Monthly Archives: October 2015

What about those “strange distractions” when we witness to others?

WHAT ABOUT THOSE “STRANGE DISTRACTIONS” WHEN WE WITNESS TO OTHERS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“When sharing the Gospel I have noticed at the most crucial time, diversions which SEEM perfectly timed, have thwarted people’s attention away from hearing the truth. Is this just coincidence? Some of these were extraordinary… almost paranormal. Can believers be buffeted as Paul was in 2 Corinthians 12:7?”

So you have experienced this too, friend? Brother, every believer knows a little something about how annoying those “diversions” are!

I am afraid that those types of “perfectly timed” distractions are very useful to Satan. Just today, a sister in Christ was telling me that her “Christian” (?) husband was using a noisy leaf-blower machine while she was trying to give the Gospel to a lost man doing some work near their home! Whether it is distracting children, an urgent phone call, sudden bad weather, or unexpected illness, there is always something to sidetrack us while we are witnessing to others. The people are distracted and we are distracted.

When the Bible says Paul was “buffeted,” that is the idea of being punched, struck, or handled roughly. It is physical violence. Like when the soldiers spat in Jesus’ face, and “buffeted” Him, and smote Him (Matthew 26:67; Mark 14:65). That same term is used to describe Paul and the apostles being physical abused (persecuted) in 1 Corinthians 4:11. Peter uses it to describe a beating or punishment (1 Peter 2:20). So, no, our distractions while witnessing, those are not buffetings. Although, when a convicted lost person or angry “Christian” grabs us and smacks us for telling them the truth of God’s Word, that, my friend, is most definitely “buffeting” in the truest sense of the word!

The thorn in the flesh Paul experienced in 2 Corinthians chapter 12 was in the context of numerous trials and tribulations, including persecution and physical abuse (see verse 10). Personally, I believe that a large part of that thorn in the flesh was that Paul had physical infirmities as the result of his beatings and torture. You have to remember Paul endured many lashings/scourgings (195!), stonings, beatings, et cetera (2 Corinthians 11:22-33). No doubt there were some broken bones and torn muscles involved. Paul’s physical body surely abounded with scar tissue. There seems to be partial blindness in Paul as well. The language in Galatians 4:13-15 is that Paul had a somewhat hideous appearance (related to his eyes?) but that the Galatians had overlooked his physical problems and believed the Gospel that he preached. These difficulties were certainly the direct influence of Satan. Then, Satan would exploit the matter even further. Paul’s critics would come along and say, “And that man—all bruised, beaten, and crippled—he is Jesus Christ’s apostle to you?! No way!” False teachers (religious leaders), looking to deceive, were boasting in their nice appearance and criticizing Paul for his weak appearance in order to discourage the Corinthians from listening to him (2 Corinthians 10:7-10; 2 Corinthians 5:12).

Actually, brother, I believe those distractions (noisy kids, for example) that we face during witnessing episodes is largely coincidence, certainly not Satan’s direct influence as in the previous paragraph with Paul. Now, if you are talking about religious people interrupting you, that is Satan’s direct work. There is no coincidence about that! When you are talking to someone about the Gospel or dispensational Bible study, and someone else interrupts you to talk about some religious material, that is how Satan and his devils work. They work in the form of false teaching and false teachers (1 Timothy 4:1-5). The “seducing spirits” there are the voices of people—preachers, teachers, et cetera—speaking error with false gospels, wrongly-divided Scripture, denominational teaching outside of the Bible, and so on. This is where Satan accomplishes his best work. The people he is using may or may not be aware of his influence.

When you get those distractions, you just ask the Holy Spirit to keep your mind on the truth of those verses you have studied. As long as you are sharing Bible verses, those verses will somehow get to that person’s eyes or ears, no matter what the distraction. God’s Word never returns to Him void, and it will prosper wherever He sends it (Isaiah 55:11). Look at all the distractions He has already overcome so we (grace believers) could learn what little we know about His Word! Hope that explains it, friend!

Also see:
» How does Satan operate today?
» Is Acts 16:31 a sufficient Gospel message?
» What about Romans 10:9-10?

Are Galatians 1:18-19 and Acts 9:26-28 contradictions?

ARE GALATIANS 1:18-19 AND ACTS 9:26-28 CONTRADICTIONS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“Are Galatians 1:18-19 and Acts 9:26-28 referring to the same event? If so do they contradict each other (in Galatians, Paul saw only Peter and James; in Acts, Barnabas introduced Paul to all the apostles)?”

Thank you, friend, for submitting that question. We should always give the Bible the benefit of the doubt. Whenever we find verses or passages that appear to be mistakes, that should motivate us to study God’s Word to learn special insight about the verses or passages in question. Let me show you what I mean.

First, Galatians 1:18-19: “[18] Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. [19] But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.”

Now, Acts 9:26-28: “[26] And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. [27] But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. [28] And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem.”

Are these really contradictions?

  • Paul went to Jerusalem, saw Peter and stayed with him for 15 days, Paul seeing none of the other apostles but James the Lord’s brother (Galatians 1:18-19).
  • Paul went to Jerusalem, and Barnabas brought Paul to the apostles (Acts 9:26-28).

Note that Luke does not provide the names of these “apostles” in Acts 9:26-29. He simply uses the plural noun. There is no explicit indication that Saul/Paul met all 12 apostles at first, either, when he came to Jerusalem. Verse 27’s “apostles” means at least two but not necessarily all 12. Galatians 1:18-19 says Saul saw Peter and James. These equal two apostles, the least number needed to meet the qualification “apostles” in Acts 9:27. Maybe Galatians 1:18-19 and Acts 9:27 are talking about the same two apostles. We cannot be certain.

Acts 9:27-29 indicates Saul spent some time preaching in Jerusalem. That may have been the 15 days with Peter referenced in Galatians 1:18. Paul may have met the rest of the 12 apostles here. I think the point in Galatians was that he simply did not meet all 12 apostles at once. He only met Peter and James at first, and then maybe—though not clear here—he met the rest of the apostles at some later time during that same visit to Jerusalem.

Here is what we know for sure:

  1. Acts 9:25 matches Galatians 1:17.
  2. Acts 9:30 matches Galatians 1:21.
  3. So, Acts 9:26-29 would fit during Saul’s visit to Jerusalem in Galatians 1:18-19. Saul evidently only visited Jerusalem once in this context. It was one visit to Jerusalem, but Paul provides only some details while Luke provides other details.*
  4. Saul spent 15 days in Jerusalem with Peter (Galatians 1:18).
  5. Sometime during that one visit to Jerusalem, Saul also met James the Lord’s brother (Galatians 1:18).

If we give the Bible the benefit of the doubt that there is no contradiction, we can combine the testimonies of Acts 9:26-29 and Galatians 1:17-19 to see this timeline:

  1. Saul leaves Damascus and comes to Jerusalem three years later (Galatians 1:17-18; cf. Acts 9:22-26).
  2. He attempts to join some of the Kingdom disciples but they are afraid of him (Acts 9:26). Galatians omits this.
  3. Barnabas finds Saul and brings him to the apostles (Acts 9:27). Meeting the “apostles” here may be the meeting with Peter and James (Galatians 1:18). Acts does not give names or numbers here so we have to use Galatians that provides names and numbers. Somewhere during this time, Saul stays with Peter 15 days (Galatians 1:18).

Remember, Paul’s intention in Galatians chapter 1 is not to give a detailed explanation of everything in Acts chapter 9. His main argument in Galatians is to prove that he had no contact with Israel’s 12 apostles for the first few years of his Christian life. In other words, the 12 did not teach Paul doctrine. Jesus Christ Himself taught him directly (Galatians 1:11-12). Paul had been saved at least three years (Galatians 1:18) prior to meeting with Peter and the other 11 apostles of Israel. Again, Saul may have met all 12 apostles in Acts 9:27, we cannot be sure. If he did meet all 12, then according to Galatians chapter 1, his coming to Jerusalem involved meeting Peter and James first before meeting the others.

* Luke and Paul do not have 100 percent identical accounts because they are from different points-of-view. Furthermore, they have different reasons for writing in their respective books. The testimonies of independent witnesses will always have slight differences, even when describing the same event. That actually strengthens their claim for authenticity. There is no word-for-word account provided by both Luke and Paul, so the Bible critic cannot cry out, “Fabrication!” (Just a little food for thought, friend!)

Also see:
» Were there five crosses on Calvary?
» Why does the Bible give two accounts of Judas’s death?
» Do Acts 9:7 and Acts 22:9 contradict each other?

What is Acts 9/28 Hybrid Theology?

