Monthly Archives: June 2018

Can you explain John 1:17?

CAN YOU EXPLAIN JOHN 1:17?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). Yes, I can. In short, one is distant and the other is near!

The Jews were cruelly enslaved—in bondage to Egypt, sin, and Satan. God heard their cries for help, and He brought to mind the covenant He had made with their fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. After destroying Egypt with 10 plagues, defeating Pharaoh and his idols, the God of the Hebrews brought His people across the Red Sea with a mighty hand. Those miracles should have caused Israel to see they would have to rely on God rather than their religious works. It would be His works, not theirs.

In His grace, JEHOVAH God gave Israel everything she needed. They desired deliverance from Egypt; He gave it (Exodus 14:1–15:22). They wanted potable water; He provided it (15:23-26). They wanted food; He furnished them with manna and quail (16:1-36). They desired drinkable water; He offered it to them (17:1-7). He gave them military victory over their enemies, the Amalekites (17:8-16). After seeing God’s faithfulness to them, amazingly, the Jews overlooked it and pompously declared they could now be faithful to God. After all of their complaining and doubt in the previous chapters, they claimed they would now obey God!

We read the LORD’S words to Moses in Exodus 19:4-6: “[4] Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. [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.” After emphasizing what He did for them (verse 4), highlighting their weaknesses and deficiencies, He tested them (verses 5,6). “Do you want to be My people based on what you do?” Verse 8 says: “And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do.”

How will the LORD respond? How will this affect His relationship with Israel?

In Exodus 19:1-8, Israel accepted God’s Covenant of Law. They will be His people only if they obey His Law. How does God react? How is His relationship with Israel changed? Their wish is granted via an extremely frightening encounter with Him!

“[9] And the LORD said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the LORD. [10] And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes, [11] And be ready against the third day: for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai. [12] And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death: [13] There shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount.”

“[16] And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. [17] And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. [18] And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. [19] And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice.”

The dreadful Law of God will be implemented!

Hebrews chapter 12 summarizes the drastic change in how God dealt the Israelites when they rejected His grace and preferred a performance-based acceptance system: “[18] … the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, … blackness, and darkness, and tempest, [19] And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: [20] (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: [21] And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake: )….”

With the institution of the Mosaic Law (delineated in Exodus chapter 20), JEHOVAH God became distant and severe. If there was so much as an animal that touched Mount Sinai, God demanded it be killed! A man was to be put to death if he touched Sinai! Israel, up to this point, had not been fearful of God. They had seen God deal harshly with Egypt, but not with them. Now, they literally tremble as the Old Covenant is ratified!

Friend, the Law is not the sinner’s friend. No, the Law is not flawed: God’s Law is “holy, just, and good” (Romans 7:12). However, it is “weak through [our] flesh” (Romans 8:3). The Law “worketh wrath” (Romans 4:15). We cannot measure up to God’s righteous standards. Not only are our deeds evil; we, by nature, in heart, are evil (Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 7:11). The Law exposes our sinful nature and deeds: “For by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). “The strength of sin is the law” (1 Corinthians 15:56b). The Law only highlights our failures. It was intended to teach Israel they could not be God’s people based on their efforts! As long as they had a performance-based acceptance system, their religious works being the issue, God would always be distant, displeased, offended, and angry. They would need JEHOVAH God to institute a more advantageous, and personal, system.

John 1:17 highlights how the Law was dispensed from a distance. God did not speak directly to Israel on Mount Sinai when He issued and defined the Law. No, He instructed Moses to come up and meet with Him. Moses then descended and delivered the Law to the Israelites. The Jews were kept at a distance. We have neither time nor space to detail that with quotations, but you can refer to Exodus chapters 19-32.

In opening his Gospel Record of Christ’s earthly ministry, John the Apostle moved from the Law—a distant, cold, strict system—to something called “grace and truth.” Notice the contrasting conjunction “but:” “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” The Holy Spirit is actually highlighting the advantageous and new system that God will institute in Israel one day. To wit, John 1:17 is really demarcating two covenants—the “Old Covenant” (Law of Moses) and the “New Covenant” (Law of Messiah).

We remind ourselves of the Mosaic Law’s true purpose, Romans 3:19-20: “[19] Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them [Israel] who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world [Jews and Gentiles] may become guilty before God. [20] Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” The Old Covenant was never meant to be permanent: it was to serve one purpose. It was to show the whole world—every Jew, every Gentile—that they were sinners. There would be no argument or doubt, as God made it very clear. Religion and man’s efforts are not the answer! Grace and God’s efforts are the answer!

The Law was “given” by Moses, yes. But, grace and truth “came” by Jesus Christ. Unlike with the Old Covenant, God did not send something to Israel from afar. No, with the New Covenant, God came to Israel literally, physically, visibly, and personally.

Notice Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the LORD himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” When Jesus Christ came to Earth, specifically to Israel, He was their greatest sign. The JEHOVAH God who had dealt so frighteningly with Moses on Sinai when delivering the Law, had now revealed Himself by taking on a human body! Jesus, living among other Jews, was indeed “Emmanuel, God with us” (Matthew 1:23).

John 1:11 says, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” JEHOVAH God came to His own people, Israel, but they rejected Him. Moreover, they conspired with the Gentiles to kill Him (Psalm 2:1-3; Acts 4:23-28). Still, it was in God’s design to use man’s free will to accomplish His end. With man crucifying Christ, there would be shed blood, allowing the implementation of a new covenant for Israel. Please see Hebrews 8:8-13: “For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah….” “For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins(Romans 11:27—verse 26 identifies this as Christ’s Second Coming, yet future from our day).

Israel accumulated much wrath under the Old Covenant, but grace would cover it. Jeremiah 31:2 speaks of Israel’s redemption and restoration: “The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.” Zechariah 12:10 describes this Second Coming: “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications….” As does Acts 3:19-20: “[Israel] Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. And he shall send Jesus Christ….”

With Jesus Christ coming once to Israel to shed His blood, He will return to ratify the covenant that typifies for them “grace and truth.”

While we have merely scratched the surface, we conclude this Bible study by reading the context of John 1:17: “[1] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [2] The same was in the beginning with God…. [14] And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. [15] John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. [16] And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. [17] For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Israel did not need Law—hundreds of rules and regulations she could never keep. She needed grace, “grace for grace,” abounding grace—what God would do to make her His people (see verses 12,13).

