Monthly Archives: February 2016

“The mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” and Paul’s “mysteries”—same or different?

“THE MYSTERIES OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN” AND PAUL’S “MYSTERIES”—SAME OR DIFFERENT?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“I just want to know the difference between the Mystery which was revealed to Paul and the Mysteries of the Kingdom. And what are the mysteries of the Kingdom?”

Hello again, brother. Thanks for that question. Let us get to answering it. It can get a little complicated but I will keep it as simple as possible.

“THE MYSTERIES OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN”

The term “the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” first appears in the Bible in Matthew chapter 13, when Jesus introduces parables. In verse 10, His disciples ask Him why He speaks to the multitudes in parables. He tells those disciples, “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given” (verse 11). Was Jesus unfair to hide it from some? Not at all.

Firstly, the “mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” are actually all the parables that the Lord Jesus uttered during the latter half of His earthly ministry. Remember that He had spent approximately one to two years prior preaching to Israel in plain language. Most of Israel ignored Him, mocked Him, ridiculed Him, and so on. After Israel’s unbelief had reached a certain point, after they had rejected God’s Word to the limit, Jesus introduced parables to hide the truth from the masses who did not want to hear and believe. (Please see our study linked at the end of this article, “Why did Jesus forbid others from preaching that He was Christ?”)

Jesus spoke in parables to the crowds, but, later, in private, He explained those parables to His disciples (see Matthew 13:34-52). So, the “mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” referred to spiritual concepts that God hid from unbelieving Israel because they refused to learn what had been previously revealed to them in the Old Testament. All of these parables were various facets and principles that were true of Israel, her earthly kingdom hope, her covenants and promises, et cetera—prophecies whose beginnings can be found in Genesis through Malachi. Most of the Israelites of Jesus’ day had not been faithful in teaching their children to look for Messiah as found in the Old Testament. Some believed because they had passed down that sound doctrine, but most did not pass it down to the next generation and so there was great spiritual ignorance in Israel when Jesus showed up.

Note Psalm 78:1-4: “[1] Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth. [2] I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: [3] Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. [4] We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.” (By Jesus telling the parables, He fulfilled verse 2, according to Matthew 13:34-35.)

Again, most of the Jews of Jesus’ day were in unbelief, so they did not see the Old Testament fulfilled in Jesus. The “kingdom of heaven” is a term used to describe Israel’s earthly kingdom. That is unrelated to Paul’s ministry and God’s heavenly kingdom.

By the way, if you want more details here, please see our related study, linked at the end of this article, that defines the term “kingdom of heaven” more fully.

THE MYSTERIES OF PAUL’S MINISTRY

The mystery and the mysteries associated with Paul’s ministry were not things descriptive of Israel and her kingdom program. These were truths that God had purposely withheld from everybody, until it was time to reveal them to the Apostle Paul. You can search Jesus’ parables to find nothing of the things the Holy Spirit spoke through Paul—Israel’s temporary fall, salvation by faith without the Mosaic Law, the formation of the Church the Body of Christ, a heavenly hope, salvation going to all Jews and Gentiles without distinction, the Rapture / coming of Christ for His Body, and so on (Romans 11:25; Romans 16:25-26; 1 Corinthians 2:6-8; 1 Corinthians 15:51-55; Ephesians 3:1-11; Colossians 1:25-27; Titus 1:1-3; 1 Timothy 2:4-7; et al.).

Remember, the “kingdom of heaven” was Israel’s earthly kingdom. In Israel’s program, there was a difference between Jew and Gentile. Israel was to be redeemed to minister to Gentiles. Paul preached no such thing as true today. Through Israel’s fall, without Israel’s kingdom, without redeemed Israel, salvation was going to Gentiles, and that salvation message was preached by Paul’s ministry (Romans 11:11-13). In stark contrast, the kingdom of heaven was (and is going to be) God’s way of using restored Israel to reach Gentiles in an earthly kingdom (Romans 11:25-29; Zechariah 8:20-23; Isaiah 60:1-3). Please read and study these passages in your Bible. We will not quote all them for time’s sake.

CONCLUSION

So, the “mysteries” of Jesus’ earthly ministry and the “mysteries” of Paul’s ministry are two different concepts. They should never be confused and conflated into one set of mysteries.

The “mysteries” of Christ’s earthly ministry were mysterious to Israel because she had ignored divine revelation previously given. Hence, Jesus introduced parables—to hide the truth from people who did not want to hear it and believe it anyway. Those who had hearts to believe, Jesus explained the parables to them in private. The “mysteries” of Christ’s earthly ministry were at least revealed to some people—Israel’s little flock of believers. Paul’s “mysteries,” however, were revealed to no one until Paul. The mysteries that Paul preached were secret in God’s mind until He revealed them to Paul in the book of Acts and onward, years after Christ’s earthly ministry in Matthew through John.

Paul’s “mysteries” were “hid in God” (Ephesians 3:9) because God had to let Calvary occur before He could reveal the mystery. Satan had to be caught by surprise (1 Corinthians 2:6-8). Although Israel had crucified Messiah, and refused to repent and accept Jesus as Christ in early Acts, God would use Calvary to go to the Gentiles through Paul without Israel. That is what shocked Satan. Satan assumed he had defeated God at Calvary by keeping Israel from becoming a kingdom of priests to reach Gentiles.

Also see:
» What is the difference between “the Kingdom of God” and “the Kingdom of Heaven?”
» Who were the people who followed Jesus before Paul?
» Why did Jesus forbid others from preaching that He was Christ?

Does Acts 2:47 support Calvinism?

DOES ACTS 2:47 SUPPORT CALVINISM?

by Shawn Brasseaux

One of the “five points” of Calvinism is “Limited Atonement.” It is the belief that Jesus Christ “died only for the elect.” The “elect,” in theology, is defined as “those whom God chose for blessings and eternal life in heaven.” Those whom God chose to be saved are then given faith, and subsequently, they receive eternal life. Acts 2:47 is used to defend this kind of teaching. Notice the verse: “Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Has God chosen only a certain number of people who will inherit eternal life? Acts 2:47 appears to be a good “proof text” verse for Calvinists, but is it really? Let us look at that verse in detail… and in context.

Dispensational Bible study frees you from the bondage and confusion in every theological system in existence. You name the heresy, the confusion, the argument, the point of contention, and it is very likely that dilemma can be resolved with dispensational. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). You must make the distinctions that God has made in His Word. Failure to do so will greatly damage your life and the lives of those around you. If you do not approach Acts 2:47 dispensationally, you are sure to fall into the trap of Calvinism as countless others have done throughout church history. Let me demonstrate how dispensational Bible study makes Acts 2:47 amazingly clear for you.

GOD’S SPECIAL NATION – ISRAEL

In Israel’s prophetic program, there was such a thing as “limited atonement”—that is, that the merits of Christ’s crosswork were available to some, rather than, all people of all nations. Salvation and blessings from God were to go to the nation Israel first.

The Prophet Isaiah wrote of Jesus Christ: “…[F]or the transgression of my people was he stricken” (Isaiah 53:8). Isaiah’s people were the Jews. There are no Gentiles (non-Jews) in the verse unless we say Isaiah was a Gentile! Over seven centuries later, the angel told Joseph about Mary bearing Jesus: “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Jesus Himself said on a few occasions, “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28; cf. Mark 10:45; Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:20). Jesus said to His Jewish disciples, “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you(Luke 22:20). Again, it is a reference to Israel. This is not saying, as Calvinists teach, Jesus Christ died only for a limited number of people throughout human history. Rather, it is Jesus Christ dying for the nation Israel at a particular time in human history.

Recall that God wanted to form an earthly nation of people, Israel, going back to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It would be through this nation that God would bless all the nations of the world. See Genesis 12:1-3. However, as time passed, an apostate religion corrupted that nation. There were descendants of Abraham who did not have the faith of Abraham. These cannot be God’s physical people because they were not His spiritual people as well. A “true Jew” has both a physical circumcision (dead to the flesh, cut off from human efforts) and a spiritual circumcision (in the heart, cut off from Adam, fallen human nature removed). You can see Romans 2:28-29, for example. For time’s sake, we withhold any further comments on that passage.

Beginning with John the Baptist’s ministry in Matthew chapter 3, God began to call out a little flock of Jewish believers from that unbelieving nation Israel. Jesus Christ continued to do this in His earthly ministry. We now get to Acts chapter 2, when the Apostle Peter is preaching in order to continue forming that called-out group of Jewish believers. Peter is following the instructions Jesus Christ had given them before He ascended into heaven: “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem (Luke 24:47). The Prophet Zechariah had predicted centuries earlier, “The LORD also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify themselves against Judah” (Zechariah 12:7). According to Matthew 10:23, Luke 24:47, and Acts 1:8, Jesus’ 12 apostles were to preach to people in this order—Jerusalem, Judaea (southern Israel), Samaria (northern Israel), and the uttermost parts of the earth (Gentiles). Hence, Jesus restricted His earthly ministry to Israel (Matthew 15:24) and He commanded His apostles to restrict their ministry to Israel (Matthew 10:5-7). Prophecy said that Israel was to be saved first, and then Israel would be the channel of salvation and blessing to the nations of the world!

