Category Archives: DISPENSATIONAL BIBLE STUDY

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?”

How should we view dispensationalists of bygone days?

HOW SHOULD WE VIEW DISPENSATIONALISTS OF BYGONE DAYS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

It is no secret that the average professing Christian has little to no familiarity with dispensational Bible study (hence, the abounding Scriptural confusion and spiritual ignorance!!). He or she, if aware of dispensationalism, has little to no time for it. Despite the opportunity to learn the Scriptures“rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15), using the lens of religious tradition is often the preferred approach to God’s Holy Word. Such souls thunder out in exasperation, “Leave me alone! My denominational doctrine was good enough for ____, so it is good enough for me!” It almost seems like even professing dispensationalists adopt this attitude at times—even today. Why?

Decades and centuries ago, our dispensational brethren in Christ did not understand and enjoy the Bible as fully as we do now. It is quite apparent in their literature (commentaries, study Bibles, pamphlets, sermons). They understood the distinctive nature of the Apostle Paul’s ministry and message, and the difference between the nation Israel and the Church the Body of Christ, but they were weak on various and sundry points of doctrine. In certain instances, they blurred the Body of Christ with Israel, and they (even to a small degree) made Paul’s ministry and message an extension of Peter’s office and doctrine. They tried to “harmonize” Peter and Paul in the places where they disagreed. Why?

We cannot know their hearts. Still, whatever their reason, they stopped in Bible understanding. They likely spent their whole lives trying to recover from denominational deception themselves, renewing their minds (yet only going so far). Their earthly journey ended before they came to where we are. Or, maybe they knew more about dispensational Bible study than they indicated, but kept it quiet so as not to attract the ire of denominational brethren (we understand!!). No doubt some refused to take certain theological positions because it would be financially devastating to their ministries or socially disadvantageous in “scholarly” circles (we know that too!!). After all, whether we are saved or lost, our flesh is wretched through and through. There is always that enticement, “For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:43).

No one human knows everything. Therefore, whatever the field of study, the teacher will be able to take the student only so far in the material. It is indubitably true of Bible teachers and preachers. These men may be our nearest and dearest, but they are nevertheless just men. Never, ever idolize them, assuming they can do no wrong and supposing they will never drift away from sound teaching—especially this author (!). This author, remember, is merely a man as well. He is able to bring you only so far in Bible understanding. The day is coming, whether near or distant, when he will reach his limit too. Whether indifference, apostasy, or physical death, the teacher (sadly) eventually diminishes his rate of contribution of new understanding. We never want to stop growing in the Word, so by God’s grace, we need to endeavor to see to it that physical death (never indifference and never apostasy!!) is the only reason we cease spiritual growth.

Saints, we stand on the shoulders of the “grace men” who have gone on before us in ministry, so for us to disparage them is to harm ourselves. Interesting, one of their sermons or Bible study articles might have taken them 20 or 30 years of firsthand research and experience. These brethren who spent decades reading and studying Scripture give us the fruit of their extensive labor and we can gain it all in a matter of minutes, hours, days, or weeks. Never should we take that lightly! Be sure to praise our Lord Jesus ChristHe is the Person of supreme importance. We should listen to the biblical advice these brethren have laid forth. They endured circumstances that we have yet to face, and the scriptural insight that helped them will likely prove useful to us too. Societal problems that existed back then are still with us today, just on a larger scale because it involves more people. They were people of like passions, and we are more similar than we imagine.

We certainly do not have to agree with them on every little point of doctrine (and we surely do not agree with them 100 percent). It is wise, ever so wise, to “eat the meat and not choke on the bones.” We discern what is good, and we filter out what is bad. Let us appreciate the fact that these dispensational brethren did walk—at least to some extent—in the spiritual light they had (this we are sure). We should not demand they should have walked in the light we have, but let us stress the need that we walk in the light we have! They had blind spots, as do we, so let us be mindful of that as well. Wherever they relied on “scholarship,” “pet” denominational doctrines, and did not apply consistent dispensational Bible study, we learn from these mistakes and correct the problem(s) in our own thinking.

CONFUSION NO MORE!

Our dispensational brethren in Christ enjoying Heaven have been “straightened out” regarding the doctrinal issues where they could have been clearer or stronger. This goes for our deceased denominational brethren in Christ as well. Confusion is no more for them. What they are experiencing now in the Lord’s presence, we have the same Bible to lead us to a godly view of spiritual matters before we depart this life. Will we further our understanding, or continue to carp concerning the lack of theirs? Let us build off their work, and, above all, praise God for their work!! “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).

Also see:
» Should we hate the denominational people who misled us?
» Must one be a “King James Bible Pauline dispensationalist” to have eternal life?
» Why did Saul of Tarsus not refuse his water baptism by Ananias?

How should we handle the objection, “If only I saw a miracle, then I would believe!”?

