Monthly Archives: November 2015

Why did Paul write, “I lie not?”

WHY DID PAUL WRITE, “I LIE NOT?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

On four occasions (Romans 9:1; 2 Corinthians 11:31; Galatians 1:20; 1 Timothy 2:7), the Apostle Paul wrote, “I lie not.” Why pen such a “weird” statement—especially four times? Was he implying that he was lying all the other times in his epistles? Dear friends, this puzzling phrase is quite easy to understand. Whenever we approach the Bible, God expects us to use a little common sense. It will go a long, long way. (I lie not!)

Let us pause and consider the meaning of, “I lie not.” Think about expressions we often use in our speech or writing. When we say to someone, “I am being serious,” are we implying that every other time we speak we are joking? Of course not! It is just that we want people to pay special attention to the words we have just spoken or the words we are going to speak shortly thereafter. The same is true of the expressions “I am being honest” and “I am telling you the truth.” In that light, we appreciate Paul’s phrase, “I lie not.” The Apostle Paul is endeavoring to tell us some very important truths. Yet, people are calling him a liar. They are not taking his words seriously. They are making light of God’s Word to them. The Holy Spirit is putting great stress on these four instances, so we need to look at them and see why these truths are just so difficult for people to grasp.

ROMANS 9:1-2
“[1] I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, [2] That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.”

As Saul of Tarsus, the Apostle Paul had gained a notorious reputation for mercilessly imprisoning and slaughtering Jews who followed Jesus Christ (Acts 9:13-14; Acts 26:9-11; Galatians 1:13,23; Philippians 3:5-6; 1 Timothy 1:13). Once he came to trust Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour, he realized just how wrong he had been for all those years. Now, a saved man, he was filled with regret, having killed his own brethren for believing the truth of their fathers’ God. For ever so long and ever so hard, he had fought against the JEHOVAH God he had thought he was serving in killing Messianic Jews. Many years were wasted serving Satan. Saul, a religious leader, was the primary figure for leading Israel’s rebellion against Jesus Christ, probably during the Four Gospels but especially during the early Acts period. We can read the closing verses of Acts chapter 7 and the opening verses of chapters 8 and 9 to see just how ruthless Saul was!

As the Apostle Paul, he was now preaching that Israel had fallen, and that salvation was now going to the Gentiles through his ministry without Israel (Acts 13:46-48; Acts 18:6; Acts 28:28; Romans 11:11-13; 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16). That infuriated unbelieving Israel. No wonder they persecuted him during his Acts ministry. The thought that Israel was no different from the pagan Gentile “dogs” that she had looked down upon for centuries. How offensive! The lost Jews called Paul “anti-Semitic,” some renegade Mosaic scholar now gone insane. They called him a “Jew-hater,” some “crazy man” with an “outlandish message.” (Do they not call us that today when we preach Pauline truths?) So, the Holy Spirit through Paul conducted his ministry during Acts so that unbelieving Israelites could be enticed to join the Body of Christ (Romans 11:13-14). Paul did not hate Israelites. Rather, he hated what he had done to them as a lost man, how he had led them to embrace such error. So, he would passionately preach in their synagogues, hoping to save them from that apostasy. Paul had such a heavy heart that his nation was literally going to hell, and worst of all, he had played a very vital role in it! (The unbelieving Jews were saying Paul hated them, but he reassured them, even saying that the Holy Spirit bore witness, that he was not lying when he said how he felt so sorry for them and felt so sad about their spiritual condition.)

2 CORINTHIANS 11:30-31
“[30] If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. [31] The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.”

It was very ridiculous. Whenever people ridiculed the Apostle Paul as being a “nobody,” he would defend himself, and then they would call him egotistical. (Sounds just like how people react to us today when we preach Jesus Christ according to Paul’s ministry!) In this chapter, Paul described the immense sufferings he endured to preach the Gospel of the Grace of God to lost and dying Gentiles. He was beaten, imprisoned, stoned with rocks, shipwrecked, and suffered various deprivations (hunger, nakedness, sleepless nights, et cetera). Read it for yourself, in the verses preceding:

“[22] Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. [23] Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. [24] Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. [25] Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; [26] In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; [27] In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. [28] Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. [29] Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?”

So, what are the “infirmities” that Paul found worth in in 2 Corinthians 11:30? It was all his troubles and hindrances delineated in the previous eight verses! He did not find value in being praised by men, receiving religionists’ approval, et cetera. He found value in remembering that Jesus Christ was strong when he was weak (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). In the grand scheme of things, Paul’s suffering was nothing. Gentiles were being saved from idolatry and hell, and God’s grace that was saving them from sin was saving him from misery and defeat! “[30] If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. [31] The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.”

GALATIANS 1:20
“Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.”

Throughout the first 19 verses of chapter 1, Paul discusses his special apostleship and message. He continued this into chapter 2. We will only focus on chapter 1 here. In verses 1, 11-12, 15-16, 17-18, and 19, we see Paul giving five reasons why his apostleship and message are totally separate from the 12 apostles’ ministry and message.

“[1] Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)… [11] But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. [12] For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. [15] But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, [16] To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: [17] Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. [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.”

Paul did not have contact with any of the 12 apostles for the first three years of his Christian life. He received divine revelation directly from the risen, ascended, and glorified Jesus Christ. The 12 apostles taught Paul nothing. Rather, he taught them something (Galatians 2:2,6-8). This “lie not” statement is related to the final “lie not,” which we now discuss.

