Category Archives: SOUL SALVATION FROM SINS

“Believe” and “faith”—same or different?

“BELIEVE” AND “FAITH”—SAME OR DIFFERENT?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Allegedly endeavoring to “defend” the doctrine of justification by grace through faith in Christ alone, certain “theologically-minded” individuals have suggested faith and belief are two different Bible concepts. If these people are correct, then we would indeed be wrong in considering “faith” verses and “believe” verses to be synonymous. Does the Bible equate these two terms? “For what saith the Scriptures?” (Not “For what saith the theology textbook?”!)

Let us start with something simple, Romans 4:3-5, and work our way into deeper matters: “[3] For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. [4] Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. [5] But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Contrary to the Calvinist’s claim, faith is not a work. Romans teaches we are justified, not by working, but by faith (verse 5). Again, faith and work are different; they are not interchangeable. Now, what about faith and believe? Are they different? No! The Apostle Paul, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, considered “faith” and “believe” interchangeable. We gain righteousness—a right standing before God—by believing on Christ Jesus as sufficient payment for our sins, and that faith (that is, our believing on Him) results in our justification. To have faith is to believe, and to believe is to have faith.

Paul was referring to “the scripture” of Genesis 15:6, “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” This is much more than “Abraham believed God existed.” Abraham trusted what the LORD had just told him: “[1] After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. [2] And Abram said, LORD God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? [3] And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. [4] And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. [5] And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. [6] And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”

Now, watch Paul’s commentary in Romans 4:9-11: “[9] Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. [10] How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. [11] And he received the sign of circumcision [Genesis chapter 17], a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised [Genesis chapter 15]: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:….” Abraham was to be physically circumcised in chapter 17 because he had been justified in chapter 15. In Genesis, the Holy Spirit through Moses wrote Abraham “believed” (15:6). The same Holy Spirit led Paul in Romans to remark Abraham had “faith” (4:9,11). We would have to want not to see it not to see it. Either we believe (have faith in) our theology, or we have faith in (believe) the Bible. According to the Scriptures, to have faith is to be justified, and to believe is to be justified. Faith and believe must be one and the same—unless there are two ways for us to be justified!

When someone separates the ideas of faith and believe—whether they know it or not—they are confusing the pure Gospel of Grace (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). God does not give us faith (see our related study linked at the end of this article). Believe is what we do; exercise faith is what we do. Yet, they want to distinguish between faith and believe because they assume faith is God’s gift to us whereas believe is our “work.” Of course, their position is erroneous. Romans 4:5 has already settled the matter: faith is not a work, belief is not a work. Genesis and Romans compared, believe and faith are the same. “Abraham believed” and “Abraham had faith” are two ways of expressing the same concept, and it is just as true of us. When we trust Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins, we are exercising faith or believing God’s words to us. Faith (belief) is simple reliance on what the Lord did at Calvary. Works is what we do in religion in an attempt to make God accept us into Heaven. We are pitting our “righteousness” against God’s, striving to replace or match Christ’s perfect righteousness—and God will not have it! Anyone who confuses faith with works is just as mixed up as someone who cannot see faith and believe are the same.

Also see:
» Does God give us faith?
» I believed the Gospel, so why do they not believe?
» Is it not enough that I “believe in God?”
» Is faith in Christ alone enough to go to heaven? Do not the devils believe?
» We are saved by faith, but are we blessed by works?
» Why does Romans 3:30 read “by faith” and “through faith?”

What is Paul’s “lie” in Romans 3:7?

WHAT IS PAUL’S “LIE” IN ROMANS 3:7?

by Shawn Brasseaux

How are we to understand Romans 3:7? “For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?” Just what is this “lie?” Did Paul tell a falsehood here?

For the context, start at verse 1 and continue through verse 7: “[1] What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? [2] Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. [3] For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? [4] God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged. [5] But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man) [6] God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world? [7] For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner? [8] And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.”

Romans chapters 1–3 is the Holy Spirit skillfully outlining his legal case for the prosecution of sinful mankind. Whether Gentile/heathen (1:18-32) or Jew/religious (2:1-29), Romans 3:9 concludes, “…all [are] under sin.” Beginning at verse 21, the Holy Spirit reveals His solution to man’s sin problem: “[21] But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; [22] Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: [23] For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; [24] Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: [25] Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; [26] To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. [27] Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. [28] Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

Getting back to the opening of chapter 3, “What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.” The Jews of the Old Testament economy (specifically, prior to Paul’s apostleship) understood their sin problem. They had the Hebrew Bible—our “Old Testament Scriptures”—whereas the Gentiles did not (Romans 3:1-2, cf. Romans 2:17-24; Romans 9:3-5). In this respect, Israel was aware of the words and will of the one true God. Contrariwise, the non-Jews (Gentiles) had been given over to the pagan idols and spiritual darkness they preferred (Acts 14:15-17; Acts 17:22-31; Ephesians 2:11-12).

“For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.” Even though individual Jews did not believe that aforementioned Divine revelation given to the nation Israel—culminating in the Jews’ crucifixion of Christ—that did not nullify or cancel the covenants JEHOVAH God made with the nation’s patriarchs centuries earlier (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, et cetera). Although man lies, God does not: He always keeps His promises, and man will never be able to justly accuse Him of being untrustworthy. The Lord would be (will) still be faithful in taking care of Israel’s sin problem and making them His earthly people via the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34; cf. Hebrews chapters 8 and 10).

“But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man)” The Holy Spirit anticipates man’s objection, so He leads Paul to summarize that sinner’s “defense.” After unsuccessfully attacking God for allegedly being dishonest or unfaithful (Romans 3:4)—thereby failing to discredit God’s accusations against him—the sinner proceeds to want God to be lenient toward him. Unwilling to accept the penalty for his sin problem, he resorts to more excuses: “My unrighteousness, my sinful lifestyle, makes God’s righteousness look all the better. How can God condemn me so harshly if He is more glorious when compared to my sinful activities? Would He not be evil in punishing someone who makes Him look so good?” Paul promptly answered, “God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?” God is not unrighteous or wicked, otherwise He would be in no position to judge sinners. Indeed, the Judge of all the Earth shall do right (Genesis 18:25) at the Great White Throne Judgment when He deals with unsaved sinners bound for the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:11-15)!

“For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?” This amplifies the previous statements (Romans 3:5-6). Sinful man offers another lame justification for how he is not as bad as God’s testimony against him indicates. “When I tell a lie, I make God’s truth look even better. There is nothing like a good contrast to God so as to bring out His very best! How can God then find fault with me?! Without me, He would look worse off!” Paul is being philosophical here. He is not actually telling a lie but rather highlighting a difference that sinful man mentions so as to clear his name and/or make himself look less guilty.

