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BE SKILLFUL [8/9/20]

“RICH MAN, POOR MAN, PANHANDLER, THIEF”

“How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver!” <Prov.16:16 (NIV)>. If you apply yourself to seeking wisdom and understanding, you will understand the fear of the Lord and find God’s knowledge <Prov.2:1-5>; happy are those who find wisdom and gain understanding <Prov.3:13‑15>; the fruit of wisdom is justice wealth and prosperity. <Prov.8:18-21>. Can it be said that the rich person is more skillful than the poor person: or is the poor person more skillful than the panhandler? Many would agree that the thief is more skillful than the first three. In today’s lifestyle, which of the four really enjoys living? Again, most people would agree that many rich people enjoy life to its fullest.

THE STORY OF THE EIGHT RICH MEN: In 1923, a very important meeting was held at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago. Attending this meeting were eight of the world’s most successful financiers. Those present were: The president of the largest independent steel company; the president of the largest utility company; the president of the largest gas company; the president of the New York Stock Exchange; a member of the President’s cabinet; the greatest “bear” in Wall Street; the Head of the world’s greatest monopoly and the President of the Bank for International Settlements. Certainly, we must admit that here were gathered a group of the world’s most successful men. At least, men who had found the secret of “making money”. Twenty-five years later (1948) let us see where these men are. The president of the largest independent steel company ‑ Charles Schwab ‑ lived on borrowed money for five years before his death, and died bankrupt. The president of the greatest utility company ‑ Samuel Insull ‑ died a fugitive from justice and penniless in a foreign land. The president of the largest gas company ‑ Howard Hopson ‑ is now dead. The president of the New York Stock Exchange ‑ Richard Whitney ‑ was recently released from Sing Sing Penitentiary. The member of the President’s cabinet ‑ Albert Fall, was pardoned from prison so he could die at home. The greatest “bear” in Wall Street ‑ Jesse Livermore‑ died a suicide. The Head of the greatest monopoly ‑ Ivan Kreuger ‑ died a suicide. The president of the Bank for International Settlements ‑ Leon Fraser ‑ died a suicide. All of these men learned well the art of making money, but not one of them had learned how to live. (Louis R. Lurie, in the Journal of Living. p573 Knight’s Book of Illustrations). There are those people, whose only aim in life is to accumulate as much money as they can, by any means that they can. Some of these people are called “thieves”.

THIEVES: “Immoral procurement” destroys those who obtain it <Prov.1:19>; “dishonest money” soon disappears <Prov.13:11>. There are three ways not to obtain wealth: “get‑rich quick” schemes; false information / advertising; outright robbery; are all “the way of the wicked”. <Prov.21:5‑7>. Dishonesty is robbery <Prov.11:1; Lev.19:35‑36> and all standards must be based on honest references <see also Deut.25:16>.

Unnecessary financial pressure on the poor by forcing them to pay dearly for their existence is the way of the world often duplicated in the Christian community, in that the poor and less fortunate members are at the mercy of the more prosperous members; and the less fortunate members are powerless as they strive to make ends meet; “What you are doing is not right. Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies?” <Neh.5:9 (NIV)>; this is not a good testimony for any Christian community or church! The Lord prospers us in varying degrees as He sees fit, all that we are and have is given to us by Him; therefore, let us use our resources for His glory.

Slothfulness ‑ “the lazy”; “the slothful man” (another form of robbery); one of the most common forms of robbery that faces our society today, and there are those in our community that must understand that work is not a curse. God encouraged work <Gen.2:15>, and it was a regular habit of Jesus <Mark 6:3> and Paul <Acts 18:1‑3>. We work so as to earn an honest living. The “slothful”; however, loves to sleep <Prov.26:14> although sleep is necessary too much is destructive! <Eccl.5:12>. On the job a lazy person is more of a nuisance than a help! He/she daydreams but does not work hard enough to fulfill the dreams <Prov.21:25>; has a “know‑it‑all” attitude and lives in fantasy telling everyone else how/what to do even though the lazy person has never succeeded in much <Prov.21:25‑26>. The lazy person is good at making excuses <Prov.20:4>; and is destined to live in poverty and hunger, and become a drain on our society including our churches (unless cared for by others) <Prov.10:4; 2 Thess.3:6‑15>. Lazy people lose their freedom to others <Prov.12:24>, waste God‑given resources <Prov.18:9> and opportunities <Prov.10:5>. Laziness, therefore, is nothing but theft, because laziness robs the employer of resources or income; or laziness leads to stealing so that the lazy person can survive.

THE POOR AND NEEDY: When the Jews entered the land of Canaan, each family of the 12 tribes was given a portion of the land as an inheritance, and Moses instructed them (through the Law) that the land was never to be sold, it was to be handed down to each succeeding generation within the same family. Consequently, each family would have some form of income by cultivation of the land, or livestock farming, thus making poverty non‑existent. God in His wisdom also gave specific instruction in the Law to control the amassing of huge properties which would allow the owners of such large properties to control the economy. The Law made provision for the Sabbath day ‑ a day of rest in seven days; there was also the Sabbatical Year during which the land, animals and workers were given a year of rest; and there was the Year of Jubilee (50th year) during which time the land was uncultivated and the property was returned to its original owner, if for some reason it had been forfeited <see Lev.25>. As a result of the failure of the people to obey these laws, God had to send His people into captivity to give the land its rest <see 2 Chron.36:20‑21>, and poverty became a way of life for some. In later years, our Lord Jesus said to His disciples in this context ‑ “the poor you will always have among you” <Matt.26:11>.

SOME CAUSES OF POVERTY: outright refusal to work <Prov.10:4>; love of pleasure <Prov.21:17>; undisciplined lives <Prov.13:18>; such are unable to maintain employment. “At the entrance of one of the great manufacturing plants in America is a sign that reads, “If you are like a wheelbarrow‑‑going no further than you are pushed‑‑you need not apply for work here!”  A sign in another workplace reads: “If you do not believe in the resurrection of the dead, you should be here at quitting‑time.” Undisciplined lives lead to loss of employment and ultimate poverty! And further causes of poverty can be attributed to unwise financial dealings; mortgaging the house to finance those “get-rich-quick” schemes. Assuming debts larger than one’s ability to repay <Prov.22:7> which is very common in today’s society! Current news item: “Canadians continue to declare personal bankruptcy in record numbers”. People and events over which one has no control, allows injustice to sweep away one’s resources; wicked rulers and business people crush the less fortunate, seizing what little they possess, (high/excessive taxes, interest) <Prov.13:23; 18:23>. Oppression of the poor is condemned by God who respects both rich and poor showing no preference; therefore, believers should not show any preference in dealing with the rich or poor members of the community <Prov.14:31; 22:2>.

WAYS OF HELPING THE POOR AND NEEDY:  do not “despise” or “put down” the poor <Prov.14:21>: do not exploit or rob the poor <Prov.22:22‑23>. Believers should strive for justice for the poor <Prov.29:7>; should judge fairly and defend the rights of the poor <Prov.31:9>. The Church Family has an obligation to help their own needy persons first <1 Tim.5:4, 8> and if we ignore the cries of the poor, God will ignore our prayers <Prov.21:13>.

What do the Scriptures say about the Rich? Is excessive wealth encouraged or discouraged? Wealth is neither encouraged nor discouraged, but the scriptures do comment on the way one handles riches and the manner in which one gains wealth. In dealing with this the Book of Proverbs speaks of “diligence” and “skillfulness” as distinguishing characteristics.

THE DILIGENT: Diligent – constant and earnest in effort and application; attentive and persistent in doing something.  Skillful – ability or competence in an occupation, having had long experience, thus having acquired a high degree of proficiency; not being an amateur. Diligence leads to skillfulness, skillfulness eventually leads to wealth; that is, a skillful worker is able to earn more honestly. Diligent people are characterized by: DISCIPLINE; discipline of the inner person, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” <Prov.4:23 (NIV)>. Cultivation of the inner person through prayer and meditation on the Word of God, and submission to the will of God, produces the joy of a diligent and disciplined life. The discipline of diligent work produces the ability and character that others can trust; creating the opportunity for additional responsibility: examples ‑ Joseph in Egypt and David the shepherd. Wisdom is the principle behind diligence <Prov.4:7‑8>, and there is no substitute for hard work <Prov.10:4>. We must discipline ourselves for hard work so as to become more skillful. Diligent people plan their work and work their plan “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty…. Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” < Prov.4:23; 16:3 (NIV)>. A successful job is not accomplished by accident, it requires planned disciplined work; the result may be surprising but hard work must be put into it, and God blesses honest hard work <Prov.13:11>. Honesty should be exhibited both in actions as well as words. DEBT‑CONSCIOUS: diligent people are careful not to incur debts they are unable to handle, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” <Prov.22:7 (NIV)>. In today’s world we can easily get into debt over our heads, especially those who are less fortunate. Demands far exceed our income when we consider the bare necessities of life ‑ rent, food and clothing. Therefore, it is imperative for us to be wise in respect to borrowing. Diligent budgeting is a MUST; we must confer with our spouses and carefully list our combined incomes and expenditures before using those easy‑to‑come‑by Credit Cards, or spending the Cash from our wallets and purses. Do not fall into the trap of WANTING more of material things, go for the NEEDS first. Above all discover the financial level God wants you to be living at and be CONTENT with it.

“Two things I ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, `Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonour the name of my God.” <Prov.30:7-9 (NIV)>. Do not try to impress others by accumulating material things which cannot be afforded and must be put on credit, for which you will spend the rest of your working days paying. Our Lord and Heavenly Father knows that we His children have needs that must be met; but our most important task in this world is not to earn money. The most important thing for us is that God can trust us with money, being faithful and accountable in the way we use what He has given to us. “For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” <Matt.6:32-33 (NIV)>

The real measure of our wealth “is how much we would be worth if we lost all our money” (John Henry Jowett). Character is more important than position, wisdom more than possessions <Prov.13:7>. Success in the business world is all-important to the young executives today, but be careful how we climb the “corporate ladder”!