Notice Isaiah 60:1-3: “[1] Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. [2] For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. [3] And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.” (You may compare this with Genesis 12:1-3, the Abrahamic Covenant, briefly mentioned earlier.)

Moving on to Acts chapter 3: “[24] Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. [25] Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. [26] Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.” The Abrahamic Covenant was given to Israel, that she would then be God’s special nation who would preach to and convert the nations to the one true God (see also Zechariah 8:20-23, and again, Genesis 12:1-3).

Finally, Acts chapter 5 confirms once more: “[30] The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. [31] Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” Can it be any clearer that Jesus Christ was to save Israel first?

Peter said that he was preaching that “which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21). That is, Peter’s ministry was focused on repeating and building on what the prophets of Israel had spoken and written centuries earlier in the “Old Testament.” Peter said that Joel’s prophecy was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:16-21; Joel 2:28-32). Using all of this as background, recognizing all of this as the context of Acts 2:47, we can see why Luke wrote it. It was an event according to prophecy—Isaiah, Zechariah, Joel, et cetera, had written about it. Again, Acts 2:47: “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” This is a reference to God wanting every Jew to be converted so they—as a nation—could become His kingdom of priests (cf. Exodus 19:5-6; 1 Peter 2:9-10). They were to be saved not merely from hell to eternal life, but also they were to rescued from that apostate religion (spiritual darkness, Satanic oppression) that had gripped them as a nation. Hence, Peter constantly affirmed, led by the Spirit of God who gave him utterance, “Ye men of Judaea… Ye men of Israel… Let all the house of Israel know assuredly…” (Acts 2:14,22,36). The salvation of Acts 2:47 had nothing to do with Gentiles! It had nothing to do with the Church the Body of Christ. It had nothing to do with us or our Dispensation of Grace! You can see our Bible study link below, “Did the Church the Body of Christ begin in Acts chapter 2?,” for more information.

The Calvinists, like so many in Christendom, fail to realize that Acts chapter 2 was not the Church the Body of Christ, the present-day group of believers in Jesus Christ. There was a restriction to join that church of Acts 2:47—one had to be a Jew because God wanted to save Jews first. There is no restriction today, for God is forming the Church the Body of Christ of Jews and Gentiles (1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 4:28; Ephesians 2:11-18; Colossians 3:11). In addition, the Church the Body of Christ was a “mystery” (secret hid in God) until Jesus Christ revealed it to the Apostle Paul (Romans 16:25-26; Ephesians 3:1-11; Colossians 1:24-28). There was no Body of Christ at the time of Acts chapter 2, so Acts 2:47 has nothing to do with the Body of Christ or anything God is doing today!

Also see:
» How do our free will and God’s foreknowledge work together?
» Did the Church the Body of Christ begin in Acts chapter 2?
» Is John 10:16 a reference to the Church the Body of Christ?

 

Who was Melchizedek?

WHO WAS MELCHIZEDEK, AND WHAT WAS HE ALL ABOUT?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“Can you shed some light on who Melchizedek was and what he was all about? There seems to be confusion over him.”

What a question. Thanks! The Bible provides very little about Melchizedek/Melchisedec in the Old Testament. We must go to the “New Testament” Scriptures for the majority of information about him. Melchizedek first appears in the Bible in Genesis 14:18-20: “[18] And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. [19] And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: [20] And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.”

From Genesis, we learn three things: (1) Melchizedek was the king of Salem (later called Jerusalem); (2) he was the priest of the most high God, (3) and Abraham paid a 10 percent tithe (income tax) to Melchizedek (head of the local government). Historically, we never read about Melchizedek in the Bible again. We do not know where he came from prior to Genesis chapter 14. Also, we do not know what happened to him after Genesis chapter 14. Hence, Melchizedek is one of the most enigmatic characters in Scripture.

We also know that Melchizedek lived about 500 years before the Aaronic (Levitical) priesthood of Israel was instituted. God created Israel’s priesthood beginning with Moses’ brother, Aaron, and, according to Exodus 28:1, Israel’s priests had to be men of the tribe of Levi, and, of that tribe, they can only be sons of Aaron. Thus, with Israel and the Mosaic Law, Melchizedek’s priesthood is done away. As far as we know from the Bible, no one assumed Melchizedek’s priesthood; the Levitical priesthood is the priesthood that continued all through the Old Testament economy. In contrast, nothing more is said about the Melchizedekian priesthood after Genesis chapter 14.

When we come to our Lord Jesus Christ, the Bible says He will be Israel’s High Priest. For example, Hebrews 3:1: “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.” And chapter 4 of Hebrews, verses 14-15: “[14] Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. [15] For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” These verses will be fulfilled at the Second Coming of Christ onward, right into Israel’s earthly kingdom (His 1000-year reign). But, Christ cannot be a priest of Aaron’s order/course/office because of a covenant change. We will discuss this briefly.

Notice what King David wrote in Psalm 110:4, about 1000 years before Christ: “The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent [change his mind], Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” According to Hebrews 5:6,10 and Hebrews 7:17,21, this is God the Father speaking to His Son, Jesus Christ. Notice Hebrews 6:20: “Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” Thus we see that God the Holy Ghost included Melchizedek in the Old Testament in order to give us a preview of what Jesus Christ would become one day. In other words, Jesus Christ will pick up where Melchizedek left off 4,000 years earlier with his own priesthood.

While I strongly encourage that you read all Hebrews chapter 7 to get a better understanding of this, light commentary will be provided here. That chapter explains how Israel’s priesthood (the Levitical priesthood, as found in the Mosaic Law) will be done away when Jesus Christ makes the New Covenant with Israel at His Second Coming (Hebrews 8:8-13; Hebrews 10:15-17; cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34; Romans 11:26-27). The Lord Jesus Christ will replace the Levitical priesthood with His own priesthood of the Melchizedekian course. The reason for this is very simple. The Levitical priesthood is associated with the Old Covenant (Mosaic Law). However, since there will be a New Covenant with Israel, there must also be a new priesthood to accompany that new covenant. The Levitical priesthood can only operate in the Mosaic economy and it can only benefit the Jews. In contrast, the Melchizedekian priesthood has no limits. It was pre-Israel, pre-Law, and pre-Moses, so it can involve the whole world, and remember that Jesus Christ will rule over the whole world as King and Priest in His millennial kingdom.

Notice Hebrews 7:11-12 talks about this change in priesthoods and covenants: “[11] If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? [12] For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.” In the ages to come, the New Covenant will replace the Old Covenant, and Jesus Christ’s Melchizedekian priesthood will replace the Levitical priesthood.

CONCLUSION

Melchizedek is a type (preview, figure, shadow) of what Jesus Christ will be one day—both a King and a Priest. Interestingly, Melchizedek served as King and Priest of Salem (Jerusalem), the very place where Jesus Christ will serve as King and Priest one day! Notice Zechariah 6:12-13 speaks of Jesus Christ as King and Priest. Hebrews 7:2 says that Melchizedek was not only “the King of Righteousness” (the meaning of the Hebrew word, “Melchizedek”) but he was also “the King of Peace” (his title was “the King of Salem,” and shalom/salem is Hebrew for “peace”). The King of Peace and The King of Righteousness are both titles of Christ (see Isaiah 9:6-7 and Jeremiah 23:5-6, for example). This shows us just how intricately written God’s Word is… the Author of Genesis knew what Hebrews would say, some 1500 years later, to be fulfilled some 3500 years later!

SUPPLEMENTAL – WAS MELCHIZEDEK A THEOPHANY?

Was Melchizedek a pre-incarnate Jesus Christ? (This may be the “confusion” you referenced?) Hebrews 7:3 has been used to support this notion: “Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.” Some have argued that Melchizedek must have been God in human form in order for Melchizedek to be known as “without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life.” “Who else but God could have these attributes?,” it is asked.

For a while, I wondered about this myself, never being fully satisfied with others’ comments on the subject. Not long ago, I settled it in my mind. Personally, I believe that Hebrew 7:3’s language here is vague because the (original) Old Testament description of Melchizedek was unclear. As mentioned earlier, the Scriptures do not provide explanations are to Melchizedek’s origin, his family/lineage, when he was born, when he died, what happened to him, and so on. In stark contrast, the characteristics of Aaron’s (Levitical) priesthood are clearly defined in order to limit its participants.

