Category Archives: DISPENSATIONAL BIBLE STUDY

How do I know I am praying to the living God and not false gods?

HOW DO I KNOW I AM PRAYING TO THE LIVING GOD AND NOT FALSE GODS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“How do I know I am praying to the living God and not false gods?” Thank you for this question. We look forward to answering it!

The Bible is God’s communication to us, and prayer is our communication to Him. Before (!!) we say something in prayer, we need to first (!!) know what God has already said in His Word. Almighty God spoke first when He caused His inspired words to be written down in human language and preserved through history. Friend, we should pay close attention (!!) to those words. Once we learn what God the Holy Spirit spoke to us through the Holy Bible, then we speak to Him in light of those words. It is quite simple. We let Him tell us what He is doing (the Scriptures); we do not tell Him to do something (which is often what “prayer” is assumed to be). Instead of trying to force God to do something He is not doing, we need to remember what He says He is doing and then by faith go do that. (This is how we do God’s will!!)

Dear friend, it is ever so important that you: (1) have the right Bible text, and (2) pray in accordance with the verses applicable to you. We will briefly consider both issues here.

THE WORD OF THE LIVING GOD

Here, we must correct two common misconceptions about the Bible. Firstly, there is the assumption that there is only one set of Bible manuscripts. This is demonstrably false (simply look at the footnotes in any study Bible to discover hundreds of “variant readings!”). Secondly, there is a belief that all Bible translations are derived from that one family. This is also patently incorrect (again, study the textual notes in the footnotes of any modern English version). All versions do not “say the same thing” because they are all copyrighted. Legally, they cannot say the same thing!!It is generally believed that the differences in Bible translations are due to the whims, biases, and/or ineptitude of the translators themselves. This is only partly true. The more serious differences are due to Bible manuscript divergence. There are two sets of Bible manuscripts—God’s Word and Satan’s counterfeit. This can be easily proven by simply looking at 2 Thessalonians 2:2 in whatever manuscript or version we like: “That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.”

Think long and hard, friend, think long and hard. Let the verse sink deep into your mind and heart. If there was a false Bible manuscript being peddled as the “word of God”—heralded as having Paul’s apostolic authority—20 centuries ago, how many counterfeit Bibles would we expect to be circulating today? Satan counterfeits everything the LORD God does, so we would expect him to mimic God concerning the Scriptures as well. Recall the false apostles of which 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 warns. If Satan has his own preachers and apostles to mislead the masses, then he surely has his own Bible to deceive people as well! Remember, the Scriptures caution us to be on the lookout for “doctrines of devils (1 Timothy 4:1).

While beyond the scope of this study, the Bible versions issue is really a Roman Catholic – Protestant debate. Where is the preserved Word of God? Is it the Minority Text, Alexandrian Text, Critical Text? Codices Vaticanus and Sinaiticus are the leading witnesses in this group—the supposedly “two oldest and best manuscripts.” (Notice the name “Vaticanus,” which gives away its pagan background!) This is the Roman Catholic text and the source of most modern English versions (NIV, NASB, ESV, HCSB, NRSV, Amplified, Message, ASV, NLT, NCV, and some NKJV). Or, is the preserved Word of God the Majority Text, Textus Receptus (Received Text), Antiochian Text? This is the King James manuscript family—the Protestant Bible.

Here is what we should never, ever forget. Whenever we hear or read preachers and teachers offering “better readings” than what is found in the King James text, they are usually offering a reading taken from the Roman Catholic text. Whether inadvertently or deliberately, the fact remains that they are discrediting the Protestant Bible (genuine) and praising the Roman Catholic Bible (counterfeit). In fact, let us be more frank. They are really removing the authority from the Scriptures and placing it on the Roman Catholic Church!

Dear friend, as an English-speaking person, you are here strongly advised to use an Authorized Version King James Bible. We cannot trust the modern English versions because they are Roman Catholic in origin. They in fact teach heretical doctrines—denying or hiding Christ’s Deity, eliminating references to His shed blood, omitting references to His bodily resurrection and ascension, perverting or obscuring salvation verses, to name some of the more serious topics.

Our goal is to find God’s inspired and preserved words in our language (English). This is the Authorized Version King James Bible. It has every verse that should be in the Bible, and it has been translated just as God intended. There are no missing words, letters, or books. We will not find in it historical inaccuracies and doctrinal deficiencies. However, this cannot be said of modern English versions. They have made major changes to the King James Bible text because they are based on other Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. Heretics and apostates produced the works that are used to discredit the Authorized Version all these centuries later.

Friend, you are strongly encouraged to research this matter on your own. Start comparing Mark 1:2 in the King James Bible versus modern versions. Look at Matthew 5:22 and then Mark 3:5. Try Hebrews 3:16. Research the “scholarly position” of Mark 16:9-20 (and how most would doubt these 12 verses were ever inspired of God at all!). John 7:53–8:11 is attacked in a similar fashion. Read Romans 13:9 in the various versions and see if you can spot the appalling difference there. Hundreds of other examples could be given; these, however, should suffice.

THE APOSTLE OF THE GENTILES

Now that we have established the right Bible—the Authorized Version King James Bible in English—we need to learn where to go in that Word to find God’s directions to us. This is important too, friend, because you can be Scriptural and still actually be outside of God’s will. You can literally use the Bible and not honor the God of that Bible! For example, does not Scripture warn that a giant boat must be built because of an impending global flood? Yes, see Genesis chapter 6. However, that is not God’s Word to us or about us. We must respect the context, or we will be deceived while applying Bible verses to life.

Romans chapter 11: “[11] I say then, Have they [Israel] stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. [12] Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? [13] For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: [14] If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.” As we can see in verse 13, Paul is “the apostle of the Gentiles.” He is God’s spokesman to us.

Ephesians 3:1-2 says, “[1] For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, [2] If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:….” God’s instructions to us are titled “the Dispensation of the Grace of God.” This set of information is the 13 Pauline epistles, Romans through Philemon.

When Saul of Tarsus met the resurrected, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, Christ told Saul in Acts 26:16-18: “[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 [“apostle” is derived from the Greek word meaning, “sent one”], [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.” This is the origin, the foundation, of the Apostle Paul’s ministry. Historically, he was saved/justified and then commissioned/ordained in Acts chapter 9.

First Corinthians 14:37-38 says, “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.” What the Apostle Paul writes in Scripture is not his own words but the very words of the Lord Jesus Christ. They are authoritative—and even more than Christ’s words spoken in His earthly ministry—because Paul’s words are Christ’s words to us Gentiles in the Dispensation of Grace. Christ’s earthly ministry was not directed toward us (see Matthew 10:5-7; Matthew 15:24; John 4:22; Romans 15:8). Very few know this and even fewer believe it!

