Monthly Archives: March 2019

Is it disrespectful to call it the “Old Testament?”

IS IT DISRESPECTFUL TO CALL IT THE “OLD TESTAMENT?” IS IT REALLY “OLD” AS IN IRRELEVANT?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Some take exception to calling the Law of Moses the “Old Covenant” or “Old Testament.” (Note: While “covenant” and “testament” are similar ideas, the latter accentuates the death on which such an agreement is made. See our related study linked at the end of this article.) They believe that the adjective “old” makes it seem like we are free to live however we want, that God’s laws do not apply to us anymore, that the Law of Moses is irrelevant and inapplicable. Is it disrespectful to call it the “Old Testament” or “Old Covenant?” “For what saith the Scriptures?”

Read the Prophet Jeremiah’s words beginning in chapter 31: “[31] Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: [32] Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: [33] But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, 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. [34] And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

“[35] Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: [36] If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. [37] Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD.”

Here is the well-known New Covenant, the heart of the hope of the nation Israel. Without it, they would be permanently out of God’s plan. Let us notice how merciful and gracious the LORD God is toward Israel in these most precious promises given her. Pay attention to the appellations “house of Israel” and “house of Judah.” They first appeared in Scripture in 1 Kings 12:21: “And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah, with the tribe of Benjamin, an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, to bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam the son of Solomon.”

Since King Solomon pursued heathen women and corrupted himself and the nation Israel with pagan idolatry, God initiated the second course of chastisement after his death (1 Kings 11:1-13,26-42; 1 Kings 12:1-19). Israel’s government, her “power,” was weakened (Leviticus 26:18-19). The kingdom was split between its 10 northern tribes (taking the name “Israel”) and two southern tribes (assuming the designation “Judah”).

That divided kingdom existed during the time of the Prophet Jeremiah, some 300 years later. Jeremiah preached just before and during the fifth course of chastisement—the Babylonian captivity (Leviticus 26:27-39). However, his message also focused on Israel’s hope, her eventual return to the Promised Land after being exiled in foreign (Gentile) territories. This re-gathering and restoration of Israel is found in Jeremiah chapter 31.

Going back to the passage we were reading in Jeremiah: “[31] Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: [32] Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:….” The Law of Moses, the contract into which Israel entered on Mount Sinai 900 years prior to Jeremiah, demanded Israel’s exclusive worship of JEHOVAH God. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Time and time and time again, they broke that covenant, disobeyed God’s Word, and came under His curse. As a wife being unfaithful to her husband, Israel ran after idols and cheated on JEHOVAH God, bringing upon herself unspeakable judgment.

Through the writer of the Book of Hebrews, the Holy Spirit commented: “But now hath he [the Lord Jesus Christ] obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. 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…” (Hebrews 8:6-8). Verse 13, “In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” At this point, we have two covenants—an “Old” and a “New.” The first is transitory, fleeting, passing. It was never a perpetual arrangement. Why could it not last forever? It was conditional. Why?

Turn to Exodus chapter 19 for the answer: “[1] In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai. [2] For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount. [3] And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; [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.” The Old Covenant depended upon Israel’s faithfulness, her performance.

Exodus 19:3-6 identifies the problem with being under the Old Covenant. God’s Word itself is perfect, but we sinners are not. “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” (verse 5). This “if… then” principle shows the conditional nature of the Law. It leaves open the possibility that the individual may not live up to the demands, and curses resulting instead of blessings.

Romans 3:19-20 remarks: “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 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 Law is the means whereby we recognize sin for what it really is. Stated another way, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). The Law outlines a certain type of behavior, and we sin when we cross those boundaries. We do what it prohibits; we do not do what it commands.

The Law proves our guilt as it exposed Israel’s imperfections. Jew and Gentile alike, we all are descendants of Adam, “shapen in iniquity, and in sin did [our] mother conceive [us]” (Psalm 51:5). The nation Israel, however, did not learn the lesson of the Law. In fact, like most even now, they assumed they could “do” everything God demanded (Exodus 19:8). From the time of Moses onward, they accrued a sin debt, repeatedly breaking God’s Law Covenant. They failed to perform as JEHOVAH God ordered them, so they were severely judged (as evidenced in Jeremiah’s messages). If God is to use the nation Israel in the ages to come, He must deal with her differently. Since the Old Covenant is not advantageous, a New Covenant is required.

Read Galatians chapter 3: “[19] Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. [20] Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. [21] Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.

“[22] But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. [23] But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. [24] Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. [25] But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. [26] For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”

What God desires first and foremost is faith, not works. He wants us to trust His Word, the Divine revelation that shows us that we are totally helpless sinners who cannot save ourselves. We need Him to function as our Saviour. Israel did not learn that lesson. Rather than letting it be a mirror to show them their sin, they assumed the Law gave them a right standing before God. Romans 10:1-3 describes apostate Israel during the Acts period: “[1] Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. [2] For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. [3] For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” However, when the prophecy of Jeremiah 31:31-34 is fulfilled, Israel will have finally learned the lesson of the Law.

God did not deal with Israel via a performance-based acceptance system until they wanted it. They preferred to work for the blessings instead of enjoying those blessings God would give them simply because of His grace. Many such people even now favor laboring under the Old Covenant (Mosaic Law). They ignore the grace-based acceptance system available through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork! Christ worked, He paid our sin debt in full with His shed blood, and He resurrected on the third day to give us a right standing before God. We trust Him alone, place our faith in Him exclusively, and His merits are applied to us. We are blessed, becoming God’s righteousness in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Calvary’s finished crosswork is how God will cleanse Israel of her Old Covenant sins. He will also use that blood shed as the basis for Israel’s New Covenant. Hebrews chapter 10: “[10] By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. [11] And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: [12] But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;… [14] For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

“[15] Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before [Jeremiah 31:33-34], [16] This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; [17] And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. [18] Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. [19] Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, [20] By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;….”

CONCLUSION

Commenting on Jeremiah 31:31, Hebrews 8:13 declares: “In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” Some people want to say that it is not appropriate to call it “the Old Testament” or “Old Covenant” and yet God Himself titles it that very way. It is “old” because it is no longer the method whereby God deals with Israel—whether right now in the Dispensation of Grace or even in the ages to come. The Old Covenant or Old Testament is outdated, as it was never meant to be permanent. It was added because of transgressions. It was fading, as something better was coming.

Considering Israel’s sinful past, how could her people ever have a future in the LORD God’s program? After all, they habitually broke the Old Covenant by worshipping and serving pagan gods. We must remember that, long before the Law/Mosaic Covenant (Exodus chapters 19–24), God had promised to make Israel His people via the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12:1-3). The Abrahamic Covenant is unconditional; it depends solely upon God’s performance to bless Israel.

However, sin deceived Israel and she assumed she could make herself God’s people. She wanted that legalistic system at Mount Sinai. God knew it would end in failure—Israel did not. The Jews had to learn firsthand that their works would never, ever be a substitute for God’s grace. Therefore, God let the Mosaic economy operate for over 1,500 years. It was to point them to the Saviour, Jesus Christ. Alas, when He visited them, they preferred the Law and demanded His crucifixion! They supposed they were “good enough,” without a sin problem. The Old Covenant was God putting Israel on the performance-based acceptance system. She had to perform to get the blessing and avoid the curse. If she did not obey everything God commanded, then she would not be God’s people. This was not to cancel the Abrahamic Covenant, but only to show the Abrahamic Covenant was all about grace from the very beginning and never about man’s efforts.