Long before Israel demanded the Mosaic Law, God had promised her father Abraham that He would make of Abraham’s seed a nation of people for His name (see Genesis 12:1-3). The New Covenant qualifies Israel to receive the blessings of that Abrahamic Covenant. Moreover, that New Covenant cancels the sin debt accumulated under the Old. In the New Covenant, God puts His Spirit in the Jews and causes them to keep His laws. I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people (Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10). “And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them (Ezekiel 36:27).

We see here a glimpse of Israel functioning as God’s “kingdom of priests” in the Millennium, Christ’s Second Coming onward. Messiah’s Law is much stricter than the Mosaic Law (see Matthew chapters 5-7). However, the New Covenant, unlike the Old, provides Israel with forgiveness for her past transgressions and the ability (indwelling Holy Spirit) to never, ever to repeat them!

Also see:
» Why did Israel have to keep so many strange laws?
» Was the Law of Moses given by the LORD, or by angels?
» “Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?”

What is “shamefacedness?”

WHAT IS “SHAMEFACEDNESS?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

First Timothy 2:9: “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;….”

If we examine the word itself, we see two main parts—“shame” and “face.” Therefore, “shamefacedness” is the ability for one’s face to show shame, someone who can be bothered by things inappropriate. Strangely, it does not trouble some individuals to be vulgar and crude. They utter obscenities with ease, behaving in the most uncouth ways—even in public. This is all they know, as they grew up with such “normal” behavior. Thus, to them, it is outlandish to act polite and modest, proper and decent.

Women are the primary audience in 1 Timothy 2:9, although men should certainly be cautious about their conduct as well. When dealing with members of the opposite sex who are not our spouses, there should be restraint and discretion, bashfulness, or regard. There should be “shamefacedness,” especially as pertaining to how we dress.

By the way, the Greek word rendered “shamefacedness” in 1 Timothy 2:9 is aidos, found one other time in the King James Bible. It is in Hebrews 12:28, so translated “reverence:” “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:….” Whereas 1 Timothy 2:9 is respect toward others, Hebrews 12:28 is respect toward God.

Also see:
» Did King David engage in vulgar dancing?
» Should a woman lead a group in prayer?
» Should a Christian be polygamous—having multiple spouses?

Does Mark 16:18 teach that chemotherapy will not harm us?

DOES MARK 16:18 TEACH THAT CHEMOTHERAPY WILL NOT HARM US?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Recently, a friend who claims to have the “spiritual gift of healing” was telling me that Christians battling cancer could withstand the effects of chemotherapy because the Bible says we can drink any deadly thing and it will not hurt us. She cited Mark 16:18: “They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” We can endure cancer treatments because no deadly thing can harm us? Is that really what the verse is teaching?

The above scenario is just another example of the deception and confusion in the Charismatic Movement. There is no logic or sound Bible thinking in this religious system. Firstly, if God were still operating the gift of healing (which He is not), then why do we have cancer threatening our lives in the first place? Before we claim the “drink any deadly thing” as referring to chemotherapy, we need to read the whole verse. “They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” If the “drinking any deadly thing” part of the verse is to be claimed, why not also follow the “lay hands on the sick and they shall recover” portion? See, we are following bits and pieces of verses, not entire verses. If God has given us the ability to heal the sick, including those stricken with cancer, why do they have to endure the poison of chemotherapy at all? Would not their cancer be healed, and be totally nondependent upon drugs anyway? It does not make any sense; it is nothing but a terrible mishandling of the Scriptures.

Secondly, the verse says that “drinking” deadly things will not harm Jesus’ audience. Chemotherapy does not necessarily involve drinking anything. The drugs can be administered on the skin, as an injection, or as an infusion. According to the United States National Cancer Institute, chemotherapy is: “Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. Chemotherapy may be given by mouth, injection, or infusion, or on the skin, depending on the type and stage of the cancer being treated. It may be given alone or with other treatments, such as surgery, radiation therapy, or biologic therapy.” In that case, if you have the gift of healing, chemotherapy is totally unnecessary! (Dear friends, you can only fake it so long before reality catches up with you.)

The Lord Jesus Christ spoke of “drinking any deadly thing” in light of a future period. Mark chapter 16 is the commission Israel’s Little Flock will carry out during the seven-year Tribulation. These various signs and wonders are not to or about us as members of the Church the Body of Christ. “The Jews require a sign,” 1 Corinthians 1:22 says. However, we are not Jews. Never once does our Apostle Paul, in the Books of Romans through Philemon, tell us that drinking a deadly thing will not hurt us. That is because Mark 16:18 is not God’s Word to or about us. Mark chapter 16 has a special place on the Bible timeline and it not our Dispensation of Grace. It is Israel’s end-time commission. Confusion and duplicity will result when we fail to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Revelation chapter 8 explains why Jesus spoke of drinking deadly things: “[8] And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; [9] And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed. [10] And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; [11] And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.”

In His righteous judgment, God will poison the waters—particularly in the Middle East, and especially the Mediterranean Sea—during the future seven-year Tribulation. As per Mark 16:18, Israel’s believing remnant will be able to survive this lack of potable water. It will be a sign that they are believers in Jesus Christ. They will be able to drink the poisoned waters and it will not hurt them, exactly as the Lord Jesus said! Friend, do you see how much more sense the Bible makes if we leave religious tradition out of it and just let the Scriptures interpret themselves? The commission in Mark chapter 16 has nothing to do with us.

Also see:
» Is a Christian a “poor testimony” for taking medication?
» What about modern-day “faith healing?”
» Should I “speak in tongues?”

Why did my Christian loved one not share the Gospel with me when I was unsaved?

WHY DID MY CHRISTIAN LOVED ONE NOT SHARE THE GOSPEL WITH ME WHEN I WAS UNSAVED?

by Shawn Brasseaux

First Corinthians 15:3-4 says: “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” This is “the Gospel of the Grace of God” (Acts 20:24). As grace believers, we know it and trust it. But, why did we not hear this earlier from Christian loved ones?

We have encountered this question more than once. Perhaps, dear friend, it is true of you and it has bothered you for such a long time. Undoubtedly, it is quite a troubling matter, and you need peace about it. Assuming that you have trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, maybe you look back in time to when you were a lost person. Perhaps you recall Christian relatives and friends who never shared the Gospel with you. If they were saved, why did they never tell you how to be saved (have your sins forgiven and a home in Heaven)? Did they not care enough about you to share the Gospel of Grace with you? Were they apathetic that you were headed to that fiery eternal destination of the Devil and his angels? How could they be so unloving?

