Category Archives: GRACE (CHRISTIAN) LIVING

How does the love of Christ “constrain” us?

HOW DOES THE LOVE OF CHRIST “CONSTRAIN” US?

by Shawn Brasseaux

When the Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:14, “For the love of Christ constraineth us,” he is describing the process by which the Christian life operates. It is not us struggling to keep a series of rules and regulations, performing to get blessings from God (and receiving curses when we fail). It is not our love for Christ, for that is fickle and weak. We are unable to love Jesus Christ 100 percent of the time, with all our being. That is what sin is. According to Scripture, it is Christ’s love for us, that unconditional, permanent, endless love that drove Him all the way to Calvary’s cruel cross to pay for our sins! “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

The Christian life is the intense working of the indwelling Holy Spirit, Him laboring to bring into the reality of our lives the Words of Grace: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

“Constraineth” is a compelling or urging toward a particular course of action. We are tightly bound together, driven to a specific end, the goal of 2 Corinthians 5:14: “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” To “judge” here means to exercise the mind, to evaluate or examine evidence in order to reach a verdict.

Christ died for all (1 Timothy 2:5-6), since all were dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1); but He is “specially [the Saviour] of those that believe” (1 Timothy 4:10); and, if He is the Saviour of Christians, Christians should live in light of that reality, conducting themselves not in accordance with their own selfish desires but for the glory of the God-Man who died for them and resurrected! After all, as He died, so they died to sin; as He rose again, so they arose to walk in newness of life (Romans chapter 6). Here is the grace life, the key to victorious Christian living! Remember, it is the Lord Jesus Christ’s love for us.

Also see:
» Is grace a license to sin?
» What is the Lord’s will for my Christian life?
» Why do some Christians persistently behave like lost people?
» Does “once saved, always saved” entitle us to abuse God’s grace?

» How are we God’s “workmanship?”
» Does God see us Christians as sinners?

How many Bible teachers should someone have?

HOW MANY BIBLE TEACHERS SHOULD SOMEONE HAVE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

How many Bible teachers should a person listen to? For the majority of people, it is best to abide by the guideline of “two, or at most, three, Bible teachers.” This writer derived that advice from a trusted pastor friend who answered this same question posed to him long ago. All these years later, this writer can affirm it is a wise rule by which to live—and it is most regrettable more people do not follow it.

Dear friend, if you follow a variety of teachers, of course, you will learn a wide range of beliefs. Eventually, all these contradictory views will accumulate in your heart and mind, ultimately inflicting irreparable damage. Why? Questions will multiply, and you will not know what to believe anymore. Maybe you have already learned this firsthand, and can vouch for its truthfulness. If you are spiritually immature, lacking even a basic dispensational understanding of the Holy Bible, this author would strongly (!)—yea, vehemently (!)—urge (!) you not to have more than three teachers.

Indeed, it is tempting to get stirred up on social media with this “fad” idea or that “trending” belief. For many years now, conspiracy theories, heresies, and apostasies of all kinds have gotten strangleholds on millions upon millions of Christian minds because curiosity has bested them. They have dabbled in this group, that system, a third group, a fourth camp, and so on. Consequently, they are grieved tremendously, either in the short-term or the long-term. Ephesians 4:14 comes to pass: “…children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” Regardless, whether now or later, Satan’s policy of evil wins, and the Lord’s ministry suffers!

Now, friend, if you are grounded in the rightly divided Scriptures, you may listen to more than three teachers. However, to be skilled in the Bible to that degree is quite rare, and should not be considered applicable to the majority. Even if we are grounded in sound Bible doctrine, we still must be careful when exceeding three teachers. No oneabsolutely no one (not even this writer!)—is immune from falling away from the truth. On that note, let us consider the pitiful case of the Corinthians as laid out in 1 Corinthians chapter 4: “[14] I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. [15] For though ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. [16] Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.”

Unfortunately, although the Apostle Paul had preached the Gospel of Grace to the heathen Corinthians and won them to Jesus Christ (see Acts chapter 18), they did not stay with his doctrine (principles of grace). Actually, when later writing them here in 1 Corinthians, Paul delineated all the spiritual problems in their assembly. The reason for these many quandaries and questions or conundrums and confusions is they were listening to multitudes of spiritual teachers—who were often nothing but “Judaizers” or modern denominationalists with all their worthless rules and regulations (see 2 Corinthians 11:12-23). False apostles and other false teachers had drawn the Corinthian saints away from Pauline doctrine (Romans through Philemon). Greek philosophy was corrupting them, the traditions of men were polluting them, and they were totally distracted from the Holy Spirit’s teaching ministry through Paul. The vast majority of “Christian” church members are in the same dire predicament today 20 centuries later. Again, had they limited the number of their spiritual teachers, they would be far better off spiritually than they are. Yet, since they were learning so little from their church or preacher, they sought “more and more” in this group, that sect, this denomination, that cult. It was one disappointment after another—all because they did not start off with and maintain sound Bible doctrine from the very beginning!

Friend, here is something else upon which we must reflect. As in the physical world, so also in the spiritual realm. We each develop at a different rate, and that applies to both student and teacher. Since one teacher grows faster or slower than the others, it naturally follows that the chance of mutual exclusivity increases with the addition of teachers. At some point, one teacher’s theology will conflict with another’s. Whatever progress in understanding you make with one will be reset or diminished with another. It is not to say anyone is willfully teaching error (although that may be the case—and often is in the realm of denominational circles); what we are referring to here is various levels of maturity. One teacher with a basic view of the Scriptures will definitely be incongruous with a teacher more advanced in sound Bible doctrine.

Let us think about a real-life application. Years ago, this writer had a discouraged Christian friend. He did not know what to be believe, as one preacher he heard had taught a passage one way and another preacher had exposited those verses an entirely different way. The matter was related to prophecy, so this writer reminded him of that fact, and told him we could disagree regarding the uncertainties of prophecy. To be sure he would overcome this hindrance, this writer told him which pastor he believed was more mature (and thus, the closest to agreeing with the context), and how his view was more plausible. This writer was able to help his friend with his dilemma, and advised him to be more careful regarding such matters. Friend, he is issuing the same counsel to you now. Instead of listening to a dozen teachers and hearing a dozen views, two or three interpretations are much easier to handle and sort by process of elimination.

Yet, since we have mentioned it, we might as well add this too: a great many “Bible teachers” should not be teaching. It is apparent from their words and speeches they have not been Bible students long enough to be Bible teachers. Until they learn sound Bible doctrine, they have no aptitude to teach it, and should not be allowed to address local assemblies in regular church services or conferences. We should avoid these types of “ministries!”

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:
» Should we read denominational literature?
» How do we identify false teachers?
» What are some tips for faster spiritual growth?
» How do I know if I am growing in the Word of God?

» Should we as Bible believers investigate and promulgate conspiracy theories?
» Are we immune to heresy and apostasy?

