Monthly Archives: February 2017

Do some things happen by “chance?”

DO SOME THINGS HAPPEN BY “CHANCE?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

Calvinists will tell us that before God created anything, He preordained every last event in every person’s life. This obviously precludes free will. If that were true, then we could say that people do not sin because they chose to sin but rather because God chose them to sin! Calvinists believe that, because God is God, He is “sovereign,” and He is not God unless He controls every last detail. However, that is not true according to the Bible. Does God direct everything to happen? Maybe according to theology, but not according to Scripture!

RUTH

Ruth chapter 2 begins: “[1] And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband’s, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz. [2] And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter. [3] And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech.”

Did God direct Ruth to enter Boaz’s field? No, the Bible did not say that. God’s “providence” was not involved here. Now, if you want to say God’s providence was involved, that He did guide Ruth to Boaz’s field, then just throw away Ruth 2:3 and believe your theology. If you are a Bible believer, however, you will simply admit that Ruth decided to choose the field of a certain man, and that man just so happened to be the very man who was her husband’s relative (and thus able to help her and her mother-in-law).

SOLOMON’S WORDS IN ECCLESIASTES

King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 9:11: “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.” If we believe God controls all events, we need to throw out Ecclesiastes 9:11 as well.

THE PRIEST IN THE PARABLE OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN

We read in Luke chapter 10: “[29] But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? [30] And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. [31] And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. [32] And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. [33] But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, [34] And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.”

According to the Lord Jesus, the priest passed “by chance.” He chose a certain path, and that path just so happened to be the one on which the downtrodden man was lying. I did not tell this story; do not get angry with me. Jesus Christ told the story, so if you disagree with it please go argue with Him. What do I believe? Friend, I will believe Him over you and your theology any day!

CONCLUSION

The Bible says that Ruth’s “hap” was to glean in Boaz’s field (Ruth 2:3). Scripture says, “time and chance happeneth to all” (Ecclesiastes 9:11). The Bible says that, in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the priest “by chance” happened to pass by (Luke 10:31). Evidently, Jesus Himself thought God had not pre-arranged this or orchestrated it in any way. There are certain things that God has simply decided not to control. This in no way limits or diminishes God’s power. God has just as much power to permit other people to do things (free will) as He does to do those things Himself. It is amazing that God has let certain things fall out, without intervening, knowing that they by themselves can bring about a good result. Again, look at the case of Ruth.

If we are going to go by the Bible, then we have to admit that—according to God the Holy Spirit anyway—there are some things that God never planned and never guided. They resulted simply because of chance. Jesus Himself said that in Luke 10:31—God did not guide that priest (as Calvinism teaches) but rather it happened “by chance.” We either believe the Bible, or we do not. We either believe our Calvinistic theology, or we believe the Bible. There is no middle ground.

SUPPLEMENTAL: KING SAUL’S HARRYING OF DAVID

We find an interesting account in 1 Samuel chapter 23, when (unbelieving) King Saul purposed to kill (believing) David:

“[1] Then they told David, saying, Behold, the Philistines fight against Keilah, and they rob the threshingfloors. [2] Therefore David enquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go and smite these Philistines? And the LORD said unto David, Go, and smite the Philistines, and save Keilah. [3] And David’s men said unto him, Behold, we be afraid here in Judah: how much more then if we come to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines? [4] Then David enquired of the LORD yet again. And the LORD answered him and said, Arise, go down to Keilah; for I will deliver the Philistines into thine hand. [5] So David and his men went to Keilah, and fought with the Philistines, and brought away their cattle, and smote them with a great slaughter. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah. [6] And it came to pass, when Abiathar the son of Ahimelech fled to David to Keilah, that he came down with an ephod in his hand.”

“[7] And it was told Saul that David was come to Keilah. And Saul said, God hath delivered him into mine hand; for he is shut in, by entering into a town that hath gates and bars. [8] And Saul called all the people together to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men.”

“[9] And David knew that Saul secretly practised mischief against him; and he said to Abiathar the priest, Bring hither the ephod. [10] Then said David, O LORD God of Israel, thy servant hath certainly heard that Saul seeketh to come to Keilah, to destroy the city for my sake. [11] Will the men of Keilah deliver me up into his hand? will Saul come down, as thy servant hath heard? O LORD God of Israel, I beseech thee, tell thy servant. And the LORD said, He will come down. [12] Then said David, Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul? And the LORD said, They will deliver thee up. [13] Then David and his men, which were about six hundred, arose and departed out of Keilah, and went whithersoever they could go. And it was told Saul that David was escaped from Keilah; and he forbare to go forth.”

In verse 10, we read that David asked God’s counsel as to whether or not Saul would come to Keilah and destroy it for David’s sake. In verse 11, God said Saul would come down. In verse 12, God said that Keilah’s men would deliver David up to Saul so Saul could kill David. Upon learning that information, David and men left Keilah. Saul heard that David escaped Keilah, so Saul decided not to go to Keilah.

Notice, God never actually forced one outcome to happen. He knew the contingencies, the various outcomes, but He let David and Saul make decisions. God told David what Saul would do had David stayed. Thus, David left. Consequently, Saul did not do what he would have done had David stayed. This is free will. God did not tell David to stay or leave. God did not tell Saul to stay or go. JEHOVAH God, even as powerful as He was, let Saul and David be the free moral agents He created them to be! Strange to hear, I know, but, friend, it is better to trust the LORD than to put confidence in men and theology (Psalm 118:8)!

Also see:
» How do God’s foreknowledge and our free will work together?
» Does Romans 9:14-18 support Calvinism?
» Does God give us faith?

What does the King James Bible mean—“reins?”

WHAT DOES THE KING JAMES BIBLE MEAN—“REINS?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

On 15 occasions, the Authorized Version makes reference to “reins.” Most of these are found in the “Old Testament.” As a brief introduction, we look at few of a couple of those verses right now. Psalm 7:9 says: “Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins.” And, Jeremiah 20:12: “But, O LORD of hosts, that triest the righteous, and seest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I opened my cause.” What are such “reins?” Why this curious word?

The Hebrew word usually rendered “reins” is כִּלְיָה, or kilyah (Strong’s #H3629). Kilyah appears 31 times in the Hebrew Bible. Our 1611 translators translated it as “kidneys” 18 times and “reins” 13 times. (Another Hebrew word—חָלָץ, or chalats [Strong’s #H2504]—is rendered “reins” in Isaiah 11:5. This gives a total of 14 Old Testament usages of “reins.”) The word “kidneys” is generally restricted to the literal, fleshly organs of sacrificial animals offered in Judaism—Exodus 29:13, Exodus 29:22, Leviticus 3:4, Leviticus 3:10, Leviticus 3:15, Leviticus 4:9, Leviticus 7:4, Leviticus 8:16, Leviticus 8:25, Leviticus 9:10, and Leviticus 9:19. There are two figurative usages of “kidneys” in Deuteronomy 32:14 and Isaiah 34:6. “Reins” in the Greek New Testament is νεφρός, or nephros, (Strong’s #G3510). It appears only once—Revelation 2:23.

