Shepherds Feeding Themselves

Thursday, June 16, 2016

“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? …Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them” (Ezekiel 34:2,10 KJV).

Friend, do you know any “self-feeding shepherds?”

Many years ago, a deacon asked an incoming pastor, “Will you let the Holy Spirit lead you in guiding our assembly?” The pastor replied, “I came here to retire!” He was uninterested in God’s will (as they later painfully discovered when he introduced false teaching and collapsed the assembly!).

Our English word “pastor” in its original Latin meant “shepherd” or “feeder,” related to “put to pasture.” Jesus commanded the Apostle Peter, Feed my lambs. Feed my sheep. Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17). The Apostle Paul warned the Ephesian church leaders: “[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. [31] Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Acts chapter 20).

The Greek word rendered “overseers” (episkopos) is elsewhere translated “bishop(s)” (Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 2:25). Poimen is often rendered “shepherd” but translated “pastors” in Ephesians 4:11. These men should be “guiding” (supervising) and “feeding” (nourishing) local churches, keeping them in sound Bible doctrine, and guarding them against false teaching. Alas, many bishops and pastors—whether today or in ancient Israel (today’s Scripture)—are self-feeding! While they enjoy thousand-dollar handmade suits and multimillion-dollar mansions, their people spiritually starve!

Understand and Enjoy the Bible! #15

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction (2 Peter 3:15,16 KJV).

Yes indeed, we can understand and enjoy the Holy Bible!

In his final epistle to the Church the Body of Christ, the Apostle Paul wrote: “Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things” (2 Timothy 2:7). Years earlier, he wrote: “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Romans 15:13).

The Holy Spirit Himself believes you will have “understanding in all things” if you “consider” what Paul wrote in his books, Romans through Philemon. He also believes that, once you understand His Word, then you will believe His Word, and finally you will enjoy His Word. Too many today do not understand the Bible, ever so discouraged by Satan’s schemes. Religious tradition has hidden dispensational Bible study from them. We MUST “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15)—separate “that which was kept secret since the world began” (Romans 16:25) from “that which was spoken since the world began” (Acts 3:21). Mystery MUST be separated from prophecy, Paul MUST be separated from Peter, the Body of Christ MUST be separated from the nation Israel, the Grace of God MUST be separated from the Law of Moses, et cetera.

Friends and brethren, now we know how to understand and enjoy the Bible; may we be faithful in telling others. Second Timothy 2:24-26: “[24] And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, [25] In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; [26] And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”

-FINIS!-

Understand and Enjoy the Bible! #14

Monday, January 18, 2016

And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction (2 Peter 3:15,16 KJV).

May we hearken to these truths, lest we misunderstand and dislike the Holy Bible!

The God of Scripture is “longsuffering.” He is not currently pouring out His wrath on Christ-rejecting mankind. Had Israel’s prophetic program operated unbroken, that judgment would have surely come just after Calvary (Psalm 2:1-5; Acts 2:34-36; Acts 7:55,56; et cetera). However, God interrupted prophecy, delayed that judgment, and revealed the mystery program to and through the Apostle Paul (Saul of Tarsus). An unprophesied (secret) period of “grace and peace” extended to all mankind (Gentiles), as illustrated by the salvation of wicked Saul in Acts chapter 9 (1 Timothy 1:12-16). The heart of that mystery program is “the Dispensation of Grace,” doctrines and other truths currently applicable, only until “the fulness of the Gentiles” comes in (Romans 11:25).

Peter had preached salvation and blessing to Gentiles through Israel and her kingdom (Acts 3:19-26; cf. Isaiah 60:1-3; Genesis 12:1-3). Through Paul’s ministry and Gospel, “the Gospel of the Grace of God,” Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork on Calvary, salvation and blessing is currently going to Gentiles without Israel and her kingdom (Romans 11:11-13; Ephesians 3:1-11).

God has offered grace to all; He has been longsuffering, tolerating man’s sins for 20 centuries! Why? “The longsuffering of our Lord is salvation.” That more lost sinners (like Saul) be saved into the Body of Christ by simple faith in Christ alone, thus spared God’s wrath when prophecy resumes! Once our Dispensation of Grace closes, then and only then, God’s wrath and war will replace His grace and peace (1 Thessalonians 4:13–5:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9, 2:1-13). When the scoffers Peter referenced asked about Jesus’ coming in vengeance, they were pitifully ignorant! The message of grace that Paul preached was the very reason why that wrath had not yet come!

Let us conclude this devotionals arc.

Special-edition Bible Q&A #225: “What about the ‘Jewish Roots’ Movement?
(This 22-page article systematically discusses the dangers of mixing Law and Grace concerning Christian living.)

Understand and Enjoy the Bible! #13

Sunday, January, 17, 2016

And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction (2 Peter 3:15,16 KJV).

Although there is so much confusion about it, can we really understand and enjoy the Bible?

Let us consider the seventh point from today’s Scripture: “unto their own destruction.” Returning to 2 Timothy 2:15-18: “[15] Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [16] But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. [17] And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; [18] Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.”

The “overthrow [of] the faith of some” is the “[spiritual] destruction” of today’s Scripture. By confusing God’s will for a believer in this the Dispensation of Grace, with God’s will for a believer in Israel’s program of Law, believers’ lives are hindered and damaged in their respective program. You soften the Law for Israel; you water down Grace for us Gentiles. You force on us their water baptism, their miraculous demonstrations, and their prayer promises. In doing so, you ignore God’s baptism for us, God’s invisible intervention on our behalf, and God’s model prayers for us.

