Category Archives: DISPENSATIONAL BIBLE STUDY

With God “all things” are possible?

WITH GOD “ALL THINGS” ARE POSSIBLE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

In six Bible verses—involving four accounts—we read “with God all things are possible” or “with God nothing shall be impossible.” How should we approach these most terribly abused passages? Are there limits as to what God will and will not do? Or, can we “name and claim” whatever we want and, based on these Scriptures, expect God to surely bring it to pass without exception? Let us “search and see!”

MATTHEW 19:26 / MARK 10:27 / LUKE 18:27

“But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). “And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27).

Read Matthew chapter 19: “[23] Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. [24] And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. [25] When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? [23] And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! [24] And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! [25] It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. [26] And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? [27] And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

Now, the parallel, Mark chapter 10: “[23] And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! [24] And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! [25] It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. [26] And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? [27] And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

The context has nothing to do with walking on water, performing a miracle of physical healing, receiving a “supernatural financial blessing,” and so on. As we can see, the situation is whether or not a man can save himself. The answer, of course, is a resounding NO! When the sinner is “performing” in religion—which performance can never be perfect—it is apparent works can play no role whatsoever in gaining eternal life. However, when God’s grace is involved, the sinner can have eternal life because God works on the sinner’s behalf. “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Galatians 3:10). “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5).

MARK 9:23

“Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:23).

Read Mark chapter 9: “[17] And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; [18] And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not. [19] He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. [20] And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.

“[21] And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. [22] And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. [23] Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. [24] And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”

Satan has afflicted this child for his whole life, so recovery looks utterly hopeless. For many years, he has suffered unspeakable physical and mental torture. His father, just like the Apostles, is not walking by faith. According to Jesus, “all things are possible to him that believeth” (verse 23). It is God’s will that Israel be delivered from Satanic bondage and influence—the tormented man symbolizes Israel’s spiritual captivity to the evil world system. The man’s father doubted Jesus could help (“if thou canst do any thing”—verse 22), but the Lord could and does! Although Israel could not deliver herself, all things that accompanied Israel’s liberation were possible with God. Satan had a firm grip on the nation, but God cures the man and proves He was infinitesimally more powerful!

MARK 14:36

“And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt” (Mark 14:36).

Read Mark chapter 14: “[32] And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray. [33] And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; [34] And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. [35] And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. [36] And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.”

On the night of Christ’s arrest, He is praying in the Garden, speaking to His Heavenly Father concerning His impending crucifixion. Jesus speaks of the “cup” of Father God’s wrath. This cup is that from which the damned souls of the ages drink, suffering under the endless righteous wrath of a holy God! “And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name” (Revelation 14:9-11).

When Christ expressed, “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt,” He was asking if there was some way to pay for sins other than Him personally going to Calvary’s cross. Of course, the answer was a resounding NO! Doubtless, Father God searched out every imaginable plan, every conceivable idea, but there was only one plausible strategy. It would have to be Heaven’s best to die for Earth’s worst, or man’s sin debt would never be settled. Eventually, through prayer, the Lord Jesus Himself (both God and Man) realizes it and accepts it. He set aside His own will, choosing instead as a perfect Man to submit to His Father’s will. “And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt(Matthew 26:39).

LUKE 1:35-37

“For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37).

Read Luke chapter 1: “[35] And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. [36] And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. [37] For with God nothing shall be impossible.”

Through God’s working, two children would be conceived. One was John the Baptist, born to a mother, Elisabeth, who was beyond childbearing years. Elisabeth’s cousin was Mary, and Mary had never been sexually connected to a man before. However, the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to inform her the Holy Ghost would work in her—without the intervention of a man—to produce the human body of the Son of God. This was the virgin conception of Jesus Christ. Almighty God would work in bringing about the humanity of the Lord Jesus, and He would also cause His forerunner or heralder (John the Baptist) to be born as well. Both births were impossible with men, but not impossible with God.

CONCLUSION

While God intervened in Bible days to produce mighty results that physical eyes could see, we should be careful to understand He is doing something different today. The Bible says, “The Jews require a sign” (1 Corinthians 1:22). While God was dealing with Israel, He used miraculous demonstrations to teach them various doctrines. The physically ill were instantly cured. Children were conceived under miraculous circumstances.

However, we can read Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, and see how God is doing something different today. A drastic dispensational change occurred in the middle of Acts. Even the miracles that accompanied Paul’s “Acts” ministry gradually disappear as we move into his latter writings. The Lord’s “provoking” ministry to Israel—in Acts—was over. (See our related study linked at the end of this article.) Try as hard as we might, we cannot force God to do something He is no longer doing. (See our related study about “limiting God” linked at the end of this article.) God’s Word to and about us is Romans through Philemon, so we should walk by faith in this Divine revelation and not attempt to make God repeat something He did elsewhere in Scripture. That which is possible with God is only that which He Himself has already chosen to do by writing in His Book “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15)!

Although we in the Dispensation of Grace have not been promised financial blessings, physical healing (only at the resurrection—Rapture), or any other miraculous demonstration, the God of the Bible is still saving souls from sin and Hell as He was 20 centuries ago. Just as we read it was impossible for man to save himself in Christ’s earthly ministry, so it is impossible now. We must come to God by faith in Calvary’s finished crosswork alone: “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Nothing we can do will please Father God enough to let us it into His Heaven. He is well pleased with His Son, Jesus Christ, so we must rely on His Son’s work if we are to please Him. Otherwise, our entrance into Heaven will be impossible!

Also see:
» Why could the disciples not cast out the devil in Matthew 17:14-21?
» Can you explain Paul’s “Acts” ministry?
» Are we dispensationalists guilty of “limiting God?”
» Does God intervene in my life? If so, how?

How should we as Bible believers respond to the coronavirus?

HOW SHOULD WE AS BIBLE BELIEVERS RESPOND TO THE CORONAVIRUS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Dear friends, since its discovery in Wuhan, China, late last year, we have heard more and more about the infectious respiratory disease known as the “coronavirus” (also called “COVID-19”). People are frightened, unsure of what to believe and how to react. What should we do as Bible-believing Christians? You will surely be surprised when you learn the answers God’s Word gives. In this study, you will encounter truths you have never heard before—and likely will never hear again. It is this author’s fervent hope and prayer that you will have a receptive heart. Let us search the Scriptures to see what Almighty God has to say!

I. THE (OBVIOUS) PHYSICAL THREAT

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) website: “The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately 2,200 people have contracted the coronavirus in the United States; involving 47 states plus the District of Columbia; resulting in 50 deaths thus far. WHO reports that 167,511 people in 129 countries have coronavirus. About 6,600 deaths have resulted globally. Over 86,000 cases are confirmed in China; nearly 3,400 have died thus far. New cases are arising every day in various regions. There is currently no known vaccine to prevent coronavirus and effective treatments are still being developed. All we can do is slow it down by practicing good hygiene. For more information, you can visit these websites: cdc.gov (United States) and who.int (world).