Now, to the English word. “Reins” is a form of the Middle English reines, reenes; which was derived from the Old French reins; which was taken from the Latin rēnēs meaning “kidneys, loins” (plural). Even today, modern-day medical terms reflect the Greek, Latin, French, and English etymologies. Have you ever heard of renal failure—the kidney(s) malfunctioning? The medical study of kidney diseases is called nephrology—reflecting the Greek word, of course. Medical science dealing with the function of kidneys is known as renal physiology. Now that we know how “kidneys” and “reins” are connected, how should we handle the King James verses that say God is interested in seeing and knowing our “reins?” Is God really concerned with our kidneys?

In ancient times, kidneys (hidden inside our torso, or loins) were assumed to be the seat of our emotions, feelings, and affections. “Reins” is related to our literal kidneys. However, “reins” can also be used figuratively in reference to our innermost component (again, emotions, feelings, affections; mind). For the record, Strong’s Concordance has the following definition for the Hebrew word kilyah (#H3629): “feminine of H3627 (only in the plural); a kidney (as an essential organ); figuratively, the mind (as the interior self):—kidneys, reins.” Strong’s defines the Greek word nephros (#G3510) as: “of uncertain affinity; a kidney (plural), i.e. (figuratively) the inmost mind:—reins.”

The “reins,” are actually the mind, rather than the heart (another part of our innermost being), since some verses (see below) use both “reins” and “heart.” However, the King James Bible translators are not wrong in using “reins” to refer to something other than literal kidneys. They are using the word in a figurative sense to indicate the mind, as you can now see for yourself.

  • Job 16:13: “His archers compass me round about, he cleaveth my reins asunder, and doth not spare; he poureth out my gall upon the ground.”
  • Job 19:27: “Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.”
  • Psalm 7:9: “Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins.”
  • Psalm 16:7: “I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.”
  • Psalm 26:2: “Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.”
  • Psalm 73:21: “Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins.”
  • Psalm 139:13: “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.”
  • Proverbs 23:16: “Yea, my reins shall rejoice, when thy lips speak right things.”
  • Isaiah 11:5: “And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.” (Jesus Christ as He reigns in the Millennium!)
  • Jeremiah 11:20: “But, O LORD of hosts, that judgest righteously, that triest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I revealed my cause.”
  • Jeremiah 12:2: “Thou hast planted them, yea, they have taken root: they grow, yea, they bring forth fruit: thou art near in their mouth, and far from their reins.”
  • Jeremiah 17:10: “I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”
  • Jeremiah 20:12: “But, O LORD of hosts, that triest the righteous, and seest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I opened my cause.”
  • Lamentations 3:13: “He hath caused the arrows of his quiver to enter into my reins.”
  • Revelation 2:23: “And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.”

Also see:
» What is “the foolishness of God” in 1 Corinthians 1:25?
» Are we created in “the image of God?”
» What are “phylacteries?”

Did Jesus “empty” Himself?

DID JESUS “EMPTY” HIMSELF?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Philippians 2:7 reads in the King James Bible: “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:” Some modern versions read Jesus “emptied himself” in the place of “made himself of no reputation.” Why does this matter?

THE MODERN VERSIONS

The Greek word rendered “made himself of no reputation” in our King James Bible is handled elsewhere.

  • “emptied himself” (American Standard Version, Amplified Version, English Standard Version, Holman Christian Standard Bible, New American Standard Bible, New Revised Standard Version, Revised Standard Version, Roman Catholic New American Bible, and Jehovah’s Witness New World Translation).
  • “made Himself of no reputation” (21st Century King James Version, New King James Version).
  • “he gave up everything” (Contemporary English Version).
  • “laid aside his mighty power and glory” (Living Bible).
  • “he gave up his place with God” (New Century Version).
  • “he made himself nothing” (New International Version).
  • “he gave up his divine privileges” (New Living Translation).
  • “but He poured Himself out to fill a vessel brand new” (The Voice).

As you can see, these modern versions are a slippery theological slope. The majority of them want Philippians 2:7 to say Jesus “emptied himself.” Note that even the Jehovah’s Witness version reads this way.

It should be noted that Amplified Bible’s translators carefully inserts bracketed comments lest their wording confuse: “but emptied Himself [without renouncing or diminishing His deity, but only temporarily giving up the outward expression of divine equality and His rightful dignity] by assuming the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men [He became completely human but was without sin, being fully God and fully man].” Of course, had they just left “made himself of no reputation” alone, it would be unnecessary to add the bracketed words “without renouncing or diminishing His deity, but only temporarily giving up the outward expression of divine equality and His rightful dignity.”

The word (kenoo) “he made himself of no reputation” means while Jesus never quit being God, He did not go around demanding people serve Him. He was not the issue. He did not make His reputation as God the issue. As the perfect Man, He had come to serve God the Father. He was equal to God the Father (verse 6) but He chose not to exercise the right of being served as God would be served. Rather than issuing commands (as God), He obeyed them (as Man).

The Bible says in Matthew 20:25-28: “[25] But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. [26] But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; [27] And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: [28] Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

As God, Jesus had a reputation. But He did not make that an issue when He became a Man. Rather, He submitted to His Heavenly Father. “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt…. O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done” (Matthew 26:39,42). As we would say, He did not “go around strutting His stuff.” He did not walk about with a vain, pompous bearing, head held high and chest sticking out, expecting to impress others.

Philippians chapter 2: “[5] Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: [6] Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: [7] But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: [8] And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

Jesus Christ did not “empty himself” as some modern English Bible translations suggest. That would be heresy! Jesus could not stop being who He was (His first nature was that He was God). Friend, you cannot change your nature. However, you can act contrary to your nature. This is what Jesus did. It was not Jesus’ nature to behave as a Man, for He was God. However, He added a new nature to Himself—a human nature—so He could behave as a man. Thus, Jesus had two natures: He was fully God, and, in addition, fully Man. “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9). “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

Second Corinthians 8:9 summarizes: “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.”

Also see:
» Is the Trinity/Godhead a Scriptural teaching?
» Can Jews who believe in God, the Father, but who reject Jesus, be saved from eternal damnation?
» Is the Holy Spirit a Person or a force?

Why is Hell forever if life on Earth is but decades?

WHY IS HELL FOREVER IF LIFE ON EARTH IS BUT DECADES?

by Shawn Brasseaux

A religionist and professing Christian contended that there was no way a “loving” God would send somebody to Hell forever. This sincere man even took it a step further by asserting something I had never heard before (or since). How could a life of sin lasting only 70 or 80 years result in damnation in Hell forever? Is this not an extreme or unfair penalty? Why have a sentence in Hell unequal to the time spent living on Earth? It is a rather interesting argument. We would be happy to use the Scriptures to expose it as utterly specious!

