Monthly Archives: April 2016

If dispensational Bible study is true, how come so few believe it?

IF DISPENSATIONAL BIBLE STUDY IS TRUE, HOW COME SO FEW BELIEVE IT?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Fellow Pauline dispensationalist, if you are asked one question more than any other, it is the following: “If dispensational Bible study is true, why do not more people believe it? Why do so few people attend your church or Bible study group?” (The same dumb question is asked about the King James Bible—“If the KJV is the preserved Word of God, why do so few read it?”) Rather than an inquiry asked by a sincere seeker, this is really an objection meant to intimidate you into silence. The assumption is that since dispensational Bible study is so rare and embraced by so few, it must not be true. If we are not recruiting thousands upon thousands (as in the “mega-churches”), then there must be something wrong with what we are teaching. Are these safe suppositions?

Does the majority ever really determine what is true and what is not? Has truth ever had many adherents? We simply have to look in the Bible and conclude, “No, numbers do not matter when it comes to truth versus error. After all, millions upon millions of people have been wrong about spiritual matters before. Millions upon millions more will be wrong in the future.” But, friend, please do not take my word for it. If the words in the Holy Bible mean anything at all to you, you will see how the God of the Bible has never had the majority on His side. To the Scriptures!

ADAM AND EVE, ALL OF MANKIND, WRONG

Do you know that the whole human race was wrong in human history? Why, go read Genesis chapter 3. Adam and Eve both fell into sin in the Garden of Eden. This “majority” was in fact all of mankind! And, that majority was wrong! What if we stood in the Garden of Eden and said the following? “Why, God, there is nothing wrong with eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. After all, Adam and Eve are doing it!” Of course, just because Adam and Eve were doing it did not make it right. God said not to eat that forbidden fruit; therefore, it was wrong, no matter who believed what or who did what, or how many said what or how many did what. Truth was independent of numbers!

ALL BUT EIGHT, WRONG

We move on to Genesis chapter 6, the time of Noah, about 1,600 years after the Fall of mankind into sin. God told Noah to build an ark, a giant boat, because a global flood was coming. According to verse 6, God gave the world 120 years to prepare for the judgment to fall. During that time, Noah built the ark, and he preached to the world that God’s wrath was coming. Hence, the book of 2 Peter calls Noah “a preacher of righteousness” (2:5). After all that preaching, Noah was able to convert seven souls. Who entered the ark? Genesis 7:13 says Noah, his wife, their three sons, and their three wives came on the ark. Second Peter says eight people were saved from the Great Deluge (2:5). The millions upon millions—if not billions—who refused God’s message through Noah, they all drowned in the floodwaters. Now, if it is appropriate to ask, “How can dispensational Bible study be true if so few believe it?,” it would be just as suitable to ask, “How could a global flood be coming, since only eight believed it?” In all actuality, we would be no different from the scoffers who lived (and died) in Noah’s day.

ALL BUT 7,000, WRONG

During the reign of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, wicked apostates that they were, Baal worship was declared the official state religion of Israel (the Northern Kingdom). In the midst of this national pagan idolatry, the Prophet Elijah had a powerful ministry for JEHOVAH God. The very well known account in 1 Kings chapter 18 involves Elijah conducting a test to prove the prophets of Baal as false. When they are demonstrated to be frauds, their lives are taken in an attempt to right wayward Israel (1 Kings 18:40; cf. Deuteronomy 13:1-11, especially verses 6-11). Jezebel is very upset, and she threatens to take Elijah’s life for disrupting and destroying her religious system. Elijah, scared (relying on the flesh instead of on God), flees and hides in 1 Kings chapter 19. Elijah tells God, “I, even I only, am left” (verse 10). He repeats it in verse 14, “I, even I only, am left.” God tells Elijah, “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him” (verse 18). Paul quotes this in Romans 11:4 to defend the “Israel’s believing remnant” principle he first mentioned in chapter 9. In your own time, you can read the opening verses of chapter 11 to see Israel’s Little Flock. When you think about it, Israel having “7000” believers in Elijah’s day, that was just a remnant. Imagine a whole nation, and only 7,000 people who believed God’s Word!

THE MAJORITY IN ISAIAH’S DAY, WRONG

Even in his day, 700 B.C., the Prophet Isaiah had a difficult time getting people to listen to and believe God’s Word through him. “Who hath believed our report?” (Isaiah 53:1). There was a very small remnant” of believers in Israel when Isaiah began his ministry (Isaiah 1:9). Centuries later, even after Christ performed many miracles before people, “they believed not on him” (John 12:37-38)—John the Apostle quoted Isaiah 53:1 as fulfilled there. Some years later, the Apostle Paul took the verse and applied it to Israel refusing to listen to God’s Word through him during the Acts period (Romans 10:16). We, like the skeptics, could ask, “If Isaiah and Paul were preaching the truth, why did not more people believe it?” (If we are foolish to ask this, we are equally foolish to ask about why so few believe in dispensational Bible study!)

THE LORD JESUS SAID MOST WILL BE WRONG

The famous verses of Matthew 7:13-14: “[13] Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: [14] Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” This is just a common fact throughout the Scripture, just as true today as it was in Noah’s day, or Elijah’s day, or Isaiah’s day, or Jesus’ day, or Paul’s day. It needs no further comment.

MOST IN CHRIST’S EARTHLY MINISTRY, WRONG

Even if you thought the 4,000 and 5,000 miraculously fed were true believers in Jesus, what are these numbers compared to a nation of a few million people? Think about the “Little Flock” (Luke 12:32) of believers in Jesus Christ during the books of Matthew through John. Draw your attention to “little” in “Little Flock.” The Bible is not talking here about millions upon millions of Jewish followers of Christ during the Four Gospels. Paul called this group of believers, continuing in Acts, “a remnant according to the election of grace” (Romans 11:5). “Remnant” is quite a limited amount.

ALL BUT 120 IN JERUSALEM, WRONG

Some of the most famous miracles of Jesus involved the feeding of the 5,000 (Matthew 14:15-21) and the feeding of the 4,000 (Matthew 15:32-38). Think of all these alleged thousands of “believers” in Jesus. However, by the time you reach Acts chapter 1, the Bible says approximately 120 believers are gathered in Jerusalem (verse 15). Where were all those thousands of so-called “disciples?” Why, there were no more free lunches being given out! Furthermore, leading up to Calvary and beyond, there was intense persecution, so they had no interest in following Jesus Christ anymore! Would it have been appropriate to stand in the midst of those 120 and say the following? “How can this message be true that Jesus is Messiah? You are just 120 people. How could the millions of people not here, be wrong?!”

MOST OF ISRAEL IN ACTS, WRONG

Paul the Apostle had come out of the apostasy that had gripped the nation Israel. The Holy Spirit led him to conduct his ministry in a special way during the book of Acts. This unique ministry of Paul during Acts was meant to save “some” Jews from that intense spiritual blindness (Romans 11:14; 1 Corinthians 9:22). Paul knew he would not save many or most. It would be just “some.” If you read the book of Acts from chapter 9 to chapter 28, “some” it was!

