Monthly Archives: July 2016

Is Luke 16:19-31 a parable?

IS LUKE 16:19-31 A PARABLE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

In an attempt to sidestep the Biblical doctrine of eternal judgment in hellfire, certain groups have resorted to watering down one of the clearest and most graphic passages of hell. Such people say that Luke 16:19-31—the account of the Rich Man and Lazarus—is merely a “parable,” figurative language rather than literal truth. They believe there was no historical rich man who actually woke up tormented in hell, and no historical beggar named Lazarus who actually woke up comforted in paradise. After all, their denominational doctrine demands that the dead be unconscious, completely unaware of their surroundings. Furthermore, they protest, “A loving God would never send people to an eternal hell.” They particularly pick on a Bible term found in the passage—“Abraham’s bosom.” If “Abraham’s bosom” is not literal, they assert, then neither is the rest of the passage—especially the part about “tormented in this flame.” Friends, in this study, we will critically evaluate Luke 16:19-31. Literal? Or, figurative?

Dear readers, first things first. Before commenting, we must read Luke 16:19-31: “[19] There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: [20] And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, [21] And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. [22] And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; [23] And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. [24] And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. [25] But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. [26] And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. [27] Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: [28] For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. [29] Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. [30] And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. [31] And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”

Now to our thorough analysis!

CONTEMPLATION #1

Friends, stop and think. After reading Luke 16:19-31, was there clarity or confusion in our minds? That is, were you more confused about that topic discussed in those Scriptures, or were you enlightened? If you do not mind, please answer the following questions.

What specific verses, phrases, or words, if any, would lead you to conclude that Luke 16:19-31 is figurative? What, if anything, do you think is nonliteral in the passage? Please write your answers in the blanks below. (If you are reading this online, please use a pen and paper.)

INDICATIONS THAT LUKE 16:19-31 IS FIGURATIVE (NON-LITERAL)

  1. _________________________________________
  1. _________________________________________
  1. _________________________________________

Okay, the next part. What specific verses, phrases, or words, if any, would lead you to conclude that Luke 16:19-31 is literal? What, if anything, do you think is literal in the passage? Please write your answers in the blanks below. (Again, if you are reading this online, please use a pen and paper.)

INDICATIONS THAT LUKE 16:19-31 IS LITERAL (NON-FIGURATIVE)

  1. _________________________________________
  1. _________________________________________
  1. _________________________________________

Now that you have written your answers, we move on to make some general verse comparisons and present some basic facts from Scripture. First and foremost, parables bear a certain primary characteristic in Scripture. Contrary to popular belief, parables are not teaching aids. They are meant to make the truth less clear. That is, parables are meant to hide the truth from people who have rejected the truth God had previously revealed to them. To repeat, parables are meant to confuse rather than to explain.

The Lord Jesus Christ admitted this quite plainly in Matthew 13:10-15: “[10] And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? [11] He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. [12] For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. [13] Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. [14] And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: [15] For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”

In light of what the Lord Jesus Himself said about parables, Luke 16:19-31, if it were a parable, should have made the truth less clear. Did it? In light of what the Lord Jesus Himself said about parables, Luke 16:19-31, if it were literal, should have made the truth quite clear. Did it? Then, my dear friends, it should be very apparent to you as to whether or not Luke 16:19-31 is a parable! But, we will take it a step further.

CONTEMPLATION #2

Luke 16:19 does not begin with, “And he speak this parable unto them….” If the account of the rich man and Lazarus were a parable, the Holy Spirit should have made sure to notify the audience that this “graphic story” was merely a parable and not literal truth. Remember, this passage has been used for centuries to defend the reality of eternal hellfire. The implications are quite severe if we take Luke 16:19-31 as literal truth. Should not the Holy Spirit, having foreseen the alleged “misusage” of the passage in the coming centuries, made every attempt in the context to indicate that it was symbolic and nonliteral? You can search Luke chapter 16 for the rest of eternity, my dear readers, and never see where Jesus clearly indicated verses 19 through 31 as figurative (a parable).

Furthermore, the last parable of chapter 16 (in the context) ended with verse 8. That was over 10 verses prior to Jesus mentioning the rich man and Lazarus. Jesus began to speak literal truths from verse 9 of chapter 16 onward and into chapter 17. (We will address this quite thoroughly later, in point #7). If it were a parable, Jesus left much room for ambiguities and uncertainties; He never explained what the elements symbolized. This lack of explanation is the strongest indication that no symbolism was involved. Luke 16:19-31 was literal.

The only logical, Bible-believing view, is that Luke 16:19-31 was not a parable, but literal history. Just as we are aware of our surroundings today (we are on planet Earth), Lazarus knew he was in paradise (the heart of the Earth, the spirit world for believers of that time) and the rich man knew that he was in torments (the heart of the Earth, the spirit world for unbelievers even today). But, we will take it another step further!

CONTEMPLATION #3

Of all the parables recorded in Matthew through Luke (John does not contain parables), not one of them contains a person’s name. Check it out for yourself if you doubt me. In stark contrast, Luke 16:20 bears the name “Lazarus” (also see verses 23,24, and 25). The name was not a mistake. It is mentioned four times. Why? Lazarus was a literal, flesh-and-blood individual like us; he was not some imaginary character in a horror story. He was just as literal and physical as Abraham was, and “Abraham” was also mentioned by name in the passage (see verses 25 and 29). This great detail is never found in any of Jesus’ parables. Again, check it out for yourself if you do not believe me. Okay, we take it yet another step further!

CONTEMPLATION #4

As we mentioned in point #2, the Holy Spirit should have made it clear to identify the meaning of Luke 16:19-31. What was the purpose of telling His audience this if it were a parable without historical basis? If Jesus, when saying, “I am tormented in this flame,” meant something other than literal suffering in a literal fire, why did He not define that expression in literal terms for us? The same could be said of “Lazarus,” “rich man,” “Abraham,” “great gulf fixed,” and all the other elements in the passage. Jesus left them undefined. Why? The only logical conclusion is that those words were to be taken at face value. He gave no alternative meaning for them because there was no alternative meaning for them. Our Lord Jesus said exactly what He meant about the rich man and Lazarus, and He meant exactly what He said about the rich man and Lazarus. If we disagree with Him, we need to just come out and say that we do not believe the Bible. We should not be hiding behind some lame “figurative language” defense. (We will discuss this in our next point.) Dear friends, may we not be like all those unbelieving hearts that simply reject the simple revelations from God, just so they may keep their manmade church traditions! We take it another step….