WHO has recently labeled the coronavirus a “pandemic,” a global threat. President Trump has now declared a “national emergency” for the indefinite future—freeing up federal government resources and delegating power to combat it. Countries are closing their borders, isolating their people with border closing, discouraging trips, and banning large gatherings. Tightening travel restrictions are being implemented and enforced everywhere. Consumers are frantically rushing to stores and buying out items. Proprietors are even price gouging, taking advantage of desperate customers. Schools are holding online classes instead of face-to-face meetings. Sporting events are canceled or postponed indefinitely. Even handshakes are being evaded!

World-renowned immunologist and virologist Dr. Anthony Fauci says the risk for young and healthy Americans contracting coronavirus “remains low.” High-risk individuals are the elderly and people with underlying or chronic health conditions. If you are sick, seek medical help. United States Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams adds, “98 to 99 percent of the people will recover.” He gives his “prescription” as follows: “Know your risk, understand your risk, understand your circumstances, and get the facts to protect yourself.”

Obviously, we should all continue washing our hands as often as we can, using hot water and soap for at least 20 seconds. It would be best to avoid shaking hands (bump elbows instead, for example). Avoid any unnecessary travel, especially trips abroad. Sneeze and cough into your sleeves or disposable tissues; do not cough or sneeze into your hands!! Steer clear from large crowds and sick people—a practice called “social distancing.” Sick people should be quarantined. For the meantime, church leaders should resort to holding online services as opposed to physically meeting in buildings. Again, for additional guidance, visit these websites: cdc.gov (United States) and who.int (world). The Lord would expect us to use these common-sense practices to further reduce our risk.

In certain regions of the world, pandemonium and mayhem have resulted. Certainly, emotions are dominating and people are overacting. Being a presidential election year in the United States, individuals are exploiting this matter by “playing politics.” Blaming and attacking others will not solve the problem! The majority of the media here in the United States is unequivocally dishonest—and that is an indisputable fact. For several days now, this author has watched White House press conferences. While there are some upright journalists, they are few in number. Many are hostile and deliberately clueless to answers given over and over again; they are biased activists instead of neutral investigators. This author has no doubt many in the media are intentionally working to undermine and destroy this nation by promoting misinformation, and instilling fear and panic among its citizens. Certain cable “news” networks are laughable and thus not worth watching for even five seconds! Friends, you would do well to listen directly to health officials as opposed to politicians, “reporters,” and social-media gossipers who are seeking attention and creating division by disseminating “fake news.”

Even in Christendom, confusion and misunderstandings abound (like always!). In recent weeks, this author has read and heard about all kinds of nonsensical behaviors among professing Christians. Televangelists (charlatans!) are acting foolish in videos by selling supposed “coronavirus cures” at outrageous prices. Preachers are praying Psalm 91 over their audiences—asking God for angelic intervention and physical protection. In the United States, there was a recent “National Day of Prayer” where denominationalists, in their sincerity, voiced their pervasive Scriptural oddities. Being peddled is the ever-present slogan, “This is the sign of Jesus’ return! Look at Bible prophecy being fulfilled!” Of course, there is also the declaration, “God is using coronavirus to judge the world’s sin!” The very people who have the Word of God and should be generating light and peace—Christians—are often worsening the problem with their rank ignorance and unbelief.

Let us be abundantly clear. In this Bible study, we surely do not want to promote fearmongering and sensationalism (there is enough of that already). Yet, no matter who we are or where we live, we have made or will make significance life changes. These inconveniences will last for the next several weeks or few months—perhaps longer, depending our location in the world. We should take physical health precautions as already outlined. Never do we diminish this. Moreover, as Bible-believing Christians, we should look at this from a spiritual perspective and guard against threats to our spiritual health. That is our goal for the remainder of this study.

II. THE (INSIDIOUS) SPIRITUAL THREAT

Friends, how unfortunate it is that great confusion and misinformation result in times of disaster. Understandably, people are fearful—yea, even to the point of terror and paranoia. The Holy Bible can be a source of great comfort and enlightenment. However, Christians are usually just as baffled and misled as the general public. Why? They too have not actually listened to and believed the words of Scripture. Religious tradition, speculation, philosophy, and sentiment have been their guides. Thus, when we hear them and watch them respond to life’s situations, it is obvious they really have no idea what God is doing today or what He would have them do today either. Here, dear readers, is where we must exercise great caution. As serious as physical illnesses can be, none will ever compare to spiritual disease introduced by sin and false teaching.

Just as our outward man—the physical body—was formed to behave a certain way, so our inward man was created to function in a specific manner. A steady, nutritious diet results in a healthy physical body. Likewise, “junk food” is to be minimized in the spiritual world. Nevertheless, what is often passed off as “nutritious” spiritual food is nothing but trash! It seems good, it feels right, and it tastes good—but that false doctrine inflicts tremendous damage upon our soul and spirit. The pollution and destruction is not immediately noticed. In fact, it often goes unrealized until after physical death!

During this time of the coronavirus outbreak, we must guard against the plague of false teaching. As always, we remember the Holy Spirit’s instruction in 2 Timothy 2:15: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Physical illness is temporary, but spiritual destruction carries into eternity. As long as we handle the Bible dispensationally (Ephesians 3:2), understanding Paul is our Apostle or God’s spokesman to us (Romans 11:13), then we will be safe spiritually. If we do not handle God’s Word, God’s way, we will inflict great spiritual damage upon ourselves and our audience.

Here are seven major misconceptions currently circulating among Christian groups. These ideas are actually far more dangerous than the coronavirus itself and they should be avoided at all costs!

QUESTION #1: IS GOD USING THE CORONAVIRUS TO JUDGE THE WORLD FOR SIN?

A popular slogan during all times of trouble, “God is judging the world for sin,” is really legalistic. Indeed, Leviticus chapter 26 and Deuteronomy chapter 28 contain God’s warnings to Israel concerning five stages of chastisements if they disobey His Covenant of Law. Crop failures, physical illnesses, wars, oppressive enemies, exile from the land, and so on, are just a few examples of these curses. Ignoring their dispensational contexts, people take these verses and feed them into our Dispensation of Grace. How careless they are!

Isaiah 59:1-2 is quoted to support the idea that suffering people are experiencing their trouble because God disfavors them: “[1] Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: [2] But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” Again, the context is Israel as she experiences all five stages of chastisement previously mentioned (Leviticus chapter 26; Deuteronomy chapter 28). No nation today is being addressed here, for we are living in the Dispensation of Grace (Ephesians 3:2) and not the Dispensation of Law! Law and Grace cannot mix; the Book of Galatians could not be clearer. “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14). We are under a grace-based acceptance system (Calvary, Christ’s finished crosswork, giving us favor with God); we are not under a performance-based acceptance system (our “good” works giving us favor with God).

Whenever someone says, “God is judging this person, this nation, or the world today because of sin,” that individual seems to be voicing spiritual insight but is really doing nothing but advertising Bible ignorance. The most notable characteristics of our Dispensation of Grace are God’s “longsuffering,” “grace,” and “mercy.” He has been patient in dealing with sinful man, so He has not yet judged sinful man. Through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork, God has reconciled the world unto Himself, not holding their sins against them: “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19). God certainly is not judging the world for sin today. Through Calvary’s cross, any and every nation has equal and unrestricted access to the God of the Bible. He is not hiding His face from anyone (individual, nation, or world).

