Monthly Archives: October 2016

Seethe not a young goat in his mother’s milk?

WHY DID GOD COMMAND ISRAEL NOT TO SEETHE A YOUNG GOAT IN HIS MOTHER’S MILK?

by Shawn Brasseaux

We read this commandment on three occasions in the Holy Bible:

  1. Exodus 23:19: “The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.
  2. Exodus 34:26: “The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.
  3. Deuteronomy 14:21: “Ye shall not eat of anything that dieth of itself: thou shalt give it unto the stranger that is in thy gates, that he may eat it; or thou mayest sell it unto an alien: for thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.

The above notion is quite strange to us. Some have even dismissed it as “utterly ridiculous.” Here in the United States, we certainly know nothing about “seething” (boiling) a young goat in his mother’s milk. I for one have no interest in eating any goat meat—sodden with or without its mother’s milk! Bible scoffers chuckle at the thought that God would consider it a “sin” to seethe a young goat in its mother’s milk. They quote these verses—and others—in an effort to portray the Bible as absurd and make Bible believers look foolish. Just what is so wrong with boiling a young goat in its mother’s milk? (We ask this in faith, not doubt!)

Let us start by reviewing a little background. JEHOVAH God brought the nation Israel out of Egyptian bondage (a picture of sin and the world) so that they may serve Him in His land—the Promised Land. For centuries, heathen had defiled that Holy Land with their idols and assorted “religious” services. God was now forcefully evicting these Gentile nations, and placing Israel in their stead. Israel was to do what those Gentiles had deliberately refused to do. The Jews were to value and esteem the Word of the one true God, the Creator God, JEHOVAH God. God repeatedly warned Israel not to repeat the gross sins of the nations He had driven out of the land. Otherwise, He would force Israel out of that land, too! (Which He ultimately did, beginning with Israel’s Babylonian captivity about 600 B.C.)

We read in the opening verses of Leviticus chapter 18: “[1] And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, [2] Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, I am the LORD your God. [3] After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances. [4] Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the LORD your God. [5] Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD.”

Now, we look at the closing verses of Leviticus chapter 18: “[24] Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: [25] And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. [26] Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: [27] (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled; ) [28] That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you. [29] For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people. [30] Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God.”

While the above excerpts from Leviticus largely involve the Gentiles’ perverted sexual acts—incest, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality (human having sex with animals), and so on—the general commandment stood firm. Israel was to refrain from copying the Gentiles’ previous lifestyles in the land of Palestine. The Jews were a “set apart” (sanctified) people. In the case of boiling a young goat in its mother’s milk, it must have been some type of pagan practice that JEHOVAH God did not want Israel to repeat. (God thought that that commandment was so important He issued it three times.) God wanted Israel’s lifestyle to be so radically different from her Gentile predecessors and neighbors. Being God’s favored nation, the Jews were different—accordingly, they were to act different! (For more info, see our related study linked below.) That testimony was crucial to exalting the one true God in a world where He was ignored by every other nation. With Israel upholding God’s Word, Satan’s activities on the Earth would be destroyed. Alas, the temptations were too great. Israel was unfaithful to JEHOVAH God, eventually going the way of the Gentiles!

“For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you [Israel],
as it is written”
(Romans 2:24).

Enjoy our Bible Q&A studies? Please feel free to donate here: https://www.paypal.me/ShawnBrasseaux. Also be mindful of our Bible Q&A booklets for sale at https://arcgraceministries.org/in-print/booklets-bible-q-a/.

Also see:
» Why did Israel have to keep so many strange laws?
» What did Jesus mean, “I will have mercy and not sacrifice?”
» Is God finished with the nation Israel?

What are “phylacteries?”

WHAT ARE “PHYLACTERIES?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

“But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of the garments…” (Matthew 23:5). Just what are “phylacteries?” We will answer that question in this Bible study article.

This strange word “phylacteries” appears only once in our King James Bible (see above). A “phylactery” was a small, black, leather-bound box or case worn on their forehead or left arm by male Jews aged 13 and above. (Modern-day phylacteries are made of metal.) The forehead version was called the “frontlet.” The Hebrew letter shin (resembles our “W”) was inscribed on the phylactery’s top. Phylacteries supposedly warded off evil spirits.

Each phylactery had leather flaps through which a cord was passed. That strap, a piece of leather about the width of a human finger and about two feet (0.6 meters) long, was used to attach the phylactery to the wearer’s body. This strap was wound around the arm and ended at the top of the middle finger.

The phylactery was divided into four compartments. Each compartment held one of four slips of parchment (primitive paper). Each scrap had Scripture on it. The phylactery’s contents served as a reminder of the Mosaic Law covenant that JEHOVAH God had made with Israel. (By the way, “phylacteries” in Greek is “phulakteria,” related to the Greek word “phulasso,” meaning “to observe, obey, be on guard, beware.” The “phylactery” was viewed as a way to be aware of God’s laws.)

Four Scripture passages were stored in a phylactery. The first scrap had Exodus 13:2-10 (God delivering Israel from Egyptian bondage). The second slip had Exodus 13:11-16 (God slaying Egypt’s firstborn sons to force Pharaoh to free Israel His firstborn son). The third scrap had Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (JEHOVAH God’s command that Israel love and serve Him wholeheartedly). The last slip had Deuteronomy 11:13-21 (God’s blessings on Israel if she faithfully obeyed Him, and His curses if she disobeyed Him).

Exodus 13:8-10,13 says: “[8] And thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which the LORD did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt. [9] And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the LORD’S law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the LORD brought thee out of Egypt. [10] Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in his season from year to year…. [13] And it shall be for a token upon thine hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes: for by strength of hand the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt.”

Deuteronomy 6:6-12: “[6] And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: [7] And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. [8] And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. [9] And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates. [10] And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not, [11] And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full; [12] Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.”

Deuteronomy 11:18-21: “[18] Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. [19] And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. [20] And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates: [21] That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.”

While we are at it, we will go ahead and explain Matthew 23:5: “But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of the garments….” This verse is excerpted from the Lord Jesus’ severe rebuke of Israel’s religious leaders. In your own time, read Matthew chapter 23 in its entirety. This chapter and John chapter 8 are the most scathing addresses in the entire Bible! These religious leaders—“scribes and Pharisees”—stressed outward form and ceremony. They loved to appear religious because they sought the praise of men. Inside, however, the Lord Jesus said they were dead in their trespasses and sins. (Friend, do you know anyone like that? Someone who looks like a Christian, and sounds like a Christian, but has never exercised personal faith in Jesus Christ’s shed blood as complete payment for his or her sins?)

Jesus accused these scribes and Pharisees of “making broad their phylacteries.” That it, they wore large phylacteries, objects that would draw more attention than regular-sized phylacteries, because they wanted to be “seen of men.” Huge phylacteries “advertised” they were “more pious,” or “more religious,” than others. It was a way of bragging, of flaunting self-righteousness. “As many as desire to make a fair shew [beautiful exhibition] in the flesh…” (Galatians 6:12, speaking of those who do religious works of any and every kind). “Look at my big box of Pentateuch writings! Unlike you, with your little box, I esteem the Law of Moses!” They claimed to love the Law of Moses, and yet there was no faith in the Law of Moses. In striking irony, that same so-called “Law-loving” crowd eventually killed Christ Jesus, the God-Man who was the Law of Moses personified! (Friend, do you know anyone who claims to “love” the Bible but who refuses to hear what it says about his or her evil religious works? They “love” Jesus but are so focused on what they are doing to make their church happy, that they have not a moment to think about Christ’s finished crosswork at Calvary?)

In closing, I thought it beneficial to quote what Smith’s Bible Dictionary says about “frontlets” (forehead phylacteries):

“The ribbon for tying them was colored purple by the Pharisees, and made showy and broad [Matt. xxiii. 3, 4], and were worn by all Jews except Karaites, women and slaves. The Rabbis made many rules about their uses. They were not to be worn on the Sabbath, because the Sabbath was itself a sign; the person reading them in the morning must stand; in the evening he may sit; the color of the thread might be changed to red in times of persecution; both hands must be used in writing them; the parchment must not have a hole in it; only one blot or error was permitted; a person wearing them must keep six feet off for a cemetery—and many others. They were a means of religious vanity, hypocrisy and display, and were so denounced by Jesus. The Rabbis said (by a kind of pious fraud) that God wore them, arguing from Is. xlix. 16; lxii. 8; Deut. xxxiii. 2. They were a kind of amulet, such as the modern Arabs use.”

