What Does God Want Me to Do? #8

Thursday, April 5, 2012

“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13 KJV).

God wants to build Himself a house, a place in which He can not only live, but an habitation where He feels right at home! Will you let Him work in you to accomplish that goal?

In Ephesians chapter 2 (which I encourage you to read on your own), the Apostle Paul describes our sinful lifestyles and wicked nature before our salvation in Christ Jesus (verses 1-3). Verses 4-10 discuss how God saved us from sin and His wrath in order to make us His “workmanship” (creation). Verses 11 and 12 explain that when God dealt with Israel in “time past,” we Gentiles were “without Christ.” Verses 13-18 explain “but now,” in our Dispensation of Grace, God has removed the division between Jew and Gentile. God is now forming a spiritual body of believers, Jews and Gentiles. Why?

Verses 19-22 explain: “Now therefore ye [believing Gentiles] are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”

God is forming the Church the Body of Christ so He can have a house (“an habitation”). Amazing, huh?! The Holy Spirit not only lives in us Christians (1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16; 2 Timothy 1:14), He wants to also live through us—to manifest His life living in us, so the lost world can see our new lifestyles and glorify Him!! God wants to fill our minds with sound doctrine, which we gain from proper (dispensational) Bible study, so the Holy Spirit can then take that doctrine and work in us (1 Thessalonians 2:13), “both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (today’s Scripture).

The world cannot see Christ’s physical body; instead, they see Him living in us Christians!

The Jews, the Greeks, and Paul’s Gospel

Friday, February 24, 2012

“For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:22-24 KJV).

Jews were fixated on “signs,” miraculous demonstrations that God had long used to teach them and their forefathers, whereas Greeks were obsessed with “wisdom” (philosophy, human viewpoint). These distracted them from focusing on what really mattered—salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ!

  • JEWS AND SIGNS: After Jesus performed miracles before Israel the Bible says “many believed in his name,… but Jesus did not commit himself unto them…” (John 2:23-25). Jesus understood they were just awed by the miracles; they overlooked the doctrine He was teaching through the miracles!! When Paul preached the Gospel of Grace to Jews, they too just wanted miracles, not the salvation that the miracles represented. Also, to Jews, “Christ crucified” was a “stumblingblock,” something offensive, for did they not crucify Christ (today’s Scripture; cf. Isaiah 8:13,14; Romans 9:32,33; 1 Peter 2:6-8)?
  • GREEKS AND WISDOM: In Acts chapter 17, when Paul encountered the Athenian philosophers near Mars’ Hill, they wanted to learn from him “new doctrine… for all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing” (verses 19-21). Notice again how these Greeks focused on learning/philosophy. Yet, once they learned God’s wisdom, Paul’s Gospel, the Gospel of Grace, they considered that “foolishness” (today’s Scripture; cf. Acts 17:18,32; 1 Corinthians 1:18).

Thankfully, today’s Scripture teaches that for Jews who were “called” (members of the Church the Body of Christ), Christ was TRUE POWER, “the power of God”—for God demonstrated His miraculous power by raising Christ from the dead (cf. Romans 1:4; 2 Corinthians 13:4). For Greeks who were “called” (also members of the Body of Christ), Christ was TRUE WISDOM, “the wisdom of God”—for God demonstrated His unrivaled wisdom in saving us using “the foolishness of preaching” (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:21, 25-30; Colossians 2:2,3).

The Jews Require a Sign

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

“For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:” (1 Corinthians 1:22 KJV).

Today there is much discussion in Christendom about signs, miracles, and wonders. Charismatic preachers filled with the supposed “Holy Ghost” claim they cast out devils, handle snakes, speak in tongues, heal the sick, and, yes, allegedly raise the dead! The Bible does teach these practices, but are they really doing God’s work, or merely “wresting” God’s Word to make it say something God never said?

