I Send Thee Unto the Gentiles

Saturday, October 8, 2011

“And he said… Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, 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” (Acts 26:17,18 KJV).

Ephesians 2:11,12 explains that, in “time past,” Gentiles (non-Jews) were “without Christ” and “without God in the world.” Back in Genesis chapter 11, at the tower of Babel, God “gave up” the nations “to walk in their own ways” (Acts 14:16; Acts 17:30; Romans 1:20-32). From Genesis chapter 12 until we come to Paul’s ministry (Acts chapter 9), God dealt with Israel, not the Gentiles.

Did God not care about saving Gentiles in the Old Testament? He did care, but His method of saving Gentiles was through Israel’s rise to kingdom glory (Isaiah 60:1-3; Zechariah 8:20-23; et al.): God would only bless and save Gentiles through Israel’s kingdom (Genesis 12:3). But, by the time of early Acts, Israel has already killed her Messiah-King Jesus Christ and blasphemed against the Holy Ghost (Matthew 12:31,32). Now, God saves Saul of Tarsus (Paul).

In today’s Scripture the Apostle Paul recounts his salvation experience to King Agrippa. Jesus Christ told Paul that he would His vessel to Gentiles (cf. Acts 9:15,16; Acts 22:21). Now, God revealed that Gentile salvation would occur through Israel’s fall. With her kingdom temporarily postponed, salvation would go to Gentiles through Paul’s ministry. “Through their [Israel’s] fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy” (Romans 11:11).

Today, we do not need to be a part of the nation Israel to be saved. By placing our faith in the finished cross work of Jesus Christ, God accepts us and saves us in His Son (Ephesians 1:6). In the “but now,” as Gentiles we have an opportunity to be saved from our sins and delivered from satanic bondage (Ephesians 2:13; Colossians 1:12-14). Despite Israel’s unbelief and rejection of her kingdom, salvation still came to us Gentiles!

Christ Crucified

Monday, September 26, 2011

“For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2 KJV).

Christ’s cross is seldom preached in Christendom’s “praise and worship” meetings. We Bereans know Christ crucified, yet religion emphasizes everything but. Most churches stress Jesus’ teachings and miracles, but our salvation is not found in anything that Jesus preached during His earthly ministry. Christ ministered to Jews under the Law (Matthew 15:24; Romans 15:8; Galatians 4:4,5). We are neither Jews nor under the Law (Romans 6:14,15; Romans 11:11; Galatians 2:16,20; Galatians 3:28).

Many claim to “follow Jesus”—but, which Jesus? The Bible speaks of “another Jesus” (2 Corinthians 11:3,4); the “Jesus” of religion (the Four Gospels) is not the Jesus God wants us following today. We follow Jesus Christ as our Apostle Paul followed Him.

Paul did not follow Christ after His earthly ministry: “Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more(2 Corinthians 5:16). Today, in the Dispensation of Grace, we follow Christ according to His heavenly ministry as described only in Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon.

Recently, a clergyman used his weekly column to voice his concern in my local newspaper. Why was he so distressed? That souls were going to hell? No! His column’s theme was that he feared cigarette butts were greatly polluting our streets! There was not one word about how to be saved by trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour. Not one word about Calvary’s cross or Christ’s shed blood. Sad.

What did our Apostle Paul preach? “Save the planet?” Christ’s earthly ministry? No, today’s Scripture says he preached, “Christ crucified.” Today, the message of Christ’s cross is the foremost issue, not His earthly ministry. Paul’s Gospel—Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). This message, the Gospel of the Grace of God, is the most important message we proclaim, for it alone is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Romans 1:16b).

We Shall Not All Sleep

Monday, September 19, 2011

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51,52 KJV).

Save Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11), every believer has died physically. Today’s Scripture speaks of a secret (“mystery”) that the Lord did not reveal until He showed it to our Apostle Paul. There is a group of believers who will not experience physical death (“we shall not all sleep”). It will be some members of the Church the Body of Christ.