Also see:
» Does God give us “points” for trying to be good?
» Can you explain Luke 18:13, “God be merciful to me a sinner?”
» What about the Jewish Roots Movement?

Do Matthew 10:10, Mark 6:8, and Luke 9:3 contradict?

DO MATTHEW 10:10, MARK 6:8, AND LUKE 9:3 CONTRADICT?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Matthew 10:10: “Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.”

Mark 6:8: “And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse:”

Luke 9:3: “And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece.”

The above verses are part of Jesus’ original commissioning of His 12 apostles. Some have imagined a contradiction concerning the statements about these “staves.” Matthew 10:10 and Luke 9:3 agree that the apostles are not to take staves (plural of “staff,” as in a walking stick). Yet, Mark 6:8 says they are to take nothing “save [except] a staff only.” What are they to do? Take a staff, or not take any?

It has been said that the easiest explanation is the most plausible. How sad it is that rather than trying to keep the Bible simple, people have complicated it! They do not have spiritual eyes to appreciate any spiritual truths, so they use their own human resources to “do the best they can” and still cannot make sense of the Bible. However, beloved, if we give the Bible the benefit of the doubt, and use the eyes of faith, the Holy Spirit will honor that attitude and He will show us how to understand the Bible’s various oddities.

What is the easiest explanation here? The Lord Jesus allowed them to use one walking staff, just not bring along another (or special) one. In other words, they did not need to go out a buy another staff to prepare for their journeys (thus giving them two or more staves, which Jesus forbade). No, just they just needed to bring along the one staff they already had. They did not need to pack a bag with money or extra clothes, either. Bringing along more supplies was unnecessary. The Messianic believers whose houses they would visit, those people would provide for their needs, for “the workman is worthy of his meat” (Matthew 10:10b).

As a final note, if we look at these verses from another angle, the above explanation further proves likely. Jesus told them in Matthew 10:10: “Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.” Certainly, Jesus was not telling them not to bring shoes along. The rocks of Palestine are sharp and jagged. No, He was implying a second pair of shoes was unnecessary. And, notice how Luke 9:3 mentions not bringing two coats:” “And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece.” They were certainly to wear clothes, just not bring along a second coat (“tunic” or “shirt”). Again, the emphasis is on not bringing extra supplies—extra shirts, extra shoes, extra staves. God’s people, the Messianic Jews, would take care of these apostles’ material needs on their journeys. They were to bring along one walking stick, and if they needed a replacement, their converts could provide. How simple, friends, how simple the Word of God is if we just read and believe it!

Also see:
» Are Matthew 17:1, Mark 9:2, and Luke 9:28 contradictory?
» Is Matthew 27:9 a mistake?
» Do John 5:31 and John 8:14 contradict?

What did Jesus mean, “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice?”

WHAT DID JESUS MEAN, “I WILL HAVE MERCY, AND NOT SACRIFICE?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

“But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day” (Matthew 12:7-8). What did our Lord mean, “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice?” Let us search the Scriptures and find out!

Read the verses with their context: “[1] At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. [2] But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day. [3] But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; [4] How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? [5] Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? [6] But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. [7] But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. [8] For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day” (Matthew 12:1-8).

Firstly, notice that Jesus’s hungry disciples are picking corn on the Sabbath day. This angers the Pharisees, religious leaders who are sticklers of Mosaic Law-keeping, and who piously tell Jesus, “Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day” (verse 2). They are reminding Jesus of what the LORD commanded Israel through Moses in Exodus 20:8-10: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work….”

Let us see why the Sabbath is important in the context of Matthew chapter 12, thereby learning the meaning of verses 7-8.

The Sabbath day first appears in Scripture in Genesis 2:1-3: “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”

Notice that creation and the Sabbath day are connected. God has just created the heavens and the earth. After six days of working, He rests—not because He is tired, but because His work is finished. From this point onward to Moses and the Law, the Bible makes no reference to man keeping the Sabbath.

Through the Mosaic Law, the LORD commanded Israel in Exodus 20:8-11: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 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: 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.”

Again, see how Sabbath-day observance and the creation week are related. When God instructed Israel to keep the Sabbath day, they were not to do any work (just like God ceased from His work in Genesis chapter 2): instead, on the Sabbath, Israel was to take the time to remember God’s original plan in creation and their role in it. This background information will now help us better understand Matthew 12:8: “For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.”

Genesis 2:1-3 and Exodus 20:8-11 explain that Israel’s Sabbath-day keeping was connected with the creation week. The writer of the book of Hebrews elaborates:

“[3] For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. [4] For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. [5] And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. [6] Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: [7] Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. [8] For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. [9] There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. [10] For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. [11] Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief” (Hebrews 4:3-11).

Quoting Psalm 95:7-11, which describes how most of Israel rebelled against JEHOVAH under Moses’s leadership and thus could not enter the Promised Land (the “rest,” God’s kingdom on earth), the writer of Hebrews cautions Israel during the (future) seven-year Tribulation not to repeat their forefathers’ mistakes, so they may enter Christ’s millennial kingdom.

Both Adam and Israel under Moses fell into sin, delaying God’s earthly kingdom connected with the Sabbath “rest.” Regarding Matthew 12:7-8, Jesus the King, is now on earth, ready to bring in Israel’s kingdom if she would trust Him!

Genesis 2:1-3, Exodus 20:8-11, and Hebrews 4:3-11 explain how the Sabbath day (the day of God’s “rest”) was the sign of God’s earthly kingdom (God’s “rest”). Psalm 132:5,8,13,14, the words of King David, enlighten: “Until I find out a place for the LORD, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob…. Arise, O LORD, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength…. For the LORD hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.”

The Sabbath-day rest reminded Israel of God’s original purpose in creation, and her role in His plan to reclaim the earth. Had Adam not sinned, God’s earthly kingdom would have been established 6,000 years ago with Adam and Eve. God created the nation Israel to do what Adam failed to do in the earth, but Israel too fell into sin, so again, God’s earthly kingdom was postponed. That earthly kingdom was in David’s mind when he sought to build the Temple, God’s house (Psalm 132 in the previous paragraph, and note how God declared, “This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.”).

Unfortunately, 600 years after David, at the close of the “Old Testament” Scriptures, sinful Israel has been scattered among the nations, JEHOVAH’S glory has left the Temple, and the Temple has been utterly destroyed. For the next 400 years, God is silent toward Israel (John the Baptist’s ministry breaks that silence).

When we come to the context of Matthew chapter 12, we find Jesus Christ, the LORD of Psalm 132, now come to His nation Israel. The mighty JEHOVAH has now arrived in human flesh to offer Himself as their King, to usher in that kingdom whose establishment has been repeatedly interrupted by sin. The Pharisees, blinded by their religious fervor, fail to see Jesus as “Lord of the sabbath day.”

Christ’s disciples are hungry, so they pluck corn and eat it as they and Jesus pass through the fields (Matthew 12:1). The Pharisees, rather than being sympathetic toward these hungry believers in Christ, chastise them for “[doing] that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day” (verse 2). “Moses said not to work on the Sabbath Day, and Your disciples are disobeying Moses!”

Like the entire nation Israel, these religious leaders have lost sight of the God who gave them the Law through Moses. The Pharisees, the chief example of this hypocrisy, worshipped the Law instead of worshipping the God whom they were to worship using the Law!! Jesus frequently condemned this vain religious system during His earthly ministry (similar vain religion has plagued the Church the Body of Christ for the last 20 centuries!).

Christ twice-reminded these “educated,” conceited Pharisees of their ignorance of the Old Testament Scriptures: “But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; how he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?” (Matthew 12:3-5).

Jesus wisely argued that, although the shewbread was only meant for the priests to eat, David and his men were hungry and were permitted to consume it (1 Samuel 21:1-6). Furthermore, He argued that Moses’ inspired writings—“the law”—approved work on the Sabbath if not working caused one to disobey other laws of God. Remember, Israel’s priests had to perform Tabernacle and Temple duties, even on the Sabbath day.

Obviously, the Pharisees were so preoccupied with the Sabbath-day keeping that they overlooked the Sabbath-day meaning! When Christ’s hungry disciples pick corn and eat it, the Pharisees become angry and complain that they have broken the Sabbath-day ordinance. In Matthew 12:3-5, Christ wisely argued that although the shewbread was only meant for the priests to eat, David and his men were hungry and thus permitted to consume it (1 Samuel 21:1-6). Also, He argued, Moses—the Pharisees’ idol—said work on the Sabbath was acceptable if not working caused one to disobey other laws of God.

