Monthly Archives: May 2016

Is the Rapture in Matthew 24:40-41 and Luke 17:34-36?

IS THE RAPTURE IN MATTHEW 24:40-41 AND LUKE 17:34-36?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Can we find the Rapture in Matthew chapter 24 and Luke chapter 17? Some say yes. Others say no. We will not take anyone’s word for it. We will not idly speculate either. As Bereans, we will look into God’s Word for ourselves and let it interpret itself.

Matthew 24:36-41 says: “[36] But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. [37] But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. [38] For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, [39] And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. [40] Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. [41] Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” (Note people being taken away in verses 40-41.)

Luke 17:24-37, the (longer) parallel passage, provides additional details worth mentioning: “[24] For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day. [25] But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation. [26] And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. [27] They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. [28] Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; [29] But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. [30] Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. [31] In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. [32] Remember Lot’s wife. [33] Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. [34] I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. [35] Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. [36] Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. [37] And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.” (Note people being taken away in verses 34-36.)

When the Son of man, Jesus Christ, returns to Earth at His Second Coming, people will be taken away. Matthew 24:40-41: “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” Luke chapter 17: “[34] I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. [35] Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. [36] Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” Who exactly is being taken? Believers, or lost people? Where exactly are they taken? Heaven, or somewhere else? We need not guess. The Bible tells us!

The Lord Jesus said the key was to understand what happened during the Great Flood of Noah’s day. Matthew chapter 24 again: “[38] For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, [39] And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Who was taken in the Great Flood? Friend, if you know your Bible, you understand it was certainly the unbelievers taken away in the Flood. No believers perished. Remember, the believers were safe in the Ark that Noah built according to God’s instructions. Jesus Christ’s Second Coming will likewise take away the unsaved/lost people, leaving only the believing remnant (Israel and her Gentile blessers) on Earth.

Luke 17:37 again: “And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.” The disciples wondered where these people were taken. They were not taken to heaven! They were not taken to meet the Lord in the air as in the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:17)! The Lord said they would be taken to where the eagles gather. The people being taken away in Matthew 24:40-41 and Luke 17:34-36 are being judged and destroyed. This is the great judgment/wrath at Christ’s Second Coming, when God kills His enemies and instructs scavenger-birds to gather and eat their corpses (Revelation 19:17-21). This is “the Supper of the Great God” (verse 17) and “the Marriage Supper of the Lamb” (verse 9).

THE RAPTURE, A SECRET UNTIL JESUS CHRIST REVEALED IT TO PAUL

Attempting to argue against those who say Jesus never preached about the Rapture, people will take Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:40-41 and Luke 17:34-36 about individuals being taken away, and make them apply to people being taken to heaven in the Rapture. But these individuals are not taken away to heaven. Jesus Himself said they are taken away in judgment! As the Great Flood destroyed the unbelievers, so the Second Coming will take away the unbelievers from Earth (Luke 17:37; Matthew 24:39).

Actually, Jesus never talked about the Rapture during His earthly ministry. Why? Because the Rapture was fiction? No. Because it was not yet time to reveal the secret of the Rapture. For the Holy Spirit to lead Paul to call the Rapture a “mystery” (secret) in 1 Corinthians 15:51 would be a lie if Jesus had already revealed the teaching of the Rapture years earlier in Matthew 24:40-41 and Luke 17:34-36. Israel is not involved with the Rapture, so Jesus had no reason to tell Israel about it in the Four Gospels. The Rapture is an event strictly involving the Church the Body of Christ (believers only) being removed from Earth before Israel’s prophetic program resumes. Hence, we can find the Rapture only in Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. God did not reveal the Rapture until Paul’s ministry. In Israel’s program, there is no secret gathering together unto Christ in the air; Jesus Christ comes on the Earth for Israel (Zechariah 14:1-4).

Also see:
» What does 1 Corinthians 15:52 mean “at the last trump?”
» Are we “doom and gloom” Bible prophecy believers?
» What is “the Marriage Supper of the Lamb?”

Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated?

“JACOB HAVE I LOVED, BUT ESAU HAVE I HATED?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

“As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” (Romans 9:13). Calvinists consider this a useful “proof text” to argue that God loves some people and that He hates others. They say that God chooses for heaven those He loves, and chooses for hell those He hates. He chooses those He loves for blessings, and He chooses those He hates for curses and judgment. Is this really what Romans 9:13 teaches? Or, are Calvinists reading things into the verse that do not belong? Friends, let us say it again and again and again. Context, context, context!

It is not wise to read Romans 9:13 alone. Romans 9:10-13 should be read together: “[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.”

When the Scriptures talk about “election,” it has nothing to do with being chosen by God unto soul salvation and eternal life. One easy verse to prove this is Isaiah 42:1, where Israel’s Messiah (Jesus) is called the “elect” of JEHOVAH God the Father. In fact, the whole verse reads: “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.” What does “election” mean in the Bible? It means to be chosen to serve the God of the Bible! People in history who believe God’s Word to them, God then chooses them (as believers) to serve Him.

Look again at Romans 9:11-12 to see the Bible’s definition of “election”: “[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.” Note how the Apostle Paul, like the Prophet Isaiah earlier, connected “election” with “service.” In the Bible, unlike in theology, both terms have nothing to do with people going to heaven or hell, but rather those who are justified before God, God has given them a role in which to function/serve as members of His family.

THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, ISAAC, AND JACOB

In the case of the Abrahamic Covenant, God promised to use Abraham and his seed to form a nation of people He would use to bless all the other families (nations) of the world. We read in Genesis 12:1-3: “[1] Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: [2] And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: [3] And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”

That covenant God made with Abraham was then passed on to his second son Isaac (rather than his firstborn son, Ishmael). Note Genesis chapter 17: “[18] And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! [19] And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. [20] And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. [21] But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.”

