Category Archives: DISPENSATIONAL BIBLE STUDY

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

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

by Shawn Brasseaux

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

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

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

First Timothy chapter 4 speaks of increasing apostasy within the Church the Body of Christ: “[1] Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; [2] Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; [3] Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. [4] For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: [5] For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. [6] If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.”

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

Second Timothy chapter 4: “[1] I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; [2] Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. [3] For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; [4] And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. [5] But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”

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

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

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

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

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

Saints, please remember us in your monthly giving—these websites do cost money to run! 🙂 You can donate securely here: https://www.paypal.me/ShawnBrasseaux, or email me at arcministries@gmail.com. Do not forget about Bible Q&A booklets for sale at https://arcgraceministries.org/in-print/booklets-bible-q-a/. Thanks to all who give to and pray for us! By the way, ministry emails have really been backed up this year. I am handling them as much as humanly possible. Thanks for your patience. 🙂

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

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

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

by Shawn Brasseaux

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Shawn Brasseaux

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can you please explain Romans 8:17?

CAN YOU EXPLAIN ROMANS 8:17?

by Shawn Brasseaux

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

I. CONFUSION! (CONFUSION! CONFUSION!)

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

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

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

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

II. CLARITY! (CLARITY! CLARITY!)

A. “IF SO BE:” THE GREEK WORD “EIPER”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“[18] For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. [19] For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. [20] For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, [21] Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. [22] For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. [23] And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit [Christians included here!!!], even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. [24] For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? [25] But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” (Did you notice how this fits nicely with the order of Romans 8:17? There is suffering first, then glorification; a decaying creation will be followed by a renewed creation. A debilitating body will give way to a resurrected body.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go to Ephesians chapter 1, which speaks of our inheritance: [9] Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: [10] That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: [11] In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: [12] That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. [13] In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, [14] Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory…..

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

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

Re-reading Ephesians chapter 1: “[8] Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; [9] Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: [10] That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: [11] In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: [12] That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.”

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

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

Turn to Colossians chapter 1: “[16] For by him [Jesus Christ] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: [17] And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. [18] And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. [19] For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; [20] And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”

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

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

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

Again, there are different ranks or offices or levels of Heavenly government—just like Earth’s governments. Colossians chapter 1 again: “[16] For by him [Jesus Christ] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:….” Ephesians 1:21: “Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:….” These are like presidents, kings, princes, military leaders, state governors, city mayors, and so on. They have varying degrees of authority—influence that matches their education.

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

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

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

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

III. CONCLUSION (CONCLUSION! CONCLUSION!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did Hosea 1:10 and Hosea 2:23 predict the Body of Christ?

DID HOSEA 1:10 AND HOSEA 2:23 PREDICT THE BODY OF CHRIST?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Read Romans chapter 9: [22] What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: [23] And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, [24] Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? [25] As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. [26] And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.” (Note: “Osee” is the Greek spelling of the Hebrew “Hosea.”)

The “Jews and Gentiles” in verse 24 are certainly the Body of Christ. You can check Ephesians 2:11-22, 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, Galatians 3:28, and Colossians 3:11. Believing Jews and Gentiles being joined in one body, the Body of Christ, was unknown prior to the Apostle Paul. Gentiles not being required to convert to Judaism or bless Israel to fellowship with her God, was also unheard of prior to Paul. (More on this shortly.)

Some argue that Paul, by quoting Hosea twice, was really trying to say that Hosea knew about the Church the Body of Christ. While it is true that Romans 9:25 cites Hosea 2:23, and Romans 9:26 quotes Hosea 1:10, this is not to imply that Hosea was aware of the Body of Christ. If words mean anything, the Body of Christ was not revealed to man until God revealed it to and through the Apostle Paul.

Ephesians chapter 3: “[1] For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, [2] If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: [3] How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, [4] Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) [5] Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; [6] That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: [7] Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. [8] Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; [9] And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:….”

Until the Lord revealed it to Paul, the Body of Christ was “a mystery hid in God” (verse 9). This “fellowship”—or group of saints—was certainly not known to any Old Testament prophet (including Hosea). Yet, when Paul twice quotes Hosea in Romans, people needlessly stumble. Do not look for the Body of Christ in Hosea, friend!! All will be clear if we keep Ephesians chapter 3 in mind. Looking at the whole of Romans chapters 9–11, we see Israel’s past, present, and future statuses. She fell politically with the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities (which Hosea warned about). She fell spiritually with the stoning of Stephen in Acts chapter 7. That spiritual fall opened our Dispensation of Grace, which Paul lays out in Romans 11:11-14. Through Israel’s spiritual fall, salvation is come unto the Gentiles. Paul is thus “the apostle of [God’s spokesman sent to] the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13).