HOW SHOULD WE HANDLE THE OBJECTION, “IF ONLY I SAW A MIRACLE, THEN I WOULD BELIEVE!”?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Dear friends, how often the freethinkers, atheists, agnostics, and all other Bible skeptics smugly declare to us that they would “believe in God” and “follow the Bible” “if only” they “saw a miracle.” Many such individuals emphatically proclaim to be “looking for evidence,” allegedly “seeking to uncover the truth” because they are “open to the possibility of God.” To witness a miraculous demonstration is “the last piece of the puzzle” they wish to solve. (Agnostics assert that they do not look because such information—if it were available—is beyond our grasp anyway. However, being human, they cannot deny that curiosity dwells in them too!)

How should we as Bible believers answer these precious souls who seek supernatural events as “proof that God exists?” Is it appropriate for us to pray for Almighty God to empower us to perform a miracle to convince them? After all, does He not intend to do anything and everything to persuade them to believe in Him and His Word? Should we ask the Lord to eventually show them a miracle (if not by us, but by some other Christian) so they come to trust Him? These are critical questions, and it thus behooves us to consider them in this Bible study.

I. A BRIEF INTRODUCTION

A. CURSORY OPENING REMARKS

Dearly beloved, whoever you are (Christian, non-Christian, atheistic, agnostic, freethinker, skeptic, et cetera—whatever you claim as your persuasion), you should come to terms with some basic facts right from the start. While this author never intends to antagonize you, the realities he will share in this study will likely offend you at some point. You might react quite angrily to this Bible article. Or, perchance you will enjoy the marvelous light of the wonderful spiritual truths contained herein. The author’s intention is never to soften the truth or make it more pleasant. He would rather you dislike him for telling you the truth than gain your friendship because he told you a flattering lie! Woe is unto the author, if he knows this information and fails to share it with you in a plain manner! It is thus his great hope and prayer that this study will assist you in your spiritual journey, wherever you happen to be, to bring you to the place where the God of the Bible would have you to be.

If we look at the record of the Scriptures, we learn that miracles are not always successful in convincing unbelievers. No matter how amazing the miracle is—an event affecting one person to a miraculous demonstration impacting thousands—if the observer has a callous and unbelieving heart, the miracle will not change that person’s attitude. If plentiful miracles are witnessed, there is still no assurance that the spectator will be converted. Pride will get in the way. Our deceitful heart will fool people if they do choose to reject the truth that the miracle conveys. So, as you examine and contemplate the information in this study, consider this word to the wise: Friend, be sure you are willing to receive this information with an open mind, for if you approach it arrogantly and disrespectfully, it will (without any doubt!) harm you beyond your wildest dreams!

B. PSALM 14:1

Psalm 14:1 is an extremely austere verse, but it is definitely a truth for people of all ages living in all ages: “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.”

A “fool” is silly or ridiculous, someone not thinking properly. One can be a college graduate many times over, and still behave most thoughtlessly. This author has seen it firsthand, and you, dear reader, have probably observed it as well. Education does not equal infallibility, for someone can fail to apply that information and wind up confused, misled, and disappointed. A person might have training in specific fields and areas, but that information cannot serve him or her in unrelated situations and circumstances. Advanced degrees have their limitations, and never forget it! Never once has any university or school anywhere ever issued a diploma labeled, “All the requirements for OMNISCIENCE have been met!” Even this author is a frail, limited man—who has no confidence in the flesh, and encourages you not to have any either (Philippians 3:3).

When Psalm 14:1 opens with, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.,” the verse makes the fool’s absurdity most painfully obvious. What has he done? Has he examined evidence and deduced the view to which he holds and champions? No! Remember, by the very definition, a fool does not think properly. Logic cannot be used to describe his beliefs or behaviors. He has not analyzed anything and yet the verse says he, strangely enough, has already reached a conclusion. What has he concluded? “There is no God.” On what basis has he made this assertion? (You already know the answer, do you not?)

The fool has not investigated anything. In his sinful heart, he has arrived at a conclusion, a preconceived idea, and now his only goal is to look for evidence to validate it and it alone. (If you must know, the technical word for this phenomenon is “confirmation bias.”) The fool readily and summarily dismisses whatever contrary evidence there is or possibly is. Since he is resolute in maintaining his original position (“There is no God”), he will never even consider the possibility of any “god” (whatever that “higher power” is makes no difference at this point—we are being as basic as possible for simplicity’s sake). Hence, the scoffer could watch 100 (!) miracles and never be convinced. Why? He has already made the decision not to believe, and that which is designed to cause him to believe is ineffective with him.

Proverbs chapter 18 adds to this point: “[1] Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom. [2] A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.” Someone who is constantly dabbling in all kinds of belief systems has one goal: he has something he wants to prove, and is seeking his confirmation wherever he can obtain it. While praising himself for being “objective” and “rational,” he is subjective and irrational. He holds to his personal opinions most stubbornly. No matter how absurd they are, he will obsessively cling to them, for the other option is to understand that there is a Creator God to whom he is accountable. His opinions cannot cross-examine him or damn him to Hell, so they do not threaten him as the concept of God intimidates him. The only reason he holds to his “anti-God” and “anti-Bible” view is to intentionally eliminate from his mind the eternal damnation that most assuredly awaits him. (May we aptly say at this point, “Out of mind, out of existence?”)