What does “Anathema Maranatha” mean in 1 Corinthians 16:22?

WHAT DOES “ANATHEMA MARANATHA” MEAN IN 1 CORINTHIANS 16:22?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The Apostle Paul, near the conclusion of this epistle, wrote, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha” (1 Corinthians 16:22). What does “Anathema Maranatha” mean?

Firstly, “Anathema” is Greek; “Maranatha” is Aramaic (Hebrew with some Gentile/Babylonian influence). These were two of the many languages the Apostle Paul spoke. Secondly, by searching the Epistle of 1 Corinthians, we can gather clues to stitch together a Scriptural definition of “Anathema Maranatha.”

“ANATHEMA”

This Greek word appears six times in the Textus Receptus (the basis for our King James New Testament). Once it was rendered, “We have bound ourselves under a great curse” (Acts 23:14, Paul’s enemies vehemently determined to take his life). Four times, it was translated “accursed” (Romans 9:3; 1 Corinthians 12:3; Galatians 1:8-9). Once, in 1 Corinthians 16:22, it was left untranslated—“anathema” (the verse now under discussion).

Galatians 1:8-9 is helpful here: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed [anathema]. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed [anathema].” The language is strong here, but it is warranted because false teachers have slipped into the Galatian churches under the guise of “Christianity.” God the Holy Spirit thunders here in this Epistle, “Let those false teachers be excommunicated, excluded, removed!” The Galatian Christians were to have nothing further to do with these denominationalists, for these religious traditionalists were using the Law of Moses to corrupt the Grace of God. Thousands of church leaders are guilty of this same practice, and we would do well to apply Galatians 1:8-9 to them too! See also Romans 16:17-20, 1 Timothy 6:3-5, 2 Timothy 3:1-5, and Titus 3:9-11.

When we come to 1 Corinthians 16:22, which is actually just before Galatians chapter 1, it should not be difficult to discern what “Anathema” means. The idea is “banned, removed, expelled.” Considering the mentality and lifestyles of the Corinthian Christians, we can easily surmise false teachers have corrupted them too. Read 1 and 2 Corinthians to behold the worst bunch of Christians you will ever see in Scripture! Greek philosophers, legalists (just as in Galatia), and other proponents of bad doctrine have defiled the saints at Corinth. Paul’s two epistles to Corinth are designed to bring these saints back to the truth, to mature them in the faith, that they be no more fleshly or worldly. One of Paul’s closing remarks in 1 Corinthians is found in 16:22: “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema….” Those who do not love the Lord Jesus Christ—especially those who do not love His doctrine communicated through Paul—are to be isolated or detached from the Corinthian assembly. Any heretics, any apostates, any unbelievers, or even any Christians acting like unbelievers, are to be expelled—lest the assembly become even more depraved and further ensnared in Satan’s policy of evil. Read 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, with special emphasis on verse 2 and verses 7-13. “Therefore put away [divorce, separate] from among yourselves that wicked person.”

“MARANATHA”

Some have contended the Aramaic (and transliterated into Greek) phrase “Maran atha” means (and can only mean), “The Lord has come.” They thus have Paul referring to Jesus’ earthly ministry in 1 Corinthians 16:22 (the present perfect, an action already completed). Others claim the intended tense is simple future: “The Lord will come.” Here, Paul would be speaking of Jesus’ return (something imminent). When writing “Maranatha,” is Paul speaking of a previous coming of Christ or a future one?

Personally, again, this author would view 1 Corinthians 16:22 in light of what has already come before in the Epistle. Read chapter 1, verses 7-8: “So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Would this be Christ’s earthly ministry, something that has already happened? Of course not! Paul is writing to the Corinthians a few decades after Calvary; Christ’s earthly ministry is long over. They are awaiting Jesus’ return, the Rapture, “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and… our gathering together unto him” (2 Thessalonians 2:1). Based on 1 Corinthians 1:7-8, we would take “Maranatha” to mean a future coming of Christ not a past coming.

CONCLUSION

“Anathema Maranatha” simply means, “withdraw or separate from all who love not the Lord Jesus Christ, for that same Lord Jesus Christ is coming.” These saints would certainly not want to be fellowshipping with “questionable characters” when their Saviour came back, would they? “Let your moderation [self-control, reasonableness] be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand” (Philippians 4:5). In other words, live like the Lord is returning in the next few seconds! The nation Israel was given basically the same instructions in light of Christ’s Second Coming to end Daniel’s 70th Week (see Matthew 24:42-51; Mark 13:33-37; Luke 12:35-48). Whether the prophetic program (Israel) or the mystery program (us, the Church the Body of Christ), all saints should be conducting themselves according to God’s words to them, ready to meet their Saviour whenever He appears, doing what He left them to do, when He does return! (And, remember, “Maranatha!,” the Lord is coming back!)

SUPPLEMENTAL: WHY LEAVE IT UNTRANSLATED?

The King James scholars are not here for us to ask them why they left these words untranslated, but it may be a case of euphony. “Anathema Maranatha” is a memorable word combination that sounds pleasant to the ears, is it not? Once you understand its meaning, you never forget it. May we thus be careful to remember to keep our distance from those who do not love the Lord Jesus Christ (especially His words to us, the Dispensation of Grace, Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon), for that same Lord Jesus Christ is coming again and we want Him to find us pure in doctrine and lifestyle!

Also see:
» What does “Lord of Sabaoth” mean?
» What does God mean, “I am Alpha and Omega?”
» Why does Daniel 5:25 say “Upharsin” but Daniel 5:28 say “Peres?”

What is “dissimulation” in Romans 12:9?

WHAT IS “DISSIMULATION” IN ROMANS 12:9?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Read verses 1 and 2 of Romans chapter 12: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” The renewed mind—the clear thinking that the Word of God’s Grace brings—produces the lifestyle delineated in Romans chapters 12–16. Here, we want to focus on verse 9: “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.” One such consequence of new life in Christ is “love without dissimulation.” What exactly is this?

Of course, we can see the word “simulation” (fakery) within the word “dissimulation,” can we not? “Dissimulation” simply means “the process of disguising or concealing under a false appearance.” In other words, it is hypocrisy. Our love should be without two-facedness or a false front. An example of faking love can be seen in the following verse about simulating righteousness: “And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor” (Luke 20:20). These men “feigned” (pretended) to be of good standing, religious and upright. However, their “love for the truth” was actually a mask for their hatred of the Lord Jesus Christ, and they were willing to lie just to set traps for Him!

Unfortunately, what is lacking in so many “Christian” assemblies is genuine love—and this has been a problem even since Bible days! What we are discussing here goes beyond fuzzy feelings, mere sentiment, romance, and some flippant or shallow expressions of affection. In the Bible, love is the idea of one person seeking another person’s highest good. For example, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Father God offers us His love, for it is worthy of our acceptance and trust. He sought our highest good—the salvation of our souls from sin, death, Hell, and the Lake of Fire—by sending His Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins!