Why does punishment in Hell last forever if life on Earth is limited? That is, why are people not punished in Hell for the same amount of time they committed sins on Earth? The person confused by denominational teaching finds this incongruent. Surely, Hell could not be forever because people did not sin forever on Earth. Right? Actually, here, God’s omniscience has taken a backseat to man’s imperfect mind. Man is completely unqualified to correctly evaluate God’s thoughts or habits. Never forget, my friend, what Isaiah 55:8-9 says: “[8] For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. [9] For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

The Bible is quite clear that we have no capacity to think divine thoughts. Since we are creatures, and not the Creator, we are limited. We do not have all the information and all the insight that Almighty God has access to when He makes decisions and decrees. As humans, we have very limited information. We have weak minds to process what little information we do have. Therefore, we have a very shallow sense of what life is all about. We also have a very shallow awareness of what creation is all about. Every day, the human race makes new discoveries. We do not have all the answers! It is very unfair and ridiculous when we use our pea-sized brains, operating on limited information, to disparage or deny something Almighty God does or says in His omniscience. We do not sit on the judgment seat and dictate to Him what He “should” think, do, or say. He is God, we are man, and that is that!

To drive this point home, we appeal to 1 Corinthians 2:10-14: “[10] But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. [11] For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. [12] Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. [13] Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. [14] But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

The “natural” (unsaved, unredeemed, un-regenerated) man “receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God.” He cannot process the things of the Spirit of God. He is unable to have the spiritual insight needed to properly evaluate the situation or teaching. He cannot understand the words that the Holy Ghost teaches. Hence, he dismisses God’s words as “foolishness.” He will thus “re-translate” verses, deny verses, remove verses, and/or add verses. Whatever he deems necessary, he will do, provided that his opinions or pet denominational beliefs are upheld. In his mind, the Bible cannot be right!

However, those willing to let the Holy Spirit teach them will be provided the ability to judge between God’s truth and Satan’s error. Someone who is steeped in a denomination, religion, or similar perverted system, is not relying on the Spirit of God for insight. He or she is depending on something other than the Holy Spirit, which is why he or she has difficulty with the teachings of the Bible. In fact, they will claim to be a “Christian,” and yet, contradict the clear teachings of the Bible (recall the man in our opening remarks). They lack the Holy Spirit, or they have quenched Him, so His teaching ministry is absent from their lives. Without Him, they cannot understand divine thoughts or teachings.

Now we move on to addressing the issue of why Hell lasts forever. A very helpful Scripture is Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” The answer to this question is found in verse 10: “I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” God says He “searches the heart” and “tries the reins.” To wit, He evaluates our innermost being. What He, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, has discovered in the human heart is delineated in Mark 7:20-23: “[20] And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. [21] For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, [22] Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: [23] All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”

Notice the issue here is not the deeds (although they are surely horrific). No, the deeds are the symptoms of an underlying condition—the heart. The heart is the most serious of matters because it is the source of those evil works. Man’s heart is the problem because it is “desperately wicked”—not just “wicked” but desperately wicked!” The heart has intense desires to commit evil deeds. Evil actions are the outward result of evil thoughts and motives on the inside! Mark 7:21-23 again, “For from within, out of the heart of men…. all these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” The actions are offensive to God, yea, but His main controversy is the heart that generates those acts. As someone once aptly stated, “We are sinners, not because we sin. We sin because we are sinners.” Being a sinner comes first—sinning follows. If we get that one point straight in our thinking, the rest of this matter is ever so easy to grasp.

King David of old did not have a completed Bible like we do today, but the Holy Spirit did cause him to write in Psalm 51:5: “Behold, I was shapen in inquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Whether David in his mother’s womb, or we in our mothers’ wombs, our sin nature is conceived therein. This is long before the individual has a chance to sin. The emphasis is on the nature, the component of the person that will produce the sins in his or her post-womb life. Man in his makeup is a sinner; he behaves sinfully because he is a sinner by nature.

Consider a very plain and clear analogy (not original to me). We can pick all the oranges from an orange tree, but it remains an orange tree because it is naturally an orange tree. Furthermore, we can hang apples on the orange tree, but it, by nature, is still an orange tree. It does not transform into an apple tree! It will never produce apples! No matter how you alter its outward appearance, the orange tree will always be an orange tree on the inside and it will always produce oranges. Similarly, a person with a heart of sin can do good works, religious works (nice outward form), but his or her sinful nature remains. That sinful nature (heart) is still offensive to God. If he or she is to be accepted of God, there must be a change in nature. The sin nature must be dealt with. Where can the sin nature of man be changed? Not Hell. The sin nature of man is remedied at the cross of Christ.

In the Apostle Paul’s epistle to Colosse, he said by the Holy Spirit: “[11] In whom [Christ, verse 9] also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: [12] Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. [13] And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; [14] Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; [15] And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:11-15).

An inward circumcision occurs the moment one trusts the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Saviour. He or she is cut off from the fleshly identity in Adam (go back to Psalm 51:5). This is done “without hands,” meaning something God does rather than man. It is not a physical circumcision (done by men’s hands in religion—particularly Judaism). Rather, it is a spiritual circumcision. Colossians 2:11 speaks of the “putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ.” This is a sinner moving to the position of a saint, a lost person becoming a Christian, a child of Satan being placed into God’s family.

When a believing sinner recognizes and relies on by faith the death of Jesus Christ as sufficient payment for his or her sins, God takes that person out of Adam and puts him or her into Jesus Christ. The person, once identified with Adam (sin and spiritual death), is now identified with Jesus Christ (righteousness and spiritual life). Please read Romans 5:12-21, which provides more detail. Our body of sin, our blood relation to Adam, was crucified with Christ on Calvary (see Romans 6:1-23). This is something religion cannot do. This is something we cannot do. It is something that only God can do in His omnipotence and omniscience. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5). “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

In Genesis chapter 17, the LORD God gave Abraham and Israel the rite of physical circumcision to outwardly signify a spiritual circumcision they had on the inside because of faith rather than works (cf. Romans 4:11-13). Unfortunately, the Jews eventually became too obsessed with the religious rite. Eventually, the spiritual circumcision accomplished by faith was ignored and (outward) religious works were emphasized. Romans 2:28-29 corrects this inattentiveness: “[28] For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: [29] But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”

God is more interested in a Jew’s spiritual circumcision than the physical circumcision. Physical circumcision means nothing if there is no inward corresponding circumcision of the heart. After all, the spiritual circumcision is the difference between spiritual life and spiritual death. Those who die with the Adamic nature, lacking the new nature in Christ, not being spiritually circumcised on the inside, automatically go to Hell. Again, their sinful nature is unchanged, so Hell is their only destiny. Although they may have “cleaned up” their lives with religious good works, religion could not furnish them with a new nature. Only faith in Calvary’s cross could give them a new nature—and they remained in unbelief, so Calvary’s merits are inapplicable to them!

CONCLUSION

If we look at how soul salvation operates in the Holy Scriptures, listening to the words of the Holy Ghost, we understand how Hell can last forever despite sinful living on Earth being limited to decades.

God’s way of enforcing punishment is much different from ours. Punishment in Hell is not based on how long you committed sins on Earth. We do not go to Hell because we commit sins (deeds); we go to Hell because we are sinners (nature). Sins (plural, actions) are the result of our nature inherited from Adam; that nature is called “sin” (singular). While sinful actions are offensive to God, the origin is man’s sin nature. God will never approve of man’s fallen nature. This is why people can reform their behavior and still be unacceptable to God. God is not trying to improve the behavior of man—religion does this. Religion deals only with the symptoms. God wants the nature of man to be dealt with. Christ’s crucifixion at Calvary addresses the sinful nature, the root cause.

Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork takes care of both the nature and the actions of sinful man. Christ died so that we in our fallen nature would be put to death with Him, and resurrected with a new nature in Him to walk in righteousness (see Romans chapter 6). He also shed His blood in order for that blood to wash our sins, our sin debt, away (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14). Christ Jesus offered himself as a fully satisfying payment for our sins. Religion cannot do this. We cannot do this. But, we can trust Jesus Christ to do it for us. Us relying on God’s Son is what pleases Him.

The reason why suffering in Hell lasts forever is that the sinful nature of man is never lost in Hell. Hell is not a place of reformation or rehabilitation. Neither is it a place of regeneration. Hell is a place of punishment, never-ending punishment. By nature, a person in Hell will always be evil. God’s wrath against their sin nature is never satisfied because their sin nature will always exist. He or she has never lost—and will never lose—the sinful nature inherited from Adam. No amount of suffering will change their nature. Thus, the punishment never ceases.

SUPPLEMENTAL: WHY IS HEAVEN FOREVER IF LIFE ON EARTH IS BUT DECADES?

Those who argue, “Punishment in Hell should equal the length of sinful living on Earth,” never argue the (unintentional) conclusion that must also be reached: “Life in Heaven should equal the length of righteous living on Earth.” If it were valid to contend a limited Hell because of limited earthly living, then a limited life in Heaven could be argued too. After all, just as we can do a limited number of evil works on Earth—70 or 80 years, or so—so we can do so many good works on Earth. A short “good” life on Earth would result in just a short time in Heaven, not eternity. See, again, this is all erroneous. It just accentuates what we discussed throughout the main part of the study. The issue is not good or bad works; it is about someone who has a new nature in Christ (Heaven-bound), and someone who has only the sinful nature in Adam (Hell-bound). Those in Heaven never lose their new righteous nature in Christ, so they live in Heaven forever. Those in Hell never lose their Adamic sin nature, so they live in Hell forever.

Also see:
» How can a “loving” God send people to Hell forever?
» Is Luke 16:19-31 a parable?
» What is the “foolishness of God” in 1 Corinthians 1:25?

Can you explain, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable?”

CAN YOU EXPLAIN, “IF IN THIS LIFE ONLY WE HAVE HOPE IN CHRIST, WE ARE OF ALL MEN MOST MISERABLE?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” is actually 1 Corinthians 15:19. We turn the pages of Scripture and let the Holy Spirit enlighten us!

Before we deal with the actual verse, we look at the general context. The Book of 1 Corinthians is quite lengthy—16 chapters to be exact—because the Apostle Paul had to address and correct various problems in the Christian assembly at Corinth. While these saints were secure in Christ and members of the family of God (1 Corinthians 1:4-9), they were not behaving like who they really were. Rather than living according to God’s grace and their new life in Christ, they were relying on their flesh, their own reasoning, human philosophy. In doing so, they were subverting and sabotaging their own spiritual growth. Rather than listening to and believing the doctrine that the Holy Spirit had taught them through Paul, they had allowed the surrounding pagan Greek culture to influence their thinking and disrupt their Christian service.

Chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians is a systematic argument of the doctrine of bodily resurrection. Paul provides various lines of evidence to support this most cardinal belief of Christianity. His first and foremost argument was to present as historical fact Jesus Christ’s own bodily resurrection. We look at the first 12 verses: “[1] Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; [2] By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. [3] For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; [4] And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: [5] And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: [6] After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. [7] After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

“[8] And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. [9] For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. [10] But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. [11] Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed. [12] Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?”

Verse 12 identifies why Paul bothered to mention bodily resurrection in the epistle to Corinth. Why did he spend a whole chapter—58 verses—on that one topic of bodily resurrection? In Acts chapter 18, he had preached to the Corinthians how that Christ died for their sins, was buried, and rose again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). These pagan idolaters had believed that Gospel message, received forgiveness of sins, entered into a relationship with the one true God, got a place reserved for them in Heaven, and left Satan’s kingdom forever! However, after Paul left Corinth, Greek philosophers had persuaded the Corinthian believers to reject resurrection. Hence, 1 Corinthians 15:12 inquires, “How say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?” Some of the Corinthians were not faithful to the doctrine the Lord had committed to them through Paul, God’s apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11:13). As the Galatians abandoned Paul’s “mystery” doctrine in favor of Moses and legalism (see the Book of Galatians), so the Corinthians had forsaken Paul’s “mystery” doctrine in favor of man and pagan philosophy (see the Books of 1 and 2 Corinthians).

Since some of the Corinthians doubted the reality of bodily resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:12), Paul outlines a number of problems that arise if bodily resurrection is fiction. Notice his logic, and the resulting hypotheticals, in the succeeding verses: “[13] But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: [14] And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. [15] Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. [16] For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: [17] And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. [18] Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. [19] If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”

What an argument, no doubt from the pen of the Holy Spirit Himself! If resurrection is untrue, then Christ did not resurrect. If Christ did not resurrect, then Paul preaching Christ’s resurrection as true is empty, worthless, and pointless. If Paul’s preaching was pointless, then the Corinthians believing that message was also purposeless. If Paul’s preaching was nothing more than a false message, then it made Paul a liar. If Christ did not resurrect, then the Corinthians’ faith was meaningless. If Christ did not resurrect, then they were still dead in their sins. (After all, Romans 4:25 says Christ’s resurrection serves as the receipt that He paid our sin debt in full.) If resurrection is fiction, then Christ did not resurrect. If Christ did not resurrect, then we will never be resurrected either. If that were the case, then those who died in Christ are literally lost to us forever, never to be seen again. If there is no resurrection, then the Christian life is actually experienced for nothing!

Now, with background established, we get to the heart of this study—“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” The expression “this life” is our earthly life right now. If only on Earth we have hope, death being the end and resurrection never happening, we would truly be miserable. Here, we have lost family relationships for Christ. We lost “friends” to follow Christ. We were called names and were unfairly criticized. We may have lost our jobs for standing up for Him. Perhaps we were tortured, imprisoned, or killed for His sake. We spent countless years studying the Bible, praying, preaching the Gospel, teaching the Bible, passing out Gospel tracts, traveling abroad going to conferences and starting local churches, on and on. We would be the most miserable people in all the world if, after everything we did for Christ, it would amount to nothing! To keep working in Christian service, not pursuing a carefree materialistic life like the rest of the world, knowing we will die for nothing and all that work will amount to nothing! Without resurrection, our earthly lives would be a total waste of time. There would be no “eternal life” after all!

The Christian life is all about the life of Jesus Christ being manifested in our mortal flesh. There is such joy, peace, hope, love, and fulfillment in Christ. However, when death comes, that earthly life is over. Death would take it all away. If there were no resurrection, we would be the most miserable of all people. We would stay dead. Our Christian experience would only last as long as we lived on Earth. It would be about a century, at the most, before ending forever. Would Paul be so silly as to spend his whole life risking it for Christ, just to have it taken from him by Rome and never returned? Would the Corinthians be so foolish? Would we?

