Category Archives: DENOMINATIONS, CULTS, & FALSE TEACHING

How was Jesus Christ crucified among the Galatians?

HOW WAS JESUS CHRIST CRUCIFIED AMONG THE GALATIANS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Galatians 3:1 concludes with some very interesting words: “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” Was not the Lord Jesus Christ crucified just outside Jerusalem, Israel, some decades prior? Then how could the Scriptures say here that was He crucified among Paul’s converts in Galatia (modern Turkey)?

Today’s “Gospel” preaching and teaching usually blurs and obscures the simple truths of God’s Good News to mankind. You hear “the Gospel” (?) preached today in the average church, and you hear nothing but discrepancy and contradiction. There are pleas for individuals to straighten up their lives first and then come to Jesus Christ. At “invitation time,” various and sundry enticements are heard. They are invited to do everything but rely on Christ and Christ alone—walk an aisle, say the “sinner’s prayer,” make deals with God, shake the preacher’s hand, kneel at the “altar” and weep hysterically, “ask Jesus into your heart,” give money, fill out a visitor’s card, pray for the “fire” to zap you, help the poor, support missions, join the church, get water baptized, “make Jesus the Lord of your life,” confess your sins, keep the Ten Commandments, obey the denomination’s precepts, repent of your sins, turn from your sins, feel “so sorry” for your sins, on and on and on.

All the above activities focus on us—what we can do to rehabilitate, reform, and manage sin. They are not pure Gospel messages because Jesus Christ’s work is not preeminent in them. Law is emphasized and grace is thus hidden! Contrariwise, the aforementioned conundrums and confusions were not the case with the Apostle Paul’s ministry. It was before the eyes of the Galatians that Jesus Christ was presented as the crucified Saviour. There were no gimmicks, no lies, and no traditions of men to clutter and cloud the minds and hearts of these idolatrous, Hell-bound souls! Laden with religious works already, they needed the grace of the Creator God they knew not! When the Apostle Paul arrived in Galatia and preached the Gospel of the Grace of God, there was such authority and clarity that his audience saw Calvary with awesome vividness.

First Corinthians 15:1-4 delineates Paul’s Gospel: “[1] Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; [2] By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. [3] For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; [4] And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:….”

With Paul’s ministry, there was nothing difficult to grasp, nothing mysterious, and nothing unclear as to what God’s justice demanded as payment for our sin. Our works were not the issue; Jesus Christ’s sacrifice of Himself for our sins, THAT was the issue! The Galatians saw it with startling lucidity, and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. They immediately passed from death to life, from Satan’s family to God’s family. However, Satan would not be outdone and would not give them up without a fight!

Galatians 1:6-9 is a sad commentary: “[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.”

Immediately after Paul left Galatia, the Devil worked his “magic.” Some Jewish legalists came in and used the Law—Moses’ writings, Scripture!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!—to confuse those saints. Paul’s advice was for the Galatians to separate from such false teachers. He called those Galatian Christians “foolish” in Galatians 3:1. They let people “bewitch” them: false teachers had cast a spell on them, causing them not to think clearly when it came to spiritual matters. They had abandoned the clear message of God’s grace and its accompanying blessings, and returned to religious bondage (Law) and its associated spiritual ignorance! Instead of “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), they were mixing the dispensations God had separated.

Acts 15:1-5 highlights this problem that existed between Jewish kingdom saints, Jewish false teachers, and Paul’s Gentile converts: “[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.Verse 5 was the message preached in Galatia after Paul left.

To correct the mix-ups, the Holy Spirit through Paul said in Galatians 2:16-21: “[16] Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. [17] But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. [18] For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. [19] For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. [20] I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. [21] I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”

Now, Galatians 3:1-5: “[1] O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? [2] This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? [3] Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? [4] Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. [5] He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?”

Galatians 4:21: “Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?” What was the problem at Galatia? Those saints wanted to follow the Law of Moses instead of the Grace of God!

Also, Galatians 5:1-9: “[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.” How awful—these dear saints had been polluted with non-dispensational Bible study! Sound familiar?!

Lastly, Galatians 5:18: “But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” The Spirit of God will never, ever, EVER (!) lead anyone in the Dispensation of Grace to place himself or herself under a performance-based acceptance system! Grace operates today; it tells us how to be justified and accepted before God unto eternal life (Romans chapters 1-5) and it tells us how to live as Christians before God on a daily basis (Romans chapters 6-8, 12-16). It is all about Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for our sins, and it is all about Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as means of conquering sin on a daily basis. Our performance is not the issue because we are weak and unreliable. Never once has Jesus Christ failed, though. Never once will Jesus Christ fail. That is why God put Christ in us—He wants us absolutely, totally, completely, eternally to have victory. Sin will only come about when we rely on ourselves.

CONCLUSION

My dear friends, we need to be extremely vigilant concerning false Gospels. They always have some element of works attached to them. They are widespread, and have—yes—led millions to eternal damnation rather than eternal bliss. Still, we need to be warned concerning clear Gospel messages also. We can hear all the clear Gospel of Grace messages we want, but, unless they are coupled with our faith, those divine words will do nothing for us. A pure Gospel message without personal faith will do as much good for you as a false Gospel message. We can be saved and on our way to Heaven, never to go to Hell, and still be so warped in the Scriptures that it is beyond comprehension (remember the Galatians!). We can be saved by grace through faith without works, and then be fooled into thinking we can maintain our salvation by our works. What deception! Satan’s evil world system is very subtle—it comes in so many forms.

By the way, in closing, let me stress this. Your greatest handbooks to combat false Gospels today are the Bible Books of Romans and Galatians (major tools Protestants used during the Protestant Reformation to discredit Roman Catholic works-religion). Read Romans chapters 1-5 and Galatians (all six chapters), and you will see the Gospel of Grace like never before. This instruction will enable you to spot any erroneous Gospels. Above all, they will help you in evangelizing others, that you too may evidently set forth before their eyes Jesus Christ crucified among them! 🙂

Also see:
» Can you explain Galatians 6:11?
» Is Galatians 1:6-7 contradictory?
» What about the “Jewish Roots” Movement?

Are we merely interested in breaking up churches?

