Monthly Archives: April 2017

Does Scripture teach a flat Earth or a spherical Earth?

Does Scripture teach a flat Earth or a spherical Earth?

by Shawn Brasseaux
Grace Bible Teacher
Master of Science, Geology

Is Earth spherical (common view)? Or, is it flat (isolated view)? Does the Bible say? In recent months, people have been asking me this question. Now, we have a formally prepared statement on the subject.

Rest assured that I do not aim to attack anyone, especially other Bible believers. Friend, my goal is to share with you the discoveries that I have made in recent months, that you may be fully persuaded in your own mind. Above all, I sincerely hope and pray you will be very careful as to what you, the Bible believer, expose your soul to. If this paper causes you to better guard your soul, brother or sister, then the Lord Jesus Christ is glorified, and my goal is accomplished. At your leisure, please enjoy our special-edition Bible Q&A article #375!

You can download the 37-page PDF paper here: “Does Scripture teach a flat Earth or a spherical Earth?

Is the Ephesian church of the Revelation the same group as those in the Book of Ephesians?

IS THE EPHESIAN CHURCH OF THE REVELATION THE SAME GROUP AS THOSE IN THE BOOK OF EPHESIANS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“When John wrote to the 7 churches, was the church at Ephesus the same one that Paul founded? Is not the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:1-11 the same church that Paul dealt with in the Book of Ephesians?”

Good questions, my friend! Many people have asked this over the years; it puzzled me too some years ago. Then, I engaged in a very rewarding Bible study whose profit I will share with you shortly. While it is commonly assumed that the Apostle Paul’s church at Ephesus was the same as the Apostle John’s church at Ephesus, we know this is not the case for at least seven reasons.

The first part of this study will be a cursory or simplistic examination of major differences between the church at Ephesus according to John’s ministry, and the church at Ephesus according to Paul’s ministry. The second part of this study, a compilation of related notes that I wrote some years ago, will provide more details for those wanting to “dig deeper.”

PART I. EPHESUS – HOW THE APOSTLES JOHN AND PAUL DIFFERED, IN BRIEF

1.JOHN AND PAUL HAD SEPARATE MINISTRIES TO DIFFERENT PEOPLES

Galatians 2:9 says Paul and John ministered to two different groups of people: “And when James, Cephas [Peter], and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me [Paul], they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.” This agreement was the Acts chapter 15 meeting of the Apostles.

James, Peter, and John said they would stay with the Jewish believers from Christ’s earthly ministry and early Acts (collectively called “the little flock” in Luke 12:32). Paul, however, in Acts 9:15-16 (cf. Acts 22:21; Acts 26:16-18), was sent by Jesus Christ to minister to everyone else (all Gentiles, whether Jews or non-Jews)—national Israel had fallen in Acts chapter 7. According to Galatians 1:16, Paul’s ministry to “heathen” (lost Jews and lost Gentiles) started at his conversion in Acts chapter 9. The 12 Apostles did not realize Paul’s special apostleship/ministry and message until Acts chapter 15 years later (also recorded in Galatians chapter 2). Paul is called “the apostle of the Gentiles” in Romans 11:13. The Apostle John never claimed such a title in any of his writings.

2. REVELATION IS PROPHECY; EPHESIANS IS MYSTERY

Notice how the Book of the Revelation begins: “[1] The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: [2] Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. [3] Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” This is clearly part of the prophetic program, God’s plans for Israel and the Earth. John’s Ephesian believers are part of that prophetic program. Acts 3:20-21 tells us: “[20] And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: [21] Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”

However, the Ephesians of Paul’s ministry are part of the “mystery” program. Ephesians 3:1-6 affirms: “[1] For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, [2] If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: [3] How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, [4] Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) [5] Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; [6] That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:….” In contrast to Acts 3:20-21, Romans 16:25-26 says: “[25] Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, [26] But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:….”

3. JOHN MAKES NO REFERENCE TO PAUL, AND VICE VERSA

The Book of Ephesians makes no reference to the Apostle John, and the Book of the Revelation makes no reference to the Apostle Paul. John does not refer his group to Paul—as in, “Remember what Paul wrote to you…” or “Recall when Paul first visited you and preached Christ to you.” Neither does Paul pen in Ephesians—“John will write to you…” or “John has written to you….” This means the Ephesians in John’s audience were totally distinct from the Ephesians of Paul’s audience. We know this because, as we saw in Point #1 and Galatians 2:9, John and Paul had separate ministries. As we saw in Point #2, John and Paul were involved with separate divine programs (prophecy and mystery, respectively). Of course, it is only fitting that they would have separate converts (or audiences).

In addition, the Book of Acts, (chapter 19) says Paul, not John, founded the church at Ephesus. Had John been writing to the same group, why did he ignore Paul when writing to Ephesus in Revelation chapter 2? Would not John have exhorted the Ephesians to remember what Paul delivered to them years earlier? Yes, and yet, he did not. That means John was addressing a different group in Ephesus than the group to whom Paul ministered in Ephesus.

4. THE ANGEL AT EPHESUS IN JOHN’S WRITINGS

“Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write;….” (Revelation 2:1). This is Jesus Christ telling John to write to “the angel of the church of Ephesus.” The Bible is clear that an “angel” leads the church at Ephesus in Revelation. No angel is mentioned in the Book of Ephesians; Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians is directed to no such “angel.” More will be said about this in Part II. Suffice it to say that these are undoubtedly two groups of believers in Ephesus. John’s group is members of the “little flock” (Luke 12:32)—Galatians 2:9, and Point #1, remember. Paul’s group, as we will see in our next Point, is members of “the Church the Body of Christ.”

5. THE BODY OF CHRIST IS ABSENT FROM THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION

There is a reference to the “Body of Christ” in Ephesians 4:4 with respect to Paul’s believers at Ephesus: “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;….” Verse 12 qualifies that “body” in verse 4 as, “… the body of Christ.” In stark contrast, there is no reference to the “Body of Christ” in Revelation chapter 2. There is only one possibility. The Ephesian believers of John’s ministry are not members of the Body of Christ as commonly taught.

6. REVELATION’S AUDIENCE IS CALLED “KINGS AND PRIESTS”

Revelation 1:6 says, “And [Jesus Christ, verse 5] hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” The audience of the Revelation is made of “kings and priests.” Surely, “kings and priests” points to 1 Peter 2:9: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light….” This goes back to Exodus 19:5-6, God’s promise to make Israel His “kingdom of priests:” “[5] Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: [6] And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.”

The Ephesian believers of Paul’s ministry are never called by any of these titles—”kings, priests, chosen generation, royal priesthood, holy nation.” No members of the Body of Christ (including those in the Book of Ephesians) are ever identified as “kings” or “priests” in Paul’s epistles. This terminology is exclusive to Israel—Israel is a “nation.” The Church the Body of Christ is no “nation!” Notice how this is accentuated in Point #7.

7. PAUL’S CONVERTS IN EPHESUS ARE “GENTILES”

Ephesians 2:11-12 says to the Ephesians in Paul’s ministry: “[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:…” And, Ephesians 3:1: “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,….” Finally, Ephesians 4:17: “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,….”

John, in the Revelation, never addresses Gentiles; in fact, as we saw in Point #6 earlier, John wrote to Jews, the nation Israel.