By his wife Rebekah, Isaac had two sons, twins who were named Esau (firstborn) and Jacob. God’s words to Rebekah are Genesis 25:23: “And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.” Earlier, we read where Paul quoted this in Romans 9:12: “It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.”

We see now that the Abrahamic Covenant has moved from Abraham’s son Isaac to Isaac’s second son Jacob (rather than his firstborn, Esau). This was confirmed in Genesis chapter 28: “[13] And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; [14] And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. [15] And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. [16] And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.”

So, when the Bible uses the expression, “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,” what it is really communicating is the extension of the Abrahamic Covenant to Abraham’s son (Isaac) and grandson (Jacob). Jacob later fathered 12 sons, and they became the 12 tribes of Israel, forming the nation God originally spoke of to Abraham in Genesis chapter 12. “And he [God] gave him [Abraham] the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs” (Acts 7:8).

Going back to Romans chapter 9 to summarize these Old Testament concepts: “[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.”

“JACOB HAVE I LOVED, BUT ESAU HAVE I HATED”

Okay, now we have gotten to the tricky verse, the difficult verse. When Paul wrote this in Romans 9:13, he was quoting Malachi 1:2-3: “[1] The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi. [2] I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, [3] And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.”

The Prophet Malachi wrote about 400 B.C., over 1,000 years after Esau and Jacob had died. Malachi was not referring to the two men individually, but rather their descendants, the nations that originated in them. The context—in Malachi 1:2-3 or Romans 9:13—is not individuals but rather nations. Malachi is addressing Israel, a nation, God’s special nation. Go back to God’s words to Rebekah in Genesis 25:23: “And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.” This is talking about how Jacob’s nation (Israel) will rule over Esau’s nation (Edomites). God, as per the Abrahamic Covenant, has chosen Israel as His chief nation in the Earth. Israel is to be His channel of salvation and blessing to the nations of the world. If Esau’s descendants are to partake of the salvation and blessings of the God of creation, they must come to Him through His nation, Israel. The Edomites have to bless (serve, submit to) Israel if they are to be blessed of God.

CONCLUSION

The key to understanding Romans chapter 9 is to remember that it does not deal with the salvation of individuals, but rather nations (Israel versus Edomites/Gentiles). What Paul is arguing in the first half of this chapter is that not all of Abraham’s descendants are participants in God’s purpose and program in the Earth. The Old Testament covenants apply only to descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Contrary to Islam and the Qur’an, Ishmael and Esau are not part of God’s special nation and are not heirs of the Abrahamic Covenant. They are not God’s servants in the Earth. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and their children will be God’s earthly servants. But, not only that. Only believing descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will become God’s special people. God does not consider every descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, a member of “Israel.” A true Jew is one who has both Abraham’s physical genes as well as Abraham’s (spiritual) faith. But, we must stop and save that for another study!

Also see:
» Does Acts 2:47 support Calvinism?
» How do God’s foreknowledge and our free will work together?
» Does Acts 13:48 support Calvinism?

Did not Jesus speak words not recorded in Scripture?

DID NOT JESUS SPEAK WORDS NOT RECORDED IN SCRIPTURE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Recently, while listening to a Roman Catholic radio program, I heard an “apologist” claim, “Sacred Tradition is necessary because John says Jesus taught many things that were not recorded in Scripture.” Of course, he never actually read the verse from John. Whether he did this inadvertently or deliberately, he misquoted the verse. Perhaps he hoped no one would actually look in John, find the verse he was referring to, and read it to see he lied about what it said. The Holy Bible never said what this religious leader claimed it said! But, how many would actually look into the Bible and see if what he said was so, anyway? In this Bible study article, we will examine two of the “pet” passages the Roman Catholic Church uses to defend its “Scripture plus Tradition” position. What the Roman Church says about these passages, and what these passages actually say, are two different things entirely.

Having personally dealt with Roman Catholic “apologists” for many years now, I know they are very desperate for Scriptural justification. They will appeal to any verse—or any piece of a verse—to argue against Bible-quoting Protestants. No matter how greatly they abuse the Bible text, Roman Catholic apologists will never think twice about grabbing verses out of context. Their only goal is to defend their theology and church. Scripture means nothing to them if they cannot use it to teach what they want to teach.

Interestingly, Roman Catholics always enjoy touting: “If it were not for our church, you Protestants would not even have the Bible!” Of course, this is fallacious. Actually, the Bible, having almost no Roman Catholic doctrine in it, is a very poor example of a “Roman Catholic” book. Since the Bible says precious little about Roman Catholic beliefs, Romanists must largely appeal to “Sacred Tradition” as their authority. The “Tradition” portion—the bulk of their doctrine—is not found in the Bible. They quite readily admit it. But, they will go to great lengths to prove that the Bible allows for “Sacred Tradition” to speak where Sacred Scripture is silent. They claim: “John’s Gospel says Jesus taught many things that are not in the Bible. That is why we need Sacred Tradition!” Are they correct? Did John really endorse “Sacred Tradition?”

The Bible says in John 20:30-31: “[30] And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: [31] But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” As stated in our opening statements, religionists use this passage to form the following argument: “Jesus spoke more in His earthly ministry than what the Scriptures record.” Is that what these two verses are saying? Of course not! Re-read the verses. Did they say anything about what Jesus spoke and taught? No, but they did mention what Jesus did.

If you have ever read through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, you noticed that the Gospel Record According to John is tremendously unique. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are very similar to each other. Hence, they are commonly called the “Synoptic Gospels.” In stark contrast, John takes a very different approach to Christ’s earthly ministry. John’s Gospel Record stands by itself. Unlike the so-called “Synoptic Gospels,” John documents just a small portion of Christ’s earthly ministry.