For instance, Israel’s priests had to perform Tabernacle and Temple duties, even on the Sabbath day. Another example is that the Jewish male baby had to be physically circumcised on the eighth day, even on the Sabbath day, or God wanted nothing to do with him (Genesis 17:10-14; Leviticus 12:3; John 7:22,23). A final example is that the Law commanded Jews to rescue their neighbors’ livestock trapped under burdens or fallen into pits, even on the Sabbath day (Exodus 23:5; Deuteronomy 22:4; Matthew 12:11,12; Luke 14:5; cf. Luke 13:15,16).

Israel’s spiritual condition during Jesus’s day is obvious. Satan, via vain religious tradition, has the Jews keeping laws for laws’ sakes! There is no faith in the Word of God; it is just mindless ceremonies, rites, and rituals. The same is true for much of Christendom today! There is no real hunger for souls and sound Bible doctrine; the emphasis is on experiences, entertainment, ceremonies, and regulations.

Whenever Jesus Christ healed the sick on the Sabbath day, the Pharisees were there forbidding it and criticizing Him. They would rather let sick people suffer than for Jesus to heal them on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:10; Mark 3:1-6; John 5:8-13; John 7:22,23). Jesus addressed their cruelty by telling them, I will have mercy” (Matthew 12:7). He addressed their faithless religious performance by telling them, I will… not [have] sacrifice” (Matthew 12:7). The Pharisees had no idea what Jesus meant anyway, for they were too blinded by sin and religious tradition!

CONCLUSION

“But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day” (Matthew 12:7-8). What did our Lord mean?

The Pharisees, as well as other religious leaders of Israel, were not serving the LORD of the Old Testament Law that they studied. While they were highly educated and appeared good, they were not merciful toward the sick and hungry. They were sticklers for not working on the Sabbath day, and yet, they had no idea what the Sabbath day even represented. Blinded by their religious tradition, they preferred to see the hungry faint and the sick suffer, than even dare break the Sabbath!

Jesus told the Pharisees, “But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless” (Matthew 12:7). The Pharisees’ heartlessness originated from a desire to serve a denominational system rather than let the love of the Lord Jesus Christ operate in their hearts and actions. The disciples were hungry, so Jesus Christ—the Person who authorized Sabbath-day observance—permitted them to pick food on the Sabbath. The Pharisees erred in presumptuously criticizing Christ’s disciples. They failed to realize that the JEHOVAH who had instituted the Sabbath-day observance, the “Lord of the sabbath day,” was Jesus Christ—the Person standing right in their midst!

One last interesting tidbit to conclude: In the companion passage of Matthew 12:7-8, our King James Bible has the unique expression, “the second sabbath after the first” (Luke 6:1). That Sabbath of Matthew 12:1-9 loops back to the original (first) Sabbath of Genesis 2:1-3. The time of the fulfillment of the purpose of that original Sabbath—the establishment of God’s earthly kingdom—was near during Christ’s earthly ministry. Alas, the Pharisees failed to make that connection between those two Sabbaths. Religious tradition had caused them to ignore the God of the Sabbath, thereby causing them to be merciless and self-righteous for the sake of religion, and worst of all, they missed God’s kingdom altogether!

That is what our Lord meant, “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.”

Also see:
» Why did Jesus heal on the Sabbath Day?
» What is meant by, “Love thy neighbour as thyself?”
» Why did Jesus forbid others from preaching that He was Christ?

Was the Law of Moses given by the LORD, or by angels?

WAS THE LAW OF MOSES GIVEN BY THE LORD, OR BY ANGELS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Exodus chapters 19-34—the giving of the Law of Moses so he could give it to the nation Israel—describe the LORD Himself talking with Moses face-to-face on Mount Sinai. Notice these three brief summaries. Exodus 31:18: “And he [the LORD] gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.” Exodus 32:15-16: “[15] And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written. [16] And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.” Exodus 34:1: “And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.”

After reading the above verses, some have experienced great difficulty with the Apostle Paul’s words in Galatians 3:19: “Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.” I have actually received complaints from people who claim that Paul here contradicted Moses’ words written centuries earlier. They argue that Paul did not know his Old Testament Scriptures. (Some have gone so far as to say Paul lied!) Here, Paul claimed angels, rather than the LORD, had given the Law to Moses. Well, which is it—the LORD, or angels? Is Paul challenging what Moses wrote? In this Bible study, we will ignore the worthless conjecture and just let the Bible speak for itself.

No doubt about, friends, that Exodus is completely silent about angels being on Mount Sinai with Moses during the time he received the Law. That being said, is Galatians 3:19 automatically a mistake? Is this proof that Paul was a false prophet? (This is the conclusion of those who complain about this matter. They are not really interested in letting the Bible speak for itself. In fact, I am going to be so bold as to say that their real purpose is nothing more than to discredit Paul’s apostleship in whatever underhanded way they can. Let me show you how they actually pick on Paul, but never bother to mention other people in the Bible agree with Paul. Angels were most definitely present with Moses on Mount Sinai. Here are the non-Pauline verses to prove it!)

When the Prophet Stephen stood before Israel’s national leadership in Acts chapter 7, he spoke for just over 50 verses. Read this chapter in your time, my friend. It is an extensive “Old Testament” layout of Israel’s history—beginning with her origins in Abraham, all the way up to the time of Christ’s earthly ministry (which had concluded a year prior to Acts chapter 7). In that sermon, Stephen covered about 2,000 years of Jewish history. He stressed something important at the end. Israel’s religious leaders were so infuriated that they stoned him to death! Just before they violently massacred him, he mentioned the Law of Moses (religion is a most dangerous topic to mention!).

Stephen said to Israel’s national leadership, Acts chapter 7: “[51] Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. [52] Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: [53] Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. [54] When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.”

The Holy Spirit speaking through Stephen told Israel about their betrayal and murder of Messiah. Instead of receiving and believing the Lord Jesus, they handed Him over to the Gentiles/Romans for crucifixion (which punishment was reserved for the most wicked criminals). Above all, Israel had failed to keep the Mosaic Law, that which depicted the righteousness of the God-Man they had just sentenced to death! But, my friends, I want you to stop and look closely at verse 53: Who have received the law by the disposition [instrumentality] of angels, and have not kept it.” Like I said earlier, we let the Bible speak for itself. The Holy Spirit through Stephen thought angels were involved with the giving of the Law. I have no problem believing what the Holy Spirit said here. Do you? (Then, we cannot make an issue of Paul saying the same thing!)

In the Book of Hebrews, chapter 2, we read: “[1] Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. [2] For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; [3] How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him….”

There is no question that the writer of Hebrews is here referring to the Law of Moses by using the expression, the word spoken by angels was stedfast.” The phrase “and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward” is a description of those who disobeyed the Law of Moses. The Mosaic Law was at the heart of Israel’s religion, and those who violated it suffered various punishments (from paying fines to death by stoning!). Stop again and think, my friend. Who did the writer of Hebrews assume played a role in Moses’ receiving of the Law? Angels! (Again, I have no problem believing what the Holy Spirit claims here. Do you? Therefore, we cannot make an issue of Paul saying the same thing!)

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

My dear friends, here is what we must understand about this matter. People who complain about Paul’s declaration of angels giving the Law (Galatians 3:19) ignore the fact that Stephen (Acts 7:53) and the writer of Hebrews (2:2) agree with Paul! These ignorant people do not know enough about the Bible to comment on it, and yet they remark about it anyway. Are they actually reading and studying their Bibles before making these shameful, malicious, reckless claims? Of course not! (And they accuse Paul of not knowing the Bible?!?) Having a blind prejudice against the Apostle Paul—which Satan encourages, no doubt!—people will malign him and pick up on the silliest of issues. If they are this busy focusing on such hair-splitting topics, no wonder they do not have time for serious Bible study! They will criticize Paul when he speaks on this matter, but they will not complain about Stephen’s wording or Hebrews’ wording that agrees with Paul’s statement. This is most unfair, and is borderline dishonesty.

What the above faultfinders fail to realize, or just refuse to apply to Paul like they do with the rest of Scripture, is that the Bible is a progressive revelation. (God commonly withholds information in one Bible book only to reveal it many years later in another Bible book. The technical term for this feature is “subsequent narrative.”) While Moses never wrote about such angels in Exodus, it is important to note he did not deny they were there. The Holy Spirit simply did not see fit to reveal that information in Exodus. Historically, the Holy Spirit revealed to Stephen first about angels being present with Moses on Sinai. The Holy Spirit then showed it to Paul when he was writing Galatians 3:19 (years after Stephen and Acts chapter 7). God the Holy Spirit also revealed it to the writer of the Hebrews. If Paul was wrong, we must also toss out Acts and Hebrews!