WHAT IS THE “ACTS 9/28 HYBRID SYSTEM” OF THEOLOGY? IS IT SOUND BIBLE HERMENEUTICS, OR THE TRADITIONS OF MEN WITH A “GRACE FACE?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

In recent months, especially within the last several weeks, I have received numerous emails involving a certain type of so-called “grace teaching.” According to these contacts, the proponents of this system do indeed promote Paul’s special ministry. Yet, they attach certain odd doctrines to the Pauline dispensational paradigm. Examples of these “strange and confusing” doctrines were provided. This teaching has become rampant on social media (particularly Facebook and YouTube). For simplicity’s sake, I call it the “Acts 9/28 hybrid system.” This is the term I will use throughout this study to describe the system.

Exactly what is this system? Should we embrace it, or should we avoid it entirely? As always, we do not take anyone’s word for it. We should always look at the Scriptures before we blindly accept any theological position, even if it claims to be “grace” teaching. It does not matter what any grace preacher says, or any grace teacher says—that includes me especially! Beloved, if the King James Bible rightly divided does not support it, forget it, no matter who teaches it!

In celebration of our 200th Bible Q&A article, by special request, we release this massive ministry project! Rejoice with us in Jesus Christ!

A Refutation of Acts 9/28 Hybrid Theology (five, one-hour Bible study videos)

A Refutation of Acts 9/28 Hybrid Theology (original 60-page full-length article)

A Refutation of Acts 9/28 Hybrid Theology (special 25-page condensed article)

Dispensational Timelines Compared (Diagrams) – Acts 9, Acts 28, & Acts 9/28 Hybrid

Who are those “afar off” in Acts 2:39?

WHO ARE THOSE “AFAR OFF” IN ACTS 2:39?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Are we Gentiles included in Peter’s famous Pentecostal sermon of Acts chapter 2? Some say we are. But, as Bereans, we ask, “For what saith the Scriptures?”

Religious people are always looking for clever ways to hang on to Pentecost. They ignore all the verses that prove that Acts chapter 2 does not refer to us the Church the Body of Christ. Pentecost is constantly on their minds. To lose it is to lose their traditional Bible viewpoint. They will lose their denominations, offend their egos, lose their salaries, and lose all their members. That is the honest truth, friend.

Despite the fact that Peter said three times as the Holy Spirit gave him utterance (verse 4), “Ye men of Judaea… Ye men of Israel… Let all the house of Israel know assuredly…” (verses 14,22,36), people today still want to say that he was preaching to us Gentiles as well. They use Acts 2:39. Verses 38 and 39: “[38] Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. [39] For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”

An evangelist and Bible teacher of old wrote the following lengthy paragraph about Acts 2:38-39:

“Here Peter in the preceding verse declares exactly what the promise is to which he refers. He says: ‘Ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto him.’ The promise, then, is the promise of the ‘gift of’ or ‘the baptism with the Holy Spirit.’ … Let us then read the verse in the light of this settled fact: ‘for to you is the promise,’ that is, to the people whom he was addressing, who were for the most part Jews, thus far there is nothing in it for you or me for we were not there, and we are not the Jews. But Peter did not stop there: ‘and to your children,’ that is to the next generation of Jews, or, if you will, to all coming generations of Jews, and that does not take many of us in. But, thank God, Peter did not stop there, but added: ‘and to all that are afar off.’ That does take us in, for we are the Gentiles who were ‘once afar off, But are now made nigh by the blood of Christ’ (Ephesians 2:13). But lest there be any doubt about it, Peter does not stop even there but adds: ‘even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto Him’ (r.v.); that is the call not merely to service, but the call to salvation. We are thus here told in plain words, the meaning of which is unmistakable, that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is for every child of God, in every age of the Church’s history. The baptism with the Holy Spirit is the birthright of every believer in Jesus Christ. It is true that not every believer has claimed his birthright, but it is he is, promised and provided by God, through a crucified, risen, and ascended Savior, and if you have not claimed your birthright, you may claim it today.” (Bold emphasis mine.)

The above is a very shoddy method of Bible handling. Why? Because the author, however sincere, erroneously linked the “church” in Acts chapter 2 with the Church the Body of Christ that exists today. Beloved, Pentecost is not our pattern. It has nothing to do with us today. Absolutely nothing! The working of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost has nothing to do with us. Never once does Paul in his epistles, Romans through Philemon, tell us to be “baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Plain English tells us that that was for Israel. Once we believe the Gospel of the Grace of God—Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)—the Holy Spirit baptizes us into the Church the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). We are not baptized with the Holy Ghost as Israel was; we are baptized by Him into the Body of Christ. They are totally different doctrines. No honest person could ever say these are the same doctrines:

God’s Word to Israel. Acts 1:5: “For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” Jesus is baptizing people with the Holy Ghost (“He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost…”, Matthew 3:11).

God’s Word to the Church the Body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:13: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is baptizing believing into Jesus Christ, into the Church the Body of Christ.

We must move on, however, for we need to focus on answering the question as to the identity of the “afar off” individuals of Acts 2:39.

“ALL THAT ARE AFAR OFF”

Who are these people? Remember… Context! Context! Context! We have to remember the context of Acts chapter 2. These Jews (especially the males) have traveled from every nation under heaven, and they have assembled in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost. Verses 5-11 explain: “[5] And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. [6] Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. [7] And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? [8] And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? [9] Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, [10] Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, [11] Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.”

These Jews have done exactly what JEHOVAH had told Israel through Moses many centuries earlier. Three times a year—Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles—every male Jew was to travel to Jerusalem and celebrate JEHOVAH’S feasts. Deuteronomy 16:16 commanded them: “Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty:”

But why are these Jews in Acts chapter 2 “from every nation under heaven?” Why were they not all permanently living in the Promised Land? Remember, many centuries earlier, beginning with the Assyrian and Babylonian Captivities, 722 B.C. onward to Acts chapter 2, God had scattered Israel amongst every nation under heaven. They never did permanently resettle in the Promised Land. All the Jews who stayed behind in their native lands—such as women and children—were not present in Jerusalem in Acts chapter 2. These are the people who are “afar off.” It has nothing to do with Gentiles. How do we know? Look at the Bible instead of the denominational handbook or seminary textbook!

In Daniel chapter 9, we see the Prophet praying to JEHOVAH, confessing his sins and the sins of his people, just as Moses had commanded centuries before in the Law. The Babylonians led by King Nebuchadnezzar have already come and destroyed Jerusalem. The Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem is in ruins. The northern kingdom of Israel has been taken off to the Assyrians’ land. The Jews’ southern kingdom of Judah is in Babylon, Daniel being among the captives. Daniel knows that God has rightly judged Israel for her centuries of wickedness. He had had enough of her idolatry. They are now out of the Promised Land, literately ruined every which way (economically, spiritually, physically, and politically).

Daniel 9: “[1] In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; [2] In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. [3] And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: [4] And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; [5] We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments: [6] Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. [7] O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee. [8] O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee. [9] To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him; [10] Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.”

Verse 7 above identifies the “afar” people of Acts 2:39. Daniel was not praying for Gentiles any more than Peter was preaching to them on Pentecost! Those “afar off” are Jews scattered throughout the world, who are living outside of the confines of Israel’s physical boundaries. They are still under the fifth course of judgment. As JEHOVAH promised wicked Israel in Leviticus chapter 26: “[31] And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours. [32] And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it. [33] And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste. [34] Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies’ land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths…. [38] And ye shall perish among the heathen, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up.”

By the day of Pentecost and Acts chapter 2, Israel still does not have her Davidic kingdom and she does not have her homeland. Gentiles (now Romans) are still ruling over her and making her life miserable. Nothing has really changed since Daniel’s time. Peter’s message in Acts chapter 2 is how Israel can return to fellowship with JEHOVAH God. As Acts 2:38 says, they are to repent (change their thinking). They are to be water baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. They will then receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. That will bring them closer to their Davidic kingdom with Jesus Christ as their King. He will come (yet future) and establish it for them.

No amount of twisting verses will help. There is no message whatsoever for Gentiles in Acts 2:38-39. Peter had to convert all of Israel before he was to preach to Gentiles (Acts 1:8). In fact, Peter did not want to preach to Gentile Cornelius in Acts chapter 10. You cannot tell me Peter was willing to preach to Gentiles in Acts 2:39 but that he refused to do it in Acts chapter 10! That is nonsense. Peter was not addressing Gentiles in Acts 2:39. Led by the Holy Spirit, he only preached to Jews! God was not ready to call Gentiles until He saved and commissioned Saul of Tarsus, the Apostle Paul (Romans 11:13)!

Also see:
» Did the Church the Body of Christ begin in Acts 2?
» Does not Acts 11:15 prove the Body of Christ began in Acts 2?
» How were Gentiles saved before our Dispensation of Grace?

Does God give us faith?

DOES GOD GIVE US FAITH? IS FAITH THE GIFT OF GOD?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Does God have to give us faith before we can believe His Word? “For what saith the Scriptures?”