To form John’s Gospel, the Holy Spirit selected eight special miracles—seven of which are found only in John. They are not found in Matthew, Mark, or Luke. These eight special miracles in John’s Gospel are various aspects of what God wants to do for and with the nation Israel. Our King James Bible calls these eight particular miracles “signs” in John 20:30. Of course, Jesus performed more than eight miracles during His earthly ministry. This is all what John 20:30-31 is teaching. The Bible does not say, “And many other *words* truly *spoke* Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book.” That is the way Romanists want the verse to read, but, of course, it is a misreading. The emphasis in John 20:30-31 is on the eight special miracles recorded in John. John did not write about the other miracles featured in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

From the King James Bible, we read John 20:30-31 again: “[30] And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: [31] But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” For our Roman Catholic readers, we cite the New American (Catholic) Bible: “30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of (his) disciples that are not written in this book. 31 But these are written that you may (come to) believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.” The Catholic Bible and Protestant Bible are agreed that the emphasis of John 20:30-31 is on what Jesus did (miracles, signs) rather what He spoke and taught!

John 21:25 should be understood likewise: “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” Once more, the stress is not on what Jesus taught but rather on what He did. Jesus’ miracles found in the book of John are just a portion of all the miracles He performed during those three years. John admitted his book focused on only eight of the miracles Jesus performed. For more information on how the Gospel Record of John is structured, please see our study linked at the end of this article, titled, “Should we use the book of John in evangelism?”

Please do not misunderstand me. No honest person could ever say that Matthew through John contains all the words Jesus spoke in three years. I gladly admit Jesus spoke and taught many things that are not recorded in the Bible. The statements He made “in red” are just a portion of what He spoke during three years. That does not matter because 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and Colossians 1:25 make it clear that, apart from the written Bible text, we need no more revelation from God. The Holy Spirit superintended what was to be included in the canon of Scripture. Even the Roman Catholic Bible has 27 New Testament books (just like the Protestant Bible). If you were looking for everything else Jesus spoke during those three years, you would be foolish to appeal to an organization that hates the words He did speak and record in His Bible! You study history, you study Roman Catholic theology, you speak to Roman seminarians, priests, bishops, et cetera, and you can see just how anti-Bible they really are. They laugh and criticize the Holy Bible. Would God have used these people to preserve His Word for us? (And they claim they are “Bible believers!” Ha!) I have seen non-Christian people treat the Bible with more respect than Roman Catholic priests treat it!

If we respect the words of God’s apostles, then we will accept what the Apostle Paul wrote in 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.” The Bible—the written text, the “Scriptures” (“script”=“writing”)—is all that we need to be “throughly furnished unto all good works.” Even the Roman Catholic Bible teaches that in these verses. Saint Paul argued that if it is not in the Bible, it is not a “good work.” If the Scriptures contain all that we need for a productive Christian life, and they do, then what is the purpose of Sacred Tradition? Church tradition is useless. It will only take away from the Scriptures that are completely sufficient for us.

Also, Paul wrote in Colossians 1:25 that he was made a minister of God to “fulfill [bring to completion] the word of God.” Saint Paul said he gave us the final revelation from God. Once he penned his second letter to young Timothy, Paul died, and the revelation from God was complete (refer to 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Paul died 2,000 years ago. Since his death, the Papacy and other Roman leaders have continually supplemented the Bible with “Sacred Tradition.” Saint Paul said that, once his ministry concluded, there would be no more information from God to mankind. Yet, the Roman Church continually appeals to the “church fathers” for further divine insight, men who lived decades and centuries after Saint Paul died! Why? They have no regard for what God has revealed in the Bible.

CONCLUSION

Friends, we would have to be willfully deceptive to say that John 20:30-31 and John 21:25 teach there is additional revelation from God apart from the written Word (the Bible). It is most ridiculous! Those verses are talking about what Jesus “did” rather than what He “taught” and “said.” John’s Gospel selected only eight miracles whereas Jesus did many more during His earthly ministry (see Matthew, Mark, and Luke). The purpose of John’s Gospel can be found in our study, “Should we use the book of John in evangelism?,” linked at the end of this article.)

SUPPLEMENTAL: EVEN IF THE BIBLE CRITICS WERE RIGHT….

For sake of argument, let us suppose that God wanted us to follow church tradition to compensate for the fact that not everything Jesus said is recorded in Scripture. How would we know that church tradition would carry just as much weight as Jesus’ written words? Would there not be a risk that church tradition would challenge, and take away, from the written Word of God? Why, of course—and it has! I have spoken to so many people who claim to follow the Bible and “Sacred Tradition,” but when I pressed them about it and asked them to explain themselves, they finally blurted out, “I do not follow the Bible! I do not care what the Bible says! I follow tradition!”

For people who supposedly familiarized themselves with “God’s Word” in catechetical school, for people who supposedly “studied the Bible” for years at seminary, Roman Catholic “apologists” know almost nothing about what the Bible teaches. No, they do not study the Bible. They simply study theology and then pick out Bible verses that even remotely resemble what they learned in school. Instead of getting their theology out of the Bible, they look for their theology in the Bible. If there is no Bible verse that clearly supports their particular denominational doctrine, they will find the Bible verse closest to what they believe and then force the verse to read their way. John 20:30-31 and John 21:25 are just two examples of this. Their handling of the verse may be phrased as,” A better reading is….” If they disagree with the verse, especially in a King James (Protestant) Bible, they say (most conveniently), “What a poor translation!” Well, in the case of John 20:30-31 and John 21:25, their Roman Catholic Bible says just what the Protestant Bible says. What Jesus “didnot what Jesus “taught!”

Also see:
» Should we use the book of John in evangelism?
» Has God’s Word failed?
» Does doctrine really matter?

Is Israel “cast away,” or not? Has Israel “fallen,” or not?