The Old Testament only spoke of the Lord Jesus Christ as coming to earth to meet believers and set up His kingdom (Job 19:25,26; Zechariah 14:1-4)—this is called the “prophetic program.” But, when we come to Paul’s epistles, God has interrupted that program, split it into two segments of time, and has inserted our “mystery (secret) program” into that gap. Before Jesus Christ can come earth (as prophesied in the prophetic program), He must first conclude our mystery program.

Our mystery program, the Dispensation of Grace, will terminate at an event we call the rapture (derived from the Medieval Latin “raptura,” meaning “caught up”). According to 1 Thessalonians 4:17, all believers of this dispensation will be “caught up…to meet the Lord in the air.” Contrariwise, believers in the prophetic program will meet the Lord on the earth (His Second Coming).

While we do not set dates, the Bible teaches a pre-Tribulation (pre-seven years) rapture. The rapture may or may not occur in our lifetimes. However, we have the prospect that if the Lord Jesus Christ would come now, we Christians would not experience physical death! Our bodies would just be instantly changed, without dying, into glorified bodies fashioned like unto Jesus Christ’s body (Philippians 3:20,21).

If you have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ, keep looking up! We may be that group of believers who will not see physical death…. 🙂

A Sabbath Day to Remember

Sunday, September 18, 2011

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8 KJV).

For 2,500 years (Adam to Moses), no one kept the Sabbath day in Scripture. But, according to today’s Scripture, in the Mosaic Law, God commands Israel to keep the Sabbath holy (Exodus 20:8-11; Deuteronomy 5:12-15). Why Sabbath day keeping?

On the Saturday Sabbath, God commanded Israel to remember His purpose in creation, and His purpose in creating them. Every Sabbath, Jews memorized Scripture and meditated on God’s Word, recalling that God would use them to accomplish His will in the earth (Exodus 31:13-18). God would make Israel a “kingdom of priests” so the Jews could evangelize the world (Exodus 19:3-6; cf. Isaiah 61:6).

According to Matthew 25:34, God originally had that kingdom in mind during the creation week. The Sabbath is first mentioned immediately after the six days of creation (Genesis 2:1-3). God would have set up His kingdom in the earth back in Genesis, but Adam rebelled, sin entered, and God’s whole plan was interrupted. That kingdom (the millennial reign of Christ) is still postponed, 6,000 years later!

That Sabbath day was a day of rest: Jews were not to do any work on Saturday. In the Bible, Psalm 132:8,13,14, the LORD says He wants Zion (Jerusalem) for His rest,” His “habitation” (dwelling-place, house!). God wanted to dwell on earth. Remember “Emmanuel” (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23)—“God with us?” Jesus Christ “became flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Christ came to Israel to be her King, to fulfill what the Sabbath day typified (shadowed, predicted). God demanded Israel keep the Sabbath holy to remind them weekly of that coming earthly kingdom.

By the way, as members of the Church the Body of Christ, we have no relation to Israel’s kingdom. Consequently, we have no Sabbath day to keep in this the Dispensation of Grace. Our Apostle Paul says that we are not bound to keep the Sabbath day (Colossians 2:16). Actually, Paul was “afraid of” the Galatian believers, who had abandoned God’s grace, preferring Mosaic Law-keeping and Sabbath day-keeping (Galatians 4:9-11).

Be Established Saints

Saturday, September 17, 2011

“For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; that is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me” (Romans 1:11,12 KJV).

The best book to use to introduce anyone to the Bible is the book of Romans, not John’s Gospel. The Holy Spirit designed the Bible’s canon so that Romans is the first of Paul’s epistles in Scripture. Lost people seeking salvation should study Romans chapters 1 through 5. Saved people seeking spiritual understanding from the Bible also need to begin in Romans, the foundational (basic) book of the doctrine committed to the Apostle Paul’s trust.

According to today’s Scripture, Paul wanted to “establish” the Roman saints, to educate them so they would have the same understanding of God’s Word as he did. Notice how the book of Romans is laid out:

  • Romans chapters 1-5: JUSTIFICATION — our salvation and position in Christ Jesus.
  • Romans chapters 6-8: SANCTIFICATION — how our salvation and position in Christ affect our lifestyle.
  • Romans chapters 9-11: DISPENSATION OF GRACE — where is the nation Israel today?
  • Romans chapters 12-16: CHRISTIAN SERVICE — sound doctrine for daily Christian living.

