Monthly Archives: June 2017

Should we use Bibles on electronic devices?

SHOULD WE USE BIBLES ON ELECTRONIC DEVICES?

by Shawn Brasseaux

In the last 20 years or so—especially within the last five—personal electronic devices have become increasingly popular. Enormous personal desktop computers have largely given way to small, handheld (pocket) devices. Tablets, smartphones, and laptops are now usually in every individual’s life to some extent. Therefore, it is not uncommon to find someone reading an electronic Bible (a Bible app, a Bible website, or the like). Some “old-school” people object to this. They say that a “real” Bible is the printed page, a physical Bible made of paper and ink. They do not believe that an electronic Bible carries the same weight as a printed one. Are these arguments meritorious?

Friends, if we are going to start talking about form determining the potency or authenticity of the Bible, we will run into numerous unforeseeable challenges. For example, if we say that the only “real” Bible is one of ink printed on paper, and that an electronic one is not, then who is to say that a braille Bible (one for visually-impaired people) is not a “real” Bible either? Braille Bibles are made by metal impressions stamped into paper, and do not involve ink. Who is to say that an audio Bible (also for visually-impaired people) is not a “real” Bible either? There is neither ink nor paper with it! What are such people going to do who rely on these special works?

It should be pointed out that (for it is easy to forget) the printed Bibles we have to did not always exist. The Bible was not always bound in the book form that we have currently have. Centuries ago, it was a collection of scrolls, not on the “paper” we are familiar with, either. It was originally written on parchment (bull and goat skins), vellum (more expensive, calf skins), or papyrus (a cheap, crude layering of dried, crisscrossed, glued plant material). Books, or “codices,” bound volumes as we know them, appeared in the third or fourth century A.D. The “writing pen” during New Testament times was either a hollowed stick cut to a point, or a quill (feather).

Now, friends, think about this. Would it be fair for the apostles and prophets of long ago to look at our computer-printed Bibles today and say, “Hey, those are not ‘real’ Bibles! ‘Real’ Bibles are handwritten with soot and gum, using papyrus reeds, and put on animal skins and papyrus! We did not carry around the Bible in one bound volume either!”? They would be wrong, of course, for diminishing the Bible in its current form. Yet, we will look at a computer-printed Bible (not the original Bible form either, remember!!) and say that that is the only “true” Bible? Nonsense! The Bible is God’s Word no matter its form. We will take it a step further. There was even a time when the Bible was not written down at all. Once, it only existed in the mind of God in the form of thoughts! So, the original, original Bible was a group of thoughts found only in the mind of Almighty God. Would God say that the only “true” Bible exists in some immaterial, invisible form? See, we start to get silly now.

Someone once said that we humans are creatures of habit, and rightly so. It is difficult to break from a routine. Since electronic Bibles are still rather new, many of the older generations are still using printed Bibles. This is fine. They have used such printed Bibles all of their lives. That is the only “Bible” they know. However, newer generations have discovered a more compact, convenient Bible form. Rather than carrying around a giant book, they can bring a very thin device that has the Bible text as well as a lot of other information. Provided that they are not distracted by notifications (text messages, phone calls, and so on), the Bible on-screen can be very useful to them. There are no pages to tear, and no ink to smear or fade. It can even be read in the dark! Personally, I use electronic Bibles, but I also still use a printed Bible when teaching at conferences or at home Bible studies. Even when preparing studies for online publication, I have a printed Bible beside me as a guide. (After nearly 15 years though, it is falling apart!)

Whether it is in printed form on paper, or on an electronic screen, or thoughts in the mind of God, or written by a reed on papyrus or animal skin, or scrolls, or audio form, or Braille form, it still has the power of God. What was true of the original Bible is true even today. Notice:

  • 2 Timothy 3:15-17: “[15] And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. [16] All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: [17] That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”
  • 1 Thessalonians 2:13: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.”
  • Matthew 4:4: “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
  • 1 Timothy 4:13: “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.”
  • Psalm 119:89: “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.”
  • Ephesians 3:4: “Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)….”
  • Isaiah 40:6-8: “[6] The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: [7] The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. [8] The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.”
  • 2 Timothy 2:15: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
  • Psalm 119:105: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
  • Jeremiah 15:16: “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.”
  • John 6:63: “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”

By the way, before we end, since this article is posted on a Bible website, read by people using various electronic devices to access it, it should be pointed out that this author certainly does not diminish electronic Bibles. If he thought electronic Bibles were not “true” Bibles, he certainly would not be sharing Bible verses and Bible studies on the internet!

Also see:
» Did not Jesus speak words not recorded in Scripture?
» “Epistle” and “letter”—same or different?
» Should I preach the same Bible messages I have preached before?

Should I preach the same Bible messages I have preached before?

SHOULD I PREACH THE SAME BIBLE MESSAGES I HAVE PREACHED BEFORE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Friend, I see nothing wrong with that. Provided that you do not cover the same material every meeting, the exact same verses every week, there is no problem. From time to time, I re-teach Bible studies, though not verbatim. There are certain times when I reprint articles as well. Other Bible teachers and pastors I know review the same topics a few times a year. They look at the same set of verses but in a different order. Their messages are not precisely the same as before.

