Translated Judgment #4

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe (1 Corinthians 14:21,22 KJV).

While it is commonly overlooked, today’s Scripture describes God’s righteous judgment on a certain group of unbelievers. Who are they? What is God’s message to them? Who is delivering that message?

Acts 18:11 says Paul preached God’s Word in Corinth for 18 months (verse 18 indicates even longer). When he had first arrived, he preached to and converted Jews and Greeks in the synagogue (verses 1-5). Once unbelieving Israel opposed him, he pronounced God’s judgment on them (verse 6) and went next door to the house of Justus, a Gentile, to start a local assembly (verse 7). “And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized” (verse 8). Eventually, there is a second leader of the synagogue, Sosthenes, but he too becomes a convert of Paul (verse 17 cf. 1 Corinthians 1:1).

When we approach the Books of 1 and 2 Corinthians, we should keep the above background in mind. The Christians at Corinth met in a building that “joined hard” (Acts 18:7)—shared a common wall—with the Jewish synagogue. In other words, believers in Jesus Christ frequently met in close proximity to unsaved Israel! It was because of these lost Jews that the Holy Spirit through Paul wrote today’s Scripture. God had a special message for them: it was important that the Corinthian saints maintain a clear, influential testimony to enlighten and evangelize lost Israel.

In today’s Scripture, Paul quotes Isaiah’s prophecy to describe a similar situation occurring in the Book of Acts. (Remember, Paul wrote 1 Corinthians circa Acts chapters 19-20.) God is operating the spiritual gift of tongues among Paul’s Gentile converts, which is to signify something to Israel. Israel, knowing the Old Testament, is expected to make the connection and be converted to Christ….

Translated Judgment #3

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe (1 Corinthians 14:21,22 KJV).

While it is commonly overlooked, today’s Scripture describes God’s righteous judgment on a certain group of unbelievers. Who are they? What is God’s message to them? Who is delivering that message?

Chapters 12-14 of 1 Corinthians deal with the issue of spiritual gifts operating in the early Church the Body of Christ. These passages remind the Body of Christ as to the special nature of the Acts transitional period. Spiritual gifts are being abused in Corinth, thus hindering God’s message from being sent clearly to unsaved Jews.

Begin in Acts chapter 18, when the Apostle Paul founded the church at Corinth: “[1] After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; [2] And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome: ) and came unto them. [3] And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.

“[4] And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. [5] And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. [6] And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean; from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles. [7] And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. [8] And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.”

There is a neighboring Jewish synagogue in Corinth….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why did Paul not give the Gospel of Grace in Acts 17?

Translated Judgment #2

Monday, September 17, 2018

In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe (1 Corinthians 14:21,22 KJV).

While it is commonly overlooked, today’s Scripture describes God’s righteous judgment on a certain group of unbelievers. Who are they? What is God’s message to them? Who is delivering that message?

Romans 11:11-14 is the best commentary on the purpose of Paul’s Acts ministry, a most-confused topic that should be quite easy to grasp (provided we do not have a theological system to maintain!): “[11] I say then, Have they [Israel] stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. [12] Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? [13] For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: [14] If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.”

During the Acts transitional period, the Holy Spirit led the Apostle Paul to conduct his ministry in such a way so as to “provoke” unbelieving Israel to “jealousy.” Unsaved Jews were to be concerned that God had left them and had now gone to the Gentiles (non-Jews, nations) without them. How was Israel to get this communication though? Paul behaved in a most “bizarre” way during Acts: God was not operating Israel’s program through him but was rather showing how it was giving way to our mystery program. If any unsaved Jews were to enter God’s family, they would have to “emulate” (or follow) the Gentiles in coming to faith in Christ and thus join the Body of Christ.

As Paul preached his Gospel message (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) in Acts, today’s Scripture says God had the Gentiles declare something to unbelieving Israel as well….

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….

Rejecting God’s Grace Thrice

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed (Acts 13:46-48 KJV).

After refusing Father God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, now unbelieving Israel snubs the Apostle Paul!

Saul of Tarsus, leading Israel’s rebellion against Jesus Christ, encouraged the stoning of God’s Spirit-filled prophet Stephen (chapter 7). In chapter 9, rather than pouring out His wrath, the Lord Jesus returns in mercy and grace to save wretched Saul. Formerly on his way to kill more Messianic Jews, Saul is now commissioned by the Lord Jesus to go to all the world with a new message—the Gospel of the Grace of God. As Saul (Paul) travels, he is to inform Israel of her fall and temporary setting aside. The God of Israel is now working amongst the Gentiles through him and without her (see Romans 11:11-14).

Today’s Scripture is from Paul and Barnabas’ first apostolic journey. In Asia Minor (Turkey), God reminds unbelieving Jews they are still rejecting His Word. Years later, on the second apostolic journey, the Holy Spirit’s words through Paul at Corinth (Greece) were: “And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean; from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles” (Acts 18:6).

More years pass. With Paul’s fourth apostolic journey ended, God declares to unbelieving Israel one final time (Rome): “Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it” (Acts 28:28). The Book of Acts is not a doctrinal book for us, but rather an unmistakable record of God being just in temporarily leaving Israel and going to us Gentiles.