Monthly Archives: August 2015

How did God “testify” of Abel’s gifts?

HOW DID GOD “TESTIFY” OF ABEL’S GIFTS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

We read in Hebrews 11:4: “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.” Just how did Abel “obtain witness that he was righteous?” How did God “testify” of Abel’s righteousness? Let us reason together using the Holy Scriptures.

Let us briefly review. Sons of Adam and Eve, Abel is a “keeper of sheep” and his brother Cain is a “tiller of the ground” (Genesis 4:2). Cain “brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD” (verse 3), while Abel “brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof” (verse 4a). To wit, Abel “by faith” brought a blood sacrifice, indicating He followed God’s instructions. Unbelieving Cain, however, offered vegetation to God, which He never commanded. “And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect” (verses 4b,5a). And, as we just read in Hebrews 11:4: “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts.” But, exactly what does it mean that Abel “obtained witness” from God that “he was righteous?” For the answer, we must search the Old Testament Scriptures.

Read 1 Chronicles 21:26: “And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called upon the LORD; and he answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt offering.” In 1 Kings 18:38, we read of the time when the prophet Elijah offered an animal sacrifice: Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.” And 2 Chronicles 7:1: “Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house.”

Based on these verses, we conclude Abel must have seen the fire of God come down from heaven and consume his sacrifice, thus signifying to him that God had accepted his offering. Amazing! (By the way, Cain did not see the fire come from God out of heaven and consume his vegetable offering. Just as Abel saw that he was righteous before God, Cain saw that he was unrighteous before God. Hence, Cain grew very upset and killed Abel!)

Also see:
» Why did God reject Cain’s offering?
» How can a loving God send people to hell forever?
» Was God unfair in striking Uzzah dead?

Is prophecy being fulfilled in the Dispensation of Grace?

IS BIBLE PROPHECY BEING FULFILLED TODAY IN THE DISPENSATION OF GRACE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Prophecy is definitely not being fulfilled today in this the Dispensation of the Grace of God. Think about what events prophecy involves and then you will see why that is the case. Consider these three simple points:

ISSUE #1: PROPHECY’S CHIEF NATION IS FALLEN TODAY

Prophecy involves the formation of the nation Israel. Israel’s formation is not occurring today. There is no Israel of God today. Israel is currently “fallen,” cut off from God, “cast away,” “spiritually blinded,” and “enemies [of God]” (Romans 11:11-12, 15, 25, 28). Today, God is forming the Church the Body of Christ of (individual) believing Jews and believing Gentiles (see Ephesians 3:1-11). This Body of Christ is separate and distinct from the nation Israel. Today, salvation is going to the Gentiles through the fall of Israel. If the agency at the heart of the prophetic program (Israel) does not exist before God today, then the prophetic program itself cannot (and does not) operate right now.

ISSUE #2: PROPHECY’S GOAL IS NOT BEING ACCOMPLISHED TODAY.

Prophecy involves God reclaiming the Earth’s governments. That is not occurring today. Look around at the world’s governments today. Are they of the God of the Bible, or of Satan, “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4)? Rather than reclaiming real estate on Earth, God is influencing the government of heaven today (Ephesians 3:9-11). One day, when we Christians leave planet Earth, God will purge the offices of government in heaven and then place us the Church the Body of Christ into the roles of the fallen angels (Ephesians 1:20-23). In His own time, Jesus Christ will return to Earth and restore God’s authority in the Earth through redeemed Israel (see Revelation 11:15; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 20:4; et cetera). God is not fighting Israel’s battles today; hence, Israel Palestinian and Arab enemies are still browbeating them in the Middle East. Hence, today, Paul calls it this “present evil world” (Galatians 1:4). This planet will abound with evil until prophecy is brought to fruition. If the goal of the prophetic program (Earth’s restoration to God) is not being accomplished today, then the prophetic program itself cannot (and does not) operate right now.

ISSUE #3. PROPHECY’S NEXT STAGE—GOD’S WRATH—IS STILL DELAYED.