Remember, friend, there are only 66 Bible Books—we have a limited number of verses to preach and teach anyway. Only 13 of those Books, Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon, are to and about us. Study and teach all Bible Books, but, eventually, there will still be some overlap in your messages. In the long run, there will be repetition, but that is okay. Repetition is the key to teaching because it is key to learning. The Bible does talk about reminding the brethren of sound Bible doctrine. It should be brought back into their thinking. While they have already heard the material, they need to be exposed to it again to have more understanding and more maturity in that doctrine. We tend to forget the doctrine and we need to be reminded of it. Notice the following examples from Scripture:

  • Luke 17:32: Remember Lot’s wife.”
  • 2 Timothy 2:14: Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.”
  • Ephesians 2:11: “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;”
  • 1 Timothy 4:6: “If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.”
  • 2 Timothy 2:8: Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel:”
  • Acts 20:35: “I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:5: Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?”
  • Acts 20:31: “Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.”
  • John 15:20: Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.”
  • Jude 17-18: “[17] But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; [18] How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.”
  • 2 Peter 1:12-15: “[12] Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. [13] Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; [14] Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. [15] Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.”
  • 1 Corinthians 4:17: “For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.”
  • Jude 5: “I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.”
  • 2 Peter 3:1: “This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:”

Also see:
» How does one know if he or she is maturing in the Word of God?
» Did not Jesus speak words not recorded in Scripture?
» Can we witness too much to family members?

How did King Saul die?

HOW DID KING SAUL DIE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Who killed Saul? The Philistines? Or, was it suicide? Or, did an Amalekite kill him? What does the Bible say?

Unfortunately, people often approach the Bible with a fine-toothed comb, looking to find any little discrepancy so they can complain. Why are they so critical of God’s Word? Man wants to remove the Bible from the place of supreme authority. If the Scriptures can be disapproved, then they can be dethroned, and man’s opinions can be deified. There is nothing more to it than this. There is no sincere search for what is right and what is wrong, what is truth and what is error. The Bible skeptic already approaches the Bible with the assumption that it has mistakes; therefore, why should it shock us when the skeptic claims to find mistakes in the Bible? Anyways, let us approach the Bible in faith, giving it the benefit of the doubt.

The Bible says in 1 Samuel chapter 31: “[1] Now the Philistines fought against Israel: and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell down slain in mount Gilboa. [2] And the Philistines followed hard upon Saul and upon his sons; and the Philistines slew Jonathan, and Abinadab, and Melchishua, Saul’s sons. [3] And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was sore wounded of the archers. [4] Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it. [5] And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him. [6] So Saul died, and his three sons, and his armourbearer, and all his men, that same day together.”

The archers of the Philistines struck King Saul with several arrows: he was badly injured but still alive (verse 3). For this reason, he asked his armor bearer to kill him. King Saul did not want to be tortured and put to death by the Philistines. The armor bearer refused (verse 4): the armor bearer knew that he was not to kill the LORD’S anointed, and was too fearful to take Saul’s life. Therefore, the Bible says Saul fell upon his own sword, and he died (verse 6). When the armor bearer saw that Saul was dead, the armor bearer committed suicide himself. The armor bearer thought Saul was dead, Saul appeared to be dead, but was Saul actually dead? The first chapter of the next Bible Book generates some confusion here.

Second Samuel chapter 1 opens: “[1] Now it came to pass after the death of Saul, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites, and David had abode two days in Ziklag; [2] It came even to pass on the third day, that, behold, a man came out of the camp from Saul with his clothes rent, and earth upon his head: and so it was, when he came to David, that he fell to the earth, and did obeisance. [3] And David said unto him, From whence comest thou? And he said unto him, Out of the camp of Israel am I escaped. [4] And David said unto him, How went the matter? I pray thee, tell me. And he answered, That the people are fled from the battle, and many of the people also are fallen and dead; and Saul and Jonathan his son are dead also.

“[5] And David said unto the young man that told him, How knowest thou that Saul and Jonathan his son be dead? [6] And the young man that told him said, As I happened by chance upon mount Gilboa, behold, Saul leaned upon his spear; and, lo, the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him. [7] And when he looked behind him, he saw me, and called unto me. And I answered, Here am I. [8] And he said unto me, Who art thou? And I answered him, I am an Amalekite. [9] He said unto me again, Stand, I pray thee, upon me, and slay me: for anguish is come upon me, because my life is yet whole in me. [10] So I stood upon him, and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live after that he was fallen: and I took the crown that was upon his head, and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them hither unto my lord.

“[11] Then David took hold on his clothes, and rent them; and likewise all the men that were with him: [12] And they mourned, and wept, and fasted until even, for Saul, and for Jonathan his son, and for the people of the LORD, and for the house of Israel; because they were fallen by the sword. [13] And David said unto the young man that told him, Whence art thou? And he answered, I am the son of a stranger, an Amalekite. [14] And David said unto him, How wast thou not afraid to stretch forth thine hand to destroy the LORD’S anointed? [15] And David called one of the young men, and said, Go near, and fall upon him. And he smote him that he died. [16] And David said unto him, Thy blood be upon thy head; for thy mouth hath testified against thee, saying, I have slain the LORD’S anointed.”

In chapter 1 of Second Samuel, a man approaches King David. He is an Amalekite (verse 8). The Amalekite informs David that Saul and his son Jonathan (David’s close friend) are dead (verse 4). He tells David that he found Saul wounded on the battlefield and killed him because Saul told him he wanted to die (verses 9-10). (Considering the fact that Saul unjustly harassed David in the previous Book, this Amalekite is hoping to gain David’s favor by telling him he took Saul’s life.) David reacts in a way that the Amalekite does not expect. David demands the Amalekite be put to death because he has killed the LORD’S anointed, the king chosen by God Himself (verses 14-16). Even David knew it was wrong to kill the king.

So, what really happened to Saul? The Philistines mortally wounded him, but he lived for some time. He finally stabbed himself with a sword, which ultimately hastened his death. The easiest answer is that Saul took his own life. What about the Amalekite’s account? We cannot be sure if what he said was true, since he could have embellished the story just to impress David. If we cannot be sure if the Amalekite’s account was true, then why did King David take his life? What if the Amalekite was actually innocent? The Amalekite’s execution was just because he had deep hatred toward the LORD’S anointed. Furthermore, David did not want to taint his monarchy by letting a professed murderer, the alleged killer of his predecessor, go off scot-free.

Also see:
» “From his shoulders and upward he was higher?”
» Why did God give Israel King Saul if Saul turned out to be evil?
» Why does the Bible give two accounts of Judas’ death?