1 TIMOTHY 2:7
“Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.”

There were various people—especially false teachers in Corinth (see 2 Corinthians chapters 10-13)—who denied Paul’s apostleship to the Gentiles. Jewish false teachers would especially try to discredit Paul, since his ministry was so radically different from the Old Testament prophetic program. Whenever Paul would claim that he was an apostle of Jesus Christ, his critics would call him a liar. Hence, he wrote “I lie not” in 1 Timothy 2:7. He lied not in that he was indeed—in faith and in verity—truly “a teacher of the Gentiles.”

CONCLUSION

Regarding these four instances, Paul was being accused of lying. He was affirming that he was telling the truth concerning these four issues. They were important truths that needed to be believed instead of being casually brushed off as falsehoods.

Also see:
» What about Romans 10:9-10?
» Why did Jesus forbid others from preaching that He was Christ?
» Who was Judas’ replacement—Matthias or Paul?

If God knows who will serve Him and who won’t, why witness?

IF GOD KNOWS WHO WILL SERVE HIM AND WHO WON’T, WHY WITNESS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“If God already knows who will serve Him and who won’t, why then do we continue to share this Grace message?”

Hello, my friend. What a question! Yes, God already knows who will serve Him and who will not serve Him, but it is still our duty—yea, our honor—to reach those who will listen. (I know how some Christians like to use your question as an argument/excuse so they do not have to witness. They are robbing themselves of one of the greatest joys of Christian living!) The only way we can reach those who will ultimately believe is to share the Gospel of God’s Grace with everyone. That includes sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with those who will receive those precious words, and preaching them to those who will reject those words. That means preaching to those who will be saved, and preaching to those who will never be saved. Ultimately, it is their choice—accept God’s offer or reject it. The gift of salvation through Jesus Christ is never forced on anyone. It is “unto all” (Romans 3:22). God offers it to all the nations of the world (2 Corinthians 5:19), and the only way all the peoples of the world can hear about it if we (the Church the Body of Christ) preach it to them.

Let us look at three Biblical examples of how God’s people—including His Son Jesus Christ—preached to the masses, despite the widespread rejection of the Gospel message they preached.

Noah. Only seven people believed Noah’s message. Yet, he still preached to the millions of the world that a global flood was coming. Genesis 7:13 says that his wife, their three sons, and their three wives, entered the ark with him. The rest of the people of the world perished in the Flood. As 2 Peter 2:5 says, “And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;” Over 99.9 percent of Noah’s audience mocked and laughed, and died. God knew only eight people would be saved from that Great Flood, and yet He still directed Noah to preach! By sending Noah to preach, the people who rejected God’s Word would be without excuse. They heard how to escape that wrath, and yet they deliberately refused it. When they are resurrected in the future, that rejected message will be brought to their minds. Before they are consigned to an everlasting fire and brimstone, they will be confronted with all those “lost opportunities for salvation.” (More on this shortly.)

Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry. The Lord Jesus said, “But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him” (John 6:64). Surely, Jesus knew that only a few Jews would trust in Him as their Messiah-King. He knew that “from the beginning [of His ministry],” the Bible says, that Judas would betray Him. Moments after Jesus uttered those offensive words, verse 66 says what happened next: “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” Talk about a waning crowd, beloved! That day, Jesus Christ probably lost His greatest amount of “listeners.” They loved to hear Him speak “beautiful words,” they loved His “free lunches” and His free healing miracles, but they did not have one bit of interest in having their sins forgiven through Him. When He exposed their unbelief, they left quick and never followed Him again!

Jesus Christ began His ministry with Matthew chapter 7, “[13] Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: [14] Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Certainly, Jesus knew the majority of people would prefer to stay lost, dead in their trespasses and sins, thoroughly content (prideful) to stay heading toward “destruction.” Just a few would want eternal “life.” We would be fools to disagree with Jesus Christ and say those words of His are not equally true of our audiences today.

Later, Acts 1:15 says there were only 120 believers in Jerusalem after Christ’s earthly ministry was over!! Yet, Jesus still preached, so the people who refused Him would be condemned by those words He preached. The Lord Jesus later said in John 12:48: “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” This a reference to the lost world being judged at the Great White Throne Judgment. That verse is the key to understanding how all lost people of all time will be judged before they are tossed into the lake of fire.

The Holy Spirit led the Apostle John to write in Revelation 20:11-15: “[11] And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. [12] And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. [13] And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. [14] And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. [15] And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

According to the Lord Jesus (John 12:48), in the distant future, the Holy Bible will be used to condemn unsaved people, to sentence them to the lake of fire to burn alive forever. (What a strong case for Bible preservation this is!!!!!!!!) They all had at least one opportunity to hear the life-giving words of the God of the Bible. In fact, Romans 1:20 says they are “without excuse.” Whatever dispensation was operating during their day in human history, they will be fully accountable for rejecting it, and the Lord Jesus Christ will bring it before these people as they stand before Him. They rejected it, and He now formally rejects them before all. What He is doing with these lost people is demonstrably 100 percent righteous, totally fair.

The Apostle Paul. Paul knew he would never convert many or most. In fact, he confessed that his preaching would only save some Jews from their national apostasy (Romans 11:14; 1 Corinthians 9:22). Father God will use us, the Body of Christ, to reach everyone with the message of salvation through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. This way, no one can say, “I did not know” or “I did not have chance.” But, only a few will choose to trust Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. Even though God knew just a few people would believe His written Word, He still preserved it for the benefit of those who would believe it. Yes, God’s preserved Word and our preaching it will be used against the lost when they are ultimately judged. Paul wrote, “In that day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel(Romans 2:16).