Romans chapter 11 describes Israel’s glorious future despite her failures: “[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: [27] For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins” (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34). After our Dispensation of Grace concludes, national Israel will be saved at Christ’s Second Coming. Her sins will then be “blotted out” (Acts 3:19-21). Ezekiel 36:21-38 says JEHOVAH God will then put His Holy Spirit in the Jews and cause them to keep His laws—what they could never do by themselves! God will indeed make them His people, one united kingdom (Judah and Israel reunified).

While we are not under the Old Covenant, and yet it condemns us (Romans 3:19,20), so the New Covenant (to be made with Israel in the future) impacts us. The blood shed to ratify the New Covenant can save us, for the same blood that saves Israel saves the Church the Body of Christ (without any covenants—see Ephesians 2:11-22)!

Also see:
» What is the difference between “covenant” and “testament?”
» Are Matthew through John “Old Testament” or “New Testament” books?
» Is God chastening me? Why am I having all these problems?

Why is “666” the number of the Beast?

WHY IS “666” THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The following Bible passage is known far and wide: “[16] And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: [17] And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. [18] Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six (Revelation 13:16-18). With a “score” being equivalent to 20, the verse furnishes us with the following mathematical formula: 600 + 60 + 6 = 666. But, what is so significant about “666?” Why is this the number—and not “665,” “2,” or “999,” for example? Exactly what role does “666” play in the Antichrist’s arrival?

CONFUSION! (CONFUSION! CONFUSION!)

Ironically (and most regrettably), as touching Bible topics, culture and vain religion have impacted our thinking far more than the Holy Bible itself. This is certainly true of Bible prophecy, and especially the “number of the Beast.” (Another highly misunderstood topic along these lines is “the mark of the Beast.” For a treatment of that concept, please refer to our companion article linked at the end of this study.)

In smugness and lightheartedness, mockers of Christianity tattoo “666” on their bodies, write it in their online posts, use it flippantly in speech, and so on. Some interpret the phrase “the number of his name” as really suggesting the number of letters in his name. Decades ago, for instance, former United States President Ronald Wilson Reagan (count the letters in his full name) was suspected as being the Antichrist. Such speculations are made about ancient Roman Emperor Nero too. Counting letters in someone’s name to see if he may be the Antichrist has led to such wild speculations that it would be best for us not to go that route. It is as profitable as the rumors spread by those who feared the date June 6, 2006 (06/06/06), still dread getting a “666” address or telephone number, avoid labeling airline flights and bills of legislation as “666,” and so on.

Superstition and alarm are expected where Bible ignorance abounds and faith lacks. People often do not study Scripture itself, but they are quite familiar with books written about Scripture. Therefore, the elaborate and endless conjectures of unsaved theologians and other “experts” have taken precedence over the actual Bible text. Despite abounding commentary though, Bible understanding is quite shallow. If Holy Writ speaks of “666,” and it certainly does, then we in this study insist on closing our ears and eyes to the vain speculations of men and are become resolute in opening them to the Bible’s self-interpretation. Far better we have eternal Scripture verses supporting our view than relying on the opinions of mortal, fallible men such as ourselves!

CLARITY! (CLARITY! CLARITY!)

The best method of interpreting the Bible is to find related verses found in the Bible. As noted earlier, this will prove far more useful than appealing to “scholarship,” church tradition, history, hunches, et cetera. Varying opinions and assumptions mean nothing in light of God’s eternal Word. They will only lead to more darkness (and there is more than enough of that already!). In the ensuing pages, we aim to be as simple as possible about a topic people have needlessly complicated. Again, the key is to let the Scriptures themselves lay the basis for our understanding.

Genesis 1:31 is the first time where the number 6 appears in Scripture. This passage sets the stage and attitude of the Bible concerning the number 6. Read for yourself: “[26] And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. [27] So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. [28] And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

“[29] And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. [30] And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. [31] And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”

The LORD God created man on the sixth day, so 6 is the Bible’s number for man. Three, on the other hand, is the number of God (think of the Trinity/Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). That human connotation of the number 6 in Scripture is apparent when we read Revelation 13:18: “…for it is the number of a man. The Antichrist is the personification or embodiment of Satan’s policy of evil. He is, in one being, everything that Satan intends to accomplish in creation. The Antichrist is the perfect example of what it is like to live exclusively for self—apart from the words and influence of the one true God. He “does his own thing,” and he behaves as though he is “his own authority.”

Second Thessalonians chapter 2 speaks of Antichrist’s arrival: “[3] Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; [4] Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” Here is exactly what Lucifer intended to do when he was transformed into Satan (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:11-19). Lucifer endeavored to counterfeit God in order to receive worship that belonged only to God (cf. Matthew 4:8-10; Luke 4:5-8).

Six is the number of the Beast’s “name,” with “name” carrying the idea of character or authority. Again, the Beast is the pinnacle of natural-man wisdom. We see his perverted philosophies underscored throughout the Book of Ecclesiastes. The Holy Spirit warns us of worldly wisdom in the first three chapters of 1 Corinthians. “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” (Colossians 2:8). The evil world system that began in Genesis chapter 3 (before us), and will give rise to the Antichrist (beyond us), it is here with us even now. We had better be sure to understand God’s Word rightly divided, or that evil world system will deceive us!

One supernatural characteristic of the Bible is its ability to preview or typify future events. There are various historical characters (“types”) scattered throughout Scripture—at least 18—whose qualities and behaviors provide us with hints as to what the Antichrist (“antitype”) will be like. We want to focus on three on them, and note well their relation to the number “6.”

Giant Goliath in 1 Samuel chapter 17: “[4] And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span [6 cubits = 9 feet = 2.7 meters; 1 span = 9 inches = 0.23 meters] [total height = 9 feet 9 inches = 2.93 meters]. [5] And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass. [6] And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders. [7] And the staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam; and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him.” (Notice how “six” appears here. Goliath is a type or picture of Antichrist—he is an oppressor, challenger, and ridiculer of Israel. Check Revelation 12:1-6 and Revelation 13:1-18.)

King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel chapter 3: “[1] Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits [60 cubits = 90 feet = 27 meters], and the breadth thereof six cubits [9 feet = 2.7 meters]: 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:….” (Notice how the number “six” emerges here—right down to the number of musical instruments in verse 5! Nebuchadnezzar is another picture or type of Antichrist—someone who persecutes Israel’s believing remnant for refusing his false religious system and its image/idol. See Revelation 13:15-18.)

King Solomon in 1 Kings chapter 10: “[14] Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold, [15] Beside that he had of the merchantmen, and of the traffick of the spice merchants, and of all the kings of Arabia, and of the governors of the country. [16] And king Solomon made two hundred targets of beaten gold: six hundred shekels of gold went to one target. [17] And he made three hundred shields of beaten gold; three pound of gold went to one shield: and the king put them in the house of the forest of Lebanon. [18] Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with the best gold. [19] The throne had six steps, and the top of the throne was round behind: and there were stays on either side on the place of the seat, and two lions stood beside the stays. [20] And twelve lions stood there on the one side and on the other upon the six steps: there was not the like made in any kingdom.” (The number “six” pops up throughout in reference to now-apostate King Solomon, another picture of Antichrist. Like Solomon, Antichrist will be king of Israel. Notice in verse 14—“six hundred threescore and six” [666]! Solomon constructs a great throne of ivory, counterfeiting God’s great white throne in Revelation 20:11.)

CONCLUSION

Scripture uses the number 6 as man’s number. The forthcoming Antichrist is the pinnacle of man’s life apart from the Creator God. His self-will and self-worship will align perfectly with sinful man’s fallen nature and Satan’s original goal. He will rule and pervert God’s people Israel (like Solomon), he will tyrannize and corrupt her with false religion (like Nebuchadnezzar), and he will taunt and challenge her (like Goliath). This is as anti-God as one can get. It is therefore wholly appropriate that the number of the Beast’s name be “666” (Revelation 13:18). However, it is not necessary to imagine the actual number “666” will appear on everything related to the Antichrist. Revelation 13:17 says his followers will have that number, but in what sense they “have” it Scripture is unclear. They do not have to have it on or under their skin, for example—that would be the Mark of the Beast (see our related study linked at the end of this article).

