Category Archives: GRACE (CHRISTIAN) LIVING

Are the Christian life and ministry about bossing people around?

ARE THE CHRISTIAN LIFE AND MINISTRY ABOUT BOSSING PEOPLE AROUND?

by Shawn Brasseaux

No, absolutely not, absolutely not, absolutely not, absolutely not!

Firstly, let us read Matthew chapter 20: “[20] Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. [21] And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. [22] But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. [23] And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.

“[24] And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren. [25] But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. [26] But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; [27] And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: [28] Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Next, Mark chapter 10 records the account like this: “[42] But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. [43] But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: [44] And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. [45] For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Finally, turn to Luke chapter 22: “[24] And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. [25] And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. [26] But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. [27] For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.”

According to Jesus Christ Himself, the Gentiles—the non-Jews, those under Satan’s control, members of the evil world system—operate their governmental systems with a bully mentality. While there are precious few exceptions, the vast majority of politicians covet one thing even today: power. They want nothing more than to rule over others and boss them around. Turn back to Luke 22:25-26, Jesus’ words to His disagreeing disciples: “[25] And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. [26] But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.” Notice “exercise lordship over.” The Greek is “kurieoo,” derived from the Greek word translated “Lord” (“kurios”).

“Kurieoo” appears again in Scripture, in Romans 6:9 and 14 as “hath dominion over:” “Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him…. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” Then, Romans 7:1: “Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?” Next, Romans 14:9: “For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.” Also, 2 Corinthians 1:24: “Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy; for by faith ye stand.”  Finally, 1 Timothy 6:15: “Which in his own times he shall shew who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of king, and Lord of lords;….”

A related Greek word is “katakurieoo.” It was rendered “exercise dominion over” in Matthew 20:25: “But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.” Mark 10:42 translates it “exercise lordship over:” “But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.” In Acts 19:16, it was rendered “overcame:” “And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.” The final occurrence is 1 Peter 5:3, “lords over:” “Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.”

We want to focus especially on the last verse just presented. Read it in context, the Apostle Peter writing concerning the circumcision believers: “[1] The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: [2] Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; [3] Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock. [4] And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” Leadership within the Little Flock, Israel’s believing remnant, is direction not oppression. The many verses we have just read bring us to this conclusion: the Holy Spirit never leads anyone to bully others, have control over them.

Now, come to the Apostle Paul’s ministry, and re-read 2 Corinthians 1:24 in context: “[23] Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth. [24] Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.” Again, here is what makes religion different from Bible-believing Christianity. In light of the aforementioned surveys, we better understand Paul’s usage of the term. The Apostle never forced himself on anyone (in that case, the unruly Corinthians). He “helped” or “served” them instead. God’s grace motivates us to do right, friends, but it does not command us or force us as governmental leaders use laws. Christianity is not about religious leaders dictating to or bullying us. (That is religion!) We make conscious choices by faith in Bible verses we read, and we therefore “stand.” Never, ever let any preacher, theologian, denomination, or church sit on a throne in your Christian life! And, never, ever sit on a throne in any Christian’s life!

Dear brethren, we must be careful not to use our ministry as an occasion to the flesh. Sin deceives. It makes us adopt a false sense of reality. That deception arises in many forms. Here, we can think we are doing “God’s work” but in actuality our sin nature is parading, flaunting, “doing its own thing.” We do not care what direction our ministry or local church (truth or error, right or wrong, good or bad) goes, so long as we are doing the driving! How concerning it is that this attitude dominates most local congregations, as well as many of the so-called “Christian institutions of higher learning.” Identify this foothold of Satan in your life and ministry, Christian friend, and force him out before you are spiritually ruined!

Also see:
» What if I was never thanked?

» Is it truly a good deed if done for selfish reasons?
» What are some verses to help me stop focusing on myself?
» How does one know if he or she is maturing in the Word of God?

How should we as Bible believers respond to the coronavirus?

HOW SHOULD WE AS BIBLE BELIEVERS RESPOND TO THE CORONAVIRUS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Dear friends, since its discovery in Wuhan, China, late last year, we have heard more and more about the infectious respiratory disease known as the “coronavirus” (also called “COVID-19”). People are frightened, unsure of what to believe and how to react. What should we do as Bible-believing Christians? You will surely be surprised when you learn the answers God’s Word gives. In this study, you will encounter truths you have never heard before—and likely will never hear again. It is this author’s fervent hope and prayer that you will have a receptive heart. Let us search the Scriptures to see what Almighty God has to say!

I. THE (OBVIOUS) PHYSICAL THREAT

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) website: “The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately 2,200 people have contracted the coronavirus in the United States; involving 47 states plus the District of Columbia; resulting in 50 deaths thus far. WHO reports that 167,511 people in 129 countries have coronavirus. About 6,600 deaths have resulted globally. Over 86,000 cases are confirmed in China; nearly 3,400 have died thus far. New cases are arising every day in various regions. There is currently no known vaccine to prevent coronavirus and effective treatments are still being developed. All we can do is slow it down by practicing good hygiene. For more information, you can visit these websites: cdc.gov (United States) and who.int (world).

WHO has recently labeled the coronavirus a “pandemic,” a global threat. President Trump has now declared a “national emergency” for the indefinite future—freeing up federal government resources and delegating power to combat it. Countries are closing their borders, isolating their people with border closing, discouraging trips, and banning large gatherings. Tightening travel restrictions are being implemented and enforced everywhere. Consumers are frantically rushing to stores and buying out items. Proprietors are even price gouging, taking advantage of desperate customers. Schools are holding online classes instead of face-to-face meetings. Sporting events are canceled or postponed indefinitely. Even handshakes are being evaded!

World-renowned immunologist and virologist Dr. Anthony Fauci says the risk for young and healthy Americans contracting coronavirus “remains low.” High-risk individuals are the elderly and people with underlying or chronic health conditions. If you are sick, seek medical help. United States Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams adds, “98 to 99 percent of the people will recover.” He gives his “prescription” as follows: “Know your risk, understand your risk, understand your circumstances, and get the facts to protect yourself.”

Obviously, we should all continue washing our hands as often as we can, using hot water and soap for at least 20 seconds. It would be best to avoid shaking hands (bump elbows instead, for example). Avoid any unnecessary travel, especially trips abroad. Sneeze and cough into your sleeves or disposable tissues; do not cough or sneeze into your hands!! Steer clear from large crowds and sick people—a practice called “social distancing.” Sick people should be quarantined. For the meantime, church leaders should resort to holding online services as opposed to physically meeting in buildings. Again, for additional guidance, visit these websites: cdc.gov (United States) and who.int (world). The Lord would expect us to use these common-sense practices to further reduce our risk.

In certain regions of the world, pandemonium and mayhem have resulted. Certainly, emotions are dominating and people are overacting. Being a presidential election year in the United States, individuals are exploiting this matter by “playing politics.” Blaming and attacking others will not solve the problem! The majority of the media here in the United States is unequivocally dishonest—and that is an indisputable fact. For several days now, this author has watched White House press conferences. While there are some upright journalists, they are few in number. Many are hostile and deliberately clueless to answers given over and over again; they are biased activists instead of neutral investigators. This author has no doubt many in the media are intentionally working to undermine and destroy this nation by promoting misinformation, and instilling fear and panic among its citizens. Certain cable “news” networks are laughable and thus not worth watching for even five seconds! Friends, you would do well to listen directly to health officials as opposed to politicians, “reporters,” and social-media gossipers who are seeking attention and creating division by disseminating “fake news.”

Even in Christendom, confusion and misunderstandings abound (like always!). In recent weeks, this author has read and heard about all kinds of nonsensical behaviors among professing Christians. Televangelists (charlatans!) are acting foolish in videos by selling supposed “coronavirus cures” at outrageous prices. Preachers are praying Psalm 91 over their audiences—asking God for angelic intervention and physical protection. In the United States, there was a recent “National Day of Prayer” where denominationalists, in their sincerity, voiced their pervasive Scriptural oddities. Being peddled is the ever-present slogan, “This is the sign of Jesus’ return! Look at Bible prophecy being fulfilled!” Of course, there is also the declaration, “God is using coronavirus to judge the world’s sin!” The very people who have the Word of God and should be generating light and peace—Christians—are often worsening the problem with their rank ignorance and unbelief.

Let us be abundantly clear. In this Bible study, we surely do not want to promote fearmongering and sensationalism (there is enough of that already). Yet, no matter who we are or where we live, we have made or will make significance life changes. These inconveniences will last for the next several weeks or few months—perhaps longer, depending our location in the world. We should take physical health precautions as already outlined. Never do we diminish this. Moreover, as Bible-believing Christians, we should look at this from a spiritual perspective and guard against threats to our spiritual health. That is our goal for the remainder of this study.