IS ISRAEL “CAST AWAY,” OR NOT? HAS ISRAEL “FALLEN,” OR NOT?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Many consider Romans chapters 9-11 the most difficult part of the book. Calvinists have so abused and confused chapter 9 that people fear reading and teaching it. The “sinner’s prayer” people have abused and confused chapter 10, making it harder for lost people to understand the Gospel of Grace. Those who believe that we have replaced Israel have abused and confused chapter 11, causing people to fight about it as well.

Amidst all the confusion surrounding these chapters, people struggle with so-called “contradictions” as well. For example, the conflicting ideas presented in Romans chapter 11—Israel’s casting away versus her not being cast away, and Israel’s fall versus Israel not falling—at the beginning of the chapter force people to stop attempting to understand it before they have even begun it. In this study, let me first show you exactly what verses they find troublesome. Then, I will share with you other Bible verses that shed light on these “problematic” verses.

ISRAEL—CAST AWAY OR NOT?

The Bible opens Romans chapter 11 with the following: “[1] I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid [May God never let that happen!]. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. [2] God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel saying….” Now, verse 15 upsets the Bible reader: “For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?”

Did you notice the contrasting ideas in the above Scriptures? Verses 1 and 2 say God has not cast away His people Israel. Then, verse 15 says He has cast away His people Israel. Has Israel been cast away, or not? It sounds like double-talk but it is not.

Returning to the Romans 11:1-2: “Hath God cast away his people? God forbid [May God never let that happen!]. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. [2] God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel saying….” The expression—God has not cast away Israel—has a twofold meaning.

Firstly, when Paul wrote the book of Romans (circa Acts chapter 20), there is a remnant of believing Jews still living. There is still Israel’s Little Flock, led by the 12 apostles (note verse 5)—these believers are “the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16).

Secondly, during the Acts period, there are believing Jews outside of the nation Israel. Paul cites himself as an example (verse 1 of Romans chapter 11). This group of believing Jews belongs to the Church the Body of Christ. All these believing Jews—whether in the Little Flock or in the Body of Christ—prove that God has not cut off all contact with all Jews. The believing Jews in the Little Flock still have access to Him. The believing Jews in the Body of Christ have access to Him. Unbelieving Jews are being offered fellowship with Him, but they must believe Paul’s Gospel and join the Church the Body of Christ. Paul’s Gospel is “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

Additionally, Israel’s Little Flock is the group of believers that God intended to form going all the way back to Abraham. God has not removed Israel from his program forever; He has not permanently rejected Israel. The triune God will deal with Israel yet future. Verse 12 of Romans chapter 11 speaks of Israel’s “fulness” (as opposed to her “diminishing”). Verse 15 discusses God “receiving” Israel (as opposed to God “casting [her] away,” or Him rejecting her). Verse 26 talks about “all Israel shall be saved” (as opposed to her spiritual blindness in our Dispensation of Grace).

When Romans 11:1-2 says that God has not cast away His people Israel, it simply means that they are not eternally out of God’s program. He still has a purpose and plan for them one day. Israel is simply “cast away” in the sense God has momentarily rejected them in order to deal with us Gentiles (verse 15). That God may deal with the whole world in His grace, He removed Israel from her privileged position. Since Israel was unwilling to reach Gentiles on God’s behalf, so worthy of His wrath, He temporarily set Israel aside so He could directly deal with all people (nations) in His longsuffering and kindness (including the unbelieving, rebellious Jews). “For God hath concluded all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all” (Romans 11:32). And, verse 15 in part again, “For if the casting away of them [Israel] be the reconciling of the world [Gentiles]….” This truth is also briefly mentioned in 2 Corinthians 5:19: “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”

When Father God is finished forming the Church the Body of Christ (mystery), He will return to forming the nation Israel (prophecy). This leads us to our next section.

ISRAEL—FALLEN OR NOT?

The Bible says in Romans chapter 11: “[11] I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid [May God never let that happen!]: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. [12] Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?”

Did you notice the contrasting ideas in the above Scriptures? The first part of verse 11 says Israel did not fall. The rest of verse 11 and verse 12 say Israel has fallen. Did Israel fall, or not? It sounds like double-talk but it is not.

Returning to Romans 11:11-12: “[11] I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. [12] Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?” These two verses actually span a period of time rather than a single moment in time. Israel stumbled but did not fall. Later, Israel stumbled and did fall. Exactly what does this mean? We must look in the context for explanatory verses.

Israel’s “stumbling” loops back to what Paul wrote in Romans chapter 9. We read in its closing verses: “[31] But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. [32] Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; [33] As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”

According to 1 Peter 2:5-8, the “stumblingstone and rock of offence” laid in Zion was none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Specifically, this refers to His earthly ministry (Matthew through John). Israel stumbled in that she made the mistake of rejecting Jesus as her Messiah/King. While this occurred throughout the three years of Christ’s earthly ministry, Israel nationally and formally rejected Jesus during His trial before Pontius Pilate, at the end of His earthly ministry. Speaking on behalf of their nation, Israel’s religious leaders cried out, “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15). They officially rejected their birthright as the children of Abraham. They wanted no part in being God’s special people to bless all the families of the world (Genesis 12:1-3).

While Israel demanded Jesus’ crucifixion, God did not set them aside as a nation. Remember, Jesus pled from Calvary, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Father God indeed forgave Israel of the crucifixion of His beloved Son and their Messiah. He gave them a renewed opportunity of repentance in the opening chapters of the book of Acts. Israel had one year to change their minds about who Jesus was, and accept Him. Unfortunately, Israel again rejected that offer. After one year of trying to turn Israel around, with very few Jews converting, God finally set Israel aside. In Acts chapter 7, Israel nationally rejected the Holy Spirit (who had been speaking through Stephen and the others in the opening chapters of Acts). Unlike the blasphemy against Jesus Christ at Calvary that was forgiven, the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost could not be and was not forgiven of Israel (Matthew 12:31-32).