There are two or three verses that confuse people when it comes to this issue. We will look at two here. The primary one is Ephesians 2:8: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” Another verse, used less commonly, is Romans 12:3: “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” Now that we have provided the verses, we would be delighted to expound them! 🙂

EPHESIANS 2:8-9

It is better if we read Ephesians 2:8 with the next verse as well: “[8] For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: [9] Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

There are those who teach that “faith” is “the gift of God.” (Primarily you hear this from Calvinists defending their “Total Depravity” theological point.) Just what is the “that” of Ephesians 2:8? It is the “it” of Ephesians 2:8. So, “that” = “it.” What is “that” and “it?” The clause “it is the gift of God” summarizes the first part, “For by grace are ye saved through faith.” Faith is not the context. Remember, context is key! Context! Context! Context! The context is God’s grace that provides salvation to us in Jesus Christ. “It is the gift of God” accurately summarizes “salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.” We look at another salvation verse of Paul’s writings. Let us look at Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” What is the “gift of God?” Is it faith here? No. The gift of God is what He offers to us freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). Eternal life!

Opponents of the pure Gospel of the Grace of God tell us that we are bragging to say that we are saved by faith. That faith, they claim, is something we did. They argue that the faith in the Bible is something God gives only to “elect” (chosen) people so they can then believe His Word and get saved. True salvation, they say, is being saved by faith God imparted to those He has chosen rather than “salvation you worked for by having faith of yourself” (and in such case, you may or may not be chosen of God). What a bunch of hogwash!

There is no merit in faith per se. Faith is believing in (trusting) something to do its job. The merit is in what faith rests. Merit is determined by whether faith relies on something dependable or relies on something useless. The object of faith alone can have merit, not faith itself! There is no merit in trusting ourselves or our performance in religion. Our performance (physical activity) is useless. Jesus Christ is reliable, and to trust Him is to acknowledge the only thing we can do to be made righteous before God is to rely on Jesus Christ: “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5). Faith is not a work so there is no boasting when it comes to faith. Romans chapter 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. [27] Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. [28] Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” God does not have to enable us to believe His Word. We either believe God’s Word or we do not. There is nothing boastful about saying you need to believe God’s Gospel because you are on your way to a Devil’s hell in your own performance!

ROMANS 12:3

It is better if we read Romans 12:3 with the next verse as well: “[3] For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. [4] For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:”

The context here is certainly not salvation by grace through faith. How do we know? We can read, friends! Salvation by grace through faith was already settled in chapters 1-5 of Romans. Here, Paul is talking about Christian service. After giving 11 chapters of information/doctrine, Paul began chapter 12 with service. Notice how Paul opened chapter 12, just before he wrote verse 3: “[1] I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. [2] And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Service! Service! Service!

Reading in Romans 12:4, we see a reference to “offices.” These are roles concerning spiritual gifts. Paul spends the next few verses outlining spiritual gifts: “[6] Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; [7] Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; [8] Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.”

When Romans 12:3 says “God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith,” it is a special type of faith. It is not faith in the sense of believing God’s Word unto salvation, justification, heaven, eternal life, et cetera. Remember, that was already discussed in Romans. This “faith” of Romans 12:3 is explained for us in verse 6, “let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith.” There are degrees (“measures,” verse 3) of this type of “faith.” If this is salvation faith, that would mean some people were closer to heaven than others, that they had different degrees of eternal life—this is complete nonsense. No, the “faith” of Romans 12:3 is in reference to spiritual gifts (Christian service) and “proportion.” What does “proportion” mean? See the word “portion” in it? “Proportion” means, “a part, share, or number considered in comparative relation to a whole.”

In the early decades of the Church the Body of Christ, before the completed Word of God was written down, there was limited spiritual understanding because there was limited spiritual information to know. God had not yet revealed everything that He wanted to reveal to Christians (and to mankind in general). As the chief apostle in the Dispensation of Grace, Paul wrote during the Acts period in 1 Corinthians chapter 13:

“[8] Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. [9] For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. [10] But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. [11] When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. [12] For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

During that Acts transitional period, Paul understood that the risen, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ had not revealed everything yet. There was more of the Dispensation of Grace to know about, preach about, and write about. In fact, after writing 1 Corinthians, Paul had nine additional epistles to write in the coming years (Romans, 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1&2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon). These epistles are advancement in doctrine as you move toward the end of Paul’s life and ministry. Once the Holy Spirit moved Paul to write his second epistle to Timothy, the divine revelation ceased. There was nothing left for God to reveal.

Consider Colossians 1:23-26: “[23]…whereof I Paul am made a minister; [24] Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: [25] Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil [complete] the word of God; [26] Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:”

Hence, Paul wrote in his final epistle, 2 Timothy, chapter 3: “[16] All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: [17] That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

Okay, so, going back to Romans 12:3-4: “[3] For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. [4] For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:”

In Christian service, we are not to become prideful or think ourselves better than other Christians. When the spiritual gifts were in operation in the first century A.D., believers were to understand that each Christian had a different spiritual gift, a special way to communicate God’s Word before it was formally written down. That arrangement was to benefit every Christian, the whole assembly, not the believer who had the particular gift. As 1 Corinthians 12:7 says, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” Each Christian had been given a different level of understanding and communicating God’s unprinted Word. Note the spiritual gifts in verses 8-10. Then in verse 11, we read: “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” As Romans 12:3 says, “God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” Each Christian had an office, a special role in the ministry. You can read about them in 1 Corinthians 12:27-31 and Ephesians 4:11. As the years passed, these spiritually-gifted men grew in their understanding of God’s Word and will, before those gifts finally ceased and the completed 66 Bible-book canon came in.

CONCLUSION

Does the Bible say that faith is something given to us by God? Absolutely not. That is theology and not Bible. That is good religion but bad Bible. Never once in the Bible is faith called the “gift” of God. Ephesians 2:8-9 is talking about how salvation (by grace through faith) is the gift of God. Eternal life through Jesus Christ is the “gift of God” (Romans 6:23). Faith is simply acknowledging that Jesus Christ is totally righteous and that we are not, that He paid the price for our sins because we were totally unable to pay for our sins. It is not hard to comprehend unless we want to complicate it by advancing a pet theological system (Calvinism) and one of its points (“Total Depravity”).

Romans 12:3 refers to Christian service with spiritual gifts. “Faith” in that context refers to belief in whatever (limited) divine revelation had been given up to that point. The Bible is a progressive revelation, please recall. It took a total of 30 to 35 years for Paul to receive all of the details about our Dispensation of Grace, from the ascended Lord Jesus Christ. For the first 20 or so years of this period, there were no (written) epistles of Paul. The Church the Body of Christ had supernaturally-gifted men who would communicate those grace doctrines (apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, and evangelists) until the completed written Word of God came into existence (2 Timothy 3:16-17). With the completed Word of God, we no longer have to be concerned with a “proportion of faith” or “the measure of faith.” There is a complete revelation from God, with nothing hidden, and we can trust it all because we have it all revealed in a Book, our King James Bible. Will we read and believe its simple testimony? Or, will we twiddle and twaddle about idle speculations of theologians who are more interested in pursuing total worthlessness?

Also see:
» How do God’s foreknowledge and our free will work together?
» What were Urim and Thummim?
» What is the “that which is perfect” in 1 Corinthians 13:10?

What about Romans 10:9-10?

WHAT ABOUT ROMANS 10:9-10? MUST I AUDIBLY CONFESS “JESUS IS LORD” TO BE SAVED?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The Bible says in Romans 10:9-10: “[9] That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. [10] For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” For salvation, must one audibly confess that Jesus is Lord? Are Fundamentalists and Evangelicals correct in using this passage as a “profession of faith” proof text? Should we as Bible believers use Romans 10:9-10 in our Gospel tracts and our Gospel messages today? Let us search the Scriptures for the answers!

Undoubtedly, this study will make religious people very angry, but so what! As Romans 3:4 says, “Let God be true, but every man a liar.” We are not interested in advancing church doctrine. The Bible is right, no matter whom it contradicts! Let us not grow angry with God’s Word. Let us grow angry with the religious system that deceived us about Romans 10:9-10! (I was once deceived myself about it.)

CONTEXT, CONTEXT, CONTEXT!

Beloved, the most basic principle of Bible hermeneutics (interpretation) is context. From time immemorial, people have been grabbing appealing Bible verses without paying attention to the context. Cults and denominations are notorious for this. They even partially quote verses: all that is quoted is verses or phrases that fit theological systems. Verses and Bible phrases that challenge the theological system are disregarded and (hopefully) no one will study the Bible for himself or herself, to find those ignored words, and thus learn how religious tradition shafted him or her! Nothing is more tragic than misquoted Bible verses that complicate and thus hide a pure Gospel message from an unsaved audience. Many souls in hell today were “church-going people.” They heard a few verses here or there, some more than others. However, many of them heard a watered-down Gospel message. They heard salvation verses that belonged to other people in the Bible, but those verses did not belong to them in the Dispensation of Grace. One case in point is Romans 10:9-10.