If, however, bodily resurrection were true, and we believe it is true because the Bible says it is true, that means our Christian experience is momentarily interrupted (physical death). It is not permanently abrogated (namely, we being dead forever). Resurrection ensures that we will be physically redeemed from sin, just as our souls were redeemed from sin the moment we believed the Gospel. Romans 8:23-25 talks about our physical resurrection, the “redemption of our [physical] body:” “[23] And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. [24] For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? [25] But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” This “hope” of future resurrection is contrasted with the present “hope” of 1 Corinthians 15:19.

There is a brief reference to our bodily resurrection in Philippians 3:20-21: “…The Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” This is our deliverance from the presence of sin, physically rescued from the sin-cursed world and these weak, failing bodies related to Adam. You can read about the resurrection of all the members of the Body of Christ by consulting 1 Corinthians 15:51-58 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. That event is commonly called “the Rapture,” our mass gathering unto Christ. Our resurrection bodies are also described in 2 Corinthians 4:16–5:8.

It would do us well to conclude this study by looking at the very last verse of 1 Corinthians chapter 15: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (verse 58). Rejoice, friend, be not “most miserable!” Our labor is not in vain in the Lord because physical death does not end our Christian service. Our earthly Christian sojourn will end one day. All of our earthly ministries will cease. Still, there is in Heaven waiting for us, a reward, a resurrected body, and a reunion with the saints of the ages. We will talk again with those departed brethren, and all work together in eternity to the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ! Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice!

Also see:
» Could you describe Jesus’ resurrected body?
» Can you explain Colossians 3:3-4?
» What is the Lord’s will for my Christian life?

What are “instant” Christians?

WHAT ARE “INSTANT” CHRISTIANS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2). What does the Bible mean, “instant” Christians? In this day and age of “instant this and instant that,” we need more “instant” Christians! We will answer this question to form our special-edition 350th Q&A article.

Second Timothy 4:2 is a highlight from Paul’s farewell epistle. In this concluding treatise, the Holy Spirit presents the final marching orders to the Church the Body of Christ. Once this last epistle was written, the Bible’s canon was complete—all 66 inspired books were present as scrolls in the first century A.D., ready for copying and distribution to all saints everywhere. Since the penning of 2 Timothy, there has been no further revelation from God: 2 Timothy 4:2 indicates that Timothy had a complete Bible, a complete divine revelation, and that he was to preach “the word” and nothing else.

According to 2 Timothy 3:15-17, verses previous to 2 Timothy 4:2, Timothy was to preach “the scripture” (written text), not “oral church tradition!” Yea, there would be no subsequent “development of doctrine through Sacred Tradition,” but rather depravity of doctrine through church tradition (clearly predicted in 1 Timothy chapter 4 and 2 Timothy chapters 3 and 4). According to 2 Timothy 1:15, apostasy had already infected and misled most Christians, even before Paul wrote that very letter! Few ever realize that the Body of Christ was doctrinally deficient, weak, confused, and deceived 2,000 years ago—even today, the Bible is pushed aside and church members read everything else.

As secular humanism grows stronger culturally, the Christians remain weak. Rather than learning God’s truth to preach it so people can have an alternative to error, church members stay silent (except for the whining about how deception runs rampant). How we grieve with the Holy Spirit that the church abounds with weak Christians! They are learning nothing solid in church meetings, just shallow messages that keep them happy (and ignorant of the deeper things of God’s Word). The cults and world religions thoroughly indoctrinate their members with nonsense, but they put most Christian pastors and members to shameful silence—they know more about their own holy books and our Bible than the Christians do of either! Oh, how we need “instant” Christians!

The Greek word translated “instant” in 2 Timothy 4:2 is ephistemi, used elsewhere to describe: an angel “coming” (Luke 2:9; Acts 12:7), Anna “quickly coming” in gratitude to see the Christ Child (Luke 2:38), Jesus “immediately” healing Peter’s mother-in-law of a high fever (Luke 4:39), irritated Martha “approaching” Jesus (Luke 10:40), Israel’s religious leaders “coming” to intimidate Christ and His apostles and disciples (Luke 20:1; Acts 4:1; Acts 6:12), Cornelius’ three messengers “immediately” coming and “standing” before Simon’s door awaiting Peter’s arrival (Acts 10:17; Acts 11:11), the unbelievers “assaulting” the members of the household of Jason (Acts 17:5), Ananias “standing” near newly-converted Saul of Tarsus (Acts 22:13), Saul of Tarsus “standing by” holding the coats of those who were stoning Stephen to death (Acts 22:20), the Lord “standing by” Paul to comfort him (Acts 23:11), chief captain Claudius Lysias “coming” with an army to deliver Paul from a mob that wanted him dead (Acts 23:27), the “present” rain that poured as Paul and his shipmates reached the island of Melita (Acts 28:2), the sudden destruction of the future Tribulation “coming” upon the unsuspecting unbelievers (1 Thessalonians 5:3), and Paul’s execution and departure to heaven being “at hand” (2 Timothy 4:6).

In 2 Timothy 4:2, “instant” means “ready to act”—it implies intense activity or an impending quick motion (see examples in previous paragraph), not idleness or inactivity (sitting or standing around doing nothing). Paul is charging Timothy (and all Christians) to not be slothful in the ministry, hoping “someone else” will share the Gospel with others, hoping “someone else” will teach Christians God’s Word rightly divided. The Holy Ghost knows that it is easy for our flesh to surrender to opposition, to be passive or lazy, to keep the Bible but just teach it according to a denomination or church tradition for the sake of pleasing man, or to throw away the Bible completely and do what “everyone else is doing” (in religion or in “the world”). Let us continue hearing the Holy Spirit through Paul!

Let us read 2 Timothy 4:2 within its context: “[1] I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; [2] Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”

To begin this final chapter to the Body of Christ, the Holy Spirit issues a “charge,” a command, what we are to do with the previous three chapters of information. We are ordered to “preach the Word,” not to keep it to ourselves, not to keep it on our bookshelves, and not to hope someone else (with more degrees, more “talent,” more “piety”) will share it with others.

Furthermore, we are to be prepared to preach the Word. Sadly, many people are eager to preach and/or teach the Bible, but sincerity and fervency without spiritual knowledge and wisdom are dangerous. Frankly, the vast majority of people in “Christianity” today, particularly ministers and teachers, need to hush and study their Bible because they have little to no understanding of the Book they claim to be believing and proclaiming (that was me years ago!). It had been better had they said and wrote nothing regarding theology, than to defile God’s people and harm them with the very Bible that should have (had it been taught correctly) stabilized their souls and protected them from the “grievous wolves” lurking in religion (Acts 20:28-32)!

Paul urged Timothy, yea, all Christians, to be “instant in season, out of season.” Ministers and Bible teachers are to be especially mindful that they are leaders in the Christian community, and like all Christians, they have to study God’s Word so they can be ready to minister it, share and proclaim it, in convenient times and in inconvenient times. Saint, you must be prepared, for you never know who will approach you seeking the Bible’s truth, or at what time of day (or night!) you will “come upon” (remember our previous words?) them.