Grace (the Divine favor that sinful man does not deserve) and mercy (the Divine wrath that sinful man does deserve) are epitomized in the very Apostle to whom this dispensation has been entrusted. First Timothy chapter 1 says of Paul: “[13] Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. [14] And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. [15] This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. [16] Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”

Paul wrote the above passage as the Holy Spirit guided him. Also known as Saul of Tarsus, he was the bitterest enemy of Christ in the nation Israel—really, the whole world. He blasphemed against the Holy Ghost (Matthew 12:31-32), refusing to listen to the Spirit of God as He preached through the 12 Apostles during the early Acts period. Saul encouraged his nation to continue resisting the Lord Jesus. Once the Prophet Stephen addressed Israel and censured her for her persistent unbelief (Acts chapter 7), these religious leaders stoned him to death. Saul, the Jewish religious leader that he was, was among that murderous crowd and inciting that violence!

Start reading at Acts 7:51 and go through to verse 3 of chapter 8. Then, turn to Acts 9:4-5, Acts 22:4, Acts 26:9-11, and Galatians 1:13-14. Finally, go back to 1 Timothy 1:13. As the greatest persecutor of the Messianic Church, Saul of Tarsus deserved nothing but Divine wrath. The next stage in prophecy to follow Christ’s ascension was God’s judgment on Christ-rejecting Israel and the world (Acts 2:24-36; Acts 3:22-23; Acts 7:55-56; cf. Psalm 110:1). Even now, 20 centuries later, that wrath has not yet fallen. In Acts chapter 9, Saul of Tarsus rather received grace, mercy, and peace from the Lord. Saul was not consumed, and yet he was most deserving of it! First Timothy 1:16 again: “Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” Here is how our Dispensation of Grace began: God’s most vehement enemy joined His family by faith as opposed to remaining in unbelief and receiving that awful eternal judgment!

Go now to 2 Peter chapter 3, and read it, concentrating especially on verses 3-16. Scoffers are mocking and wondering when Christ will return to judge them for their unbelief (where Paul used to be!). The Apostle Peter’s inspired response is, “Paul’s ministry is underway, God’s longsuffering is operating, and it is not yet time to pour out wrath!” Anyone who is saved today by trusting Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for their sins (1 Corinthians 15:3-4), that person is saved following Saul’s “pattern” of salvation in Acts chapter 9 (cf. 1 Timothy 1:16). God’s enemies should be suffering His wrath this very moment, and yet, that wrath is delayed until our Dispensation of Grace runs its course. As long as the Church the Body of Christ is on planet Earth, the Dispensation of Grace is operating, so absolutely no Divine wrath will be seen. After the Body of Christ is caught up to Heaven at the Rapture, however, then prophecy will resume, and wrath will absolutely follow!

QUESTION #2: WILL GOD PROTECT US FROM THE CORONAVIRUS?

Some Christians have voiced they have no fear because God will keep them safe and prevent them from contracting the coronavirus. This may sound harsh, but it needs to be said: these are downright foolish comments. While it is biblical to claim physical healing (James 5:14-16, for example), there is absolutely nothing in Paul’s epistles to indicate we should claim physical healing or that we should expect no health problems.

Timothy suffered stomach issues and other “often” bodily illnesses. Was there a laying on of hands? (No!) An anointing of oil? (No!) Paul’s inspired recommendation was for him to use a little wine as medicine (1 Timothy 5:23). Paul himself, when writing his final epistle, remarked he had left Trophimus at Miletum “sick” (2 Timothy 4:20). This demonstrates that even the Apostle Paul no longer had the spiritual gift of healing. His “Acts” provoking ministry to Israel had ended (Romans 11:11-14). Paul himself actually suffered his own physical illnesses—near total blindness (Galatians 4:13-15; Galatians 6:11), among additional health issues (see 2 Corinthians 11:27 and 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, for instance).

In light of 1 Timothy 5:23, God expects to follow the aforementioned health precautions concerning coronavirus. He has given us an immune system and medical knowledge and technology, so we should use them!

QUESTION #3: SHOULD WE ASK GOD TO STOP THE CORONAVIRUS?

Religious people far and wide have actually assembled to repeatedly ask Almighty God to stop the coronavirus from spreading. They are still begging Him to intervene and mitigate its effects and help us know how to treat the ill. Again, this is an utter failure to understand and complete disregard of what Scripture says about the Lord’s current dealings with man. Remember, it is not a question of whether or not God can stop the coronavirus. He can. The question is, What is God doing today? Consider these two verses.

Firstly, “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” (Ephesians 1:13). Secondly, “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). As members of the Church the Body of Christ, having trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, God has “sealed” us with and by His Holy Spirit. Our inner man is forever secure. We will never experience Hell and the second death in the Lake of Fire. However, we have never been promised physical protection. Again, remember Paul himself experienced personal threats, including physical illness, limitations, and deprivations (1 Corinthians 4:9-13; 2 Corinthians 6:4-10; 2 Corinthians 11:22-27). Timothy had various chronic health problems (1 Timothy 5:23). These Christians were not immune from bodily suffering, and neither are we (see Romans 8:18-25)!!

Second Corinthians 12:7-10: “[7] And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. [8] For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. [9] And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. [10] Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” In Christ, we have been given grace, a capacity to endure everything life throws at us—including physical illness and persecution!

Go now to Philippians chapter 4: “[11] Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. [12] I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. [13] I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Whether possessing much or having nothing, whether sick or healthy, we can endure “all things!” The Lord Jesus Christ promises us—not physical help—but spiritual help. He is working in our inner man as we walk by faith in these simple truths. Our circumstances do not have to destroy us emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

“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; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-21). Here is what the Apostle Paul prayed for fellow Christians because this is what God is doing today in the Dispensation of Grace (cf. Ephesians 1:15-23; Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 1:9-12). You may also see Romans 5:1-5.

Again, before we “name and claim” Israel’s verses, we need to understand the dispensational change that took place with Paul’s salvation. Read Romans 8:18-25 and 2 Corinthians 4:16–5:8. These verses describe our physical body being vulnerable to disease, aging, and death. We read nothing about, “God will spare us from illness,” “Let us claim physical healing in Jesus’ name,” and so on. In fact, we read the opposite. At creation, God imparted an immune system to the first human body, and we have inherited it. He does not need to intervene and “cure” us, or stop any illness from reaching us. If our immune is still not strong enough, if we get sick and die, so what! We will receive new glorified bodies at our resurrection anyway!

At this point, someone would ask about the healing miracles in Scripture. We will answer that now. The physical healing program that operated during Christ’s earthly ministry is currently paused. God’s earthly kingdom—in which there is no physical sickness (Isaiah 33:24; Isaiah 35:4-6; Matthew 8:16-17; Matthew 9:35; Matthew 10:7-8; Mark 16:15-20; et cetera)—is delayed. Why? Because the wrath attached to that kingdom has also been delayed. The kingdom program—including the wrath—has been postponed so God can pour out grace and mercy on the entire world. Our ultimate healing as members of the Church the Body of Christ will come at the Rapture, when Christ returns to take us out of this present evil world, we receiving glorified and resurrected bodies that will never be subject to sin, decay, or death (1 Corinthians 15:51-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; cf. Romans 8:23-24; Ephesians 4:30).