CONTEMPLATION #5

When the Prophet Ezekiel warned Israel about God’s coming judgment upon them, note the following in Ezekiel 20:45-49: “[45] Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, [46] Son of man, set thy face toward the south, and drop thy word toward the south, and prophesy against the forest of the south field; [47] And say to the forest of the south, Hear the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour every green tree in thee, and every dry tree: the flaming flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be burned therein. [48] And all flesh shall see that I the LORD have kindled it: it shall not be quenched. [49] Then said I, Ah Lord GOD! they say of me, Doth he not speak parables?”

Did you catch it? Unbelievers equate “fire” (judgment) in the Bible with “parables.” Bible rejecters are those who do not believe in God’s literal fire of judgment! Would a Bible believer ever conclude God’s fiery judgment a “parable?” Not according to the Bible! What does this say about people who diminish Luke 16:19-31, hellfire, to a “parable?” We can take it another step!

CONTEMPLATION #6

Those who relish in “toning down” Luke 16:19-31 especially appeal to the Bible’s term “Abraham’s bosom” (see verses 22-23). To them, this figurative expression proves the whole passage is nonliteral. Abraham’s actual breast is not involved, so the entire story is fabricated… or so they say. For example, to quote official “Jehovah’s Witnesses’” doctrine, “[The] Rich man and Lazarus account [is] no proof of eternal torment. Fire [is] no more literal than Abraham’s bosom.” Friends, these dear “Russellites” are woefully ignorant of the English language. Of course, they are not interested in using English properly anyway. They just want to defend their denomination… whatever the cost!

“Bosom,” in the English language, does not necessarily mean a literal breast, as in someone resting against your upper chest. “Bosom,” as used in John’s Gospel, is most definitely Jesus’ literal breast, His upper chest (see John 13:23,25). Yet, our English word “bosom” can also mean “a state of enclosing intimacy; warm closeness.” In a similar manner, we use our English word “heart.” In one sense, the term “heart” refers to the physical muscle that pumps literal blood throughout our literal, physical bodies. Yet, another sense of “heart” is our innermost being, our seat of emotions. For instance, think about the expression, “That person is close, or dear, to your heart.” Does that mean this person is literally resting against your chest? Of course not! Yet, this figurative phrase still communicates a literal truth. You have deep emotional connections with that individual. It has nothing to do with your heart muscle, either.

You are probably curious as to why the term “Abraham’s bosom” even appears in Luke 16:22-23. I will gladly tell you. Remember, it is the title of the place where believing Lazarus went upon death. It was also the place where Abraham’s soul resided (see verses 25,29). As you may know, Abraham is the classic believer in Scripture. He is called “the father of all them that believe” in Romans 4:11. All believers who had died up to the point of Luke chapter 16, they had died believing in the God of Abraham. They, going all the way back to Adam—the beginning of the world (Acts 3:21)—had also died with faith in the message of God’s earthly kingdom. Because Abraham is called “the father of them that believe,” his “bosom” indicates the close affinity he has with other believers from that Old Testament era, as well as their closeness with him. They are all children of God, having the righteousness of Jesus Christ credited to their account, and thus have an intimate relationship with the God of the Bible. They are (even today) still awaiting bodily resurrection to enter God’s earthly kingdom (see Job 19:25-27, for instance). This is in contrast with those unbelieving souls, such as the rich man, who are (even today) still experiencing torment in the flames of hell.

By the way, if we must nitpick at the phrase “Abraham’s bosom,” saying the passage is not literal because “bosom” is not literal, then we must also dismiss John 1:18 as nonliteral. “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” “Bosom” in John 1:18 is figurative and not literal, so should John 1:18 be believed literally? As in Luke 16:22-23, “bosom” in John 1:18 carries a literal truth. The Lord Jesus is not literally leaning on God’s breast, is He? Yet, even while using a figurative term, John 1:18 is conveying a literal truth. Jesus has an intimate relationship with His Heavenly Father. (Remember our comments about “heart?”) The same sense is applied to “Abraham’s bosom.” We take it another step further!

CONTEMPLATION #7

Dear friends, to have the richest understanding of Luke 16:19-31, we would have to come to a conclusion as to what it all means. If all the elements symbolize something else (as the case in a parable), then what do they all mean as a whole (as in a parable)? Remember, even parables have real-life applications. Luke 16:19-31, even if it were a parable, would still convey literal truths. It would by no means diminish God’s revelation. But, it is not a parable. Because of its serious nature, we had better take it most seriously.

As stated earlier, the easiest way to handle Luke 16:19-31 is to simply take it at face value. When you examine its context, the natural conclusion is that it means just what it says. The context is literal; Luke 16:19-31 must also be literal. Let me tell you how we deduce that.

Luke chapter 16 opens with Jesus talking to His disciples about being faithful servants. The issue of literal wealth is mentioned. Jesus says to His disciples in verse 13: “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Please note verse 14: “And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.” The Pharisees dislike what Jesus said, so they mock Him. So, from verse 15 onward until verse 31 (end of chapter 16), Jesus addresses the covetous Pharisees. Notice how He is rebuking them for their materialism. “Mammon” is wealth, specifically avarice or excessive greed. They serve their wealth instead of His Heavenly Father. Now you know why Jesus proceeded to mention the “rich man” and Lazarus. That “rich man” was one of those Pharisees! Instead of serving the Creator God by faith, he too had idolized his wealth. Jesus was warning the Pharisees that they, unless they converted to Him, would literally wind up in that same literal, eternally hopeless state of “torment in flames” as that literal rich man’s literal soul! Their covetousness (idolatry) was literal and their eternal doom was equally literal! We take the argument one step further!

