Kicking Against the Pricks?

Monday, October 29, 2012

“And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks” (Acts 9:5 KJV).

What did the Lord mean here when He said Saul of Tarsus was “kicking against the pricks?”

The King James Bible uses “pricks” thrice—today’s Scripture; its parallel verse, Acts 26:14; and Numbers 33:55. Let us examine the latter for a clue as to the definition of “pricks.”

God instructed Moses to advise Israel when she would enter into her Promised Land: “But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell” (Numbers 33:55). Notice “pricks” and “thorns” are connected (cf. Ezekiel 28:24).

Prior to Paul’s salvation, God had been forming the nation Israel (often likened unto sheep). God had also sent His Son, Israel’s Messiah-King, Jesus, as the “good shepherd” (John 10:11), to lead wayward Israel back to Him. Jesus declared, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24; cf. Matthew 10:6; Luke 15:1-10). Saul was one of those lost Jews, bitterly opposed to Jesus Christ: “I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth” (Acts 26:9). He imprisoned and murdered Jewish believers (verses 10,11; cf. Acts 7:58–8:4; 1 Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:13,14,23; 1 Timothy 1:13).

God described Saul’s activities as “kicking against the pricks.” “Pricks” (goads) resemble thorns; they are pointed objects used to prod and drive rebellious livestock. Essentially, Jesus Christ referred to Saul as a disobedient sheep, sinfully opposing God’s will for Israel (Saul rejected Christ, and was killing those who accepted Him).

Saul learned his fighting against the Creator God was futile, for he was unsuccessful in annihilating believing Israel. In fact, hell-bound Saul eventually quit striving against God. He trusted Christ, and ultimately became the Apostle Paul, God’s apostle to us Gentiles!

Sound, But No Sound Doctrine

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

“And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me” (Acts 22:9 KJV).

In today’s Scripture, the Apostle Paul is giving his testimony to Israel, yet according to Bible critics, this verse “contradicts” another verse. Rather than “correcting” the Bible, as some modern translators have done, we let the Bible correct us… and it will teach us a valuable doctrine!

Today’s Scripture explains that those traveling to Damascus with Paul (at that time Saul) did not hear the voice of Jesus Christ, who appeared to Saul in Acts chapter 9. Yet, when we read Acts 9:7, the Bible seems to say the opposite: “And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.” Well, which is it? Did they hear (Acts 9:7), or did they not hear (Acts 22:9)? A lost person once tried to use this very argument against me in a desperate (and unsuccessful) attempt to discredit the Bible because it challenged his denomination!

Certainly, God’s Word has no mistakes (otherwise, He would be a liar!). If we consider John 12:28,29, resolving this apparent discrepancy actually teaches us something: “Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him.” Here, Jesus, standing on earth, is speaking to His Father in heaven. Notice that His Father gave an intelligent response: “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” Yet, some of the audience heard thunder, a mere noise: they did not hear anything intelligent.

So, those traveling with Saul did hear the sound of Jesus’ voice, but they did not hear the actual words (that is, understand what was spoken). Acts 9:7 and Acts 22:9 really complement one another, teaching us that people can hear God’s Word being read or spoken, but they are willingly too blinded by sin to hear His actual words with understanding (Isaiah 6:9,10; Matthew 13:13-15; Acts 28:24-27).

Is Mary the “Mother of the Church?”

Sunday, July 8, 2012

“When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home” (John 19:26,27 KJV).

Does today’s Scripture teach that Mary, Jesus’ mother, is “the mother of the Church?”

Pagan goddess worship was commonplace in the Roman Empire when Christianity spread during the first centuries A.D. So, “Christian” leaders, hoping to attract heathen followers, slyly adopted pagan practices and teachings. One of these compromises was to give Mary, Jesus’ mother, unscriptural preeminence. Religion took humble Mary (Luke 1:46-55) and exalted her to a godless-like position (today, she is called “the queen of heaven,” the title belonging to a pagan goddess; Jeremiah 44:15-28).

