The Wisdom Given to Our Beloved Brother Paul

Sunday, March 11, 2012

“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).

The Apostle Peter, in verses 3,4, references scoffers who ask, “Where is the promise of [Christ’s] coming?” Decades after the Lord Jesus had resurrected and ascended into heaven, James, Peter, and John spoke of His Second Coming as if it were just moments away (James 5:8,9; 1 Peter 4:7; 2 Peter 3:3; 1 John 2:18). They wrote 2,000 years ago, and Christ never came. Is Christ ever coming back?

In today’s Scripture, Peter admits that when he and the Apostles James and John met with the Apostle Paul in Acts chapter 15 (Galatians chapter 2) circa A.D. 50, Paul taught them something. To Paul alone God entrusted a body of truth that not even Peter fully understood (even at this late date of 2 Peter circa A.D. 68)—Peter and Paul preached separate messages (see Galatians 2:1-9). Peter acknowledged that Christ gave exclusively to Paul “the revelation of the mystery” (Romans 16:25,26; Ephesians 3:1-9). Furthermore, Peter verified Paul’s 13 epistles, Romans through Philemon, as “scripture.” Peter warned that people “wrest” (corrupt) Paul’s epistles as they do the other Bible books.

Why has Christ not come back, Peter? “The Lord is not slack [lazy, unreliable] concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God wants all people to be saved. He wants no one to suffer His wrath and judgment (the seven-year Tribulation) because His Son Jesus paid for our sins at Calvary’s cross!

Yes, Christ will be back, but God is postponing Israel’s prophetic program in order to extend this the Dispensation of Grace and give more people a chance to be saved before His wrath comes on earth.

We Do Not Want to Be Different Anymore!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

“Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, and said unto him, Behold thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations” (1 Samuel 8:4,5 KJV).

In the context of today’s Scripture, for the past 500 years, Moses, Joshua, and several judges (rulers) have led Israel (Acts 13:17-20). Here, Samuel, Israel’s prophet-judge, is old and his sons are too wicked to lead the nation in God’s ways (1 Samuel 8:1-3). Furthermore, Israel is tired of being different. Sadly, they want a king so they can be like “all the nations.”

Read the two verses following today’s Scripture: “But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them(verses 6,7). S-A-D!

Israel is tired of being God’s “peculiar” (unique; Exodus 19:5) people! They want to be like everyone else (pagans!). By rejecting God’s prophet Samuel, Israel is rejecting God. God instructed Samuel to “protest solemnly” with Israel (verse 9). So, Samuel fervently complained to Israel regarding the disadvantages of a monarchy (1 Samuel 8:10-18). Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations(verses 19,20). Amazingly, God foretold their cry for a king in Deuteronomy 17:14… 500 years earlier!

After everything God did for them, ungrateful, sinful Israel argues with Him and rejects Him. Yet, how many today share Israel’s attitude? Despite everything that God did for them at Calvary, they reject Him. Or, think of the Christians, who are tired of being outcasts—like Israel, some compromise with the world to “fit in.” Thankfully, as God in His grace tolerated Israel, so He tolerates us when “we do not want to be different anymore!”

God’s Grace on Parade

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

“…But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20 KJV).

Today, especially here in southern Louisiana, the Catholic festival of Mardi Gras takes advantage of God’s grace. God’s grace abounds even when drunkenness, lasciviousness, and gluttony are committed overtly on our streets for religion. Because we live in the Dispensation of the Grace of God, they can flaunt their sin without being consumed by fire from heaven!

“Mardi Gras,” French for “Fat Tuesday,” is a day when religious people—professing “Christians”—lose self-control (excess alcohol, food, and partying). The following day, Ash Wednesday, they promise to live “holy” for the next 40 days (Lent). A priest will then place ashes on their foreheads proving that God forgave them for that riotous living. Blasphemy!

Regardless of all its biblical allusions (illusions!), Mardi Gras is still evil and anti-God. It was never Christian, originating from pagan Roman festivals, Saturnalia and Lupercalia (interestingly known for riots, drunkenness, gluttony, and fornication, and subsequent repentance).

The Holy Spirit, speaking through the Apostles Peter and Paul, was clearly against Mardi Gras reveling and drunkenness (Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:18; 1 Peter 4:3). So why do professing Christians engage in the very activities that God the Holy Spirit condemned?! As Christians, we should “deny” the activities of Mardi Gras (Romans 6:11-15; Titus 2:11-15).

If I appear offended, I am. Mardi Gras, despite its godly façade, is offensive to the great God and my Saviour Jesus Christ! God’s grace continues to tolerate such foolishness from mankind. Man parades his sin, and God parades His grace, holding back wrath.

Are you a Mardi Gras reveler? I declare unto you the wonderful Gospel of the Grace of God. God did for you at Calvary what you could never do: “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He was raised again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Jesus Christ shed His sinless blood and died to put away all of your sins, Mardi Gras revelry included.

If you rest in Christ Jesus alone as your Saviour, God will save you forever, make a trophy of His grace, and then YOUR life will be God’s grace on parade!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study with the same name. The Bible study can be read here or watched here.

The Bread-Picking Sinners #2

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

“Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no” (Exodus 16:4 KJV).

Once God delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage, the Jews began to complain that they lacked water and food. After God provided water, He then decided to “prove” (test) them again, to see if they will follow His instructions about collecting the manna (bread) that He will rain down (today’s Scripture). He commanded them not to gather more than “one omer” of manna per person or a non-sixth day, yet the Bible says that they gathered “some more, some less” (verse 17). While Israel disobeyed God’s simple instructions, He will test them again using the manna. Will they listen to God now?