ALL OF TURKEY, WRONG

Before God’s apostle of the Gentiles left this planet, he penned in his final epistle: “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes” (2 Timothy 1:15). These Christians did not leave the Lord. Rather, they left the ministry and message that the Lord had given to the Apostle Paul. Before “church history” as we know it began, the Body of Christ (in modern-day Turkey—once a major hotspot for grace doctrine) had already fallen away from God’s spokesman to them! Ephesus (Acts chapter 19), Antioch of Pisidia (Acts chapter 13), Colosse, Lystra and Derbe (Acts chapters 14 and 16), and Galatia (Acts chapters 14 and 18) had once been chief cities and regions in Paul’s ministry in Asia Minor. Now, at the writing of 2 Timothy, his ministry drawing to a close, Asia has fallen away. They have abandoned God’s grace, and returned to the Law, works-religion (1 Timothy 1:3-11). Years earlier, Galatia had had problems with legalism. Now, it has spread to all grace assemblies in Turkey. While there are a few faithful Christians still committed to the grace message in Asia Minor, most believers have fallen into the trap of which the Holy Spirit warned in Acts 20:28-35. The “grievous wolves” have entered in, and they have corrupted God’s people with “perverse things.” The saints had failed to stay true to the doctrine that the Lord Jesus Christ had spoken to them through the Apostle Paul!

SEVEN-BILLION-PLUS, WRONG

There are approximately 7.4 billion people on Earth right now. Only two billion—about 27%—claim to be “Christians.” (If Christianity is true, how could 73% of the world be wrong?!) Of the two billion “Christians,” roughly half are Protestants and half are Roman Catholics. It can be easily proven that Roman Catholicism is a far, far cry from Biblical Christianity: it is so polluted with “human goodness” and “human good works” it has no time for Jesus Christ’s finished work on Calvary. Thus, we can eliminate one billion of those alleged “Christians.” Most of the billion Protestants in the world have no idea of a clear Gospel message, so this billion whittles down to a fraction. If I had to guess, I would say there are no more than about 10 million true members of the Body of Christ on Earth today. Think about it. Ten million out of seven billion. Does that sound like a majority to you? Well, if we want to say that the majority determines truth, according to the majority, Christianity is not true (otherwise, they would be following Christianity)! After all these foregoing comments, do you still want to hold to your “Majority determines truth” rule of thumb? Or, do you want to revise it and say, “When it comes to spiritual things, the majority is usually wrong?”

CONCLUSION

Dear friends, we must always remember that the God of the Bible has never had most of the world following Him. However, He has always had some of the world following Him. When it came to Noah’s preaching, I would have much rather been with the few than with the many! If you want to follow the majority when it comes to spiritual matters, please go right on ahead, but do not expect me to be in your crowd!

Also see:
» Can we witness too much to family members?
» If God knows who will serve Him and who won’t, why witness?
» Is John 20:29 applicable to us today?

Has God’s Word failed?

HAS GOD’S WORD FAILED?

by Shawn Brasseaux

THE (REALLY) BAD NEWS

Notice a Christian minister’s observations from 50 years ago: “The condition of so many denominational churches seems hopeless. If we look only at the visible church we see more parties than prayer-meetings, more suppers and soup sales than revivals, more ‘gimmicks’ than Gospel preaching!… The Church is not in the world to entertain people with carnivals, bazaars, fairs, fish-fries, bingo, and dances in the church basement!” That brother, now in heaven with the Lord, had no idea of the stains and stigmas Christendom would associate itself with in the coming decades. If “so many denominational churches [seemed] hopeless” a half-century ago, what would he say if he were here today in this age of “ecclesiastical entertainment?!”

Indubitably, Christians should be known for a clear Gospel message. In reality, most professing Christians have no idea what the Gospel even is! When people think of “Christians,” they usually think of thousands of confusing denominations. They think of superstitions, fanaticism, scams, foolishness, and so on. They call to memory stained-glass windows, robes, sex scandals, complex prayer patterns, candles, rituals, strict obligations, self-righteousness, jumping and screaming, “judgmentalism,” preachers’ private jets, multi-million-dollar “church” mansions, et cetera. As Christians, we have the greatest message the world has ever known or will ever know, and we are too busy focusing on stupid things—making sure we keep every last church ordinance, paying every last penny to the collection plate, smiling and dancing on stage, hosting parties and ‘worship’ extravaganzas, uttering the prescribed prayers at a certain amount said at the predetermined times of day, traveling with our ‘healing’ campaigns as we grow older and sicker ourselves, and so on. Beloved, no wonder people laugh at the name of “Jesus Christ!” Notice the 40,000-plus groups that claim Him as their Leader. For centuries, these same groups have constantly argued about what He taught and commanded. When people think of “Christians,” they usually think of some political position (here in the United States, the so-called “right-wing nuts” and “paranoid conspiracy theorists who question everything”). No wonder people say, “Hopeless!”

After glancing at the professing “Christian Church” today, the average person—lost or saved—cannot help but conclude God’s Word has failed. Perhaps they would voice it more bluntly with, “Ha! The Bible is ‘God’s Word,’ yeah sure. And just where is this ‘God’ in the ‘Christian Church?’ Where is this ‘God’ in that ‘religion’ claiming to have the ‘absolute truth’ and yet abounds with hypocrites, scams, deep divisions, perverts, shallowness, absurd teachings, charlatans, blind followers of men, fanatics, boring rituals, and wishy-washiness?!” The onlooker sees no reason why he or she should ever pick up a Bible and read it. Millions upon millions upon millions of minds all confused about the Bible, and utterly clueless about what it teaches. Millions upon millions upon millions of hearts discouraged because they have used the Bible and not gotten the results they expected. No wonder people say, “Utterly hopeless!”

You would think that, after 2,000 years of having a completed Bible, the professing “church” would have more spiritual sense than it does. Alas, the vast majority of purported “Christian” groups have no idea what they are doing and no idea what they are expected to believe and do. Talk to them and see what they tell you. Read their literature. Listen to their television and radio programs. Browse their websites. So much loyalty was (and is) given to denominations, so much trust was (and is) given to denominations, and so much money was (and is) given to denominations, there was (and is) literally nothing left to give the Lord Jesus Christ! Religion took their hearts, their minds, their pocketbooks, their time, and one day, they will wake up in hell to realize it took their souls, too. Oh, dear friends, may we be motivated to get off of our behinds and teach God’s Word rightly divided to the ignorant masses! It is not “hopeless.”

THE (REALLY) GOOD NEWS

There are many people angry with God. They should not be. There are many people who are upset with the Bible. They should not be. They need to redirect their anger at sinful man. It is not God’s fault that people use His name to commit evil and dastardly deeds. It is not God’s fault that people have misused His precious words. Do not throw away the Bible simply because somebody does not know how to extract its wisdom. Friend, you go find out how to use the Bible and then rejoice in it, ignoring the people who abuse it. You go and find people who use God’s Word God’s way, and fellowship with them, and learn how to reach others with that clear system of Bible study. Avoid the people who abuse it; do not waste your time with them. There is a remnant of believers, and this proves that God’s Word has not failed. The problem is neither God nor His Word. The problem is sinful man!

Please note the parallel in Romans chapter 9: “[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. [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.”

The above is summarized as follows: The Jews blamed God’s Word for not working. It was a blame-shifting effort to explain what had happened to their nation during the Acts period. Why had Israel fallen? Supposedly, God’s Word was weak, “[it] hath not taken effect” (verse 6). This was not a valid argument. Israel and her program have been set aside, yes, but it was not because God’s Word was ineffectual, unable to do what God intended. The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul proceeded to give evidence as to what was faulty and what was not (verses 6-13). By the way, for a Jew to say that God’s Word was ineffectual meant he or she was completely ignorant of the writings of Moses. God’s spoken Word had caused the Heaven and the Earth to appear out of nothing. “Let there be…” is a phrase common in the first chapter of Genesis. God’s Word always produces what He wants, but, at the same time, God allows man to refuse to participate. (We will look at this later.)