“And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.” Paul’s critics had misconstrued his message of “salvation by grace through faith in Christ without our works” as meaning nothing more than “grace is a license to sin.” “Live however you want, for in doing so you emphasize God’s grace!” As the excuse “My lie makes God’s truth look better,” this too was wrong. Whether sinners trying to ease their conscience and save themselves from being labeled a “sinner,” or sinners who believe their evil deeds are their opportunity to display God’s grace, neither will be excused at the Great White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20:11-15. No matter how “clever” sinful man will be in the Day of Judgment, God is fully prepared to outsmart and answer him! (He already has in Romans!!)

Also see:
» “Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?”
» Is grace “a license to sin?”
» What is Romans 2:24 talking about?
» Was God “unfair” to punish us for Adam’s sin?
» Is “God forbid” a “poor translation?”
» How were Gentiles saved before our Dispensation of Grace?
» Why are lost people not judged for their works immediately after physical death?

What is a “propitiation?”

WHAT IS A “PROPITIATION?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

Readers are usually intimidated when they see the lengthy term “propitiation” thrice appearing in the King James Bible. What does it mean?

  • “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God” (Romans 3:25).
  • “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
  • “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

“Hilasmos” is the Greek word rendered in 1 John. In Romans, it is “hilasterion,” also translated “mercyseat” in Hebrews 9:5: “And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.” This reference in Hebrews allows us to better understand the matter. Let us refer to the Old Testament Scriptures for some background.

THE MERCY SEAT: A BRIEF INTRODUCTION

In the Mosaic system, one piece of furniture in the Tabernacle was the Ark of the Covenant. This “ark” was simply a box made of shittim or acacia wood covered with gold. Its lid was called “the Mercy Seat,” where the Jewish high priest annually applied animals’ blood to JEHOVAH God. This Day of Atonement—also known as Yom Kippur—is described in great detail in Leviticus chapter 16. You may refer to that, if necessary.

Read chapter 25 of Exodus to learn about the Ark of the Covenant, the Mercy Seat, and their connection to the Tabernacle: “[1] And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, [2] Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering…. [8] And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. [9] According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.

[10] And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half [3.75 feet / 1.14 meters] shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half [2.25 feet / 0.69 meter] the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. [11] And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about. [12] And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it. [13] And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold. [14] And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them. [15] The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it. [16] And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee. [17] And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof.

“[18] And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. [19] And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. [20] And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. [21] And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. [22] And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.”

“And he made the mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half was the length thereof, and one cubit and a half the breadth thereof” (Exodus 37:6). Leviticus 16:2 is most important: “And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.” It was above the Mercy Seat that God’s presence—called the Shekinah glory—appeared. The high priest, once a year, went behind the veil in the Tabernacle—thus entering the Most Holy Place—and applied animals’ blood on the Mercy Seat for his sins, the sins of his household, and the sins of the Jewish nation as a whole. As we learn from Hebrews, this was a temporary arrangement until Christ came to take away sin. The animal sacrifices were pictures or symbols of Calvary’s sacrifice.

Chapter 9 of Hebrews summarizes the Mosaic order, and how it perfectly foreshadowed what Jesus would accomplish on the cross: “[1] Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. [2] For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. [3] And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; [4] Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; [5] And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.

“[6] Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. [7] But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: [8] The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: [9] Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; [10] Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.

“[11] But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; [12] Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. [13] For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: [14] How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? [15] And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. [16] For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. [17] For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.

“[18] Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. [19] For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, [20] Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. [21] Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. [22] And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. [23] It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

“[24] For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: [25] Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; [26] For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. [27] And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: [28] So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”

You may also read chapter 10 of Hebrews in its entirety as well. For sake of time and space, we will neither quote nor comment on it here.

The point is, as touching the nation Israel, no longer is needed the annual work of the high priest behind the veil on the Day of Atonement. Jesus was not only the high priest who offered the sacrifice, He was the sacrifice itself. Moreover, not only was He the sacrifice, He was the “mercyseat” on which the sacrifice was made. How could that be? One way of looking at it is seeing His blood shed onto His body on Calvary, and His soul and life being lost in the process. In His Mediatorship, the nation Israel finds access to Father God. (While this is true of us too [see Romans 3:25], Hebrews underscores Christ’s blood forming the basis for the New Covenant of which Israel will partake at His return. See Acts 3:19-21 and Romans 11:26-27.)

PROPITIATION: A BRIEF INTRODUCTION

We return to our opening verses:

  • “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God” (Romans 3:25).
  • “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
  • “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

Obviously, these three passages speak of Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork on Calvary. “Propitiation” is a title of the Lord Jesus Christ because it describes His role with respect to our sins. Our nature (our sin nature, the root of our problems) and our deeds (the fruit of our nature) are offensive to the God of the Bible. “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity…” (Habakkuk 1:13). “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). God’s justice will enforce His righteousness. To wit, there must be a penalty for anything and everything that fails to meet His righteous standard. According to Scripture, wrath and judgment will be meted out—ultimately, Hell and the Lake of Fire.

Romans chapter 2: “[3] And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? [4] Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? [5] But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; [6] Who will render to every man according to his deeds: [7] To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: [8] But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, [9] Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; [10] But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: [11] For there is no respect of persons with God.”

Thankfully, the Bible also teaches something called “substitutionary atonement.” In His immeasurable mercy and grace, the God of creation took upon human flesh (Jesus Christ) in order to take our place. As our substitute, the Son of God endured the Father’s wrath against our sin: “For he [the Father] hath made him [the Son] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Simply put, a “propitiation” is “a fully-satisfying payment” or “a fully-adequate sacrifice.” What Christ did on the cross—the merits He achieved through His sinless sacrifice of Himself—serves as the means whereby we can escape the penalty of our sin problem. By faith, we appropriate that righteousness of Christ so that it becomes our righteousness. We take on His identity. This is the Gospel—or Good News—of the Gospel of Grace!

While you can read all of Romans chapter 3, we will look at the conclusion given in Romans chapter 4: “[1] What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? [2] For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. [3] For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. [4] Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. [5] But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

The Apostle John learned from the Apostle Paul that Jesus had not only shed His blood and died for “many”—that is, for Israel (cf. Isaiah 53:8; Matthew 20:28; Matthew 26:28; Mark 10:45; Mark 14:24)—but also for “all” Jews and Gentiles (cf. 1 Timothy 2:5-7). Reflecting Pauline influence, John wrote those two verses in 1 John. We quoted them already, but we will reiterate them. “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (2:2). “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Christ Himself is the “propitiation” or “mercyseat” (Hebrews 9:5).

