Vapour!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away (James 4:14 KJV).

A “vapour”—as in a mist or gas—may change into a solid or liquid. Likewise, our earthly life “vanisheth away!”

Dear friends, we never know when death will come, but we do need to prepare for it. It was never part of God’s original creation: the entrance of sin caused death. Adam’s rebellion originated the curse of sin, including death (see Genesis 3:1-24). Never blame God for what Adam did. Now, someone asks, “How can God punish us for something Adam did? Why do we have to suffer because of Adam?” This is best answered by seeing the other side of the issue.

God provided a way to escape the penalty of sin. In addition to physical death, there are also a spiritual death and the second death. Spiritual death is the soul’s separation from God during earthly living—this, however, can be rectified through faith in the Gospel. The second death is eternal (permanent) separation from God in the Lake of Fire. We sinners deserve this most horrible spiritual prison. However, God became a Man, Jesus Christ, who died for (to pay for) our sins. If we complain God punishes us because of Adam’s actions, then we might as well protest God justifying us because of Christ’s actions. See, it balances. Just as Adam is the federal head of sinners, so Jesus Christ is the federal head of saints. Romans 5:12-21 is interesting reading on the subject—the two federal heads, their activities, and their effects.

First Corinthians 15:3-4: “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:….” Acts 16:30-31: “And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How are the Beast and the False Prophet ‘cast alive’ into the Lake of Fire?

Benoni and Benjamin #7

Saturday, April 21, 2018

And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin (Genesis 35:18 KJV).

Dear friend, look and see—herein lies prophecy!

At the close of Peter’s life and ministry, the Holy Spirit wrote in 2 Peter chapter 3: “[9] The Lord is not slack concerning his promise [of Christ’s Second Coming], as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance…. [15] And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; [16] As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”

Romans chapters 9-11 and 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 are the Apostle Paul’s divine explanations why the Second Coming and Millennium (“Benjamin”) have not yet followed Christ’s earthly ministry (“Benoni”). Of course, as Peter himself knew, some were failing to rightly divide the word of truth. So thoroughly confused in Scripture, they had created unspeakable spiritual destruction in themselves and their foolish audiences! (Sound familiar?)

In closing, perhaps you are saying, “How wonderful and insightful this was, Brother Shawn!” (I agree.) “I wish more people would see it!” (Indeed.) “So, why do they not see it? Has God not revealed it to them?” Friend, they can read as well as we, can they not? It is a heart problem—sin. The flesh, the natural man, sees this all as foolishness. It is easier to mock instead of study. When we look beyond Christendom’s superficial teachings, and refuse to be the lazy church members who do not (nor care to) understand the Bible, we actually have something fascinating to see in, and say about, it. Rather than wasting time with church tradition, superstition, and philosophy, we spend our time wisely by reading and studying (!!) Scripture.

Yea, we find amazing treasures in God’s Word when we look with the eyes of faith! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is Hebrews 13:3 a reference to the Body of Christ?

Benoni and Benjamin #6

Friday, April 20, 2018

And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin (Genesis 35:18 KJV).

Dear friend, look and see—herein lies prophecy!

When the Apostle Peter maintained Israel’s ancient (and puzzled!) prophets foresaw “the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1 Peter 1:10,11), he referred to the prophecies of a suffering Messiah (Psalm 22:1-21; Psalm 35:1-28; Psalm 69:1-36; Isaiah 53:3-12; et al.) and a reigning Messiah (Psalm 2:4-9; Psalm 22:22-31; Psalm 45:6,7; Isaiah 9:6,7; Isaiah 11:1-16; Jeremiah 23:5-8; et al.). Like Peter, only after the first set of fulfilled prophecies do we understand it all.

The one mountain the prophets observed ahead turned out to be two mountains aligned. Once Peter and his contemporaries stood on the first peak, though, they recognized a separate and distinct peak still future. They had just experienced Messiah’s First Coming (“the sufferings of Christ”)—His rejection, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension to Heaven as a royal exile to sit at His Father’s right hand (Psalm 110:1; Acts 1:9-11; Acts 2:32-36). Now, in early Acts (Peter’s ministry), Messiah’s Second Coming is in view. The 12 Apostles, yea all the Little Flock, preach in early Acts, pleading with national Israel to repent of refusing Jesus and prepare for His return by trusting Him. Otherwise, these unbelievers will be consumed in His wrath when He returns to establish that earthly kingdom (“the glory that should follow”)!