In Romans chapter 9, verse 7 and onward, Paul argues that God’s Word had always produced a remnant of believers in the nation Israel. We can look at Abraham’s son Isaac, Isaac’s son Jacob, and Jacob’s 12 sons (see the verses quoted above). These are the arguments that the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul puts forth in Romans chapter 9. “God’s word is ineffective” is not what caused Israel’s fall and her program’s temporary pause. It was because only a few believed God’s Word. That faithful remnant, that “Little Flock” (Luke 12:32) proved God’s Word does work mightily in people’s lives. The key is to believe that Word of God. First Thessalonians 2:13: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” God’s Word will have an “effect” in your life, it will work in your life. Friend, you just have to “believe” it (trust it with your heart). What if the Christian’s, or the church’s, behavior does not match the Bible? Is it the Bible’s fault? (No.) Is it God’s fault? (No.) The blame is on people. The hearer of God’s Word is not a believer of God’s Word. There is no power of God present because there is no faith.

In a manner similar to what Paul described in Romans chapter 9, there is a remnant of believers today. While there are many professing Christians today (over two billion), the number of actual Christians is much less. Many of these “professing Christians” are nothing more than church members. They have joined the church, they have walked aisles, they have partaken of “the sacraments,” they have confessed their sins, they have groveled before pulpits, they have given to charities, and that is all. There was no passing from death to life, no trusting Jesus Christ as personal Saviour. While there is a mental assent, they have no heart belief in that fact that Jesus Christ died for their sins, He was buried to put away those sins, and He was raised again to give them life (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Rather, they “went through the religious motions” and are no better than before. Again, this is no surprise. They have not believed God’s Word. This is why there is no real divine power in their lives. This is why there is no Holy Spirit working in them to produce the life of Jesus Christ.

Dear friends, we must always remember that the God of the Bible has never had most of the world following Him. However, He has always had some of the world following Him. Perhaps the clearest, best example of “the remnant” in Scripture is Noah, “the eighth person” (2 Peter 2:5). Imagine that. Eight people on the whole planet believed God’s Word at the time of the Great Flood! God’s Word certainly did not fail. It could, and did, save eight. The eight souls who wanted to believe. What about the others? The rest of the world’s population at the time—millions upon millions—could not care less about God’s warning. They perished in a watery grave, and woke up in hellfire!

Think about the Prophet Elijah’s ministry. During the reign of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, wicked apostates that they were, Baal worship was declared the official state religion of Israel (the Northern Kingdom). In the midst of this national pagan idolatry, Elijah had a powerful ministry for JEHOVAH God. The very well known account of 1 Kings chapter 18 involves Elijah conducting a test to prove the prophets of Baal as frauds. When they are demonstrated to be liars, their lives are taken in an attempt to right wayward Israel (1 Kings 18:40; Deuteronomy 13:1-11, especially verses 6-11). Jezebel, very upset, threatens to take Elijah’s life for disrupting and ruining her religious system. Elijah, scared (relying on the flesh instead of on God), flees and hides in 1 Kings chapter 19. Elijah tells God, “I, even I only, am left” (verse 10). He repeats it in verse 14, “I, even I only, am left.” God tells Elijah, “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him” (verse 18). Paul quotes this in Romans 11:4 to defend the “Israel’s-believing-remnant” principle he first mentioned in chapter 9. In your own time, you can read the opening verses of chapter 11 to see Israel’s Little Flock. When you think about it, Israel having “7000” believers in Elijah’s day, that was indeed just a remnant. A nation, Israel, with a population of several million, and only 7000 people believed God’s Word! But, at least those few believed!

The Word of God has certainly not failed. I cannot speak for anyone else, but I know that am saved from sin, death, and hell today. God’s righteousness has been imputed to my account, once and forever. I am sure that Jesus Christ has reserved a spot for me in heaven—either He did enough, or not. On the basis of my works, there is certainly no hope for me, so I am not even going to attempt working to heaven. God’s Word has made a difference in my life in the 20-plus years since I trusted Christ as my personal Saviour. So again, God’s Word has not failed me. I could say the same about countless others who I know. They too are members of the Church the Body of Christ, children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. They too have forgiveness of sins and will play a role one day in God’s restoration of heaven unto Himself. The problem is not that God’s Word has failed. The problem is that the world has failed to apply God’s Word. Indeed, God’s Word did not fail. Rather, people failed to use God’s Word God’s way.

Think about your own testimony. Somehow, beyond belief, the Gospel of the Grace of God reached you, friend. Somehow, despite all the odds, dispensational Bible study reached you. There were faithful Christians somewhere who, many years ago, treasured and loved God’s Word so much that they made sure it reached us today. Go back 400 years. Our King James Bible translators were ever so diligent and faithful in rendering God’s words in modern English, so we could have them and enjoy them today. To those people, it looked “hopeless.” Yet, Christianity survived to reach us today, 400 years ago—nay, 20 centuries after Jesus Christ’s blood was shed on Calvary for our sins.

We read JEHOVAH God telling Israel in Isaiah 55:11: “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” As we noted earlier, God’s Word has all the power that went into the creation of the universe from nothing. As it prospered with “Let there be…” so it will flourish even today. Because of man’s free will, sinners are not always going to be converted. Still, the Bible will convict them and show them their need for salvation from sin.

Colossians 1:5-6 is one example of sinners converted from satanic bondage and slavery to sin: “[5] For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; [6] Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:” Make no mistake, the Gospel of Grace will do its work. We just need to get it out there, friends. (Some faithful saints from the time of the writing of Colossians, all the way up to the 21st century, passed on that Gospel so we could have it today. We need to do the same for future generations!)

Even in his day, 700 B.C., the Prophet Isaiah had a difficult time getting people to listen to and believe God’s Word spoken and written through him. “Who hath believed our report?” (Isaiah 53:1). There was “a very small remnant” of believers in Israel when Isaiah began his ministry (Isaiah 1:9). Centuries later, even after Christ performed many miracles before people, “they believed not on him” (John 12:37-38)—John the Apostle quoted Isaiah 53:1 as fulfilled there. Some years later, the Apostle Paul took the verse and applied it to Israel refusing to listen to God’s Word through him during the Acts period (Romans 10:16). What was the problem? Over and over and over, it was never God’s Word at fault. The problem was the audience did not believe the Word of God spoken to them!

The nation Israel was largely apostate when Paul began his ministry in early Acts. After all, he, as Saul of Tarsus, had come out of that spiritual blindness himself. One of the Lord’s goals for Paul’s ministry was to save Jews from their apostate nation (as he himself had once been saved). It was always forefront in Paul’s mind that he would never be able to convert many or most. He admitted twice that he conducted his ministry in such a way so it would “save some of them [lost Jews]” (Romans 11:14, 1 Corinthians 9:22).

We call to memory the Lord Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:13-14: “[13] Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: [14] Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” This is just a common fact throughout the Scripture, just as true today as it was in Noah’s day, or Isaiah’s day, or Jesus’ day, or Paul’s day. It needs no further comment.