CONCLUSION

Brethren, let us warn everyone we can of their need of Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for their sins! The rich man in hell wanted his loved ones on Earth to hear God’s Word, that they not come to the same place of torment he was now suffering (Luke 16:28). Let us remember all of these peoples’ relatives who are in hell today. Those people would want us to tell their family and friends on Earth about the reality of everlasting hellfire and God’s solution for it. They must be told about God’s righteous wrath against their sin, and we Christians need to tell them! They need to hear about the shed blood of Jesus Christ to pay for their sins! If they do not believe the Message of God’s Grace that we preach, they will be haunted forever in hell about why they did not have to go there. Let us reach them in love and for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ… before it is too late!

Colossians 1: “[28] [Jesus Christ] Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: [29] Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.”

2 Timothy 2:24-26: “[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.”

2 Corinthians 5:11: “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.”

Also see:
» What about those “strange distractions” when we witness to others?
» Is there a simple way to present the Grace Message to children and teens?
» Why did Jesus forbid others from preaching that He was Christ?

Should we “name and claim” Jeremiah 29:11?

SHOULD WE “NAME AND CLAIM” JEREMIAH 29:11?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Jeremiah 29:11 is quoted ad nauseum in Christendom, especially in “evangelical” and “conservative” circles: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Can and does this apply to us in this the Dispensation of Grace? Should we “name and claim” it? What is it really talking about? It does not matter what the preachers say or the denominations say. What matters is what God’s Word actually says. “For what saith the Scriptures?” If we look at the context, it is apparently clear what Jeremiah 29:11 is discussing and to whom it applies.

Today’s lukewarm Christianity mindlessly quotes Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” However, who quotes Jeremiah 21:10, a verse found in the same Bible book? “For I have set my face against this city for evil, and not for good, saith the LORD: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.” Why does religion just select one appealing verse but toss out the verses that do not support the system they are promoting? What dishonesty! What a shameful way to treat the Book of the God of the universe.

THE CONTEXT OF JEREMIAH 29:11

Before JEHOVAH God could have good thoughts toward Jerusalem and the nation Israel, He had to first deal with their sins. Rather than relying on God’s grace—God freely giving them everything they needed—they agreed to enter into a covenant with Him (Exodus chapters 19-24). This was the Old Covenant, the Mosaic Law (part of it was the Ten Commandments). Israel contracted to perform perfectly to gain His blessings and acceptance; to fail in a single point was to merit His wrath and curses. Even today, “Christian” people get hung up on Israel’s works-religion system. They never learned the lesson of Israel’s history. Shame!

Exodus 19:3-6: “[3] And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; [4] Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. [5] Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: [6] And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.”

“And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us” (Deuteronomy 6:25).

Finally, Deuteronomy chapter 28: “[1] And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: [2] And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God…. [14] And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them. [15] But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:….”

Israel was doomed to fail right from day 1, but God loves freedom so much that He gave them exactly what they wanted. They wanted religion, and they got just that, along with the consequences of weak human nature.

So, we reach the time of the Prophet Jeremiah. Nine hundred years after the ratification of the Mosaic system, and Israel (technically, the southern kingdom of Judah) is entering the fifth course of judgment. What began in the book of Judges (because of her pagan idolatry) is now in its fifth and final phase—after four previous attempts of JEHOVAH trying to reform them with chastisement, Leviticus 26:27-39 says Israel must now be removed from the Promised Land. Jeremiah 21:10 is Jeremiah’s message from God to warn Judah that the Babylonian armies are coming: Jerusalem will be sacked, its walls burned to the ground, the Temple destroyed, and the Jews will be led away captive to present-day Iraq. The Jews are instructed not to fight but rather capitulate to their enemies’ desires. In 586 B.C., Jerusalem was decimated—the Babylonians cleansed JEHOVAH’S land of idolatry. Jeremiah 29:11 is Israel’s hope in such a hopeless condition!

We read in Jeremiah 29:14: “And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.” From 606 B.C. to 536 B.C., Judah was captive in Babylon. JEHOVAH told them that after those 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11-12; cf. Daniel 9:2), He would bring these Jews back to Jerusalem; He would not leave them hopeless, for He still had marvelous plans for them despite their unbelief and disobedience.

Read Jeremiah 29:11 in its context: “[10] For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. [11] For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. [12] Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. [13] And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. [14] And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.”

The Jewish Bible, which ends with 2 Chronicles, concludes with Israel back in her homeland (chapter 36): “[20] And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia: [21] To fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years. [22] Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, [23] Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.”

These two Jewish expeditions from exile to Jerusalem are recorded in the Bible books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Nevertheless, many Jews are still scattered worldwide today, and certainly not enjoying God’s earthly kingdom as they should have. Again, Jeremiah 29:11 is Israel’s hope in such a hopeless condition!

We read in Jeremiah 23:5-6: “[5] Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. [6] In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

The Old Testament “Major Prophets” (the five “large” books of Isaiah through Daniel) and the “Minor Prophets” (the 12 “small” books of Hosea through Malachi) have two main themes—God’s judgment on the Jews in response to their centuries of pagan idolatry by forcing them out of His land, and God’s forgiving and restoring Israel to return to that Promised Land and enjoy His earthly kingdom forever. Although Jeremiah devoted large portions of his ministry and book to that impending divine wrath, the Holy Spirit moved him to also preach and write verses that declared that God’s Messiah would come to deliver Israel from the religious (spiritual), social, and political mess in which she put herself (see Jeremiah 23:5-6 above).

