Monthly Archives: May 2019

What does the Bible mean, “Shake the dust from your feet?”

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE MEAN, “SHAKE THE DUST FROM YOUR FEET?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

Friend, you have likely heard the expression, “Shake the dust from your feet,” in Christian contexts. It is indeed derived from the Scriptures. Have you ever wondered what it means?

The phrase (or a slight variation) appears five times in the King James Bible:

  • Matthew 10:14: “And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.”
  • Mark 6:11: “And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.”
  • Luke 9:5: “And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them.”
  • Luke 10:11: “Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.”
  • Acts 13:51: “But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium.”

According to Bible historians, when a Jew returned from traveling in a Gentile land, he literally shook the dust from his clothes and feet because he did not want to bring heathen soil into Judaea. It was a gesture of disgust. Similarly, when the Apostles (led by Peter) in Israel’s program went around preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, or when the Apostles (led by Paul) in our mystery program went around preaching the Gospel of the Grace of God, they “shook the dust” to show God’s disapproval of their unbelieving audiences. It was an insult for a Jewish town to be treated as though it were Gentile (and, in fact, those unsaved Jews were just as unbelieving as the unsaved pagans)!

The dust cleaving to the shoes of these Gospel preachers was proof that Almighty God’s spokesmen had been present in the cities and houses but the citizens had rejected those Divine messages. Such preachers of Christ were not to linger indefinitely in one place, wasting precious time with people who did not want to hear the truth and had no interest in believing God’s Word anyway. They were to shake the dust as a sign of condemnation!

Also see:
» “If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant?”
» How long should we keep witnessing to the same person?
» Did Paul engage in “missionary journeys?”

How was Moses “very meek?”

HOW WAS MOSES “VERY MEEK?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

We have all heard about Numbers 12:3: “(Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.).” How exactly was Moses very meek?

It would do us well to read the entire chapter before we comment: “[1] And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. [2] And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it. [3] (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.) 

“[4] And the LORD spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out. [5] And the LORD came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth. [6] And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. [7] My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. [8] With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?

“[9] And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them; and he departed. [10] And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous. [11] And Aaron said unto Moses, Alas, my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned. [12] Let her not be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he cometh out of his mother’s womb. [13] And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee. [14] And the LORD said unto Moses, If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days? let her be shut out from the camp seven days, and after that let her be received in again.

“[15] And Miriam was shut out from the camp seven days: and the people journeyed not till Miriam was brought in again. [16] And afterward the people removed from Hazeroth, and pitched in the wilderness of Paran.”

Moses’ meekness is juxtaposed with his siblings’ pride. His sister Miriam and their brother Aaron were self-willed. They wanted to lead God’s people with Moses, but God had not appointed them or suggested they assume that role. God Himself had ordained Moses: Moses had not taken it upon himself to lead Israel. Moses had not chosen to become God’s prophet to Israel. The LORD God had commissioned Moses as His prophet and leader of Israel (Exodus chapter 3), but Miriam and Aaron wanted to share in that capacity. (A similar rebellion will break out with Korah and his followers in chapter 16 of Numbers.) How awesome it would be to rule two million people! To Korah, Miriam, Aaron, and the other dissenters, such an office was irresistible!

However, we are not to suppose that Moses was sinless, or that he did not feel pride at times. He was just as human as we are, prone to sin. Nevertheless, he was God’s spokesman to Israel, and God had chosen him as His vessel. Moses grew impatient and lost his temper many times—and you would have too if you were dealing with two million sinners during a 40-year ministry! The most famous sin of Moses is when he smote the rock when God had instructed him to speak to it.

See chapter 20 of Numbers: “[2] And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. [3] And the people chode with Moses, and spake, saying, Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the LORD!….

“[7] And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, [8] Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink. [9] And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he commanded him. [10] And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? [11] And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.

“[12] And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them. [13] This is the water of Meribah; because the children of Israel strove with the LORD, and he was sanctified in them.”