II. THE (INSIDIOUS) SPIRITUAL THREAT

Friends, how unfortunate it is that great confusion and misinformation result in times of disaster. Understandably, people are fearful—yea, even to the point of terror and paranoia. The Holy Bible can be a source of great comfort and enlightenment. However, Christians are usually just as baffled and misled as the general public. Why? They too have not actually listened to and believed the words of Scripture. Religious tradition, speculation, philosophy, and sentiment have been their guides. Thus, when we hear them and watch them respond to life’s situations, it is obvious they really have no idea what God is doing today or what He would have them do today either. Here, dear readers, is where we must exercise great caution. As serious as physical illnesses can be, none will ever compare to spiritual disease introduced by sin and false teaching.

Just as our outward man—the physical body—was formed to behave a certain way, so our inward man was created to function in a specific manner. A steady, nutritious diet results in a healthy physical body. Likewise, “junk food” is to be minimized in the spiritual world. Nevertheless, what is often passed off as “nutritious” spiritual food is nothing but trash! It seems good, it feels right, and it tastes good—but that false doctrine inflicts tremendous damage upon our soul and spirit. The pollution and destruction is not immediately noticed. In fact, it often goes unrealized until after physical death!

During this time of the coronavirus outbreak, we must guard against the plague of false teaching. As always, we remember the Holy Spirit’s instruction in 2 Timothy 2:15: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Physical illness is temporary, but spiritual destruction carries into eternity. As long as we handle the Bible dispensationally (Ephesians 3:2), understanding Paul is our Apostle or God’s spokesman to us (Romans 11:13), then we will be safe spiritually. If we do not handle God’s Word, God’s way, we will inflict great spiritual damage upon ourselves and our audience.

Here are seven major misconceptions currently circulating among Christian groups. These ideas are actually far more dangerous than the coronavirus itself and they should be avoided at all costs!

QUESTION #1: IS GOD USING THE CORONAVIRUS TO JUDGE THE WORLD FOR SIN?

A popular slogan during all times of trouble, “God is judging the world for sin,” is really legalistic. Indeed, Leviticus chapter 26 and Deuteronomy chapter 28 contain God’s warnings to Israel concerning five stages of chastisements if they disobey His Covenant of Law. Crop failures, physical illnesses, wars, oppressive enemies, exile from the land, and so on, are just a few examples of these curses. Ignoring their dispensational contexts, people take these verses and feed them into our Dispensation of Grace. How careless they are!

Isaiah 59:1-2 is quoted to support the idea that suffering people are experiencing their trouble because God disfavors them: “[1] Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: [2] But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” Again, the context is Israel as she experiences all five stages of chastisement previously mentioned (Leviticus chapter 26; Deuteronomy chapter 28). No nation today is being addressed here, for we are living in the Dispensation of Grace (Ephesians 3:2) and not the Dispensation of Law! Law and Grace cannot mix; the Book of Galatians could not be clearer. “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14). We are under a grace-based acceptance system (Calvary, Christ’s finished crosswork, giving us favor with God); we are not under a performance-based acceptance system (our “good” works giving us favor with God).

Whenever someone says, “God is judging this person, this nation, or the world today because of sin,” that individual seems to be voicing spiritual insight but is really doing nothing but advertising Bible ignorance. The most notable characteristics of our Dispensation of Grace are God’s “longsuffering,” “grace,” and “mercy.” He has been patient in dealing with sinful man, so He has not yet judged sinful man. Through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork, God has reconciled the world unto Himself, not holding their sins against them: “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” (2 Corinthians 5:19). God certainly is not judging the world for sin today. Through Calvary’s cross, any and every nation has equal and unrestricted access to the God of the Bible. He is not hiding His face from anyone (individual, nation, or world).

Grace (the Divine favor that sinful man does not deserve) and mercy (the Divine wrath that sinful man does deserve) are epitomized in the very Apostle to whom this dispensation has been entrusted. First Timothy chapter 1 says of Paul: “[13] Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. [14] And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. [15] This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. [16] Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”

Paul wrote the above passage as the Holy Spirit guided him. Also known as Saul of Tarsus, he was the bitterest enemy of Christ in the nation Israel—really, the whole world. He blasphemed against the Holy Ghost (Matthew 12:31-32), refusing to listen to the Spirit of God as He preached through the 12 Apostles during the early Acts period. Saul encouraged his nation to continue resisting the Lord Jesus. Once the Prophet Stephen addressed Israel and censured her for her persistent unbelief (Acts chapter 7), these religious leaders stoned him to death. Saul, the Jewish religious leader that he was, was among that murderous crowd and inciting that violence!

Start reading at Acts 7:51 and go through to verse 3 of chapter 8. Then, turn to Acts 9:4-5, Acts 22:4, Acts 26:9-11, and Galatians 1:13-14. Finally, go back to 1 Timothy 1:13. As the greatest persecutor of the Messianic Church, Saul of Tarsus deserved nothing but Divine wrath. The next stage in prophecy to follow Christ’s ascension was God’s judgment on Christ-rejecting Israel and the world (Acts 2:24-36; Acts 3:22-23; Acts 7:55-56; cf. Psalm 110:1). Even now, 20 centuries later, that wrath has not yet fallen. In Acts chapter 9, Saul of Tarsus rather received grace, mercy, and peace from the Lord. Saul was not consumed, and yet he was most deserving of it! First Timothy 1:16 again: “Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” Here is how our Dispensation of Grace began: God’s most vehement enemy joined His family by faith as opposed to remaining in unbelief and receiving that awful eternal judgment!

Go now to 2 Peter chapter 3, and read it, concentrating especially on verses 3-16. Scoffers are mocking and wondering when Christ will return to judge them for their unbelief (where Paul used to be!). The Apostle Peter’s inspired response is, “Paul’s ministry is underway, God’s longsuffering is operating, and it is not yet time to pour out wrath!” Anyone who is saved today by trusting Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for their sins (1 Corinthians 15:3-4), that person is saved following Saul’s “pattern” of salvation in Acts chapter 9 (cf. 1 Timothy 1:16). God’s enemies should be suffering His wrath this very moment, and yet, that wrath is delayed until our Dispensation of Grace runs its course. As long as the Church the Body of Christ is on planet Earth, the Dispensation of Grace is operating, so absolutely no Divine wrath will be seen. After the Body of Christ is caught up to Heaven at the Rapture, however, then prophecy will resume, and wrath will absolutely follow!

QUESTION #2: WILL GOD PROTECT US FROM THE CORONAVIRUS?

Some Christians have voiced they have no fear because God will keep them safe and prevent them from contracting the coronavirus. This may sound harsh, but it needs to be said: these are downright foolish comments. While it is biblical to claim physical healing (James 5:14-16, for example), there is absolutely nothing in Paul’s epistles to indicate we should claim physical healing or that we should expect no health problems.

Timothy suffered stomach issues and other “often” bodily illnesses. Was there a laying on of hands? (No!) An anointing of oil? (No!) Paul’s inspired recommendation was for him to use a little wine as medicine (1 Timothy 5:23). Paul himself, when writing his final epistle, remarked he had left Trophimus at Miletum “sick” (2 Timothy 4:20). This demonstrates that even the Apostle Paul no longer had the spiritual gift of healing. His “Acts” provoking ministry to Israel had ended (Romans 11:11-14). Paul himself actually suffered his own physical illnesses—near total blindness (Galatians 4:13-15; Galatians 6:11), among additional health issues (see 2 Corinthians 11:27 and 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, for instance).

In light of 1 Timothy 5:23, God expects to follow the aforementioned health precautions concerning coronavirus. He has given us an immune system and medical knowledge and technology, so we should use them!

QUESTION #3: SHOULD WE ASK GOD TO STOP THE CORONAVIRUS?

Religious people far and wide have actually assembled to repeatedly ask Almighty God to stop the coronavirus from spreading. They are still begging Him to intervene and mitigate its effects and help us know how to treat the ill. Again, this is an utter failure to understand and complete disregard of what Scripture says about the Lord’s current dealings with man. Remember, it is not a question of whether or not God can stop the coronavirus. He can. The question is, What is God doing today? Consider these two verses.

Firstly, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13). Secondly, “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). As members of the Church the Body of Christ, having trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, God has “sealed” us with and by His Holy Spirit. Our inner man is forever secure. We will never experience Hell and the second death in the Lake of Fire. However, we have never been promised physical protection. Again, remember Paul himself experienced personal threats, including physical illness, limitations, and deprivations (1 Corinthians 4:9-13; 2 Corinthians 6:4-10; 2 Corinthians 11:22-27). Timothy had various chronic health problems (1 Timothy 5:23). These Christians were not immune from bodily suffering, and neither are we (see Romans 8:18-25)!!