What does the Bible say about blood transfusions?

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT BLOOD TRANSFUSIONS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The Russellites—the cult/denomination more commonly known as “The Jehovah’s Witnesses”—are the world-famous champions of the idea that blood transfusions should be rejected under all circumstances. They contend that the Bible is against such a medical treatment. In fact, they do cite some key Bible verses (we will examine those shortly). Firstly, from a medical standpoint, what exactly is a “blood transfusion?” Secondly, what specific arguments do the Jehovah’s Witnesses raise against it? Thirdly, what does the Bible say about it? Finally, what should we as Bible believers conclude about the whole matter? To the Scriptures, friends, to the Scriptures!

MEDICAL BACKGROUND ON THE SUBJECT

According to the Mayo Clinic (MayoClinic.org), blood consists of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body, and carry carbon dioxide away from tissues to the lungs to be exhaled. White blood cells, part of our immune system, fight off infection. Platelets form clots in the holes of blood vessels.

The Mayo Clinic’s website tells us what blood transfusions entail:

“A blood transfusion is a routine medical procedure that can be lifesaving. During a blood transfusion, donated blood is added to your own blood. A blood transfusion may also be done to supplement various components of your blood with donated blood products. In some cases, a blood transfusion is done with blood that you’ve donated ahead of time before you undergo elective surgery. During a typical blood transfusion, certain parts of blood are delivered through an intravenous (IV) line that’s placed in one of the veins in your arm. A blood transfusion usually takes one to four hours, though in an emergency it can be done much faster. A blood transfusion boosts blood levels that are low, either because your body isn’t making enough or you’ve lost blood owing to surgery, injury or disease.”

WebMD medical doctor, Matthew Hoffman, M.D., writes the following on WebMD.com about blood (just some interesting information I thought I would share here while we are on the topic):

“Blood is a constantly circulating fluid providing the body with nutrition, oxygen, and waste removal. Blood is mostly liquid, with numerous cells and proteins suspended in it, making blood ‘thicker’ than pure water. The average person has about 5 liters (more than a gallon) of blood.

“A liquid called plasma makes up about half of the content of blood. Plasma contains proteins that help blood to clot, transport substances through the blood, and perform other functions. Blood plasma also contains glucose and other dissolved nutrients.

“About half of blood volume is composed of blood cells:

  • Red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the tissues
  • White blood cells, which fight infections
  • Platelets, smaller cells that help blood to clot

“Blood is conducted through blood vessels (arteries and veins). Blood is prevented from clotting in the blood vessels by their smoothness, and the finely tuned balance of clotting factors.”

With the medical aspect covered, we move on to the religious side of the issue.

“JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES” BACKGROUND ON THE SUBJECT

Just so we know the official “Jehovah’s Witness” position on blood transfusions, we refer to approved Watchtower literature. In their 2005/2014 book titled, “What Does the Bible Really Teach?,” they claim on pages 128-131:

“Showing respect for blood. 10 After Cain killed his brother Abel, Jehovah told Cain: ‘Your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground.’ (Genesis 4:10) When God spoke of Abel’s blood, he was speaking of Abel’s life. Cain had taken Abel’s life, and now Cain would have to be punished. It was as if Abel’s blood, or life, were crying out to Jehovah for justice. The connection between life and blood was again shown after the Flood of Noah’s day. Before the Flood, humans ate only fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts. After the Flood, Jehovah told Noah and his sons: ‘Every moving animal that is alive may serve as food for you.’ However, God set this restriction: ‘Only flesh with its life—its blood—you must not eat.’ (Genesis 1:29; 9:3, 4) Clearly, Jehovah links very closely the life and the blood of a creature.

“11 We show respect for blood by not eating it. In the Law that Jehovah gave the Israelites, he commanded: ‘If one of the Israelites… is hunting and catches a wild animal or a bird that may be eaten, he must pour its blood out and cover it with dust…. I said to the Israelites: ‘You must not eat the blood of any sort of flesh.’’ (Leviticus 17:13, 14) God’s command not to eat animal blood, first given to Noah some 800 years earlier, was still in force. Jehovah’s view was clear: His servants could eat animal meat but not the blood. They were to pour the blood on the ground—in effect, returning the creature’s life to God.

“12 A similar command rests upon Christians. The apostles and other men taking the lead among Jesus’ followers in the first century met to decide what commands had to be obeyed by all in the Christian congregation. They came to this conclusion: ‘The holy spirit [sic—J.W. don’t believe the Holy Spirit is a Person, or that He is God, which explains their usage of lowercase letters “holy spirit”—S.B.] and we ourselves have favored adding no further burden to you except these necessary things: to keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols, from blood, from what is strangled [‘what is killed without draining its blood,’ footnote], and from sexual immorality.’ (Acts 15:28, 29; 21:25) So we must ‘keep abstaining from blood.’ In God’s eyes, our doing that is as important as our avoiding idolatry and sexually immorality.

“13 Does the command to abstain from blood include blood transfusions? Yes. To illustrate: Suppose a doctor were to tell you to abstain from alcoholic beverages. Would that simply mean that you should not drink alcohol but that you could have it injected into your veins? Of course not! Likewise, abstaining from blood means not taking it into our bodies at all. So the command to abstain from blood means that we should not allow anyone to transfuse blood into our veins. [That illustration of the doctor and the injected alcohol is such a flimsy, comical, and downright absurd appeal!! What do J.W. do when they accidently bite their lip or tongue and swallow their own blood?!—S.B.]

“14 What if a Christian is badly injured or is in need of major surgery? Suppose doctors say that he must have a blood transfusion or he will die. Of course, the Christian would not want to die. In an effort to preserve God’s precious gift of life, he would accept other kinds of treatment that do not involve the misuse of blood. Hence, he would seek such medical attention if that is available and would accept a variety of alternatives to blood.