QUESTION #4: SHOULD WE “NAME AND CLAIM” PSALM 91?

Certain people have presumptuously taken Psalm 91 and prayed over their congregations, their homes, and even their planet: “[1] He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. [2] I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. [3] Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. [4] He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. [5] Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; [6] Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday…. [9] Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; [10] There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. [11] For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. [12] They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.”

You can see why “coronavirus prayer warriors” like this passage. Notice the references to “noisome [serious] pestilence” (verse 3), “pestilence” (verse 6), and “plague” (verse 10). The “guardian angel” people “name and claim” this passage as well on the basis of verses 11-12. Interestingly, Psalm 91 was the very Scripture that Satan used against the Lord Jesus during His temptations (cf. Matthew 4:5-6; Luke 4:9-11)! Furthermore, it is significant that the Lord did not follow Psalm 91—even though it is Scripture. Satan had perverted it, misquoted it, and ripped it from its dispensational context. Psalm 91 is so heavily abused even today, as we can see throughout religious circles. Jesus knew it was a Second Coming passage, not a First Coming passage. It did not apply to His earthly ministry, and it does not apply to us either. Indeed, here is proof that we can quote the Bible and still be out of God’s will! Psalm 91 does not belong in our dispensation!

QUESTION #5: SHOULD WE “NAME AND CLAIM” 2 CHRONICLES 7:14?

Of course, we cannot forget 2 Chronicles 7:14, for it always appears in religious contexts when tragedy strikes: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” Second Chronicles 20:9 is also being quoted concerning the coronavirus: “If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help.” There are four problems with us quoting these passages as though they are spoken to and about us.

Firstly, no matter what you have heard, America is not God’s people. No nation on Earth today is God’s people—even Israel (Romans 11:11-15,25-32)! The Church the Body of Christ is God’s people. Secondly, the verses in 2 Chronicles concern Solomon’s Temple (“this house”) in Jerusalem. The Babylonians destroyed that Temple more than 2,500 years ago. Thirdly, the “land” being healed is the land of Canaan, the land of Israel, not North America! Lastly, this is Israel being cast out of that land because of her sin (breaking the Old Covenant with her pagan idolatry). In the centuries after King Solomon, the Babylonian and Assyrian Captivities scattered the Jewish people around the world. How irresponsible we are to ignore such facts, rip these verses from their context, and make them God’s words to us.

QUESTION #6: IS THE CORONAVIRUS ANOTHER “SIGN OF THE TIMES?”

“The coronavirus is one of the signs of the times, telling us that Jesus’ return is near….” Over the years, this ever-popular and nonsensical “Gentiles seeking signs” mentality has become banal. Bible skeptics have taken full advantage of silly Christians employing this statement ad nauseum. “So, we are still waiting for Jesus, are we?! How many signs will it take before He comes back?!” Here again is how our refusal to handle the Bible dispensationally has caused us to look idiotic and thus encourage people to scorn the Holy Scriptures.

Firstly, Gentiles should not be looking for signs; the Jews require a sign” (1 Corinthians 1:22). Secondly, Matthew chapter 24 in no way describes anything God is doing today. People are grabbing verse 7 and applying it to today, and this is dangerous: “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.” This concerns Israel’s prophetic program, the events (“signs,” indications) that speak of Christ’s Second Coming.

As Christians, we are not looking for the Second Coming—that is His wrath! We should be looking for His coming to take the Church the Body of Christ out of this present evil world (Titus 2:13). When our Apostle, Paul, wrote about events making the “last days,” he mentioned specific sins rather than specific signs (see 2 Timothy 3:1-5). Whatever Jesus spoke of in Matthew chapter 24, it is unrelated to what Paul wrote about in 2 Timothy; otherwise, Paul would have quoted Jesus’ earthly ministry here. Two comings of Christ are in view here, and we should be mindful never to conflate the two!

QUESTION #7: SHOULD WE PRAY FOR GOD TO GIVE OUR LEADERS WISDOM?

Dear friends, the only way God imparts wisdom to people is when they open the Bible and read it (1 Corinthians chapter 2)! It is a common practice for people to ask God for wisdom but they never actually read His Word. This is dumb, and that is all there is to it. If we are not willing to take the time to flip through the pages of Scripture and read those verses, then we really have no interest in gaining God’s wisdom. God expects medical doctors to use their formal training to save lives (did they not go to medical school for a reason?). He also expects politicians to take Bible verses and implement them by using their legal training. When we start asking God to give governmental leaders and physicians wisdom to undertake challenges, we are making two mistakes. Firstly, we are really cheapening prayer for those in authority. Secondly, we are saying God speaks outside of the Bible (and this is where the cults insert their leaders’ “inspired” literature—the Book of Mormon, the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, and so on).

Read 1 Timothy chapter 2: “[1] I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; [2] For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. [3] For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; [4] Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. [5] For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; [6] Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”

What would God have us pray concerning our leaders? That they would gain His wisdom? No. The context is Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork! God’s primary concern is not that governmental leaders are making poor decisions; His chief concern is that they are lost and headed for Hell like civilians! Christians need to stop praying nonsense for leaders, and start praying like intelligent and Biblically-informed people. Governmental leaders are most useful to God once they are members of the Church the Body of Christ. God does not fill lost people with His Holy Spirit. After they trust the Gospel of Grace, then He can and will work in and through them to make wise decisions. God expects Christian doctors to take advantage of their training they have already been given; otherwise, we could all pray for “medical wisdom” and avoid taking college courses!

Here is the blunt reality. What we need to pray is that governmental leaders would trust Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. What we need to pray is that doctors would trust Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. What we need to pray is that sick people would trust Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. Praying with the long-term in mind—as opposed to the short-term—is mature Christian prayer.

III. CONCLUSION

As we can see, dear friends, the spiritual threat is far grimmer than the physical threat. Lies are circulating in the name of “Christian” teaching. Having the right doctrine—sound Bible doctrine, dispensational Bible study, in the soul—will bring us spiritual strength. “And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure” (Isaiah 33:6). We need to be sure we are armed with facts and not superstitions and speculations!

We now summarize and conclude:

  1. Is God using the coronavirus to judge the world for sin? NO. Denominationalists are wrong (no surprise there!). God is not using the coronavirus to judge the world or any nation, including America. The very nature of the Dispensation of Grace is “grace and peace,” as opposed to “wrath and war.” God addressed the nations this way at the start of each and every Pauline Epistle, Romans through Philemon. His wrath will come on sinful man one day, but not until after our dispensation closes. In our dispensation, His attitude toward the world is “grace and peace.” The Apostle Paul’s very conversion in Acts chapter 9 is a testament to that fact.

 

  1. Will God protect us from the coronavirus? NO. God has not promised us immunity from physical threats or even guaranteed us physical healing. Many saints down through the ages have endured a variety of bodily illnesses and even succumbed to fatal diseases. Hence, we need to follow the health guidelines provided at the beginning of this study. God expects us to use common sense and practice good hygiene. We should listen to our local and national health professionals. If we do happen to contract the coronavirus and move on to Heaven, so what! We are “far better” off with Christ (Philippians 1:23)!