Before God’s apostle of the Gentiles left this planet, he penned in his final epistle: “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes” (2 Timothy 1:15). These Christians did not leave the Lord. Rather, they left the ministry and message that the Lord had given the Apostle Paul. Friends, before “church history” as we know it began, the Body of Christ (in modern-day Turkey—once a major hotspot for grace doctrine) had already fallen away from God’s spokesman to them! Ephesus (Acts chapter 19), Antioch of Pisidia (Acts chapter 13), Colosse, Lystra and Derbe (Acts chapters 14 and 16), and Galatia (Acts chapters 14 and 18) had once been chief cities and regions in Paul’s ministry in Asia Minor. Now, at the writing of 2 Timothy, his ministry and earthly life drawing to a close, Asia has fallen away. They have abandoned God’s grace, and returned to the Law, works-religion (1 Timothy 1:3-11). Years earlier, Galatia had had problems with legalism. Now, it has spread to all grace assemblies in Turkey. While there are a few faithful Christians still committed to the grace message in Asia Minor, most believers have fallen into the trap of which the Holy Spirit warned in Acts 20:28-35. The “grievous wolves” have entered in, and they have corrupted God’s people with “perverse things.” God’s Word had not failed. Rather, they failed to stay true to the doctrine that the Lord Jesus Christ had spoken to them through the Apostle Paul! Beloved, may we take these examples to heart, that we not abandon the grace doctrines committed to us through the Apostle Paul.

CONCLUSION

Whoever says, upon looking at Christendom, “God’s Word has failed,” he or she is repeating the Jews’ objection that the Apostle Paul faced during the Acts period. If God had indeed set Israel aside temporarily, and He had, if He had indeed paused their program, and He had, there was a problem. What was the problem? Whatever the problem, unbelieving Israel refused to take the blame. Rather, they placed the blame on God’s Word. You can read Romans chapter 9 and see four objections (or questions) that the Jews used to explain why God had momentarily suspended their status and program. They are in verses 6, 14, 19, and 30. The Holy Spirit’s answers through Paul immediately followed the questions.

The very first objection/question was verse 6, which Paul answered with “Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect.” God’s Word had not failed. There was a believing remnant in Israel who had accepted that divine revelation. The only logical conclusion would be that Israel’s program had temporarily paused because there was a lack of faith on her part. All of Israel had not been converted to Jesus Christ. Just a “little flock” (Luke 12:32)—and notice the word “little”—had seen prophecy fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah. No, God’s Word was not the problem. Unbelief—rejecting/doubting the Word of God—was the problem.

Likewise, today, all the confusion and ignorance in “Christian” churches and organizations is not God’s fault. People did not listen to and believe His Words found in the Holy Bible rightly divided. They followed church tradition, they followed philosophy, they followed anything and everything but the Word of God dispensationally-delivered. They largely ignored the Apostle Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. Had they listened to God’s Word to and about them, they would have avoided the spiritual disaster we see all around us today. Instead, they did not learn the lesson from Israel’s history. They too failed to believe God’s Word.

Also see:
» Why did Jesus forbid others from preaching that He was Christ?
» How can a loving God send people to hell forever?
» If God knows who will serve Him and who will not, then why should we witness?

Are we “doom and gloom” Bible-prophecy believers?

ARE WE “DOOM AND GLOOM” BIBLE-PROPHECY BELIEVERS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

One person referred to Bible-prophecy believers as “doom and gloom” individuals. To him, Bible prophecy was nothing but “bad news.” Consequently, he had no interest whatsoever in considering it or believing it. Prophecy involves the end of the world, and people fear what they do not understand. This is especially true of Bible concepts, things dealing with the God of creation, which to lost minds is “foolishness” (1 Corinthians 2:14). The book of the Revelation is one of the most feared Bible books, and for good reason. For us who have eyes of faith, however, prophecy is very exciting. What is “doom and gloom” to lost people is actually God’s wise destruction of Satan’s lie program!

Many years ago, a religious classmate and I talked via instant messaging. He admitted to me that he was “scared to death” of the “end of the world.” A lost man—and to this day I believe he is still unsaved—whose words typified what the unsaved mind thinks of prophecy. While some find it fascinating, Bible prophecy is perhaps the hardest topic for Bible scoffers to grasp. They laugh to hide their embarrassment and their fear. The Bible’s cryptic prophecies are terrifying. (One church-going man told me that whoever wrote the book of the Revelation was using drugs when he penned it! Most preachers dare not teach Revelation, perhaps fearing being labeled a “drug-head” as well!!)

Bible prophecy is highly graphic, very gruesome and disturbing. There is great judgment, horrifying divine wrath against man’s sin—wars, famines, droughts, overwhelming deception due to Satan’s miracles, terrible diseases, unusual astronomical phenomena (sun, moon, and stars blotted out), great seismic (earthquake) and volcanic activity, floods, satanic armies slaughtering people, wild beasts attacking and devouring people, relatives betraying relatives, people being imprisoned and beheaded, mothers eating their babies (to survive famines), and so on. Yes, the end-times scenario will be a most fearful time. God’s undiluted wrath will fall on this deserving world!

Actually, the Lord Jesus said this about the concluding three-and-one-half years of that wrath: “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21). Mark 13:19 says, “For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.” Literally, it will be the worst period ever in human history. The Great Flood of Noah’s Day—as awful as it was—was nothing compared to what will come upon this Christ-rejecting world one day. History’s two great World Wars and the Holocaust combined do not compare to the violence and slaughter that will be present on Earth one day!

The Prophet Joel, writing about the last days of Israel’s program, penned in his second chapter: “[1] Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand; [2] A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.” According to the succeeding verses, angelic armies will invade Earth and slaughter God’s enemies. Indeed, it will be a very fearful time for those who are not members of the Church the Body of Christ (who are in heaven at this point).

A few centuries after Joel, the Prophet Zephaniah wrote in the first chapter of his small Bible book: “[14] 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. [15] That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, [16] A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers. [17] And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung. [18] Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD’S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.”

THE GOOD NEWS OF PROPHECY

Certainly, the above prophetic passages are jaw dropping. However, as Christians, we should not be confused or fearful. Through the eyes of faith, we see glorious events to be fulfilled in God’s own timing:

  1. Satan and his minions will be forcefully removed from the second heaven (outer space) and then from Earth, and cast into the lake of fire, their eternal punishment (Revelation 12:7-12; Revelation 20:1-2,7-10; et cetera).
  2. The curse of sin will be lifted from all creation—no more sickness, no more death, and no more carnivores (Isaiah 33:24; Isaiah 35:1-10; Romans 8:18-25; Revelation 20:4; et cetera).
  3. Israel’s enemies will be defeated and destroyed, sent to their eternal doom (Exodus chapter 15; Ezekiel 35:1-15; Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39; Joel 3:1-16; Obadiah; Zechariah 14:1-15; Matthew 25:41-46; Revelation 19:11-21; et cetera).
  4. Israel will be forgiven, restored to JEHOVAH God, and brought into her land to live forever in peace and safety, with all her covenant promises given to her (Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 13:14-18; Genesis 15:18-21; various Psalms; Jeremiah 23:5-8; Jeremiah chapter 31; Ezekiel chapters 36 and 37; Hosea 6:1-3; Joel 3:17-21; Zechariah 8:20-23; Zechariah 13:1-9; Matthew 8:11; Matthew chapter 25; Luke 1:32-33; Luke 1:67-75; Acts 3:19-26; Hebrews 8:8-13; Hebrews 10:1-39; et cetera).
  5. Jesus Christ will be exalted as Head of Heaven and Earth (Psalm 89; Psalm 148; Isaiah 9:6-7; Jeremiah 23:5-8; Ephesians 1:9-11; Philippians 2:9-11; Colossians 1:16-20; et cetera). As members of the Church the Body of Christ, we will play a role in glorifying Jesus Christ in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:20-23; Ephesians 2:6-7).
  6. Righteousness and prosperity will prevail throughout all governments, peoples, and lands (Isaiah chapter 2; Isaiah chapter 42; Psalm 45; Hebrews 1:8-9; et cetera).
  7. Sinners will be judged, and they will receive of God their just punishment—the eternal lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15; Revelation 21:8). No one has gotten away with anything!!!
  8. Both truth and error will be manifested for all to see. Satan will be manifested as deceptive and weak, and the God of the Bible will be manifested as the living and true God, the only wise God. In the end, truth wins, righteousness wins, and justice is served. Oh, praise our Lord Jesus Christ!

