Monthly Archives: August 2015

What does John 3:16 really mean?

WHAT DOES JOHN 3:16 REALLY MEAN? IS IT THE GOSPEL OF GRACE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

John 3:16 is the most translated, the most quoted, and the most memorized verse. It appears on bumper stickers, T-shirts, coffee mugs, bracelets and pendants, and Gospel tracts. In fact, even many non-Christians are familiar with it. Everyone knows about John 3:16—or at least they used to know it—but seldom do people understand what that verse really means. Sadly, the true meaning of John 3:16 has been lost amidst religious tradition (denominationalism). In this study, we want to examine John 3:16 and its context in order to discover its (rather fascinating) meaning. Rather than appealing to religious tradition, we ask, “For what saith the Scriptures?”

The King James Bible says in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (Unfortunately, modern English Bibles have removed “begotten,” thereby destroying the correlation between Psalm 2:7, John 3:16, Acts 13:33, and Romans 1:4. According to the Bible, “begotten” refers to Jesus Christ’s resurrection, not Him being born in Bethlehem.) God has many sons, but only one “begotten” Son (see John 1:12; Romans 8:14; Galatians 4:6-7).

Beyond all question and doubt, John 3:16 is God’s inspired Word. However, John 3:16 is not sufficient to lead a person to salvation today. Let me show you how we know that. In order to understand John 3:16, we need to approach it God’s way. We are instructed to, “Study… rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). God has made distinctions in His Word, so we need to recognize those distinctions and separate them with divisions. All of the Bible is written for us, but not all of the Bible is written to us or written about us.

According to Matthew 10:5-7, Matthew 15:24, John 4:22, and Romans 15:8, the Four Gospels record the earthly ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ to the nation Israel under the Law. We are not the nation Israel, and we are not under the Law of Moses (Romans 6:14-15; Romans 11:25; Galatians 3:28). It is clear that John 3:16 has nothing to do with us today. It belongs in Israel’s program because it is a statement spoken to Nicodemus, a religious leader of Israel (see John 3:1,10).

Furthermore, we understand that Jesus Christ never spoke of Paul’s Gospel of Grace during His earthly ministry (Romans 16:25-26; Ephesians 3:1-9; Colossians 1:25-29; 1 Timothy 1:11). The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ were never proclaimed as a salvation message until we get to Paul’s ministry. (More on this later.) If John 3:16 is not a reference to Calvary, then what does it mean? In order to answer this, we need to go back and briefly look at the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants.

“THE PROMISES MADE UNTO THE FATHERS” (ROMANS 15:8)

Firstly, let us look at the Abrahamic Covenant, found 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.”

The first two verses refer to the establishment of a new race, the nation Israel (Jews). Notice the last portion of verse 3: “in thee [Abraham] shall all families of the earth be blessed.” To wit, God would use the nation Israel as a channel of blessing to reach the rest of the world with salvation. According to the Abrahamic Covenant, God promised to bless those who blessed Israel and curse those who cursed Israel.

In Exodus 19:5-6, some 500 years after Abraham, and just after the deliverance from Egyptian slavery, the LORD promised to make Israel a “kingdom of priests.” Nevertheless, God does not reveal the details of this kingdom until King David’s time, some 500 years after Moses and Exodus chapter 19. The LORD promised King David that one of his descendants would become the everlasting King of Israel (this is Jesus Christ).

Examine the details of the Davidic Covenant in 2 Samuel 7:8-17, where God speaks to King David through the prophet Nathan: “[12] And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. [13] He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever…. [16] And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.”

Understand from Abraham to the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, the nation Israel had the hope of being a “kingdom of priests.” Israel was God’s covenant people, and Christ ministered to Israel to fulfill the promises made to Israel’s patriarchs, particularly the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants (cf. Romans 15:8).

Throughout the Old Testament when God dealt predominantly with the nation Israel, He was still concerned with the salvation of Gentiles. God had to first save all of Israel, and then He would send Israel to minister to the lost Gentiles. In that kingdom promised in the Davidic Covenant, every Jew would evangelize the world. Read from Zechariah chapter 8: “[20] Thus saith the LORD of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: [21] And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also. [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.”

Here the Bible says that once Israel was in her kingdom, the Gentiles would come to God’s light to receive salvation! Gentiles would follow the Jews to meet Immanuel, “God with us [Israel].” God in the Person of Jesus Christ would be ruling the planet from Zion in Jerusalem! Compare this to Isaiah chapter 60: “[1] Arise, shine; for thy [Israel’s] light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee [Israel]. [2] For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee [Israel], and his glory shall be seen upon thee [Israel]. [3] And the Gentiles shall come to thy [Israel’s] light, and kings to the brightness of thy [Israel’s] rising.”

You can also read Isaiah 11:1-9, Isaiah 61:5-6, Daniel 2:44, and Psalm 2:6-9 for additional insight regarding that kingdom. Throughout these verses and passages, the recurring theme is that Israel would rise to kingdom glory, and Gentiles would receive salvation and blessing through Israel. This is very important.

Okay, so let us go back to John chapter 3 and sum it all up. In John chapter 3, Jesus Christ is speaking to Nicodemus, a religious leader of Israel (verses 1 and 10). Despite his religious education, Nicodemus is totally ignorant of the Old Testament prophecies (the promises we just discussed). When Christ tells him, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,” Nicodemus fails to understand this is a spiritual birth for Jews, and so inquires how a man can be born again of his mother’s womb (physically) (verses 3 and 4). Nicodemus “marvels;” verse 7 says he is puzzled. Jesus Christ has to explain to Nicodemus God’s original purpose in forming the nation Israel (verses 9 and 10). In John 3:16, Christ tells Nicodemus (I paraphrase): “God loves the whole world! I am here because God wants to save Gentiles too. Before salvation goes to the Gentiles, ye [the nation Israel] must be born again! Your whole nation must trust Me as King-Messiah.”

John 3:3-5 makes references to “the kingdom of God.” What else could this be but a reference to the kingdom promised by the Old Testament prophets? The Lord Jesus Christ tells Nicodemus that every Jew must be “born again” (John 3:3,5). Every Jew must be saved in order for the earthly kingdom to be established. The Jews must be saved first, and then God can use them to minister to the whole world (Gentiles). John 3:17 says: “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” How would God save the world, as prophesied in the Old Testament? Through Israel!

PAUL’S GOSPEL OF GRACE

Now, friend, notice why John 3:16 has nothing to do with us as people living in this the Dispensation of Grace. The Lord Jesus Christ knew that the Jews would reject Him and kill Him. He knew the prophetic program and the earthly kingdom would be delayed for a time. Nevertheless, He kept that information secret from everyone during His earthly ministry. None of the Old Testament prophets—not Peter, James, John, or anyone else in the Four Gospels either—knew of this dispensation in which we live, the Dispensation of the Grace of God.

God kept Calvary’s cross hidden from Satan so that he would willingly participate in his own defeat (1 Corinthians 2:6-8). I emphatically remind you that John 3:16 is not to be confused with our Gospel of Grace that we preach today. God did not reveal our Gospel until He revealed it to Paul (in Acts chapter 9). This is why Paul called it my gospel” (Romans 2:16; Romans 16:25; 2 Timothy 2:8). God first revealed it to Paul and entrusted it to him. When we come to Paul, we come to a new Gospel, the Gospel of the Grace of God, as found in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4: “How that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”

Notice what Paul writes in Romans 11:11-12: “[11] I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. [12] Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?” In Paul’s ministry, salvation is going to the Gentiles without Israel—this is contrary to the Abrahamic Covenant! Recall that the salvation of Gentiles was no secret in the Old Testament. The secret was that Gentiles would receive salvation through the fall, not the rise, of Israel.

CONCLUSION

When the Lord Jesus spoke John 3:16 He spoke of the Old Testament promises regarding Israel rising in her coming kingdom. John 3:16 makes no reference to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is not sufficient information to lead someone to Christ today. No one can be saved today by simply understanding John 3:16 because it is not the Gospel by which we are saved in this dispensation! Like we stated before, Jesus Christ was God, and foreknew our present-day Dispensation of Grace was coming, but He did not reveal our Gospel until the Apostle Paul. What people do is, unfortunately, take Paul’s information and “feed it back into” John 3:16. We should not use Paul’s epistles to interpret John 3:16—that is to ignore the Bible’s dispensational boundaries. Paul’s Gospel belongs in the mystery program and John 3:16 belongs in the prophetic program.