PART II. EPHESUS – HOW THE APOSTLES JOHN AND PAUL DIFFERED, IN DETAIL

1. HOW THE CONFUSION BEGAN

There is much confusion in Christendom today regarding the seven churches of the Book of the Revelation. Undoubtedly, the most prevalent view is that each of these seven churches represents the Church the Body of Christ at a different age. Stated another way, all seven churches are cumulatively viewed as the same Body of Christ throughout church history (the last 2,000 years, from the first century A.D. to the present-day). There are numerous flaws in this reasoning, but addressing them is beyond the scope of this study.

Suffice it to say that the above common idea often forces people to conflate (combine) the church at Ephesus that Paul founded, with the church at Ephesus to which John wrote. They want to say it is all one Body of Christ from Matthew through Revelation. People are ignoring the dispensational principle necessary for proper, profitable Bible study: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). We must keep Peter separate from Paul, prophecy separate from mystery, the nation Israel separate from the Body of Christ, and so on. Failure to do so will result in confusion—think of the issue we are currently discussing and untangling!

Moreover, there is much misunderstanding concerning the word “church” in the “New Testament” Scriptures. It is always important to remember that the term “church” is not always a reference to the Church the Body of Christ. When people see the word “church” in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, and Hebrews through Revelation, they usually take it to mean a reference to the Church the Body of Christ. Why? It is because they do not understand, or refuse to understand, that the Body of Christ is strictly a Pauline revelation (refer back to Romans 16:25-26, Ephesians 3:1-11, et cetera).

Jesus Christ could not reveal the Church the Body of Christ in His earthly ministry because it was not time to reveal it. It was not revealed in early Acts either. Almighty God designated Paul to be the man to and through whom He would disclose the secret of His will (Ephesians 1:9-10). That secret of God’s will was that He would glorify His Son Jesus Christ in the heavenly places. He would accomplish this by creating a body of believers who were neither Jew nor Gentile—what the Bible calls the Church the Body of Christ. Until we come to Paul’s ministry, all that God had revealed to man was that He was interested in forming a nation of people (Israel) through whom He would (and still will) reclaim Earth. The hope of believers prior to Paul was not to die and go to heaven, but rather to be resurrected to enter Jesus Christ’s earthly kingdom. (For more information about all of these differences, you can see our related studies linked at the end of this article.)

For now, we will look at what the Apostle John wrote to and about the Ephesians, and compare that to what the Apostle Paul wrote to and about the Ephesians.

2. THE CHURCH AT EPHESUS AND JOHN’S MINISTRY (BOOK OF REVELATION)

The Apostle John wrote in Revelation chapter 2: “[1] Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;….” Notice how the Lord Jesus told John to write to the “angel” of the church of Ephesus. While many translators and commentators render this Greek word aggelos as “pastor” (as they do throughout Revelation chapters 2 and 3), our King James translators knew more about the original Bible languages than people often give them credit for. Only an unbeliever rejects the Bible as it reads; we are believers, so we will not adopt unbelieving positions when approaching the Bible. We will simply take the word “angel” at face value. It means an angelic being and not a human pastor. A literal angel is leading this group of believers in Ephesus.

In verses 2-3, the Lord Jesus Christ commends the believers at Ephesus for their faithful service to Him and for their stand on sound Bible doctrine. They do not tolerate false teachers and false apostles, as He notes: “[2] I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: [3] And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.”

Verses 4-5 are a stark change in content. Now, the Lord Jesus Christ rebukes them. There is something amiss in Ephesus, and He has a controversy to settle. These believers have “left [their] first love.” Read it for yourself: “[4] Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. [5] Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” These believers in Ephesus need to return to Jesus Christ. What they did exactly is unclear, but there is definitely the urge to “repent,” the Lord telling them to change their mind about what they are doing, to think differently. That renewed mind will bring about a change in conduct. Summarized, they need to “do the first works.”

In addition, there is a motivation for them to change their mind—Jesus Christ says that, if they will not repent, He will (verse 5), “come unto [them] quickly, and will remove [their] candlestick out of his place!” This is the Law system. Israel was not simply to have faith, but to have works that matched the faith they claimed to have (see James 2:14-26). Their motivation to forgive was so God would forgive them (see Matthew 6:14-15). Their motivation to be water baptized was so that Almighty God would not baptize them with fire/wrath (see Matthew 3:1-12; 1 Peter 3:21).

In verse 6 of Revelation chapter 2, Jesus Christ again commends the believers in Ephesus for their discernment of truth from error (cf. verses 2-3): “[6] But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.” While the “Nicolaitanes” were a mysterious group about whom little is known, the very meaning of their name—“to conquer the laity”—shows us that they were church leaders who bullied commoners. (Are oppressive, dictatorial preachers anything new?) Peter’s first epistle speaks of those who “lord over [bully] God’s heritage” (1 Peter 5:3). Paul confessed that he refused to be of this sort of spiritual leader, bossing Christians, treating them like slaves or subjects (2 Corinthians 1:24).

The last verse the Lord Jesus through John wrote to the Ephesians is the promise of reward for those who “overcome”: “[7] He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” There is no such promise to the Ephesians in Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians. However, in John’s ministry, this verse fits perfectly with how the conclusion of the Book of the Revelation. God’s earthly kingdom is established in Revelation chapters 21 and 22—Israel’s kingdom is brought to fruition, with her becoming a kingdom of priests enjoying God’s goodness throughout eternity future. “Overcoming,” as it relates to John’s ministry and the prophetic program, is surviving the end-times events (particularly the reign of the Antichrist—the majority of the Book of Revelation—and entering that earthly kingdom of God). While much more could be said here, we must stop for sake of brevity.

3. THE CHURCH AT EPHESUS AND PAUL’S MINISTRY (BOOK OF EPHESIANS)

As mentioned earlier, it was not until Jesus Christ revealed the mystery to the Apostle Paul, that the Church the Body of Christ became the agency through whom God would work in the Dispensation of Grace. If you read the entire Book of Ephesians, friend, you will notice that this Epistle is starkly different from what John wrote to Ephesus in the Book of the Revelation. For example, Paul wrote about “mystery” doctrine in Ephesians chapters 1-3. None of John’s epistle to Ephesus talks about the aspects of the mystery program—namely, the Church the Body of Christ (believing Jews and Gentiles being fellowheirs with each other) and the Dispensation of the Grace of God.

John talked about the Ephesians as “leaving their first love” (verse 4). Paul makes no reference to this in his Book of Ephesians. Paul never used the term “first love.” He never urged them to stay true to their “first love,” or to return to their “first love.” If you remember our earlier comments about Revelation 2:4-5, how Jesus Christ rebuked the Jewish saints at Ephesus: “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” This was a warning of punishment. When Paul mentioned how the unruly members of the Body of Christ in Ephesus needed to “Awake,” or straighten up spiritually, there was no threat involved. Paul simply urged them to be renewed in the spirit of their mind and let the Holy Spirit use the principles of grace to reform their lives (see Ephesians 5:7–6:9). In fact, Paul talked about how his audience was “sealed [or preserved] with that holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13) and “sealed unto the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). There was no “do-this-or-else” commandment in Paul’s writing to Ephesus. Legalism was not welcome in Paul’s ministry (Romans 6:14-15); contrariwise, legalism was part of John’s ministry (1 John 2:3; et cetera).