We would continue, but that is enough.

CONCLUSION

The ancient Greeks used the verb “hilaskomai” in the sense of “man appeasing or pleasing the gods” (through religious works). However, in the Bible, it is not man pleasing the one true God but rather Father God being pleased because of His Son’s sacrifice of Himself on Calvary’s cross. The cross of Calvary functioned as an altar, where the ultimate sacrifice for sin was given. We can think of “propitiation” in Scripture as either “a fully-satisfying payment for sin” or “a fully-satisfying sacrifice for sin.” God’s wrath against man’s sin was satisfied at Calvary because Jesus’ soul was made an offering for sin (Isaiah 53:10).

Provision has been made—the merits are available to us—but God appropriates (imputes, applies) them to our account only once we place our faith in Christ as our fully-satisfying payment or sacrifice for sin. “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5). Through Christ functioning as our Mercy Seat, we receive God’s mercy (avoiding Divine wrath, what we deserve). Otherwise, we are dead in our trespasses and sins, and lacking the righteousness of Christ, we must pay forever for our sins in Hell and the Lake of Fire. One way or another, God’s justice will see to it that sin is addressed.

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:
» Are lost people already forgiven?
» Is God “unfair” to punish us for Adam’s sin?
» How can a “loving” God send people to Hell forever?

What exactly is the “Fall” of man?

WHAT EXACTLY IS THE “FALL” OF MAN?

by Shawn Brasseaux

When we Christians speak of Adam’s “Fall” or man’s “Fall,” it is not to say we believe Adam/mankind literally fell.

For example, the Muslim prophet Muhammad misunderstood us—perhaps because Christians did not adequately express their beliefs to him. Whatever the case, he wrote in the Qur’an in Surah (chapter) 2: “34 When We told the angels, ‘Bow down before Adam,’ they all bowed. But not Iblis, who refused and was arrogant: he was one of the disobedient. 35 We said, ‘Adam, live with your wife in this garden. Both of you eat freely there as you will, but do not go near this tree, or you will both become wrongdoers.’ 36 But Satan made them slip, and removed them from the state they were in. We said, ‘Get out, all of you! You are each other’s enemy. On earth you will have a place to stay and livelihood for a time.’ 37 Then Adam received some words from his Lord and He accepted his repentance: He is the Ever Relenting, the Most Merciful.” (The Qur’an, M. A. S. Abdel Haleem translation, 2004-2005, page 7).

According to the Muslim holy book, Satan (Iblis) sinned in that he did not bow before Adam as Allah commanded. Furthermore, since Adam and his wife sinned, Allah punished them by throwing them out of Heaven and sending them to Earth. That is, Adam and Eve allegedly lived in Heaven before being banished to Earth. In other words, the Qur’an teaches they “fell” to Earth. Is this what the Bible teaches? Of course not! Adam and Eve lived on planet Earth from the very beginning of their existence, as we will see in Genesis. They resided in the Garden of Eden in the Middle East, in the vicinity of modern Iraq (Genesis 2:4-17, especially verses 10-15). Now, falling from Heaven down to Earth is true of Lucifer/Satan (Luke 10:18), but not of man/Adam. When we Christians speak of the “Fall” of man, we are using the word in a figurative or non-literal way. Nevertheless, we are conveying a literal truth.

Immediately after his creation, Adam was the glory of God. He was the full expression of all that God was and is. Thus, he was able to commune with Him, represent Him, and worship Him without any hindrances or barriers to interfere. Remember, Genesis 1:26-28 in the King James Bible: “[26] And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. [27] So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. [28] And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

Now, go to Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;….” Something changed in man between Genesis chapter 1 and Romans chapter 3. Mankind is no longer an adequate representative of God. All that God was and is, man cannot reflect it. Man cannot worship his Creator because man has a sin problem. The Greek word rendered “come short” is “hystereo,” translated various other ways in Scripture. Briefly examining these passages will help us understand the drastic change that occurred in man to negatively affect him:

  • The word is “lack” in Matthew 19:20, “The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack [hystereo] I yet?” Also, Luke 22:35, “And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye [hystereo] any thing? And they said, Nothing.”
  • Another way the word is used is “come behind:” “So that ye come behind [hystereo] in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:….” (1 Corinthians 1:7).
  • In Philippians 4:12, it is “suffer need:” “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 [hystereo].”
  • The word is translated “destitute” in Hebrews 11:37: “They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute [hystereo], afflicted, tormented;….”
  • Finally, Hebrews 12:15: “Looking diligently lest any man fail [hystereo] of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;….”

The idea, then, is deficiency, something absent, a need, or inferiority. Man has fallen, no longer bearing God’s image. Adam passed on this corrupt identity to all of us: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:…” (Romans 5:12). God’s righteousness—His standard of rightness—is therefore high above us. No matter how hard we try in religion, we cannot “measure up.” In this sense we are come short of the glory of God. We are devoid of all that He is, or of all that He originally made Adam (the first man).

Our only remedy is the Gospel of the Grace of God: “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Romans 3:23-28: “[23] For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; [24] Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: [25] Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; [26] To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. [27] Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. [28] Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

Romans 4:1-5: “[1] What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? [2] For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. [3] For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. [4] Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. [5] But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

“And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:30-31).

Also see:
» Was God “unfair” to punish us for Adam’s sin?
» Are we created in “the image of God?”
» Does God see us Christians as sinners?
» Is grace a “license to sin?”

» Why did God place a curse on creation?
» Can you explain “knowing” good and evil with respect to the Garden of Eden?
» Was an apple the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?

If God wants to save all—but only few are saved—is He not “weak” and “limited?”

IF GOD WANTS TO SAVE ALL—BUT ONLY FEW ARE SAVED—IS HE NOT “WEAK” AND “LIMITED?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

Calvinists pride themselves in (allegedly) “defending the sovereignty of God.” As they see it, if God is not in complete control of every last detail, He cannot be God. One of their central “theological impasses” can be summarized as follows: If God wants all people to be saved and go to Heaven, but not all people get saved and go to Heaven, then God must really not want all people to be saved and go to Heaven. Therefore, they conclude, God has already “elected,” “predestinated,” or “chosen” who will be saved unto eternal life and Heaven. As for those who wind up in Hell and the Lake of Fire, they must experience that awful fate because God did not select them for justification. Calvinists see no alternative view—for to hold to anything else is to detract from God’s Deity. They contend, “We cannot limit God to save those who chose to believe. Man exercising faith does not limit God, for God should be able to save whomever He chooses to believe, apart from the individual’s choice to believe.” (Calvinists say God is limited to save only those He has chosen, which itself is a limitation!! Such nonsense epitomizes the endless speculations of worthless theology!!)