Hence, Paul never quoted John 3:16. Why do people quote John 3:16, yet seldom mention Romans 5:8? If you want a good verse to use to prove God’s love for the world, why not use Romans 5:8? “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” You always read John 3:16 in tracts, but you rarely see 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, if at all—the Gospel of Grace is not John 3:16, it is 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. If you want to use John 3:16 to show someone the way to salvation, that is okay, but this verse in its context has nothing to do with Calvary’s cross. It belongs in Israel’s program. Leave it there. You will save yourself and others from much confusion.

Also see:
» What does John 1:29 really mean?
» Should we use the book of John to evangelize the lost? (COMING SOON!)
» Is Acts 16:31 a sufficient Gospel message?

Is faith enough to enter heaven? Do not the devils “believe?”

IS FAITH IN CHRIST ALONE ENOUGH TO GO TO HEAVEN? DO NOT THE DEVILS “BELIEVE?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

Someone defending her works-religion recently contended with me that faith alone does not guarantee one’s salvation into heaven. Her argument is summarized as follows: “Since the devils ‘believe,’ they could potentially go to heaven. But, since the devils cannot go to heaven, believing is not enough to go to heaven.” I knew she was making a general reference to James 2:19: “Thou believest that there is one God: thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” Was she using this verse properly? Is there any merit in her quoting the verse? Or was she just desperately trying anything to sustain her denominational/works viewpoint? In this brief study, we will evaluate her comments and critically examine the verse. Saint, have this answer ready whenever someone tries to use James 2:19 against you!

While James 2:19 says exactly what it means, and it means exactly what it says, it does have a context… a context often ignored. The context (as I pointed out to her) is James 1:1. Before we grab James 2:24—“Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only”we had first better take James 1:1. The entire epistle of James is not written to whoever happens to find and read it and see how it can be used to advance a “pet” doctrine. The first verse says that James is written to the 12 tribes scattered abroad. James is not writing to the Church the Body of Christ. He says that he is not writing to us Gentiles in the Dispensation of Grace. If we want to claim a verse in James chapter 2 as applicable to us, we had better be sure to know as to which tribe we belong. If we are unaware of such tribal information, we should not be quick to say that we are of the 12 tribes, and we should not be quick to claim what exclusively belongs to the 12 tribes of Israel.

There is no question that the devils believe that there is one God (James 2:19). There is no question that the devils believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (see Matthew 8:29; Luke 8:28; et al.). They did not say Jesus was “the Son of the gods” (plural). However, this is nothing more than head knowledge. A mere mental agreement with God’s Word never saved anyone. It has to be faith in the heart, “for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness” (Romans 10:10a). There are two billion people today who believe that Jesus Christ died for their sins, but very few have heart faith in that message. If they have only head knowledge of Calvary’s crosswork, they are heading to the same devil’s hell as the person who has never heard of Jesus! They constantly say that He died for their sins, but when they are asked if they will go to heaven when they die, they cannot say one way or another because they still have to atone for sins in purgatory. Behold, the confusion and double-mindedness in works-religion!

Furthermore, angelic beings and devils cannot experience soul salvation from sins. They, unlike us, have no Kinsman-Redeemer. Jesus Christ became a Man and by becoming a Man He was able to pay the sin debt of Adam and all of Adam’s descendants (see Romans 5:12-21 in its entirety). However, Jesus did not become an angelic being. The Bible says, “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham” (Hebrews 2:16). Angels are individual creations of God. Unlike humans, they did not descend from one original couple reproducing. Angels do not have a federal head. People have a federal head—Adam. Consequently, the merits of Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork cannot and will never apply to angels or devils. God’s plan of salvation is available only to sons and daughters of Adam. Fallen angels (devils) can never be reconciled to God. They will be doomed to “everlasting fire” (Matthew 25:41). Each and every one of them would need their own savior, and we are talking about thousands upon thousands, if not millions, of beings. All angelic beings, whether those angelic beings that are elect of God or those that are fallen and following Satan, know the truth about Calvary. But, that knowledge cannot be reckoned as faith unto righteousness. That privilege is only for humans.

Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Where is the water baptism? The tongues? The tithing? The sinner’s prayer? The turning from sin? The joining the church? There are no works in the verse, yet people are constantly forcing these items into the passage!)

Romans 3:26: “To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” (Again, where is the water baptism? The tongues? The tithing? The sinner’s prayer? The turning from sin? The joining the church? There are no works in the verse, yet people are constantly forcing these items into the passage!)

1 Corinthians 1:21: “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” (Once more, where is the water baptism? The tongues? The tithing? The sinner’s prayer? The turning from sin? The joining the church? There are no works in the verse, yet people are constantly forcing these items into the passage!)

These verses—written to us Gentiles!—say that faith alone in Jesus Christ saves an individual from his or her sins today. There are no religious works necessary like in Israel’s program (the context of the book of James). James and Paul are talking about two different types of “belief.” There is no merit in trying to harmonize the two epistles. There is no merit in using a non-applicable verse and making it fit us. Paul is describing heart faith in people (Romans 10:10a), whereas James is talking about head knowledge in devils (James 2:19). Heart faith in James’ audience will cause them to do good works. James is in perfect accordance with Israel’s legalistic system. The devils do not have heart faith, so they will never be able to do the good works that God requires of Israel in James’ context. James is encouraging his audience not to be careless or shallow when it comes to good works. They have faith, now they need works! In Israel’s program, “faith without works is dead” (James 2:17,26).

Also see:
» Is Acts 16:31 a sufficient Gospel message?
» We are saved by faith, but are we blessed by works?
» Can you compare and contrast Peter’s ministry and Paul’s ministry?

I experienced difficult times. Was God chastening me?

I EXPERIENCED DIFFICULT TIMES. WAS GOD CHASTENING ME?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“I have experienced a season [years] of feeling chastened. I was never certain if it came from Satan or God. I have been a Grace believer since about year 2000 and I follow and respect your teaching, as well as other fine grace teachers; but I still don’t fully understand why I had the horrible experience of guilt and shame, thinking God was angry with my past sins. Few if any pastors/teachers have been able to solve my predicament. Over time I have felt the oppression was now over, and I don’t suffer bouts of fear and anxiety anymore. I work daily to spread the Grace message on the internet and the ‘voices’ that had oppressed me during those terrible years have ceased. Can you give me any explanation of what I have been through?”

Friend, I am sorry to hear of your bad experience. I do not have all the details of what happened to you (and I am not going to ask you for them), so I cannot make a full assessment to fully explain it. Still, here is what I have experienced in my own life and what I have had others tell me about their own similar issue and the solution. I am sure that many others who read this will be able to benefit from the verses contained herein. I think we can give them some peace of mind as to what happened with them as well. By the way, we do have a more in-depth study, “Does God chasten us when we sin?,” linked at the end of this article. You can find more information there.

Our flesh (sin nature) does quite well in “chastening us.” We love to “beat ourselves up” with guilt, even if it is false guilt (the “deceitful” heart of Jeremiah 17:9). If we have had an upbringing in some strict denomination or religion—that is, legalistic churches—the memories of past sermons or homilies can cause us to live in a fog, to live in some manmade fantasy. Perhaps we constantly heard, “God is going to get you if you do not listen to Him, if you do not give to Him, if you do not go to church, if you do not confess all your sins,” et cetera. We are then led to believe that the reason why we are sick, or depressed, or poor, et cetera, is because God is angry with us or getting even with us because of some unconfessed sin. (That is how He dealt with Israel, Deuteronomy chapter 28 and Leviticus chapter 26). Maybe that is why you “feel” like it was a chastening. Someone might have told you that all your life in some religious circle, that God punishes us when we fail Him in the Christian life. Our flesh always gravitates toward religious duty, and it will naturally “beat us up” if we do not have our minds on the grace teachings that Jesus Christ gave us through the Apostle Paul.