ARE WE MERELY INTERESTED IN BREAKING UP CHURCHES?

by Shawn Brasseaux

For 2,000 years, our detractors have said that we Pauline dispensationalists are troublemakers. Allegedly, we aim to do nothing more than split up local churches by proving others wrong, nitpicking over final points of doctrine, attacking reputations and religions, disrespecting ecclesiastical traditions, and so on. Is this an accurate representation of us? Are we really sharing the Message of Grace with the sole intention of dividing and destroying local assemblies? Is there any way for us to be “less controversial?” Why, oh why, do local churches split wherever our ministries reach? Is the dissolving of denominational assemblies all that bad anyway?

Dear brethren, let me just go ahead and get it out now. I will never, ever, ever (!) deny that there are some in the “grace community” who have no desire other than to engage in petty arguing, fleshly debates, cheap insults, and idle speculations. They have no clear understanding in sound Bible doctrine but they will criticize others for their own doctrinal deficiencies. (Since I do not share their sentiments, we have parted ways. Whether I distanced myself from them, or they left me, it is for the best.) They love to pick fights in the name of “grace.” They ridicule denominationalists when they themselves are just as ignorant of grace teaching and grace living. They are puffed up in knowledge when they should be using what they know to benefit others (charity). They use a very condescending, sharp tone that derides and infuriates rather than offer Bible information that enlightens and liberates.

Second Timothy 2:24-26 says: “[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.” We should have a gentle, meek spirit. We should be as patient as possible when dealing with others in the Scriptures.

However, we must remember that there are people in denominations who are just as rude as the “contentious grace brethren.” They want to prove everyone else wrong and their denomination right. We can only spend so much time with them before it becomes futility. Under no circumstances are we to continue arguing with anybody of any persuasion. If they do not want to hear the simple truths of the Word of God rightly divided, then we have better things to do with our time… and we had better get to them!! We wish these willfully-ignorant individuals all the best but there are people who are interested in learning. We need to go seek them instead of spending all our time with the same few who never receive anything.

Again, we should not be rude and crude, nasty and belligerent. Still, no matter how polite we are, how soft-spoken we are, how gentle we are, how loving we are, how tactful we are, how meek we are, the Message of the Cross is offensive. It cancels out works-religion. Galatians 5:11 says to this point: “And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.” If Paul preached religious works—in that case, physical circumcision—people would be pleased with him. He would be preaching that man could do something to please God. However, if he preached Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork, that work on Calvary meant that “good” works would never be enough to get one to a right standing before God. How “offensive” grace is even today, for it takes away the boasting in what man can do in religion. If there is any bragging, my dear friend, the Bible says it will be in the finished work of Christ alone—and our flesh (sin nature) hates that!!!

Romans chapter 3: “[24] Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: [25] Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; [26] To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. [27] Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. [28] Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. [29] Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: [30] Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. [31] Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”

You go to a denominational church and preach that Gospel of Grace, my friends, and there is a 99 percent chance that you will be run right out the door! With that message, you get rid of water baptism, confession of sins, commandment-keeping, Sabbath-day observance, tithing, and so on as necessary for salvation unto eternal life. Faith alone in Christ alone is what God is looking for today. If we do not see any value in His Son and His finished work, He could not care less about what “good works” we do! Again, you preach that, and most of the world will hate you. (Try it and see!)

The Lord Jesus Christ never hesitated in exposing religious error. He did it over and over and over again. Read His scathing rebukes of Israel’s religious leaders in Matthew chapter 23 and John chapter 8. Look at Mark 7:7-13 and John 2:13-17. These were certainly not the “Jesus-is-nothing-but-love-and-kindness” attitudes we hear about in shallow Christian speech today. The Lord never took it lightly when people were deceived in His name and entangled in Satan’s evil world system. It was a very serious matter. He actually called some of His audience “vipers,” “hypocrites,” “whited sepulchres [graves!],” “children of the devil,” “children of hell,” and various other non-flattering titles. Rest assured, there was a lot of “church-splitting” because of Christ’s earthly ministry!

Second Timothy 2:24-26 again: “[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.” Those in denominations are deceived—stuck in Satan’s trap (just as those in Christ’s earthly ministry). However, we need to be sure that we give them sound Bible doctrine—not with the intention of pointless contending but—with the purpose of allowing them the information needed to escape Satan’s error. (That was Christ’s purpose.) If we fail to approach the situation in the Spirit, and wind up in the flesh, we find ourselves in the snare of the Devil too… and then we need recovery ourselves!

Dear friends, if you never get anything else from this study, remember one thing. Doctrine divides. That is just all there is to it. Those in the ecumenical movement already figured that out; hence, they choose to fellowship around something other than doctrine! They have their experiences, their speculations, their feelings, and they are united therein. Ultimately, their system is void of faith and God’s power because it is wanting of sound Bible doctrine. Do you really want to minimize doctrine as they? Think long and hard about their unanswerable confusion first, and then the answer will become apparent. (I say, “No thanks!”)

In all the years my family has been Christians, we have been through four local church splits. It was always a matter of doctrinal error, never something trivial. We are always striving for a pure church, not a perfect church. If maintaining a pure church means leaving a local assembly, and even parting from family and friends, then that is the way it must be. Our loyalty is to our Lord Jesus Christ alone. If a place does not honor Him in doctrine, we have no interest in participating in their services. I make this very clear to whomever wants to hear. Those who want to keep going to their denominational churches, we are so willing to give them over to their preference.

Second Corinthians 6:14-18: “[14] Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? [15] And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? [16] And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. [17] Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. [18] And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (Pay attention to that exhortation in verse 17, “come out from among them, and be ye separate!”)

First Timothy 6:3-5: “[3] 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; [4] He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, [5] Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.” (Notice that phrase in verse 5, “from such withdraw thyself!”)

Romans 16:17-18: “[17] Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. [18] 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.” (Pay close attention to that phrase, “mark [identify] them and avoid them!”)

Second Timothy 3:1-7: “[1] This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. [2] For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, [3] Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, [4] Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; [5] Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. [6] For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, [7] Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (Look at that encouragement in verse 5 to, “from such turn away!”)

Our critics charge us as if the dissolving of denominational local churches is a bad thing. It is abundantly clear from the above verses that the Holy Spirit endorsed separation from apostasy (false teaching in religion). Evidently, He was for “church-splitting” too! If a denominational church breaks up and/or closes, that means a grace church now has an opportunity to rise and replace it in the community. As long as the Message of God’s Grace is clearly proclaimed to the lost (that they may be saved from sins and Hell), and the Word of God rightly divided is taught to the saved (that they may be delivered from spiritual ignorance unto understanding God’s eternal purpose for them), that will be so much more valuable now and in eternity. BELOVED, THIS IS OUR INTEREST!