We must always be careful to love without dissimulation. This means to actually care for another person—particularly fellow members of the Body of Christ. We are not referring to mindlessly repeating, “I love you,” or claiming to love the person when we really hate him or her. Neither are we considering the attitude of, “Since you have done something nice for me, since you have loved me, so I will love you.” In 2 Corinthians 6:6, “love unfeigned” was one of the Apostle Paul’s motivations in ministry. The Holy Spirit worked in and through him to preach and teach sound Bible doctrine, that lost souls would come to Jesus Christ by faith and Christian souls would allow Him to live His life and through them by faith. Here in Paul’s ministry and life was genuine love in action, an internal working of God—not some fake “love” originating from sinful flesh, designed to flatter people, get something from them, make them believe a lie or perceive a false impression.

Returning to Romans, we re-read chapter 12, verse 9, with its subsequent verse: “[9] Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. [10] Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;….” Again, here is the kindness of true Christian love. A similar exhortation is Ephesians 4:32: “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” As God forgave us in Christ, as He forgave us because of Christ, so we forgive others. Like He loves us in Christ, as He loves us because of Christ, so we love others. We seek their highest good, as He sought our highest good at Calvary. Unless we have a clear understanding of these simple truths of grace living, however, we will have nothing but empty religious tradition—and religion is nothing but dissimulation anyway!

“Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law”
(Romans 13:8-10).

Also see:
» What is meant by, “Love thy neighbour as thyself?”
» Why did my Christian loved one not share the Gospel with me when I was unsaved?

» What if I was never thanked?
» Should we hate the denominational people who misled us?
» As Christians, should we hate our parents?
» What is true forgiveness?

Is “should” a mistranslation in Romans 6:4?

IS “SHOULD” A MISTRANSLATION IN ROMANS 6:4?

by Shawn Brasseaux

No! Recently, this author was reading a commentary on Romans 6:4, which verse we look at now: “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Allegedly, “should” was a “misleading” translation of the New Testament Greek here; the commentator preferred “shall.” With all due respect, he did not know what he was talking about. He should have taken the position of faith; instead, he chose unbelief, and was himself misleading his audience. Our 50 King James scholars were fully competent in identifying and rendering the Bible from its original languages into the receptor language (English). Either we are Bible believers, or we are Bible unbelievers. We either have a final authority, or we do not. Either we agree with the Scriptures, or we do not.

According to The Oxford English Dictionary, “should” expresses something appropriate or likely, whereas “shall” indicates a command or something definitely forthcoming. In order to see how each word affects the meaning of Romans 6:4, we will read it both ways:

  • “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (King James)
  • “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also shall walk in newness of life.” (commentator’s suggestion)

In the King James, walking in newness of life is suitable or proper for the Christian. The sense here is: “Since I am dead with Christ, buried with Christ, and raised with Christ, it only makes sense that I behave accordingly.” As for the commentator’s private interpretation, walking in newness of life is a mandate and/or certainty for the Christian. This logic is as follows: “Since I am dead with Christ, buried with Christ, and raised with Christ, I will or must behave accordingly.” (The commentator’s Calvinistic propensities could not be more evident: the elect will produce fruit, or they are not really the elect! Faith without works is dead! Holy living or maintaining good works must demonstrate faith, or it is not genuine faith and the person is not a Christian. Such “perseverance of the saints” is one of the cardinal teachings of “Reformed” theology.)

We must forgo the legalistic biases of the aforementioned Calvinistic commentator (thankfully, he is now in Heaven and reformed indeed!). Grace is not about mandates or obligations, being forced to behave a certain way in order to “prove our salvation.” Rather, grace “beseeches” (asks or requests) us to conduct ourselves in accordance with our identity in Christ: “I beseech [not order, demand, or command!] you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).

Here are some other times where God’s grace “beseeches” (not commands, demands, or orders!) us to walk as the members of the Body of Christ that we are:

  • Ephesians 4:1: “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,….”
  • Philippians 4:2: “I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.”
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:1: “[1] Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more…. [10] And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more;….”
  • Philemon 9-10: “Yet for love’s sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ. I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds:….”

Just to make sure there is no misunderstanding, God cares how we live as believers in Christ. Never should anyone be led to conclude grace means we can do whatever we want without gendering God’s sorrow or reaping any negative consequences. “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:7-9).

All of Romans chapter 6 should be read: “[1] What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? [2] God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? [3] Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? [4] Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. [5] For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: [6] Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. [7] For he that is dead is freed from sin. [8] Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: [9] Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. [10] For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. [11] Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

“[12] Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. [13] Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. [14] For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. [15] What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. [16] Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

“[17] But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. [18] Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. [19] I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. [20] For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. [21] What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. [22] But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. [23] For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Someone could have believed on Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour, but either failed to understand God’s grace or was never told God’s grace aims to produce good works in the believer. Since the Apostle Paul did not walk in light of Romans chapter 6, he fell into the trap of flesh-walking (sin) in chapter 7, but Romans chapter 8 corrected his mind by reemphasizing the truths of chapter 6. He thus gained victory over sin on a daily basis in chapter 8. We should be upstanding citizens—but, will we choose to be? If we want to behave like carnal (fleshly) Christians, we can, but we had better not complain when someone scoffs, “I care not to be a Christian! My religion teaches me to live better than your ‘Jesus’ does!” We should eat to live—but we can always decide to starve and die. Likewise, if we want to deprive ourselves of sound (grace) Bible doctrine, we may do so—and our Christian life will wither and decay! It is the believer’s choice, left up to us; grace values free will. Brethren, let us use our volition for good, and not for evil!

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works”
(Titus 2:11-14).

Also see:
» Is grace a “license to sin?”
» How are we God’s “workmanship?”
» Does God see us Christians as sinners?
» Once Christians fall into gross sin, will God use them again?
» How do we not live after the flesh if we live in bodies of flesh?
» Why do some Christians persistently behave like lost people?

How are we God’s “workmanship?”

HOW ARE WE GOD’S “WORKMANSHIP?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Many charge us Pauline dispensationalists with the following: “You are telling people to sin all they want because God’s grace and forgiveness cover it!” When we proclaim God’s grace, are we really encouraging people to pursue careless, frivolous lifestyles, as our (legalistic) critics claim? Or, are they simply misunderstanding grace?

The Greek word translated “workmanship” in Ephesians 2:10 is “poiema,” meaning “creation,” from which we get “poem.” Interestingly, “poiema” is used one other time in Scripture: “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made [poiema], even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). From salvation and the Christian life to the origin of the universe, the emphasis is not on the creation (us, the heavens, and the earth), but on the Creator, Jesus Christ (see Romans 1:25). Just as we did not engineer the heavens and the earth, neither did we work to receive salvation in Christ—Christ alone worked to save us. Now that God has saved us, His grace can permeate our inner man, and teach us how to live in Christ Jesus (Titus 2:11-15).