Mary is not the mother of any church in Scripture, and certainly not the Church the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ did not exist until Acts chapter 9 (see 1 Timothy 1:15,16), about a year after today’s Scripture. (The “church” at the time of today’s Scripture was the Messianic Church, those Jews who trusted Jesus as Messiah; Matthew 16:16-19).

In today’s Scripture, notice that Jesus (now crucified) is speaking to one individual, not a group: Mary is not everyone’s “mother,” but a certain disciple’s (allegedly the Apostle John, “the apostle whom Jesus loved”). Notice thy mother” uses the second-person singular pronoun; Jesus did not say “your mother” (the second-person plural “your” would indicate He is speaking to a group). Of course, you lose this in modern “bibles,” which replace “thy” with “your,” concealing God’s truth.

Joseph evidently died some time earlier. Jesus is Mary’s eldest son, but Jesus is dying. Mary needs a man to take care of her (in the ancient world, single women without a male authority would have no income, often being forced to become prostitutes). At this time, none of Jesus’ half-brothers or half-sisters are believers, so Jesus appoints a disciple (John?) to be Mary’s caretaker. How simple!

Friend, God Himself declares Mary is not our mother. That is pagan heresy and superstition, not Bible.

A Caring Apostle Not Cared For

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

“Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:28 KJV).

In today’s Scripture, we glimpse into the heart of our Apostle Paul, and what an amazing sight we behold!

Preceding today’s Scripture, Paul described the suffering he experienced for being God’s apostle of us Gentiles:

“Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes [whippings] above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one [195 scourgings!]. Thrice [Three times] was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep [stranded in the sea]; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen [Jews], in perils by the heathen [Gentiles], in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness” (verses 23-27).

False teachers and apostles were turning the Corinthians against Paul, so becoming highly critical of Paul’s bodily appearance and his apostleship (see 2 Corinthians chapters 10 and 11). The epistle of 2 Corinthians defends Paul’s apostleship. Today’s Scripture (and its context quoted above) is Paul’s defense: my sufferings for the Gospel demonstrate that I am a genuine apostle of Jesus Christ! Unfortunately, like most professing Christians today, the Corinthians needed to appreciate the special ministry the ascended Lord Jesus Christ gave to Paul.

What Paul wrote in today’s Scripture summarizes the attitude that every Christian should have: “Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.” Paul did not focus on his own troubling circumstances: He was too busy daily wondering about the wellbeing of the saints who were saved under his ministry. What dedication and selflessness!

Saints, let us thank God daily for sending “faithful” Paul to us Gentiles….

333’s First Anniversary: Yet Not I, But the Grace of God

Friday, June 1, 2012

“But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10 KJV).

We rejoice in the Lord, for we reach a special milestone today: one full year of grace-oriented devotionals. We commemorate our first anniversary by joining our Apostle Paul in remembering: “Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (After all, this is “333 Words of Grace!”)

This past year, we were thrilled beyond words to know the great God and our Saviour was using this devotionals blog to lead people to salvation by His grace through faith in Christ Jesus, and to spiritually enlighten His people with sound dispensational Bible study (1 Timothy 2:3,4). But, again, it was not us, “but the grace of God.”

Paul could have continued wasting his life away by opposing God’s work (1 Corinthians 15:9, the verse preceding today’s Scripture). Instead, he chose to trust Christ Jesus as his Saviour, and Christ saved him by His grace. Thus, Paul, now God’s chief apostle to the Gentiles, could honestly say, “by the grace of God I am what I am.” Just as we could have wasted this past year in unbelief, we chose rather to rely on God’s grace by faith. Thus, we too honestly say, “by the grace of God [we are] what [we are].”

Much labour and prayer went into the past 366 devotionals, so that the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word could be exalted. How the grace and love of God worked in us this past year, and it is our great hope and prayer that He will continue this ministry.