I have reproduced below two brief studies that I wrote about prophecy and the joy it gives the believer.

BLESSED READING

“Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand” (Revelation 1:3).

Although the Book of the Revelation is a source of confusion to many, it is a source of joy for the Bible believer!

Commonly known as “The Apocalypse” (from the Greek word apokalupsis translated “Revelation” in chapter 1, verse 1), the Book of Revelation is a very challenging book for so many. Actually, there are even preachers and denominations that simply ignore it because it intimidates them. They never teach the book because they claim that their members do not need to learn from it.

Speaking through the Apostle John, the Holy Spirit disagreed with those who view the Revelation as a burdensome mish-mash of verses. Verse 3 of the opening chapter testifies that the Revelation is a book that provides its reader with blessedness (happiness, joy). Its audience, the nation Israel (John is an apostle of Israel; Galatians 2:9), is to pay attention to its contents and obey them. John reminds them that their fulfillment is near; Israel’s program will culminate.

Although not written to or about us in this the Dispensation of Grace, Revelation should bring joy to our hearts. As people who have trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, and as Berean Bible students, we understand that Satan’s policy of evil has operated for the last 6,000 years. God’s original purpose and plan for creation has yet to be fulfilled. The Revelation is the “unveiling” or “appearance” of Jesus Christ: the last book of the Bible’s canon manifests the Lord Jesus Christ as the rightful King and righteous Judge; who physically returns to earth in great wrath, power, and glory; who utterly defeats prideful, rebellious creatures (Satan, his angelic rebels, and unbelieving mankind); and who literally assumes His throne in Jerusalem as KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS!

May we take the time to read the Book of the Revelation in our own time, bearing in mind that it is not to or about us, but still a most enjoyable book!

THE APOCALYPSE, GOD’S LIPS, AND OUR MOUTHS

“How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103).

What is the “Apocalypse” and how can it be honey from God’s lips to our mouths?

While people often use the term “Apocalypse” in religious senses, they usually have little to no grasp of what the term means in the Bible. The first word of the Revelation is apokalupsis—”revelation, unveiling, uncovering.” As the (Greek) Bible uses it, “Apocalypse” describes the unveiling of the Lord Jesus Christ. Today, the KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS is hidden in the third heaven, having not been seen in 2,000 years, exiled since His beloved nation Israel rejected Him. The door to the third heaven is currently closed, but one day it will swing open, and out will ride the Lord Jesus Christ! He will be leading tens of thousands of angelic soldiers to purge Earth of all its unbelievers, utterly slaughtering those who have persecuted His Israel—stolen her land and killed her people. Just as Satan’s plan of evil crescendos, and it looks hopeless, the God of creation wins and then reigns over all creation!

No wonder John wrote to Israel in Revelation 1:3: “Blessed [happy] is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” The Book of the Revelation (“Apocalypse”) came from God’s lips; it should be as sweet honey to our mouths! Let us read it. It comforts us that evil will lose in the end, and our Saviour will be exalted in the end. Let us use our mouths to praise His holy name! 🙂

CONCLUSION

Whenever someone says that Bible prophecy is “doom and gloom,” one of two things is true of that individual: (1) He or she is a Christian unaware of what Bible prophecy really entails and consummates, or (2) He or she is a lost person aware that those events are God’s judgments one day coming against them! The “gloominess” is that the sinners’ “good time” has come to an end on Earth, and eternal “doom” is the only thing now awaiting them. They have had their fun in sin, living as they pleased, in complete disregard to Jesus Christ and His purpose and plan. Now, He has been exalted despite their opposition. He is no longer their potential Saviour, but now their righteous Judge!

A Christian brother once told me that he utterly feared the book of the Revelation. Doubtless a saved man, certain of his home in heaven because of the Lord’s sacrifice on Calvary on his behalf, yet, in light of Revelation 22:18-19, he dreaded studying that last Bible book. He feared “adding to it” or “taking away from it” would bring God’s chastisement on him. The poor brother had to learn that that warning is given to unbelievers in Israel’s program, not us believers (members of the Body of Christ) in this the Dispensation of Grace. If we are in Christ, we need not worry about “doom and gloom” prophecy! We should rather rejoice about “exciting” prophecy!

Also see:
» Is prophecy being fulfilled in our Dispensation of Grace?
» Why do the wicked prosper?
» Does Hebrews 10:25 really teach we must attend church?

Did Hosea 6:2 predict our Dispensation of Grace?

DID HOSEA 6:2 PREDICT OUR DISPENSATION OF GRACE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

I am very well aware that some in dispensational circles believe and teach that Hosea 6:2 is an “Old Testament hint” of this our Dispensation of the Grace of God. “After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.” Are these “two days” really a prediction of our 2,000-year-long dispensation that precedes Israel’s restoration? Let us consider that in this study.

While we will spare all the details here, suffice it to say that this verse is describing God’s return to Israel and Israel’s return to God. Observe the verse in its full context, Hosea 5:15–6:2: “[5:15] I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early. [6:1] Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. [6:2] After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.”

Many years ago, I also viewed Hosea 6:2 as a reference to our Dispensation of Grace. Thus, I am familiar with the idea. There are some who teach that “two days” refers to a period of 2,000 years (the time that our Dispensation of Grace has been operating). Moreover, some will resort to 2 Peter 3:8 as an auxiliary verse (or at least, the piece of it that says, “One day is with the Lord as a thousand years….”). They say that after Israel is blinded for those 2,000 years, God restores them during the third 1,000-year period. They argue that “third day” is the Millennium, the 1,000-year reign of Jesus Christ on Earth. While clever, and somewhat interesting, it does not stand up to the test of Scripture. (Hence, I abandoned the idea some years ago.) When we start looking for verses in the “Old Testament” to find ourselves in the purpose and program of God, we demonstrate we really have not mastered the most basic division in God’s Word. To find “hints” of our Dispensation of Grace in the “Old Testament” simply adds to the pre-existing confusion in Christendom.

Peter preached in Acts 3:21: “[Jesus Christ] Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” Whereas Paul wrote in Romans 16:25-26: “Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest….”

If we look at Acts 3:21 and Romans 16:25, and let them say what they say, we will see a stark difference. On one hand, Peter preached about something God had made known since the world began. On the other hand, Paul wrote about something that God had kept secret since the world began. Thus, we do not find the Dispensation of Grace outside of Paul’s epistles and ministry—see Ephesians 3:2. There is no Dispensation of Grace to find in Hosea, or any other “Old Testament” book.