In the world of science—what the Bible scoffer usually adores and to which he often appeals—a conclusion is not made until data has been collected and analyzed first. If it is “junk science” to posit conclusions without first gathering information, it is equally fallacious to go around making claims about God without first collecting knowledge about Him. With little (if any) understanding of God, and little (if any) understanding of the Bible, the scoffer just outright rejects the spiritual realm. He remains in utter darkness, all the while touting his “enlightenment” the so-called “ignorant, superstitious” Christians lack (that is his claim)!

At this point, you may say, “Oh, Brother Shawn, what a horrible existence you have described! How sad it is to wind up in such a mess! Those poor people, so baffled and deceived, how did they ever end up like that? Is there any hope for them?” While it breaks Almighty God’s heart to see His creation broken and disorderly, He values free will above all. If someone wants to live without Him, He grants that person that right. For brevity’s sake, we quote Romans chapter 1 without commentary:

“[18] For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; [19] Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. [20] For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: [21] Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. [22] Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, [23] And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. 

“[24] Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: [25] Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

“[26] For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: [27] And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

“[28] And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; [29] Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, [30] Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, [31] Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: [32] Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”

Friend, if ever you wonder how today’s world system and society wound up so evil and perverted, you just read and re-read Romans chapter 1 until it sinks into your mind. The verses are self-explanatory. For the rest of this study, we will deal with various and sundry people from human history, people who constantly battled sin as pertaining to whether or not they believed God and His Word to them. Lest we think they are totally unlike us, that we are better than them, we would do quite well to remember we in the sophisticated 21st century are just as depraved. Technology has greatly advanced, but human nature has remained static all this time!

II. PHARAOH AND MOSES

Before any miracles were performed in front of Pharaoh, he refused to release the nation Israel from being Egypt’s slaves (Exodus 5:1-4). In fact, he further abused the Jews, making their lives increasingly miserable. Since he had hardened his heart against the LORD God’s will, the LORD God would further harden it by pressuring him with miracles (technically, judgments on Egypt’s gods).

JEHOVAH God ordered Moses in Exodus chapter 3: “[19] And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand. [20] And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go. [21] And I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty.”

Moving on to Exodus chapter 7: “[1] And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet. [2] Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land. [3] And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. [4] But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments…..”

“[8] And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, [9] When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Shew a miracle for you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent. [10] And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the LORD had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent. [11] Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. [12] For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods. [13] And he hardened Pharaoh’s heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said. [14] And the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh’s heart is hardened, he refuseth to let the people go.”

From here (chapter 7) all the way to chapter 12, the LORD God judges Egypt with 10 plagues. Pharaoh, king of Egypt, saw 10 miracles before he finally relented… and then, that was only in absolute desperation. His nation was completely ruined, and he sought relief from his own pain and suffering. Had he had a sincere heart, the first miracle would have convinced him. Alas, the first miracle did not persuade him. He was not converted under the second miracle either… or the third… or the fourth… or even the tenth! Pharaoh did not come to trust in Israel’s God. He released Israel simply because he had no more country. Among other tribulations, the livestock were dead, the crops were destroyed, the drinking water was polluted, his people were disease-stricken, and his firstborn son had been killed (along with all the other Egyptian firstborn).

Every time the LORD God showed Pharaoh a miraculous demonstration, prideful Pharaoh refused. His heart grew harder, and harder, and harder still! Proverbs 29:1 remarks, “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” As noted earlier, miracles in the Bible are designed to teach doctrine. God was using His miracles in Egypt to achieve two ends. Two lessons were being taught.

Firstly, JEHOVAH God endeavored to show Israel that He would deliver them from their captivity—something they were powerless in doing by themselves. Exodus chapter 6: “[5] And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant. [6] Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: [7] And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. [8] And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the LORD.”

Secondly, the LORD God demonstrated beyond any doubt that He was superior to all of Egypt’s idols/gods combined. Turn to Exodus 12:12 to read: “For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.” Compare that with Numbers 33:4: “For the Egyptians buried all their firstborn, which the LORD had smitten among them: upon their gods also the LORD executed judgments.”

According to Egyptian history, Pharaoh was considered to be a god himself. He did not want to admit that Israel’s God was greater than him and all of his gods collectively. It was a blow to his giant ego. Only after Egypt was devastated with 10 plagues did Pharaoh begrudgingly emancipate Israel. Not to be outdone, he tried again to get the upper hand over Israel’s God. He attacked freed Israel with his army—before Israel’s God had the last word by drowning Pharaoh and all his soldiers in the Red Sea!!