We could go on and on, my friend, but this should be enough material to demonstrate that John’s audience in Ephesus and Paul’s audience in Ephesus were two separate crowds.

Also see:
» When did John write the Book of the Revelation?
» Can you compare Peter’s ministry and Paul’s ministry?
» Is the Church the Body of Christ found in Matthew 16:18?

Should a woman lead a group in prayer?

SHOULD A WOMAN LEAD A GROUP IN PRAYER?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The following scenario has become increasingly common in recent years. Whether at a Christian school, a local church, a ball game, or even the recent United States presidential inauguration, a woman will lead a group in prayer. To the delight of “feminists,” many swiftly defend this as “acceptable.” However, does it meet God’s approval? Remember, the Bible is the final authority—it speaks for Almighty God. Friends, rather than speculating, offering opinions (both yours or mine), or consulting some denominational hierarchy, we will turn pages in the Holy Bible and let God’s Word speak for itself. Then, we can all say, “Amen!” (“So be it!”)

People who encourage women preachers and “prophetesses” invariably appeal to 1 Corinthians chapter 11 for support. (You will usually find such women in “Charismatic” circles.) This passage is also heavily used concerning women leading a congregation in prayer. As you can see for yourself, friend, there is a woman most definitely praying in that passage: “[4] Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. [5] But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.” The larger context is actually verses 1-16. While time and space do not permit us to discuss that issue in its entirety here, please refer to our “women and head coverings” study linked at the end of this article.

CARNAL CORINTHIAN CHRISTIANS

The Holy Spirit’s words through the pen of the Apostle Paul paint a most horrid picture of the Corinthian saints. Chapter 3 of 1 Corinthians, the first three verses, sums up their problems most expressly: “[1] And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. [2] I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. [3] For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?”

These Corinthians were saints of the Most High God, no doubt, but oh how they were so fleshly motivated, so mischievous, so sinful! Instead of letting the Spirit of God empower and correct them, they were operating independently of His will for them and His Word to them. Pagan philosophy had so corrupted them. Their minds confused, their hearts void of faith in God’s words, they had nothing but the flesh to fall upon. Indeed, how they fell… into spiritual error, folly, disappointment, and misery!

Beloved, we must not overlook the fact that Corinth was filled with the most immature Christians in all of Scripture. Sadly, if people today want to do something in “Christian religion,” they usually grab some practice or subject unique to the Corinthian assembly. For example, if a religionist wants to speak with the gift of tongues today, all he or she does is quote from 1 Corinthians chapter 14. If a female denominationalist seeks to be a preacher or prayer leader, all she does is cite “proof texts” from 1 Corinthians chapter 11 (above verses). Friends, just because the Corinthians were doing it does not automatically mean we should do it. The Corinthians’ behaviors, you will remember, certainly did not reflect spiritual maturity. They were definitely not models of Christian living, and yet they are treated today like they were! (The Corinthians also sued one another in pagan courts, denied Christ’s resurrection, made the Lord’s Supper a drunken banquet, boasted about their fornicating brother in Christ, and fought against and fragmented themselves. Should we follow them in these practices, too? Maybe we had better not be so quick to follow them in having women preachers!)

ROLES OF THE SEXES IN LOCAL ASSEMBLIES, IN BRIEF

Four Pauline Bible Books—1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon—deal with the operation of the congregation. These “Pastoral Epistles” outline the structure and functioning of the local Christian assembly in the Dispensation of Grace. If we want to see how a local grace church should be organized and maintained, we had better go to these four Books and apply them before the congregation collapses. We must be on guard, beloved, lest Satan ruin our assembly’s testimony!

The following instructions were given to Timothy by the Holy Ghost through Paul in 1 Timothy chapter 2: “[8] I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. [9] In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; [10] But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. [11] Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. [12] But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. [13] For Adam was first formed, then Eve. [14] And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. [15] Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”

Did you notice how the subject shifted from men (verse 8) to women (verse 9)? Verse 8 issues specific commands to men in the assembly; the remaining verses of the chapter instruct women. Whom does the Holy Spirit through Paul think should lead prayer in the local church? Whom does the Holy Spirit believe should lead teaching in the local assembly? Notice, we are not interested in what denominations say, preachers think, church members guess, or theologians assume. We are, however, interested in what God the Holy Spirit says. He says in verse 8: “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” Friends, if you take exception to that, if you disagree with that, then you are not arguing with me. You are contradicting the Holy Spirit! You are rebelling against the Holy Scriptures! You are treading on dangerous spiritual ground! You are on your way to ruining your Christian life and your local assembly! Beware! Beware! Beware! Beware!

Considering what we read from the Bible, we can draw the following conclusions. If a Christian man is present in the room, the Spirit-filled woman will step aside and let him teach or pray. God the Holy Spirit will never, ever, EVER lead a woman to dominate a local church (or even a marriage). When we find female bishops and women pastors, we have actually found people who are, despite what they claim, contrary to Scripture. God’s Word says bishops are to be “the husbands of one wife” (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6). Unless this verse is talking about a lesbian couple, then we can see that the office of a bishop is reserved for men. Scripture also says deacons are to be “the husbands of one wife” (1 Timothy 3:12). This office is also restricted to men. There may be female preachers and “deaconesses” in religion. However, in the Bible, there are only male bishops and only male deacons.

Friends, when we find a female Bible teacher who makes a conscious decision not to teach men, we know that the Holy Spirit leads her. Again, according to the verses presented in this study, the Spirit of God will never cause a woman to teach a Bible class with one man present, let alone many men. The same is true concerning group prayer. Her flesh will cause her to lead, but not God’s Spirit. Others’ flesh will encourage her to lead, but not God’s Spirit. God’s Spirit will never cause a Christian in the Dispensation of Grace to outright contradict or disobey a verse in the Pauline epistles.

Men who sit under women Bible teachers—quite frankly—are spiritual wimps. I know that is harsh, but I make no apologies in declaring it. Men are utterly negligent concerning their God-given role if they sit under women teachers and female preachers. They have miserably failed, not only other men, but also all the women in the assembly who could have benefited from a Spirit-filled man leading them. I would not doubt those men are ignorant of the Scriptures; hence, they feel women are “more qualified” to be in authority. I think it not an exaggeration to say that that woman is probably more skilled in the Scriptures than all those men combined. Still, a female teacher of men, or a female prayer leader of men, is not God’s design. Beloved, if we think we know better than the Creator, we are quite the fools! Those men had better get into the Bible, and have some “guts” to lead the group in prayer or study! If they do not, souls are in jeopardy of unspeakable damage and ruin!

At this point, I am quite sure that some of our readers are fuming. They are quite upset with me—nay, they are upset with the Bible. They have come across verses that challenge and threaten to abolish their theological system. They may have already read Scripture that condemns what they are doing in their own churches, schools, or Bible studies. Yet, they keep on their wayward course because it is better to “stay with tradition” than admit wrongdoing. We choose not to follow their route. The Word of God is right, and we uphold the King James Bible as the inerrant, infallible, inspired words of God. Let those divine words contradict whomever they will contradict. “Let God be true, but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4). We serve God not men (Galatians 1:10)!