The only verse that tells us to “study” the Bible tells us how to study it. Second Timothy 2:15 says in the King James Bible: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” When we “rightly divide the word of truth,” we are recognizing the differences that God the Holy Spirit has made in His Word. Failure to separate Peter from Paul, Israel from the Body of Christ, prophecy from mystery, earth from heaven, and law from grace, will result in absolute and unanswerable confusion. The lack of dispensational Bible study is the primary reason why thousands of conflicting denominations have arisen over the centuries. No wonder most church members are clueless concerning God’s will for them!

Paul’s epistles document what God is doing today. If we are willing to hear and believe Romans through Philemon—God speaking—we will then pray in line with those Bible Books. This is how we ensure we are praying to the living God and not some evil spirit (devil). For more information, see our related studies linked below.

NOTE: Dear brethren, the first intro video to our New Testament Survey is finally online! You can watch it here. New lessons will be added in the near future. Be sure to bookmark this link, as this playlist is where all the NT lessons will be stored in the coming years. Praise our Lord Jesus Christ!

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:
» How should I pray?
» How can I have an effectual prayer life?
» Must I be a “King James Bible, Pauline dispensationalist” to have eternal life?

What Bible Book should I read first?

WHAT BIBLE BOOK SHOULD I READ FIRST?

by Shawn Brasseaux

My friend, Romans 11:13 tells us!For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office. People new to the Bible should begin in the Book of Romans.

Second Timothy chapter 3 contains the most well-known Bible verses: “[15] And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. [16] All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: [17] That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

The Lord Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). “Every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” actually defines “given by inspiration of God.” God the Holy Spirit spoke words, and He wrote them down and preserved them for us in our language. In English, that is the King James Bible (or, “Authorized Version”). Other languages have their own version, but they do not concern us here.

Second Timothy 3:16 affirms three primary purposes of Scripture—“doctrine” (tell us what we should believe), “reproof” (show us what we are doing wrong), and “correction” (remedy our bad thinking). These three elements will “instruct [teach] us in righteousness.” They will show us how God wants us to live, “that [purpose or intent] the man of God may be perfect, [not sinless but] throughly furnished unto all good works” (verse 17). The Holy Bible alone teaches us everything God wants us to believe, and it equips us to do everything He wants us to accomplish. Authority is not in church councils, preachers, priests, popes, doctrinal statements, hunches, impressions, creeds, et cetera. The authority is in the written Word of God, the Holy Scriptures.

In light of God’s present-day dealings with mankind, there is a special way to use the Bible text. Failure to approach Holy Writ, God’s way, will cause us more damage than had we never read the Bible. Friends, we must remember Romans 11:13 if we are to make sense of all Scripture. Romans begins with a name—“Paul.” The Holy Spirit led this Paul to pen Romans 11:13. When we come to him in the Bible, especially his conversion in Acts chapter 9; we read about the risen, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ from Heaven reaching down and saving a man who will become His spokesman to all the world.

Acts 26:16-18 were these words of Christ to Saul: “[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 [apostolos = “sent one”], [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.”

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

With Israel’s temporary fall, salvation is coming to us Gentiles (non-Jews) through Paul’s ministry. Hence, we must go to Paul’s epistles, or letters of doctrine, to read about that salvation. While his ministry begins in Acts chapter 9, we do not read his writings in the Bible until after Acts—the Book of Romans. In other words, Romans is the most fundamental information that God gave to Paul to give us Gentiles.

It is usually said that people should start reading God’s Word in the Book of John. However well meaning this is, it is spiritually hazardous. Christ’s earthly ministry, Matthew through John, was to and about the nation Israel, not us Gentiles: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). Moreover, John’s goal is confirming to Israel that Jesus is her Messiah because He conducted a ministry of signs, special teaching miracles, in her midst (see John 20:30-31). “The Jews [not us Gentiles] require a sign” (1 Corinthians 1:22).

Paul is God’s messenger to us non-Jews (Romans 11:13). Ephesians 3:1-2 elaborates: “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward….” Romans 16:25-26 says God wants to “stablish” (stabilize) us Gentiles using three components: (1) Paul’s Gospel, (2) the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery, and (3) the Scriptures of the prophets. Paul’s Gospel is laid out first, and most clearly, in the Bible in the Book of Romans, the head, or introductory book, of his 13 epistles (Romans through Philemon).

Romans is divided into four sections. Chapters 1-5 deal with justification, or how to have our sins forgiven and a home in heaven. Chapters 6-8 discuss sanctification, or how that Gospel of Grace has changed our identity from Adam to Christ. Chapters 9-11 covers dispensational changes—we are not the nation Israel, but rather the Church the Body of Christ, with Israel still having a future in God’s program. Chapters 12-16 are application, or how we are to by faith use the grace principles in Romans so our lives can glorify our Lord and Saviour!

Friend, you will not mature in grace if you begin the Bible in the wrong place. Using John as an introduction to the Bible will hinder you from laying the Scriptural foundation God intended for you. Start in Romans!

Also see:
» I am new to the Bible, so where should I begin?
» Must one be a “King James Bible Pauline dispensationalist” to have eternal life?
» Should we use the Book of John in evangelism?

Does 2 Corinthians 12:16 mean Paul was dishonest?

DOES 2 CORINTHIANS 12:16 MEAN PAUL WAS DISHONEST?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Someone emailed this author to complain that, on the basis of 2 Corinthians 12:16, she concluded that the Apostle Paul was a false prophet, a liar, a fraud. The Bible says in that verse: “But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile.” Is God’s Word claiming here that Paul was deceitful?

The verse is merely sarcasm. It is not that Paul lied, was dishonest, or was hypocritical. Someone can strategize and be totally honest. “Crafty” can mean “skillful, clever, shrewd, having sharp power of judgment.” A crafty person is not necessarily evil or malicious. For example, we can see God’s craftiness in 1 Corinthians 3:19: “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written [Job 5:13], He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.” God in His wisdom (true wisdom) outsmarts sinful man in his “wisdom.” Now, “guile” is trickery or deceit, and this is true of the Corinthians but certainly not descriptive of Paul!

Consider 1 Thessalonians chapter 2: “[1] For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain: [2] But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention. [3] For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: [4] But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. [5] For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness: [6] Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.” To accuse God’s Apostle of the Gentiles, Paul, of dishonesty or evil, is to be most dishonest with Scripture. Would the Holy Spirit actually lead Paul to admit he lied? Utter nonsense!