Also see:
» Is it permissible for us to be proud of our accomplishments?
» “Become as little children… to enter the kingdom of heaven?”
» Why did God want to kill Moses in Exodus 4:24?

What is the difference between apostasy and heresy?

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN APOSTASY AND HERESY?

by Shawn Brasseaux

These are terms frequently used in religious contexts so we must be sure to define them as the Holy Bible does. “For what saith the Scriptures?”

APOSTASY

We shall deal with the subject of apostasy first. Scripture makes two references to “apostasy.” While the English word itself does not appear, the Greek form does: “apostasia” transliterated yields our English term. The Greek prefix “apo–” means “away from;” the word “stasis” is defined as “standing.” Imagine someone standing in one camp of doctrine suddenly walking over to stand in another camp of doctrine. This is a simple illustration of apostasy. Now, we turn to the actual verses to see that concept borne out.

Acts 21:21: “And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.” The word “forsake” is the Greek “apostasia.” Paul the Apostle is falsely accused of encouraging all Jews everywhere to abandon the Law of Moses. While he told his converts that they were under grace not law (Romans 6:14-15), never did he tell this to the Jews who had trusted Christ before him. Paul did not encourage Israel’s Little Flock to turn away from the Law, for law was their operating system (see Matthew 5:18-20). What Paul did teach is that members (Jews and Gentiles) of the Church the Body of Christ were not under the Law of Moses (read the Book of Galatians). God had changed the program, from law to grace (see Ephesians 3:2). That did not change the doctrine previously given to the Little Flock, Israel’s believing remnant. They were to remain with their revelation, just as Paul’s converts were to remain with his revelation.

Second Thessalonians 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;….” Here, “apostasia” has been rendered “falling away.” The only way Israel can embrace the Antichrist is if they first far remove themselves from God’s Word. Had they believed on His Son (Jesus Christ) when He showed up in their midst 20 centuries ago, had they not crucified Him in unbelief, there would be no Antichrist. Jesus said, “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). Antichrist will use a false religious system to deceive the masses in Israel, but the believing Jews will not be fooled. In 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, we can see the apostasy leading up to the Antichrist: “[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.”

There is an interesting concept put forth in Galatians chapter 1, where Paul is warning the Galatians who have just left God’s grace to be legalistic: “[6] I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: [7] Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. [8] But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. [9] As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” They have been “removed” (apostatized) from God’s grace that Paul preached to them. Now, they are works-oriented, law-oriented. False teachers have slipped into their midst, and they did not guard themselves. How deceived they are! (And millions of Christians are just as deceived today—anti-grace and pro-law!!)

In one succinct statement, let us summarize what we have said thus far. Apostasy, if we use the English Bible with the Greek Bible, is the moving from one doctrinal position to another. One teaching has been abandoned in favor of another teaching. More specifically, it is a renouncing of the truth in order to embrace false doctrine. If you want to see examples and imagery of apostasy in Scripture, consider the “rebellion” in Joshua 22:22 and Jeremiah 29:32, the “casting away” (throwing out) of God’s holy vessels in 2 Chronicles 29:19, and the “forsaking” of the LORD in Jeremiah 2:19. Apostasy is always a downgrade; never is it an improvement. Spiritual harm is the inevitable outcome of apostasy, and never forget it! We can study the Bible, we can appeal to church history and secular history, and see that brought to pass many times over.

HERESY

As the English term “apostasy” is from Greek, so is our English word “heresy.” The Greek is “hairesis,” appearing nine times in the Textus Receptus. In our English Bible, the word has been transliterated four times (“heresy”). The remaining instances have been rendered “sect.” Again, we let the Bible speak for itself:

  • Acts 5:17: “Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect [hairesis] of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation,….”
  • Acts 15:5: “But there rose up certain of the sect [hairesis] of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”
  • Acts 24:5: “For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect [hairesis] of the Nazarenes:….”
  • Acts 24:14: “But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy [hairesis], so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:….”
  • Acts 26:5: “Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect [hairesis] of our religion I lived a Pharisee.”
  • Acts 28:22: “But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect [hairesis], we know that every where it is spoken against.”
  • 1 Corinthians 11:19: “For there must be also heresies [hairesis] among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.”
  • Galatians 5:20: “Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies [hairesis],….”
  • 2 Peter 2:1: “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies [hairesis], even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.”