CONTEMPLATION #8

At this point, perhaps, the critics of Luke 16:19-31 have seen their error in dismissing it as a parable, a nonliteral portion of Scripture. We hope and pray that they have, for it is a very serious matter. However, even if one were to recognize the merits in this study’s foregoing statements, there always lingers that last-ditch effort to dismiss eternal judgment. I can just hear it being asked: “Oh, but, Brother Shawn, how can a loving God send people to eternal hellfire?” What a great question, my friend! I am so glad you asked. I am so glad to answer it as well!

“How can a loving God send people to eternal hellfire?” The Bible believer, stumped, is perhaps convinced that the “eternal-judgment critic” has made a valid point. Has he or she? Why, of course not! That “loving God,” according to Romans 5:8, did everything to keep everyone out of hell. He sent Jesus Christ His Son to experience His wrath on our behalf, to die for our sins, that we not have to go to eternal hellfire. We just need to trust alone what He did for us at Calvary. But, if someone wants to ignore that sacrifice of Christ, that person is “unloving” because he or she has rejected God’s love. God is still loving. If they reject God’s love, they wind up in hell because of their own fault. They sent themselves to hell. God did not send anyone anywhere. He let them go where they wanted! If I, out of love, offered a million dollars to a loved one who was a million dollars in debt, and that loved one refuses the money I offer, that in no way canceled my love for him or her. My love was independent of what her or she did with my offer. If he or she wants to stay in debt, that is his or her problem—not my fault! Likewise, if someone wants to stay in spiritual debt, do not blame God! (For more information, please see our related study linked at the end of this article. There, you will find a fuller treatment of that topic.)

CONCLUSION

There are at least seven reasons why Bible believers understand Luke 16:19-31 to be literal truth, not a parable.

  1. Firstly, according to the Lord Jesus Himself, parables are meant to confuse, to hide the truth from people who previously rejected it. There is nothing difficult to understand in Luke 16:19-31 unless we refuse to understand it. Luke 16:19-31 is a very graphic picture of eternal hellfire, which is why people attempt to dismiss it as “figurative.”
  2. Secondly, Luke 16:19-31 addresses a major doctrine. For it to be a parable and for Jesus never to make it clear to His audience that is a parable, is to force it to be literal. There are no ambiguities or uncertainties. Jesus expected His audience to take what He said at face value, and He expects us to do the same.
  3. Thirdly, parables do not contain names of people, and yet Luke 16:19-31 mentions “Lazarus” and “Abraham” by name several times.
  4. Fourthly, no additional explanation follows Luke 16:19-31. Jesus moved on to other topics in chapter 17. Since no other similar discourse is given in the context, Luke 16:19-31 must be self-explanatory and self-interpreting. Again, there is no mysterious language, confusion, or hidden truths—there are no characteristics of parables in Luke 16:19-31.
  5. Fifthly, unbelievers in Ezekiel’s day referred to God’s literally fiery judgment as nothing but “parables,” nonliteral statements. To say Luke 16:19-31, another passage about God’s fiery judgment, is a “parable,” is to echo the complaints of lost people, those who do not serve JEHOVAH God. Do you want to sound like a Bible rejecter? Then, my friend, you just keep on calling Luke 16:19-31 a “parable!”
  6. Sixthly, Luke 16:19-31 contains a nonliteral phrase—“Abraham’s bosom”—and yet the whole passage still contains literal truth. The same could be said of John 1:18, which uses the term “bosom” similarly.
  7. Lastly, the context of Luke 16:19-31 is literal covetousness. It is a passage spoken to literal idolaters, and serves as a clear warning of the eternal wrath coming on wealth-worshippers (idolaters). It is not some fairy tale meant to pass the time and take up space in God’s Word.

The God of the Bible is so loving that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die in our place. If we go to hell, we do so by rejecting that love God commended to us! To reject God’s love is for usnot Him—to be “unloving.”

In short, my friends, either (1) we believe Luke 16:19-31 says exactly what it means and means exactly what it says, or (2) we just stay loyal to our manmade denomination. Those are the only two options.

SUPPLEMENTAL: BUT WHAT IF SOMEONE STILL PERSISTS LUKE 16:19-31 IS A PARABLE?

Suppose, for argument’s sake, Luke 16:19-31 is a parable. Does that help us any if we deny the existence of eternal hellfire? Certainly not! Actually, relegating Luke 16:19-31 to the status of parable only proves the extreme measures people will take when twisting the Bible to fit their theology. Notice the following:

  1. Read Matthew 13:3-8. Do you notice how mysterious this passage is? It has hidden truths, symbolic language. This was Jesus’ first parable, commonly called the Parable of the Sower. Who is the sower? What are the seeds? What is the stony place? What about the thorns? The fowls? Now, read verses 18-23. In these statements, Jesus defines the terms of the parable. His next words will provide additional explanation.
  2. In verses 24-30 of Matthew chapter 13, the Lord Jesus gives a second parable, known as the Parable of the Tares—clearly called a “parable” in Matthew 13:24 and 36. Here again, Jesus utilizes various symbols. He talks about a man sowing wheat, an enemy sowing tares (weeds) among the wheat, reapers gathering the wheat and the tares, the tares are tossed into a burning fire, and the wheat is gathered into a barn. The disciples come to Jesus, asking Him to explain Himself to them (verse 36). Verses 37-43 are the Lord Jesus defining each of the various elements of the parable. He claims to be the sower of the good seed (verse 37). The field is the world (verse 38). The good seed (wheat) are the children of the kingdom (verse 38). The tares are the children of Satan, or unbelieving Jews (verse 38). The enemy who sowed the tares is the Devil (verse 39). The harvest is the end of the world (verse 39). The reapers are the angels (verse 39). The burning fire is the eternal judgment of God in hell (verse 42). The barn is the earthly kingdom of God, reserved only for Israel’s believing remnant the children of the kingdom (verse 43; cf. verse 38). Please note the fire that burns in the parable (verse 30), is, interpreted by Jesus, to be a literal fire (verse 42). The Lord Jesus thought that the fire—even in the context of a parable—was still a fire, nothing diminished. The fire did not mean something else; it meant fire. Unless of course, we reject the Lord Jesus’ interpretation so we can hold on to our church traditions? So, even if Luke 16:19-31 were a parable, the word fire means just what it says. It is a fire.
  3. It should be pointed out that, in the context of a parable (Matthew 13:30), “reapers” symbolize angels (verse 39). In Luke 16:19-31, the word “angels” appears (verse 22). So, the passage is not a parable; it is already reduced to a literal meaning. Unless, we are going to wrest the Scriptures even further and say that “angels” are not literal beings but rather symbols of some other things.