One verse helpful in dealing with and making sense of this topic is Matthew 23:37. The Lord Jesus Christ, during the last days of His earthly ministry, issued a stinging rebuke in response to Israel’s corrupt religious leadership: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”

Judgment would come upon Jerusalem. The Temple that Zerubbabel built and King Herod the Great expanded was no longer Father God’s house (John 2:16) or Jesus Christ’s house (Matthew 21:13). It would be vacated, free from God’s influence: “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (Matthew 23:38). Now, it was Jerusalem’s house, Israel’s house! Thus, chapter 24 opens, “And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple:….”

The Prophet Stephen, attempting to call the nation Israel to repentance and faith in Christ during the early Acts period, preached to its religious leaders in Acts 7:51: “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.” For centuries prior, God commissioned prophets or spokesmen to lead Israel back to Him. What led to the Babylonian Captivity? Read 2 Chronicles chapter 36 : “[15] And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: [16] But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy. [17] Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: he gave them all into his hand.”

If English words mean anything, the Holy Spirit speaking through Stephen believed He (the Holy Ghost) could be rejected. God intended to have a personal relationship with Israel, He wanted to teach them His words, but they decided they would have none of it! It was not God’s fault; it was Israel’s fault.

Truth be told, Calvinists, in their zeal to defend their theological system, create more dilemmas than they do answers to foregoing quandaries.

Firstly, if people are justified to enter Heaven based solely on the fact God chose to give them faith—that “God chose them rather than they chose Him”—then we could blame God for people dying and going to Hell! Man is no longer accountable for his actions, for no matter what he chooses to do, God has predetermined what will happen to him. Why do people go to Hell? Using the Calvinist’s logic, it is God’s fault, for God did not choose to save them! This (convenient) blame-shifting originates in man’s sinful internal makeup, and goes all the way back to Genesis chapter 3.

“[9] And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? [10] And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. [11] And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? [12] And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. [13] And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.”

God gave Adam explicit instructions not to eat the forbidden fruit (2:16-17). Nothing was hard to understand. However, Adam made a willful choice and ate anyway (3:1-8). When God attempted to bring Adam to confession, Adam said, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat” (verse 12). Adam blamed Eve his wife—but he said it in such a way so as to imply it was God’s fault. “You gave her to me, God! Had You not done that, I would not have eaten!” When God addressed Eve, she passed the responsibility on to “the serpent” (verse 13). So, whereas Adam claimed, “God made me do it because He gave Eve to me!,” Eve defended herself, “Satan made me do it!” (These two excuses are prevalent today—people caught doing wrong will either blame God or Satan. They refuse to take responsibility for their own actions.)

If someone dies and goes to Hell, it will not be God’s fault. He did not choose them for that eternal judgment; they chose it for themselves. The Lord Jesus Christ died in our place on Calvary’s cross, to pay for our sins in full, and was raised again for our justification (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). However, if we do not take advantage of those merits by trusting Him as our personal Saviour, then it is not His fault when we go to Hell. He has done everything to prevent us from going to Hell—coming to die for our sins, and then telling us that Good News by writing His words in human language and preserving them in the English Bible—and then we have the audacity to say it was His fault and He sent us there?!

Secondly, we do not “limit” God when we say He has not chosen to save anyone unto eternal life apart from their faith. Also, we do not “limit” God when we say people are saved according to their faith in the Gospel as opposed to God selecting them to be recipients of faith. All we are doing is acknowledging the limitations God has placed upon Himself. Since He is God, He can choose to do something just as freely as He can choose not to do something. No matter what man will do, God does all His good pleasure… and 1 Corinthians 1:21 is part of His good pleasure. “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”

Whom does God want to save? One of the most important rules in Bible study is this: not only should we notice what is in the verse, we should also notice what is not in the verse. After hearing Calvinists, here is what we expected the Scriptures to say: “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that he has chosen to believe,” or “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that he has predestinated to eternal life,” or “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that he chose,” or “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them to whom he gave faith.”

According to the Bible, God is pleased to spiritually heal and give eternal life to those that believe.” He has limited Himself in this regard. If we have a problem with that Bible truth, then we have a problem with the Bible… and we need to go argue with the Bible. Whether we agree with it or not, the Holy Bible is right. Our sinful flesh does not like that. It wants to be its own authority. Too bad! Our flesh is not the authority!

“Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference” (Romans 3:22). “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also” (Romans 4:11). “But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:24-25). “But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe(Galatians 3:22). “When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day” (2 Thessalonians 1:10).

By the way, Calvinists will also claim we exalt man above God by claiming we are saved through faith in the Gospel. According to them, we should not emphasize our faith; therefore, they claim we should say “God gave us faith, God chose us to believe, God predestinated us,” and the like. They say, “God chose us—we did not choose Him!” Again, this is nothing more than a denial of the verses we just cited. God can still be God, and yet leave justification up to man’s choice of faith or unbelief. If man wants to believe God, God is still God. If man wants to disbelieve God, God is still God. Note: God’s nature, His omnipotence, is totally independent of what we do or do not do! Calvinists have an extremely warped view of the God of the Bible, and do not understand that part of His nature is resistible grace (as opposed to the Calvinistic doctrine of irresistible grace). We already saw Jerusalem reject Him. Israel in the Old Testament resisted Him. People even now reject Him—the very people for whom Christ died! That is their own fault. He values free will, and if they want to spend eternity without Him, He will give them over to their preference!

Also see:
» Are we dispensationalists guilty of “limiting God?”
» Does God give us faith?
» Does Romans 9:14-18 support Calvinism?
» Does Romans 9:20-21 support Calvinism?
» Does John 6:29 support Calvinism?
» Does Acts 13:48 support Calvinism?
» Does Acts 2:47 support Calvinism?
» How do God’s foreknowledge and our free will work together?

» Do some things happen by “chance?”
» Does Acts 13:48 support Calvinism?

Should it be “virtue” or “power” in Mark 5:30 Luke 6:19 and Luke 8:46?

SHOULD IT BE “VIRTUE” OR “POWER” IN MARK 5:30, LUKE 6:19, AND LUKE 8:46?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Mark 5:30 says in the King James Bible: “And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?” The parallel passage is Luke 8:45-46: “[45] And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? [46] And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.”