 

  1. Should we ask God to stop the coronavirus? NO. God will not stop the coronavirus because He is not intervening physically today. He is working internally, equipping us spiritually so that we grow stronger in Him and His Word to us, Paul’s Epistles (Romans through Philemon). He did not intervene to deliver Paul from his bodily afflictions, cure Timothy’s chronic illnesses, or heal Trophimus. The Holy Spirit ordered Timothy to use wine as medicine (1 Timothy 5:23). Likewise, God expects us to use our medical knowledge to develop a vaccine to minimize the impact of the coronavirus, how to lessen the risk of contracting it, and how to best treat those already infected with it. This is mature grace thinking—and a stark contrast to the Bible ignorance that so pervades the professing church! The sooner we move away from unrealistic expectations, the quicker we can become people of faith and hope instead of people of doubt and disappointment!

 

  1. Should we “name and claim” Psalm 91? NO. God will not send angels to protect us as per Psalm 91. He will not spare our house from succumbing to illness, coronavirus or any other disease. This heavily abused passage is what Satan attempted to use to distract Jesus Christ from His Heavenly Father’s will for Him. We would do well to keep Psalm 91 in its dispensational context, and not apply it to our dispensation. Nothing in Paul’s Epistles indicates angels protect us. Again, we are not guaranteed physical health until the Rapture, when these aging and weakening bodies are redeemed from sin. God cares for us, but spiritual health is His priority today!

 

  1. Should we “name and claim” 2 Chronicles 7:14? NO. This passage has a context. It involves the Mosaic Law, of which we are not a part (Romans 6:14). It involves Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, which was destroyed over 2,500 years ago. This is not America or any other nation today. Rather, it is ancient Israel being judged with courses of chastisement because of her persistent idolatry. The land is the land of Palestine, the land of Canaan, and not any other real estate.

 

  1. Is the coronavirus another “sign of the times?” NO. Despite what you have heard ad nauseum, the coronavirus is not a “sign of the times.” As non-Jews, we are not to be looking for signs anyway. There are no “signs” leading up to the close of our Dispensation of Grace. Matthew chapter 24 refers to Christ’s Second Coming some years after our Dispensation of Grace has ended. As opposed to looking for signs, we should consider the sins of 2 Timothy 3:1-5.

 

  1. Should we pray for God to give our leaders wisdom? NO. Apart from the already revealed will and mind of God as found in the Holy Bible, we will not hear from God again until He comes to remove the Body of Christ. Either the Bible is complete or it is not. If we want God’s wisdom, we need to read the Bible, especially Paul’s Epistles of Romans through Philemon (see Ephesians 3:4). Let us take time to understand how fragile this life is: “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 5:14). Lastly, let us use this opportunity to reach as many people as we possibly can with the Gospel of the Grace of God. “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Uncertain as to what to expect, they are most open to spiritual matters at this very moment. Be sure you give them the right information—sound Bible doctrine—and not the useless denominational doctrine we have just discredited. Stay safe and this author wishes you God’s best!

Also see:
» Should we pray for sick people?
» How should we pray for people enduring natural catastrophes and other tragedies?
» How do we have an “effectual” prayer life?

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?”

Was Israel’s fall a secret?

WAS ISRAEL’S FALL A SECRET?

by Shawn Brasseaux

No. Let us be clear: even in the prophetic program, God had revealed the truth of Israel’s national and spiritual fall. However, this in no way detracts from the mystery truths committed to the Apostle Paul’s trust.

Many years ago, when he was new to dispensational Bible study, this author was surprised to read Luke 2:34: “And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;….” Either his grace teachers and preachers had not expressed it clearly enough to him, or they had done so but he had not paid close enough attention, but he had been misled. Israel’s fall was not kept secret prior to the Apostle Paul’s ministry.

See Luke chapter 2: “[25] And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. [26] And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

“[27] And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, [28] Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, [29] Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: [30] For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, [31] Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; [32] A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. [33] And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. [34] And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; [35] (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

The Holy Spirit had revealed to aged Simeon that young Jesus would eventually be rejected (leading up to His rejection and crucifixion, Calvary causing His mother Mary great emotional trauma). Even going all the way back to Moses, though, Israel’s national unbelief and fall was understood. Deuteronomy 32:21 says, “They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.” Paul quotes this in Romans 10:19: “But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.” This group known as “not a people,” this “foolish nation,” is what the Lord Jesus called “the little flock” in Luke chapter 12: “[31] But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. [32] Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

See Matthew chapter 21 now, Christ commenting on the kingdom of God being taken from apostate Israel (especially her unbelieving religious leaders) and given to her believing remnant: “[41] They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. [42] Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? [43] Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. [44] And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. [45] And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. [46] But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.”

The mystery committed to Paul’s trust is not that Israel would fall—for even Israel’s fall was known in the prophetic program. The mystery committed to Paul’s trust was that through that fall God’s salvation would still come to the Gentiles. Again, Israel’s fall was not the secret revealed to Paul. The secret revealed to Paul was God would reach the Gentiles despite Israel’s fall (this was unheard of prior to Paul’s ministry). God would use Paul’s ministry and Gospel message (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) to evangelize the Gentiles, thereby leading to the formation of the Church the Body of Christ (yet another secret committed to Paul’s trust—Ephesians 3:1-11).

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

Also see:
» Is Israel “cast away,” or not? Has Israel “fallen,” or not?
» Who is “the Israel of God” of Galatians 6:16?
» “All Israel shall be saved?”

When Paul says “there is no difference,” is he referring to people outside the Body of Christ, or in it?

WHEN PAUL SAYS “THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE,” IS HE REFERRING TO PEOPLE OUTSIDE THE BODY OF CHRIST, OR IN IT?

by Shawn Brasseaux

While this precise expression appears only twice in the Pauline epistles—Romans 3:22 and Romans 10:12—the concept of “no difference” is found in other verses as well. Depending on the context, it can describe: (1) people outside the Church the Body of Christ, or (2) people within the Church the Body of Christ.

All lost people—both Jew and Gentile—are equally lost. They are all headed to the same Hell and the same Lake of Fire. Moreover, since an unsaved Jew is just as much under Satan’s control as an unsaved Gentile, the Jew would technically be a Gentile in God’s sight. God does not see national distinctions as touching their deserving of His wrath. Romans 2:9-11 says, “Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;… For there is no respect of persons with God.” There is no advantage to being a Jew, and no disadvantage to being a Gentile. God’s wrath is coming upon all sinners (Jew and Gentile alike). Here is “no difference” outside the Church the Body of Christ. However, the ground is level at the foot of Calvary’s cross, and all sinners (Jew and Gentile alike) can escape that wrath by simple faith in Jesus Christ.

Romans chapter 3: “[9] What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; [21] But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; [22] 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: [23] For all [Jew and Gentile alike] have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; [24] Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: [25] Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; [26] To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. [27] Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. [28] Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. [29] Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: [30] Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision [Jew] by faith, and uncircumcision [Gentile] through faith.”