“15 Would a Christian break God’s law just to stay alive a little longer in this system of things? Jesus said, ‘Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.’ (Matthew 16:25) We do not want to die. But if we tried to save our present life by breaking God’s law, we would be in danger of losing everlasting life. We are wise, then, to put our trust in the rightness of God’s law, with full confidence that if we die for any cause, our Life-Giver will remember us in the resurrection and restore to us the precious gift of life.—John 5:28, 29; Hebrews 11:6.

“16 Today, faithful servants of God firmly resolve to follow his direction regarding blood. They will not eat it in any form. Nor will they accept blood for medical reasons. They are sure that the Creator of blood knows what is best for them. Do you believe that he does?”

With the religious aspect covered, now we move on the Holy Scriptures.

BIBLE BACKGROUND ON THE SUBJECT

Doubtless, the Bible is very clear that life is in the blood. Blood is important in God’s eyes because it represents life. The Russellites are in perfect agreement with the Bible on these points, and we do not fault them here. We read in Leviticus chapter 17, the Mosaic Law: “[10] And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people. [11] For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. [12] Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood. [13] And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust. [14] For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off.”

The consumption of blood was clearly forbidden in the Law of Moses. Jews were in no way to eat the blood of animals. They were to drain the meat of all blood before partaking of that flesh. Please notice the supplemental passages included below for your consideration.

Leviticus 3:17: “It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings, that ye eat neither fat nor blood.” Leviticus 7:26-27: “Moreover ye shall eat no manner of blood, whether it be of fowl or of beast, in any of your dwellings. Whatsoever soul it be that eateth any manner of blood, even that soul shall be cut off from his people.” Leviticus 19:26: “Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood: neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times.” Deuteronomy 12:16,23-24: “Only ye shall not eat the blood; ye shall pour it upon the earth as water…. Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh. Thou shalt not eat it; thou shalt pour it upon the earth as water.” Deuteronomy 15:23: “Only thou shalt not eat the blood thereof; thou shalt pour it upon the ground as water.” First Samuel 14:34: “…and sin not against the LORD in eating with the blood….”

What God was really telling Israel was that their life was not in animals’ blood. He was their life, and they were to rely on Him for life. In the Israeli Mosaic economy, as the Book of Leviticus delineates, various animal sacrifices were to be offered for sins. God’s focus was to ultimately point to Messiah’s shed blood, which would not be offered on Calvary until many centuries later. That animals’ blood was important in that it represented—or was typical of—the blood of God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. In effect, the only blood Israel was to “partake of” was the shed blood of Jesus Christ (the only source of true life)!

Let us take some time to address the Acts chapter 15 verses that the “Jehovah’s Witness” appeals to concerning this topic. Like all religious groups, they do not understand how to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), approaching the Bible dispensationally, without getting hung up on Israeli practices and promises. During the Acts period, Paul’s Gentile converts (the Church the Body of Christ) were to conduct their lives in such a way so as to not offend three groups of Jewish people: (1) the Law-keeping members of the Little Flock (Israel’s believing remnant), (2) the unsaved Jews meeting in the various synagogues around the then-known world, and (3) the Jewish members of the Body of Christ who were having trouble leaving behind the old system of worship they had grown up with. You can see these people mentioned in 1 Corinthians 8:1-13, Acts chapter 15, Romans 14:1-23, and 1 Corinthians 10:23-33. (For more information, please see our “yoga” and “1 Corinthians chapter 8” studies linked at the end of this article.)

That Acts transitional period—from prophecy to mystery—gave rise to the various disagreements that ultimately led to the Acts chapter 15 apostolic council at Jerusalem. (Which, you will remember, contains some of the pet verses of the Russellites). Were Paul’s Gentile converts obligated to follow the Law of Moses as a means for salvation? That was the basic question to be settled in Acts chapter 15.

Notice verses 1-5 of Acts chapter 15: “[1] And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren [Paul’s Gentile converts], and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. [2] When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. [3] And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. [4] And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. [5] But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”

Now, read verses 19-21: “[19] Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: [20] But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. [21] For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.”

And verses 22-31: “[22] Then pleased it the apostles and elders with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas and Silas, chief men among the brethren: [23] And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia. [24] Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: [25] It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, [26] Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. [27] We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. [28] For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; [29] That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well. [30] So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle: [31] Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation.”

The context of abstaining from blood is with reference to the religious system the pagans are involved with. Notice again: “that they should abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood” (verse 20; cf. verse 29). The context is not a medical procedure—that is, a blood transfusion—but rather a religious practice. For a Russellite to grab these verses and read something into them is so dishonest. In fact, he or she (as with many issues) is forcing his or her own religious dogma into the Bible text rather than letting the Bible text speak for itself. Think about this.

If following these verses really were so important to the Watchtower Society, why did they not comment (in their “official” explanation quoted above) on the fact that the passage has to do with abstaining from false religion? See, a Russellite is not interested in teaching a Bible passage for what it says; the goal is simply to select and emphasize what the denomination stresses in the verse. It is that “pet” interpretation of the verse that makes the religious sect unique: to ignore the slant is to diminish the system’s distinctiveness, and this they refuse to do. That is the plain and simple truth. But, we will be bolder in exposing their dishonesty.

We ignore the part about foods offered to idols, we ignore the part about fornication (illicit and sexual perversion in pagan religious services), we ignore the part about things strangled (dietary laws), and we single out the part about the blood! That is typical religious tradition—the stressing of parts of verses instead of whole verses taught IN CONTEXT. Many a times I have caught Russellites in-person, visiting me at my home, being dishonest with Bible passages. They will freely admit they do not know everything about the verses they are quoting, but they are sure of certain “pet” phrases in the verses! Above all, they prove themselves to be servants of someone OTHER than Jesus Christ (JEHOVAH God the Son). They are unable to articulate a clear Gospel message. They do not make the message of cross of Calvary clear but rather rattle on and on about “God’s kingdom.” If they cannot get straight the most important part of the Bible (the Gospel), we need not wonder why they stumble over something so trivial as blood transfusions!