Sometimes, people who have come out of a lifestyle of depravity (drugs, alcohol, prostitution, murder, theft, et cetera) and come to Jesus Christ by faith, they are still haunted by their mistakes. God does not shield us from the temporary consequences of our actions. He only shields us from the eternal penalty of hellfire. Thus, we will naturally experience pain or suffering as the result of mistakes. This is not chastening, God directing punishment toward us, but us reaping what we have sown. Remember, regardless of dispensation, we will always reap what we sow, more than we sow, and later than we sow. Galatians 6:7-8 reminds us: “[7] Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. [8] For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”

Today, people feel God is getting even with them for past mistakes. Again, however, it is a failure to remember that Israel’s Scriptures do not apply to us. They are confusing the consequences of their sin with God judging them for their sin. There is a big difference. Let us explain.

IF GOD REALLY WANTED TO JUDGE US FOR OUR SINS

If God really wanted to judge us for our sins, the problems we have in life would pale in comparison. The ultimate form of God’s wrath against our sin is hell and the lake of fire. If God really wanted to judge us for our sins, we would have no relief… ever. When you experience a flat tire or other car troubles, an unexpected hospital stay, a job loss, the death of a loved one, a major natural catastrophe, and so on, that is far from the wrath of God. God is not out to get sinners, today! God is out to get sinners saved today! Friend, if you get nothing else out of the Bible, get that! If God were out to get sinners today, no one would be alive. He would wipe us all out! If God were out to judge nations for their sins today, not a single nation would remain. He would wipe them all off the map! We know, however, that dispensational Bible study precludes God’s wrath from operating today.

Let us see what the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 1:12-16: “[12] And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; [13] Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. [14] And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. [15] This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. [16] Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”

There is one primary theme operating in this the Dispensation of the Grace of God. Know what it is? GRACE! It is grace not wrath! Saul of Tarsus (the Apostle Paul before salvation) was Israel’s leader and the world’s leader against Jesus Christ. He literally hated the name of Jesus of Nazareth. In the early part of the book of Acts, he imprisoned, tortured, and murdered Messianic Jews. God’s wrath could have literally crushed Saul of Tarsus and whisked him off to everlasting hellfire! As we just read, he was “a blasphemer, a persecutor, and injurious”… but he “obtained mercy,” because he “did it ignorantly in unbelief” (verse 13). Saul instead experienced “the GRACE of our Lord [that] was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus” (verse 14).

Saul’s worthless ministry was finished, permanently suspended. Now, he would be the first member of the Body of Christ. Saul would be the prime specimen of God’s longsuffering. Why has God’s wrath not yet fallen on this evil world? Look at Paul the pattern! The program that allowed Paul to escape God’s wrath is now operating today, that others may also escape that impending wrath. What wonderful truths we discover in the Bible when we just use the Bible God’s way!

As Paul wrote in Romans 11:30-32: “[30] For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their [Israel’s] unbelief: [31] Even so have these [Jews] also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. [32] For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.” God has concluded all peoples—all nations—“in belief, that he might have mercy upon all.” Mercy is God holding back His wrath, wrath we do deserve. Grace is God giving us His blessings, blessings we do not deserve. As 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 says: “[18] And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; [19] To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”

In our Dispensation of Grace, God is not imputing the world’s trespasses unto it. He is not judging nations today. Instead, He is offering all the peoples of the world to come to Him by simple faith in what His Son did for them at Cavalry’s cross. That wrath prophesied in the Bible is momentarily stayed, delayed. This postponement in Israel’s program puzzled Israel’s apostles, even after they heard Paul talk about the new divine revelations he had received from the risen, ascended, glorified Lord Jesus Christ. While it was still hard to believe, Israel’s apostles had to admit that prophecy was indeed interrupted. That wrath that Jesus Christ was to bring, the wrath that they had been preaching for years prior, that wrath was delayed. Paul was the proof that God was saving sinners instead of judging them.

The Apostle Peter wrote in 2 Peter 3:15-16: “[15] And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; [16] As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” As Peter learned, God had given Christ-rejecters in Israel (and all those pagan Gentiles) yet another chance to escape that wrath. Peter wrote in verse 9: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

Paul was first to be saved into the Church the Body of Christ. As God operates our Dispensation of Grace, grace, love, mercy, and all longsuffering will dominate, thereby delaying divine wrath! Oh, friends, dear readers, if you are not sure of having eternal life and a home in heaven, may you not delay another second. Come by simple faith in Jesus Christ’s shed blood, His death, His burial, and His resurrection as sufficient payment for your sins (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). Follow Paul your pattern!

THE SOLUTION TO “FEELING” CHASTENED—MEMORIZE SOUND PAULINE VERSES!

Okay, so, returning to your original issue. The Devil wars in the minds of us Christians. You can see 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. The key is to have sound Bible doctrine in order to defend yourself against the wicked wiles of the Devil!

As Christians, people who trusted exclusively in Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, Father God has “accepted us in the beloved,” Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:6). “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). Remember Romans chapter 5: “[8] But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. [9] Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. [10] For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. [11] And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” Father God settled the sin issue at the cross, for Jesus Christ was our “propitiation” (Romans 3:25). He was the fully-satisfying payment for our sins. God has no controversy with us Christians, His children, for Jesus Christ was punished instead, and Jesus Christ enough.

Whatever we suffer, it is not God doing it, but us experiencing the results of our mistakes and others’ mistakes. Satan will use that to his advantage. Our flesh also loves to feel guilty, that we have a pity party, feeling sorry for ourselves, making ourselves and our failures the issue instead of focusing on Jesus Christ’s success on Calvary and the victory He secured for us there! Notice how “who” is the first word of Romans 8:35. Satan uses dire circumstances (verses 35-39) to distract us from remembering Jesus Christ and the love for us He demonstrated at Calvary. Satan certainly uses the lost world (especially lost relatives, and political and religious leaders) to discourage us.

Romans 8:35-39: “[35] Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? [36] As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. [37] Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. [38] For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, [39] Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Throughout the Bible, the Devil used people to discourage God’s prophets and apostles. Just look at what happened throughout the book of Acts, how the Jewish religious leaders (the apostles’ brethren) and the Roman government worked together to hinder the Lord’s work, imprisoning and killing apostles and disciples. As long as Satan has us focusing on all of that, we do not walk in our identity in Christ, and we do not function as God intended us to function (that is how Satan hinders God’s work).

CONCLUSION

For future reference, notice how Paul experienced severe depression in 2 Corinthians 1:3-10, especially verses 8-10. He was referring to the riot in Ephesus in Acts chapter 19, where he could have literally been killed by a mob. Satan had distracted him and his ministry co-workers for a time by using those unbelievers, but Paul and the others eventually remembered to trust God, that He has the power to raise us “from the dead,” speaking of how when we are exhausted, at our wits’ end, wanting to give up because of opposition or problems, God can restore our strength (as someone would recover from a fatal illness). Paul learned not to trust in himself, but in God, who has fully equipped us in Christ to handle all of life’s problems, whether good or bad (Philippians 4:11-13). We are strong, not in ourselves, but in Christ (2 Corinthians 3:5).

No, whatever difficult times you were experiencing, they were not God disciplining you. He corrects us through His written Word, and to have Him communicating to us outside of His Word through circumstances is to deny the completed revelation of Scripture. If God were really after us for unconfessed sin, none of us would have a moment’s peace. We have plenty of things in our past that we do not even recognize as sin. It is good to know that you have come out of that experience. I do not think any of us will ever fully know what happened (whether to you, or to me, or to other Christians), so do not get too burdened in trying to figure it all out. Just leave it at the cross.