Romans chapter 10, verses 12 and 13: “[12] For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek [Gentile]: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. [13] For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Like the doctrine in chapter 3, this was an extremely hard truth for unsaved Israelites to grasp during the Acts period. They could not fathom now being on the same level as the Gentiles, having the need to trust the same Saviour (Jesus Christ) that the Gentiles needed to trust! It was through one Jesus Christ that all could escape the spiritual darkness and ignorance pervading the world at the time—and even now.

National Israel is fallen in this the Dispensation of the Grace of God. Thus, there is no benefit in being a physical descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Romans 11:11-14: “[11] I say then, Have they stumbled that they [Israel] 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.” Notice Paul’s apostleship in verse 13, Jesus Christ’s ministry in the Dispensation of Grace (Ephesians 3:1-2)!

Anyone and everyone is now able to approach the God of the Bible because of Jesus Christ’s shed blood. Here is Paul’s Gospel, the Gospel of the Grace of God (Acts 20:24). Ephesians chapter 2: “[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 [Gentiles] who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. [14] For he is our peace, who hath made both [believing Jews and believing Gentiles] one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; [15] Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; [16] And that he might reconcile both [believing Jews and believing Gentiles] unto God in one body [the Body of Christ] by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: [17] And came and preached peace to you which were afar off [Gentile], and to them that were nigh [Jew]. [18] For through him we both [Jew and Gentile] have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”

Through personal faith in Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3-4), we are guaranteed forgiveness of sins, justification, a home in Heaven, et cetera. All saved people—both Jew and Gentile—are equally saved. They are members of the same Body of Christ, they have the same righteousness of God imputed to their account, they been given the same forgiveness, they have been blessed with the same spiritual blessings in heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3), and so on. Here is “no difference” within the Church the Body of Christ. As in the earlier case, there is no advantage to being a Jew, and no disadvantage to being a Gentile.

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). “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). There is neither Jew nor Greek [Gentile], there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

“That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs [with believing Jews], and of the same body [of Christ], and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6). “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek [Gentile] nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:10-11).

Also see:
» Are we Pauline dispensationalists anti-Jewish?
» Is Israel “cast away,” or not? Has Israel “fallen,” or not?
» Can Jews who believe in God, the Father, but who reject Jesus, be saved from eternal damnation?

Does Israel’s Little Flock have a hope in Heaven?

DOES ISRAEL’S LITTLE FLOCK HAVE A HOPE IN HEAVEN?

by Shawn Brasseaux

As Pauline dispensationalists, we understand that we the Church the Body of Christ are God’s heavenly people whereas the nation Israel is God’s earthly people. Yet, some verses seem to challenge that position. Our critics in denominational circles appeal to these passages to argue against us, claiming the Bible says Israel also has a hope in heaven. We will carefully consider the case they have built against us, comparing verses with verses, and we will see what God’s Word actually says. “For what saith the Scriptures?”

We must consider the following:

  • Luke 10:20: “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.”
  • Hebrews 3:1: “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;….”
  • Hebrews 10:34: “For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.”
  • Hebrews 11:16: “But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.”
  • Hebrews 12:22-23: “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,….”
  • 1 Peter 1:4: “To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,….”

Perhaps you are shocked to learn Israel is connected to “heaven” in Scripture. However, these verses really should not surprise us. After all, we are quite familiar with John the Baptist’s message, are we not? Matthew chapter 3: “[1] In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, [2] And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Israel’s Gospel message is certainly related to “heaven.” As you can read, “the Gospel of the Kingdom” (Matthew 9:35) involves the preaching of “the kingdom of heaven (cf. Matthew 4:17). None of this should actually astonish us because John’s message links to Daniel 2:44-45, verses written six centuries prior.

Daniel chapter 2 says: “[35] Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth…. [44] And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. [45] Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.”

If you read this chapter in its entirety, you will see how the Bible enumerates the Gentile empires that will rule over Israel (the Middle East—Earth!) until Jesus Christ returns at His Second Coming. At that Second Coming, the Lord Jesus Christ will establish an earthly kingdom to replace the pagan Gentile governments that went before. Pay attention to verse 44: “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” Who will set up this kingdom? The Bible says “the God of heavenwill inaugurate that kingdom; therefore, it is titled “the kingdom of heaven.”

When John the Baptist, or even the Lord Jesus Himself (Matthew 4:17), preached, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand,” we know they are referring to Heaven coming on the Earth. It is not that believers here are going up to live in Heaven forever but rather Heaven is coming down to them on Earth and they living on Earth forever. “Our Father which art in heaven… Thy kingdom come,” the Israeli saint prays according to the petition of Matthew 6:9-10. Even Moses, 15 centuries before Christ, understood it would one day be “as the days of heaven upon the earth” (Deuteronomy 11:21). Therefore, the Apostle John wrote of Israel’s Little Flock in Revelation 3:12: “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.”

It is important to notice that the Israeli saints do not have a lasting presence in Heaven. That is true of us, however. Israel does not judge or rule over angels. That is true of us, however (1 Corinthians 6:3). We as members of the Church the Body of Christ are not promised the Earth. In stark contrast, the nation Israel is promised the Earth: “The meek shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5; Psalm 37:9,11). Our glorified bodies are “eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1). This is not true of Israel. We members of the Body of Christ share in Christ’s authority in the heavenly places: “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” (Ephesians 2:6-7). This is not true of Israel. We could continue the comparisons (see Colossians 1:5,16-20), but these should suffice in addressing our critics’ claims.

We close this section by quoting Ephesians 1:20-23 to highlight the location of the Body of Christ’s eternal inheritance: “[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.”

The Old Testament saints (although physically dead) are currently in the New Jerusalem, in the third heaven, as per Hebrews 12:22-23: “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just [righteous] men made perfect,….” However, the Heavenly Jerusalem is not permanently in Heaven, so those Old Testament saints living in it are not perpetually in Heaven. New Jerusalem comes down to Earth in Revelation chapters 21–22. Ultimately, though, even with all this said, we still recognize the hope of the Old Testament saints remains the same: the God of heaven setting up an earthly kingdom that lasts forever (Daniel 2:35,44-45).

Revelation chapter 21: “[1] And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. [2] And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. [3] And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God…. [10] And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,….”

Israel’s eternal hope, while an earthly kingdom, is called “the kingdom of heavenfor three reasons. Firstly, it is Heaven on Earth (Deuteronomy 11:21). Secondly, the God of Heaven establishes it (Daniel 2:44-45). Finally, it currently exists in the third Heaven until it descends to Earth where it remains forever (Revelation 21:1-3,10).

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:
» Will living in Heaven forever be boring?
» What is the difference between “the Kingdom of God” and “the Kingdom of Heaven?”
» Why are the heavens “not clean in God’s sight?”

What is the greatest threat facing the Grace Movement?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Dear brethren, we who understand and enjoy the Holy Bible rightly divided—namely, the “Pauline” or “mid-Acts” approach to the Scriptures—are able to realize how the organized religious system is deliberately and fervently opposed to what we believe and support. At least to some degree, Pauline dispensationalism has delivered us from denominational bondage, the empty traditions and idle speculations of men. Illuminating us with brilliant spiritual light, it allows us to escape the pitch-darkness of pagan religion (especially that which masquerades as “Christianity” but is anything and everything but). How marvelous is the Bible when delivered dispensationally! Those Divine words “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15)—the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery (Romans 16:25)—can also rescue from spiritual ignorance anyone and everyone who shares our sincere desire to learn God’s Word God’s way.