Pharisees, religious Jews known for their meticulous observance of the Mosaic Law and reverence for oral tradition, were a special group or “sect” (Acts 5:17; Acts 15:5). Paul the Apostle, a former Pharisee himself (Acts 26:5), was seen as promoting a “sect” (same word as “heresy” in Greek, remember). This is the critics’ title for Christianity (see Acts 24:5,14; Acts 28:22). It is seen as a “branch of Judaism,” as Christians identify with the God of Israel.

The last three occurrences of “hairesis” deserve particular attention. Paul’s converts in Corinth have aligned themselves with various and sundry ideas and practices—heathen philosophy, sexual deviance, idolatry, drunkenness, gluttony, among other dreadful errors. These diverse “pet” views have resulted in splinter groups or denominations.

First Corinthians chapter 1: “[10] Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions [Greek, “schisma”—as in “schism”] among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. [11] For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. [12] Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.”

As we saw, chapter 11 and verse 19 spoke of the “heresies” or sects that exist among fellow members of the Body of Christ in Corinth. Instead of all following Paul as he follows Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1), the Corinthians are adhering to numerous religious leaders (see 1 Corinthians 4:14-16). One of the “works of the flesh” (sin nature) is “heresies” (Galatians 5:19-20). The Corinthians are “carnal” or fleshly Christians, driven by sin instead of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:1-3). Hence, they are divided. They have no unity in sound Bible doctrine because they have accepted false doctrine! Instead of relying on God’s viewpoint, they are depending on man’s viewpoint (see chapters 1-3)!

Heresy is one of Satan’s most effective tools in splitting Israel too (just as he uses it to divide the Body of Christ). The Apostle Peter, in 2 Peter 1:19-21, referred to God’s prophets or spokesmen. He opens chapter 2 with, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” Heresy is designed to oppose the truth by counterfeiting and (ultimately) replacing it. New information is introduced in order to form a new system. Someone seeks to start a following, a new denomination, or a cult. Fame is sought, fortune is sought, but truth is not on the agenda. The Lord Jesus Christ is not at the heart of the heretic’s plans because the Lord Jesus Christ has been pushed aside.

We find one reference to the “heretick” in the King James Bible (the spelling variation need not distract you). Titus chapter 3: “[9] But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. [10] A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; [11] Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.” Concentrate on verse 9. The heretic uses these techniques to introduce his or her false teaching into a preexisting local church or ministry. Silly questions, profitless questions are presented. Personalities and people (“Dr. So-and-So,” “Reverend So-and-So,” et cetera) are exalted while doctrine is ignored. Arguments and fights break out. Wars based on legalistic issues overwhelm and discourage. The Bible declares this is “unprofitable” and “vain.” It is empty and worthless, accomplishing nothing for God’s glory.

The Bible says the “heretick” should be warned twice of his or her errors (Titus 3:10). If after the second time he or she continues down that path of false teaching, the Bible says to “reject” that person. Heretics should not be given public platforms to spread their nonsense. They are not to be allowed to address local churches or speak at Bible conferences. Souls are at stake, and it is the pastor’s job to make sure his people are not listening to heretics!! God commands him to guard his pulpit without apology!!

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

Did you see how the heretics introduce false teaching for the sake of forming new groups, “to draw away disciples after them” (verse 30)? These resulting sects or cults are inherently flawed. They cannot be purged. They must be abandoned entirely. Heretics cannot be reformed if they have willfully gone down that path. It is not our job to risk our ministries for the sake of salvaging someone (even a Christian) if it will damage our testimony and corrupt our souls and the people we reach. We must be on guard, we must be on guard—especially in grace circles!!! It bears repeating over and over and over and over and over and over.