Friend, just so you not misunderstand, I will include some additional insight for clarification. A woman praying in and of itself is not wrong. Women praying is not sinful. The Bible does not disapprove of this. A woman leading a group of women in prayer is totally acceptable. That issue is not currently under discussion here in this study. What we were concerned with here is: Should a woman lead prayer in a mixed group (a crowd of women and men)? The Bible’s answer is that a woman should not be leading a “mixed” group of men and women with regards to prayer and teaching. It is God’s arrangement in creation that the man (or husband) should lead and the woman (or wife) should follow. My friend, there is no put-down of women. Please get that crystal-clear in your mind. The attack on women is when we ignore their God-given role and make them usurp the God-given authority of the man. We are encouraging them to do something God never designed them to do!

Now, with the record made clear by the Scripture, we all say, “Amen!”

Also see:
» Must Christian women wear head coverings?
» Should women serve in the ministry?
» Are Galatians 3:28 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12 contradictory?

Should we pray if it is God’s will?

SHOULD WE PRAY IF IT IS GOD’S WILL?

by Shawn Brasseaux

In great sincerity, some Christians ask God to reveal to them His will about certain matters in their lives. They want to know if it is His will for them to go to this particular place on vacation, or if it is His will for them to go to that job or neighborhood, or if it is His will that they do certain things (marry, have kids, move house, et cetera) at particular times in life. Should we do this? Let us look at the Bible!

The fact of the matter is that God has not revealed these things to us. Scripture never clearly indicates what specific job we are to take, where we are to live specifically, where we are to go to school specifically, what specific vehicle we are to buy, and so on. Whatever God has revealed in His written Word, we are to take that doctrine and apply it to life. God has not made every decision for us! That is the liberty of grace! God does not treat us like children, making every choice for us.

Notice how the Apostle Paul took the doctrine that God had revealed to him, and used his brain to apply those verses to life. Paul was not acting independently of himself; he knew God wanted His Gospel to be preached, lost people to be saved, and Christian people to be edified in Jesus Christ. Yet, Paul did not pray for God to make decisions for him as to how he should accomplish them. Paul took the doctrine he did know and applied it to life as best as he could. As an adult son of God, Paul made decisions that pleased God.

  • 1 Corinthians 2:2: “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”
  • 2 Corinthians 1:15: “And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit.”
  • 2 Corinthians 2:1: “But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness.”
  • 1 Thessalonians 3:1: “Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone;”
  • 1 Corinthians 16:12: “As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have convenient time.”

Beloved, we are to take the sound Bible doctrine that God has revealed in His Word to us, the Pauline epistles (Romans through Philemon), believe them, and apply them to life as best we can. If we make a mistake, we fix it. Growing in grace comes with making mistakes; the goal is to better understand and apply Bible verses every time. Find more verses to apply to the situation, and better apply the verses you already know. Contrary to Calvinistic claims, God has not made every decision for us in eternity past. He has not designed every detail of our life in advance. He has given us free will; He will never take away our free will. Let us make choices that honor and please Him.

Also see:
» How do I pray the Pauline way?
» What is the Lord’s will for my Christian life?
» What were Urim and Thummim?

Is it truly a good deed if done for selfish reasons?

IS IT TRULY A GOOD DEED IF DONE FOR SELFISH REASONS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Someone posted this question on social media not long ago. That person received a variety of mixed responses: overall, though, some basically said yes and others said no. Can it be a good deed even though it has underlying selfish motives? Upon initial glance, it seems like a tough question. Nevertheless, if we let the Bible, not works-religion, be our authority, this question will be a breeze to answer!

Religion has trained many of us so well. It is like inebriation—drunkenness. In fact, Revelation 18:3 speaks of the (future) Antichrist’s religion as having, “the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” Revelation 17:2 says of that false religion: “the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” Rather than being faithful to one, true God, these followers of the Antichrist (including unbelieving Jews) will be “sleeping around” with idols! Religion, while bearing similarities to prostitution, is also likened unto drug abuse because it causes you to lose all sense of reason. You can accept the most ridiculous ideas as true… and yet, you will never discern the difference between right and wrong because your spiritual senses have been numbed!

It is assumed that a deed must be good if it appears good. This is a common idea carried over from works-religion. Still, the Lord Jesus had an interesting comment about this issue in Matthew 7:11: “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” Notice how Jesus talked about “evil” parents giving “good gifts” to their children. The gifts were good, but where the parents good? No! “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children….” No matter what they did on the outside, on the inside they were still “evil!” Jesus singled out their sin nature—they “be evil.” Their deed never changed the underlying character, and it was the character most offensive to God. Men look on the outside; God looks on the inside. God is concerned with the heart attitude.

“Is it truly a good deed if done for selfish reasons?” Actually, the answer is built into the question. Sin, at its very root, is doing what you want instead of what God wants. As a wise preacher once said, “Isaiah 53:6 is the best definition of sin in all the Bible!” “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way….” Paul the Apostle in Romans 1:25 picks up on Isaiah’s comments: “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” Sinners by nature are selfish. They want to be their own authority. Quoting the unbelieving Jews and the unbelieving Romans rejecting Father God and His Son Jesus Christ at Calvary, Psalm 2:3 says: “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” They oppose God’s rule over them. They have their own agenda, and seek to carry it out. They could not care less about the Creator’s purpose and plan for them!

The three Members of the Godhead are selfless. They live for each other’s benefit rather than their own individual benefit. Father God seeks to glorify His Son, Jesus Christ, rather than Himself. Jesus Christ seeks to glorify His Father rather than Himself. The Holy Spirit seeks to glorify Jesus Christ rather than Himself. The Father seeks to glorify the Holy Spirit instead of Himself. These attributes are so far beyond (sinful) human experience. Just look at these words of Scripture, a sample of the Bible texts on the subject:

  • John 8:54: “Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God:….”
  • John 16:13-14 (Jesus speaking): “[13] Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. [14] He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”
  • Philippians 2:3-5: “[3] Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. [4] Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. [5] Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:….”

If we have the life of Christ in us, and we do if we have the indwelling Holy Spirit (cf. Galatians 2:20; Romans 8:9), then the only works He can produce in us is good works. Those good works would not involve selfishness, since His good works done on the Earth (His earthly ministry) did not involve selfish motives either. Go back to Philippians 2:3-5 above. As God sees it, a deed is not good unless it is something done to glorify Him. If you are doing something seeking to gain something for yourself, that is self-centeredness. A selfish deed, no matter if it appears good, is actually a bad deed. That is what sin is (Isaiah 53:6). That is what “evil” is (Matthew 7:11). Saying a selfish deed can be good is like arguing that water is dry—it is an oxymoron and makes no sense in light of Bible verses!

Whenever we who have believed on the Lord Jesus as personal Saviour, feel and behave selfish, that is the old sin nature. We are walking in the flesh when we should be walking in the Spirit, the power that God has given us in Christ to overcome sin on a daily basis. Glorifying Father God should be the reason for everything that we do. We have not been left on Earth to serve ourselves. Christian living is not self-living; it is self-giving. Jesus Christ did not conduct His earthly ministry in order to draw attention to Himself. He did it to bring honor to His Heavenly Father. If ever we are living for self, that is not Christian living, and it is not a good deed. If we want to serve ourselves, we should not have become Christians. We should have stayed lost in sin. It makes sense for sinners to be selfish. It does not make sense for saints to be selfish!