The Aaronic priesthood, the Levitical priesthood, began with the Law of Moses. It ended with Rome’s destruction of Jerusalem’s Temple in A.D. 70. As made clear in Leviticus and Hebrews, the Levitical priesthood had a strict bloodline, so not just anyone could serve in it. In comparison, Melchizedek’s was limitless, having never really had a clear beginning nor a clear ending. Melchizedek served Gentiles evidently, for national Israel was not in existence during his priesthood. In contrast, the Levitical priesthood only served Israel. The Gentiles who bless Israel in her program and Israel herself need a High Priest, and Jesus Christ will be both the Gentiles’ High Priest and the Jews’ High Priest in the ages to come. Additionally, Jesus Christ’s priesthood will never end because, unlike the Levitical priests who were replaced after their demise, He will never die (see Hebrews 7:23-28). In reality, Jesus Christ has no father and no mother—He is the eternal Son of God. Details about Melchizedek were withheld in order to closely identify with Jesus Christ, and to make Melchizedek the perfect preview of the King-Priest Jesus Christ will become in Father God’s own time!

Also see:
» Why was Jesus water baptized?
» Did the 12 preach the Gospel of the Kingdom after Christ ascended?
» How were Gentiles saved before our Dispensation of Grace?

What does Romans 8:28 mean?

WHAT DOES ROMANS 8:28 MEAN?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” It is undoubtedly in the list of “the top 10” most-quoted Bible verses—along with John 3:16, Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 10:9, and Hebrews 10:25. We hear and see Romans 8:28 very often in religious contexts, so much so that it is sickening. Despite its widespread usage, there is very little clarity as to what it actually teaches. Friends, if it is to be of faith, we must look at what the Holy Scriptures say. Otherwise, it is vain religion, useless in eternity. May we handle God’s Word with utmost respect, and let it say what it says in context.

I. ROMANS 8:28—ONE OF THE MOST WRESTED BIBLE VERSES

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Many good, well-meaning people have quoted, and still quote, this verse in a quick, careless manner. Let me be very honest with you, friend. Most have an extremely shallow grasp of the verse. We must guard against reading into the Bible text something that just is not there. Context is key to clarity. In other words, the context—surrounding verses, surrounding chapters, and/or surrounding books—is extremely critical to understanding the meaning of a particular verse. We should treat God’s eternal Word with utmost respect; remember we are dealing with people’s eternal souls!

The Apostle Peter spoke of false teachers who “wrested” (twisted, distorted) the Word of God, especially the Apostle Paul’s epistles, “unto their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:15-16). Also, Paul himself affirmed, “[We] have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:2). And, we might as well as look at this verse also: “For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:17).

Let us re-read Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” The common assumption is that this verse means that God manipulates our circumstances so that they turn out good. If someone was miraculously spared an automobile accident, survives a life-threatening illness, receives major financial relief, et cetera, Romans 8:28 is loosely quoted, “See, God works out all things in the end!” The following quote from a bygone commentator summarizes this view: “Thus, all that happens to us, if accepted and applied according to God’s Word, becomes beautiful, and ‘we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose’ (Romans 8:28).” Not long ago I read a book by another bygone Bible teacher who quoted Romans 8:28 several times in his book and used it in the same manner. It was like Romans 8:28 was the only verse the man knew to quote to comfort suffering people. He meant well, but his mishandling of the verse just made God’s Word more difficult to grasp.

Some will take a very extreme view of this verse. God allegedly works out every minute detail of our lives so that it fits into His prearranged plan for our lives. What specific foods He determined we were to eat at any given time, exactly what outfits we are to wear on what days, where we are to live and work and for how long, what unique problems we were to face for His glory, et cetera. These notions are borne out of Calvinism and the “sovereignty of God.” It is theology but not Bible. It is good religion but not good Bible. We contend that Romans 8:28 in no way supports the idea of a “pre-arranged life map” for each and every person.

Friend, you are free to believe whatever you like, but the best way to look at Romans 8:28 is to look at the previous and the succeeding verses. This is what the Bible student does instead of just inventing some meaning of the verse. It is better to let the Bible say what it says in context rather than making up an explanation so we do not appear foolish.

II. VERSES 1-13. THE HOLY SPIRIT GIVES US VICTORY OVER SIN

After discussing his misery of attempting to live the Christian life in vain (Romans chapter 7), Paul opened chapter 8 with some excellent news. Rather than struggling under the performance-based acceptance system of Law-keeping (“do good so God can be happy with you and you can have victory over sin”), we learn with Paul how God has replaced that legalistic system with the good news of grace. The first 13 verses describe how God the Holy Spirit will use God’s written Word to work in us as we study and believe it (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:13). For space and time’s sake, we will quote these verses without commenting. Suffice it to say that the victorious Christian life is the work of the Holy Spirit, not the futile attempts of the Christian in religion!

Romans 8:1-13: “[1] There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. [2] For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. [3] For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: [4] That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. [5] For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. [6] For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. [7] Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. [8] So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. [9] But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. [10] And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. [11] But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. [12] Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. [13] For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”

III. VERSES 14-17. THE HOLY SPIRIT TESTIFIES THAT WE ARE GOD’S CHILDREN, HEIRS OF GOD AND JOINT-HEIRS WITH CHRIST

Let us keep reading in the chapter. Now, Romans 8:14-17: “[14] For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. [15] For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. [16] The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: [17] And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”

The Holy Spirit leads us, via sound Bible doctrine that we read, study, and believe, into God’s will. What lifestyle those Pauline epistles described, the Holy Spirit takes the verses and activates them in our lives, that the life of Jesus Christ be manifested in and through us. We can join Father God in doing what He is doing, just as a son would understand and delight in assisting his father in the family business. Just as a son would inherit everything his father owns, so we are “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.” As “we suffer with him,” “we may be also glorified together.” This glorification of Jesus Christ and us is explained in the following verses.

IV. VERSES 18-25. THE HOLY SPIRIT GUARANTEES OUR BODILY RESURRECTION AND GLORIFICATION

Proceeding onward in Roman chapter 8. Romans 8:18-25: “[18] For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. [19] For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. [20] For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, [21] Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. [22] For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. [23] And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. [24] For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? [25] But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”

In verse 18, Paul wrote, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” The Holy Spirit through him proceeds to discuss the curse of sin placed on creation back in Genesis chapter 3. You can especially see that these verses, Romans 8:18-25, discussed our physical bodies being one day replaced with bodies that are “eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1). This is the “redemption of our body” (verse 23)—that is, the resurrection, the Rapture, our gathering together unto Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:1). You may also see 1 Corinthians 15:35-58. Beloved, we are not trapped forever in these bodies that are prone to weakness, illness, pain, and death! At the resurrection, when the Lord Jesus calls His Body home to heaven’s glory, our bodies will be fashioned like unto Jesus Christ’s resurrection body. We can compare that to Philippians 3:20-21: “[20] For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: [21] Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”

The Holy Spirit’s personal presence in us (Romans 8:23), His sealing of our inner man, guarantees us hope in that future resurrection. Reading Ephesians 4:30: “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” And Ephesians 1:13-14 to compare: “[13] In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, [14] Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”

V. VERSES 26-27. THE HOLY SPIRIT INTERCEDES FOR US IN OUR PRAYER LIFE

Another ministry of the Holy Spirit is that when we pray about God’s Word in light of our lives, He brings into our minds the applicable verses that we studied and believed. This is the meaning of Romans 8:26-27: “[26] Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. [27] And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” We will forgo any further comments in order to get to our main text quicker.

VI. VERSES 28-30. THE HOLY SPIRIT AND OUR VICTORY OVER ALL OPPOSITION

By the time we reach Romans 8:28, we have already read about how the Holy Spirit gives us daily victory over sin, how He bears witness that we are the children of God and heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, how He gives us hope in a future resurrection and heavenly glorification, and how He gives us enlightenment concerning God’s Word to and God’s will for us. Now we can read Romans 8:28, with its two following verses: “[28] And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. [29] For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. [30] Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”

Friends, brethren, no matter what troubles we face in life, no matter what satanic opposition, no matter how we fail and give in to sin, no matter who accuses us, no matter who imprisons us or even kills us, Father God has a plan for us in Jesus Christ. Our destiny is fixed in Jesus Christ. Regardless of what happens to us in this life on earth, we can be sure that God has justified us (declared us righteous), and He will glorify us in heaven one day, that He glorify His Son Jesus Christ in and through us in those heavenly places. Our resurrection is sure, God’s will for us in eternity is certain.