Higher education trains people for special fields. These graduates’ minds are so engrained with the terms and concepts of their particular disciplines that they can instantly enter the mode needed to fulfill that role. For example, when a medical professional witnesses a medical crisis, he or she is skilled to assess quickly, act quickly, and amend the situation quickly. The healthcare professional does not stand or sit there idly, utterly clueless regarding what needs to be done, waiting for someone else to act. Their medical training just naturally takes over, and they respond appropriately. Second Timothy says that a Christian should behave similarly when confronted with any matter in life. We need to simply let the Holy Spirit train us by studying and memorizing His Bible.

With great sadness we acknowledge that the average Christian has not been trained in God’s Word (just familiar with denominational creeds, ecclesiastical prayers, religious clichés, and manmade dogmas). Thus, when confronted with even the simplest Bible questions, let alone the deeper ones, he or she has very little input (sometimes no input whatsoever!). The Bible critics go unanswered (most Christians equally ignorant of Scripture).

We endlessly thank and praise our Lord Jesus Christ for the precious few saints, men and women, who, throughout church history, stood boldly for God’s truth because they knew God’s truth. God used them to give us our English Bible (King James). While the vast majority of Christians were wanting in Bible understanding and doctrine, and still are today, these few “instant” Christians continue in God’s ministry.

Actually, I entered the ministry over 10 years ago because I so desired to share God’s truth with others—the timeless Bible truths that religion hid from me for the first 20 years of life and the first 15 years of my Christian life! Our goal in this very ministry is to equip God’s people with His truth, that fewer Christians find themselves in the “clueless” predicament that so infects the professing church. How we share God’s desire in having “instant” Christians!

We read 2 Timothy 4:2 within its context, once again: “[1] I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; [2] Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” Before Father God Himself, and before Jesus Christ our Lord, the Holy Spirit through Paul gave very clear instructions to Timothy (primarily, to all local church leaders, but all Christians can benefit as well).

Note the three specific commands: (1) “Preach the word,” (2) “Be instant in season, out of season,” and (3) “Reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” Firstly, we are to preach God’s Word, the Holy Bible, not impressions, traditions, speculations, and superstitions. Secondly, we are to be so skilled in God’s Word rightly divided that we can quickly bring inquisitive people to verses pertinent to their situations or questions. Lastly, we are to “reprove” (blame, disapprove), “rebuke” (stronger than “reprove,” “rebuke” is sharp disapproval or severe criticism), “exhort” (strongly encourage) “with all longsuffering and doctrine.”

Christians skilled in God’s Word rightly divided are commanded to “with all longsuffering [patience for an extended period of time] and doctrine [teaching that is to be believed]” correct false teachers. They do this by lovingly, meekly, and gently preaching or teaching God’s Word dispensationally (2 Timothy 2:24-26). Doctrinal errors will be thus manifested, and these erring people have opportunity to turn from such nonsense. The skilled Bible students are to then encourage the false teachers to embrace the truth he or she has set forth (the skilled Bible student was “instant,” ready, to correct error). Ultimately, the false teacher is to decide which to seek. In the context of the epistle, Timothy, as a mature church leader, is to stifle false teaching in the local assembly and remove from teaching/leadership positions Christians who refuse to turn from the doctrinal error (see 1 Timothy 6:3-6). “Instant” Christians are the key to solid and stable local Christian assemblies!

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” This charge in 2 Timothy 4:2 is amplified by the next two verses: “[3] For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; [4] And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” False teaching masquerading as “Christianity” is not isolated to the last few hundred years or even several decades—these two verses are a clear description of the professing church during the last 20 centuries.

God the Holy Ghost never spoke about a great revival just before the close of our Dispensation of Grace. Inversely, He predicted a great apostasy, a willful rejection of sound Bible doctrine. The professing church has not tolerated sound Bible doctrine. Contrariwise, it has hoarded more and more and more false teachers, “feel-good” men-pleasers, proclaimers of nice-sounding clichés destitute of spiritual truth. Preferring worthless works-religion, denominational theology, and pagan error, they are covering their ears as God’s ambassadors boldly preach the message of His grace and Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery! Barring God’s precious words from their assemblies, they embrace “fables”—superstition, entertainment, religious tales that literally amount to nothing.

False teaching has increased since Bible days because: (1) new denominations and seminaries with unique statements of faith and ecclesiastical creeds, have arisen; (2) new means to disseminate error (advances in printing, telephones, satellite television, internet, smartphones, and so on); (3) new world religions for “Christian” groups to borrow from when forming their belief systems; (4) new corrupt Bible manuscripts have been drafted, popularized, and translated hundreds of times over; and (5) new billions of people to be converted to these wayward groups, who can then proselytize others, the cycle repeating indefinitely.

Timothy, like all church leaders, was urged in 2 Timothy 4:2, that he slow down (not prevent) doctrinal error from spreading by studying and standing for God’s Word rightly divided. To do the same in our local assemblies, we must be “instant” Christians!

Travelling out-of-state, I once had a very interesting conversation with an Evangelical seminarian-pastor who had a testimony of salvation in Christ. Meeting privately with this brother, I lovingly explained to him that the Greek New Testament he was preaching from was unreliable. Then, I showed him the error in his book, hoping he had an ear to hear and a heart to believe. Although I expected his reaction, I will never forget it. He blurted out to justify the error in his Bible, “We do not have what [Saint] Mark wrote anyway!”

Dear friends, he was no “cultic kook” but a “Bible-believing, Jesus-Christ-loving” preacher who would never, ever, ever even think of saying in his pulpit that today’s Bible is not—yes NOT—identical to the apostles’ Bible! (This heretical view of “textual criticism” drives the endless search for another manuscript reading “closer to the originals,” so another translation “more scholarly” [?] than its predecessors can be publi$hed.) Had this assembly and its deacons known their Bible, they would have asked this pastor the right questions before choosing him… to lead them “into the [doctrinal] ditch” (Matthew 15:14)! Friends, if most preachers spoke their true beliefs about Bible versions, they would agree with this wayward brother. Seminary has polluted them concerning manuscript evidence and Bible versions. Bible critics are the very people leading most “Christian” churches!

Had the Body of Christ studied, known, and appreciated/believed their 400-year-old King James Bible, they would have never purchased a century’s worth of 200 (pathetic, corrupt) modern English versions. They would have known that Satan questions God’s Word and robs mankind of its clarity at every opportunity (Genesis 3:1-5). Had the pastors educated their people in God’s English Bible, and warned them of counterfeits (2 Thessalonians 2:2; 2 Peter 1:18–2:3), Bible publishing companies would have gone bankrupt, no one buying their worthless modern-speech perversions predicated on equally-godless manuscripts. Very few want to hear such strong language, but it is true nonetheless (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Oh, how we NEED “instant” Christians!

To better understand 2 Timothy 4:2, we compare it to what the Holy Spirit said through the Apostle Peter. Speaking to Israel’s believing remnant suffering the horrors and persecution of the seven-year Tribulation (yet future from even today): “[15] But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: [16] Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ” (1 Peter 3:15-16).

In what the Bible calls “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7), the Antichrist (a political leader) will slaughter all Jews who reject him as false (they will believe Jesus is the true Messiah/Christ). Hence, Jesus said that “all nations” (all siding with Antichrist at that point) would “hate” Israel for His name’s sake (Matthew 24:9). Peter’s first epistle—yea, all of Israel’s Scriptures—are replete with the sufferings of Messianic Jews living (and dying) during that 70th week of Daniel.