Also, Luke 6:17-19 says: “[17] And he [Jesus] came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judaea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases; [18] And they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed. [19] And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.”

Our Authorized Version says “virtue” in these places where the modern English versions (including NKJV) simply read “power.” Is there a difference? Yes, there certainly is! While the Greek word “dynamis” can and has been rendered “power” elsewhere in the King James Bible (Matthew 6:13, Matthew 22:29, Matthew 24:30, et cetera), we believe the 1611 scholars correctly translated it as “virtue” in Mark 5:30, Luke 6:19, and Luke 8:46. Removing the word “virtue” from the English Bible text waters it down and robs us of valuable spiritual insight.

Mark 5:25-30 is a full picture of the account of the hemorrhaging woman: “[25] And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, [26] And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, [27] When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. [28] For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. [29] And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. [30] And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?”

Luke 8:43-46 is the parallel account: “[43] And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, [44] Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched [stopped, dried up]. [45] And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? [46] And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.”

Matthew 9:20-22 is the companion account, although the Holy Spirit does not emphasize the “virtue” aspect. We will read it for sake of comparison nonetheless: “[20] And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: [21] For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. [22] But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.”

To reiterate, Mark 5:30 and Luke 8:46 in the King James Bible use “virtue,” whereas the modern versions simply have “power.” Modern English versions are linguistically and theologically deficient here. The Authorized Version is superior and precise. Something much greater than mere “power” issued from Christ: from Christ came “virtue.” Depending on the context, power can be negative or positive; virtue, on the other hand, is always positive. Virtue is His moral excellence, righteousness, or uprightness.

Remember, this ill woman lacks bodily healing just as spiritually-sick Israel is without righteousness. God’s righteousness must heal her (both the woman and the nation Israel’s Little Flock). Righteousness, not self-righteousness, will rectify Israel’s sin problem. A spiritual healing accompanied the woman’s physical healing. When Israel is nationally converted, not only will she be spiritually healed but physically healed. “And the inhabitant shall say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity” (Isaiah 33:24).

Since “virtue”—and not just “power”—came forth from Christ, the hemorrhaging woman was delivered from her physical affliction. The same will be true of national Israel, her Little Flock, and her spiritual affliction (sin). Now redeemed, justified, and restored, Israel can enjoy life as God intended in the Millennial Kingdom. She can at last become His kingdom of priests.

By the way, virtue and power can issue from Almighty God today concerning our sin problem too. Through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork, like Israel of the future, we can be saved from our sins. “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).

Romans 3:21-28: “[21] But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; [22] Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: [23] For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; [24] Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: [25] Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; [26] To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. [27] Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. [28] Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

Also see:
» How was there healing in touching Jesus’ garment hem?
» What are the “sins that are past” in Romans 3:25?
» Was God “unfair” to punish us for Adam’s sin?

How was there healing in touching Jesus’ garment hem?

HOW WAS THERE HEALING IN JESUS’ GARMENT HEM?

by Shawn Brasseaux

What is the significance of sick people receiving physical healing by touching Jesus’ garment hem? Why—of all things—was a garment border emphasized in these verses? In faith, we will take our King James Bible and search for answers!

Notice Matthew 9:20-22: “[20] And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: [21] For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. [22] But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.”

Read the parallel, Mark 5:25-29: “[25] And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, [26] And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, [27] When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. [28] For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. [29] And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.”

Luke 8:43-44 is also a companion passage: “[43] And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, [44] Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched [stopped, dried up].”

Matthew 14:34-36, while another occasion entirely, nevertheless highlights the idea of touching Jesus’ garment to receive physical healing: “[34] And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret. [35] And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased; [36] And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.”

In order to grasp the significance of this hem, we must consult the Law of Moses. Read Numbers chapter 15: “[37] And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, [38] Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: [39] And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: [40] That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God. [41] I am the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD your God.” Deuteronomy 22:12 is a similar order: “Thou shalt make thee fringes upon the four quarters of thy vesture, wherewith thou coverest thyself.”

JEHOVAH God commanded the Israelites to sew a strip of blue cloth on the borders of their garments. This blue band served to remind them to obey His laws (the Old Covenant). They were His people and were thus expected to act like it. In fact, they had actually promised to obey Him back at Mount Sinai just prior to Him giving the Mosaic Law and entering that covenant relationship with Him. They were married to Him, and were required to have no other gods before Him.

Read Exodus chapter 19: “[3] And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; [4] Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. [5] Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: [6] And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. [7] And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him. [8] And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD.” Although they boasted they would “do” “all” that God had commanded them (verse 8), they did not obey Him. They engaged in pagan idolatry from that time all the way to Christ’s earthly ministry over 15 centuries later. Their sinful nature and behavior necessitate the New Covenant (yet future).

Pay attention to Jeremiah chapter 31: “[31] Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: [32] Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: [33] But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. [34] And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” The New Covenant is God causing Israel to obey Him as opposed to their sinful flesh struggling but failing to obey Him. In other words, if they are to be His people, the arrangement must be based on His righteousness instead of theirs.

During Christ’s earthly ministry, there was a believing remnant present in Israel who understood their personal and national sin problem. The hemorrhaging woman pictures these believing Jews (Mark 5:25 and Luke 8:43 report she suffered her malady 12 years, 12 being Israel’s number in Scripture). We saw how she reached out in faith and grabbed the blue “ribband” (strip, ribbon, hem) on Jesus’ garment. Spiritual healing, depicted by the physical healing, is not in the sinner keeping the laws of God (an impossibility). Rather, spiritual healing is in the Son of God keeping those laws perfectly. “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). “And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him” (John 8:29).

Even now, it is Jesus Christ’s obedience to Father God—not our obedience—that delivers us from the penalty of sin (Hell and the Lake of Fire). Believing Jews in Israel’s program understood this, and we Christians in this the Dispensation of Grace understand that now. Unlike them, we have a complete Bible, and therefore possess a full understanding of Calvary’s crosswork. Christ’s shed blood delivers us from sin (Romans chapter 3) as well as ratifies the New Covenant to save Israel from sin (Hebrews chapter 10). The physical healing of the hemorrhaging woman and the physical healing of the others who touched Christ’s garment border all demonstrate Israel’s future redemption and restoration (spiritual healing).

The Law is “weak and beggarly” (Galatians 4:9), “weak through the flesh” (Romans 8:3) because we are naturally unable to keep God’s laws. “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law; for sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). Romans 3:19-20 is so plain, we would have to want to miss it not to understand its simple words: “[19] Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. [20] Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in God’s sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Also, 1 Corinthians 15:56, “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.”