Also see:
» Does doctrine really matter?
» Why do people get angry when we share right division?
» Should we hate the denominational people who misled us?

Is Revelation 4:1 a preview of the Rapture?

IS REVELATION 4:1 A PREVIEW OF THE RAPTURE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

In a sincere attempt to prove a pre-Tribulation Rapture—that is, that the Church the Body of Christ will be corporately resurrected and taken up into Heaven before the seven-year Tribulation begins—people will appeal to the Book of the Revelation. Specifically, they seize Revelation 4:1: “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” Is this verse typical of the Rapture?

Dr. Scofield has the following footnote for Revelation 4:1: “This call seems clearly to indicate the fulfillment of 1 Thes. 4. 14-17. The word ‘church’ does not again occur in the Revelation till all is fulfilled.”

That note of the dear Brother is quite puzzling, my friends. There is no “clear” connection between the two passages—unless, of course, you generalize. For example, while they are both supernatural ascensions into Heaven, while they both include a “church,” and while both involve a “trumpet,” that is as far as you can relate them (and even these are not close associations when you actually study them). There are much more definitive dissimilarities than comparisons.

In this author’s view, the following points make a much more compelling case, one that contradicts the notion that Revelation 4:1 is a preview of the Rapture:

  1. Thessalonians involves a resurrection, glorified bodies given to saints (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; 1 Corinthians 15:50-58). Revelation is silent about John getting any new body.
  2. Thessalonians has a shout, voice, and a trumpet, with two blows (“trumps”) of a trumpet (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Revelation features a voice as it were of a trumpet. There is no literal trumpet in Revelation, only a simile… a voice likened to a trumpet.
  3. Thessalonians involves a group of people—some living and others deceased (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17). Revelation has a single, living man (John)—not one dead individual is present there.
  4. Thessalonians speaks of an archangel present (1 Thessalonians 4:16). There is no archangel, or any angel, in Revelation 4:1.
  5. The words spoken to John in Revelation 4:1 are of particular interest here: “Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” While the Bible does not say exactly what Jesus Christ will utter in His shout in Thessalonians, we can be sure that He will not say, “I will shew thee things to come.” The Rapture in Thessalonians is not meant to give prophetic insight, a glimpse into the future—this is nonsense. However, the Apostle John, a spiritual leader in Israel (Galatians 2:9), is receiving direct revelation from God concerning end times. He is God’s chosen vessel to deliver the capstone of the nation Israel’s prophetic information (the Book of the Revelation). In stark contrast, the Body of Christ in no way receives end-time (prophetic) messages at or after the Rapture.

THE DISPENSATIONAL DESIGN OF SCRIPTURE MUST BE RECOGNIZED AND RESPECTED

Notwithstanding the difficulties already enumerated, there are major problems in attempting to connect Revelation 4:1 with 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17.

Why would we expect to see a “preview” of the Rapture by appealing to John when he did not even have a ministry to the Church the Body of Christ? Never does John write about “the Church the Body of Christ”—that is strictly Pauline terminology. What are we doing consulting a circumcision apostle, John (Galatians 2:9), to provide us with information about us Gentiles? Does not Ephesians 3:2 say “the Dispensation of the Grace of God” was committed to Paul so he could give it to us Gentiles? What details would John give about a set of doctrine he did not even receive? The Rapture is the special coming of Christ to end the Dispensation of Grace. If the Dispensation of Grace was given to Paul, and Ephesians 3:2 says it was, then it is only logical to conclude that Paul alone would write about that special coming of Christ to close the Dispensation of Grace.

All the confusion comes as the result of not understanding the three churches in the Bible (Mosaic Church—Acts 7:38; Messianic Church—Matthew 16:16-18; Mystery Church—Ephesians 3:1-9). Today, in every facet of Christian thought and word, there is a general reference to “the church.” In books, sermons, and so on, preachers and teachers talk about “the church, the church, the church.” They are referring to present-day Christians corporately, but this is problematic because they have dropped the qualifier. They have been conditioned, and they are conditioning others, to believe the only church in the Bible is the group of Christians today. The word “church” is a generic term, and it should be qualified as much as possible. There is more than one church in the Bible than the Church the Body of Christ! If we are talking about Christians today, we should say “the Church the Body of Christ” as much as possible. “The church” is not enough. (This is why even “Church Age” is misleading; “Grace Age” or “Mystery Age” is a better term.)

If we do not make this distinction between churches clear, our audience will always approach the Bible with the “one-church” mentality. A similar confusion is the “one-gospel-in-the-Bible” notion. (This contradicts Romans 2:16, Galatians 2:7, Luke 18:31-34, and so on.) Another mixed-up idea is that of “there is only one baptism in Scripture”—water, water, water. (This contradicts Matthew 3:11, 1 Corinthians 12:13, and others.) Dear friends, we need to break away from shallow Bible thinking and get into the meat of Scripture! Let us not just repeat what others say.

The most basic error from which all the above others descend is a failure to, “Study… rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Prophecy is not separated from mystery, Peter is not divided from Paul, Law is not separated from Grace, Heaven is not divided from Earth, Israel is not separated from the Body of Christ. We see the word “church” in Acts 2:47 and conclude it must be the Church the Body of Christ. Roman Catholics see “church” in Matthew 16:18 and they believe it applies to people alive today. They do not see it as Messiah’s Church, which is what Matthew 16:16 says it is. It refers to those Jews who accepted Jesus as Messiah/Christ in His earthly ministry. There is no Church the Body of Christ until we come to Paul’s ministry (Acts chapter 9 onward). We do not read about “the Church the Body of Christ” in Scripture unless in Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. If we get this straight, the Bible will become so astoundingly clear.

There are various other associated problems concerning the Church the Body of Christ being inserted into the Book of the Revelation. One of these—just as popular as Revelation 4:1 being the Rapture—involves chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation symbolizing the various stages of the Body of Christ throughout the 2,000 years of church history. Church history, it is said, ends by the opening of Revelation chapter 4 (verse 1 supposedly being the Rapture, remember). Again, this is to mix prophecy and mystery, to fail to understand that John was not sent to us Gentiles. Paul is “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13). If Paul does not mention something, it does not concern us and it is not what God is doing today. To then go grab something from John’s ministry and try to stick it on us is to abuse the dispensational boundaries so clearly evident in the Scriptures. It is to destroy Paul’s ministry and John’s ministry. It is to wreak havoc on the Bible text, to distort it beyond simplicity and verity (2 Peter 3:15-16).