Second Corinthians 12:7-10: “[7] And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. [8] For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. [9] And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. [10] Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” In Christ, we have been given grace, a capacity to endure everything life throws at us—including physical illness and persecution!

Go now to Philippians chapter 4: “[11] Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. [12] I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. [13] I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Whether possessing much or having nothing, whether sick or healthy, we can endure “all things!” The Lord Jesus Christ promises us—not physical help—but spiritual help. He is working in our inner man as we walk by faith in these simple truths. Our circumstances do not have to destroy us emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

“That he [Father God] would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-21). Here is what the Apostle Paul prayed for fellow Christians because this is what God is doing today in the Dispensation of Grace (cf. Ephesians 1:15-23; Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 1:9-12). You may also see Romans 5:1-5.

Again, before we “name and claim” Israel’s verses, we need to understand the dispensational change that took place with Paul’s salvation. Read Romans 8:18-25 and 2 Corinthians 4:16–5:8. These verses describe our physical body being vulnerable to disease, aging, and death. We read nothing about, “God will spare us from illness,” “Let us claim physical healing in Jesus’ name,” and so on. In fact, we read the opposite. At creation, God imparted an immune system to the first human body, and we have inherited it. He does not need to intervene and “cure” us, or stop any illness from reaching us. If our immune is still not strong enough, if we get sick and die, so what! We will receive new glorified bodies at our resurrection anyway!

At this point, someone would ask about the healing miracles in Scripture. We will answer that now. The physical healing program that operated during Christ’s earthly ministry is currently paused. God’s earthly kingdom—in which there is no physical sickness (Isaiah 33:24; Isaiah 35:4-6; Matthew 8:16-17; Matthew 9:35; Matthew 10:7-8; Mark 16:15-20; et cetera)—is delayed. Why? Because the wrath attached to that kingdom has also been delayed. The kingdom program—including the wrath—has been postponed so God can pour out grace and mercy on the entire world. Our ultimate healing as members of the Church the Body of Christ will come at the Rapture, when Christ returns to take us out of this present evil world, we receiving glorified and resurrected bodies that will never be subject to sin, decay, or death (1 Corinthians 15:51-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; cf. Romans 8:23-24; Ephesians 4:30).

QUESTION #4: SHOULD WE “NAME AND CLAIM” PSALM 91?

Certain people have presumptuously taken Psalm 91 and prayed over their congregations, their homes, and even their planet: “[1] He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. [2] I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. [3] Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. [4] He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. [5] Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; [6] Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday…. [9] Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; [10] There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. [11] For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. [12] They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.”

You can see why “coronavirus prayer warriors” like this passage. Notice the references to “noisome [serious] pestilence” (verse 3), “pestilence” (verse 6), and “plague” (verse 10). The “guardian angel” people “name and claim” this passage as well on the basis of verses 11-12. Interestingly, Psalm 91 was the very Scripture that Satan used against the Lord Jesus during His temptations (cf. Matthew 4:5-6; Luke 4:9-11)! Furthermore, it is significant that the Lord did not follow Psalm 91—even though it is Scripture. Satan had perverted it, misquoted it, and ripped it from its dispensational context. Psalm 91 is so heavily abused even today, as we can see throughout religious circles. Jesus knew it was a Second Coming passage, not a First Coming passage. It did not apply to His earthly ministry, and it does not apply to us either. Indeed, here is proof that we can quote the Bible and still be out of God’s will! Psalm 91 does not belong in our dispensation!

QUESTION #5: SHOULD WE “NAME AND CLAIM” 2 CHRONICLES 7:14?

Of course, we cannot forget 2 Chronicles 7:14, for it always appears in religious contexts when tragedy strikes: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” Second Chronicles 20:9 is also being quoted concerning the coronavirus: “If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help.” There are four problems with us quoting these passages as though they are spoken to and about us.

Firstly, no matter what you have heard, America is not God’s people. No nation on Earth today is God’s people—even Israel (Romans 11:11-15,25-32)! The Church the Body of Christ is God’s people. Secondly, the verses in 2 Chronicles concern Solomon’s Temple (“this house”) in Jerusalem. The Babylonians destroyed that Temple more than 2,500 years ago. Thirdly, the “land” being healed is the land of Canaan, the land of Israel, not North America! Lastly, this is Israel being cast out of that land because of her sin (breaking the Old Covenant with her pagan idolatry). In the centuries after King Solomon, the Babylonian and Assyrian Captivities scattered the Jewish people around the world. How irresponsible we are to ignore such facts, rip these verses from their context, and make them God’s words to us.

QUESTION #6: IS THE CORONAVIRUS ANOTHER “SIGN OF THE TIMES?”

“The coronavirus is one of the signs of the times, telling us that Jesus’ return is near….” Over the years, this ever-popular and nonsensical “Gentiles seeking signs” mentality has become banal. Bible skeptics have taken full advantage of silly Christians employing this statement ad nauseum. “So, we are still waiting for Jesus, are we?! How many signs will it take before He comes back?!” Here again is how our refusal to handle the Bible dispensationally has caused us to look idiotic and thus encourage people to scorn the Holy Scriptures.

Firstly, Gentiles should not be looking for signs; the Jews require a sign” (1 Corinthians 1:22). Secondly, Matthew chapter 24 in no way describes anything God is doing today. People are grabbing verse 7 and applying it to today, and this is dangerous: “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.” This concerns Israel’s prophetic program, the events (“signs,” indications) that speak of Christ’s Second Coming.

As Christians, we are not looking for the Second Coming—that is His wrath! We should be looking for His coming to take the Church the Body of Christ out of this present evil world (Titus 2:13). When our Apostle, Paul, wrote about events making the “last days,” he mentioned specific sins rather than specific signs (see 2 Timothy 3:1-5). Whatever Jesus spoke of in Matthew chapter 24, it is unrelated to what Paul wrote about in 2 Timothy; otherwise, Paul would have quoted Jesus’ earthly ministry here. Two comings of Christ are in view here, and we should be mindful never to conflate the two!

QUESTION #7: SHOULD WE PRAY FOR GOD TO GIVE OUR LEADERS WISDOM?

Dear friends, the only way God imparts wisdom to people is when they open the Bible and read it (1 Corinthians chapter 2)! It is a common practice for people to ask God for wisdom but they never actually read His Word. This is dumb, and that is all there is to it. If we are not willing to take the time to flip through the pages of Scripture and read those verses, then we really have no interest in gaining God’s wisdom. God expects medical doctors to use their formal training to save lives (did they not go to medical school for a reason?). He also expects politicians to take Bible verses and implement them by using their legal training. When we start asking God to give governmental leaders and physicians wisdom to undertake challenges, we are making two mistakes. Firstly, we are really cheapening prayer for those in authority. Secondly, we are saying God speaks outside of the Bible (and this is where the cults insert their leaders’ “inspired” literature—the Book of Mormon, the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, and so on).

Read 1 Timothy chapter 2: “[1] I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; [2] For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. [3] For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; [4] Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. [5] For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; [6] Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”

What would God have us pray concerning our leaders? That they would gain His wisdom? No. The context is Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork! God’s primary concern is not that governmental leaders are making poor decisions; His chief concern is that they are lost and headed for Hell like civilians! Christians need to stop praying nonsense for leaders, and start praying like intelligent and Biblically-informed people. Governmental leaders are most useful to God once they are members of the Church the Body of Christ. God does not fill lost people with His Holy Spirit. After they trust the Gospel of Grace, then He can and will work in and through them to make wise decisions. God expects Christian doctors to take advantage of their training they have already been given; otherwise, we could all pray for “medical wisdom” and avoid taking college courses!

Here is the blunt reality. What we need to pray is that governmental leaders would trust Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. What we need to pray is that doctors would trust Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. What we need to pray is that sick people would trust Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. Praying with the long-term in mind—as opposed to the short-term—is mature Christian prayer.

III. CONCLUSION

As we can see, dear friends, the spiritual threat is far grimmer than the physical threat. Lies are circulating in the name of “Christian” teaching. Having the right doctrine—sound Bible doctrine, dispensational Bible study, in the soul—will bring us spiritual strength. “And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure” (Isaiah 33:6). We need to be sure we are armed with facts and not superstitions and speculations!

We now summarize and conclude:

  1. Is God using the coronavirus to judge the world for sin? NO. Denominationalists are wrong (no surprise there!). God is not using the coronavirus to judge the world or any nation, including America. The very nature of the Dispensation of Grace is “grace and peace,” as opposed to “wrath and war.” God addressed the nations this way at the start of each and every Pauline Epistle, Romans through Philemon. His wrath will come on sinful man one day, but not until after our dispensation closes. In our dispensation, His attitude toward the world is “grace and peace.” The Apostle Paul’s very conversion in Acts chapter 9 is a testament to that fact.