In its most basic sense, according to Revelation 13:18, someone having “666” is advertising an alliance with sinful man as he operates without Divine life and wisdom. With the Antichrist and his “666” association, it will be Satan’s last stand and sin’s final exaltation before the Lord Jesus Christ returns most violently to destroy it and set up God’s eternal kingdom in creation! If we have trusted Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, we need not be concerned with the Antichrist/Beast, his image, his mark, his name, or his number. They are for another dispensation, for the purging of the nation Israel, and have absolutely nothing to do with us the Church the Body of Christ. Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, show that we in the mystery program are totally isolated from that time period. In fact, 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 and Romans chapters 9–11 were written to show we do not belong in the prophetic program of which Antichrist is a part!

Friend, have you noticed the spiritual profit here? That is because we have used the Bible to interpret itself. We did not appeal to church tradition or scholarly consensus. There was no philosophy or speculation. We simply compared verses—and what immeasurable spiritual light has flooded our minds and hearts! Such is the result when we set aside the opinions of men and let Scripture speak for itself. The Holy Spirit gave us insight here because we desired to give His words a fair hearing. Unsaved people cannot do this because they lack the Spirit of God who wrote the Bible—and they also refuse to understand it anyway! Their answer to unraveling Bible enigmas is to use everything but the Bible in order to guess possible meanings. Worldly wisdom is of no use in understanding the things of God. Human viewpoint will lead us to additional ignorance. We have considered such speculations, and found them profitless. Therefore, we have chosen to take our stand on plain and simple verses.

SUPPLEMENTAL: WHAT ABOUT “616?” (HERE IS THE IDLE SPECULATION WE ALREADY WARNED ABOUT!)

Based on a few ancient witnesses (Papyrus 115, Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus, and so on), some suppose “616” is a possible alternative to “666.” We austerely reject that view, not only because it is a departure from the proper text (Greek Textus Receptus and its resultant King James Bible) but also because “616” has no Scriptural precedence.

Studying what the Bible says about the Antichrist/Beast, we expect him to be man-oriented (a “humanist,” if you please) to the fullest degree. After all, “6” is man’s number in Scripture. Would not “666” be much more man-oriented than “616?” Which reading would you thus believe to be the correct one? Surely, “666!” Satan, no doubt, encourages such a corruption of the Bible text and resulting confusion. It covers up what is really going on with his chief man in the Earth. Once the Antichrist does show up, there is a perverted “bible” to deceive people. They will avoid “616” (ignorant of the fact they should be avoiding “666.” Consequently, they will likely fall for the lesser lie (false text) which will make them vulnerable to embracing the greater lie (Antichrist).

With “6” appearing not once but thrice (“3” being the number of God—namely, the Trinity/Godhead, remember), that signifies man is endeavoring to replace God with himself. As it turns out, that is exactly what Antichrist seeks to do as well! Let us go back to what the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2: “[3] Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; [4] Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” (Again, the Antichrist/Beast is “the man of sin” because he is the embodiment of sin, Satan’s lie program; he is “the son of perdition” in that damnation has given birth to him, and he is heading to an eternal doom. Draw your attention to the fact that he, like Satan, seeks to be worshipped as God—Matthew 4:8-10 and Luke 4:5-8.)

In Thessalonians, Paul was drawing from what the Prophet Daniel had already laid out 600 years earlier in chapter 11 of his Book: “[36] And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done. [37] Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.”

Like Satan who is empowering him, like Satan who enticed man to rebel against God back in the Garden of Eden, the Antichrist is an egotist, a narcissist who seeks the worship that belongs only to the Creator God. Romans 1:25 amply summarizes any defection from the God of Creation (but here it speaks of the nations seeking idols at the Tower of Babel in Genesis chapter 11): “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” No better number could fit all this but that “number of the Beast”666!”

Unbelievers will fall for the Antichrist, just as 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 predicted. Their penalty will be eternal Hellfire! Read Revelation chapter 14: “[9] And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, [10] The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: [11] And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.”

Also see:
» What is “the mark of the Beast?”
» Will Israel’s Little Flock be put to death or not?
» Will the Antichrist be a Jew or a Gentile?

What is “the mark of the Beast?”

WHAT IS “THE MARK OF THE BEAST?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

Revelation 13:16-18 says, “[16] And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: [17] And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. [18] Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.”

CONFUSION! (CONFUSION! CONFUSION!)

For many decades, prophecy preachers have harped on the idea of “the mark of the Beast.” It is one of their favorite topics to use to $ell their printed, video, and audio media (another topic is “666, the number of the Beast”—for more info, see our companion article linked at the end of this study). The standard explanation is that it is a personal identification number (PIN) on a microchip implanted in the right hand or forehead. Others thereby cry out against our increasing dependence on computers because such machines are leading us to a “cashless” and “checkless” economy. Credit and debit cards, Social Security numbers, lasers, barcodes, supercomputers, and the like are seen as paving the way to the Antichrist! Honestly, friends, this is nothing more than idle speculation. It leads to great fear and overwhelming paranoia. Soon, each and every activity will be introduced as, “The Antichrist is soon to appear, so do not be deceived!”

How awful the Bible ignorance is—even among professing Christians. They have little to know idea what the Scriptures actually teach. A clear Gospel they cannot preach. Christian living they do not understand. Bible prophecy they enjoy speculating over but have no solid footing in verses. Yet, they can quote “Christian” “best-selling” books, movies, church traditions, hunches, and so on. Take the topic of “the mark of the Beast,” for example.

The Seventh-Day Adventists (SDA), noteworthy for observing the Saturday Sabbath, believe going to church on Sunday is “the mark of the Beast!” They allege that the Roman Catholic Church—what they refer to as “the Beast”—was erroneous in instituting Sunday worship (Rome calls Sunday “the Christian Sabbath”). SDAs argue God want us to worshipping on the original Sabbath (which indeed is Saturday). Frankly, both groups are confused. They both fail to “rightly divide the word of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). In the Dispensation of Grace, we are under no Sabbath-Day commandment whatsoever (whether Saturday/Sabbath or Sunday!). Sabbath-Day keeping is associated with the Mosaic Law, of which we have no part (see Colossians 2:16-17; Galatians 4:9-11).

Here is another instance of confusion. Since some hold to a “revived Roman Empire” view of the Antichrist’s government, the introduction of the Euro 20 years back sparked renewed interest in a one-world currency. It was speculated that if the Antichrist were to arise from Western Europe, then the Euro could possibly be a catalyst to bring or actually be “the mark of the Beast.” Of course, the membership of the European Union is now well beyond the 10 members needed to correlate to the 10 nations under the Antichrist (see Revelation 13:1). “The revived Roman Empire” position—while highly popular—does not agree with Daniel 8:20-23. The 10 nations under the Antichrist’s power are not European but rather Middle Eastern. We find them, Israel’s enemies, enumerated in Psalm 83:1-8. Europe is not there!!! The Euro has nothing to do with the “mark of the Beast!”

Friends, if we look at the Bible alone—and not insert popular opinions, hunches, and “Christian” bestsellers—then we will arrive at solid ground concerning “the mark of the Beast.” We will let Scripture interpret itself.

CLARITY! (CLARITY! CLARITY!)