The diligent HAVE A SENSE OF SECURITY: not in their possessions or income, but in their peace‑of‑mind before God. The righteous will flourish <Prov.11:28>; their peace is not purchased <Prov.15:16‑17> and their good name has not been bought <Prov.22:1>. The diligent ARE CAREFUL NOT TO BE PROUD “Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth and honour and life.” <Prov.22:4 (NIV)>. It will not be our ability or hard work that will make us rich. It will be the health and physical strength that God gives us that will enable us to accomplish anything in this life; and this leaves no room for pride or boasting.  The diligent HAVE A GOOD ATTITUDE TOWARD MONEY: a wrong attitude can wreck friendships and destroy homes, “A greedy man brings trouble to his family, but he who hates bribes will live.” <Prov.15:27 (NIV)>. Those who think only of getting rich place more importance on money instead of people and principles, and the pursuit of riches causes neglect of family and friends. Many families have been destroyed and friends alienated because love has been replaced by expensive gifts. Let us therefore heed the wise advice of the King <Prov.8:10-11>.

Rich man, Poor man, Panhandler, Thief; none but one is condemned by God. The manner in which we become rich or live poor is governed by our relationship with God, the way we use our resources will display our love for our Lord; and wisdom can be found in all three of these types. The Thief and stealing are definitely condemned by God, this type is the only one that despises wisdom.

Get wisdom: do not forsake or despise wisdom though it cost all that you have <Prov.4:5-7>.   “BE SKILLFUL”

 

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THE END-TIMES [8/1/20]

The following is a brief outline of what the Scriptures teach about events that constitute what is referred to as the end-times.

“Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. “Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing [of the temple] he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”  <Dan.9:24-27 (NIV)>

What are the main points contained in this passage?

  • From the issuing of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem until the millennial reign of Messiah = 490 years <v 24>; “sevens” are interpreted to mean a seven-year period of time. The decree was given by King Artaxerxes to Nehemiah in 445 B.C.
  • From the issuing of the decree till Messiah comes = 483 years <v 25>
  • From the issuing of the decree till Messiah’s crucifixion = 434 years. <v 26>
  • There will be 49 years of Roman subjection culminating with the total destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem (by Titus in A.D. 70).
  • The birth of Messiah took place in approximately B.C. 6; and His crucifixion was in approximately A.D. 31 = 37 years approximately.
  • 434 + 49 = 483 years.
  • The Church age began at the time when Christ returned to His father in heaven, and has lasted until the present day. The Church is not mentioned in any prophecy.
  • The final 7 years of Daniel’s prophecy are yet to be fulfilled. It will begin when the Jewish nation signs a covenant with the anti-Christ, and will be broken by the anti-Christ halfway through the term. This will usher in the “great tribulation” period spoken of by the prophets as “Jacob’s trouble”, and will last for the balance of this seven-year period (3 1/2 years). <v 27>
  • At the end of this 490-year period, Messiah’s millennial reign on earth will begin.

“Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” <Matt.24:1-3 (NIV)>

Three question asked of Jesus by the disciples: 1. When will this happen? 2. What will be the sign? 3. When will be the end of the age?

  1. There will be continued unrest and fighting with Rome while the gospel is being preached, and Jerusalem will be totally destroyed (Titus in A.D. 70), and the Jews dispersed throughout the world. The gospel will continue to be preached throughout the then known world, and eventually to the entire world — the church age –; while the Jews will continue to suffer greatly (through two world wars and numerous conflicts). A temporary end will then come to the suffering of the Jews as they become integrated into society and some return to the land of Palestine. After a time determined by God – the church age — will end. <Matt.24:4-14; 2 Pet.3:10>.
  2. A covenant will be signed between Israel and the nations that is supposed to bring peace; this is the beginning of the final 7 years of Daniel’s prophecy; halfway into the period (3 ½ years) the covenant will be broken by the sign of the “abomination”. “Great distress” or tribulation that has never been seen or experienced before will begin for the Jews and will last for the next 3 1/2 years. <Matt.24:15, 21>.
  3. At the end of this period (7 years), Messiah returns and sets up His millennial kingdom <Matt.24:29-31>. The final battle and the millennial reign of Christ is referred to in <Rev. 19:11; 20:6>.

God’s mercy and grace has been extended to all mankind (not only to the Jewish nation), because the Jews rejected God in rejecting the Messiah <see Rom. 9:1 – 11:36>

“For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith” <Rom.9:15-16 (NIV)>. God offered salvation by faith to all people <Jn.3:16>, and that salvation has been rejected by the Jews as a sovereign state.

“For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile– the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” <Rom.10:12-13 (NIV)>; Jews and Gentiles enjoy the same salvation.

“Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.” <Rom.11:11 (NIV)>

And so, the CHURCH AGE was ushered in. God began by using the Jewish nation as His earthly witness, and their mandate was to present God to the other nations and all peoples on earth; but they failed in this respect and were set aside by God for their rejection of Him. God is now calling out of all nations and peoples a body of people called the Church; and as has been previously stated, the Church was never spoken of by any of the prophets because it remained a “mystery” and was never revealed to them by God; so all their prophecies looked through time towards the coming of Messiah and His millennial reign. This “mystery” was finally revealed to the New Testament believers through Christ’s first advent and the birth of the Church <see Eph.1:9-10>. The Holy Spirit was given to the Church to indwell each believer personally; something different to the Old Testament believers (mainly Jews), who only experienced a special presence of the Spirit of God for some important task that they were called to do. God’s promise to His disciples was that the Holy Spirit would “abide” with them and all those who became disciples after them; meaning all members of the Church <see Jn.14:16-17>.

This passage in <Jn.16:5-16> speaks of the coming of the Holy Spirit and His work among the members of the Church and His influence upon mankind in general during the church age. Therefore, it is understood that while the Church is present on the earth the Holy Spirit will also be present and active. But there will be a day when the Church is removed (“rapture”) from this earth <1 Thess.4:13-18>, and the work of the Holy Spirit will no longer be necessary. This will then start the “seventh week” of Daniel’s prophecy and all the terrible tribulation of the Jews and judgments of God upon an evil and wicked world. It will also be at this time that the “anti-Christ” will take full control of this world and all its peoples.

In 2 Thess.2 :1-12 we find a description of the influence of the anti-Christ as opposed to the influence of the Holy Spirit. Although the anti-Christ, or the “the man of lawlessness” may be at work behind the scenes at this present time, he will not be fully revealed to people on earth “until the rebellion occurs” <1 Thess.2:3 (NIV)>. The “rebellion” simply means that when the Church and the Holy Spirit is removed from this earthly scene, there will be a total rejection of God by all people that remain on this earth, which will lead to the revelation of the anti-Christ <see Matt.24:10-12; 1 Tim.4:1>. This is so because “the one who now holds it back” <1 Thess.2:7 (NIV)> is none other than The Holy Spirit <see Jn.16:8-11>, and when He is removed the activities of the anti-Christ will no longer be restrained, giving him power over all people. His rule of lawlessness and ungodliness will last for seven years – the last seven years of Daniel’s prophecy.

The 483 years prophesied by Daniel is already behind us, we are currently in the Church age; soon God will close this present age of the Church and begin the last seven years that Daniel spoke about. The removal of the Church and The Holy Spirit will be a sudden and unexpected event for those that have, and still reject God and His Son Christ Jesus our Lord.

The question is: where do you stand in relation to what the Scriptures teach concerning the end-times? Are you ready and waiting for Christ’s return, or are you still rejecting His salvation? <see Matt.24:14, 30-31, 36-39; Lk.21:34-36; Rev.22:7>.

 

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SALVATION AND REWARDS [7/18/20]

(THE SAVED AND THE LOST)

Of great importance in understanding the Word of God as taught in the New Testament Scriptures, are the doctrines of salvation for the unsaved sinners, or those that have wandered away for God <Isa.53:6>,  and the doctrine of rewards for those that are converted (saved) <Jn.3:7>. A clear distinction must be made between the two which may be observed in the following contrasts.

  1. Salvation is a Free Gift: it is offered freely by God; there is no charge to the recipient; and is offered to whoever wishes to accept it. Although the penalty for all sin is death, God offers the gift of eternal life, and we can only be saved by the grace of a merciful God and not by anything that we can do to attain this salvation. “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”…”For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”……”he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” <Rom 3:23; 6: 23; Titus 3:5 (NIV); see also Isa.55:1; Eph.2:8-9; Rev.22:17>.
  2. Works or service pleasing to God will be rewarded. Such works are the result of our salvation and are in response to the graciousness of God. We will be rewarded for the good deeds expressed to others in our service to God; we will be rewarded with a “crown of righteousness” for faithfully finishing the task that we have been given here on earth; our reward will be in accordance to our works; our reward will be incorruptible or everlasting unlike earthly rewards. Those who have been trustworthy in the insignificant affairs will be given authority over greater things. All our efforts will be tested by God and we will be rewarded accordingly; and we are encouraged to be faithful to God until the very end of our life and we will receive the “crown of life”; “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” <2 Tim 4:7-8 (NIV); see also Matt.10:42; Rev.22:12; 1 Cor.9:24-25; Lk.19:17; 1 Cor.3:11-15; Rev.2:10>. Rewards are referred to as crowns, and the Scriptures mention four crowns: joy, or rejoicing for our service; righteousness, for faithfulness in our witness; life, for faithfulness under difficulty; and glory, for our faithfulness under hardship <see Phil.4:1; 1 Thess.2:19; James 1:12; 1 Pet.5:4; Rev.2:10>.
  3. Salvation is a current possession. We receive the gift of salvation the moment we express our faith or belief in Christ and His provision for us in the “offering” of Himself as a sacrifice to God for our sins <see Lk.7:50; Jn.3:36; 5:24; 2 Tim.1:9; Titus 3:5; 1 Jn.5:11>. This salvation is eternal and we can never suffer the loss of our salvation. Although our old sinful nature may cause us to sin, we have an advocate in heaven, in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we can request forgiveness. “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life”……” If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”……”But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins…” <Jn.5:24; 1 John 1:9; 2:1-2 (NIV)>.
  4. Rewards will be received at a future event. We will receive our reward at the glorious appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ at His second Advent, and such rewards will be “according to our faithful service”. “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.” < Matt.16:27 (NIV); see also Lk.14:14; 2 Tim.4:8; 1 Pet.5:4; Rev.22:12>. God’s purpose of rewarding His servants is to restrain us from the pursuit of earthly riches and pleasures; to sustain us in persecution and to encourage us in the exercise of Christian virtues <see Dan.12:3; Matt.5:11-12; 10:41-42; Col.3:22-24; Heb.6:10; 11:8-10, 24-27; 12:2-3; Rev.3:11>.

