Category Archives: DENOMINATIONS, CULTS, & FALSE TEACHING

Will God kill false teachers?

WILL GOD KILL FALSE TEACHERS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Once, a preacher declared he had received “revelation” that God would soon take the life of another preacher in his denomination because of false teaching. That preacher, of course, was also a false teacher (would God strike him dead too?!). Such nonsense is a failure to understand the Bible dispensationally. No. Unfortunately, since we live in the Dispensation of Grace, God does not remove false teachers by killing them: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

There were false teachers in the Apostle Paul’s day, but there is no hint God ever struck any of them dead. Rather than Him killing the false teachers, He let them continue with their error. However, we are not to suppose He approved of their evil. They were allowed to remain in order to appeal to those who also wanted Satan’s lie program. Never forget: God gives us over to what we want!

“[19] Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: [20] Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1 Timothy 1:19-20).

“[16] But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. [17] And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; [18] Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some” (2 Timothy 2:16-18).

“[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” (Galatians 1:6-9).

“[9] Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. [10] For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: [11] Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. [12] One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, the Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. [13] This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; [14] Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth” (Titus 1:9-14).

“[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” (Romans 16:17-18).

“[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 (1 Timothy 6:3-5).

“[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 (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

Once in Scripture, we are ordered to “avoid” false teachers (Romans 16:17). Twice in Scripture, we are commanded to “withdraw” from them (1 Timothy 6:5; 2 Timothy 3:5). Yet, we find millions upon millions of church members today happily sitting under the ministries of false teachers. It is said casually, “A ‘church’ is a church; all preachers teach pretty much speak the same thing. I go to all sorts of services and benefit a little from all meetings.” They do not study the Bible on their own, so they have no discernment to realize they should not be there and making such reckless claims! It is not God’s fault. He is letting them enjoy their lies, darkness, and confusion (Matthew 23:37-38; Romans 1:18-32; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12). Brethren, let us be sure we are not comfortable in this regard—or we will wind up in the same dreadful predicament!

Also see:
» What is the greatest threat facing the Grace Movement?
» Does doctrine really matter?
» What is the “judgment” of Galatians 5:10?

» How can we identify false teachers?

What is the “judgment” of Galatians 5:10?

WHAT IS THE “JUDGMENT” OF GALATIANS 5:10?

by Shawn Brasseaux

In Galatians chapter 5, verse 10, we read the Apostle Paul’s words to the saints of Galatia: “I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be.” How is this unidentified man “troubling” them? What does it mean, he will “bear his judgment?”

Read the context: “[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.”

Although Paul had visited and taught in Galatia (Acts chapters 13–14), winning these pagans to Jesus Christ, at least one false teacher had slipped in upon Paul’s departure. The individual proceeded to move these saints from grace and back under law. Instead of them resting in God’s grace—all that He did for them through Christ at Calvary—they were now convinced they could receive God’s blessings only if they performed in Jewish religion. In this case, they were pressured to keep the Law of Moses and be physically circumcised. This same problem is featured in Acts 15:1-5. Even today, we have people telling us to “perform to get the blessing” (works-religion with its rites, rituals, ceremonies, et cetera). What was the Lord’s solution concerning Galatia’s issue?

Galatians chapter 1 tells us: “[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.”

To be “accursed” here means “to be separated from, banned, excommunicated.” In verse 12 of chapter 5, Paul says, “I would [wish] they were even cut off which trouble you.” The Galatians were to remove that false teacher from their company—and that is precisely the “judgment,” or penalty, for being a promoter of wrong doctrine. They were not to “tolerate” him, neither were they instructed to consider him “a Christian with merely a different opinion.” He was unequivocally not serving Jesus Christ, and they were to leave him alone! They were to “cut off” fellowship with him. We would do well to promptly remove those who are teaching lies from our churches’ pulpits. Had we done so long ago, the pervasive ignorance and deception would have been avoided!

Also see:
» How can we identify false teachers?
» Does doctrine really matter?
» Must one be a “King James Bible Pauline dispensationalist” to have eternal life?

» Will God kill false teachers?

What are “groves?”

WHAT ARE “GROVES?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

Friend, there seems to be much confusion as to what “groves” are in Scripture. Hopefully, we can make sense of this topic for you.

THE KING JAMES BIBLE SPEAKS

The word “grove” appears 41 times in the Authorized Version. Before we look at these verses, we must note one exception. Genesis 21:33 contains the first occurrence: “And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God.” This “grove” is in a positive light, as Abraham is a Bible believer. The Hebrew word is “’eshel” (Strong’s #H815), a tamarisk or myrica tree [Tamarix orientalis]. It was rendered “tree” in 1 Samuel 22:6 and 1 Samuel 31:13. This fact will prove useful to us later.

As for the remaining “grove” verses (40 in all), they are negative. We present them now, reminding you the reader to sense the associated evils:

  • Exodus 34:13: “But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves:….”
  • Deuteronomy 7:5: “But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.”
  • Deuteronomy 12:3: “And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.”
  • Deuteronomy 16:21: “Thou shalt not plant thee a grove of any trees near unto the altar of the LORD thy God, which thou shalt make thee.”
  • Judges 3:7: “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves.”
  • Judges 6:25: “And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Take thy father’s young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it:….”
  • Judges 6:26: “And build an altar unto the LORD thy God upon the top of this rock, in the ordered place, and take the second bullock, and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the grove which thou shalt cut down.”
  • Judges 6:28: “And when the men of the city arose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was cast down, and the grove was cut down that was by it, and the second bullock was offered upon the altar that was built.”
  • Judges 6:30: “Then the men of the city said unto Joash, Bring out thy son, that he may die: because he hath cast down the altar of Baal, and because he hath cut down the grove that was by it.”
  • 1 Kings 14:15: “For the LORD shall smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and he shall root up Israel out of this good land, which he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the river, because they have made their groves, provoking the LORD to anger.”
  • 1 Kings 14:23: “For they also built them high places, and images, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree.”
  • 1 Kings 15:13: “And also Maachah his mother, even her he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove; and Asa destroyed her idol, and burnt it by the brook Kidron.”
  • 1 Kings 16:33: “And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.”
  • 1 Kings 18:19: “Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table.”
  • 2 Kings 13:6: “Nevertheless they departed not from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, who made Israel sin, but walked therein: and there remained the grove also in Samaria.)”
  • 2 Kings 17:10: “And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree:….”
  • 2 Kings 17:16: “And they left all the commandments of the LORD their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal.”
  • 2 Kings 18:4: “He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.”
  • 2 Kings 21:3: “For he built up again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he reared up altars for Baal, and made a grove, as did Ahab king of Israel; and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them.”
  • 2 Kings 21:7: “And he set a graven image of the grove that he had made in the house, of which the LORD said to David, and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever:….”
  • 2 Kings 23:4: “And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Bethel.”
  • 2 Kings 23:6: “And he brought out the grove from the house of the LORD, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and stamped it small to powder, and cast the powder thereof upon the graves of the children of the people.”
  • 2 Kings 23:7: “And he brake down the houses of the sodomites, that were by the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the grove.”
  • 2 Kings 23:14: “And he brake in pieces the images, and cut down the groves, and filled their places with the bones of men.”
  • 2 Kings 23:15: “Moreover the altar that was at Bethel, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he brake down, and burned the high place, and stamped it small to powder, and burned the grove.”
  • 2 Chronicles 14:3: “For he took away the altars of the strange gods, and the high places, and brake down the images, and cut down the groves:….”
  • 2 Chronicles 15:16: “And also concerning Maachah the mother of Asa the king, he removed her from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove: and Asa cut down her idol, and stamped it, and burnt it at the brook Kidron.”
  • 2 Chronicles 17:6: “And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the LORD: moreover he took away the high places and groves out of Judah.”
  • 2 Chronicles 19:3: “Nevertheless there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God.”
  • 2 Chronicles 24:18: “And they left the house of the LORD God of their fathers, and served groves and idols: and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their trespass.”
  • 2 Chronicles 31:1: “Now when all this was finished, all Israel that were present went out to the cities of Judah, and brake the images in pieces, and cut down the groves, and threw down the high places and the altars out of all Judah and Benjamin, in Ephraim also and Manasseh, until they had utterly destroyed them all. Then all the children of Israel returned, every man to his possession, into their own cities.”
  • 2 Chronicles 33:3: “For he built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down, and he reared up altars for Baalim, and made groves, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them.”
  • 2 Chronicles 33:19: “His prayer also, and how God was intreated of him, and all his sins, and his trespass, and the places wherein he built high places, and set up groves and graven images, before he was humbled: behold, they are written among the sayings of the seers.”
  • 2 Chronicles 34:3: “For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images.”
  • 2 Chronicles 34:4: “And they brake down the altars of Baalim in his presence; and the images, that were on high above them, he cut down; and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images, he brake in pieces, and made dust of them, and strowed it upon the graves of them that had sacrificed unto them.”
  • 2 Chronicles 34:7: “And when he had broken down the altars and the groves, and had beaten the graven images into powder, and cut down all the idols throughout all the land of Israel, he returned to Jerusalem.”
  • Isaiah 17:8: “And he shall not look to the altars, the work of his hands, neither shall respect that which his fingers have made, either the groves, or the images.”
  • Isaiah 27:9: “By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; and this is all the fruit to take away his sin; when he maketh all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten in sunder, the groves and images shall not stand up.”
  • Jeremiah 17:2: “Whilst their children remember their altars and their groves by the green trees upon the high hills.”
  • Micah 5:14: “And I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee: so will I destroy thy cities.”