So Israel did stumble at Messiah Jesus during His earthly ministry, but she did not fall before God at the cross. However, Israel rejected the Holy Spirit in early Acts, and then she fell. Through Israel’s fall salvation is coming to us Gentiles. This is where Paul’s ministry comes into view. Romans chapter 11 again: “[11] I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. [12] Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? [13] For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: [14] If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.” (A side-note: Verse 14 is Paul conducting his “special” ministry during Acts so as to entice the lost Jews to join the Body of Christ and avoid God’s wrath coming upon them.)

CONCLUSION

  1. Has God cast away Israel? “No,” Romans 11:1-2 says. In the Bible, there is still a believing remnant in Israel—that is, the Little Flock—whom God will use to accomplish His will in the earth one day (Luke 12:31-32; cf. Matthew 19:27-28; Romans 11:3-7). While that group of believing Jews does not exist today, it did exist during the Acts period (the time when Paul wrote the book of Romans). Nevertheless, Israel is not permanently rejected of God. After our Dispensation of Grace ends, she will be restored nationally so as to inherit all of God’s promises and blessings first guaranteed to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, et cetera (Romans 11:25-29).
  1. Has God cast away Israel? “Yes,” Romans 11:15 says. So God could deal with us Gentiles and form the Church the Body of Christ, He has momentarily rejected Israel. She is not His favored nation today. God considers all in unbelief—Jew and Gentile—that He might have mercy upon all (Romans 11:32). “As concerning the gospel, they [the Jews] are enemies for your sakes…” (verse 28). While Israel is not nationally converted to JEHOVAH God today, individual Jews can be saved today by believing Paul’s Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). These Jews can join the Body of Christ, and join God in His plan for the heavenly places.
  1. Did Israel fall? “No,” Romans 11:11 says. She stumbled (made a mistake) when she rejected Jesus as her Messiah/King during His earthly ministry. But, God did not set her aside at the cross of Calvary. She did not fall at Calvary. He continued to deal with her nationally during the first seven chapters of Acts. Peter continued to call all of Israel to repentance and Christ Jesus in Acts chapters 2, 3, 4, and 5. Stephen had a ministry attempting to convert Jerusalem in chapter 6. However, at the end of that year of preaching, in chapter 7, Stephen indicted Israel for her persistent unbelief. Please note there was no offer of repentance in chapter 7 but rather a warning of impending judgment from God. That was the pause of God’s dealings with national Israel, lest the whole world would have been consumed in God’s wrath.
  1. Did Israel fall? “Yes,” Romans 11:11-12 says. She fell when she refused to hear the testimony of the Holy Ghost speaking through the 12 apostles during early Acts. The culmination of her unbelief occurred in Acts chapter 7, when God finally set Israel aside and went to the Gentiles (through Paul) without Israel. For more information, please see the links below to our various related Bible studies.

Also see:
» Have we been “grafted into Israel?”
» Why did Jesus stand in Acts 7:55-56?
» Can you explain Peter and the 11’s ministry in Acts 7-15?
» Can you explain Matthew 21:43?
» What is Replacement Theology?
» Have I blasphemed against the Holy Spirit?
» Can you explain Paul’s first miracle?

Why do people grow angry when we share right division with them?

WHY DO PEOPLE GROW ANGRY WHEN WE SHARE RIGHT DIVISION WITH THEM?

by Shawn Brasseaux

There are several reasons why people get angry when we share dispensational Bible study with them. In this Bible study article, I will share with you the reasons that come to my mind.

1. EMOTIONS

Friend, you must always remember you are dealing with an extremely personal matter. Regardless of the friendliness and sincerity of denominational Christians, they still have emotional attachments to their particular group’s tenets. Even if they are saved people who understand justification by grace through faith in Christ without works, they have the same emotions that lost people have. A saved person’s “flesh” (sin nature) is just as rotten as a lost person’s “flesh.” If the Christian is not renewing his or her mind daily with sound Bible doctrine, he or she is operating on the same basis the lost person is functioning. There is no Spirit of God working in either life. They are all merely “coasting along” in the energy of their flesh, to burn out soon and find themselves miserably stranded.

If you have had any experience in a denominational system yourself, you know that church tradition is extremely hard to abandon. Some people go their whole lives—perhaps even 100 years—and never give up their religion. Perhaps it is a theological system that family and friends embrace. Thus, in their mind, it is a betrayal of loved ones to listen to right division. A lot of people are in their particular denominations or local churches because of close family ties. Also, there are preachers’ salaries involved. There are egos (pride) associated. People will have to start admitting that they are wrong. They will have to concede that they have been taught wrong. They will have to admit that they have believed wrong. They will have to disclose that they have taught others wrong. As you can imagine, this is quite devastating for lost and saved people alike. Much of their lives have been based on lies, and who wants to admit a faulty foundation?

First Timothy chapter 6 mentions people who do not consent to wholesome words, even to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ. Note their malady, and how we are to deal with them. First Timothy chapter 6: “[3] If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; [4] He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, [5] Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.”

We are to teach others sound Bible doctrine. Tell them how to have their sins forgiven by faith in Christ’s finished crosswork alone (found in Paul’s epistles). After they are saved unto eternal life, tell them about why God saved them from their sins (also found in Paul’s epistles). But, if they “consent not to wholesome words, even the word of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness,” if they refuse to hear us at any point, the Scriptures tell us to “withdraw” from them. That is, leave them in their ignorance (1 Corinthians 14:38—which applies first and foremost to Christians, and, if we are to “withdraw” from rebellious Christians, all the more from lost people!). The Holy Spirit says they are “proud, knowing nothing.” They refuse to admit that they are wrong, and they refuse to admit that they have been teaching wrong. Pride has gotten in the way, and they have pushed the Bible out of the way. You need not waste your time with them. Friend, move on to people who do want to listen to the truth!