CONCLUSION

Apostasy is the abandoning of truth for the sake of embracing error. It is moving one’s spiritual feet from one doctrinal position so as to stand in another doctrinal faction. Heresy is the introduction of new doctrine for the sake of dividing believers and forming new groups (sects, denominations, cults).

Whereas “apostasy” underscores the activity of moving from one doctrinal position to another, “heresy” emphasizes the division that false teaching produces. Apostasy can lead to heresy (someone can switch doctrinal positions and wind up forming a new group, that new group adopting a special set of beliefs). Heresy can lead to apostasy (upon learning and embracing a heretical doctrine, one grows apostate). Leaving the truth gives rise to new groups and new groups give rise to further departures from the truth. See 2 Timothy 2:14-18.

Brethren, our only hope in not growing apostate and/or heretical is to fervently maintain and believe the word of God’s grace—Paul’s Gospel and his epistles, Romans through Philemon. Acts 20:32: “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.”

Also see:
» How do we identify false teachers?
» Does doctrine really matter?
» Should we be “fruit inspectors?”

Are Matthew 3:11 and 1 Corinthians 12:13 speaking of the same Spirit baptism?

ARE MATTHEW 3:11 AND 1 CORINTHIANS 12:13 SPEAKING OF THE SAME SPIRIT BAPTISM?

by Shawn Brasseaux

No. No. No. No! Regardless of what any “scholar” may tell you, they are not the same concept!

The Scriptures say in 1 Corinthians chapter 12: “[12] For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. [13] For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”

Verse 13 reads as follows in the Greek Textus Receptus (the source of the King James New Testament): “Kai_gar [For] en* [by] eni [one] pneumati [Spirit] emeis [we] pantes [all] eis [into] en [one] soma [body] ebaptisthemen [are baptized], eite [whether] Ioudaioi [Jews] eite [or] Ellenes [Gentiles], eite [whether] douloi [bond] eite [or] eleutheroi [free] – kai [and] pantes [all] eis [into] en [one] pneuma [Spirit] epotisthemen [have been made to drink].”

Some theologians raise the issue that the Greek preposition “en” (“by”) at the beginning of the verse (noted by the asterisk* above) can also be rendered “with” or “in.” Whereas the King James says, “For by one Spirit…,” the alternate readings would thus be “For with one Spirit” and “For in one Spirit.” The “with” variant is particularly appealing to denominationalists because they cross-reference it to the “with” (see the asterisk* below) portion of John the Baptist’s warning in Matthew 3:11: “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with* [en] the Holy Ghost, and with fire:….”

It is absolutely erroneous to make Jesus Christ baptizing people with the Holy Ghost (Matthew 3:11) the same as the Holy Spirit baptizing people into the Church the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). Since the disparate prepositions in the English Bible cannot be used to support the idea that they are the same, theologians will then “run to the Greek” to retranslate what they assume the Bible writers meant in the original language. “By” in 1 Corinthians 12:13, they say, is wrong because it must agree with the “with” of Matthew 3:11.

One theologian has gone so far as to state that the Bible never once refers to the Holy Spirit as the Person doing the baptizing. In fact, he claimed that Matthew 3:11 says Jesus always baptizes. However, if 1 Corinthians 12:13 is left alone as it appears in the King James Bible, then the theologian is wrong, and the Holy Spirit is indeed the baptizer there!! Now we see why people are always trying to make (so-called) “helpful changes” to the Authorized Version. They are adjusting the Bible to fit their theology! Their system is the authority and the Scripture is quoted only when it supports the “pet” denominational tenet. They “correct” the Bible to agree with their preferred position. Any Bible contradictions can be written off as “mistakes” or “mistranslations.” What a shame!