Verse 19 explains, “And Moses said, Let no man leave of it [the manna] till the morning.” What do you suppose Israel did? Verse 20 tells us, “Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them.” Now, the Jews were not only ignoring God’s instructions; they were also disregarding Moses’ orders… and the camp began to stink because of it. Just imagine the putrid smell of unbelief and sin that filled God’s nostrils!

Moses then told Israel, “Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none [no manna]” (verse 26). How did Israel respond? “And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none” (verse 27). How sad!

Verse 28 says, “And the LORD said unto Moses, How long refuse ye [Israel] to keep my commandments and my laws?” For the next forty years, Israel ate that manna (verse 35), constantly disobeying God throughout that period.

Although Israel failed God’s test again and again, God in His mercy and longsuffering tolerated those bread-picking sinners.

The Bread-Picking Sinners #1

Monday, January 30, 2012

“Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no” (Exodus 16:4 KJV).

Here, we find the nation Israel, just one month after her deliverance from Egypt (verse 1). For the past few weeks, the Jews have annoyed Moses by “murmuring” (complaining) that the LORD has not provided water for them to drink (Exodus 15:22-24). Despite their ungratefulness, God gives them potable water (verses 25,27), but when they bicker about lack of food, God then proceeds to “prove” (test) them again (Exodus 16:2,3). He wants to see if Israel will listen to Him regarding manna (bread) collection. Will they?

In today’s Scripture, God promises to feed Israel by raining down manna (bread) from heaven. He then gave Israel very clear instructions about gathering that manna. Firstly, per day, each man was to gather “one omer” of manna for each person in his tent (verse 16). Secondly, on the sixth day, they were to gather two omers per person (verse 5), for there would be no manna given on the seventh (Sabbath) day (verse 26).

What do you suppose Israel did with God’s simple instructions? Verse 17 explains: “And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less.” Those sneaky rascals—some individuals were picking less than an omer of manna for each person, and some were picking more! Surprised? Do not be: these sons of Abraham were like us in that they were also sons of Adam. They were sinners.

God knew what they were doing, and He compensated. Miraculously, “And when they did mete [measure] it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating” (verse 18). Even though they did not listen to God, He still took from those who gathered too much, and gave to those who gathered too little.

Sadly, Israel had failed God’s test, for they were bread-picking sinners.

No Difference in Christ Jesus

Monday, January 23, 2012

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature” (Galatians 6:15 KJV).

In time past, God dealt with mankind on the basis of circumcision (Jew) and uncircumcision (Gentile). God dealt almost exclusively with Israel whereas the Gentiles were “without Christ” and “without God” (Ephesians 2:11,12). Today, in our Dispensation of Grace, this is not true.

Ephesians 2:13-18 continues: But now in Christ Jesus ye [Gentiles] who sometimes were far off are made nigh [to God] by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain [two] one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and came and preached peace to you which were afar off [Gentiles], and to them that were nigh [Jews]. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”

“Both” in the above passage refers to Jews and Gentiles. In the Dispensation of Grace, God has placed believing Jews and Gentiles into one body, the “one new man,” the “new creature” of today’s Scripture—the Church the Body of Christ. This body of believers is separate from the nation Israel. In the Body of Christ, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28; cf. Colossians 3:11).

Today, in our Dispensation of Grace, a Christian Jew is not more blessed than a Christian Gentile: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth [benefiteth] any thing, nor uncircumcision…” (Galatians 5:6; today’s Scripture). Technically, there are no Jews today. Romans 11:11,12 explains that Israel has temporarily lost her once-privileged position (today, God considers Jews Gentiles).

Unlike time past, in our dispensation, salvation in Christ Jesus is being freely offered to both Jew and Gentile: both can approach God through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork.

No Blood Indicates No Faith #2

Thursday, January 19, 2012

“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh” (Hebrews 11:4 KJV).

God instructed Cain and Abel to bring blood sacrifices. However, only Abel obeyed God because he alone had faith. Cain lacked faith, so he completely ignored God’s Word. Cain wanted to do what Cain wanted to do. This is typical human nature, and it has not changed one wit. Man is naturally sinful in that he seeks autonomy—to be his own god and to do what he wants to do!

Cain… was of that wicked one [Satan!]… his own works were evil, and his brother’s [Abel’s] righteous” (1 John 3:12). Now, Cain’s vegetation offering did not look evil—it was just “fruit of the ground” (Genesis 4:3). Yet, despite its innocent appearance, it was evil and God rejected it. How was it evil? God wanted blood sacrifices, not crops! Cain displeased God because he had no faith (Hebrews 11:6).

Now, apply that scenario to today. Billions of church members are doing everything they can to work for heaven. Like Cain, they completely ignore God’s Word when it says their “good” works are actually “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6) and “dung” (Philippians 4:8). They give faithfully, pray daily, attend church weekly, help the poor, clean the church, sing in the choir, and so on. Sadly, this is vain activity, for God never commanded them to work for heaven!

In this the Dispensation of Grace, God is freely offering His grace, love, mercy, forgiveness, salvation, acceptance, fellowship, and righteousness in the Person of His Son Jesus Christ. “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him [Jesus Christ] that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness (Romans 4:5).

Salvation is so simple, yet religion complicates it with our works. We sinners cannot work for salvation. The Bible says the only way to heaven, and everlasting salvation, is to trust in what Jesus Christ already did for you, not what you can do for Him.