If I had to pinpoint the likely source of your experience, however, this would be my conclusion. The flesh always works in tandem with Satan’s goal. Satan wants to distract us from Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork, where all guilt and shame belong. As long as Satan can have us think about denominationalism, fleshly things, human tradition, our failures/guilt/shame, et cetera; we will forget the doctrine God wants us to remember (see 2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Again, it is truly a battlefield of the mind! As long as our flesh keeps dredging up guilt and shame, we are defeated, for our minds have disconnected from the doctrine of Calvary, where all guilt and shame are to be sent by faith. What we need to do is “walk in the Spirit,” and when we think like the Holy Spirit has designed us to think (remembering God’s Word to us through Paul, all about our identity in Christ; see 1 Corinthians 1:30-31, for example), we will not fall into the trap of flesh-walking and flesh-thinking (Romans 8:1-15). This is the key to recovering quicker mentally and spiritually the next time we have difficult times. Hope that helps! 🙂

Also see:
» What about “hindered” prayer and “unanswered” prayer?
» Does God chasten us when we sin?
» Is prophecy being fulfilled in the Dispensation of Grace?

Did God give angels free will as He gave to mankind?

DID GOD GIVE ANGELS FREE WILL AS HE GAVE TO MANKIND?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Friend, we will answer your question by reasoning together using the Holy Scriptures. According to the Bible, “free will” (sometimes called “volition”) is the capacity to choose between doing good and doing evil—that is, following God’s plan for your life versus following Satan’s policy of evil. To fail to believe and obey God’s Word to you is to automatically follow Satan in his rebellion against the Creator God. Let us first review “free will” as it pertains to us humans, and then it will be easier for us to address the concept as it relates to angels.

FREE WILL AND HUMANS

We will briefly look at two simple events from Scripture—Adam and Eve, and Christ’s earthly ministry—to see how free will operates in people.

First, the well-known verses God spoke to Adam before the Fall. The Bible says in Genesis 2:16-17: “[16] And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: [17] But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Please take very special care to note the words “mayest freely” in verse 16. Mankind was instructed to “freely eat.” God could have said, “Of every tree of the garden thou wilt eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou wilt not eat of it.” Why did God not say this? Because that would have made Adam a robot! God did not tell Adam exactly which tree to eat from. He simply told Adam not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God gave Adam the opportunity to enjoy such bountiful provision. He had all those trees from which to eat! “Adam, you maynot must—eat from all of these trees! Just avoid that one—just one, just one!—tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” It was a very simple arrangement, simple instructions.

However, by the time we get to chapter 3 of Genesis, great trouble is brewing. We are introduced to the Bible’s first tragic passage: “[1] Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? [2] And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: [3] But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. [4] And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: [5] For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”

Satan is a sneaky, snake-like, deceptive character (verse 1). Notice how he questioned God’s Word and then encouraged Eve to challenge God’s Word (verse 2). In verse 3, when quoting God to Satan, Eve omitted the word “freely,” demonstrating her ignorance of her free will. She denied God’s grace, God’s provisions, and because she forgot all of that bounty, Satan enticed her to sin and gain some additional “benefits.” Satan told her that she could gain some hidden wisdom, something God had withheld from her and Adam. Eve was at a crossroads: (1) she could stay with God’s provisions and be content with the identity that God had given her with Adam, or (2) she could follow the serpent and eat of the forbidden fruit, hopefully gaining what God had not given her. What did poor, confused Eve decide?

Verses 6-7 relay the SAD outcome: “[6] And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. [7] And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.”

It is absolutely critical to realize that God had absolutely nothing to do with this whole scenario in Genesis 3:1-7. He had given Adam clear instructions. Evidently, Adam, the spiritual head, had not adequately and clearly passed this information on to Eve. Still, God did not force Adam and Eve to do anything, one way or the other. God did not make Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit. God did not make Adam and Eve not eat the forbidden fruit. Again, God left the decision in the hands of Adam and Eve. The Bible says that Eve was deceived, genuinely misled, but Adam knew exactly what he was doing when ate the forbidden fruit (1 Timothy 2:14). We need to blame the responsible party. Sin entering into the world was ultimately Adam’s fault (Romans 5:12). He should have known better. Friends, we need to quit blaming God for our stupid mistakes!

Okay, now to another brief example. John 5:40 settles the issue once for all—people choose hell for themselves! They choose sin for themselves! They choose error for themselves! The Lord Jesus Christ declared to the unbelieving Jews of His day: “And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” Certain theological circles (those that embrace Calvinism) argue that no one can truly go to heaven unless God first chose him or her to go to heaven. Does God really “predestinate” or “elect” some people to go to heaven and others to go to hell? No, it is theological mumbo-jumbo. It is not Bible, just theological speculation that amounts to nothing. It is not God’s Word, just man’s word that will profit us nothing.

Reading John 5:40 with its context: “[39] Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. [40] And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” And verse 43, a reference to the Antichrist: “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.” Will we believe the Lord Jesus Christ’s simple words? Or, will we believe what a fallible theologian says? Jesus affirmed that the reason why His audience did not have eternal life was because they refused to come to Him! It was not because God selected them for hell and eternal damnation. It was not because God selected them for unbelief and sin. They thought their religion made them “good enough” without Jesus, so Jesus did not force Himself on them. Jesus Christ did not force Himself on Adam and Eve, either.

Again, just days before He died, Jesus Christ stated in Matthew 23:37: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” Why did Jerusalem not come to Jesus? Was it because God selected them for unbelief? For hell? For judgment? For sin? No! He said He wanted often to gather them to Himself but they refused to come. God did not select them for hell; they chose hellfire for themselves. Beloved, may we never take away someone’s free will: it is their (eternal) loss if they refuse to come to Jesus Christ by faith. We need to respect their choice. God respects their choice, and we do as our Heavenly Father does.

FREE WILL AND ANGELS

Sometime before the Fall of mankind in Genesis chapter 3 (which we discussed in our earlier comments), Satan and the other members of God’s angelic host were all in harmony and unity with their Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ. As Adam and Eve would later be given a special identity and position/function in the Garden of Eden, Lucifer (Satan’s name before his fall) and the angelic host had a special identity and position/function in Heaven.

The little book of Jude 6, verse 6, explains: “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” The idea here is the angels’ willful abandonment of their home and position in Heaven. It is not that God just randomly tossed them out of Heaven and imprisoned them in Hell. They chose not to “keep [or, guard] their first estate” and they “left their own habitation.” They had unique roles in Heaven, levels of authority over certain heavenly realms, but this was not enough for their satisfaction. These fallen angels—called “the devil’s angels” in Matthew 25:41—were discontented with the identity and job that God had given them. They wanted to do something else and they did it. They left their identity, their authority, and so on, seeking something else. In other words, like Adam and Eve would do later, the angels sinned. The Apostle Peter discussed this in 2 Peter 2:4: “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.” God gave angels free will; otherwise, this verse teaches that God caused the angels to sin! But exactly what happened to cause these angels to sin and permanently lose their role in God’s plan for creation?

In Isaiah chapter 14, we see a flashback. What was Satan’s origin? How did such a wicked creature come about? If God can create nothing evil and sinful, then what happened to Satan? Just before Satan (working through the Antichrist) is utterly defeated, yet future from our day, we see Israel mocking him in Isaiah chapter 14. Lucifer had such great hopes in outsmarting God, such great endeavors to gain the worship of all creation, and God in His infinite wisdom foiled them all! Satan’s original plan fell apart because of God’s ingenuity! Marvelous!

The Bible says in Isaiah 14:12-15: “[12] How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! [13] For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: [14] I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. [15] Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.”

As we briefly noted earlier, the Prophet Isaiah reflects on Satan’s original five-fold plan of long ago. Satan uttered an “I will” statement five times. What does the term “will” denote? Satan had made a choice—five choices actually. It was not a simple mistake, an accident, but something methodical, a carefully planned scheme that would end up spanning long ages of time. Lucifer made five deliberate decisions, and all were poor choices. In other words, Lucifer exercised free will. As with Adam and Eve, God did not make Lucifer choose evil. Like with Adam and Eve, God did not make Lucifer choose good, either. Lucifer decided to operate independently of God’s will and plan for him. Mark it—the greatest definition for sin is Isaiah 53:6ab: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way.” Just what righteous path did Lucifer swerve from to pursue his malevolent goals?