Make no mistake, my dear readers. There is most definitely a pre-Tribulation Rapture, an evacuation of the Body of Christ from Earth before the Antichrist is revealed and begins those last seven years. Second Thessalonians chapter 2 makes that so very clear, as does 1 Thessalonians chapters 1, 4, and 5. Therefore, we do not need Revelation 4:1 to prove a pre-Tribulation Rapture. In fact, as we may very well know, Revelation is Tribulation ground. To find the Rapture in the Revelation is to fall into the trap in assuming the Rapture occurs during the Tribulation!

Also see:
» Did the Church the Body of Christ begin in Acts 2?
» Did John 10:16 predict the Church the Body of Christ?
» Is prophecy being fulfilled in the Dispensation of Grace?

Should we hate the denominational people who misled us?

SHOULD WE HATE THE DENOMINATIONAL PEOPLE WHO MISLED US?

by Shawn Brasseaux

As we Pauline dispensationalists, former denominationalists, look back on our prior (?) way of thinking and living, extremely intense emotions surface. We are saddened and discouraged to realize we wasted all that time, money, and energy supporting the traditions of men. We also feel the other extreme—anger and bitterness—because people betrayed our trust, deceived us, and robbed us in the names of “God” and “Jesus Christ.” We hate them, and want to return to “tell them off,” curse them out, and physically fight them! Animosity consumes us as we boil and fume with rage! (You have never been there before, dear friend, huh?) How do we address and correct such attitudes using Scripture?

A CLEAR GOSPEL OF GRACE

Being born into a “Christian” family does not make one a Christian. Joining a local church and attending weekly (or even daily!) services does not make one a Christian. Walking an aisle and getting water baptized does not make one a Christian. Reading the Bible and reciting prayers does not make one a Christian. All these activities and appeals obscure a pure Gospel of Grace. These works push aside the work of Christ on Calvary. Often, everything but faith in the cross of Christ is stressed at “invitation time.” Instead of urge people to trust Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour, preachers stress everything else—cessation of bad habits, weeping and wailing at the “altar” over self-wretchedness, confession of bygone transgressions, “deals” with and promises to God to start living correctly, and so on. The Lord Jesus Christ’s atonement is buried little by little, and the poor lost soul is more confused… and (tragically) just as lost as before!

Thankfully, Father God does not justify us—or make us right in His sight—on the basis of whether or not we can pass theological tests. Neither does He give us righteousness and eternal life because we performed a certain way in religion (rules, regulations, rites, ceremonies, prayers, and confessions). All these erroneous ideas clutter minds and hearts, making it ever so difficult—yea, impossible—to grasp enough Gospel truth upon which faith can rest. This hiding of the Gospel of Grace using religion is just what Satan desires (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)!

God is looking first and foremost for faith, as Hebrews 11:6 says: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Faith is simply believing what God says to you. Notice the definition of Abraham’s faith as per Romans chapter 4: “[20] He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; [21] And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.” Abraham was “fully persuaded” that “[God] was able also to perform” “what he had promised.” God had promised him a “seed”—a son, and a nation—and Abraham believed that God could and would bring it to pass. Simple!

What is God’s Gospel message to us today on this side of the cross? What is God’s Good News in this the Dispensation of Grace? It is the redemption from and forgiveness of sins found through His Son, Jesus Christ, and His death, burial, and resurrection. God is looking for people who will recognize their sin problem and trust exclusively the remedy of Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork on Calvary. First Corinthians 15:3-4 could not be clearer: “[3] For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; [4] And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:….”

Certainly, soul salvation unto eternal life is predicated upon faith in this, the Gospel of the Grace of God. With that said, only a fraction of denominational “Christians” are saved. Various misconceptions have caused them to greatly misunderstand Bible-believing Christianity. Make no mistake. Denominational “Christians” are not necessarily saved but there are some saved people in “Christian” churches. They trusted a pure Gospel message but then got entangled with some group in which they were defiled by false doctrine. Although deceived, they are still on their way to Heaven (remember, Heaven is for those who have Christ’s righteousness credited to their account, and such righteousness is found in faith in Christ rather than the believer’s theological mix-ups and hang-ups). Then, you have many people in most groups who were never saved at all because they never trusted Christ as their personal Saviour at all. They are still trying to establish their own righteousness with their own works (Romans 10:1-3)—Christ’s finished crosswork not being enough in their eyes.

A CLEAR OUTLOOK OF GRACE

When babes in Christ—not simply new converts to Christ, but also Christians saved for decades and who have not been grounded in Pauline truth—begin to see glimpses of the spiritual light that dispensational Bible study brings, they get excited (and rightly so). Burdens about the Bible text are lifted. The Scriptures are better understood and enjoyed. They see the dispensational distinctions—the layout of the Bible timeline and the various contrasting teachings, hopes, entities, realms, programs, charges, and so on. Still, the danger is that it can become mere mental gymnastics, information to equip one to engage in intellectual speculations, doctrine used to “beat people up” and make them feel like idiots, knowledge used to puff up and exalt oneself. They must understand that doctrine is meant to profit others rather than fight with them.

Some people use right division as nothing more than a platform for petty arguments and fleshly debates. They purpose, not to edify (build up) their audience, but to destroy (tear down) those with whom they disagree. Contrary to grace, they are contentious, ornery, combative, incessantly bickering about this or that issue. Rather than teaching people, they seek to antagonize them. Sadly, not all Pauline dispensationalists are sincere in their ministries. Some use it to harshly criticize others, mock, pick fights, and so on. The Apostle Paul actually had some such belligerent ministry associates. Notice his words in Philippians 1:15-17: “[15] Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: [16] The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: [17] But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.”

Considering the fleshly tendency of those who have a mental assent but not heart faith, those lacking genuine belief in the soul concerning sound Bible study, the Holy Spirit issued the warning of 2 Timothy 2:24-26: “[24] And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, [25] In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; [26] And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” Preaching the right doctrine in the wrong spirit is well… exhibiting wrong doctrine! Brethren, there must be gentleness, meekness (humility), and friendliness; otherwise, hypocrisy arises (preaching grace but not preaching graciously!!).

The reason why the Holy Spirit issued the principles of grace through Paul is made clear in 1 Timothy 1:3-6: “[3] As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, [4] Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. [5] Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: [6] From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;….”