SUPPLEMENTAL: MATTHEW 7:21-23

The Lord Jesus issued some startling words in Matthew 7:21-23, concerning “good” works: “[21] Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. [22] Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? [23] And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” These works were no doubt good in appearance—preaching in Jesus’ name, casting out devils in Jesus’ name, and doing many “wonderful” works in Jesus’ name. Surely, they “praised” Jesus! Oh, but Jesus said in verse 23 that it was “iniquity.” It did not matter what they did or how nice it appeared! They did not follow Father God’s will; they were doing what they wanted (selfishness). There was no faith in Father’s words. It was just religious busyness. The Lord Jesus thus aptly called it “wickedness.” And, guess what? He said they are not entering the Kingdom of Heaven! He said they are not entering the Kingdom of Heaven! He said they are not entering the Kingdom of Heaven!

Please see our studies linked below about how to address selfishness in the lives of Christians.

Also see:
» Should Christians participate in yoga?
» Can you explain 1 Corinthians chapter 8?
» Why do some Christians persistently behave like lost people?

How could Jesus say His killers knew not what they were doing?

HOW COULD JESUS SAY HIS KILLERS KNEW NOT WHAT THEY WERE DOING?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Jesus, after being nailed to Calvary’s cross, famously declared, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). How could He say this though? Surely, they knew He was dying and that they were responsible. Why was Jesus interceding for His enemies here?

On the day of His crucifixion, it was no secret that the Lord Jesus was slowly dying on Calvary. His tormentors stood before His cross and taunted Him as He suffocated. “And sitting down they watched him there” (Matthew 27:36). People passed by, shaking their heads, saying, “Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross” (verses 39-40). Israel’s religious leaders teased Him, too: “He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God” (verses 41-43). The parallel passages are Mark 15:29-32 and Luke 23:35-39.

Friend, no question about it—unbelieving Israel knew they were killing Jesus. They were aware that they had unjustly sentenced Him to death, to be crucified, to die the death reserved only for the vilest criminal. His agonizing suffering was utterly amusing to them—a sick and twisted form of entertainment! He claimed to be so mighty, so closely associated with God. Now, to them, He was helpless. God was nowhere to be found in His time of need. They had captured Him, and now they were taking His life. They had won… or so it appeared! Yet, in the midst of all this mockery, Jesus pled with His Heavenly Father that His enemies really did not know what they were doing. Huh?!

Someone once aptly referred to Luke 23:34 as descriptive of Israel’s “spiritual insanity.” They had no spiritual eyes to see that He really was the Messiah, their long-promised King. He had fulfilled so many Old Testament prophecies—He was born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:21-23), born in Bethlehem of Judaea (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:1), born in the timeframe of Daniel 9:24-27, a performer of healing miracles (Isaiah 35:3-6; Matthew 11:5), a preacher of the Gospel of the Kingdom (Isaiah 61:1-3; Luke 4:16-19), and so on. While they knew they were killing Jesus, they really had no idea that they were killing Messiah. Notice how the Book of Acts establishes this point.

After healing the lame man sitting at the Temple gate in Acts chapter 3, the Apostle Peter preached to Israel a rather lengthy sermon. It begins at verse 12 and goes all the way to verse 26 (end of the chapter). We are concerned with the first seven verses of his message. Reading Acts 3:12-18: “[12] And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? [13] The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. [14] But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; [15] And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. [16] And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. [17] And now, brethren, I wot [understand, know] that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. [18] But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.”

Notice how Peter in verse 17 picked up on what the Lord Jesus had cried out on Calvary. “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” The Holy Spirit through Peter interpreted that as, “Brethren, I wot [understand, know] that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.” Of what exactly were they ignorant (unaware)? Why, His Messiahship, of course! Had they known Jesus really was God’s Son (verse 13), had they known Jesus really was “the Holy One and the Just” (verse 14), and had they known Jesus really was “the Prince of Life” (verse 15), they would have never crucified Him! Rather, they would have received Him by faith!

What Father God was doing here in early Acts was giving the nation Israel opportunity to receive the God-Man they had rejected in Matthew through John. The fiery wrath was coming, but they could be ready for Him and survive that judgment, to enter His earthly kingdom unscathed. In other words, Father God indeed forgave Israel as His Son had requested on Calvary. Israel was spiritually confused. Most of the nation was too willfully blinded to see that Jesus really was their Messiah. Early Acts is God offering Israel “a renewed opportunity of repentance.” They did not accept Christ Jesus back when He was on Earth. However, now that He is in Heaven, ready to return and judge them, Peter is urging them to take advantage of God’s grace. You can read the rest of Acts chapter 3 to learn what else Peter preached, and how Israel responded in Acts 4:4.

CONCLUSION

The Jews knew they were killing Jesus, but they did not recognize they were killing Messiah/Christ. Spiritual blindness, Satan’s policy of evil, had completely disoriented them. Thus, Jesus pled from Calvary’s cross for Father God to forgive them. In early Acts, Father God honored Jesus’ request. He sent the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit empowered the Apostles to preach to Israel and confirm that word with miracles, affording her another opportunity to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ whom God had resurrected. Did all of Israel convert to Christ in early Acts? For the answer, read our study below about the Lord Jesus standing in Heaven in Acts chapter 7.

Also see:
» Why did Jesus Christ stand in Acts 7:55-56?
» Who, crucified on Calvary, mocked Jesus?
» Have I blasphemed against the Holy Ghost?

Why was Paul eager to preach the Gospel to the Christians at Rome?

WHY WAS PAUL EAGER TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE CHRISTIANS AT ROME?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Read this most baffling verse—“So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also” (Romans 1:15). How could the Apostle Paul be enthusiastic about preaching the Gospel to saints of Almighty God? Why would Christians—God’s children and members of the Church the Body of Christ—need to hear the Gospel? Did not they already know the Gospel? Do we Christians need to hear the Gospel today? We compare Scripture with Scripture.

Verily, verily, the recipients of Paul’s epistle to Rome were Christians. We read in chapter 1, verses 6-7: “[6] Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ: [7] To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” They were indeed God’s children and servants. So, how could Paul go on to write the following in verse 15? “So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.”

Christian friend, remember, it is easy to forget where we came from. We have not always been Christians. Perhaps we were church members and churchgoers from childhood, but the fact of the matter is that going to church buildings and joining religious groups did not make us Christians. We were not made members of God’s family when we were water baptized as infants, or when we were “confirmed” in our denomination. No! Rather, there came a day when we understood and believed the Gospel.

We heard, “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). The Bible calls this “the Gospel of the Grace of God” (Acts 20:24). Then, we realized that it was not about what we did in religion to please God. It was all about what Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, did for us, that He might please Father God. Grace is what God did for us at Calvary’s cross: He paid for everything that is wrong with us. Finally, we placed our faith (trust) exclusively in that Gospel message. The Holy Spirit immediately baptized us into the Church the Body of Christ: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13). It was here that we became Christians. Ephesians 1:12-13 elaborate: “[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….”