Before we grab Romans 10:9-10 and apply it to ourselves, we had better first grab verse 1. Verse 1 is the context. “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” What is the purpose of Romans chapter 10? Is it Gentile salvation? Certainly not (if words mean anything, of course). Romans 10:9-10, while often used as a “Gospel invitation” today, is actually not speaking to or about us at all. According to Paul, he is discussing Israel’s salvation! (Will we believe the Apostle Paul writing by the power of the Holy Ghost, or will we believe some fallible preacher?) Romans chapter 10 is actually the heart of a three-chapter passage, Romans chapters 9-11. These three chapters are the Apostle Paul’s discussion of the nation Israel—past, present, and future. (If you want Gentile salvation, Paul already talked about it in the first five chapters of Romans. Romans chapter 10 is Israeli salvation! Friend, understand that Gentile salvation was already settled in the previous chapters.)

Romans 10:1-4

In order to understand Romans 10:9-10, it is better if we begin reading in verse 1: “[1] Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. [2] For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. [3] For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. [4] For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

When the Holy Ghost moved the Apostle Paul to write the book of Romans during the Acts period, unbelieving Israel was still operating her Temple according to the Law of Moses (cf. Hebrews 8:4). Jerusalem’s Temple would not be destroyed until A.D. 70. Israel was still offering the animal sacrifices and still ignoring Jesus Christ’s sacrifice of Himself at Calvary. Israel was still attempting to keep the Mosaic Law in her own strength. They were ignoring the 1,500-year testimony that their ancestors were unable to do it. Lost Jews were not interested in God’s righteousness (demonstrated at Calvary’s cross). Like religionists today, they were interested in proving themselves to be righteous (via the Mosaic Law, complete with the rites, rituals, and ceremonies of Judaism). They were zealous, quite passionate, but totally ignorant of what really mattered. They could not understand the Law and all of its obligations predicted and typified Jesus Christ!

Prior to Romans 10:1, Paul closed chapter 9 with these verses: “[30] What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. [31] But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. [32] Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; [33] As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”

Israel stumbled over Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry. They could not see Him through the eyes of faith. They did not believe He was God’s Son, the long-promised Messiah of the Old Testament. They were too busy focused on their own works in religion, too overwhelmed with working to establish their own righteousness. Their unbelief reached its pinnacle at Calvary, when they denied Jesus as their Messiah-King and demanded His crucifixion (John 19:15). However, Gentiles recognized who Jesus was, and through Paul’s ministry, Gentiles came to believe on Jesus as their personal Saviour and thus gain righteousness before God. Lost Jews still refused Jesus Christ, their only way to be justified (declared right) before God. Paul, in chapter 10, is trying to convert those lost Jews. (“… that I might save some of them;” Romans 11:14).

Jesus Christ “is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (verse 4). Now that Jesus Christ demonstrated He alone could (and did) keep God’s laws perfectly, and that He pleased Father God at Calvary, there was no more reason for Israel to deceive herself into thinking she could merit God’s favor with her Law-keeping. The believing Gentiles understood it in Paul’s ministry. The believing Gentiles believed it in Paul’s ministry. Now, if only Paul could have the unbelieving Jews understand and believe it! (“… that I might save some of them;” Romans 11:14).

Romans 10:5-8

Continuing in Romans chapter 10:

“[5] For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. [6] But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) [7] Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) [8] But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;”

In verse 5, Paul writes, “That the man which doeth those things shall live by them” (quoting Leviticus 18:5; cf. Nehemiah 9:29; Ezekiel 20:11,13,21). This is the righteousness which is of the Law. A man who keeps the Law is righteous, justified before God. But, here is the important question—Does any man keep 100 percent of the law 100 percent of the time? Not at all. Friend, that is what sin is! Romans 3:19-20: “[19] Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. [20] Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

Unbelieving Israel, like so many church members today, ignored the above truth—the Law is the knowledge of sin, it shows you and I to be sinners! They still did their best in works-religion to make themselves right before and accepted of God. Paul was telling them in Romans chapter 10 that they had not submitted themselves to God’s righteousness in the Person of Jesus Christ. When one realizes that righteousness comes by Jesus Christ alone, and that righteousness is imputed (applied) to one’s account by faith in Christ alone, then that individual will no longer seek to establish his or her own righteousness by keeping the Law of Moses. This is what Paul is exhorting unbelieving Israel to understand during the Acts period! “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”

Now, in verse 6 and following, we move on to “the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise [in this manner]….” In verses 6-8 of Romans chapter 10, Paul quotes Deuteronomy chapter 30. Moses’ original writing read as follow: “[10] If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul. [11] For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. [12] It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? [13] Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? [14] But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.”

Notice how Paul interpreted that Mosaic passage for us in verses 6-8 (Paul’s commentary is in parentheses): “But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)”

When JEHOVAH God delivered the Mosaic Law to Israel through Moses back in Exodus, Israel was without excuse. Moses said in Deuteronomy 30:14, “But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.” The nation Israel knew exactly what God demanded of her. God did not leave her to wonder what He wanted her to do. As Paul commented, furthermore, centuries after Moses, a Man did come down from heaven and did come up from the grave to tell Israel everything that God expected of them at that time. That Man was Jesus Christ, His earthly ministry and resurrection (“that is, to bring Christ down from above… that is, to bring Christ again from the dead”).

Moses had been sent to instruct Israel, but they refused to listen to him. Father God had sent Jesus Christ, but Israel rejected His words as well (Matthew through John). Jesus Christ had sent Paul to Israel during the Acts period, but they did not want to hear Paul either. This is the context of Romans chapter 10 (see verses 14-21, which is Paul describing how lost Israel refuses his preaching the Gospel of the Grace of God during the Acts period). Israel during the Acts period was just as guilty of unbelief as she was when Moses ministered to her and when Jesus Christ ministered to her. Israel during the Acts transitional period could not say God had not sent anybody to them. Paul was God’s spokesman to lost Israel during Acts, and the only way lost Jews could be saved from God’s wrath was to listen to and believe Paul’s Gospel and join the Body of Christ.

The “word” (message) was “nigh” (near to) Israel; the Old Testament’s prophecies were known in the head but not believed in the heart. The Jews could recite their Old Testament verses from memory, just like lost people today can quote all sorts of verses and yet they do not believe them. Every Sabbath day, the scrolls Law of Moses and/or the Psalms and/or the Prophets would be read in the Jewish synagogues (Luke 4:16-17; Acts 13:27; Acts 15:21; 2 Corinthians 3:14). These Old Testament passages were talking about Jesus Christ. They testified of Him. Let us look at a few passages now to establish that fact.

Luke 24:44: “And he [Jesus] said unto them, 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.” And Acts 3:18: “But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.” And Acts 13:27: “For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him.” One more example, Jesus’ words in John chapter 5: “[39] Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. [46] For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me.”

Again, the Old Testament passages were a prophetic view of Jesus Christ. However, the Jews were so preoccupied with their religious activities and their self-righteousness that they could not see that their Scriptures validated Jesus as Messiah/Christ. Israel did not have heart faith in those Scriptures.

The believing Jew would not say in his heart, “I do not know what God wants me to believe.” A believing Jew would understand exactly and believe what God expected him, whether in Moses’ day, or Christ’s earthly ministry, or Paul’s Acts ministry. The heart of faith would not object and say he or she did not know what to believe concerning God’s Word or God’s will. The heart of faith would know that Jesus Christ did come down (Matthew through John), but that Israel refused to hear. Also, the heart of faith would see that Jesus Christ did reveal to the Apostle Paul (Acts chapter 9 onward) what information all unsaved Jewish and Gentile people had to believe so as to escape Satan’s captivity. This is all Paul writing to lost Jews during Acts to make them realize just how lost they really are!

Romans 10:9-10

Now, with all of the above as background, we reach the controversial verses: “[9] That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. [10] For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

Before we even comment, just re-reading the “hot topic” passage with background in mind makes it a little clearer, yes? Again, Israel could recite her Old Testament Scriptures, they could verbalize them, but there was no belief in the heart. There was nothing but unbelief and disobedience. The heart can talk—“say not in thine heart…” (verse 6). When Romans 10:9 says to confess with the mouth the Lord Jesus, this is not the physical mouth. It is something done inside, said in the heart. This “heart” is not the literal physical heart that pumps blood, but rather the soul, the part of us that can believe. A muscle does not have the capacity to believe God’s Word. The “heart” of Romans 10:9 is what we use to trust God’s Word. It is the soul (cf. Romans 1:21).