Grace teaches us not to focus on what we do for God, for we sinners can do nothing to please God (Romans 3:23), but rather focus on what God did at Calvary for us. Our good works could not save us, so how could they keep us saved? They cannot! Thus, our receiving and keeping salvation, and our Christian lives, are not reliant upon our performance, but on Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork on Calvary.

As Ephesians 2:10 specifies, we are not doing good works. “Our” good works are actually the outward manifestation of what God the Holy Spirit is doing internally (Galatians 5:22-23; cf. Romans 8:1-14). When we study and believe sound Bible doctrine, God will use that doctrine to transform us from the inside out (Philippians 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:13). We are God’s workmanship!

When we Pauline dispensationalists proclaim God’s grace, are we really encouraging people to pursue careless, frivolous lifestyles, as our (legalistic) critics claim? God forbid! Religion deceives billions through indoctrination: to wit, lies repeated long enough are accepted as truth. Works-religion (legalism) prevails in the professing church today: “Perform so God can save you!” Thus, the average church member, upon hearing the Biblical truth, “God will save you, regardless of your works,” they mistake this as careless living. They are programmed to accept error as truth; consequently, they reject contradictory information (God’s truth!).

When we Pauline dispensationalists declare, “Salvation is by grace through faith plus nothing,” we mean salvation is COMPLETELY independent of our performance (Romans 3:28; Romans 4:1-5; Galatians 2:21; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; et al.). Grace saves us solely because of the merits of Jesus Christ at Calvary; grace does not save us on the basis of our good works—grace is unmerited favor (Romans 11:6). Grace is what God can do for us because we sinners can do nothing for God.

As mentioned earlier, the Greek word translated “workmanship” in Ephesians 2:10 is “poiema,” meaning “creation,” from which we get “poem.” Interestingly, poiema” is used one other time in Scripture: “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made [poiema], even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). From salvation and the Christian life to the origin of the universe, the emphasis is not on the creation (us, the heavens, and the earth), but on the Creator, Jesus Christ (see Romans 1:25). The focus is not on the poem (workmanship), but rather the POET (Creator)!

God the Holy Spirit is doing something amazing in us believers. He is transforming us from the inside out for His glory. “Our” good works are God’s sound doctrine working in us. It is God’s work (1 Corinthians 15:10; Galatians 5:16-26; Philippians 1:9-11). Indeed, we are God’s workmanship! The Bible presents God as the Poet; we Christians are but His poem. He is the Mastermind; we are merely His design. God has the power; we are just His vessels. Our will and our works have not the preeminence; God’s will and God’s achievements do. The Creator of the universe is doing something excellent; the creatures’ work, our work, pale in comparison. What God did for us is foremost (grace), not what we do for Him (religion). This is God’s grace, and we are His workmanship.

Religion is not the work of God; it emphasizes man’s performance to make himself acceptable to God. Christianity is God’s workmanship, for it stresses how God can use mere frames of dust (us) for His glory (see Ephesians 2:10). Those of us who have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, God is using us to make a “new man,” a “new creature,” the Church the Body of Christ, an entity He will use in Heaven forever (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:13-17); this is something that God, not us, does. God is building us—a temple, a house for Himself (1 Corinthians 3:16,17; Ephesians 2:18-22). We are “God’s husbandry, God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:9).

Currently, God is preparing us Christians for eternity. We have his preserved and inerrant Word, the King James Bible, to learn and grow in His knowledge. The more sound doctrine we study and believe in the rightly divided Bible, the more equipped we are to function here and in eternity (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). In the ages to come, God will use us to restore the government of the heavens unto Himself (Ephesians 2:6-7; cf. 2 Corinthians 5:1; Colossians 1:16-22). God saved us to use us for all of eternity future, to do His good work in us now on earth, and to do His good work in us forever in heaven. Verily, verily, we are God’s workmanship… forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever! 🙂

Also see:
» Is grace “a license to sin?”
» We are saved by faith, but are we blessed by works?
» Does God see us Christians as sinners?
» Does God chasten us when we sin?
» Why do some Christians persistently behave like lost people?
» Does “once saved, always saved” entitle us to abuse God’s grace?

» Once Christians fall into gross sin, will God use them again?

Does 1 Timothy 6:19 support Calvinism?

DOES 1 TIMOTHY 6:19 SUPPORT CALVINISM?

by Shawn Brasseaux

No! First Timothy 6:19 is quite a simple verse, but it is difficult for some because a theological system has indoctrinated them and skewed their view: “Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” Is eternal life something we must strive to obtain? Do our works save us? Must we give money to enter Heaven?

A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO CALVINISM

Five points are central to Calvinism, the theological system that can be traced through Protestant Reformer John Calvin (1509–1564) all the way back to ancient church father Augustine (354–430). The acrostic “TULIP” is useful in remembering these tenets:

  • Total depravity is the idea that man is not only inherently evil (sinful), but is also completely unable to believe the Gospel until God regenerates him and then faith to be saved from sins or justified.
  • Unconditional election is the belief God chooses (“predestinates, elects”) who will be saved (go to Heaven) and who will be damned (go to Hell). Long ago, He determined this without any considerations as to who would freely choose Him or who would freely reject Him.
  • Limited atonement is the notion that Jesus Christ did not die for every single person, but for the elect only (those God had predestinated or chosen to save before the foundation of the world).* (*So-called “Four-Point Calvinists” reject this tenet.)
  • Irresistible grace is the idea that the elect (those God has predestinated or chosen to save) cannot ignore the Spirit of God’s “internal Gospel call” to be saved. If God has chosen them for salvation, they will be saved no matter what.
  • Perseverance of the saints is the belief that the elect will endure to the end with holy living. If one fails to have victorious Christian living to the end of his or her earthly life, that person is manifested to have never been one of the elect. It is this fifth point—perseverance of the saints—where Calvinists can apply 1 Timothy 6:19.

THE CONTEXT OF 1 TIMOTHY 6:19

As always, when we struggle with one particular verse, it is best to look at the context. The context restricts the meaning of the verse and makes its interpretation less ambiguous:

“[3] If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; [4] He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, [5] Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. [6] But godliness with contentment is great gain. [7] For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. [8] And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. [9] But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. [10] For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows….

“[17] Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; [18] That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; [19] Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”

The issue, of course, is material wealth. As we progress through the chapter, the focus becomes wealthy Christians. While prosperity is not a sin, it can become a snare if it is “loved.” If fixation on material goods consumes the Christian, then that is idolatry, as more and more is desired. “The love of money is the root of all evil,” verse 10 says. Covetousness, the Bible says, is idolatry (Colossians 3:5). Affluent Christians are cautioned not to be arrogant (1 Timothy 6:17): social status and economic statuses are only temporary. Ultimately, all Christians are equal in Christ—regardless of gender, wealth, ethnicity, and so on. “Whether there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond or free; but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11). “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

In addition, wealthy believers in Christ are not to be lulled into a false sense of security (1 Timothy 6:18). Material goods are “uncertain” because we can lose them at any time. Illness, economic downturn, robbery, theft, natural disaster, and other dire circumstances can take our riches away. Ultimately, physical death will rob us of every material possession we own! “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”

WHERE THE CONFUSION COMES IN

Some Calvinists, and others, will interpret the verse as follows…. Eternal life, getting to Heaven, is something elusive that we must try to grab. Eternal life must be sought here on Earth, holy living must be experienced here, but eternal life is not obtained until the very end of our earthly life. After all, a Calvinist has been taught to believe that he must “endure to the end to be saved.” In the Calvinist’s mind, eternal life comes after endurance, perseverance. Holy living must be pursued if eternal life is to be gained and Heaven is to be entered. This is how a Calvinist thinks about Christian living.