Also see:
» How can a loving God send people to hell forever?
» Why does God let Satan exist?
» In heaven, will we be aware of our loved ones in hell?

Are Matthew 17:1, Mark 9:2, and Luke 9:28 contradictory?

ARE MATTHEW 17:1, MARK 9:2, AND LUKE 9:28 CONTRADICTORY?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Matthew 17:1: “And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,”

Mark 9:2: “And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them.”

Luke 9:28: “And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.”

Why do Matthew and Mark say “six days” but Luke says “about an eight days?” A contradiction? A mistake? By no means! Banish the thought, friend! Let us give God’s Word the benefit of the doubt.

In the earlier verses of their respective chapters (Matthew 16:27-28; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26-27), Jesus had promised that some of His disciples would not taste death until they had seen Him come in the glory of His kingdom. In the verses following, Jesus Christ radiates before them—a preview of His glorious Second Coming and subsequent 1,000-Year Reign on Earth. As you may know, this passage is commonly called “the Mount of Transfiguration.”

As pointed out earlier, Matthew and Mark recorded it as “six days” but Luke reports it as “about an eight days.” Luke never wrote “eight days” but rather about eight days.” Luke has given us an approximation—not a precise timeline! Evidently, Luke included the day the promise was made, and the day of the Transfiguration itself. In comparison, Matthew and Mark counted the six days between the promise and the Transfiguration. Matthew and Mark did not count the day of the promise and they did not count the day of the Transfiguration. Furthermore, we do not know the precise times of day Jesus promised and Jesus transfigured. There was plenty of room to say it was approximately eight days in total.

Unfortunately for the Bible critics, there is no contradiction here!

Also see:
» Do Acts 9:7 and Acts 22:9 contradict each other?
» How many sons did Jesse have—seven or eight?
» Why do Matthew 28:19 and Acts 2:38 contain different formulas?

What does 2 Peter 3:8 mean?

WHAT DOES 2 PETER 3:8 MEAN?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). Exactly what does this mean? Opinions aside, to the Holy Word of God!

There are two common views about 2 Peter 3:8. Firstly, some have tried to use it to interpret the book of Genesis. Secondly, some have tried to predict the time of Jesus’ return to Earth in wrath. We will discuss these two issues, looking at some verses, and then we will conclude by discussing what 2 Peter 3:8 really means.

2 PETER 3:8 IS NOT A REFERENCE TO CREATION

When people want to partly harmonize the 13.7-billion-year timeline of Big-Bang/Evolutionary Theory with the Book of Genesis, they often pair those creation verses with 2 Peter 3:8… At least the first part anyway!

It is said that since Peter wrote “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years,” then each “day” of Genesis chapter 1 is assumed to be a 1,000-year period rather than a 24-hour period. So, it is then suggested that it took God 6,000 years to create our universe, roughly 6,000 years ago. While this explanation does not fully agree with secular dates (actually way off), it at least generally agrees with an “older earth” (earth being 12,000 years old). Such a belief at least divorces Bible-critics from that strict literal Bible interpretation that keeps them believing what they want.

Firstly, we need to understand that 2 Peter 3:8 contains similes: “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day.” The Bible did not say, “One day with the Lord equals a thousand years, and a thousand years equals one day.” Peter is proving his point by making comparisons: “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” Furthermore, now you can see why people only quote the first part of this verse. The second part says, “And a thousand years as one day.” To make those “days” each a 1,000 years long is to make each 1,000 year-period the length of a day. This demonstrates there is no solid Bible understanding with this methodology 2 Peter 3:8. The “Day-Agers” hold a self-defeating position. Notice: If 1 day = 1000 years, then the converse is also true (1000 years = 1 day):

1st day of creation = 1000 years = 1 day of creation
2nd day of creation = 1000 years = 1 day of creation
3rd day of creation = 1000 years = 1 day of creation
4th day of creation = 1000 years = 1 day of creation
5th day of creation = 1000 years = 1 day of creation
6th day of creation = 1000 years = 1 day of creation

Again, the left and the right equal each other. Making days equal millennia is to make the millennia into days once again. This is nonsense. It shows us that this is not the way to properly handle 2 Peter 3:8. We will look analyze 2 Peter 3:8 later. For now, just notice what the rest of the Bible says about the “days” of the Creation Week.

Exodus 20:8-11 proves conclusively that the length of the “days” of Genesis chapter 1 were 24-hour periods and not indefinite periods of time: “[8] Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. [9] Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: [10] But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: [11] For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”

In the fourth of the Ten Commandments, Israel was instructed to work six days and rest on the Sabbath, just as the LORD worked six days and rested on the Sabbath (Genesis 2:1-3). What Jew worked 6,000 years? Who worked 6,000,000 years? What about 6,000,000,000 years? Ridiculous! Genesis 1 defines “day” six times: “And the evening and the morning were the … day” (verses 5,8,13,19,23,31). One evening and one morning equal what? Only a 24-hour period!

Some argue against this by saying since the sun was not made until Genesis 1:14-16, the verses previous could not refer to a 24-hour period. We refute that contention with the fact that God could know the exact length of a 24-hour period without the sun being there to serve as a way to measure the time. The Bible is quite clear that God created the heaven and the earth, and all the life forms therein in 144 hours, or six consecutive 24-hour periods. If someone persists in arguing at this point, they are fools. Let them go quarrel with the clear evidence found in God’s Word.

