Swords, Plowshares, and Right Division

Sunday, August 31, 2014

“And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:4 KJV).

Before there is world peace, there must first be world war.

Today’s Scripture is often quoted by Christians and non-Christians to advocate world peace, but they obviously overlook Joel 3:10: “Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong.” Then, to make matters worse, we find today’s Scripture quoted in Micah 4:3: “And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

It is Scriptural to “beat … swords into plowshares, and … spears into pruninghooks (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3). It is also Scriptural to “Beat … plowshares into swords, and … pruninghooks into spears(Joel 3:10). Why does God’s Word teach two completely different ideas here? Dispensational Bible study is just as important to Israel as it is to us in the Dispensation of Grace! “Rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) is necessary—to not separate (divide) these passages is to confuse them. Again, Israel must also use the Bible dispensationally.

The key to understanding these “Bible contradictions” is to realize that “beating plowshares into swords and pruninghooks into spears” belongs in one dispensation, and “beating swords into plowshares and spears into pruninghooks” belongs in another dispensation. In Israel’s program, there is a time when war and weapons are necessary, and there is a time when war has ended, peace reigns, and agricultural production increases dramatically.

When we study the contexts of these passages, we learn that Joel 3:10 applies to the wars of the seven-year Tribulation period (especially the Battle of Armageddon), and Isaiah 2:4 and Micah 4:3 describe the subsequent Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ, when Satan is removed from Earth, and world peace from God will be in effect. What clarity!

If Just One

Saturday, August 30, 2014

“…[B]rethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:” (2 Thessalonians 3:1 KJV).

God’s Word will have “free course”…even to be glorified in “just” one!

I was thrilled when a dear brother once contacted me asking how he should start his ministry. God’s Word had so filled his heart that he was almost bursting, so driven to tell someone—anyone—about the message of God’s grace to us in Christ. He expressed, “If [I] could assist even ONE person….”

It greatly delights a pastor, a Bible teacher, or a soul winner, to hear when even one person is saved unto eternal life or saved unto sound Bible doctrine, spiritual fruit of their ministry, who then reach others. Yet, Christians often give up in witnessing because “no one” wants to listen to God’s Word. (Actually, there is always at least one person somewhere who wants to hear God’s truth. Diligently seek him or her!). Beloved, we are not here to save anyone or to force any saved people to mature spiritually. They have free will, as do we. What we are here to do is reach out to them in love, meekness, and patience—share the Gospel of God’s Grace with lost people and dispensational Bible study with Christians. If you reach just one person, rejoice in Christ. Just imagine if every Christian reached “just one!”

An amazing thought is, the Lord Jesus Christ’s heavenly ministry—His ministry through the Apostle Paul—has lasted almost 2,000 years now. Just imagine, by God saving that one man, the resulting ministry brought the Gospel of Grace to billions of people, and millions upon millions were saved! Right up to our present day, the same Lord Jesus Christ is willing to use us to continue what He started nearly 20 centuries ago. If we each only reach just one, and the Lord continues to tarry, extending our dispensation long after we have passed on, the manifold testimonies of those our converts generations future, will be ours in which to rejoice when we meet all those precious souls in heaven!

And, yes, as you might have guessed, it all starts with “just” one! 🙂

The More Excellent Ministry #5

Friday, August 29, 2014

“For the love of Christ constraineth us… God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:14a,18bc KJV).

Our flesh is ever so weak, but Christ’s love—the unconditional love He has for us—drives us to push ourselves aside and think of others instead.

God never saves anyone to sit and do nothing. Romans chapter 6 is the simplest passage regarding Christian living, and when read with chapters 7 and 8, one unquestionably learns how the Christian life operates. (Read these three glorious chapters to get a blessing!) Father God wants us to let Christ live in us via the indwelling Holy Spirit taking verses we study and believe, and bringing them “to life” in our lives!

When we trusted exclusively Paul’s Gospel, the Gospel of God’s Grace—Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3,4)—the Holy Spirit instantly placed us into Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). That moment, we died with Jesus on Calvary’s cross and we were raised again with Him “to walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:1-6). We are “dead, freed from sin” (verse 7). Now, Jesus Christ’s life is in us; we are dead to self-living. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me…” (Galatians 2:20). We read in 2 Corinthians 5:15, the context of today’s Scripture: “And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”

In Matthew 20:28, Jesus Christ identified the more excellent ministry: “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” As His Father instructed, Jesus did not come to be served (self life), but to serve others (Christian life). Christ’s love for us drove Him to Cavalry’s cross, so His love for us—yea, for lost people—compels us to tell them of that love exhibited at Calvary: “For God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). 🙂

The More Excellent Ministry #4

Thursday, August 28, 2014

“For the love of Christ constraineth us… God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:14a,18bc KJV).

Our flesh is ever so weak, but Christ’s love—the unconditional love He has for us—drives us to push ourselves aside and think of others instead.

“For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written [Psalm 69:7], The reproaches of them that reproached thee [God the Father] fell on me” (Romans 15:3). Hebrews 10:5-9, quoting Psalm 40:6-8, contains a Messianic passage (prophetic of Jesus’ earthly life): “[5] Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: [6] In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. [7] Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. [8] Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; [9] Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God….”