CONCLUSION

Dear friends, the safest interpretation of Hosea 6:2 is as follows. Firstly, it is prophecy rather than mystery. That is, it is God’s program for Israel and the Earth, not His program for us the Body of Christ and the Heavenly Places. Secondly, those “days” are literal days as we understand “days,” being just as literal as Jesus being dead “three days and three nights.” The only way for Hosea 6:2 to make sense is if the two days refer to the two days prior to Jesus Christ’s return to Earth (at His Second Coming). He will leave the third heaven on the first day, and He will arrive in the land of Israel on the third day. What happens during the two days prior to His literal, physical, and visible return to the planet Earth (land of Israel), is a fascinating study. One day, we will discuss it. For now, just know Hosea 6:2 is not about our program or us at all.

Also see:
» Should we “name and claim” Jeremiah 29:11?
» Is “divine right of kings” a Scriptural teaching?
» Is prophecy being fulfilled in the Dispensation of Grace?

Once Christians fall into gross sin, will God ever use them again?

ONCE CHRISTIANS FALL INTO GROSS SIN, WILL GOD EVER USE THEM AGAIN?

by Shawn Brasseaux

A believer in Christ recently asked me, “What about Christians who drift away from God, who go out and live like the world, and who then reform? Will God still use them?” After being in denominational churches for years, like so many others, she had been instructed to believe that, even if “worldly” Christians change their ways, God will never use them again. Is that so? Beloved, let us consult the Holy Scriptures for enlightenment. I am sure many of our readers wonder about this same issue.

Friends, in case you have not noticed, religion is very strict. Remember, if it were not rigorous, it would not be religion! Religion is demanding, very demanding. It involves people striving to make God happy with them. Friend, you know good and well that you are wicked, nowhere near where God’s holiness demands you be, but religion causes you to slave away in “hopes” of pleasing Him somehow. You are instructed to pray a certain number of times a day, to do your best to keep the Ten Commandments, to confess your sins as often as you can, to bring in the “tithes and offerings” every Sunday, to read your holy books so many times a week, to observe the feast days and other holydays, on and on. This is true not only in Roman Catholicism. Sadly, these ideas have crept into Protestant churches. One slip-up and, my, you have to pay one way or another—prayers, “generous donations,” excommunication, shunning, name-calling, guilt, shame, fear, et cetera!

For example, if you grew up in a strict Protestant church like me, you heard something to the effect of, “A man who has been divorced can neither be pastor nor deacon of our assembly!” (Meanwhile, some non-divorced apostate polluted at seminary is welcomed to the pulpit with open arms and loving smiles!) In these strict systems, a divorced and remarried man is barred forever from serving in a church leadership role. I will come out and say it, knowing full well that I will shock some of you. God prefers a divorced man leading a local assembly than a still-married man who does not believe the Bible he claims to believe and love! It may shock many to read this, but divorce can be forgiven, friends. And, an apostate leader will do greater damage than a divorced leader ever will! Just a few things for us to keep in mind.

CHRISTIANS WHO DRIFT AWAY FROM GOD

Dear friends, be very careful to notice the above title. Christians drift from God; God never abandons Christians. Let me explain to you how it happens.

First, one brief introductory comment must be made. You have probably heard of so-called “backslidden Christians.” While I understand what people are trying to say, the Pauline epistles do not use the word “backslidden” when discussing members of the Body of Christ. It was a term God used to describe wayward Israel. Thus, it would be best not to use terminology that described Israel’s relationship with God in time past, to describe our relationship with God today. If you want a Scriptural term for wayward Christians today, you could say they are “ensnared Christians” or “captive Christians” (2 Timothy 2:26).

Friend, stop and think about what exactly happened to a Christian to make him or her “go out in the world.” No matter the particular sins, all Christians who fell into worldly behavior had the same basic experience. There came a specific point in life when they quit reading their Bible. Perhaps they put it off a day or two, but, little by little, they weaned themselves from God’s Word. Some have not opened a Bible for themselves in months or years. The Bible provides life (John 6:63), light (Psalm 119:130), and power (1 Thessalonians 2:13) to those who are willing to hear and believe it. So, you take away the Bible, and you have functional death, darkness, and inability. In other words, the Christian robbed himself or herself of God’s power and God’s life, and the world influenced him or her with their way of thinking and living. The only way to get that life, light, and power back is to return to what he or she left—God’s Word! Again, God never abandoned the Christian. The Christian abandoned God and His Word. Let us develop this further, while correcting some common misconceptions.

No matter what, to be “in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17) is for Father God to accept you forever. Yes, that is a literal “forever”—never-ending, unconditional acceptance. Recall that He never accepted you on the basis of what you did. You are “accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). That is, God accepted you because of what His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, did at Calvary to bridge the gap between you the sinner and Him a holy, righteous God. Romans 8:32 declares: “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?” If God “delivered up” His Son for us, what else is there for Him to give us? Nothing! Not a thing! He gave us His Son, and in His Son, we have everything we will ever need from God. Furthermore, everything that God has purposed us to do, He already equipped us to do it.

First and foremost, this “complete package from God” contains the complete and eternal salvation and fellowship with Him. But, there is more. It also contains the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit to get that work of God accomplished. But, one thing must be present in your life if the Holy Spirit will work in your life. God’s complete and eternal Book, the Holy Bible, which you need to read in order to gain the information God wants to share with you. Note the classic verses, 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “[16] All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: [17] That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

Christian friend, unless your mind is renewed daily with verses that you read in your Bible, you are not going to be “minding [thinking about] the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5-9). Rather, you are going to be “minding the things of the flesh [sin].” This is how Christians “go out in the world.” They did not lose their salvation. They did not lose the Holy Spirit. Rather, they ignored God’s Word, thereby “quenching” (preventing/hindering) the Holy Spirit from working in them (1 Thessalonians 5:19). In short, they reverted back to the old way of thinking and living. They are not behaving like the saints of God they are, because they are not thinking like the saints of God they are!

Romans 12:1-2 instructs us: “[1] I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. [2] And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Friend, unless you know God’s Word, you do not know God’s will! You must renew your mind with God’s Word daily, or you will most definitely lapse into your old mentality and your old lifestyle at some point. The grace God means God gives you the choice, never forcing you to do anything. If you want to be “conformed to this world” rather than be “transformed by the renewing of your mind,” God will not stand in your way. (You will reap the consequences, whatever you decide.)

Colossians 3:16 admonishes us: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Ephesians chapter 5, the companion passage, amplifies: “[15] See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, [16] Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. [17] Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. [18] And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; [19] Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;”

Do you see how Colossians and Ephesians connect “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom” with “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is?” And, did you notice how, once you know the Lord’s will, you can be “filled with the Spirit?” Once you have a steady intake of sound Bible doctrine (rightly divided Scripture), you will learn God’s will for your life. Once you know God’s will for your life, then the indwelling Holy Spirit can take those verses and make God’s will for your life become a reality. Once the Holy Spirit controls your life, your life will literally become the life described by the verses!

What God wants accomplished, He already gave us information and detailed instructions in His written Word, especially in the Pauline epistles of Romans through Philemon. When we consider the above verses, it becomes abundantly clear. If your Christian life is in shambles, it is because you have not been reading, believing, and applying those Pauline verses of grace to your life! You have been living in your flesh, your own resources, your own energy, and you are now realizing those failures. It is time for you to get back to reality and start behaving like the person in Christ you really are!