Here, friends, is the tomfoolery—hiding under the guise of “scholarship” and “education”—that has led to such Bible perversions and corruptions for centuries upon centuries. These are the poor attitudes of most individuals leading our seminaries and teaching in our Bible colleges. You can find their students/graduates in myriads of pulpits and literature everywhere. They are the very people who sit on translation committees to publish the latest Bible version (and then their confusion is passed on the poor, unsuspecting readers). Even if they mean well—and hopefully they do mean well—they nevertheless are not using Divine insight when handling God’s Word. Such shoddy Bible interpretation belongs with lost people but not among Christian people!

If we ignore the dispensational distinctions in Scripture, then we cannot make sense of or fully appreciate the Bible. Its truths mean little to nothing to us if we go around “correcting” it. Whatever light it can give us is now obscured because we have thrown shadows and enigmas on it. The Spirit baptism in Matthew 3:11 and the Spirit baptism in 1 Corinthians 12:13 have nothing to do with each other. To combine them is to confuse the Church the Body of Christ with the Messianic Church found in Acts chapter 2. Our baptism by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ is forced to be the same as Israel’s baptism with the Holy Spirit in early Acts. The dispensations are mixed. Prophecy and mystery have been combined. Nothing but unanswerable confusion will result when we start attacking the Bible with “re-translations!”

Brethren, we should always be suspicious of the Bible commentator who plays the role of Bible translator. The preacher or teacher is to use the Bible as is. He can and should explain the text, but he oversteps his bounds when he adds to the Bible, subtracts from the Bible, or retranslates the Bible. The English King James Bible is correctwhether he believes it or not, whether he agrees with it or not, whether we believe it or not, whether we agree with it or not. We are known as “people of the Book” but is that title appropriate if we vilify and correct the very book we proclaim to be “the infallible, inerrant Word of God?” It does not make sense. (Of course, religious tradition never does!!)

Rather than approaching the Bible dispensationally and thus appreciating its layout, people have been trained to panic and “smooth over” any disparities in the Bible text. They are under the impression that there is only one audience in the Scripture. There can be no nation Israel and the Body of Christ. There can be no prophetic program and mystery program. There can be no Peter and Paul. There is only one group of believers of all ages. There is only one program in Scripture. Paul is an extension of Peter. God never changes His dealings with man. All the promises in the Bible belong to us. Here are the fundamental blunders, the outright lies, which have led to more Bible corruption, more denominations, and more confusion. We had better approach the Bible “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15), or we will not have a prayer in the world in comprehending it.

In closing, let us repeat ourselves. The idea that Matthew 3:11 and 1 Corinthians 12:13 have the same Spirit baptism is all predicated on the erroneous notion that there is only one “church” in the Book of Acts. The Messianic Church and the Church the Body of Christ are not to be confused. Matthew 3:11 and 1 Corinthians 12:13 have absolutely nothing to do with each other. They were not the same baptism, they are still not the same baptism, and they will never be the same baptism. It does not matter what any theologian says. Whether we agree with it or not, the King James Bible is still correct (“BY one Spirit” in 1 Corinthians 12:13). It was here long before we were born and it will be here long after we are gone. What we had better do is believe it as it is, and stop “correcting” (corrupting) it using our limited understanding.

Also see:
» Did the Church the Body of Christ begin in Acts chapter 2?
» Should “church” be changed to “called-out assembly” in Acts 7:38 in the King James Bible?
» Do we live in the “Church Age?”

Is it permissible for us to be proud of our accomplishments?

IS IT PERMISSIBLE FOR US TO BE PROUD OF OUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

What is the difference between taking pleasure in our work, and being guilty of the sin of pride?

It is not wrong or sinful to be proud of or take pleasure in a job well done—winning an award, following a difficult recipe in the kitchen, running a successful business, passing a challenging exam, negotiating bargains, graduating school, raising a family, and the like. We can scrutinize and be satisfied with the work we did. This attitude is simply opposed to being displeased (which discontentment would motivate us to do it again until we got it right). Also, we can and should be proud of our heritage (ethnicity, nationality). (For more information about patriotism, see our related study linked at the end of this article.)