Likewise, the “mouth” of Romans 10:9 is not the literal, physical, visible opening near the bottom of our literal, physical, fleshly faces. The “mouth” there is the mouth of the soul. Luke 16:19-31 says how Abraham and the rich man, both physically dead, were still talking with one another (this is the mouth of their souls). Their physical bodies are in the ground, but their souls are in the heart of the earth, and yet they have conversations (verses 24-31). The Bible also says that the human soul, even when separated from the physical body, has ears, eyes (verse 23), fingers and a tongue (verse 24), and memory (verses 25,28). A verbal confession is that which is believed and said in the heart first. Anyone can mindlessly parrot some words audibly without meaning what they say. God is more interested in the heart (soul) talking than the physical lips! After all, He can see down into the soul, beyond mere spoken words, to see what the person really believes instead of simply what he or she says/professes.

When the Bible says that the lost Jew during Acts is to confess the Lord Jesus (Romans 10:9), this goes back to the Old Testament, that Israel confess the name of JEHOVAH. As King Solomon was dedicating Israel’s Temple over 900 years B.C., he prayed this prayer, quoted in part (1 Kings 8:33-35): “[33] When thy people Israel be smitten down before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee, and shall turn again to thee, and confess thy name, and pray, and make supplication unto thee in this house: [34] Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest unto their fathers. [35] When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them:” (cf. 2 Chronicles 6:24-26).

Unbelieving Jews, those who found themselves facing God’s judgment, scattered amongst the nations, were to confess JEHOVAH’S name. Lost Jews had indeed experienced God’s wrath during the Acts period, the fall of their nation (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16). The seven-year Tribulation and wrath at Jesus’ Second Coming were impending as well (Acts 2:15-21,33-40; Acts 3:19-23; et cetera). In relationship to Paul’s Acts transitional ministry, confessing JEHOVAH’S name meant admitting that Jesus was not a fraud or imposter (as Israel accused Jesus of being when they demanded His crucifixion). They were to admit Jesus was Messiah, or in other words, Jesus was and is JEHOVAH.

So, let us review thus far. Paul is teaching in Romans chapter 10 that if a Jew wanted to be saved during the Acts period (which was when Romans was written), then he or she had to first recognize Jesus as Messiah/Christ, the Lord, the Son of God, instead of rejecting Him as an imposter. Then, that Jew had to believe in Jesus Christ’s resurrection, which was another hang-up for the unbelieving Jews. Remember, there was a rumor that Jesus Christ had not resurrected, but rather His disciples had stolen His corpse and hidden it elsewhere (Matthew 28:11-15). Whether in Peter’s ministry or Paul’s ministry, a Jew had to believe in Jesus Christ’s resurrection. Hence, there is no burial of Christ referenced in Romans 10:9. Jesus’ burial was not controversial with Israel—it was His literal, physical, bodily resurrection!! (Now you know why the burial is mysteriously absent in this verse!)

Re-read Romans 10:9: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Notice Jesus’ “Messiahship” and His resurrection. This is what Paul preached to Jews in the synagogues during the Acts period (cf. Acts 13:33,37; Acts 17:3; Acts 18:5; et cetera). These two acknowledgments were key in leading a Jew to Christ during Acts.

Now to the “salvation” of Romans 10:9-10: “[9] That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. [10] For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

The “salvation” here is not being saved from sins and hell. We know this because “believeth unto righteousness” (justification) is a reference to being saved from sins and hell. To “confess” and “believe” unto “salvation” is actually deliverance from Israel’s apostasy and unbelief. A Jew who recognized Jesus as Lord/Messiah/JEHOVAH, who recognized that He rose from the dead, this Jew can then believe Paul’s Gospel (“Christ died for my sins, He was buried, and He was raised again” [1 Corinthians 15:3-4]) and that Jew will be justified, thus being saved from Israel’s apostasy and spiritual blindness. Israel in unbelief rejected and killed Messiah Jesus years earlier. However, through Paul’s ministry and message, Israel can escape that spiritual blindness and satanic captivity. Paul is urging lost Jews to listen to Jesus Christ speaking through him now during Acts. Years earlier, they ignored Jesus Christ in His earthly ministry. They are now not to disregard Jesus speaking through Paul.

Romans 10:11-14

Friends, we have a few more loose ends to tie together, and then we are finished:

“[11] For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. [12] For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. [13] For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. [14] How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?”

Verse 11 is a free quotation of Isaiah 28:16 (cf. 1 Peter 2:6), all of which are a reference to Jesus Christ. For brevity’s sake, we will forgo further commentary here.

As verse 12 says, in the Dispensation of Grace, there is no difference between Jew and Greek (Gentile). It is not saying that Gentiles are to behave like Jews (a common misconception). No, in our dispensation, a Jew is saved the same way a Gentile is. Lost Jews are to behave like Gentiles. “Even the righteousness of God which by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference(Romans 3:22). The unbelieving Jews have to enter into God’s program via the Church the Body of Christ, just as Gentiles. Paul’s ministry during Acts was to provoke lost Jews to emulation. He wanted them to behave the same way as the Gentiles—believe Paul’s Gospel, thereby joining the Church the Body of Christ.

Romans 11:11-14 is Paul’s commentary on his ministry during the Acts period: “[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? [13] For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: [14] If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.”

Paul did various strange things in Acts to provoke lost Jews to salvation into the Body of Christ. For example, he water baptized converts, he raised the dead, he cast out devils, he healed the sick, he went to the Temple to offer sacrifices, he circumcised Timothy, et cetera. You can read more about this in our study, “Could you explain Paul’s ‘Acts’ ministry?,” linked at the end of this study. Unfortunately, time and space do not permit us to comment any further here.

When Romans chapter 10 says, “[13] For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. [14] How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?,” this is really simple. Calling on the name of the Lord to be saved, Romans 10:13, is a quote from Joel 2:32, which is what a Jew is to do in Israel’s program in order to be saved from apostate Israel. Any unbelieving Jews during Paul’s ministry are to call upon the Lord; that is, seek rescue from the nation that is so wrapped up in false religion that God’s wrath is coming upon it (the Second Coming of Christ). Once a Jew believed Paul’s Gospel during Paul’s Gospel, he was to call upon the name of the Lord (notice the order in verse 14).

CONCLUSION

Friends, Romans 10:9-10 was a formula for lost Jews to be saved from Israel’s apostasy during the Acts period. Paul wrote it with Jewish salvation in mind during the transitional period. He did it to provoke lost Israelis to understand and address their spiritual dilemma. Romans 10:9-10 has nothing to do with us Gentiles or members of the Body of Christ. There are religious people who do not like that previous sentence, but that is fine. I would rather believe my Bible than them or their denomination any day! You, friend?

Why does it matter that we have a firm, dispensational understanding of Romans 10:9-10? It is because people (although sincere) have used it and are using it to mislead the lost when it comes to salvation from their sins. Faith needs an adequate basis to rest on, and Romans 10:9-10 does not make reference to Christ dying for anyone’s sins. This is why 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 should be used instead of Romans 10:9-10. “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He was raised again the third day.” That is a clear Gospel message, a message without theological gibberish, shallowness, and gospel clichés.

Unfortunately, Romans 10:9-10 is also used to pressure new Christians to get up before a congregation to make a “profession of faith,” lest they not “complete their salvation.” This too is a gross mistreatment of the passage. Unfortunately, Matthew 10:31-32 is abused likewise. “Come walk the aisle, shake the preacher’s hand, and make your profession of faith in Jesus! You do not want God to deny you in heaven one day, do you?” This is certainly not what Romans 10:9-10 is saying. That is shallow religious tradition parading as Bible doctrine. That is coercion, bullying, intimidation, not the Spirit of God but the flesh of men!

SUPPLEMENTAL: MODERN ENGLISH VERSIONS AND THEIR RESULTANT OBFUSCATION

Unfortunately, modern English “bibles” add to the confusion by re-translating Romans 10:9 so that it reads:

  • AMERICAN STANDARD VERSION – “because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord….”
  • AMPLIFIED BIBLE – “Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord….”
  • CONTEMPORARY ENGLISH VERSION – “So you will be saved, if you honestly say, “Jesus is Lord,”…”
  • ENGLISH STANDARD VERSION – “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord…”
  • GOOD NEWS BIBLE – “If you confess that Jesus is Lord…”
  • HOLMAN CHRISTIAN STANDARD BIBLE – “If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,”…”
  • LIVING BIBLE – “For if you tell others with your own mouth that Jesus Christ is your Lord….”
  • THE MESSAGE – “Say the welcoming word to God—”Jesus is my Master”….”
  • NEW AMERICAN (CATHOLIC) BIBLE – “for, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord…”
  • NEW AMERICAN STANDARD – “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, ….”
  • NEW LIVING TRANSLATION – “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord….”
  • NEW REVISED STANDARD VERSION – “because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord….”
  • REVISED STANDARD VERSION – “because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord….”

Notice how Protestant and Roman Catholic translators alike insert the verb “is”: “Jesus is Lord.” The 1901 American Standard Version explains with a footnote: “Some ancient authorities read ‘confess the word with thy mouth, that Jesus {is} Lord.’” The corrupt modern versions and their underlying manuscripts are at it again, friends!