Peter cheered on his Jewish brethren: “Be ready always” (similar to be “instant in season, out of season;” cf. 2 Timothy 4:2) to tell others how you can be so positive/hopeful and joyful in such dire times! He had already wrote that Messiah was coming to save them, avenge their deaths, punish and destroy all of their (His) enemies, and bring in everlasting righteousness, His unfathomable, eternal, earthly kingdom (1:3-25). Unless these believing Jews knew their Bible, they could have no such logical answer to give!

As Israel was exhorted to be ready to answer her critics with sound Bible doctrine (notice how Peter intelligently answered his in 2 Peter 3:3-18), Paul urged us to be prepared to reply to ours (2 Timothy 4:2). Why? To argue with them? Nay! Our answers just may lead to their salvation from false teaching and/or from hellfire!

On his second apostolic journey, in Corinth, Paul met a Jewish couple, Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:1-3). They became co-workers in tent-making… and ministry. As they worked with Paul, he preached to them Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery. Aquila and Priscilla were now saved and skilled in God’s Word rightly divided. This husband and wife became some of Paul’s most dedicated and helpful ministry companions (Romans 16:3,4). Risking their lives many times for Jesus Christ over the next decade, they were active in ministry even as Paul’s execution date was approaching (2 Timothy 4:19).

Acts chapter 18 closes, “[24] And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. [25] This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. [26] And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. [27] And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: [28] For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.”

Apollos was confused and lost, hell-bound. He was not preaching or believing the Bible dispensationally—he was preaching John’s water baptism. All he knew was a now-defunct salvation message preached 20 years earlier, completely ignorant of Christ’s earthly ministry or Paul’s new ministry! Aquila and Priscilla heard Apollos’ fallacious preaching, took him aside, and gently taught him God’s Word rightly divided. He was then saved, grounded in sound Bible doctrine, and able to help Paul in ministry (Acts 19:1; 1 Corinthians 3:5; 1 Corinthians 16:22; Titus 3:13). The Body of Christ needs “instant” Christians such as Aquila and Priscilla today!

Paul charged Timothy to “preach the Word” and uphold dispensational Bible doctrines (2 Timothy 4:2). To prepare for the coming apostasy, “Christianity’s” departure from God’s truth through Paul (verses 3 and 4), Paul also charged Timothy: “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry” (verse 5). Timothy, despite opposition and suffering, was to be a vigilant “evangelist,” constantly reminding lost and saved alike of the Gospel of God’s Grace (whether salvation from hell, or salvation from daily sins, it is accomplished entirely via what Jesus did for us at Calvary and NOT legalism, what we do for Him!).

Paul advised the Ephesian church leaders: “[28] Take heed [Beware!!!] therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. [29] For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. [30] Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. [31] Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. [32] And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified (Acts 20).

“The word of [God’s] grace”—His Word rightly divided, His grace doctrines committed to Paul—will “build [us] up [equip us, make us “instant”]….” These church leaders were to be “instant,” ready to train their members in the message of God’s grace. Alas, they failed miserably. Years later, legalism/Law-keeping infiltrated Ephesus and they abandoned grace (1 Timothy 1:3-11). At the time of 2 Timothy 4:2, legalism had spread from Ephesus to all Asia/Turkey (2 Timothy 1:15)! As Paul predicted, false teaching came! Like today’s “Christianity,” the Ephesians were not “instant!”

Earlier, we read in 1 Peter 3:15, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” Written to the same suffering Jewish believers of the future seven-year Tribulation, Jude 1:3 says: “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”

Bible critics present an elaborate defense of their beliefs, whereas Bible believers very rarely have an equally-intricate defense of the Bible (in stark disobedience to the Holy Spirit’s advice). A Christian may quote a shallow verse here or a theology book there but the Bible critic is usually the one quoting all the verses, one controversial verse after another (which discrepancies are often solved with dispensational Bible study). The preacher, the church member, whoever supposedly represents the “Christian” view, just sits quietly, equally clueless as to why the Bible says different things in different places.

“Fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12a). Does a soldier go out in the battle unprepared? Then, why are almost all seminaries, Bible colleges, and churches sending out millions upon millions of doctrinally-deficient “Christians” to the battlefield with nothing more than best wishes and butter-knives? (We suspect they are more interested in raising funds, and building programs and denominational systems, than learning and preaching God’s truth!) One main reason why no one wants to hear about Jesus Christ in “the world” is because the people who claim to represent Him are too clueless as to what He taught them to say about Him. They have not mastered the Bible rightly divided, and no one wants to hear someone preach so passionately about a topic they prove themselves to be ignorant of. Dearly beloved, we need, need, NEED, NEED “instant” Christians!

Many may be saying, “Oh, Brother Shawn, I agree, I agree! The Body of Christ is so hopelessly confused, so willfully blinded! What can I do to make them see the truth? It is so discouraging because I am just one person and I cannot do very much!” Dear careful saints, I will gladly address those concerns in these next three devotionals.

I have learned in my seven-and-one-half years in the grace ministry that most church members are content to ignore Paul’s apostleship to us Gentiles (Romans 11:13). It is easier to “go with the flow,” to let the (college- or seminary-educated) preacher or priest do all the Bible study, to just sit in the pew and listen to “educated exegeses” with ease.

Howbeit, I have also learned that some church members are ever so eager to see and believe the Bible—Paul is “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13), God’s spokesman to us. Despite all the complacency in the professing church, I have seen and I know there are still a few precious souls here and there who are so desperately seeking the truth, so noble like the Bereans, who need someone to share with them God’s Word rightly divided, that they may believe it (Acts 17:10-11). They are tired of religious tomfoolery, boring and burdensome rites and rituals, ministers “smoothing over” contradictory Bible texts and making the passages say something else.

Like me at one time, they will gladly toss away their denomination, and along with it, all the confusion and nonsense religious tradition engenders. But, they cannot do it, for they know of nothing else. They do not realize the worthlessness of what they have until they see the value of what we have. We must share God’s grace with them!! It is our honor, our privilege. We were once there, too, and we have the answer. “What liberty we now have! What clarity we now have! What charity we now have! What ministry we now have!” Let us make “instant” Christians!

How do we make “instant” Christians? As with anything instant (coffee, rice, photos, messaging, et cetera), some work is necessary! It takes a dedicated preacher or teacher to actually teach his people the Bible instead of giving them “Bible chats and pep talks” (Christendom’s failure). It takes studying the Bible instead of reading books about the Bible (another blunder). It takes reading the Bible instead of singing and dancing about the Bible (another failure).

We read in 2 Timothy 2:24-26 what the Holy Spirit would have us do once we are “instant” Christians, skilled in the Word of His Grace: “[24] And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, [25] In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; [26] And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” We, as “instant” Christians, are to make “instant” Christians, people who are just as well-versed and well-grounded in the Bible rightly divided as we!

Lost people live contrary to God’s will for them, and saved people in denominational circles live contrary to what God gave them in Christ. Yet, they can be freed from such error. We are to teach the verses they need to believe to escape Satan’s trap: the lost should be saved from their sins and the denominational Christians saved from doctrinal error. They can then enjoy the grace, love, mercy, eternal life, hope, security, peace, joy, forgiveness, Bible clarity, and righteousness that God offers them in Jesus Christ!