Notice how Romans chapter 9 resumes: “[25] As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. [26] And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.”

Again, yes, verses 23-24 speak of the Body of Christ, but verses 25-26 cannot be the Body of Christ because that would contradict what we just read in Ephesians chapter 3. Hosea did not speak of the Body of Christ because he did not know about it. He was certainly not speaking of Gentiles being saved in the Body either. Verse 25 does not point to verses 23-24 but back to earlier statements in the chapter. The context is Israel (see verses 1-19). Israel’s restoration is what Hosea saw. No Gentile salvation is in view. No Body of Christ salvation is in view. With Israel entering the captivity, she became “not my people” (read Hosea chapter 1). Hosea chapters 1 and 2 spoke of a day when Israel would become God’s people again. That will occur after our Dispensation, with the Second Coming of Christ (see Romans 9:25-29 and all of Romans chapter 11).

Just so we understand, see verses 27-28 of Romans chapter 9 now: “[27] Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: [28] For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.” This quotes Isaiah 10:22-23, and notice that it is about Israel… Israel (Romans 9:27). It is this believing Jewish remnant that will become God’s people, the new Israel. The old Israel (abounding with apostates) has been wiped away. Be sure to note that the Body of Christ is not in view at all in Romans 9:25-29.

Also see:
» Did Hosea 6:2 predict the Dispensation of Grace?
» Why did Jesus Christ stand in Acts 7:55-56?
» Is Israel “cast away,” or not? Has Israel “fallen,” or not?

Are the Jews supposed to still get circumcised in the Dispensation of Grace?

ARE THE JEWS SUPPOSED TO STILL GET CIRCUMCISED IN THE DISPENSATION OF GRACE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Are the Jews supposed to still get circumcised in the Dispensation of Grace? What about Galatians 5:3-4? “[3] For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. [4] Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”

Let us begin at verse 1 and move through to verse 9.

“[1] Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. [2] Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. [3] For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. [4] Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. [5] For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. [6] For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. [7] Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? [8] This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. [9] A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.”

The problem in Galatia is false teaching in the form of legalism (Law-keeping as means of gaining God’s blessings, the belief that we can gain Heaven by our religious works, using the Law under the impression it will produce fruitful Christian service). Notice how the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul titles this “the yoke of bondage” (verse 1). That phrase hooks to Acts 15:10: “Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?” Let us read the first five verses of Acts chapter 15 now.

“[1] And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. [2] When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. [3] And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. [4] And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. [5] But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”

Paul’s Gentile converts (found in Acts chapters 13-14) were being told that they had to “be circumcised after the manner of Moses” or they could not be saved (Acts 15:1). “It was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses” (verse 5). Such notions parallel what we just read in the Book of Galatians, and that is no coincidence. The Galatians were saved in Acts chapters 13-14, and the apostolic conference of chapter 15 is repeated in Galatians chapter 2. Yes, never forget, Acts chapter 15 is quite useful in grasping Galatians.

Friend, you have used Galatians 5:3-4 to ask whether Jews still need physical circumcision in our Dispensation. You have misunderstood the context. Those being circumcised in that passage are not Jews but rather Gentiles. Specifically, they are Paul’s Gentile converts. Gentile believers in the Gospel of Grace have been misled to assume they are under Israel’s program (the Law of Moses, physical circumcision). Paul’s argument in Galatians chapter 5 is to show them they are not “rightly dividing the word of truth” as 2 Timothy 2:15 states. They are mixing dispensations, uniting the mystery and prophetic programs God has divided.

The only rightful purpose of the Law in our Dispensation is that it points out our sin and our need for the Saviour (1 Timothy 1:7-11). Like the Galatians originally, we have already recognized our sin problem and trusted Jesus Christ as the fully-satisfying sacrifice for our sins (Romans 3:23-28). The Law, our performance, plays no role in saving us from our sins—both the eternal penalty (Hell) and the temporary struggles (daily living). This is what the Galatians had forgotten since Paul left their midst. False teachers had entered and tricked them with denominational teaching (Galatians 3:1-3; Galatians 4:17; Galatians 5:7-12; Galatians 6:12-13)! Such dangerous individuals lurk in the pulpit of the average “Christian” church even now, and likely fooling most people reading these very lines!