Verses 31-39 (the rest of the chapter) explain how we should keep our minds focused on these Bible truths. Satan will use various tactics to discourage us, hinder us, that we forget God’s Word to us, thereby causing our Christian lives not to function properly. We must not let Satan distract us from the cross of Calvary and our identity in Jesus Christ (see 2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

VII. VERSES 31-39. THE HOLY SPIRIT ETERNALLY LINKS US TO THE LOVE OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD

We have now reached the last part of Romans chapter 8. Reading Romans 8:31-39: “[31] What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? [32] He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? [33] Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. [34] Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. [35] Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? [36] As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. [37] Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. [38] For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, [39] Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Whether troubles, distresses, persecutions, famines, nakedness, perils, or swords (wars), we can be sure that, no matter our circumstances, nothing can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Satan will use our difficulties to cause us to think God has abandoned us or that God does not care about us. However, we go by God’s Word, the Holy Bible, not by our circumstances. We keep our eyes focused on the Scriptures and not on our situations. In God’s Word, we see that He does care for us and He still is with us. He still has great plans for us in eternity future, so no matter what Satan or man may do to us, our destiny is completely secure in Christ (Romans 8:28)!

VIII. CONCLUSION

What does Romans 8:28 mean? Once you read it with its two succeeding verses, it becomes clear. The Bible says in Romans 8:28-30: “[28] And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. [29] For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. [30] Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”

Romans 8:28 is very simple. No matter what happens to us in this life, regardless of the difficulties and heartaches, there is nothing but eternal glory waiting for us in Jesus Christ! As people who have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ exclusively, we will share in His glorification in eternity future. God the Father will use us to exalt His Son forever in the heavenly places. That is the whole purpose of the Church the Body of Christ, the group of believers God “foreknew” because He purposed to form it before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4; Titus 1:1-3). God has fixed our eternal destiny—we (as believers in Christ) will be “conformed to the image of his Son.” Notice our title in Romans 8:28. As members of the Body of Christ, we are “them that love God,” “them who are the called according to his purpose.” Our purpose is to glorify Jesus Christ in the heavenly places forever (Ephesians 1:20-23; Ephesians 2:6-7; Colossians 1:16-23; 2 Timothy 4:18).

Beloved, this explanation is so much more glorious, so much richer, than religion’s cheap, carefree, superstitious, and mindless interpretation of Romans 8:28: “Oh, God will manipulate your circumstances to give you a job to solve your unemployment problem. God will heal you of your terminal cancer so you can have a nice, sweet life. God will work it all out so you can get rid of all your problems and escape all your dilemmas in life. He will give you a wonderful day today if you just claim it in Jesus’ name!” What we need to know is that, even on our bad days, even in our sickness, even in our weakness, even in our difficulties, God has given us grace to endure those troubles (2 Corinthians 12:7-11). Ultimately, that same grace will carry us on into eternity to carry out His will in the heavenly places!

Also see:
» What about Romans 10:9-10?
» Do the last 10 words of Romans 8:1 belong in our King James Bible? (COMING SOON!)
» Should we “name and claim” Jeremiah 29:11?

Is it “un-Christian” for a country to have border walls?

IS IT “UN-CHRISTIAN” FOR A COUNTRY TO HAVE BORDER WALLS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

(Note: This will be harsh but I make no apology for writing it because it needs to be stated.)

The Roman Catholic pope, Francis, has gained a reputation for saying some utterly foolish remarks about a wide range of topics he has no business commenting about whatsoever. Recently, concerning the United States/Mexican border, he said it would be “un-Christian” for us in the United States to build a wall in order to prevent illegal immigration. (Who is he to comment on Christian matters?!)

Our good friend, the pope, once again, demonstrates that he needs to read his Bible, one of the books his church “claims” to believe but never actually follows consistently. For starters, he can go read Genesis chapters 10 and 11. Once he has done that, he can read Acts chapter 17 and Romans chapter 13. (Then he can recall the barricades that are erected when he has a motorcade, as well as remember the security walls surrounding Vatican property!)

Actually, friends, the creation of nations is one of God’s methods for suppressing Satan’s policy of evil. God scattered the people assembled in false religious worship around the Tower of Babel, and with those instituted languages, that forced them to relocate throughout the whole world. Consequently, each nation has its own bloodline, language, culture, et cetera. Each nation also has its own borders and a local government to ensure those borders are enforced. That government is to ensure its nation’s laws are created and upheld. Again, we find this most clearly demonstrated in Genesis chapters 10 and 11 (nations) and Romans chapter 13 (human government and a Christian’s responsibilities to such). Please read them in your own spare time.

The Apostle Paul summarized the book of Genesis while preaching to pagans in Athens in Acts chapter 17: “[24] God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; [25] Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; [26] And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; [27] That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: [28] For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.”

Any and every country, including the United States of America, has every right to clearly define its borders. We have God-given rights as nations to protect our borders in whatever ways we see fit, free from overbearing politicians and religious leaders (especially some hypocritical pope!). National walls are the visible representations of the invisible national borders that God created back in the few centuries between the Great Flood and the call of Abraham. Had the pope really been in the line of “apostolic succession,” I am quite sure that the Holy Spirit would have led him to quote the Apostle Paul in Acts 17:26. Since Francis did not quote Paul—or Moses (Genesis), or Luke (Acts)—I believe it is safe to assume that Francis is the one with the “un-Christian” attitude. Frankly, Francis needs to go back to Rome, mind his own business (Roman Catholic theology), and let us Americans be the independent nation we are, making our decisions as we see fit so we can take care of our legal citizens and keep illegals out. (Why did God create nations in the first place? See our study about pacifism linked below for the fascinating explanation!)

Also see:
» Should Christians support wars or should they be pacifists?
» How did Satan hinder Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2:18?
» Where in the Bible did God give Satan domain over the Earth?

Is Matthew 2:23 a mistake?

IS MATTHEW 2:23 A MISTAKE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.” This has been—and still is—a very difficult verse for so many. For some time, this Scripture puzzled me as well. Thankfully, a friend in the ministry pointed out to me a very simple word. Again, dear friends, we need not complicate God’s Word. Just read the verse and believe it! But, by all means, read the verse first instead of the commentaries people have written about the verse. Chances are they have never thoughtfully read God’s precious words. They read the verse after being blinded by church tradition and “theological scholarship!”

One well-meaning Bible commentator proposed some very ridiculous “insight” into Matthew 2:23. He pointed out that Bible critics revel in this “erroneous verse.” (His reckless commentary on the subject just fueled their hatred for God’s Word, sadly). Firstly, he said that there is no corresponding Old Testament quote. He is correct. We can search Genesis through Malachi in vain and not find a single reference to the prophecy of Matthew 2:23. Secondly, Nazareth did not exist in in the times of the Old Testament prophets. As far as we know, he is again correct. So, what made his comments wrong?

The commentator picked apart the King James rendition of Zephaniah 1:14. He argued that this verse is very difficult for Old Testament scholars to translate in a “meaningful” way: “The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly.” (Is that really that hard to understand, friends?! Call me crazy, but I think the King James translators had more sense about what the verse meant than the dear bellyaching brother! Let me proceed explaining.)

This commentator pointed out that the words “even” and “man” are not in the original Hebrew text, so they could be removed from the English translation. Additionally, he disliked the King James’ word “cry” and wanted to use “roar” instead. Then he rehashed typical scholastic nonsense: “A very slight change in the pointing of the Hebrew characters on the word translated ‘bitterly’ could then render a word close to the word ‘Nazarite,’ or ‘Nazarene,’ thereby ‘fulfilling’ Matthew 2:23.” This commentator, who was known for defending the integrity of the Bible, defending it from its critics, finally conceded that the ancient Hebrew copyists may have made a “slight error” in copying Zephaniah 1:14. The scholarly explanation he offered allegedly superseded the Holy-Spirit-filled copyists. And, let us read the slipshod translation he offered in conclusion: “a thunderous voice roaring on the day of the Lord: ‘The Nazarene is the mighty one!’” (And he had the gall to start off by saying Zephaniah 1:14 was “difficult?” How about now that he “made it clearer?!”)

Like I said, this brother meant well, but sincerity does not always equal verity. In this case, he removed the precious words of God and inserted his fallible ‘scholarly’ opinions. Quite frankly, he did not know what he was talking about. He should have just kept silent and studied his Bible more before giving ammunition to the critics. We will not stand before this man in judgment one day, or any other “scholar;” we will give an account to the Lord Jesus Christ according to the wording of the Bible text that He prefers (Romans 14:10-12; 1 Corinthians 4:4-5). If we are going to be Bible believers, we had better believe the Bible and not fallible man!

