A Kingdom of Righteousness

Thursday, August 24, 2017

“But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows” (Hebrews 1:8,9 KJV).

Behold, a kingdom like this world has never seen!

After watching nightly television newscasts, browsing news websites, listening to radio news bulletins, and reading newspapers and magazines, one cannot help but be depressed. There is such major social unrest and distress here in the United States and around the world—violence, racism, deception, lunacy, corruption, fraud, torture, murder, war, slander, injustice, vandalism, anarchy, greed, and so on. Evil is lauded as good and good is condemned as evil. Society has fallen apart!

The Bible believer is not shocked. Romans chapter 1 demarcates the depravity of the Gentile nations at the Tower of Babel (some 22 centuries before our Dispensation of Grace). Second Timothy chapter 3 describes the world’s conditions as our dispensation winds down (much the same characteristics as Romans chapter 1). Society is not “reforming,” improving, “evolving” into a species of higher life-forms. True, we have gained more knowledge over the millennia—technology, medical science, et cetera. Nevertheless, we still have the same rotten sin nature that causes the horrific lifestyles of Romans chapter 1 and 2 Timothy chapter 3. Moreover, the evil world system driven by that sin in man, and governed by Satan, remains.

Thankfully, today’s Scripture, quoting Psalm 45:6-7, anticipates the glorious day when the Lord Jesus Christ assumes the throne of Earth’s governments. (From Paul’s epistles, we learn He will also sit on the throne of the Heaven’s governments—Colossians 1:16-20 and Ephesians 1:9-10.) There will be a thorough cleansing of all governments. Notable characteristics of the Lord’s kingdom will be a love for “righteousness” (God’s standard of rightness) and a hatred for “iniquity” (inequality, crookedness, sinfulness). Father God will personally appoint His Son to that throne. In that day, He will make all things right, and judge that which is wrong. The universe will be unrecognizable. For once, righteousness will reign, and sin will be dealt with correctly and swiftly. Such paradise will be “for ever and ever!” 🙂

The Heavenly Places #5

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

“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 KJV).

Why does Ephesians conclude with this description of the war between good and evil?

It is not until we come to Paul’s ministry do we learn how God will cleanse the heavenly places. Ephesians highlights our eternal destiny as members of the Church the Body of Christ. Just as Father God will use Israel to accomplish His will in the Earth, so He will use us to achieve His will in the Heavens. He will exalt His Son, Jesus Christ, in both realms. Ephesians chapter 1: “[9] [Father God] Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: [10] That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: [11] In whom also we have obtained an inheritance….”

One day, brethren, we will be displayed for all of the universe to see. All creatures will witness God’s wisdom fully manifested in outer space. We will participate in Jesus Christ’s exaltation in the heavenly places throughout eternity future. Ephesians chapter 2 declares: “[6] And [God] hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: [7] That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

As good as this all is, however, we are not there yet. The heavenly places are still so far away! Howbeit, one day, Jesus Christ will return to Earth—at the Rapture—to take His Body (us) beyond the sky. Until we get there, though, we are vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. Knowing full well that we will replace him and his minions in the heavenly places, he fights us every chance he gets. We had better don all the armor of God, beloved, that “we stand against the wiles [schemes] of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-20)! 🙂

 

The Heavenly Places #4

Monday, June 5, 2017

“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 KJV).

Why does Ephesians conclude with this description of the war between good and evil?

Parroting the misguided claims of so-called “Bible authorities,” critics complain about the King James’ italicized words. The phrase “heavenly places” is heavily derided because the original Greek does not have “places.” Thus, people refuse to quote the Authorized Version verbatim here—they prefer “heavenlies.” “Places” is needed to construct a complete English thought; therefore, our 1611 translators rightly inserted it. Upon removing “places,” we rob ourselves of an important link.

Revelation 12:7-9: “[7] And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, [8] And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. [9] And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Friend, did you notice “place” in verse 8? It means a “room, position, dwelling.” Satan and his fallen angels functioning in heaven today (today’s Scripture) will be tossed out onto the Earth halfway through the future seven-year Tribulation. (Recall the “Old Testament” references about God and Satan both working in the heavenly places, with God cleansing those regions of evil. The Revelation is the capstone.)

With the heavenly places vacated of evil beings, Father God installs us the Church the Body of Christ into those positions of power (refer to the “heavenly” references in Ephesians—1:3-12, 1:20-23, 2:6-7, 3:10-11). Colossians chapter 1: “[16] For by him [Christ Jesus] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:… [20] And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth [using Israel], or things in heaven [using us the Body of Christ].”

Now, we wrap it up….

The Heavenly Places #3

Sunday, June 4, 2017

“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 KJV).

Why does Ephesians conclude with this description of the war between good and evil?

The first reference to the “heavenly places” affirms that God has given us, the Church the Body of Christ, resources in them: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:…” (Ephesians 1:3). The second mention is how God the Father, because of Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork, has given Christ power over all creatures and positions in creation: “Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,…” (Ephesians 1:20).

The third reference talks about how Father God, through Christ’s finished crosswork, has qualified us to share Christ’s authority in the “heavenly places:” “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:…” (Ephesians 2:6). The fourth mention identifies us as the objects of attention of the fallen angels currently polluting the “heavenly places:” “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,…” (Ephesians 3:10).

The final reference, today’s Scripture, reminds us that our battle is not between other people here on Earth, but rather invisible evil spirits functioning in the “heavenly places:” 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).