 BELIEVERS AND PRETENDERS

Throughout the Scriptures there has always been two groups of individuals: those that are genuine in their affirmation of belief in God and those that “profess” or pretend to believe but are not genuine in their affirmation. It is unfortunate that such will continue until our Lord Jesus Christ returns in His glory. There are numerous scripture references to this <see Gen.4:3-5; Ex.12:38; Num.11:4-6; Matt.13:24-30, 37-43; 2 Cor.11:13-15; Gal.2:4; 2 Pet.2:1-2; Phil.2:12-13; Eph.2:8-9>.

  1. Believers are saved – Pretenders are lost. Let us compare what the Scriptures teach in respect to True Believers and Pretenders.

(a) TRUE BELIEVERS: true believers are saved by faith alone; are committed to the teachings of the scriptures; can never lose their salvation and are covered by God’s righteousness. All are known to God and are destined to be with Christ in heaven; the work of salvation that has been started will be completed by Christ when we are taken to be with Him. All are committed to follow Christ to the end. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” < Jn.10:27-30 (NIV); see also Lk.7:50; Jn.6:37, 39, 47; 10:14; 17:24; Acts 2:42; Rom.3:22; Phil.1:6; 2 Tim.2:19; Rev.19:7-9>.

(b) PRETENDERS: such live a life of pretense, they profess to be saved but their actions prove otherwise; they unfortunately accept leadership roles, and sometimes go as missionaries but are not committed to Christ. God who knows and sees everything – nothing is hid from His eyes – will dismiss them from His presence. “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.”…. “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” <1 Jn.2:19; Matt.7:22-23 (NIV).  They do not live by faith! They never entirely surrender to Christ! * <see Matt.22:11-13; 23:28, 33; Jn.6:64-66; Acts 8:13, 21; *Heb.6:4-6; 10:38; James 2:14>.

  1. Believers Will Be Rewarded – Pretenders Are Condemned.

Compare  Matt.25:19-23 with Matt.25:24-30;   Lk.12:42  with Lk.12:45-47; Col.3:24 with Matt.7:22-23

In conclusion, understand that these principles are a guide to a precise understanding of the teaching of the Scriptures. The judgment of Pretenders is not assigned to us as believers, but is reserved for the Lord Jesus Christ. The believer’s responsibility is to serve God to the best of our ability with the help of The Holy Spirit, anticipating the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

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THE BELIEVER IN CHRIST [7/11/20]

THE TWO PERSONALITIES

We are taught by the Scriptures that every spiritually born-again person possesses two natures; the first received by our natural birth which is the “sin nature” and is anti God; the other is the new birth which is the nature of God Himself that comes through our salvation.

The sin-nature is such because we inherited it from our fore-father Adam who died spiritually because of his disobedience to God’s specific command “And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”” <Gen.2:16-17(NIV); cf Gen.1:27; 2:7; 3:17-19; Rom.5:12>. Consequently, every living person on this earth has been born with the sin-nature, and there is nothing that any one of us can do the escape the ensuing condemnation of spiritual death <see Psa.51:5; Jer.17:9; Rom.3:10-12>. This does not mean that there are no “good” people in the world, many are quite refined and cultured, generous, charitable and even religious, but none are “righteous” or seek after God, and this fact is sometimes difficult to accept especially when it has to do with family and respected friends; because such people continually insult God’s rights, deny the divinity of Christ and are unmoved by the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ <see 1 Jn.1:10; 5:10; cf Gen.6:4-5>. Ever since the creation, mankind has struggled to improve, to eradicate wickedness and make the race better, but sadly we have only become worse. The sinful nature that is within us constantly comes about in every thought, word and action <see Mk.7:21-23; 1 Cor.2:14; Rom.8:7-8; Eph.2:3>; thus, such people cannot obey, please or understand God.

Conversely the believer in Christ, although still possessing the “old sin-nature” which is unchanged and unchangeable, has received a “new nature” which is patterned after God in righteousness and true holiness; and this is exhibited as a “new creation” and not merely a transformation. As we received the sin-nature by natural birth, we receive the new-nature by rebirth: “Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”” <Jn.3:3 (NIV); cf 1:12-13>.  We must be careful, however, that we are not confused by the present popular teaching of, “The universal fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of mankind”, since only those who are born again spiritually are children of God and accepted into the family of God. Adam is referred to as the son of God, but the scriptures are careful to state that Seth is the son of Adam (not God) <cf Gen.1:27; 5:1-3; Lk.3:38>. So the believer is called to “put on the new self” (person) that is a characterization of righteousness and true holiness and in accord with Christ <see Rom.8:10; Eph.4:24; 2; Cor.5:17; Gal.2:20; Col.1:27; 3:3-4; 2 Pet.1:4; 1 Jn.5:11-12>.

It is important to understand that this new nature which is Christ’s, is existent within the believer together with the old sin-nature, and this fact is addressed by Paul where he comments – “So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.” <Rom.7:21 (NIV)>, and the Scriptures have other examples of this internal conflict <cf Job. 42:6; Dan.10:7-8>. So it is evident that there is constant conflict between these two natures, and is seen in the experience of Paul where he expresses the “I’s” in his effort to overcome the conflict <see Rom.7:14-25>, and this is a discouragement and perplexes all new believers in Christ, and can only be overcome by the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives as Paul expresses – “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!” <Rom.7:24-25 (NIV); cf Rom.6:6; 8:13; 1 Cor.6:19-20; Gal.5:16-17>. Therefore, we are not to allow our old nature to control us causing us to yield to sinful practices, because the conflict is now between the sin-nature and the Holy Spirit <see Rom.6:11; 8:1-4, 12-14, 31; Phil.3:3; Col.3:3>.

THE BELIEVER’S STATUS AND CHARACTER

In studying the N.T. Scriptures it is very important to understand the difference between the “status” (standing) and the state or “character” of the believer in Christ. The status of all believers is the result of the work of Christ from the very moment of faith in Him, and nothing can be added or done to improve or diminish that status that we have in Christ. This places all believers on the same status level, and no one can claim to be any closer to God than another believer. We read, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” <Jn.1:12 (NIV)> and that “…. if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” <Rom.8:17 (NIV)>. All believers are God’s children and have equal rights to an eternal incorruptible inheritance in Christ that is set aside for us in heaven, we are a chosen group, a distinguished priesthood, we are complete in Christ and have direct access to His grace and rejoice in the anticipation of sharing His glory; we have confidence in the fact that we will live eternally with Christ in His kingdom because of the eternal life that has been given to us; we also have courage to enter His holy presence  <see 1 Jn. 3:2; 5:1; 1 Pet.1:4-5; 2:9; Eph.1:11; Col.2:10; Rev.1:5-6; Rom.5:1-2; Jn.3:16; 1 Jn.5:13; Heb.10:19; Eph.1:3, 6, 13; 2:4-6, 13; 5:30; 1 Cor.12:13; 6:19>. All these things are true of every believer in Christ, and not one can be attained by any other means but by faith in the finished work of Christ; we are instantly clothed in the righteousness of God and seated with Him in the heavenly domain <see Rom.3:22; Eph.2:6>. This, then, is our status or where we stand in God’s analysis; but our state or character is no where near the level of what our status is.

Let us now look at some contrasts between our status and our actual character.

  • Our Status declares that we are recipients of God’s grace and that we are expectantly awaiting Christ’s return <1 Cor.1:2-9>; while our character displays controversy, envy, strife and division <1 Cor.1:11; 3:1-3; 5:2>.
  • Our status affirms that we are cleansed, sanctified and justified by God <1 Cor.6:11>; but our character shows our lack of will to endure hardship <1 Cor.6:7>.
  • Our status confirms that we are members of Christ <1 Cor.6:15>; but our character shows our willful indulgence in sinful practices <1 Cor.6:15>.
  • Our status produces an understanding of scriptural truths <Matt.16:16-17>; while we characteristically depend on our human understanding of what the scriptures teach <Matt.16:23>.
  • Our status declares our freedom from the power of darkness <Col.1:12-13>; but our character produces anger, rage, bad language and lies <Col.3:8-9>.

There are many more contrasting differences that could be added to this list but we should observe from these listed that God’s design under grace is to establish the highest possible status for the believer, and then to encourage the believer to maintain that status in accordance with His grace; and that the Scriptures make a clear distinction between the status and the character of the believer. Positionally, God declares the believer to be “perfect” forever <Heb.10:14>; but as the believer examines his/her character in the light of scripture, the finding is like that of Paul – not yet perfect <Phil.3:12>.

In conclusion, we could say that the application of God’s Word to the lifestyle and conscience, the discipline at our Heavenly Father’s hand, the work and teaching of the Holy Spirit, difficulties and trials and the final transformation at Christ’s appearance; are all intended to align the believer’s character with the status that we received at our conversion; and in the end both status and character will be equal <see Jn.17:17; Eph.5:26; Heb.12:10; 1 Cor.11:32; Eph.4:11-12; 1 Pet.4:12-14; 1 Jn.3:2>.