At this point, we need to pause and understand the three phases of salvation as taught in the Bible:

  1. Justification—God imputing His righteousness to the believer’s account upon the believer trusting in Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for his or her sins (Romans 3:24-31; Romans 4:1-5; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). It is here that the Holy Spirit places us into the Church the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). Read the first five chapters of Romans. We are given God’s life at this point; we immediately enter into an everlasting, personal relationship with Him. Jesus Christ defined eternal life in John 17:3, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” Justification is salvation or deliverance from the penalty of sin (Hell and the Lake of Fire). Once the blood of Jesus Christ is applied to our account, God can never and will never take it away. We are on our way to Heaven no matter what we do because Jesus Christ paid the price of our sin debt in full. Justification is a one-time transaction never to be repeated or revoked. Our faithfulness is not the issue; Jesus Christ’s faithfulness is!
  1. Sanctification—Since we have been set apart, moved from Adam to Christ, transferred from the power of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son, we need to apply this new identity to our daily life. What we have positionally (#1) should be brought down into our lives practically. In this phase, we are saved from the power of sin. This is an ongoing process, as we are to be constantly renewing our mind every day while studying the Bible. We should behave as though we are dead to sin and alive unto God. This is grace teaching, outlined most clearly in Romans chapters 6–8 and 12–16. Sin should be overcome every day. This is the experience and enjoyment of the eternal life we already have. Yes, all members of the Church the Body of Christ have eternal life, but precious few ever enjoy it on Earth. They have been misled to believe that eternal life is only possible after dying and going to Heaven. Going to Heaven is actually the third and final phase of our salvation.
  1. Glorification—We await this final phase of salvation, deliverance from the presence of sin. Unlike here on Earth, there is no sin in Heaven. Consequently, at the resurrection (Rapture), we will leave behind these old sinful bodies and receive new glorified bodies (1 Corinthians 15:35-58; 2 Corinthians 4:16–5:8; Philippians 3:20-21): our physical connection to Adam will be dissolved forever. We enter Heaven here, where there is no option to sin. God’s life will be experienced to the maximum. The glorified body will be fully equipped to glorify Jesus Christ in the heavenly places (Romans 8:18-25; Colossians 3:1-4).

If we look closely at the context of 1 Timothy 6:19, we will see where the Calvinist goes wrong. As we noted earlier, eternal life is defined as knowing the one true God and His Son Jesus Christ on an intimate level. Unsaved people—lost people, those in Adam, those outside of the Church the Body of Christ—do not have that close relationship with God because of sin. When they trust Christ, however, the barrier of sin is removed, and they enjoy unlimited access to God through the merits of Christ achieved at Calvary. Romans 5:1-2, Ephesians 2:18, 1 Timothy 2:5-7, and other passages make that clear.

Reading 1 Timothy 6:19 in context: “[17] Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; [18] That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; [19] Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”

Timothy was to order wealthy Christians not to become prideful/arrogant or idolatrous. Although it is not a sin to be wealthy, and they should enjoy the fruit of their labor, they could lose their fortune at anytime. Rather than being materialistic, they were to trust in the living God, the God of the Bible. He would never leave them or fail them. They were to be engaged in doing good. God wanted them to be rich in good works, and work in them so they would be eager to help and share with those less fortunate. Doing this would cause them to build up wealth in Heaven, a reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ. In engaging in good works, they would lay hold on eternal life. Again, this is not people trying to become Christians, making themselves Christians. This is people who are already Christians. Now, they need to behave like the Christians that they are.

Here is where we guard against the errors of Calvinism, and other types of works-religion. Eternal life is already ours, positionally speaking. We already have God’s life. But are we enjoying it now? Have we taken advantage of it? Is there a practical application of it? Are we living selfishly? If we are, we are not living the eternal life we have been given in Christ. Are we living with only the “here and now” in view? If so, we are not living the eternal life we have been given in Christ. God thinks that there is something more important than earthly possessions, something more important than being consumed by greed for material gain. Do we agree? Are we willing to meet the needs of those who could use our help? Will we idolize our material goods instead of worshipping the Lord Jesus Christ? Again, this is practical, daily Christian living. We make conscious decisions about it. If our life is contrary to these verses, then we need to be responsible and fix the problem. We must take our stand by faith in these simple truths. Otherwise, the eternal life we have in Christ has no impact right now.

Notice 1 Timothy 6:12: “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” Not only was Timothy to instruct rich people, he himself was instructed to “lay hold on eternal life.” Again, this has nothing to do with entering Heaven and nothing to do with trying to work toward Heaven; it has everything to do with a Christian enjoying his spiritual blessings right now on Earth! Are we studying the Bible rightly divided to learn about the provisions Father God has given us in Christ? Or, are we—like most—ignorant of those spiritual blessings (through lack of study, or denominational indoctrination, et cetera)? Are we begging God to give us what He has already given us in Christ? Are we living as God intended Christians to live, or are we living like the lost people we used to be? Then, we have not yet grasped, fathomed and implemented, the “eternal life” we have been given!

SUPPLEMENTAL: “LAY HOLD”

According to Strong’s Greek Dictionary, the words “lay hold” in Greek are:

“ἐπιλαμβάνομαι epilambánomai, ep-ee-lam-ban’-om-ahee; middle voice from G1909 and G2983; to seize (for help, injury, attainment, or any other purpose; literally or figuratively):—catch, lay hold (up-)on, take (by, hold of, on).”

The word appears 19 times in the King James Greek and is translated in the following manner: “take” (7 times), “take by” (3 times), “catch” (2 times), “take on” (2 times), “lay hold on” (2 times), “take hold of” (2 times), “lay hold upon” (1 times).