Irrefutably, dispensational Bible study is absolutely critical to avoiding spiritual impotence and defeat. Satan himself fights it as best as he can, for he is quite aware that dispensational Bible study is the only means whereby God the Holy Spirit edifies, encourages, and enlightens us. It is the key to unlocking the Scriptures, to understanding God’s will for this present age, for the world to see Jesus Christ as Father God Himself sees Him today. Satan’s evil world system indeed attempts to stifle that doctrine—via governmental and ecclesiastical oppression, discouragement, conflicting teachings, and so on. However, there is a more nefarious and extremely subtle method whereby the “Grace Movement” is under vicious attack. This Bible study, this treatise, will expose it, that it may be guarded against in the future.

This study is special for two primary reasons. Firstly, it has been released to commemorate six full years of “For What Saith the Scriptures?” (It is Bible Q&A article #680, the final one of 2019.) Brethren, herein is the culmination of what we have covered thus far regarding Christian (grace) living. Secondly, this study is affectionately dedicated to our dear Christian brother—Dr. C. F.—whom our Lord Jesus Christ has used these past two years to be an invaluable spiritual counselor to me personally. A close friend of our ministry for four years now here on earth, we look forward to serving the Lord with this saint in the heavenly places throughout the endless ages to come!

With these opening remarks now expressed, we proceed to introducing the details concerning the greatest threat facing the Grace Movement. “For What Saith the Scriptures?”

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Are our mystery program and its promises better than Israel’s prophetic program and its promises?

ARE OUR MYSTERY PROGRAM AND ITS PROMISES BETTER THAN ISRAEL’S PROPHETIC PROGRAM AND ITS PROMISES?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Some within grace circles have stated, “While Israel has been promised just the Earth, we the Body of Christ have been given the much better heavenly places.” When this author entered the Grace Movement over a decade ago, he heard that expression from various teachers. Upon him studying the Bible, however, he discovered it was a highly misleading claim. We are no better than redeemed Israel; their hope is no worse than ours. Both eternal destinies are in God’s design.

In the overall purpose and plan of the God of Scripture, the nation Israel and the Church the Body of Christ are equally righteous before Him. The shed blood of Christ that saves us—that is the redemption price for our sins—is the exact same shed blood that atones for Israel’s sins. (See Romans chapter 3 for our doctrine, and Hebrews chapter 10 for Israel’s doctrine.) It would be thus impossible for one agency to have a “better” inheritance than the other. Both are equally in God’s family, having the same right standing before Him as His Son Jesus Christ does. Just as all lost people are equally lost (there being no people “more lost” than others), all saved people are equally saved (there being no people “more saved” than others). Believers of all ages—yea, of all dispensations—are sons of God.

The Bible speaks of God as having one “eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:11). Chapter 1 of Ephesians says to that point: “[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.”

Colossians chapter 1: “[16] For by him [the Lord 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.”

When the LORD God created the heaven and the earth (Genesis 1:1), He also formed a governmental structure within each realm. Later, Satan and sinful man corrupted these positions of power. Father God set into a motion a plan to restore those governments unto Himself: He formed the nation Israel to be His representatives in the Earth, and He created the Church the Body of Christ to be His representatives in the Heaven. Both agencies are formed by faith in the same shed blood of Christ at Calvary. Israel is one half of God’s restoration plan, and we the Body of Christ are the other half. We are both in Christ, both alive unto God by the same Lord Jesus, to manifest in our particular realms the life of that same Lord Jesus.

It would be wholly inappropriate to say that, in eternity future, we the Church the Body of Christ will glorify Jesus Christ in the heavenly places more than redeemed Israel will glorify Him on Earth. (This would be absurd! Why would God glorify His Son more in one realm than in the other?) Likewise, we would be utterly thoughtless—and conceited and boastful—to advertise our eternity destiny as “superior” to Israel’s eternal destiny. Both agencies serving in their respective roles in the ages to come are equally pleasing to God, for He is the wise Author of both. Jesus Christ’s shed blood redeemed Israel and the Body of Christ. One is no better than the other. Our heavenly hope is not greater than Israel’s earthly hope.

Also see:
» Will living in Heaven forever be boring?
» Can you compare and contrast the ministries of the Apostles Peter and Paul?
» What do you mean—“the prophetic program” and “the mystery program?”

What is the “appearing” of the Lord in 2 Timothy 4:8?

WHAT IS THE “APPEARING” OF THE LORD IN 2 TIMOTHY 4:8?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The King James Bible reads in 2 Timothy chapter 4: “[6] For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. [7] I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: [8] Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” What is this “appearing” of the Lord (Jesus Christ) in verse 8?

One explanation for this “appearing” of Christ is His life being manifested in our life. In other words, “Christ ‘appears’ to people when they observe us Christians as we live by faith in sound Bible doctrine.” This is quite a bizarre interpretation of the verse: Christ “appearing” is an awkward way of conveying how we manifest His life to the people around us. We do not think that is the sense of the term “appearing” as it sits in this passage.

The modern English versions—NIV, NASB, Amplified, HCSB, ESV, and NKJV—have replaced “love” (present tense) with “have loved” (present perfect tense). The NRSV reads “have longed.” It may not be immediately apparent, but this textual alteration is more detrimental to our understanding than beneficial. It obscures what the verse is teaching in the King James Bible. With the verb tense changed to present perfect, modern versions read here such as the “appearing” could have already happened. In other words, with the modern reading, one could easily conclude, “Those who loved Christ’s ‘appearing’ is His earthly ministry” (namely, His incarnation). The King James has a superior wording, and we will stick with it! It is a future not historical appearance.

We believe the context of 2 Timothy 4:8 already established or defined the “appearing.” Start reading at the beginning of the chapter: “[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.”

The “appearing” of verse 8 is the same “appearing” of verse 1. Now, what is the “kingdom” of verse 1? Again, the context defines this as well: “And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (verse 18). Here is not the establishment of Israel’s earthly kingdom, the Millennium or 1,000-Year Reign of Christ. Paul is referring to the establishment of God’s heavenly kingdom, the installation of us the Church the Body of Christ in the governmental positions of the heavenly places (see Ephesians 1:20-23 and Colossians 1:16-20). Since the context of 2 Timothy chapter 4 is God’s kingdom in the heavens, the “appearing” of the chapter would be connected to it. It is not Christ “appearing” in the form of Christian living, and it is not Christ’s earthly ministry either. The “appearing” here is the manifestation of Jesus Christ to establish God’s authority in the heavenly places. To wit, it is Christ’s coming for the Church that is His Body—what we call “the Rapture.”