As Israel was rapidly approaching that second mountain, something totally unexpected transpired. It was discovered that, while God had been revealing the prophetic program piecemeal, He had kept the mystery program totally secret. In addition to the prophets not understanding the details of one Messiah coming twice, they were completely unaware that a 2,000-year gap separated those comings. Here is the revelation Jesus Christ gave directly to the Apostle Paul. Then, in Acts chapter 15 (Galatians chapter 2), Paul taught Israel’s spiritual leaders about the extensive “mystery” valley below that no one had seen at all. Between the two “prophetic” mountain peaks was a major delay in Messiah’s Second Coming (Kingdom).

Rather than destroy all of Christ-rejecting mankind, Father God inserted between “Benoni” and “Benjamin” a parenthetical period of grace….

Benoni and Benjamin #5

Thursday, April 19, 2018

And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin (Genesis 35:18 KJV).

Dear friend, look and see—herein lies prophecy!

Great pain and tremendous sadness came when “Benoni” entered the world. His mother suffered and died in labor. Yet, his father named him “Benjamin:” Jacob received strength and comfort because a new life had resulted. Notice the interesting parallels.

Father God agonized and was grieved when Jesus Christ His Son became a Man. Christ so suffered, and graphically died, on Calvary’s cruel cross. Still, in the midst of death, life would spring forth! Jesus was resurrected “with power” (Romans 1:4). The universal symbol of strength is the right hand (remember the definition of “Benjamin?”). Jesus Christ did not exercise that authority at His First Coming. At His Second Coming, however, He will return “in his own glory” (Luke 9:26) to “sit in the throne of his glory” (Matthew 19:28; Matthew 25:31). This is the glory following His sufferings.

“Son of my sorrow” applies to Jesus Christ’s First Coming to Israel because it resulted in His rejection and death. Father God experienced such pain to see His Son endure that torture and wrath. “Son of the right hand” is Jesus Christ at His Second Coming. Currently “sitting on the right hand of power” (Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62), He will wield that power from the Second Coming onward (Millennium and thereafter).

Do you remember where Benoni/Benjamin was born? Where did his mother Rachel die? Where did his father Jacob bury her? “Bethlehem, which is Ephrath,” says Genesis 35:19. It was no coincidence that God mentioned such details. Micah 5:2 would later predict: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be RULER in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” Some 17 centuries after today’s Scripture, Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem Ephratah (cf. Matthew 2:1-6)!

History testifies that “Benoni” has already come: Jesus Christ has suffered and died. But, what of “Benjamin?” Why is Jesus Christ not reigning? Let us consider the 2,000-year delay….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “‘Whom no man hath seen, nor can see’—who is this in 1 Timothy 6:16?

Benoni and Benjamin #4

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin (Genesis 35:18 KJV).

Dear friend, look and see—herein lies prophecy!

When Moses wrote today’s Scripture, he had no idea what underlying truths the Holy Spirit was communicating through him. Since the Bible is a progressive revelation, the LORD God had not (yet) revealed the complete picture. First Peter chapter 1 comments on this reality: “[10] Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: [11] Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.”

For centuries, Israel’s prophets asked about and studied meticulously the Old Testament Scriptures, trying (unsuccessfully) to piece together just how Messiah would come to them. The Apostle Peter is writing to people living after our Dispensation of Grace. Like those in early Acts long ago, they too await the Second Coming of Christ to destroy the Antichrist and usher in the Millennial Kingdom. These “circumcision” (Jewish) saints, Israel’s “Little Flock,” have been promised God’s earthly kingdom (Luke 12:31,32). They see in totality what their ancestors struggled to grasp: one Messiah is coming twice!