Before we leave this subject, it would do us well to read again paragraph 15 of the blood section of the Watchtower Society’s book, “What Does the Bible Really Teach?” “15 Would a Christian break God’s law just to stay alive a little longer in this system of things? Jesus said, ‘Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.’ (Matthew 16:25) We do not want to die. But if we tried to save our present life by breaking God’s law, we would be in danger of losing everlasting life.” (Bold emphasis mine.)

Did we not notice that the Jehovah’s Witness has no real security in his religion? (I just confirmed this with an ex-J.W. friend of mine.) Having wrested (twisted) Matthew 16:25, they wonder if they may “lose” everlasting life by trying to save their physical life with a blood transfusion! No wonder they fear blood transfusions—such a medical treatment means Hell for them! In other words, the Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall is just another typical works-religion group. You have to strive to make God accept you—and, if you break His laws, “[you] would be in danger of losing everlasting life!” (Their words, not mine, please note!)

So, in closing, “What does the Bible say about blood transfusions?” NOTHING!

Also see:
» Should Christians participate in yoga?
» Can you explain 1 Corinthians chapter 8?
» Is the Holy Spirit a Person or merely a “force?”

What is wrong with “praise and worship?”

WHAT IS WRONG WITH “PRAISE AND WORSHIP?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

“Would you please explain why it is wrong to have ‘praise and worship service’ in the church? I am referring to something you wrote in one of your articles. I thought that is why we were born to do in the first place.”

Friend, you misunderstood me. There is nothing wrong with singing in the church building. We sing hymns to music in our local assembly. The problem is that church members are often more concerned with fleshly entertainment than Bible education. They usually have no desire for learning actual Bible doctrine. In my article to which you are referring, I mentioned that people would often rather sing and dance in church than engage in proper Bible study. Bible study will help them in the long-run because that is how Father God will work in and through them (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Studying is how they allow God to renew their minds, so they think like Him (1 Corinthians 2:9-16). Mere singing and dancing is profitless for them because that is the flesh and there is often no underlying sound Bible doctrine causing them to behave as such.

For example, if you have not noticed, so-called “contemporary Christian music” tends to make people focus on the flesh (emotions) rather than on the words of the Spirit of God. What is frequently passed off as “praise and worship” is often not based on actual Bible teaching or studying. It is about what tune can be played to pacify/entertain Christians, and what beat can please the world so unbelievers are enticed to enter the church building. There should be no such compromise, friend. A local church should not sound like the world in any fashion—and that especially applies to music!

Christian people commonly believe that they “contacted” God because they danced or sang songs for an hour on Sunday or Wednesday. They get all emotional and the flesh causes them to lose control. They get to swaying, raising hands, spinning, constantly shouting, rolling around on the floor, jumping over pews, tapping their toes, clapping their hands, and so on. Usually, the “praise and worship” music of today’s “Christianity” is just loud, empty noise designed to make people move round and round. The lyrics are shallow, with little to no sound doctrinal (Biblical) content. Rather than drawing attention to and exalting God’s doctrine in song, people start watching each other as they move around in the church building. Let it be said again: “praise and worship” today is often nothing more than a distraction from what really matters. We need to be more focused on the teachings of the Holy Bible rightly divided. Since the professing Church has neglected that priority, it is void of any power to combat the tremendous errors in Satan’s evil world.

Think about this, my friend. If we say only a part of our time in church is “praise and worship,” what about the rest of the day? What about the rest of the week? Should we not be “worshipping” God and “praising” Him throughout the day? Throughout the week? Yes, we should. That is why it is misleading to limit “praise and worship” to an hour on Sunday morning, Sunday evening, or Wednesday evening. Every action and every word spoken of every day of our lives should be an act of worship of God: “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17). Contrary to modern-day “Christianity’s” claim, worshipping Father God goes far beyond singing and dancing. (You can visit nightclubs where there is plenty of “singing and dancing!” Is God being worshipped there?) Worshipping God is all about believing the doctrines of His grace, and applying those verses to life by faith. When those verses go to work in our lives, then we naturally burst into song.

In this the Dispensation of Grace, the Apostle Paul talked about Christians singing. Notice Ephesians 5:19: “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;….” Read its companion passage, Colossians 3:16: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” In Acts 16:25, we read: “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.” These saints were so filled with the Holy Spirit that they sang praises to God… while imprisoned!

Please pay special attention to Colossians 3:16: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom….” Having the Word of God rightly divided—sound Bible doctrine—enables us to identify or compose truthful hymns that communicate good doctrine. Often, modern-day “Christian” songs are filled with philosophy (human wisdom), church tradition, and so on. That is not the “word of Christ.” That is the word of men. Colossians 2:8 says: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” And, the Lord Jesus’ classic rebuke of Israel’s formalistic, legalistic, but empty, religious system: “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do” (Mark 7:7-8).

“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth,” the Lord Jesus Christ declared in John 4:24. The word “spirit” here in “spirit and truth” is our mind—“be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (Eph. 4:23). The “renewed mind” is discussed in Romans 12:1-2: “[1] I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. [2] And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

With all the doctrine Paul laid out in the first 11 chapters of Romans, we take the truths and then let the Christian life work itself out in our lives. That would be Romans chapters 12-16. As we already saw, part of Christian (grace) living is singing. When we learn what Father God has done for us, and what He will do with us in the future, we can be grateful and sing praises to Him. We can be thankful for His goodness, wisdom, faithfulness (go back to Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16). But, here is the important point to grasp. Singing is designed to move us on the inside (reinforce God’s Word in our heart) rather than the outside (outward movements of the physical body).