If we read 2 Corinthians 12:16 with its context, all will make sense: “[15] And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved. [16] But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile.” In verse 15, can you not sense Paul’s tenderness, his charity, his genuine care and immense love for these precious saints at Corinth? He was willing to expend his time, energy, and resources to evangelize them and edify them. How did they react? They were callous and indifferent toward him!! He had entered Corinth knowing they would take advantage of him, that they would not appreciate him, that they would be ungrateful and greedy, but he visited them anyway to win them to Christ! (He “put them to the test”—and they failed!) Read chapters 10–13 of 2 Corinthians. Paul has to defend his apostleship, for some saints at Corinth are questioning and challenging his God-given office!!

Let us face it, friends. Some “Christians” just hate the Apostle Paul—and that was true of a segment of the Corinthians 20 centuries ago. The lady who emailed this author is one of the many modern examples. She was willing to grab and pervert any verse she could in order to attack and discredit Jesus Christ’s “apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13). “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I [Paul] write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant (1 Corinthians 14:37-38).

Also see:
» Was the Apostle Paul a false prophet?
» “If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant?”
» Do we study only Paul’s epistles?

Should the lack of worldwide revival in our dispensation discourage us from witnessing?

SHOULD THE LACK OF WORLDWIDE REVIVAL IN OUR DISPENSATION DISCOURAGE US FROM WITNESSING?

by Shawn Brasseaux

One theologian asserted that we will discourage ourselves and other Christians from witnessing if we go around saying there will be no worldwide revival until the Lord Jesus Christ returns. Is that true?

Personally, this author has no problem with witnessing even in the absence of a global revival. He has a biblical, healthy, reality-based perspective. He is not endeavoring to evangelize every last person on the planet, to reform and purge corrupt governments, to expose and correct every single false teaching, and so on. He does not have unreasonable expectations. This outlook saves him from disappointment whenever the masses refuse to hear him share God’s Word. Yet, there will come a day when nations will be converted. When Jesus Christ returns, all false religion will be put down, all governments will be purified, and all nations will come to know the one true God. Until then, this author reaches whomever he can, “holding forth the word of life” (Philippians 2:16).

The Apostle Paul did not endeavor to save “all;” he purposed to save “some” of his lost Jewish brethren. Romans 11:13-14: “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.” Did this discourage him from evangelizing as many Jews as he could during the Acts period? Absolutely not! As the passage implies, it was with that knowledge of saving “some” (not “all”) that he was conducting his Acts ministry! He confessed a similar sentiment in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” Paul was not looking for every last Jew to come to Christ—he was preaching to save the remnant that did want to believe!

First Timothy chapter 4 speaks of increasing apostasy within the Church the Body of Christ: “[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. [6] If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.”

A few years later, the “some shall depart from the faith” (verse 1) became the sad reality in 2 Timothy 1:15: “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.” Now, that did not mean every last Christian had departed from sound Bible doctrine. It meant the majority (as Timothy himself was an exception)—and that was during Paul’s final days alive! That did not prevent either man from preaching even in his last days alive. In light of that, Paul encouraged Timothy to keep preaching sound Bible doctrine anyway!

Second Timothy chapter 4: “[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 long suffering 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. [5] But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”

If realizing the lack of worldwide revival was detrimental to the ministry, why did the Holy Spirit Himself pen this advice in 1 and 2 Timothy? Evidently, it is vital information that we must always bear in mind. We are not here to see every last person saved. They all will not trust Christ anyway. Yet, we are to tell as many people as we can, we share the Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) as often as we can, and we let God the Holy Spirit take care of the rest. Upon first glance, it seems hopeless that most people do not listen to us; nevertheless, the Bible already prepared us to anticipate and handle such a response. We will find most people are unsaved. They are not Christians, genuine members of the Body of Christ. They may be pious church members and Bible readers, but they are not God’s children. Most of them will want to stay lost too. They will not want to hear the Gospel of Grace. They will prefer the Law system—works-religion. Many of them will actually go to Hell anyway (Matthew 7:13-14).

We will find most Christians are confused. Most of them will want to stay confused too. They will not care to hear about grace living, as they will prefer the Law as well. They will refuse to hear Pauline doctrine. That does not mean that no one will want to listen. There are believers in Christ in every nation. It means there is no conversion of any national entity. Worldwide revival will come, just not today. In the Millennial Reign of Christ, after our Dispensation of Grace and the Second Coming, nations will be saved and the evil world system (corrupt governments and false religions) will be abolished forever!

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

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

Isaiah 11:9: “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” Habakkuk 2:14: For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”

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:
» Has God’s Word failed?
» Can we witness “too much” to family members?
» What about those who have not heard?

Why did the Samaritan believers not receive the Holy Spirit upon believing in Acts 8?

WHY DID THE SAMARITANS BELIEVERS NOT RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT UPON BELIEVING IN ACTS 8?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Absolutely, Acts 8:14-17 is most unusual: “[14] Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: [15] Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: [16] (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) [17] Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.”

Some today take these verses to teach that after we trust Christ, we must obtain a “second blessing.” They say there is a mysterious, hair-raising “Holy Ghost” encounter to be experienced after the moment of salvation. Others will even go so far as to say that the Holy Spirit does not always immediately come to the believer upon faith in the Gospel of Grace. We can avoid all this confusion and disagreement if we just handle the Book of Acts as God designed it.

The events in Acts are not the standard way God always dealt with anyone or even how He deals with us today. Never forget that Acts is a transitional Book. Anyone who reads it in its entirety can see how it begins one way (chapter 1) and ends totally different (chapter 28). Why? God is gradually moving from Israel’s prophetic program to our (the Body of Christ’s) mystery program. The Dispensation of Law is fading and the Dispensation of Grace is rising. As for Acts 8:14-17, it does not concern us. It has nothing to do with the Lord’s current dealings with man. Though it is terribly abused, we do not have to fear it. We can learn from it if we are willing to hear it!

In short, Acts 8:14-17 is proof that the Samaritans must submit to Jerusalem. Why is this reconciliation even necessary? Samaria—central/northern Israel—had broken away from Judah (and capital city Jerusalem) after King Solomon’s death. Over 900 years prior to Acts, Solomon’s idolatry brought about this second course of chastisement (Leviticus 26:18-20). Study carefully 1 Kings chapters 11–12. The Northern Kingdom (frequently called “Samaria” or “Ephraim”) forsook David’s royal line and formed new dynasties of kings. Those 10 northern tribes were ultimately taken into Assyrian Captivity circa 722 B.C. David’s house continued ruling the Southern Kingdom, Judah and Benjamin, until the Babylonian Captivity beginning in 606 B.C. The divided kingdom—Israel (north) and Judah (south)—will be reunited under the New Covenant.