2 PETER 3:8 IS NOT A PROPHETIC TIMELINE

Another abuse of 2 Peter 3:8 is to repeat the error of some “prophecy preachers.” They have used the verse as some sort of calendar to predict Jesus’ return.

Several years ago, Harold Camping asserted that God’s judgment would occur exactly 7000 years after the Great Flood of Noah’s day. He argued if God gave a seven-day warning before the flood of Noah came (see Genesis 7:4), then God was somehow hinting that judgment would occur exactly 7,000 years after the Great Flood. According to Camping, Peter’s words of “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years” (2 Peter 3:8) refers to God judging the world exactly 7,000 years from the time of the Great Flood of Noah’s day. As it turns out, that date was (allegedly) May 21, 2011. Of course, there was no divine judgment in 2011. There was no Second Coming of Jesus. There was no Rapture. Harold Camping’s claims were nothing but a fraud, a hoax, a publicity stunt to generate donations. It was certainly not of the God of the Bible. Because of such foolishness, Christianity (again) became the laughingstock of the world.

WHAT DOES 2 PETER 3:8 MEAN, THEN?

Friend, in case you have not noticed, our world is always searching for peace. It is said if we could eliminate anything and everything “religious” and “spiritual,” our world would be peaceful. Others say we should meet and converse with heads-of-state, and make many peace treaties to ensure international tranquility. Africa and the Middle East are ravaged by war and destruction, ever so desperate for peace from centuries- or millennia-long conflicts. The suffering these poor people are facing make even some Christians wonder how can God just keeps letting it continue. We can rest assured that God is not “sitting around in heaven in a recliner,” taking pleasure in what mankind has done to His once-perfect world.

In His own time, He will consummate it all: we cannot rush Him because He knows best. First Timothy chapter 6: “[14] That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: [15] Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; [16] Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.”

Beloved, we will never even partially fathom the depths of God’s longsuffering. Even in the Apostle Peter’s day, nearly 20 centuries ago, the scoffers (unbelievers) kept asking how long before Jesus Christ would return and wipe them out. We read in 2 Peter 3:8-9: “[8] But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. [9] The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Once God gets angry, whether one day later or 1000 years later, His wrath is still undiminished, until it is poured out in just as much fury as if He had never waited. But, today, God is withholding that wrath. When He unleashes that wrath, it will be undiluted, undiminished. While we get angry and eventually get over it, God’s anger never dissipates until His wrath enforces His righteousness. Oh, may we not take this Dispensation of Grace for granted!

In verses 15 and 16, Peter reminded his audience that the Apostle Paul had the answers to Christ’s delay—He was waiting for more people to be saved into the Church the Body of Christ: “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;…” May we never take God’s peace in and through Christ for granted, for one day, He will withdraw it from this world, and replace it with His wrath!

CONCLUSION

It has been 2,000 years since God’s Word has been promising Jesus Christ’s return in wrath, and it is easy for people to conclude, “It has been so long that it probably will not come anyway. Maybe God was just bluffing from the very beginning.” (This was the claim of the scoffers in 2 Peter 1:16 and 2 Peter 3:3-5.) Just like in the natural world, if someone waits years before retaliating or getting even as promised, there is less apprehension. The more time that passes, the more likely we are inclined to believe nothing will happen. “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” (Ecclesiastes 8:11). Certainly, God is not so fickle as we and our emotions. Once He says it, you can bet everything you have that it will come to pass. It may take Him a few days or thousands of years, but He will bring it to pass in His own time. He has a schedule and we cannot rush Him. The Lord is not “slack,” unreliable, untrustworthy. He just works on a different time-frame than we do. It works to the sinner’s advantage that God in His grace delays the wrath prophecy says is still on its way as I write and as you read!

Also see:
» Why do the wicked prosper?
» How can a loving God send people to hell forever?
» Was the Apostle Paul a false prophet?

Must I witness to be saved?

MUST I WITNESS TO BE SAVED? WHAT IS “WITNESSING?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

Dear friend, certainly not! Witnessing is something that Christians do, not something people do to become Christians. What is “witnessing” though? If we can define that term properly, then we can understand why it is Christians alone who witness, and not lost people who witness to become Christians.

In religion, to “witness” means to attempt to convert a person from one group or denomination to another group or denomination. A dictionary definition is “an open profession of one’s religious faith through words or actions.” This “open profession” is meant to attract new members to churches, groups, organizations, denominations, et cetera. Proselytizing is also meant to “enhance” the “witnessing” person’s chance in getting into heaven (according to the denomination’s misinformation). However, in the Bible, “witnessing” is something different. Biblically speaking, witnessing is designed to exalt God’s Word and build up people’s faith in it. Witnessing in the Scriptures is not about building organizations or establishing denominational cliques, but about encouraging people to trust God’s words to them. Soul salvation unto eternal life does not depend on our performance (including witnessing); our soul salvation in Christ (guaranteed) should motivate us to witness. What does “witness” mean in Scripture?

To “witness” in Bible usage means to testify or to bear record of God’s Word. In other words, one affirms a particular Biblical teaching to be true. Notice, I did not say, affirming a particular denominational position to be true. A Christian can witness to the reliability of the Gospel, the veracity of the Holy Bible, the faithfulness of Jesus Christ, and so on. A Christian’s goal should not be to move people from one religious group to another. That is what denominationalism is all about, but that is not Bible! A Christian should share the Gospel with that person and then that person—that saved person—will then, via sound Bible doctrine, have the ability to discern which group is theologically sound and which group is not.

EXAMPLES OF “WITNESSING” IN THE BIBLE

The Greek word translated “witness” in our King James Bible is martureo (Strong’s G3140). As you can see, our English word “martyr” is derived from it. In the New Testament of our King James Bible, this word martureo is translated as follows: “bear witness” (25x), “testify” (19x), “bear record” (13x), “witness” (5x), “be a witness” (2x), “give testimony” (2x), “have a good report” (2x), miscellaneous (11x). To better understand the concept of witnessing as found in the Scriptures, it would help us to look at many specific examples.