It describes Jesus when He “caught” sinking Peter (Matthew 14:31), Jesus “took” the blind man by the hand (Mark 8:23), Jesus “took” a child and sat him down by Him (Luke 9:47), Jesus “took” the man suffering from dropsy/edema (Luke 14:4), Israel’s hypocritical religious leaders trying to “take hold” or seize Jesus’ words that could be used against Him (Luke 20:20,26), the men “laid hold upon” Simon of Cyrene to carry Jesus’ cross (Luke 23:26), Barnabas “took” Saul/Paul and brought him to the Jerusalem apostles (Acts 9:27), the slave girl’s masters “caught” Paul and Silas (Acts 16:19), the Athenian philosophers “took” Paul and brought him to Mars’ Hill to teach them (Acts 17:19), the Greeks “took” Sosthenes the Christian and physically beat him (Acts 18:17), the Jews “took” Paul and throw him out of the Jerusalem Temple (Acts 21:30), the chief captain of a Roman army “took” Paul and had him bound with two chains (Acts 21:33), the chief captain “took” Paul’s nephew aside (Acts 23:19), Timothy was told to “lay hold on” eternal life (1 Timothy 6:12), rich Christians were instructed to “lay hold on” eternal life (1 Timothy 6:19), Jesus Christ “took not on” the nature of angels but “took on” the seed of Abraham (Hebrews 2:16), and God “took” Israel by the hand to lead them from Egyptian slavery (Hebrews 8:9).

Also see:
» Does Romans 9:20-21 support Calvinism?
» Does Acts 2:47 support Calvinism?
» Does Acts 13:48 support Calvinism?
» Does John 6:29 support Calvinism?
» Does Romans 9:14-18 support Calvinism?

Why does “revived” appear in Romans 14:9?

WHY DOES “REVIVED” APPEAR IN ROMANS 14:9?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Some find Romans 14:9 rather baffling, for it reads: “For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.” Christ “died”—okay. Christ “rose”—got it. Christ “revived”—huh? Is that not redundant? Why are “rose” and “revived” both essential here?

The fourteenth chapter of Romans counsels Christians to seek the welfare of their weaker brethren in Christ. We should always remember not (!) to use our liberty in grace to cause fellow believers to stumble in sin. “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). An activity we consider acceptable—and it may very well be acceptable to God—may seem inappropriate to Christians unschooled in grace doctrine. It will thus become to them a source of discouragement and potential destruction. Therefore, it is better for us to limit our freedom, lest Satan use something good to spiritually injure or incapacitate God’s people (read Romans chapter 14 in its entirety). Check also 1 Corinthians chapter 8, and our related study linked at the end of this article.

For brevity’s sake, we start at verse 1 of Romans chapter 14 but restrict our comments until verse 7: “[1] Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. [2] For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. [3] Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. [4] Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. [5] One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. [6] He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.”

Verse 7 onward amplifies what has preceded: “[7] For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. [8] For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. [9] For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.” We want to focus now on these verses, chiefly verse 9.

There is no room whatsoever in the life of Christ for living for self, living independently, living according to self-will, ignoring the damage we inflict on others (particularly fellow members of the Body of Christ). That is the old nature, the sin nature, Adam’s life, but that is not God’s life, Christ’s life, the Christian’s nature in the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Philippians 2:1-8). The Holy Spirit leads us to function on the basis of sound Bible doctrine—Pauline/grace teaching—rather than the energy of the flesh and vain speculations of natural-man thinking (cf. 1 Corinthians chapter 2). Faith in sound Bible doctrine allows the life of Jesus Christ, rather than the life of fallen Adam, to be manifested in our life.

Romans 14:9 once again: “For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.” Not only did Jesus die, not only did He rise from the dead, He “revived.” Why does “revived” appear here? What is its significance? The word seems unsuitable, does it not? Perhaps, but the Bible is not the problem. Every word of the King James Bible is important, and just because we do not understand a verse does not mean we should start “correcting” or “re-translating” it. Instead, we study it more fully, locating cross-references that will allow the Bible to interpret itself.

The Lord Jesus rose from the dead, but He was not merely alive. He was active or functional. You can be living in a vegetative state—paralyzed or limited physically. When Christ resurrected, He not only came to life again, He also left that tomb and resumed moving in that physical body like He did before it was crucified and killed. Read Romans chapter 6, paying close attention to verse 10: “[8] Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: [9] Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. [10] For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. [11] Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Jesus “liveth unto God” (verse 10)—His resurrection life!

After His resurrection, the Lord Jesus began to teach God’s Word again to Israel’s believing remnant (Acts 1:1-3). He recovered the condition He had before. It was a life of servitude to Father God once more, not selfishness but selflessness. He continued to follow His Father’s will, teaching Israel’s Little Flock, telling them about the kingdom of God, equipping them to prepare for the founding of His earthly kingdom (see Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-20; Luke 24:44-49; John 20:21-23; Acts 1:8). In terms of Romans 14:8, Jesus Christ “lived unto the Lord” and He “died unto the Lord.” The “Lord” here is obviously God the Father, for it was the Son who lived and died and lived again in accordance with the Father’s will. Recall Christ’s words in Gethsemane, just prior to His arrest and crucifixion:

  • Matthew 26:39: “And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”
  • Matthew 26:42: “He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.”
  • Luke 22:42: “Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”
  • John 4:34: “Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.”
  • John 6:38: “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.”
  • Hebrews chapter 10 is Jesus Christ speaking to Father God: “[5] Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: [6] In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. [7] Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. [8] Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; [9] Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. [10] By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

Going back to our key text in Romans chapter 14: “[7] For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. [8] For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. [9] For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.” Whether the life before Christ’s resurrection or the life after it, it was unselfish living. He was living, He was dead, and He was alive again. The purpose of this (living, death, living) was so He could be our Lord, whether we are dead or alive. If we live unto the Lord, or we die unto the Lord, we are following the Lord’s example, and He is thus leading us. We are faithful to Father God’s will, right up until physical death, and, after our physical resurrection, the life we will enjoy in the heavenly places. While we are on Earth, let us live with Father God’s will in mind—that is, in Romans chapter 14, conducting ourselves with our weaker brethren at the forefront of our thinking.

If we look at how this Greek word (“anazao,” “live again”) was handled elsewhere in the King James Bible’s New Testament, we see “rose” paired with “revived” is equivalent to coupling “rose” with “again.” “Again” and “reviving” both refer to the post-resurrection life:

  • Luke 15:24: “For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.”
  • Luke 15:32: “It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.”
  • Romans 7:9: “For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” (This would be the sense of “revived” in Romans 14:9.)
  • Revelation 20:5: “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.”

Also see:
» Can you explain 1 Corinthians chapter 8?
» Is it truly a good deed if done for selfish reasons?
» What are some verses to help me stop focusing on myself?
» Are the Christian life and ministry about bossing people around?
» Provided we do not hurt anybody, may we do what we want?
» Can an atheist be moral without any influence from any “higher power?”

Should we have a ministry to people who abuse us?

SHOULD WE HAVE A MINISTRY TO PEOPLE WHO ABUSE US?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Dear friends, it is no secret this world abounds with “users and abusers.” Such people take advantage of the kindness of others. They particularly expect us Christians to work for them for free. At their insistence, we should open some form of “business”—taxi service (driving them around everywhere), daycare facility (watching their kids constantly), construction company (doing frequent home maintenance for them), and so on. A well-meaning soul would say, “Even though they are known drug users, thieves, habitual liars, and alcoholics, I can mingle with them and show them the light of Christ. If need be, I will work for them for free just so I can be a witness to them!” Is that reasonable?