Paul asked Timothy to stay in Ephesus so Timothy would order some of them “that they teach no other doctrine, neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies.” “Fables” (religious stories designed to teach lessons) and “endless genealogies” (attachments to personalities and celebrities) do nothing but “minister questions” (generate inquiries, always asking but never learning anything solid or certain). Our goal in our teaching ministry is charity, seeking others’ highest good, valuing and esteeming them the way God does. It is love in action. That charity will come out of a “pure” (clean) “heart.” It will spring forth from a “good conscience” (right system of standards and norms). It will come out of “faith unfeigned” (genuine, not fake or hypocritical, trust in God’s Word). Those who depart from sound Bible doctrine—or even sound Christian behavior—will engage in “vain jangling” (profitless, worthless information, conduct, thinking, and so on).

Brethren, we must not be arrogant, self-righteous, aggressive, insulting “know-it-alls.” Remember, Titus chapter 3: “[1] Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, [2] To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. [3] For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.” Being hateful is the old life we had in Adam, dear friends. Being contentious and foolish is our old identity in Adam. Deception and pride do not belong in our lives now. We are new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Our attitude and conduct should reflect that new identity. God’s love, not hate, should consume us.

There was a time when we were foolish—yea, we are still foolish to some extent, seeing as to we do not have complete knowledge in the Scriptures as we ought. It makes no sense to get angry with people (rather lost or saved) who are ignorant of the will of God for them. Provided that they are not willfully uninformed or misinformed, we should make every attempt to guide them in the Scriptures. Once they reach the point where they do not want to hear anything, however, we employ 1 Corinthians 14:38: “If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.”

Countless people have abandoned their denominational churches over the centuries because they have come to understand that the Holy Spirit does not use the traditions of men to guide us in life. Yes, even denominational preachers have forsaken their religious tradition so as to submit to the will of God for today. Perhaps some of those denominational people you know (hate?) may become the former denominational people we were. There is no guarantee, my dear brethren, but please make every attempt possible to reach them with sound Bible doctrine as long as you possibly (and peacefully) can. Someone did it to reach you (yes?)… and now it is your honor to do the same with others. Whether a clear Gospel message to the lost, or a clear Bible study system to the saved, do not be ashamed in proclaiming it!

CONCLUSION

Why we should not hate the denominational people who misled us:

  1. First and foremost, we should not hate them because God does not hate them. Remember, God did not hate us when we were denominational. Yes, when we were dead in our trespasses and sins, on our way to an eternal Hell!, God loved us by sending His Son Jesus Christ to die for us (Romans 5:6-8; Titus 3:3-7). We are to be a reflection of God’s love to those denominational people.
  2. Remember, we too were (and still are) without perfect spiritual knowledge. That is, we continuously read and study the Scriptures every day so we may come to a fuller understanding! As we further allow the Holy Spirit to illuminate the eyes of our understanding, the superfluous and erroneous (denominational) doctrines will be manifested and we can replace them with sound Bible doctrine. We know what it is like to be ignorant… past and present! Now, we reach others as long as we can, that they may be renewed in their thinking too.
  3. Lastly, one day, those denominational people may very well recover themselves out of the snare of the devil (2 Timothy 2:26). Perhaps… just perhaps… they may even become your most valuable ministry co-workers! Let us be mindful to tell them that, when they finally reach the point of utter frustration and complete defeat in religion, there is an answer (and we found it). If they want that solution, they know they can come to us! (If we had an aggressive, overbearing, rude, loud-mouthed approach with them, they will not bother to come!)

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

Also see:
» Can we witness “too much” to family members?
» Must one be a “King James Bible Pauline dispensationalist” to have eternal life?
» “If God peradventure will give them repentance…?”

Why did God judge Nadab and Abihu so strictly?

WHY DID GOD JUDGE NADAB AND ABIHU SO STRICTLY?

by Shawn Brasseaux

It is easy to believe that whatever God is doing today, He was doing the exact same thing long ago. Whatever is true right now, it is easy to assume that it was true in the past. This is not always the case. People struggle with strange Old Testament passages and concepts because they are trying to reconcile them with what God is doing today. They do not use the Bible “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15), recognizing the various dispensational boundaries that are so critical to keeping the Scriptures straight. Since they do not use God’s Word, God’s way, they are forced to change/re-translate controversial verses, omit or ignore “bothersome” passages, and even throw out whole Bible Books! Nay, dear friends, we study all the Bible, for all of its 66 Books are inspired of God. If there is something mysterious in the Scriptures, we look for parallel verses to shed light on the subject. Nadab and Abihu’s dreadful fate is no different.

Notice the very bizarre account Moses recorded in Leviticus 10:1-3: “[1] And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. [2] And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. [3] Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.” What in the world just occurred here? Fire came down and consumed two Jewish priests who “offered strange fire before the LORD?” Why?

This event was repeated twice more in Moses’ writings, so it was something God wanted Israel to remember. Firstly, Numbers 3:4: “And Nadab and Abihu died before the LORD, when they offered strange fire before the LORD, in the wilderness of Sinai, and they had no children: and Eleazar and Ithamar ministered in the priest’s office in the sight of Aaron their father.” Also, Numbers 26:60-61: “[60] And unto Aaron was born Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. [61] And Nadab and Abihu died, when they offered strange fire before the LORD.”

When the Bible says “strange fire,” the idea is foreign fire (like fire that was a “stranger”). It was so unpleasant to God that He literally and instantaneously killed the priests who offered it. The key to this is found in Leviticus chapter 9, the verses just previous to what we read in chapter 10. Leviticus chapter 9: “[23] And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people. [24] And there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.”

Once Moses set up the Tabernacle (Exodus chapter 40), here in Leviticus chapter 9, fire came out of heaven because JEHOVAH God accepted (and consumed) their burnt offering. Nadab and Abihu, in the following chapter, rebel against that act of God. Instead of the fire coming from God, them using the fire that God started, they had a fire that they had started. They replaced God’s fire with their own! Not only so, they were priests… poor examples of the congregation watching them. If God did not punish these willful religious leaders, the Jewish people would be encouraged to rebel against Him too. It would have caused a massive uprising against Him, and then He would have had to kill them all!

Read Leviticus 10:1-3 again: “[1] And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. [2] And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. [3] Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.”