 

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THE EMPTY HOUSE

MATT.12:38-45

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Approximately one-third of Our Lord’s teaching, as recorded by the Gospels, was in the form of parables, and the reason is seen in His response to His disciples: “The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them”. <Matt.13:10-11 (NIV)>

In this reply we see that our Lord intended to reveal truth to some of His audience, while at the same time, hiding this truth from others. He wanted to instruct the Jews by the truth concerning Himself without adding responsibility of that truth to the Gentiles. John the Baptist appeared on the scene to introduce the Messiah, calling on the people to repent and prepare themselves for Messiah’s coming. Christ then publicly “offered Himself” as the Messiah <Matt.4:17>, and authenticated His offer by the miracles that He performed, recorded in Matt.8-11, during which time He told only a few parables. A notable change in our Lord’s ministry begins in Matthew 12, where, because of His miraculous healing of the man with the “shrivelled hand”, and the healing of the demon-possessed man, introducing the phase in His ministry where the people were ready to accept Christ as the Messiah; “All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” <Matt.12:23 (NIV)>.

The religious leaders, however, had no intention of accepting Christ as Messiah, the Pharisees “plotted how they might kill Jesus” <Matt.12:14 (NIV)>. Further to this they accused Christ of being Beelzebub (Satan) when He healed the demon-possessed, blind and mute man, leading to the request for a sign of authenticity, for which Christ ignored their request. His purpose was to show that a spiritual relationship of faith was needed, and not a physical or “blood” relationship <Matt.12:49-50>, and all this led to a change in His teaching, with more emphasis on parables, and to the ultimate rejection of Christ resulting in His death upon the cross.

The Parable of the “Empty House” is recorded in Matthew 12: 38 – 45 where “some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.” <Matt.12:38 (NIV)> “SIGN”: the word is most frequently used in the Scriptures to denote a token of coming events or a miracle to confirm faith. It is often an object or event that reveals God’s purpose; such as the rainbow <Gen.9>. God requested that His people perform certain practices as “signs” of their covenant with Him; such as circumcision <Gen.17>; the keeping of the Sabbath <Ex.31>; blood on the door posts <Ex.12>.

God asked of Moses: “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them?” <Num.14:11 (NIV)>. Even though king Ahaz of Judah was told to “ask the Lord for a sign” that God would deliver His people from their fierce enemy, Ahaz refused to ask but God gave the sign, which Ahaz did not live to see; <see Isa.7:14 (NIV)>.

“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…” <Heb.1:1-2 (NIV)>. Our Lord Jesus performed numerous signs that revealed His identity as the Messiah, but most of the people refused to recognize Him as the Messiah. On one occasion He had to comment: “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders……you will never believe.” <Jn.4:48 (NIV)>. Signs were a familiar way of God confirming the authenticity of a message or messenger to Israel <Deut.18:14-22>, and began at the very outset of their history. God sent Moses to deliver them from their Egyptian slavery and confirmed this by signs <Ex.4:1 – 9:30>. God changed his Rod into a snake and then back to a staff. God made his hand leprous, and made it whole again. God turned the water of the river Nile into blood as Moses poured it upon the ground. “This,” said the LORD, “is so that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers– the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob– has appeared to you, and Aaron told them everything the LORD had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people, and they believed.” <Ex.4:5, 30-31 (NIV)>

Now, approaching the time when God is about to “put the nation aside” because of their unbelief, they still ask for signs and still doubt God’s message and messenger. So here we see our Lord says that no further sign will be given except the sign of the prophet Jonah. Christ had proved His authority over nature; His authority over sickness and disease; His authority over Satan by casting out demons; His authority over death; and His authority to forgive sins. Therefore, no other evidence was necessary.

THE PARABLE <Matt.12:38-45>

Our Lord speaks of a demon-possessed man from whom the evil spirit that possessed him had departed. While possessed of the demon, the man is considered unclean and unfit to live in the community, and when the demon decides to leave the man he can then return to the community and enjoy fellowship with family and friends. The demon suspecting that the man may have already been possessed by other demons, must now find another place of abode, but is unable to find such, or any other company to live with. Upon returning to his old house, the demon finds it cleaned, put in order, and unoccupied; and then goes and finds seven other demons “more wicked than itself”, and returns to take up residence; and the man’s condition is now worse than at first. Our Lord implies that such was the condition of that generation of the Jewish nation.

THE APPLICATION (THEN)

John the Baptist had called the nation to repentance, and confessing their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River <Mark 1:4-5>. This profession of cleansing was represented by the departure of the demon in the parable, but their profession of cleansing however, was only temporary since they came under the influence of the unbelief of their leaders. Because the nation did not turn in faith to Christ as Messiah, their profession of cleansing was not “made permanent” so the people were not delivered from their uncleanness (a profession of the mind and not the heart). Now the condition of the nation that had desired to experience cleansing was in a worse state than before their profession of cleansing, for they were now permanently separated from God.

 THE APPLICATION (TODAY)

Do not seek or expect any other sign but that of Christ Himself: “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.” <Heb.1:1-2 (NIV)>. The preaching of the gospel calls sinners to repentance; and by believing in Christ and confession of sins, believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit (spiritual baptism); <see Eph.1:13 (NIV)>. God delivers the sinner from Satan – the spiritual enemy – the “possessing demon”, and every effort must now be made to combine belief with a daily exercise of faith, <Heb.4:2> so as to enter and enjoy the “rest of God” <Heb.4:2, 11>. Combining belief with faith is accomplished by a continual “cleansing of the house” through the Word of God <Heb.4:12-13> since unbelief never goes undetected by God and nothing is hidden from the eyes and knowledge of God.

What is the condition of your house? Is it swept clean and empty? Or do you allow Christ to occupy it day by day by joyfully doing the will of our Lord? <John 14:23-24>. In the same way as the contents of a house is added to, and the many maintenance jobs are performed; there is the need to “add to our faith” <2 Pet.1:5-9>.

CONCLUSION

What is your relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ?

  • Have you repented of your sins and sought the forgiveness of God?
  • Is Jesus Christ Lord of your life?
  • Is Jesus Christ living in your house?
  • Or is your house just clean and empty?

“See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.   But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” <Heb.3:12-13 (NIV)>

Unbelief is being indisposed to believe; being skeptical. This is the attitude of doubting God and His word. We have thoughts such as: can God really do so? Is God really all that the Bible says that He is? Do I really have to be obedient to His commands? Being fully aware of what the Bible teaches, we completely ignore the teaching and do as we please. God is willing to give us all the direction we need, even signs if He wishes, if only we are obedient to His commands. Do not be like Ahaz! He was more interested in doing things his way rather than seeking to obey God’s commands.

When we ask for a sign, we pre-determine what our action will be – if the sign is what we expect there is no intention to act accordingly. By not believing that the sign is from God, leads to unbelief, or doubting; and a heart of “unbelief” can result in a “falling away” from the living God, and this is a constant menace! The unbelieving heart can cause us to use the words that Job quoted: “Yet they say to God, ‘Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways. Who is the Almighty that we should serve him? What would we gain by praying to him?” <Job 21:14-15 (NIV)>

In Heb. 6: 4-6 two words are used to illustrate what it is to “fall away” from our belief in God: “Enlighten”– to have an intellectual understanding; a characteristic of belief in the power of reasoning; being able to reason intellectually and spiritually: and, “Taste”– to test the flavour; to eat or drink a small amount; to perceive or experience only to a slight degree. (from Webster’s Dictionary). We should be like Jeremiah the prophet in his appreciation of God’s Word: “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God Almighty.” <Jer.15:16 (NIV)>

Our Lord concludes the parable by the words recorded in Matt. 12: 46-50, and considering what they imply: are you “standing outside” wanting to speak and relate to Him? Are you true and sincere “mothers sisters and brothers” seeking to do His will? Our “houses” should be characterized by, praise and adoration for our Lord and Saviour, by a sincere attitude to do His will! A willful “turning away” from God is the final state from which it is “impossible to be brought back to repentance”.

This is the warning of the parable! And the message to us today!

LAW VERSUS GRACE [7/3/20]

A detailed study of the Scriptures reveals a noticeable and contrasting division of God’s administration over the Jews (Law) and the Church (Grace): “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” <Jn.1:17 (NIV)>. This quote does not indicate that there was no Law before Moses, since at the creation account God gave specific instructions and the ensuing consequence of breaking His command <see Gen.2:15-17>; neither does it suggest that there was no Grace before Christ came into the world; since in the response of God after Adam and Eve broke His command and sinned, God came down to earth looking for Adam and finally provided for Adam and Eve’s redemption from their sin a means of cleansing and forgiveness (His Grace), by clothing them in the skin of an animal that had to be killed in their place, representing a sacrifice for sin, that which the Law required <see Gen.3:21>; for the Law required the death of the sinner. Here then, we see the very first mention in scripture of the Grace of God and is referenced in the N.T. in the sacrifice of Christ Himself for the salvation of all sinners; “God made him [Christ] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” <2 Cor.5:21 (NIV)>; “He himself [Christ] bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” <1 Pet.2:24 (NIV)>.

It is important to observe that wherever the Law is mentioned in Scripture it refers to the Law given by Moses and covers God’s administration up to the event of Christ’s death on Calvary, the final and eternal sacrifice for all sin. From that point in time, and onward, God’s Grace is the characteristic of His administration over the Church age and will continue until He comes to call all believers (the Church) to be with Himself <see 1 Thess.4:16-17>. Furthermore, it should be observed that in any time period defined by God (dispensation), the Scriptures do not combine the two principles of Law and Grace, and Paul explains this in his letter to the Galatians’. Wherever the Law is mentioned it demands justice, condemnation, curses and the death of the lawbreaker; and a study of the books of Exodus and Leviticus will reveal the demands of the Law <see such passages as Ex.20-23; Lev.19-24>. In contrast then, where the Law brought terror, Grace brought freedom to the worst of sinners <see Lk.23:39-43; Rom.5:8; 1 Cor.6:9-11; 1 Tim.1:15>.