While Judah was captive in Babylon, JEHOVAH revealed to the Prophet Daniel that in addition to 70 years necessary for the Promised Land’s cleansing, 70 weeks of years (or 490 years) were needed to cleanse the Jewish people (Daniel 9:24-27). After this 490-year period, Messiah would come and deliver Israel from her sins and her enemies. Once Jesus Christ came, Israel had the prospect to be a redeemed people in a cleansed land. Just as that 69th week of years expired, they delivered Him to the Romans to have Him die on an awful Roman cross. He resurrected and returned to heaven rejected.

Now, one seven-year period (Daniel’s 70th week) remains on the prophetic calendar before Jesus Christ can return for Israel and establish her kingdom (Jeremiah 23:5-6). When He comes the second time, He will use His blood shed at Calvary to establish a New Covenant to take away Israel’s sins (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Acts 3:19; Romans 11:26,27; Hebrews 8:8-13; Hebrews 10:15-17). Yes, Jeremiah 29:11 is still true—God’s wonderful plans for Israel are to be fulfilled in His own time!

Jerusalem, the Babylonians are coming, the Babylonians are coming!
Jerusalem, the Jews are coming, the Jews are coming!
Jerusalem, the Messiah is coming, the Messiah is coming!

JEREMIAH 29:11 AND US IN THE DISPENSATION OF GRACE

Never once does our Apostle Paul quote Jeremiah 29:11 as applicable to us. It is a good verse, a wonderful verse, but it is not to or about us. It is to and about the nation Israel. The basic fallacy in Christendom today has been the 2,000-year-long practice of grabbing Israel’s verses, completely disregarding the contexts, and making them apply to us. For example, Matthew 28:19-20, Isaiah 45:15, Acts 2:38, 1 John 1:9, Psalm 55:11, Matthew 16:18, James 5:14-16, Deuteronomy 8:18, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Malachi 3:8-11, et cetera. Jeremiah 29:11 applies to people who were taken captive to Babylon (verse 10!). Were we ever in Babylonian captivity? No, but Israel was. We cannot claim verse 10 as true of us; therefore, verse 11 does not apply to us either. Let us leave Jeremiah 29:11 exactly where it is in the Bible, and no confusion will result. It really is that simple.

Friend, if you want some positive, uplifting verses, wonderful promises from God, why not believe God’s Word to you rather than stealing Israel’s verses and ignoring their context? Friend, you search the Pauline epistles, Romans through Philemon, and you see such glorious truths true of us Gentiles in the Dispensation of Grace and members of the Church the Body of Christ:

Ephesians 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:”

1 Corinthians 1:30: “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:”

2 Corinthians 5:8: “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”

Galatians 5:1: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

Colossians 1:13-14: “[13] Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: [14] In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:”

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

Philippians 1:6,11: “[6] Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:… [11] Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.”

Titus 3:4-7: “[4] But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, [5] Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; [6] Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; [7] That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

Also see:
» What are our spiritual blessings in Jesus Christ?
» Must I maintain fellowship with God?
» Should we pray for the peace of Jerusalem?

Why are all of Israel’s tribes not listed in Revelation 7?

WHY ARE ALL OF ISRAEL’S TRIBES NOT LISTED IN REVELATION 7?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“Dan is named in Genesis 49:17 and Numbers 13:12 as one of the twelve tribes of Israel, but in Revelation 7:5-8 the tribe of Dan is omitted. Levi is named in Dan’s place. What would be the reason for this?”

Okay, great question! This can get a little tricky, but hopefully, we will be simple to understand here. You are asking about one of two challenges people experience with this passage. Enlightenment concerning both issues is necessary, especially if we are to answer those who like to pick on Revelation chapter 7 and say it is “riddled with errors.”

Abraham’s grandson Jacob (Israel) had 12 sons—Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Joseph, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher (1 Chronicles 2:1-2; cf. Genesis 35:22-26; Genesis 49:1-28). This is the origin of Israel’s 12 tribes.

However, when it came to organizing Israel for military purposes, God told Moses He did not want the priestly tribe of Levi fighting wars with the rest of Israel. So, since Joseph had two sons—Manasseh and Ephraim (Genesis 48:1,5,9)—that division in Joseph’s tribe created a new “tribe” to make up for the Levites’ absence (Numbers 1:32-35, 47-50). Recognizing that division in the tribe of Joseph helps us to partly understand the odd list of Jewish tribes in Revelation chapter 7.

Revelation chapter 7 talks about 12,000 Jewish preachers from each of Israel’s 12 tribes. These 144,000 men will evidently convert other Jews to form the Little Flock, Israel’s believing remnant. Revelation 7:4-8 is a list of the 12 tribes, their names transliterated from Greek, which explains the spelling differences between the New Testament and the Old Testament (Hebrew)—Juda, Reuben, Gad, Aser, Nepthalim, Manasses, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zabulon, Joseph, and Benjamin. Note that “Ephraim” and “Dan” do not appear here. See how “Levi,” “Joseph,” and “Manasses” (Manasseh) are mentioned. Why this deviation from the standard Old Testament lists of the 12 tribes? The answers lie in understanding the Old Testament.