III. ISRAEL IN THE WILDERNESS

JEHOVAH God has just delivered Israel from Egyptian slavery. He has sent 10 afflictions to judge Egypt and her idols. He has caused Israel to pass through the Red Sea safely. He has drowned Pharaoh and his armies in the Sea. Israel is in the wilderness, and watches God’s miracles over and over and over again. Yet, they still doubt the God of Abraham is with them!

  • Exodus 15:24: “And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?” (Did they not think God could and would provide them with water? Why did they grumble? Unbelief!)
  • Exodus 16:2-3: “And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Did they not think God could and would provide food for them? Why did they complain? Unbelief!)
  • Exodus chapter 17: “[2] Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the LORD? [3] And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst? … [7] And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?” (Did they not think God could and would provide give them water to drink? Why did they moan? Unbelief!)
  • Exodus 32:7-10: “And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.” (Unbelief!)
  • Numbers 14:2: “And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!” (Unbelief!)
  • Numbers 14:29: “Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward which have murmured against me.” (Unbelief!)
  • Numbers 16:41: “But on the morrow all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, Ye have killed the people of the LORD.” (Unbelief!)
  • Deuteronomy 1:27: “And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.” (Unbelief!)
  • Psalm 106:25: “But murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the LORD.” (Unbelief!)

IV. KING JEROBOAM

Many centuries after Moses and Israel’s Egyptian deliverance, Jeroboam reigned as the first monarch of the Northern Kingdom (10 northern tribes of Israel). He was quite an evil, idolatrous ruler, as 1 Kings chapter 13 bears out:

“[1] And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the LORD unto Bethel: and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense. [2] And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men’s bones shall be burnt upon thee. [3] And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This is the sign which the LORD hath spoken; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out. 

“[4] And it came to pass, when king Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, which had cried against the altar in Bethel, that he put forth his hand from the altar, saying, Lay hold on him. And his hand, which he put forth against him, dried up, so that he could not pull it in again to him. [5] The altar also was rent, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the LORD. [6] And the king answered and said unto the man of God, Intreat now the face of the LORD thy God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored me again. And the man of God besought the LORD, and the king’s hand was restored him again, and became as it was before.

Remarkably, upon hearing God’s Word, Jeroboam is not repentant or interested in serving JEHOVAH God. We read of no apology, no confession of sin, and no begging for forgiveness. In fact, we read quite the opposite. Years later, he dies an unbeliever. When his illegitimate altar miraculously broke right before his very eyes, he was not converted. Once God smote his hand with paralysis, he was not transformed into a believer. In fact, when the LORD God healed his hand, he never apologized for mistreating God’s prophet. He is never recorded as praying here: he wanted the prophet to pray for him instead. All Jeroboam was interested in was recovering from his crippled physical condition (a striking resemblance to aforementioned selfish Pharaoh).

If you keep reading in the Bible, friend, you will discover that Jeroboam waxes worse and worse in pagan religion until the LORD destroys him and his household. Note the chapter’s close: “[33] After this thing Jeroboam returned not from his evil way, but made again of the lowest of the people priests of the high places: whosoever would, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places. [34] And this thing became sin unto the house of Jeroboam, even to cut it off, and to destroy it from off the face of the earth.” Did Jeroboam, after witnessing those miracles, turn to JEHOVAH God in faith? Certainly not! He had no interest in believing the truth or doing right in the eyes of the Creator God. What an episode!

V. GIDEON

Gideon was a believer in the LORD God, but he doubted Him at times. Watch how this interesting scenario plays out. We start in Judges chapter 6:

“[11] And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. [12] And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour. [13] And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.”

Friend, did you sense Gideon’s unbelief? Verse 13, “Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us?” “If the LORD be with us…..” Gideon’s unbelief re-re-surfaces in verses 14-15: “And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee? And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”

And Gideon is unbelieving once more in verses 16-17: “And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man. And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.” Gideon is seeing miracles indeed. The angel of the LORD has appeared to him. In fact, pay attention to verse 21: “Then the angel of the LORD put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the LORD departed out of his sight.” What a sight that must have been!

Now, skip down to verse 36: “[36] And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said, [37] Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said. [38] And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water. [39] And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew. [40] And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.” (Unbelief!) (Unbelief!) (Unbelief!)

Notice how Gideon’s nonbelief surfaced in verse 36: If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said….” He knows God told him something, but he doubts it will come to pass. Gideon wants proof. “God, if what You said will come to pass, do this for me and then do that for me, that I may know what You said will happen.” God, in His mercy, obliges both times. In spite of seeing miracles, Gideon struggled with unbelief… and he was not a scoffer. He was a mighty servant of God, a hero of Jewish military history, and a saint of the Most High God. If this could be possible and be said of a believer, what of an unbeliever? Is it likely that the unbeliever will be converted because of the miracle?

