Children of Light #5

Thursday, August 29, 2019

“While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them” (John 12:36 KJV).

Today’s Scripture is one of three instances of the expression “children of light” in the Bible. What is the significance of this title?

Most Jews rejected the Lord Jesus: they were uninterested in being “the children of light.” Since they refused to believe on Him, God intervened and made them unable to believe on Him. The light of Christ’s earthly ministry was gradually withdrawn, and Israel was plunged into greater spiritual darkness (see verses 37-41, what follows today’s Scripture). Just a few days later, they demanded He be crucified as a common criminal, and He died on Calvary’s cross (see Acts 3:13-18). He resurrected victoriously and ascended back to Heaven still spurned!

Leaving Christ’s earthly ministry and entering early Acts, God lifts the blindness from Israel. Christ commissions the 12 Apostles to preach and convert Israel to Him. Even during this renewed opportunity of repentance—God wanting them to change their mind concerning His Son, moving them from unbelief to faith—Israel persisted in doubt and disobedience. By Acts chapter 7, Israel falls before God, and He sets them aside (exactly how He treated the nations back at the Tower of Babel over 20 centuries earlier in Genesis chapter 11).

In chapter 9 of Acts, Christ reached down in grace and peace to save His chief enemy, Saul of Tarsus. Many years later, Saul recounts in chapter 26: “[16] But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; [17] Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, [18] To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”

God will reach the whole (darkened) world—even fallen Israel—through a new Gospel message. He still purposes to create “children of light….”

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How is the Holy Spirit ‘the Comforter?’

Meet Your Apostle Paul!

Friday, August 23, 2019

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

Here is God’s spokesman to you and me today—Paul!

Today’s Scripture is a little-known verse of prime importance. Where in the Bible do we discover God’s will for us today? After all, the Scriptures are a collection of 66 Books written over a period of nearly 1,600 years. Surely, it is all God’s Word, but are we to follow every single verse? Since the Holy Spirit used the Apostle Paul to tell us to “study… rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), He also employed Paul to instruct us how to do it.

A “dispensation” is simply a specific set of instructions God gives to man for a particular time for man’s faith and obedience. The resurrected, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ directly committed to the Apostle Paul one such group of Divine revelations—“the Dispensation of the Grace of God” (Ephesians 3:1,2).

Read today’s Scripture in context: “[11] I say then, Have they 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.”

In light of Israel’s (temporary) national and spiritual fall, the Lord saved and commissioned the Apostle Paul in Acts chapter 9. The Book of Acts records Israel’s fall and diminishing, the culmination of her unbelief toward Messiah Jesus. For now, God’s Word is going to the Gentiles without Israel and her prophetic program. In the 13 Pauline epistles, Romans through Philemon, God the Holy Spirit describes what He is doing today. The words of Paul are actually “the commandments of the Lord,” His words to and will for us; nevertheless, if we prefer ignorance, we may have that instead (1 Corinthians 14:37,38).

Bible Q&A #640: “Why were the disciples discouraged from looking up in Acts chapter 1?

Learn Right Division!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV).

Here is the key to understanding and enjoying the Bible!

Today’s Scripture sits in the context of false teachers and their method of Bible perversion: “[14] Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. [15] Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [16] But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. [17] And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; [18] Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.”

The only Scripture verse that exhorts us to “study” the Bible also tells us how to study it. We seek to be “approved unto God;” we absolutely do not seek any preacher’s approval, any theologian’s endorsement, or any denomination’s approval. If we “rightly divide the word of truth,” then we will have Almighty God’s blessing in our Bible study. However, a failure to “rightly divide” will result in “profane and vain babblings,” increasing to more “ungodliness” with respect to doctrine, and such error spreading like cancer or gangrene (destructive infection).

In verse 18, two false teachers claim “the resurrection is past already.” They have not “rightly divided the word of truth.” Rather than keeping “the Dispensation of the Grace of God” (Ephesians 3:2) separate from the rest of Scripture, they are combining the various instructions God gave to man through time. Instead of properly placing on the Bible timeline the resurrection event (Rapture) that terminates our dispensation, they have combined our dispensation with the subsequent dispensation. Like most today, they are not making proper divisions in Scripture.

Three main points we must understand are “time past,” “but now,” and “ages to come.” Read Ephesians 2:7 and verses 11-13. These markers help us to identify our location on the Bible timeline, leading us to “rightly divide the word of truth.” Will we recognize our Dispensation of Grace as distinct from other dispensations?

Minimum Wage Hike? #10

Monday, August 12, 2019

“He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor” (Proverbs 14:31 KJV).

Is this a good verse to support minimum wage increases?

We have easily demonstrated how politicians, religious leaders, or any other “public Bible-quoters” can appeal to verses and misrepresent them. If we are not careful, friends, we too are liable to use the Scriptures to teach anything and everything we want. The truth will be sacrificed to preserve pet theological beliefs. It has happened innumerable times in history, and all kinds of cults and sects and denominations have thus sprung forth.

If we want lies instead of the truth, God will give us over to our heart’s desire (Hebrews 4:12,13). His Word can be our spiritual lifeline, or it can be our spiritual death trap! If we remove verses from their dispensational contexts, those passages will be quite distorted. We can quote the Bible and still be out of God’s will. In fact, when the Lord sees His words “wrested,” perverted to mean something else entirely, it is as unsightly to Him as the human body mangled and disfigured on the rack! Friends, we had better think twice before carelessly grabbing Bible passages and applying them to ourselves.

