The Greater Condemnation #5

Saturday, June 16, 2018

My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body (James 3:1,2 KJV).

While many want to lead in local assemblies, today’s Scripture issues a stern warning. They had better reconsider!

“For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. None of us are perfect, but we had better get our doctrine straight before we become Bible teachers. Compared to all other things in nature, sinful man’s tongue is the most unmanageable (see verses 3-12). Only a “perfect” (spiritually mature) man can control his tongue. If he can govern the most intractable member, he can manage the rest of his body. Such a Christian (or teacher) is rare; therefore, we should not impetuously appoint the first “teacher” who desires the office!

Paul advised the Ephesian church elders in Acts chapter 20: “[28] Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. [29] For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. [30] Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” (Notice the “speaking” evil doctrine!!) First John 4:1 says, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” Moreover, 1 Timothy 4:1: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;….” (The “spirits” here are the voices of false teachers!)

As a final addendum, Acts 13:14-15 says the synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia allowed complete strangers to teach their congregation! (They heard from Paul sound doctrine, but just imagine if he were a false teacher!) Would you want visitors taking over your assembly, people whose doctrine you have not thoroughly examined?! “Be not many masters!”

The Greater Condemnation #4

Friday, June 15, 2018

My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body (James 3:1,2 KJV).

While many want to lead in local assemblies, today’s Scripture issues a stern warning. They had better reconsider!

God will hold church leaders—“masters” (today’s Scripture) or teachers (John 3:10)—to a much higher standard than He will church members. Do they believe the right doctrine? Are they practicing what they preach and teach? Christ said to Israel’s religious leaders in Matthew 23:14: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.” Unsaved false teachers will have a hotter place in Hell than those whom they misled!

In time past, Israel had God’s Word and the Gentiles did not (Romans 3:1,2). Compared to Gentiles, Jews were the teachers. Yet, the Israelites were hypocrites—they committed the same sins they had condemned the “wicked” Gentiles for doing! In Romans chapter 2, God holds the Jews as the more responsible party. Gentiles were without God’s revelation; Israel knew God’s Word and still committed those atrocious deeds (see verses 1-3,12,17-27). They would all endure God’s wrath!

While we members of the Church the Body of Christ never have to fear seeing God’s angry face or winding up in Hell, we should know that God Himself will review our Christian service. Jesus Christ will examine our soul, to determine the quality of doctrine we built into it (see 1 Corinthians 3:9-15; 2 Corinthians 5:9,10). Was it “gold, silver, precious stones”—valuable, spiritual information, His Word rightly divided? Or “wood, hay, stubble”—useless doctrine, human wisdom, religious tradition? Paul warned the Corinthian saints that they were allowing false religious leaders to contaminate them with doctrinal error, which would cause them loss of reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ (see 1 Corinthians chapters 1-3).

Dear friends, we had better be cautious of whom we allow to become our Bible teacher. Furthermore, we had better not rush into becoming Bible teachers ourselves. Bible teaching is a most serious job….

Two Rocks #8

Sunday, June 10, 2018

For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges (Deuteronomy 32:31 KJV).

There are two rocks in Scripture—one good and one bad. Friend, which is your foundation?

Hebrews chapter 3 reveals that God sees Israel as two houses overall: “[1] Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; [2] Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house. [3] For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house. [4] For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God. [5] And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; [6] But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.”

One house is historical: Israel under the Old Covenant, the Mosaic Law, a “weak and beggarly” system (Galatians 4:9) because Israel was a nation of sinners always falling short of God’s righteous standards (Hebrews 8:7-13). She repeatedly engaged in idolatry (“rocks”). The other house is prophetic: Israel under the New Covenant, God making her His people by Christ’s finished crosswork (1 Peter 2:3-10; cf. 1 Peter 1:2-5,13-25). She will never again be idolatrous.

Isaiah 51:5 anticipates new Israel, what Hebrews 3:6 calls “the house of Christ:” “Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD [the Rock!]: look unto the rock [!] whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.” God generated Israel’s bloodline with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob’s 12 sons. He delivered them from Egypt to become the nation Israel. They are to see Him as He really is (the Rock that their ancient ancestors refused to build on because their counterfeit “rocks,” or idols, had distracted them). Jesus Christ said Israel had better build on the right foundation (Him, the Rock, and His words), or experience spiritual destruction (Matthew 7:24-27)!

Two Rocks #7

Saturday, June 9, 2018

For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges (Deuteronomy 32:31 KJV).

There are two rocks in Scripture—one good and one bad. Friend, which is your foundation?

Decades after Calvary, the Holy Spirit wrote to the Jewish kingdom believers in 1 Peter 2:3-10: “[3] If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. [4] To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, [5] Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. [6] Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.