Undoubtedly, we should do whatever we can to help the less fortunate, needy, and disabled: “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth (Ephesians 4:28). As much as we possibly can, we should especially take care of other Christians’ needs: “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith (Galatians 6:10).

Romans 12:9-21 is another excellent passage to consult: “[9] Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. [10] Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; [11] Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; [12] Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; [13] Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. [14] Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. [15] Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. [16] Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. [17] Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. [18] If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. [19] Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. [20] Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. [21] Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Now, this is not all the Bible says about our relating with others. We should apply sanctified common sense as well. Bear in mind 1 Corinthians 15:33-34: “[33] Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. [34] Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.” Simply put, we put our Christian testimony and spiritual health at risk when we associate with certain people. We are deceived if we think they cannot inflict great damage upon us. Perhaps they have a criminal reputation. Or, maybe they belong to some cult, a haven of false teaching. If we are not careful, these avenues will become gateways for Satan’s evil world system to enter our life and attack us. For example, since the Christian Corinthians had allowed pagan Greek philosophy to mislead them, their so-called “spirituality” was nothing but an embarrassment. Sin is contagious. One person acting in the flesh will be enticed to sin if he or she sees another person acting in the flesh—that applies to lasciviousness (loose living) and asceticism (strict religion/philosophy).

It makes no sense for any Christian to surround himself or herself with lost people and expect to have victorious grace living. Too much exposure to the evil world system will bring any Christian down—from the new believer in Christ saved yesterday all the way to the apologetic pastor in ministry for 50 years. Never underestimate the effects sin can have on your life if you open yourself up to it. Consider these two equally tragic, real-life illustrations.

Currently, this author has a brother in Christ, a dear friend in grace ministry, struggling with illegal drug addictions. For years, he had contact with heavy drug users, and rather than him influencing them to come to Christ, they enticed him to follow them in their criminal lifestyle. In recent months, he has almost gone to Heaven on a few occasions because of his near-fatal overdoses! The nightmare his family members have experienced could have been avoided had he been more cautious in ministry. On a positive note, he has just started seeking treatment in a drug rehabilitation facility. Hopefully, he will recover himself from the snare of the Devil!

Some years back, the author had another brother in Christ, another good friend in grace ministry. This Bible teacher, after attempting to convert an atheist, became atheistic himself and a hostile Bible scoffer! Even after this author reached out to him to correct him, he never responded and continued on his wayward path. Three years later, it now appears he is more confused and smugger than ever. Unless we take adequate precautions, saints, sin will conquer us in ministry. Be ever so careful and prayerful before getting involved in these types of cases.

We need to make wise use of our time and energy. Wasting the Lord’s resources on people who refuse to better themselves is foolish. It is not God’s will for us. Having a ministry to people who outright abuse or habitually take advantage of us is a formula for disaster. Once we no longer positively influence them, but we reach the threshold of them beginning to adversely affect us, it is time to “count our losses” and move on to people who do want to be saved in Jesus Christ and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4).

Also see:
» How long should we keep witnessing to the same person?
» If God knows who will serve Him and who won’t, why witness?
» Must I witness to be saved?
» Can we witness “too much” to family members?
» Once Christians fall into gross sin, will God use them again?
» If God wants to save all—but only few are saved—is He not “weak” and “limited?”
» What are evil communications in 1 Corinthians 15:33?

Can you explain, “We are in the world but not of the world?”

CAN YOU EXPLAIN, “WE ARE IN THE WORLD BUT NOT OF THE WORLD?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

While often quoted in Christian circles as though it were a Bible verse quoted verbatim, “We are in the world but not of the world” is actually an amalgamation of several passages of Scripture. In this study, we will carefully consider that exhortation, tracking down its pertinent verses and summarizing them for application to life.

“WE ARE IN THE WORLD…”

We are “in the world.” The preposition “in” here signifies physical location, position, or status. Not yet in Heaven, we members of the Body of Christ are confined to this material and earthly existence. We must encounter lost (non-Christian) people on a daily basis. Until we enter the heavenly places, we will always be surrounded by people who do not believe or follow the Bible. They are not our enemies, though; as they are, so were we. Hence, we should attempt to reach them with the Gospel of the Grace of God. “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). The Lord Jesus Christ had a special reason for not taking us to Heaven the moment we trusted Him as our personal Saviour. He has entrusted us—not angels!—with the ministry of reconciliation and the word of reconciliation. We have been left here (temporarily) to share His words with others, that they may join us when we join Him in Heaven in the ages to come.

Second Corinthians chapter 5, verses 14-21, is our “Great Commission” in this the Dispensation of the Grace of God: “[14] For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: [15] And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. [16] Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. [17] Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. [18] And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; [19] To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. [20] Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. [21] For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

According to this passage, we are to tell lost people that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them. That is, He has offered to take of care of their sin debt by sending His Son Jesus Christ to die in their place. If they are to pass from eternal death to eternal life, they must receive by faith—neither by works nor by faith and works—the merits of that finished crosswork (as we have). Once they trust Jesus Christ’s shed blood as sufficient payment for their sins, God cancels (forgives) their sin debt and imparts righteousness to them. Unless we are here to preach that glorious Message of Grace, they will know nothing about it.

The Apostle Paul talks about us Christians being “in the world” in 1 Corinthians chapter 5: “[9] I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: [10] Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.” We must go out of the world to avoid associating with idolaters, fornicators, covetous individuals, et cetera. There are no such sins in Heaven. We cannot exit this world until God calls us home to the heavenly places. In the meantime, we must come into daily contact with people who are not part of God’s family. While they are not God’s children, they can be if they choose to accept by faith His free gift of soul salvation in Jesus Christ. In order to become members of the Body of Christ, they must first realize they are lost (needing salvation). It is difficult for them to understand this, as Satan uses works-religion to cause them to believe they are “okay.” Our duty and privilege are to tell them they are in dire need of justification in Christ.

Second Corinthians chapter 4: “[3] But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: [4] In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” Focus on that expression “the god [ruler] of this world.” Now, go over to Galatians 1:4: “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:….” All the systems of this world—political, economic, religious, educational, et cetera—are the expression not of God’s thoughts but rather Satan’s policy of evil. We need not wonder why corruption, deception, and injustice run rampant even now. Unless they believe on Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour, they will be on the receiving end of the wrath of a righteous, holy God! Yet, in the midst of this fallen creation, Almighty God is performing a mighty work. He does this through His people, believers in Jesus Christ, as His words work in them who believe (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

Sin is the method whereby Satan works to counter all that God wishes and does. Read 1 John 2:15-16: “[15] Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. [16] For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” The evil world system operating today does so on the basis of creatures—whether angels or people—conducting themselves according to “the lust of the flesh” (“I want it!”), “the lust of the eye” (“It looks good!”), and “the pride of life” (“I deserve it!”). Adam and Eve failed in all three points (Genesis 3:6), but Jesus Christ triumphed in all three points (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13). When we rely on Christ, we partake of His victory over sin! That leads us to the rest of the phrase under consideration.