FATHER GOD AND/OR HOLY SPIRIT WITNESSING/VERIFYING JESUS

  • John 3:11: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.” (This is Jesus speaking, talking about how both His Heavenly Father and He had declared that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, that He was Father God’s Son and Messenger. John the Baptist talked about Jesus Christ in verse 32, “And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony.”)
  • John 5:36-37: “[36] But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me. [37] And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.”
  • John 8:18: “I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.”
  • John 10:25: “Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.”
  • John 15:26: “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
  • Hebrews 7:17: “For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”
  • 1 John 5:6: “This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.”
  • 1 John 5:7: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”
  • 1 John 5:8: “And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.”
  • 1 John 5:9: “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.”
  • 1 John 5:10: “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.”

BELIEVERS VERIFYING/WITNESSING ABOUT AND FOR JESUS

  • John 1:7-8: “The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.” (John the Baptist’s ministry was to validate and support Jesus as Messiah/Christ/Son of God.) In verse 15, John went on to “bare witness” that Jesus Christ was “preferred before [John]: for [Jesus Christ] was before [John].” In verse 32, John the Baptist “bare record” that the Holy Spirit came and rested on Jesus after His water baptism.
  • John 4:39: “And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.” (What this Samaritan did was simply affirm that Jesus Christ was a Prophet, the Messiah of Israel, since He had known things about her that only a Man of God would know.)
  • John 5:33: “Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth.”
  • John 12:17: “The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record.”
  • John 15:27: “And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.”
  • John 19:35: “And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.”
  • John 21:24: “This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.”
  • Acts 14:3: “Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.”
  • 1 John 1:2: “(For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)”
  • 1 John 4:14: “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.”

SCRIPTURES/PROPHETS OF “OLD TESTAMENT” VERIFYING JESUS

  • John 5:39: “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”
  • Acts 10:43: “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”

JESUS BEARING WITNESS OF THE WORLD’S EVIL WORKS

  • John 7:7: “The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.”

JESUS BEARING WITNESS UNTO THE TRUTH

  • John 18:37: “Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.”

GOOD TESTIMONY, GOOD REPORT

  • Acts 6:3: “Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.” (These seven helpers in the Jerusalem Church had a solid, good reputation. Saints would give testimony to affirm these men were worthy of being assigned to the job that needed to be accomplished.)
  • Acts 10:22: “And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.” (The nation Israel could verify that Cornelius was a good person, a blesser of Abraham and his seed. He had righteous works that the God of Israel had noticed.)
  • Acts 22:12: “And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there,”
  • Hebrews 11:2: “For by it the elders obtained a good report.”

GOD GIVING TESTIMONY, BEARING WITNESS OF CERTAIN PEOPLE

  • Acts 13:22: “And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.”
  • Acts 15:8: “And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;”
  • Hebrews 11:4: “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.”
  • Hebrews 11:5: “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.”
  • Hebrews 11:39: “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:”

CHRISTIANS BEARING WITNESS OF OTHER CHRISTIANS

  • Acts 16:2: “Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium.”
  • Galatians 4:15: “Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.”
  • Colossians 4:13: “For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis.”
  • 1 Timothy 5:10: “Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.”
  • 3 John 3: “For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.”

APOSTLE PAUL BEARING WITNESS OF JESUS CHRIST

  • Acts 23:11: “And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.”
  • Acts 26:22: “Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:”
  • 1 Corinthians 15:15: “Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.”

APOSTLE JOHN BEARING WITNESS OF THE WORD OF GOD AND OF JESUS CHRIST

  • Revelation 1:2: “Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.”

HOLY SPIRIT BEARING WITNESS TO GOD’S FAITHFULNESS

  • Hebrews 10:15: “Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,

JESUS AND HIS ANGEL TESTIFYING THE TRUTH

  • Revelation 22:16: “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.”
  • Revelation 22:20: “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

Friends, God does not use lost people to preach His Word and share His Gospel. Never in the Bible does God tell lost people in any dispensation to preach His Word. Jesus never told lost people to share His Gospel during His earthly ministry. Paul never told lost people to preach the Gospel. Neither did Peter, James, John, et cetera.

The reason why is that lost people consider the Bible foolishness and they consider the Gospel of the Grace of God foolishness. Only Christians have the indwelling Holy Spirit (the Author of the Bible), so only Christians can shed light on the Bible text. Everyone else in the world cannot receive the things of God. The things of God only make sense when the Holy Spirit is present to give understanding. You can read all of 1 Corinthians chapter 2 for more information.

As people who have trusted alone in the Gospel of the Grace of God—Jesus Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)—we can testify or witness that that message has impacted our lives and it will do the same for others if they only trust it, too. We can share with others how the Gospel has brought us joy, peace, assurance, forgiveness, acceptance before God, resources to handle life’s problems, and so on. Lost people cannot witness according to the Bible because they have never experienced God’s Word for themselves.

Truth be told, if witnessing saved Christians, very few Christians would be saved into heaven. Many Christians do not witness. They have not been taught enough to share anything worthwhile. There are many Christians today who do not know how to witness to lost people. They know only how to scream, shout, yell, and condemn. They do not know any verses to help people solve their sin dilemma.

It is sad when professing Christians would rather bring their lost friends and relatives to church, and let the preacher or priest “lead them to God” with a sermon or homily, than them sharing their own testimony with those friends outside of a local church setting. How often it is said, “Preaching the Gospel is the preacher’s job—not mine!” Oh, dear friends, may we never say such a thing! We should “witness” of God’s faithfulness and His salvation in Christ. Not because we want to be saved but because we already have His soul salvation… and we want others to have it too!

Also see:
» Is Acts 16:31 a sufficient Gospel message?
» Must I maintain fellowship with God?
» Must I say the “sinner’s prayer” to be saved?

Did God create evil?