CHRISTIANS WHO LIVE LIKE THE WORLD

Please understand. Christians who “live like the world” would not simply be bar-hoppers, gamblers, drunkards, cigarette-smokers, fornicators, thieves, murderers, profanity users, et cetera. It could also apply to believers caught up in religion—ceremonies, rites, rituals, denominational adherence, works-religion, and so on. Contrary to popular belief, the evil world system is not merely confined to sins of the flesh. It also involves sins of the spirit (works-religion). Grace living in Jesus Christ is not loose living. Grace living in Jesus Christ is not religion, either!

Second Timothy chapter 2 highlights the two types of lifestyles we Christians can pursue: “[19] Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. [20] But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. [21] If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. [22] Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

One, we can be a “common Christian” of “wood and earth.” We can lead just a normal life that blends in with everyone else’s. They will not be able to tell us from lost people. Or, we can be an “exceptional Christian” of “gold and silver.” We can allow God’s life to live in us so mightily that we will stick out and people will definitely see us practice what we preach! In other words, we can be “a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” Again, brother or sister, it is your choice. Your choice—honour or dishonour. If I could decide for you, I would. Since I cannot, I can only encourage you to make the right decision. You know the right choice.

The assembly at Corinth was the epitome of “garbage-can Christianity.” How it broke the Apostle Paul’s heart to hear and read of the absolute spiritual mayhem in the church at Corinth! While I am sure a few faithful Christians were there, much of the assembly was composed of Christians who behaved the worst in Scripture. Even after the Apostle Paul himself had spent 18 months teaching them, they were still such confused, deceived, carnal babes in Christ! Friend, go read those two Bible books known as “Corinthians.” You will not help but see today’s professing church described in those chapters. The same old silly problems that Satan used 20 centuries ago to befuddle Christians in Corinth, he uses them today to hinder millions upon millions Christians worldwide!

At this point, I can hear someone saying, “Oh, brother, the problem in Corinth was that they just needed the Law of Moses to help them manage their sin!” Really? The churches in Galatia had wholly embraced the Mosaic Law. Read the six chapters of Galatians. The Apostle Paul rebuked them harshly for getting entangled again with works-religion. He asked them in chapter 4, verse 15, “Where is then the blessedness ye spake of?” After Paul had left Galatia, false teachers had slipped in and led these grace saints back under the Law. The Galatians, once excited and happy about being delivered from pagan religion and hellfire, were now depressed and defeated. They were laboring once more using a system in which they knew they could never measure up. Writing to them, Paul asked them, “Where is the joy that God’s grace brought you?” They were just as miserable as he was when he put himself under the Law in Romans chapter 7. Despite their “religious” practices that appeared nice, those Galatians were “biting and devouring” one another, arguing, fussing, and fighting with each other (Galatians 5:15). Sound familiar? The Law was not the answer. Grace was the answer!

CHRISTIANS WHO REFORM

Perhaps, dear saint, something in this Bible study applies to you or some Christian you know. In the quietness of your own heart, you have identified the problem. You know there is a difficulty, some type of worldliness present in some Christian’s life somewhere (either yours or someone else’s). What is the answer? How do you (or they) go about reforming? You have to be reoriented toward God’s grace!

Firstly, you need to understand that God has already forgiven you. You need not wonder if He will forgive you. You need not grovel on the floor and beg His forgiveness. His Word says He has already forgiven you because of Jesus Christ’s sake.

Ephesians 1:7: “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” Colossians 1:14: “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” Ephesians 4:32: “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Colossians 2:13: “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.” Colossians 3:13: “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Just accept God’s forgiveness, learn from your mistake, and move on! Friend, let go of the burdens of guilt and shame. Jesus Christ suffered and died to pay for your sins, so send it all to Calvary where it belongs and get on with your life in Christ!

Secondly, please seek some sound spiritual counsel from another Christian, preferably face-to-face contact. Galatians 6:1 says, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” If you have a trusted Christian friend (especially a pastor or Bible teacher), this individual can help advise you in the Scriptures concerning your specific issue. Please consider discussing your matter with that person. There is no need to be embarrassed because we all sin; we all have our failures and we all have maturing to do. And, remember, those who arrogantly snub their nose at you may wind up committing the same sin (read the end of Galatians 6:1; cf. 1 Corinthians 10:13). If that person is truly Christ’s servant, motivated by God’s grace, he or she will be sympathetic to you and try to teach you sound grace Bible doctrine so you can recover yourself out of the dilemma.

Notice what Paul told Timothy in the closing verses of 2 Timothy chapter 2: “[24] And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, [25] In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; [26] And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” The way people escape their Satanic oppression—their entrapment in sin, false teaching, and so on—is for them to hear or read God’s Word rightly divided. Timothy was instructed to teach that Word, that he may recover others from Satan’s grip. (This loops back to Galatians 6:1 above.)

Friend, no one can recover you. You must recover yourself, the verse says. The Bible says, if you are taken captive by Satan, you are living contrary to your identity in Jesus Christ. Sin is not who you are. Religion is not who you are. You “oppose yourself.” You are behaving like someone you are not. Satan has ensnared you and you are doing his will by not accomplishing God’s will. The answer is simple. You have to return to the truth. Jesus said, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). Brother or sister, return to Paul’s epistles! Get back to learning about your identity in Christ! Refocus your mind on sound Bible doctrine, the Word of God’s Grace.

In closing, we read Titus 2:11-15: “[11] For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, [12] Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; [13] Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; [14] Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. [15] These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.” Go read the book of Romans five times. Romans is an introduction to the grace life. Then, read Romans through Philemon five times, the full curriculum of the grace life. Note the verses that help you address your problems and apply them by faith. Those verses are what the Holy Spirit will use to bring the life of Jesus Christ into your life. Friend, there is hope if you submit to the Holy Spirit’s will!

WILL GOD STILL USE THEM?

Why not? Despite the works that they did as lost people, Father God saved them and used them for good works. Then, as believers, they fell into gross sin. How is that, if they are saved and now willing to do right, will He not once again use them? When I think about His grace, it seems pretty logical to me He will! 🙂

Also see:
» Can Christians lose their salvation?
» Does God chasten us when we sin?
» Must we maintain fellowship with God?
» Does “once saved, always saved” entitle us to abuse God’s grace?

Can you explain Colossians 3:3-4?

CAN YOU EXPLAIN COLOSSIANS 3:3-4?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The Bible says in Colossians 3:3-4: “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. [4] When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” That “hidden life” portion is particularly enigmatic; what is it talking about? We just have to note the context and compare some verses, and all will be clear. To the Scriptures we go!

Reading Colossians 3:1-4 to get the thought-flow of the verses: “[1] If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. [2] Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. [3] For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. [4] When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”

Note verses 1 and 2, “seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” These verses carry the idea of heaven (“above,” “where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God,” “above… not on the earth”). Colossians 3:3-4 is talking about the resurrection life that we will experience in heaven. Remember, chapter 1 already talked about our destiny and future role in the heavenly places (see verses 5 and 16-20). Because we are already citizens of heaven (Ephesians 2:19; Ephesians 3:15), already destined to rule in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:20-23; Ephesians 2:6-7; Colossians 1:16-20), our lives on earth should reflect our heavenly connection (note Colossians 3:5ff.). As Philippians 3:20 says: “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:” We are “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20)—we are outposts of the third heaven here in foreign territory (planet earth).