2. DENOMINATION

If right division were embraced, if Paul’s apostleship to us were accepted as true, the first thing that would go would be water baptism. Every group in Christendom holds to some type of water baptism, so every group would literally fall apart! Tithing (forced giving), Sabbath-day keeping, “healing” services, confession of sins, prayer books, “praise and worship services,” “anointed preaching,” bodies of scholarship, and so on, all of that would have to go as well. They recognize exactly what they would have to abandon and they grow angry because they are too much attached to these practices and ideas (recall our comments in point #1).

In their minds, their particular denomination teaches exactly what God would have them do. They equate loyalty to their church with loyalty to God. “I want to follow Jesus in ‘believer’s baptism.’ I want to follow Him in ‘healing the sick,’ ‘raising the dead,’ and ‘handling snakes!’ I want to ‘love my neighbor as myself.’” On and on they go. They sincerely think that by following the denomination in “obeying” Matthew through John and early Acts, they are following Jesus Christ. When they hear teaching contrary to what they have heard in their local church for years and years, when they hear about “Paul the man” with “words of divine authority,” they see that new information as an infringement upon “God’s instructions” to them. They feel threatened so they erect a wall. Their emotions have been breached (see point #1), their conscience has been pricked, and now they feel they must defend themselves! They blurt, “I follow Jesus. I do not follow Paul, a mere man!” (All the while they are following men leading the denomination. All the while they obey the traditions of men.)

Although they have already erected a wall to “tune you out,” inside, they have reached a crossroads. Having seen dispensational Bible study, having heard the Bible rightly divided, they struggle to “make the break from religion.” For most, the pull toward religion is just too irresistible. There is far too much to lose, so they stay with the denomination they have known for all those years. There is a great desire to retain “the religion Mama and Daddy believed and died with.” (Again, they view you as “maligning their deceased loved ones.”) In fact, they may still have relatives and friends in that church so they do not want to lose fellowship with them. Considering the great losses, they turn a blind eye to God’s Word.

Please understand, not all of these people are deliberately being dishonest. Unfortunately, some people utterly refuse to embrace the truth. Sometimes, they know good and well that they are teaching wrong, but they keep their traditions. I remember one local Bible teacher was very much aware of Pauline dispensationalism but he did not want to fully embrace it because: (1) he was a Baptist and he wanted to hang on to his water ceremony, and (2) he did not want to upset the Baptist church where all his relatives and friends were. Friends, remember, you cannot make a living in a denomination unless you sign a contract affirming that you agree with their doctrine. You cannot embrace dispensational Bible study and expect your salary (income) and your relationships to remain fully intact. This leads us to point #3.

3. SOCIALIZATION

Remember, all things fall apart in the religious system if dispensational Bible study is embraced and upheld. This is especially concerning “friendships,” “marriages,” and “peers.” You may lose your personal business, your spouse, your “friends,” everything. Many in the Grace Movement—myself included—know this all too well.

People are going to have to start disagreeing with their “alma maters” (the “higher learning” institutions from which they received their education/training and advanced degrees). For example, a man feels indebted to his denominational college or seminary. To embrace dispensational Bible study means he must part with his “academic heritage.” That means disappointing his former professors, jeopardizing his friendships with former classmates, losing his endorsements, losing his reputation as a “champion” in that group or denomination, and so on. He will endure a string of very painful names—“heretic,” “apostate,” “church splitter,” “traitor,” “troublemaker,” “fanatic,” “Paul-worshipper,” “Bible-worshipper,” and much nastier words too vulgar to repeat here!

Note John 9:19-23: “[19] And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see? [20] His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: [21] But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. [22] These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. [23] Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him.” Jesus had indeed healed that blind man, but his parents refused to speak about it, fearing excommunication from the synagogue!

And, of course, the capstone of it all is John 12:42-43: “[42] Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: [43] For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”

My dear readers, human nature has not changed one bit in the 2,000 years since John chapters 9 and 12. Often, people are just not willing to give up their “prestigious” positions in their community. This can be with respect to professing Jesus Christ as Saviour, professing to believe the King James Bible, professing to be a Pauline dispensationalist, or professing to be a Bible-believing creationist. They will have to endure the “stigma” of “someone who believes things that very few people believe.” In the first installment of His great commission of His 12 apostles, the Lord Jesus warned, “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake…” (Matthew 10:22). People really do not hate us. They hate Jesus Christ whom we serve. Beloved, let us not give into the temptation of giving up Jesus Christ just so we can have the “praise of men.” Galatians 1:10: “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”

4. SALVATION

Friends, we might as well face it. There are some people on their way to hell and they do not realize it. This is because they have been taught a false Gospel and have false security. There is absolutely no soul salvation is a “sinner’s prayer.” There is absolutely no soul salvation in a water baptism, a church membership, a “tithe,” a visit to a confession booth, a partaking of some “holy meal,” growing up in a “Christian” home, and so on. Following Paul’s epistles, understanding they are to and about you, will automatically divorce you from “Repent and be baptized” (Acts 2:38). It will automatically separate you from “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). Unfortunately, people will hang on to these verses as part of their “Gospel message.” Rather than admit that their church tradition is wrong, that they have been taught wrong for so long, they will keep these misconstrued verses. It will result in their eternal damnation in hellfire. They would rather just continue in “hopes” of those verses applying to them. This leads us to point #5.

 5. REGULATION

Another reason why people dislike dispensational Bible study is that it removes works as a requirement to please God. Religion is very popular because it allows you to do things in the flesh. You get a sense that you can do things to make God happy with you. It can be a water baptism, a church membership, a series of prescribed prayers, a monetary donation, whatever. Then, you can brag about your “goodness.” Religionists have been so indoctrinated that they believe their Christian life cannot function without the Law. They believe the Law (especially the Ten Commandments) can help them manage their sin. They think it can help them quit bad deeds and help them start doing good deeds.