DID GOD CREATE EVIL? WHAT ABOUT ISAIAH 45:7?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things” (Isaiah 45:7). What does this mean, God “create[s] evil?” Is God responsible for evil? If God is holy (righteous), how can He be the origin of evil? We will search the Bible for the answers!

Isaiah 45:7 contains two sets of contrasts—“light versus darkness” and “peace versus evil.” Stated another way, “Darkness is to light and evil is to peace.” Evil in this sense is the antonym of “peace.” Thus, “evil” here means “trouble,” “hardship,” or “something bad.” Let me show you the other instances in the Bible in which “evil” is used in the sense of God causing bad things to happen, or about to cause bad things to happen, in response to sinners committing transgressions.

  • Exodus 32:12: “Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.”
  • Exodus 32:14: “And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.”
  • Deuteronomy 31:17: “Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us?”
  • Deuteronomy 31:21: “And it shall come to pass, when many evils and troubles are befallen them, that this song shall testify against them as a witness; for it shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their seed: for I know their imagination which they go about, even now, before I have brought them into the land which I sware.”
  • Deuteronomy 31:29: “For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days; because ye will do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands.”
  • Joshua 23:15: “Therefore it shall come to pass, that as all good things are come upon you, which the LORD your God promised you; so shall the LORD bring upon you all evil things, until he have destroyed you from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.”
  • 1 Samuel 6:9: “And see, if it goeth up by the way of his own coast to Beth-shemesh, then he hath done us this great evil: but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that smote us; it was a chance that happened to us.”
  • 1 Chronicles 21:15: “And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, the LORD beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD stood by the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.”
  • 2 Chronicles 7:22: “And it shall be answered, Because they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods, and worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath he brought all this evil upon them.”
  • Jeremiah 1:14: “Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land.”
  • Jeremiah 4:6: “Set up the standard toward Zion: retire, stay not: for I will bring evil from the north, and a great destruction.”
  • Jeremiah 6:19: “Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it.”
  • Jeremiah 18:8: “If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.”
  • Jeremiah 19:3: “And say, Hear ye the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, the which whosoever heareth, his ears shall tingle.”
  • Jeremiah 19:15: “Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon this city and upon all her towns all the evil that I have pronounced against it, because they have hardened their necks, that they might not hear my words.”
  • Jeremiah 32:23: “And they came in, and possessed it; but they obeyed not thy voice, neither walked in thy law; they have done nothing of all that thou commandedst them to do: therefore thou hast caused all this evil to come upon them:”
  • Jeremiah 32:42 “For thus saith the LORD; Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them.”
  • Jeremiah 35:17: “Therefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon Judah and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the evil that I have pronounced against them: because I have spoken unto them, but they have not heard; and I have called unto them, but they have not answered.”
  • Jeremiah 36:3: “It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.”
  • Jeremiah 36:31: “And I will punish him and his seed and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring upon them, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and upon the men of Judah, all the evil that I have pronounced against them; but they hearkened not.”
  • Jeremiah 39:16: “Go and speak to Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring my words upon this city for evil, and not for good; and they shall be accomplished in that day before thee.”
  • Jeremiah 40:2-3: “[2] And the captain of the guard took Jeremiah, and said unto him, The LORD thy God hath pronounced this evil upon this place. [3] Now the LORD hath brought it, and done according as he hath said: because ye have sinned against the LORD, and have not obeyed his voice, therefore this thing is come upon you.”
  • Jeremiah 49:37: “For I will cause Elam to be dismayed before their enemies, and before them that seek their life: and I will bring evil upon them, even my fierce anger, saith the LORD; and I will send the sword after them, till I have consumed them:”
  • Ezekiel 6:10: “And they shall know that I am the LORD, and that I have not said in vain that I would do this evil unto them.”

When the Bible talks about God “creating evil,” “bringing evil,” and “doing evil,” it is not about Him committing sin or causing sin to come into existence. It is rather talking about Him righteously judging man’s sins. Whenever man commits evil, God will act accordingly and punish the wrongdoer or wrongdoers. In the Old Testament especially, He brought upon the sinners trouble, hardship, or bad things. It is not complicated, dear friends!

Also see:
» Does God chastise us when we sin?
» Why does God let Satan exist?
» How can a loving God send people to hell forever?

Ephesians 3:15—Who are God’s family in heaven and on earth?

EPHESIANS 3:15—WHO ARE GOD’S FAMILY IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Ephesians 3:15 says, “Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named….” In certain churches, you will hear the phrases “the church militant” and “the church triumphant.” Allegedly, Ephesians 3:15 is talking about Christians who remain here on Earth still fighting the battle (“militant”), and Christians who have died and are now enjoying peace in Heaven (“triumphant”). Is this a sound interpretation of Ephesians 3:15? Dear friends, we will examine the context to find out!

The issue of Heaven and Earth first appears in the book of Ephesians in chapter 1. It would do us well to read verses 9-10: “[9] Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: [10] That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.”

Ephesians loops back to Genesis 1:1—“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” According to Ephesians 1:10, God the Father will gather all things in Heaven and on Earth in His Son Christ Jesus. These “things” are offices of government, as delineated in Colossians chapter 1: “[16] For by him [Jesus Christ] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: [17] And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. [18] And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. [19] For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; [20] And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”

The closing verses of Ephesians chapter 2 say: “[19] Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; [20] And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; [21] In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: [22] In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”

Prior to the beginning of the Church the Body of Christ, God had the nation Israel as His earthly people. With the salvation and commissioning of the Apostle Paul, God begins to form the Church the Body of Christ, His heavenly people. Israel will be His instrument in the Earth; the Body of Christ will be His instrument in the Heavenly Places. We are “fellowcitizens with the saints;” that is, by virtue of our faith in Christ’s shed blood, we have joined God’s family to become spiritual relatives of those who were saved unto eternal life before the Body of Christ. As believing Israelites were in Christ, saved by the blood of Christ, so are we in Christ (as opposed to being in Adam, lost, unsaved, hell-bound).