VI. KING AHAB & QUEEN JEZEBEL

The LORD God had warned Israel that, if she broke the Old Covenant (the Mosaic Law) by worshipping and serving idols, He would chastise her using various afflictions and difficulties. One such punishment was that He would withhold rain, and this drought would result in crop failure and famine. The Bible says in Leviticus chapter 26: “[18] And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. [19] And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass: [20] And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.”

Now we compare that to Deuteronomy 11:16-17, “Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them; And then the LORD’S wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which the LORD giveth you.”

When King Ahab and Queen Jezebel declared Baal worship the official state religion of Israel (see 1 Kings 16:29-33), the Prophet Elijah (a Bible student) knew what Moses had written many centuries earlier in Deuteronomy. Elijah thus prayed for it not to rain; therefore, it did not rain for 3½ years. To wit, God did what He had already said He would do in those circumstances of idolatry (cf. Luke 4:25; James 5:16-18).

First Kings 17:1 is the corresponding historical narrative: “And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.” Now, verse 1 of chapter 18: “And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.” Skip to verses 17-18: “And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.” When Elijah stood before Ahab, the king called him a “troublemaker” in Israel! Ahab blamed Elijah for the famine—when it was, in reality, Ahab’s idolatry that caused the dearth!! Ahab knew that God’s man was a threat to his and Jezebel’s religious system. Elijah was standing in the way of “progress”—or so Ahab believed. (Does this sound similar to today’s society?)

Regrettably, time and space do not permit us to quote and discuss all of 1 Kings chapter 18. Therefore, friend, read it in your own time in your own Bible. Despite the miracle of Elijah calling God’s fire down from Heaven, the Baal worshippers are not converted. Rather, they are put to death in their unbelief. Ahab and Jezebel are not converted to JEHOVAH God either. They had not believed God’s Word prior and they would not believe it now; they continued their pagan idol worship. Observe what happens in the subsequent chapter!

Chapter 19 of 1 Kings chapter 19: “[1] And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. [2] Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. [3] And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.”

After the miracle of Elijah calling fire out of Heaven to consume the sacrifice, Jezebel actually wanted to take his life! Eventually, both Jezebel and Ahab died as unbelievers. They did not convert after witnessing and/or hearing about Elijah’s miracles. There is no indication in Scripture that they ever turned to JEHOVAH God from their pagan idols. Like Pharaoh, they had already made their choice in rejecting the one true God—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. No miracle would influence them to be people of faith… and that was to their eternal detriment!!

VII. JESUS CHRIST’S EARTHLY MINISTRY

The Lord Jesus performed miracle upon miracle upon miracle during His three years of earthly ministry. Yet, some onlookers wanted “just one more” to make sure. They had never been satisfied and would never be satisfied! Why? They had already made up their minds not to believe in Him. They became increasingly hardened like Pharaoh King of Egypt. In the ensuing paragraphs, we will look at five such examples—four cases involve unbelievers who never did believe Jesus Christ, and one incident concerns a believer (Apostle Thomas) who experienced a temporary lapse in faith.

A. JOHN 2:23-25

Early in Christ’s earthly ministry, He encountered unbelieving witnesses to His miracles. John 2:23-25 reports: “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.” They just wanted to be impressed; they were not interested in knowing the significance of those miracles. While they believed in the head, they did not believe in the heart (cf. Romans 10:10; cf. Acts 8:13,20-23). They had no interest in faith, so Jesus did not depend on them to continue to follow Him. As the beginning of His earthly ministry, so would be its duration and conclusion. No matter what He would say or do to validate His message, precious few would be convinced. Friend, this is just as true today as it was 2,000 years ago!

B. JOHN 7:1-5

The Bible says in John chapter 7: “[1] After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him. [2] Now the Jews’ feast of tabernacles was at hand. [3] His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest. [4] For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world. [5] For neither did his brethren believe in him.”

What a sad commentary! Not even the Lord Jesus Christ’s own half-brothers and half-sisters believed in Him. They did not see Him as the Son of God, the King of Israel, the Messiah (Christ), the Redeemer. His family spent so much time with Him, and yet, His miracles did not convince them of His identity. They had already chosen not to believe Him. Notice how they did not deny His miracles (verse 4); they merely were not persuaded in seeing any value in them, to learn the lesson (doctrine) Israel’s God wanted to teach using those miraculous demonstrations. The next passage relates to this.

C. MARK 6:1-6

Mark chapter 6 opens with: “[1] And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him. [2] And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? [3] Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. [4] But Jesus, said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. [5] And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. [6] And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.”

Hone in on verse 6. Jesus “marvelled because of their unbelief.” He was God and yet He was Man. He was surprised at what just occurred. To paraphrase what He must have thought: “Even after all this indisputable proof, you still doubt who I am? You refuse to have faith even after all that you have seen Me do?” What was the problem? Were the deeds not miraculous enough? Had they been disproven? No, the eyewitnesses of the miracles had already decided (before the miracles occurred) that they would not believe. Nothing would sway them because they had already chosen not to be persuaded!!! Are you beginning to see the pattern, friend? There is much more to follow!