A BRIEF OUTLINE OF THE BOOK OF ROMANS

Believers in Christ must understand, however, that there is more to Bible Christianity than simply avoiding eternal hellfire. The Gospel is not only meant to impact where we go when we die (Heaven instead of Hell). It is also designed to positively affect our lives before we depart this life and go into eternity. So many believers fail to realize that the Gospel should impact our lives right now on Earth! Since the sinner passes from death to life upon believing the Gospel of the Grace of God, good works should result from that new life. The Spirit of God should be working in that believer, provided that the believer allows Him to work in him or her. Paul’s epistle to the Romans is laid out as follows:

  • Firstly, if we want to learn about the justification involved with the Gospel of Grace, we appeal to Romans chapters 1-5. There, we see man’s sin problem and the provisions at Calvary that Almighty God offers us to remedy it. We read about how to have a right standing before God, forgiveness of sins, and a home reserved for us in Heaven. These chapters go into greater detail than what is covered in a simple Gospel message (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
  • Secondly, if we want to see the sanctification concerning the Gospel of Grace, we read Romans chapters 6-8. There, we see the drastic change in nature when the sinner believes on Christ, passing from the Adamic identity to the Christian identity, death to life, sins to good works. We read about how the Holy Spirit uses the grace of God rather than the Law of Moses to teach us how we are to walk in our new identity. We are dead to sin by the death of Christ (chapter 6). We are dead to the law by the body of Christ (chapter 7). We are alive unto God by the resurrection of Christ, the Holy Spirit bringing that reality to our life (chapter 8).
  • Thirdly, if we want to read about the dispensational issues regarding the Gospel of Grace (that is, that it is an interruption of the nation Israel, her program, and her Gospel message), we go to Romans chapters 9-11. There, we see that the Gospel of Grace forms the Church the Body of Christ rather than Israel. We are to behave like the members of the Body of Christ that we are, and not imitate the nation Israel that we are not.
  • Finally, if we want to see application of the Gospel of Grace—how to use grace principles delineated in the Gospel of Grace in specific life situations—we read Romans chapters 12-16. There, we see the life of Christ on display in various circumstances—among Christians, in the midst of enemies, among the world, under human government, considering weaker brethren in Christ, and so on. (The rest of Paul’s epistles build on the basics found in Romans—ultimately bringing us to Philemon, godliness/“God-like-ness” in the life of a mature Christian living in the Dispensation of Grace.)

HOW CHRISTENDOM HAS IGNORED THE BOOK OF ROMANS, AND THUS DETRIMENTALLY AFFECTED ITSELF

Colossians 2:6-7 says the Christian life operates however it began: “[6] As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: [7] Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” If we can understand the beginning of the Christian life (Romans chapters 1-5), the rest is easy to grasp (the rest of Romans). Since many church members are not taught how the Christian life begins, they struggle senselessly with how it operates on a daily basis. Friend, understanding the Gospel is actually an integral part of enjoying daily Christian living. We understand the Gospel of Grace by going to the most basic Bible Book of this dispensation—the Book of Romans.

If ever our Christian life is in ruins (think of the Corinthians and the Galatians), it is because we need to go back to Romans and re-learn what we have forgotten (or failed to learn in the first place). If we are struggling with sin (as the Corinthians), we have failed to learn that the Christian life began with a new nature, not the Adamic nature. We must rely on the new nature in Christ if we are to have victory over sin. If we are struggling with law-keeping (as the Galatians), we have failed to learn that the Christian life began by grace, not works. We must remember that our life in Christ will continue to function by grace, not works.

Christian friend, remember, it is easy to forget about the provisions that Father God has given us in Christ Jesus. Religion, part of Satan’s evil world system, is constantly pulling us back into human wisdom, church tradition, human efforts, and so on. Hindering, confusing, and destroying Christians’ lives is how the Devil has overcome so many precious believers around the world for all these centuries. They are too busy focusing on what they are doing than on what God is doing with them and has done for them! They are too preoccupied with “what the church/denomination says” than what God has said in His Holy Word rightly divided!

Many genuine Christians simply do not know how their Christian life began. They heard a pure Gospel message—about Christ dying for their sins, being buried, and being raised again the third day. They heard how simple faith in Him was enough to justify them before God. They trusted Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour, passed from death to life, moved from Satan’s kingdom to God’s kingdom. Then, unfortunately, a denomination forced them back under the law (performance-based acceptance system). “Now, get water baptized so your Christian life will please God! Give a tithe so God can bless you! Keep His commandments so you can have victory over sin! Confess your sins every day so you can keep fellowship with God!” Oh, how sad! This is self-defeating!

For many years, I was saved, and I heard those very things in my own denominational churches. I knew and had believed the Gospel of Grace, but then people started telling me to follow the Law in my daily Christian living! Millions upon millions upon millions are in the same awful predicament today. Their Christian lives are so frustrating, miserable, and futile. They always wonder if they have confessed enough, gave enough, prayed enough, held out enough, quit enough, and so on. Saddest of all, their Christian life never ever began with confessing, giving, praying, holding out, and quitting! No wonder their Christian life is not working for them! They should be living by faith, for they are saved by faith; alas, they are living by law, by which they were never saved! Yes, these Christians need the Gospel of Grace preached to them! There is no law in the Gospel of Grace!

CONCLUSION

Exactly how the church at Rome started is unknown: the Book of Acts does not say in any certain terms. Paul wrote to them in Acts chapter 20 (cf. Romans 15:25-28 and Acts 20:1-3), although he did not actually visit Rome until Acts 28:16. After passing through Macedonia and Achaia (Northern and Southern Greece, respectively), he went to Jerusalem, before being escorted by ship to Rome. At the time of writing to the Romans, chapter 1 of the Book indicates they had already been saved. Sometime prior to Acts chapter 20, someone from Paul’s ministry brought the Gospel of Grace to Rome. It was here that a local assembly of Christians was started in Rome. That congregation was already present in Rome when Paul wrote the Epistle to Rome.

The Roman believers had to be reminded of the grace doctrine Paul had taught the people who had led them to Christ Jesus. He wrote to them because he was hindered by Satan from visiting them in person (Romans 1:11-13). Those grace principles would provide them with a solid spiritual foundation. It would cause them to be “established” (fixed and settled). Furthermore, Romans 16:25-26 says God wanted to “stablish” (stabilize) them internally using a three-fold process: “[25] Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, [26] But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith….” The first and foremost element necessary for spiritual growth is Paul’s Gospel. If we do not understand it, constantly being reminded of its truths, then we will not grow as Father God intended for us to grow. Satan’s world system will constantly deceive and defeat us. Paul knew this; hence, he was zealous about preaching the Gospel even to the saints at Rome. In lieu of his personal visit to Rome, he wrote to them.

Let me share one final bit of significant information before we wrap this study up. A written record not only ensured that they would not forget how their Christian lives began and operated. It was written down that it be preserved through the 20 centuries since, that we could have it today, that we not forget how the Gospel of Grace started (and maintains) our Christian lives. Brethren, while we often talk about preaching the Gospel to lost people (those who do not know Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour), Paul also thought it necessary to preach the Gospel to us Christians. Let us therefore be faithful in preaching the Gospel to lost people… and also to Christians… and yes, to ourselves!

Also see:
» What is the Lord’s will for my Christian life?
» Is there a simple way to present the Grace Message to children and teens?
» Once Christians fall into gross sin, will God use them again?

Who or what are the “Chemarims?”

WHO OR WHAT ARE THE “CHEMARIMS?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

The Prophet Zephaniah, quoting the LORD God, wrote the following in chapter 1 of his little book: “[4] I will also stretch out mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, and the name of the Chemarims with the priests; [5] And them that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops; and them that worship and that swear by the LORD, and that swear by Malcham; [6] And them that are turned back from the LORD; and those that have not sought the LORD, nor enquired for him.” Who or what are these “Chemarims” of verse 4?