THE BIBLE DICTIONARIES SPEAK

As we just saw, the term “grove” appears 41 times in the King James Bible’s Old Testament. The first one was the Hebrew “’eshel,” also rendered “tree.” Regarding the last 40 instances, it was the Hebrew word “Asherah” (Strong’s #H842). The term is defined as: “from H833 [happy]; happy; Asherah (or Astarte) a Phoenician goddess; also an image of the same:—grove. Compare H6253 [Ashtoreth, the Phoenician goddess of love (and increase)].”

Smith’s Bible Dictionary has the following entry for “grove:”

“1. A word used in the Authorized Version, with two exceptions, to translate the mysterious Hebrew term Asherah, which is not a grove, but probably an idol or image of some kind. [ASHERAH.] It is also probable that there was a connection between this symbol or image, whatever it was, and the sacred symbolic tree, the representation of which occurs so frequently on Assyrian sculptures.

2. The two exceptions noticed above are Gen. 21:33 and 1 Sam. 22:6 (margin). In the religions of the ancient heathen world groves play a prominent part. In the old times altars only were erected to the gods. It was thought wrong to shut up the gods within walls, and hence trees were the first temples; and from the earliest times groves are mentioned in connection with religious worship. Genesis 12:6, 7; Deuteronomy 11:30; Authorized Version “plain.” The groves were generally found connected with temples, and often had the right of affording an asylum.”

You will notice the critical (anti-King-James) position the “scholar” usually takes. The 1611 translators are once again deemed unskilled, allegedly “mistranslating” the Hebrew “Asherah.” What they considered “groves” the Bible dictionary editor believes something else. Dear friends, what is the authority? The Bible, or the Bible dictionary? Is not the Bible dictionary a derivative of the Bible? Why is more emphasis placed on the offshoot than the original? People are so quick to believe books about the Bible than they are to believe the Bible. This, dear friends, is the nonsense often found in Bible scholarship. There are competing authorities. Educated people do not want to submit to God’s Word; they want God’s Word to submit to them. This is unbelief, not faith, and yet that attitude is found in nearly all places of leadership within Christendom (seminaries, Bible colleges, churches, authors, commentators, and so on).

CONCLUSION

Pay very close attention as to how the King James Bible disproves the Bible dictionary. “Grove” is most definitely a correct translation of “Asherah,” even if doubters and unbelievers choose to remain in spiritual darkness! The Oxford English Dictionary says of “grove:” “a small wood or other group of trees.” The last 40 instances of “grove” in the Authorized Version are simply a garden of trees encircling an idol, and the LORD God spoke of destroying these! Such a practice underlies a common architectural practice of erecting a statue and then planting bushes or shrubbery around it, forming a “courtyard” within the confines of floral walls. We can find shrines and religious grottos (small caves) as centerpieces of various so-called “gardens of contemplation” even today—at hospitals, church buildings, cemeteries, et cetera. Of course, modern English versions obscure this reference to trees and wood because they often leave the word untranslated (reading “Asherah poles,” “Asherahs,” “Asherim”) and thus reducing it to nonsense for English readers. “Groves” is a perfectly acceptable translation of the Hebrew!

SUPPLEMENTAL: ANOTHER TREE ROOTED IN PAGANISM

Although highly offensive, while we are on the subject of trees and pagan idolatry (idolatree!), we might as well remind ourselves of the ancient “Christmas tree” rooted in Jeremiah chapter 10, some 600 years before Christ!

“[1] Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: [2] Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. [3] For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. [4] They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. [5] They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good. [6] Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O LORD; thou art great, and thy name is great in might.

“[7] Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee. [8] But they are altogether brutish and foolish: the stock is a doctrine of vanities. [9] Silver spread into plates is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the workman, and of the hands of the founder: blue and purple is their clothing: they are all the work of cunning men.

“[10] But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation. [11] Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens. [12] He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.”

Also see:
» “Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?”
» How could God forbid Jeremiah to pray for His people?
» Should I display a Christmas tree?

What does “subvert” mean?

WHAT DOES “SUBVERT” MEAN?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The term appears in various forms in the King James Scriptures:

  • Lamentations 3:36: “To subvert a man in his cause, the LORD approveth not.”
  • Acts 15:24: “Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:….”
  • 2 Timothy 2:14: “Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.”
  • Titus 1:11: “Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.”
  • Titus 3:11: “Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.”

Analyzing it from the English perspective, the word consists of the prefix “sub–” (beneath) and “vertere” (to turn). Literally, it means “to turn from beneath”—flipped or overturned. In fact, that applies to the Greek and Hebrew equivalents as well.

The Greek word rendered “subverting” in 2 Timothy 2:14 is “katastrophe,” which is obviously the origin of our English expression “catastrophe!” In this context, it refers to verbal debates that generate more heat than light, more confusion than clarity, and thus wreck souls in the audience. In 2 Peter 2:6, the same word is translated “overthrow,” referring to the LORD God destroying Sodom and Gomorrah: “And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;…” (cf. “overthrew” in Genesis 19:29). Both equally disastrous!

In the case of “subvert” in Titus 1:11, that Greek term is “anatrepo,” or “up [ana] turning [trope].” The house—that is, the meeting place of the local Christian assembly—is being flipped over. False teachers have slipped in and are devastating it from the inside out! This Greek term is rendered “overthrow” in 2 Timothy 2:18: “Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some,” and speaks of deceived souls who are not observing dispensational boundaries (namely, the Rapture to close the Dispensation of Grace and prevent it from combining with the prophetic program). Regarding the “heretick” of Titus 3:11, this “subverted” man is described as “ekstrepho” (turned inside out), perverted or corrupted. The equivalent is “froward” in Deuteronomy 32:20: “And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith.”

Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words says the following concerning “subverting” in Acts 15:24: “anaskeuazo, primarily, ‘to pack up baggage’ (ana, ‘up,’ skeuos, ‘a vessel’), hence, from a military point of view, ‘to dismantle a town, to plunder,’ is used metaphorically in Acts 15:24, of unsettling or ‘subverting’ the souls of believers. In the papyri it is used of going bankrupt.”

As touching “subvert” in Lamentations 3:36, this is the Hebrew “‘avath:” “To subvert a man in his cause, the LORD approveth not.” The word appears nearly a dozen times in the Hebrew Old Testament, and is rendered several other ways: “pervert” (Job 8:3; Job 34:12), “overthrown” (Job 19:6), “perversely” (Psalm 119:78), “turneth upside down” (Psalm 146:9), “crooked” (Ecclesiastes 1:15; Ecclesiastes 7:13), “bow” (Ecclesiastes 12:3), and “falsifying” (Amos 8:5).

In all these cases, something (city, local assembly) or someone is being ruined, overturned or overthrown from its foundation. There is unsettling, perversion, or weakening. We need to be especially mindful concerning the wellbeing of our souls, that they not be subverted with non-dispensational Bible study (2 Timothy 2:14-18)!

Saints, please remember us in your monthly giving—these websites do cost money to run! 🙂 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! By the way, ministry emails have really been backed up this year. I am handling them as much as humanly possible. Thanks for your patience. 🙂

Also see:
» What is the difference between apostasy and heresy?
» Does doctrine really matter?
» How do we identify false teachers?

Who is a “Christian?”

WHO IS A “CHRISTIAN?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

Just who exactly is a “Christian?”

A brother in Christ remarked long ago: “Today, it seems like a ‘Christian’ is anyone and everyone but a Jew or a Muslim!” All these decades later, we can still see what he meant by that. The label “Christian” is used quite flippantly or carelessly, to where it is nearly hollow. Oftentimes, no real thought goes into its handling. In fact, the word “Christian” can be—and frequently is—used to refer to ideas and people completely foreign to the Holy Bible. When someone says “This is a Christian belief” or “That is a Christian person,” usually, what they really mean is “This is a denominational belief” or “That is a denominational person.” In other words, “Christian” is a substitute for the title of a particular sect, group, or cult.

Once, a man told this author about a woman he was interested in dating. He reassured this author, “She goes to church. She is a Christian.” (Does going to church automatically make someone a Christian? If so, going to the landfill makes someone a piece of garbage!) Then, there are those who say, “I am no longer a Christian.” What they mean is that they no longer attend church, and/or they stopped reading the Bible, and/or they quit doing “good” works, and/or they no longer pray, et cetera. When such statements are made, they advertise the fact that they really have no idea what a Christian even is. They know what a member of Christendom is, what a church member is, but they cannot define what a Christian is.