WHY THE NAME “DAN” IS NOT FOUND IN REVELATION CHAPTER 7

According to the book of Judges, chapter 18, Dan was the first tribe to wholly embrace Baal worship (pagan idolatry). Being one of the 10 northern tribes, Dan was influential in polluting the Northern Kingdom with false religion. Since Dan was the first tribe to be unfaithful to God’s Word, God will not use any of the Danites to form the 144,000. The Levites, as you noted, will take Dan’s place in that special ministry. Remember, being the (special) priestly tribe, Levi was normally not mentioned when the 12 tribes were named in the Old Testament. Joseph’s two sons—Manasseh and Ephraim—formed two tribes instead of one. This division allowed Levi to be removed and yet Israel would still have 12 tribes for her army. Because the Danites are not part of the 144,000, thus causing the total to be 12,000 short, there are the 12,000 Levites to make up for the missing tribe of Dan.

WHY THE NAME “EPHRAIM” IS NOT FOUND IN REVELATION CHAPTER 7

You did not seem to notice, so let me point out to you that the name “Ephraim” is also absent from Revelation chapter 7. However, Ephraim is implied. “Joseph” and “Manasseh” are mentioned by name (verses 6 and 8), and that terminology forces “Joseph” to be Ephraim. (Joseph can only be divided into his two sons of Manasseh and Ephraim, and Manasseh was already named in the passage.) Evidently, God eliminated the name “Ephraim” here since Ephraim was another idolatrous tribe. With Dan, Ephraim was the other major tribe of the Northern Kingdom that eventually embraced idolatry and refused to abandon that paganism (Hosea 4:17). Nevertheless, there are still 12 tribes in Revelation chapter 7, with a different way of dividing Jacob’s descendants.

SUPPLEMENTAL: ONE FINAL CLARIFICATION

The list in Revelation chapter 7 has nothing to do with salvation unto eternal life and nothing to do with salvation into heaven. The Russellites—commonly called “the Jehovah’s Witnesses”—are probably best known for their “only 144,000 will be taken from earth into heaven” doctrine. Revelation chapter 7 is their favorite passage. The context, however, is not salvation unto eternal life. We know this because Revelation 14:4 says these 144,000 “were not defiled with women; for they are virgins.” In other words, the 144,000 are Jewish men who never had sexual relations with women!

Are only 144,000 men going to heaven? What about women? See, the 144,000 are not as the Jehovah’s Witness people tell us. The 144,000 are Jewish men whom God will use to preach to other Israelites during Daniel’s 70th Week, commonly called the seven-year Tribulation. These men, when their preaching ministry to Israel on Earth is over, will be taken into heaven (Revelation 14:1-5). The 144,000 are certainly not “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” and the 144,000 are not the only individuals going to heaven. In fact, we see others going into heaven during that Tribulation period—the two witnesses, for example (Revelation 11:12). Furthermore, we see the Church the Body of Christ destined for the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6-7). I think it is quite safe to say more than 144,000 Christians have lived on Earth during the last 2,000 years who died and went to heaven, no? Revelation chapter 7 has nothing to do with a limited number of people in heaven. Ridiculous!

Also see:
» Why does Israel have 12 apostles?
» Did David’s father Jesse have seven or eight sons?
» How many daughters did Lot have?

Are Galatians 3:28 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12 contradictory?

ARE GALATIANS 3:28 AND 1 TIMOTHY 2:11-12 CONTRADICTORY?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“How should we understand Galatians 3:28 & 1 Timothy 2:11-12?”

Hello, friend. I presume that you are inquiring about how gender is a non-issue in Galatians 3:28 while it is an issue in 1 Timothy 2:11-12. Are they contradictions? Not at all, dear friend. These verses sit in two different contexts. Both passages say exactly what they mean, and they mean exactly what they say. Let us look at these verses within their contexts and they will become amazingly clear. “For what saith the Scriptures?”

GALATIANS 3:28

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Whether Jew or Gentile, all members of the Church the Body of Christ are equal before God. Verses 26-27 say: “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” They are all equally “blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). They are all “complete in [Christ]” (Colossians 2:10). Today, there is no merit before God if you are a Jew. (This was not true in time past, Romans 9:4-5 says). Today, there is no disfavor before God if you are a Gentile. (This was not true in time past, Ephesians 2:11-12 says.)

No matter your ethnicity (Jew or Greek/Gentile), regardless of your social class (bond/servant or free), and no matter your gender (male or female), if you have trusted Jesus Christ alone as your personal Saviour, you are united with all other members of the Church the Body of Christ. All Christians are one in Jesus Christ. It may be hard for some to believe, but God has no “favorite” Christians. He does not bless some Christians while cursing other Christians. He does not love (or bless) some Christians more than He does other Christians. He does not put the pastors and teachers on a level higher than He does the ordinary church members. All people who have believed Paul’s Gospel of Grace, they are all equally accepted in God’s beloved, Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:6). Whether king or peasant, a Christian is a Christian, saved by the same blood of Jesus Christ. Whether rich or poor, black or white, male or female, there is complete and total equality in the Church the Body of Christ (cf. Colossians 3:11). No one in Christ is disadvantaged. Only those outside of Jesus Christ are disadvantaged.