Another important observation that must be made is that the N.T. references to the “law” are to the Law given by Moses, but there are exceptions <see Rom.7:21-23>. In some cases, the reference is to the both the “moral law” (10 commandments) and the “ceremonial law” (offerings and sacrifices), both comprising the whole law. Examples are: of the whole law <Rom.6:14; Gal.2:16; 3:2>, of the moral law <Rom.3:19; 7:7-12>, and of the ceremonial law <Col.2:14-17>. Contained in the ceremonial law are the “types” or “foreshadows” of the Person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ as Priest and Sacrifice pictured in the Tabernacle and the Levitical Offerings <see Ex.25-30; Lev.1-7; cf 2 Cor.3:7-18>.

Three errors that have plagued Church teachings are those that affect the relationship between Law and Grace:

  1. ANTINOMIANISM: such maintain that believers in Christ have been freed from the moral law by virtue of faith and grace and therefore are not required to live holy lives: <see Titus 1:16; Jude 4>
  2. CEREMONIALISM: a system of rites and formalities and originally it demanded that believers should observe the Levitical ordinances, and the modern form is in the teaching that such ordinances are essential to salvation: <see Acts 15:1>
  3. GALATIANISM: or the intermixing of law and grace – teaching that justification is partly by grace and partly by law; or that grace is given so that the incapable sinner can keep the law. Such teaching has been addressed in Paul’s letter to the Galatians’ and is God’s conclusive answer: <see Gal 1:6-8; 3:2-3>

The following outline and scripture references, which speak specifically to the moral law, is what the Scriptures teach us on this important subject.

  1. WHAT THE LAW IS: It is holy, just and good <Rom.7:12>; spiritual <Rom.7:14>. It is something in which we should delight ourselves <Rom.7:22>. It is NOT of faith <Gal.3:12>
  2. WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE LAW: It exposes, or makes us conscious of sin <Rom.7:7; 13>; it condemns us before God, it cannot justify <Rom.3:20>. It was given because of transgressions <Gal.3:19>, and makes us guilty before a holy God <Rom.3:19>. It demands complete adherence in all it’s elements <Gal.3:10; James 2:10>. It is the administration of death and condemnation <2 Cor.3:7, 9>, and proclaims the death sentence upon all <Rom.7:9>. It is the power of sin <1 Cor.15:56>. It was given (2500 years after Adam) to convict guilty mankind of sin and complete helplessness in view of God’s just requirements – strictly an administration of condemnation and death <Jn.1:17; Gal.3:17>
  3.  WHAT THE LAW CANNOT DO: It cannot justify anyone before God <Acts 13:39; Rom.3:20; Gal.3:11>; or anyone who attempts to obey its principles <Gal.2:16>. It cannot obstruct God’s grace <Gal.2:21>. It cannot pass judgment on the sinful nature (only the sinner) <Rom.8:3>, and cannot make anyone perfect in God’s sight <Heb.7:19>.
  4. THE BELIEVER IS NOT UNDER LAW: Christ, through His death, burial and resurrection has freed us from the demands and condemnation of the Law, and through our faith in His sacrifice we are identified with Him in His death (through baptism), and death exempts us from the Law <see Rom.6:1-10> Now that we have been risen with Christ we should live according to the principles that direct our life-style as believers <Rom.6:11-23>. We are not delivered from the guilt of sin but from the control of sin <Rom.6:14>. However, this should not encourage us to lean toward Antinomianism where we say that a godly life is not important <Rom.6:15>. Another principle that is given to us is that since we are dead to the Law and alive unto Christ, our lives should demonstrate the “fruits” of our new life <Rom.7:1-6; Gal.2:19; 3:23-25; 1 Tim.1:8-9>. Note here that in Rom.7:1-6 Paul is not referring to the Ceremonial Law but to the Moral Law <Rom.7:7>.
  5.  THE BELIEVER’S RULE OF LIFE: The believer should live as Christ did <1 Jn.2:6; Eph.4:1; 5:1, 15-16>; and should love as Christ loved <1 Jn.3:16; Jn.10:11; 13:34-35; 15:13>. The believer must abstain from sinful desires <1 Pet.2:11, 12-23>; having turned from the “darkness” of sin, must live in the “light” of the gospel <Eph.5:8-11>. The believer should not indulge in the desires of the old sinful nature to which he/she has “died” <Gal.5:16-21>; and must follow Christ’s example <Jn.13:15>, in obedience to His commands <Jn.14:21; 15:10, 12; 1 Jn.3:22-23; Heb.10:16>.

In consideration of the above, it is instructive “to remember that God’s appointed place for the tables of the law was within the ark of the testimony [covenant]. With them were “the golden pot that had the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded” (types [pictures], the one of Christ our wilderness bread, the other of resurrection, and both speaking of grace), while they were covered from sight by the golden mercy-seat upon which was sprinkled the blood of atonement. The eye of God could see His law, so badly broken by Israel, only through the blood that completely vindicated His justice and propitiated [appeased] His wrath” (quote from Rightly Dividing The Word Of Truth – Emmaus Correspondence Course) <see Heb.9:4-5; cf Ex.25:21; 34:27-28; 40:20-21>.

WHAT IS GRACE?

Grace is the undeserved mercy and kindness of God to a sinner; even though we as sinners are not deserving of God’s grace: <Rom.5:6-8; Eph.2:7-9>. “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy….” <Titus 3:3-5 (NIV)>

GOD’S PURPOSE IN GRACE – We are saved from God’s wrath by His grace through our faith in Christ, and justified apart from the Law <Rom.3:24; Eph.2:8-9; Gal.2:16>. As a result of His Grace we should look forward expectantly to the hope of all believers – the hope of His return for us <Titus 2:11-13>; we have also been made heirs of salvation <Titus 3:7; Eph.1:13-14>. We now have direct access to the throne-room of God through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ <Rom.5:2; Heb.4:16; 10:19-22>, and are maturing through His written Word <Acts 20:32>. The Grace of God is therefore complete and all-inclusive, and these principles cannot be blended together with the Law, “And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” <Rom.11:6 (NIV); see also Rom.4:4-5; Gal.3:16-18; 4:21-31>.

In conclusion then, we see that believers in Christ are not classified as “children of the bondwoman (or slave)”, we have been freed from the bondage (slavery) of sin <Gal.4:31>, consequently we have no fear of what the Law demands (death of the sinner), and we should not attempt to divide the Law into “Moral” and “Ceremonial” for we are not bound by what Moses gave to the Israelites at Sinai <see Heb.12:18-24>. This is referred to as “the righteousness of God apart from the law” <Rom.3:21>. So all unbelievers, having violated the Law, should accept the sentence of the Law “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” <Rom.3:23 (NIV); Rom.6:23 >; but such can find in Christ a perfect and eternal salvation for; “Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes……..if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” <Rom.10:4, 9 (NIV)>.

 

RESURRECTION AND JUDGMENT [6/21/20]

TWO RESURRECTIONS

One of the basics of Christianity taught in the Word of God – The Bible; is the fact that there will be a resurrection of all the dead. That was confirmed by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ:

“But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.”  <1 Cor 15:12-19 NIV >

However, as we study this subject it is important to understand that not all the dead are raised at the same time, since we find that there has already been a partial resurrection of believers: “The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.” <Matt.27:52-53 NIV>. Two other resurrections are still in the future and will be different in respect to who will be raised, and when. These are referred to in the scriptures as “those that will be raised to life everlasting”; and “those that will be raised to condemnation” <see Jn.5:28-29; Dan.12:2>.

In Luke 14:14 our Lord speaks of the “resurrection of the righteous” which is a reference to the first resurrection only <cf 1 Cor.15:22-23; 1 Thess.4:13-16>. Paul in his letter to the Philippians writes: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection …… becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” <Phil.3:10-11 NIV>; and his reference to “the resurrection from the dead” does not imply that all the dead are raised simultaneously for he does not say the “resurrection of the dead”, indicating that some of the dead will remain in that state.

“…. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.” <Rev.20:4-6 NIV>; in this passage we see the first resurrection of the righteous and the outcome it will have on those that attain to this event: they will reign with Christ and will not be overcome by the second death.

“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” <Rev.20:11-15 NIV>; this passage describes the second resurrection of “those that will be raised to condemnation” and note here that the condemnation will be “the second death” which takes place when such are “thrown into the lake of fire.” An examination of the details of these two resurrections will also indicate the time between the two events which is 1000 years.

In conclusion, it is clear that the “dead in Christ” or believers in Christ who die before Christ’s coming in the air will be raised from the dead and will be caught up to meet Him in the air one thousand years before “those that will be raised to condemnation” <see 1 Thess.4:16-17>; and that the doctrine of the resurrection concerns only the bodies of the dead, no matter what the state of decay may be, they will be raised either to glory or anguish <cf Lk.16:22-24; 2 Cor.5:8; Phil.1:23>.

THE FIVE JUDGMENTS

In the study of this subject one must be careful of the term “general judgment” that is used by some writers; this term is not scriptural and neither is the theory conceived in the scriptures. The event of Rev.20:11-14 should not be considered as one great event that takes place at the end of the age comprising all people of the earth – saints and sinners. The scriptures speak of five judgments that differ in four respects: the individuals; the location; the time; the consequence.

