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?

Doctrine Divides #2

Thursday, September 13, 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!

Today’s Scripture says the city of Iconium was divided between the “unbelieving Jews” (cf. verse 2) and the apostles “Barnabas and Paul” (cf. verse 14). These two factions are a physical representation of an invisible, spiritual reality.

JEHOVAH God had given His Word—our “Old Testament” Scriptures—to the nation Israel rather than the nations (Gentiles). Romans 2:17-20 looks back in time: “Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.” Also, Romans 3:1,2: “What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.”

While Israel possessed God’s Word, very few Jews had placed their faith in it. Furthermore, as we learn from Matthew through John and the Acts period, Israel corporately and persistently refused to be the vessel that God would utilize to bring that Word to Gentiles. When God turned to the Gentiles through the Apostle Paul’s new message and ministry (Acts chapter 9 onward), unbelieving Israel stalked Paul for the rest of Acts. Throughout the Roman Empire, for some 35 years, they frequently schemed to assault, discredit, and even kill him!

Ironically, the people to whom God originally gave His Word refused to believe it, declined to share it, discouraged anyone from believing it, and vehemently opposed those who preached it. Acts 13:45 again: “But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.” There is a contest between two wills, and it goes far beyond trivial religious disagreements. God and Satan are engaged in a most serious battle….

Doctrine Divides #1

Wednesday, September 12, 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!

Chapters 13 and 14 of Acts are Paul and Barnabas on their first apostolic journey. As chapter 14 opens, they are still in Galatia (modern south-central Turkey): “[1] And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed. [2] But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren. [3] Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.”

During Paul’s Acts (provoking) ministry, it was customary for him to travel to and preach Jesus Christ in synagogues (Jewish worship centers scattered throughout the Roman Empire). Unbelieving Jews grew jealous that Jesus was constantly being endorsed as Messiah—since Israel’s leadership had, many years earlier, crucified Him as a fraud. These unsaved Jews, driven by sin and Satan, caused as much trouble as possible for Paul, his ministry companions, and their converts.

Read what occurred at the conclusion of Acts chapter 13: “[45] But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming…. [49] And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region. [50] But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.”

As we already saw at the beginning of chapter 14, Paul and Barnabas then move into the area of Iconium. When large crowds begin turning to the Lord Jesus Christ by faith, unbelieving Jews launch a “mind-poisoning” campaign by exciting the pagan Gentiles to oppose these new Christians. As today’s Scripture recorded, there is a massive split in the city. Part of Iconium sides with those unsaved Jews, and the others side with Paul and Barnabas….

To Esteem the Greater Words #5

Monday, September 10, 2018

“Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12 KJV).

Friend, do you pay more attention to the words of men than the words of God?

Moved by the Holy Ghost, King David remarked in Psalm 19: “[7] The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. [8] The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. [9] The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. [10] More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.”

How many in this materialistic, greedy world can say with David that they desire God’s words more than gold, even much fine gold?! Who claims those Divine words are sweeter than honey and the honeycomb?! How many in our deceived, gluttonous society agree with Job that they esteem God’s inspired words more than their necessary food?!

Such a Man is quoted in Isaiah 50:4,5: “The Lord GOD 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. The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back.” Here is the Lord Jesus Christ speaking of God the Father, 700 years before the former’s earthly ministry (check verse 6). Christ treasured every word that His Heavenly Father spoke to Him, so much so that He obeyed it without fail. Satan’s evil world system would not—and did not—distract Him from what information carried eternal value.

Brethren, may we be especially careful to listen to and believe Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, God’s Word to us today. “But [Jesus Christ] answered and said [to Satan], It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Most importantly, may we remember those words! 🙂

To Esteem the Greater Words #4

Sunday, September 9, 2018

“Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12 KJV).

Friend, do you pay more attention to the words of men than the words of God?

While precious few—even Christians—know it, an invisible and spiritual battle is being waged. It involves the souls of all mankind!

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; ) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Satan’s policy of evil prevents man from understanding what God wants him to know. Competing information distracts from the truths of God’s Word rightly divided. If we Christians are not vigilant, Satan will deceive even us. Therefore, we must grow to maturity in sound Bible doctrine! That is our only hope in guarding ourselves.

Ephesians 4:13-16: “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”

Job, in today’s Scripture, did not have a competed Bible like we do. Yet, what divine revelation he had was highly important to him. In fact, he preferred God’s Word to eating physical food….

To Esteem the Greater Words #3

Saturday, September 8, 2018

“Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12 KJV).

Friend, do you pay more attention to the words of men than the words of God?

Various and sundry ideas circulate around the world. When we remember that Satan is “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), it should not shock us that most of those ideas are lies (cf. John 8:44). Our challenge is to use the Holy Bible to guide us as we evaluate and separate fact from fiction. Therefore, it is a most serious matter when people start tampering with the Bible text. The King James Bible is God’s inspired, preserved Word for us English-speaking people. Never forget that!

Consequently, it should concern us when commentators remark, “This King James word is wrong, that verse does not belong, leave out this italicized word….” The authority is taken from the Bible and given to fallible men. Instead of Scripture correcting men, men arrogantly correct Scripture. Satan is relentless in attempting to substitute his words for God’s words. Using a corrupted Bible to gauge truth and error is wholly silly. A defective standard is most useless. If we are not willing to use a measuring stick with missing numbers and/or unequally-spaced lines, why be comfortable using a perverted Bible to judge doctrine? Ludicrous!

God gave us His inspired and preserved words to provide us with “renewed minds.” After supplying 11 chapters of basic Christian (grace) doctrine, the Holy Spirit opens Romans chapter 12: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” When we read the right Bible text (King James Bible in English), and we “study…rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), we will come to recognize the truth. Then, despite all the lies swirling around us, we can esteem the greater words….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why did Paul circumcise Timothy but not Titus?

To Esteem the Greater Words #2

Friday, September 7, 2018

“Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12 KJV).

Friend, do you pay more attention to the words of men than the words of God?

When the Holy Scriptures speak of “this present evil world” (Galatians 1:4), they refer to the system that operates in every sphere of human society. Ephesians 2:2 says: “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air [Satan operating in the invisible realm], the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:….”

Every aspect of human existence conveys Satan’s lie program—education, religion, economics, mainstream media, politics, and so on. They all express the Adversary’s thoughts and attitudes. No matter how decent the people may be holding the offices, the underlying system remains corrupt. Satan, in the temptations of Christ, boasted that he (not God!) exercised power in and through Earth’s governments. Jesus never denied it, either!

Luke chapter 4: “[5] And the devil, taking him [Jesus] up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. [6] And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. [7] If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. [8] And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”

It should therefore not surprise us that human society, whether at its highest echelons or lowest ranks, is perverted. Sadly, so many professing Christians are shocked and hysterical. Sitting for hours upon hours every day before a television screen or computer monitor, soaking up the world’s wisdom, they give very little (if any!) attention to personal Bible study. The media—not the Scripture—tells them what to think. They know more about what lost people say and do than what God says and does. Oh, how they need to esteem the greater words….