This author cannot answer those questions, as they (and God) alone know what was in their heart. We should give them the benefit of the doubt, that there was no ill will on their part. We will assume that they loved and cared for you, and they wanted you to go to Heaven, but had great difficulties they (sadly) never overcame. Their flesh was in control, rather than the indwelling Holy Spirit. If they are gone on to Heaven, then let it go, dear Christian friend. Put it under the blood of Christ. It will never be an issue when you meet them again in the third heaven. If they are alive, still here on Earth, forgive them anyway. Put it under the blood of Christ. Leave it be. Rejoice that you are now saved, and they are saved.

Now, we will address your question. Three reasons (though there may be more) can be offered as to why Christian loved ones did not share the Gospel of Grace with you when you were a lost person. This article will delineate those explanations.

1. THEY DID NOT KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT THE BIBLE TO WITNESS TO YOU (OR ANYONE ELSE)

Unfortunately, this is where so many Christians are. They should be teachers, but have yet to grasp even the most basic ideas of Christianity. Religious tradition has so warped their minds. They are spiritually immature because they have not followed God’s design for the edification of the believer. They cannot function according to God’s grace, for they have not concentrated on the Pauline epistles, Romans through Philemon. They are too afraid to approach anyone because they have not become skilled in God’s Word.

The nation Israel was in a similar, pathetic predicament. She was utterly clueless concerning God’s Word to her, and thus was unable to share those truths with the Gentiles (nations). There are many in the Church the Body of Christ who have never learned this most tragic lesson from Israel’s ancient history.

The Book of Hebrews, chapter 5, says of Israel: “[11] Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. [12] For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. [13] For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. [14] But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

The solution to being ignorant of the Gospel of Grace is to go read Romans chapters 1-5 in the Bible. This is your greatest asset in not repeating their mistakes!!

2. THEY EXPECTED YOU TO SEE CHRIST LIVING IN THEM

This can be called “pursuing the evangelistic lifestyle.” The idea here is not to be express or direct in sharing the Gospel of Grace. They refused to admonish or offend unsaved relatives participating in the sins of the flesh (worldliness) and/or the sins of the spirit (religion). They wanted “peace in the family,” even if it meant not sharing the Gospel. While there is some sincerity here, it is still no excuse for being silent about the Gospel.

We should encourage all to come to God by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, but they do oftentimes refuse. It is then that we should stop, or we run the risk of forcing it on them and denying them of free will. At this point, then we should just let them see our Christian conduct. However, the “allow-them-to-see-Christ-living-in-you” approach should be used only as the last resort. We should attempt to verbally share the Gospel with them first, and then (and only then) if they refuse to hear, at least they can see Christ living in us. But, to just approach them on the basis of “evangelistic living,” God has not called us to do that. Second Timothy 4:2 says, “Preach the word!” It is not enough just to “live” the Gospel. We must share it with words!! Preach the Gospel!!

After all, remember, the world religions have their “holy living.” Unless you speak the words of the living God, salvation verses, people will not know the name of Jesus Christ. They cannot know Him or what He did for them at Calvary unless we speak up! We can live a good life, but unless we share in words the Gospel of Grace that underlies that life, our good life may appear as nothing but self-righteousness. There must be a clear Gospel preached too! Preach the Word!!!

3. THEY BELIEVED WITNESSING WAS “THE PREACHER’S JOB” (THUS, THEY MAY HAVE BROUGHT YOU TO CHURCH WITH THEM)

Frankly, this is nothing but laziness on the Christian’s part. Christians do not want to share the Bible, especially the Gospel, because they refuse to step out of their comfort zone. It is “too much work” to lead a lost soul to Christ. They would rather let someone else do it—namely, the preacher. They take people to church buildings for people at church to share the Gospel. This is sad to say, but it is true, even of genuine Christians. They simply do not understand (but we hope they do care) the gravity of the situation: their unsaved loved ones are ever so close to instantly dying and passing off into a lost eternity! Alas, it too requires “too much effort” to spend even five minutes turning pages of the Bible to present a clear Gospel message to a soul hanging by a mere thread over the eternal flames of a holy God’s righteous judgment against sin!!!

CONCLUSION

Dear Christian friends, may we be skilled in presenting the Gospel of Grace (Romans chapters 1-5)!

May we be bold in sharing that Gospel of Grace with words… even if it means upsetting loved ones!

May we be faithful in proclaiming that Gospel of Grace ourselves, knowing that it is the most serious matter in all the universe!

There is no excuse for ignorance! There is no excuse for shyness! There is no excuse for lethargy! Learn from these mistakes! Do not repeat them!

Also see:
» How long should I keep witnessing to the same person?
» Can we witness “too much” to family members?
» Should we hate the denominational people who misled us?

What if someone asks me a Bible question I cannot answer?

WHAT IF SOMEONE ASKS ME A BIBLE QUESTION I CANNOT ANSWER?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Friend, the best answer to give when confronted with difficult Bible questions is to simply say, “I do not have an answer.” It is okay to admit you cannot answer a question; that does not mean that you are a failure of a Christian or a poor Bible student. Some matters of Bible, religion, and theology are quite difficult—even the so-called “scholars” struggle at times.

As Bible-believing Christians, believers in Jesus Christ, Bible students, we should at least be able to answer basic questions. It is an extremely sad commentary, but the average Christian cannot even present a clear Gospel message to save one poor, lost soul from sins and Hell. Such Christians need not worry about dealing with advanced questions—they have yet to learn the fundamentals of Christianity!

We can save ourselves from such ignorance by stop relying on and mindlessly quoting preachers and commentators, and actually go read the Holy Bible for ourselves. The most basic doctrine for this the Dispensation of Grace is the Book of Romans, the first Book Paul wrote as found in the Bible. In order to prepare for answering the most basic Bible questions, we should start reading and studying Romans. The first five chapters present a clear and concise Gospel of Grace. Chapters 6-8 are about the Christian life. Chapters 9-11 describe the nation Israel’s past, present, and future statuses. Chapters 12-16 outline the doctrines of grace as applied to specific, daily life situations.

When answering questions, we want to avoid the appearance of being “know-it-alls.” Too much can be said about a particular matter, so we need to be careful to use our words in moderation. Yet, we should adequately cover the topic and address the question as fully as possible. Some themes are more in-depth than others and should be answered accordingly. They require great thought, diligent study, and much prayer to answer. Hence, their answers will be lengthy.

Moreover, we should tell that inquiring individual that we will do some studying to look for an answer. Also, we should encourage him or her to study too. The Scriptures rightly divided should be consulted first, although other “holy books” will have to be accessed if the question involves the beliefs of denominations and/or world religions. This is a much better answer than, “I do not know the answer, so do not bother me with it. Ask someone else.”