If we want sin to reign in our lives and dominate us, the Law is the means whereby we can be defeated as sinners. Even in Israel’s program, the Mosaic Law was never meant to save anyone, never intended to give anyone a right standing before God. It was given to prove Israel’s failure, and it was to demonstrate our failure—for we are all, Jew and Gentile alike, sons and daughters of sinful Adam. Galatians 3:19 says, “The law… was added because of transgressions [sins, failures]….” But, the good news is that, “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). As the hemorrhaging woman reached out to Christ, depending on His righteousness and not her own, let us place our faith in Christ as sufficient payment for our sins. We will experience permanent, spiritual healing found nowhere else!

Also see:
» Should it be “virtue” or “power” in Mark 5:30, Luke 6:19, and Luke 8:46?
» What does “All Israel shall be saved” mean?
» What are the “sins that are past” in Romans 3:25?

“But, what if I do not accept the Bible’s authority?”

“BUT, WHAT IF I DO NOT ACCEPT THE BIBLE’S AUTHORITY?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

My dear friend, if you are visiting a foreign country, whether you “accept” that nation’s authority or not, you are still subject to its rules. If you break the law there, you will suffer the penalty—whether or not you agree with it. Here is how you should look at life on Earth.

Deep down inside, my friend, you know that you do not do that which you know you are supposed to do, and you know that you do that which you know you are not supposed to do. Here is your conscience, an internal system of norms and standards that governs your thoughts and behaviors. What are you going to do with that guilty conscience? Do some “good” works? How exactly does one compensate for bad works anyway? Is there some way to measure the “badness” of an evil work so that a “good” work of the same value can take its place and cancel it? But, what if the evil work is so terrible that many “good” works are needed to nullify it? What if, in the event you try to do good the next time, you commit another evil work in the process? Eventually, you realize you are fighting a losing battle, accumulating a debt you can never possibly pay!! Insanity has been defined as repeating the same action and expecting a different result. Maybe, just maybe, you had better look to someone beyond yourself to deal with your mounting guilt!!

The Holy Bible is an objective standard. It transcends everything subjective—feelings, hunches, opinions, and so on. Either we agree with it or we disagree with it. If we want to oppose it, we can indeed oppose it. However, we will hurt only ourselves. Sinful flesh discounts the Bible out of spite, nothing more. There was no careful investigation of facts, only a willful disregard of the facts already presented therein. The Bible has a negative view of us, so we (naturally) shy away from it and do what we can to “disprove” it. Here is how we know someone other than a person like us wrote it. A Divine mind is behind the Bible, and that conviction pricks us down to our very innermost being!

If man influenced the penning of the Scriptures, we would read page upon page upon page of how we can improve ourselves. There would be such boasting in those passages, and license for us to brag as well. We could praise ourselves, fall in love with ourselves, and exalt ourselves to some deified status. Yet, upon reading the pages of Scripture, we find the human race is condemned as Hell-bound sinners. This is most offensive, right? See, “religious” and “irreligious” alike, all are headed to a place of endless suffering under the righteous judgment of a holy God! Like it or not, friend, your guilty conscience agrees with the Bible. You can argue with it all you want, invent and jump through all the mental hoops you want, but you cannot get around it. You are guilty as charged in conscience and confirmed by Scripture—and what an unspeakable eternal penalty that guilt carries!

It is your eternal soul at stake, dear friend, not mine. If you prefer to refuse to submit to the Holy Bible, then you go right on ahead and rebel against it. No one will stop you or force you to accept it—not even God Himself. In the event that you are wrong, then you will have no one to blame but yourself for those consequences. Someone once wisely observed, “Some people tell God, ‘Thy will be done.’ God tells many people, ‘Thy will be done!’” It was true then and it is equally true now. If you are Hell-bent on your anti-Bible path, by all means, friend, you just keep walking it. You have made your choice, and we will not deny you your right. This is said in love. Here is another word of caution we will add. When you reach the “dead end” of your journey, you can look back and see where your decisions got you. You will not be able to repeat that life either. (Perhaps you should think twice before arriving at that end?)

Dear friend, when you are finally done “doing your own thing”—now disappointed, and feeling insignificant, hopeless, and helpless—just remember there was an answer in the Lord Jesus Christ that you refused. Furthermore, He will be there until your last breath, waiting for you to trust Him as your personal Saviour before it is eternally too late. When your seasonal pleasures in sin have departed, what then, friend? Will you still refuse to accept the Bible’s authority? When your guilty conscience is so vexing that you can bear it no longer, what then, dear friend? Will you still refuse to accept the Bible’s authority? (Do you really want to know? Your answer will likely be, “Yes, I will still refuse to accept the Bible’s authority.” The longer you refuse, the harder your heart grows, and the more difficult it is for you to receive the Word of God by faith. However, the God of Scripture values free will, so you just keep on doing what you feel like doing. The path is all yours, and yours alone!)

In closing, you should be reminded that it is not too late to turn around… yet.

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Romans 3:23-28).

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

“And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:31).

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen”
(Romans 1:18-25).

Also see:
» What happens after death?
» Can an atheist be moral without any influence from any higher power?
» “If only I saw a miracle…?”

What happens after death?

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER DEATH?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Like all Bible topics, we must remember to approach it dispensationally. We will begin by presenting some basic information about a human’s physical and spiritual makeup. Then, we will explain physical death and its subsequent events as outlined in Scripture.

Physical death is described most graphically in Genesis 35:18: “And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.” Upon death, we see the person’s physical body lying motionless and immediately undergoing the grisly process of decomposition. Here are the limits of the “natural eyes.” Through the eyes of faith, however, we see can see more—much more.

We understand that his or her invisible person—the “real” or permanent individual—has vacated that temporary tent or shell and relocated to another dimension. No longer housing the soul and the spirit, the physical body can be buried in the earth to return to the dust from which it came (Genesis 3:19). Death is not a termination but a separation. We continue to exist after death, just in a different form. Our spiritual body has separated from our physical body; to wit, the “inward man” has departed the “outward man” (2 Corinthians 4:16). The physical body now lacks a spirit (memory, vocabulary, frame of reference, and perception) and a soul (mentality, conscience, will/volition, and emotional seat). Both the spirit and the soul are linked at the mind, and they remain connected even after death. They are simply not attached to a physical body.

Peeling back the curtains of the mysterious afterlife, the Holy Spirit reveals to us in Luke chapter 16: “[19] There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: [20] And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, [21] And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

“[22] And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; [23] And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. [24] And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. [25] But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. [26] And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.