Exactly what capacity those angels served in giving the Law to Israel, we cannot be sure because the Bible never explicitly shows us. (Those angels were most definitely there as witnesses, to say the least.) Furthermore, it is not bizarre that angels were instrumental in giving the Law to Moses so he could then pass it on to Israel. Many times in Scripture, God sent angels to provide light and understanding to people (Genesis 16:7-13; Exodus 3:1-22; 1 Kings 19:5-7; Daniel 9:20-37; Matthew 2:13; Luke 2:9-15; Revelation 22:8; et cetera). Anyone familiar with the Bible knows that angels, from Genesis through the Revelation, are intricately involved in God’s dealings with Israel.

One more thing, my friends, before we wrap this up. Just because angels were involved in its delivery did not mean the Mosaic Law was less serious. Remember, “…the word spoken by angels was stedfast [firm, of force, sure]…” (Hebrews 2:2). Although angels were instrumental in its ratification, the Mosaic Law was still the Word of God, “the work of God… the writing was the writing of God… written with the finger of God.” Those angels had been given divine authority. When we consider Exodus, Acts, Galatians, and Hebrews as one giant unified testimony, we conclude that angels cooperated with the LORD in giving the Law to Moses so he could give it to Israel. Friends, let us believe the words of the Bible, and let its critics be wrong.

Also see:
» Do Acts 9:7 and Acts 22:9 contradict each other?
» Was the Apostle Paul a false prophet?
» Did Paul quote verses out of context in 2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1?

Why are there Christians who persistently live like lost people?

WHY ARE THERE CHRISTIANS WHO PERSISTENTLY LIVE LIKE LOST PEOPLE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“How can a person who claims to be saved live a lifestyle that is against God’s teaching and call himself saved? I mean, there are Scriptures that you have mentioned and others that I have read that show how a righteous person should live. Despite the fact that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, doesn’t give people the right to live any way they choose.”

Thank you for bringing these points to our attention. We can all learn some valuable insight concerning “loose living” in the lives of Christians. Unquestionably, there is much inconsistent living among many Christians—some more so than others, but inconsistent living nonetheless. We talk about “grace,” but we are not always gracious. We speak of “holiness,” but we do not always separate ourselves unto God’s Word and will. We talk about “Jesus Christ,” but we often exhibit the actions of Adam. We speak of “truth,” but we often behave according to error. The world has seen the lives of many so-called “Christians” and scoffs, “Look at all those hypocrites in the church! I want no part of that ‘Jesus Christ’ they serve!” A dear friend in the ministry once expressed it this way: “The Devil does not have to bash the name of Jesus Christ—‘Christians’ do that already!” Beloved, it is a sad commentary indeed. We need to turn to the Scriptures and let God’s Word enable us to correct our thinking and modify our behavior.

SAVED UNTO GOOD WORKS, NOT SAVED TO CONTINUE IN SIN

Years ago, a Bible commentator quoted some anonymous person: “I looked for the church, and found it in the world; I looked for the world, and found it in the church!” If that was true a half-century ago, how much more today?

Whenever there is “loose living” any professing Christian’s life, one of two things is always true: (1) he or she has never understood that he or she was saved unto good works, or (2) he or she has forgotten that he or she was saved unto good works.

Ephesians 2:8-10 reminds us: “[8] For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: [9] Not of works, lest any man should boast. [10] For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” He or she needs to study the Bible to learn about the Christian life God gave him or her in Christ. Titus 2:13-14 says, “the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

Certainly, we Christians should have good works. We should be passionate about good works. Our new nature in Christ produces good works if we let it. See Philippians 1:9-11. All three chapters of the book of Titus talk about Christian good works. But, and it is sad to say it again, some Christians do not have a life of good works. They are saved and on their way to heaven, no doubt about it, but you would never know it by looking at their lifestyles. Just look at the Corinthians! I know many Christians like that. I am sure that you do, too. They parade their sin for all the world to see. They post graphic pictures, foul language, and obscene jokes on social media for everyone to behold their “Christian” testimony. They have a free will, and they have chosen not to access their Christian identity by faith. Paul preached to the Corinthians for 18 months, and did they appropriate that doctrine by faith? Most of them did not! The professing “church” today is just as guilty of carelessness, of “loose living.” We need not wonder why lost people do not want to hear what we have to say about Jesus Christ and His Word.

1. WORLDLY LIVING EASIER THAN CHRISTIAN LIVING.

It is much, much, much easier to walk in the default position—to be fleshly, to sin, to walk in the nature we inherited from Adam. To walk in the Spirit is only accomplished once we study and believe Bible verses, and many Christians just find Bible study too burdensome, too inconvenient, and/or too confusing. They are too busy for God. They do not study the Bible, and thus, they have no verses to guide them. If they do study the Bible, they cannot understand what they read, and so it is as if they had no Bible at all. Dispensational Bible study will greatly help these people make sense of the Bible. It will cause them to see that Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, are God’s complete will for them. The answer is not religion. The answer is grace! Grace! GRACE!

Christians who live like the world, they have compromised. They will not jeopardize their social life for Jesus Christ. They want to spare themselves the ridicule for being an “odd Christian.” So, to please men, they serve men instead of serving Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:10). John 12:42-43 says this is nothing new: “[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.” Our goal as dispensational Bible believers is not to have men’s approval, but “God’s approval” (2 Timothy 2:15). After all, we are to seek the approval of the Person whose opinion alone counts forever.

Other times, Christians know certain activities are wrong, and they do them anyway. This is not ignorance. This is just willful disobedience. It is deliberate sin. Even as Christians, we lie, cheat, use foul language, feel pride, envy, lust, et cetera. In 1 Thessalonians 5:19, Paul admonished the Thessalonians, “Quench not the Spirit.” To “quench” is defined as “to put out or extinguish” or “to subdue or destroy; overcome; quell.” The Holy Spirit has a firm desire to work in His people, but He will not force Himself on them if they want to live in their own resources and do their own thing. They will be miserable Christians, I can assure you, but they will still be Christians, saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, not saved by their performance. Although going to heaven, they will have no joy of the Holy Ghost in believing, because they have not believed the grace doctrines that produce joy and peace (Romans 15:13; Galatians 5:22).

Personally, I know “grace believers” who consistently live worse than denominational people. They are such a hindrance to God’s ministry and such a poor exhibition of God’s grace. I am talking about some pastors and common grace people. They live as though grace is a license to sin (giving our critics ample “ammunition”). They act like children when they should be thinking like full-grown (adult) Christians! See, some Christians will quench the Spirit more than other Christians. But, whether a little or a lot, we should not be hindering the Holy Spirit from working in our lives. To stop the Holy Spirit from living Jesus Christ’s life in and through us, is for us to live completely contrary to the eternal life that we have been given in Jesus Christ.

Mature Christians will not continually quench the Holy Spirit. Those who have a solid footing in the Holy Scriptures rightly divided, they will not constantly quench Him. Yes, we all make mistakes, and we all sin. But, to persistently live a “gutter lifestyle” is not what a Christian should be doing. Christians who do not have a firm understanding of God’s Word to them, they will not have God’s power in their lives, and so they will not have stability in their inner man. Again, if there are no sound Bible verses, there will be no godly living and no righteous living. If they are being educated in the world (college, television, internet, workplace, denominational churches, et cetera), and not educated in the Holy Bible rightly divided, they have not got a prayer of victorious Christian living. I know because I experienced it myself in my own Christian life. Perhaps you have had your own experiences with these things.

2. BIBLE IGNORANCE MAKES THE CHRISTIAN LIFE NONFUNCTIONAL.

Sometimes, Christians just need to be taught that certain activities are wrong. They are not always aware of what is Christian behavior and what is not. I have dealt with people like that as well. Maybe they had poor role models who claimed to be Christians, and they are simply behaving in a way that they think is “Christian-like.” I have dealt with people like that also. How can these dear people save themselves from such bad thinking? They need to go read and believe Romans chapter 12, Ephesians chapter 4, and Colossians chapter 3. Much wisdom can be found in these chapters. They can also read the two books of Thessalonians. The Thessalonian saints were model and mature Christians—although they were not sinless, remember!

Once, a Christian man emailed me to express his utter confusion and spiritual fatigue. He had been so “beaten up spiritually” in local churches that he did not know what to believe anymore. The preachers would always rant and rave against sin but they would never tell their congregations how to do right. They wanted their people to quit sinning but they never told their people how to do it. They placed more emphasis on what those people were doing than on what Jesus Christ did to do away with their sin. No wonder Christians are so depressed and defeated today! They are too focused on garbage teaching than on grace teaching!