Prophecy involves God’s wrath being poured out on rebellious mankind (see Matthew 3:7-12; Acts 2: 32-36; Acts 3:22-26; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; Revelation 6:16-17; et al.). That is not occurring today. The Bible says that God is not imputing the world’s trespasses unto it (2 Corinthians 5:19). Today, as Paul declares in his epistles, God’s attitude toward the world is grace and peace (see Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:3; 1 Timothy 1:12-16; et cetera). Through faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ, all nations can approach the God of the Bible (Ephesians 2:11-22). If the next stage of the prophetic program (God’s wrath) is not being exhibited today, then the prophetic program itself cannot (and does not) operate right now.

“RIGHT DIVISION” ENSURES WE UNDERSTAND THAT PROPHECY AND MYSTERY OPERATE APART FROM EACH OTHER

We read in Romans chapter 11: “[25] For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. [26] And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: [27] For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.”

Prophecy and mystery cannot operate simultaneously. That is the purpose of the rapture—to ensure that prophecy remains unfulfilled until the mystery is completed (note Romans 11:25-29 above, especially how verse 25 [the mystery] transitions into verse 26, “as it is written” [prophecy resumes after mystery is finished]). The Church the Body of Christ—”the fulness of the Gentiles”—must be removed from Earth before God continues to deal with Israel again. The mystery program must be stopped on Earth in order for God to resume the prophetic program on Earth.

WHAT THE MAJORITY TEACHES ON THE SUBJECT OF MODERN-DAY BIBLE PROPHECY

Many people in the religious crowd talk about Bible prophecy being fulfilled today. Most commonly, they point to Israel’s founding as a modern state in 1948 and declare it a fulfillment of Deuteronomy, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah. (What they do not seem to realize is that Israel is still lost and Christ-rejecting. The Israel today is of man’s creation. It is not the work of God and not the Israel of God. When God brings Israel back into power as a nation, and He will do so one day, Israel will be saved and brought into the land not lost Israelites being brought into the land!)

People often use the Old Testament passages and talk about how God is judging America today for its sins (2 Chronicles 7:14 is commonly seen as the solution). Some use passages in the book of the Revelation to set dates as to when Jesus Christ will return in wrath. They talk about current political, religious, and economic events as though they are the signs of the Antichrist’s coming and the other signs of the times. They go to Matthew chapter 24 and put all these events into our Dispensation of Grace. We are urged to look at the wars, famines, diseases, pestilences, earthquakes, et cetera today and recognize them as fulfillment of Jesus’ Second Sermon on the Mount. They want to say that a part (or sometimes all) of these prophecies were fulfilled in A. D. 70 when Rome overran Jerusalem and destroyed her Temple.

The above people mean well (hopefully). Many of them may be saved individuals, Holy-Spirit-sealed people, genuine members of the Body of Christ, who have simply been misled by church tradition. Honestly, I think they are usually trying to prove the Bible to the skeptics. It is exciting to place ourselves on the prophetic timeline and declare, “What Jesus predicted is happening today! Look at this, look at that… the budding of the fig tree [referring to Israel in 1948], the Jews returning to the land of Palestine in airplanes chartered by Christians, the wars and rumors of wars, famines, diseases, and earthquakes, the moon turning to blood, the sun being darkened, et cetera… look at these signs that Jesus’ return is right upon us!” (For a more fuller treatment of a current example of this, see our study, “Should I be concerned about the four ‘blood’ moons?,” linked at the end of this study.)

WHY IT MATTERS – TEACHINGS ABOUT PROPHECY BEING FULFILLED IN THE MYSTERY PROGRAM ARE “PROFANE AND VAIN BABBLINGS”

So, why should we reject the notion that Bible prophecy is occurring in the mystery program? Does it even matter? After all, so many people believe prophecy is being fulfilled today. Why not just “go with the flow?” The prophecy preachers and “scholars” overwhelmingly agree that prophecy is being fulfilled today. (It may be that they are trying to prove the Bible, but I believe it is largely done to hype up people and sell books and television programming.) For example, someone may say to me, “It really does not matter if some Bible prophecy is being fulfilled today. What is the harm in saying prophecy is currently being fulfilled? Are we not proving the Bible?” Great question!

Remember, those in 2 Timothy 2:18—Hymanaeus and Philetus—erred. How did they blunder? The Bible says they mixed prophecy and mystery! They did not “rightly divide the word of truth” as verse 15 instructed. The Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:15-18: “[15] Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [16] But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. [17] And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; [18] Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.”