We should take this opportunity to learn something new from the Bible. Hearing and considering questions from people will help us grow in our understanding. If after much research we cannot answer the question, then we can ask a trusted pastor or Bible teacher friend. If we still cannot find an answer, then we can finally reply in all honesty, “I have looked for an answer but I cannot find one. Maybe one day, I will find something. For now, I will have to keep studying.” This should suffice the inquirer. (By the way, if you are ever confronted by a difficult Bible question, we have over 500 Bible question-and-answer articles on our website: https://www.forwhatsaiththescriptures.org.)

Here is one other thing to bear in mind. While we the saints should show interest in answering questions, we need to careful to avoid questions that are obviously silly or irrelevant. There is no profit in them, and such inquiries are posed in order to generate a worthless religious argument. For example, some people can get really bogged down with questions about obscure Old Testament verses. While trying to grasp the whole Bible is a noble goal, it is impossible for us to learn Israel’s doctrine to the degree we ascertain Pauline doctrine. We will not understand everything outside of Romans through Philemon, so people who persist in “majoring on the minors” should be discouraged from such behavior. Bible Q&A sessions are not for entertainment or attention-getting!

Second Timothy chapter 2: “[23] But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. [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:
» Should Bible questions be discouraged?
» Has God’s Word failed?
» How long should I keep witnessing to the same person?

“Made his arrows bright… consulted with images… looked in the liver?”

“MADE HIS ARROWS BRIGHT… CONSULTED WITH IMAGES… LOOKED IN THE LIVER?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

What is going on in Ezekiel 21:21? “For the king of Babylon stood at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination: he made his arrows bright, he consulted with images, he looked in the liver.” A strange verse indeed!

This passage features three methods of Babylonian divination, or discerning divine (pagan idol) guidance and foretelling the future. They are as follows:

  1. Making arrows bright — Also known as “belomancy,” it involved shaking marked or painted arrows in a quiver. The arrows were then thrown down. Finally, their pattern was used to determine the deity’s will. It was similar to casting lots. Think of the modern-day “drawing of straws” or the game known as “pick-up sticks.” We see another type of belomancy in 2 Kings 13:15-19, although this is JEHOVAH God’s prophet and not done under pagan/heathen circumstances.
  2. Consulting the images — This was the method of asking teraphim (small, household statues or gods) for advice. According to heathen superstitions, these inanimate (dead) idols were assumed to talk and relay information to their worshippers (Psalm 115:4-8; Psalm 135:15-18; Isaiah 8:19-20; Habakkuk 2:18-19; 1 Corinthians 12:2).
  3. Looking in the liver — Also known as “hepatoscopy,” it was the examination of an animal’s liver, particularly a sheep’s liver, when the carcass was sacrificed in pagan worship services. A special priest inspected the liver’s shape and arrangement, and used a catalog to interpret a certain prediction (thus arriving at the will of the gods).

The King of Babylon (in this context, Nebuchadnezzar) used such practices as ways to know what action his gods would have him to take—mainly, which area to conquer. Regardless of what Nebuchadnezzar would do though, JEHOVAH God would still accomplish His will for the nation Israel. Wicked Jerusalem would be invaded, and the LORD God evidently influenced Nebuchadnezzar’s divination to get him to do what He wanted (attack Jerusalem).

With all that in mind, read Ezekiel 21:18-24 now: “[18] The word of the LORD came unto me again, saying, [19] Also, thou son of man, appoint thee two ways, that the sword of the king of Babylon may come: both twain shall come forth out of one land: and choose thou a place, choose it at the head of the way to the city. [20] Appoint a way, that the sword may come to Rabbath of the Ammonites, and to Judah in Jerusalem the defenced. [21] For the king of Babylon stood at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination: he made his arrows bright, he consulted with images, he looked in the liver. [22] At his right hand was the divination for Jerusalem, to appoint captains, to open the mouth in the slaughter, to lift up the voice with shouting, to appoint battering rams against the gates, to cast a mount, and to build a fort. [23] And it shall be unto them as a false divination in their sight, to them that have sworn oaths: but he will call to remembrance the iniquity, that they may be taken. [24] Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye have made your iniquity to be remembered, in that your transgressions are discovered, so that in all your doings your sins do appear; because, I say, that ye are come to remembrance, ye shall be taken with the hand.”

Also see:
» What were “Urim” and “Thummim?”
» Were the 12 Apostles wrong in choosing Matthias?
» What is God’s will for my Christian life?

Why did the Lord Jesus tell parables?

WHY DID THE LORD JESUS TELL PARABLES?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Was it to make the truth easier to understand—as regularly assumed? Or, could it have actually been to make God’s Word more difficult to perceive? Rather than speculating, we can simply read Jesus Christ’s own words. Would not Jesus Himself know His reasons for speaking in parables? Friends, let us have hearts willing to submit to and believe His words.

Years ago, my family and I attended a local denominational assembly where the preacher read a few verses and then spent the rest of the hour telling stories and jokes to illustrate. When I asked him why he was conducting his ministry thus, he said he was following Jesus’ pattern. He told stories because Jesus did; the preacher was trying to make the Bible easier to understand. Again, this is a common idea about Christ’s parables, but is it correct?

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

As we saw in verse 10, “And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?” The followers of Jesus Christ noticed the drastic change in His preaching. Now, He was no longer speaking in plain language. Why? Instead of wondering, we will allow Jesus Christ to answer the question posed to Him. Would it not be safe to assume that He knew why He was preaching in parables?

The Lord Jesus replied in verse 13: “Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.” The Lord said He spoke in parables in order for His audience not to understand Him. He was not trying to make the truth easier to grasp; He was making it more difficult. They could hear the sound of His voice, His words, but there was no comprehension. Why? Does not God want people to understand His Word? Why is Jesus not interested in giving His audience spiritual light? Is it not unfair that He is hiding the truth from them? Keep reading, friend.

Christ was 100 percent reasonable, totally righteous, in preaching in parables: “[14] And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: [15] For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”

Jesus here is quoting Isaiah 6:9-10. In the Prophet Isaiah’s day over 700 years prior, there was extensive unbelief in the nation Israel. They did not want to hear God’s Word. Divine judgment would fall on them so that, although they would still hear the words of the prophets, they would not be able to understand. They had rejected spiritual light to such a great extent that now God would leave them right where they wanted to be. How terrible… but that was what they preferred! Jesus told parables to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy.

