Category Archives: DISPENSATIONAL BIBLE STUDY

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

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

by Shawn Brasseaux

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

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

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

We believe the context of 2 Timothy 4:8 already established or defined the “appearing.” Start reading at the beginning of the chapter: “[1] I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; [2] Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. [3] For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; [4] And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is the Antichrist alive right now?

IS THE ANTICHRIST ALIVE RIGHT NOW?

by Shawn Brasseaux

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why did God let James die but deliver Peter?

WHY DID GOD LET JAMES DIE BUT DELIVER PETER?

by Shawn Brasseaux

In Acts 12, why did God spare the Apostle Peter but allow the Apostle James to be executed?

“[1] Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. [2] And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. [3] And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) [4] And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.

“[5] Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. [6] And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. [7] And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. [8] And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.

“[9] And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. [10] When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him. [11] And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.” (To find out the rest of the story, you should read verses 12-18 in your own study.)

As there were different Caesars, so there were various Herods in the New Testament. Both are titles (like “king”), not first names of people. The Herod of Acts chapter 12 is Herod Agrippa I, the grandson of Herod the Great (the bloodthirsty king who attempted to kill the Christ Child in Matthew chapter 2 some three decades earlier).

Herod Agrippa I successfully put the Apostle James to death by beheading (verse 2). Attempting to “score more political points” with the unbelieving Jews, he arrests and imprisons the Apostle Peter. Herod purposes to execute Peter, but the Messianic Church prays and Peter is delivered. As we read, the angel of the Lord spares Peter in a dramatic rescue operation. It is bizarre that Peter was allowed to live but James was allowed to die. Someone might reply, “That is the mysterious working of God, something inexplicable that we dare not try to answer!” Friends, it is our firm conviction that the Bible provides a reason as to why God spared Peter. There is precious little about James here in this chapter (a single verse—verse 2). However, there is so much more about Peter. Peter stands out in this passage, and for good reason. We will not learn about it until chapter 15.

Back in Acts chapter 9, Saul of Tarsus met the resurrected, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ; he was saved unto eternal life and commissioned on the road to Damascus. At the time of chapter 12, this new apostle, the Apostle Paul, has been traveling for over a decade preaching the Gospel of the Grace of God. The Jerusalem Church—the Messianic Church—has met him back in Acts 9:26-29 (cf. Galatians 1:18-19). While Paul is in the early stages of his ministry amongst the Gentiles, the Lord directs Peter to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom (Gospel of the Circumcision) to some Gentiles—the Roman centurion Cornelius and his household (Acts chapter 10).

By the time of chapter 15, Paul has been preaching for about 20 years. Jews from the Jerusalem Church are telling his Gentile converts that they must follow Judaism. Paul and his ministry coworker Barnabas travel to Jerusalem to settle the matter. What right do Paul and his Gentile converts have in operating apart from Moses/Judaism? After all, Judaism had existed prior to Paul’s ministry. The 12 Apostles were all Judaistic in their theology. In order to straighten out the confusion, the Holy Spirit directs Paul to visit Jerusalem and confer with the Apostles (cf. Galatians chapter 2).

Read Acts chapter 15: “[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. [6] And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.

“[7] And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. [8] And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; [9] And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. [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? [11] But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.

“[12] Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. [13] And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: [14] Simeon [Simon Peter] hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. [15] And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, [16] After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: [17] That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. [18] Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.”

(NOTE: James here in chapter 15 is not the same as John’s brother James of chapter 12; remember, John’s brother James is already dead. The James of chapter 15 is the Lord’s brother [Galatians 1:19], the man referenced in Matthew 13:55, and an elder of the Jerusalem Church. As per Galatians, he is an apostle in a secondary sense.)

Peter’s firsthand testimony of his experience with Gentile Cornelius years earlier saved Paul’s Gentile ministry from being discredited and destroyed! God had Peter visit and evangelize the Gentile Cornelius in chapter 10 for a special purpose—but Peter would not realize it for another 15 years. At the Jerusalem Bible conference, Peter discovered his experience with Cornelius provided him and the Jerusalem Church with insight into Paul’s Gentile ministry.