Ephesians 5:19 said, in part: “…making melody in your heart to the Lord;….” Colossians 3:16 said, in part: “…singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Above all, Father God is looking for hearts of faith when we assemble with other Christians. He looks beyond what people are doing with their physical bodies—dancing, jumping, shouting, rolling around, spinning, clapping, and so on. He wants to see who is singing in the heart, using a mind renewed by His Word rightly divided. He wants to see a heart that has believed those divine words and implemented that doctrine in life. As with the case of prayer, Father God is listening for people in the heart repeating His Word to Him, rather than individuals mindlessly parroting words people wrote with denominational biases, philosophy, non-dispensational approach to Scripture, and so on.

We should find songs that agree with the Word of God rightly divided, or compose our own songs based on those verses, and sing them. This is a way of reinforcing Bible material. Words set to music are often a great way of learning in any discipline or field of study. By the way, Moses taught the nation Israel some doctrine by teaching them a song—the “Song of Moses” of Exodus 15:1-21—as soon as they escaped Egyptian bondage. The judge and prophetess Deborah and her general Barak sang a song after JEHOVAH God gave Israel victory over their enemies the Midianites (Judges 5:1-31). A whole Bible Book—Psalms—contains 150 songs to and about the one true God and His dealings with mankind!

SOME FINAL WORDS OF WARNING

Whenever we drift into the realm of music in religion, it would do us well to heed some warnings in Scripture. Satan, prior to his fall, was the song leader in Heaven. Lucifer’s body actually had musical instruments built into it! The Bible says in Ezekiel 28:13-15: “[13] Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. [14] Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. [15] Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.”

Notice the references to “tabrets” (percussion instruments—tambourines and the like) and “pipes” (wind instruments—flutes, horns, trumpets, et cetera). The Lord Jesus Christ created Lucifer with an intelligent mind, one that would devise various methods to sing praises to the Lord. Verse 12 says: “Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.” Lucifer was not only brilliant, he was very beautiful.

Even today, Satan is a very crafty individual. Now, he uses his wisdom to devise evil rather than good. In accordance with his background, the Devil uses music to his advantage. This may startle you, friend, but it is true. You may have never heard it before, but I will be glad to tell you now. Someone must warn you in love. When you get into the realm of music without having sound Bible doctrine, without a foundation in dispensational Bible study, you are very vulnerable to Satan’s influence. Look at what happened with Israel when they came out of Egypt.

Exodus 32:16-19 says: “[16] And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables. [17] And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp. [18] And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear. [19] And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.” There was singing and dancing in the camp of Israel: they learned music back in Egypt, but took it with them with they left Egypt. But, there was something else. See verse 25: “And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies: )….” The Jews were dancing NAKED!

When King Nebuchadnezzar, a pagan king of Babylon, commissioned the building of a giant image (idol), music was involved. Consider Daniel 3:1-18. Notice how the musical performances captivated these people. They could not help but fall down and worship that golden image (pay close attention to verses 5, 7, 10-11, 15). They were under some kind of a spell or trance—it was Satan’s spell to be exact!

“[1] Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. [2] Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. [3] Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

“[4] Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, [5] That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: [6] And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. [7] Therefore at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of musick, all the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.

“[8] Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews. [9] They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever. [10] Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, shall fall down and worship the golden image: [11] And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. [12] There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

“[13] Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king. [14] Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? [15] Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?

“[16] Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. [17] If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. [18] But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”

Friend, there was most definitely something wrong with the music playing while Nebuchadnezzar’s image was being worshipped. We need to be very careful when it comes to playing music and singing in the church building!

Also see:
» Should I raise my hands in worship?
» Has God’s Word failed?
» Does Hebrews 10:25 really teach we must attend church?

Does Acts 26:22 disprove the Apostle Paul’s special doctrine?

DOES ACTS 26:22 DISPROVE THE APOSTLE PAUL’S SPECIAL DOCTRINE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“Shawn, in your ‘Acts 9/28 Hybrid’ study you did back in (I believe) 2015, there was a verse that didn’t make the study. It’s a verse that many are using in regards to this silly doctrine. It’s Acts 26:22: ‘Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:’ People are getting tripped up on Paul saying ‘saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come.’ Paul defines what that is in verse 23: ‘That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.’ How do we reconcile this, when we know from Scripture that Paul said so much more? Those who hold to a ‘two sendings’ theology are saying that Paul never preached ‘mystery’ doctrine in Acts and use Acts 26:22 as one of their ‘pet’ verses.”

Hi, my brother! Thanks for bringing that to my attention. We will get right to addressing this most important matter. I am sure many are wondering how to handle this verse as well.

For those unfamiliar with “Acts 9/28 Hybrid Theology,” just be aware that it is a group of professing “Pauline dispensational Bible students” who attack and water down Paul’s special ministry in much the same way denominationalists do. They constantly mix Peter and Paul, the nation Israel with the Body of Christ. It is a very intricate and extremely confusing system that is certainly not—notice NOT!—of the God of the Bible. The system is nothing but the idle speculations of men parading as “grace teaching.” It is not pure grace teaching, and you will see that demonstrated shortly. By the way, as the brother mentioned in the opening question, a few years ago, we released a series of related Bible study videos (five) on YouTube and two online companion booklets. Please see the link at the end of this article to learn more about this “Acts 9/28 Hybrid Theology” system.

We would do well to begin in Romans 1:1-5: “[1] Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, 2 (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) [3] Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; [4] And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: [5] By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:”

Beyond any shadow of a doubt, there is only one Person in the universe named Jesus Christ. Of course, that God-Man had already been preached prior to the Apostle Paul’s conversion and ministry. To prove this, we can easily consult the Four Gospels, Matthew through John, as well as Acts chapters 1-8 (Saul/Paul was saved in chapter 9). Just as the God of the Bible was known to man prior to Paul, so the Son of God was known to man prior to Paul. As we will see later, this is the key to interpreting the verse in question.