There was a second reason Jesus used parables. He said in verse 15 of Matthew chapter 13, “this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed.” Their heart has grown stupefied or callous—uncaring and insensitive. They have not only rejected God’s Word up to that point, they are vehemently and violently refusing it. They do not want to see or hear the truth! Back in Matthew chapter 12, we read about the first time unbelieving Israel plots to take Christ’s life: “[14] Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him. [15] But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; [16] And charged them that they should not make him known:….” Again, they are beyond reason; God has no reason to approach them with the plain truth anymore.

Friend, we have to understand that the Lord Jesus did not begin His earthly ministry with parables. In Matthew chapter 13, we are perhaps two years into His ministry. Parables were not meant to make spiritual truths easier to understand— otherwise, Jesus would have started His ministry using parables. He waited a few years to switch to parables because Israel had reached the point of persistently refusing simple truths. His extensive teaching in plain language had been disregarded for a long period of time. Now, judgment would fall on (tenaciously) unbelieving, (willfully) unsaved Israel.

Read Matthew 13:12 again: “For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.” Whatever truths they had perceived from hearing Jesus’ words over the years, that spiritual knowledge would now be taken from them. They heard and understood but refused to believe. Now, with the introduction of the parables, their spiritual understanding would be completely removed. However, those who had believed God’s revelation thus far, they would receive more enlightenment. The Lord Jesus would go on to show His disciples how to interpret His parables; national Israel would remain in the spiritual darkness they wanted.

CONCLUSION

According to Matthew 13:10-15, the Lord Jesus spoke in parables for two reasons:

  1. Jesus told parables to fulfill Isaiah 6:9-10: “And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.” The unbelief in Israel that existed in Isaiah’s time remained in Jesus’ day. With the parables now employed, the unsaved Jews would continue hearing God’s words but they would no longer have ability to comprehend.
  2. Parables were God’s judgment on unbelieving Israel. Parables were not meant to make the truth plainer, but to make it more difficult. God had given them plenty of opportunity to learn but they had openly opposed and disallowed His words. Matthew 13:11-12 says: “He answered and said unto them [His disciples], Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them [the unbelievers in Israel] it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.” Israel had overwhelmingly refused to hear God’s simple words during the first half of Christ’s earthly ministry. When they began to violently refuse to hear, but rather began to plot to take Christ’s life, God turned them over to the spiritual ignorance they desired. The parables would erase whatever spiritual insight they had (and yet had refused).

Also see:
» Why did Jesus forbid others from preaching that He was Christ?
» Has God’s Word failed?
» If dispensational Bible study is true, how come so few believe it?

Was Luke 21:20-24 fulfilled in A.D. 70?

WAS LUKE 21:20-24 FULFILLED IN A.D. 70?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Friend, if you are familiar with prophecy preachers and teachers, you will have invariably heard the recurrent reference to A.D. 70. Is this year significant in Scripture, as so frequently claimed? We are not interested in theological speculations or religious traditions. “For what saith the Scriptures?”

Luke 21:20-24 is perhaps the passage most commonly utilized to uphold the “A.D. 70” position: “[20] And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. [21] Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. [22] For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. [23] But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. [24] And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”

Dr. Scofield attached the following footnote to verse 20:

“Verses 20, 24 are not included in the report of the Olivet discourse as given by Matthew and Mark. Two sieges of Jerusalem are in view in that discourse. Luke 21. 20-24 refers to the siege by Titus, A.D. 70, when the city was taken, and verse 24 literally fulfilled. But that siege and its horrors but adumbrate the final siege at the end of this age, in which ‘the great tribulation’ culminates. At that time the city will be taken, but delivered by the glorious appearing of the Lord (Rev. 19. 11-21). The references in Mt. 24. 15-28, Mk. 13. 14-26 are to the final tribulation siege; Lk. 21. 20-24 to the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus. In Luke the sign is the compassing of Jerusalem by armies (Lk. 21. 20); in Matthew (24. 15) and Mark (13. 14) the sign is the abomination in the holy place (2 Thes. 2. 4).”

Is Luke 21:20-24 in fact, as commonly assumed, a reference to Titus attacking Jerusalem in A.D. 70? While this author once held that view, he has since studied his Bible to see that A.D. 70 is not found here or anywhere else in Scripture. In this study, he will offer his four reasons for abandoning the “A.D. 70 interpretation.”

1. WILL ISRAEL BE DISPERSED NEAR THE END OF THE TRIBULATION, JUST PRIOR TO CHRIST’S SECOND COMING?

The “A.D. 70 proponent” says: “No. Israel was scattered in the A.D. 70 invasion of Jerusalem, but will not be dispersed at the end of the Tribulation. Since Luke 21:24 says Israel will be ‘led away captive into all nations,’ the verse must be speaking of A.D. 70.” (What Scripture can this individual offer to verify his assertion that Israel will not be scattered in the Tribulation? This author knows of no such verse.)

In contrast, this author replies, “Yes, Israel will indeed be scattered at the end of the Tribulation.” Zechariah 14:1-4 says: “[1] Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. [2] For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. [3] Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. [4] And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.”

Verse 4 is obviously Christ’s Second Coming, when Jesus Himself literally stands in wrath and judgment on the Mount of Olives (cf. Acts 1:9-12, especially verse 11). Verse 3 of Zechariah chapter 14 is the Battle of Armageddon, which is paired with the Second Coming. Verse 2, of course, would also be tied to that Second Coming.

What exactly do we find in Zechariah 14:2? “For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.” Does this not resemble Luke 21:24? “And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” There is war in Jerusalem, the city is captured, the houses are robbed, the women are sexually assaulted and enslaved, half of the city is taken away captive, and a remnant survives and remains in the city. Zechariah and Luke are prophesying the same event!

In light of the above analyses, the “A.D. 70 interpretation” of Luke 21:20-24 only complicates the Bible. On the basis of Zechariah 14:1-4, we would be forced to infer that the Second Coming occurred in A.D. 70. Did it? The preterists say yes, but this author disagrees. He abandoned the A.D. 70 interpretation once he saw these dangerous implications. It is totally inconceivable that Jesus Christ returned in A.D. 70 and fulfilled all Bible prophecy. That was 2,000 years ago, and Satan is working mightily on Earth even now. Israel is still fighting to keep the Promised Land from domineering Gentiles. She is still without her Davidic Kingdom. The curse of sin has yet to be lifted. Is this as good as it will get? Has Christ returned?! (No!) When Christ returns to our planet—yes, that Second Coming is future—we can be absolutely sure all of these problems will be solved. This is how we know Christ did not return in A.D. 70.

