Doctrine Divides #3

Friday, September 14, 2018

But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles (Acts 14:4 KJV).

Have you ever heard the expression, “Doctrine divides?” Indeed, it does!

The attitude and actions of unbelieving Israel throughout the 30-year Acts period are summarized in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16: “…the Jews: Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets [Stephen in Acts chapter 7; James in chapter 12], and have persecuted us [Paul, Silvanus/Silas, and Timotheus/Timothy]; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.”

Our ecumenical friends would do well to note today’s Scripture. Believers in Jesus Christ decided to follow His Apostles and keep separate from unbelieving Jews (apostates). Compromise was simply not an option: they had a legitimate reason for division. God’s enemies, although having some appearance of truth, were forcefully teaching false doctrine. It was certainly not the time for Christians to say, “All religions are the same. Some will believe in Jesus Christ and some will not. We are all children of God, so we need to try to get along with everyone. There is no need to cause trouble by splitting.”

Brethren, if we are preaching and teaching sound Bible doctrine (God’s Word rightly divided), we should not expect Satan to just sit by idly. Our Adversary will use whatever and whomever he can to corrupt us (so we change the doctrine) and—if he cannot get us to modify the doctrine—ultimately silence us (intimidation of various degrees). In the case of Paul, he utilized unbelieving Jews, unbelieving Gentiles, and even (!) fellow Christians. Satan had these “competitors” in place to obstruct God’s work through Paul and his ministry companions. Such rivals are working even today! Let us remember to side with God’s Apostle to us, Paul, even if that means leaving all others.

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate….” (2 Corinthians 6:17). “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself [from apostasy—verse 1], and them that hear thee” (1 Timothy 4:16).

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Did Acts 7:60 predict the Dispensation of Grace?

Satisfied in Superstition #6

Thursday, August 23, 2018

“Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you” (Acts 17:22,23 KJV).

Why is there rampant spiritual ignorance today?

God intended the Abrahamic Covenant to bless all nations (Gentiles) through Israel (Genesis 12:1-3). However, Israel disallowed God’s Word, thus declining to be His messengers to Gentiles. Jesus Christ saved and directly commissioned Paul to preach to all in Satan’s lie program (unsaved Jews and unsaved Gentiles—Hell-bound idolaters!).

Paul and Barnabas preached in Acts chapter 14: “[15] Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities [idols] unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: [16] Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.” Escape Satan’s darkness by trusting Christ!

Also, Paul announced: “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent” (verses 29,30—the context of today’s Scripture). Think properly! Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and forsake this pagan nonsense! “Turn to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9). Sadly, many “intellectual” Athenians were satisfied in their superstitious silliness (Acts 17:32).

Yet, Paul had converts from heathenism: “And you hath he [Father God] quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:1,2).

“And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Timothy 2:24-26).

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What if I was never thanked?

Satisfied in Superstition #5

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

“Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you” (Acts 17:22,23 KJV).

Why is there rampant spiritual ignorance today?

Romans chapter 1 describes the nations (Gentiles) whom the God of the Bible renounced at the Tower of Babel. They refused to think about Him and His Word so He gave them up and over to their desired empty, worthless, satanic views. However, this is also true concerning individuals. People convince themselves not to think properly about the Creator God and spiritual matters. They willfully (key word!) reject the information He has freely offered them.

God caused Israel to fall nationally in early Acts when she ignored the Holy Spirit’s testimony of Jesus Christ. With their deliberate stoning of His prophet Stephen in chapter 7, He set them aside (albeit temporarily). They thereafter became like all the Gentiles—enjoying Satan’s lie program, his dark and evil world system (2 Corinthians 4:4). God could have righteously destroyed them all in wrath, but instead He poured out grace and mercy in chapter 9 to Saul of Tarsus (the leader of Israel’s rebellion against God). “Even so have these [Israel] also now not believed, that through your [Gentiles’/nations’] mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all” (Romans 11:31,32).

Saul of Tarsus became the Apostle Paul. The crucified, buried, risen, and ascended Lord Jesus Christ told him on the day of his salvation unto eternal life: “Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” (Acts 26:17,18). The Lord removed Saul from spiritual darkness, Satan’s “power of darkness” (Colossians 1:13) so he could preach to others how they too could be delivered through Christ Jesus. Paul did that in today’s Scripture….

Satisfied in Superstition #4

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

“Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you” (Acts 17:22,23 KJV).

Why is there rampant spiritual ignorance today?