The problem is excessive satisfaction, a narcissistic or egotistical sentiment. It is an all-consuming attitude of, “I can do it better than everyone else, I know more than everyone else, I am superior to everyone else.” Rather than a healthy sense of reality, it becomes fantasy. It is not what we did, but rather how it compares to what others have done. It is not who we are, but how we relate to who others are. We get an elevated opinion of ourselves and our accomplishments. Soon, we see ourselves as sinless and our work impeccable, perfect, faultless. This “so-sure-of-self” attitude places us on a slippery slope. Since we have adopted an attitude of being above all wrongdoing, that false sense of security causes us to let our guard down. We are not so careful in our activities anymore because we assume we are immune to error. Such sloppiness on our part increasingly introduces the inclination to failure we thought we would never experience!

Christ commented in Mark chapter 7: “[20] And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. [21] For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, [22] Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: [23] All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” Pride is spoken of as originating from our sinful heart. The sinner exalts self, self, self; pride and self are always united.

Undue gratification and extreme satisfaction will eventually lead to pride (and not the good kind as in our opening paragraph). If abundant success comes our way, if we focus too much on our national identity, we will go the way of unreasonableness. Again, in our own eyes, we have become superior to others. We will adopt an attitude of invincibility and infallibility. Brethren, if we are to enjoy successful Christian lives (and steer clear of self-infatuation), we must (!) be armed with these verses before we face the problems. We must (!) familiarize ourselves with the truth so we can fight error when it begins to creep into our life.

The Book of Proverbs says much about pride. Its middle verse is chapter 16, verse 18: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (And, as we pointed out earlier, this is most certainly true in our experience!) Notice some other verses:

  • Proverbs 8:13: “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.”
  • Proverbs 11:2: “When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly [humble] is wisdom.”
  • Proverbs 13:10: “Only by pride cometh contention [fighting, arguing]: but with the well advised is wisdom.”
  • Proverbs 14:3: “In the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride [self drives the silly]: but the lips of the wise shall preserve them.”
  • Proverbs 29:23: “A man’s pride shall bring him low [indeed!!]: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.”

First Timothy 3:6 says the “bishop” is “Not [to be] a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.” New Christians should not be leaders within churches or groups, for quickly assuming such important roles will cause them to go the way Lucifer did before he became Satan. Ezekiel 28:17 is Almighty God speaking to Lucifer: “Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.” Here is Satan’s origin: he became too focused on himself, and he forgot his Creator was God and he was not! Job 41:34 thus says of Satan, “he is a king over all the children of pride.” Satan is no longer interested in worshipping the one true God; he desires all worship for himself (see Matthew 4:8-10 and Luke 4:5-8). Hence, he recruited man to side with him, and prideful Adam willfully joined (that federal head corrupted the whole human race so that it is sinful)!

A brother in Christ, long departed to Heaven, said most aptly many decades ago: “The way ‘up’ with God is ‘down!’” He was, of course, referring to Bible verses such as those found in Philippians chapter 2:

“[3] Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. [4] Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. [5] Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: [6] Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: [7] But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: [8] And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

“[9] Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: [10] That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; [11] And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

The Lord Jesus Christ was certainly not a prideful Man. He was sinless, fully God and fully Man. He was the perfect Man. If you study His earthly ministry (Matthew through John), you will see that He made every attempt to draw attention to His Heavenly Father rather than Himself. When people began making Him the focus of their affection, He would withdraw to another location. He knew who He was (God’s beloved Son), and He took a confident stand in His identity, but He preferred to glorify His Heavenly Father as opposed to Himself. He set aside His desires, choosing rather to make His Father’s will become His will. Out of love and honor, He went to the cross of Calvary because His Father wanted Him to go. Since He was obedient to His Father, His Father will glorify Him. All creation will one day bow to Him, and confess Jesus Christ is Lord (thereby glorifying Father God)!