Saints, we extend our utmost appreciation to you, whose input and prayer were not in vain. How we are so grateful to God, for without His grace, this ministry would not exist. And, above all, as we enter our second year, we remember, “not I, but the grace of God that [is] with me.” 🙂

Why Paul?

Thursday, May 31, 2012

“…Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth of Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity” (1 Timothy 2:5c-7 KJV).

One of the greatest blunders of the professing Church is the assumption that Paul’s ministry was an extension of the twelve apostles’ ministry. Many verses, including today’s Scripture, prove Paul’s ministry is separate from the twelve apostles. “Why Paul?” is a simple question, an inquiry which, had Christendom first proposed and then answered using the Bible, would have prevented the Biblical confusion that pervades churches today.

Today’s Scripture—“Christ Jesus… gave himself a ransom for all—was not always true. In His earthly ministry, Jesus Himself claimed: “Even as the Son of man came… to give his life a ransom for many (Matthew 10:28). Is that a contradiction? NO! In Jesus’ earthly ministry, He was sent to “save his people [Israel] from their sins” (Matthew 1:21; cf. John 1:11; Romans 15:8). Peter and the eleven preached this message in the early Acts period (Acts 2:36-38; Acts 3:19,24-26; Acts 4:10-12; Acts 5:31; et al.).

Why Paul? Carefully re-read today’s Scripture: “…Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. Whereunto [To which] I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth of Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.”

It is not until we come to Paul’s ministry that we learn that Christ died for all (Jew and Gentile). This was the special message (the Gospel of the Grace of God) that the ascended Lord Jesus Christ committed to Paul alone (Galatians 1:11,12; Titus 1:2,3; 2 Timothy 2:8). This is why God made Paul an apostle!

God had a special Gospel He wanted preached to us Gentiles, but He could not use the twelve apostles to preach it (they had to convert Israel first; Matthew 10:5-7). Paul is our apostle, “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13). Thus, his epistles testify, Christ died for all—including us Gentiles (today’s Scripture).

When Truth is Error #2

Sunday, May 27, 2012

“But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness” (2 Timothy 2:16 KJV).

Being scriptural is not enough. To follow God’s will you must also be dispensational. All of the Bible is for us, but not all of the Bible is to us or about us.

For example, Mosaic Law-keeping is biblical (Exodus 20:1-17). But, to whom are these Scriptures written and spoken? The nation Israel—not us. Additionally, millions of precious souls are basing their salvation on what Jesus said in Matthew 19:17 (cf. James 2:24): “…but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” This is scriptural, but not dispensational: it was true for Israel, but it is error for us.

Friend, if you are basing your salvation on your works, you are going to hell. Following salvation verses that God spoke to someone else is error: God never gave them to you. If you want salvation from your sins and hell, you MUST go to Paul for God’s current plan of salvation. Our doctrine is found only in Paul’s epistles (Romans through Philemon) (Romans 11:13).

We are not under Israel’s works-religion (legalistic) economy. God has replaced Israel’s works-religion acceptance system (our performance) with something better: the grace-based acceptance system, what Jesus Christ did for us at Calvary’s cross. “Ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14b). In our dispensation, salvation is “to him that worketh not (Romans 4:5).

The Gospel that saves you today is not Acts 2:38 or 1 John 1:9, but 1 Corinthians 15:1-4: “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He was raised again the third day.”

James 5:14,15 is error for us to practice, but it is truth in Israel’s program. This includes Revelation 3:20, Hebrews 6:4-6, 1 John 2:27, Matthew 24:13, John 20:22,23, Acts 2:4, Matthew 6:9-13, and Mark 16:15-20—verses that Christendom steals from Israel’s program and (wrongly) practices today.

Dispensational Bible study is critical to your soul salvation, as well as to your Christian health. You MUST use God’s Word, God’s way (“rightly dividing the word of truth;” 2 Timothy 2:15), or you will make truth error (today’s Scripture)….