Paul received directly from the risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ a special set of doctrine that the Bible calls “the Dispensation of the Grace of God” (Ephesians 3:2). Paul’s preaching of Jesus Christ is not a mere supplement, or an extension, of the 12 Apostles’ ministries. Pauline doctrine is designed to present the same Person Jesus Christ from a brand-new perspective. It was not another Person named Jesus Christ but rather the same Jesus Christ serving in a different capacity, bearing a new title, glorified in a new way. That is why we read about Paul saying “the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery(Romans 16:25). There is a secret aspect to Jesus Christ, and it is in the Pauline epistles, Romans through Philemon, alone that we see that secret brought to light (cf. Colossians 1:25-29; Ephesians 3:1-11; 1 Timothy 2:4-7; Titus 1:1-3).

The Lord Jesus dying was no secret in the “Old Testament.” You can read of Messiah being “cut off,” killed, in Daniel 9:26. Psalm 22:16 mentions them “piercing [His] hands and [His] feet.” Isaiah 53:8 says, “he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.” We can see Messiah dying in type as well—Abraham offering his son Isaac, the blood sacrifices of the Mosaic economy, Jonah expiring in the whale’s belly, and so on. Hence, 1 Corinthians 15:3 says, “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.” Jesus’ death (or suffering) was predicted by the Old Testament prophets: “[10] Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: [11] Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1 Peter 1:10-11).

As for the resurrection of Christ, it too was predicted in the Old Testament. “Christ… rose again the third day according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:4). Psalm 16:10-11 is one of the easiest examples to realize that the Old Testament prophets wrote of the resurrection centuries before it happened (cf. Acts 2:24-32): “[10] For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. [11] Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Jonah being resurrected after three days and three nights is another Old Testament hint of Messiah’s resurrection (Matthew 12:39-40). Abraham receiving Isaac to life was yet another picture of Christ being raised from the dead (Hebrews 11:17-19; cf. Genesis chapter 22).

Now, we return to your question about Paul’s “Acts” ministry. The unbelieving Jews in the Book of Acts traveled around and discredited Paul, portraying him as some evil religious leader, a fraud and a blasphemer (Acts 9:23-25; Acts 13:44-46; Acts 14:19; Acts 17:5; Acts 18:6; et cetera). However, (now we bring in Acts 26:22—your question), the Apostle defended himself by saying that he was actually preaching about the Person (Messiah) that their own Law and prophets foretold and exalted. They held Moses in such high regard, they valued the prophets, and Paul appealed to these works or texts they had accepted as genuine. For example, in Thessalonica, he used the Old Testament Scriptures (probably the timeline of Daniel 9:24-27) to prove to the local Jews that Jesus was Christ (Acts 17:1-3). Paul frequently quoted the Old Testament throughout his lengthy sermon in Acts chapter 13—see especially verses 27-41). As an aside, Jesus Christ Himself showed in the Old Testament Scriptures where He was predicted (Luke 24:44-46).

Reading Acts 26:22-23 again: “[22] Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: [23] That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.”

Friend, to your question about Acts 26:22, “How do we reconcile this, when we know from Scripture that Paul said so much more?” Indeed, the Apostle Paul taught a lot more than what Moses and the prophets wrote. Chiefly, he preached salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, apart from the Law of Moses. In Acts 13:38-39, Paul says: “[38] Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: [39] And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” Certainly, that message was not in the Law and the prophets. So, why did Paul declare that he was “saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come?”

What Paul was affirming in stating “saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come” (Acts 26:22-23) was that he was not preaching something 100 percent foreign to Scripture or the Jewish people. Jesus was Israel’s Messiah, He had suffered, He had died, and He had risen again—all in fulfillment of “Old Testament” prophecy. Paul had not invented any of that. He was not a liar or charlatan. Israel simply did not believe what their own prophets wrote!

“None other things” is specifically tripping people up, so it is necessary to address it now. The confusion is unnecessary. Let me give you a very simple illustration. Suppose someone shared some information with me, and I passed it on to you. I told you, “I am only telling you what they told me.” Does that mean that I told you literally everything they told me? Of course not. I did not quote them word-for-word, and I may have left out some details (for various reasons). My point in declaring to you “I am only telling you what they told me” is my way of proving my statements. I did not invent anything; I merely repeated the basic information so you would learn it. Now take this and apply it to Paul’s situation.

The Old Testament provided some proof of what Paul was preaching. Again, the death of Christ was prophesied. His resurrection was predicted. However, what did these events mean with respect to the Gentiles apart from Israel and her prophetic program? What were Calvary’s significance concerning the Church the Body of Christ and the heavenly places? We must come to the Apostle Paul to learn those truths. The bare minimum of Paul’s preaching—the cross of Christ—was found in the Old Testament. However, that is not all that Paul preached. If you want to think of it as him taking those basic facts and expanding upon them, think of it like that. Go back to Romans 1:1-5 (our opening passage). God had more to say about His Son than what was revealed in the Old Testament, and that is why Paul was saved and commissioned (back to Romans 1:1-5, remember).