They “…offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.” God did not tell Nadab and Abihu to offer that fire, so they were behaving presumptuously. It was a deliberate rebellion, men trying to substitute God’s work with their own efforts. JEHOVAH God was thus disrespected before all the Jewish people. He dealt with the guilty parties by implementing speedy death! Notice verse 3: “Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.” Aaron the High Priest had just lost two of his sons, but he was silent. He knew God was justified in taking their lives. They were following Satan… and almost corrupted Israel!

Friends, we can learn a simple lesson here. While God does not consume rebellious people by causing fire to fall from heaven today (He did in the past and He will in the future), it should be clearly noted that He never takes lightly someone trying to replace His work with their own. There are millions upon millions of precious souls today, laboring under religious tradition, trying to replace Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork with their own religious efforts. Instead of coming to God by simple faith in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for their sins, they want to offer their own works to merit God’s favor (it will not work!). They are trying to substitute their “goodness” for the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary! My, oh my, something far, far, far, far, far worse than fire from heaven will come upon them one day. The eternal flames of hell will surround them in a fraction of a second. May they come now to Father God by simple faith in Jesus Christ’s shed blood and resurrection… before it is eternally too late!

Also see:
» Was God “unfair” in striking Uzzah dead?
» Why did God reject Cain’s sacrifice?
» Can you explain 2 Kings 2:23-25?

Can you explain the “Corban” tradition?

CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE “CORBAN” TRADITION?

by Shawn Brasseaux

In order to get the full impact of certain Bible passages, we need to establish the cultural and/or historical context. The “Corban” tradition is one such example. Upon understanding its background, we will accomplish two goals. Firstly, we will better grasp the thrust of the verses. Secondly, we will recognize a modern-day parallel. This issue is a fitting commemoration to today, the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation!

“CORBAN” INTRODUCED

The Lord Jesus Christ issued a very stern rebuke of Israel’s religious leaders in Mark chapter 7: “[9] And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. [10] For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: [11] But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. [12] And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; [13] Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.”

“CORBAN” DEFINED

If we look closely, we see that the Holy Spirit actually defined “Corban” for us in the verse. “It is Corban, that is to say, a gift…” (Mark 7:11). “Corban” is unique to Mark’s Gospel Record: it appears this once in Scripture. In Matthew 15:5, the parallel passage, we read simply: “But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;….” But what exactly is this “gift?” To whom or what is it given? And why was the Lord so opposed to this “Corban” practice?

“Strong’s Greek Dictionary of the Bible” provides the first few clues:

“G2878 κορβᾶν korbân, kor-ban’; of Hebrew and Chaldee origin respectively (H7133); a votive offering and the offering; a consecrated present (to the Temple fund); by extension (the latter term) the Treasury itself, i.e. the room where the contribution boxes stood:—Corban, treasury.”

The above Greek word appears twice in the underlying text of the King James Bible—Mark 7:11 (what we just read) and Matthew 27:6. Speaking of Judas Iscariot’s 30 pieces of silver, Matthew 27:6 affirms: “And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury [Korban/Corban], because it is the price of blood.” This was the Jerusalem Temple treasury, the place where offerings or gifts were kept.

“Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words” provides more information about “Corban:”

“(a) ‘an offering,’ and was a Hebrew term for any sacrifice, whether by the shedding of blood or otherwise;
(b) ‘a gift offered to God,’ Mar 7:11. Jews were much addicted to rash vows; a saying of the Rabbis was, ‘It is hard for the parents, but the law is clear, vows must be kept.’ The Sept. translates the word by doron, ‘a gift.’ See korbanas, under TREASURY, Mat 27:6.”

As an interesting side-note, we see an example of a gift being offered at the Jerusalem Temple in Matthew chapter 5: “[23] Therefore if thou bring thy gift [doron] to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; [24] Leave there thy gift [doron] before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift [doron].”

WHY THE “CORBAN” TRADITION WAS MENTIONED AT ALL

Why did the Lord Jesus even bring up this “Corban” issue? What point was He getting across? Why was the offering of this gift so evil and thus so offensive to Him? In order to ferret out the reason, we must go to the beginning of the chapter.

Mark chapter 7 from the beginning: “[1] Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. [2] And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault. [3] For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. [4] And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables. [5] Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?”

Prior to Jesus mentioning the “Corban” tradition, the Pharisees and scribes had come to Him to criticize. His disciples were eating without first washing their hands. However, let it be clearly understood that they griped, not for hygienic reasons, but on religious grounds! Pay attention to verses 3-5: “[3] For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. [4] And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables. [5] Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?”

Notice all those assorted and repeated “washings” Jesus delineated in verse 4. They were “the tradition of the elders.” The Pharisees and scribes were deeply offended that Jesus’ disciples ignored it concerning their hands! To expose their hypocrisy, Jesus brought up the “Corban” issue. Here were these Pharisees and scribes grumbling about people breaking their fallible religious rules, but they themselves were blatantly rejecting and canceling God’s infallible Word. Furthermore, it did not bother these religious leaders one whit. In fact, they permitted others—the children offering the “Corban”— to also break God’s Word! What should not have angered them did. What should have angered them did not!

We continue reading in Mark chapter 7: “[6] He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. [7] Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. [8] For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.” Of course, some 700 years before Christ, JEHOVAH God had said the same concerning Israel’s worthless religious system.

The Holy Spirit wrote in Isaiah 29:13: “Wherefore the LORD said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:….” Jesus Christ appealed to this to validate His condemnation of Israel’s vain religion during His earthly ministry. Israel’s spiritual blindness in Isaiah’s day still lingered in the nation when her Messiah showed up. All the while despising and violating and replacing God’s Word in their hearts with their manmade rules and regulations, these religious Jews were singing and speaking beautiful words to God. Alas, whether in Isaiah’s day or Jesus’ day, it was all just mindless ritual, rote duty, habitual phoniness, and empty religion!

Please notice the parallel passage of Mark chapter 7, which contains extra information. Matthew chapter 15: “[1] Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, [2] Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. [3] But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? [4] For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. [5] But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; [6] And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. [7] Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. [9] But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

WHY THE “CORBAN” TRADITION OFFENDED THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

Now that we have a basic understanding of the “Corban” issue, we want to see just why the Lord Jesus singled it out to prove His point about Israel’s empty religious practices. Returning to Mark chapter 7: “[9] And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. [10] For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: [11] But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. [12] And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother;….”

The Fifth Commandment is in view here, as God commanded Israel through Moses in Exodus 20:12: “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” It was reaffirmed many years later in Deuteronomy 5:16: “Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.”