Second Timothy 2:15 commands, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” If we seek man’s approval, then we will “name and claim” whatever convenient verse we can find to support our theology. However, if we desire God’s approval, then we will “rightly divide the word of truth.” We will be sure to keep “the Dispensation of the Grace of God”—committed to the Apostle Paul’s trust (Ephesians 3:1,2)—separate and distinct from the other dispensations or sets of Divine instructions found in Scripture.

Furthermore, we will recognize Paul as “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13), the Lord’s spokesman to us. We will see his epistles, Romans through Philemon, as to and about us. If we want some insightful passages concerning the workplace (employers and employees), Ephesians 6:5-9 and Colossians 3:22–4:1 are verses applicable to us in this the Dispensation of the Grace of God. Today’s Scripture, however, is another matter entirely!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is a ‘besom?’

Minimum Wage Hike? #7

Friday, August 9, 2019

“He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor” (Proverbs 14:31 KJV).

Is this a good verse to support minimum wage increases?

James 2:5 says: “Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?” Chapter 1, verse 1: “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.” These are Jews “poor of this world.” Why are they “poor?” Remember, they have followed the Lord’s commandment in Luke 12:33—“Sell that ye have, and give alms….” James is writing to these people, who (now in Acts) are financially struggling (cf. Acts 2:44-45; Acts 4:32-37; Romans 15:26).

After our Dispensation of Grace, the Abrahamic Covenant applies as before. Those who bless Israel will be blessed of God; those who curse Israel will be cursed of God (Genesis 12:1-3). Matthew chapter 25: “[31] When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: [32] And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: [33] And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.” When Jesus Christ returns at His Second Coming (yet future), we see here “the Judgment of the Nations.” He evaluates how Gentiles treated believing Israel.

Read carefully Matthew 25:31-46. Make special note that this is not to or about us the Church the Body of Christ. These Gentiles in Israel’s program are being rewarded or punished based on how they treated believing Jews. How did they bless Israel? They helped Israel financially. Jews believing in Jesus as Messiah were hungry, thirsty, homeless, naked, sick, and imprisoned. Unable to neither buy nor sell (Revelation 13:15-18), they had suffered terribly under the Antichrist (cf. today’s Scripture).

Psalm 10:17,18: “LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear: To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress.” Here is the Antichrist’s destruction….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why do Amos 4:4 and Amos 5:5 give opposite commands?

Minimum Wage Hike? #6

Thursday, August 8, 2019

“He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor” (Proverbs 14:31 KJV).

Is this a good verse to support minimum wage increases?

During His earthly ministry, Christ uttered some controversial words: “If thou wilt be perfect [not sinless perfection but complete/mature], go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me” (Matthew 19:21; cf. Mark 10:21; Luke 18:22). Were the Messianic saints to literally sell their physical possessions and give the money to the poor? Indeed, for they actually did that later in Acts 2:44,45 and Acts 4:32-37. (Read chapter 5 to see what happened to Ananias and Sapphira for disobeying the Lord!) Why did Christ instruct them thus?

In Revelation chapter 13, we read of the coming Antichrist, whose reign will involve major economic changes: “[16] And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: [17] And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” That Israel’s believing remnant avoid having to choose between following Antichrist or retaining their wealth, they were to give up those material goods before Antichrist’s appearance. The Jewish saints in early Acts acted in accordance with this reality.

With the Apostle Paul’s ministry and the Dispensation of Grace entering in mid-Acts, our mystery program interrupted—and is still delaying—the prophetic program. Since the Antichrist has yet to arrive, God’s earthly kingdom is still absent: that prosperous kingdom the poor Jewish saints would have enjoyed following Antichrist, never came in Acts. Hence, Paul speaks of “the poor saints which are at Jerusalem” (Romans 15:26). Their common fund has now depleted. They have become poor—not because of slothfulness, disability, or meager earnings—but because they followed God’s will. (According to Romans 15:25-27 and 1 Corinthians 16:1-4, Paul took up contributions from his Gentile converts to help them.)

The poor people suffering in Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Acts, typify (preview) the experience of Messianic Jews once our Dispensation of Grace closes….

Minimum Wage Hike? #5

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

“He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor” (Proverbs 14:31 KJV).

Is this a good verse to support minimum wage increases?

Very few people realize Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon form one unit and thus interpret each other. This “heart” or “wisdom” literature is both rooted in literal history and typical of future events. For example, the Holy Spirit through King Solomon wrote today’s Scripture with both history and prophecy in mind. As we move on the Bible timeline toward the end times, the last days of Israel’s prophetic program, it becomes more evident that the Bible Books before and after Paul’s writings are mirror images. History loops to the future, and the future loops to history. What preceded our Dispensation of Grace predicts what will happen once it closes.

With prophecy in view, the “poor” being “oppressed” in today’s Scripture goes far beyond the issue of little to no wages. For instance, read Psalm 10: “[1] Why standest thou afar off, O LORD? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble? [2] The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined. [8] He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages: in the secret places doth he murder the innocent: his eyes are privily set against the poor. [9] He lieth in wait secretly as a lion in his den: he lieth in wait to catch the poor: he doth catch the poor, when he draweth him into his net. [10] He croucheth, and humbleth himself, that the poor may fall by his strong ones…. [14] Thou hast seen it; for thou beholdest mischief and spite, to requite it with thy hand: the poor committeth himself unto thee; thou art the helper of the fatherless.”

Psalm 12:5: For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the LORD; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him.” Psalm 72:4: “He [The Lord Jesus Christ] shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor [same Hebrew word as “oppresseth” in today’s Scripture].” The LORD is returning in wrath, and paltry paychecks are hardly the controversy….

(In order to bring you a special devotional tomorrow, we will temporarily suspend this devotionals arc.)