How dangerous for people to use Bible terms but ignore the Bible’s definitions when explaining those terms. It is doubtless one of the most effectual aspects of Satan’s evil world system. People can hear the correct vocabulary, speak the right words, and still fail to have accurate beliefs or a clear understanding of the truth. We need to be careful, lest we take this path of deception and unbelief. Let us search the Scriptures to see what the Bible says about Christians and Christianity.

The term “Christian” appears only thrice in a King James Bible. Its first instance is Acts 11:26: “And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” The second time is Acts 26:27-28: “[27] King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. [28] Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” It shows up one final time in 1 Peter 4:16: “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”

It is important to note that the word is never one time found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. While these believers are commonly called “Christians,” the Bible never labels them as such. The name was not attached to followers of Christ until Acts chapter 11—and this is in relation to the ministry of Saul (the Apostle Paul). It appears again with Paul’s ministry (see Acts 26:27-28). The word was finally passed on to those believers in Peter’s ministry (cf. 1 Peter 4:16). Here, we hone in on Acts 26:27-28.

Acts chapter 26 is Luke’s account of the Apostle Paul sharing his testimony with King Herod Agrippa II. This Herod is the great-grandson of King Herod the Great (slaughterer of the Bethlehem babies in Matthew chapter 2, some 60 years earlier). Back in chapter 22 of Acts, the unbelieving Jews had Paul arrested in Jerusalem after he delivered his testimony there. He stood before Israel’s religious leaders in chapter 23, causing them to conspire to put him to death. A Roman commander rescues Paul, assembling an army and sending him away to Caesarea (some 50 miles [80 kilometers] northwest of Jerusalem).

Paul stands before Judaean Governor Felix, giving his testimony there (chapter 24). Two years after Felix, Paul speaks to Governor Porcius Festus (chapter 25). Festus recruits King Herod Agrippa II for advice, and Agrippa agrees to listen to Paul. We have finally reached the context of Acts 26:27-28.

As chapter 26 of Acts opens, Paul eagerly stands before King Agrippa II and recounts his conversion: “[1] Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself: [2] I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews: [3] Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently. 

“[4] My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; [5] Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. [6] And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God, unto our fathers: [7] Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews. [8] Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?

“[9] I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. [10] Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. [11] And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities. [12] Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, [13] At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.” Paul met the universe’s most important Person!

“[14] And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. [15] And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. [16] But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; [17] Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, [18] To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

“[19] Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: [20] But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. [21] For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me. [22] Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: [23] That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.”

How will Judaean Governor Festus and Galilean King Herod Agrippa II respond to the Holy Spirit speaking to them through Paul? Will they be interested in becoming Christians, or will they be content in staying lost? Let us see what the Scriptures say.

Upon hearing the Apostle Paul speak about his conversion for the last 23 verses, King Herod Agrippa II and Governor Porcius Festus respond: “[24] And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. [25] But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. [26] For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner. [27] King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. [28] Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”

Festus, not convinced, raises his voice to interrupt: “Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad” (verse 24). He accuses the Apostle of being crazy! Paul sounds like an educated man, but he seems “too educated.” To Festus, Paul’s testimony is the simply ramblings of an insane, renegade Jew! “But the natural man receiveth not the things of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Paul replies to Festus’ charge of madness: “[25] I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. [26] For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner” (Acts 26:25-26). Festus and Agrippa could check the record to see if Paul was fabricating lies or telling the truth. His radical transformation was a historical fact to the land of Palestine, and his apostolic ministry has been conducted for last 30 years. However, sinful Festus is not interested in truth. He finds an excuse: “I do not believe the Gospel of Grace because its preacher is nuts!” Let us expound Agrippa’s response.

The Old Testament prophets were aware of the doctrine of bodily resurrection (Job 19:24-27; Psalm 16:10; Daniel 12:2,13; et al.). In fact, Paul knows that King Herod Agrippa II is familiar with such Jewish religious beliefs (verse 3; cf. Acts 26:27-28). He therefore skillfully uses Agrippa’s knowledge of the Old Testament in an attempt to lead him to Jesus Christ: Paul twice mentions the idea of resurrection.

Re-read excerpts of Acts chapter 26: “[6] And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God, unto our fathers: [7] Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews. [8] Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?…. [22] Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: [23] That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.”

It is here that Festus interrupts and ridicules Paul, dismissing Bible truth as mere lunacy (verses 24-26). Paul then turns to the king, and we read Acts 26:27 once more: “King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.” The soul of Herod Agrippa II hangs in the balance. He can either trust God’s words, or disbelieve them. Surely under tremendous peer pressure from Festus, Agrippa takes the latter route and derides the truth as well. “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” Agrippa has made his decision: he is not swayed! His tone is one of surprise and condescension. “Paul, you will have to try much harder than that to influence me to become a Christian!”

Now, by carefully considering this, we see what a Christian really is. Verses 22 and 23 again: “[22] Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: [23] That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.”

It is greatly helpful to notice Herod Agrippa II had Bible awareness before he ever met the Apostle Paul. Even as a Gentile, Agrippa was familiar with the Hebrew Old Testament. Read Acts 26:27-28 again: “King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” Herod did not deny he believed the Hebrew Scriptures. What he refused to do was agree with—believe—Paul’s Gospel presentation.

Moreover, it is surely insightful to appreciate how Paul was not trying to influence Agrippa II to join a local church, get water baptized, say a “sinner’s prayer,” walk an aisle, “feel sorry” for his sins, keep commandments, partake of a holy meal, confess his sins, ask God for forgiveness, kneel and weep at an “altar,” promise to “do better,” or obey any other such common appeals prominent at “invitation time” in most local churches today. Paul wanted Agrippa to believehave faith in—the Word of God’s Grace!

Agrippa had head knowledge and head belief, but not heart knowledge and heart belief. It was just intellectual assent with the Old Testament, which therefore rendered him unable to receive Paul’s further revelation in heart faith. “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness” (Romans 10:10a). The same is true of most people today—even church members. Aware of the Bible, seeing some historical facts in it, they nevertheless cannot trust it in the heart. They speak of “God,” “Jesus,” “the Holy Ghost,” “grace,” “righteousness,” and so on, but there is no faith in the soul concerning Jesus Christ.

CONCLUSION

Our English word “Christian” is a transliteration of the Greek “Christianos.” In its most basic form, it means “follower of Christ.” When we look at the Bible’s usage of the title, we can fine-tune the definition. The term was first applied to Gentiles who followed Jesus Christ in Antioch of Syria (Acts 11:26)—modern Turkey. It specifically described the disciples or students of the Lord’s doctrine committed to Saul’s (the Apostle Paul’s) trust. Their core belief was faith or trust in Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for sins (cf. Acts 26:27-28 and its context).

Finally, the name became attached to the Apostle Peter’s converts, especially in the sense of following Christ in suffering persecution according to God’s will. First Peter chapter 4: “[12] Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: [13] But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. [14] If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. [15] But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. [16] Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”

Paul’s final recorded words to King Herod Agrippa II were: “I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds” (Acts 26:29). That is, “King Agrippa, I would you and all my listeners to be like me in trusting the Gospel of Grace!” Whatever subsequently happened to Agrippa is unknown. Regardless, he had heard directly from God’s Apostle of the Gentiles how to become a Christian… and now have we!

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthian 15:3-4).

Also see:
» Must one be a “King James Bible Pauline dispensationalist” to have eternal life?
» “But, what if I do not accept the Bible’s authority?”
» “But what if they read the Bible at my church…?!”

How can I most effectually deal with cultists who knock on my front door?

HOW CAN I MOST EFFECTUALLY DEAL WITH CULTISTS WHO KNOCK ON MY FRONT DOOR?

by Shawn Brasseaux

It is truly sad that the average Bible believer is too afraid to deal with the cultists who canvas neighborhoods, knock on doors, and distribute sectarian literature to unsuspecting and dazed citizens. Genuine Christians do not know how to respond to false doctrine, so they will outright refuse to deal with its peddlers. This author knows the routine; long ago, he faced the same dilemma. “I do not invite them into my house, and I do not talk with them, because 2 John forbids it!” Frankly, this is an excuse—nothing more. The believer declines because he knows he really has no firm grounding in the Scriptures to handle even minimal opposition! Here, in this study, we offer three simple tips to help overcome this formidable “barrier” and reach the denominational proselytizer.

Before we begin, let us provide a few quick remarks concerning the misunderstanding of 2 John 9-11: “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” This has a context, and our Dispensation of Grace is not it. John is an apostle of Israel (Galatians 2:9), whereas the Apostle Paul is God’s apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11:13; Ephesians 3:1-2). Furthermore, we do not appeal to John because he is writing of a time concerning the Antichrist and other antichrists, a period future from us (see 1 John 2:8; cf. 1 John 4:1-4). Our doctrine, duty, walk, and destiny as members of the Church the Body of Christ are found in the Pauline Epistles, Romans through Philemon. Now, we begin!

A WORD OF CAUTION (MARK IT WELL! MARK IT WELL! MARK IT WELL!)