2. WHERE DOES LUKE 21:21 FIT ON THE BIBLE TIMELINE? A.D. 70? OR IS IT YET FUTURE?

Read verse 21: “Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.” According to Matthew chapter 24 (verses 14-21), this will be in the midst of Daniel’s 70th Week. Luke 21:21 must be future because this verse is true during the Antichrist’s reign. Otherwise, we entertained the idea that the Antichrist came in the A.D. first century and forced Jews to flee from Jerusalem then. So, if that is the case, is there a future Daniel’s 70th Week and a future Antichrist? Or, as the preterists argue, is all now past? Inserting A.D. 70 in the Scripture here just adds difficulties… needless snags that could be avoided.

3. WAS “ALL” OF BIBLE PROPHECY FULFILLED IN A.D. 70?

Verse 22 of Luke chapter 21 says, “For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.” Were all Bible prophecies fulfilled in A.D. 70? As briefly noted earlier, the preterists believe that. Furthermore, if we say Luke 21:20-24 applies to A.D. 70, we have no other conclusion to reach but to agree with them—that all prophecy was fulfilled in A.D. 70. Was it? Be consistent, dear friend. Do not split up the passage; we do not have liberty to do that. Friend, we cannot have it both ways. Either all four verses are future from us, or all four are history from us.

4. LUKE 21:23 SPEAKS OF GOD’S WRATH ON ISRAEL, YET THERE IS NO WRATH IN THE DISPENSATION OF GRACE!

Jesus Christ in His earthly ministry never, ever spoke of A.D. 70. Verse 23 foretells wrath: “But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.”

There is absolutely no wrath of God being displayed in this the Dispensation of Grace. Israel as a nation does not exist in our dispensation. She is fallen, temporarily blinded; it serves no purpose to judge her when her program is not even operating right now! Read Romans chapters 9-11, friend, and you will see the dispensational boundaries that cannot be crossed. “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). Keeping prophecy and mystery separate is absolutely critical to our understanding the Holy Bible.

Romans chapter 11: “[11] I say then, Have they [Israel] stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. [12] Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?…. [25] For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. [26] And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:….”

Second Corinthians chapter 5 characterizes this the Dispensation of Grace: “[17] Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. [18] And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; [19] To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. [20] Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. [21] For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

Paul is “the apostle of the Gentiles [all nations]” (Romans 11:13). As God’s spokesman to all nations, Paul was led on 13 occasions to write, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2; Colossians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:2; 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4; Philemon 3). Each of Paul’s epistles greets the world (including fallen Israel) with “grace and peace” (opposite “wrath and war”). Again, 2 Corinthians 5:19: God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.” Because of Calvary, God is not angry at nations today. He is being kind to them!

Concerning “the Dispensation of the Grace of God” (Ephesians 3:2), God’s attitude toward all nations is “grace and peace.” There is no Law system operating today as in Israel’s program. Israel’s Law system was simply to prove that God would have to save mankind according to His grace, not man’s religious efforts. Now, He is manifesting His grace (unmerited favor) to mankind in a very special way today—the soul salvation found in Jesus Christ’s shed blood. In the Dispensation of Grace, God is freely and unconditionally offering the nations (including Israel) salvation through Jesus Christ. God is longsuffering, and has been for 2,000 years, for the people of the world to respond in faith. Once they trust His Son, He permanently reconciles with them individually.

Again, through the cross of Christ, God is offering to all nations—all the world—a chance to be reconciled with Him. He has suspended Israel’s special status, that all nations approach Him on an equal basis. They can come as individuals (faith in Christ alone) and join the Church the Body of Christ. This began with Paul’s salvation in Acts chapter 9, and carries on even now. It was true in A.D. 70, which shows us that God could not have poured out wrath on Israel (Jerusalem) in A.D. 70. Luke 21:20-24 applies to a future time, a period after our Dispensation of Grace, when God will pour out His wrath on sinners! Until then, Paul’s salvation is the pattern: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting” (1 Timothy 1:15-16).

CONCLUSION

Based on the aforementioned Bible verses, what are to believe about A.D. 70 and Luke 21:20-24? Does the Bible speak of A.D. 70 at all?

  1. Israel being scattered is not limited to A.D. 70. According to Zechariah 14:1-4, there will be a dispersion of Israel just before the Second Coming of Christ. If the scattering of Israel in Luke 21:24 is A.D. 70, that leaves open the possibility that the Second Coming occurred 2,000 years ago as well. This is exactly what the preterists believe, but this author rejects that postulation entirely. In fact, we know that Luke 21:24 is speaking of Israel’s dispersion just before the Second Coming because verses 25-28 are the Second Coming and its precursors. A.D. 70 is not in view in Luke 20:21-24.
  2. Israel fleeing to the mountains in Luke 21:21 is yet future because the companion verses Matthew 24:15-21 and Mark 13:14-19 are also future (the Antichrist desecrating the Jerusalem Temple). Luke 21:20-24 is entirely forthcoming—none of it was fulfilled in A.D. 70. Furthermore, despite what people say about Luke 21:24 supposedly pointing to A.D. 70, its companion verses (verses 21-23) look 2,000 years into the future… to a time even beyond our day. A.D. 70 cannot be inserted here.
  3. Luke 21:23 allows only “all” prophecies to be fulfilled—yet, “all things” were not fulfilled in A.D. 70. Or, if we believe Luke 21:24 was fulfilled in A.D. 70, then we make ourselves vulnerable to saying all of the passage (including the Second Coming and its signs in verses 25-28) was fulfilled in A.D. 70. Was all Bible prophecy fulfilled in A.D. 70? If not, then Luke 21:23 says verse 24 was not fulfilled in A.D. 70 either.
  4. The most glaring error in saying Luke 21:24 was fulfilled in A.D. 70 is to insert the prophetic program into the mystery program. We have the awkward transition from mystery to prophecy and back to mystery again. The Dispensation of Grace (mystery program) is operating with Paul’s ministry in Acts, but it would have to give way to the prophetic program in A.D. 70 so Jesus’ words in Luke 21:24 can be fulfilled. We now have Jesus in His earthly ministry predicting an event in the Dispensation of Grace, which weakens the “secret” emphasis of said dispensation. Mystery somehow (?) returned after A.D. 70, which is where we find ourselves today. If all prophecy has been fulfilled, then the prophetic program is permanently terminated instead of temporarily interrupted.

