The Comforter #4

Thursday, March 28, 2019

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever (John 14:16 KJV).

Who is this “Comforter?” What are His roles?

In the 40 days following His resurrection, Jesus Christ opened the Scriptures so His Apostles could better comprehend them. All they had at the time was Genesis through Malachi (see Luke 24:44-48), but it was enough to get them going without Him. Those “Bible classes” resulted in the Apostle Peter’s astonishing grasp of obscure Old Testament Scripture as seen in Acts 1:16-20!

Just before He ascended into Heaven, Jesus said, “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high(Luke 24:49). The parallel passage is Acts chapter 1, verses 4 and 5: “And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”

As sworn, the “Comforter” arrived in Acts chapter 2: “[1] And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. [2] And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. [3] And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. [4] And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Here, the Holy Spirit enabled the Apostles to speak in human languages they never formally learned, that their Jewish brethren visiting from foreign lands would understand God’s Word in their native dialect!

Over in Ephesians 3:16, we see Paul praying for us Gentiles in the Dispensation of Grace, “That he [God] would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;….” Here, the Holy Spirit functions as our fortifier, our “Comforter,” our Helper….

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….

His Son #7

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:1-3 KJV).

What can today’s Scripture teach us?

In Acts chapter 2, the Apostle Peter, God’s spokesman to Israel, offered her a renewed opportunity of repentance. Indeed, unbelieving Jews had refused John’s water baptism. Yes, they had also rejected their Messiah and crucified Him on Calvary weeks earlier. Nevertheless, Father God honored Jesus’ plea (Luke 23:34) and had forgiven them.

Now, God’s Spirit had been poured out on Israel’s believing remnant, signifying that resurrected Jesus was glorified in Heaven (cf. the “right hand…” of today’s Scripture). “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear” (Acts 2:32,33).

However, Peter warned, Jesus would not sit forever: “For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (verse 34-36). Christ would rise and return to judge His enemies—unbelieving Israel!

“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:37,38). (John the Baptist’s message expanded.)

Jesus would return with Israel’s kingdom and eliminate those who denied Him as God’s Son….

His Son #6

Monday, October 24, 2016

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:1-3 KJV).

What can today’s Scripture teach us?

John the Baptist warned Israel about “the wrath to come” (Matthew 3:7). He said Messiah would come shortly after him and “Shall baptize… with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (verses 11,12). Whoever refused John’s water baptism—“the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (Mark 1:4)—would not receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit (Acts chapter 2). Without having John’s water baptism and the subsequent Spirit baptism, a Jew would be baptized with fire (judgment at the Second Coming).

In His Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, Matthew chapter 13, Jesus forewarned about God’s fiery wrath consuming unbelievers in Israel (verses 30,40-42). A Jew who did not identify himself with Messiah by participating in John’s water baptism, that Jew was a child of Satan and would surely be punished in God’s everlasting wrath. The Gospel of the Kingdom—“Jesus is Messiah-King, God’s Son”—that Jesus preached in the Four Gospels was the message Father God wanted Israel to believe. There would be a harsh penalty for rejecting God’s Son in His earthly ministry (Hebrews 2:1-3—“how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord [Matthew through John]…”).

With the outpouring of the Spirit of God, Peter warned Israel in early Acts, chapter 2 particularly, that Jesus would now return as King and Judge. Israel had better come to Him by faith and prepare for His return to establish His literal, physical, visible, earthly kingdom….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What did Jesus mean, ‘I will have mercy and not sacrifice?’

His Son #1

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:1-3 KJV).

What can today’s Scripture teach us?

The Book of Hebrews opens with these three verses. We would do well to notice this is the Epistle to the Hebrews. This will greatly help us understand today’s Scripture. Throughout church history, Bible expositors and church members alike have gotten into much trouble and suffered tremendous confusion because they took verses written to and about Israel, and forced them onto us (the Church the Body of Christ).