When dealing with cultists, it is tempting to start by systematically targeting all their peculiar beliefs. Sometimes this approach is helpful—but only when the Bible believer is skilled enough in the cult’s teachings (rare) and proficient in the Scriptures (rarer!). Door-knocking cultists usually operate with an extremely strict, brainwashed mentality, so they will not sit silently as their most treasured ideas are discredited. In case you have not noticed, they will become increasingly agitated, defensive, and belligerent. By the time you have dismantled their system, they are too infuriated to hear and believe a clear Gospel message. Perhaps you are now too disgusted yourself to deal with them any further. What was accomplished? Just high blood pressure and spiritual destruction on both sides! Lost souls remain lost; Christians have lost their testimony and joy in witnessing. Friend, you want to expose them to as much profitable material as possible in as short a time as possible. It is not wise to start talking about just anything in Scripture. Try to adhere to the simple plan described in the ensuing paragraphs.

Again, every door-knocking proselytizer representing a denomination or group is extremely familiar with at least a few key Bible texts. Their group has trained them so they can especially deal with objections concerning their “pet verses,” increasing the likelihood of gaining new members. Here is why the Bible believer is fearful. “They know the Scripture better than I do, so I cannot possibly answer them!” Friend, listen, please pay attention here. Rather debating them regarding these passages—yes, very few Christians are strong enough in the Word to do that anyway—you want to make the most of your time and energy. Your goal is to make this time as instructive and edifying as possible for yourself and your listener. Maximize the amount of sound Bible doctrine you share, and this will minimize “the flesh.” Stick by the Word of God rightly divided, and you will be on safe ground because this is how the Holy Spirit works!

THE THREE-STEP APPROACH (MARK IT WELL! MARK IT WELL! MARK IT WELL!)

Years ago, this author devised the following direct method to be most useful in reaching cultists with the Gospel of Grace. Follow this simple, three-step technique and you will accomplish many vital objectives. It is important that you follow this outline because it is designed to hit the three major areas in “one shot.” The mature Bible student will take the applicable verses and craft a Gospel presentation suited for the particular convert. You, the soul winner, no matter the circumstances or personal backgrounds involved, have three responsibilities:

  1. Firstly, you need to precisely identify their false teaching. You should not misunderstand them, so you will let them speak on their group’s behalf. Once they have spoken to you, they cannot accuse you of misrepresenting them or charge you for not really knowing what they teach.
  2. Secondly, but most importantly, you need to give them the Gospel of Grace. The previous step was really a subtle gateway to this stage.
  3. Finally, you need to show them you are not interested in joining their group. As a Bible believer, you cannot fellowship with false doctrine and false teachers (2 Corinthians 6:14-18; 1 Timothy 6:3-6; 2 Timothy 3:1-9).

And, here is the challenge… all three steps should be achieved within 5 or 10 minutes! Let me show you how to do this, it becoming easier and easier as you practice and use it.

You should always be polite. Greet the door-knocker with a “Hello” and even a “How are you doing?,” but avoid endorsements and flatteries (“how dedicated you are to proselytize for your group!,” “you have traveled and covered all this area?!,” “I have heard of your group and what a nice church building you have!,” “look at all the people who have come with you!,” et cetera). Invite the denominational person into your house. At this point, be careful not to say, “I do not agree with you because you are a false teacher!” Remember, you have not heard them yet. If you judge their doctrine before letting them speak, then you will prove to them that Bible believers really are “narrow-minded” and “ignorant” of their group. “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him” (Proverbs 18:13). However, by allowing the denominationalist to share their information with you, you are setting a wise example. Unlike a blind sheep of religion, you show the dear soul that you use your brain and carefully consider anything and everything. Perhaps this person will follow you in that regard of not being so naïve.

STEP 1. Do not start sharing the Bible with them. Let the false teaching go first. Begin by asking them, “Could you summarize your Gospel message in one statement?” (If they fail to understand what you mean, restate your inquiry: “What good news do you bring here for me to believe? What is the primary message your group proclaims?” These are developments of one question.) Make sure you limit them to “one statement,” otherwise you will likely end up with a complex diatribe lasting several minutes. You should be listening for a message about Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork at Calvary. Knowing the cults though, we can expect something else to take precedence. They will emphasize some strange doctrine, an experience, a ceremony, a ritual, et cetera.

STEP 2. Now that the denomination has spoken, the Bible will speak. If the person is carrying a Bible, ask them to turn to 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. You should take your King James Bible and turn to it as well. (If they do not have a Bible, let them use yours.) Honestly, though, it is beneficial to let them read the Gospel in their own Bible, if possible. This way, they cannot dismiss you with, “Well, that is your version and not my denomination’s approved version!” Here is the Authorized Version: “[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:….” (Be careful to emphasize the word “Gospel” in verse 1, and the Gospel of Grace [Acts 20:24] itself in verses 3 and 4). If you want, you may turn to Acts 16:30-31 to summarize: “And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

STEP 3. The Bible will continue speaking (and it will have the “last word”). Again, if the person has a Bible, ask them to turn to Galatians 1:6-10 now. You should take your King James Bible, too. Honestly, again, it is beneficial to let them read the Gospel in their own Bible. This way, they cannot complain, “Well, that is your version and not my denomination’s approved version!” Here is the Authorized Version: “[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. [10] For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” The word “accursed” means “cut off from fellowship.” Politely tell the proselytizer that you in faith cannot join their group because they do not have Paul’s Gospel as their primary message (resort back to their comments in #1 and the Gospel in #2). They cannot backtrack—their own lips have condemned themselves as not Christian vessels!

At this point, God’s Word has convicted the door-knocking proselytizer. They likely do not want to hear anything else from you—that is totally fine because you have gotten the most important Bible points across to them! If they desire to talk more, accept the offer, but make it clear to them that it will be civil discourse. Furthermore, explain that no matter what they say, you have already made your decision to believe those Bible verses and will not join their denomination. You should encourage them to trust those verses—the Gospel of Grace—without delay. Do not be surprised or discouraged if they remain in unbelief. You have no doubt grabbed their attention, and they have been exposed to sound Bible doctrine, so praise the Lord Jesus Christ! Whenever you prefer, realizing the time of deadlock has been reached, ask them to leave your house because you cannot endorse false doctrine (reemphasizing the three points). Be tactful not rude!

One more thing: you should have already accepted whatever free literature they offered you at the beginning of the meeting. Certainly do not believe their lies. Yet, by taking their brochure, tract, or booklet, you are ensuring one less soul is deceived. That is one less piece of denominational literature liable to fall into the hands of a poor, benighted soul. Study that information, and familiarize yourself with that group. You will be better equipped to reach those church members next time you meet them, and you will be able to authoritatively warn others about their dangerous doctrines. Arm yourself with this knowledge so you can know exactly what you are up against when you get into more detailed discussions with them on other occasions.

Also see:
» How do we identify false teachers?

» Should we hate the denominational people who misled us?
» How long should I keep witnessing to the same person?
» Should we read denominational literature?
» Has God’s Word failed?
» “If any man be ignorant?”
» Must I witness to be saved?
» “I believed the Gospel, so why do they not believe?”
» Are we merely interested in breaking up churches?
» If dispensational Bible study is true, how come so few believe it?
» If God knows who will serve Him and who won’t, why witness?
» Should the lack of worldwide revival in our dispensation discourage us from witnessing?
» “But what if they read the Bible at my church…?!”
» Can we witness “too much” to family members?
» What if someone asks me a Bible question I cannot answer?

Are we dispensationalists guilty of “limiting God?”

ARE WE DISPENSATIONALISTS GUILTY OF “LIMITING GOD?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

In order to maintain their traditional view of “God healed bodies in the past so He is still doing it,” Charismatics (spiritual-gift people) and their sympathizers claim we dispensationalists are “limiting God” and “putting God in a box.” Who are we to tell God He cannot heal the sick? Who are we to tell God He cannot empower today’s Christians to exercise the spiritual gift of tongues? Charismatics default to these arguments when dealing with those individuals who question their beliefs and activities. Are these claims answerable? (Indeed, they are, and we start replying to them by asking two of our own questions. Who are we to tell God He must heal bodies? Who are we to tell God He must distribute the spiritual gift of tongues to us?) Here in this, our special-edition 700th Bible Q&A article, we gladly take this opportunity to respond to these claims in greater detail.

I. ISSUE #1: THE GREAT DELUGE—TO BE REPEATED, OR NO?

Dear friend, we are all familiar with the Bible story of the Great Deluge, the global flood that came in Noah’s lifetime. The historical record is chapters 6-8 of Genesis, the first Book in the canon of Scripture. What we are interested in here is what Almighty God said following that most catastrophic event. Turn to Genesis chapter 9 and read the facts: “[8] And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying, [9] And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you; [10] And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth. [11] And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.

“[12] And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: [13] I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. [14] And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: [15] And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. [16] And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. [17] And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.”

God thrice promised man in the form of a covenant or agreement: “neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood” (verse 11), “neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth” (verse 11), and “the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh” (verse 15). The rainbow in the sky is the “token” or symbol of that Divine promise (verses 12-13,17). Never again will He flood the entire world with water. (This shows us that it was a global flood—certainly not the regional flood that scoffers allege happened.) God swore to us He will never destroy the planet with another flood and we believe He told the truth.