While there is no difference in the Body of Christ between skin colors, genders, or social statuses, there are still physical distinctions that make us separate and unique. That is okay because that is the way God designed creation. Our skin color does not change when we trust Christ as our personal Saviour. We do not get an increase in salary simply because we become a Christian. Our gender does not change when we become a member of the Body of Christ. We still drive different classes of automobiles and live in different types of houses, right? People still look down on us whether our skin is light or dark, correct? We still have men’s restrooms and women’s restrooms in our local church buildings, right? See, these physical and material distinctions still exist. But, God does not look at them and pick favorites based on these criteria. He blesses all Christians in Christ equally. That is the teaching of Galatians 3:28. The Galatians thought they had to behave a certain way or become a certain type of person for God to accept them. They thought they had to keep the Law of Moses (and physical circumcision) to be pleasing in God’s sight (see Galatians 5:1-5). “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love” (verse 6). Paul had to remind these precious saints that God was already pleased with them because they were in Jesus Christ, His Son. It did not matter whether they were physically circumcised or physically uncircumcised (or Jew or Gentile, or male or female, et cetera).

1 TIMOTHY 2:11-12

“[11] Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. [12] But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”

Now, when we come to the first epistle to Timothy, this is delineating the order of the local church assembly. How has God designed a local grace church to function? Chapter 3 describes how God has established the offices of bishops (verses 1-7) and deacons (verses 8-13). Church members in general are given instructions in verses 14-16.

But just before that, in chapter 2, Paul discussed acceptable behaviors of men and women in the local church. While there is no gender distinction when it comes to spiritual blessings (cf. Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11), there is a gender distinction when it comes to leadership in the local church. The offices of bishop and deacon are reserved only for men (1 Timothy 3:1,2,11,12). Why? Because long before the Church the Body of Christ existed, God had already established the order of the sexes in creation. In other words, the husband is to be the spiritual leader in the family (Genesis 3:16). Eve was drawn away from Adam’s spiritual headship, and that caused her to be open to Satan’s attack.

Note 1 Timothy 2:13-15, the verses that immediately follow 1 Timothy 2:11-12: “[13] For Adam was first formed, then Eve. [14] And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. [15] Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”

God does not want the local church to be vulnerable to the Devil’s wiles as Eve was when she eventually led to man’s fall. There is “salvation” (deliverance) from Satan’s deception when men lead the local assembly. This is why gender is an issue in 1 Timothy 2:12. It is not that God picks on women. Rather He is safeguarding Christian women from deception, for Satan is the one who likes to pick on women (remember Eve?).

Also see:
» Should Christian women wear head coverings in the local church?
» What is the role of women in the ministry?
» What about unmarried, divorced, and remarried men in the ministry?

Have we been “grafted into Israel?”

HAVE WE BEEN “GRAFTED INTO ISRAEL?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

Have we been grafted into Israel? Is that what Romans 11:16-24 teaches? As always, my dear readers, we look at the Bible and let it interpret itself. We should not have a denomination or religious tradition to promote. We should have a Person to exalt, and the Lord Jesus Christ is magnified when His Word is studied and believed no matter whom it contradicts!

No question about it. There is much controversy surrounding Romans 11:16-24. Honestly, there are some very outlandish ideas about what it teaches. Beloved, we should never, ever isolate a Bible passage. This set of verses is especially critical to our understanding as members of the Church the Body of Christ. We must get it right or we will face unanswerable confusion for the rest of our lives on Earth. Remember—Context! Context! Context! There are five preceding verses that lead up to Romans 11:16-24, and we need to heed them, lest we stumble over the verses they precede.

ROMANS 11:11-14

We begin reading Romans chapter 11: “[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.”

According to the Old Testament, Israel was to rise to kingdom glory and be the channel of blessing and salvation to the Gentiles/nations (Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 19:3-6; Isaiah 2:2-4; Isaiah 60:1-3; Isaiah 61:6; Zechariah 8:20-23). Through Israel (in her literal, physical, visible, earthly kingdom), Gentiles were to have a relationship with the one true God. Israel was to be God’s kingdom of priests. That has yet to happen. Something interrupted that prophetic program. It is our Dispensation of Grace, called “the Dispensation of the Grace of God” (Ephesians 3:2). In light of Romans 16:25, we can call it “the mystery program.” (Contrasted with Israel’s “prophetic program” of Acts 3:21). This present-day administration or arrangement was a mystery (secret) that God hid in Himself until He revealed it to the Apostle Paul (Ephesians 3:1-11; Colossians 1:24-29). In Romans chapter 11, we are reading about some truths that make up that revelation the resurrected, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ gave to the Apostle Paul.

Romans chapter 11 declares that Israel has fallen before God. She has now lost her special status before God, albeit only temporarily Israel is fallen. That was the secret God kept hidden in the Old Testament. That was the mystery that He finally revealed to the Apostle Paul. In our Dispensation of Grace, Israel has lost the opportunity to be the head of the nations. She cannot be God’s channel of salvation and blessing to the Gentiles (nations). Gentiles cannot approach God through Israel and her kingdom. Why? Because Israel herself is in unbelief and Satanic captivity. Yet, we Gentiles have access to God today, and we Gentiles have had access to Him for almost 2,000 years now. How is this possible?

As we read earlier in Romans 11:11-12, Israel is temporarily “cast away,” fallen before God. By God removing Israel from her privileged position, Romans 11:11-12 explains what this means for the whole world: “[11] I say then, Have they [Israel] stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. [12] Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?