Hymanaeus and Philetus claimed that the resurrection of Christians (the rapture) had already happened. Note that they did not deny resurrection, they just misplaced it only the Bible timeline. By teaching that, they had already overthrown the faith of some. They made Christians believe they were now living in the seven-year Tribulation period, making those Christians doubt they had even been saved from that wrath in the first place. A similar false teaching had begun to trouble and corrupt the Thessalonians—see 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. If we say that prophecy is being fulfilled today, that would automatically place us into the prophetic program. That has dangerous doctrinal implications.

If prophecy were occurring today, that would mean that the rapture already happened, and since we are still on Earth and not in heaven, that would mean that we were never saved. When we say prophecy is being fulfilled today, the natural conclusion is the belief that we are now living in the seven-year Tribulation. Do you see how a major doctrinal problem has now arisen just by making the innocent-looking statement, “The Bible is true because we can see it being fulfilled all around us?” By “proving the Bible to be true,” we have caused much fear and doubt in the minds of Christians.

We will let 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 correct our thinking: “[6] And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. [7] For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.” The Antichrist is being withheld today; he has not been revealed yet. The chief person of prophecy has not yet made his appearance in the world. Why? There is something hindering the prophetic program from operating! Our Dispensation of Grace and the Church the Body of Christ are the means whereby the Holy Spirit prevents prophecy from resuming! “[13] But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: [14] Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” From the beginning of our dispensation, we—the Church the Body of Christ—have been saved from the time of Jacob’s trouble, Daniel’s 70th week, God’s wrath during the seven-year Tribulation (the resuming of prophecy)!

By saying prophetic is being fulfilled today, we would thus miss the importance of keeping prophecy and mystery separate. We would begin to doubt our salvation, we would move away from Paul’s epistles, we would drift from our identity in Christ, we would cast doubt on many critical Bible passages, and so on. In other words, it would cause mass confusion in the minds of so many Christians (as if they are not confused enough!).

CONCLUSION

In their “zeal” to prove the Bible with so-called “modern-day Scriptural prophecies,” sensationalistic people challenge and destroy its dispensational layout and clarity. They are not handling the Bible dispensationally. Such denominational hype sells books and television programming but it is not sound Bible teaching. In short, it is not handling God’s Word properly. It is simply making the Scriptures confusing to an already-confused public. Preachers may do it, but never does Paul tell us to be looking for signs of the Antichrist. In fact, never does the Holy Spirit through Paul tell us to look for “signs of the end times” as the Lord Jesus did with Israel in Matthew chapter 24. The Bible says “the Jews require a sign” (1 Corinthians 1:22a). What are we Gentiles doing looking for signs? Do we not have the completed Bible to confirm God’s Word to us? Is the Body of Christ to be looking for “signs?” Of course not! We are the first people in the history of God’s dealings with man, to have a complete Bible, a written and finalized canon of 66 divinely-inspired books, so why do we need yet another revelation from God? (Those who say, “Look for God’s revelation in the heavens!” probably have not even read and believed all of the revelations of God He has given in the written Holy Bible!)

Remember, we turn to Paul’s epistles to learn what God is doing today. Paul discusses prophecy—such as in Romans chapters 9-11 and 2 Thessalonians chapter 2—but he never tells us to look for prophetic events. He gave these prophetic passages in order to show us we are not a part of them—they all deal with Israel, Israel, Israel, and Israel’s program, Israel’s program, Israel’s program. We are not to be looking for or trying to identify the Antichrist. We are not to be concerned about accepting his mark or embracing his false religion. We should not be looking for God’s wrath or Jesus Christ’s Second Coming. We should not be looking for redeemed Israel. Why? The prophetic program is on hold. It is not suspended forever, but it is suspended now. We know this because the next event on the prophetic timeline was wrath, and that divine judgment was stayed (delayed) in order to save Saul of Tarsus and make him the Apostle Paul (see our study linked at the end, “Why did Jesus Christ stand in Acts 7:55-56?”). Instead, we are to be looking for Christ’s coming for His Church, us, commonly called the rapture (Titus 2:13). Once the rapture occurs, then Israel’s prophetic program will resume and God will bring it to fruition. We can be sure of that!