As Jesus stressed, God gave Israel another instruction through Moses concerning one’s parents. “Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death…” (Mark 7:10). The Law of Moses commanded in Exodus 21:17: “And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death (cf. Leviticus 20:9; Deuteronomy 21:18-21). Respecting parents was such a serious matter that a child who “curseth” (reviles, speaks evil of) his parents was to “die the death” (or, “surely die”)!

In spite of the gravity of God’s instructions about Jews respecting and taking care of their parents, they overlooked, rejected, and substituted God’s Word. Notice Matthew chapter 15 again: “[4] For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. [5] But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; [6] And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition” (cf. Mark 7:10-13).

At the time of Christ’s earthly ministry, there was a man-made religious tradition in Israel. If a man simply said that he would dedicate his possessions to God (as in giving an offering at the Jerusalem Temple), he was thereby freed from any financial obligation to his parents. Israel’s religious leaders said that he did not have to honor his parents—namely, support them financially—because his wealth was reserved as “Corban” (a gift, that is, presented to the Temple). Instead of instructing the Jews in the ways of JEHOVAH God through Moses, these religious leaders gave precedence to a “commandment of men”… and that “tradition of men” outright contradicted God’s Word! Now we see why Jesus Christ was so critical of the practice.

We will take a brief moment to review. According to the Pharisees and other Jewish religious leaders, a child did not have to honor his parents—to wit, support them financially—if he declared his wealth “Corban” (a gift to the Temple). After all, that gift was supposedly an “act of worshipping God” (when it fact it contradicted true worship of God because it violated His Fifth Commandment!). The religious leaders enjoyed gifts to the Temple because they could take the wealth for themselves… forget the needy parents of the person offering the Corban! This “escape clause” from the Fifth Commandment of God explains why the Lord Jesus Christ said what He did in the surrounding verses.

One more time, Mark chapter 7: “[6] He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. [7] Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. [8] For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. [9] And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. [10] For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: [11] But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. [12] And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; [13] Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.”

Matthew chapter 15: “[3] But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? [4] For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. [5] But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; [6] And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. [7] Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. [9] But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

CONCLUSION

Dear friends, religion has not changed one bit in the 2,000 years since Christ’s earthly ministry to Israel. Man has not changed one whit since the books of Matthew and Mark. We hear so much about “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture” in religion today—especially in Roman Catholicism—and yet it really is not “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture” at all. To many, it is, “We found these Bible verses to prove our ‘pet’ ideas, but we do not care about Scriptural context or even if we violate other Scriptures! We will quote Scripture, so long as it furthers our agenda. Scripture takes a back-seat if it contradicts our church or takes away from our authority!”

Friends, while religious people claim to “follow the Bible” and be “Bible believers,” this is often not the case when they are closely investigated. After all, the same religious leaders who habitually and deliberately violated the Mosaic Law professed to be “followers of Moses” (John 9:28)! This is the type of (antithetical) nonsense you get involved with when you start trying to reconcile two authorities. We cannot serve two masters—we must follow either the Bible alone, or tradition alone. If we at all attempt to hold to both, they will compete and (because of our [human] sinful flesh) the manmade tradition will invariably become the final authority. It happened to Israel in Isaiah, Matthew, and Mark. It will surely occur today—yea, it has occurred today. The Protestant Reformation—or better, Protestant Revolution—recovered the truth God’s authority is in the Bible alone and not in church tradition. May we not revert!

This author will never forget the time long ago when he asked a “Bible-believing” Roman Catholic priest why so much emphasis was placed on one particular religious tradition when the Bible taught something else entirely. The priest, acknowledging this discrepancy existed (!), sharply blurted out words that this author has never forgotten: “I do not follow the Bible! I follow tradition!

And so, dear friends, the words of the Lord Jesus Christ continue to echo all these centuries later….

“Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition…. Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.”

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).

Also see:
» Did not Jesus speak words not recorded in Scripture?
» What is the real “Immaculate Conception?”
» Should Christians observe Lent?

Can you explain Matthew 11:11?

CAN YOU EXPLAIN MATTHEW 11:11?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Some find Matthew 11:11 very tricky: “Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” What does it mean, “he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than [John the Baptist]?” Will John the Baptist not be in the kingdom of heaven?

The Russellites (so-called “Jehovah’s Witnesses”) have taken Matthew 11:11 and twisted it to bolster their “terrestrial/celestial kingdom” tenet. They unapologetically teach that “only 144,000 will go to heaven” (“celestial kingdom”). According to them, the rest of the believers in Christ will dwell on earth (“terrestrial kingdom”). They say that all unbelievers will be “destroyed, annihilated” (instead of enduring a literal place of unending torment, “Hell,” they cease to exist). While the theological positions of the Russellites are extremely shaky and downright heretical at times, time and space limit us to commenting on their interpretation of Matthew 11:11. In the back of their “New World Translation” (the official “WatchTower Society” “bible”), there is an appendix of brief notes and references concerning various topics. Under the topic of “Life,” they have: “Not even John the Baptizer to be in heavenly kingdom…. Mt 11:11.” There, they also mention, “Only 144,000 taken from earth.”

We should not be shocked that Russellites confuse Matthew 11:11. After all, the New World Translation says there: “Truly I say to YOU people, Among those born of women there has not been raised up a greater than John the Baptist; but a person that is a lesser one in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he is.” This is somewhat awkward English, making the verse obscure. Notice the “hard-to-read” King James Bible is actually easier: “Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

It is somewhat comical that someone would read Matthew 11:11 and conclude John the Baptist would not be in the kingdom of heaven at all. The verse said nothing of the kind—not even in the New World Translation! We do not read in their own “bible:” “Truly I say to YOU people, Among those born of women there has not been raised up a greater than John the Baptist; but he will be forbidden from the kingdom of the heavens and others better than he will go in.” If I were a Russellite, I would have translated my “bible” this way in this verse. Left alone, that verse is the last I would appeal to in order to preclude John the Baptist from the kingdom of heaven!

The emphasis in the verse is not John the Baptist the man. What is being stressed here is his office, his function. What was his role? Why, dear friend, rather than endlessly wondering or idly speculating, read the verse before it! Matthew 11:10-11 says: “[10] For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. [11] Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Rather than grabbing verse 11 and yanking it from its context (as Russellites and others do), we use verse 10 to interpret it. The Lord Jesus Himself said John the Baptist was a fulfillment of the prophecy in Malachi 3:1: “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the LORD, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts” (cf. Mark 1:1-4).