The Bible speaks of a man named “Antichrist” (1 John 2:18,22; 1 John 4:3; 2 John 7). He is against Christ because he seeks to replace (or counterfeit/imitate) Christ. In other words, he challenges Jesus Christ (the true Messiah) by pretending to be Him! Since Israel refused the genuine Messiah and hung Him on Calvary’s cross, God will let her have her way (a false Messiah). The Lord Jesus therefore claimed, “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive” (John 5:43).

Second Thessalonians 2:9-12 complements this: “[9] Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, [10] And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. [11] And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: [12] That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

The Antichrist’s reign is seven years total (the “week” of years in Daniel 9:27). It is halved into two 42-month periods (see Revelation 13:5). The second 3½ years will be far worse. They are described beginning in Revelation chapter 13: “[1] And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. [2] And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.”

Draw your attention to the above similes. The Antichrist is like a beast (bestial or savage and cruel in character). He resembles a leopard, a bear, and a lion. Read what Scripture says in Jeremiah: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil” (13:23). A leopard’s spots resemble crude rings. (Technically, the adjective is “rosettes,” rose-like patterns.) A similar outline is made when a woman wearing lipstick kisses a surface. If we study the Scriptures, we will see a correlation between the Antichrist and kisses. Let us deal with the “kisses” issue first and then we will return to the matter of the “mark.”

King David’s son Absalom used kisses to win the Jews over to his side as a way to usurp his father’s throne. Second Samuel chapter 15 reports: “[4] Absalom said moreover, Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man which hath any suit or cause might come unto me, and I would do him justice! [5] And it was so, that when any man came nigh to him to do him obeisance, he put forth his hand, and took him, and kissed him. [6] And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the king for judgment: so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.” Absalom is a type or preview of the Antichrist. His attempt to overthrow Israel’s true king (David) parallels Antichrist stealing David’s throne from Israel’s ultimate King (Jesus Christ)!

Judas Iscariot, sharing the Antichrist’s title “the son of perdition” (John 17:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:3) betrayed Jesus Christ with a kiss. Turn to Matthew chapter 26 to learn: “[47] And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. [48] Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. [49] And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him” (cf. Mark 14:43-45; Luke 22:47-48). Luke records Jesus inquiring, “Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?” Judas Iscariot is another preview of the Antichrist.

Turning back to Revelation chapter 13, we continue reading: “[16] And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: [17] And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. [18] Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.”

Antichrist will be notorious for instituting a “mark”and we are careful to notice the mark and the number are two separate matters. The mark is not “666,” as often taught; rather, the number is 666. The mark is an identifying feature placed in the right hand or in the forehead. When we think of what has gone before in our study—especially the verses—then the “mark” would be identical to the leopard’s spots. This is not unfathomable at all, is it? Even now, we are familiar with “marks” placed on the forehead for religious purposes. Think of the cross of ashes applied to a Roman Catholic’s brow on “Ash Wednesday.” Or, consider the “bindi,” that prominent red dot between the eyes of a Hindu woman. It is thus not surprising that the Antichrist will employ a similar spot to promote his false religious system. It is further noteworthy that that colossal religious-political-economic system, described in Revelation chapters 17 and 18, is identical to Roman Catholicism in several dozen points.

Why are the right hand and the forehead so important here? The right hand is a symbol of service or action; they find purpose and strength in serving the Antichrist. The forehead represents the mind; they have given themselves over to do the Antichrist’s will. They proudly advertise their “religiosity,” that they are members of his satanic church. One religious authority says of modern forehead marks, “By these marks we know what a person believes, and therefore know how to begin conversations.” This will be no different with the Antichrist. His followers will not be ashamed of their devil worship; their defiance against the one true God will be there for all to see. The “mark” is like the branding of an animal. It signifies ownership, submission to a higher authority. The Greek word is “charagma,” rendered “graven” in Acts 17:29. Otherwise, “charagma” is the King James term for “mark” (you may compare Revelation 13:16; Revelation 14:9,11; Revelation 15:2; Revelation 16:2; Revelation 19:20; and Revelation 20:4).

It is also interesting that God, in the Mosaic Law, commanded the nation Israel to remember His Word by applying it as a “sign” on their forehead (between the eyes) or on their hand (Exodus 13:8-9,16; Deuteronomy 6:3-8; Deuteronomy 11:18-21)! These are the “phylacteries” of Matthew 23:5 (see our study linked at the end of this article). Satan will use the mark of the Antichrist to mock God’s Word, as he will have his own people flaunting their alliance with him!

Since Messianic Jews will accept Jesus as Messiah and reject Antichrist, they will not accept the mark of the Beast. Without that mark, the Bible says they will be able to neither buy nor sell (as we already saw in Revelation 13:16-18 at the beginning of this study). This will obviously result in great economic hardships. Any Messianic Jews who refuse to worship the Antichrist, reject his image and his mark, are beheaded (Revelation 20:4). However, God promises them bodily resurrection into His Kingdom so it does not matter what sinful man does to them!!!

CONCLUSION

Prophecy preachers have been preying upon the ignorant Christian public (and general public) for many decades now. While we give some the benefit of the doubt, there is certainly an economic incentive to writing books on prophecy. It is an interesting topic, everybody wants to say something about it, yet they are doing nothing more than using news items and haphazardly pairing them with verses (they have to look credible, you know!!). Rather than speculating, and yanking verses from contexts, we would much rather let the Bible interpret itself. We do not need to sensationalize, generate paranoia, confuse people.

The “mark of the Beast” is a religious blot, placed on the forehead or right hand (Revelation 13:16). Someone may object to the language here, but this author believes too much is made of the argument in the forehead” and in the right hand” versus on the forehead” and on the right hand.” He thinks we could better spend our time focusing on more important facets of this topic (namely, comparing verses to see the nature of the mark itself). There is no demand that it be under the skin (the microchip idea is speculation). The significances of the forehead and right hand are these people have given their minds and “strong hands” over to the Antichrist’s will and work. That mark advertises their allegiance to him and his evil religion. It will be compulsory for economic survival once instituted (verse 17). Moreover, the “mark of the Beast” is related to the number “666” (verse 18)—the mark and number should never be confused!!

Since the Antichrist has a leopard symbol, we cannot help but see his mark being related to the kiss-like spots of the leopard (Jeremiah 13:23). His religion has an identifiable emblem or sign. It reminds us of the “Ash Wednesday” black spot and the Hindu bindi on the forehead. The kisses of Absalom and Judas Iscariot—and resulting rosettes (like leopard spots)—point to how the Antichrist will operate with respect to craftiness and disloyalty.

SUPPLEMENTAL: WHAT ABOUT THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA?

What is the extent of Antichrist’s reign and religion? While he seeks worldwide dominion, Jesus’ Second Coming prevents it. The Antichrist will certainly exercise great governmental power over the Middle East, and particularly Israel and 10 of her neighboring enemy nations. However, there is no indication in the Bible that he will manage to overcome the United States (if it still exists at the time!). All those speculators running around and telling us in America to “watch for this” or “watch for that” with respect to preparing for the arrival of the Antichrist, they are spouting hysteria that has no biblical basis.

Will we as Christians be brought before the Antichrist to accept or reject his mark? No! The Church the Body of Christ has no relation to the Antichrist. We have not rejected Jesus Christ; the Antichrist is designed to separate Israel’s believers and her unbelievers in her prophetic program not us in our mystery program (go back to John 5:43). We will have been raptured (resurrected) long before Antichrist appears, and we will be reigning in the heavenly places by the time he arises. Again, the Antichrist is meant to separate believers and unbelievers with respect to the nation Israel. If we have come to faith in Christ now, we have already made our decision to follow God. We do not need to make another decision: the Antichrist’s religion identifies the apostates (false Jews) and segregates the true Jews (followers of Jesus). Unbelievers will fall for the Antichrist, just as 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 predicted. Their penalty will be eternal Hellfire!