Peter looks back on Calvary, when Messiah Jesus came, was rejected, crucified, shed His blood, and resurrected (1 Peter 1:19,21; 2:4-8). These are “the sufferings of Christ.” Peter also looks forward to Messiah Jesus coming again. Here, He will be glorified and reign as Israel’s King, Israel being His “kingdom of priests” (1 Peter 2:9-12). This is “the glory that should follow.”

How do these verses parallel the events of today’s Scripture? “Benoni” (“son of my sorrow”) and “Benjamin” (“son of the right hand”) are, respectively, the First and Second Comings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Grief would come before joy, the cross will precede the crown, the tree would come before the throne, the sufferings will precede the glory, and the Child would come before the Son. Again, Moses could not see it, but he was writing a template, and what a pattern it is….

To Know Your Christian Life

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid (Romans 6:14,15 KJV).

Friend, have you ever wondered how to know your Christian life?

Long ago, a ministry coworker trusted Christ. Weeks later, his mentor inquired, “Do you find it hard to live the Christian life?” My friend said yes. The wise man replied, “No, it is impossible.” As my friend grew disheartened, the man clarified, “You cannot live the Christian life. Only Jesus Christ can live His life!

Religionists have taught us to make ourselves holy so God will accept us. Water baptisms, commandments, penance, vows of poverty, prayers, confessions, and tithes are allegedly “stepping stones” to gaining God’s fellowship. “Faith without works is dead,” they always like to remind us (James chapter 2—Israel’s verses!). They erroneously believe that successful Christian living means our works (cf. today’s Scripture). We live in the Dispensation of Grace (Ephesians 3:2); therefore, we are under grace not law! Still, that does not mean that God does not care how we live.

Titus chapter 2: “[11] For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, [12] Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; [13] Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; [14] Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

Here is grace living. God gave you in Christ forgiveness of all your sins forever. What will you do? Keep asking for daily forgiveness—or just enjoy what He already gave you? He redeemed you; Christ’s blood paid to release you from sin’s slave market. What will you do? Ignore it and keep sinning? It is Christ’s life in and through you, not you living for Him (Philippians 1:21). Most believers have no understanding of grace doctrine; consequently, they are confused, burdened, and frustrated. When you simply rest in God’s provisions in Christ, though, what liberty, understanding, and joy. Christian living depends on God’s works! 🙂

For more information about Christian living, you may see: https://forwhatsaiththescriptures.wordpress.com/2015/07/15/lords-will-for-christians/.

NOTE: Having expanded upon the “Original 7 studies” for the fifth time, our fifth foundation (studies #2501-#2507) is now installed. Onward we press in maturity… and to #3000! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why ‘unclean until the even?’

How to Know Jesus Christ

Saturday, April 7, 2018

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3,4 KJV).

Friend, have you ever wondered how to know Jesus Christ?

We all have an innate longing for someone or something beyond us. One philosopher said, “There is a God-shaped hole in every human heart.” If you want, spend your whole life studying various world religions. You can look, and look, and look even more—traveling far and wide, reading all sorts of texts found in numerous and sundry languages. Everyone, you will discover, agrees that at least one “higher power” or “supreme being” exists. Some argue for myriads of gods or goddesses (polytheism); three spiritual systems declare one God (the monotheistic systems—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam).

Whatever religion you choose to follow, you will notice that works are demanded: your performance is vital to being “set right” with that higher power or supreme being. Here, you encounter more difficulties than you imagined. The harder you attempt to do right, the more you fail and more miserable you become. Right? Find religious rules and regulations, and throw all away except one. Forget juggling numerous commandments—try keeping one. When you fail with that one, you need not bother to keep the rest. You are already condemned to Hell!

Religion, a performance-based acceptance system, points out human frailty and failure. The Holy Bible titles this imperfection “SIN.” It may come as a shock to you, dear friend, but you are not perfect! You are a sinner. The God of Judaism and Christianity already knew that—long before you were born and failed so miserably. In His unfathomable love, tender mercy, and abounding grace; He became a Man, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die to pay for those sins (today’s Scripture). Yea, Christ died for every last one of your sins. Once His rich, royal, sinless blood was shed, He was buried. Then, He resurrected in great power, victorious over sin and death! Do you believe that in your heart? Do you trust His finished crosswork at Calvary as sufficient payment for your sins?