Also observe how the Living Bible says, “If you tell others with your own mouth that Jesus is your Lord” (beside the Message, this is an extreme version of dynamic, or interpretative, translation). The translator has assumed the role of the teacher—this is spiritually dangerous! Notice how the Amplified Bible says, “Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips….” “Lips” being inserted only confuses the verses. Evidently, the translators of all of the versions quoted above are also under the impression that this verse is talking about confessing with our physical lips and our physical mouths. (They may not be correct in that interpretation, but all we have is their interpretation, and not the pure Word of God with which to compare!)

In actuality, they have polluted God’s Word to teach Lordship Salvation, the damnable heresy of Calvinism, that people have to submit to Jesus’ Lordship over every detail of their lives before they can be saved unto eternal life. This is works-religion. This is not Christianity. Whenever someone says, “The modern versions still contain ‘the Gospel!,’” they evidently do not know what the Gospel is and/or they do not know what Romans 10:9-10 is talking about! No lost person can give his or her life to Christ—lost people are dead spiritually. Only a Christian gave his or her life to Christ!

Also see:
» Is John 3:16 the Gospel for us today?
» Must I say the sinner’s prayer?
» Could you please explain Paul’s “Acts” ministry?

How long should I keep witnessing to the same person?

HOW LONG SHOULD I KEEP WITNESSING TO THE SAME PERSON?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“How does one determine to be patient and to keep witnessing to someone, or to avoid him or her altogether?” What an excellent question! I am sure many have often wondered about the same matter, so we need to look and see God’s advice on the subject. We will see, “For what saith the Scriptures?”

The time you should spend witnessing to one person is not always a “clear-cut” issue. Many varying factors and cues are involved, and it would be best to keep them in mind; we will consider how to go about handling some of these issues. First, we need to look at Bible verses that show us how saints witnessed in the Bible. Then, we will look at some of my specific witnessing experiences for illustration.

1. LOOK FOR CUES THAT INDICATE THE OTHER PERSON’S INTEREST, INDIFFERENCE, OR INSOLENCE.

The following are indications that you are probably getting nowhere with the person to whom you are witnessing: overt mocking of the Bible; scornful laughs; numerous complex, trick, or trivial questions; angry demeanor; name-calling; extensive rambles/rants; harsh tone of voice (or shouting); tantrum-throwing and other immature behavior; silence; their repeated mentioning of the same erroneous teachings, as if you did not already address them with Scripture; hands put up as if refusal to listen; phrases uttered such as “Respect my beliefs,” “Leave me alone,” “Let us agree to disagree,” “You’ll never convince me,” et cetera.

Telecommunications conversations (emails, text/instant messages, online discussion boards, website forums, et cetera) are very tricky to evaluate. While you cannot discern tone of voice or facial expressions that further communicate the emotional and spiritual state of the other person, you can watch out for chief signs of fruitless discussions—sarcasm; numerous sidetracked comments (remarks unrelated to the topic at hand); continual focus on the same topics (asking the same question over and over, although rephrased, even after you answered the original question with verses); EXTENSIVE ALL CAPS; and numerous exclamation points. These are online versions of shouting and arguing, and that is not what we are here to do as Christians. Time to move on when you see a lot of these types of online behavior!

Concerning short-term. The more negative behavior that you observe in any single witnessing episode, the greater the need to politely end the conversation as soon as possible. The encounter may even escalate to physical contact at some point, so you want to try to avoid reaching that level. Many negative cues, especially in one particular day, is a clear sign that you are wasting your time with the individual. Time to move on!

Regarding long-term—a course of days, weeks, or months. You should tolerate occasional opposition from one particular person. But again, be reasonable. If after many instances of you discussing the Bible with them, and they are persistent in that type of behavior, that is a clue. You need to step back and refrain from having any further Bible discussions with them. Time to move on!

By the way, to determine whether patience or distance is needed, you need to also think about the entire situation, as well as any previous conversations with that individual. If you know them, consider their religious background (denomination or world religion), any religious higher education (seminary or Bible college), et cetera. If they are highly educated, they are less likely to listen than common people would listen. They believe they have “already figured everything out.” What I have discovered is that the average seminarian or Bible-college graduate has no intention of thinking outside of his or her “box of academia.” I have talked to them before, but I do not engage in prolonged discussions unless their attitude demonstrate they want to have intelligent Bible discussions.

Consider these Scriptural tips I always keep in mind when witnessing to others.

After the Lord Jesus preached to all of Israel for three years, the viciousness of the naysayers grew more intense. His own people became more and more opposed to Him. At the beginning of His earthly ministry, in His hometown of Nazareth, Jesus has just read some of the book of Isaiah in the synagogue service, and then He begins to reprimand them for their unbelief in Him. We read: “[28] And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, [29] And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. [30] But he passing through the midst of them went his way” (Luke 4:28-30). When the audience wanted to throw Him headfirst off of a cliff, it was His cue to leave. Jesus somehow sneaked away and avoided death! He did not provoke them any further but left the scene.

In Matthew 12:14, about halfway into His ministry, the Bible says the Pharisees held a council how they might destroy Jesus. In Matthew 13:24, they began to accuse Jesus of being possessed by the Devil! By studying Matthew 12:15-21, Matthew 16:20, Matthew 23:34-39, et cetera, we can see that Jesus Christ began to gradually withdraw from a national ministry. When He had preached to all of the cities of nation Israel, so that they would all be without excuse, He then began ministering to the few Jews who had heard and believed His words. He increasingly preached to and taught those who did want to receive His words. Jesus just gave the rest of Israel over to spiritual ignorance. He did this by introducing His parables, stories that would only confuse those who had refused to hear and believe God’s plain Word during the many months prior (Matthew 13:13-15). He gave only the believers the ability to understand what the parables meant.

In John chapter 8, toward the end of His ministry, Jesus delivered an extensive rebuke to the Pharisees. As He exposed more and more of their unbelief, they became more insulting toward Him. Finally, they became very belligerent. They began to pick up stones to throw at Him, “but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by” (verse 59). Jesus knew not to engage in further contact with them. It was time to move on and He did! He told them the truth, they got mad, and when He saw they were bent on behaving irrationally, He left!

Once Jesus recognized they would not hear Him, He moved on to those who did want to hear God’s truth. Our Lord was very wise. He knew that He had a lot to do and say and only three short years to get it all done! He could not dilly-dally addressing every single point posed by every single critic. We should learn from how He conducted His ministry. Like Jesus, we want have only a limited amount of time and energy to conduct our earthly ministry. We need to spend more time teaching God’s Word rightly divided and less time simply saying “no” to every false teaching and every Bible critic.

When commissioning Israel’s 12 apostles, Jesus said: “[11] And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. [12] And when ye come into an house, salute it. [13] And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. [14] And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. [15] Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city” (Matthew 10:11-15). If the apostles were not welcomed into a house or city, Jesus said they were to leave it. They were to speak what they needed to say, and then leave when opposition came. They were not to waste time forcing the household or city to listen to them.

When the Apostle Paul had preached Jesus Christ to the Jews in Damascus long enough, the unbelieving Jews plotted his murder—the Apostle’s ministry companions had enough sense to quietly sneak him out of town (Acts 9:20-25)! When the unbelieving Jews wanted to kill Paul and Barnabas by stoning, the Apostles quickly left the city (Acts 14:1-7)! In Acts 17:10, in Thessalonica, the unbelieving Jews were plotting against Paul and Silas—they had to leave town hurriedly here too! When the pagans in Athens laughed at Paul’s sermon, he left them alone in their ignorance (Acts 17:33)! When the unbelieving Jews refused to hear Paul preach Jesus Christ in the synagogue at Corinth, he left them in their spiritual ignorance and went minister to people next-door (Acts 18:1-7)! In Ephesus, Paul spent three months preaching in the synagogue (Acts 19:8). The Bible says in verse 9, “But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.” Once Paul recognized a persistent, defiant attitude in the Bible critics, it was time for him to move on! When they continued to “speak evil of that way,” Paul knew that he was wasting his time, and he began to teach believers. The point is that Paul, like Jesus Christ, used his time wisely. He travelled extensively throughout the then-known world, reaching as many people as he could, and eventually leaving those alone whose hearts had become increasingly hardened to God’s Word.

We find an interesting passage in this regard, 1 Timothy 1:18-20: “[18] This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; [19] Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: [20] Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme. These people—evidently Christians (!)—the Apostle Paul said he “delivered unto Satan” because they were blaspheming (in the context, embracing false doctrine and probably teaching it, too). Paul gave up these men to greater error! Again, we should not force people to do anything or believe anything. Free will! Free will! Free will!

One of the qualities of a bishop (church leader, elder) was, “Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers” (Titus 1:9). A church leader—yes, every Christian—should confront the opposition, the unbelievers and the Bible critics. But, this should be done with wisdom and prudence. Friends, after an extended period of time, it is time to move on!