Read Revelation chapter 14: “[9] And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, [10] The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: [11] And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.”

Also see:
» Why is “666” the number of the Beast?
» Will the Antichrist be a Jew or a Gentile?
» What are “phylacteries?”

Are the Jews supposed to still get circumcised in the Dispensation of Grace?

ARE THE JEWS SUPPOSED TO STILL GET CIRCUMCISED IN THE DISPENSATION OF GRACE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Are the Jews supposed to still get circumcised in the Dispensation of Grace? What about Galatians 5:3-4? “[3] For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. [4] Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”

Let us begin at verse 1 and move through to verse 9.

“[1] Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. [2] Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. [3] For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. [4] Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. [5] For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. [6] For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. [7] Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? [8] This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. [9] A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.”

The problem in Galatia is false teaching in the form of legalism (Law-keeping as means of gaining God’s blessings, the belief that we can gain Heaven by our religious works, using the Law under the impression it will produce fruitful Christian service). Notice how the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul titles this “the yoke of bondage” (verse 1). That phrase hooks to Acts 15:10: “Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?” Let us read the first five verses of Acts chapter 15 now.

“[1] And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, 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.”

Paul’s Gentile converts (found in Acts chapters 13-14) were being told that they had to “be circumcised after the manner of Moses” or they could not be saved (Acts 15:1). “It was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses” (verse 5). Such notions parallel what we just read in the Book of Galatians, and that is no coincidence. The Galatians were saved in Acts chapters 13-14, and the apostolic conference of chapter 15 is repeated in Galatians chapter 2. Yes, never forget, Acts chapter 15 is quite useful in grasping Galatians.

Friend, you have used Galatians 5:3-4 to ask whether Jews still need physical circumcision in our Dispensation. You have misunderstood the context. Those being circumcised in that passage are not Jews but rather Gentiles. Specifically, they are Paul’s Gentile converts. Gentile believers in the Gospel of Grace have been misled to assume they are under Israel’s program (the Law of Moses, physical circumcision). Paul’s argument in Galatians chapter 5 is to show them they are not “rightly dividing the word of truth” as 2 Timothy 2:15 states. They are mixing dispensations, uniting the mystery and prophetic programs God has divided.

The only rightful purpose of the Law in our Dispensation is that it points out our sin and our need for the Saviour (1 Timothy 1:7-11). Like the Galatians originally, we have already recognized our sin problem and trusted Jesus Christ as the fully-satisfying sacrifice for our sins (Romans 3:23-28). The Law, our performance, plays no role in saving us from our sins—both the eternal penalty (Hell) and the temporary struggles (daily living). This is what the Galatians had forgotten since Paul left their midst. False teachers had entered and tricked them with denominational teaching (Galatians 3:1-3; Galatians 4:17; Galatians 5:7-12; Galatians 6:12-13)! Such dangerous individuals lurk in the pulpit of the average “Christian” church even now, and likely fooling most people reading these very lines!

Paul wrote in Galatians chapter 5 that, if those Gentiles in Galatia wanted to be physically circumcised, there was much, much more to Law-keeping. The Law system is an “all-or-nothing” arrangement—failure to keep it in one point results in being guilty of breaking all the commandments (James 2:10). In other words, the Galatians had not grasped the magnitude of the spiritual trouble in which they had placed themselves. By getting under the Law system, they were to follow every precept and each rule found in Moses’ writings—not just physical circumcision!! Since they had chosen to forsake God’s message of grace to them through Paul’s ministry, they were now subject to several hundred rules (the entire Mosaic system)! They had been justified unto eternal life by faith in Christ, but they had discarded that truth and returned to “work to be justified.” “Fallen from grace” indeed! Satan had deceived them, and he uses that same works-religion and (self)“righteousness” system to con us even now (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

Such a performance system is “weak and beggarly,” Galatians 4:9 says. Such is spiritual immaturity, Galatians 4:19 says. “Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?” (verse 20). For the rest of the chapter, Paul differentiates between man’s efforts and God’s grace—we are not under the performance system but under the grace system! It is not about us but all about Jesus Christ!

Let us now address your first question, thereby “tying up” our comments to your second question.

ARE JEWS OBLIGATED TO BE PHYSICALLY CIRCUMCISED IN OUR DISPENSATION?

Physical circumcision for Jews (or even for Gentiles) is not required in this the Dispensation of the Grace of God. Today, there is no spiritual advantage to being physically circumcised and there is no spiritual disadvantage to being physically uncircumcised. The ground is level at the foot of Calvary’s cross (Ephesians 2:11-22). Such words were completely unknown prior to God’s Word through the Apostle Paul, our Dispensation of Grace.

Galatians 5:6: “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.” Galatians 6:15: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” Never do we find anything like this in Moses’ writings; in fact, we find the exact opposite!! Also see Matthew 10:5-7, Matthew 15:24, and John 4:22—these show us that Christ’s earthly ministry cannot apply to us either!!

A Jew needed physical circumcision as a sign of the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 17:7-14; cf. Genesis 12:1-3 and Acts 7:8). Since there is no nation Israel in God’s program today—she is fallen—there is no Abrahamic Covenant in effect either. God is blessing the world today, not through Israel’s rise, but through her fall. That is Paul’s message found in Romans chapter 11: “[11] I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. [12] Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? [13] For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: [14] If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.”

While people today are physically circumcised for health reasons, that was not why God wanted Abraham and his seed to have it. It was a religious rite, later incorporated into the Law of Moses (Leviticus 12:3). Circumcision is the sign of being separated from, or deadness to, the ability of our sinful flesh (an outward reflection of an internal, spiritual circumcision—cf. Romans 2:28-29). We cannot work in our flesh to please God. He will bless us, but not because we work to please Him (for we sinners cannot work to please Him—Romans 3:9-20). God will bless us simply because of His grace, His goodness, His performance. That is what Abraham learned in Galatians 4:21-31, when God rejected the son he produced in his own strength, and God gave him a son He caused to be born miraculously (cf. Genesis 16:1-16; Genesis 17:1-27; Genesis 21:1-21). Grace and works cannot cohabitate! That goes for Abraham, the Galatians, and even us! “And if it be by grace, then it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work” (Romans 11:6).

Calvary cannot impact lost people if they are focused on their efforts. It cannot benefit Christians who are fixated on their labors either. Therefore, Satan’s evil world system exploits man’s natural self-righteous attitude. Lost people stay lost, dazzled by their “religious goodness” to such a large degree that Christ’s perfect sacrifice on Calvary means nothing to them. Christian people stay confused, saved by grace and yet trying to “prove salvation by works” or attempting to “keep salvation by works.” God does not want our efforts; He wants our faith resting entirely in His Son Jesus Christ. That goes for unsaved and saved alike.

Going to Heaven is all about Christ’s finished crosswork on Calvary. We trust in that and that alone. It is not about our prayers, our water baptism, our confession of sins, our commandment-keeping, our sacrifices, our alms, our church membership, our circumcision!! Notice how religion is all about US, US, US, US, US! The cross wipes that all away—and that is exactly why the message of Jesus Christ is so offensive (Galatians 5:11)!!! It removes us and puts the focus exclusively on the Lord Jesus Christ. Our sin nature fights that, as it wants to be praised, worshipped, exalted. Religion is thus so appealing. Boasting is why God hates religion.