Also see:
» Why was Saul of Tarsus’ name changed to Paul?
» Should I be concerned about the four “blood” moons?
» Why did Jesus Christ stand in Acts 7:55-56?

How could Peter interpret Scripture in Acts 1:16-20?

HOW COULD PETER INTERPRET SCRIPTURE IN ACTS 1:16-20?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The Holy Spirit did not come upon the apostles until Acts chapter 2, or 10 days after Christ’s literal, physical, visible resurrection. There was no indwelling Spirit of God in Acts chapter 1, so how could the Apostle Peter know two verses in Psalms applied to Judas? That used to puzzle me for the longest time, until I found some verses that clarified it for me. We will read the verses in Acts chapter 1 first, then proceed to the book of Psalms, and finally we will reveal the fascinating answer.

We read in Acts 1:15-20: “[15] And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) [16] Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. [17] For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. [18] Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. [19] And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. [20] For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.”

Now we look at the two verses in Psalms that Peter quoted in verse 20 above:

  • Circa 1000 years before Christ, David wrote in Psalm 69:25: “Let their habitation be desolate; and let none dwell in their tents.” (Acts 1:20a: “For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein.”)
  • Circa 1000 years before Christ, David wrote in Psalm 109:8: “Let his days be few; and let another take his office.” (Acts 1:20b: “For it is written in the book of Psalms, … and his bishoprick let another take.”)

A Jew living in the centuries before Jesus Christ came in the flesh, would have never had the understanding that Psalm 69:25 and Psalm 109:8 were talking about a friend of Jesus betraying Him. Yet, it seems strange that Peter would take these two verses and apply them to Judas Iscariot. What made Peter understand that David was writing about Judas in these two verses? How did Peter know that Psalm 69 and Psalm 109 were Messianic? That is, how did Peter know these two chapters contained prophetic glimpses of events in Christ’s earthly ministry? (Remember, there was no Holy Spirit yet to give them Bible understanding.) Two passages and we will conclude.

Luke chapter 24, post-resurrection, Jesus Christ gave His disciples a Bible study. Verses 44-46 relate: “[44] And he [the Lord Jesus Christ] said unto them [His apostles and disciples], These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. [45] Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, [46] And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:….” And now, the companion verse, Acts 1:3: “To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:”

How could Peter interpret the book of Psalms in Acts chapter 1, if the Holy Spirit was not given until Acts chapter 2? Friends, it is quite simple. Jesus Christ spent 40 days after His resurrection teaching His apostles and disciples the various Old Testament prophecies that had just been fulfilled during those last three years. Imagine a 40-day-long Bible conference with the Lord Jesus Christ Himself as the Teacher! By the time it concluded, and Christ had ascended into heaven, Peter had enough spiritual insight into the Old Testament—in this case, the book of Psalms—that he knew which “obscure” passages were really predictions of what Judas would do centuries later.

CONCLUSION – WHY IT MATTERS

While the Holy Spirit was not present on Earth until Acts chapter 2, Jesus Christ had spent 40 days post-resurrection giving Bible understanding to His Little Flock. The book of Luke and the book of Acts both confirm that Jesus Christ explained the various Old Testament Scriptures that had just been fulfilled concerning Him. Peter quoted two of these verses in Acts chapter 1. Peter did not have the Holy Spirit to guide and enlighten him yet, but the Lord Jesus had given a lot of insight into the Old Testament. Peter knew, according to Psalms, that Judas was now permanently out of the picture. Psalms had also taught Peter that they would have to appoint a twelfth apostle to take Judas’ now-vacated office. This is important, since Peter is often criticized today for appointing Matthias instead of waiting for Paul to replace Judas. Paul could not have taken Judas’ position for several major reasons (see our study linked below). Most importantly, Peter knew that they would have to fill the spot now, and Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was still a lost man at that time of Acts chapter 1. Peter knew that the Holy Spirit would be coming in less than 10 days, and that twelfth apostle needed to be present and ordained. Evidently, Jesus Christ had made that clear to them in those 40 days.

Also see:
» Who was Judas’ replacement—Matthias or Paul?
» Did Judas die forgiven?
» Does Matthew 19:27-28 prove Judas went to heaven?