God gave the ministry of pastors and teachers to help Christians grow in their knowledge of His Word (Ephesians 4:11-14). Church leaders and common Christians are to “teach every man in all wisdom” (Colossians 1:28). Colossians 2:6-7 says that our Christian life will function properly only if we are “taught.” These precious Christian souls who live like the world, they have to be taught what the Bible says about Christian living specificities. Oftentimes, people are not being taught Christian doctrine in churches today. They are being entertained, they are singing and dancing, they are learning denominational clichés and creeds, they are reading “Christian bestsellers,” but they are not hearing, studying, and believing the Holy Bible. Unless they know the Bible, the Holy Spirit will not be able to work in them. He needs verses to work in Christians.

Faith will only come once we hear or read God’s Word (Romans 10:17), so if we are not reading or hearing God’s Word, there can be no faith, and without faith, the Word of God cannot work in us. 1 Thessalonians 2:13: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.”

3. USING THE BIBLE NON-DISPENSATIONALLY DESTROYS THE CHRISTIAN LIFE.

Romans chapter 7 discusses how whenever Paul would attempt to live the Christian life in his own strength and resources—that is, laboring under the demands of the Mosaic Law system—he would fail miserably. Many Christians do not know the Word of God’s grace, they do not know God’s Word rightly divided, and so they place themselves under the law system. They use the Bible but they do not rightly divide the Bible. They use God’s Word to destroy themselves. They make shipwreck of their Christian lives. Satan could not be happier. They do not know that God’s grace teaches us how to live today. Too many Christians today are trying to make themselves holy. They are using the Bible—the Law system—to walk contrary to the doctrine that God speaks to us today in Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. Oh, what a travesty!

They are not walking by faith in their identity in Christ. We are already holy in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:31). The key to overcoming sin is Jesus Christ, not us. We died to sin by virtue of Calvary. Romans chapter 6 covers that topic extensively. If you want to live a life of defeat and misery, we should follow chapter 7. Romans chapter 7 is the result of not following chapter 6 by faith. Chapter 8 is the result of following chapter 6 by faith.

We will read Romans chapter 8, the first 15 verses, here: “[1] There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. [2] For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. [3] For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: [4] That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. [5] For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. [6] For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. [7] Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. [8] So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. [9] But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. [10] And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. [11] But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. [12] Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. [13] For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. [14] For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. [15] For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”

In verses 5-9, Romans chapter 8 talks about two types of Christians—those who are carnal and those who are spiritual. Take the Christians who are “carnally minded.” These are the Corinthians—people who were “carnal,” fleshly, worldly (1 Corinthians 3:1-3). If we are “carnally minded” we will have functionally dead Christian lives. In other words, we will live like the Devil and act like the lost world! On the other hand, Christians who are “spiritually minded” will have lives that agree with sound Bible doctrine. These are the Thessalonians. This is the life of Jesus Christ manifested for all to see! This is the grace life described in the Apostle Paul’s epistles! This is the victory over sin that God gives us through Jesus Christ! This is Christian living!

These verses present the two diametrically opposed lives from which we Christians can choose—live like the world or let Jesus Christ live in and through us. We can let the Holy Spirit teach us His Word and then walk by faith in an intelligent understanding of that Word, or we can just walk in our flesh and resources and get literally nowhere in the Christian life. People who are living in their own strength—whether saved or lost—cannot please God. Our flesh, even as saved people, can offer nothing to God. We are spiritually weak. But, the Holy Spirit activates the Word of God in our lives when we believe the Word of God rightly divided. The Holy Ghost makes the life of Jesus Christ become a reality in our lives.

FREE TO CHOOSE—RIGHTEOUS LIVING AND SINFUL LIVING

The Bible talks about two types of Christians in 2 Timothy 2:20-26—those who are “vessels to honour” and “vessels to dishonour.” Some Christians’ lives bring honor to the Lord Jesus Christ. Other Christians’ lives bring utter shame to the Lord Jesus Christ. It was like that in Paul’s day 2,000 years ago, and it is true even today. Some people just want to “oppose themselves”—they prefer to live contrary to who they really are. They do not act in accordance with their Christian identity. Again, that does not make it right, but that is how it is. God has given them (and us) liberty to choose right and wrong. Grace is not obligatory or mandatory. It is a “free gift,” with no strings attached (Romans 3:24; Romans 5:15-18). We should take the gift and appreciate it. But, again, we are not required.

Because we are under grace, God does not force us to behave right. The Law of Moses, however, that was a strict system—“Do good or you will be punished!” Just look at Deuteronomy chapter 28 and Leviticus chapter 26. It was during this type of system that Jesus emphasized good works to Israel. The same is true with James chapter 2. Often, I think there is a lot of “loose living” even in the religious world because people are struggling under some law system. They keep striving to stop sin in their own strength and their flesh is just too weak. According to Romans 6:14-15, sin will dominate our lives when we make our performance the issue: “[14] For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. [15] What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” People struggling in their power to control sin need the power of Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork in their lives! Our answers are not found in Israel’s program or Israel’s law system. Our answers are found in our program, Romans through Philemon. We need to be led by the Spirit of God as He teaches us the doctrines of God’s grace.

Again, today, in the Dispensation of Grace, as members of the Church the Body of Christ, we are under grace not law. The choice is ours—walk in our Christian identity or walk as though we were still in Adam. God did not make Adam and Eve as robots, and we are not robots. We can tell the Holy Spirit “no” and refuse to let Him work in us. The Corinthians and the Galatians were doing this. The Thessalonians, however, were model examples of Christian living, and Paul encourage them to continue in their godly testimonies (see 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12). He did not want them to slide away from the truth and hinder the ministry of the Holy Spirit. He wanted them to remain with the doctrines of grace. We can learn much about Christian living today by comparing and contrasting the Thessalonians (grace-oriented), the Galatians (law-oriented), and the Corinthians (man-oriented).

CONCLUSION

Grace does not force us to serve Father God. We should serve Him out of a grateful heart, yes, so if a Christian does not have a life filled with the works of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, that person is not really grateful to God. He or she has not studied His Word to learn about Christian living, and he or she does not know what Christian living is all about. Or, he or she does know what Christian living is all about, and is simply living in open rebellion against God’s Word. This may be done to please others. Religion, and/or the Bible non-rightly divided (Law of Moses), can be used to give people a false hope that they can manage their sins. Dispensational Bible study is the key to saving yourself from spiritual ruin concerning daily living.

If we know of any Christians, especially family members or friends, who fit this description of “loose living,” we need to approach them in meekness and love and warn them of the damage they are doing to their Christian testimony. We should certainly not look down on these people, for those who think they stand will fall eventually. Galatians 6:1 says we need to approach these wayward brothers or sisters in Christ in meekness and love. “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Try to be as gentle with them as possible. If the doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ means anything to them, they will think about what they are doing and make the changes they need to make. If they argue with you, and refuse to reform, the Bible says we should not have social relations with them (see 1 Corinthians 5:11-13; 2 Thessalonians 3:13-15).

Years ago, I remember one Christian emailing me to tell me he was confused by professing Christians who lived like they were not Christians at all. Dear friends, just imagine how lost people see it—they are even more confused. We cannot read their hearts, but it is very possible that those “Christians” may not even be saved. They may be merely “nominal Christians,” in name only! Or, maybe they are saved and have not grown in God’s Word rightly divided. There can be many reasons why professing Christians act like lost people. It can be a lack of teaching, or a lack of faith in sound Bible doctrine. It can be willful rebellion or just people who have been taught wrongly about how Christians should live. It may be using parts of the Bible (Moses) that are not written specifically to or about us.

Regardless of the cause, that loose lifestyle makes our Christian testimony so ineffective. That is why people call us hypocrites, and that makes the name of Jesus Christ extremely reproachful. That is one reason why lost people do not want to hear from Christians. Look at the Corinthians. One believer in Corinth was having a sexual relationship with his father’s wife! According to 1 Corinthians 5:1, not even the lost (pagan) Gentiles were guilty of that!!! The Corinthians sued one another over minor matters (1 Corinthians 6:1-8). They fought with each other like animals (1 Corinthians 3:3). The Corinthians’ problem was that they were “carnal” and “babes” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3). They never let God’s Word transform them. They were so spiritually immature, they acted so devilish/fleshly, and yet they were saved! Shocked?! Sure, we should be.