 

  1. Will God protect us from the coronavirus? NO. God has not promised us immunity from physical threats or even guaranteed us physical healing. Many saints down through the ages have endured a variety of bodily illnesses and even succumbed to fatal diseases. Hence, we need to follow the health guidelines provided at the beginning of this study. God expects us to use common sense and practice good hygiene. We should listen to our local and national health professionals. If we do happen to contract the coronavirus and move on to Heaven, so what! We are “far better” off with Christ (Philippians 1:23)!

 

  1. Should we ask God to stop the coronavirus? NO. God will not stop the coronavirus because He is not intervening physically today. He is working internally, equipping us spiritually so that we grow stronger in Him and His Word to us, Paul’s Epistles (Romans through Philemon). He did not intervene to deliver Paul from his bodily afflictions, cure Timothy’s chronic illnesses, or heal Trophimus. The Holy Spirit ordered Timothy to use wine as medicine (1 Timothy 5:23). Likewise, God expects us to use our medical knowledge to develop a vaccine to minimize the impact of the coronavirus, how to lessen the risk of contracting it, and how to best treat those already infected with it. This is mature grace thinking—and a stark contrast to the Bible ignorance that so pervades the professing church! The sooner we move away from unrealistic expectations, the quicker we can become people of faith and hope instead of people of doubt and disappointment!

 

  1. Should we “name and claim” Psalm 91? NO. God will not send angels to protect us as per Psalm 91. He will not spare our house from succumbing to illness, coronavirus or any other disease. This heavily abused passage is what Satan attempted to use to distract Jesus Christ from His Heavenly Father’s will for Him. We would do well to keep Psalm 91 in its dispensational context, and not apply it to our dispensation. Nothing in Paul’s Epistles indicates angels protect us. Again, we are not guaranteed physical health until the Rapture, when these aging and weakening bodies are redeemed from sin. God cares for us, but spiritual health is His priority today!

 

  1. Should we “name and claim” 2 Chronicles 7:14? NO. This passage has a context. It involves the Mosaic Law, of which we are not a part (Romans 6:14). It involves Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, which was destroyed over 2,500 years ago. This is not America or any other nation today. Rather, it is ancient Israel being judged with courses of chastisement because of her persistent idolatry. The land is the land of Palestine, the land of Canaan, and not any other real estate.

 

  1. Is the coronavirus another “sign of the times?” NO. Despite what you have heard ad nauseum, the coronavirus is not a “sign of the times.” As non-Jews, we are not to be looking for signs anyway. There are no “signs” leading up to the close of our Dispensation of Grace. Matthew chapter 24 refers to Christ’s Second Coming some years after our Dispensation of Grace has ended. As opposed to looking for signs, we should consider the sins of 2 Timothy 3:1-5.

 

  1. Should we pray for God to give our leaders wisdom? NO. Apart from the already revealed will and mind of God as found in the Holy Bible, we will not hear from God again until He comes to remove the Body of Christ. Either the Bible is complete or it is not. If we want God’s wisdom, we need to read the Bible, especially Paul’s Epistles of Romans through Philemon (see Ephesians 3:4). Let us take time to understand how fragile this life is: “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 5:14). Lastly, let us use this opportunity to reach as many people as we possibly can 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). Uncertain as to what to expect, they are most open to spiritual matters at this very moment. Be sure you give them the right information—sound Bible doctrine—and not the useless denominational doctrine we have just discredited. Stay safe and this author wishes you God’s best!

Also see:
» Should we pray for sick people?
» How should we pray for people enduring natural catastrophes and other tragedies?
» How do we have an “effectual” prayer life?

I have trusted Christ, so why do I keep seeing new things in Scripture?

I HAVE TRUSTED CHRIST, SO WHY DO I KEEP SEEING NEW THINGS IN SCRIPTURE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Dear friend, have you trusted Jesus Christ exclusively as your personal Saviour? “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). If you have believed in your heart the Gospel of the Grace of God, then you have the indwelling Holy Spirit: “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:12-14). You are now God’s child, a member of the Church the Body of Christ. You have permanent forgiveness of all your sins. You have a home reserved for you in Heaven forever. You are justified (declared righteous), redeemed (purchased out of the slave market of sin), sanctified (set apart for God’s purposes), and so on.

However, when you open the Bible and read it, you still encounter a problem. There is a “veil” concerning the Scriptures. You can see the words on the page, but have limited understanding. It is like looking into a foggy mirror. You observe a vague outline, but details are obscured. Closing the Bible, you exclaim, somewhat disappointed and disgusted, “Well, I got nothing out of that!” Later—days, weeks, months, or even years later—you return to the same passage. Now, the verses impact you with a greater magnitude. You feel a thrill. “Wow, look at that verse! I never noticed that truth before!” What happened? How can you see now in the Scriptures what you could not see earlier in those very same verses? This phenomenon is what we will focus on here.

Dear Christian friend, you have to remember that, even as saved people, we have a sin nature (the flesh) that rebels against the truth. If we are not careful to mind the things of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:5) and walk after the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:25)—letting Him lead our thinking and conduct—we will go the way of the flesh. Whether saved or lost, God gives people spiritual light so long as they are willing to receive it. It is offensive, but it must be stated. Yes, it is likely for a Christian to think and behave like a lost person. There are people who have trusted Christ but refuse to abandon their denominational views because it will cost them something or everything (ego, family members, job/salary, friends, and so on). Let us not be these kinds of people. May we value the Lord Jesus Christ and His words—no matter the price!

Listen to Ephesians chapter 4: “[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.”

The saints at Ephesus were cautioned not to repeat the sins of other Gentiles. All around the world were non-Jews walking (conducting their lives) “in the vanity of their mind, 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….” The Ephesian Christians should be watchful in listening to and believing Pauline doctrine, lest they wind up in that same worthless mentality and lifestyle. If we are unwilling to let go of former doctrine—teaching we now know is false—then we will return to our old mindset and conduct.

Religion has misled us all to some degree. Some of us have spent decades in denominations or cults; others among us, having grown up in the Message of Grace, know practically nothing about such bondage. Yet, in all our hearts resides that aforementioned sin nature. It serves as “static” or “interference” to some extent. The greater the amount of false teaching we have clung to over the years, the more “static” the flesh generates, and the less clear God’s voice is on the pages of Scripture. We must let go of that nonsense if we are to hear God the Holy Spirit speak through the verses. It takes time, surely, but we have to move along in our understanding. Dear Christian friend, the more light you have in the Scriptures, please walk in that light. Do not regress, going back to the darkness in which you once were. Progress in your understanding, and get with it before you slide backward!

Consider Philippians chapter 1: “[12] Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. [13] Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, [14] I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. [15] Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. [16] Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.”

Here was the great Apostle Paul, writing some 30 or 35 years after trusting Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour. Even after all that time, Paul still did not have a complete understanding of just why the Lord saved him unto eternal life! Yet, Paul was determined to keep growing in the Word, to continue studying it, to keep allowing the Holy Spirit to use it to transform his mind and life. Dear Christian friend, we should follow him in this regard, walking in the spiritual light we have (verse 16). If we do this, God the Holy Spirit will use the Scriptures to further mature us in our spiritual knowledge and spiritual understanding (verse 15). We will continue seeing new things in the Scriptures.

Not only do we “read” Scripture, especially Romans through Philemon“Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)” (Ephesians 3:4).

Not only do we “search” Scripture “daily”“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11).

Not only do we “study” Scripture “rightly divided”“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

We “consider” Scripture to understand “all things”“Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things” (2 Timothy 2:7).

We let the Scripture speak because we are willing to believe it“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

We let the Scripture speak because we have a sincere desire to know God’s Word and will “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17). “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

Onward, upward, and higher we go by God’s grace!

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

Also see:
» How should we view dispensationalists of bygone days?
» Why do some Christians persistently behave like lost people?
» Must I be a “King James Bible, Pauline dispensationalist” to have eternal life?

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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What are some tips for faster spiritual growth?

WHAT ARE SOME TIPS FOR FASTER SPIRITUAL GROWTH?

by Shawn Brasseaux

In this Bible study, we will provide five critical (!), invaluable (!) tips that this author has discovered over the course of his Christian life these last nearly 25 years. This advice enabled him to escape the shackles of religious tradition (denominationalism) and exit the spiritual nursery. Doubtless, he is thoroughly honored and delighted to share that guidance with you now! (If he had the time to rewrite these statements 50,000 times, he would do so to drive these points home with you. They cannot be emphasized enough. They cannot be stressed enough. They cannot be underscored enough.) Dear saint, prayerfully consider these suggestions. They are well (!) worth (!) your attention!

1. DAILY (!), PERSONAL (!) EXPOSURE TO SCRIPTURE IS CHIEF!

Acts 17:10-11 reports, “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Our spiritual body should be growing as it consumes the Word of God daily (daily!): “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16). “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God(Matthew 4:4).