Look at Ezekiel chapter 37, God prophesying of the day when Israel and Judah would both again be merged under the political authority of the house of David: “[15] The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, [16] Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and for all the house of Israel his companions: [17] And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. [18] And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these? [19] Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand.

“[20] And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes. [21] And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: [22] And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all. [23] Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. [24] And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them.” (Notice especially verses 22 and 24.)

Like the Jews, the Samaritans were descendants of Jacob, Abraham’s grandson (see John 4:4-6,12). However, the Samaritans were half Gentile by blood, the result of Jews and Assyrians intermarrying centuries before Christ. This explains the animosity between Jews and Samaritans that John chapter 4 highlights most vividly.

In Matthew chapter 10, when commissioning His 12 Apostles, the Lord Jesus said: “[5] These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: [6] But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” The 12 Apostles were instructed not to preach to Gentiles—and that included Samaritans. Later, in light of the Holy Spirit being poured out in Acts chapter 2, Jesus changed those orders: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

With Acts chapter 8 opening, believing Jew Philip visits Samaria. He preaches Jesus Christ to them before Apostles Peter and John come from Jerusalem (pointing back to our opening passage and question). Philip preaching to Samaria is a rebuke to unbelieving Israel. Here, the despised Samaritans are trusting Jesus Christ and yet the full-blooded Jews are not! The Jews looked down upon the Samaritans because the Samaritans were part Gentile by blood. Samaritans being converted to Christ was God the Holy Spirit’s way of signaling to Israel that they—the full-blooded Jews—were most wretched (unbelieving).

Focus now on Acts 8:14: “Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:….” Peter and John were Apostles of the Jerusalem Church. They were to be (and will be) the rulers of Israel in the ages to come (see Matthew 19:27-28). Israel here is the Northern and Southern Kingdoms reunited (the second course of chastisement reversed). All Jews—even the Samaritans—must surrender to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is “the city of the great King” (Matthew 5:35). The political revolt of the 10 northern tribes must be overturned. They will come back under the head of Jerusalem (the Davidic line). By the Samaritans allowing two of the chief Jerusalem Apostles to impart the Holy Spirit to them, the Samaritans demonstrate that they have returned to David. Here is a foretaste of the New Covenant, the agreement that will be inaugurated at Christ’s Second Coming (Acts 3:19-21; Romans 11:25-29; Hebrews 8:8-13; Hebrews 10:15-17; Ezekiel 36:21-38)!

Also see:
» Who will be Israel’s King in the Millennium—Jesus Christ or David?
» Why does the Book of Acts end so abruptly?
» Could you explain Acts 19:1-7?

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

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

by Shawn Brasseaux

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can you please explain Romans 8:17?

CAN YOU EXPLAIN ROMANS 8:17?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Regrettably, in recent years, especially on social media, our grace brethren have allowed the pettiest and most preposterous of ideas to divide us. One case in point is a rare handling of Romans 8:17. Let us read the verse as it appears in the King James Bible: “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Sadly, fellow believers in Christ—however sincere—have greatly damaged this most precious Scripture. Allowing human sentiment (emotions) to blind their spiritual eyes, dull their spiritual ears, and harden their spiritual hearts; they have been deceived and thus introduced needless confusion, concern, and discouragement! Here in this, our special-edition 600th Bible Q&A article, we aim (by special request) to shed much-needed light on this matter.

I. CONFUSION! (CONFUSION! CONFUSION!)

Dear friends, this author has read innumerable online posts written by people on both sides of the issue. Some souls have even emailed him in total bewilderment and complete exasperation. They cannot see what either side is contending as touching Romans 8:17. Others are totally fed up and cannot bear to see anything else written about it. Some discussions are bitter; others are quite absurd. When God’s Word is tossed aside and sinful man sits as judge, should we expect anything else but spiritual disaster?!

Frankly, as is often the case about Bible topics, there is so much ignorance. There is great discussion about Romans 8:17, an enormous amount of heat being generated, but so little substance and almost no light. Emotions, unfortunately, have usually taken precedence on both sides. Christians have become so caught up in writing or speaking that they have overlooked the simplicity of the verse. Four years on, it is high time we settle the matter here. For anyone seeking clarification, we humbly offer this Bible study. We will set aside all opinions of men, and let the Scriptures speak for themselves. “For what saith the Scriptures?”

Turning to Romans chapter 8, we give the Holy Bible preeminence: “[14] For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. [15] For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. [16] The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: [17] And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”

Verse 17 can be—and has been—misconstrued to promote a works-religion system. For simplicity’s sake, we will hereafter refer to this idea as “conditional joint-heirship.” The basic premise is thus: while all Christians are “children of God,” and all Christians are “heirs of God,” only some Christians are “joint-heirs with Christ.” Proponents of this system base their argument on the following phrase in the verse: if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” “If so be…” contains three simple one-syllable English words, so it is absolutely mindboggling how people stumble over them!! Whether they do so in complete sincerity, or deliberate ignorance, they struggle to grasp the verse. Dear friends, let the Holy Spirit teach you. It is simple. Do not complicate the Bible. (Leave that for lost people to do!!) Set aside your traditions. Turn off the preachers and put down the commentaries!! Give the Holy Scriptures the chance to speak.

II. CLARITY! (CLARITY! CLARITY!)

A. “IF SO BE:” THE GREEK WORD “EIPER”

The Greek word translated “if so be” (eiper) is used only five times in the New Testament Bible. Glance at these instances now:

  • Romans 8:9: “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be [eiper] that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”
  • Romans 8:17: “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be [eiper] that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”
  • 1 Corinthians 15:15: “Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be [eiper] that the dead rise not.”
  • 2 Thessalonians 1:6: Seeing [eiper] it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;….”
  • 1 Peter 2:3: If so be [eiper] ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.”

If we just let the English Bible speak, we see that none of these verses are conditional as in “perhaps so, perhaps not” (“maybe yes, maybe no”). The quote from 2 Thessalonians is a simple example. Is God just or fair in paying back the enemies of His children? Why, yes He is! Paul is not saying, “Maybe it is a righteous thing with God… maybe it is not a righteous thing with God.” On the contrary, Paul is declaring, “In light of that fact that it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you,” “in light of the fact that it is a righteous thing with God to give you rest with us,” He will surely judge in flaming fire those who know Him not and who do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Read 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10—one lengthy sentence in Greek!—and you will see the tenor we just delineated. It is a logical argument.