As to the ridiculous idea that Paul did not preach mystery truth until after the Book of Acts, we are compelled to share the following. It is quite clear that Paul preached mystery truth throughout the Book of Acts, long before its closure in chapter 28. This can be easily demonstrated from the Scriptures (apart from the idle speculations of “Acts 9/28 Hybrid Theology”). Notice what we discover in Paul’s “Acts” epistles of Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, and 1 & 2 Thessalonians:

  • We read about the “mystery” of Israel’s blindness mentioned in Romans 11:26. Romans was written around chapter 20 of Acts. Israel’s blindness during the Dispensation of Grace was certainly known and preached during Acts. This was certainly not found in the Old Testament—it is part of the special revelation Jesus Christ gave to Paul. This was written during the Acts period.
  • There is the “mystery” of the Rapture, the gathering together of the Church the Body of Christ to Jesus Christ in heaven, spoken of in 1 Corinthians 15:51. First Corinthians was written around Acts chapters 19-20. Romans and 1 Corinthians were written before Paul arrived at Jerusalem in Acts 20:17 (see Romans 15:25-28 and 1 Corinthians 16:1-5). First Thessalonians 4:13-18 also refers to that secret coming of Christ. These were written during the Acts period.
  • Galatians 5:6 and Galatians 6:15 mention that there is no difference between circumcision (Jew) and uncircumcision (Gentile). This is mystery truth, not found outside of Paul’s ministry, and known during the Book of Acts. Galatians was likely Paul’s first epistle, written as early as chapter 16 or 17 of Acts. Again, these were written during the Acts period.
  • Paul refers to Satan’s lie program taking on a “mystery” form in order to mimic God’s mystery program operating during the Acts period (2 Thessalonians 2:7). Mystery truth is on Paul’s mind and in his teaching ministry during the Acts period.
  • We read about Paul knowing of the “mystery” and yet unable to make it known to the immature, carnal Christians in 1 Corinthians 2:6-8. Once more, this was written during the Acts period.

Also see:
» What is “Acts 9/28 Hybrid Theology?”
» Can you explain the 12 Apostles’ ministry between Acts 7-15?
» Can you explain Paul’s “Acts” ministry?

How did John’s converts “justify God?”

HOW DID JOHN’S CONVERTS “JUSTIFY GOD?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

How are we to handle Luke 7:29-30? “[29] And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. [30] But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.” What does it mean that they “justified God?” Is not God already righteous? Why did He need these people to “justify” Him? Let us search the Scriptures!

The idea of justification is “declare someone as innocent, righteous, or just.” Some people prefer to use the expression “just as if you never sinned.” This is a common idea of justification. However, there is another sense of “justify,” one that is, “show or prove to be right or reasonable.” This latter sense is how we are to view Luke 7:29-30. Notice again: “[29] And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. [30] But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.” What exactly was God right about?

Notice in the above passage that there is the “sinful crowd” (publicans, tax collectors) in verse 29 and the “religious crowd” (Pharisees and lawyers) in verse 30. You would think that the religious crowd would agree with God, right? Well, the Bible says they did not! You would think that the sinful crowd would disagree with God, right? Well, the Bible says they did not! The rank and file sinners in Israel recognized their sin problem, so they submitted to John’s water baptism. Why? They remembered a prophetic passage written centuries prior!

The Prophet Ezekiel had written in chapter 36 about 600 B.C.: “[24] For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. [25] Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. [26] A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.”

John’s water baptism was a ceremonial cleansing, an admission of guilt that Israel had broken the Old Covenant, commonly called the Mosaic Law, and followed idols instead of remaining faithful to JEHOVAH God. In stark contrast, the religious figured they were “good enough” and did not have anything to confess. Notice Luke 7:29-30 once more: “[29] And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. [30] But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.”

John’s water baptism is known in the Bible as “the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” It was the way whereby a believing Jew showed he had a change in mind, agreeing with God and disagreeing with his apostate brethren (nation Israel). Mark 1:4 says: “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” Luke 3:3 says: “And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;….” And Acts 13:24: “When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.” Finally, Acts 19:4: “Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”

Let it also be understood that water baptism did not cleanse sins any more than the blood of bulls and goats (Hebrews 10:4), but it did function as an outward testimony of the Jews who believed in Jesus as Messiah/Christ. Those who refused to participate in John’s water baptism were manifesting their unbelief, their rejection of God’s Word and the arrival of God’s earthly kingdom. Refer back to Luke 7:29-30: “[29] And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. [30] But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.”

Water baptism is the means whereby a Jew leaves apostate Israel and becomes a member of “the Little Flock.” Luke 12:31-32 says: “[31] But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. [32] Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” National Israel will be destroyed during the time of Jacob’s trouble—the seven-year Tribulation—but the true Israel, the Israel of God, will inherit and enter God’s earthly kingdom.

Matthew chapter 21 speaks to the destruction of national (unbelieving) Israel: “[42] Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? [43] Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. [44] And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. [45] And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.”

In light of the above, we should also understand that water baptism saves Israel from the future wrath of God (Second Coming judgment). Notice how John the Baptist made that very clear during his ministry in Matthew chapter 3: “[1] In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, [2] And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. [3] For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. [4] And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. [5] Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, [6] And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.

“[7] But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? [8] Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: [9] And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. [10] And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. [11] I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: [12] Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

Moreover, water baptism is a sign of the Davidic Covenant. About 1000 B.C., JEHOVAH God promised King David that one of his descendants would sit upon his throne forever. Second Samuel chapter 7 records God’s words to David: “[12] And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. [13] He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. [14] I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: [15] But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. [16] And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.”

God’s intention in forming the nation Israel was to make them a “kingdom of priests” as Exodus 19:5-6 says: “[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.” According to Exodus 29:4, one of the events necessary to ordain an Israeli priest into the ministry was to wash him in water: “And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash them with water.” With respect to God’s earthly kingdom, every believing Jew is to be a priest. John’s water baptism inducted believing Jews into the priesthood (to thereby reach Gentiles with God’s words—for example, see Zechariah 8:20-23).

CONCLUSION

When a Jew participated in John’s water baptism, that Jew admitted three concepts to be true (that is, agreeing with God’s assessment, proving Him right):

  1. The nation Israel was made up of sinners, and those sinners needed cleansing from their idolatry (Ezekiel 36:25).
  2. The nation Israel was made up of apostates, and believing Jews needed to join the Little Flock, the Israel of God, by participating in the water baptism (Luke 7:29-30).
  3. The nation Israel was to be God’s kingdom of priests, and the Jews needed to wash in water as the first step in qualifying as His priests (Exodus 19:5-6).

Also see:
» Do I need water baptism?
» Why was Jesus water baptized?
» Why did Paul water baptize?