Remember, our ministry is not to force God’s Word rightly divided on anyone. We share the verses in compassion, not in spite or strife, picking fights. We “teach” them, very patiently, gently, meekly. It is time-consuming, but it is ever so worth it, and we will never know the true value of “instant” Christians until we reach heaven!

When “instant” Christians share dispensational Bible truths, they meet many stubborn, proud, and resistant people. Detractors, swearing they never heard or read those verses before, stiffen and angrily hurl accusations. Instead of believing the verses, they exclaim, “Paul worshipper, cult member, heretic, Bible worshipper, fanatic, church splitter, Bible chopper” (the “nicer” names!). Those verses are in their Bible as they are in ours—plain English—but they close their eyes to them. Once their willful ignorance is manifested, we move on: God will use what we told them, but our work with them is done. They do not realize that, by defending their preconceived Bible ideas and denominational views, they have refused the key to understanding and enjoying the Bible.

Dear “instant” Christian, daily study your King James Bible rightly divided. Perhaps read it through at least once a year to familiarize yourself with it. You are just one person, but remember all the common individuals God used to accomplish great things—Noah, Abraham, Moses, Deborah, Samuel, David, Esther, Peter, Paul (1 Corinthians 1:26-31). God’s Word will go to work in our lives when we believe it, and His power will be with us as we minister to others: “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” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). God’s power that worked in them works in us. We need to store God’s Word inside us, believe it, and the Holy Spirit will do the rest. Dear brethren, seek people who do want to hear the truth and be ready to tell them!

Remember, it is God’s church and He will take care of it. We just need to be faithful in our neighborhood. If every grace Christian focuses on his or her own community, God’s work will literally be accomplished everywhere.

CONCLUSION

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2). In this day and age of “instant this and instant that,” we need more “instant” Christians!

“Instant” is defined as, “happening or coming immediately, prepared quickly and with little effort.” Being “instant” means the Christian is so skilled in God’s Word rightly divided, so in tune with His Father’s Word, that he or she daily has a greater comprehension and delight in that Word, and that Word is so integral in his or her thinking that it is not a burden to speak of its doctrine with clarity and conciseness, that he or she has read it so much that numerous verses and/or passages can be quoted without a printed Bible present (2 Timothy 4:2).

It is these skilled Christians that the church lacks. Why? The average Christian is weak, unable to take a solid stand on doctrine because he or she does not even know sound Bible doctrine (the individual’s fault and the local church’s fault). Now we see why the world is not interested in hearing someone who “loves the Bible” but knows nothing about it!

The “instant” Christian is one who has studied and still studies the entire King James Bible, but he or she will study especially Romans through Philemon. This will be followed by prayer, speaking to God by repeating His Word back to Him, and applying it to life by faith. He or she will grow more and more familiar with God’s Word rightly divided. As the years pass, he or she will speak of Bible verses and topics with greater depth and wisdom, ready to give an answer to both the curious and the critical. As a soldier arms himself or herself with the proper equipment, so we arm ourselves with the “sword of the Spirit,” that we “fight the good fight of faith!”

We answer their objections (or get them to someone who can), we urge them check everything we say against the Bible. Dispensational Bible study withstands all scrutiny, and we have full confidence in God’s truth. Let us be “instant” Christians, prepared to speak God’s Word authoritatively, skillfully, and charitably. 🙂

Also see:
» What is the Lord’s will for my Christian life?
» How does one know if he or she is maturing in the Word of God?
» Once Christians fall into gross sin, will God use them again?

Did Paul engage in “missionary journeys?”

DID PAUL ENGAGE IN “MISSIONARY JOURNEYS?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

You have surely seen them, friend. Christian literature, sermons, and Bible maps usually make reference to Paul’s “missionary journeys,” the four extensive ministry trips he undertook during the Book of Acts (#1—13:1–14:28; #2—15:39–18:22; #3—18:23–21:16; #4—27:1–28:16). Ninety-nine percent of the time, the adjective “missionary” is employed. Is this fair, or questionable?

Indeed, the English word “missionary” means “a person sent by a church into an area to carry on evangelism or other activities, as educational or hospital work.” But, the Bible never actually calls Paul a “missionary.” I know what people mean when they say it—to wit, that Paul was a “missionary” because he was sent out to the nations to preach the Gospel of Grace. For years, I used the phrase “Paul’s missionary journeys,” using that same definition. However, a judicious person long ago caused me to stop and think—“No, not missionary journeys, but apostolic journeys.” We need not water down what God Himself has exalted!

Indeed, the church at Antioch (Syria) sent out Saul/Paul and Barnabas, but this was not of their own idea or volition. Notice Acts 13:1-3: “[1] Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. [2] As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. [3] And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” It was the decision of the Holy Spirit, not men, to send Paul (and Barnabas) out to undertake those journeys. However, contrary to popular belief, Paul did not become an apostle here. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself, back in chapter 9 of Acts, had ordained Paul as an apostle.

Paul was much more than a mere “missionary.” Again, he was first and foremost an “apostle,” literally, in Greek, “sent one.” The resurrected, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus had told Saul of Tarsus (the Apostle Paul) on the road to Damascus shortly after his conversion: “Delivering thee from the people [Israel], and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee…” (Acts 26:17). Therefore, the Holy Spirit led Paul to write, “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office” (Romans 11:13). It was in cooperation with the words of Jesus Christ in Acts chapter 9 (although recorded in chapter 26) that the Holy Spirit caused the church at Antioch to send away Paul and Barnabas.

Furthermore, Paul began almost every epistle of his by declaring his apostleship:

  • Romans 1:1: “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God….”
  • 1 Corinthians 1:1: “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God….”
  • 2 Corinthians 1:1: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God….”
  • Galatians 1:1: “Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father….”
  • Ephesians 1:1: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God….”
  • Colossians 1:1: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God….”
  • 1 Timothy 1:1: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ….”
  • 2 Timothy 1:1: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God….”
  • Titus 1:1: “Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ….”

Therefore, it is more appropriate to call them Paul’s trips his “apostolic journeys.” He is an apostle, not to be confused with modern-day missionaries whom men command to service. No manmade organization or denomination sent out Paul. It was God’s will, yea God’s commandment, that Paul become an apostle. Jesus Christ Himself directly commissioned Paul as an apostle in Acts chapter 9. The leadership of the church at Antioch (Syria) recognized it years later in Acts chapter 13—they did not establish it though.

People who deny Paul as an apostle will call him a “missionary,” relegating him to a status of inferiority to the 12 Apostles. They also may say that Paul is an “extension” of the 12’s ministry. It is all far from the truth, though. Church tradition is very hard to break from, indeed, but let us get into the habit of saying “Paul’s apostolic journeys” rather than “Paul’s missionary journeys.” Remember, the Holy Spirit placed great value on that apostolic office of Paul, and we should too. No, we are not exalting Paul the man. We are honoring and exalting the Lord Jesus Christ who established that special office!

“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office” (Romans 11:13).

Also see:
» Does Acts 13:48 support Calvinism?
» Why was Saul’s name changed to Paul?
» Was the Apostle Paul a false prophet?