Had Peter died with James in chapter 12, he would not have been present to come to Paul’s defense in chapter 15! (Peter was the leader of the 12 Apostles, as per Matthew 16:19—“thee” and “thou” is second-person singular, referring to Peter alone. It was thus more important that Peter bear witness rather than John’s brother James. This was why God selected Peter, not James, to visit Cornelius.) At the time of chapter 12, Peter had not yet publicly endorsed Paul’s ministry. God was not yet finished with Peter, which is why He spared Peter. Peter went on to publicly endorse Paul’s ministry in chapter 15, before fading off the scene from Acts.

SUPPLEMENTAL: ACTS 12 AND PROPHECY

Acts chapter 12 previews what will follow our Dispensation of Grace. As Herod was an apostate king reigning in Jerusalem, so Antichrist (yet future) will be another satanic king governing Jerusalem. Herod decapitated James; likewise, the Antichrist will behead believers in the Lord Jesus (Revelation 20:4). Some members of the Jewish Little Flock, Israel’s believing remnant, will be spared, of which Peter’s escape and survival typifies (Revelation 12:1-17). Others, like James, will not be so fortunate. When Jesus Christ returns at His Second Coming to destroy the Antichrist, He will bodily resurrect all those who died for His Word (Revelation 20:1-6). Herod’s gruesome demise in the closing verses of Acts chapter 12 pictures the Antichrist’s destruction.


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

Also see:
» Will Israel’s Little Flock be put to death or not?
» Can you explain Peter and the 11’s ministry from Acts 7-15?
» What happened to the Gentiles of Acts 10?

Should we strive to distribute the Four Gospel Records?

SHOULD WE STRIVE TO DISTRIBUTE THE FOUR GOSPEL RECORDS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

If we can use the Scriptures to answer this question—To whom was Christ’s earthly ministry directed?—then we will be able to answer the first question!

Recently, a ministry was raising money to intentionally distribute one book containing the Gospel Records of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. While we certainly do not fault anyone for being zealous in getting God’s Word to all nations, that everyone may hear and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ, there is a better way to conduct such an endeavor.

Sadly, professing Christians are continuously struggling concerning evangelism and daily sanctification. Whether genuine or only nominal, these believers are unable to present a clear Gospel message. They come quite close to the truth at times, yet their obscure words are simply an inadequate basis for faith. What results? Lost people remain lost. Also, genuine Christians (who heard it) begin to wonder if they themselves have believed the right message.

Daily Christian living (daily sanctification) fares no better. Lost people, having not heard a clear Gospel, assume they can work to become Christians. In fact, they often appear to be Christians. Then, we have the Christians who usually act like lost people. Ultimately, the lost people assume they must be Christians, for the “Christians” behave worse than they do! Since Christians have yet to grasp that they are not lost people, they see no reason to act otherwise! Plain and simple, such unending confusion stems from a failure to rightly divide the word of truth. Verses are lifted out of context, thrown into one “Gospel message” or “Christian living message,” and then doled out to the public. Hopefully undertaken with the best intentions, these attempts nevertheless reinforce misunderstandings rather than mitigate them.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). There is no doubt whatsoever that all 66 Books of the Bible came from God’s mouth. He spoke them, preserved them, and translated them into our language. It is such a tragedy that He went through all that trouble to give us the plain and simple truth, and we still manage to complicate it literally beyond belief.

It is assumed that Jesus’ utterances in Matthew through John are the most authoritative in Scripture. Are the words of God the Son really greater than those of God the Spirit? Do the Holy Spirit’s words in Genesis through Malachi carry less weight than Christ’s words of His earthly ministry? Certainly not! What we need to understand is not only who is speaking, but to whom is it addressed. If God is talking, but to someone other than us, do we have the right to claim those Divine utterances as ours? Absolutely not!