We, the Church the Body of Christ, are God’s heavenly people. Note verses 20-23 of Ephesians chapter 1: “[20] Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, [21] Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: [22] And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, [23] Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”

Also, the Bible says in Ephesians 2:6-7: “[6] And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: [7] That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” And, Ephesians 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” Finally, we read in Ephesians 3:9-11: “[9] And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: [10] To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, [11] According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:”

Before Paul wrote Ephesians 3:15—“Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named”—he had written chapters 1 and 2. God already had a people in Israel, but that was an earthly people. When He started the Church the Body of Christ with the Apostle Paul, God began to form a heavenly people for Himself. The issue of God’s family in Heaven and God’s family on Earth is talking about the Church the Body of Christ (Heaven) and the nation Israel (Earth). God the Father will exalt His Son Jesus Christ in Heaven and Earth. Jesus Christ has a family in Heaven (Body of Christ) and a family in Earth (Israel). This glorification will be executed in the ages to come using the Church the Body of Christ in Heaven and the nation Israel in the Earth. People with denominational eyeglasses do not see this, so they invent some nonsense about “church triumphant” and “church militant.” They need to study their Bibles! Dispensational Bible study is the key to understanding Ephesians 3:15!!

Ephesians 1:9-10: “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.”

Also see:
» Can you explain Colossians 3:3-4?
» Who were the people who were saved before Paul?
» Who is “the Israel of God” of Galatians 6:16?

Does Romans 9:20-21 support Calvinism?

DOES ROMANS 9:20-21 SUPPORT CALVINISM?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” (Romans 9:20-21). We have all heard the phrase, “God is the potter and we are the clay.” This expression is derived from the Bible. However, people assume that that is God talking about us as individuals. They say that He will mold each and every person to be just what He wants him or her to be. The Calvinists take it a step further and say God is particularly molding “the elect,” those whom (they allege) He has chosen to save unto eternal life. Is this a proper understanding of Romans 9:20-21? We will take the Bible and search it for insight.

The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul, when writing Romans 9:20-21, reached back into the “Old Testament” Scriptures and alluded to something that the Prophet Jeremiah had written many centuries prior. We read in Jeremiah chapter 18:

“[1] The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, [2] Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. [3] Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. [4] And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. [5] Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, [6] O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. [7] At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; [8] If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. [9] And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; [10] If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.

“[11] Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good. [12] And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart. [13] Therefore thus saith the LORD; Ask ye now among the heathen, who hath heard such things: the virgin of Israel hath done a very horrible thing. [14] Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon which cometh from the rock of the field? or shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken? [15] Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up; [16] To make their land desolate, and a perpetual hissing; every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished, and wag his head. [17] I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy; I will shew them the back, and not the face, in the day of their calamity.”

Verse 6 says that as a potter sculpts a clay pot, so God forms the nation Israel. “O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.” This is a national issue, not an individual issue. The clay of Romans 9:20-21 is the nation Israel. Contrary to Calvinism, the passage has nothing to do with an individual. Furthermore, contrary to Calvinism, it has nothing to do with any person today in the Dispensation of Grace. Jeremiah spoke in context of the Babylonian captivity, when sinful Israel would be punished, shaped into a vessel worthy of God’s wrath. A similar “re-shaping” has happened to Israel with respect to Romans chapter 9. Israel, having rejected Jesus Christ at Calvary, and having rejected the Holy Spirit in Acts chapter 7, was fit for wrath—the completion and culmination of the wrath that began with the Babylonian captivity centuries earlier.

Romans chapter 9 once again: “[19] Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? [20] Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? [21] Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? [22] What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: [23] And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, [24] Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?”

Whether in Jeremiah or Romans, the clay is a national issue, not an individual issue. God can mold Israel into whatever shape He wants. We read about the “vessel unto honour” (Romans 9:21), the “vessel unto dishonour” (Romans 9:21), the “vessels of wrath” (Romans 9:22), and “the vessels of mercy” (Romans 9:23). When Israel enjoyed her privileged position in the prophetic program, she was the vessel of honor. However, as Paul notes, God turned her into the vessel of dishonor when she fell into unbelief and rejected her Messiah Jesus (Matthew through John). Those unbelieving Jews were the vessels of wrath, ready to experience God’s judgment against sin (early Acts). Paul himself, as Saul of Tarsus, had been one such rebellious Jew. See Acts 7:54-60; Acts 8:1-4; Acts 9:1-9,13-14; Acts 22:1-10; Acts 26:9-11; 1 Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:23-24; 1 Timothy 1:13-16.

First Thessalonians 2:14-16 is Paul’s commentary on the unbelieving Jews’ activities during his “Acts” ministry: “[14] For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: [15] Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: [16] Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.”

The wrath of God was about to fall on unsaved Israel in Acts chapter 7. But, God took the unbelieving Jews, took the unbelieving Gentiles, lumped them together, and changed their status to “the vessels of mercy.” Rather than pouring out wrath on unbelieving Jews and unbelieving Gentiles, God pours out His mercy in this the Dispensation of the Grace of God. Repeating Romans 9:22-24: “[22] What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: [23] And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, [24] Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?”

Romans 11:30-32 provides additional insight: “[30] For as ye [Gentiles] in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their [Israel’s] unbelief: [31] Even so have these also now not believed, that through your [Gentiles’] mercy they [unbelieving Israel] also may obtain mercy. [32] For God hath concluded them all [Jews and Gentiles] in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all [Jews and Gentiles].” Today, God is forming the Church the Body of Christ using any Jews or any Gentiles who will trust His Son exclusively as their personal Saviour (verses 23-24). This operation of the mystery program explains the delay in the fulfillment of the prophetic promises delineated in Romans 9:1-13. Prophecy is postponed that mystery might operate: “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” (Romans 11:25).

For more information on Romans chapter 9, please refer to the companion studies, “Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated?” and “Does Romans 9:14-18 support Calvinism?” See links below.

Also see:
» “Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated?”
» Does Romans 9:14-18 support Calvinism?
» Have we been “grafted into Israel?”