Jesus delighted in doing His Father’s will (note Psalm 40:8); here, to lay down His life for our sins (John 10:17,18) and thus abolish the Old Testament animal sacrifices. As Christ, in His humanity, gained more awareness—more wisdom (Luke 2:40,52)—regarding Father God’s will for Him, He better understood what to do. Our Christian life operates in the same manner, for it is the same life of Jesus Christ!

What is Father God’s will today? He wants “all men to be saved” and all saved people “to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). He wants lost people saved through faith in Jesus Christ (the Gospel of the Grace of God). He wants saved people to understand why He saved them (dispensational Bible study). God’s will for us Christians is for us to grow in knowledge of His will for us. This is where today’s Scripture and its context come in—“the ministry of reconciliation.”

Where Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry ended (His finished crosswork), our ministry literally begins….

The More Excellent Ministry #3

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

“For the love of Christ constraineth us… God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:14a,18bc KJV).

Our flesh is ever so weak, but Christ’s love—the unconditional love He has for us—drives us to push ourselves aside and think of others instead.

What sort of life did Jesus Christ live on earth? If we can understand how He lives, then we can understand how He wants us to live in Him, or technically, how He wants to live in and through us. Philippians 2:3-5 reminds us: “[3] Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. [4] Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. [5] Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus….”

Our Lord Jesus Christ lived in complete awareness of what His Heavenly Father wanted accomplished. Unlike most Christians today, He did not wonder about in spiritual ignorance. His mind was so filled with the Word of God that nothing would distract Him from fulfilling it.

Isaiah 50:4-6 actually quoted Jesus Christ seven centuries prior to His incarnation: “[4] The Lord GOD [God the Father] hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned. [5] The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. [6] I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.”

Jesus Christ said, “I do always those things that please him” (John 8:29c). He had so studied the Old Testament passages describing His life and ministry, that He was able to fulfill them perfectly. Hence, God the Father was so pleased. If we want our Christian lives to be acceptable to God, it will have to be Jesus Christ’s life in us….

The More Excellent Ministry #2

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

“For the love of Christ constraineth us… God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:14a,18bc KJV).

Our flesh is ever so weak, but Christ’s love—the unconditional love He has for us—drives us to push ourselves aside and think of others instead.

Notice the middle letter of the words “sin,” “pride,” and Lucifer.” Sin, at its heart, is serving self and living for self. However, the Christian life is not designed to be one of sin (selfishness): the most basic elements of the Gospel of the Grace of God, are us dying and resurrecting with Christ. The Christian life is really Jesus Christ’s life—the life that Father God gave us the moment we trusted Jesus Christ’s crosswork as sufficient payment for our sins. What was most characteristic of the life Jesus Christ lived on the earth?

Jesus prayed, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt…. O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done (Matthew 26:39,42). “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8).

Philippians 2:3-8 summarizes the greatest life ever lived in human flesh: “[3] Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. [4] Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. [5] Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: [6] Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: [7] But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: [8] And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

Just as Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry was to fulfill His Heavenly Father’s will for Him, so our earthly ministry is to fulfill our Heavenly Father’s will for us….

The More Excellent Ministry #1

Monday, August 25, 2014

“For the love of Christ constraineth us… God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:14a,18bc KJV).

Our flesh is ever so weak, but Christ’s love—the unconditional love He has for us—drives us to push ourselves aside and think of others instead.

I recently received a most delightful email from a dear brother (his eyes will fall on these very lines). He and his wife have decided to dedicate what time they have left on this earth, to the furtherance of the Gospel of God’s Grace, and to the propagation of other dispensational Bible truths. They are burdened to reach a local retirement home for Jesus Christ’s glory!

We rejoice in Christ with them, knowing that once we grip God’s Word, it surely clutches our hearts. God placed such power in His Holy Bible (Hebrews 4:12), and once we extract that power with dispensational Bible study, and activate it by believing those words of God, that spiritual profit not only enlivens our inner man, it also compels us to share it so others can profit, too. “[T]he word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe…” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

Dear saints, this lost and dying world is heading toward a devil’s hell forever. Jesus Christ is not physically here to reach them before they reach it. Today’s Scripture says He left that privilege to us, His Body, but we cannot reach them with the word of reconciliation until we first study and know it (note 2 Corinthians 5:14-21). The great conflict between holy God and sinful man has been ameliorated on God’s side—He has given His only begotten Son for our sins—but the merits of that finished crosswork are of no everlasting benefit to us until we appropriate by faith/trust. God has reconciled sinful man to Himself, but unless man accepts that reconciliation by faith, then the battle between holy God and sinful man will continue, to be finally and fully settled forever in the lake of fire.

May we be willing to get out there and reach them with the message of God’s grace… and quick!

He Took My Sins Away #5

Sunday, August 24, 2014

“Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God” (Romans 3:25 KJV).

The chorus of Margaret Jenkins Harris’ classic 1903 hymn “He Took My Sins Away” highlights today’s Scripture.