“[7] Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, [8] And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. [9] But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; [10] Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”

God will take Israel’s believing remnant and form a house in which He will manifest His life forever. Jesus Christ, the Rock, will serve as the house’s foundation (cf. Matthew 16:16-18). This “Little Flock” will be the new Israel, the heirs of God’s earthly kingdom (Luke 12:31,32; cf. Matthew 21:42-46). All unbelieving Jews—those depending on the counterfeit “rock” (idols)—will be judged and destroyed during the seven-year Tribulation and at Christ’s subsequent fiery Second Coming (Matthew 7:24-29; Matthew 13:37-43). Israel’s Little Flock will enter the Millennium as God’s kingdom of priests, fully capable of carrying His Word to the Gentiles, that the Gentiles give up their rocks (idols) and believe on the Rock as well….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Do we live in the ‘Church Age?’

Two Rocks #6

Friday, June 8, 2018

For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges (Deuteronomy 32:31 KJV).

There are two rocks in Scripture—one good and one bad. Friend, which is your foundation?

When considering the two rocks in the Bible, one should certainly be quite careful in interpreting one particular verse. That passage has been deliberately withheld until this point in our discussion. Remember, the consistent testimony of the Scriptures is: (1) JEHOVAH God (Jesus Christ) is the Rock, and (2) Satan promotes a counterfeit rock to distract. Not surprisingly, false religion stresses an imitation rock even now.

Jesus Christ declared in Matthew 16:18: “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Here is the classic “proof text” for the Roman Catholic papacy. According to such traditionalists, the pope derives his authority from this verse. Tradition dictates Peter was the “first pope,” so every pontiff thereafter is allegedly “Peter’s successor.” (Ironically, Galatians 2:9 says Peter was a Jewish apostle, whereas the pope leads Gentiles. If anything, Romans 11:13 says the pope should be Paul’s successor. Of course, as one priest told this author, they do not care what the Bible says. They prefer following tradition… and quote Scripture only when it supports their theology!)

Peter is supposedly the “rock” of Matthew 16:18. In Greek, “Peter” (petros) means “small rock;” “rock” (petra) is a larger mass. Such distinction is lost in Aramaic, which explains why a Roman Catholic would favor Jesus speaking Aramaic. Furthermore, the “church” of Matthew 16:18 is supposedly the Roman Catholic Church (erroneous). It is assumed to be built upon Peter (also incorrect). Matthew 16:18 is not about Peter’s Church but Messiah’s Church. Verse 16 restricts it: “And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.Again, Jesus Christ is the Rock of Scripture. But, if we lift Matthew 16:18 out of its context, then we make the Bible say whatever we want.

Jesus Christ says that, no matter what Satan does to hinder Him, upon “this rock” (who He is—Messiah/Christ) He will build the new (stronger) nation Israel….

Two Rocks #5

Thursday, June 7, 2018

For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges (Deuteronomy 32:31 KJV).

There are two rocks in Scripture—one good and one bad. Friend, which is your foundation?

During His earthly ministry, Matthew through John, God the Son was on a mission to rescue Israel from Satan. The nation’s leadership had deceived her with false (pagan, heathen) religion. She was far from God’s path. Therefore, Jeremiah 50:6 says: “My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace.”

This is exactly where Christ found Israel. He told His 12 Apostles to go not to Gentiles or Samaritans: “But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:6). Jesus said to a Gentile woman in Matthew 15:24: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” His ministry, and by extension the 12’s ministry, was to bring Israel back to JEHOVAH God the Father. Israel had been undermined and destroyed; her foundation was not the Rock but rather everything else. Since Jesus Christ is the Rock, His words are also a firm groundwork.

Matthew chapter 7: “[24] Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: [25] And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. [26] And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: [27] And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. [28] And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: [29] For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (cf. Luke 6:47-49).

If Israel is to withstand the coming Tribulation, she is to be built on the Rock, JEHOVAH God and His Word to her….

Two Rocks #4

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges (Deuteronomy 32:31 KJV).

There are two rocks in Scripture—one good and one bad. Friend, which is your foundation?

Some 700 years B.C., Isaiah chapter 8 taught: “[13] Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. [14] And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” JEHOVAH God can serve one of two purposes. Firstly, to believers, He is “a sanctuary”—a place of safety and stability (Rock). Secondly, to unbelievers, He is “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence.” This passage is quoted twice in the New Testament Scriptures to apply to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul writes in Romans 9:33: “As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” (See verses 30-33 for the context—Isaiah 28:16 is conflated here with Isaiah 8:14). Peter pens in 1 Peter 2:8: “And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.” (See verses 3-10 for the context.)

JEHOVAH God, the LORD God, of Isaiah 8:13-14 is Jesus Christ. Christ is God the Son in human flesh. As in the Old Testament economy, the Israelites can believe on Him or they can disbelieve. They can receive Him by faith or reject Him in unbelief. If they have faith in Him, He is their Rock (strength—the foundation of everything God will do with them as a nation). If they refuse Him, they will fall or trip over Him (“stumblingstone,” “stone of stumbling”). They will see Him as a scandal, disgrace, or embarrassment (“rock of offence”).

Romans 9:30-33, looking back on Christ’s earthly ministry, shows us how He was mostly a “stumblingstone and rock of offence.” Israel, fixated on self-righteousness (Romans 10:1-3), ultimately refused Him. Their religious leaders encouraged their unbelief (1 Peter 2:7,8). However, some Jews did believe on Him….