The Sins of the Times! #3

Saturday, March 9, 2019

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come (2 Timothy 3:1 KJV).

Friend, you have surely heard of “the signs of the times,” but do you know anything about “the sins of the times?”

Studying the Bible, we learn the term “last days” refers to God bringing Israel’s prophetic program to its conclusion, its ultimate goal (His earthly kingdom). A sequence of four major events accomplishes it: (1) Christ’s earthly ministry, (2) the pouring out of God’s Spirit at Pentecost, (3) the pouring out of His wrath during the seven-year Tribulation, and (4) the actual Second Coming of Christ. Signs involved throughout, God’s earthly kingdom is eventually founded.

However, God in His grace and longsuffering interrupted that timeline in the Book of Acts. The first two events have already transpired; the last two are future from us. Our dispensation sits in the middle, completely isolated from the prophetic program. God kept our mystery program a secret until He revealed it to Paul (Ephesians 3:1-9; Colossians 1:23-36). Pauline doctrine allows us to see what God planned all along but which knowledge He had intentionally withheld from Satan and his angelic allies (1 Corinthians 2:6-8).

When Paul speaks of the “last days” (today’s Scripture), he refers to the last days of our Dispensation of Grace (and our Dispensation divides the “last days” of Israel’s program, with one portion preceding us and the other following us). Paul does not urge us to look for earthquakes, famines, wars, or pestilences as noteworthy of the last days with respect to us. He has a different coming of Christ in mind—one not found in Matthew chapter 24!

Today’s Scripture in context: “[1] This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. [2] For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, [3] Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, [4] Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; [5] Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”

“Perilous [dangerous] times” indeed, but not due to war, earthquake, famine, or pestilence. There is rather a spiritual hazard….

Something in Which to Glory!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

“As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:12-14 KJV).

In what shall we glory? About what shall we boast? In what shall we find value?

Religion produces people who enjoy bragging all about their “dedication to God.” “Look what I did—the ceremonies in which I have participated, the many prayers I faithfully recited daily, how much I put in the collection plate, see how many pleasures I gave up to please God! Come, see how much I love Him!” Dear friends, the Apostle Paul found great value in something—but that something was not what he did. All that human flesh can accomplish pales in comparison to the work in today’s Scripture.

As Lent begins, the time when religionists temporarily (a mere 40 days) relinquish some pleasant food or activity, let us remember that our performance is often non-performance. Once we place ourselves on that treadmill of “do, do, do,” we are guaranteed to fail at some point. Human flesh is simply too weak to maintain 100 percent—that is sin! Even concerning one rule, we cannot keep it perfectly. We mess up eventually.

If ever we believe that our puny works are worth bragging about, let us remember the words of the Apostle Paul in today’s Scripture. While some boast in their religiosity (in the passage, the Judaizers applauding their rite of physical circumcision), and such denominationalists today urge us to obey their church’s instructions so they too may boast in our ability, let us eschew such foolishness. Being imperfect, all their works do not measure up to Christ’s finished crosswork. At Calvary, we find the only sacrifice that will ever please the God of the Bible. If we must boast, let us brag that He did what we could never, ever do!

See our archived Bible Q&A: “Should Christians observe Lent?

God’s Grace on Parade

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

“…But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20 KJV).

Today, especially here in southern Louisiana, the Catholic festival of Mardi Gras takes advantage of God’s grace. God’s grace abounds even when drunkenness, lasciviousness, and gluttony are committed overtly on our streets for religion. Because we live in the Dispensation of the Grace of God, they can flaunt their sin without being consumed by fire from heaven!

“Mardi Gras,” French for “Fat Tuesday,” is a day when religious people—professing “Christians”—lose self-control (excess alcohol, food, and partying). The following day, Ash Wednesday, they promise to live “holy” for the next 40 days (Lent). A priest will then place ashes on their foreheads proving that God forgave them for that riotous living. Blasphemy!

Regardless of all its biblical allusions (illusions!), Mardi Gras is still evil and anti-God. It was never Christian, originating from pagan Roman festivals, Saturnalia and Lupercalia (interestingly known for riots, drunkenness, gluttony, and fornication, and subsequent repentance).

The Holy Spirit, speaking through the Apostles Peter and Paul, was clearly against Mardi Gras reveling and drunkenness (Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:18; 1 Peter 4:3). So why do professing Christians engage in the very activities that God the Holy Spirit condemned?! As Christians, we should “deny” the activities of Mardi Gras (Romans 6:11-15; Titus 2:11-15).

If I appear offended, I am. Mardi Gras, despite its godly façade, is offensive to the great God and my Saviour Jesus Christ! God’s grace continues to tolerate such foolishness from mankind. Man parades his sin, and God parades His grace, holding back wrath.

Are you a Mardi Gras reveler? I declare unto you the wonderful Gospel of the Grace of God. God did for you at Calvary what you could never do: “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He was raised again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Jesus Christ shed His sinless blood and died to put away all of your sins, Mardi Gras revelry included.

If you rest in Christ Jesus alone as your Saviour, God will save you forever, make a trophy of His grace, and then YOUR life will be God’s grace on parade!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study with the same name. The Bible study can be read here or watched here.

You may also see our archived Bible study Q&A, “Should Christians celebrate Mardi Gras?

Distributing the Four Gospel Records? #2

Sunday, March 3, 2019

But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 15:24 KJV).

To whom was Christ’s earthly ministry directed?

It is assumed that Jesus’ utterances in Matthew through John are the most authoritative in Scripture. Are the words of God the Son really greater than those of God the Spirit? Do the Holy Spirit’s words in Genesis through Malachi carry less weight than Christ’s words of His earthly ministry? Certainly not! What we need to understand is not only who is speaking, but to whom is it addressed. If God is talking, but to someone other than us, do we have the right to claim those Divine utterances as ours? Absolutely not!