D. JOHN 20:29

Let us glance at John chapter 20, the famous case of the doubting believer in Christ: “[19] Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. [20] And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. [21] Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. [22] And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: [23] Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

“[24] But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. [25] The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

“[26] And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. [27] Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. [28] And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. [29] Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

The Apostle Thomas shows us that even believers in Jesus Christ can (and do) fall into the trap of unbelief. He originally believed God’s Word, but then circumstances distracted him and Satan used those conditions to deceive him. Thomas said he would not believe that Jesus Christ had resurrected until he touched Jesus’ scars (verse 25). Days later, the Lord Jesus appeared and rebuked Him. Verse 29 again: “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” Scoffers and skeptics (and even Christians!) would do well to make note of this admonition!! We quote it again (this time in bold type): “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

E. UNBELIEVING ISRAEL NEVER SATISFIED WITH SIGNS

Read Matthew 12:38-39, “Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:….” Now, Matthew 16:1, “The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.”

This is about halfway through Christ’s earthly ministry. He had been performing miracles throughout the land of Israel for some two years… and they wanted yet anothersign?!” In contemporary English, “Just give us one more sign, Jesus, so we can know You really are Messiah! One more sign, one more sign, just one last sign!” (After ignoring the miracles Christ performed in Matthew 12:9-13 and verses 22-24, they wanted to see Him perform others. This is so downright preposterous, and yet it agrees with all the other passages about unbelief following signs! The miracles are not the problem. The witnesses have the problem—sinful hearts!)

Jesus’ numerous miracles did not convince Israel that He was their long-promised Messiah, Redeemer, King. Notice John 10:24-25: “Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.” It did not matter how much He did, or how awesome the miracles He performed, they had no interest in believing in Him. While most pitiful, that is the way it was… and still is today!

The Apostle John, toward the end of his Gospel Record, penned in John 20:30-31: “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” Throughout three years of earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus performed miracle after miracle after miracle. Notice chapter 21, the last verse (the conclusion of the Book of John): “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” Despite all those miraculous demonstrations, Israel was content in her unbelief and killed Him on Calvary!

F. MATTHEW 28:11-15

Matthew chapter 28 contains the Bible’s paramount example of willful dishonesty concerning miracles: “[11] Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. [12] And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, [13] Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. [14] And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. [15] So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.”

After being “stone-cold” dead for three days and three nights in the grave, the Lord Jesus has just been bodily resurrected. There was a massive earthquake; an angel came down to roll back the stone from His tomb to reveal it as empty. Some of the Roman guards (soldiers) are terrified. They hurry off to inform the Jewish chief priests of the supernatural events they have just witnessed. All the soldiers and all the Jewish chief priests, upon hearing of Christ’s resurrection, believe on Him. Uh, no, that is not what the Bible says!!! Nothing of the sort!!! They do not turn to God in faith!!! Here, they have just come to realize Christ did resurrect, an angel did come down from Heaven, they did see that angel, they did see the rolled-away stone, and they did see the empty tomb—and, yet, they remain just as faithless as before. In fact, once the chief priests learn of Christ’s resurrection, they bribe the soldiers to lie about what really happened. The rumor is widely circulated that there was no resurrection of Jesus whatsoever. They spread the falsehood that His disciples stole His corpse!

Matthew 28:11-15 says they tried to explain away Christ Jesus’ resurrection. They knew what happened. He had unquestionably risen from the dead. They could not disprove or deny it. Yet, that resurrection would discredit them and validate Jesus’ message. They would have to do or say something, lest they look like fools and lose their religious clout over Israel. They decided the best course of action to take was to dismiss the resurrection as nothing more than a “body-snatching.” His disciples must have broken into the tomb and taken His remains during the night. Many years later, when the Holy Spirit moved Matthew to write his Gospel Record, that rumor was still passing amongst the Jewish people! In unbelief, the common Jewish people published this “body-snatching” lie.

VIII. ACTS 4:13-18

Christ has already resurrected, ascended into Heaven, and sent down the Holy Spirit on believing Israel (Acts chapters 1–2). In chapter 3, the Apostles Peter and John heal a lame man sitting at the gate of the Jerusalem Temple. For the rest of the chapter, Peter preaches to unsaved, wrath-deserving Israel to repent and turn to Jesus Christ in faith. Christ is returning to set up His earthly kingdom, so they had better prepare for Him: He will either be their Saviour or their Judge!

Reading from Acts chapter 4: “[13] Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. [14] And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. [15] But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, [16] Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. [17] But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. [18] And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

“[19] But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. [20] For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. [21] So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done. [22] For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed.”

Verse 14 said Israel could see the cripple man now restored, completely healed. The dishonest religious leaders could say nothing against it. All the people in the Temple had seen him sitting there helpless for decades. Now, he was walking, and leaping, and praising God (Acts 3:8-9). Verse 10 said they recognized him as the man who had sat lame for many years, and how he had been miraculously restored under the ministry of Peter and John. See verse 11.