Romans 3:27–4:5: “[3:27] Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. [3:28] Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. [3:29] Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: [3:30] Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. [3:31] Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. [4:1] What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? [4:2] For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. [4:3] For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. [4:4] Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. [4:5] But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

Faith in Christ—not works—is counted for righteousness! The lost person thus passes from death to life. Likewise, Christian living (daily sanctification) is just like justification unto eternal life. It is Christ’s finished crosswork on Calvary. We are dead to sin (Romans chapter 6). Sin, our flesh, does not have dominion over us (Romans chapter 7). We are alive unto God by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans chapter 8). It is not we making ourselves acceptable to God; it is God making us acceptable to Him because of His Son’s merits applied to us!

Once we place our faith in Christ, we receive a new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17), and that new nature will produce good works. However, that is not the same as religion motivating us to do good works so we can be accepted of God. This “fine-line” distinction is how Satan deceives. People who do not want to know the truth believe the lie as though it were the truth. They claim to be Christian but then work. They say Christ is their Saviour but they cannot say exactly how He has saved them. They never can say for sure they will go to Heaven. That is because they are working to gain God’s favor—and if they die unsaved, they will surely learn they have inspired the exact opposite!

Friend, how urgent it is that we see we can be Scriptural and be completely out of God’s will! To grab Moses’ writings (the Bible!!) and try to follow them is to believe the Devil’s lie! It is important not only to be Scriptural, but also dispensational. If we want to do God’s will, we must follow the directions He gave in our dispensation—“the Dispensation of the Grace of God” Jesus Christ revealed directly to the Apostle Paul so he could then teach us (Ephesians 3:1-2). God’s Word to and about us is Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” (Romans 6:14-15).

Also see:
» Is grace a license to sin?
» Why did Paul circumcise Timothy but not Titus?
» Why did Israel have to keep so many strange laws?

Is there any chance more angels will leave God and follow Satan?

IS THERE ANY CHANCE MORE ANGELS WILL LEAVE GOD AND FOLLOW SATAN?

by Shawn Brasseaux

No. Nothing in Scripture indicates more angels will rebel against the Creator. It would seem that any angelic rebellion against God has already transpired and will not be repeated. Angels had a one-time chance to follow Lucifer or stay true to God, and that decision was made long ago. The angels that united with Lucifer (when he transformed into Satan) can never return to serve God, and the angels that remained with God will always be faithful to God. That is the simplest explanation.

What stopped that angelic insurrection? In other words, why did not all the angels fall with Satan? Why was there not 100 percent mutiny? Matthew 25:41 appears to answer that question. God created Hell, a place of “everlasting fire,” but never intended it for man. It was “prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Notice the absence of Hell in Genesis 1:1—it was simply Heaven and Earth. Hell was created later, once the angels sinned with Lucifer.) While the angelic ranks were in the process of allying with Satan, God created Hell, which stopped further fallout. Hell is such a dreadful place that, once the angels saw God constructing it, they did not side with Satan. It was too late for the ones that already moved to Satan’s side but the ones on God’s side stayed on God’s side. When man sinned against God in Genesis chapter 3, aligning himself with Satan, he too became an “heir” of Hell. Hell is the prison where all God’s enemies are kept until they are thrown into the Lake of Fire after being judged (Revelation 20:11-15).

Also see:
» Did God give angels free will as He gave mankind?
» Why are lost people not judged for their works immediately after physical death?
» Do people become angels when they die?

How could the conception of Christ be a sign to King Ahaz if Ahaz died centuries earlier?

HOW COULD THE CONCEPTION OF CHRIST BE A SIGN TO KING AHAZ IF AHAZ DIED CENTURIES EARLIER?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Read from Isaiah chapter 7: “[10] Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying, [11] Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. [12] But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD. [13] And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? [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.”

Bible critics form an objection based on this passage. Their argument is quite easy to follow. How could the conception of Messiah be a sign to Ahaz (something he would witness) since Ahaz died long before Isaiah 7:14 was actually fulfilled? Yes, we see a problem here too—a greater problem. They are misreading the Bible, thus misunderstanding it, and thereby misrepresenting it. It is highly significant to point out the nouns and their second-person pronouns, thus making the prophecy read smoothly and remarkably.

Verses 10 and 11: “[10] Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying, [11] Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.” “Thee” in verse 11 applies to Ahaz (verse 10). God is speaking to one man here. If you are using a modern English vesion, “thee” reads “you,” thus making it impossible for you to distinguish the singular (“thee/thou/thy/thine”) and plural (“ye/you/your”) forms. Older English, a “dead language,” is superior to modern English in this regard.

Verse 12 is most noteworthy: “But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD.” JEHOVAH God ordered Ahaz to ask for a sign, but Ahaz was so unbelieving that he refused! Yet, he pretended to be pious and respectable—“I will not ask for a sign and I will not challenge the Lord!” In reality, he defied the LORD’S instructions by not asking for that sign!

Read verses 13 and 14: “[13] And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? [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.” This is a different audience than the one in verses 11-12.

Verse 13 addresses a group“ye,” or more specifically, “O house of David.” David’s royal bloodline is in view here. It is his ancestors beyond Ahaz (also a son of David). Verse 14, of course, is the virgin conception of Jesus Christ. However, the Scriptures are not saying such a miracle will occur during Ahaz’s lifetime. The Bible is stating David’s house will see the Messiah conceived. In other words, Israel’s royal family will witness Jesus Christ being born. To the Bible student, there is nothing tenuous here. Were not Mary (Jesus’ mother) and Joseph (His foster-father) present to hear His conception announced and then see His actual birth nine months later? Yes, and, most significantly, they were of David’s house (Matthew 1:1-6,16; Luke 3:23,31)!

Matthew 1:18-25: “[18] Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. [19] Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. [20] But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. [Did you notice how the angel addressed Joseph, Jesus’ legal father, as “son of David?”] [21] And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. [22] Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, [23] Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. [24] Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: [25] And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.”

Luke 1:26-33: “[26] And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, [27] To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. [Did you notice how Mary, Jesus’ mother, is said to be “of the house of David?”] [28] And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. [29] And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. [30] And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. [31] And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. [32] He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: [33] And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” (Did you see how Jesus Himself is a descendant of David in verse 32?)

CONCLUSION

King Ahaz himself did not see the virgin conception of Jesus Christ—and the Bible never said he would anyway. It was not a failed prophecy. Ahaz indeed died many years before Christ, but that made no difference whatsoever. The prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 was that the house of David (verse 13) would witness the birth of Christ. King David’s ancestors did see Messiah’s birth. Joseph and Mary, and David’s other royal ancestors alive at the time, bore record of the fulfillment of Isaiah’s magnificent “virgin conception” prophecy. There is no mistake in the Bible!

Also see:
» What is the real “Immaculate Conception?”
» How should we respond to, “If only I saw a miracle, then I would believe?”
» Did God “rape” Mary?

What are the “warp” and the “woof?”

WHAT ARE THE “WARP” AND THE “WOOF?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

They appear six times in the King James Bible (and always paired). What are they?

  • Leviticus 13:49: “And if the plague be greenish or reddish in the garment, or in the skin, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in any thing of skin; it is a plague of leprosy, and shall be shewed unto the priest:….”
  • Leviticus 13:51: “And he shall look on the plague on the seventh day: if the plague be spread in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in a skin, or in any work that is made of skin; the plague is a fretting leprosy; it is unclean.”
  • Leviticus 13:53: “And if the priest shall look, and, behold, the plague be not spread in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in any thing of skin;….”
  • Leviticus 13:56: “And if the priest look, and, behold, the plague be somewhat dark after the washing of it; then he shall rend it out of the garment, or out of the skin, or out of the warp, or out of the woof:….”
  • Leviticus 13:57: “And if it appear still in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in any thing of skin; it is a spreading plague: thou shalt burn that wherein the plague is with fire.”
  • Leviticus 13:58: “And the garment, either warp, or woof, or whatsoever thing of skin it be, which thou shalt wash, if the plague be departed from them, then it shall be washed the second time, and shall be clean.”