Christ’s earthly ministry is based on Israel’s covenants: “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision [Jews] for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers” (Romans 15:8). He was sent to Israel only in Matthew through John (today’s Scripture; cf. Matthew 10:5-7; John 4:22); we Gentiles (non-Jews) are not in view. What He taught therein was designed to re-orient Israel toward the pure Law system from which they had drifted (Galatians 4:4; Matthew 8:4). His doctrine prepares an earthly people who have an earthly hope: “The meek… shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). Doctrine in the Four Gospel Records depends on Israel rising to kingdom glory (Luke 1:15-17,67-79).

Now, contrast that with the Holy Spirit’s words through Paul. Paul is God’s apostle—or “sent one,” spokesman—to us Gentiles (Romans 11:13; cf. Acts 26:14-18). We are under grace not law (Romans 6:14,15). We have no claim to earth, as our destiny is the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 2:6,7). Israel is currently fallen (Romans chapters 9–11); hence, her doctrine in Matthew through John is not the most recent Divine revelation.

Matthew through John are certainly inspired of God. We should read, study, and believe them. Nevertheless, they are not God’s Word to or about us. It is no more appropriate to make them fit us than it is to say that we must obey Genesis chapter 6 and prepare for a global flood by building a giant boat. Indeed, right division is key to understanding the right Gospel and enjoying victorious Christian living….

Distributing the Four Gospel Records? #1

Saturday, March 2, 2019

But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 15:24 KJV).

To whom was Christ’s earthly ministry directed?

Recently, a ministry was raising money to intentionally distribute one book containing the Gospel Records of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. While we certainly do not fault anyone for being zealous in getting God’s Word to all nations, that everyone may hear and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ, there is a better way to conduct such an endeavor.

Sadly, professing Christians are continuously struggling concerning evangelism and daily sanctification. Whether genuine or only nominal, these believers are unable to present a clear Gospel message. They come quite close to the truth at times, yet their obscure words are simply an inadequate basis for faith. What results? Lost people remain lost. Also, genuine Christians (who heard it) begin to wonder if they themselves have believed the right message.

Daily Christian living (daily sanctification) fares no better. Lost people, having not heard a clear Gospel, assume they can work to become Christians. In fact, they often appear to be Christians. Then, we have the Christians who usually act like lost people. Ultimately, the lost people assume they must be Christians, for the “Christians” behave worse than they do! Since Christians have yet to grasp that they are not lost people, they see no reason to act otherwise! Plain and simple, such unending confusion stems from a failure to rightly divide the word of truth. Verses are lifted out of context, thrown into one “Gospel message” or “Christian living message,” and then doled out to the public. Hopefully undertaken with the best intentions, these attempts nevertheless reinforce misunderstandings rather than mitigate them.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). There is no doubt whatsoever that all 66 Books of the Bible came from God’s mouth. He spoke them, preserved them, and translated them into our language. It is such a tragedy that He went through all that trouble to give us the plain and simple truth, and we still manage to complicate it literally beyond belief….

The Good Man #6

Friday, March 1, 2019

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful (Psalm 1:1 KJV).

How is this an apt introduction to the Book of Psalms?

The final verse of Psalm 1 reads, “For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” Here is a suitable ending for the Book’s opening chapter. Read it in its entirety now.

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”

The 150 psalms found in the Book of Psalms feature two types of people—believers (“righteous”) and unbelievers (“ungodly”). They speak of Divine wrath and Divine rule—the Second Coming followed by the Millennium. God the Holy Spirit urges the nation Israel to be prepared for both major events. Lost souls will perish at the Second Coming of Christ; their course of life will lead to utter and eternal destruction, physical and spiritual. Believers in Jesus Christ, however, will survive and continue on into His 1000-year reign: their spiritual health and growth will increase throughout the endless ages to come. The remaining 149 psalms are spoken (technically sung) in light of all these events.

Praises upon praises of JEHOVAH God erupt throughout the Book. Believers rejoice in His goodness, faithfulness, wisdom, justice, power, and so on. In other words, they are the very people represented by the good man of the opening psalm! Eternity will ring with their singing and playing of musical instruments—we will join in with them! 🙂

Bible Q&A #585: “Must I have a degree in music to sing or play an instrument at a local church?

The Good Man #5

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful (Psalm 1:1 KJV).

How is this an apt introduction to the Book of Psalms?

Onward to verse 5: “Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.” This points back to verse 4: “The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.” Psalm 1—yes, all the Book of Psalms—foresees the end-times. In view especially are the two comings of Christ: the first is His suffering on Calvary’s cross, and the other is His reigning in the Kingdom. (Remember, there is no Dispensation of Grace revealed until Paul’s ministry. We the Church the Body of Christ are not under consideration here!)

In between Calvary and the Kingdom is a time of fiery wrath. This is the warning found in John the Baptist’s message near the close of Matthew chapter 3. Unbelievers will not survive that Second Coming. Notice 2 Thessalonians chapter 1: “[6] Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; [7] And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, [8] In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: [9] Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power…..”

With the ungodly fallen in God’s wrath, the sinners will not be among “the congregation of the righteous.” This “congregation” is the Messianic Church, God’s believing remnant found within apostate Israel. That “Little Flock” will inherit His earthly kingdom (Luke 12:32). We find them in Matthew 16:16-18, but they go as far back as Psalm 22:22 (cf. Hebrews 2:11,12). These Messianic Jews—those who trust Jesus as Messiah—will survive God’s wrath (the very wrath that consumed their unbelieving relatives). We now better appreciate Psalms, where it fits on the Bible timeline and how its narrative flows from beginning to end….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Are the flames of fire in Hell literal?