Yes, the way “up” with the God of the Bible is “down,” and may we never forget it!

Also see:
» What are some verses to help me stop focusing on myself?
» How would God have us view veterans? What about patriotism?
» Why is “666” the number of the Beast?

Is that a UFO in Ezekiel chapter 1?

IS THAT A UFO IN EZEKIEL CHAPTER 1?

by Shawn Brasseaux

We should be careful not to read science fiction into the Bible. One case in point is the idea that “space aliens” landed on Earth in Ezekiel chapter 1 in some kind of craft or UFO (unidentified flying object). This is nothing but nonsense, empty speculations and people’s imaginations clouding the simple truths of Holy Writ. Mark well these words, friends: trouble is sure to come when people use mythology or Hollywood to interpret Scripture!

Begin reading in Ezekiel chapter 1: “[1] Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. [2] In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin’s captivity, [3] The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him.

“[4] And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire. [5] Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. [6] And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. [7] And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass. [8] And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. [9] Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward.

“[10] As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle. [11] Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies. [12] And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went. [13] As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning. [14] And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning.

“[15] Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces. [16] The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel. [17] When they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they went. [18] As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four. [19] And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them: and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up. [20] Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, thither was their spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels. [21] When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.

“[22] And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above. 23 And under the firmament were their wings straight, the one toward the other: every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies. [24] And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings. [25] And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings.

“[26] And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. [27] And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. [28] As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.”

One common theme throughout the Book of Ezekiel is that God’s throne (His presence, the “Shekinah glory”) should be in Israel’s midst and yet He is gradually withdrawing from them. They have been such a sinful people, so idolatrous, that He is now leaving them to their own ways (see Hosea 5:15; cf. 2 Chronicles 36:23). Four cherubim (spirit beings similar to angels, though not exactly the same) carry His throne on an enormous wheeled platform. We can view this as a colossal chariot, carrying Divine judgment to Israel (namely, Judah, the Southern Kingdom, since the Northern Kingdom has already been judged). The LORD God’s peaceful presence should be abiding with them but they had broken His covenant of Law so they are reaping the curses of Leviticus chapter 26 and Deuteronomy chapter 28.

There are three phases to God’s withdrawal from Israel and her Jerusalem Temple recorded in the Book of Ezekiel. There are also three phases of her political fall (the three times “overturn” appears in Ezekiel 21:25-27 correspond to the last three kings of Judah—Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah [see 2 Kings 24:1-7, 2 Kings 24:8-20, and 2 Kings 25:1-30]).

  • Ezekiel 10:4: “Then the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub, and stood over the threshold of the house [the Temple]; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the LORD’S glory.”
  • Ezekiel 10:18: “Then the glory of the LORD departed from off the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubims.”
  • Ezekiel 10:23: “And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city [Jerusalem], and stood upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city [Mount of Olives].”

The glory of the LORD will not return to Jerusalem until the Second Coming of Christ, as predicted in Ezekiel 43:1-4 (cf. Ezekiel 21:25-27 and Luke 1:31-33).

Also see:
» Should we Bible-believers investigate and promulgate conspiracy theories?
» What does the Bible say about “ghosts?”
» Are we “doom and gloom” prophecy believers?

Who were the “strong bulls of Bashan” standing before Christ’s cross?

WHO WERE THE “STRONG BULLS OF BASHAN” STANDING BEFORE CHRIST’S CROSS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Indeed, they are some puzzling statements. King David, some 10 centuries beforehand, quotes Jesus Christ as He hangs on Calvary’s cross. Psalm 22: “[11] Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help. [12] Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.” What or who are these “strong bulls of Bashan?” Are actual four-legged bovine standing before Jesus? We think not.