The Apostle Paul’s ministry concerns “the Dispensation of the Grace of God” (Ephesians 3:2), God’s current dealings and present-day words/directions to mankind. Christ’s coming in wrath to destroy unbelievers, redeem Israel, and set up His earthly kingdom was known and preached prior to Paul (for example, see Matthew 13:37-43 and Matthew 24:30-41). Bodily resurrection was understood and proclaimed prior to Paul as well (for instance, see John 5:28-29 and Job 19:25-27). However, Christ’s coming to physically deliver from this present evil world the Church that is His Body, His coming to Earth to prepare His people’s entrance into Heaven, a bodily resurrection of these Heaven-bound people, were secrets God kept in Himself until He revealed them to and through Paul. We read about them in the Pauline Epistles, Romans through Philemon.

First Corinthians chapter 15 speaks of a “mystery” (secret) coming of Christ and a “mystery” resurrection: “[51] Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, [52] In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” Here is what is called “our gathering together unto him [Jesus Christ]” (2 Thessalonians 2:1). This “gathering” will occur—not on the Earth as concerning Christ’s coming for Israel but—in the air. Be sure to recognize that difference!

Turn now to 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, and read, “[16] For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: [17] Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up [Latin, “raptured”] together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. [18] Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” This is notNOT!—to be confused with Jesus’ coming as described in Matthew 24:30-41. We are gathering to meet the Lord in the air, whereas Israel will meet Him on the Earth several years later. It is absolutely critical (!) to differentiate between these two comings!!! This cannot be emphasized enough.

SUPPLEMENTAL: WHAT ABOUT CHRIST’S COMING TO SAVE PAUL?

Some Pauline dispensationalists claim the Lord’s “appearing” in 2 Timothy 4:8 is when He appeared to save Saul of Tarsus in Acts chapter 9 (cf. chapters 22 and 26). This is as strange as the idea that Christ’s “appearing” is Him manifesting His life in and through us. Personally, this author does not believe Christ’s appearance to save the Apostle Paul is in view in 2 Timothy 4:8.

Yet, now that we are on the subject, we should point something out. Unless we realize Christ unexpectedly (not in prophecy but in mystery/“un-prophesied”) came to save Saul of Tarsus in grace and peace to open our Dispensation of Grace, we will not recognize Christ’s coming a second “mystery” time to close our Dispensation of Grace. In other words, there are close parallels between Christ’s coming in Acts 9 to save Saul and Christ’s coming in 1 Thessalonians and 1 Corinthians to physically save/deliver us from this present evil world (Rapture). The main reason why Christian people often dislike and deny the concept of the Rapture is that they fail to recognize and appreciate the Lord’s special return/“appearance” to save and commission Saul of Tarsus (2 Timothy 1:8-11, noting especially verses 10-11). Having not understood the Dispensation of Grace beginning, they cannot appreciate it closing (the Rapture). Instead, they see just one future coming of Christ—the one in Revelation chapter 19. Unless they see Christ’s appearing in Acts chapter 9, the really cannot truly “love” the appearing for which we are currently waiting!

“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

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:
» Who will accompany Jesus at His Second Coming?
» Is the Rapture in Matthew 24 and Luke 17?
» Is the Antichrist alive right now?

Is the Antichrist alive right now?

IS THE ANTICHRIST ALIVE RIGHT NOW?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Is the Antichrist currently living among us somewhere in the world? It is a frequent question that stems from the repetitions of Bible-prophecy preachers and teachers. In their podcasts, online videos, television programs, radio shows, books, tracts, and magazines, they take current events—news headlines and reports—and try to match them to specific passages of Scripture. Dates associated with the year 1948 (when Israel became a modern state) and various conflicts in the Middle East are two of their favorite topics. Unfortunately, this can get out of hand quite easily. Verses wind up being wrested (distorted) to teach all sorts of odd ideas. It is similar to trying to find familiar shapes in cloud formations. You need a good imagination to discern them! Undoubtedly, man’s mind takes the preeminence as God’s Word is relegated to a back seat. Bible prophecy, while fascinating, can be dangerous if we do not handle it dispensationally.

For centuries, Bible believers have tried and failed to identify the Antichrist. The Protestant Reformers 500 years ago thought the pope was the Antichrist. Several United States Presidents—including Ronald Wilson Reagan (three names with six letters, 666)—were assumed or are still assumed to be the Antichrist. Any political or religious leader on the world stage does not seem to be above suspicion in this regard! Dear friends, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Christians desiring to see the Scriptures reach their culmination. We want to see all the Bible’s promises come to pass—especially within our lifetime. After all, we seek some validation that what we believe is true. People wondering if the Antichrist is alive today are looking to see just how close we are to witnessing all great Bible prophecies being fulfilled. However sincere we are, though, we should exercise great caution here.

Honestly, we do not know if the Antichrist is living today. There is nothing in the Scriptures to prove it one way or the other, and this is by God’s design. Nevertheless, even if the Antichrist were currently alive, we as Christians would never know it. We will not learn his identity because the Bible says he will be “revealed” after we are removed from Earth. Our mystery program must conclude before Israel’s prophetic program resumes. The Antichrist’s unveiling is prophecy instead of mystery. Until the mystery program finishes, the prophetic program cannot resume. It is impossible to see prophecy being fulfilled in mystery.

We will let 2 Thessalonians 2:6-8 speak: “[6] And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. [7] For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. [8] And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:….”

If we were to answer in the affirmative—yes, the Antichrist is alive today—then that would introduce yet another question. Who exactly is he? Someone would say Pope Francis. Others speculate it is President Trump. Numerous others are assumed as well. If we would answer this question definitively (we cannot, but let us momentarily assume we can), then yet another question would arise. When is he going to make a covenant with Israel? Friends, the inquiries just never end and the speculations would never end either. There is nothing meaningful if we take this route to Bible prophecy. Here is a better way to view the Scriptures.

When we approach the Bible dispensationally, “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), we discover that Paul is our apostle (Romans 11:13), God’s spokesman to us in the Dispensation of Grace (Ephesians 3:1-2). Instead of looking for the Antichrist’s arrival, we should be anticipating Jesus Christ’s coming (the Rapture, “our gathering together unto Christ;” 2 Thessalonians 2:1). The Holy Spirit through Paul exhorts us with the following:

  • 1 Corinthians 1:7: “So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:….”
  • Philippians 3:20: “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:….”
  • Philippians 4:5: “Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:5: “And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.”
  • Titus 2:13: Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;….”
  • 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10: “[9] For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; [10] And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

Again, the Antichrist may or not be alive today. We cannot say dogmatically either way. Moreover, God has not revealed to us how long the Dispensation of Grace will last. Potentially, it could extend for another century. Or, it may close in the next few seconds. Paul’s epistles are silent as to an exact length. Regardless of the duration, the Antichrist will be not be revealed until after our dispensation has run its course. Our program must wind down before the Antichrist starts his political career.

Individuals who claim the Antichrist is living today then proceed to speculate who he might be and when he might act—and speculation is all it is. What we can say for a fact is that the Antichrist will not make his appearance until long after the Body of Christ is caught up into the heavenly places. We should not be looking for the mark of the Beast, we should not be fearful of taking that mark, and so on. If we have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, then we should be looking for Jesus Christ to come. Let the lost people look and wait for the Antichrist, for they will be the ones left here to see him anyway!

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