Daily (!) repetition (!) of (!) Scripture (!) is essential to proper spiritual growth. It is not enough to read the Bible once or twice a week. The only time many people read Scripture is when they attend church services—and, frankly, their ignorance shows. All they are able to do is quote their preacher, priest, or church/denomination. They cannot think about the Scriptures themselves, or teach it to others. It is an unfamiliar Book to them, far too mysterious and intimidating for them to handle. Hence, they are trapped in spiritual childishness. This is most unfortunate… and Almighty God is not to blame!

Christian friend, as an English-speaking person, you should read (!) the Authorized Version King James Bible every (!) day (!). It contains every verse that belongs in the Bible, every verse is based on the correct Hebrew and Greek texts, and every verse has been translated using the proper techniques. Older English, while more difficult to learn, is actually purer and more descriptive than modern English. Never forget that, regardless of who may tell you otherwise, the King James Bible is theologically and linguistically superior to modern English translations! It is your connection to your Protestant forefathers, going straight back to the Apostle Paul. Never forget that it is the text that the Roman Catholic Church so vehemently opposed during the Reformation, and resists still!

Moreover, you should also study (!) the King James Bible every (!) day (!). “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). If you are to gain the profit God the Holy Spirit put into His Word, you must compare verses with verses, and remember their dispensational settings as you go. Paul is “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13), the Lord Jesus Christ’s spokesman to us today in this “the Dispensation of the Grace of God” (Ephesians 3:1-2). Romans through Philemon, the Holy Spirit writing through the Apostle Paul, describes God’s purpose and plan for us today as members of the Church the Body of Christ. The most basic Book for Christian living today is Romans. Never forget that!

Remember, we are not in a competition with others. We do not aim to see if we can read or learn more Scripture than anyone else and everyone else. Some souls strive to read through the Bible two or three or four times a year—and this is often nothing but grounds for vain boasting. This author knows of people who have read through the Bible four times a year, for many years, and they are still beginners in the Scriptures and Christian living. He even knows a brother who read through the Bible nearly 200 times—and that man holds to some extremely bizarre doctrines. If you want to read the Bible through several times a year, fine, but that does not necessarily equal spirituality. Unless you are willing to first cast off your denominational biases and continue purifying your mind with Scripture verses, continual Bible reading will profit you nothing.

It is not enough to own a Bible; you need a King James Bible.
It is not enough to read a King James Bible; you need to study it.
It is not enough to study a King James Bible; you need to rightly divide it.
It is not enough to rightly divide a King James Bible; you need to believe it.
It is not enough to believe a King James Bible; you need to teach it.
It is not enough to teach a King James Bible; you need to guard it.
It is not enough to hold a King James Bible; you need to never (!) surrender it!

Never, ever forget that, dear saint! Never!

2. BE WILLING TO BE FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT!

Do not hesitate to be “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18) and “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16). Let us pause for a moment here and clarify these terms that denominationalism has wholly abused. This is not (!) some fuzzy feeling, an emotional high, an occasion for jumping pews, an utterance or prayer of gibberish, a dancing episode, an inner impression, or a time for raising hands. Being filled with the Spirit and walking in the Spirit are: (1) our submission to God the Holy Spirit as He teaches us when we read the Bible for ourselves, and (2) our yielding to Him so He takes those verses and makes them a reality in our lives. In short, it is our reckoning of our old identity or sin (Adamic) nature as having no control over us, and our recognizing our complete victory over sin as we walk by faith in an intelligent understanding of the principles of God’s grace.

Romans chapters 6–8 go into great detail about how we are “in Christ”—dead to sin and alive unto God. In your own time, read them carefully and prayerfully. As the Holy Spirit uses the Holy Scriptures to renew our mind (see 1 Corinthians 2:1-16), He will cause Christ’s life to be lived in and through us. That existence is described in chapters 12–16, among other places (Ephesians 5:19–6:9, Galatians 5:13–6:10, Ephesians 4:17-32, et cetera). Consult also the Book of Titus, which can be summarized in chapter 2, verses 11-15: “[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. [15] These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.”

3. LOCATE PREACHERS AND TEACHERS WHO ARE GROWING AT A STEADY, REASONABLE RATE!

One of the most ignored keys to increased maturation in the Word of God is the avoidance of preachers and teachers who themselves are not making steady, reasonable progress in their own understanding of the Scriptures. It is common sense to conclude that a preacher or teacher who is immature in the Word cannot mature anyone else in the Word. If he is maturing in the Word, but moving at a “snail’s pace,” you cannot expect him to help you grow any faster either. This author came to terms with that reality long ago.

For years, both in denominational groups and grace circles, this author sat under men who were growing far too slow for him or who had stopped growing entirely in the Bible. He hungered to learn more so he could then teach others more, so he had to break away from these ministries. These men brought him as far as they could in the Scriptures, and he will always be grateful to the Lord for them. However, they had (have) blind spots and he was (is) willing to see light they had (have) overlooked. He was (is) willing to study Bible passages they never seemed (seem) to touch. Moreover, he was (is) desiring to go deeper into the verses than they went (go). Once he separated from them, his spiritual growth skyrocketed. Even now, he yearns to grow more in the Scriptures, better understanding His Father’s purpose and plan for him, that he may tell as many people as he possibly can about how it is God’s purpose and plan for them too.

Furthermore, we must be careful associating with ministries led by people who “cannot see the forest from the trees.” In other words, they become so bogged down or involved in details that they lose sight of the whole matter. How unfortunate it is that we have church leaders going into so much detail that they spend five or more years teaching a single Bible Book (a task that should have taken less). At that rate, their congregation will not finish the entire canon of Scripture within their lifetime! In fact, a brother in Christ just shared with this author the fact that a pastor he knew spent 10 hours (10 Sundays) introducing his latest sermon project. By the time the pastor finished the introduction, the brother could not even remember the point of the project!

To any church leaders who are reading this, let us provide a word of caution. Over the years, through personal preaching and teaching (audible and written), this author has learned to deliver sermons and pen Bible studies that stay on-topic and get to the point. Clarity and conciseness are absolutely critical when it comes to the Bible, for enough people are frustrated and confused in the Scriptures. Indeed, it can be quite tempting to detour into all kinds of tangential or unrelated matters. While a joke or illustration will indeed lighten and brighten the mood, they can get out of hand rather easily, so greatly limit jokes or illustrations unless they are absolutely necessary. Some men in the pulpit gain a reputation for telling numerous jokes and/or relating countless stories, and precious time is wasted on foolishness when the eternal words of God could have gone forth and strengthened weak souls and enlightened darkened minds!

We turn to Ephesians chapter 4 to learn the purpose of the local assembly: “[11] And he [the ascended Lord Jesus Christ] gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; [12] For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: [13] Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: [14] That we henceforth be no more 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; [15] But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: [16] From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”

Precious Christian friend, if you sit under the ministries of teachers and preachers who are growing slowly in the Word, do not expect to fare any better in your understanding. Should you choose to remain in that assembly and abide in that atmosphere, you will have to do your own personal Bible study if you expect to reach spiritual maturity. Attending such assemblies will eventually become counterproductive, so be advised if you prefer to stay there.

4. AVOID AS MANY STUMBLINGBLOCKS AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN!

Get as far away as possible from people who will hinder your spiritual growth—and that would include denominational Christians and even some so-called “grace” people. Their carnality or fleshliness will serve as a stumblingblock to you, an occasion to sin in doctrine and/or deed. Mark these words, dear friend, and never forget them: you will eventually be ensnared (1 Corinthians 15:33-34). Do not take this lightly, or you will live to regret it. Continue uniting with these groups or individuals at your own spiritual peril!

First Corinthians chapter 5 cautions us to avoid unruly, sinful Christian brethren, lest they inspire us to join them in their ungodly activities. Local churches should especially deal with sin in their midst; otherwise, it spread to infect the whole group. “[1] It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. [2] And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. [3] For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, [4] In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, [5] To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. [6] Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?

“[7] Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: [8] Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. [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. [11] But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. [12] For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? [13] But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

Not only must we watch out for people who will negatively impact us with their wicked behavior, we have to exercise caution not to fellowship with people who will negatively influence us with their false teaching (denominationalism, church tradition). If it is not the Bible rightly divided, it is bad doctrine, and we have no (!) business (!) whatsoever (!) getting involved with it or its supporters!! Mark these words well, dear Christian friend, mark them well.

Galatians chapter 5 contains God the Holy Spirit’s rebuke of grace believers following false teachers (legalists, people who use the Bible [Moses] but do not rightly divide it): “[7] Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? [8] This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. [9] A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. [10] I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be.” Bad doctrine is like leaven or yeast; it spreads to contaminate the whole group! If we are not vigilant, non-dispensational Bible study will not only destroy our local assembly, it will obliterate our spiritual edification and Christian life. Never underestimate the great lengths Satan will go to thwart God’s work!