Friend, you cannot force God to do something He is not doing. If you are not doing what God is doing, then you are outside of God’s will, and your spiritual life is sure to be in ruins. Grabbing Israel’s verses and making them fit us, or taking our verses and making them fit Israel, is to fail to “rightly divide the word of truth.” It is to go the way of “profane and vain babblings,” “ungodliness,” worthless teaching. It is to follow Christendom—“the blind leaders of the blind” (Matthew 15:14)!

Now, dearly beloved, we summarize!

Understand and Enjoy the Bible! #12

Saturday, January 16, 2016

And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction (2 Peter 3:15,16 KJV).

Although there is so much confusion about it, can we really understand and enjoy the Bible?

Let us consider the sixth point from today’s Scripture: “as they do also the other scriptures….” So many people struggle today to reconcile Paul’s epistles with the rest of the Bible. Not surprisingly, people had the same difficulty in the apostolic days. Read today’s Scripture. There was such Bible confusion 20 centuries ago that people were literally corrupting all of God’s Word in order to harmonize Paul’s ministry and message with the rest of the Bible. (Sound familiar?)

Even today, people declare, “I do not go by what some man says. I follow Jesus not Paul.” People ask even today, “Why does Paul contradict Jesus so much?” (Implication: Despite all the verse twisting, there are some people honest enough to see differences in God’s Word. The theologians, preachers, and other “expert” Bible commentators cannot see distinctions in the Bible. But, praise God, simple people without college degrees and seminary training can! See, friends, worldly education is not the answer to understanding the Bible. Having the indwelling Spirit of God and using God’s Word properly are the keys [1 Corinthians 2:10-16]! Education cannot grant them.)

Consider another major example of how people wrest the Bible to hide dispensational distinctions. There is no literal, physical, visible earthly kingdom of God today. So, what “scholarly” people say is, when the non-Pauline Bible books speak of “the reign of Christ,” they did not mean a literal, physical, visible earthly kingdom but “Christ’s invisible, spiritual reign in the hearts of men.” Such heretics even talk about us the Body of Christ replacing the nation Israel, and/or us continuing her program. Just as they twist Paul’s epistles, they pervert Israel’s verses too. No wonder people get sick to their spiritual stomachs!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What does 2 Corinthians 7:5 mean?

Understand and Enjoy the Bible! #11

Friday, January 15, 2016

And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction (2 Peter 3:15,16 KJV).

Although there is so much confusion about it, can we really understand and enjoy the Bible?

Let us consider the fifth point from today’s Scripture: “as they do also the other scriptures….” Some in “Christianity” have claimed that Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, should be ripped out of the Bible! (I receive such foolish emails.) Yet, if we are to toss out Paul’s epistles, we should also remove the whole book of Acts, plus Luke, and Peter’s epistles. In today’s Scripture, Peter endorsed Paul’s epistles as “scripture.” He placed the Pauline writings on the same level with Moses’ writings, the Four Gospels, Psalms, Isaiah, Daniel, and so on.

When denominations and religious organizations have understood the Bible according to their particular theological systems for many decades or centuries, they will (understandably) refuse to see Pauline dispensational Bible study. To admit wrong would mean losing salaries, memberships, egos, diplomas, real estate, buildings—literally everything! They, like the people in Peter’s day, pervert Paul’s epistles as they do the other Scriptures. Making everything in the Bible the same, they refuse to separate Peter’s ministry from Paul’s ministry. When they come across opposing verses in the Bible, they just dismiss them with, “Oh, this verse is questionable—it was not in the originals.” Or, “Do not take it literally. It means this rather than what it says.”

Christendom must swallow its pride. It must realize something. Accepting Paul’s epistles as literal and true is not to deny the rest of the Bible with which those epistles disagree. Rather, it is accepting Paul’s epistles as true because those Pauline epistles contain the secret will of God previously unknown to man! We should “rightly divide” “truth” from “truth” in the Scripture (2 Timothy 2:15), whether concerning Paul’s epistles or any other part of the Bible.

Understand and Enjoy the Bible! #10

Thursday, January 14, 2016

And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction (2 Peter 3:15,16 KJV).

Although there is so much confusion about it, can we really understand and enjoy the Bible?

Let us consider the fourth point from today’s Scripture: “which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest.” Peter did not understand everything that Paul taught. Yet, at least Peter was Holy-Spirit-filled, honest enough to admit Paul taught some doctrine that was quite different from God’s previous revelations to mankind. What happens in the religious crowd (back then and still today) is that pride gets in the way and the Scriptures are pushed out of the way. Scholarship and denominations still militantly refuse to admit that Paul’s ministry and epistles are separate and distinct from the 12 apostles’ ministries.

Since it has been repeated for 2,000 years that “everything in the Bible is the same”—the assumption that there is only one “gospel” in the Bible, only one “church” in the Bible, only one “ministry” of Jesus Christ in the Bible, only one “program” in the Bible, et cetera—people are automatically inclined to reword any and every Bible verse to the contrary. Hence, modern English versions and their underlying manuscripts are so unreliable. Their editors, translators, and teachers—going back decades and centuries past—have rephrased verses so as to harmonize Paul’s ministry with Peter’s, combine the Church the Body of Christ with the nation Israel, et cetera.

As the Holy Spirit led Peter to write, these people “wrest” (pervert, distort) the Bible (today’s Scripture). They have not learned the truths of God’s Word rightly divided. They are thus “unstable”“tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). Their “ministries” produce only equally unlearned (uninformed) and equally unstable (undecided) souls. Dearly beloved, now we know how the Body of Christ got into the mess in which it now sits!