Romans 16:25,26b explain how God will “stablish” (stabilize) your Christian life: “according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets,”

The foundation of your Christian life is “my gospel,” Paul’s Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Built on that is “the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery,” sound doctrine from Paul’s epistles. Finally, “the scriptures of the prophets” refers to all of Scripture in light of the doctrine in Paul’s epistles.

If you want your Christian life to be “established” (fixed) and “stablished” (stabilized, strengthened), you need to build up a structure of sound doctrine inside your inner man. Study and believe the book of Romans, and ye will be established saints!

Ask and Ye Shall Receive?

Friday, September 16, 2011

“And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:23,24 KJV).

Unanswered prayer is confusing. Have you ever prayed to God for something, and yet you never received it? Why did today’s Scripture not work? Did God lie? Not at all. Dispensational Bible study dispels confusion and doubt: today’s Scripture was not spoken to us. Jesus Christ in His earthly ministry spoke exclusively to Israel (Matthew 15:24; John 4:22; Romans 15:8).

Faith healers and prosperity preachers enjoy Matthew 18:19: “Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.” This too has nothing to do with us Gentiles: it belongs to Israel’s apostles.

If you pray according to today’s Scripture (or Matthew 7:7; Matthew 18:19; etc.), and do not receive what you prayed for, it is not because the Bible has mistakes, or because God does not love you, or because you had too little faith. God demonstrated His love for us, fully and clearly, at the cross of Calvary. These verses do not work today because God did not speak them to us. God is not doing today what He did with Israel in time past.

When our Apostle Paul prayed three times for the Lord to deliver him from his “thorn in the flesh,” Jesus Christ answered “No” three times (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Why did today’s Scripture not work for Paul? Again, today’s Scripture was spoken to Israel, not to Paul and us in this Dispensation of Grace.

Saints, while God will not answer our prayers in the same way He answered Israel’s prayers, He does hear our prayers. Regardless of what happens, we have “the peace of God which passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:6,7).

Remembering the 10th Anniversary of 9/11

Sunday, September 11, 2011

“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18,19 KJV).

It is difficult to fathom that today marks the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. On that dreadful day, over 3,000 Americans perished. Amidst the heartache, I recall many preachers piously screaming, “God’s judgment and wrath has come on America!” God’s promise to Israel in 2 Chronicles 7:14 was flippantly quoted as though it were God’s message to America. Sinful men, not God, orchestrated the events of 9/11.

All nations, not just the United States, abound with greed, dishonesty, unbelief, violence, and fornication, and all are worthy of God’s wrath. However, today’s Scripture says that, in this the Dispensation of Grace, God is “not imputing [applying] their trespasses unto them.” Today, God’s attitude toward the world is “grace and peace,” not wrath and war. This is why Paul’s epistles open with “grace and peace.”

God in His grace is postponing His wrath (2 Peter 3:9), but the day is coming when this dispensation will conclude. Only then will God pour out His wrath on unbelieving mankind. Thankfully, we Christians will be raptured out before that period of wrath begins (1 Thessalonians 1:9,10; 1 Thessalonians 5:9).

Currently, God is not condemning the world for their sins. Rather He extends His grace to all the world through Jesus Christ, His shed blood, His death, His burial, and His resurrection (Paul’s Gospel, the Gospel of Grace; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Through Christ’s shed blood, God in His grace offers His forgiveness to everyone (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14). But, only when we trust in Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour does God apply (“imputes”) His righteousness and salvation to us. How many of the 9/11 victims were ready to die? Few.  Do not put off salvation; you are not guaranteed tomorrow. Please trust in Jesus Christ today.

-IN MEMORIAM-
The victims of 9/11/2001

-IN DEDICATION-
All those affected by 9/11/2001

*This is excerpted from a larger Bible study titled “September 11, 2001: The 10th Anniversary.” The Bible study can be read here.