Now, we concentrate on the Romans 8:9 example of “eiper.” Read it again: “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be [eiper] that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Is Paul questioning whether or not we have the indwelling Holy Spirit? Of course not (refer to verses 1-8 and 10-16). He had just stated in verse 11: “His Spirit that dwelleth in you.” The Holy Spirit living inside Christians is certain, factual. This is no “maybe, maybe not” situation. It would be contrary to God’s nature to allow His spokesman (Paul) to introduce doubt in the minds of His people. The Holy Spirit permanently seals the inner man of the believer the moment he or she believes on the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Saviour (1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Ephesians 1:12-14; Ephesians 4:30; 2 Timothy 1:14). Lost people are those without the Spirit of Christ. Romans 8:9 again, in part: “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Since we are in the Spirit, we should act like we are in the Spirit (as opposed to acting sinful). Our daily behavior should reflect our Christian identity. That is the logic of Romans 8:9.

We proceed to consider 1 Corinthians 15:15: “Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be [eiper] that the dead rise not.” Paul is not arguing, “Perhaps the dead will be resurrected, perhaps not.” No. He has taken the position of the Corinthians who have denied the possibility of resurrection (check verse 12—which is Christ’s resurrection). Pagan philosophy has deceived these Christians so they now doubt a cardinal truth of Christianity. To combat the error, the Holy Spirit through Paul provides a series of rebuttals throughout chapter 15. In essence, this is what he is saying in chapter 15, verse 15 (paraphrased): “We [the apostles] are liars of God, for we preached to you that Jesus Christ arose. Since the doctrine of resurrection is a fabrication, then Jesus Christ did not arise as we alleged.” (Paul is not taking a “maybe yes, maybe no” approach. So as to strengthen the “yes” position, he is dealing with the matter from the “no” persuasion. The “if” here is one of logic, as in “since.” That is the sense of “if” in Romans 8:9 and 2 Thessalonians 1:6.)

Lastly, we deal with the “eiper” of 1 Peter 2:3: If so be [eiper] ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” It is not saying, “Perhaps you have tasted that the Lord is gracious, perhaps you have not.” No. The Apostle Peter’s audience has already trusted or believed on Christ (see verse 7). They have already experienced God’s grace.

Thus, they are: “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:2-5). You can also read 1 Peter 1:13-25 and 1 Peter 2:1-10 to see that Peter’s audience is Jewish believers in Jesus Christ. No doubt or uncertainty is present here whatsoever. Since they have tasted that the Lord is gracious, they are spiritual “babes” who need to grow with “the sincere milk of the word” (verse 2). It is logical.

Romans 8:9 is logical (“if so be”). First Corinthians 15:15 is logical (“if so be”). First Peter 2:3 is logical (“if so be”). Second Thessalonians 1:6 is logical (“seeing”). Nothing is being questioned—and that is especially evident in the Thessalonians proof. Possibilities are not here; certainties are. In light of one fact, other facts can be introduced to rest thereupon. It is a flow of logic, a progression of thought. The remaining instance of “eiper” is Romans 8:17, the verse of controversy. However, now that we have gained the sense of the Greek term, as well as the English sense, Romans 8:17 is easy to grasp (provided we let the Bible speak for itself and not have a theological agenda to promote!!!!).

Back to Romans 8:17. “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Please note that, in accordance with our earlier analyses, the “if so be” of Romans 8:17 is not conditional. It is a progression of the thought “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” “If” this is true, then that is likewise right. It is a flow of logic. The “if children” is not conditional or questionable; it is the beginning of the argument’s development. We are children; therefore, we are heirs. We are suffering with Him; therefore, we will be glorified with Him. Both “ifs” in Romans 8:17 are definite and logical. They are not conditional as in “perhaps, perhaps not.” This needs to be stressed again and again and again and again. Nothing is being questioned; nothing is uncertain. The statements are factual and logical.

Read Romans 8:17 again: “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with [sugkleronomos] Christ; if so be that we suffer with [sumpascho] him, that we may be also glorified together [sundoxadzo].” Focus on that Greek prefix “su–” (“sun–,” “syn–”). It is a preposition meaning “with, beside, together.” Our English words “synchronous,” “synthesizer,” and “syncarpous” are all derived from Greek here. Do you see the parallel thoughts of “with him” and “together?” Those who embrace “conditional joint-heirship” ignore these parallel thoughts of “with him” and “together.”

The Bible said, “…if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Those of “conditional joint-heirship” persuasion read the verse by pairing “joint-heirs with Christ” with “suffering with Him.” That is not the way the verse should be read. The semicolon breaks up the thoughts, so they should not be strung together: “…heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; [SEMICOLON] if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Respecting the semicolon (we had better not overlook it!!!), two thoughts are apparent to us. Firstly, “Heirs of God… joint-heirs with Christ” is one thought. Secondly, “if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” is another thought. We do not divide the verse so that it reads, “Only those who suffer with Christ will be joint-heirs with Christ.” Otherwise, we will wind up in the “conditional joint-heirship” trap!

Dear readers, let us re-illustrate the truths we have laid out thus far. “If” in Romans 8:17 should be understood as “if that is the case.” It is a flow of logic, not a conditional statement. An example of “if” being used as logical rather than conditional is as follows: “If she is a college graduate, she should have learned how to spell correctly and use proper grammar.” Try it again. “Seeing as to it is cold outside, I will wear extra layers of clothing.” Once more, “Enjoy God’s Word, if so be that He has given it to you.” “No” is not an option in any of these cases, thereby eliminating the “maybe yes, maybe no” approach to the “ifs” here. The only choice is “yes, that is the case, and since that is the case, this too is true.” “This is fact, and on the basis of that fact, we reveal a new fact.” She graduated college; therefore, she should have exceptional knowledge in spelling and grammar. We will have chilly weather today, so I will be sure to bring additional clothes. God has inspired, preserved, and translated His Word; for which cause we desire to read, study, and believe it.

Friend, do you see how simple this all is? We have set aside emotions. We have disregarded preacher’s interpretations and traditions of denominations. We have humbly submitted to the Holy Spirit to teach us using His words. There is no struggling, obscurity, doubt, vexation, dread, anger, or darkness. We just read the words on the pages of Scripture, compare verses, and let those Divine words contradict whomever they oppose. “Let God be true, but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4). If the Bible refutes “Pastor So-and-So,” “Sister So-and-So,” “Father So-and-So,” “Brother So-and-So,” “Doctor So-and-So,” “Reverend So-and-So,” so be it! That goes for me or any other “grace” leader as well! This needs to be stressed again and again and again and again.