“…BUT NOT OF THE WORLD”

We are not “of the world.” The preposition “of” here indicates spiritual origin, source, or derivation. Recalling 1 Corinthians chapter 5, Paul referenced “the fornicators of this world.” They belong to this evil world system, just as the covetous, extortioners, and idolaters mentioned in verse 10. Nothing they do reflects the Creator’s mentality or glory.

If we go over to 1 John chapter 4, we can see another example of “of the world:” “[1] Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. [2] Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: [3] And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. [4] Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. [5] They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. [6] We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” “Of the world” (verse 5) indicates false prophets or unbelievers (false religion), while “of God” (verse 6) refers to believers in Christ.

On the night of His death, Christ Jesus prayed to Father God about His apostles: “[14] I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. [15] I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil” (John 17:14-16). The Lord Jesus did not want His Heavenly Father to remove His disciples from the world, but rather guard them from “the evil.” As Israel’s Apostles were in the world, functioning on planet Earth in “enemy territory” (Satan’s domain), so we the Body of Christ find ourselves “trapped” here fighting against the flesh and the evil world system (as opposed to reigning in outer space, or the third heaven, for God’s glory).

First Corinthians 2:11-13 reminds us to be sure to keep our thoughts straight: “[11] For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. [12] Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. [13] Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”

We who have trusted Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour possess the indwelling Holy Ghost who teaches us, that the lies of the evil world system not deceive us. As we take the King James Bible and study it dispensationally on a daily basis, we are submitting to the teaching ministry of God’s Spirit. We are constantly reminded to remain separate from the world’s thinking and activities because we are to exhibit God’s thinking and activities. “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). We are “of God,” are we not? Then, we need to think and act like it!

No matter the age or dispensation, every person is either in Adam (default) or in Christ (believer). The words “in Christ” in 2 Corinthians 5:17 are a redemptive term: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” People in Adam (unrighteous) go to Hell, whereas people in Christ (righteous) go to Heaven. Consider the two federal heads in Romans chapter 5—Christ (God’s people share His identity) and Adam (everyone else). Whatever God has told mankind to believe in a particular dispensation, individual people have been expected to believe it so God can credit him or her for righteousness and put him or her in Christ. Our Gospel Message is 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, Christ dying for our sins, being buried, and being raised again the third day. If faith in this Good News justifies us, should we not then behave as justified people? Of course!

Go now to John 15:19, Jesus’ words to His followers: If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” By birth and from birth, every human is a sinner, a rebel against God’s purpose and plan; the sin nature is passed down from father to child, going all the way back to Adam. As King David wrote in Psalm 51, “Behold, I was shapen in inquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (verse 5). However, believers—those who trust Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour—God spiritually circumcises them. He cuts them off from that Adamic identity (Colossians 2:11-13; see Israel’s spiritual circumcision in Romans 2:28-29). As Jesus said, His believers were not “of the world;” they were now separated from the evil world system, sin’s dominion, Satan’s captivity. Christ then chose His believers “out of the world” to serve Him—neither their identity nor their function brought Satan glory anymore. They were no longer sinners bound for the torments of Hell, no longer enemies of God, and no longer contrary to God’s will for them. What is true of them is now true of us Christians.

Remember Jesus said in John chapter 15 that He had taken His disciples out of the world; therefore, they were no longer of the world. Their origin or association was not the sinful world system but now God’s kingdom and purpose. Again, while not spoken to us the Church the Body of Christ, but rather Israel’s believing remnant, we can still see the parallel with us. Our behavior should not match the course of this world because we are no longer in Adam. If we have trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, we are members of the Church the Body of Christ. We are part of God’s family now (Galatians 3:26). We are no longer children of the Devil (John 8:44). Our identity in Christ no longer matches the identity of lost people of the world. Thus, our behavior should reflect our new position in Christ. If ever we find ourselves blending in with the world with our words and/or our activities, we are living inconsistently with our Christian identity.

When Scripture says we are not of the world, it means we are not in the default position. We have moved from Adam (sin) to Christ (righteousness). The people of the world are still in Adam, cooperating with the evil world system or arrangement that Satan guides today. Remember, 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 talks about Satan being “the god of this world” and Galatians 1:4 says this “present evil world.” While we live in this world, we do not have to act like this world. If we are willing, God’s Holy Spirit will bring to life the life of Christ in us. We simply believe in our heart Pauline verses such as the following, and the Holy Spirit will work in us to make them a reality in our own life.

Ephesians 4:17-24: “[17] This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, [18] Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: [19] Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. [20] But ye have not so learned Christ; [21] If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: [22] That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; [23] And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; [24] And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

Philippians 1:9-11: “[9] And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; [10] That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ. [11] Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.”

Philippians 2:14-16: “[14] Do all things without murmurings and disputings: [15] That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; [16] Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.”

Philippians 3:20-21: “[20] For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: [21] Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”

Colossians 1:9-13: “[9] For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; [10] That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; [11] Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; [12] Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: [13] Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:….”

Colossians 3:1-4: “[1] If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. [2] Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. [3] For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. [4] When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”

Titus 2:11-14: “[11] For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, [12] Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; [13] Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; [14] Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

CONCLUSION

The verse that reads closest to the phrase in question, is John 15:19: “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” Jesus Christ was speaking to His disciples in the upper room on the night of His arrest, just hours before His crucifixion. As you can see, the Lord Jesus was comforting His followers, telling them of their future troubles and how He would see them through them. They were “in enemy territory,” and they would suffer for it at the hands of sinful men cooperating with Satan! While not spoken to us (the Church the Body of Christ), but rather Israel’s believing remnant (the Little Flock), we can still see the parallel with us.

While we are physically alive, we are bound to Earth. We cannot go to Heaven until Father God is ready for us. Indeed, we are “in the world”—part of human society, physical citizens of planet Earth. However, we are notof the world” because God took us spiritually from the evil world system. We are no longer under Satan’s control or destined for Hell and the Lake of Fire. Our position in Adam is gone forever, since our position in Christ replaced it the moment we believed the Gospel of the Grace of God. If we are saints positionally, then we should be saints practically. Let lost people think and act like lost people—people acting like they are headed for Hell (after all, that is who they are and where they are going!). Christians should think and act like Christians—people acting like they are headed for Heaven (after all, that is who we are and where we are going!).

Also see:
» Is grace a “license to sin?”
» How do we not live after the flesh if we live in bodies of flesh?
» Is “excellent” a King James mistranslation in Philippians 1:10?
» Once Christians fall into gross sin, will God use them again?
» Does “once saved, always saved” entitle us to abuse God’s grace?

» What are “evil communications” in 1 Corinthians 15:33?
» Why do some Christians persistently behave like lost people?
» Does God see us Christians as sinners?