Christ’s earthly ministry is based on Israel’s covenants: “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision [Jews] for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers” (Romans 15:8). He was sent to Israel only in Matthew through John. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 15:24; cf. Matthew 10:5-7; John 4:22); we Gentiles (non-Jews) are not in view. What He taught therein was designed to re-orient Israel toward the pure Law system from which they had drifted (Galatians 4:4; Matthew 8:4). His doctrine prepares an earthly people who have an earthly hope: “The meek… shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). Doctrine in the Four Gospel Records depends on Israel rising to kingdom glory (Luke 1:15-17,67-79).

Now, contrast that with the Holy Spirit’s words through Paul. Paul is God’s apostle—or “sent one,” spokesman—to us Gentiles (Romans 11:13; cf. Acts 26:14-18). We are under grace not law (Romans 6:14-15). We have no claim to earth, as our destiny is the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 2:6-7). Israel is currently fallen (Romans chapters 9–11); hence, her doctrine in Matthew through John is not the most recent Divine revelation.

Matthew through John are certainly inspired of God. We should read, study, and believe them. Nevertheless, they are not God’s Word to or about us. It is no more appropriate to make them fit us than it is to say that we must obey Genesis chapter 6 and prepare for a global flood by building a giant boat. Indeed, right division is key to understanding the right Gospel and enjoying victorious Christian living.

Matthew through John are God’s Word to and about Israel preparing to receive her Messiah-King (Jesus Christ) and earthly kingdom (Matthew 10:5-7; Romans 9:4-5). Jesus Christ and His associates (His heralder or forerunner John the Baptist, His 12 apostles, and so on) thus preached “the Gospel of the Kingdom” (Matthew 9:35; cf. Matthew 3:2; Matthew 4:17; et cetera). They performed miracles to validate that Gospel message that God’s kingdom was near (Mark 16:20; Luke 8:1-2). Israel would be delivered from bondage to sin and Satan, and then she would take God’s Word to the nations. Yet, Israel has yet to be delivered! God has temporarily paused the program He was operating in Christ’s earthly ministry. Through Israel’s fall salvation is come to us Gentiles (Romans 11:11-14).

Jesus Christ gave the Apostle Paul “the Dispensation of the Grace of God” to give to us Gentiles (Ephesians 3:1-2). We do not find God’s present-day dealings with man in Matthew through John; we find our instructions in Romans through Philemon. How will Father God stabilize our souls? Through His Word “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15)! We must understand Paul’s Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:3-4), then the rest of Pauline doctrine, and finally the entire Bible in light of Pauline revelation.

Romans chapter 16: “[25] Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, [26] But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:….”

Thus, Christian friend, if you are wondering where to begin with Bible translation or distribution, you are strongly urged to start with the Book of Romans. Romans is the clearest exposition of the Gospel of Grace by which we have a relationship with God today (chapters 1–5). It is also the most basic handbook for Christian living (chapters 6–16), with special emphasis on us not being the nation Israel (chapters 9–11). Simple!

Also see:
» Should we use the Book of John in evangelism?
» Did not Jesus speak words not recorded in Scripture?
» What Bible Book should I read first?

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

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

by Shawn Brasseaux

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

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

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

THE WORD OF THE LIVING GOD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE APOSTLE OF THE GENTILES

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

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

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

When Saul of Tarsus met the resurrected, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, Christ told Saul in Acts 26:16-18: “[16] But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; [17] Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee [“apostle” is derived from the Greek word meaning, “sent one”], [18] To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” This is the origin, the foundation, of the Apostle Paul’s ministry. Historically, he was saved/justified and then commissioned/ordained in Acts chapter 9.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Bible Book should I read first?

WHAT BIBLE BOOK SHOULD I READ FIRST?

by Shawn Brasseaux

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

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

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

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

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

Acts 26:16-18 were these words of Christ to Saul: “[16] But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; [17] Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee [apostolos = “sent one”], [18] To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does 2 Corinthians 12:16 mean Paul was dishonest?

DOES 2 CORINTHIANS 12:16 MEAN PAUL WAS DISHONEST?

by Shawn Brasseaux

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

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

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

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

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

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