breathed on them” is literally associated with the Holy Ghost.

Also see:
» Is the Holy Spirit a Person or a force?
» Have I blasphemed against the Holy Ghost?
» What does it mean to be “filled with the Holy Ghost?” (COMING SOON!)