So, for those who are saved and who act worldly/lost, it could be one of two reasons: (1) they are not hearing any sound Bible doctrine where they go to church—which describes most of them, or (2) if they are hearing any sound doctrine, they are not allowing it to change them. Sometimes, a believer’s heart can grow callous, hardened to change. That is the quenching of the Holy Spirit. God allows that person to exercise free will, so He lets them remain in their rebellious state because they want to stay like that. Second Timothy 2:25-26 talks about Christians (and even lost people) “taken captive by the devil at his will.”

ATTENTION: The 2016 Slidell Grace Bible Conference will be held December 2-4, just north of New Orleans. Guest speakers are: Richard Jordan, John Smith, and I (Shawn Brasseaux). We would love to have you in attendance! Please see this flyer for more info: https://arcministries.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/2016-slidell-gbc.pdf.

Also see:
» Is grace a license to sin?
» Does “once saved, always saved” entitle us to abuse God’s grace?
» What advice can be given to homosexual Christians?

How did Enoch “walk with God?”

HOW DID ENOCH “WALK WITH GOD?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

“And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: and Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him” (Genesis 5:23-24). How did this most enigmatic Bible character “walk with God?”

Scripture says very little about Enoch, the father of the oldest man in the Bible (Methuselah). The genealogical records of Genesis indicate that Enoch was born about 600 years after creation (he lived contemporaneously with Adam for 300 years, so they doubtless knew each other!). Enoch “walked with God,” lived to age 365 years, and “he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:23-24)—he disappeared from earth hundreds of years prior to the Great Flood (God spared him from witnessing such a horrific sight!).

Through the writer of the book of Hebrews, the Holy Spirit elaborates: “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. But without faith it is impossible to please him:…” (11:5-6a). Enoch “walked with God” by having faith in God’s Word to him; moreover, interestingly, the Bible confirms that Enoch never experienced physical death.

Although Enoch certainly did not have a written, completed Bible like we do, Jude explains what revelation Enoch had from God: “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (verses 14-15).

Enoch was a prophet, someone who preached God’s Word. Now, in hindsight, with a completed Bible in hand, we can see that Enoch foresaw the Lord Jesus Christ returning to earth at His Second Coming with all the holy angels with Him, to pour out His wrath on unbelieving mankind. Enoch was a Bible teacher in the midst of that most wicked primitive world. This is most interesting, seeing as to “Enoch” means, “teach,” “train up,” “discipline.”

Also see:
» Can you explain Genesis 6:1-4?
» Who was Melchizedek?
» Why do animals fear us?

How are we “known of God?”

HOW ARE WE “KNOWN OF GOD?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

“Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?” (Galatians 4:8-9). Not only do we in Christ know God. More importantly, God knows us!

Galatians 4:8-9 carries the thought mentioned throughout the previous chapter. While the one true God was dealing with the nation of Israel, preparing them to function as His earthly people, the nations—including the Gentiles in Galatia—“knew not God” and “did service unto them which by nature are no gods.” That is, in their heathen religious services, they worshipped various dead idols.

The Gentiles were doubly-severed from the one true God. They were not only dead in their trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1-3). They were also on the wrong side of the middle wall of partition that God had erected (Ephesians 2:11,12). The Israelites, not the Gentiles, were God’s chosen people. Having let the nations (Gentiles) go their way in spiritual ignorance at the Tower of Babel in Genesis chapter 11, God took Abraham and began to form His special nation in chapter 12. Romans chapter 1 shows us the nations’ blatant rejection of God’s clearly revealed will, and their subsequent spiritual ignorance. This was the former state of the Galatians in Galatians 4:8-9. It was also the lot of our Gentile ancestors in the centuries before Christ!

Did God not care about the Gentiles? Why, of course He did! God’s will was to take the nation Israel, convert them, fill them with His Word, so they, as His kingdom of priests, could then take that divine revelation to the nations (Genesis 12:1-3; Isaiah 2:1-3; Isaiah 60:1-3; Isaiah 61:6; Zechariah 8:20-23). Israel, as we all know, failed in that regard. But, God, in eternity past, devised another way to reach Gentiles until Israel’s national conversion. Galatians 4:8-9 provides a clue as to how He did it. We Gentile believers in Jesus Christ “have known God” and “are known of God.” Just what exactly does this mean? Let us search the Scriptures to find out!

Departing Moses admonishes Israel to remember she alone is God’s special people. Deuteronomy chapter 4: “[5] Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. [6] Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. [7] For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for? [8] And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?”

Once Israel entered the Promised Land, Gentiles were to literally see their unique Law-keeping behavior and respond: “Our dead idols do nothing for us, but, LOOK!, an all-powerful, wise, loving God works mightily in Israel! Let us turn to that God and forget our superstitions and statues!”

Romans chapter 9 describes Israel’s privileges in “time past:” “[4] Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; [5] Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.” Israel was to be God’s “son-nation,” His earthly coworker-nation. They had His presence, His covenants, His Law (Word), His priesthood, His promises, and His earthly ministry (Matthew through John). Of the Gentiles like us during that time, Galatians 4:8-9 says,[Y]e knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.” Thank God, we have moved from “time past” to “but now!”

Ephesians 2:11-13 lays out the Bible timeline: “[11] Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; [12] That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: [13] But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”

In time past,” God dealt with mankind on the basis of physical circumcision (Jew) and physical uncircumcision (Gentile). He had separated unto Himself the nation Israel from the world (see Romans 9:4,5). Ephesians 2:11-12 says, during that time—Gentiles were “without Christ” (Christ’s earthly ministry was to Israel only; Matthew 15:24), Gentiles were “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel” (not members of Israel), Gentiles were “strangers from the covenants of promise” (God made covenants with Israel), Gentiles “ha[d] no hope” (no promises from God), and Gentiles were “without God” (no Levitical priesthood of God). This correlates to the first part of Galatians 4:8-9: [W]hen ye [Gentiles] knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.”

Verse 13 of Ephesians chapter 2 says, “BUT…,” a contrast to our previous statements: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off [Gentiles] are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” This links to the next part of Galatians 4:8-9: But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God,….” In what Scripture calls but now,” our present-day, God deals with all of mankind without distinguishing between Jew and Gentile. We proceed to show how this new way of God dealing with mankind began with the Apostle Paul’s salvation and commission.

While Israel had a special status before God in “time past” (Romans 9:4,5; Ephesians 2:11,12), she was unappreciative. She forgot that God had not chosen her as His special people because she was so lovely and loving, but rather because He, in His love, wanted to use her to reach all the nations on His behalf (Genesis 12:1-3). During Christ’s earthly ministry and early Acts, Israel demonstrated she was unwilling to be God’s channel of salvation and blessing to the Gentiles.

So, God turned to Gentiles without Israel. Israel fell before God—albeit temporarily. This is where the Apostle Paul enters. Guided by the Holy Spirit, Paul wrote in Romans chapter 11: “[11] I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. [12] Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? [13] For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:”

If you read the latter part of the book of Acts—chapter 13 onward—you will cover the bulk of Paul’s ministry. While he did visit synagogues (Jewish places of worship) to warn Israelites of their nation’s temporary fall before God, he also ministered to people who were completely unaware of Israel’s God. None of these people had ever heard the name “Jesus Christ.” Rather, they had their idols of superstition, pagan education, Satanism, wood and stone, et cetera (see Acts 14:1-18, Acts 16:16-18, Acts 17:16-31, Acts 19:21-41, and Acts 28:1-8). This was where Paul found the Galatians (see Galatians 4:8-9). He preached to them the wonderful Gospel of the Grace of God. They came to know the one true God!

Today, it is very difficult to find someone who has never heard of “Jesus.” Contrariwise, when the Apostle Paul began his ministry, it was very difficult to find someone who had heard of “Jesus.” When JEHOVAH God’s apostle of the Gentiles, Paul, entered Athens, Galatia, Thessalonica, Lystra, Derbe, Philippi, Antioch, Berea, Ephesus, and innumerable other Gentile areas, it was His first attempt ever to directly reach those Gentiles. The nations that He had given over to Satan’s control back in Genesis chapter 11, He was now reaching down so they could reach Him.