“He took my sins away, He took my sins away,
And keeps me singing every day!
I’m so glad He took my sins away, He took my sins away.”

When our King James Bible references “propitiation” (today’s Scripture; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10), it means “a fully-satisfying payment for sins;” the Greek word is translated “mercyseat” in Hebrews 9:5. The God of Scripture, once angry with us sinners (Psalm 7:11), is now satisfied because of Jesus’ shed blood. Jesus Christ is the only Person in whom we find mercy before Father God, where we can be spared God’s righteous wrath against our sin, where our sin debt can not only be covered, but completely canceled. “…[T]he blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

Not only are we forgiven in Christ, but we are also justified (made right in God’s sight) in Christ (Romans 5:1; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Our spiritual debt is not only gone, but we have been given spiritual riches (Romans 8:32; Ephesians 1:3; Colossians 2:10). In banking terminology, we went from “red” (sin, ungodliness), to “0” (forgiveness), to “black” (justification, righteousness). Praise our Lord Jesus Christ for His grace!

Such marvelous Bible truths should make the saint shout and sing from the rooftops! It is often said that Christians should be the happiest people on earth, and yet, many times, Christians frown and sag their heads more than lost people (who do not have God’s acceptance, peace, hope, and love). The Scriptures say that if we learn God’s will (by studying His Word), and we allow the Holy Spirit to use those Scriptures in us, we will naturally begin to sing, rejoice, and be thankful to our Lord in light of such doctrine (Ephesians 5:17-20; Colossians 3:15,16).

He took our sins away! Praise our Lord Jesus Christ! He took our sins away! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “We are saved by faith, but are we blessed by works?

He Took My Sins Away #4

Saturday, August 23, 2014

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5 KJV).

The fourth verse of Margaret Jenkins Harris’ classic 1903 hymn “He Took My Sins Away” highlights today’s Scripture.

“If you will come to Jesus Christ today,
He’ll take your sins away, He’ll take your sins away,
And keep you happy in His love each day,
He’ll take your sins away.”

The Adamic nature hates being rejected of God; it wishes to prove that it can do enough to merit His favor. It deceives the sinner, who is led to believe that he or she can measure up to God’s righteousness by doing enough good deeds (Jeremiah 17:9). Yes, our flesh (sin nature) always wants to do something: hence, religion appeals to many. Scripture declares, however, All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6)!

Confession of sins here, generous “tithes” there, water baptism here, church membership there, church-calendar observance here, prearranged prayers there, church attendance here, “holy book” reading there, et cetera. These activities, collectively, are usually thought of as “a treasury of merit” before God. Our dear religious family members and friends are encouraged to slowly accumulate an abundance of good works to be advantageous on the day of judgment (for themselves, and for others after them). The more “good” they have done, they assume God’s judgment on them will be less severe. What deception!

What these precious people must realize is that the God of the Bible is looking beyond “good” works, to see the heart. God is not looking to repair sinners, but regenerate sinners. Anyone can reform, but only God can regenerate. The God of Scripture is looking for a new heart, a new nature, one that can truly do good, not an old nature decorated with religious extravagance. Not only does Jesus Christ’s cross crucify our sinful nature, but His resurrection gives us a new life and a new nature (Romans 6:1-23). Those works of Jesus Christnot our works—are acceptable before God.

Yea, so He could do good works in us, He removed our sin debt….

He Took My Sins Away #3

Friday, August 22, 2014

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1 KJV).

The third verse of Margaret Jenkins Harris’ classic 1903 hymn “He Took My Sins Away” highlights today’s Scripture.

“No condemnation have I in my heart,
He took my sins away, He took my sins away.
His perfect peace He did to me impart,
He took my sins away.”

Sin produces guilt, and guilt weighs heavy on the sinner’s heart and mind. Many people go to bed at night feeling so horrible because of their actions earlier that day. They beat themselves up over and over—as if the rigid religionists at the local church do not knock them “black-and-blue” enough on Sunday mornings!

Yea, many Christians lay their heads on their pillow wondering if God really loves them, if He really is for them, and if He really has forgiven them in Jesus Christ. They feel so rotten, so “sorry” (?) for their sins, that they promise to change, but despite all the remorse, they wake up the next morning and wind up repeating their mistakes of the previous day. It would behoove them to read and believe the first eight chapters of the book of Romans, and if they would apply those verses by faith, they would literally see a whole new life. They would be released from such misery, self-pity, guilt, and failure.

If you have relied exclusively on the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished crosswork at Calvary for the complete payment for your sins, you are “accepted in the beloved (Ephesians 1:6). You be loved in Christ! The most important barrier in your life—sin, separation from God—has been dealt with in full. Today’s Scripture says that you are “justified” (made right before God) and you have “peace with God” through Jesus Christ. God is not mad at you, saint, He loves you in Jesus Christ; He has completely paid for your sins, and that sin is hidden in His tomb forever. If God is not bringing them up, why are you? Because of Calvary, we can talk to Him in prayer, and have His peace to enjoy despite our failures.

Yea, He annulled our sin debt….