  1.  The Believer in Christ: these have had their sins judged at the Cross of Christ when He paid the penalty of sin (AD 30) <see Jn.19:17-18; 1 Pet.2:24; 3:18; Gal.3:13; 2 Cor.5:21; Heb.1:3; 9:26; Rom.8:1; Jn5:24>.
  1. The Judgment of Sin in the Believer: this can take place at any time and in any place, and results in discipline by our Lord if the believer fails to assess himself/herself <see 1 Cor.11:31-32; Heb.12:7; 1 Pet.4:17; (cf. 1 Cor.5:5; 2 Sam.7:14-15; 12:13-14; 1 Tim.1:20)>.
  1. The Conduct (deeds) of the Believer: this will take place at the coming of Christ in the air, resulting in a reward or loss to the believer, but whatever the result, the believer will be saved. Every action, thought and word of the believer will be reviewed by our Lord <see 2 Cor.5:8-10; Rom.14:10-12; 1 Cor.3:11-15>. The time of this judgment is also given <see Matt16:27; Lk.14:14; 1 Cor.4:5; 2 Tim.4:8>; and the place is also given <see 1 Thess.4:17>.
  1. The Judgment of the Nations: this will occur at the second advent of Christ in the “Valley of Jehoshaphat” (a symbolic name for a valley near Jerusalem – NIV Study Bible). The result will be that some are saved and some will be lost, the basis being the treatment of these nations to the remnant of Israel “brothers of mine” <see Matt.13:40-41; 25:40-46; Joel 3:1-2, 12-14>. The judgment of the nations should not be confused with the Great White Throne Judgment <Rev.20:11> compare the following distinctions:

NATIONS: No resurrection; nations judged; on earth; no Record Books. Three groups: sheep; goats; brothers of mine”. Time: when Christ appears.

GREAT WHITE THRONE: Resurrection; Judgment of “the dead”; earth and sky have “fled from his presence”; Record Books opened. One group: “the dead”. Time: after Christ has reigned 1000 years. [source: “Rightly Dividing The Word Of Truth”; Emmaus Bible School]. Since the believers (saints) are partnered with Christ in this judgment they cannot be the subjects <1 Cor.6:2; cf. Dan.7:22; Jude 14-15>.

  1. The Judgment of the Wicked Dead: will be on a set day after the Millennium, and will take place before the Great White Throne; the result being “eternal damnation” <see Acts 17:31; Rev.20:5, 7, 11, 15>. The scriptures also refer to a judgment of angels <see 1 Cor.6:3; 2 Peter.2:4; Jude 6>.

The word “day” <see Acts 17:31; Rom.2:16> may be confusing to some, but it simply means a length of time or period of time <see 2 Pet.3:8; Jn.8:56>; and the word “hour” (“time”) <Jn.5:25> has now lasted over 2000 years.

The resurrection of the dead is certain; for as we have seen from the scriptures, our Lord Jesus Christ taught this to His disciples, and the apostles spoke of this in their documents to the Churches. It is also a promise to all believers in Christ <Jn.14:2-3> and a warning to unbelievers <Jn.14:5-6; 20:29, 31; 3:15>. As certain as the resurrection is, so also are the Judgments. The purpose of Christ’s first advent was to bring salvation to a world of sinners through His death on the cross, and all who reject Him and His offer of salvation will pay the penalty of such rejection, and there will be no exceptions <Jn.3:17; 5:24; 12:47-48; Rom.8:1; 9:28>.

“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” <Heb.10:26-31 (NIV)>

THE TWO ADVENTS [6/14/20]

“….. the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.” <1 Peter 1:10-11 NIV >

Any study of Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming of Messiah reveals two contrasting and apparent contradictions. One predicts Him as coming in weakness, humiliation and sorrow: “Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” < Isa.53:1-3 NIV; cf Isa.53:3-12; Psa.22:1-8>.

The other prediction seen, reveals an impressive and powerful Sovereign who purges the earth with judgments, and reinstates dispersed Israel and the Throne of David in the land promised to Abraham; introducing a reign of peace and perfection in righteousness: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” < Isa. 9:6-7 NIV; see Isa.11:10-12; Jer.23:5-8; Dan.7:13-14; Micah 5:2; Lk.1:31-33>.

In the right and proper time as appointed by God the first part of the prophecy was literally fulfilled by the birth of Messiah – Christ – to a virgin named Mary: “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman…” <Gal.4:4 NIV; cf Matt.1:20-23>; and His life then was a literal fulfillment of all prophecy concerning His first advent <see Matt.21:1-5 (Zech.9:9); Jn.19:15-16>. However, no assumption should be made that the purposes of God concerning Messiah were confounded by the wickedness of mankind in the crucifixion and death of His Son The Christ, or Messiah; for God’s purpose was to include a second advent in which His earthly “glory” will see the same literal fulfillment as was seen in the sufferings of  His first advent <see Hos.3:4-5; Matt.24:29-30>.

In a comparable manner as the Jews were slow to believe, and were “blinded” to the predicted sufferings of Christ their Messiah; we today are also sluggish and “blinded” to believe all the predictions concerning His glory: “He said, “Go and tell this people: “‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”” <Isa. 6:9-10 NIV; cf Rom.11:8>. His second advent is described in precisely the same terms as His departure; “This same Jesus….will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” <Acts 1:10-11; cf. 1 Thess.4:16-17>.

In anticipation of this blessed expectation, the scriptures teach us to “watch” <Matt.24:42; Mk.13:33>; “wait” <1 Thess.1:10>; “to be ready” <Matt.24:44>; and to echo the last prayer of the Bible <Rev.22:20>.

From the previous discussion it is abundantly clear that Christ’s second advent will be a personal and bodily appearance; and should not be considered as the death of a believer; the destruction of Jerusalem; the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost; nor the gradual dispersion of Christianity. It is the “blessed hope” of the Church that has been promised to all believers <Titus 2:13; 1 Cor.15:51-52>.

In a further examination of the two advents let us look at the following contrasting scripture references:

THE FIRST ADVENT: Luke 2:7; 19:10; Heb. 9:26; John 3:17; 12:47                                     

THE SECOND ADVENT: Matt. 24:30; Heb. 9:28; 2 Thess. 1:7-8; Acts 17:31

These are a few selected references and many more can be found to show that the promises made to both Israel and the Church require a personal return of Christ to the earth; and this visible appearance must be distinguished from those that refer to His divine attributes of Omniscience – in that He knows all things; and His Omnipresence – in that He is always present everywhere even to the end of the age <cf Matt.18:20; 28:20>. It should be a comfort to every believer that our Lord and Saviour is now personally and in bodily form as a man at the right hand of God in heaven, from where He is also present with every believer everywhere <see Acts 1:9-11; 7:55-56; Col.3:1>.  So, by virtue of His divine attributes our Lord is present with the Church now and will be visibly upon the earth at His second advent.

Let us now consider some of the current theories of Christ’s second advent: 

The Prophecies concerning Christ’s return were not fulfilled by the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Such an interpretation would make the Holy Spirit only a manifestation of Christ. Christ promised to send the Holy Spirit as “another comforter” <see Jn.14:16>, and all the writers of the New Testament speak to Christ’s return as a future event – after Pentecost. None of the events predicted to accompany the second advent occurred at Pentecost such as: the resurrection of the “sleeping saints” and living believers being “caught up” to meet the Lord in the air <see 1 Cor.15:22-23, 51-53; 1 Thess.4:13-17; Phil.3:20-21>: nor the anguish of all the nations at His visible coming <see Matt.24:29-30; Rev.1:7>.

The conversion of a sinner is not the coming of the Lord. According to scriptures the conversion of a sinner is a sinner coming to Christ, not the coming of Christ to the sinner <see Matt.11:28; Jn.5:40; 6:37; 7:37>. None of the events predicted for Christ’s second coming occurs at the conversion of a sinner.

The death of a Christian is not the coming of Christ. “Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”  Because of this, the rumor spread among the brothers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.” <John 21:22-24 NIV>. The writers of the scriptures always refer to a believer’s death as a “departure” from this earthly life <see 2 Cor.5:8; Phil.1:23; 2 Tim.4:6>. Again, none of the events       predicted for Christ’s second coming occurs at the death of a Christian.

The Roman destruction of Jerusalem was not the second coming of Christ. Three events are predicted by the discussion between Christ and His disciples in respect to their question – “As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”” <Matt 24:3, (4-34) NIV>; and the fulfillment of one event does not constitute a fulfillment of all three, since they are three distinct occurrences. The apostle John who wrote Revelation after the destruction of Jerusalem speaks to Christ’s coming as a future event <see Rev.1:4-7; 3:11; 22:7, 12, 20>. Here again we see that none of the events predicted for Christ’s second coming occurred at the destruction of Jerusalem <see 1 Thess.4:15-17; Matt.24:29-30; 25:31-32>.

The dispersion of Christianity is not the second coming of Christ. The dispersion of Christianity is a gradual process, while the return of Christ will be a sudden and unexpected event <see Matt.24:27, 36-42; 2 Pet.3:10; Rev.3:3>; and it is obvious that the dispersion of Christianity brings salvation to the ungodly whereas the coming of Christ will be sudden destruction <see Matt.25:31-46; 1 Thess.5:2-3; 2 Thess.1:7-10>; and again, none of the events predicted for Christ’s second coming are seen in the dispersion of Christianity.

Although the above theories are wide-spread, none appear in the writings of reputable theologians of any school or denomination, nor are they maintained by any expositor or universally recognized leadership, who all maintain the bodily and visible second coming of Christ.” [quote; Emmaus Bible School-“Rightly Dividing The Word of Truth”]. However, it is said that Christ’s second coming cannot occur until the whole world has been converted by the preaching of the gospel message and submitting to a spiritual reign of Christ for one thousand years. This theory is also erroneous since scripture describes the condition of the earth at Christ’s second coming as one of appalling wickedness <cf Lk.17:26-31; (Gen.6:5-7; 13:13); Lk.18:8; 21:25-27>; and further, an evaluation of the present time-period excludes any possibility of a converted world <see Matt.13:36-43, 49-50; (25:1-10); 1 Tim.4:1-2; 2 Tim.3:1-5, 7; 4:3-4; 2 Pet.3:3-4; Jude 17-19>. God’s purpose in this time-period is not the conversion of the world but to gather out of the Jews and Gentiles a group of people to form His Church, and when the Church is completed He will return, and then we will see the conversion of the world <cf Acts15:14-17; Matt.24:14; Rom.1:5; 11:14; 1 Cor.9:22; Rev.5:9>.