But… wait… if we extend and apply the aforementioned philosophy of the Charismatics, we have generated a real dilemma here. Remember, never should we limit God. It is wholly inappropriate for us to tell Him He cannot flood the whole world again. After all, He can do whatever He wants. How dare we “put God in a box,” how audacious of us to “limit Him,” by saying He will never cause another global deluge! If He wants to flood the world again, He can. Well, dear friend, as you have probably guessed, much sarcasm was employed here to prove a point. These statements are made in complete rebellion to the revealed Word of God.

Is not Almighty God bound to keep His Word? The fact of the matter is that if He promises to do something, He must do it—or He is a liar. We are not putting God in a box. We are not limiting Him. He has put Himself in a box; He has limited Himself. In faith, we are simply acknowledging what He Himself has said concerning the issue! Likewise, when we say that God is not healing physical bodies today and He is not issuing spiritual gifts today, we are merely repeating what God Himself has said in His Word, the Holy Bible. We will deal more fully with that issue later. For now, we must consider a second matter.

II. ISSUE #2: THE MIDDLE WALL OF PARTITION—UP OR DOWN?

Dear friend, Ephesians 2:11-13 is another clear example of God changing His dealings with man: “[11] Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; [12] That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: [13] But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” Is there not a difference between physical circumcision and physical uncircumcision? Yes, there surely is. There was even a time when Almighty God saw a spiritual significance in being physically circumcised and a spiritual disadvantage in being physically uncircumcised (see Genesis 17:1-27). That is not true today. We would have to not want to see it not to see it.

“For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love” (Galatians 5:6). “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature” (Galatians 6:15). Again, who are we to “limit God” and “put God in a box?” Why can we say that physical circumcision is not spiritually beneficial today? Because God said so through the Apostle Paul. How can we say that physical uncircumcision is not spiritually detrimental today? Again, because God said it through Paul. God limited Himself. He is bound by His words today not to treat a Jew any differently than He treats a Gentile (non-Jew). The ground is level at the foot of Calvary’s cross.

In the “but now” (Ephesians 2:13), in the “Dispensation of Grace” (3:2), God sees “no difference” between Jew and Gentile. “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference” (Romans 3:22). “Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11). “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” (1 Corinthians 12:13). Certainly, this was not true in time past!

Can God lie? Does He lie? Well, if we are to avoid “limiting God,” then how could we confine His words to the realm of truth? After all, as the Charismatics claim, we cannot put Him in a box! The fact of the matter is Hebrews 6:18 already told us “it [is] impossible for God to lie.” We can therefore “limit Him” because He Himself is limited here. He always tells the truth. He never lies. This is an absolute boundary He does not cross at any time. It appears as though we must “put God in a box” here… lest we make Him out to be a liar!

III. ISSUE #3: WHO IS GOD—HE OR WE?

Make no mistake: God is God. As the Creator, He makes the rules. Sinful human flesh rebels against that fact. Man wants to do what he wants to do! “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way…” (Isaiah 53:6). Like a child defying his parents, man challenges God by creating his own set of rules. He deviates from the path God ordained him at Adam’s creation. At this point, it should be stressed that man’s heart misleads him: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). He thinks he is doing God’s will but he is not. He assumes he is doing right but he is not. The defense mechanisms echo even today: “I am not all that bad. Sure, I make a mistake here and there, but I try to do a good deed here and there to make up for my wrongs. In the end, I think I have something good to offer God.”

Human nature has two extremes—asceticism and lasciviousness. The former is the “religious crowd,” those who meticulously observe the rules of piety for the sake of self-discipline. They take great care in denying themselves of worldly pleasures. “We do not drink alcohol, we do not smoke cigarettes, and we do not carouse and commit illicit deeds.” Prayers, fasting, almsgiving, commandments, ceremonies, rites, and rituals mark this course of life. Asceticism promotes human goodness, a way to show God how a human can “self-reform” and “behave.”

The latter is the “loose crowd,” the rough and rowdy bunch. Instead of observing rules as the ascetics, the lascivious crowd has no rules. It is an example of human misbehavior—a complete disregard for order and decency. To the degree the ascetics have “given up” debauched conduct, the lascivious indulge in it. Neither is acceptable to God, for asceticism and lasciviousness alike are but futile attempts to substitute man’s thoughts and works with those of the Lord Jesus Christ. God wants neither self-righteousness (asceticism) nor selfishness (lasciviousness).

Dear friend, Christians need to be careful in that both extremes creep into daily thoughts and behaviors. If we mind the things of the flesh, we will walk after the flesh—and that can result in asceticism, lasciviousness, or both! The Charismatic Movement is a mixture of both. For example, they tend to shy away from profanity, vulgar clothing, and so on (going so far as to forbid women from wearing pants, prohibiting jewelry and makeup, and so on). Yet, chaos and confusion mark their services. Individuals will actually tremor, roll around on the floor, jump and run across auditoriums, raise their voices in “unknown tongues,” and so on. This is a combination of human lasciviousness and human asceticism. It has the appearance of human good: they shout “Praise Jesus!” in a church setting. Yet, it also resembles a drunken party at a nightclub—their “alcohol” being emotions and religious tradition.

Again, it is a tricky situation. Our heart is so sinful that, unless we are walking in the spiritual light that we have (minding the Scriptures we know), we will fall into the trap of opposing God’s will and yet believing we are fulfilling it. For instance, if there is a course of action we want to take, if we desire to adopt a particular view, we can flip through the pages of the Bible and find something somewhere to justify it. It is no secret that people, for centuries, have grabbed verses and taught innumerable outlandish ideas. All cults, sects, and denominations have at least a few Bible passages to support their teachings to some extent. Their doctrinal statements did not just appear out of thin air. Even with a weak biblical foundation, the founders and hierarchies of these groups present quite a convincing case when scouting for new members. Enamored, prospects exclaim and surrender: “It is a group that uses the Bible, so it must be God’s group for me!” (Check Matthew 4:6, where Satan uses the Bible too!)

Dear friend, never should we want to limit God. We, such fallible and weak beings, are unable to do that anyway. However, we can see ourselves as God… and then believe that any limitations placed upon us are actually limitations of God’s work. We are now living in a world of delusions instead of reality. If we are not aware of what God is or is not doing, we cannot accurately judge what is and what is not acceptable. Unquestionably, God behaved a certain way in time past. However, that does not mean He is still working in that same manner today. Before we go around accusing anyone of “putting God in a box” or “limiting God,” perhaps we had better study our Bible and see what restrictions God has placed upon Himself.

Earlier, we saw two examples, two issues, which highlighted how God’s dealings with man have changed. Let us briefly consider a third one. Should we offer animal sacrifices as instructed in Leviticus and Numbers? After all, if God commanded them back then, why will He not accept them today? Once again, should we be “limiting God?” Yet, we remind ourselves we never read anywhere in the New Testament Scripture about animal sacrifices required today. We will have to “limit God” here as well because He has restricted His current dealings with man so they do not involve animal sacrifices. Although God accepted such practices in time past, He does not accept them today.

Here is what religious people want to do. They think that they can draw a box and then make God jump into it. If someone questions their actions, then they are under the impression their critic is “limiting God.” In reality, God has placed restrictions upon Himself—and He will not break His Word in order to cater to the whims of sinful man. Unlike them, He does not value church traditions, denominational systems, and so on. Such is the case with bodily healings and the gift of speaking in tongues. While these are certainly components of a program God once operated, that is the very point—that program is no longer in effect!

IV. ISSUE #4: IN WHICH DISPENSATION DO WE LIVE—LAW OR GRACE?

Dear friend, we would do well to see that, in light of the dispensational change from prophecy to mystery, God has stopped doing things that He once did. The Holy Spirit Himself provides many such examples in the Books of Romans through Philemon, but we will focus on just two of them: physical healing and the gift of tongues.

“Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities” (1 Timothy 5:23). How unfortunate that the great Apostle Paul, under the leading of the Holy Spirit, “put God in a box.” Paul was under the impression he—and all other people—no longer had the spiritual gift of healing. He also believed Timothy could not heal himself either. Paul’s advice to use wine as medicine was evidently given under the assumption that no “Divine healing” would be bestowed upon Timothy. The absence of supernatural healing is surely striking here, is it not—especially since Paul performed numerous such miracles throughout his Acts ministry?! In one of the final inspired statements he wrote, Paul penned: “Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick(2 Timothy 4:20). Did Paul expect Trophimus to be healed? No. Is there any indication Trophimus was healed after Paul’s departure? No, there is none. Second Timothy was the last Bible Book Paul wrote. (Paul “limited God?!”)

It would seem as though Paul knew the frail, dying condition of any and every human body. Lost and saved alike, non-Christian and Christian, we are all under the curse of sin. Bodily sickness is inevitable. Romans 8:18-25 comments: “[18] For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. [19] For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. [20] For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, [21] Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. [22] For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. [23] And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. [24] For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? [25] But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”

What Paul hoped for, what his expectation was, was not a temporary healing of a physical body that would die anyway. He looked forward to a resurrection—commonly called the Rapture—wherein these ailing bodies would be exchanged for eternal bodies. You can also look at 1 Corinthians chapter 15 for more information, but, here, we will see Paul’s second epistle to Corinth.