Let us look at various verses from Proverbs.

“Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge” (Proverbs 14:7). “The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with” (Proverbs 17:14). As soon as you recognize that someone enjoys the deception they are in, that they are openly resistant to the truth you are sharing, go from their presence. As soon as you see they are “contending” (arguing), you need to move on… and quick. If you stay, you just might find yourself in a physical brawl!

Now, Proverbs 22:10: “Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.” Those who want to mock, if you get away from them, contention (arguments, disagreements) will leave you. There will be no strife (fighting, trouble) and no reproach (criticism, rebuke). When you observe mocking, criticism, arguments, fighting, et cetera, it is time for you to move on, friend! Do not waste time with the person.

Next, Proverbs 23:9: “Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words.” There comes a point in time when you recognize a fool. It is someone who has an objection to every Bible verse you quote and every Bible truth you share with them. Time is needed to recognize the pattern, but you eventually learn they are just willfully ignorant. They do not want God’s precious Word. They want their religious traditions, their scientific data, et cetera. Give them what they want. Quit talking and leave!

And Proverbs 29:9: “If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest.” The “foolish man” here is the Bible rejecter, the one who refuses to listen to and believe God’s wisdom. Whether he grows angry or he laughs, neither action will cease. The Bible believer is to leave this person alone. Let them enjoy the spiritual ignorance they so joyfully embrace (Romans 1:18-32)!

When dealing with any anti-Bible person, whether denominationalist, or world religionist, or atheist/evolutionist, et cetera, the wise Christian soldier should always consider Proverbs 26:4-5: “[4] Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. [5] Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.” God is a God of freedom: never are we to take away anyone’s free will. Sometimes, we are to answer our critics; other times, we should not waste our breath. While most do not want to know God’s truth, let us be mindful of those few who are seeking it. May we be as polite and patient as possible when the conversation is conducive to learning (worthwhile questions). May we respectfully withdraw when intelligent discussions are deemed impossible (name-calling, sarcasm, tantrums, et cetera).

2. DO NOT “CLOSE THE DOOR ON THEM” COMPLETELY (UNLESS UNDER SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES).

As long as someone is not deliberately trying to confuse you and convert you to a cult, or has not threatened you with physical violence, you do not have to permanently cut off all contact with them. Remember, you are not trying to make enemies, but if they do see you as an enemy because of your stand on sound Bible doctrine, you can do nothing more about it. Pray for them and love them, but you will not convince them if they do not want to hear the verses. Do not force yourself onto them but do not completely isolate yourself from them, either. Friend, there must be a balance. In fact, with family members, coworkers, close friends, classmates, et cetera, avoiding them entirely is usually impossible. You can still visit them and talk with them, but do not discuss the Bible unless they ask. If it is an emergency like sick-beds or death-beds, you should speak up about the Scriptures, but do so in the spirit of love and meekness. Let me give you a few examples of how I approach such people.

A Christian relative cursed me out because of my stand on Bible doctrine, so I avoid that particular topic (Bible versions) with him now. In the years since he fussed me, he has approached me a few times for Bible understanding. Imagine my shock when he even asked me to write some Bible study notes so he could use to teach in his denominational church! With him, I make a few brief instances to Scripture in conversation, but nothing too deep. When he asks me about how my ministry is going, then I mention some Bible verses or themes. But, even to this day, I try to limit myself to a few minutes of Bible discussion with him. He is a saved man, which is a start, but it is up to him to grow in the Bible. He seems to be a little more open to sound doctrine (dispensational Bible study), so the more receptive he is (the less “no’s” I hear from him), the more I talk with him about Scripture the next time around. If nothing else, he can see the lifestyle I live, and it just may peak his interest one day to learn more about what I believe.

Over the years, at funerals or sick-beds, my parents and I have talked with lost relatives about the Gospel of the Grace of God. When my paternal grandmother died last year, I gave her eulogy, mainly to give a Gospel invitation to all of our unsaved relatives and family friends. It was a simple plan of salvation message, spoken with respect and solemnity, and no one could misunderstand unless they wanted to misunderstand it. While I could judge that the vast majority of my religious family was indifferent concerning the message (the room was deathly silent after I finished!), they nevertheless heard the Gospel of God’s Grace and are thus without excuse to this day. Not one person—including the angry Roman Catholic deacon officiating the service—left that funeral home without a knowledge of how to be saved from their sins through the finished crosswork of Jesus Christ. Whether they decided to trust Him or not, that is out of my hands. I have spoken to them since, but not much about the Bible and nothing about the Gospel. At this point, I would be forcing it on them. They need to come to me now if they want to talk. They see the Bible resources I post on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, et cetera, and it is their decision.

Now to pastors, seminarians, priests, Bible teachers, et cetera, with whom I have dealt these past several years. If they were largely argumentative, sarcastic, disrespectful, and showed me that they were not Bible believers but Bible doubters and scoffers, I no longer approach any of them or seek them out. They will have to come to me if they want to discuss the Scriptures. I have no reason to contact them. If any of them want to contact me, they know how to reach me. Depending on how much foolishness they displayed in the past, and the nature of their current discussion, I may consider replying. Otherwise, to keep the peace, I have left them alone and given them over to what they want. It keeps their flesh from being exploited and it keeps my flesh from being exploited. I treat them especially different than common church members because congregants and parishioners are often less prideful than church leaders.

Recently, I spoke with a religious woman no more than five minutes about the Bible. No matter what I said, she kept repeating the same errors and defending the same teaching she had heard all her life. When it became apparent to me that she was not going to change her mind, that she would not submit to Scriptural and historical facts, I left off the conversation. I told her that the discussion was fruitless and thus not worth continuing. I recognized that she was trying to convert me to her denomination. She did not want to hear the Gospel and be saved from her sins. She just wanted me to agree with her church tradition. I finally had to let her go. I did not give her any of my contact information. I have better things to do with my time than speak to someone who has no eye to see, no ear to hear, and no heart to believe God’s truth.

Some years ago, a professing Christian used to argue with me online about Bible truths. I simply disregarded him, and we broke off contact for a few years. A few years ago, and ever since, he has emailed me with Bible questions (especially asking me about some false teaching that he needed rescuing from!). While he certainly has other doctrinal hang-ups, he seems to be more “straightened out” doctrinally now, and open to being taught. I share Bible verses with him every chance I get. He has never argued since.

A man who was confused about legalism once emailed me, explaining how he was about to give up on Christianity. He was at his wits’ end with all of the perplexity! After I responded to his email, he was silent for four months. I wondered if I wasted my time with all those dozens of pages of studies I wrote just for him. Then, he emailed me again with more Bible questions about other topics. Evidently, he had not repudiated Christianity, so I still keep the communication lines open with him. More recently, I spent three hours answering his Bible questions on the telephone. The man was so willing to hear the truth, and I do not regret speaking to him.

Other Christians with whom I dealt, after sharing numerous verses with them, and after they replied in very negative ways, I broke off contact with them. The verses shared with them were very plain and simple, but they have denominational beliefs that they refused to give up. After I shared the verses with them, they stated the error once more as if I never quoted the verses. They wanted ignorance and I have no reason to force them to believe the verses.

But, again, every situation is different. Some people are so willing to hear the truth. Others are simply too unbearable. Unless absolutely necessary, we do not want to completely cut off contact with religious people. They may come to their senses, they may recover themselves out of the snare of the Devil, and they know to whom they can come for help in spiritual matters. Again, strike a balance—identify the genuine seekers and reach out to them, but stay away from the scoffers unless they reach out to you.

We need to give them the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they have been in so many groups and read so many so-called “Christian” books that they need more time than others, to get set straight. Maybe they have emotional attachments to certain doctrines or books. Perhaps they have learning disabilities. Then again, maybe they are trying to trip you up, trying to waste your time, trying to “convert” you, or trying to mislead you. Throughout your dealings with them, you need to remember to pray for them, and you need to study your King James Bible so you can be ready for their comments or questions. I cannot stress it enough: you want to be kind, gentle, and as patient with them as possible, but, eventually, with some, you just have to let them go. You will see the above cues, and that is when you just need to find someone else to minister to, to teach, to evangelize, et cetera. You will have to assess the situation and determine what the best course of action is.

Above all, if they do not want to hear from you in regards to the Bible, they can at least see your godly testimony, the Holy Bible living in and through you. You may win them to Jesus Christ by way of your lifestyle. The Apostle Peter talked about believing wives converting their unbelieving husbands by means of the wives’ godly lifestyle. First Peter chapter 3: [1] Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; [2] While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. [3] Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; [4] But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” Your lifestyle may peak their interest and they may come to you for spiritual insight and Bible understanding!