In Ezekiel’s prophetic masterpiece, we see another flashback to Lucifer/Satan’s original role in God’s creation. Lucifer—Hebrew, “the light bearer”—was basically creation’s “choir director.” Chapter 28, verses 13-19, paint a fascinating portrait of this wise and beautiful creature. Lucifer was one of the five cherubs (angelic-like creatures) that surrounded God’s throne. In fact, Lucifer’s wings functioned as a canopy, a “covering” for God’s throne. Lucifer wore a garment that was decorated with precious stones, similar to Israel’s high priest’s breastplate. Lucifer’s clothing, when paired with God’s radiance, provided a “kaleidoscope” and/or “prismatic” rainbow-effect in Heaven! To fulfill his office in Heaven, Lucifer’s body generated music. “Thou was perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created; till iniquity was found in thee” (Ezekiel 28:15). Something developed in Satan, an evil plan formed in his brilliant mind, and he sought to execute that plan—no matter the cost!

The Bible says of Lucifer, “Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty” (Ezekiel 28:12). In verse 3, “Behold, thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from thee.” Lucifer was a very cunning, creative creature, the most brilliant of all God’s creatures. God had intended Lucifer to use his ingenuity to invent songs, write and perform musical arrangements, et cetera, to praise the Lord Jesus Christ (Creator). Lucifer, however, fell into pride. “Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness” (verse 17). Paul commented, “lifted up with pride… the condemnation of the devil” (1 Timothy 3:6). Basically, Lucifer fell in love with himself and lost focus of His Creator. Finally, Lucifer concluded that he was so beautiful and so wise, he belonged on the throne instead of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that he should be worshipped and served instead of the Lord Jesus Christ (see Matthew 4:8-10 and Luke 4:5-8).

The Prophet Ezekiel, in chapter 28, verse 18, describes how Lucifer “defiled [his sanctuaries] by the multitude of [his] iniquities, by the iniquity of [his] traffick….” Lucifer tainted those holy places in Heaven that he was originally functioning in. In other words, he filled Heaven with wickedness, his plot to overthrow Jesus Christ as rightful King of the Universe (Colossians 1:16-18). That word “traffick” in this context means “trade or dealings.” To wit, Lucifer was enticing other angelic creatures to follow him in his rebellion against the Creator God. With the exception of Michael and Gabriel, it seems as though all of God’s most powerful angels followed Lucifer. At this point, God created hell. “Everlasting fire…prepared for the devil and his angels,” the Lord Jesus called it in Matthew 25:41. The dreadful reality of eternal hellfire evidently halted any more angels from following Lucifer. Lucifer and his fallen cohorts are now restricted to the second heaven (outer space) and the first heaven (Earth and its atmosphere). “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven,” Jesus commented in Luke 10:18. While we could continue into the future, Satan’s doom, we must (unfortunately) stop here for sake of brevity.

CONCLUSION

Yes, angels have free will, just as we humans have free will. The God of the Bible values free will, even to the extent of risking His plan for creation. He did not and does not want robots. He wanted and wants creatures who delighted (and delight) in doing in His will with Him. Sin is doing whatever you want, you refusing to follow God’s plan for you. Lucifer and his angelic cohorts wanted to decide for themselves what was good and what was evil. Satan later used this attitude to entice Eve, and attack Adam (all of mankind), in the Garden of Eden. Satan and his angels abandoned God’s purpose and plan for them. Then, Satan encouraged Adam and Eve to abandon God’s purpose and plan for them. In short, the fallen angels and fallen man did not want the Creator God to reign over them. This parallels what eventually happened when Israel and Rome conspired to kill Jesus Christ. Note Psalm 2:1-3, written about 1,000 years before it happened: “[1] Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? [2] The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, [3] Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” (Verse 3 says Israel and Rome did not want the LORD [Father God] and His Anointed [Messiah/Christ Jesus His Son] ruling over them! This is, again, free will.)

Also see:
» Why does God let Satan exist?
» How can a loving God send people to hell forever?
» What are Satan’s current operations?

Is there a simple way to present the Grace Message to children and teens?

IS THERE A SIMPLE WAY TO PRESENT THE GRACE MESSAGE TO CHILDREN AND TEENS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Yes, there is a simple way to present the Grace Message to anyone, young or older. You want to introduce small children to this information as soon as possible in life, before the evil world system corrupts and confuses them. Remember also that the husband-father is the spiritual leader of the house, so it is his responsibility first and foremost to teach his children the truth (Ephesians 6:4). In the absence of a male spiritual leader, the mother will (unfortunately) have to fulfill that role in educating her kids in spiritual matters.

When sharing the Grace Message with children and teens, what you should tell them depends on their ages—under 10, pre-teen, or early teens or late teens, for example. It also depends on where they are in their learning development. If you know them personally—that is, they are your own children, your own grandchildren, your own nieces or nephews, your own cousins, your own neighbors, et cetera—it will be easier for you to determine what to tell them rather than for me to tell you exactly what to tell them. I can give you verses but you will have to use your own judgment as to how much detail to tell them. You know more about these people than I do.

In this short study, I am honored to give some general advice and then you can adapt the material to fit your situation with them. If you think they can handle it all, and they are old enough, tell them much or all of the following in one sitting. Or, if you prefer to tell them bits and pieces here and there and build it up over the course of a week, then please do that. We do not want to overwhelm them, so try to strike a balance. Again, please use your own judgment here.

THREE TIPS TO KEEP IN MIND BEFORE YOU BEGIN WITH THEM

  • If you are talking about sitting down with your children (or grandchildren, et cetera) with the Bible, be sure to pray with them at the beginning, and tell Father God out-loud and in front of them that you are searching for the truth and that you know He will show it to you in His written Word if you approach it with an open heart and willing mind. That will be an example for them to follow when they become adults, when you are long gone. “These [people at Berea] were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11).
  • Final Authority. If you can, get them to have their King James Bibles in hand, and let them read the verses along with you. That will be an example for them to follow when they become adults, too. Remember, you are trying to reinforce in their minds the issue of final authority. They need to learn not to believe what you say about the Bible, but to look at the verses for themselves and believe the verses. In the long-run, that routine will help them in not believing simply what a preacher or priest says. A persistent problem among Christians today is they have not been taught to believe the Bible but to believe what clergymen claim the Bible says (when it usually does not say what they say it says).
  • Facial expressions, gestures, verbal sounds. If they seem/sound/appear confused, then pause, and ask them what they do not understand. If they seem bored, just stop for the day. The older people may be argumentative, especially if there was much influence from the world (high school, college, seminary, et cetera). Be sure to remind them that they do not have to understand it all right now, but that you would like to expose them to it now so they will be used to the terminology and concepts as the years pass. If they ask questions you do not understand, just tell them that you will ask someone for help. I would be more than happy to answer any questions they would have. Drop me a message at arcministries@gmail.com and I will do what I can for you as time permits.

A SIMPLE GRACE MESSAGE (FOR “OLDER” PEOPLE)

(This introduces simple dispensational concepts as it presents a basic Gospel message for people. A simpler message, without those details, written for very young people, will come later.)

You can begin by saying that the Bible is a “progressive revelation.” Everything that God has to say is not found in the book of Genesis. You can show them verses such as Hebrews 1:1-2, or 1 Peter 1:10-11, or John 14:26, or John 16:13—God gradually revealed His will to man over a period of thousands of years. Acts 3:21 says that God spoke various things by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. That would cover the Bible from Genesis to early Acts. It is what the Bible calls “prophecy.”

When we come to the Apostle Paul’s ministry (Acts chapter 9 and onward), we learn that God was keeping a special set of information secret. This is called the “mystery” (Romans 16:25-26). Jesus Christ from heaven’s glory revealed to the Apostle Paul the doctrine/teaching that is given to us for our current time. We are Gentiles, non-Jews, and Jesus Christ gave the “dispensation of the grace of God” to Paul so that he would give it to us (Ephesians 3:1-2). This is the information that we need to believe in order to know and do what God is doing today. The benefits of Calvary’s crosswork are first declared in the Bible by the Apostle Paul. You can refer to Romans chapters 3 through 5.

