Category Archives: DISPENSATIONAL BIBLE STUDY

Was Israel’s fall a secret?

WAS ISRAEL’S FALL A SECRET?

by Shawn Brasseaux

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Shawn Brasseaux

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

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

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

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

National Israel is fallen in this the Dispensation of the Grace of God. Thus, there is no benefit in being a physical descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Romans 11:11-14: “[11] I say then, Have they stumbled that they [Israel] should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. [12] Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? [13] For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: [14] If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.” Notice Paul’s apostleship in verse 13, Jesus Christ’s ministry in the Dispensation of Grace (Ephesians 3:1-2)!

Anyone and everyone is now able to approach the God of the Bible because of Jesus Christ’s shed blood. Here is Paul’s Gospel, the Gospel of the Grace of God (Acts 20:24). Ephesians chapter 2: “[11] Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; [12] That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: [13] But now in Christ Jesus ye [Gentiles] who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. [14] For he is our peace, who hath made both [believing Jews and believing Gentiles] one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; [15] Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; [16] And that he might reconcile both [believing Jews and believing Gentiles] unto God in one body [the Body of Christ] by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: [17] And came and preached peace to you which were afar off [Gentile], and to them that were nigh [Jew]. [18] For through him we both [Jew and Gentile] have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”

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

For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love” (Galatians 5:6). For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature” (Galatians 6:15). “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13). There is neither Jew nor Greek [Gentile], there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

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

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

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

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

by Shawn Brasseaux

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

We must consider the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

We close this section by quoting Ephesians 1:20-23 to highlight the location of the Body of Christ’s eternal inheritance: “[20] Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, [21] Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: [22] And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, [23] Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”

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

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

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

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

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

What is the greatest threat facing the Grace Movement?

by Shawn Brasseaux

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Shawn Brasseaux

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

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

The Bible speaks of God as having one “eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:11). Chapter 1 of Ephesians says to that point: “[10] That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: [11] In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: [12] That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Shawn Brasseaux

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is the Antichrist alive right now?

IS THE ANTICHRIST ALIVE RIGHT NOW?

by Shawn Brasseaux

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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