We read in 2 Corinthians: “[4:16] For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. [4:17] For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; [4:18] While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. [5:1] For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. [5:2] For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: [5:3] If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. [5:4] For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. [5:5] Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. [5:6] Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: [5:7] (For we walk by faith, not by sight: ) [5:8] We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”

The Holy Spirit guiding his mind and pen, Paul spoke of these physical bodies—the “outward man”—as “perishing” (4:16). As one brother said long ago, “All the ‘healing’ claims aside, the death-rate is still one apiece!” The Greek word rendered “perish” is “diaphtheiro,” used of the moth that “corrupteth” (eats) clothing and other transitory possessions in Luke 12:33. Our bodies are likewise being consumed with the passage of time—the aging process is diminishing our vigor and strength. It is depressing, but rather than deny it, Paul had the Divine mindset to overcome the despair. “Yes, this old body of flesh and blood is indeed headed for a cemetery plot, but, with every passing day, the spiritual body inside is becoming stronger and more vigorous!” Ephesians 3:16 says of Paul’s prayer for the Christians at Ephesus, “That he [Father God] would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.” Until our physical bodies are redeemed, we patiently waiting for bodily resurrection, we enjoy a spiritual healing like nothing else!

V. ISSUE #5: WHAT IS OUR PREFERENCE—TEMPORARY PHYSICAL HEALING OR ETERNAL SPIRITUAL HEALING?

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Friend, as we study and come to a greater and greater awareness of God’s Word, as we believe what we read, it gives the Holy Spirit more and more control of our thoughts and lives. This leads to spiritual health—the “inner man” or “inward man” maturing, strengthening. Read 1 Timothy 6:3: “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….” The Greek word for “wholesome” is “hygiaino,” which obviously gave rise to our English term “hygiene.” Christ’s words to us through the Pauline Epistles, Romans through Philemon, can heal our soul to the degree the healing miracles cured physical bodies in Bible days.

Notice: “And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole [hygiaino] need not a physician; but they that are sick” (Luke 5:31). Here is spiritual healing. The word is employed now for physical healing: “And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole [hygiaino] that had been sick” (Luke 7:10). The “sound” doctrine of the Scriptures rightly divided can lead to spiritual healing, strengthening, health: “For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound [hygiaino] doctrine; According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust” (1 Timothy 1:10-11).

“Hold fast the form of sound [hygiaino] words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:13). “But speak thou the things which become sound [hygiaino] doctrine:…” (Titus 2:1). “Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound [hygiaino] doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers” (Titus 1:9). Here is the spiritual health that sound Bible doctrine actually produces: “This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound [hygiaino] in the faith;…” (Titus 1:13). “That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound [hygiaino] in faith, in charity, in patience” (Titus 2:2).

Of course, “sound [hygiaino] doctrine” is said to be that which the professing church will disregard. Second Timothy chapter 4 says to this point: “[1] I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; [2] Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. [3] For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; [4] And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

Did you catch verse 3? There are those who follow their “own lusts” or personal desires—spiritual lasciviousness! How do these people operate? Tossing out sound Bible doctrine—that which promotes spiritual health or integrity—they embrace “fables.” Such stories become the basis for their teaching, morality, and so on. Certainly, the “healing testimonies” of the modern Charismatic Movement fit right in here! Such storytellers do not know what God is doing today (as found in Paul’s epistles—our earlier comments), but they certainly want to go back to what God in the previous dispensation (healing miracles and the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues). Walking by sight and not faith, they look for signs and wonders. Instead of emphasizing spiritual health, they stress physical healing. They have not learned Romans chapter 8, and 2 Corinthians chapters 4 and 5!

VI. ISSUE #6: WHAT SHALL WE CHOOSE TO HEAR—THE WORD OF GOD, OR THE TONGUES OF MEN?

Charismatics will tell us that one of the signs of the Holy Spirit working is when individuals speak in a “heavenly tongue,” some ecstatic utterance. They point to Acts chapter 2, obviously, as their main proof text: “[1] And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. [2] And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. [3] And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. [4] And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

First Corinthians chapters 12 and 14 are also used to defend this practice of tongue-talking (although, upon closer inspection, most of chapter 14 is actually ignored). The fact of the matter is that chapter 13, sitting in the middle, attaches a major condition to spiritual gifts: “[8] Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. [9] For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. [10] But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.”

Even if we were to adopt the erroneous view that the gift of tongues will cease once we get to Heaven (Heaven and the Lord’s coming absent from this context!), that itself is an embarrassing admission that God does not always do the same thing forever. If God never changes, then, by the Charismatics’ own claim, He will always (without end!) issue the gift of tongues and that would render 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 meaningless. Even in Heaven there would be the gift of tongues! Remember, as the anti-dispensationalists claim, “Jesus Christ, the same, yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8). So, we are now forced to believe the gift of tongues will never, ever pass away. It never ceased after Acts, and it will never terminate—even in Heaven. (Which even Charismatics do not believe!) Do you see how dangerous this gets, friend? If we do not recognize God limiting Himself, we open ourselves to all sorts of possibilities. Nothing in the Bible will mean anything. Scripture will become destructive rather than edifying.

Here is plain truth. The gift of tongues ceased when the Bible canon was completed just after the close of the Acts period some 2,000 years ago. Exactly as 1 Corinthians chapter 13 predicted, partial knowledge gave way to complete knowledge. Limited preaching gave way to complete preaching. We have all revelation from God now—otherwise, the Bible is incomplete, and we fall into the heretical trap of “continuing inspiration.” This is the same idea that led to the Book of Mormon, the supposed “sequel” to the Bible. Various other cults equate their founders’ writings with Scripture, failing to realize God stopped issuing new revelation to man 20 centuries ago. Again, God limited Himself by saying He has nothing further to say. We have the entire will of God already manifested in the Holy Scriptures. We either believe that, or we do not! (If we do not recognize God limiting Himself here, we will always be adding to the Bible!!)

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). “Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:…” (Ephesians 1:8-10). If we understand that God’s revelation to man has ceased, then we are simply recognizing God’s own words on the subject. He has limited Himself, and is bound by that Word not to keep dispensing new revelation. There is no “hidden will of God.” With Paul’s revelation written in Romans through Philemon, all has been disclosed! Or, if we prefer, we can limit our spiritual health and understanding by ignoring the verses just presented.

VII. CONCLUSION

Try as we might, friend, we can never limit God. Furthermore, as passionately as we may attempt, we can never force God to do something He is not doing. He is God; we are not; that is that! While we can “fake” it for a while, we can never replace God’s work (either what He did in the past or what He is currently doing). Dispensationalists understand God’s revelation to man and work with man changes through time, as we move in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. If we disregard these dispensational boundaries, we have an agenda of doing whatever we want to do with the intention of blaming God for the consequences of our folly.

Would it be appropriate for us to say that God is not planning to flood the whole world again? It would be wholly disrespectful of us to tell God what He can and cannot do. Yet, we are not telling Him that. He is telling us what He will not do. We do not have to fear another global flood. After all, God Himself made that very promise. Would we be telling the truth if we said God sees a spiritual advantage to being a Jew and a spiritual disadvantage to being a Gentile? No, we would be lying. What was once true concerning God’s dealings with man is no longer true. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile today. All in Adam are equally lost, and all in Christ are equally saved.

“We cannot limit God. We cannot put Him in a box! If He healed sick bodies then, He is still doing it now! If His Spirit moved people to exercise the gift of tongues then, He is still doing it now! Jesus never changes! He is the same yesterday, today, and forever!” Considering all that we have discussed now, will we continue with this soggy, worn-out, now disproved argument? If we retain that mentality, knowing what we have already discussed in this treatise, then we have exposed ourselves as promoters of mere spiritual lasciviousness. We are doing what we want, without any boundaries. We have now also made God appear to be operating without any self-imposed limitations. His actions are no longer predictable or understandable. Spiritual darkness creeps in—and we have limited ourselves in seeing greater light from His words!

Is not God bound to keep His Word? If He promises to do something, He must do it or He is a liar. We dispensationalists are not putting God in a box. We are not limiting Him. By making promises and writing them down in the Holy Bible, He has put Himself in a box. He has limited himself. We are simply acknowledging what He Himself has said about His own work. Will you disagree with Him, friend? When we say that God is not healing physical bodies today and He is not issuing spiritual gifts today, we are merely repeating what God Himself has said in the Scriptures.

Furthermore, we rather disrespect God when we try to force Him to do things He is no longer doing. We rather limit God when He wants to have us focus on the inward man but we show more interest in perpetuating this outward man with healing miracles. Rather than emphasizing His written Word, the completed Bible, we are looking for more supernatural communication. The spiritual gift of tongues is just one of many such “experiences” that replace Bible study and sound Bible doctrine in Charismatic assemblies. “I do not care what the Bible says! I know what I saw and I know what I felt, and I want more!” Such people have limited themselves to have a limited understanding of God’s purpose and plan for the Dispensation of Grace and the Church the Body of Christ! Here is one self-limitation they do not realize… yet, they will accuse us dispensationalists of “limiting God?” Ridiculous and tragically ironic!