The Gospel by which we are saved today, the Gospel by which we have forgiveness for our sins today, is most clearly expressed in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4. It is called “the Gospel of the Grace of God” in Acts 20:24. Perhaps have them memorize this: “The Gospel of the Grace of God is ‘how that Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day.’” As I have told children in extremely simple language, “We have been bad and Jesus Christ took our whipping for us. He was punished in our place.” You can explain to them that just as their parents discipline them when they do wrong, so Father God punished Jesus Christ because of what we did wrong. Rather than sending us to hell to pay for our sins forever and ever, God gave us a chance to escape that punishment by having Jesus Christ take our place.

Not only is Christ crucified the answer to the penalty of sin (hell and the lake fire), it is also the answer to the power of sin (daily sinning). The power for Christian living today is found in the cross of Christ, and how the cross of Christ affects us today is described in Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon. Romans chapters 6-8 describe how Calvary’s finished crosswork gives us Christians victory over sin on a daily basis.

Try to make it clear to them that just as God used Moses to repeat His words to Israel, so God is using Paul to repeat His words to us. Paul is our apostle, “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13): he is God’s spokesperson to us, the person Jesus Christ sent to us to tell us all about what He is doing today. God is forming a group of believers called the Church the Body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23), who will one day serve Him in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6-7). This body is made of believing Jews and believing Gentiles. It is not to be confused with the nation Israel, God’s earthly people.

You can also share with them 1 Corinthians 14:37: “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” If we want to know how God wants us to live today, we should study, believe, and apply passages such as Romans chapter 12, Ephesians chapter 4, and Colossians chapter 3. We study all of the Bible, for all of the Bible is inspired of God, but only Paul’s epistles Romans through Philemon apply to us. God has other people in His Word such as the nation Israel—we must not take their passages and apply them to ourselves.

God’s grace is everything that He can do for us to the finished crosswork of Christ (Romans 3:24-25; 2 Corinthians 8:9). When we trust Jesus Christ alone as our personal Savior—His dying for our sins, His burial, and His resurrection for our right standing before God (Romans 4:24-25)—the Holy Spirit places us into the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). We will always be accepted of God in Christ (Ephesians 1:6), not because of what we do for Him but because of what He did at Calvary for us. We have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:1). God is not mad at us, God is not out to get us; God loves us and cares for us and has provided for all of our need in Jesus Christ. We are forgiven, declared right before God, set apart for what He wants to do with us, and so on. We are not under law but under grace (Romans 6:14-15)—God does not save us or bless us on the basis of how we live, but because we cannot do anything for Him, He gives us all spiritual blessings in heavenly places because of what Christ did (Ephesians 1:3). That is what makes Christianity unique as compared to religion (doing works to please God, which we can never do enough of to get His blessings).

“For God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5).

A SIMPLER GRACE MESSAGE (FOR “YOUNGER” PEOPLE)

(This purposely omits the dispensational concepts, and just presents a basic Gospel message for literally anyone and everyone to understand.)

The Bible declares, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 KJV). Because of sin, none of us can pay the price to enter heaven. Regardless of how many “good” works we do, we are still sinners by birth, unable to merit God’s favor. We have come short of God’s righteous standards.

Thus, in order to enter heaven, we need God’s righteousness. The good news is that, through the finished crosswork of Jesus Christ on Calvary, we can be made “the righteousness of God in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:21 KJV). We can receive God’s righteousness as a free gift! We can receive eternal salvation from our sins!

  • “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9 KJV).
  • “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23 KJV).
  • “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1 KJV).
  • “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 KJV).
  • “In whom [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7 KJV).
  • “In whom [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14 KJV).
  • “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” (2 Corinthians 8:9 KJV).
  • “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5 KJV).
  • “What must I do to be saved? Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:30,31 KJV).

Salvation = Faith + Nothing. It is free to you because Jesus Christ paid the price. Do you believe that? Have you fully trusted in that alone for salvation?

Jesus Christ (God manifested in human flesh), in His great love, grace, and mercy, paid the penalty for our sins. The Gospel of the Grace of God which saves lost mankind is: Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV). The Lord Jesus Christ shed His sinless blood to forgive us our sins, but the Bible declares that anyone who rejects the Gospel of Grace will have to pay for his or her sins in the lake of fire for all eternity.

When you trust exclusively in the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, Jesus Christ’s righteousness will be applied to you. Jesus Christ is perfect, so His righteousness imputed to us is our only means of getting into heaven. Will you trust in Christ Jesus alone as your personal Saviour? I hope you will accept God’s offer today!

* * * * * * * * *

            Okay, friend, you have two sets of information to choose from, and please take advantage of using one or both. Be ready to repeat, and repeat, and repeat! You will most assuredly generate questions, especially from young people and denominational people. If you need more information for dealing with people who are advanced further, you can try the five studies linked below.

Also see:
» Is Acts 16:31 a sufficient Gospel message?
» What part of us is justified at salvation?
» We are saved by faith, but are we blessed by works?
» What is dispensational Bible study?
» Must I say the “sinner’s prayer?”

Was Luke a Jew or a Gentile?

WAS LUKE A JEW OR A GENTILE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

For a long time now, theologians and others have argued over whether Luke was a Jew or a Gentile (non-Jew). I believe the Bible is clear as to which he was. Will we believe the Bible so we can then move on to more important matters?

Consider what the Apostle Paul wrote in the fourth and final chapter of Colossians: “[10] Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister’s son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;) [11] And Jesus, which is called Justus, who are of the circumcision. These only are my fellowworkers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me.” When Paul talked about his Jewish helpers in Christ here, verses 10 and 11 discussed men “of the circumcision.” These were undoubtedly Jews.

Then, Paul talks about a Christian named Epaphras in verses 12 and 13. For sake of brevity, we will skip these verses.

Now, when we come to verse 14, note: “Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.” Luke was not classified in the “circumcision” group. From verse 12 onward, Paul mentioned Gentiles. It seems to me that if Luke were a Jew, Paul would have added Luke in verses 10-11, or Paul would have noted Luke was also “of the circumcision.” Since Paul did neither, the wording in Colossians chapter 4 leads me to conclude that Luke was a Gentile, a non-Jew. If Luke truly did write the Gospel Record According to Luke as well as the Book of Acts, that would mean that a Gentile wrote those two Bible books. Luke’s Gospel and the book of Acts thus had some Pauline influence, for as we saw in Colossians, Luke accompanied Paul. Luke followed Paul on his apostolic journeys throughout the book of Acts. Other than Luke being a Gentile Christian, a medical doctor, and a close companion of Paul until the very end of Paul’s life (2 Timothy 4:11), the Scriptures are silent about Luke’s origin and life.

Also see:
» Can you explain Paul’s ministry during the book of Acts?
» Was Saul a pastor, a prophet, or an evangelist?
» How were Gentiles saved before our Dispensation of Grace?

Does Hebrews 10:25 really teach we must attend church?

DOES HEBREWS 10:25 REALLY TEACH WE MUST ATTEND CHURCH?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” It is a most quoted verse, a most confused verse, and a most abused verse. Preachers want people to do something to advance some church tradition, so they quote a verse whenever possible to motivate people to “follow Jesus” (?). If there ever was such a verse, Hebrews 10:25 is unquestionably it! My dear friends, if left in context, this verse will be abundantly clear and be absolutely amazing. We need not handle God’s Word deceitfully, for that will profit us nothing in eternity. Let us first set aside our denominational biases, then let us search the Scriptures, and finally, let us agree, Let God be true, but every man a liar.”

Hebrews 10:25 is one of the most mistreated verses in the book of Hebrews—maybe in all the Bible. We are urged to attend church services because it says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Preachers love to quote this over and over, but they do not continue reading the passage. Here are verses 26 and 27, the verses often omitted: “[26] For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, [27] But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” We need no theology degree or Greek lesson to see that verses 26 and 27 promise wrath, divine judgment, on those who fail to “assemble together.” In fact, they talk about loss of salvation. Now we see why preachers quote only verse 25, leaving off the next two verses!

One fundamental rule of sound, responsible Bible hermeneutics (interpretation) is to recognize a verse’s context. It is always important to remember that we should not grab a verse in Hebrews and make it fit us. While there are marvelous Bible truths shared between the nation Israel and us the Church the Body of Christ, Hebrews 10:25 is not one of them. The plain and simple truth is that we find no such verse as Hebrews 10:25 in Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. There is no indication that Paul wrote Hebrews, and certainly, “Hebrews” is not a book directed to the Body of Christ. Beloved, Hebrews is Israel’s Bible book! (For more information, see our study linked at the end of this article, “Who wrote the book of Hebrews?”)