In our dispensation, “the world” (all people/nations) has been “reconciled” to God. All people (Jew and Gentile) can now approach Him—not through Israel or her kingdom—but through Paul’s ministry (Romans 11:13) and Paul’s Gospel. God no longer makes the distinction between Jew and Gentile—to God, even Jews are “Gentiles.” Unlike in time past, in the but now, there is no “special nation of God” today. God only sees people in His Son (whether Jew or Gentile), and people outside of His Son (whether Jew or Gentile).

Romans 11:13, again: “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office.” Paul is our apostle. That is, the risen, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ commissioned him to preach to us—all nations (Romans 1:5; Romans 16:26)—the good news of Calvary (“the Gospel of the Grace of God;” Acts 20:24). Reading from 2 Corinthians 5:19,21: “[19] To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. [21] For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

Now, “the world” (all nations) has the opportunity to be made “nigh” (near) to God by Christ’s shed blood. It has nothing to do with Israel because Israel is not an issue with God today. We have not been “grafted into Israel” because there is no “Israel” to be grafted into! Let us see Ephesians 2:11-13: “[11] Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; [12] That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: [13] But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”

“In Christ Jesus,” in this context (verse 13), is a reference to members of the Church the Body of Christ. “The blood of Christ”—the Gospel Message that Paul preached—is the means whereby we approach Father God today. When we trust the shed blood of Jesus Christ as sufficient payment for our sins, God credits that to our account as righteousness, and we are fit for heaven forever (Romans 4:1-8). There is no redeemed Israel here. There is no earthly Israeli kingdom here. Our salvation is dependent entirely upon what Jesus Christ did at Calvary, not upon what we do or do not do, not upon Israel, not upon her kingdom, not upon anything else.

While more could be said, for brevity’s sake, we must move on to the rest of Romans chapter 11.

ROMANS 11:15-24

Reading Paul’s words in Romans chapter 11: “[15] For if the casting away of them [Israel] be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? [16] For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. [17] And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; [18] Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. [19] Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. [20] Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: [21] For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. [22] Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. [23] And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. [24] For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?”

What Romans 11:16-24 is talking about is that we (“the world,” the nations; see verse 15) have now been given access to God, the access Israel enjoyed before she fell, the access we were to have as Gentiles had Israel not fallen. Because of Christ’s finished crosswork, we can partake of the spiritual things once offered to Israel—eternal life, justification, sanctification, peace, forgiveness, love, acceptance, et cetera. Olive wood is a symbol of access or entry into God’s fellowship/blessings. The Temple, God’s house, had olive doors (1 Kings 6:31-32). Access to God’s glory back then involved passing through olive-wood doors.

One day, God will “cut off” the nations of the world (verses 20-22). They will no longer have access to Him apart from Israel. As Israel’s unbelief led to her fall, the nations’ unbelief (rejection of Paul’s Gospel) will eventually lead to their fall (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12). Once prophecy resumes, Israel will again be brought to the forefront in God’s dealings with mankind. When our program ends with the Rapture, Gentiles who remain on Earth will have to approach God through Israel as Gentiles did before our Dispensation of Grace began. That is the warning of Romans 11:20-24. (It is not loss of salvation for members of the Body of Christ. People make that mistake here. It is talking about unsaved Gentiles losing their “without-Israel” method of access to the God of the Bible.) God’s grace will not always be offered to mankind as it has been in our Dispensation of Grace. Gentiles who are not part of the Body of Christ are urged not to be prideful, bragging about how Israel fell so they (Gentiles) could enjoy God’s blessings, for one day Gentiles will lose the privilege we as the Body of Christ members now enjoy. Israel will be restored one day, and those Gentiles outside of the Body of Christ will have to bless Israel to fellowship with the one true God (Matthew 25:31-46). Once Israel’s program resumes after our program, those Gentiles who do not bless Israel will wind up in everlasting hellfire (again, see Matthew 25:31-46).

We are not grafted into Israel. Israel is “fallen” and “enemies of God” (Romans 11:11,28). In 1 Thessalonians 2:16, Paul says, “the wrath [of God] is come upon them to the uttermost.” What advantage is there in being grafted into a nation that God does not acknowledge? It is nonsense. Is it really a privilege to be in a nation that God’s wrath has fallen upon, which wrath caused that nation’s fall? Of course not.

We (Gentiles, the world) have been “graffed in” in that God has paid for our sins at Calvary and He offers us fellowship with Him without Israel’s participation. We have access to Father God by faith in Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. In fact, Jesus Christ’s faith is His trust in God the Father’s Word to send Him to Calvary. Notice again what Paul wrote to us Gentiles. “For through him [Jesus Christ] we both [Jew and Gentile] have access by one Spirit unto the Father” (Ephesians 2:18). “[Christ Jesus our Lord] In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him” (Ephesians 3:12). There is nothing about Israel’s involvement. We have fellowship with Father God through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork at Calvary. Jesus Christ alone is the one Mediator between God and men (1 Timothy 2:5).

CONCLUSION

Romans 11:15-24 is basically saying that all Gentile nations are “graffed in” in the sense of we having equal access to God through Calvary (Ephesians 2:11-15). All nations can approach God today without Israel. In fact, even Israel is considered as a Gentile nation. Olive wood in the Bible symbolizes access to God: for example, the doors of the Temple were olive wood (1 Kings 6:31-34).