5. LIMIT YOUR EXPOSURE TO WORLDLY WISDOM! 

King Solomon expressed his frustration in Ecclesiastes 12:12: “And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” The entire Book of Ecclesiastes is a record of how Solomon dabbled in a variety of philosophical observations and speculations. He had investigated the world through human (fleshly) eyes. Solomon sought happiness and fulfillment in all kinds of places. Upon the conclusion of his experiment, he wound up throughly disoriented and utterly disappointed. He witnessed events he wished he had not. Solomon got involved with all sorts of temporary pleasures—only to end up completely confused and immensely disturbed. Wholly exhausted and immeasurably burdened, Solomon is now an old man. Having wasted his life with nonsense, he is frail and dying, attempting to reason with his son not to repeat his mistakes. Many Christians, had they learned this lesson, would not be in the spiritual mess they are currently in.

Friend, “weariness” will afflict you too if you spend too much time thinking like a lost person when you should be concentrating on the Scriptures. In today’s world, so many authorities and sources of information competing with the Bible for our loyalty. There are myriads of distractions at every turn and around every corner, all vying for our attention. Here again is Satan’s evil world system, attempting to seduce us as it did Solomon 3,000 years ago. We must be on guard, or our edification will be ruined. Be careful!

When this life is over, the average Christian will have squandered years upon years—yea, decades upon decades—watching television, surfing the internet, gossiping on the telephone, reading theology books, and so on, when they could have been studying their Bible. Their inner man will be so polluted with spiritual garbage. Ignorant of the things of God, they will be experts in conspiracy theories, rumors, opinions, speculations, amusement, hunches, and so on. Hopefully, dear Christian friend, you will not be one of these miserable souls! You may not realize it now, but it will greatly help you if you heed these warnings. One day, you will look back on this and be so thankful that you paid attention here.

As we started off this article, so we draw it to a close. Reading and studying the Bible itself are vital. This cannot be emphasized enough. Familiarize yourself with your Heavenly Father’s words, especially the Pauline epistles, Romans through Philemon. Start in the Book of Romans. Read—and most importantly, believe in your heart—what you read! It will make a positive difference in your thoughts and life if you let it!

SUPPLEMENTAL: SOME PARTING COUNSEL

Philippians chapter 3 tells us to press onward in spiritual growth: “[8] Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, [9] And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: [10] That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; [11] If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. [12] Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 

“[13] Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, [14] I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. [15] Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. [16] Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

“[17] Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. [18] (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: [19] Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) [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.”

Philippians describes the Christian life as a race being run. We Christians see the finish line—the prize or goal (Jesus Christ living His life in and through us)—and we want to reach it. That is, we are athletes in the spiritual world and we must therefore cast off whatever weighs us down or holds us back from attaining that goal—“heavy clothing,” “junk food,” “obesity,” et cetera. The circumcision saints, Israel’s believing remnant, are encouraged to do the same in Hebrews chapter 12: “[1] Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, [2] Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. [3] For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”

First Timothy chapter 4 is the Apostle Paul writing to and about us members of the Church the Body of Christ: “[6] If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. [7] But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. [8] For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. [9] This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. [10] For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. [11] These things command and teach.”

It is absolutely imperative (!), Christian friend, that you train yourself in the right doctrine (what produces “godliness”), or your inner man will be malnourished and unable to run the race of Philippians chapter 3! If you do not divorce yourself as much as possible from the aforementioned encumbrances—spiritual junk food (denominational teaching, false doctrine) and bad spiritual influences (immature or carnal believers, as well as lost people)—you will regret it. Your Christian life will die, unable to function. God’s best to you, friend! 🙂

Also see:
» What are “evil communications” in 1 Corinthians 15:33?
» Can you explain Philippians 3:14?
» What is the Lord’s will for my Christian life?
» How do I know if I am maturing in the Word of God?

Exactly what is “eternal life?”

EXACTLY WHAT IS “ETERNAL LIFE?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

Just as death is not the cessation of existence, eternal life is not simply living forever. Lost people live in eternal hellfire forever, yet they are eternally dead. The word “death” in Scripture means “separation.” While there are various types of death in the Bible, they all have that basic definition of separation. Once we understand this, then we are able to comprehend what life—especially true life, or eternal life—entails.

For example, consider Romans chapter 4: “[18] Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations; according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. [19] And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb: [20] He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;….” Abraham and Sarah were both certainly alive in Genesis chapter 17. Yet, their old age had resulted in sterility and barrenness. Abraham’s body and Sarah’s body were separated from their procreation ability. It was not that they lost their reproductive organs; those organs, while present, were functionally dead, separated from their purpose.

Physical death occurs when the spiritual body (soul and spirit) separates from the body of flesh and blood. Genesis 35:18 describes this as such: “And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Ben-oni: but his father called him Benjamin.” Physical death does not result in becoming nonexistent; it is a separation of the human spirit and soul from the physical body. Again, death is separation.

Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” We would do well to notice that “wages” is a plural noun; sin causes two deaths. One death is physical death, which is what we already covered. The other is spiritual death, when the spirit of man (as an individual) is unable to commune with the Spirit of God. Here again is a type of separation: man is spiritually separated from his Creator. There is no unity or fellowship between the two. You may read 1 Corinthians 2:9-16 to learn how sin has made the spirit of man incompatible with the Spirit of God.

Ephesians chapter 2 speaks to this point of spiritual death: “[1] And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; [2] Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: [3] Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” You will see, here also, the issue of eternal life. When a lost person trusts Christ as his or her personal Saviour, the person can connect with Almighty God as Adam did before the Fall of man in Genesis chapter 3.

There is also positional death. As people who have trusted Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3-4); we have been crucified with Him and been raised again with Him. Romans chapter 6 speaks about positional death: “[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.”

We are “dead to sin” in that we are no longer “in Adam.” God has reckoned us separated from Adam’s damnation; we are now a “new creature in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17). This new nature produces good works, as opposed to the old nature of sin that could produce nothing pleasing to God. Again, this is positional death. Through personal faith in Christ’s finished crosswork, our position “in Adam” has been exchanged for our position “in Christ.” Now, we have the ability to be vessels of God’s power and exhibitions of His grace!

There is one final “death” (separation) in the Bible. We have covered functional death, physical death, spiritual death, and positional death. The last “death” is “the second death,” and it is connected to spiritual death. While a lost or unsaved soul on Earth is spiritually dead—separated from God’s life—that can be remedied by personal faith in the Gospel of Grace (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). If that spiritual death is not replaced with eternal life before physical death arrives, that spiritual death will be replaced with the second death. As the spiritual body separates from the physical body, now the spiritual body separates from God’s Spirit forever. All hope of ever gaining a right standing before God is now permanently gone. The second death occurs when the lost souls in Hell are judged, and then tossed into the Lake of Fire.

Revelation chapter 20 mentions “the second death:” “[11] And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. [12] And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. [13] And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. [14] And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. [15] And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Also, Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

With all that said, we can now define what “eternal life” is all about. Again, “eternal life” is much more than “life without end” or “living forever,” for lost people under God’s eternal wrath live forever. They are not consumed in Hell, but are transferred to the Lake of Fire to serve out their sentence without end.

John 17:3 is the best definition of “eternal life” in the Bible: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” Here is a personal relationship with the one true God through His Son Jesus Christ. This is the demolition of the barrier that sin has erected between sinners and their Creator. Romans 6:23 once again: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Whereas we were once separated from God, we are now united with Him forever through Christ! With that new nature, we can now experience “eternal life” on a daily basis. Contrary to popular belief, eternal life is not dying and going to Heaven; it is experiencing God’s life right now on Earth!

Romans 5:21 says of victorious Christian living: “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Chapter 6, verse 23, is actually about victorious Christian living also: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Moreover, 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.” And, verses 19-20: “That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” This is daily Christian living, a reflection of the new nature we have been given in Christ!

Read Mark chapter 10 now: “[28] Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. [29] And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, [30] But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.” In Israel’s prophetic program—her earthly kingdom program—the word “eternal life” takes on a slightly different meaning than it does concerning us. “Eternal life” for them is the entrance into that earthly kingdom of God. They do not experience communion with Almighty God to the fullest extent until the Millennium (1,000-Year Reign of Christ), when Israel is under the New Covenant, nationally resurrected, and God causes them to enjoy His life to the maximum.

Ezekiel chapter 36 says of this New Covenant for Israel: “[25] Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. [26] A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. [27] And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. [28] And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.” (See also Jeremiah 31:31-34.)