Hebrews 10:25 did not just “pop up out of nowhere.” Firstly, there were several chapters of Hebrews prior to chapter 10. Secondly, there were several books written in the Bible before Hebrews. We must use other Bible books and other chapters in Hebrews to explain Hebrews 10:25. Dear friends, let us do that now to learn some spectacular Bible truths!

THE PURPOSE OF THE BOOK OF HEBREWS

The context of the book of Hebrews is found in its two opening verses. We read in the first chapter: “[1] God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, [2] Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.” Hebrews builds on the doctrine first spoken by the Old Testament prophets, teachings further expanded upon by our Lord Jesus Christ in the books of Matthew through John. The book of Hebrews is a book of prophecy, and in no way belongs in our mystery program, our Dispensation of Grace.

Now, to Hebrews chapter 2: “[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.”

Preachers love to partially quote verse 3 during evangelistic opportunities, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation….” What “salvation” is this? It is not our salvation in the Dispensation of Grace. It is talking about the “salvation” “which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord.” This is a reference to the “salvation” connected to Christ’s earthly ministry (Matthew through John). Hebrews chapter 2, verses 3-4 say, “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….” This is Acts chapter 2 onward, when the Holy Ghost worked miraculous demonstrations in and through Israel’s little flock and her 12 apostles. Hebrews focuses on the early part of the book of Acts, and early Acts is unrelated to us, the Church the Body of Christ. There is no Body of Christ here. There is no Dispensation of Grace here. There is no mystery program here.

The book of Hebrews focuses on “the world to come” (Hebrews 2:5). That is not the present-day. That is a future time, the time of the seven-year Tribulation and onward. Again, there is no Dispensation of Grace, no Body of Christ, and no mystery program. Hebrews is prophecy. The own testimony of the writer of the book of Hebrews is clear that he was not writing to us. To better understand Hebrews (and especially chapter 10, verse 25), let us now focus on John the Baptist’s ministry, Christ’s earthly ministry, and the seven-year Tribulation.

ISRAEL’S LITTLE FLOCK DURING JOHN THE BAPTIST’S MINISTRY

The Holy Spirit begins Matthew chapter 3 with: “[1] In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, [2] And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Why was John the Baptist “preaching in the wilderness?” Why was he not at the Temple in Jerusalem?

Remember, God only gave one religion in all of human history. Given at Mount Sinai through Moses for him to teach it to Israel, Judaism was a system of 613 laws (listed throughout Exodus through Deuteronomy). The Mosaic Law was a very severe system. God gave it to thoroughly demonstrate that Israel could never become His people in her own strength and through her own efforts. He would have to work to make them His people. Alas, Israel never got the message that she was a sinful nation that needed God’s salvation. She still believed she could do everything God commanded. (Just like today’s legalists!) Eventually, through the centuries, Israel’s religious leaders added more and more laws. When we come to Jesus’ earthly ministry, Judaism was no longer pure. Paul even called it the Jews’ religion” (Galatians 1:14). It was not God’s religion anymore because sinful Israel had corrupted it.

The Lord Jesus remarked about Israel’s spiritual condition in His day: “[6] Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. [7] Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. [8] For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. [9] And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition (Mark 7:6-9).

Does this rebuke’s focus sound familiar? Sure it does! “Tradition” is still readily accepted instead of Scripture. Patristic (church fathers) writings, denominational creeds, papal encyclicals, church council decrees, and myriads of other volumes mean everything in Christendom, but the Holy Scriptures mean almost nothing (unless a verse can bolster the denomination, and then it is ripped out of context and quoted—such as Hebrews 10:25!).

John the Baptist’s ministry in the “wilderness” was God’s method to ensure doctrinal purity. John’s father Zacharias was a Levitical priest (Luke 1:5ff.), so John should have followed his father in serving in Israel’s Temple twice a year. Yet, the Bible never says John ever served as a Temple priest. Instead, Scripture says of young John, “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel” (Luke 1:80). In fact, Matthew 3:1-2, what we just read, says that John the Baptist, now about age 30, began his ministry in the wilderness. In order to understand John’s peculiar ministry, we need to be mindful of the spiritual condition of the Temple.

The Tabernacle—from King Solomon onward, the Temple—was the hub of Israel’s religious system: there, her priests served JEHOVAH, the Ark of the Covenant rested, and her male Jews visited three times a year. That building was highly important because it was the place where JEHOVAH manifested Himself to Israel: hence, it was called “the house of the LORD” (Exodus 23:19 et. al) and “the house of God” (Ezra 3:8 et al.). Jesus Christ called it “my house” (Matthew 21:13) and “my Father’s house” (John 2:16).

However, Israel’s religious leadership defiled JEHOVAH’S pure Temple, and thus His nation, in various ways. According to Malachi 1:8, her priests offered in it sick and lame animals (which God forbade in Deuteronomy 15:21)—a main theme of Malachi’s message is Israel’s corrupt priesthood. Micah 3:11 spoke about Israel’s priests who taught for “hire.” Isaiah 29:13 (which Jesus quoted to describe the apostasy in His own day; Mark 7:6-7) mentioned how the Jews “have removed their heart far from [JEHOVAH], and their fear toward [Him] is taught by the precept of men.” Religious tradition was venerated, and God’s Word (the Old Testament scrolls) was largely ignored. Sound familiar?

So, God the Father had sent John into the wilderness to call Israel away from the apostate Temple, away from the false religious system that Satan has used to mislead Israel. Over 700 years before Christ, the Prophet Isaiah wrote of John the Baptist: “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3; cf. Matthew 3:1-11; Mark 1:1-8; Luke 3:1-18). The Prophet Hosea elaborates regarding Israel’s restoration to God: [JEHOVAH speaking] Therefore, behold I will allure her [Israel], and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her…. And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call me Ishi [“My Husband”]; and shalt call me no more Baali [“My Master”]. And I will betroth thee unto me for ever… Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God” (Hosea 2:14,16,19,23).

John the Baptist was preaching in the wilderness to fulfill prophecy, but why did prophecy have him preaching in the wilderness? John’s purpose is described in Luke 1:16-17: “[16] And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. [17] And he shall go before him [the Messiah, Jesus] in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Through John, God the Father (John 1:6) was calling Israel away from the apostate, satanic religious system that had so gripped and entrapped her, the system that her religious leaders—those “vipers” (Matthew 3:7; Luke 3:7), those spiritual children of Satan (John 8:44)—had placed upon her and with which they led her away from JEHOVAH’S truth (Matthew 15:1-14).

In order to become JEHOVAH’S wife (Hosea’s prophecy above), Israel had to forsake her idols and vain religion (the center of which was the Temple). The Gospel of the Kingdom that John preached in Matthew 3:2 was Israel’s chance to escape Satan’s bondage and become God’s chief nation in the earth. His message to Israel was simple, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Israel was to “repent”—change her mind about JEHOVAH, to remember God’s covenant with her, to acknowledge her failure to keep that covenant, to quit thinking like the Gentiles and to stop serving Satan and his evil world system. Israel’s confession of sins in the following verses was to acknowledge her breaking the Old Covenant, the Mosaic Law (see Leviticus 26:40-46). John’s water baptism was the means whereby Israel was cleansed of her idolatry, equipping her to become JEHOVAH’S kingdom of priests (Ezekiel 36:25; cf. Exodus 19:5-6). Israel’s conversion was urgent: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand [near]” (Matthew 3:2). In the near future, Jesus Christ would be baptized of John, thus manifesting Himself as Israel’s Messiah-King (John 1:31). Israel’s long-promised kingdom (foretold through the Old Testament prophets) was soon to be established.

Most of Israel’s priests were entangled in spiritual error, so John’s ministry was out in the wilderness, far from the Temple, far-removed from Satan’s religious system. This arrangement ensured John’s converts would be pure, untainted by the evil world system that had deceived Israel previously. God’s people would hear God the Father’s message about His coming Son and Israel’s Messiah, Jesus, from John the Baptist (see John 1:6-34). It was a message unadulterated by Israel’s satanically-inspired priesthood.