Consider Acts 4:16 again, “Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.” These religious leaders knew that Jesus was alive and well, and this miracle proved it. They instantly converted to Jesus Christ. Uh, no!! That is not what the Bible said!! They had no intention of believing on Jesus Christ!! Here they had witnessed a miracle but unbelief arose. They were not about to lose their religion, their political clout, and their business. What they determined to do was intimidate Peter and John into silence. They threatened them (verse 21). In Acts 5:40, later, these deceitful religious leaders of Israel physically beat the Apostles after the Apostles returned to preach about Jesus Christ and His resurrection.

We need to stop and think about this, friend. Not only did these Israeli religious leaders witness the miraculous healing of the lame man in chapter 3, they knew of other miracles the Apostles performed in Acts 5:12-16. They did not believe them either, and they did not believe on Christ either. After this, they imprisoned and beat the Apostles (verses 18,40). Unbelief! Unbelief! Unbelief! Unbelief! Unbelief! Unbelief! Unbelief! Unbelief! Unbelief!

IX. ACTS 16:16-24

Turning to Acts 16:16-18: “And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.”

The miracle concerns the Apostle Paul and his companions. As they travel to Philippi (modern northern Greece), they encounter a slave girl possessed by an evil spirit, a devil, a spirit of divination that allowed her to tell fortunes. Her masters have used her “ability” to make a fortune. This girl, under Satan’s control, pesters Paul and his ministry associates. Paul commands this devil, in the name of Jesus Christ, to leave the girl. The evil spirit departs. How did the girl’s masters react?

Read on: “[19] And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, [20] And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, [21] And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. [22] And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. [23] And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: [24] Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.”

These masters did not convert to Jesus Christ, did they? Yet, they knew something was different about the young woman. She no longer had the supernatural ability she once did. The only explanation they had was that Paul had some skill to limit or destroy the power she had possessed. They saw a miracle, but they had no interest in knowing the truth anyway. Hence, they responded negatively by getting Paul and Silas in trouble with the local governmental officials. The government then beat the Apostles and imprisoned them without first trying and convicting them in a Roman court of law! Here is just another easy example in the Bible to show that miracles do not necessarily generate faith. If the observer has no interest in having faith, the miracle will make no difference to him.

X. OUR PRESENT-DAY DISPENSATION OF GRACE: 2 CORINTHIANS 5:7-8

Second Corinthians chapter 5 says: “[6] Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: [7] (For we walk by faith, not by sight: ) [8] We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”

With the arrival of the Apostle Paul’s ministry and the Dispensation of Grace, God gradually withdrew the outward manifestations of His working. Once the Book of Acts concluded, God’s provoking ministry to Israel ended (Romans 11:11-14). JEHOVAH God had successfully shown Israel that He was now working amongst the Gentiles through Paul’s ministry without her national conversion (cf. Romans 15:18-19). The miracles, the signs, the wonders He used to teach the nation Israel doctrine, He made those phenomena pass off the scene (see 1 Corinthians 13:8-13, for example).

Second Corinthians 5:7 thus declares, “We walk by faith, not by sight.” That is the standard for the Dispensation of Grace, our present-day. When the atheist, agnostic, freethinker, or Bible skeptic demands to see outward, physical proof of God working, they are seeking something God said He is not doing anymore anyway. It is foolish to look for something when that something does not exist. If you go around looking for miraculous Divine intervention, and you do not see it, then you have the problem not God. Friend, you cannot make God do something He is not doing!!

XI. MIRACLES IN THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION

In the Book of the Revelation, God’s enemies observe various and sundry strange spectacles. They are being judged for rejecting and crucifying His Son, persecuting His people, and not believing His Word. Do they repent or change their mind, as they suffer His just wrath? No! Are they crying out to Him in faith to receive mercy or relief? No! They blaspheme Him. They curse His name. No miracles convince any of them.

Revelation chapter 16: “[8] And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. [9] And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory. [10] And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, [11] And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.

“[17] And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. [18] And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. [19] And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. [20] And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. [21] And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.”

Revelation chapter 9: “[20] And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: [21] Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.”

So, dear friend, what makes you so sure that if you saw God perform miracles, you would believe in Him, trust Him, and follow His Word? This author says you would not. These people in the Book of the Revelation did not start off believing in God, which is why they wound up not believing in God after they saw His miracles! Right this very moment, if you are rejecting the doctrine contained in this study, you are already on the wrong path. You cannot arrive at the city of faith if you are bent on traveling down the road of unbelief. Remember our “word to the wise” issued at the beginning of our study!

XII. SATAN’S MIRACLES

When dealing with skeptics and Bible scoffers, this author always likes to point out that the occurrence of “supernatural” or “inexplicable” events does not necessarily prove God exists and/or that God is at work. In fact, Scripture presents another character who has a ministry designed to mimic the ministry of Almighty God. This creature is Satan, or the Devil. It would do us well here to briefly describe his work.