If the “A.D. 70 interpretation” stands, unanswerable confusion results. There is no smooth narrative in the Bible passages. Two attacks of Jerusalem are not in view in the Olivet Discourse of Matthew chapter 24, Mark chapter 13, and Luke chapter 21. These verses look toward one attack of Jerusalem future from us—just prior to the Second Coming of Christ. In no way would Jesus in His earthly ministry speak of an event that would happen in the Dispensation of Grace. Jesus Christ would never reveal the Dispensation of Grace in His earthly ministry because that information would be kept secret until He revealed it to Paul (Ephesians 3:1-11).

While much more could be said, this author believes the dangers of “A.D. 70” have been underscored enough that this study can now conclude. A.D. 70 has nothing to do with anything in the Bible and the Bible has nothing to do with A.D. 70.

Also see:
» Are we “doom and gloom” prophecy believers?
» What is the Dispensation of Grace?
» What do you mean—“the prophetic program” and “the mystery program?”

Why did Naaman want some of Israel’s soil?

WHY DID NAAMAN WANT SOME OF ISRAEL’S SOIL?

by Shawn Brasseaux

For those unfamiliar with him, Naaman appears in 2 Kings chapter 5. He was what we would call a proselyte—a Gentile convert to Judaism (Israel’s religion).

Captain of the Syrian army, Naaman (a Gentile, non-Jew), is “a mighty man in valour [courage, heroism]” and “a leper” (suffering from a skin disease) (verse 1). When Naaman hears of a prophet (Elisha) in Israel who can heal him of his disease, the king of Syria permits Naaman to visit the land of Israel (verses 2-9). Naaman arrives at Elisha’s home to hear some rather strange advice: he is to wash in the (filthy) Jordan River seven times and be healed of JEHOVAH (verses 10,11). Naaman questions, “Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage” (verse 12). Upset and disappointed, Naaman refuses to go to Jordan.

A servant of Naaman reasons with him, encouraging him to obey God’s Word through Elisha (verse 13). Naaman finally goes to the Jordan River, still thinking Israel’s God is quite bizarre. “Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (verse 14).

Naaman, utterly shocked, returns to give Elisha a gift, but the prophet refuses (verses 15,16). Representative of the few Gentiles who have faith in Israel’s God, Naaman confesses, “Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel.” Earlier, recall that Naaman said Syria’s rivers were better than all of Israel’s bodies of waters (verse 12). After his healing, Naaman recognized JEHOVAH, Israel’s God, was the one true God. He learned that the land of Israel was unique because the God of Israel was incomparable. In fact, he asked if he could take two loads of Israel’s holy soil back home to Syria!

We continue reading in the chapter: “[17] And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules’ burden of earth? for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the LORD. [18] In this thing the LORD pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon thy servant in this thing.”

Evidently, Naaman, having spent time with Jewish people (the little Jewess of verses 2-4; the prophet Elisha, and his servant; et cetera), learned a few things from the Mosaic Law (Israel’s Bible). Naaman understood that Israel’s God was the one true God, and came to see that the gods of his native Syria were worthless idols. Therefore, he promised to worship Israel’s God alone. Why did Naaman want some of the soil of Palestine though?

Evidently, Naaman requested some of Israel’s soil to follow verse 24 of the twentieth chapter of Exodus. Notice Exodus chapter 20: “[23] Ye shall not make with me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold. [24] An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee. [25] And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.” Although Naaman lived far away in Syria, he had converted to JEHOVAH God. Obeying Moses, he took some Palestinian soil back to Syria in order to build an altar of earth to Israel’s God. It would be on Israel’s soil—though in a foreign land—that Naaman would sacrifice to the LORD God.

NOTE: Dear friends, I recently re-taught and re-uploaded three videos from the 2017 Slidell Grace Bible Conference. Sessions 2, 3, and 8 are now on YouTube as they were originally meant to be all those months ago. The first two sessions are two hours total on Daniel’s 70th Week. The last session deals with The Millennium. I hope and pray that these studies will help you better understand Bible prophecy dispensationally delivered! You are welcome! Click here for the playlist. 🙂

Also see:
» What does “a land flowing with milk and honey” mean?
» How were Gentiles saved before our Dispensation of Grace?
» Why did Israel have to keep so many strange laws?

Do we live in the “Church Age?”

DO WE LIVE IN THE “CHURCH AGE?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

The answer is an emphatic “NO.”

An age is a period of time. Regardless of the age, God has always “called out” a people from the world’s population. (The Greek word rendered “church” in our New Testament Scriptures is “ekklesia/ecclesia,” with “ek-” meaning “out” and “kaleo” defined as “call.”) Throughout human history, the God of the Bible has constantly maintained a small group of believers (servants) He has “called out” from ordinary mankind. Consequently, every age can be appropriately considered a “church age.” Although a term frequently used by dispensationalists, this author can no longer agree with the expression “Church Age.” Here are the verses that helped him correct his understanding, and toss out his own traditions of men.

THE MOSAIC CHURCH

Stephen preached in Acts chapter 7: “[37] This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. [38] This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us: [39] To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt,….”

The Bible calls the nation Israel under Moses’ leadership “the church in the wilderness.” JEHOVAH God had “called them out of” (ekklesia) Egyptian bondage, for He intended them to serve Him in His land (the Promised Land). He delivered them from Pharaoh’s captivity and separated them from all the peoples of the world. This is a national separation.

THE MESSIANIC CHURCH

Although Israel was a separated people from the world, there were unbelievers in the nation. JEHOVAH God therefore took a remnant of believers “out of” (ekklesia) national Israel. The ministry of John the Baptist began to draw people out of apostate, corrupt, satanically-inspired Israel (see Matthew 3:1-17, Matthew 11:7-19, and Luke 1:13-17). These Jewish people believed that Jesus was Messiah/Christ, the Son of God.

Matthew 16:16 tells us: “And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Also, John 11:27: “She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.” The rest of Israel was apostate, fallen away from the truths that God had revealed to her. Most Israelites, consumed by self-righteousness, refused to believe on Christ Jesus; yea, they crucified Him in unbelief (Acts 2:22-23).

Paul commented about Israel’s unbelief in Romans 10:19: “But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.” The “no people,” the “foolish nation,” is the Little Flock, Israel’s believing remnant (cf. Deuteronomy 32:21). Christ Jesus spoke of them in Luke chapter 12: “[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.” This group of believers will enter the Millennium, the 1000-Year Reign of Christ, as God’s kingdom of priests (cf. 1 Peter 2:3-10).