ISRAEL’S LITTLE FLOCK DURING THE EARLY ACTS PERIOD

We will now move into the early Acts period, that is pre-Acts-chapter 9. Jesus Christ’s three years of earthly ministry have ended. He has already been crucified, buried, and resurrected, and has just ascended into heaven (chapter 1). The Apostle Peter concluded his famous Pentecost sermon with Acts 2:40: “And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward [wicked, rebellious] generation.” In other words, Peter echoed the words of John the Baptist: “Fellow Jews, come out of your apostate, wicked, rebellious nation! Leave that vain religious system and trust Jesus as your Lord and Christ! Quit trying to please God with your works and come to Him by faith! This evil generation will be consumed in God’s wrath when Jesus comes back! Get right with JEHOVAH God now!” (Peter was encouraging them to make the right decision, just as Hebrews 10:25 teaches, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”)

We read in Hebrews 13:10-15: [10] We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. [11] For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. [12] Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. [13] Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. [14] For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. [15] By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” The believing Israeli, in accordance with Peter’s words, is again urged to separate himself from the nation Israel. Israel is apostate, and just as they rejected Jesus Christ, a believing Jew is to be ready to “bear his reproach.” As they hated Jesus Christ for believing and teaching God’s Word, so they will hate the believing Israelis for believing and teaching God’s Word.

Hebrews 11:9-10, 13-16: “[9] By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: [10] For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God….[13] These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. [14] For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. [15] And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. [16] But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.”

As their faithful patriarchs of old did, Israel’s believing remnant is not to be fixated on this world. This wicked world is passing away. They themselves will not be here forever. This evil world system is not their home. The Lord Jesus Christ will be returning soon to abolish the wicked system and bring to them a literal, physical, visible kingdom beyond their wildest dreams! Thus we find the exhortation to believing Israel in 1 John 2:15-17: “[15] Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. [16] For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. [17] And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”

Psalm 22:22 says, “I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise him.” Written by King David, this is really the Messiah Jesus talking, some 1,000 years beforehand. Psalm 22:1-21 describes Christ’s crucifixion and death but Psalm 22:22-31 describes His resurrection and reign as King. Hebrews 2:11-13 provides commentary: “[11] For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, [12] Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. [13] And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me.” This believing congregation, this “assembling of [themselves] together” (Hebrews 10:25), this believing remnant (Romans 11:5), this little flock (Luke 12:32), this Messianic Church (Matthew 16:18), is in stark contrast to the unbelieving part of Israel. As Psalm 26:5 says, “I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked.”

Psalm 1 sheds additional light on Hebrews 10:25: “[1] Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. [2] But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. [3] And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. [4] The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. [5] Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. [6] For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”

ISRAEL’S LITTLE FLOCK DURING DANIEL’S 70TH WEEK

Israel’s believing remnant during the (future) seven-year Tribulation is to behave like John the Baptist’s converts and those Jewish kingdom believers in early Acts some 2,000 years ago; they are to separate themselves from the national apostate religious system and be ready for Jesus Christ to return for them. Just as a false religious system engrossed Israel back then, another false religious system, the Antichrist’s regime, will pollute Israel yet future from our day. This Antichrist (political leader) and his False Prophet (religious leader) will arise after our Dispensation of Grace is over. Our dispensation is parenthetical—what preceded it and what follows it are one and the same program. What prophetic program God would have finished back in early Acts He has postponed until after our mystery program ends. So, the verses from the previous sections—John the Baptist’s ministry and the early Acts period—carry over into the end-times portion of Israel’s prophetic program. The books of Hebrews through Revelation will be useful to Israel’s little flock during this time. We now begin to better understand Hebrews 10:25.

The Lord Jesus in His earthly ministry talked about how He would send angels at His Second Coming to gather His believing Jews. This is the ultimate “assembling” of Hebrews 10:25. As John preached years earlier in Matthew 3:11-12, believing Jews will be gathered into the garner (kingdom), and the unbelieving Jews will be gathered and thrown into fire (eternal hellfire). Jesus commenting in Matthew 24:30-31: “[30] And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. [31] And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Now we see why failing to gather with believers results in hell in Hebrews 10:25-27. It is not a common gathering at a local church building. It is not a member of the Body of Christ losing eternal life. It is rather a Jewish kingdom believer abandoning lost Israel, trusting Jesus as Messiah, thereby preparing to enter Christ’s Millennial Reign! It is a Jewish unbeliever being cast into hell for refusing to break away from wicked, apostate Israel!

GOD’S FIERY WRATH AT CHRIST’S SECOND COMING

Returning briefly to the wrath of Hebrews 10:26-29: “[26] For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, [27] But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. [28] He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: [29] Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” Now, verses 30 and 31: “[30] For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth to me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. [31] It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

Those who fail to “assemble” with Jewish believers in verse 25, will be consumed by God’s righteous indignation, His vengeance (cf. Isaiah 61:2), when Jesus Christ returns to end the seven-year Tribulation. Remember, God’s impending judgment is connected to the Old Testament prophecies of Israel’s coming Messiah (Deuteronomy 32:22-43; Psalm 2:4-5; Psalm 68:1-8; Isaiah 34:1-15; Jeremiah 25:29-33; Joel 1:1–2:32; Nahum 1:1-8; Zechariah 14:12; et al.). Hence, John the Baptist, just before Messiah (Christ) Jesus began His earthly ministry, warned his audience of that “wrath to come,” when Jesus would baptize Israel “with fire,” “to burn up the chaff [lost Jews] with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:7-12). Jesus Himself forewarned of this future “burning,” this “fire,” when angels would gather unbelieving sinners and “cast [them] into a furnace of fire,” a place with “wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:30,40-42,49,50). At that Second Coming of Christ, the Jesus-rejecters (Matthew 24:37-41) and the Jewish-haters would be consumed and tossed into the lake of fire (Matthew 25:30,41-46). Jesus Christ will come back in “flaming fire” to take vengeance on rebels, those who want nothing to do with Him (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).

As we commented earlier, the Apostle Peter concluded his famous Pentecost sermon with Acts 2:40: “And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.” Once again, the message in Hebrews 10:25 to Jews is clear: “Come out of that apostate, wicked, rebellious nation! Leave that vain religious system and trust Jesus as your Lord and Christ! Quit trying to please God with your works and come to Him by faith! This evil generation will be consumed in God’s wrath when Jesus comes back! Get right with Him now!” That Day of Jesus Christ’s Second Coming is that “day approaching” that Hebrews 10:25 refers to, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”) See how much sense this all is than a shallow explanation, “Come to church because Hebrews 10:25 says so!”? Revel in the richness of God’s Word rightly divided, dear friends! Oh, the clarity! Oh, the wisdom!

CONCLUSION

Hebrews 10:25 is not talking about going to “worship” in a church building in this the Dispensation of the Grace of God. Rather, it is God’s instructions to Israel in regards to staying doctrinally pure and being spiritually ready for the Messiah (the Lord Jesus) to come back and establish His earthly kingdom! They are to remain separate from Satan’s policy of evil, from the apostate system that has strangled Israel’s spiritual life. Those Jews who fail to assemble with believing Israel will be cast into hellfire when Jesus Christ returns (Hebrews 10:25-31).

The lesson we can take from this is simple. Satan has perfected his operations. What was advantageous to Satan’s program then is still successful right now. Never forget that the same pagan religious system that gripped Israel still pervades Christendom. (For more information, see our study linked at the end of this article, “Did Paul quote verses out of context in 2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1?”) Hence, we do not appeal to clergymen, denominational teaching-bodies, preachers, catechisms, creeds, seminarians, papal bulls and encyclicals, et cetera. We should go to the Apostle Paul (Romans through Philemon) to learn what God has to say to us Gentiles, just as the nation Israel was to go to John the Baptist to learn what God had to say to them. Thus, we will be a pure agency for the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 11:1-33).

Also see:
» Why did Jesus forbid others from preaching that He was Christ?
» Who wrote the book of Hebrews?
» Did Paul quote verses out of context in 2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1?