A. MATTHEW 7:21-23

The simplest way to prove Satan works is to appeal to Matthew chapter 7: “[21] Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. [22] Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? [23] And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” There were certainly miracles performed here, not just “tricks” or “sleights-of-hand”—and Jesus Christ said He had nothing to do with them! Rather, He called them “iniquity” (evil). Who performed them? Satan through sinful men!!

B. DEUTERONOMY 13:1-5

Deuteronomy chapter 13 highlights Satan’s counterfeit miracle ministry yet again: “[1] If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, [2] And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; [3] Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. [4] Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. [5] And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.” These miracles came to pass, and yet God said He had nothing to do with them! Satan was active instead, which necessitated the death of the human participant.

 C. MATTHEW 24:24 & MARK 13:22

Turn to read these words of Christ in Matthew 24:24: “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” And, Mark 13:22: “For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.” These are miraculous phenomena indeed… but Christ said they are nothing but deception! The next point relates to this idea.

D. 2 THESSALONIANS 2:8-12

Second Thessalonians chapter 2 is the cross-reference to the earlier passage: “[8] And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: [9] Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, [10] And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. [11] And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: [12] That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” These are future events from our day—and if Satan will perform miracles to deceive then that means he has the power to do them today! How do we know the “miracles” we seek to show God exists, may in fact be miracles to show Satan exists?! Friend, this is the danger of asking for miracles in unbelief, so we had better think twice before seeking them!

XIII. CONCLUSION

Dear Christian friend reading this, precious brother or sister in Christ, never be intimidated when someone objects and challenges you with, “If only I saw a miracle, then I would trust Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour. I will believe and follow the Bible if you can show me a miracle, a sign from God, evidence that He is really there.” Considering the wealth of information in the Scriptures that we just reviewed, miracles in and of themselves do not guarantee conversion. If the heart of the witness is not right before Almighty God, myriads of miracles have no lasting, positive impact. There is no appropriate view of miracles in the first place, so miracles are being requested for the wrong reasons.

Why do some people in the Bible witness miracles and respond in faith, while others who see those same miracles refuse to believe? The difference is the heart attitude. If there is a sincere heart, there will be faith. Unbelief is the result of being dishonest (assuming you know more than God, supposing you can live without God and get away with it, asserting God does not exist, claiming you can wish God away, and so on). No one will be persuaded because they outright refuse to be swayed. It is an act of defiance—plain and simple boldness. They have no intention of listening to God’s Word, despite the abounding evidence to support it. Psalm 14:1 speaks of such fools. Proverbs 18:1-2 speaks of such fools. Proverbs 29:1 speaks of such fools.

Before the atheist, agnostic, freethinker, and Bible skeptic arrives at the point of rejection, he first rebuffs the miracle of the Bible text itself. He does not believe that God the Holy Spirit miraculously furnished us with the Bible some 2,000 years ago. Since he starts off by denying Scripture, should we expect him to believe after seeing other miracles like Bible miracles? In other words, if the first and most important miracle did not convince him, is it logical to conclude that the other miracles will? What if he saw 100 miracles? Or 1,000? Or 10,000… 100,000… 1,000,000? The patterns are already established in the Bible. He asks for the miracle, not sincerely, but to challenge or defy God. All that will result is more unbelief, more disobedience, more arrogance toward Him.

Second Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17] That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” The Bible is for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness. If we do not listen to what Almighty God has to say in His written Word, we are rejecting its reproof and correction. According to Proverbs 29:1, “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” The more reproof from the Bible someone hears, if he is opposed to hearing it, the more he will be antagonistic toward it the next time around. This applies to miraculous demonstrations as well.

Miracles in Scripture are designed to communicate sound doctrine. The LORD God performed miraculous demonstrations, not merely to help people avoid pain and escape difficulties, but to teach them various principles. Those who had responded in faith to information God previously revealed, these people were those willing to believe even more from Him. This is not where today’s Bible challenger is. The atheist, agnostic, freethinker, or skeptic is substituting visible miracles for believing the Bible text. He does not believe the Bible, the basis for miracles, but he will look for a miracle before believing the Bible. Does that make no sense? No! No wonder this never gets the scoffers anywhere. Even if God were in the business today of intervening for physical eyes to see, the ridiculer would remain in spiritual darkness. He already avoided the Bible, the basis for all the miracles God Almighty does.

Lastly, above all, in this the Dispensation of Grace, we “walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). We have a completed Bible, so we do not need partial knowledge in the form of a miracle healing, raising from the dead, et cetera. God has already spoken in the 66 Books of the Bible. Are we willing to read that miraculous Book—and believe it? “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Are we humble enough to believe in our heart that miraculous message unto forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and a home in Heaven? This will be far more important than “seeking this sign” or “seeking that sign” to prove God’s existence!

Also see:
» What are some verses to help me stop focusing on myself?
» Why did God command Israel not to seethe a young goat in his mother’s milk?
» Are we “doom and gloom” prophecy believers?