Unfortunately, the term only appears this one time in the English Bible text. However, context clues provide us with a general definition. The word “Chemarims” sits in-between the terms “Baal” and “priests.” According to secular history, Baal was the name of chief god/idol of the Canaanites, Israel’s Gentile pagan neighbors. The Jews increasingly adopted this and other heathen religions once they entered the Promised Land (see Judges 2:11-13). We thus see that “Chemarims” is related to pagan religion.

We read some interesting bits in Strong’s Hebrew Bible Dictionary. The basic Hebrew word translated “Chemarim” is kamar, elsewhere rendered “priests” or “idolatrous priests” in our King James Bible. Dr. Strong defines it as: “properly, an ascetic (as if shrunk with self-maceration), i.e. an idolatrous priest (only in plural):—Chemarims (idolatrous) priests.” Notice the following:

  • 2 Kings 23:5: “And he put down the idolatrous priests [kamarim], whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven.”
  • Hosea 10:5: “The inhabitants of Samaria shall fear because of the calves of Bethaven: for the people thereof shall mourn over it, and the priests [kamarim], thereof that rejoiced on it, for the glory thereof, because it is departed from it.”
  • Zephaniah 1:4: “I will also stretch out mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, and the name of the Chemarims with the priests;”

Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon adds that this word kamar in Syriac “is prop.[erly] blackness, sadness, and as a concrete, one who goes about in black attire, mourning; hence, an ascetic, a priest.”

Taking all of this into account, “Chemarims” (notice the plural ending “–ims”) were evidently pagan, idolatrous priests notable for wearing black robes. By the way, the word kamar is translated “black” (as in “scorched”) in Lamentations 5:10. Israel allowed this false religious system—led by Chemarims—to infiltrate them many hundreds of years prior to Zephaniah. Thus, the LORD God through Zephaniah preached that judgment was coming upon Israel (technically the Southern Kingdom, Judah) because of her rank, persistent idolatry. Zephaniah’s prophecy was fulfilled when the fifth course of judgment began. The Babylonians first came around 600 B.C., destroyed Jerusalem, her false religion, and her Temple, and the Babylonian armies took Judah captive (exile) to Babylon. As Zephaniah had warned, JEHOVAH God indeed “cut off [destroyed] the name [authority] of the Chemarims with the priests!”

My friend, one last thing—would you happen to know of any people in religion today who wear black robes? (Interesting, huh?!)

Also see:
» What does “Lord of Sabaoth” mean?
» Why does Acts 2:35 use “foes” but Psalm 110:1 use “enemies?”
» What are “phylacteries?”

“If God peradventure will give them repentance…?”

“IF GOD PERADVENTURE WILL GIVE THEM REPENTANCE…?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

What should we make of 2 Timothy 2:25? “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;That latter half—the conditional statement beginning with “if God peradventure”—puzzles some Bible readers. Should we conclude that God will reveal His truths to some but will hide it from others? Is He not unfair? Why does He not want all people to come to the knowledge of the truth? Or, does He? Then, what about this verse?

Friend, have you ever noticed how some people appeared to have/know and believe the truth, to be on the right track concerning sound Bible teaching, but then suddenly went off into apostasy? Sure. We all have. Maybe they went to a Bible-believing church for years, seemingly maturing in the Scriptures. They professed Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. Perhaps they even taught Sunday School or sang in the choir. Then, one day, you found out that they returned to their old denomination, or perhaps threw out the Bible and God altogether and went back into “the world!” Not long ago, I dealt with Christians who were astounded that their friends and relatives who had attended their Bible churches and home Bible studies for years, suddenly went back to their cults (former denominations)! This should not shock or disappoint us because 2 Timothy 2:25 was God’s comment on these events thousands of years before they happened!

We start at 2 Timothy 2:24 and read to the end of the chapter: “[24] And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, [25] In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; [26] And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”

The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul said “the servant of the Lord must not strive,” or pick fights and argue (acting combative). God’s man or woman should “be gentle unto all men [people], apt [able] to teach, patient [longsuffering]” (verse 24). We should make every attempt possible to reach Christians and non-Christians alike with the truth of God’s word rightly divided. We should be presenting a clear Gospel message to the lost (1 Corinthians 15:3-4—“Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day”), and sound Bible teaching to the saved (all Scripture taught in light of Pauline doctrine). Opposition will arise, so we should be patient, trying to slowly turn them around and dealing with them as long as they are willing to hear. Some cases will take much longer than others. Whenever they start resisting, however, we need to back away and respect their free will. We need to leave them alone, letting them come back to us (hopefully, they will have a better attitude next time).

Verse 25 says, “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;….” Here is our “problem verse.” We should “in meekness”—or humility rather than pride—“instruct those that oppose themselves.” Those who oppose themselves are Christians who live contrary to the grace of God. They do not live out of the identity and resources God gave them in Christ. No, they are so works-oriented, so denominationally minded, that they refuse to be renewed by dispensational Bible truth day by day. They are corrupted by human wisdom, and are thus void of God’s wisdom. How it quenches/hinders the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19) and grieves Him (Ephesians 4:30) because He cannot work in their lives! Lost people “oppose themselves” in that they are living contrary to how God designed a human to live. They should be glorifying their Creator, not living for themselves. (Christians should be living as God designed Christians to live, and lost people should become Christians so they can live as God designed humans to live!)

We instruct those we reach in the ministry, attempting to reform their thinking first (and behavior will be corrected). However, it is not guaranteed that they will respond positively to that Word of God’s grace. Some will outright reject it (some will make that known most violently and loudly!). The “educated” philosophers in Athens laughed at Paul’s “gossip” preaching about Christ’s resurrection (Acts 17:32). Idolaters in Ephesus incited a massive riot that nearly killed Paul (Acts 19:23-41).

Some will keep it momentarily, and then toss it. The Galatians believed God’s Word through Paul at first, but then abandoned it. This was also true of the Corinthians. Others will believe it and stay with it for an extended time, actually maturing in it. You can see that in the Thessalonians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. Eventually, the “Asians” (citizens of Asia Minor, modern Turkey—cities of Ephesus, Colosse, Troas, et cetera) abandoned it. Paul, writing at the end of his ministry and life: “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes” (2 Timothy 1:15). This, you should recognize, is part of the epistle where we find 2 Timothy 2:25!

“In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;….That conditional part is explained as follows—those in our audience may change their mind to the point where they acknowledge the Bible truth we shared, or they may not change their mind and therefore retain their erroneous notions. God’s will for them is the first outcome—“…God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth(1 Timothy 2:4). It is God’s will that all individuals trust His only begotten Son as their personal Saviour. It is also His will that all come to the knowledge of the truth (especially Christians). However, He will not force His Word on either group.

Do not read 2 Timothy 2:25 as though God may choose to enlighten them or He may not choose to enlighten them. No. The condition depends on them, not Him! They may want the truth (and He will respect their free will by teaching them through us preaching His Word), or they may not want His Word (and He will leave them in their spiritual blindness). Remember, the words of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself: “If any man will do his [Father God’s] will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17). Jesus Christ declared you can know God’s will if you want to do His will! Friend, that applies to Christians and non-Christians alike! Father God wants lost people saved, and saved people edified. Do we? Do you?