In conclusion, Christ’s first advent was His coming into the world in human form to be the atoning sacrifice for the sins of mankind <see 1 Jn.2:1-2>; and His second advent will be His bodily return to reign over His earthly kingdom.

 

SEVEN DIVINELY ORDERED TIME PERIODS (DISPENSATIONS) [6/7/20]

The entire period of time, from the creation until “the new heaven and earth” is in place, is divided by the Scriptures into seven unequal administrations sometimes called “Dispensations”.

“to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment” < Eph.1:10 (NIV)>

“That in the dispensation of the fulness of times” < Eph.1:10 (KJV)>

DISPENSATION

“A period of time under which mankind is answerable to God for how it has obeyed the revelation of God which it has received. The term dispensation is found twice in the NKJV: “The dispensation of the fullness of the times” (Eph 1:10) and “the dispensation of the grace of God” (Eph 3:2). The KJV uses the term four times (1 Cor 9:17; Eph 1:10; 3:2; Col 1:25).

Many Bible students believe all of history can be divided into several dispensations. According to this view, all of history has been pointing toward the SECOND COMING of Christ, when salvation will be made complete. Others reject this view, insisting that God has had faithful, loyal followers in all times who have lived according to His COVENANT with them.

Seven dispensations are commonly identified: Innocence, from Creation to the Fall of man and God’s sending them out of the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:24); Conscience, the covenant with Adam, ending with the judgment of the Flood (Gen 9); Human government, the covenant with Noah, extending to the time of Abraham; Promise, from Abraham’s call (Gen 12:1) to Moses; Law, from the giving of the Law to Moses (Ex 19:8; 20:1-31:18) to the death of Jesus Christ; Grace, from the death and resurrection of Christ to His Second Coming; Kingdom, the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth and the thousand year reign of Christ over the nations.”   (from Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright © 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

1. THE INNOCENCE OF MANKIND

Extending from the creation of Adam <Gen.2:7> to the expulsion from Eden. Adam and Eve were created innocent and ignorant of good and evil and placed under the responsibility of abstaining from eating the fruit of the tree of the “knowledge of good and evil” <Gen.2:15-17>. This dispensation ended in the failure of mankind, producing far-reaching effects, resulting in the judgment of God in expulsion from the garden <see Gen.2:17; 3:6, 22-24>.

2. MANKIND UNDER CONSCIENCE

The sin and ultimate “fall” of Adam and Eve caused them to transmit through their descendants, and consequently to all mankind the “knowledge of good and evil” imparting a basis for right moral decisions, and so mankind came under this measure of responsibility. This resulted again in the total failure of mankind <see Gen.4:1-11; 6:1-7; 11-13; 7:24>.

3. MANKIND IN AUTHORITY (HUMAN GOVERNMENT)

After the judgment of the Flood, God gave the purified earth to Noah and his descendants making them responsible to administer it. Again, the failure of mankind is displayed by Noah’s descendants as they attempt to become independent of God, and this dispensation closes in judgment, in the “Confusion of Tongues” <see Gen.11:1-9>.

4. MANKIND UNDER PROMISE

Out of the dispersed descendants of Noah’s sons Japheth, Ham, and Shem, God calls out Abram, a descendant of Shem <Gen.11:10-26>, with whom He enters into covenant. Some of these promises to Abram and his descendants were “unconditional” and have been or will be completely fulfilled literally. Others are “conditional” upon the faithfulness and obedience of the Israelites; however, every one of these have been violated, and this dispensation closed in judgment in their period of slavery in Egypt <see Gen.12:1-3; 13:14-17; 15:5; 26:3; 28:12-14; Ex.1:11-14>.

5. MANKIND UNDER LAW

From the outset of the Fall God’s grace has been seen in the way He has dealt with mankind under each dispensation, and again we see this grace extended to the Israelites in their freedom from slavery in Egypt. As they enter the desert to begin their return to their Promised Land God gives them a choice to continue under His grace or to be governed by Law. Their choice being: “The people all responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has said.” So Moses brought their answer back to the Lord.” <Ex.19:8 (NIV)>. Their history of journeying through the desert and their life back in the Land was one of constant and persistent violation of the Law, and after numerous warnings from God through the Prophets, this dispensation closed again in judgment. The Jews went into exile and were dispersed throughout all the other nations of the world. A small and feeble remnant returned to the Land under Ezra and Nehemiah of which Christ was born, and they finally sealed their fate when they totally rejected Christ and crucified Him. So, their dispersion continues, and will continue, until God closes this chapter of their history <see Rom.3:19-20; Acts 2:22-23; Rom.10:5; Gal.3:10; cf 2 Kings 17:1-18; 25:1-11; Acts 7:51-52>.

6. MANKIND UNDER GRACE

Christ’s sacrificial death introduced the dispensation of Grace, a period of time when mankind is under the “undeserved favour of God”; God now offers us His righteousness instead of requiring it as the Law does. Salvation (freedom) from sin is now offered to all mankind, regardless of race or circumstance, upon the acknowledgment of sin and repentance, and faith in Christ <see Jn.6:29, 47; 5:24; 10:27-28; Eph.2:8-9>.

The end result of mankind under grace will be God’s judgment upon an unbelieving world and an apostate Church <see Lk.17:26; 18:8; Rev.3:15-16; 2 Thess.2:7-12>.

The first event as this dispensation closes will be the call of Christ for His followers, dead (asleep) and alive, when we will all be “caught up” to meet Him in the clouds <see 1 Thess.4:16-17>. Then follows a period called “the great tribulation” <see Matt.24:21-22; Dan.12:1; Zeph.1:15-18; Jer.30:5-7>.

This dispensation closes with the personal return of Christ and the judgments introducing the final dispensation <see Matt.24:29-30; 25:31-46>.

7. MANKIND UNDER THE PERSONAL REIGN OF CHRIST

Once the purifying judgments are complete at the personal return of Christ to the earth (His second advent), He will reign over the earth for a period of one thousand years called the “Millennium”; ruling from Jerusalem, while the saints, which will include those saved during the Dispensation of Grace – the Church, will be associated with Him in His glory <see Acts 15:14-17; Rev.19:11-21; 20:1-6; Isa.2:1-4; 11:1-16>. After the thousand years “Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth…” <Rev.20:7-8 (NIV)>, finding the “natural heart” of mankind is still prone to sin and rebellion against God, he assembles the nations in battle against God and His saints, and this last dispensation closes, like all the previous six, in judgment. The “great white throne” will be set and all the wicked dead will be raised and will stand before God to give an account of their lives and their total rejection of Christ <see Rev.20:11-15>. Then the “new heaven and the new earth” will come into being as eternity begins <see Rev. 21:1 – 22:21>.

NOTE: This outline should not be considered as the only correct outline. Many competent Bible scholars would suggest the following as a possible alternative:

  1. The age from Adam to Noah             
  2. The age from Noah to Abraham
  3. The age from Abraham to the Cross of Christ
  4. The present age of Grace
  5. The Tribulation Period
  6. The Millennium
  7. The Eternal State

Whichever format of dispensation one chooses to accept, the important truth to remember is that Salvation has always been, and will ever be, by Grace through Faith in Christ. In the O.T. mankind was saved by faith on the basis of the future work of Christ. Today we are saved by Faith on the basis of the work of Christ when He offered Himself as our sacrifice for our sins. (Emmaus Correspondence School)

 

THE JEW, THE GREEK, AND THE CHURCH [5/31/20]

There are three groups of people that the Scriptures refer to, each group is distinct, and in the Scriptures, God deals with each separately and also collectively.

“Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God” <1 Cor.10:32 (NIV)>. Here, Paul is cautioning the Corinthian believers not to be the instrumental in causing the concern of unbelievers or the faith of their fellow believers to falter because of their conduct, in relation to the three groups of peoples to whom the gospel message is proclaimed.

THE JEWS

It is obvious to any Bible student that a large portion of the Scriptures relate to one nation or people, namely the Israelites or Jews. It is also evident that God has a distinct relationship with the Jews. The Old Testament is a record of their history, and the other nations are mentioned as they relate to the Israelites. Jews are descendants of Abraham and were separated from all the other nations and taken into covenant by God for a specific purpose, and if faithful to His commands they were promised earthly blessings, power, and riches; but if unfaithful they would be scattered among all the other peoples of the earth <see Deut.28:1, 15, 29, 36-37, 64-65; cf Rom.3:1-2; 9:4-5; Jn.4:22 >.

THE GREEK (GENTILES)

The phrase “Greek” or “Gentile” (KJV) refers to people described as “heathen,” denoting a person, nation, or people. Since that was the common medium of intercourse in the Roman Empire, Greek and Gentile became more or less interchangeable terms. The use of the word, typically in the Old Testament, is in reference to all other people excepting the Jews; because of their worship of “other gods” as opposed to Jehovah <see Eph.2:11-12; 4:17-18>.

THE CHURCH

Another group of people mentioned only in the New Testament is the Church, and this body of people also have a distinct relationship with God, and has also received specific promises; but the similarity ends there. Instead of being formed only of natural descendants of Abraham, this body of people displays no distinction between Jew and Gentile, and is comprised of all people and nations <see Eph.1:22-23; 2:14; 5:29-33; 1 Pet.2:9; 1 Cor.12:12-13; Gal.3:28>. A further comparison of Scripture reveals that although both share that distinct relationship with God there are some differences between the Jew and the Church. The relationship between God and Israel is a covenant relation, one based on physical birth, one based on obedience, and one based on an earthly inheritance. Conversely, the relationship of the Church is based upon spiritual birth and a heavenly inheritance which is also based to some extent on covenant, but such covenant is based on the Church’s relationship to Christ and His sacrificial love for the Church. So distinctively, Israel is connected to temporal and earthly things while the Church is connected to spiritual and heavenly things.