Please re-read Matthew 2:23: “And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.” Do you know the difference between “spoken” and “written?” I sure hope so, my friend! Matthew never said it was “written” in the Old Testament Scriptures. Actually, he said it was spoken by” the Old Testament prophets. There were both writing prophets and preaching prophets in the Old Testament economy. Elijah and Elisha were two speaking prophets, though they never wrote any Scripture as best as we can tell. Daniel preached the Bible and wrote part of the Bible. So did Ezekiel, Isaiah, and Zechariah. If Matthew wrote “which was written in the prophets,” then that would be a mistake, and the Bible critic would finally have proven the Bible to be wrong. But, the Bible writer was meticulous and the Bible critic was careless. Some Old Testament preaching prophets spoke of Messiah being a Nazarene, coming out of Nazareth. That was the spoken word rather than the written word. (See our study at the end of this article about the so-called “mistake” of Matthew 27:9, another favorite of Bible critics and textual critics.)

COULD THE PROPHETS HAVE FOREKNOWN NAZARETH?

It is not hard to believe that the Old Testament prophets of the LORD God would prophesy of a place not yet in existence. They are prophets, men speaking on behalf of God, and He is the God who knows the future, yes? Furthermore, did not Isaiah predict King Cyrus’ name centuries before he was born (Isaiah 44:28–45:1)? Was not King Josiah’s name predicted many years before he was born (1 Kings 13:2)? And Jesus (Luke 1:31) and John the Baptist (Luke 1:13) were named before their births, right? There are various geographical places in the Bible that we cannot identify with certainty. It is not a testament to the Bible’s inaccuracy, but rather manifests the limits of present-day historical, archaeological, and geographical thought. Something to think about, my beloved readers! Just maybe give the Bible the benefit of the doubt before you toss it away to pick up a “scholar’s” commentary!

Also see:
» Is Matthew 27:9 a mistake?
» Do Acts 9:7 and Acts 22:9 contradict each other?
» Why does the Bible give two accounts of Judas’s death?

Is Matthew 27:9 a mistake?

IS MATTHEW 27:9 A MISTAKE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The Bible critic is always eager to find a “mistake” in Scripture. Take Matthew 27:9, for example: “[9] Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; [10] And gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me.” Immediately, the Bible critic says, “Matthew attributes the quote to Jeremiah when it was really Zechariah who wrote it!” It appears to be very embarrassing for the Bible believer indeed. But, if we look closely, it is the Bible critic, not the believer, who should be nervous. The Bible critic misread the verse!

* * *

AN INTERESTING STORY

A few years ago, I spoke with a seminary-trained Doctor-of-Philosophy pastor about his error-filled Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece (the Greek N.T. from which modern English versions are translated). He was quite startled that someone—half his age and half his education—had given him a friendly warning that his Greek Bible was unsound. I approached him in a very cordial manner. He was equally friendly… at first, anyway.

As our discussion moved from introductory remarks to “deeper things,” I took his Greek Bible and found Mark 1:2. While I did not know much Greek at the time, I was able to navigate through it and find what I needed. It claimed that Isaiah the prophet had written the quote. I told him that his so-called “bible” was not true. We could search Isaiah and not find that quote. Malachi the prophet had written the quote, so we could find that quote in Malachi. Mark 1:3 was from Isaiah, but verse 2 was from Malachi. Even the marginal notes supported my comments. I told him that we had two options: (1) The Holy Spirit had made a mistake when moving Mark to write his Gospel record, or (2) Our book of Isaiah was incomplete because it was missing the verse that Mark claimed Isaiah had written. Furthermore, I pointed out that the King James Bible—and its underlying Greek text (Majority Text / Textus Receptus)—had the correct reading for Mark 1:2—“the prophets” (as in Malachi and Isaiah).

His rebuttal was three-fold: (1) “So you are a ‘Textus Receptus / Majority Text’ man?,” (2) “We do not even have what Mark wrote anyway!”, and (3) “If Mark 1:2 is wrong, then Matthew 27:9 is wrong too!” (What else do we expect from someone who spent years in Bible cemetery being taught by unbelieving “scholars?”) Friends, his point was to make his Greek New Testament not seem so bad. Of course, I was not the least bit surprised that some “Jesus-loving, Bible-believing-and-preaching, Evangelical/Protestant, scholarly” (?) pastor was not open to correction. He had been so polluted by “higher education” that he cleverly attacked the very Book he claimed to honor and preach at his local church! Let us evaluate the claims of the “good doctor,” and see if he was, along with his other Bible critic friends, correct in condemning Matthew 27:9 as “a mistake.” (We will talk about Mark 1:2 later in this study.)

OUR CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF MATTHEW 27:9

Matthew chapter 27: “[5] And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. [6] And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. [7] And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. [8] Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. [9] Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; [10] And gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me.”

Like the seminary-trained preacher or Bible teacher, the unbelieving Bible critic will gleefully point out that “Jeremy” (Greek form of the Hebrew, Jeremiah) did not write anything like Matthew 27:9-10. In fact, the critic revels in the fact that the quote is really from the book of Zechariah. Certainly, Zechariah 11:12-13 reads similarly to Matthew 27:9-10. Certainly, nothing similar can be found in the book of Jeremiah. So why did Matthew credit Jeremiah (Jeremy) when it was really Zechariah wrote it? You do not need a theology degree to understand it, my friend!

Friend, let me ask you a question a small child could answer. Is there a difference between the word “speaking” and the word “writing?” Is talking in an audible voice the same as using a writing instrument to pen something on paper? Of course not! Bible critics do not use such common sense when evaluating the Bible. Matthew never claimed that Jeremiah (Jeremy) “wrote” the expression! Please read Matthew 27:9, this time very carefully: “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet,….” If this verse read, “written by Jeremy the prophet,” certainly the Bible would have a mistake. But, the verse said that Jeremy “spoke” the prophecy. Jeremiah lived over a half-century before Zechariah. Whatever God the Holy Spirit led Jeremiah to preach audibly, He did not lead Jeremiah to write in his book (Jeremiah). During Zechariah’s preaching and writing ministry years later, the Holy Spirit moved him to write in his book, Zechariah, the prophecy that Jeremiah preached audibly decades earlier. Zechariah actually put the prophecy down in writing. Jeremiah merely communicated it using his voice years earlier. Bear with me as I explain the logic behind this a bit further.

Re-reading Matthew 27:7-10: “[7] And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. [8] Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. [9] Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; [10] And gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me.”

The price for which Judas betrayed Jesus, was not written in Jeremiah’s day. Jeremiah audibly preached this prophecy about 600 B.C. but he did not write it down. Many decades later, the Holy Spirit moved Zechariah to write what Jeremiah had preached earlier. Hence, Matthew attributes the quote to Jeremiah rather than to Zechariah. In fact, a careful reading of Zechariah 11:12-13 shows us that it is not quoted word-for-word in Matthew 27:9-10. Matthew is really quoting the audible words of Jeremiah, which the Holy Spirit had brought to Matthew’s mind.

Let me show you Zechariah 11:12-13: “[12] And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. [13] And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD.” And, again, Matthew 27:9-10, for sake of comparison: “[9] Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; [10] And gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me.

Zechariah 11:12-13 is JEHOVAH God speaking to Zechariah, that He later had Zechariah write. Matthew 27:9-10, however, is what Jeremiah preached audibly and the Holy Spirit did not move him to write it down.

THE READING OF MATTHEW 27:9 IN NO WAY JUSTIFIES THE ERRONEOUS READING OF NESTLE-ALAND IN MARK 1:2

For the modern-version users and their companion “Nestle-Aland-Greekophiles,” to flee to Matthew 27:9-10 to justify the error in Mark 1:2 in their manuscripts and versions, is futile. They are comparing two unrelated cases of handling Old Testament quotes. Their explanation is just as dishonest as their texts. They are comparing “apples to oranges.” Let me show you.

In both the King James Bible (and its underlying Textus Receptus) and the modern English versions (and their underlying Nestle-Aland Critical Text), the term in Mark 1:2 is “written.”

King James: “As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.”

NIV: “as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way’—”

The NIV, the other modern versions, and their underlying manuscripts claim that Isaiah did not merely speak that prophecy. They declare Isaiah wrote the prophecy. This is 100 percent wrong, no matter what language we speak or write. You can search the book of Isaiah in every language for the rest of eternity, and never—in the King James manuscripts or some other manuscript—find anything like Mark 1:2 in it. Isaiah never wrote, “Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.”

Our “hard-to-read, archaic, unscholarly” King James Bible has the correct reading. Mark is quoting two prophets. Verse 2 is from Malachi (3:1) and verse 3 is from Isaiah (40:3). Tell me, my friend, does “Malachi + Isaiah = Isaiah?” Then why do the modern versions have this glaring error? Because they are looking at worthless manuscript readings, not so much interested in getting the right reading but rather the reading their unbelieving minds prefer. No lost person wants God’s Word to read correctly anyway. They want to discredit it, silence its condemning voice, ease their consciences, et cetera. They want to be their own authority so they plan on never submitting to a mere book, especially God’s Book!!!! (To use a little common sense and say “Malachi + Isaiah = the prophets” means admitting the King James Bible is proven superior with just one verse, and their “prestigious versions they translated” are manifested as completely worthless! These “scholars” have been touting their modern Alexandrian Critical Text as superior to the King James, and they have no interest in admitting they have been wrong for all these centuries. They have more modern versions to produce from that corrupt Greek New Testament so they can have more products to $ell the public.)