3. HOW TO BEGIN AGAIN WITH THEM.

We just need to be ready when our critics and opponents do want to hear and accept sound Bible answers. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). And what did Paul tell Timothy? We read in 2 Timothy 4:1-2: “[1] I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; [2] Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”

We can prepare ourselves by studying and memorizing verses that would address their past doctrinal hang-ups (verses that they once misquoted, verses they used against us, verses they criticized, et cetera). I have learned that this technique has been very helpful in my own ministry. It certainly shocks them when you have those answers the next time around! They see you are not just some “nit-wit” who can quote shallow verses, but rather someone who not only believes the Bible but who actually studies it for himself or herself!

Once you share with them the truth the first time around, they know where to come for answers, so try to be as receptive of them if and when they come around. Some people will come back for answers, and that is fine. Other people will never again discuss the Bible with you, and that is fine, too. Once they hear about the exclusive nature of the Gospel of Grace, that salvation is only found in Jesus Christ (not a church, not in our works, et cetera), they may leave! Once they hear about the King James Bible, they may leave! Once they hear about Paul’s special apostleship, they may leave! Be prepared not to be disappointed. Friend, say the truth anyway and let God take care of the rest!

If they begin again to ask you about spiritual matters, a good starting point for you to say is, “If you want to look at what the Bible says, then I will discuss that topic with you.” This phraseology is useful in weeding out petty/fruitless discussions. I assure you that this approach can be quite a time-saver! When you immediately mention the Bible, it alerts the person that you are not going to “beat around the bush” with your opinions or their opinions, denominations, et cetera. You are showing them that you are serious about Bible doctrine and study, and if they are truly interested in learning God’s truth, they will agree to hear more. Those who want to waste your time will usually not proceed once you say, “If you want to look at what the Bible says….” They do not want to hear verses. Thus, they usually will not bother to continue the conversation. That is when we apply 1 Corinthians 14:38: “But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant!”

If they have questions that you cannot answer or of which you are unsure, you can always email me at arcministries@gmail.com. We have this Bible Q&A website designed just for that purpose: www.forwhatsaiththescriptures.wordpress.com. I would be more than eager to answer them as best as I can using the Scriptures. It is important to keep track of their questions so you can get a better understanding of their mindset.

SOME MORE BRIEF WORDS ABOUT CONDUCTING ONLINE MINISTRY

Sometime back, a brother in the grace ministry recently deactivated his Facebook account. Reading between the lines, and considering what had gone on before, contentious people forced him to leave for an extended period of time. This situation should cause us to stop and think. We need to reassess how we deal with willfully ignorant Christians. The dear brother, evidently, had not considered the counsel we just offered here. We need to adopt and enforce strict measures concerning people who want to waste our time, elevate our blood pressure, and parade their Bible ignorance with their never-ending “vain jangling.” They act very childishly, for they have no accountability hiding behind screen-names. They certainly would not act like that in person. Long before they drive us away, we need to send them packing! They, not we, should go! What do I mean?

In the eight years I have been on Facebook, I have learned to become quite familiar with the “unfriending,” “delete,” and “block” buttons. We grace Christian leaders on Facebook need to be especially mindful that these three buttons are to be used only as last resort, but they are to be used nevertheless. “If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant” (1 Corinthians 14:38). This is talking about Christians especially!! If they persist in “vain jangling,” I have my three buttons one click away. I have used all three buttons many times before, and I have lowered my blood pressure and removed any “flesh-parade” traps others may have otherwise fallen into.

There is nothing wrong with Bible discussions, but as we know, they are unfruitful and foolishness when verses fall into the wrong hands. I have determined that these people are not going to drive me away. After two attempts to straighten them out, and they deliberately continue in the error, I let them go on their way (Titus 3:9-10). I will not deactivate or delete my accounts on any website. We need a strong grace presence on social media now more than ever. Paul went to the cities, so let us reach the clusters of people online.

You may do as you like, saints, but remember that deactivation or termination of online accounts removes all your posts/articles/tweets from view. I will not deactivate or terminate because I would remove thousands of my posts. At some point, please consider those three buttons rather than deactivation or termination. Warn people in love that if they do not start behaving properly, you are ready to remove them from your online presence. We are not doormats. Been there, done that, and never been more joyful! 🙂

SOME EXTRA TIPS

When witnessing, sometimes you need cycles of patience and distance. Patience and distance will require varying lengths of time. As you witness more and more, and as you mature spiritually, further experience will equip you to better discern a witnessing situation each time. This experience will be very useful because, as we all know, it can be very difficult sometimes to decide whether more patience is needed, or if more distance is needed in a witnessing situation (it is not always clear). Every witnessing situation is totally different from every other, even if it involves the same person and the same topic. Hence, personal experience is one of the best ways to answer the question at hand.

Saint, as you mature in the Word of God, you will be able to better assess the witnessing situation. You will recognize a pattern associated with each person. If you have tried to make the Word of God as plain as possible, and they are still asking the same fundamental questions, or even the same foolish questions, there is a problem… not with you but with them. Those who are persistently stuck on the same Bible topics need to be gently warned that they need to move on. There is more to the Bible than their repetitive questions. They need not waste time on profitless matters. You need not waste time on profitless matters. If they continue in that manner after being warned, that is a clear indication that they are set in their ways. So, you need to move on to someone who is open to reasoning from the Scriptures.

If you have sent various Gospel tracts or booklets to unsaved family members or friends, or if you have sent to denominational relatives or friends numerous booklets or books about dispensational Bible study, and you do not hear from them about that literature, then you have done everything your Lord Jesus Christ has expected. After repeated attempts, it is time to stay silent. You have no further obligation unless those people follow up. It is very tempting to get hung up over one person’s refusal (either for salvation or for Christian edification). I know the frustration, brethren, but do not despair. Unless they request a reply from you, no response is necessary. In fact, unwarranted further involvement might make people more opposed. Again, just move on to those who do want to listen to God’s Word (they are the people we really need to reach; Acts 13:45-52; Acts 18:5-6), and be ready to share it with anyone… even with those who once argued with you who are now returning to ask you for Bible clarity.

Of course, 2 Timothy 2:24-26 says: “[24] And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, [25] In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; [26] And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” We should teach them the Word of God patiently and meekly, but remember 1 Corinthians 14:37-38 says: “[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. [38] But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.” Some people just will not get it because they do not want to get it! That is when you need to break off from the conversation.

The Bible is quite clear that if a Christian refuses to acknowledge Paul’s apostleship, the loving action to take is to let them stay in ignorance. Yes, we value free will as much as our Lord Jesus Christ does! Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Paul wrote that we are to expect Christians to be ignorant of his apostleship to us, and there are Christians who do not want to acknowledge his special apostleship either. Those who are saved and who oppose sound Bible study are definitely “opposing themselves,” and unfortunately they are not concerned. We have repeatedly attempted to alert them of their doctrinal error, but they consistently refuse reproof and correction. Dear brethren, its high time to apply 1 Corinthians 14:38. Let them have what they want—spiritual ignorance. They are not just people who do not know better; they have had many opportunities to know the truth, but seminary for many has become Bible cemetery, and that is what they desire. You will save yourself much frustration by not discussing Bible doctrine with those sorts of people unless they ask. Let them come to you.

The good news is that people know who to come to with any Bible questions, so just be on “standby.” God the Holy Spirit will use the Bible verses you did share with them, and He will bring them to their memory. It has been my experience and other Christians, to wait until the opposition has questions, and then they will approach us. For years, these Bible-rejecters may not want to discuss anything further about the Scriptures. Then, one day, here they come with questions, either about salvation or for Bible understanding. That is the result of God’s Word working in them, the verses we shared with them!

Remember the admonition in Ephesians 5:15-17: “[15] See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, [16] Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. [17] Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” Satan has stolen the time that should have been used for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. We need to “redeem the time.” We need to buy it back by glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ. We need to share Christ’s finished crosswork with lost people, and we need to teach Christians His Word rightly divided. It is the Devil’s goal to distract us by using bullheaded people who want nothing more than to waste our time. Satan will use Bible critics and Bible scoffers to cause us to waste our time arguing with them, when we could be using our time more wisely. We would be foolish to continue trying to convince those who have no interest in getting set straight. Our time could be better spent on people who do want to hear the truth, than trying to twist arms of people who have thoroughly demonstrated that they do not want to hear it. They want to stay blind and in love we let them pursue what they want.

Whenever you witness to someone, remember this verse (one of my favorite verses): “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). Also see Colossians 1:5-6: “For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:” Friend, you are not speaking men’s ideas. God’s Word will always accomplish His will. Let us be faithful in teaching and preaching it, to lost and saved alike. For we read in 1 Corinthians 15:58: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

This article, although abbreviated, at least provides some insight to your question. There is no short answer as to the time that should be spent witnessing to one person. It is my hope and prayer that you will use this information to assess each and every witnessing situation in which you find yourself. I wish you the best, brother or sister!

Also see:
» What does John 3:16 really mean?
» Should we use the book of John in evangelism?
» Is Acts 16:31 a sufficient Gospel message?