It should also be noted that the unrepentant Gentiles (heathen), when mentioned, are distinguished in every respect from both the Jews and the Church, and in the end will fall under the same demands of a Holy God. Thus, any comparison between Israel and the Church in what the Scriptures contain concerning origin, calling, promise, worship, principles of conduct, and future destiny, all fall under a subject of contrast.

CONTRASTS

(1) CALLING

Israel: “The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” <Gen.12:1 (NIV)>. Israel’s calling started with God’s call to Abraham, who in response, moved from Ur of the Chaldeans to the land of Canaan. There he settled and some years later his wife Sarai (Sarah) gave birth to a son named Isaac. From Isaac would be born a descendant that was promised (originally to Adam and Eve <see Gen.3:15> and then to Abraham “and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” <Gen.12:3 (NIV)>. Isaac’s descendants were Esau and Jacob, and God chose Jacob for the continuation of the promise. Jacob in turn had twelve sons whose descendants eventually became know as the twelve tribes of Israel. Another promise of God to Abraham was that all the land of Canaan would be given to his descendants, the twelve tribes, as an earthly inheritance, and after their exodus from Egypt God gave them the land under the leadership of Joshua <see Deut.8:7-9; Jos.21:43-45>. Throughout the years that Israel lived in the land there was constant rebellion against God, the Prophets were sent to warn of the impending judgment for their disobedience but to no avail, and finally Israel went into captivity and later on, were eventually scattered throughout the world and assimilated into all the nations. God, however, maintained a remnant who would remain faithful to Him. <see also Gen.24:34-35; Deut.28:7; 28:13Gen.24:34-35; Deut.28:7; 28:13>.

The Church“Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling” <Heb.3:1 (NIV)> “But our citizenship is in heaven” <Phil.3:20 (NIV)>. Unlike Israel, the Church’s calling is a “heavenly” or spiritual calling and a heavenly citizenship. Due to the failure of Israel in being the godly witness to all the nations, God called the Church to carry out that mandate <Matt.28:19-20; see also 1 Pet.1:4; 1 Cor.4:11>; and even though there is the promise of  a heavenly inheritance <see Jn.14:1; 1 Thess.4:14-18> there will be great difficulty in serving and in the execution of Christ’s command <see Jn.16:2-4>. In regards to “Calling” it should be understood that godly Jews would go to heaven at death because of their faith in God, but the incentive to godliness in this case was the earthly blessings; but since Christ paid the penalty for sin that the Law demanded, by His death and resurrection, all mankind – Jew and Gentile – can only be saved through faith in Christ <see Jn.3:3, 16; 1 Cor.12:13; Eph.1:22-23>. In the Church the distinction of Jew and Gentile disappears <see 1 Cor.12:2, 13; Gal.3:28; Eph.2:11, 14>.

(2) LIFE-STYLE

Israel: was called to “go in and possess the land of promise” <see Deut.1:21>, and in order to accomplish this they were commanded by God to execute His judgment upon the heathen and wicked nations that inhabited the land, so that godly generations would rule and inhabit the land promised to Abraham. “When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations — the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you —  and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you.”  <Deut.7:1-5 (NIV)> In this we see that Israel served God in accordance and obedience to the Law given by Moses, and throughout their generations they lived by the Law <see Ex.21:24-25; Deut.21:18-21>.

The Church: we see the opposite of what the Law demanded. The Law demanded death for the citizen or citizens that disobeyed, but there was no way for anyone to be in complete obedience to every demand of the Law, so all were guilty of death <see Jas.2:10>. Christ’s sacrifice, in His death and resurrection, paid the price for all who believe in Him and accept His sacrifice, so the members of the Church are called to a different life-style, one of love for our neighbour <see Matt.5:44; 5:39; 1 Cor.4:12-13; Lk.15:20-23>.

(3) WORSHIP

Israel: could worship in one place only, the Tabernacle (Tent of Meeting) or later in the Temple, they worshiped at a distance and could only approach God through a Priest <see Lev.17:8-9; Lk.1:10; Num.3:10>.

 The Church: can worship wherever the body of believers choose, and can enter God’s presence in boldness because the Church is composed of priests <see Matt.18:20; Heb.10:19-20; Eph.3:11-12; 1 Pet.2:5>.

(4) PERTAINING TO THE FUTURE

Israel: when restored to God and their land will have her greatest earthly splendour and power. Israel’s primary purpose as a nation was to preserve the “Holy seed” or descendant in a world of ungodliness and wickedness; and in spite of her complete failure in obeying God’s commands, and their ultimate dispersion among all the Gentile nations, God maintained a godly remnant from which His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, was born into this world. Christ’s first advent brought about our salvation, for Jew and Gentile, and set up the eventual return and restoration of Israel in preparation for the kingdom reign of their Messiah. “You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end. <Luke 1:31-33 (NIV)>. “Of the seven promises to Mary, five have already been literally fulfilled” [Scofield] and there is no reason not to believe that the other two will also be fulfilled <see Acts 15:14-16; Rom.11:1, 11, 24-26; Isa.11:11-12; 14:1; Jer.16:14-15; 23:5-6; 32:37-38; Zeph.3:14-15>

The Church: the promise for the future of the Church is to be with Christ in glory <Col.3:3-4>, and this promise was made to His disciples just prior to His crucifixion <Jn.14:1-3>, so unlike Israel’s earthly inheritance the Church’s inheritance is a heavenly one, and will be fulfilled on a future day when Christ returns and calls the Church to be with Him forever <see 1 Thess.4:15-17; Phil.3:20-21; 1 Jn,3:2; Rev.19:7-9; 20:6>.

 

 

GOD’S PLAN FOR SALVATION [5/17/20]

On Sunday, February 18, 2001, NASCAR lost one of its greatest drivers. Dale Earnhardt Sr., also known as “The Intimidator,” was in third place on the last lap of the Daytona 500 when his car was tapped from behind and sent head-on into the wall at 180 mph. In a matter of moments, it was evident something was terribly wrong. Dale Earnhardt died in the crash. On the following Monday an autopsy report revealed he had died of blunt force trauma to the head. Some have suggested that if Earnhardt had been wearing the HANS (Head and Neck Safety Device) he would have survived the crash. Although this device was available, Earnhardt, like many other drivers that day, neglected to use it. His neglect of this safety device may have cost him his life. The Bible tells us that every individual is on a collision course with God’s judgment. God, too, has provided a safety device–one designed to keep people from suffering eternal death and separation from God. But like Dale Earnhardt and the other drivers in the race that day, each of us must decide whether to accept or neglect this offer. (source: Perfect Illustrations; Citation: Michael Owenby; Carrollton, Georgia)

“Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” <Isa.59:1-2 (NIV)>: “the arm” signifies God’s power which is readily available to all that call upon Him <see Isa.30:19>; “your iniquities” speaks of unforgiven sin which is the reason for God’s silence <Isa.59:12>, alienating us from God. Our Sin and iniquity affect our hands and fingers, lips, and tongues; it produces injustice, lies, evil deeds and evil thoughts. <Isa.59:3-8; cf Rom.3:10-18>.

“So justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows. Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like men without eyes. At midday we stumble as if it were twilight; among the strong, we are like the dead.” <Isa.59:9-10 (NIV)>

THE RESULTS OF SIN- <59:9-15>: Justice is far away; there is constant darkness as we “grope” along life’s road; truth is nowhere to be found. <see Job 30:26; Psa.5:9; 12:1-2>

GOD’S SOLUTION FOR SIN

“He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm worked salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him. He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak. According to what they have done, so will he repay wrath to his enemies and retribution to his foes; he will repay the islands their due. From the west, men will fear the name of the LORD, and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory. For he will come like a pent-up flood that the breath of the LORD drives along.” <59:16-19 (NIV)>

God saw the predicament of His people “no one to intervene”; so His own “arm”, His Son Jesus Christ, brought about salvation. <see Isa.52:10; 53:12; Jer.30:13; Ezek.22:30>; and His righteous salvation is for those individuals that accept His solution <see Rom.3:21-24; Heb.7:25>.

“He put on the garments of vengeance…. According to what they have done so will he repay” <Isa.59:17 (NIV)> but there is wrath and retribution for those that reject God’s solution in the gift of His Son as the sacrifice for mankind’s sin <see Isa.63:1-4>. God has made a way of escape for the sinner, and there will be a day of judgment by God for sin.

GOD’S PROVISION FOR SALVATION

“The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,” declares the LORD.” <Isa.59:20 (NIV)> At His first coming He was rejected by Israel; at His second coming He will be welcomed by Israel. <see Jn.1:10-11; Acts 1:9-11; Job 19:25; Rom.11:26-27; Rev.1:7-8>.

GOD’S METHOD FOR SALVATION

“As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD. “My Spirit, who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and forever,” says the LORD.” <Isa.59:21 (NIV)>

“this is my covenant”: God’s Son is the covenant <Isa.42:6> and the covenant will be established in believing Israel and all believing Gentiles <Jer.31:31>: and “my spirit” will be the guiding light <see Ezek.36:27; Jn.16:13-14>; and Israel will be finally and truly God’s people <Isa.51:16; cf Rom.11:25-27>.

GOD’S FINAL OFFER FOR SALVATION

From God’s point of view there was “no one to intervene” <Isa.59:16>; and mankind’s point of view there was “no one to arbitrate” (mediate) <Job 9:32-34>. So, God made provision for our salvation. We must be born again by the work of the Holy Spirit <Jn.3:6-7>; by God’s method <Jn.3:14-15> and provision <Jn.3:16-18>; for God’s judgement will be executed <Jn.3:19-20>.

Our sin must be confessed to God, and God only; and God must forgive our sin. We must accept Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for our sins; this is the only way of Salvation. “Born again” means being born of the Spirit of God into God’s family of believers. Unless you accept God’s offer of Salvation you will forever be under God’s rod of judgment and His terror will frighten you forever. You will have no one to arbitrate or intervene between yourself and God.

THE DECISION IS YOURS ALONE!