One day, after our Dispensation of Grace, God will resume His dealings with Israel, thus “cutting off” the Gentile nations. At that time, Israel will have preeminence again and every nation will have to approach God through Israel (as prophecy dictates). The Gentiles should not boast about God cutting off Israel today, since God will one day restore Israel and judge and destroy those Gentiles who fail to approach Him through Israel (verses 20-24). This passage, contrary to common belief, is not talking about the Church the Body of Christ being cut off (as in “loss of salvation”), but rather the warning in Romans 11:19-22 is spoken to those Gentiles who do not become members of the Body of Christ. If they do not become members of the Body of Christ by faith in Paul’s Gospel, they will have spurned God’s offer of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19-21), and they will be lost in Israel’s program when it resumes under the Antichrist’s reign (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).

Also see:
» Can you please explain Paul’s “Acts” ministry?
» What is “Replacement Theology?”
» Is prophecy being fulfilled today in the Dispensation of Grace?

Why did Cornelius have to hear Peter’s preaching?

WHY DID CORNELIUS HAVE TO HEAR PETER’S PREACHING?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“Although Cornelius in Acts 10 is described as a devout man, why did he still need to hear what Peter had to say regarding Jesus Christ?”

What a fascinating question! Thank you.

Yes, a Gentile, Cornelius was a “devout [religious] man” (Acts 10:2). He had some knowledge about the one true God. That knowledge motivated him to “pray to God alway.” He knew some of the Old Testament. Most of the Gentiles of that time did not have a clue as to what those Old Testament scrolls said. God had given His Word to Israel (Romans 3:1-2) and not to Gentiles (nations). Romans chapter 2: “[17] Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, [18] And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; [19] And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, [20] An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.”

A Roman centurion (commander of 100 soldiers), Cornelius knew that he as a Gentile had to relate to the God of creation by blessing His nation, Israel. There was instruction and spiritual light to be received from Jews, since they had communication with Him. Cornelius understood the Abrahamic Covenant of Genesis 12:1-3. God would bless Gentiles who blessed Abraham’s seed, Israel: “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”

Notice what Cornelius’ servants told Peter in Acts 10:22: “And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.” As verse 2 said, he “gave much alms [goods/money for the poor] to the people [Israel].” Cornelius blessed Israel. As Peter later learned and then preached to Cornelius, “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (verses 34-35). The reverence that Cornelius had toward Israel’s God was manifested in his “works of righteousness”—that is, in his blessing God’s nation Israel.

As noted earlier, Cornelius was better off than most Gentiles at the time because, through Israel, he had access to the one true God. Yet, Cornelius’ spiritual knowledge was limited. He recognized that he was missing some truths. He prayed for that spiritual understanding to come to him (verse 2), and God responded by sending the Apostle Peter to impart that spiritual knowledge to him (Acts 10:22). More revelation had been given since the Abrahamic Covenant, and Cornelius needed to be made aware of it. Jesus Christ had already come as Israel’s Messiah and had already been rejected and resurrected. Peter preached that message to Cornelius in Acts 10:34-43. Peter came to tell Cornelius and his household how to be saved through Jesus Christ. See Peter’s words in Acts 11:13-14. There had been additional revelation from God and Peter was sent to tell Cornelius. Furthermore, Cornelius had not yet fully given up his pagan behavior. He fell down and wanted to worship Peter (Acts 10:25). By Peter preaching the truth to Cornelius, that additional spiritual light could help Cornelius purge himself of his remaining pagan/Satanic thoughts and actions.

What we can learn from this is that simply because people pray, that does not automatically mean they are saved unto eternal life. In fact, prayer itself does not make one a Christian. The Lord Jesus talked about “heathen” (pagan idolaters) who “pray” (Matthew 6:7). In order to be delivered from Satan and our sins, we have to hear the Gospel. Prayer never saved anyone. Cornelius learned that and we must learn it. We have to believe the Gospel message later revealed by God to the Apostle Paul—“how that Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). When we trust that, that simple Message of God’s Grace alone, we need not be encumbered with vain repetitious prayers, water ceremonies, confessionals, almsgiving, and all the other burdens religious leaders attempt to tack onto Christ’s finished crosswork.

CONCLUSION

By the time of Acts chapter 10, it was not enough anymore for a Gentile just to bless Israel in order to have a relationship with the Creator God. Beginning with Cornelius, a Gentile had to also believe in Jesus Christ for the remission of sins (Acts 10:43). All Gentile believers in Israel’s program have to personally believe in Jesus Christ. He is the central Person, whether in our mystery program or Israel’s prophetic program. Whether in our program or Israel’s program, Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the only means whereby we can approach the one true God. Cornelius’ salvation experience is a preview of how Gentile salvation will operate in Israel’s program in the future. After our Dispensation of Grace ends, Gentiles will be saved in a manner similar to Cornelius’ conversion, with redeemed Israel preaching to Gentiles (see Isaiah 60:1-3 and Zechariah 8:20-23).

What should be also noted is that Peter’s visit to Cornelius’ house was then useful for Peter defending Paul’s Gentile apostleship (Acts 15:7-9). The Lord had Peter go to Cornelius’ home so Peter could come to Paul’s defense many years later. For more information, please see our Bible study linked below, “Does Acts 15:11 disprove dispensational Bible study?”

Also see:
» Does Acts 15:11 disprove dispensational Bible study?
» What happened to the Gentiles of Acts 10?
» Can Jews who believe in God, the Father, but who reject Jesus, be saved from eternal damnation?