In Acts chapter 14, Paul and Barnabas preached to the idolaters at Lystra: “[15] …[T]urn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: [16] Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.” Paul preached in Athens (chapter 17): “[23] For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. [24] God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; [25] Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;… [29] Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. [30] And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:”

Paul preached a similar message to the idolaters in Galatia (Galatians 4:8-9). It was via his Gospel message they could know God and He could know them! To the pagan Gentiles, Israel’s God was the “UNKNOWN GOD” (Acts 17:23). Dead in trespasses and sins, under Satan’s control, Gentiles had no relationship with Israel’s God (Ephesians 2:1-3,11,12). Once we move in the Bible from “time past” to “but now,” however, Israel’s God becomes “known” to the Gentiles. Israel’s God decided to reveal a secret He had kept to Himself for thousands of years. He chose Saul of Tarsus, His arch-nemesis, saved him by His grace, and sent him (made him an apostle) for a very special purpose. Paul would preach a worldwide Gospel message. “THE UNKNOWN GOD… him declare I unto you!(Acts 17:23).

Paul’s own admission is 1 Timothy 2:5-7: “[5] For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; [6] Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. [7] Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.”

Israel’s rejected Messiah, Jesus, had become the Saviour of the world. Now, through Paul’s ministry, all people of all nations learn “Christ Jesus… gave himself a ransom for all.” This message was first preached by Paul (not Jesus in His earthly ministry, not Peter, not James, not John, et cetera). Through Christ’s shed blood, we have fellowship with Father God: “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13). When we trust Jesus’ finished crosswork as sufficient payment for our sins, we “know” God intimately. And, more importantly, as a parent would commune with his or her child, He “knows” us.

There was a time—“time past”—when the idolaters of Galatia, nonmembers of Israel, did not know the one true God personally and intimately (Ephesians 2:11,12; cf. Romans 9:4,5). However, Paul wrote to the Galatians that that time had passed. Mankind was now living in “but now.”

Ephesians chapter 2 declares: “[13] But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ… [18] For through him [Jesus Christ] we both [Jew and Gentile] have access by one Spirit unto the Father. [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.”

Through Paul’s Gospel—Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3,4)—we Gentiles have “access” to Father God. Furthermore, when we believe that Gospel of God’s Grace, He comes to live inside of us personally via the Holy Spirit. In His Word rightly divided, He has made known unto us His will. We need not revert to our former ways of spiritual ignorance. No need to return to works-religion (as the Galatians were doing in Galatians 4:8-9—using the Mosaic Law). Works-religion will only hinder God’s relationship with us, and ours with Him. He has already given us His grace, His Son, and His fellowship. We need give Him nothing but our trust.

The God of creation will be known of us, and, most importantly, we will be known of Him! 🙂

Also see:
» Can you explain 1 Corinthians chapter 8?
» Who are God’s family in heaven and on earth?
» Can you compare and contrast Peter’s ministry and Paul’s ministry?

Does Jesus Christ save us or does the Gospel save us?

DOES JESUS CHRIST SAVE US, OR DOES THE GOSPEL SAVE US?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“Dear Brother Shawn, Your article is great! It really helped me in understanding difficult Biblical topics. Could you clarify this statement of yours? ‘God applies that forgiveness by faith when we trust the Gospel of Grace—that Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He was raised again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3,4).’ Do we have Scriptural basis in saying we have forgiveness by faith when we ‘trust’ the Gospel of Grace? Salvation comes from, through and by the Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation does not come from the gospel. Can we find anywhere in the King James to ‘trust the gospel?’ I understand that 1 Corinthians 15:2 says ‘by this Gospel we were saved…’ but is it Biblical to conclude trusting this Gospel is what saves us? or trusting Jesus Christ saves us? We don’t trust the Gospel to save us but we trust Jesus Christ to save us and this Gospel of Grace is what we believe. Thank you so much. Waiting for your reply.”

“Hi Brother ____. Glad to be of service to you, friend! Thank you for allowing me to clarify. While I understand what you are saying, and I agree with you, please allow me to point out some things I think you have overlooked. I will try to make this as clear and as plain as possible. Since you are replying to our “Are lost people forgiven?” article, I trust that you have read it in full and you can refer to it again if needed. (https://forwhatsaiththescriptures.wordpress.com/2014/12/07/are-lost-people-forgiven/)

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Faith is believing God’s Word to you. God’s Word to us, God’s Good News (“Gospel”), His message to us, is that His Son is the Saviour. While this is true, the Bible gives a more specific explanation. Faith needs to rest on a clear understanding of God’s Word. The clear understanding is established when we hear or read “Christ died for our sins…” (1 Corinthians 15:3). Without the Gospel message, we have no firm understanding of Jesus Christ (who He is and what He did).

While it is certainly true Jesus Christ is the Saviour, on what basis can He save? What did He do to be the Saviour? You cannot answer these questions without the Gospel. “Christ died for our sins…” (1 Corinthians 15:3).

While it is certainly true Jesus Christ is the Saviour, on what basis does He save? How does He save? You cannot answer these questions without the Gospel. “Christ died for our sins…” (1 Corinthians 15:3).

Why does a holy, righteous God want to have anything to do with us sinners? How can we go to heaven if our sin prohibits fellowship with God? Again, you cannot answer these questions without the Gospel. “Christ died for our sins…” (1 Corinthians 15:3).

Jesus Christ died, shed His blood, and paid for our sins in full. His blood is the atonement for sins. His blood covers our sins. We cannot cover or make up for our sins by performing religious works of any kind. Christ was buried to put away our sins (Hebrews 9:26). He was raised again (resurrected) to justify us (declare us righteous before God) (Romans 4:25). This is called “the Gospel of the Grace of God” (Acts 20:24). Grace is what God can do for us freely through the propitiation (fully satisfying payment) of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:24-25). “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

As I pointed out in that article you read earlier, the Gospel is the means whereby God can “impute” (apply, reckon, or “count” in Romans 4:5) the merits of Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork to the believer. The finished crosswork of Jesus Christ is very valuable, but we do not know its true worth unless we know the Gospel that clearly communicates its value. Christ’s shed blood can provide forgiveness, but that forgiveness is not actually true of us as individuals until we as individuals believe the Gospel. “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5).

The Lord Jesus Christ indeed does the saving from sins and hell, but what about Jesus must we believe in order to be saved? What must we do to have Christ’s righteousness imputed to us? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). We are to rely on Jesus Christ as the propitiation, or sufficient payment, for our sins. Unless you know exactly what He did to save you, He cannot save you. The Gospel tells us how He saves us. He puts away our sins and gives us His righteousness in their place!

Romans 1:16 says: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” The “Gospel of Christ” is a message all about Jesus Christ. What specifically about Him? According to the King James Bible, the Gospel of Christ is “the power of God” that can “save” those who “believe.” What exactly do they believe? The Gospel of Christ. What is the Gospel of Christ? Chapters 3-5 of Romans will talk about His finished crosswork as the way to righteousness (justification) unto eternal life and heaven.

Ephesians 1:12-14 also says: “[12] That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. [13] In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, [14] Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” We heard “the word of truth,” “the gospel of [our] salvation.”

According to this passage, you have to first hear the Gospel, then you can trust in Christ, and finally you get the Holy Spirit. What is the Gospel of our salvation? Again, please refer to the first five chapters of Romans. We trust in Christ, definitely, but why trust in Him? Because there is saving power, cleansing power, in His shed blood, and that is most clearly expressed in the Gospel of Grace. “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Because the Gospel is the Word of God, it is just as powerful as anything else God does or speaks (just as powerful as Calvary’s cross).

By the way, concerning the “salvation” in 1 Corinthians 15:2, that is deliverance from misery/defeat rather than deliverance from sin (a common misunderstanding about the verse). You can see our study about that linked at the end of this study.

SUPPLEMENTAL – WHAT GOSPEL?

There is a common assumption that there is only one Gospel message in the Bible. This is a misconception. We can avoid it by understanding there are at least two basic Gospel messages in the Bible. (While there is only one Gospel message today, God did not reveal it until the Apostle Paul. God has other Gospel messages valid at other times in human history.)