Second Timothy 2:25 is a great encouragement in that it shows us that even when we do as much as we can to spread dispensational Bible truths, some will deny it and/or abandon it as though we never uttered a word to them. It is not that we did not share enough verses with them. (If the first verse did not convince them, the others would not have either!) It is not that we did not make the Word of God plain enough. (If they had questions, they would have asked them in sincerity!)

All people, saved and lost, are to some degree resistant to learning from God’s Word. Even as grace believers, we are not always 100% engaged while reading and studying it. Sometimes, we are reading verses through denominational eyeglasses, causing them to say something they do not say. There are traditional ideas from our past that are hard to break from and thus still cloud our thinking. We find ourselves in Satan’s snare, fulfilling his will of hiding God’s truth from others and ourselves. The good news is that, if we find ourselves in such a predicament, there is a solution! We had better find a servant of the Lord who will teach us and guide us into the doctrine of God’s grace!

Second Timothy 2:24-26: “[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.”

Also see:
» Why do some people get angry when we share right division?
» How long should I keep witnessing to the same person?
» What is dispensational Bible study?

How could Satan access heaven in the Books of Job and the Revelation?

HOW COULD SATAN ACCESS HEAVEN IN THE BOOKS OF JOB AND THE REVELATION?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Some Bible commentators have professed great difficulty in understanding and explaining how Satan could have access to heaven in Job chapters 1 and 2, as well as in Revelation chapter 12. (I just read an article written by a theologian who was struggling here.) After all, does Scripture not say in Luke 10:18 that Satan was cast out of heaven long ago? Then, how is he cast out of heaven in Revelation chapter 12 too? How could he go into heaven in Job? Was Satan thrown out of heaven, or is he still awaiting that eviction? Let us search the Scriptures!

Notice the so-called “contradictory” verses:

  • Job 1:6-7: “[6] Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. [7] And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.”
  • Job 2:1-2: “[1] Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD. [2] And the LORD said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.”
  • Luke 10:18: “And he [the Lord Jesus] said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.”
  • Revelation 12:7-9,12: “[7] And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, [8] And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. [9] And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him….. [12] Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.”

Job chapters 1 and 2, part of the Bible’s oldest Book, say that Satan has access to heaven. Luke 10:18, spoken during Jesus’ earthly ministry, centuries after Job, says the Lord Himself personally saw Satan fall from heaven. Years later, in the Book of the Revelation, the Apostle John wrote about a future day when Satan will be kicked out of heaven. We can understand why somebody would get confused here when reading the Bible. It is easy to see why people have trouble reconciling these verses. Let me assure you, friend, there is nothing wrong with the Bible. All of these verses are correct. We just have to be sure we look at the Bible as a whole, and not just snippets. The Bible should be understood as a timeline, verses arranged neatly; Scripture is not a group of jumbled verses all applicable at the same time.

The Bible speaks of “the third heaven” in 2 Corinthians 12:2. Therefore, we know that three heavens exist:

  1. The first heaven is what we would call Earth’s atmosphere—where birds and manmade aircraft fly. Genesis 1:20 says: “And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.”
  2. The second heaven is above it—the location of the sun, moon, planets, stars, et cetera. We know this region of creation as “outer space.” Genesis 1:14-17 says: “[14] And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: [15] And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. [16] And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. [17] And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth….”
  3. The third heaven, where God’s throne is, is situated above outer space, or outside of our universe. As noted earlier, we find this “third heaven” referenced in 2 Corinthians 12:2: “I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth; ) such an one caught up to the third heaven.”

SATAN’S PROGRESSIVE FALLING, FROM “TOP” TO “BOTTOM”

When the Bible says that Satan fell from heaven in Luke 10:18, that refers to his original fall in Isaiah 14:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:11-19. That was Lucifer’s eviction from the third heaven, the throne-room of God, because of his pride and failed attempt to usurp God’s authority (1 Timothy 3:6). Satan can never enter the third heaven again.

When Scripture says that Satan stood before God in Job chapters 1 and 2, this is not the third heaven as commonly assumed. It is not the throne-room of God as often taught. This would be the second heaven, or outer space. Isaiah 14:13 talks about this “mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north.” Those “congregating” are angelic beings, and, according to the Book of Job, they assemble frequently. It is somewhere in the northern part of the universe, perhaps on some planet or other faraway celestial body, that the angels give an account to and/or report to God concerning their activities. God meets these spiritual beings here. It is evidently where Satan answers to God regarding his mischief on Earth.

When the Bible speaks in Revelation chapter 12 about Michael and his angels fighting against the Devil and his angels, and the Devil and his angels being cast out of heaven, that would be the second heaven (outer space). You will recall that this was where Satan was when he appeared in Job chapters 1 and 2. By the time of the Revelation—technically, halfway through the seven-year Tribulation—Satan is cast to Earth. This fall of Satan, from outer space to Earth, is yet future.

By the way, in Revelation 20:10, at the end of the Millennial Reign of Christ, Satan is tossed into the Lake of Fire, which is at the bottom of the universe, the farthest point from God’s throne in the third heaven (the third heaven being Satan’s original abode, as per Luke 18:10).

CONCLUSION

Rather than making all of these verses depict one fall from one heaven, or two falls from one heaven, we need to see that two heavens are involved and two falls are involved. It really is ridiculously simple, provided we ignore the theological speculations!

Once the perfect cherub Lucifer became prideful, he (now Satan) was thrown out of the third heaven, God’s throne-room (Luke 18:10). Satan currently operates in the second heaven, giving rise to the reality of “spiritual wickedness in high [heavenly] places” (Ephesians 6:12). One day, according to Revelation 12:7-12, Satan and his fallen angelic cohorts will be evicted from outer space (second heaven) and confined to the Earth (to wreak havoc during the final half of the seven-year Tribulation). We as members of the Church the Body of Christ assume those positions of heavenly government for God’s glory (Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 1:9-10; Ephesians 2:6-7; Colossians 1:16-20; 2 Timothy 4:18)!

Lucifer’s fall from his original state to his eternal punishment is gradual, spanning thousands of years. That is, God did not immediately take Lucifer once he fell and cast him into the Lake of Fire. In fact, the Devil will not wind up in the Lake of Fire until Revelation chapter 20, which is still future even from today. Looking at the Bible timeline, from left to right—Satan falls from the third heaven (God’s throne-room) to the second heaven, from the second heaven (outer space) to the Earth, and ultimately, from Earth to the Lake of Fire.

The issue of Satan falling from heaven can be understood only from the dispensational perspective. Friend, if you attempt to make all these verses the same event, covering the same timeframe, you will reach an impasse you will ever be able to escape. However, if you see how they are different because they are in fact separate and distinct falls, thousands of years apart, and involving two different heavens, the Bible will become unbelievably clear concerning this topic!

Saints, (only if you can afford it!), please remember us in your monthly giving. You can donate securely here: https://www.paypal.me/ShawnBrasseaux, or email me at arcministries@gmail.com. Do not forget about Bible Q&A booklets for sale at https://arcgraceministries.org/in-print/booklets-bible-q-a/. Thanks to all who give to and pray for us! 🙂

Also see:
» Why does God let Satan exist?
» What are Satan’s current operations?
» Where in the Bible did God give Satan domain over the Earth?