Paul wrote in Galatians chapter 5 that, if those Gentiles in Galatia wanted to be physically circumcised, there was much, much more to Law-keeping. The Law system is an “all-or-nothing” arrangement—failure to keep it in one point results in being guilty of breaking all the commandments (James 2:10). In other words, the Galatians had not grasped the magnitude of the spiritual trouble in which they had placed themselves. By getting under the Law system, they were to follow every precept and each rule found in Moses’ writings—not just physical circumcision!! Since they had chosen to forsake God’s message of grace to them through Paul’s ministry, they were now subject to several hundred rules (the entire Mosaic system)! They had been justified unto eternal life by faith in Christ, but they had discarded that truth and returned to “work to be justified.” “Fallen from grace” indeed! Satan had deceived them, and he uses that same works-religion and (self)“righteousness” system to con us even now (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

Such a performance system is “weak and beggarly,” Galatians 4:9 says. Such is spiritual immaturity, Galatians 4:19 says. “Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?” (verse 20). For the rest of the chapter, Paul differentiates between man’s efforts and God’s grace—we are not under the performance system but under the grace system! It is not about us but all about Jesus Christ!

Let us now address your first question, thereby “tying up” our comments to your second question.

ARE JEWS OBLIGATED TO BE PHYSICALLY CIRCUMCISED IN OUR DISPENSATION?

Physical circumcision for Jews (or even for Gentiles) is not required in this the Dispensation of the Grace of God. Today, there is no spiritual advantage to being physically circumcised and there is no spiritual disadvantage to being physically uncircumcised. The ground is level at the foot of Calvary’s cross (Ephesians 2:11-22). Such words were completely unknown prior to God’s Word through the Apostle Paul, our Dispensation of Grace.

Galatians 5:6: “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.” Galatians 6:15: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” Never do we find anything like this in Moses’ writings; in fact, we find the exact opposite!! Also see Matthew 10:5-7, Matthew 15:24, and John 4:22—these show us that Christ’s earthly ministry cannot apply to us either!!

A Jew needed physical circumcision as a sign of the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 17:7-14; cf. Genesis 12:1-3 and Acts 7:8). Since there is no nation Israel in God’s program today—she is fallen—there is no Abrahamic Covenant in effect either. God is blessing the world today, not through Israel’s rise, but through her fall. That is Paul’s message found in 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.”

While people today are physically circumcised for health reasons, that was not why God wanted Abraham and his seed to have it. It was a religious rite, later incorporated into the Law of Moses (Leviticus 12:3). Circumcision is the sign of being separated from, or deadness to, the ability of our sinful flesh (an outward reflection of an internal, spiritual circumcision—cf. Romans 2:28-29). We cannot work in our flesh to please God. He will bless us, but not because we work to please Him (for we sinners cannot work to please Him—Romans 3:9-20). God will bless us simply because of His grace, His goodness, His performance. That is what Abraham learned in Galatians 4:21-31, when God rejected the son he produced in his own strength, and God gave him a son He caused to be born miraculously (cf. Genesis 16:1-16; Genesis 17:1-27; Genesis 21:1-21). Grace and works cannot cohabitate! That goes for Abraham, the Galatians, and even us! “And if it be by grace, then it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work” (Romans 11:6).

Calvary cannot impact lost people if they are focused on their efforts. It cannot benefit Christians who are fixated on their labors either. Therefore, Satan’s evil world system exploits man’s natural self-righteous attitude. Lost people stay lost, dazzled by their “religious goodness” to such a large degree that Christ’s perfect sacrifice on Calvary means nothing to them. Christian people stay confused, saved by grace and yet trying to “prove salvation by works” or attempting to “keep salvation by works.” God does not want our efforts; He wants our faith resting entirely in His Son Jesus Christ. That goes for unsaved and saved alike.

Going to Heaven is all about Christ’s finished crosswork on Calvary. We trust in that and that alone. It is not about our prayers, our water baptism, our confession of sins, our commandment-keeping, our sacrifices, our alms, our church membership, our circumcision!! Notice how religion is all about US, US, US, US, US! The cross wipes that all away—and that is exactly why the message of Jesus Christ is so offensive (Galatians 5:11)!!! It removes us and puts the focus exclusively on the Lord Jesus Christ. Our sin nature fights that, as it wants to be praised, worshipped, exalted. Religion is thus so appealing. Boasting is why God hates religion.