B. WHAT IS THE “SUFFERING” IN ROMANS 8:17?

Another driving force behind the “conditional joint-heirship” position is the appeal to 2 Timothy 2:12. Since Romans 8:17 and 2 Timothy 2:12 both relate to suffering, it is automatically assumed that they are speaking of one and the same event. As these Scriptures themselves testify, they are not the same idea!

We present them side-by-side for ease of comparison:

  • Romans 8:17: “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”
  • 2 Timothy 2:12: “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us.”

These are two separate contexts, and should not be combined. The suffering of Romans 8:17 is suffering under the curse of sin (check verses 18-25 quoted below). Who is suffering under the curse of sin? Do only mature believers experience sickness, disease, and death? No, those problems apply to all believers, mature and immature (and even unbelievers!).

“[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 [Christians included here!!!], 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.” (Did you notice how this fits nicely with the order of Romans 8:17? There is suffering first, then glorification; a decaying creation will be followed by a renewed creation. A debilitating body will give way to a resurrected body.

While Romans 8:17 says “suffer with him,” there is no “suffer with him” in 2 Timothy 2:12. Second Timothy states, “suffer”that is general. Romans 8:17 says “suffer with himthat is specific. We have two independent contexts. This needs to be stressed again and again and again and again. There are two types of suffering under discussion.

Let us turn back to Romans 8:17. Whatever we suffer, Jesus Christ feels our pain because we are so intricately connected with Him (Head versus body-parts—1 Corinthians chapter 12). He is suffering with us, but since He preceded us, the wording is that we are suffering with Him. We are one with Him. As in the physical world, the Head senses the pain that one part of the Body feels. He suffered under the curse of sin during His earthly ministry. He lived in a fallen world. He saw loved ones grow sick and die. We are still under the same curse, with bodies prone to sickness and death (go back to Romans 8:18-25—and see Genesis 3:16-19 where that curse of sin originated). We await the arrival of our new glorified bodies at the Rapture, just as Jesus Christ was (and still is) waiting for creation to be freed from the curse of sin! As He will be glorified one day, so we will be glorified with Him (1 Corinthians 15:33-58; Philippians 3:20-21; 2 Thessalonians 1:10; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14).

Now, we can move on to the “suffering” in 2 Timothy 2:12. Read it in context: “[10] Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. [11] It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: [12] If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: [13] If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.”

This “suffering”—if we allow the context to speak!—was already defined for us in verse 9. “Wherein [the Gospel of Grace—verse 8] I suffer trouble, as an evildoer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound.” Verse 10 onward is a conclusion of what has gone before, as it begins, “Therefore [for which reason]….” God’s Word is not restricted, though sinful men can imprison God’s men. Though Jesus Christ’s messenger can be silenced (discouraged or dead), His message will not be and will never be. Paul is being persecuted as he writes that very passage; he has been arrested and is now sitting in a prison, suffering for the sake of preaching the Gospel of Grace. This is certainly not the suffering of Romans 8:18-25. Again, they are different issues.

Nevertheless, such simple truths disappear as the “conditional joint-heirship” confusion slips in. It is alleged that we must suffer for the “mystery’s sake” before we can be joint-heirs with Christ. We must, it is said, be persecuted for preaching Paul’s special doctrine, or we cannot be heirs in the heavenly places. Being joint-heirs is not a guarantee, they claim, as we may not suffer for the mystery’s sake (and they grab Romans 8:17 as proof!!). This is an appalling mistreatment of the Bible. Such an approach is wrong for three reasons. We will gladly repeat the two mentioned earlier—and we will add a new refutation!

Firstly, if suffering for the mystery’s sake resulted in being a joint-heir with Christ, then it would have been most appropriate for Paul to mention that in 2 Timothy chapter 2. After all, as that passage demonstrates, he was suffering for preaching his Gospel (part of the mystery). Yet, the word “joint-heir” never once appears in 2 Timothy. Furthermore, there is no suffering “with Christ” here as in Romans chapter 8. We would have to insert these words into Scripture without authority. Thus we would be liars, guilty of adding to God’s pure words (Proverbs 30:5-6). Do we really care to go that route? If that is our preference, we need to stop playing the hypocrite and just admit we really do not believe the Bible. If we must resort to changing Bible verses, our loyalty is to our theology and not our God!

Secondly, as was already pointed out, of the five times “eiper” appears in the Greek Bible, it always serves as the most important link in the chain of logic. Never is doubt being gendered in any case. Romans 8:9 is logical (“if so be”). First Corinthians 15:15 is logical (“if so be”). First Peter 2:3 is logical (“if so be”). Second Thessalonians 1:6 is logical (“seeing”). Nothing is being questioned—which is especially evident in the Thessalonians proof. Mere possibilities are not here; absolute certainties are. In light of the facts, other realities can be introduced to rest on the first facts. It is a flow of logic. It is a progression of thought. The remaining instance of “eiper” is Romans 8:17 (“if so be”) and it too is logical and not conditional.

Thirdly, all Christians are “joint-heirs with Christ” just as all Christians are “children of God” and “heirs of God.” Again, the “if so be” clause of Romans 8:17 is logical not conditional (“maybe, maybe not”). Since there is great confusion, we will repeat yet again what has gone before. Romans 8:17 begins, “If children, then heirs.” Are we God’s children or not? Is Paul arguing “perhaps yes, perhaps no” here? Of course not! The “if” is not “maybe you are God’s children;” the “if” starts a thought process. Verse 16 just claimed we are (definite or certain, not speculative) God’s children: “[16] The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: [17] And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”

Since we are children of God (verse 16), we are His heirs by default (verse 17). The second “if” of verse 17 functions the same way as the first “if” in verse 17. “If we suffer with Him” (and we will, as this is definite, certain, not speculative—see verse 18), then that suffering will eventually give way to glorification. As we share in His sufferings, so we will partake of His glorification. This is not conditional but logical. Once again, go back to the first “if” of verse 17, and even glance up to verse 16 (where the sentence starts). We are heirs of God, and we are joint-heirs with Christ. Both are facts because of the truth that we are children of God. These three are facts, not possibilities or conditional ideas. They are absolute certainties.

We are children of God. Since that is true, two other outcomes are also true. Firstly, we are heirs of God. Secondly, we are joint-heirs with Christ. There is no hoping, wishing, or doubt here. We are heirs of God in that everything that belongs to Him belongs to us. Think of a father passing on his estate to his son. We are joint-heirs with Christ in that what the Father passes to Him is transferred to us as well. We share His identity, for we are flesh of His flesh and bone of His bone, members of His body (Ephesians 5:23-30). We are called “Christ” and “the body of Christ” for this very reason (1 Corinthians 12:12,27). What exactly is this “joint-heirship” that all Christians have? For the remainder of this article, we will do a treatment of the “joint-heirship” as the Bible presents it.