For many centuries prior to the Book of Hebrews, for several hundred years before the early Acts period, for many centuries before Christ’s earthly ministry, Father God had sent numerous prophets to Israel concerning His coming Son. Through the preaching of those holy men, He was preparing His nation to identify their Messiah when He arrived. Yet, Israel became increasingly unbelieving and stubborn. Suddenly, God began to speak more and more about His coming wrath as well.

As the Book of Hebrews tells us in today’s Scripture, Israel’s “last days” (the final stages of her program) commenced with the earthly ministry of Christ. Some 800 years before Jesus, the Prophet Joel (2:28-32) predicted those “last days.” First would be the outpouring of God’s Spirit on believing Israel (fulfilled in Acts chapter 2). Then there would be the outpouring of God’s wrath on unbelieving Israel (still awaiting fulfillment, but would have come in early Acts). In Acts 2:14-36, Peter the Apostle preached to Israel that Joel’s prophecy was coming to pass, and that wrath was coming! They must “repent and be baptized… in the name of Jesus Christ.” God’s Son, whom their prophets foretold would come, has come, and they have rejected Him, nailed Him to Calvary’s cross, and still refuse to hear Him….

Why Stand Ye Gazing Up Into Heaven? #3

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

“And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:10,11 KJV).

Why did the angels ask the Apostles, Why stand ye gazing up into heaven?”

Several weeks earlier, just before His crucifixion, Jesus had told His Apostles: “[25] And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; [26] Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. [27] And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. [28] And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke chapter 21). Believing Israel was not to look up until they saw certain signs. Those signs were absent in Acts chapter 1; therefore, Israel was not to be looking up in Acts chapter 1! The angels asked the Apostles why they were looking up to prompt them to remember Jesus’ words.

Furthermore, Jesus had told them to wait for the Holy Spirit who would come days later: “[5] For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence…. [8] But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” They were not to be looking up as though Jesus would return right there in Acts chapter 1 because He was not coming back at that time.

God’s Word told Israel not to look up for Christ’s return until certain events transpired. Let us compare and contrast this with His Word to us concerning Christ’s return….

Paul and Dispensationalism #17

Monday, August 24, 2015

“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13 KJV).

What else can the Apostle Paul teach us about dispensational Bible study?

Baptism has been called “religious TNT.” It has generated many explosive fights across denominational lines! Sprinkling? Pouring? Immersion? Only adults, or babies, too? Where? Who should administer it? What words should be said? What type of water is needed? For salvation or testimony? On, and on, and on… contentious people from all sides fuss and fight, spewing forth contemptuous words! “For ye are yet carnal [fleshly, worldly]: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” (1 Corinthians 3:3).

Paul could not be clearer. There is one baptism” valid for us in the Dispensation of Grace (Ephesians 4:5). It is not, NOT, NOT, NOT water baptism! The only time Paul mentioned water baptism in his epistles, he wrote, “Christ sent me not to baptize” (1 Corinthians 1:17)! Our one—ONE—baptism is not performed by preacher or priest, but by the Holy Spirit Himself (today’s Scripture; cf. Colossians 2:11,12). The Spirit baptizes us into—NOT water but—the Church the Body of Christ and seals us (Ephesians 1:12-14). Immediately after we rely exclusively on Christ’s death for our sins, His burial, and His resurrection for our justification (1 Corinthians 15:3,4), we are made one with Jesus Christ, “members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones” (Ephesians 5:30). The Holy Spirit comes to indwell us Christians (1 Corinthians 6:19)—He equips us, that the doctrine we read and believe comes to life in our lives (Ephesians 3:16)!

We do not need Israel’s water baptism. We will not experience her fire baptism (seven-year Tribulation and Christ’s Second Coming in wrath). We do not need her “Holy Ghost” baptism in Acts chapter 2, when Jesus baptized with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11; Acts 1:5). No, today, the Holy Spirit does the baptizing, and we are thus “complete in Christ” (Colossians 2:10). The Apostle Paul teaches us that water ceremonies will profit us nothing, NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING spiritually!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is there a simple way to present the Grace Message to children and teens?