God Speaking, Man Writing

Saturday, July 8, 2017

“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:20,21 KJV).

Behold, the dual nature of the Bible—written by God and man!

A common assumption about the Bible is that it is man’s book about God. While it is true that God used men to write the Bible, today’s Scripture is clear that the Bible was not “by the will of man.” That is, men did not suddenly desire to write about God. Rather, God chose to cause man to write down His Word. The credit goes to one Member of the Godhead in particular—God the Holy Ghost.

Quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, the Lord Jesus gave the best definition for “inspiration:” “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). The words of the Bible came directly out of God’s mouth, and He caused men to write down those words. He put His Spirit into some words; He breathed them out, speaking them forth. They are thus “the lively oracles” (Acts 7:38)—the “quick [living and life-giving] and powerful” words of God (Hebrews 4:12).

God did not give His words to angels for them to give it to man. Nay, He gave it directly to us in the form of a multiplicity of reliable manuscript copies. We have the privilege of having it today in our language, English, in the King James Bible. Despite all of the corruptions over the centuries, we still have a pure Bible text, one just as authoritative and reliable today as it was when it was first written some two millennia ago.

Beware of the counterfeits! The verses following today’s Scripture caution: “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.”

Liberated to Serve

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13 KJV).

Today, as we in the United States celebrate the 241st anniversary of our nation’s independence, we invite our Christian brethren worldwide to rejoice with us concerning our freedom in Jesus Christ.

When we proclaim Romans 6:14—“Ye are not under the law, but under grace”—people tend to assume “loose living.” Does “grace living” really mean we can now live any way we want? Lest anyone be misled in that regard, God the Holy Spirit moved the Apostle Paul to write in the next verse, “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid [May God never let that happen!]” (Romans 6:15). Grace living is not Law-keeping, but it certainly is not Law-breaking either.

God still cares how we live, albeit He is not operating the “weak and beggarly” system of “bondage” (Law) that He once did with Israel (Galatians 4:9). God proved to the entire world that since Israel could not keep His commandments perfectly, no other sons of Adam (the Gentiles) could either: “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them [Israel] who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world [Gentiles] may become guilty before God (Romans 3:19).

We sinners cannot keep the Law. However, God in His grace provided us a way to escape that condemnation by sending Jesus Christ to offer Himself on Calvary’s cruel cross to pay for our sins. By simple faith in Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as the fully-satisfying payment for our sins, we can now be “made the righteousness of God in [Christ]” (2 Corinthians 5:21). We can be delivered from the penalty of sin (hell and the lake of fire) and the power of sin (flesh-walking).

Why are we Christians free? To selfishly live any way we want? NO! Today’s Scripture says we are liberated to now serve others, especially our Christian brethren, just as Jesus Christ selflessly served His Father and selflessly died on our behalf. That is grace living!!!!

Please see our 2011 Fourth of July Bible study “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land,” which can be watched here or read here.

Bereans

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

“And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:10,11 KJV).

“Bereans.” Have you ever heard of this title, friend? If you have been around Bible-believing circles, of course you have. It comes right out of today’s Scripture. What Christian meaning does it carry?

After unbelieving Jews traveled to Thessalonica (northern Greece) to harass Paul and his ministry coworkers, the Christian brethren were forced to secretly send Paul and Silas by night. Paul and Silas arrived in nearby Berea, again entering the synagogue to preach to lost Jews. The wicked, unbelieving Jews heard of Paul’s entrance into Berea, so they traveled there to bother him again; the saints in Berea had to sneak Paul and his companions away once again, lest they be injured or killed.

Verses 12-14 follow today’s Scripture: “Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people. And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still.”

Friends, the title “Berean” will be forever preserved in the Word of God as indicative of someone who “received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (today’s Scripture). These Jews had copies of the writings of Moses and the Prophets (cf. Acts 13:15; Acts 15:21), and they appealed to that inspired record to verify if Paul and his companions were really preaching the truth. (There were no “New Testament” Scriptures as of yet, remember.) They did not simply sit in the pew and mindlessly shout “Amen!” to whatever they heard the preacher say! As they eagerly heard the Apostles preach, they took the Word of God and studied it, using it to determine the quality of the message spoken. May we follow suit, beloved!