Unquestionably, the Lord Jesus Christ told His apostles to “heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils” (Matthew 10:8). He instructed them to “cast out devils,” “speak with new tongues,” “take up serpents,” drink poison, and “lay hands on the sick [so] they shall recover” (Mark 16:17,18). But, notice the context—Jesus is sending His apostles with “signs” to lost Israel (Matthew 10:5-7; Mark 16:17,20). Jews will only believe if they first witness God’s miracles.

Signs, miracles, and wonders were significant in Israel’s program. Jews always “required signs” (today’s Scripture). The Lord Jesus said (John 4:48): “Except ye [Israel] see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.” Miracles in Israel first appear in Exodus 4:1-9, when God gave Moses the ability to heal sickness and handle snakes (to teach Israel that he was God’s servant to deliver them from Egypt). Verses 30 and 31 explain that once Israel saw these signs, “the people believed” (cf. John 4:48).

Jesus performed many miracles during His earthly ministry to prove to Israel that He was God’s servant, their Messiah-King, the God whom their fathers worshipped. Sadly, sinful Israel crucified Him in unbelief.

When God began turning to the Gentiles through the Apostle Paul, these miracles transferred to the Gentiles, teaching Israel that God was now working amongst the Gentiles (Romans 11:11,12; 1 Corinthians 14:21,22). Eventually, when Israel’s program ceased, these miracles faded, and at the close of Paul’s ministry, he could no longer heal (1 Timothy 5:23; 2 Timothy 4:20).

So, it begs the question, today’s charismatic preachers are using whose power to perform their “signs, miracles, and wonders?” Not the God of the Bible!

I Will Be Their God

Sunday, February 5, 2012

“And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God” (Genesis 17:8 KJV).

Today’s Scripture is part of the Abrahamic Covenant, the basis for God creating the nation Israel. The LORD promised Abraham in Genesis chapter 12 that he would have a son Isaac, who would give birth to the Jewish race. God would also give a geographic area to Abraham and his “seed:” this is the “Promised Land” or Palestine (“all the land of Canaan”).

God formed Israel in order to use her as the vessel to restore His authority in the earth. Israel was to be a “kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:5,6), but before Israel could bring God to the Gentiles, God first had to be her God. The LORD repeatedly says in the Old Testament: “Israel will be my people, and I will be their God” (Exodus 29:45; Jeremiah 24:7; Jeremiah 31:33; Jeremiah 32:38; Ezekiel 11:20; Ezekiel 34:24; Ezekiel 37:23, 27; Zechariah 8:8).

But, Israel rejected and crucified her King Jesus, and refused to bring salvation to the Gentiles. Thus, Israel’s kingdom is currently and temporarily postponed. Salvation is coming to us Gentiles through Paul’s Gospel, the Gospel of Grace of 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, without Israel’s kingdom (Romans 11:11-13). Israel is not God’s people today (Hosea 1:9; Romans 10:1-3); who is? WE ARE, the Church the Body of Christ!

Paul quotes the Old Testament when God spoke to Israel, and writes about us members of the Body of Christ: “…For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people(2 Corinthians 6:16).

Today, Israel is spiritually blinded and lost (Romans 11:7,25), but at Christ’s Second Coming, Israel will finally be saved and forgiven (verses 26-29). In that day, God will establish the New Covenant, and our God will be Israel’s God too (note Hebrews 8:10 cf. Hosea 1:10).

Saints, never forget—God has not forgotten Israel.

No Difference in Christ Jesus

Monday, January 23, 2012

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature” (Galatians 6:15 KJV).

In time past, God dealt with mankind on the basis of circumcision (Jew) and uncircumcision (Gentile). God dealt almost exclusively with Israel whereas the Gentiles were “without Christ” and “without God” (Ephesians 2:11,12). Today, in our Dispensation of Grace, this is not true.

Ephesians 2:13-18 continues: But now in Christ Jesus ye [Gentiles] who sometimes were far off are made nigh [to God] by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain [two] one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and came and preached peace to you which were afar off [Gentiles], and to them that were nigh [Jews]. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”

“Both” in the above passage refers to Jews and Gentiles. In the Dispensation of Grace, God has placed believing Jews and Gentiles into one body, the “one new man,” the “new creature” of today’s Scripture—the Church the Body of Christ. This body of believers is separate from the nation Israel. In the Body of Christ, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28; cf. Colossians 3:11).