Like us Christians today, believing Jews in Israel’s prophetic program (whether in Acts or beyond our dispensation) have eternal life as a present possession—otherwise, they would be Hell-bound! Notice these verses from the epistle of 1 John: “And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life” (2:25). “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (5:11). “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God” (5:13). “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life” (5:20). Yet, there is a national eternal life they will enjoy as well… and this is their earthly kingdom. Jude 21 is redeemed Israel waiting for Christ’s Second Coming, when they receive eternal life nationally: “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”

One more thing about “eternal life:” it is the life of Jesus Christ, the life that God Himself lived during His earthly ministry. This is the same life He wants to live in Israel by faith, and what He wants to live in us by faith. Eternal life is living as God lives, enjoying His life. Both redeemed Israel and the Church the Body of Christ will be the vehicles whereby He exhibits that life throughout the endless ages to come!

“[1] That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; [2] (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us; ) [3] That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:1-3).

Also see:
» What happens after death?
» Will living in Heaven forever be boring?
» “So shall we ever be with the Lord?”

What are “evil communications” in 1 Corinthians 15:33?

WHAT ARE “EVIL COMMUNICATIONS” IN 1 CORINTHIANS 15:33? DOES IT REALLY MATTER WITH WHOM WE ASSOCIATE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“[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” (1 Corinthians 15:33-34). What are “evil communications?” Does it really matter if we associate with questionable characters? Yes! Are we immune to their effects? No!

Once, this author counseled a dear Christian who was having some major and continuous difficulties. We were able to identify the source and we studied verses that were useful in correcting his thinking and behavior. Moreover, this author encouraged him to limit his contact with certain “friends.” Perhaps they meant well—hopefully so (!)—but they were negative spiritual influences. They were offering their denominational doctrine to help him cope with his problems, but such false teaching had only made matters worse for him.

First Corinthians 15:33 begins, “Be not deceived; evil communications corrupt good manners. It is easy to assume that, since we who have trusted Christ are eternally secure in Him, we are immune from Satan’s lie program. Yea, we can be quick to suppose that no one can trick us because we have the Holy Bible in our possession. First Corinthians 15:33 says that, if we think others cannot deceive or corrupt us, we are in fact deceived. For example, we can hear sound Bible doctrine but fail to keep it in memory and/or fail to use it by faith. People can come along with incorrect information and confuse and/or distract us. This happened to the Corinthians.

The Apostle Paul spent 18 months in Corinth, winning various individuals to Christ and educating them in the Bible rightly divided (Acts 18:1-11). The church at Corinth was established and growing, but Satan would not be outdone. Once Paul left to preach the Gospel of Grace in other regions, false teachers visited and corrupted the Corinthian saints with a mixture of Greek philosophy and Judaistic legalism.

Consequently, some Corinthians recanted faith in the doctrine of literal, bodily resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:12). Therefore, they were under the impression that they could live however they wanted. The latter part of verse 32 says, “…let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.” If there were no resurrection, there would be no accountability. First Corinthians 15:33 thus immediately follows with a warning: Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners….”

Ordinarily, we use the term “communications” in the sense of telephone and internet connections or television and radio broadcasts. In this context though, it has a slightly different meaning. The most basic definition of “communications” is “the impartations or exchanges of information.” Concerning 1 Corinthians 15:33, it means “company, social contacts, intercourses, companionships, associates.” Moreover, we can restrict its definition even more: “to succeed in conveying one’s ideas or in evoking understanding in others.” (“Communication” is derived from a Latin word that meant “to share.”) As for “manners” in 1 Corinthians 15:33, it means “moral habits, social behavior, conduct amongst others.”

Rereading the first part of 1 Corinthians 15:33: “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” In other words, do not be misled to believe that Satan’s evil world system cannot contaminate you by word or deed. Christian friend, always be on guard concerning those with whom you associate yourself. Those not led by the Spirit of God can and will corrupt you. Proverbs chapter 22 provides us with a very simple example of and cross-reference to “evil communications corrupt[s] good morals:” “[24] Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: [25] Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.”

While we are always responsible for making our own choices, others can influence us to participate in their sins. They can persuade us to adopt their beliefs, and/or entice us to repeat their actions. This was the Corinthians’ problem in 1 Corinthians 15:33. They had been fooled into thinking their companionships, the company they kept, made no difference. Many Christians believe this even today. It is said so casually, “I can hang around with anyone, no matter how they talk or act. They will not adversely affect me. I can frequent a denominational church. No one will mislead me because I know the truth.” First Corinthians 15:33 says they are deceived just by assuming they will not be deceived! Beware!

First Corinthians 15:33 resumes, “Awake to righteousness, and sin not.” Here, “awake” means (figuratively) “to rouse out of a stupor.” Imagine a drunkard becoming sober, restored to clear thinking. In other words, false teaching had lulled the Corinthians to sleep. They were slumbering—inactive—as pertaining to Christian living. Rather than walking according to the Holy Spirit’s current operations, they thought and behaved as the Adversary (Satan) desired. Some years later, a similar satanic assault was launched on the Christians at Ephesus.

Chapter 5 of Ephesians: “[7] Be not ye therefore partakers with them [the “children of disobedience,” unbelievers, of verse 6]. [8] For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: [9] (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth; ) [10] Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. [11] And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. [12] For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.”

“[13] But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. [14] Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. [15] See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, [16] Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. [17] Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. [18] And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;….”

Notice the advice in verse 18—“Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” The “wine” here is not simply literal alcohol. It is, more specifically, the intoxicating doctrines of devils that distort and dull one’s spiritual senses to the point of spiritual drunkenness and fainting. This loops back to the “awakening” in 1 Corinthians 15:33.

Returning to Ephesians chapter 5: “[14] Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. [15] See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, [16] Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. [17] Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. [18] And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;….”

The issue of “wine” is explained in Revelation 14:8: “And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” Also, Revelation 17:2: “With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” The Antichrist’s political-religious system, while future from our day, nevertheless has elements that have been around since just after the Fall of man. Satan’s evil world system promotes mind-altering doctrines that corrupt believers. There is spiritual fornication, dabbling with devils, here. It enticed the Corinthians, lured the Ephesians, and even ensnared ancient Israel.

Ephesians 5:14, which we just read, loosely quoted Isaiah 60:1: “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.” This is Israel, gripped by spiritual ignorance and slumber, and God’s conversion and restoration of her at Christ’s Second Coming. Notice God’s warning to His people who will live during the Antichrist’s reign, and the final phases of religious Babylon: “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4). Yes, “evil communications corrupt good manners.” God’s people are not to be associated with Satan’s evil world system… past, present, or future!

If it happened to Israel, to the Corinthians, and to the Ephesians, we indeed are not immune. Romans chapter 13 reminds us: “[11] And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. [12] The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. [13] Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness [sexual sins], not in strife and envying. [14] But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”

Since the Lord Jesus Christ could come at any time for us at the Rapture, we should be walking as the people we are instead of who we are not. It is absurd for us Christians to behave like we were still under “the power of darkness” (Colossians 1:13): we have been “translated… into the kingdom of [God’s] dear Son.” We should conduct ourselves in that light.

Hence, in 1 Corinthians 15:34, Paul wrote to Corinth: “Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.” They were to sober up, spiritually speaking, and start thinking according to Romans chapter 13 (quoted earlier). Jesus Christ was their “righteousness” (1 Corinthians 1:30). They were to think about their justified and sanctified identity in Him, and walk by faith in that. This is how they would “sin not.” The Word of God’s Grace to them through Paul’s ministry—not Greek philosophers and Judaistic legalists—was the key to successful Christian living.

First Corinthians 15:34 concludes, “…for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.” The Corinthians should be ashamed to the point of correcting their error. They should separate from “evil communications” (bad influences). Paul had preached to them, but they ignored the doctrine. They wasted the opportunity to know God’s grace, but they have another chance.

For almost 2,000 years now, the Church the Body of Christ has had a completed Bible. Howbeit, instead of letting it transform them, and then allowing it to enlighten others through them, the church permitted the world to alter the Bible and them! Whether 20 centuries ago, or today, “evil communications corrupt good manners.” This is true of both wicked behavior and false teaching.

Sinful conduct, except it is addressed according to God’s grace, will certainly pollute the local church. First Corinthians chapter 5 says of humanism (worldliness—namely, philosophy): “[6] Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? [7] Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: [8] Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” As a small amount of yeast taints the whole lump of dough, so a little misbehavior corrupts many! If you read the chapter, you see it is about a fornicating Christian man whom the Corinthians overlooked. God commanded they excommunicate him until he reformed…lest he contaminate them all!