Oh, how ignorant they are of Galatians 5:18: “But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law!” The Bible says that the Holy Spirit never leads any believer to be under the Law today. Whoever teaches you to place yourself under the Law today, he or she is not led by God’s Spirit, and God’s Spirit is not leading you to place yourself under the Law! These works-religion people do not understand that God’s grace teaches us how to live. Law tells us to live righteously, but never provides us with power to live righteously. On the other hand, grace tells us to live righteously because we have the power in Christ to live righteously. Righteous living is the outward manifestation of the set-apart position we have in Jesus Christ. The sixth chapter of Romans makes that very clear.

The Bible says in Titus 2:11-14: “[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.”

6. MISINFORMATION

It is so sad, ever so sad to say it, but some people have been taught absolute nonsense in the name of “dispensational Bible study.” I have met some people who have given dispensational Bible study an extremely name. They almost made me abandon it years ago. Not having a good grasp of dispensational Bible study themselves, especially the book of Acts, they have confused and perverted others. All in the name of “dispensational Bible study,” they give more ammunition so our critics can use it against us. This is also why some people dislike right division. All they have to do is hear the word “dispensationalism” and “right division” and they shut down and start with emotional objections. They need to be taught true dispensational Bible study. It may be that they have never heard a clear dispensational Bible presentation in the first place. They need us to tell them, so, brethren, let us be gentle and loving as we do it.

7. “I AM COMFORTABLE JUST BEING SAVED UNTO ETERNAL LIFE!”

Unfortunately, some Christians are content with simply being saved. “I am on my way to heaven. I have trusted that Jesus died for my sins. All I need to know from the Bible, I know. Now, please, leave me alone!” In other words, they never get beyond a Gospel message. Spiritual growth requires great study and much effort. “Brother, there is just too much thinking at your grace church. Looking for books in the Bible and flipping pages is just so exhausting.” That is, they would rather attend church where the denomination/preacher interprets the Bible for them. Other than showing up, sitting in the pew, and shouting an occasional “Amen!,” such minimal effort is all they think God requires of them. As long as they can sing, dance, tap their feet, and clap their hands, they need not bother turning Bible pages and reading Bible verses!

While we rejoice that these people have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, that they are safe and secure in Christ, there is much more to Christian living than having the assurance of salvation unto eternal life. A Christian not mastering the Bible, not going beyond the Gospel in his or her comprehension, he or she is like a “vegetable,” someone who, although living, has severe spiritual brain damage and cannot function properly (if at all). Which Christian life do you prefer? Someone who knows the Gospel (less than one percent of the Bible), or someone who is quite familiar with the Bible? God’s will is not simply for you to be saved unto eternal life, my friend. First Timothy 2:4 also says Father God wants you to come unto the knowledge of the truth. You only do this by study His Word, His way!

Think about it another way. How much value would you place in a medical doctor who knew nothing more than how to take your temperature? What would you think of a carpenter who knew nothing more than how to saw and nail two pieces of wood together? What would you think of a mechanic who knew nothing more than how to change motor oil? I am being facetious, of course, but these “professionals” would be anything but. They are ridiculous. How much more a Christian who boasts knowing a handful of verses, when their Bible has thousands upon thousands of verses? Instead of knowing all the counsel of God, able to tell others, they themselves must be taught.

As we mentioned earlier, they do not want to learn and grow because that we requires study and effort. By you mentioning dispensational Bible study, you are challenging them to study the Bible on their own. This they dare not do. They are comfortable exactly where they are in their Christian experience and understanding of the Bible. They feel intimidated and will not dare to venture beyond their “box.” Their denomination has taught them all they care to know about the Bible. Oh, friends, dear brethren, may we never, ever, EVER become apathetic!

In closing, I leave you with one of our archived devotionals.

HARD AND STUBBORN, SOFT AND PLIABLE

He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy (Proverbs 29:1 KJV).

Yea, 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.

Second Timothy chapter 3, verses 16 and 17, say: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” The Bible is useful for “doctrine” (teaching), “reproof” (telling you what you are doing wrong), “correction” (telling you how to think so you can fix your behavior), and “instruction in righteousness” (telling you how to have a lifestyle that pleases God).

When the Word of God is shared with others, it challenges them. It exposes their ignorance (lack of understanding). It tells them what they are doing wrong. It tells them how to think so they can fix their behavior. It tells them how to have a lifestyle that is pleasing in God’s sight. Of course, the flesh, prideful self, does not like this. Every time the Bible is read or preached, every person’s flesh stiffens up in the audience. After all, Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Do you ever wonder how people can become so antagonistic toward the Bible? They can hear God’s words for the 1000th time, and still not make the choice of faith. Why? Proverbs 29:1 explains. Every time they heard God’s Word, they did not receive it. Light rejected is darkness. Spiritual reproof rejected becomes hardness. They become increasingly calloused. Recall how Moses stood before Pharaoh, with Pharaoh’s heart repeatedly rejecting God’s Word. May we not be Pharaoh! Once we hear God’s Word to us, Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon, may we believe it, before we too are hardened!

Also see:
» Can we “witness too much” to family members?
» If dispensational Bible study is true, how come so few believe it?
» Has God’s Word failed?

Could you explain Paul’s first miracle?

COULD YOU EXPLAIN PAUL’S FIRST MIRACLE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The Apostle Paul’s first miracle recorded in Scripture is in Acts chapter 13. We would do well if we surveyed that account and explained its elements. In doing so, we will better understand what Paul’s ministry is all about.