Also see:
» Was the Apostle Paul a false prophet?
» “But, what if I do not accept the Bible’s authority?”
» “If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant?”

How is Jesus Christ the “firstborn” of every creature?

HOW IS JESUS CHRIST THE “FIRSTBORN” OF EVERY CREATURE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

This question stems from Colossians 1:15: “[God’s dear Son; verse 13] Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:….” Lest we misunderstand the matter, it is better to read all the way through to verse 20 to grasp the sense of the verse.

“[15] Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: [16] For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: [17] And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. [18] And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. [19] For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; [20] And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”

God the Son, Jesus Christ, made creatures (angels and humans, respectively) to occupy the offices of government in Heaven and Earth. These offices are the “things” in the above passage—“thrones, dominions, principalities, powers” (verse 16). In the original creation, creatures ruled for Jesus Christ’s glory. Alas, angels and humans sinned. Satan and his angelic cohorts corrupted the heavenly places with sin (Job 15:15; Job 25:5; Isaiah 14:12-15; Ephesians 6:12). When the first man, Adam, willfully followed that rebellion in Genesis chapter 3, he allowed sin to spread to the Earth’s governmental offices (Genesis 1:26-28; Matthew 4:8-11; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Galatians 1:4).

The Holy Bible is the record of how the God of Scripture invented and enacted a plan to restore to Himself the offices of government (“things”) in Heaven and Earth. In the Apostle Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, we see the final pieces to that scheme laid out. Both God’s earthly people (the nation Israel—the prophetic people) and His heavenly people (the Church the Body of Christ—the mystery people) are formed through Jesus Christ’s shed blood. Calvary’s finished crosswork makes it possible for both groups of sinners to become saints, people set apart for God’s purposes. Where Adam failed on Earth, redeemed Israel will succeed. What Satan and his angels defiled, the Church the Body of Christ will take over. This is the first step in understanding the excerpt from Colossians chapter 1. (We will return to this shortly.)

In the physical world, the “firstborn” son is said to be “the beginning of his father’s strength.” See Genesis 49:3: “Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power….” Moreover, Deuteronomy chapter 21 says the firstborn son received the double portion of his father’s estate: “[16] Then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn: [17] But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his.”

When we consider Colossians 1:15-20, we should think of the firstborn son being the heir of his father’s estate. The governments of Heaven and Earth are Christ’s Father’s estate. Jesus Christ is “the firstborn of every creature” (verse 15) in that He is the Man who holds the place of headship over His Father’s house. Christ is the leader of both groups of creatures—redeemed Israel and the Church the Body of Christ—who will reign in their respective offices in eternity future. Father God has appointed His Son Jesus Christ as head of all governmental offices in Heaven and Earth. It is through the nation Israel and the Church the Body of Christ—both of whom He is the Head—that Jesus Christ reigns in Earth and in Heaven throughout the endless ages to come.

Jesus Christ was “declared to be the Son of God with power…by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4). When Colossians 1:18 says He is “the firstborn from the dead,” it refers to Him being resurrected to subsequently reign as King over Heaven and Earth. Having shed His sinless blood to form the redeemed nation Israel and the Church the Body of Christ, the offices of government in Heaven and Earth will return to His Father’s authority (and no longer under the control of Satan and sinful man). Post-resurrection, Christ possesses His Father’s governmental power or political strength. Consider these two passages from the Book of Hebrews. Pay attention to Christ’s death and resurrection, and how His reign follows.

Hebrews chapter 1: “[3] [His Son, verse 2] Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; [4] Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. [5] For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? [6] And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.

“[7] And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. [8] But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. [9] Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. [10] And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: [11] They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; [12] And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. [13] But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?” (Verse 12 is the change in governmental officials, saints replacing sinners in both Heaven and Earth.)

Hebrews chapter 2: “[5] For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. [6] But one in a certain place testified [Psalm 8:4-6], saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? [7] Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: [8] Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. [9] But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. [10] For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” (The “sons” of verse 10 are Israel’s believing remnant, the Little Flock of Luke 12:32.)

Here is the government in the heavenly places to follow Christ’s resurrection as regarding us, the Church the Body of Christ. Ephesians chapter 1: “[19] And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, [20] Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, [21] Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: [22] And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, [23] Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”

Of course, the actual reigning of Christ in Heaven and Earth has yet to be brought to pass. He is currently a royal exile in Heaven, where He has been for the last 2,000 years since Israel rejected and crucified Him. Yet, in due time, the Dispensation of Grace will close, the Church the Body of Christ will be complete, and we will be brought up to reign in the Heavens (at the Rapture). Then, the nation Israel will be redeemed to reign in the Earth (at the Second Coming). It is Father God’s will that all power in Heaven and Earth be consolidated in one Man—the Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell” (Colossians 1:19). “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18).

Ephesians chapter 1 thus summarizes: “[8] Wherein he [Father God] hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; [9] Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: [10] That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: [11] In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: [12] That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.” (The purpose of our salvation from Hell to Heaven, verses 11-12, is to make us be in the heavenly places the corresponding unit to redeemed Israel in the earthly realm, verses 9-10! Yes, it is God’s wise and prudent plan.)

SUPPLEMENTAL: COLOSSIANS 1 AND “THE NEW WORLD TRANSLATION”

It is no secret that the “Jehovah’s Witnesses”—better termed “the Russellites,” after their founder Charles Taze Russell—consider Jesus Christ “a god” and not JEHOVAH God. This is apparent in their controversial rendering of John 1:1: “In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” (cf. King James Bible: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”) The official Russellite position is Jesus Christ is a mere created being, Someone who is not co-equal and not co-eternal with God the Father. Allegedly, God created Jesus Christ, then God used Christ to create “everything else.” They use a depraved version of Colossians 1:16-20 to justify this claim. To them, Jesus is the “firstborn” of every creature in that He was the first being “Jehovah God” created. What nonsense!

Without any manuscript evidence whatsoever anywhere, they add the word “other” to the passage five times in their “New World Translation:” “[15] He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; [16] because by means of him all [other] things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and invisible, no matter whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All [other] things have been created through him and for him. [17] Also, he is before all [other] things and by means of him all [other] things were made to exist,…. [20] and through him to reconcile again to himself all [other] things by making peace through the blood [he shed] on the torture stake, no matter whether they are the things upon the earth or the things in the heavens.” (Bold emphasis mine. Notice “by” has been changed to “through,” which is how modern English versions—including NKJV—read here as well. Also, did you see how the New World Translation did not use “cross” but “torture stake?” Jesus dying on a pole or stake is another unorthodox or peculiar belief of the Russellites.)

Their insertion of “other” five times is an unmistakable indication of their spiritual blindness. The Holy Spirit did not inspire or originate such garbage. “Things” in this context does not refer to any creatures (check verse 16). The noun “things” points to governmental positions or offices. Could Jesus Christ be “another throne?” Could He be “another dominion/lordship?” “Another principality/government?” “Another power/authority?” The language refers to the political influence being exercised, not the people exercising that influence.

“Other” is completely unnecessary; hence, the Greek Bible never had it! The Russellites translators added it—not once but five times. Such is nothing but a deliberate alteration to teach a pet denominational idea. It is awkward language, a sure testament to the false doctrine found among the Russellites and their authority (their sectarian “bible,” the New World Translation). No matter the cost—even if it means perverting God’s eternal words and diminishing the Lord Jesus Christ—they will keep their “traditions of men!” Again, the Holy Spirit would certainly not be involved in such a translation or denomination. When approaching Colossians 1:15-20, be careful not to fall in this trap!

Also see:
» Did Jesus Christ ever claim to be God?
» Is Jesus Christ God’s “one and only Son” or “only begotten Son?”
» What do you mean—“the prophetic program” and “the mystery program?”

Does Satan whisper evil words to us?

DOES SATAN WHISPER EVIL WORDS TO US?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Superstition flourishes to the degree that Bible ignorance abounds. Irrational fears permeate so much of “Christian” thought that the general public is simply unable to distinguish truth from error. This is exemplified in the words of a lady this author visited sometime ago. She claims to be a believer in Jesus Christ (although her testimony is somewhat nebulous, as she is heavily Charismatic in doctrine, claiming to possess the spiritual gifts of healing and tongues). Many times she has great difficulty even articulating the pure Gospel of Grace. Her emotions have so dominated her that she exhibits behavior unbecoming for a Christian. (Details of such ridiculous conduct will be skipped here.)

On this particular occasion, the dear lady was describing something this author completely unexpected. Allegedly, when her ailing (dying) daughter was complaining of having evil thoughts, that mother would tell the daughter that it was Satan himself speaking to her. Is that possible? Does Satan whisper words into our ears? If we sit alone, and hear a voice talking to us about something bad, would that actually be Satan’s voice? Could it be someone else? In this study, we will carefully consider such matters.