Today, in our Dispensation of Grace, a Christian Jew is not more blessed than a Christian Gentile: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth [benefiteth] any thing, nor uncircumcision…” (Galatians 5:6; today’s Scripture). Technically, there are no Jews today. Romans 11:11,12 explains that Israel has temporarily lost her once-privileged position (today, God considers Jews Gentiles).

Unlike time past, in our dispensation, salvation in Christ Jesus is being freely offered to both Jew and Gentile: both can approach God through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork.

The Temporal Blindness of Israel

Monday, January 16, 2012

“And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a midst and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand” (Acts 13:11 KJV).

God formed Israel so He could utilize them in a kingdom to send His salvation to the Gentiles (non-Jews). When God sent Israel’s Messiah-King, Jesus, the Jews demanded His crucifixion. Even after Jesus was resurrected, they still rejected Him: Israel refused the apostles’ ministry (technically, the Holy Spirit’s ministry) in the early Acts period. Until all of Israel was saved, her kingdom could not be established, keeping the Gentiles from receiving salvation. But God had a plan to circumvent this rebellion!

Today’s Scripture is the Apostle Paul’s first recorded miracle—the physical blinding of Elymas. Why did Paul do this? According to verses 6-8, a lost Gentile, Sergius Paulus, sought to hear God’s Word from Paul, but Elymas, a Jewish sorcerer, attempted to prevent this Gentile from hearing God’s Word and trusting Christ.

Verses 9 and 10 read: “Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him [Elymas], and said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?”

Elymas symbolizes lost national Israel that prevents Gentiles from hearing God’s Word. Paul writes, “the Jews…[forbid] us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway…” (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16).

As Paul begins his apostolic journeys, God signifies, through the blinding of Elymas, that He will temporarily spiritually blind Israel and send salvation to the Gentiles through Paul’s ministry, without Israel (Romans 11:11-13). In our dispensation, Israel is “[blinded]…until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Romans 11:25). When our dispensation ends (the rapture), God will return to Israel (Romans 11:26-29). Just as Elymas was blinded “for a season”—not eternally—Israel is temporarily blinded. God is not finished with Israel.

Adios to Being Atheos

Monday, October 17, 2011

“That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:” (Ephesians 2:12 KJV).

The Greek word translated “without God” is “atheos,” from which we get “atheism.” God exists, so how can today’s Scripture teach that some individuals (the Gentiles of verse 11) were “without God?”

After the Great Flood of Noah’s day, Noah’s descendants did not scatter as God commanded (Genesis 9:1,7). In fact, they gathered for pagan worship at the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-7)! God in righteous judgment scattered them, resulting in the world’s nations and languages (verses 8,9). In Genesis chapter 12, God selected one Syrian, Abram (Abraham), to create the nation Israel. Anyone not a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would be a Gentile (non-Jew).

What happened to Gentiles after Genesis chapter 12? “God gave them up” (Romans 1:21-32). “[God] who in time past suffered [allowed] all nations to walk in their own ways” (Acts 14:16). “At the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent;” (Acts 17:30). The Gentiles were “without God” indeed.

God dealt almost exclusively with Israel in the Old Testament (Nineveh, Rahab, and Ruth were some Gentile exceptions). The covenants belonged to Israel’s patriarchs, not the Gentiles. “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:” (Romans 15:8). Whenever a Gentile woman approached Jesus in His earthly ministry, He said, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 15:24). He also said, “Salvation is of the Jews (John 4:22).

Thankfully, when we come to Paul’s ministry, God ministers to Gentiles apart from Israel. Today, Israel has temporarily lost her privileged position of Romans 9:4,5 (Romans 11:11,12). We Gentiles enjoy God’s salvation through the Gospel of Grace, which can save both Jews and Gentiles (Romans 1:16). God commissioned Paul as “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13), so Ephesians 2:13 says we Gentiles can bid “adios” (farewell) to being “atheos!” 😉