CONCLUSION

Since Zechariah 11:12-13 and Matthew 27:9-10 read differently, that demonstrates to me that Matthew was not actually quoting Zechariah’s writing but rather Jeremiah’s (audible) preaching. Other than Matthew 27:9-10, there is no authoritative record as to what the Prophet Jeremiah preached about the 30 pieces of silver and the potter’s field (predicting Jesus Christ’s betrayal). Matthew 27:9 is vindicated and the “scholarly” critic is found defenseless. He or she once again is forced to admit that Mark 1:2 is wrong in his or her Critical Text and modern perversions! The unbelieving lost Bible critics will just have to keep searching for “mistakes,” because Matthew 27:9 is not one of them!

Also see:
» Is Matthew 2:23 a mistake?
» Do Acts 9:7 and Acts 22:9 contradict each other?
» Why does the Bible give two accounts of Judas’s death?

Can we witness “too much” to family members?

CAN WE WITNESS “TOO MUCH” TO FAMILY MEMBERS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Once, a concerned grace believer, the wife of a grace-believing man, told me how she and her husband were never invited to most family functions. She explained that their family members would joke, “Uh oh, here comes [the man’s name], and all he is going to talk to us about is God and the Bible.” The family had evidently grown tired of his “sermons” and they just decided not to invite him and his wife to their get-togethers altogether. Furthermore, she told me that she would sometimes urge him not speak to them so much about the Bible. This way, they could spend more time with their families without all the estrangement and opposition. I shared some verses with her to better understand and better address their dilemma. There are many grace people who have experienced, or are currently experiencing, similar shunning. It would greatly help you, our readers, if we took an opportunity to provide counsel in that regard.

Unfortunately, there is very little moderation concerning Christian witnessing. On one extreme, there are Christians who do not witness at all. They so dread approaching people about the Bible. In fact, they do not know what to say if the occasion ever arose to speak up anyway. They just stay quiet, assuming it is their pastor’s job to share the Gospel. On the other extreme, there are Christians who force the Gospel down lost people’s throats. They talk excessively about the Gospel/Bible when their audience has exhibited great opposition to, or no interest in, what is being said. Dear friends, there must be a balance. We should not be ashamed to speak of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Yet, we must also understand free will and not waste our time with unconcerned people.

Friends, I must be completely honest with you. I will be honest in love. There comes a point in time when we must say nothing about the Bible to certain individuals. I know firsthand that this is especially tricky regarding family members and close friends. These people are very dear to us, but the Bible and Jesus Christ are also very dear to us, and we do not want to disrespect either party. We need to be particularly careful here. This cannot be stressed enough. I think it best to tell you about how I handle my ministry when it comes to family and friends, and you can use that counsel and your own judgment to form your reactions to your family and friends.

Permit me to tell you about my own dealings with family members and close friends. A good majority of them have heard something from me about the Bible. I have spent hours talking with some of them about Scripture. These all responded with varying degrees of interest. With others, I have only shared snippets of Bible concepts and a few basic verses. These precious people showed no interest in light Bible discussion and those few verses, so I do not mention the Bible in their presence anymore. I will not waste my breath, especially about deeper spiritual things. They have reached the point where I will not utter one precious word of God unless they ask me. They know where to come if they need help with understanding the Bible. I can do nothing more.

Let me tell you a little bit about how I dealt (and still deal) with high school and college classmates (some of whom are still my friends). Once, I had an online “religious” discussion with a high school classmate whom I had known for many years. As our conversation progressed, he began to get increasingly distant, so I ended it. Some time later, another classmate explained to me how he had told her, “Shawn tried to force his religion on me.” In actuality, if I were “forcing” my “religion” on him, why did he not leave the conversation sooner? That was almost 10 years ago. I have not spoken to him since. He avoids me every time he sees me in public and I never go out of my way to chase him down and greet him. If he wants to act like that, that is his prerogative. I have better things to do with my time than hunt down people. There are plenty more people I can interact with who are more worthy of my company.

Years ago, on a field trip, a college classmate who knew my stand on spiritual matters, asked me without me ever saying a word to him, “Is [a certain behavior] a sin?” That completely startled me because he seemed to be such a Bible skeptic or “religious person turned agnostic!” He had never asked me anything like that before, and has not asked me anything about the Bible since. Still, I certainly took advantage of that inquiry and answered him with Bible verses. Never once did I force anything on this man, and he knew exactly where to come if he sought Bible understanding. He still sees my posts on Facebook, and while I have not heard from him in a few years, my door is always open for him to enter and ask again!

A couple hundred of my high school and college classmates are friends with me on Facebook. They have been seeing thousands of my Bible posts for several years now—nine years, actually. The door is open to all of them, and I hear from a few on occasion! Some have been receptive to Scripture while others have been openly against. There are some who are saved unto eternal life, but very antagonistic to dispensational Bible study. Others are still lost and going to hell, content in their state. I have spoken with them in person in the past, and even online now that we have moved apart physically, but unless I hear from them, I do not engage in spiritual discussions with them. Some of these individuals have scientific backgrounds such as myself, and I have learned that intellectualism has gripped and polluted their minds. They know where I stand and I know where they stand. We get along by discussing things that we agree on. I never set aside Jesus Christ for anybody, but I will force Jesus Christ on nobody!

We have a dear Christian sister in the ministry whose late husband was a Bible teacher. She has passed on his wisdom to me, and I would be happy to pass it on to you now. This man, having been delivered Evolutionary Theory and a religious cult, he loved to talk to others about the Bible, especially creation science. While I was not present, I am sure that he practically drove some people “up the wall” with his Bible-verse quoting. One day, he came to realize that this was not ideal. So, he zipped his lips and said nothing about the Bible to anyone. It was not long after that that a man came along to ask him a Bible question. And, he began to share the Bible with this inquisitive man. I have adopted this late brother’s method. Once I have introduced the Bible to family and friends, and they did not show interest, I say nothing now unless they ask. They cannot accuse me of forcing anything, twisting their arms, making them angry with God’s Word, and so on.

We read a helpful verse in Proverbs chapter 22: “Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease” (verse 10). Those in your family who overtly mock the Bible, who refuse to hear anything about it, it is best to stay silent about Scripture in their presence. You will save yourself arguing and fighting, I can assure you. Or, Proverbs 15:2: “The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.” The wise and mature Christian will know when it is appropriate to say something to someone about the Bible, and when it is best to say nothing about the Bible. Remember, Proverbs 29:1: “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” The more you share the Bible with someone who refuses to hear it, the harder he or she will get inside and the more resistant he or she will become (remember Pharaoh and Moses?). Please do not exhaust your connections with them unless it is about a Bible topic of prime importance (especially salvation and the Gospel of Grace). Finally, Proverbs 15:10: “Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die.” There are people who do not want to hear the truth because they hate the truth and the ways of God. You need to let them stay with what they want to have—error and spiritual destruction! That is a harsh reality but the Bible says it and we obey it.

WHEN TO SAY AND WHEN QUIET TO STAY

Religious matters are very personal and there are great emotional attachments to personages, books, and ideas. If you have not already learned this firsthand, I will tell you right now. When you talk about Jesus Christ and His finished crosswork as the only way to heaven, you will get some people very angry. To say that their relatives died and went to hell, that “Mama and Daddy, Grandpa and Grandma, were wrong in their works-religion,” that is extremely disturbing to hear even though it is true.

When you talk about the King James Bible as the perfect and authoritative Bible version for English-speaking people, you will get some prideful rebuttals and hear and read some vicious remarks. “Oh, how could Pastor/Doctor So-and-So have been so wrong in recommending this Bible if it really is fallible and worthless?”

When you talk about Paul’s special ministry to us Gentiles, you are likely to get kicked out of your local church assembly and maybe even your family gatherings. “We follow Jesus not Paul. You make Paul out to be God!” You will be cursed out, yelled at, ridiculed for “believing and teaching heresy,” slandered for being a “cult member,” and so on. It is going to be especially painful when such opposition comes from your own family members and close friends. Brother or sister, you must prepare yourself for that opposition, and not get discouraged. I tell you this now so that you are not startled when it occurs. Keep on! Never give up!