A genius can devise a way to accomplish something seemingly “insurmountable.” The greater genius, however, can achieve that end while appearing to be doing something else. For example, a genius thief will not only take, but will take while operating under the guise of honesty (that thief will likely be the most trusted relative, friend, employee, et cetera). Here is a genius supreme, but there is someone wiser. Satan is the wisest of God’s creatures (Ezekiel 28:12), although he is certainly no match for God’s intellect. Millions of people—especially Christians (both professing and genuine)—assume they can positively identify and avoid Satan’s policy of evil. They have been led to believe they are able to flee his influence. However, they really have no idea as to the depths of his demented wisdom. The Bible speaks of Satan’s “wiles” or schemes, stratagems designed to outwit Christians. Oftentimes, he does outsmart them too!

Ephesians 6:11 orders us, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” The Greek word translated “wiles” is “methodeia,” which is obviously the source of our English term “method” (as in “systematic course; procedure”). It is rendered “lie in wait” in chapter 4 and verse 14: “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;….”

These Scriptures indicate that Satan himself does not need to whisper directly into our ears. No, his evil world system uses “men”human religious leaders—to deceive us. The poor lady all worked up about spiritual warfare is actually caught in her own trap—and she does not even know it! (See also Matthew chapter 23 and John chapter 8 for Israel’s spiritual dilemma… brought on by her corrupt religious leaders.) People in Christendom have been listening to denominational preachers spout speculations, but have not been turning pages in the Bible to see for themselves what is true and what is not!! This was ancient Israel’s downfall, and this contributes to so many wrecked Christian lives even now.

Turn to 1 Timothy chapter 4: “[1] Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; [2] Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; [3] Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. [4] For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: [5] For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”

What leads to this mass apostasy, departure from the truth? It is individuals listening to “seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (verse 1). Who are these? They are the voices of those who are “speaking lies in hypocrisy” (verse 2). Remember, the genius of Satan’s evil world system is doing wrong while appearing to be good. For religious purposes, they will enforce celibacy and dietary restrictions (verse 3). Does this sound familiar? Friend, would you happen to know any such religious groups?! This has nothing to do with listening to the voices of evil spirits but rather people listening to the voices of heretical and apostate church leaders.

If we sit by ourselves, and we hear a “voice,” then there is one of three possibilities. Firstly, we may suffer from mental illness. Secondly, we can “hear” ourselves think. We are talking to ourselves, and we may not be aware of it. Lastly, our brains have recorded texts we have read, sermons we have heard, and images we have seen in our lifetime. Consciously or subconsciously, we can access these mental files and “play” them. If we use our memory, we can “re-hear” all sorts of things we have heard—voices of loved ones long gone, our favorite music being sung, and so on. This information can be good or bad, but it has nothing to do with Satan actually speaking into our ear or given us some supernatural glance into his realm. Here would be the superstitious nonsense that we will embrace if we are not holding to the written (!) Word of God, especially approaching it “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15). The reason we have evil thoughts is we have not let sound Bible doctrine renew our minds (Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 4:17-24; Colossians 3:9-11)!! We have been listening to false doctrine in church, and it will not leave our memory unless we reprogram our minds.

Someone once spoke of the inexperienced person going against an expert as a game of a “checkers child” challenging a “chess grandmaster.” Unfortunately, this is where most professing Christians and most genuine Christians are in their Bible understanding. They attend local churches where men use the Bible as Satan himself would, and are thus vulnerable to Satan’s evil world system! While they assume they are not aligned with Satan, it is (in fact) a faulty assumption. No doubt, he will “beat” them because they have come unprepared.

Yes, Satan knows the Bible, and he quoted the Bible to the Lord Jesus (see Matthew 4:5-7; Luke 4:9-13). Never forget that, friend!!!!! The reality is Satan misquoted God’s Word—adding to it, taking from it, watering it down—and even ripped verses from their dispensational setting. Christ knew Psalm 91 is not a First Coming passage but a Second Coming passage, and refused to follow it in Matthew and Luke. It was not time for that passage to be fulfilled, so the Lord Jesus did not obey it. Even now, Satan encourages us to follow the Bible, so long as we do not use it dispensationally. Instead of going to Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, God’s current dealings with man, Satan’s evil world system has us going to everything else in the Bible. Again, these are stratagems, and we know they are so effectual because over two billion people quote Scripture today and are still confused about God’s will for them. They are too busy following God’s will for someone else in Scripture!

No, Satan has no reason to whisper evil words to us. We do that pretty good by ourselves—listening to false doctrine in religious settings and later repeating it in our sinful minds.

Also see:
» What is the difference between apostasy and heresy?
» What are Satan’s current operations?
» Why does God let Satan exist?

Who is speaking in Proverbs 8:22?

WHO IS SPEAKING IN PROVERBS 8:22?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old,” says Proverbs 8:22. Who is the “me?” Is it Jesus Christ, as often assumed?

In the first few centuries A.D., there arose a heresy by the name of Arianism. Supposedly, the Lord Jesus Christ was a created being, a “begotten God,” rather than the eternal JEHOVAH God of the Bible. You hear a modern-day form of this nonsense when a so-called “Jehovah’s Witness”—better termed a “Russellite” (follower of Charles Taze Russell)—tells you that Jesus Christ is “a god” rather than “God.” In fact, their New World Translation was rendered in John 1:1 so as to reflect their unorthodox theology: “In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” (Our King James Bible, or Authorized Version, reads, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”)

Furthermore, John 1:18 says in the New World Translation, “No man has seen God at any time; the only-begotten god who is in the bosom [position] with the Father is the one that has explained him.” (Our King James Bible has, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”) The “conservative” New American Standard Version agrees in John 1:18 “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” Friends, we could not have a more liberal translation here!!!!

Where the King James Bible and its underlying manuscripts read “Son” (“only begotten Son”), some manuscripts have “God” (“only begotten God”). This latter set of manuscripts is the source of the New American Standard Version (NASV) and the New World Translation (NWT). From where did this ancient error originate? One church father and major Bible manuscript editor, Origen (A.D. 185–A.D. 254), held to Arianism. He likely perverted John 1:18 in some ancient Bible texts, among other mutilated textual passages. That would also make Origin responsible for the resultant English translations found in the NASV and NWT. “Son” was changed to “God,” and we can see how heresy has actually crept into certain English Bibles!

In light of the above confusion, some have appealed to other Bible verses to strain to find “Scriptural” evidence that Jesus was a created being, someone who has not existed eternally (as God the Father and God the Holy Spirit have). Proverbs 8:22 is one of their “proof-text” verses—although the wording in the King James Bible cannot be used to teach Arianism. “The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old,” says Proverbs 8:22 in the Authorized Version. Read the verse in the following popular modern English versions, and note how they have unnecessarily added the verb “created”/“made”/”formed,” or the concept of creation or bringing something (someone?) into being:

  • New International Version: “The LORD brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old;”
  • Amplified Bible: “The Lord created and possessed me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old [were accomplished].”
  • Holman Christian Standard Bible: “The Lord made me at the beginning of His creation, before His works of long ago.”
  • New Living Translation: “The LORD formed me from the beginning, before he created anything else.”
  • New Revised Standard Version: “The LORD created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of long ago.”
  • Good News to Modern Man: “The LORD created me first of all, the first of his works, long ago.
  • The Living Bible: “The Lord formed me in the beginning, before he created anything else.”
  • Common English Bible: “The LORD created me at the beginning of his way, before his deeds long in the past.”
  • The Message: “GOD sovereignly made me—the first, the basic—before he did anything else.”
  • The New English Translation: “The LORD created me as the beginning of his works, before his deeds of long ago.”
  • The Voice: “The Eternal created me; it happened when His work was beginning, one of His first acts long ago.”
  • Revised Standard Version: “The LORD created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old.”

Some interpret Proverbs 8:22 as Father God speaking of Jesus Christ. Then, the verse is made to read (using modern versions): “God created Jesus Christ at the beginning of creation….” However, this is not only heresy, it violates the context of Proverbs 8:22. The context was set in verse 1 (“Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?”) and in verse 12 (“I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.”) The speaker of Proverbs 8:22 is not Jesus Christ; wisdom is the speaker. Wisdom is personified, given the trait of a living being, and it talks in order to issue counsel.

“The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.” It would be so awkward to say, “The LORD possessed Jesus Christ in the beginning of His way.” What nonsense! “Me” here is wisdom. Proverbs 8:22 is simply teaching that Almighty God—actually Jesus Christ the Son (Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2)—exercised wisdom during the Creation Week. Contrary to what most scientists tell us, the heaven and the earth are not the result of some nebulous, random explosion and expansion of matter. Creation is the work of a wise God, a Supreme Being who had a plan and then brought it into existence by His spoken Word. He had knowledge about time, space, and matter—and then He had wisdom to bring it about. What an awesome God we Christians serve, brethren!

Also see:
» What does the Bible say about blood transfusions?
» Which Bible version should I use?
» “But what if they read the Bible at my church…?!”