C. “THE INHERITANCE” VERSUS “THE REWARD OF THE INHERITANCE”

Two themes we should never, ever confuse are (1) “the inheritance” and (2) “the reward of the inheritance.” The Bible handles them separately and we will do likewise. “Conditional joint-heirship” people need to pay close attention here!!

Go to Ephesians chapter 1, which speaks of our inheritance: [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. [13] In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, [14] Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory…..

“[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.”

Since Father God has made Jesus Christ the Heir of the governments of Heaven and Earth, we believers in Christ are also heirs. We share His governmental authority in the Heavens just as redeemed Israel will share it in the Earth. This is the future glorification we briefly noted earlier in Romans chapter 8. It bears repeating, and so we will be glad to repeat.

Re-reading Ephesians chapter 1: “[8] Wherein he 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.”

Every member of the Church the Body of Christ will go to Heaven. That is the “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ” promise of Romans 8:17, given to all who are “children of God” (verse 16). “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26). Heaven is the inheritance of all Christians (all members of the Body of Christ, those who have trusted His finished crosswork at Calvary as sufficient payment for their sins—1 Corinthians 15:3-4). We all share in His authority to rule over the heavenly places. Ephesians 2:6-7 says to this effect: “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” All individuals “in Christ” today qualify to reign in the heavenly places!

However, our specific roles or jobs in Heaven are conditional. Our entering Heaven is unconditional but our responsibility in Heaven is conditional. Did you see the word “places” in Ephesians 2:6? These are positions of authority. See Revelation chapter 12: “[7] And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, [8] And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.” In the ages to come, God here expels Satan and his fallen angels from outer space or second heaven (Ephesians 6:12)—that He might install us the Church the Body of Christ in those places or spheres of influence!

Turn to Colossians chapter 1: “[16] For by him [Jesus Christ] 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.”

It would help us here to consider Earth’s governments, for they are similar to the structure of Heaven’s governments. Qualifications are needed for each level of service. The more influential positions require greater qualifications. The qualifications—not to go to Heaven but to serve in Heaven!!—are increasing amounts of sound Bible doctrine we stored in our soul while living on Earth. The reward is not going to Heaven—that is the inheritance. The reward of the inheritance is discharging specific duties in Heaven. Be sure to keep them separate. Be sure to keep them separate. Be sure to keep them separate. We will repeat it over and over and over until it sinks in. The reward is not going to Heaven; the inheritance is going to Heaven. The reward of the inheritance is assuming specific responsibilities in Heaven’s governments.

Now, go to Colossians chapter 3 to read of the reward of the inheritance: “[23] And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; [24] Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. [25] But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.”

This event is “the Judgment Seat of Christ” (Romans 14:10-12; 2 Corinthians 5:9-10). “The Judgment Seat of Christ” is not to determine who will go to Heaven and who will go to Hell. That was already settled on Earth, when Christians believed on Jesus Christ. Christians alone are present here. Children of God, heirs of God, joint-heirs of Christ, are the only people at “the Judgment Seat of Christ.” The matter that needs to be settled at “the Judgment Seat of Christ” is the spiritual maturity of individual Christians. What type of doctrine did they store in the inner man? Good teaching (dispensational Bible study)? Or bad teaching (everything else)? What heavenly job will fit their level of Bible understanding? Will they sit on a throne (like a king)? Or rule over a dominion (like a lord)? Or reign over a principality (like a prince)? Or govern like a power (other ruler)? Or be part of mights (like a soldier)? Or be among every name that is named (general, basic duties)?

Again, there are different ranks or offices or levels of Heavenly government—just like Earth’s governments. Colossians chapter 1 again: “[16] For by him [Jesus Christ] 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:….” Ephesians 1:21: “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:….” These are like presidents, kings, princes, military leaders, state governors, city mayors, and so on. They have varying degrees of authority—influence that matches their education.

Our education or curriculum is Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. That is the material that we must know to function in the Heavenly Place for the Lord Jesus Christ’s glory. We are going to Heaven because of what Jesus Christ did for us at Calvary (unconditional), but what we do in Heaven depends on what we do with the Bible now on Earth (conditional). Do we study Scripture, or something else? Do we ignore Paul and read the rest of the Bible? If it is not God’s Word rightly divided (2 Timothy 2:15), it is not applicable to God’s will in heavenly places. It is the “garbage” material of 1 Corinthians 3:9-15—amounting to nothing in eternity!

Again, the reward is not going to Heaven; Heaven is the inheritance. The reward of the inheritance is fulfilling specific duties in Heaven. The inheritance is not the reward; the inheritance is given to us because of Jesus Christ’s finished work at Calvary’s cross. We did not work to get into Heaven. Now, there is a reward associated with the inheritance, and that reward depends on the quality our Christian service. It is not how much we did but rather why we did what we did. Was it sound Bible doctrine working in us? Was it God’s grace working in us (Pauline doctrine) or empty religious tradition? That is, was it grace living or legalism? Did we use grace doctrine or denominationalism? It matters!!!

To the extent that we suffer in 2 Timothy chapter 2, that is the extent of our reigning in Heaven (see 2 Timothy 2:10-13). If we refuse to let Jesus Christ work in us using Paul’s epistles, that is a loss of reward, and our duties in Heaven will be diminished because we are unqualified to serve in certain heavenly governmental positions. We enter Heaven—the inheritance—based on Calvary’s finished crosswork. We receive the reward of the inheritance based on the quality of doctrine we put in our soul (see 1 Corinthians 3:9-15; 2 Corinthians 5:9-10; Colossians 3:23-25). May we have “gold, silver, precious stones” (Pauline doctrine) and not “wood, hay, stubble!” (Alas, most of us will largely have the useless information stored in our soul!! The Judgment Seat of Christ will manifest it too!)

Much, much more could be written here, but this author trusts that enough material has been laid out for any Romans 8:17 doubts to be dispelled. Those brethren who are willfully ignorant will have to remain willfully ignorant at this point (1 Corinthians 14:38). We cannot help them at this point. Let them go on their way with their nonsense. The God of the Bible values free will, and so do we! Now, for those of us who want to hear and believe the words of the Holy Spirit, let us summarize and bring this study to a close.