Romans 3:27–4:5: “[3:27] Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. [3:28] Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. [3:29] Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: [3:30] Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. [3:31] Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. [4:1] What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? [4:2] For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. [4:3] For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. [4:4] Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. [4:5] But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

Faith in Christ—not works—is counted for righteousness! The lost person thus passes from death to life. Likewise, Christian living (daily sanctification) is just like justification unto eternal life. It is Christ’s finished crosswork on Calvary. We are dead to sin (Romans chapter 6). Sin, our flesh, does not have dominion over us (Romans chapter 7). We are alive unto God by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans chapter 8). It is not we making ourselves acceptable to God; it is God making us acceptable to Him because of His Son’s merits applied to us!

Once we place our faith in Christ, we receive a new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17), and that new nature will produce good works. However, that is not the same as religion motivating us to do good works so we can be accepted of God. This “fine-line” distinction is how Satan deceives. People who do not want to know the truth believe the lie as though it were the truth. They claim to be Christian but then work. They say Christ is their Saviour but they cannot say exactly how He has saved them. They never can say for sure they will go to Heaven. That is because they are working to gain God’s favor—and if they die unsaved, they will surely learn they have inspired the exact opposite!

Friend, how urgent it is that we see we can be Scriptural and be completely out of God’s will! To grab Moses’ writings (the Bible!!) and try to follow them is to believe the Devil’s lie! It is important not only to be Scriptural, but also dispensational. If we want to do God’s will, we must follow the directions He gave in our dispensation—“the Dispensation of the Grace of God” Jesus Christ revealed directly to the Apostle Paul so he could then teach us (Ephesians 3:1-2). God’s Word to and about us is Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” (Romans 6:14-15).

Also see:
» Is grace a license to sin?
» Why did Paul circumcise Timothy but not Titus?
» Why did Israel have to keep so many strange laws?

Should “church” be changed to “called-out assembly” in Acts 7:38 in the King James Bible?

SHOULD “CHURCH” BE CHANGED TO “CALLED-OUT ASSEMBLY” IN ACTS 7:38 IN THE KING JAMES BIBLE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Since people often have such an inadequate understanding of Scripture, they change the Bible text to make it fit what they believe to be the truth, what they assume it should teach or presume it to teach. Friends, this is backwards. The Bible should correct us—we should not be correcting it!! (That goes for any and all words!) One of the most misconstrued Bible words is “church.” As we will see in this study, it is important to approach the word dispensationally, just like we do the Bible as a whole. “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).

The Greek word “ekklesia” (also “ecclesia”) is derived from the root “kale” (“call”) thereby compounded with the prefix “ek”/“ec” (“out of”). This is translated “church”in our New Testament Scriptures. Our English term “church” finds its origin in the Greek “kuriakon (doma),” meaning “Lord’s (house);” “kurios” translates to “master, lord.” In other words, “church” means “belonging to the Lord.” No matter what the dispensation, regardless of where we are on the Bible timeline, God always has a people reserved for Himself. It could be a man, a family, a nation, a group of nations, et cetera. However, we have been misled to believe “church” always means us, the Church the Body of Christ.

If “church” is found in a context that does not fit the assumption that “church” is always the Body of Christ, the Bible verse is changed to make it support the conjecture. For example, Acts 7:38 is the favorite verse to disparage King James Scripture in this regard: “This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:….”

Here the critic remarks, “Israel was certainly not the Body of Christ, so it is inappropriate to call it a ‘church.’ The word ‘church’ here is better translated as ‘called-out assembly.’” Such a commentator, who is one of many (although hopefully sincere!), has been trained to believe “Bible teaching” means critiquing the textbook and making himself the authority instead of expounding and elevating the Book he claims to “believe, love, and defend.” He only appeals to the Bible when it fits his preconceived ideas—and, when faced with the choice, he is more willing to change the verse than relinquish his perverted theology. It is sad, but it is true. That is the result of unbelievers dominating our seminaries and Bible colleges with their empty human viewpoint!