Throughout the “Old Testament,” and for good reason, there is very little about God’s activity in the heavenly realm of creation. Those Scriptures are all about God forming the nation Israel, a group who will restore His authority in the Earth: “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine (Exodus 19:5). When we come to the Apostle Paul’s ministry, however, the Bible switches to the “heavenly places….”

Our latest Bible Q&A:Could you explain, ‘From his shoulders and upward he was higher…?’

The Heavenly Places #1

Friday, June 2, 2017

“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 KJV).

Why does Ephesians conclude with this description of the war between good and evil?

Paul’s epistle to Ephesus is literally a very “heavenly” book. Notice the following verses and phrase unique to Ephesians. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:…” (Ephesians 1:3). “Which [mighty power] he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,…” (Ephesians 1:20). “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:…” (Ephesians 2:6). “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,…” (Ephesians 3:10).

As previously mentioned, “heavenly places” is a phrase found exclusively in the Book of Ephesians. It appears four times. The Greek word is epouranios (“above the sky”). On one occasion, it is rendered “high places” (cf. today’s Scripture). Ephesians lifts the minds and hearts of its readers to such lofty, dizzying heights. As the Book begins to wind down, however, something strange happens to its tone. There is a drastic shift to material that some call “dark” and “depressing.” Why would the Holy Spirit lead the Apostle Paul to end such a glorious Book about God’s workings in the “heavenly places” (previous paragraph) by referring to Satan’s wicked activities in them (today’s Scripture)?

From time immemorial, Bible commentators and readers have needlessly struggled with Ephesians’ so-called “out-of-place” reference to Satan’s behavior in the “heavenly places.” If they approached the Bible dispensationally, as 2 Timothy 2:15 commands us, there would be no difficulty. Like so many other Bible concepts, it would be unbelievably clear. Remember, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” In our upcoming studies, let us see how dispensational Bible study enables us to understand Ephesians’ handling of the “heavenly places….”

Shine as Lights #10

Thursday, May 25, 2017

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Philippians 2:14-16 KJV).

Shine as lights, brethren, shine as lights!

When Paul’s converts—whether the Philippians of old, or us today—follow by faith those principles of grace the ascended Lord Jesus Christ entrusted to him, they are preparing for the Judgment Seat of Christ. We want to have this “gold, silver, precious stones” (sound Bible doctrine) stored up in our inner man: we want to have as little as possible of “wood, hay, stubble” (worthless teaching) (1 Corinthians 3:8-15).

All members of the Church the Body of Christ are the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s 2,000-year-long ministry through the Apostle Paul. Brethren, if we walk now by faith in the Dispensation of Grace, Romans through Philemon, there will be so much rejoicing on Paul’s part at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Moreover, all Christians will see the results of their ministries fully exposed, also rejoicing in how God used them to benefit other Christians. (I look forward to seeing you there, dear brethren!)

Immediately after the Judgment Seat of Christ, Father God will gather all His “lights” (members of the Body of Christ), and literally light up the heavens with them! Romans 8:18,19 says: “[18] For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. [19] For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.” What a day that “manifestation” of “glory” will be!

We began this series with a quote by a brother who has since moved to Heaven. Accordingly, to conclude, we use another quote from him: “We are the only Bible this careless world will read. We are God’s signboards in a sinful world. Men watch us, and they judge Jesus by the way we live, work, act, and talk.” Think as lights—“shine as lights!” 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A articles: “What is ‘the botch of Egypt?’” and “What are ‘emerods?’

An Eternal House in the Heavens #10

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1 KJV).

God already sees it! By faith, do you?

In the prophetic program (past or future), God forms a bloodline of a literal, physical, visible, earthly people—the nation Israel. Accordingly, He demands they perform literal, physical, visible, earthly works—physical circumcision, water baptism, tithing, Sabbath-Day observance, confession of sins, and so on. Moreover, He promises them literal, physical, visible, earthly demonstrations of His power—healed bodies, bountiful harvests, military victories, et cetera (signs, miracles, and wonders).

However, in the mystery program, our present-day, God is forming a spiritual, invisible, heavenly people—although just as real as Israel. The Bible calls it “the Church the Body of Christ,” people “blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). In our Dispensation of Grace, Father God is not forming a literal, physical, visible group of believers. Therefore, we are not looking for literal, physical, visible, earthly works of God. We are to be looking, with the eyes of faith, at the invisible, spiritual works of God (2 Corinthians 4:18; today’s Scripture). One of these invisible, spiritual blessings is a glorified body, “eternal in the heavens.”

Ironically, “faith healers” are actually emboldening doubt rather than faith. They would have us walk by sight when Scripture instructs us to walk by faith. We do not have to see God visibly working to know He is with us. Rather, we know He is with us because His Word says His Holy Spirit is working in us to produce Christ’s life: “That [Father God] would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith…” (Ephesians 3:16,17).

Saints, divine physical healing for our dispensation will occur at the Rapture. God is not interested in temporarily restoring these aging, weakening bodies. When the Lord Jesus Christ returns in the air to take us away to Heaven, we the Body of Christ will receive glorified bodies like unto Jesus Christ’s resurrected, glorious body (Philippians 3:20,21). Until then, we say “Amen!” 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Who are the people in 2 Corinthians 11:22—the 12 Apostles, or others?