III. CONCLUSION (CONCLUSION! CONCLUSION!)

Romans 8:17: “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”

Sadly, this precious verse has been used to divide Pauline dispensationalists and grace believers for the last four-plus years. The “joint-heir” clause is taken as a conditional statement—“perhaps yes, perhaps no.” Maybe we will be joint-heirs with Christ, and maybe we will not. Here is the “conditional joint-heirship” camp that we would do well to avoid. In this system, “If so be” is taken to mean we must suffer with Jesus Christ in order to become “joint-heirs” with Him. We supposedly must suffer for the mystery’s sake—sound Pauline doctrine—before we can qualify as joint-heirs with Christ. God’s grace is thus destroyed, having been perverted into a legalistic or works-oriented system!!

The way the first half of Romans 8:17 is structured allows us to see how to handle the latter half. “If children” is not questioning whether or not we are God’s children. Rather, this is a fact Paul laid out to then lead us to two conclusions. Since we are (1) God’s children, then we are (2) His heirs. Since we are (2) His heirs, then we are (3) joint-heirs with Christ. These three qualities go together. All three apply to all Christians. We do not force the first two apply to some Christians, and make the third pertain only to a special group of Christians (namely, those believers suffering for the mystery).

If suffering for the mystery’s sake resulted in being a “joint-heir with Christ,” then why did Paul not mention that very term in 2 Timothy 2:9-13? After all, he himself was suffering for preaching his Gospel (part of the mystery). Why “joint-heir” never appears in 2 Timothy is because this “suffering” is not the same as the suffering of Romans 8:17. Romans speaks of suffering “with him,” a suffering isolated from the suffering of 2 Timothy!

The Greek word in Romans 8:17 (the controversial “if so be”) is “eiper.” It always forms the heart of a chain of logic. Never is doubt being gendered in its four remaining instances—Romans 8:9, 1 Corinthians 15:15, 2 Thessalonians 1:6, and 1 Peter 2:3. Possibilities are not here; certainties are. They are progressions of thought, laying out arguments to form conclusions. The remaining instance of “eiper” is Romans 8:17 (“if so be”): in keeping with the data, Romans 8:17 is logical and not conditional. We must be consistent!!

Since we are children of God (verse 16), we are His heirs by default (verse 17). The second “if” of verse 17 functions the same way as the first “if” in verse 17. “If we suffer with Him” (and we will, as this is definite, certain, not speculative—see verse 18), then that suffering will eventually result in glorification. As we share in His sufferings, so we will partake of His glorification. This is not conditional but logical. Again, go back to the first “if” of verse 17. If necessary, you may even go back to verse 16 (where the sentence starts). We are heirs of God, and we are joint-heirs with Christ. Both are facts because of the fact that we are children of God. These three are facts, not possibilities or conditional ideas. They are certainties. All Christians are “children of God,” all believers in Christ are “heirs of God,” and thus all Christians are “joint-heirs with Christ.”

Anyone who uses Romans 8:17 to teach “conditional joint-heirship”—that we must suffer for the mystery’s sake to be joint-heirs with Christ—is most definitely promoting false teaching. Even one hint of a performance-based acceptance system slipping into the Body automatically negates the Holy Spirit’s working in grace. “If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law” (Galatians 5:18). “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9). If we let just a little bit of works-religion in, the whole Law system will find its way into our hearts and minds. If we must strive and mature in doctrine to be joint-heirs with Christ, then that is works, not grace. Once we go that route, we are susceptible to using all of Romans 8:17 (the other “if”) so as to teach we become God’s children and God’s heirs only by suffering with Christ. False teaching will “increase unto more ungodliness” if we do not stop it in its early stages (2 Timothy 2:16). Be on guard!! Beware! Be on guard!! Beware! Be on guard!! Beware!

The system of “conditional joint-heirship” also ignores the fact that the Romans (8:32), Colossians (2:10), Ephesians (1:3), and all other Christians are blessed with all that Father God has to offer. We do not have to strive to be joint-heirs with Christ. God gave that already to all of us in Christ the moment we trusted Christ (go back to Romans 8:14-17—where those truths cannot be divorced from each other). Must we strive to obtain everything that is Christ’s? Did we not already get everything that is His the moment the Holy Spirit put us into Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13)? Why, yes, He did!

If anyone tells us that all Christians are heirs of God but only the “edified according to Paul’s epistles” are joint-heirs with Christ, we can dismiss them as advocating a works gospel. Grace is tainted, canceled, or “frustrated” (Galatians 2:21). We work for reward (Colossians 3:23-25)—the reward of the inheritance. We do not work for the inheritance—namely, Heaven (Ephesians 1:3-23; Ephesians 2:1-10). Whether they realize it or not (that is beside the point), the “conditional joint-heirship” brethren are making it sound like we work to get into Heaven. They have confused the inheritance with the reward of the inheritance. Friends, we had better learn to differentiate the two!!

All members of the Body of Christ will be glorified in the heavenly places by virtue of being heirs of God, and all Christians will be glorified in the heavenly places by virtue of being joint-heirs with Christ. Since we are suffering with Christ now, it only stands to reason we will be glorified with Him in the future. “You suffer now but you will be glorified later.” As we partake of His sufferings, so we will share in His glory. That is the glorious truth in Romans 8:17, given to all believers in Jesus Christ. We will reign in the heavenly places with Him (Ephesians 2:6-7). That is the inheritance, solely dependent on Jesus Christ paying the price with His shed blood at Calvary (Ephesians 1:3-14).

But, exactly what tasks do we undertake once we get into Heaven? Here is the reward of the inheritance. Our rank/office within the heavenly places is directly proportional to the quality of doctrine we stored in our inner man (1 Corinthians 3:9-15; 2 Corinthians 5:9-10; Colossians 3:23-25). This is our Christian service—how we let our position given us in Christ daily affect us in mind and body while living on Earth. Here is where Christian good works are. That is why we constantly stress here that sound Bible doctrine matters!! Pauline dispensationalism matters!!

Christian friend, if you are not applying to life a clear understanding of Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, then your Christian life is not pleasing to God! That is why you are deceived, confused, struggling, disappointed, and miserable. Your Christian life is not functioning as God intended because you are not using the doctrine He intended for Christian living. You are relying on church tradition, non-Pauline doctrine, human viewpoint—and that amounts to nothing in light of eternity. There is no power of God therein.

Start reading the Book of Romans and believe what you read! In doing so, you will spare yourself so much spiritual darkness. You will save yourself so much time groping, wandering, wondering, doubting, and struggling. This author can testify to that firsthand… and so can countless other saints!!

Also see:
» “If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant?”
» How do we identify false teachers?
» Must one be a “King James Bible Pauline dispensationalist” to have eternal life?