We read in Acts 13:1-12: “[1] Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. [2] As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. [3] And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. [4] So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. [5] And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister. [6] And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus: [7] Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. [8] But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. [9] Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him. [10] And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? [11] And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand. [12] Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.”

Notice how, when Saul (Paul) and Barnabas began their first apostolic journey, a Jew involved with Satan worship, attempted to hinder them from ministering to a Gentile political leader. Led by the Holy Ghost, Paul supernaturally blinded Elymas because Elymas, a Jewish sorcerer, attempted to prevent this Gentile from hearing God’s Word and trusting Christ. What is the significance of this miracle?

Remember, as per the Abrahamic Covenant, God formed Israel so He could utilize them in a kingdom to send His salvation to the Gentiles (non-Jews). The LORD God had told Abraham, “In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). When God sent Israel’s Messiah-King, Jesus, the Jews demanded His crucifixion. Even after Jesus was resurrected, they still rejected Him: Israel refused the apostles’ ministry (technically, the Holy Spirit’s ministry) in the early Acts period. Until all of Israel was saved, her kingdom could not be established, keeping the Gentiles from receiving salvation. But God had a plan to circumvent this rebellion!

Elymas symbolizes lost national Israel that prevents Gentiles from hearing God’s Word. Paul writes, “the Jews…[forbid] us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway…” (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16). Elymas’ other name is “Bar-Jesus,” meaning “son of Jesus,” and “Jesus” means “Saviour.” The Jews should have been God’s spiritual people so they could reach Gentiles, and yet, most were lost in Satan worship as the Gentiles were (works-religion, pagan idolatry).

Note what Paul wrote in Romans 11:11-13,25-29: “[11] I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. [12] Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? [13] For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: … [25] For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. [26] And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: [27] For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. [28] As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father’s sakes. [29] For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”

As Paul begins his apostolic journeys, God signifies, through the blinding of Elymas, that He will temporarily spiritually blind Israel and send salvation to the Gentiles through Paul’s ministry, without Israel (Romans 11:11-13). In our dispensation, Israel is “[blinded]…until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Romans 11:25). When our dispensation ends (the Rapture), God will return to Israel (verses 26-29). Just as Elymas was blinded “for a season” (Acts 13:11)—not eternally—Israel is temporarily blinded. God is not finished with Israel.

(If you have not already read it, please see our companion study below about Peter’s first miracle. The other two studies below are also supplemental, so please consult them for more information. Our study on Paul’s name change is also very beneficial in this regard.)

Also see:
» Can you explain Peter’s first miracle?
» Why was Saul’s name changed to Paul?
» Is God finished with the nation Israel?

Could you explain Peter’s first miracle?

COULD YOU EXPLAIN PETER’S FIRST MIRACLE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The Apostle Peter’s first miracle recorded in Scripture is in Acts chapter 3. We would do well if we surveyed that account and explained its elements. In doing so, we will better understand what Peter’s ministry, and that of the 12 apostles, is all about.

We read in Acts 3:1-11: “[1] Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. [2] And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; [3] Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. [4] And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. [5] And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. [6] Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. [7] And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. [8] And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. [9] And all the people saw him walking and praising God: [10] And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him. [11] And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering.”

Apostles Peter and John, going to the Temple in Jerusalem to pray at the “ninth hour” (3 P.M.), see a lame man sitting at the Temple gate called “Beautiful.” The man has been lame from birth, unable to walk for over 40 years (Acts 4:22). He begs for goods/money from those who pass by him to enter the Temple. When he asks something of Peter and John, Peter replies, “Look on us!” That is, Peter’s appearance—his clothing especially—was not that of a wealthy individual. Peter and John were just common people, who had recently sold all their material possessions as Jesus commanded (Luke 12:31-34). They were certainly not demanding “deserved personal jets” and “thousand-dollar suits” as many of today’s so-called “ministers (ha!) of Jesus Christ!” But, Peter and John can offer this lame man something. Spiritual healing pictured by physical healing!

By the way, the lame man symbolizes Israel, spiritually impotent from her beginning (dead in her sins; Matthew 1:21; Matthew 18:11). By performing this miracle through Peter, the Holy Ghost is signifying to lost Israel that He can heal them spiritually like He physically restored the lame man. Notice Acts 4:8-12: “[8] Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, [9] If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; [10] Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. [11] This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. [12] Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

Interestingly, in case you did not notice, the Temple gate by which the lame man sat was called “Beautiful” (Acts 3:2). He sat just outside God’s blessings (Israel’s kingdom), but he needed strength to get there. He needed God’s power to raise him up! After Peter healed him, he walked into the Temple, leaping and praising God (verses 8-10).

At His Second Coming, Jesus Christ will heal Israel of her existing lost, impotent state (Acts 3:19-21). As God gave the lame man strength to walk into the Temple, He will empower Israel to rise up in salvation (Romans 11:26-29) and literally walk into her kingdom (Isaiah 35:1-10; Ezekiel 37:1-28). In the name of Jesus Christ, Israel will be healed, delivered into her kingdom of everlasting salvation, peace, and prosperity (Jeremiah 23:5-8; Hosea 2:14-23; Luke 1:67-75; 1 Peter 2:9-10).

Yes, in this the Dispensation of Grace, Israel lacks her once privileged position before God. Her Temple is destroyed. Jews are scattered worldwide, absent from the land that God promised their father Abraham. Sadly, Israel is lost, far removed from JEHOVAH who dealt with her patriarchs in time past (Romans 10:1-3; Romans 11:11-32; 2 Corinthians 3:14-16). This is only temporary! (This brings us to Paul’s first miracle recorded in Scripture. Please see the link below for this study’s companion article. The other two studies below are also supplemental, so please consult them for more information.)

Also see:
» Could you explain Paul’s first miracle?
» Why did Jesus Christ heal on the Sabbath day?
» Did John 10:16 predict the Church the Body of Christ?