Colossians 3:3: “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” We have been crucified with Christ, and we have been raised again with Christ (Romans 6:1-11; Ephesians 2:1-5). Colossians 3:4 says, “Christ, who is our life” (present tense). Although we have eternal life in Jesus Christ right now on earth, these bodies of flesh and blood are fallen and cannot adequately reflect that glory. In that sense, our life is hid with Christ in God. We only see a hint of the eternal life we have now. Only God really knows that life in its full capacity; only God knows what eternal life in heaven is like. What little we know about it now we see through the eyes of faith, what we read in His Word. Physically, that life in heaven cannot be seen… yet. When we receive our glorified bodies at the Rapture, our resurrection, the redemption of our body, those new bodies will better reflect God’s life in us.

As Romans 8:18 says, “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.” It is here at the Rapture and onward, God will display His glory in us for all of creation to see. Continuing in the chapter: “[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.”

Think about the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew chapter 17). The Lord Jesus looked like an ordinary human but then He suddenly shone brighter than the noonday sun! He had divine life in Him but His physical body had hindered it from being displayed to its fullest extent. The glory that the apostles saw on the Mount of Transfiguration, that is the glory that He will receive and display when He is crowned King of heaven and earth. We will participate in this. God the Father will glorify us in order for us to glorify His Son Jesus Christ (go back to Romans chapter 8, quoted above). The eternal life that we enjoy today is masked by the current vile bodies we have. We do not yet have bodies like Jesus Christ’s resurrected body. That will change, as Philippians 3:21 says: “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.” Jesus Christ will “subdue all things unto himself” in heaven when we are installed in the heavenly places (go back to our previous comments about Ephesians chapter 1, Ephesians chapter 2, and Colossians chapter 1).

First Corinthians chapter 15 provides additional information about this, our resurrection unto eternal life in heaven: “[49] And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. [50] Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” We “shall” (will) bear the image of the heavenly. This is future tense. We have the physical image of Adam now, physical bodies that cannot adequately express the divine life inside of us Christians. That will change when we are glorified at the event we call the Rapture. The Bible calls it “the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23). You can also read 1 Corinthians 15:49-58 in full, and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 in full.

We will one day have bodies like unto Jesus Christ’s resurrected body (remember Philippians 3:20-21). Then, that (resurrection) life will no longer be hid in God. It will be shown for all of creation (angels included) to see. We will no longer see it through the eyes of faith, but physically as well. Our physical bodies will be redeemed one day, Romans chapter 8 says, and they will be enhanced to resemble Jesus Christ’s post-resurrection body. He could travel through walls, He could disappear and reappear, travel to the Father in heaven and back to earth in a short period of time, and so on. (For more information, see our study linked below.)

Also see:
» Could you describe Jesus’ resurrected body?
» When will the Old Testament saints be resurrected?
» What does “at the last trump” mean in 1 Corinthians 15:52?

Could you describe Jesus’ resurrected body?

COULD YOU DESCRIBE JESUS’ RESURRECTED BODY?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“Is Jesus’ resurrected body that was on earth the same body that He has in heaven now, or was there some sort of transformation that His body went through to have a spiritual body fit for heaven? And, will we see the holes in His hands when we’re with Him in heaven?”

Short answers first. “Is Jesus’ resurrected body that was on earth the same body that He has in heaven now [YES], ….or was there some sort of transformation that His body went through to have a spiritual body fit for heaven [NO]? And, will we see the holes in His hands when we’re with Him in heaven [YES]?” Now, the long answers.

Jesus’ resurrected body was undoubtedly physical in one sense. (There is a common myth in some groups that Jesus was raised merely a “spirit” but that is nonsense.) His resurrected body had hands and feet, and flesh and bone that human hands could touch (Luke 24:39-40; John 20:17,27). It ate physical fish and physical honeycomb (Luke 24:41-43). Clearly, that was not a spirit. It was a body very similar to ours, except it did not have blood. Yet, at the same time, that physical body of Christ had an extraordinary structure that allowed it to pass through locked doors and walls (John 20:19,26). Jesus instantly appeared in and immediately disappeared from crowds (Luke 24:31). So, Christ’s resurrection body was not merely physical but had some sort of supernatural spiritual aspect, too. In fact, He traveled to the third heaven to His Father and back to Earth in less than eight days (John 20:17-27)!

Certainly, an ordinary physical body like ours could not do that! It had some enhancements at His resurrection, so I would call Jesus’ resurrected body an “enhanced physical body” for simplicity’s sake. It was physical and yet more, so it is somewhat mysterious to classify and describe. We really have no comparison in life so the full imagery of that body is elusive. (We will have a definite answer one day!)

Remember how Jesus’ body radiated with light on earth (Matthew chapter 17, the Mount of Transfiguration), and then it returned to normal? That is a picture of Him coming back at His glorious Second Coming (Matthew 16:27). According to Scripture, He glowed no other time in His earthly ministry. The Scriptures are silent about this even during the 40 days between His resurrection and ascension.

However, some 30 years after His ascension in Acts chapter 1, Paul wrote that Jesus Christ “dwelleth in the light which no man can approach unto” (1 Timothy 6:16). That is Christ ascended in heaven, at His Father’s right hand. That same light evidently appeared to Saul/Paul at his conversion in Acts 9:3 (cf. Acts 22:6; Acts 26:13). Perhaps that is what Paul meant when He mentioned Christ’s “glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). There is not enough detail in the Scriptures to make further comment here, but I will offer an informed opinion (which you have the option to accept or reject). It seems like Jesus’ resurrected body was equipped enough to do other “super-human” things, so it probably had the ability to glow, but it did not actually glow until He went to heaven. Remember, even before His resurrection, His body could glow when He willed it (go back to Matthew chapter 17). The “glow” of Matthew chapter 17 did not appear again until Paul saw Him in heaven.

Overall, these verses lead me to conclude that Christ’s resurrection body is the same body in heaven today. (Likewise, I believe our bodies fit for heaven, 2 Corinthians 5:1-9, will be given us at our resurrection, the Rapture.) That resurrection body allowed Him to go to heaven and come back in less than eight days (John 20:17-26). It can travel super fast, certainly not like our bodies today!! For that reason, I would say His resurrection body was already fit for heaven before the ascension of Acts chapter 1. Once Jesus came out the grave, that body was already equipped to function in heaven. It went to heaven in John 20:17-26 and came back, evidently looking the same, and then returned to heaven in Acts chapter 1 to stay for the last 20 centuries. How awesome are these thoughts, friend!

Now, to answer your final question. “Will we see the holes in Jesus’ hands?” I would say “yes” because Zechariah 13:6 references Him coming back to Israel at His Second Coming, and He still has those nail prints in His hands. Evidently, they can see Him and recognize Him by those scars where He was pierced with the nails (Revelation 1:7; cf. Zechariah 12:10; Zechariah 13:6). This will be after He ascended to heaven in Acts chapter 1, after His time in heaven, and yet He still has those scars. (Had His resurrected body undergone some “transformation” as you wondered, I think those scars would have disappeared.) So, I would say those scars will be there forever on the Lord Jesus Christ. They will always be a reminder for all people and angels to see—the great price He paid for us on Calvary’s awful tree!

Also see:
» How is mankind “lower than the angels?”
» Is John 20:29 applicable to us today?
» Where was Jesus during the three days between His death and resurrection?