Evil doctrine, unless corrected using rightly divided Scripture, is sure to corrupt the local church. Galatians chapter 5 speaks of legalism (works-religion—namely, Law-keeping): “[7] Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? [8] This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. [9] A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” As a small amount of yeast taints the whole lump of dough, so a little false teaching corrupts many! If you read the chapter, you learn that false teachers (denominationalists) had tricked the Galatians to abandon grace and return to works-religion (specifically, the Mosaic Law). God commanded they separate from those false teachers…lest they continue deceiving them all!

CONCLUSION

First Corinthians chapter 5 was written to warn those Christians who say they can associate with sinful individuals and not be corrupted. Galatians chapter 5 was written to admonish those Christians who say they can keep attending denominational churches and not be deceived. They are just as human—prone to failure—as the Corinthians and Galatians. If the Corinthians and Ephesians were prone to spiritual slumber as the Adversary worked, we should not be surprised that believers in Christ today exhibit poor to dead Christian living!

Verse 34 of 1 Corinthians chapter 15 thunders, “Awake to righteousness, and sin not!” Dear brethren, if we are those with functionally-dead Christian lives, it is not too late for us to reform. We may have reverted to the lifestyle we had before we trusted Christ, but the Holy Scriptures rightly divided can lead us to repentance. That change in mind will then transform our behavior.

Second Timothy chapter 2: “[24] And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, [25] In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; [26] And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” Let us not fall into Satan’s trap!

Whether the Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, or reverted Christians today, they should be walking in light of Titus chapter 2: “[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.”

“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed” (Proverbs 13:20).

Also see:
» Is grace a “license to sin?”
» Once Christians fall into gross sin, will God use them again?
» Does God see us Christians as sinners?

What Bible Book should I read first?

WHAT BIBLE BOOK SHOULD I READ FIRST?

by Shawn Brasseaux

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What exactly is “hypocrisy?”

WHAT EXACTLY IS “HYPOCRISY?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

What exactly is a “hypocrite?”

The word appears 20 times in the “New Testament” Scriptures. Matthew 6:2 is the first occurrence: Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. Our English “hypocrite” is a transliteration of the Greek term, hupokrites (“under judge”). It was used to describe an actor under an assumed identity. He or she wears a costume, mask, and/or makeup to transform into someone else. To be candid, he or she is a pretender. It would do us well to look at these verses to see just what makes hypocrites so insincere.

Reading Matthew 6:2 again: “Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” Here, a hypocrite gives alms (money/goods to the poor and needy)—not to help others or glorify God—but to be noticed and praised of men.

Matthew 6:5 mentions a second type of hypocrite: “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” They pray—not to have fellowship with God or reflect upon His Word—but to be observed and praised by others.

Verse 16 features a third hypocrite: “Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” The hypocrite here also seeks the attention and glory of men—they advertise their fasting by using their faces. They are not interested in true mourning, deep contemplation of their sin, and so on.

Just as someone would play another role on a stage, so the hypocrite “plays his part” for all society to give him a standing ovation.

Christ famously stated in Matthew chapter 7: “[1] Judge not, that ye be not judged. [2] For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. [3] And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? [4] Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? [5] Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” The hypocrite appears to promote righteous living. However, his lifestyle is far below the standard to which he holds others.

Jesus took what was true during the Prophet Isaiah’s lifetime and applied it to His own day 700 years later. He issued the following severe denunciation in Matthew chapter 15: “[7] Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias [29:13] prophesy of you, saying, [8] This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. [9] But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

Israel abounded with pretenders. Outwardly, they prayed to “Adonai” (the Lord), recited the Mosaic Law, and sang the Psalms of David. Yet, their internal behavior was something else entirely. The Lord Jesus saw directly into their souls: while acting and sounding like worshippers of God, they had no faith/trust in His Word. It was just meaningless, worthless religion! They actually preferred their manmade traditions to His revelation. How do we know? Did not Israel shortly conspire with the Gentiles to kill Adonai’s Son on Calvary? Had they truly valued the Scriptures of Adonai and Moses and David, they would have believed Jesus was the embodiment and fulfillment of those very words! Alas, what hypocrites.

Our Lord Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry is winding down—Calvary is a few months away at most. For three years, He has performed miracle after miracle after miracle in the midst of His Jewish brethren, but has been overwhelmingly mistreated and ridiculed. Israel’s religious leaders have striven to demean and discredit Him at every possible opportunity. In Matthew chapter 12, for the first time, they plot to kill Him (verse 14). Shortly, He begins His parables and increasingly withdraws from public ministry.

As chapter 16 opens, those Christ-rejecting Israeli religious leaders approach Him. After disregarding His other miraculous deeds, and still wallowing in their unbelief, they feign themselves as genuine truth-seekers in verse 1: “The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.” They are not interested in being converted to faith in Him; they are “tempting” or challenging Him, seeing if He will pacify them. “[2] He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. [3] And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?”

They prided themselves in studying nature to predict the weather, but how pathetically ignorant they were of more critical (eternally important!!!) matters. Discounting the earlier miracles, they had not recognized that Messiah (He Himself!) had arrived and they were outright rejecting their only chance at forgiveness of sins and eternal life! He chided them further: “[4] A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.” There are more hypocrites to come, and the Lord Jesus will soon address them with His most unpleasant words yet.

Most of the Bible’s acridest comments about hypocrites are found in Jesus’ final Temple sermon. Matthew chapter 22, verse 15: “Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.” They send allies in verses 16 and 17, “Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?” Verse 18, “But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?” While playing like they were law-abiding citizens, they (like all Jews) had no interest in funding an oppressive Gentile government. Their only goal was to get Jesus in trouble with the Roman authorities.

Chapter 23 of Matthew is Christ’s censure of the pervasive corruption within this the ranks of Israel’s religious leadership. His words, while sharp, are necessary to expose Satan’s strongholds within the nation. The pretenders in Israel will now be uncovered for all in the Temple complex to see.

Verse 13, for example: “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” Despite their pious appearance, they discouraged and intimidated any and all from participating in God’s will! Verse 14: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.” In the name of religion, they stole large sums of money to “pray” for the dead!

Now, verse 15: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.” They diligently sought converts to Judaism—not to teach them God’s Word and lead them to salvation—but simply to get new church members. Indeed, the hypocrites have infiltrated Israel. They have permeated the professing church today as well.

The Lord Jesus thundered in Matthew 23:23: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” They seemed to honor and follow the Mosaic Law, although they limited themselves. Consumed by tithing the smallest spices to obey Moses, they ignored God’s major commandments—judgment (justice), mercy, and faith.

Now, verse 25: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.” This is formalism—emphasis on outward appearance—yet again. They painstakingly wiped (and wiped!!!) cups and platters (dishes) used in religious services. How attractive were those washed vessels! When God looked into the souls of those cleaning, He saw filth and ugliness. Their motives were greed and incontinency: they could not help themselves but take, take, take from the common Jewish worshippers to support that extravagant religion!

And, verse 27: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” Jesus employs a simile. These religious leaders are painted, decorated tombs… yet, innumerable corpses and utter impurity are hidden inside! Spiritual death personified!

Finally, verses 29-32: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.” They supposedly “lamented” their fathers killing God’s prophets of old. Nevertheless, ultimately, they will soon demand Jesus Christ’s crucifixion.

Our Lord Jesus Christ issued the grave admonition in Luke 12:1: “In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” As “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (1 Corinthians 5:6; Galatians 5:9), Pharisaical hypocrisy throughly subverted Israel! (Its absurdity is described in Luke 13:11-17.)

Israel’s hypocrisy culminated at Christ’s barbaric crucifixion. Indeed, Calvary’s cross will forever be an emblem of God’s grace in spite of man’s sin. Yet, it will also always be a reminder of how opposed organized religion is to God’s grace. It was not thieves, drug abusers, drunkards, gangbangers, pimps, prostitutes, and atheistic evolutionary college professors who demanded God’s only begotten Son be crucified! No, it was the most “pious” people who ever lived! Religion was everything to them, and Heaven’s Best meant absolutely nothing to them! Mere hours after shedding His innocent blood, they, without one scintilla of remorse, held a religious feast—Passover!

James spoke of divine wisdom as being “without hypocrisy” (3:17). There is no deceitfulness with God; thus, the same should be true of His children. “Provide things honest in the sight of all men” (Romans 12:17). If we have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ who is anything but a hypocrite, we should therefore behave like the people we are (Christians) and not the people we are not (unsaved)!

By the way, what became of organized religion? First Timothy 4:2 says, “Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;….” Its proponents still masquerade as “truth-tellers.” They are non-dispensational—ignoring Pauline revelation (grace) and exalting everything else as “Christian” thought and behavior (see verses 1-16). Beware, dear friends, that ye be not hypocrites! Cast off the masks, makeup, and costumes! “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:14)!

Also see:
» Why did Jesus curse the “poor” fig tree?
» “Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?”
» Why do some Christians persistently behave like lost people?

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

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

by Shawn Brasseaux

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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