“[27] Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: [28] For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. [29] Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. [30] And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. [31] And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”

The Bible says, after death, the angels indeed carried the soul of the believer (Lazarus) into “Abraham’s bosom” (verse 22), what Jesus Christ termed “paradise” (Luke 23:43) and “the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40). Read Luke 16:22 again: “And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; [23] And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.” The Bible is silent about anyone or anything coming to retrieve the rich man’s spiritual body though. He—his soul and spirit—simply fell into the heart of the earth. “Hell” is said to be downward or beneath our feet (Proverbs 15:24; Isaiah 14:9).

Although the rich man’s body is buried, he has eyes and can still see (Luke 16:22-23). He has a tongue and can experience thirst (verse 24). The rich man can talk and hold a conversation with Abraham whom he recognizes (verses 24-31). He also has a detailed memory of his life on earth (verses 25,27-28). The rich man is completely aware of his torment in flames (verse 24). Here are his soul and spirit, existing outside his body, just as conscious as we are right now, able to be exercise senses and use logic as we do now. Abraham, a believer, is on the paradise side of the afterlife. He too can remember, reason, and speak. Both have a will or volition to make decisions.

Friends, the above information is true even now concerning the afterlife, with a few exceptions. Here is where dispensational Bible study is critical (2 Timothy 2:15). “Paradise” has been moved to “the third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:1-4). Therefore, believers in Christ go to Heaven today, as opposed to the heart of the Earth (see also Hebrews 12:22-24). Also, in this the Dispensation of Grace, angels do not play the role they once did in believers’ lives. We study Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, to see that to be the case. Now, angels do not come to collect a Christian’s spiritual body when he or she dies. Instead of angels (as with Lazarus), the indwelling Holy Spirit Himself personally escorts the Christian into Heaven. What a remarkable trip that is!

Ephesians chapter 1: “[12] That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. [13] In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, [14] Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” The Holy Spirit preserves us Christians spiritually as we live on Earth, and this will be equally valid once we leave Earth! “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). After the saint exhales his or her final breath, the Holy Spirit rapidly transports soul and spirit into the third heaven. It is an instant awareness, much like waking up to a new morning—only a million times better! Yes, they know where they are, they are enjoying praising the Lord, and we will see them again!

Some religionists contend that we cease to exist when we physically die. On the basis of 2 Corinthians chapter 5, we know this to be a lie. “[6] Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: [7] (For we walk by faith, not by sight: ) [8] We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” Notice verse 8—to be present with the Lord.” “To be” means we still exist after death!

Paul the Apostle said in Philippians chapter 1: “[21] For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. [22] But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. [23] For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: [24] Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.” Again, “to be” describes Christians after physical death. Paul stated that dying “is gain” and “far better.” How ridiculous these statements would be if death were the cessation of existence!

The souls and spirits of all people currently physically dead will be reunited with their physical bodies one day. Concerning members of the Church the Body of Christ, they will be joined with their new bodies at the Rapture (Romans 8:18-25; 1 Corinthians 15:35-58; 2 Corinthians 4:16–5:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). They will reign with Christ in His heavenly kingdom (Ephesians 1:20-23; Colossians 1:16-20). All other believers of the ages will be resurrected at the Second Coming of Christ, to reign with Christ in His earthly kingdom (Revelation 20:1-6). Exactly 1,000 years later, all unbelievers of the ages past now in Hell will be bodily resurrected to be judged at the Great White Throne Judgment, and then thrown into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:11-15).

My friend, if you are without Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, do not waste another moment being lost. You can pass from eternal death to eternal life right now—and you are strongly urged to immediately believe on the Lord Jesus Christ! “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). He shed His sinless blood to pay for everything that is wrong with you. If you die and wake up in Hell, it will be your own fault because Almighty God did everything to prevent you from going there. Those of us in Christ need not fear death or anything that will happen afterward. We are well aware of what heavenly bliss awaits us in the next life—as well as the eternal doom that looms for those outside of Christ.

P.S.: Dear reader, just in case you “do not believe in the afterlife,” you should be warned that you will most definitely believe in it one second after death… when it is too late!

Also see:
» Is Luke 16:19-31 merely a parable?
» How can a “loving” God send people to Hell forever?
» Will we know if a loved one is not there in Heaven with us?

Are the Jews supposed to still get circumcised in the Dispensation of Grace?

ARE THE JEWS SUPPOSED TO STILL GET CIRCUMCISED IN THE DISPENSATION OF GRACE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Are the Jews supposed to still get circumcised in the Dispensation of Grace? What about Galatians 5:3-4? “[3] For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. [4] Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”

Let us begin at verse 1 and move through to verse 9.

“[1] Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. [2] Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. [3] For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. [4] Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. [5] For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. [6] For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. [7] Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? [8] This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. [9] A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.”

The problem in Galatia is false teaching in the form of legalism (Law-keeping as means of gaining God’s blessings, the belief that we can gain Heaven by our religious works, using the Law under the impression it will produce fruitful Christian service). Notice how the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul titles this “the yoke of bondage” (verse 1). That phrase hooks to Acts 15:10: “Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?” Let us read the first five verses of Acts chapter 15 now.

“[1] And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. [2] When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. [3] And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. [4] And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. [5] But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”

Paul’s Gentile converts (found in Acts chapters 13-14) were being told that they had to “be circumcised after the manner of Moses” or they could not be saved (Acts 15:1). “It was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses” (verse 5). Such notions parallel what we just read in the Book of Galatians, and that is no coincidence. The Galatians were saved in Acts chapters 13-14, and the apostolic conference of chapter 15 is repeated in Galatians chapter 2. Yes, never forget, Acts chapter 15 is quite useful in grasping Galatians.

Friend, you have used Galatians 5:3-4 to ask whether Jews still need physical circumcision in our Dispensation. You have misunderstood the context. Those being circumcised in that passage are not Jews but rather Gentiles. Specifically, they are Paul’s Gentile converts. Gentile believers in the Gospel of Grace have been misled to assume they are under Israel’s program (the Law of Moses, physical circumcision). Paul’s argument in Galatians chapter 5 is to show them they are not “rightly dividing the word of truth” as 2 Timothy 2:15 states. They are mixing dispensations, uniting the mystery and prophetic programs God has divided.

The only rightful purpose of the Law in our Dispensation is that it points out our sin and our need for the Saviour (1 Timothy 1:7-11). Like the Galatians originally, we have already recognized our sin problem and trusted Jesus Christ as the fully-satisfying sacrifice for our sins (Romans 3:23-28). The Law, our performance, plays no role in saving us from our sins—both the eternal penalty (Hell) and the temporary struggles (daily living). This is what the Galatians had forgotten since Paul left their midst. False teachers had entered and tricked them with denominational teaching (Galatians 3:1-3; Galatians 4:17; Galatians 5:7-12; Galatians 6:12-13)! Such dangerous individuals lurk in the pulpit of the average “Christian” church even now, and likely fooling most people reading these very lines!