The Heavenly Places #2

Saturday, June 3, 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 Bible opens, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void…” (Genesis 1:1,2). From here onward until the Apostle Paul’s ministry in Acts chapter 9, much of Scripture focuses on God’s workings in the earthly realm.

Read some of the rare “Old Testament” glimpses of God operating in the heavenly realm. “Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of the heaven moved and shook, because he was wroth…. He bowed the heavens also, and came down; and darkness was under his feet” (2 Samuel 22:8,10; cf. Psalm 18:7,9). The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all” (Psalm 103:19). And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from a fig tree. For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment. The sword of the LORD is filled with blood…” (Isaiah 34:4-6).

Now, look at some “Old Testament” peeks of Satan working in the heavenly realm. “He [God] putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight (Job 15:15). “Behold, even to the moon, and it shineth not; yea, the stars are not pure in his [God’s] sight (Job 25:5). “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high [same idea as today’s Scripture—spiritual wickedness in “high” places], and the kings of the earth upon the earth” (Isaiah 24:21). Notice in this last verse how God and Satan are working in the heavenly realm.

With the above background as a frame of reference, we return to the Epistle of Ephesians….

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….”

The Comforter and Teacher

Sunday, May 28, 2017

“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26 KJV).

The Holy Bible is a progressive revelation: God gradually made known His Word to mankind throughout history. He knew the end from the beginning, but He chose not to tell the end at the beginning. As the end came closer, it became clearer. Here, we see the “New Testament” Scriptures predicted—God the Holy Spirit’s method of comforting, coming alongside to aid and strengthen, God’s people.

When God the Father sent the Holy Spirit in Acts chapter 2, the Spirit caused Israel’s believing remnant—especially the 12 Apostles—to remember everything that Jesus taught them during the previous three years (His earthly ministry). See today’s Scripture. They did not have to rely on fallible human memory; they had the omniscient, omnipotent Holy Ghost guiding their minds and hearts, giving them the final pieces of information needed to understand their prophetic program.

The early Acts period (chapters 1-7) and the Bible Books of Hebrews through Revelation provide details not found in Genesis through Malachi and Matthew through John. The Lord Jesus predicted in today’s Scripture that Israel’s Little Flock would receive the capstone of knowledge as touching the prophetic program. They would see how everything fit together so beautifully, and they would be able to appreciate what God had planned in eternity past. Despite everything that Satan and evil men would do to sabotage God’s plan for the Earth, they would be unable to overcome Him.

Compare today’s Scripture to what Jesus spoke later, John 16:12-14: “[12] I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. [13] Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. [14] He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” In our Bible, inspired and preserved by the Holy Spirit, we see the result of the prophetic program too!

Start in Romans #1

Monday, April 10, 2017

For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office (Romans 11:13 KJV).

Why should people new to the Bible begin in the Book of Romans? Today’s Scripture tells us.

Second Timothy chapter 3 contains the most well-known Bible verses: “[15] And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. [16] All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: [17] That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

The Lord Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). “Every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” actually defines “given by inspiration of God.” God the Holy Spirit spoke words, and He wrote them down and preserved them for us in our language. In English, that is the King James Bible (or, “Authorized Version”). Other languages have their own version, but they do not concern us here.

Second Timothy 3:16 affirms three primary purposes of Scripture—“doctrine” (tell us what we should believe), “reproof” (show us what we are doing wrong), and “correction” (remedy our bad thinking). These three elements will “instruct [teach] us in righteousness.” They will show us how God wants us to live, “that [purpose or intent] the man of God may be perfect, [not sinless but] throughly furnished unto all good works” (verse 17). The Holy Bible alone teaches us everything God wants us to believe, and it equips us to do everything He wants us to accomplish. Authority is not in church councils, preachers, priests, popes, doctrinal statements, hunches, impressions, creeds, et cetera. The authority is in the written Word of God, the Holy Scriptures.

In light of God’s present-day dealings with mankind, there is a special way to use the Bible text. Failure to approach Holy Writ, God’s way, will cause us more damage than had we never read the Bible. Friends, we must remember today’s Scripture if we are to make sense of all Scripture….