The world’s “mess”—madness, mayhem, wickedness, injustice, religious confusion, spiritual darkness—should not surprise us. Moreover, it is not accidental that Satan and sin reign among us! God has let mankind exercise free will (volition). Romans chapter 1 outlines man’s threefold declension from his natural knowledge of God to his tenacious abandonment of said knowledge. Blame us—not God—for sin!

“[19] Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. [20] For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: [21] Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. [22] Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, [23] And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

“[24] Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: [25] Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. [26] For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections…. [28] And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;…. [32] Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”

It was these people, the nations, to whom the Apostle Paul ministered in today’s Scripture….

Satisfied in Superstition #3

Monday, August 20, 2018

“Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you” (Acts 17:22,23 KJV).

Why is there rampant spiritual ignorance today?

Genesis 11:1-9 describes the postdiluvian (after Great Flood) nations assembling in Shinar (Babylon, or modern Iraq) to “build [them] a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven.” Nimrod led the construction of this Tower of Babel—an international, political-religious system. (Its antitype is the Antichrist’s [future] Whore of Babylon described in Revelation chapters 17-18.) The LORD God gave those nations over to their preference—Satan worship, pagan idolatry, one-world religion (an amalgamation of all spiritual ideas). There, the nations fell as Adam had. Again, it was a willful rejection of God’s truth and a plunge into spiritual darkness (cf. Acts 14:15,16): “[God] in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.” Hence, the Gentile (non-Jewish) nations originated.

With Genesis chapter 11 closing and chapter 12 opening, the LORD God began forming a special nation—Israel. Beginning with Abram/Abraham, Israel will accomplish what Adam and the nations deliberately declined to do. They are the vessel whereby God will fulfill His earthly purpose. He thus expects and commands Israel to avoid her neighbors’ heathen beliefs and idolatrous practices. Read Deuteronomy 4:16-19, but especially notice verse 19: “And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.” Indeed, at Babel, God gave the nations over to the gods and goddesses of superstition.

Sadly, Israel did not keep herself pure either. Eventually, when her Redeemer (Jesus Christ) came, she was so polluted with error that she crucified Him in unbelief. She persisted in that unbelief, that rejection of God’s Word, until He placed her on the same spiritual level as He had put the Gentiles 2,000 years previous. Now we get to today’s Scripture….

Satisfied in Superstition #2

Sunday, August 19, 2018

“Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you” (Acts 17:22,23 KJV).

Why is there rampant spiritual ignorance today?

Mankind had unbridled access to and fellowship with the Creator God until Adam sinned by eating the forbidden fruit. After consuming the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Genesis chapter 3 remarks of Adam and Eve: “[7] And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. [8] And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.”

While man’s communion with the LORD God was broken, God nevertheless instituted a blood-sacrificial system by which man could approach Him (see Genesis 3:21–4:8). However, during the next several centuries, mankind drifted further and further from his Creator rather than drawing closer and closer to Him. In chapters 6-8, worldwide wickedness (especially murder) was so widespread that God generated the Great Flood to cleanse the planet of evil. Once Noah’s three sons exited the Ark after the Flood, they fathered the world’s nations (chapters 9-11). Near the end of these first 2,000 years of human history, an extremely important event occurred.

Genesis chapter 10 reports: “[8] And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. [9] He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD. [10] And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.” Nimrod was Noah’s great-grandson, and he was quite wicked. Chapter 11 will demonstrate to us how Nimrod was the leading rebel influential in bringing about the spiritual ignorance of today’s Scripture… and of today….

Bible Q&A #525: “Which hymns are appropriate for us grace believers to sing?

Satisfied in Superstition #1

Saturday, August 18, 2018

“Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you” (Acts 17:22,23 KJV).

Why is there rampant spiritual ignorance today?

The Greek word rendered “too superstitious” here is quite striking—“deisidaimonesterous” (“fearing more devils than others”). As Paul entered Athens, “his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry” (verse 16). He observed idols and shrines everywhere! The Athenians were afraid of this god, that goddess, this deity, that idol. One particular altar caught his attention—the one with the caption, “TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.” It was this God, the God of the Bible, whom he had come to preach to the darkened pagans of Athens!

Why did they entertain such absurd ideas? How were they not worshipping Israel’s God with spiritual enlightenment? The Holy Spirit had already declared through Paul elsewhere in chapter 14: “[15] And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities [idols] unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: [16] Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.

Romans chapter 1 describes this party: “[19] Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. [20] For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: [21] Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. [22] Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, [23] And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.”

Now the situation in Athens becomes clearer….