The context is various skin diseases as they spread through garments or fabrics. “Warp” and “woof” refer to the two component series of threads of which woven material is made on a loom. That, is, they are two perpendicular yarn sets that form the grid pattern. The warp is the set of lengthwise yarns, and the woof (also called weft) is the set of crosswise yarns. The woof crosses the warp from left to right and over and under. The warp alternates from front to back. In the diagram below, the warp is the dark, vertical threads; the woof (weft) is the thicker, light-colored, horizontal threads.

Warp_woof

Also see:
» What does “fetch a compass” mean?
» What does “kicking against the pricks” mean?
» What does “Lord of Sabaoth” mean?

“If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant?”

“IF ANY MAN BE IGNORANT, LET HIM BE IGNORANT?” BUT, ARE WE NOT SUPPOSED TO TEACH THE IGNORANT?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Yes, and yes.

First Corinthians chapter 14: “[37] If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. [38] But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.” Why would the Holy Spirit move the Apostle Paul to write verse 38? After all, does God really desire people to be unlearned, lacking information and understanding? How could He then order us to let people remain in their ignorance?

Friend, if God wanted us to remain ignorant, then He would have never given us His words to read here, now would He? It is in light of the Bible being given that we let people stay in their ignorance. In order words, despite Him giving revelation, they prefer to stay in darkness. It is a willful ignorance, a deliberate choice to pay no attention to what Divine words have already been spoken. Since they reject His words, they refuse to hear our speech quoting those words.

In the context, it is whether or not one is aware of the Lord Jesus Christ giving apostolic authority to Paul. If someone prefers to see Paul’s words as but men’s words, and not the Lord’s words, then he or she is to be left in that woeful state. The God of the Bible values free will. No one has to believe the truth if they do not want it. If they crave error, He will not stand in their way. This goes far beyond Pauline authority and actually would encompass all Bible themes, whether basic and advanced. If darkness is preferred, they will have it until they can no more tolerate it!

Recently, a dear Christian brother lamented that he was “ignorant” of the Bible. This author quickly corrected him. We are all ignorant of Scripture to some degree. No man on Earth today knows the Bible as he ought to know—even he who has memorized 15,000 verses is not guaranteed exemplary spiritual discernment and superior Bible understanding! Certainly, it is no sin to be uniformed about Holy Writ. The problem is when we are willfully or deliberately unfamiliar with it. After all, it is easier to remain uneducated. Preconceived notions remain unchallenged. Religious tradition is hard to abandon. Habits are not easy to change.

Second Peter chapter 3 speaks of Bible mockers who intentionally overlook historical truth—namely, the Great Deluge of Noah’s day—because it contradicts their “things never change” prejudice: “[3] Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, [4] And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. [5] For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: [6] Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:….” Such willful ignorance could apply to any Scriptural topic!!

Jesus Christ asserted in John 7:16-17: “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” In the same vein of thought as 1 Corinthians, “If you truly desire to know if I am speaking mere human thoughts, or Divine thoughts, you will be able to discern God’s will in order to obey that will!”

Frankly, many professing Christians know little to nothing about the Bible—and (here is a worse truth) that is just how they want it. Even genuine believers in Christ, those who have a testimony of soul salvation by faith alone in Christ alone, even they often prefer ignorance. In fact, the vast majority of “grace” Christians are also babes in Christ: they can draw a Bible timeline, they know about Paul’s special ministry, they recognize the Body of Christ and Israel as separate entities, but they have no real idea of how to go about grace living. It is easy to memorize verses, draw diagrams, make outlines, delineate differences between the dispensations, and do all sorts of mental gymnastics and intellectual exercises; they ignore the hard part, applying by heart faith that information so that it becomes a part of their daily living!

God gave gifted men to the early Body of Christ to bring Christians to spiritual maturity, until the Bible canon was completed. He did not want them ignorant of the truth any more than He wants us ignorant. Ephesians chapter 4: “[11] And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; [12] For the perfecting [completing, fixing, repairing] of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying [building up] of the body of Christ: [13] Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: [14] That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;….” Yet, many Christians are content in being spiritual children—“tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.” Inexperienced, and doggedly so, they fall for every idea no matter how ridiculous or false it is.

The LORD lamented through the Prophet Jeremiah, chapter 5, verses 30-31, some 600 years before Christ: “A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?” Is that not sad? God says,My people love to have it so! They love to be deceived, to hear nice “feel-good” messages, to be taken advantage of, to have a “religious high” and please their flesh!

We find such fleshly Christians in verses 25-26, and we are encouraged in verse 24 to be ready to gently and patiently teach them: “[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” (2 Timothy 2:24-26). Likewise, 1 Timothy says the bishop must be “apt to teach” (3:2). God wants people to learn more about Him and His Word, but are they interested in learning? Well, the fact is, usually not. That is the plain and simple reality.

Back to 1 Corinthians chapter 14: “[37] If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. [38] But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.” Verse 38 is to be interpreted in light of verse 37. Revelation from God—the commandments of the Lord—has been provided in earlier verses (all of 1 Corinthians, especially since chapter 12 which began the section concerning spiritual gifts). The ignorance in verse 38 is implied to be a deliberate overlooking of the truth. This is not someone struggling to grasp God’s Word; this is someone who could not care less about God’s Word. It has nothing to do with illiteracy, a low IQ, learning disabilities, complicated material, no access to a Bible, or no available teachers. It is someone who has chosen to make no effort in mastering the Scriptures. They are lazy and content in having misinformation… or no information!

Notice deliberately-apostate Christians known to the Scripture 20 centuries ago! “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1). “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes” (2 Timothy 1:15). “[2] Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. [3] For the time will come when they will not endure [tolerate] sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; [4] And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables (2 Timothy 4:2-4).

The Bible’s definition of “sin” is Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way….” Proverbs chapter 18 adds: “Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom. A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself” (verses 1-2). The fool has an agenda, a “pet” idea or system, and has no interest in changing it on account of the Bible. Thus, he pleads ignorance—willful ignorance! Dear friends, may we not be numbered with him. We are ignorant, yes, but we are nevertheless endeavoring to correct and refine our distorted thinking by “studying… rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Also see:
» How long should we keep witnessing to the same person?
» “I believed the Gospel, so why do they not believe?”
» If dispensational Bible study is true, how come so few believe it?

If God is everywhere, is He suffering in Hell?

IF GOD IS EVERYWHERE, IS HE SUFFERING IN HELL? HOW CAN PEOPLE IN HELL BE SEPARATED FROM HIM IF HE IS OMNIPRESENT?

by Shawn Brasseaux

These resemble the conundrums Bible skeptics like the throw out to make Christians stumble. With the believer in Christ dazed, he grows silent, and the scoffer slyly relieves himself of a further confrontation with the truth. Yet, the scoffer will not escape the Divine wrath he himself will face in Hell if he dies in his sins! God is absolutely everywhere; to wit, He is omnipresent. So, then, what of His relationship to those in Hell?

Let us turn to Psalm 139 for the answer. We see God’s omniscience (“all-knowledgeable”): “[1] O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. [2] Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. [3] Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. [4] For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. [5] Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. [6] Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.”

Then, we note His omnipresence (“all-present”): “[7] Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? [8] If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. [9] If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; [10] Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. [11] If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. [12] Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.”

Next, we see His omnipotence (“all-powerful”): “[13] For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. [14] I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. [15] My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. [16] Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. [17] How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! [18] If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.”