Christian friend, you should attempt to reach every family member and every close friend at least once with the Gospel of Grace, the King James Bible, and Paul’s special ministry. (Not all of these topics at once, of course, but preferably in this order.) After you have introduced the Gospel and that individual rejects it, you need not proceed with King James Bible authority and Paul’s ministry. Unless the person is saved, you getting into the deeper things of God will quickly become futile. If ever that person resumes the conversation with you, try to start again with the Gospel of Grace and proceed to the King James Bible and Paul’s special ministry. If that person does not ask you, or does not mention these topics first, stay quiet! It may be days, weeks, months, years, or even decades that you have to stay silent about the Bible with them. However, please do it for their sakes. You can sense when they want to hear something from you and when they just want to argue with you. Again, do not exhaust your connections with them by hounding them with the Bible. Additionally, do not get into the deep things of the Bible if they are resistant to simple verses.

As time goes by, you are going to learn which family members want to hear and believe the Gospel of Grace. While they may receive that information, they are not necessarily going to receive the King James Bible and Paul’s special ministry. In time, you will have to avoid those topics when visiting with these Christian relatives. (Like I said, this is spoken from experience.)

POSSIBLE TOPICS AS ALTERNATIVES TO GOD AND THE BIBLE

So, what topics to discuss when dealing with lost relatives who have already told you they are not interested in the Bible? Talk about the weather. Talk about your job. Talk about how your day is going. Talk about a book you are reading or a quality television program you watched recently. Talk about your spouse and your children (if applicable). Ask them how they have been, ask them about their job, ask them what they have been doing lately, ask them about their spouse or their children (if applicable), et cetera. I always mention documentaries to people, or new electronic gadgets that I have purchased or read about. Because I am a scientist, I enjoy telling people about science, especially geology and astronomy, and also geography. Sometimes, I will mention news items to people. I tell them what I have been up to, what my plans or goals are, what books I have read in the past few days, and so on.

SOME FINAL WORDS

Yes, friend, we can witness “too much” to family members. When we see how Jesus Christ and His followers shared God’s Word with others, there came a point where they stopped talking to certain individuals. We need to mindful of reaching that limit. Try to reach as many loved ones with God’s Word as you can, but there will come a point when the vast majority will begin to “drift” from you. You will notice it, especially if you are a new Christian having just had a drastic life transformation. When you observe someone growing antagonistic against God’s Word, you have reached your limit, and it is time to move on! On future occasions with them, you need not say anything else about Scripture unless they say something first. For more advice on this topic, please see our related studies linked below.

Also see:
» How long should I keep witnessing to the same person?
» If God knows who will serve Him and who won’t, why witness?
» Why did Jesus forbid others from preaching that He was Christ?

Do we have guardian angels?

DO WE HAVE GUARDIAN ANGELS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Christian people frequently talk about “guardian angels.” These spirit beings supposedly keep us safe. Popular “Christian” songs refer to angels watching over us. Sometimes, angels are said to appear to relay God’s messages to us. Others say that we can pray for angels to intervene and heal our sick bodies. Some are silly enough to suggest that their guardian angels move vehicles out of the way so they can get a nice parking space close to the store building! What are we to believe? Friends, we need to allow God’s Spirit to take His Word and teach us, rather than letting some church tradition or human philosophy guide us concerning spiritual matters. To the Bible rightly divided—that is what we need to believe!

There is no question that angels exist. The Bible makes reference to them over 250 times. There is no question that God sends angels to aid believers. Here are some more of the well known verses that talk about them:

  • “The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them” (Psalm 34:7).
  • “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone” (Psalm 91:11-12).
  • “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10).
  • “And they said unto her, Thou art mad [crazy]. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel” (Acts 12:15).
  • “But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Hebrews 1:13-14).

Throughout the Old Testament, angels protected and guided the nation Israel (Exodus 23:20,23; Exodus 33:2; Judges 6:11,12; 2 Kings 19:35; et al.). There are scores of verses that speak of “guardian angels.” But do we have guardian angels today, in our Dispensation of Grace?

Angels ministered to Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry (Matthew 4:11; Luke 22:43). Angels rescued the imprisoned apostles (Acts 5:18-26) and delivered the Apostle Peter from prison (Acts 12:1-11). Yet, when we come to our Apostle Paul (Romans 11:13), God uses an earthquake—not an angel—to free him from prison (Acts 16:23-28). Why? Notice what Paul writes about angels today. They should not be worshipped (Colossians 2:18) and that, if a supposed “angel” appears to us today, it would do so only to deceive by preaching to us a false gospel (Galatians 1:8; cf. 2 Corinthians 11:14). But, Paul’s epistles are silent about guardian angels in our Dispensation of Grace. This is why right division (2 Timothy 2:15), dispensational Bible study, is so important. We are not guaranteed physical protection with angels like God promised Israel, but we Christians have some better: we have eternal spiritual protection because the indwelling Holy Spirit is guarding our souls (Ephesians 1:13-14; Ephesians 4:30; cf. Romans 8:35-39). Think of all the Christians who died in automobile accidents, shootings, stabbings, executions—where were their guardian angels? They did not have any, friend! Save yourself from the disappointment, believing in something that God is not doing today. If we have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ exclusively as our personal Saviour, no matter what happens to our physical bodies, our souls are in Jesus Christ and they will go to heaven.

Furthermore, Paul writes that, while angels have no ministry to us today, we have a ministry to them! The angels are curious about what God is doing, so they learn this by watching us, the Church the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 4:9; 1 Corinthians 11:10; 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 Timothy 5:21). Smile, they are watching! (For more info, see our study linked at the end of this article.)

By the way, as mentioned earlier, Hebrews 1:14 is a common “proof text” for guardian angels in our dispensation. However, this verse has a context, and it is the book of Hebrews—this is speaking of future Israel. Again, Paul’s epistles are clear. We do not need angels today—they need us.

Also see:
» Are angels really watching us?
» Did God give angels free will as He gave to mankind?
» How is mankind “lower than the angels?”

Who is “the Israel of God” of Galatians 6:16?

WHO IS “THE ISRAEL OF GOD” OF GALATIANS 6:16?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The Bible says in Galatians 6:15-16: “[15] For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. [16] And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.” Who is “the Israel of God” here? Is it the nation Israel, or the Church the Body of Christ? We will look at the context and let the Bible interpret itself.

Recently, I was flipping through a study Bible that a friend had given me. The author is a famous Bible teacher and seminarian who talks about “grace” but actually knows very little about it. His footnote for Galatians 6:16 was: “Israel of God. All Jewish believers in Christ, i.e., those who are both physical and spiritual descendants of Abraham (see notes on 3:7,18; Rom. 2:28,29; 9:6-7).” Strangely, his introductory remarks for the book of Galatians included the following: “Finally, many claim that Paul erased the line between Israel and the church when he identified the church as the ‘Israel of God’ (6:16).” This typifies the nonsense prevalent in scholarly circles. That Bible teacher complained about the “interpretative challenges” of people who blur the distinctions between Israel and the Church the Body of Christ… and he did it himself throughout his own study Bible!

Years ago, before I came to understand dispensational Bible study, when I was still a denominational Christian, I assumed that we believers were members of whatever group of believers the 12 apostles had joined. I assumed that the church present in Acts chapter 2 was continuing even to our present-day. So many people in Christendom share that view (see the above study Bible notes). This “one-church-in-the-Bible” idea—this “New Testament Church” idea—only blurs the distinction between the nation Israel and the Church the Body of Christ. The term “New Testament Church” is a very poor term because it hides the fact that there are two “churches in the “New Testament” Scriptures. There is the nation Israel and then there is the Church the Body of Christ. To adopt the term “New Testament Church” is to do what so many have done—blur Israel and the Body of Christ.

If we say that the Apostles Peter and Paul preached to and taught the same group of believers, then we have a major problem that will never, ever be solved. Why? Because Peter preached one thing and Paul preached another thing. Just go read Galatians chapter 2, friend. You would have to want to miss it to miss it. To say Peter and Paul preached the same message, when verses tell us otherwise, we would be forced to say that God is most definitely the author of confusion. For God to tell the same group of people two different sets of information is an absurd notion. Peter and Paul were not leading the same church or group of believers, which is why they taught different doctrine. There was the Messianic Church (redeemed Israel, destined for God’s earthly kingdom) and then there was the Church the Body of Christ (believing Jews and Gentiles, destined for God’s heavenly program). Okay, well, enough with the introduction. Now, to the question at hand.

“THE ISRAEL OF GOD”

We must understand the context of the book of Galatians if we are to understand that term “the Israel of God” in Galatians 6:16. Galatians seems to be Paul’s earliest epistle, written between Acts chapters 15 and 17. After all, Paul wrote Galatians partly because of the apostolic meeting of Acts chapter 15 (compare with Galatians chapter 2). The great Jerusalem Council—where James, Peter, and John met with Paul and Barnabas—was the opportunity for the Messianic Church in Jerusalem to learn of a new body of believers that God had been forming using Paul’s ministry and Gospel message. In addition to God having born-again Israel, He was now, with Paul’s ministry, forming a body of believers in which there was neither Jew nor Gentile. That “new creature” is called the Church the Body of Christ. In time past, God had made the distinction between Jews and Gentiles. See Romans 15:8, John 4:22, Romans 9:4-5, Matthew 15:24, and Ephesians 2:11-12, just to name a few verses.