HOW THE WORD “CHURCH” IS USED IN THE KING JAMES BIBLE

As noted earlier, the Greek is “ekklesia” (“called-out assembly”). The idea here is God calling out a people for His name. That agrees nicely with the English term “church,” meaning “belonging to the Lord.” Israel is a “church” (English) in that they belong to JEHOVAH God. Moreover, they can be labeled an “ekklesia” (Greek) because He called them from out of Egyptian bondage. Hosea 11:1 is a classic verse to this point: “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.” The LORD God “called” Israel in that He sent Moses to lead them from that land of slavery into a new land—the Promised Land. We could thus call Israel here “the Mosaic Church.”

The Apostle Peter speaks of a second “church” in Scripture. First Peter chapter 2: “[9] But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; [10] Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” This is the “Messianic Church,” those in Israel who believed on Jesus as Messiah/Christ beginning with John the Baptist’s ministry onward until early Acts. Note Matthew chapter 16: “[16] And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. [17] And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. [18] And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

It was said of John the Baptist in Luke chapter 1: “[16] And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. [17] And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” From John’s ministry onward, through the preaching of “the Gospel of the Kingdom” (Matthew 9:35), God called out a believing remnant from among Israel (the rest of the nation was apostate, in spiritual darkness and idolatry). So, with Moses, God called out a group, the nation Israel, from Egypt. Starting with John the Baptist, He called out a group from within Israel. That crowd of believers is “the Little Flock,” the heirs of God’s earthly kingdom (Luke 12:32). This “church” also appears in Hebrews 2:11-13, where these Messianic Jews are called Christ’s “brethren” and “the children which God hath given [Him].”

There is a third “church” in Scripture—the “Mystery Church,” a secret God kept to Himself until the appropriate time to manifest it. The risen, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ revealed it directly to and through the Apostle Paul. Ephesians chapter 3: “[1] For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, [2] If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: [3] How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, [4] Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) [5] Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; [6] That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:….” This church, the Body of Christ, is called out from Jews and Gentiles without distinction, without Judaism, without prophecy involved at all. See also 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, Ephesians 1:22-23, Ephesians 2:11-22, Colossians 1:23-28, Colossians 3:11, for example.

In Acts 15:14, the Apostle James says, “Simeon [Simon Peter] hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.” Through Paul’s testimony, and Peter’s experience in chapter 10 to validate it, the Lord Jesus is calling out a people for His name from among the Gentiles. This involves the preaching of Paul’s Gospel—“Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). As long as this Gospel of Grace is preached through Paul’s ministry (Acts 20:24), the Church the Body of Christ is forming and the Messianic Church is paused. The Messianic Church will resume after the Body of Christ has ended (see Romans 11:25-29).

CONCLUSION

“Church” is a generic word simply meaning, “belonging to the Lord.” “Ekklesia” is also general, and just equates to “called-out assembly.” These terms must be further defined according to a context. Who is the church? National Israel? The Little Flock? The Body of Christ? (All three are such.) Out of what are they called? Egypt? National Israel? The world of Jews and Gentiles? (Any of these three could be applicable.) See, there is no mistake and no confusion—provided we let the surrounding verses speak. We keep the general definitions in mind and modify them as the context demands. However, we do not modify the King James Bible text (otherwise we are the authority and we lose clarity that would have else came)!!

By the way, the Bible teacher would be most wise to teach the Bible and explainthe Bible rather than criticize the Bible and change the Bible. If a difficult word or concept is encountered, his job is to study, research, and explain it instead of taking the lazy route of explaining it away. Eliminating the word and/or ignoring the text will notchange what the Bible originally said! It takes work to study and elucidate, but it will prove useful in eternity—infinitesimally more beneficial than “wresting” or distorting God’s Word to make it fit our preconceived (misconceived) notions.

SUPPLEMENTAL: THE WORD “CHURCH” IN SCRIPTURE NEVER APPLIES TO A BUILDING!

It should also be noted that not only is “church” often assumed to always refer to the Body of Christ (wrong), “church” is often used to apply to a building (equally wrong). Christians are the church; they meet at the church building. Never once does the Bible refer to a structure of stone, wood, or metal as “the church.” This is nothing more than religious tradition. Be sure to keep that straight, dear friends, or you will never get the full impact of the word as it appears in Scripture!!

Also see:
» Do we live in the “Church Age?”
» What do you mean—“the prophetic program” and “the mystery program?”
» Which belongs in Romans 8:16 and Romans 8:26 in the King James Bible—“the Spirit itself” or “the Spirit Himself?”