What was John the Baptist’s purpose? Malachi 3:1 said that he was to “prepare the way before [Jesus Christ, JEHOVAH God in the flesh].” John’s role was to announce to the nation Israel that her Messiah had arrived. Luke 1:16-17 says of John before his birth: “[16] And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. [17] And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

As document in Matthew 3:1-17, Mark 1:1-8, Luke 3:1-18, and John 1:6-34, John the Baptist conducted a ministry and preached, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Jews awaiting Messiah’s coming went out to John and “were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins” (Matthew 3:6). Acts 13:24 summarizes: “When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.” These believers formed “the Little Flock” (Luke 12:32), the believing remnant in Israel that would become God’s “chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people” (1 Peter 2:9). They saw Jesus as their Messiah/Christ. Unlike the unbelievers in Israel, these saints would inherit God’s earthly kingdom (Luke 12:32).

John’s baptism made the conversion of the Little Flock possible because it made the introduction and acceptance of Jesus possible. After all, Father God sent John the Baptist to prepare Israel for His Son’s arrival. The Bible says, “There was a man sent from God, who name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe…. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God” (John 1:6-7,34). What the Old Testament prophets only spoke of and saw with eyes of faith centuries prior, John had the privilege of personally seeing and introducing Israel to her Messiah! The office John held was valuable only because of the Person it exalted. John was just an ordinary man, but he was preaching Jesus Christ, the universe’s greatest Person!

Still, Acts 13:24 reminds us: “When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.” John the Baptist did not have a ministry to the whole world. Unlike today’s missionaries, he did not go to all nations preaching Jesus Christ and water baptizing all nations. The Bible is clear that John the Baptist’s ministry was confined to the nation Israel. As spectacular as John’s role was, it only involved Israel’s conversion. All members of the Little Flock (true Israel) will have a much more magnificent ministry than John. When Jesus Christ returns at His Second Coming, the Little Flock (Jewish believers in Israel’s prophetic program—including John the Baptist) will enter God’s earthly kingdom. The God of heaven will set up a kingdom on Earth, and thus it is called “the kingdom of heaven.” When the kingdom of heaven is established, when the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ begins, there will be worldwide revival. Every member of the Little Flock will personally introduce Jesus Christ to the believing Gentiles (nations). This is a more extensive ministry than John the Baptist’s. Matthew 11:11 again: “Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

The Prophet Jeremiah said 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.

The whole purpose of the New Covenant is to make the nation Israel God’s people. It applies Jesus Christ’s shed blood to them, resulting in the cleansing of their national sins (cf. Hebrews 10:1-22, note especially verses 10-17). Every Jew, “least and greatest,” will “know the LORD.” They will all have a personal relationship with JEHOVAH God and they will all know His laws. Why will they have this special association with the one true God? They will be thus qualified to be heirs of the Abrahamic Covenant. God wants to bless Israel and make her a blessing to all nations.

Genesis 12:1-3 says: “[1] Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: [2] And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: [3] And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” With the nation converted and entering the Millennium, those redeemed Jews become a kingdom of priests who go and evangelize the nations. This was God’s intention in the Abrahamic Covenant. Once the New Covenant is ratified at Christ’s Second Coming, and the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ begins on Earth, read the following verses and watch Israel function in her God-given capacity.

Zechariah 8:20-23: “[20] Thus saith the LORD of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: [21] And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also. [22] Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD. [23] Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.

Matthew 28:18-20 says to Israel’s believing remnant: “[18] And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. [19] Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: [20] Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Numbers 23:9 says Israel “shall not be reckoned among the nations.” This means, when paired with Matthew 28:19, that Israel is not to be taught the things of God in the Millennium. Why? They already know God’s laws because they have been given the New Covenant! They are now to teach God’s Word to the Gentiles (non-Jews, the nations).

Revelation 5:10 says of believing Israel: “And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” First Peter 2:8-10 amplifies: “[8] And [Jesus Christ, verse 5, is] a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. [9] But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; [10] Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” Isaiah 61:6 prophesies of believing Israel in her Millennial Kingdom: “But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.”

Isaiah 60:1-3 says to Israel because Messiah is now in her midst, the Millennium beginning: “[1] Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. [2] For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. [3] And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.

Finally, Isaiah 2:1-4 is a beautiful summary of the Millennial Kingdom: “[1] The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. [2] And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. [3] And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. [4] And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

CONCLUSION

Matthew 11:11 is not difficult to understand, provided we use verse 10 and other Scriptures to interpret it. Every believing Jew in the kingdom of heaven will minister to numerous Gentiles of various nations and languages. In the Millennium, the 1000-Year Reign of Christ on Earth, each member of the Little Flock will have privilege of sharing Jesus Christ with the nations of the world. This is far grander than anything Father God ever sent John the Baptist to do. John’s ministry was restricted to the nation Israel but Israel in the Kingdom will have a worldwide ministry. Nothing is difficult here. The only reason why this becomes hard to grasp is when we start inserting the idle speculations of denominational proponents. Leave religious tradition out of it and all will be clear!

SUPPLEMENTAL: MALACHI 3:1 IN THE “RUSSELLITE BIBLE”

Our King James Bible says in Malachi 3:1: “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the LORD, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.”

Who is talking in the above verse? The end of the verse says that the speaker is “The LORD of hosts” (JEHOVAH God). Who is the “me” in “he [John] shall prepare the way before me?” Obviously, the “me” is the speaker (JEHOVAH). John is coming to prepare the way before JEHOVAH. Yet, according to the New Testament, John came to prepare the way before Jesus Christ (cf. Mark 1:1-4). This leads to one inevitable conclusion: Jesus Christ and JEHOVAH are one and the same Person.

Horror of horrors, friends! The “Jehovah’s Witness” is shocked to see that we can disprove their theology by appealing to their own “bible.” Malachi 3:1 says in the New World Translation: “ ‘Look! I am sending my messenger, and he must clear up a way before me. And suddenly there will come to His temple the [true] Lord, whom YOU people are seeking, and the messenger of the covenant in whom YOU are delighting. Look! He will certainly come, Jehovah of armies has said.” (The “me” and “Jehovah of armies” are one and the same, Jesus Christ and JEHOVAH are synonymous!)

Also see:
» Can you explain Matthew 11:12?
» Was John the Baptist really Elijah?
» What is the difference between the “kingdom of heaven” and the “kingdom of God?”