Now, Galatians 6:15 says there is no difference in the Body of Christ between Jew and Gentile. The Little Flock, Israel’s believing remnant—led by James, Peter, and John—had to learn to now get along with this new part of God’s family. With Paul’s ministry, God had reached out to heathen idolaters. Through Jesus Christ’s shed blood, He had washed them and redeemed them! Again, Galatians 6:15-16: “[15] For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. [16] And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.” Those heathen were no longer children of Satan but now the children of God via the Body of Christ (Paul’s ministry and Gospel message). Israel’s Little Flock had to learn this. In Acts chapter 10, Peter had to learn to go to Gentile Cornelius.

But, why does Galatians 6:16 say “the Israel of God.” Friend, there is also an Israel of Satan. Jesus said that the Pharisees were of “[their] father the Devil” (John 8:44). There is an apostate nation of Jewish people who are not born-again. God’s wrath will consume them. They are the tares (weeds) the Devil has sown among the wheat (believing Jews, true Israel). Note “The Parable of the Tares of the Field” in Matthew chapter 13, verse 24: “[24] Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: [25] But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. [26] But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. [27] So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? [28] He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? [29] But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. [30] Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.”

Now, we move on to verses 36-43 for the interpretation: “[36] Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. [37] He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; [38] The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; [39] The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. [40] As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. [41] The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; [42] And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. [43] Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

As Jesus (“the Son of Man;” verse 37) preached the Gospel of the Kingdom—“Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17)—there were Jews who responded to that message by faith. They accepted Jesus as their Messiah-King and were then baptized of John. Matthew 13:38 says they were “the children of the kingdom.” They were “the Little Flock,” the descendants of Abraham who would inherit God’s earthly kingdom (see Luke 12:31-32). In the parable, the believing Jews are called “good seed” and “wheat” (Matthew 13:24-25,38). They are the “Israel of God” referred to in Galatians 6:16. They are called “the foolish nation” in Romans 11:19, the “little flock” in Luke 12:32, and “the remnant according to the election of grace” (Romans 11:5).

However, God the Son was not the only Person operating in Israel. There was Satan, as always, diligently opposing everything God had purposed and was now doing. Satan—which means “Adversary” (synonym for “enemy”) in Hebrew—had “planted” his own minions in Palestine. They were unbelieving/unsaved Jews. Again, as we mentioned, they were people whom Jesus rightly called “children of the devil” (John 8:44). In the parable, Jesus called these hypocrites “tares” (Matthew 13:26). From all outward appearances, they looked and sounded like believing Jews. But, in their hearts, they rejected Jesus Christ, and were thus still dead in Adam and in their sins. Toward the end of the parable, the Lord talked about not gathering the tares lest the wheat be rooted up as well (verses 28,29). “Tares” are “weeds,” and as in the real world, the tares closely resembled the good crop. These unbelievers went to the Temple for worship, they claimed to follow Moses, they quoted the prophets of old, and so on. But, God could look into their hearts and see who had the circumcision inside—that is, the separation from Adam, and eternal life in Jesus Christ—or who just had some physical circumcision without the internal correspondence (see Romans 2:28-29).

Jesus concluded the parable by talking about angels gathering the “tares” (unbelievers) out of Israel’s land and tossing them into eternal hellfire. This will be at the end of the seven-year Tribulation, at the Second Coming of Christ, and just before the establishment of the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ. Note again verses 41-43: “[41] The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; [42] And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. [43] Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

As we can see, not just any descendant of Abraham forms the nation Israel. As Romans chapter 9 explains: “[6] Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: [7] Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. [8] That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. [9] For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son.” According to Genesis chapters 16 and 17, Abraham had two sons—his firstborn, Ishmael (Abraham’s own doing), and then Isaac (God’s promised son). See also Galatians chapter 4, verses 22-31. The Abrahamic Covenant of Genesis 12:1-3 passed to Isaac not Ishmael.

But, Isaac had two sons—twins, Esau and Jacob. The Abrahamic Covenant passed to Jacob not Esau. Romans chapter 9 continues, “[10] And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; [11] (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) [12] It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. [13] As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” Please note that “Jacob” here refers to the nation Israel that came from Jacob, and “Esau” here refers to the Edomites who descended from Esau. Compare Genesis 25:23, God’s word to Rebekah, mother of Esau and Jacob, “two nations are in thy womb.”

In summary, Abraham had two sons—Ishmael and Isaac. Isaac had two sons—Esau and Jacob. But, in God’s purpose and plan for the Earth, Abraham’s “seed” is restricted to Isaac’s descendants and it is restricted even further to Jacob’s descendants (Jacob’s 12 sons). But, it is limited even further—only the born-again descendants of the 12 sons of Jacob. That outward circumcision in the flesh made by hands, was to represent something God wanted to do to each individual Jew on the inside. Only those Jews who have an inward, spiritual circumcision can be used of God. It was more than some outward religious rite but a spiritual issue that the religious rite was to depict. Who is a “true Jew?” Romans 2:28-29 answers: “[28] For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: [29] But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”

The Old Testament had predicted this spiritual condition that God had wanted for each individual Jew. Notice Deuteronomy 10:16: “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.” God repeatedly warned Israel about her need to turn from her wicked ways. Deuteronomy 30:6: “And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.” (This is yet future, after our Dispensation of Grace ends, when Jesus Christ comes back to restore Israel unto Himself; see Romans 11:25-29.)

Note Jeremiah 4:4: “Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.” And Leviticus 26:41, the LORD speaking of Israel’s restoration one day: “And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity:”

Read about how God’s judgment coming on wicked Gentiles will also fall on Israel as well: “[25] Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised; [26] Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart(Jeremiah 9:25-26).

Ezekiel 44:7-9 speaks of “uncircumcised in heart” Gentiles: “[7] In that ye have brought into my sanctuary strangers, uncircumcised in heart, and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in my sanctuary, to pollute it, even my house, when ye offer my bread, the fat and the blood, and they have broken my covenant because of all your abominations. [8] And ye have not kept the charge of mine holy things: but ye have set keepers of my charge in my sanctuary for yourselves. [9] Thus saith the Lord GOD; No stranger, uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary, of any stranger that is among the children of Israel.” And, finally, Stephen’s castigation of unbelieving Israel in Acts 7:51: “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.”

The Lord Jesus’ words in Matthew chapter 21 crystallize it: “[42] Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? [43] Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. [44] And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. [45] And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. [46] But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.” Jesus said that the Pharisees and chief priests, cloaked in their religious “goodness,” would never enter God’s earthly kingdom. They were not to Israel of God. Their hearts were filled with unbelief and Satan’s policy of evil was working in them mightily. Thus, Jesus was quite frank. He would crush them in judgment when He would return at His Second Coming.

Just as there were in the Revelation those Jews “of the synagogue of Satan” (biological descendants of Abraham who did not share his faith), there were Jews in Paul’s day who were biological descendants of Abraham but who did not share his faith. The Holy Spirit was sure to highlight this distinction in Galatians 6:16. It is a theme that runs throughout Scripture, although the actual term is limited to Paul’s epistles.

CONCLUSION

The “Israel of God” of Galatians 6:16 is not the Body of Christ. We have not replaced Israel. We are not a continuation of Israel. When the Bible says “Israel,” it means “Israel.” We take the Bible literally. We do not spiritualize and tell spiritual lies (“the verse means something other than what it says”). “The Israel of God” is the Little Flock, the Jews who will be saved into the kingdom on Earth, the born-again followers (converts) in John the Baptist’s ministry, Christ’s earthly ministry, and the ministry of the 12 apostles in early Acts. God considers them true Israel, “the Israel of God (the Israel He created). That expression is in contradistinction to Satan’s Israel, those unbelieving Jews who claim to be serving God and yet they are un-regenerated (lost), children of the Devil. “The Israel of God has nothing to do with Jewish believers in the Church the Body of Christ and Paul’s ministry. It has nothing to do with us. Friend, leave it where it fits in the Bible timeline and you will not get confused.

*NOTE: Saints, after a two-year delay, we have finally launched our new flagship ministry website, arCGraceMinistries.org! Here, you will find our Statement of Faith, links to all seven of our ministry websites, as well as news items, and information on how to purchase our (new) Bible study booklets now in print!

Also see:
» Was the Church the Body of Christ predicted in John 10:16?
» What does Matthew 21:43 mean?
» Who were the people who followed Christ before Paul?