Paul wrote in Galatians chapter 5 that, if those Gentiles in Galatia wanted to be physically circumcised, there was much, much more to Law-keeping. The Law system is an “all-or-nothing” arrangement—failure to keep it in one point results in being guilty of breaking all the commandments (James 2:10). In other words, the Galatians had not grasped the magnitude of the spiritual trouble in which they had placed themselves. By getting under the Law system, they were to follow every precept and each rule found in Moses’ writings—not just physical circumcision!! Since they had chosen to forsake God’s message of grace to them through Paul’s ministry, they were now subject to several hundred rules (the entire Mosaic system)! They had been justified unto eternal life by faith in Christ, but they had discarded that truth and returned to “work to be justified.” “Fallen from grace” indeed! Satan had deceived them, and he uses that same works-religion and (self)“righteousness” system to con us even now (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

Such a performance system is “weak and beggarly,” Galatians 4:9 says. Such is spiritual immaturity, Galatians 4:19 says. “Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?” (verse 20). For the rest of the chapter, Paul differentiates between man’s efforts and God’s grace—we are not under the performance system but under the grace system! It is not about us but all about Jesus Christ!

Let us now address your first question, thereby “tying up” our comments to your second question.

ARE JEWS OBLIGATED TO BE PHYSICALLY CIRCUMCISED IN OUR DISPENSATION?

Physical circumcision for Jews (or even for Gentiles) is not required in this the Dispensation of the Grace of God. Today, there is no spiritual advantage to being physically circumcised and there is no spiritual disadvantage to being physically uncircumcised. The ground is level at the foot of Calvary’s cross (Ephesians 2:11-22). Such words were completely unknown prior to God’s Word through the Apostle Paul, our Dispensation of Grace.

Galatians 5:6: “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.” Galatians 6:15: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” Never do we find anything like this in Moses’ writings; in fact, we find the exact opposite!! Also see Matthew 10:5-7, Matthew 15:24, and John 4:22—these show us that Christ’s earthly ministry cannot apply to us either!!

A Jew needed physical circumcision as a sign of the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 17:7-14; cf. Genesis 12:1-3 and Acts 7:8). Since there is no nation Israel in God’s program today—she is fallen—there is no Abrahamic Covenant in effect either. God is blessing the world today, not through Israel’s rise, but through her fall. That is Paul’s message found in Romans chapter 11: “[11] I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. [12] Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? [13] For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: [14] If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.”

While people today are physically circumcised for health reasons, that was not why God wanted Abraham and his seed to have it. It was a religious rite, later incorporated into the Law of Moses (Leviticus 12:3). Circumcision is the sign of being separated from, or deadness to, the ability of our sinful flesh (an outward reflection of an internal, spiritual circumcision—cf. Romans 2:28-29). We cannot work in our flesh to please God. He will bless us, but not because we work to please Him (for we sinners cannot work to please Him—Romans 3:9-20). God will bless us simply because of His grace, His goodness, His performance. That is what Abraham learned in Galatians 4:21-31, when God rejected the son he produced in his own strength, and God gave him a son He caused to be born miraculously (cf. Genesis 16:1-16; Genesis 17:1-27; Genesis 21:1-21). Grace and works cannot cohabitate! That goes for Abraham, the Galatians, and even us! “And if it be by grace, then it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work” (Romans 11:6).

Calvary cannot impact lost people if they are focused on their efforts. It cannot benefit Christians who are fixated on their labors either. Therefore, Satan’s evil world system exploits man’s natural self-righteous attitude. Lost people stay lost, dazzled by their “religious goodness” to such a large degree that Christ’s perfect sacrifice on Calvary means nothing to them. Christian people stay confused, saved by grace and yet trying to “prove salvation by works” or attempting to “keep salvation by works.” God does not want our efforts; He wants our faith resting entirely in His Son Jesus Christ. That goes for unsaved and saved alike.

Going to Heaven is all about Christ’s finished crosswork on Calvary. We trust in that and that alone. It is not about our prayers, our water baptism, our confession of sins, our commandment-keeping, our sacrifices, our alms, our church membership, our circumcision!! Notice how religion is all about US, US, US, US, US! The cross wipes that all away—and that is exactly why the message of Jesus Christ is so offensive (Galatians 5:11)!!! It removes us and puts the focus exclusively on the Lord Jesus Christ. Our sin nature fights that, as it wants to be praised, worshipped, exalted. Religion is thus so appealing. Boasting is why God hates religion.

Romans 3:27–4:5: “[3:27] Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. [3:28] Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. [3:29] Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: [3:30] Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. [3:31] Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. [4:1] What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? [4:2] For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. [4:3] For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. [4:4] Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. [4:5] But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

Faith in Christ—not works—is counted for righteousness! The lost person thus passes from death to life. Likewise, Christian living (daily sanctification) is just like justification unto eternal life. It is Christ’s finished crosswork on Calvary. We are dead to sin (Romans chapter 6). Sin, our flesh, does not have dominion over us (Romans chapter 7). We are alive unto God by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans chapter 8). It is not we making ourselves acceptable to God; it is God making us acceptable to Him because of His Son’s merits applied to us!

Once we place our faith in Christ, we receive a new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17), and that new nature will produce good works. However, that is not the same as religion motivating us to do good works so we can be accepted of God. This “fine-line” distinction is how Satan deceives. People who do not want to know the truth believe the lie as though it were the truth. They claim to be Christian but then work. They say Christ is their Saviour but they cannot say exactly how He has saved them. They never can say for sure they will go to Heaven. That is because they are working to gain God’s favor—and if they die unsaved, they will surely learn they have inspired the exact opposite!

Friend, how urgent it is that we see we can be Scriptural and be completely out of God’s will! To grab Moses’ writings (the Bible!!) and try to follow them is to believe the Devil’s lie! It is important not only to be Scriptural, but also dispensational. If we want to do God’s will, we must follow the directions He gave in our dispensation—“the Dispensation of the Grace of God” Jesus Christ revealed directly to the Apostle Paul so he could then teach us (Ephesians 3:1-2). God’s Word to and about us is Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” (Romans 6:14-15).

Also see:
» Is grace a license to sin?
» Why did Paul circumcise Timothy but not Titus?
» Why did Israel have to keep so many strange laws?