Let us look once more at Matthew chapter 16: “[16] And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. [17] And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. [18] And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. [19] And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Hebrews 2:11-13 also speaks of the Little Flock: “[11] For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, [12] Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. [13] And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me.” Verse 12 is from Psalm 22:22; verse 13 quotes Isaiah 8:17-18. The Old Testament prophets spoke of the Messianic Church, the church of Matthew 16:18.

The Messianic Church is not every Jew, but every true Jew, every Jew circumcised in the heart and not just in the flesh. Romans chapter 2 comments: “[28] For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: [29] But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” God wanted Abraham’s seed not only to be physically circumcised but spiritually as well. Their sin problem had to be addressed, and their vain works-religion was not enough.

Notice these other references to the Messianic Church:

  • Acts 2:47: “Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church such as should be served.”
  • Acts chapter 8: “[1] And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles…. [3] As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.”
  • Hebrews 12:23: “To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,….”
  • 1 Corinthians 15:9: “For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”
  • Galatians 1:13: “For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:….”
  • Philippians 3:6: “Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.”

Non-dispensationalists have repeatedly tried (unsuccessfully) to use the above verses to say that the Church the Body of Christ had to have existed before Paul because Paul says he persecuted “the church” as a lost man. To claim this is to do nothing but advertise Bible ignorance. Of course there was a church prior to Paul. To say otherwise is to claim that Paul was the first person ever to get forgiveness of sins, have eternal life, and be called out to be used of God! (And this author knows of no dispensationalist—including himself—who believes such silliness.) The Messianic Church existed before Paul, but the Body of Christ did not exist until Paul.

THE MYSTERY CHURCH

When we come to the mystery program (Romans 16:25-26 cf. Acts 3:21), we find a third church in God’s dealings with man. This is the Church the Body of Christ, of which we are a part today if we have trusted Christ. There is no nation Israel today in the Dispensation of Grace, and no Little Flock today. However, God has another group of people “called out” (ekklesia) for His name. He is calling this group out from Jews and Gentiles without distinction—namely, anyone who will come by faith alone in Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for their sins (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

Romans chapter 11: “[11] I say then, Have they [Israel] stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. [12] Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? [13] For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:….”

Notice the Church the Body of Christ as found in the Pauline Epistles alone:

  • Ephesians 1:22-23: “[22] And [Father God] hath put all things under his [Christ’s] feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, [23] Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”
  • Ephesians 5:23: “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.”
  • Colossians 1:18,24: “[18] And he [Christ] is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. [24] Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:….”

As noted earlier, the idea of today’s “Church Age” stems from the common misconception that there is only one church in the Bible. This author, many years ago, was shocked to read a major denomination alleging that the first member of the Church the Body of Christ was Adam! What nonsense. If we are living in the “Church Age,” then there would be nothing but a “church age” throughout history. In fact, the “church age,” as some would reckon it, would actually go all the way back to Adam!

Sadly, whenever such traditionalists see the word “church” in the Bible, they automatically think of the Body of Christ. Using this philosophy, they will remove the word “church” from the Bible text when it does not fit their preconceived idea. They want to retranslate, or soften, “church” in Acts 7:38. They force the Body of Christ into Matthew 16:18, Acts 2:47, and various other places. Such widespread failure to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) is the reason why unbelief and confusion run rampant in our assemblies! No wonder people dislike the Bible, criticize the Bible, throw out the Bible. Dear friends, may we get this issue straight—or we will indeed lose Bible clarity!

A MORE CORRECT TERM

The Dispensation of the Grace of God covers a period of time. A dispensation is not a time period but it covers a time period. That time period is an age. Ephesians chapter 3 says: “[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;….”

In “other ages” (verse 5), the mystery was not revealed. However, it is known in this age. Jesus Christ revealed it directly to the Apostle Paul, and then the Holy Spirit used Paul’s ministry and writings to show everyone else. That body of information is titled “the dispensation of the grace of God” (verse 2). We can thus call our age “the Age of Grace” (as some have rightly done over the years). But, this too may generate a question—which this author anticipates and will answer now.

Has not God always been gracious? For example, in Genesis 6:8, did not Noah “[find] grace in the eyes of the LORD?” Indeed. God has always manifested His grace, but Ephesians 3:2 says the Dispensation of Grace has not always been operating. Grace as demonstrated in this the Dispensation of Grace is the Gospel of the Grace of God that was committed to Paul’s trust (Acts 20:24). Never before in human history has God ever granted the whole world—when it was so deserving of His wrath—equal access to Him and salvation though the shed blood of Christ. We can be justified before Him by faith and escape that righteous wrath that is still coming. Refer to the first five chapters of the Book of Romans, especially chapter 3.

It is not until our dispensation when God began uniting believing Jews and Gentiles in one body—the Church the Body of Christ (see Ephesians 2:11-22 and Ephesians 3:1-11). Prior to that, God was forming the nation Israel. If a Gentile (non-Jew) wanted to participate in what God was doing, he had to come through Israel (Genesis 12:1-3). This distinction is temporarily suspended, and will be until our dispensation terminates at the Rapture (the Body of Christ gathering to Christ in Heaven).

CONCLUSION

Despite what you have heard, dear friend, we do not live in “the Church Age.” Throughout human history, God has constantly maintained a small group of believers (servants) He has “called out” from ordinary mankind. Every age is a “church age.” Furthermore, there is more than one church in the Bible. We can think of at least three churches in Scripture.

The first “church” is the nation Israel in the wilderness under Moses (Acts 7:38); we can call that the Mosaic Church. The second “church” is the Little Flock, formed of Israel’s believing remnant beginning with John the Baptist’s ministry (Matthew 16:18); this is the Messianic Church. The third “church” is the Church the Body of Christ, which began with the Apostle Paul when he was converted in Acts chapter 9 (cf. 1 Timothy 1:15-16); we can call this the Mystery Church (Ephesians 3:1-11). It is very important to keep these churches “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15) or we will get confused in Scripture.

It is therefore entirely misleading to say one single time period, especially our present day, is the “Church Age.” Despite popular belief, the word “church” is not unique to our dispensation. Contrary to the common opinion, there is more than one church in the Bible. It is thus equally wrong to say that we live in the “Church Age.” If you want a term to use for our age, try “the Age of Grace.” God Almighty is manifesting His favor to man in a special way today—the Gospel of the Grace of God (Acts 20:24; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Romans 3:21-28).

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Also see:
» Did the Church the Body of Christ begin in Acts chapter 2?
» Did John 10:16 predict the Church the Body of Christ?
» Is the Church the Body of Christ spoken of in Matthew 16:18?