Finally, in verses 19-24, King David closes the chapter by responding to the foregoing affirmations: “[19] Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men. [20] For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain. [21] Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? [22] I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies. [23] Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: [24] And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Nothing is hidden from the Creator God’s view (verses 7-12). Even acts committed in pitch darkness are as visible to Him as deeds done in broad daylight! Strange as it sounds, His Word, the Holy Bible, “sees” all things as well. That stunning revelation is discovered in Hebrews 4:12-13: “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his [the Bible’s!!] sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

God is God, so He is everywhere. Yet, since He is God He can also hide Himself from any particular being if He so chooses. He can be present but not reveal Himself to that individual: the knowledge of His presence can be removed as well. That is to say, He is able to withdraw intimate communion, remove awareness of presence, and still be literally there. A crude example that may aid our understanding here is to consider someone nearby who is daydreaming. Physically, he or she is next to us but his or her attention is elsewhere. Despite close proximity, personal interaction with the person is impossible. He or she is unavailable on a heart-to-heart, spirit-to-spirit basis. The same is true of someone sitting right next to us who refuses to pay attention to what we have to say.

In the case of sin, a man’s spirit is dead—separated from God’s Spirit (Ephesians 2:1-3). There is no fellowship because of the barrier of sin. Regeneration, or the Holy Spirit giving life to that dead human spirit, is the answer (Titus 3:4-7). The Holy Spirit uses the Gospel of Grace (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) as the means whereby He gives life to the believing sinner (see Ephesians 2:4-9). The death of Christ becomes the sinner’s death to sin’s penalty and power, the burial of Christ is the putting away of the sinner’s old identity in Adam, and the resurrection of Christ becomes the sinner’s new life (see Romans chapter 6). This is how a lost person becomes a saint, moving from Adam to Christ—positionally and practically!

Until trusting the Gospel, lost people live in God’s creation, function in His sight, and yet cannot have a personal relationship with Him. They must exercise faith in Christ to gain union with Him. It does not matter how many church memberships, tithes, and prayers are on their account, they are still sinners, fallen short of His glory and righteousness. If they want eternal life and forgiveness of sins, if they want to be saints, they will have to rely on what Jesus Christ did at Calvary to pay for their sins. Nothing they do will ever replace or supplement His finished crosswork!

As long as there is breath in the lost person’s physical body, he or she can trust Christ and have intimate communion with Father God. That person can pass from spiritual death to spiritual life. His or her eternal destiny is not yet fixed. Once the soul leaves the physical body at death, however, the separation of a sinner from God is permanent. It can never be reversed, as temporariness has been traded for eternality. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). The finality of Hell makes it all the more horrific. Hell transitions into the Lake of Fire, the place where lost human souls and evil angels (including Satan) wind up in Revelation chapter 20, especially verses 11-15. The Lake of Fire is the final destination of all creatures doomed to suffer the eternal wrath of a holy, righteous God. They are never released. They can never enjoy God’s love or presence. Why this harsh penalty? That is where they chose to go when they previously rejected His love and presence!!! It is not His fault they were foolish! They should have come to Him when He graciously offered them a friendship! More than enough time was given them on Earth to react positively to His Word.

CONCLUSION

Yes, God is everywhere, including Hell, but He surely cannot suffer His own wrath. That is most silly. Furthermore, the souls in Hell are unable to enjoy His presence there. He sees their souls and hears their cries but will do nothing to rescue them. They have decided to reject His Son Jesus Christ forever. No, they are certainly not reformed—only growing more antagonistic toward Him because they have been fully given over to their preference (sin). They are not sorry they have sinned; they just regret to be suffering punishment for it. The God of the Bible values free will, and knows they have no use for Heaven. He cannot use them for His glory either. All they care about is self. They spurned His beloved Son the Lord Jesus Christ, and trampled under foot His self-sacrifice on Calvary offered to pay for their sins. How can we expect Him to overlook such folly?

Also see:
» How can a “loving” God send people to Hell forever?
» Are the flames of fire in Hell literal?

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

Should we be “fruit inspectors?”

SHOULD WE BE “FRUIT INSPECTORS?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

Should we be “fruit inspectors?” This question stems from the Lord Jesus Christ’s words in Matthew 7:20: “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” In religion, the practice of “fruit inspecting” means going around and looking (read that, snooping) to find fault with and criticize others after evaluating their alleged “Christian” service/works. If there is little to no performance, little to no spirituality, we are supposed to conclude that the person is not saved. Unfortunately, Matthew 7:20 is then brought in to justify such a practice. Some people, mainly preachers, have taken this concept so far as to “lord over” or bully church members, supervising them to make sure they are living right. Is Matthew 7:20 being correctly applied?

It is always helpful to look at the context of any verse with which we are struggling. We start with verse 15 and move through to verse 20: “[15] Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. [16] Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? [17] Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. [18] A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. [19] Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. [20] Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”

Who is the “them” of verse 16? Of verse 20? Why, it is the “false prophets” of verse 15! The “fruit” here, as the context demands, is not deeds or actions (as in sins of the flesh) but rather doctrine or teaching (information taught). False prophets appear good but the content of their message exposes them as evil. A corrupt tree, or a false teacher, manufactures wrong information; a good tree, or a godly teacher, brings forth good information. Specifically, these are false preachers in Israel who are deceiving the nation so as to lead her people away from the Lord Jesus Christ. They have an outward form of religion, but it is false religion. While claiming to be serving God, students of the Word, they are about to put His Son to death. They love quoting Moses but have staunchly rejected the Messiah whom Moses predicted would come to them. After all, remember it was these—Israel’s religious leaders—who conspired to bring about, and later demanded, Christ’s crucifixion! They even joined in mocking Him as He hung there!

“Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover. And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people” (Luke 22:1-2). “And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none” (Mark 14:55). “When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God” (John 19:6-7).

“And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God” (Matthew 27:39-43).

False teachers deceived national Israel, which ultimately lead to two particular unfortunate events found in the Bible—Christ’s rejection and death on Calvary, and the rise of Antichrist (counterfeit Messiah). Since Israel did not want the true Christ, God says He will judge her by giving her the false one! This is yet future.

Notice Jesus’ words in John 5:43: “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.” The Antichrist is predicted in that latter clause! Now, read the parallel passage, 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12: “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” Romans 1:18-32 shows us that the God of the Bible gives people over to what they want. If they prefer the lie as opposed to the truth, then He will let them have the lie… and they will not be spared the awful consequences that come with it!

WE SHOULD BE “FRUIT INSPECTORS”—BUT IN WHAT SENSE?

It is Biblical to inspect fruit, but “fruit” in Matthew 7:15-20 is in the sense of doctrine being taught. Even today, we should evaluate what we hear in church, at Bible study, prayer service, et cetera. A careful examination of messages/sermons will reveal to us who are the false (flesh-led, Satan-led) Bible teachers and who are true (Spirit-led, God-led) Bible teachers. It is our responsibility—not to tell everyone every little thing that he or she is doing wrong in life—but rather recognize and uncover incorrect teaching (whatever idea, whichever denomination, whoever is involved, and so on).

While millions of church members are currently scrutinizing the lives of others, condemning them for this “sinful” behavior and that “sinful” behavior, they themselves believe and teach denominational lies. God pity these “goody-goodies” who look down their nose on others when they have less obvious—and yet more serious—problems. They believe every word their preacher or priest says, but they do not engage in personal Bible reading and study to see what God’s Word says. Unfortunately for them, they do not know have good spiritual sense (discernment) to notice they are feasting on unhealthy, rotten fruit!

May they (and we) follow the wise examples below of people not blindly listening to spiritual leaders but carefully comparing the message preached with the Bible written!

“And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:10-11).

“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17-18).

“If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself” (1 Timothy 6:3-5).

Also see:
» How do we identify false teachers?
» Should we read denominational literature?
» “But what if they read the Bible at my church…?!”

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