We read in Matthew chapter 16: “[13] When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? [14] And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. [15] He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? [16] And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. [17] And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. [18] And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. [19] And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. [20] Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

“[21] From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. [22] Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. [23] But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”

The 12 Apostles are often assumed to be preaching in the Four Gospels, “Jesus Christ will die for our sins, He will be buried, and He will rise again.” However, the 12 Apostles had no idea about Calvary. In fact, the only piece of information these Apostles were expected to know about Jesus was, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). In verse 17, Jesus approved of these words of Peter: Jesus did not censure Peter for not talking about Calvary since Calvary had not yet been revealed yet. Notice how Peter did not say, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God, who will die for our sins.” Peter was preaching “the Gospel,” but he was not preaching our Gospel. Peter’s Gospel message was that Jesus was Messiah/Christ/Son of God. There is nothing about Calvary in Peter’s confession. The Gospel of the Kingdom committed to Peter and the 11 involved who Jesus was (Christ/Messiah), not what He was going to do at Calvary (as in our Gospel of Grace). We must be careful to “study… rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Read in Matthew 16:21 how Jesus “began” to tell His disciples about how He was going to go to Jerusalem, and suffer, and be killed, and rise again the third day. This means that He had not mentioned Calvary to His disciples prior to Matthew 16:21!!!! Furthermore, when Peter learns of Jesus’ coming death, Peter denies it will happen! Matthew chapter 16 again: “[21] From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. [22] Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. [23] But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”

Luke 18:31-34 is the parallel account: “[31] Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. [32] For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: [33] And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again. [34] And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.” Calvary was hidden from the Apostles!!! They could not have been preaching our Gospel in Matthew through John! They were preaching “the Gospel of the Kingdom” (Matthew 4:17; Matthew 9:35; Matthew 24:14)—Jesus is Messiah/King/Christ. Hence, we say that when we believe the Gospel of the Grace of God, we have God’s righteousness imputed to us. It is not merely enough for us today to believe Jesus is Christ/Son of God (as in the Gospel of the Kingdom). We have to believe “Christ died for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3)—that distinguishes our Gospel message from the Gospel the 12 Apostles preached.

If we just say “Jesus saves us,” that is true in both the Gospel of the Kingdom and the Gospel of the Grace of God. That is too general a Gospel message, for why does Jesus save us? Not merely because He is Messiah/Christ (as in the Gospel of the Kingdom). But, when we say, “Christ died for our sins,” that is more specific and that is the Gospel message God through the Apostle Paul gave us (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day.” That is the Gospel message we should preach, the Gospel of the Grace of God. “Jesus saves” is too simplistic, and does not go into enough detail to serve as an adequate basis for faith today.

Also see:
» What does, “Saved, if you keep in memory,” in 1 Corinthians 15:2?
» What is a simple Grace Gospel to share with small children and teens?
» Is Acts 16:31 a sufficient Gospel message?

Was Jesus “heartless” in Matthew 8:22?

WAS JESUS “HEARTLESS” IN MATTHEW 8:22?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“[21] And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. [22] But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead” (Matthew 8:21-22). Was Jesus inconsiderate here? Why did He tell this man to follow Him instead of go bury his father? In the Bible study, we will unravel this enigma!

Due to His spectacular miracles and profound teachings thus far, great crowds are gathering around and following Jesus. Verse 18 says, “Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side.” (Notice how, contrary to the nature of most modern-day preachers, Jesus avoided publicity as much as possible. He did not want them gravitating toward Him per se. He wanted His Heavenly Father to receive the glory!) Before He enters a ship to cross the Sea of Galilee (verse 23ff.), Matthew reports two individuals approach Christ.

One man is a scribe who tells Him, “Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest” (verse 19). Jesus replies, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (verse 20). In other words, this scribe is very hasty in his decision to follow Christ wherever He goes. So, Christ tells him, paraphrased: “Do you realize what you are saying? You know, I have no certain dwelling-place because Israel largely rejects Me. Rather than welcoming Me, they want Me to leave. Are you really so dedicated to Me that you are willing to bear My reproach and also be persecuted for following Me?”

The other man is the individual who appears at the opening of this Bible study. For some time, he has been following Jesus. Perhaps in light of what Jesus has just told the scribe (previous paragraph), this man says he has something he must do before he can follow Him. He asks that Jesus first allow him to bury his father, and then he will return and follow Jesus. Rather than Jesus permitting the man to go and bury his father, He says, “Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.” This may shock you, as it has surprised others. How could Jesus be so “insensitive” here? Did not Jesus care that the man’s father needed to be buried? Why did Jesus not give the man some time to depart and grieve the loss of his father? We must stop and consider some realities here.

Dear friends, remember, up to that point, Jesus had been performing all sorts of miracles (Matthew 4:23-24; Matthew 8:1-17). The man who asked to go bury his father never asked Jesus to raise his father from the dead. So, it is not unreasonable to assume that the father was still alive. The man’s father was living. It was not that he had died and his funeral was pending. Rather, the son wanted to serve his father until his father died, and then he would come and follow Jesus. Matthew 8:21 again: “And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.” If you permit me to paraphrase that disciple, it would be something like: “Lord, let me go take of my father until he dies. Once he expires and I bury him, then I will follow Thou wherever Thou goest.”

Our Lord replied, “Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.” In other words, “Rather than worrying about your father, you need to follow Me. Let the dead bury their dead.” This sounds harsh, but Jesus was accentuating a very simple truth that had to be said. Please understand that the Lord Jesus Christ was a very compassionate Man. When you study His earthly life, how He conducted Himself—what He did and what He said—He made every attempt to help people. He grew very angry to see Israel’s religious leaders so unconcerned about His nation’s spiritual welfare. There was so much deception, so much false teaching, and so much strict legalism. Rather than having mercy on the sick, they sat in their self-righteous seats! In stark contrast, Jesus had such concern for those wayward souls. When He saw crippled people hobbling along, He healed them. He had such compassion on the blind, deaf, and mute. He healed them as well. When He saw sincere souls endeavoring so desperately to find the truth, He did not hesitate to preach it to them. All of this said, Jesus was not being insensitive to the man wanting to bury his father. He had a very important reason for saying what He did. Much light will be shed here if we consider that last statement, “And let the dead bury their dead.”

Reading between the lines, the father was unbelieving, for he was not with Jesus as his son was. Furthermore, in contrast to his son, that father had no interest whatsoever in coming to God’s truth. Hence, Jesus said, “Let the [spiritually] dead bury their [physical] dead.” The man’s father was a lost, unsaved, unredeemed individual, part of Satan’s crowd. Once he died, other lost people could be concerned with burying him. His son, a follower of Christ, however, need not involve himself in the affairs of lost people. The Lord Jesus knew that, had the son returned home to take care of his father, it was highly possible the father would discourage his son from ever coming back to follow Christ. Satan would certainly take great pleasure in that!

If we go over to the parallel passage, Luke 9:57-62, we see there was a third individual who approached Jesus. That third person helps us further understand the matter.

We read in Luke 9:57-62: “[57] And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. [58] And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. [59] And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. [60] Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. [61] And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. [62] And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

In addition to a scribe wanting to follow Jesus everywhere, and the man wanting to return to take care of his father until death, a third individual wanted to go back home and tell his family goodbye. This third person would experience a problem similar to the man wanting to bury his father. That third man would also possibly be influenced into staying with his lost relatives. They would do everything they could to talk him out of returning to be a follower of Jesus. Like the man wanting to bury his father, he too risked the likelihood of never coming back to following Christ. Such reluctance Jesus wanted these men to avoid. If they were to follow Him, there could be no looking back. Israel had been so corrupted by vain religion, Satanic deception, to return home and leave Jesus’ teachings would automatically make one vulnerable to the Devil’s lies.

By the way, in case you missed it, concerning the man who wanted to bury his father, Luke records something that Matthew left out. “Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God(Luke 9:60). That man could have been a mighty preacher for the kingdom of God. He could have traveled all over Israel telling his fellow Jews about Jesus being Christ/Messiah-King. But, he had the desire to go back home and stay with his unsaved father instead! (The Bible never says what happened to any of these three men. We know not if the scribe followed Jesus throughout those trials. We know not if the man wanting to bury father returned to take care of his father until death, or if he stayed with Christ and preached the kingdom of God. We know not if the man longing to go home and bid his family goodbye, ever went back, or if he continued to follow Jesus.)

Saints, please do not misunderstand these verses. Just because we are Christians, that does not mean we abandon our lost loved ones. That does not necessitate we leave them behind and travel the world to preach the Gospel. We should take of our family members, even lost ones. BUT, here is what we should take from these verses. There will come a time, if not already, when we have to sacrifice some, most, or all of our human relationships to follow Jesus Christ. If ever we reach a point where we have to choose between keeping close ties with family and friends, and obeying the Lord, these verses tell us what we should do. Our parents, spouses, children, siblings, “friends,” they may all disown us. They may count us “dead,” and may ever literally hold funerals for us because we have left “family religion” to embrace God’s truth. They may call us nasty names, threaten us, physically harm us, or even take our earthly lives. People all around the world, and throughout the centuries, have been subjected to all sorts of hardships for their coming to Jesus Christ. They have lost so many relatives and “friends.” But, they (and we) have gained the entire family of God (Ephesians 2:19; Galatians 3:26)!

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.”

Also see:
» How could ‘wise’ Solomon let foreign women deceive him?
» Can we witness “too much” to family members?
» If dispensational Bible study is true, how come so few believe it?