How You Finish, Not How You Start

Monday, June 6, 2016

“Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry” (2 Timothy 4:9-11 KJV).

In these verses, we see two saints—profitable and unfaithful, and unfaithful and profitable.

Today’s Scripture is Paul beginning to conclude his farewell epistle. Guilty of preaching an “illegal religion,” the aged Apostle awaits his beheading. Sitting in a cruel dungeon in Rome, he writes to Timothy one last time, urging the young man to come to the prison as quickly as possible. Why? Paul explains that “only Luke” remains with him. His other ministry companions are travelling, possibly visiting local grace assemblies on his behalf. In today’s Scripture, two contrasting names are set in bold relief.

First appearing in Paul and Barnabas’ apostolic ministry at the very end of Acts chapter 12, John Mark is Barnabas’ nephew (Colossians 4:10). He travels with Paul and Barnabas during their first apostolic journey (Acts chapters 13-14). By the start of their second apostolic journey, Barnabas wants to take John Mark with them but Paul refuses because John Mark had previously abandoned them around Acts 14:24. Barnabas and Paul, due to this momentous disagreement, go their separate ways at Acts 15:36-41.

Just over 10 years later, in Acts chapter 28, Demas appears in Paul’s ministry. Paul greets the Colossian believers on behalf of Demas (4:14). In Philemon 24, the companion epistle, Paul calls Demas a “fellow-labourer.” Most definitely, Demas was very useful to Paul’s ministry. Oh, but what a tragedy! A few years later, Paul writes today’s Scripture: Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world….” Demas’ precise motives are unknown.

Friends, just think! The actions of John Mark and Demas are written down forever in God’s Word! John Mark, once unfaithful, returned to Paul’s ministry at the very end. Demas, once faithful, abandoned Paul’s ministry at the very end. Brethren, just think! Those you expect to stay with the truth, they may not! Those you expect to never embrace the truth, they just may!

The Living God #6

Sunday, March 6, 2016

For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived? (Deuteronomy 5:26 KJV).

Exactly why is the God of the Bible called “the living God?”

We learn about Israel’s restoration in the last days, prophecy that will be fulfilled after our Dispensation of Grace ends: “Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God(Hosea 1:10).

The next occurrence of the term is in the Apostle Peter’s famous profession of faith. Matthew 16:16: “And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” When the Lord Jesus is on trial, the high priest quotes the Old Testament, although in unbelief: “But Jesus held his peace, And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God” (Matthew 26:63).

Peter, spokesman of the 12 apostles, told Jesus in John 6:69: “And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God(cf. Matthew 16:16, quoted above). Paul and Barnabas, travelling in Lystra, urged idolaters in Acts 14:15: “And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:”

In reference to Israel’s future restoration in the Millennium, Romans 9:26 is Paul quoting Hosea 1:10, which we looked at earlier: “And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.”

We have ten more verses to survey, and then we can review what the term means.


Satan and Dispensationalism #19

Saturday, October 24, 2015

“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:” (Ephesians 3:1,2 KJV).

Satan knows that Dispensational Bible Study is the key to understanding God’s Word. Thus, he denies it and corrupts it every chance he gets!

Pauline dispensationalism is the method whereby we determine God’s will for us today. The books of Romans through Philemon, the 13 epistles of the Apostle Paul, are our primary instructions books for Christian living. We consult them first because they are God’s Word to and about us. Paul is “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13), the Lord Jesus Christ’s spokesman to us. Whatever Paul’s epistles are silent about, we consult the rest of the Bible. Never do we throw away any of the 66 Bible books. We simply recognize their place in the program of God, and how those non-Pauline books do not describe God’s current operations.

There is the temptation to take Pauline dispensationalism to the extreme and thus destroy it. Because people needlessly struggle with Paul’s “Acts” ministry, wondering why he did all those “Jewish” things, they erroneously conclude that his “Acts” ministry must have been a continuation of Israel’s program and covenants. Hence, they say Paul’s epistles written during Acts—Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, and 1 & 2 Thessalonians—have no relevance to us. Some “grace” people encourage us to toss those six epistles out entirely! (Heresy!) They say Paul quit working in Israel’s program when Acts ended, and that only his seven post-Acts (prison) epistles apply to us—Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. (Heresy!)

Paul’s “Acts” epistles and his “prison” epistles are not two dispensations—one dispensation not for us and one dispensation for us. They are one dispensation, and that dispensation is given to us through Paul, for Paul wrote them all (today’s Scripture). The “Acts” epistles are the basic doctrines of the Dispensation of Grace while the “prison” epistles are the more advanced doctrines of the Dispensation of Grace. Again, we need to quit the nonsense and stop complicating God’s Word. Satan does that enough in denominational circles!

Satan and Dispensationalism #18

Friday, October 23, 2015

“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:” (Ephesians 3:1,2 KJV).

Satan knows that Dispensational Bible Study is the key to understanding God’s Word. Thus, he denies it and corrupts it every chance he gets!

As aforementioned, Acts is historical not doctrinal. In it, Luke documented Israel’s persistent rejection of God’s Word, how God was just (right) in setting her aside. During the first seven chapters, Israel largely ignored the preaching of Peter and the 11 apostles. From Acts chapter 9 onward (the beginning of Paul’s ministry onward), Israel again largely ignored God’s Word. She persecuted Paul as she had mistreated Peter and the 11.

During Acts, Paul wrote: “…the Jews: Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; 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 [present tense] come upon them to the uttermost (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16). God’s wrath had fallen on Israel. She had no special spiritual status anymore. These angry, unbelieving Jews persecuted Paul for preaching that he, not they, was reaching allnot some—Gentiles for JEHOVAH! Israel fell during Acts, not at the end of or after Acts. Romans 11:11-13,28—also written during Acts—makes this abundantly clear.

Until they learned of that new divine revelation, Israel’s 12 apostles faithfully continued their ministry they had received from Jesus Christ. In Acts chapter 15, Paul taught them about the new program (mystery), the new message (Gospel of Grace), and the new agency (Body of Christ). Thereafter, Israel’s little flock was sealed off to new members. Its members eventually died off. Israel’s apostles released themselves from their commission to preach to lost Jews and Gentiles (Matthew 28:19,20; Acts 1:8). Collectively, lost people were “heathen”equally hell-bound. Peter and the 10 agreed that these “heathen” were Paul and Barnabas’ responsibility to convert into the Body of Christ (Galatians 2:6-9). The Body of Christ, which had started with Paul in Acts chapter 9, then gained preeminence.