An important rule of thumb concerning Bible study—which we would do well to always keep in mind—can be summarized in one simple statement. It is, “If the literal sense makes sense, seek no other sense.” In the case of Psalm 22, however, we cannot see why God’s Word would here draw our attention to literal animals. Something more sinister is being accentuated here, and if our spiritual senses are sharp enough, we will grasp it.

Turning to Matthew chapter 27, we make some comparisons: “[35] And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots. [36] And sitting down they watched him there; [37] And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. [38] Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left. [39] And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, [40] 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. [41] Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, [42] 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. [43] He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. [44] The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.”

Calvary’s cross—with Christ nailed to it—is center-stage. They have gathered to watch the Son of God suffer and die. Whether standing or sitting, they have come to taunt Him in His final hours. The “strong bulls of Bashan” have surrounded Jesus. Who are they? Why, dear friends, they are “the chief priests, scribes, and elders” (verse 41)! These are Israel’s religious leaders, her spiritual advisers, having guided her down a most perilous path. Remember, it was these very people—the “religious” hierarchy—who had persuaded the Jewish nation to condemn Jesus to death just moments earlier! (Mark well, God never said anything here about drug dealers, gang members, drunkards, prostitutes, and publicans!!)

Consider Mark chapter 15: “[9] But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? [10] For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy. [11] But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them. [12] And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews? [13] And they cried out again, Crucify him. [14] Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him. [15] And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.”

If the “bulls of Bashan” were actually human, why does Psalms call them thus? More verse comparisons are necessary.

Ezekiel 1:10 says, “As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.” Now, chapter 10, verse 14: “And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of a cherub, and the second face was the face of a man, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.” Did you notice how “the face of an ox” and “the face of a cherub” are used interchangeably? This is significant because Satan is titled “the anointed cherub that covereth” (Ezekiel 28:14). Satan has a body that resembles a bull or an ox (cf. “cattle” of Genesis 3:14). These religious leaders are called “bulls” because they are operating under Satan’s influence. False religion has corrupted them. They have allowed themselves to be used of the Devil. Like their cunning spiritual father Satan, they are called “vipers” and “snakes” (Matthew 3:7; Matthew 23:33; cf. Genesis 3:1,4).

Why is there a connection to Bashan? Let us turn to Deuteronomy chapter 3: “[10] All the cities of the plain, and all Gilead, and all Bashan, unto Salchah and Edrei, cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan. [11] For only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of giants; behold his bedstead was a bedstead of iron; is it not in Rabbath of the children of Ammon? nine cubits was the length thereof, and four cubits the breadth of it, after the cubit of a man. [12] And this land, which we possessed at that time, from Aroer, which is by the river Arnon, and half mount Gilead, and the cities thereof, gave I unto the Reubenites and to the Gadites. [13] And the rest of Gilead, and all Bashan, being the kingdom of Og, gave I unto the half tribe of Manasseh; all the region of Argob, with all Bashan, which was called the land of giants.” (Moses is pointing back to the historical events of Numbers 21:33-35 and Numbers chapter 32.)

Bashan was east of the Jordan River. It was home to giants—yes, physically enormous men—who were tools of Satan to keep the land polluted and make Israel too intimidated to take over the land. The LORD God enabled Israel to conquer them under Moses in order to take the land back for God’s glory. See Joshua 13:12: “All the kingdom of Og in Bashan, which reigned in Ashtaroth and in Edrei, who remained of the remnant of the giants: for these did Moses smite, and cast them out.”

Like the giants of Bashan, Israel’s religious leaders were Satan’s instruments to defile God’s land. Both classes were involved with pagan religion, devil worship. In the case of Israel’s religious leaders, that false religious system drove them to crucify the Son of God. These representatives of Satan’s policy of evil stood and sat to mock the Lord Jesus as He died for our sins.

Also see:
» Who, crucified on Calvary, mocked Jesus?
» Were there five crosses on Calvary?
» How could Jesus say His killers knew not what they were doing?