An Unlikely Convert #2

Thursday, April 11, 2019

“And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20 KJV).

Who is this preacher?

Saul of Tarsus was a brilliant man of evil reputation. A rabbinical theologian, he had a head knowledge of the Law of Moses, but no heart faith in it! Had he truly believed God’s words through Moses, Saul would have seen Jesus as Messiah. Hundreds of ancient prophecies had been fulfilled during the three years this “Jesus of Nazareth” had traveled the land of Palestine. However, like most of his Jewish countrymen, Saul worshipped his religion rather than the God who gave that religion. When God showed up in human flesh, Saul (like most of his Israelite kin) overlooked and spurned Him as an imposter. Saul eagerly imprisoned and/or kill anyone who confessed Jesus as Christ, God’s Son, His Anointed Saviour.

Acts chapter 7: “[57] Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him [Stephen] with one accord, [58] And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. [59] And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Saul was present when his fanatical countrymen—fellow religious leaders—took the life of God’s spokesman Stephen. It gets worse.

Chapter 8 begins: “[1] And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. [2] And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. [3] As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. [4] Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.”

Read the context of today’s Scripture again: “[13] Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:….” Ananias, although fearful and offended, by faith followed the Lord’s instructions. He would go minister to horrible Saul….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Will computers ever destroy us and dominate the world?

 

An Unlikely Convert #1

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

“And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20 KJV).

Who is this preacher?

Let us read the context of today’s Scripture: “[10] And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. [11] And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street whic is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, [12] And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.

“[13] Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: [14] And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.” Ananias was a Jewish believer in Jesus Christ. He had heard of Saul of Tarsus, a most bitter enemy of Jesus. Saul was mercilessly hounding and slaughtering Messianic Jews. Imagine Ananias’ shock when the Lord Jesus appeared to him in a vision. Ananias feared greatly upon being told to seek out Saul! “[15] But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: [16] For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.

“[17] And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. [18] And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. [19] And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. [20] And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.”

Imagine Ananias’ shock now….

The Comforter #5

Friday, March 29, 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?

John 14:17 says the Holy Spirit will “dwell with [believing Israel], and shall be in [them].” Contrary to popular belief, the indwelling Spirit is not unique to our Dispensation of Grace. Through the Prophet Ezekiel, the LORD God had promised centuries earlier, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” (36:26,27).

Beloved, our flesh is weak. (Right?) Despite our best efforts, we cannot live the Christian life. Only Jesus Christ can live His life—whether in Israel’s prophetic program or our mystery program. As the nation Israel will be the expression of Jesus Christ’s life in the earth in the ages to come, so we the Church the Body of Christ will be the manifestation of His life in the heavenly places. It is not we duplicating His life but rather He Himself living in and through us. There is no imitation; it is the actual life of Christ!

How exactly does Christ live in and through us though? Does He unexpectedly take control of our bodies and manipulate us as puppets? (No!) Is there some mysterious, hair-raising, gentle breeze? (No!) Bolts of lighting striking the back of our neck? (No!) The Holy Spirit wrote the Bible (2 Peter 1:20,21; 2 Timothy 3:16,17). When we trust Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, the Spirit of God indwell and seals us (Ephesians 1:12-14). We become “an holy temple in the Lord, an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:21,22). He strengthens or fortifies us internally as we walk by faith in His Word to us, Romans through Philemon (Ephesians 3:16). Hence, daily Bible study—yea, daily dispensational Bible study—is so critical. Without the Comforter grounding us using God’s Word, neither Israel nor we can be vessels of Christ’s life!

Our two latest Bible Q&As: “What is ‘the mark of the Beast?’” and “Why is ‘666’ the number of the Beast?

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 Comforter #3

Wednesday, March 27, 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?

As Christ conducted His earthly ministry, He was present bodily to fortify His disciples. Now that He was leaving to go to Calvary’s cross, eventually returning to Heaven to His Father, He was training them for His absence. Howbeit, they would not be totally alone. He would ask His Father to send “another Comforter” (today’s Scripture). This Person, “the Spirit of truth,” would “dwell with [them],” and would be “in [them]” (verse 17). Jesus would not leave them “comfortless” (verse 18).

In chapter 15, the Lord Jesus says the Holy Spirit “shall testify of me: and ye shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning” (verses 26,27). Chapter 16 speaks of the Holy Spirit coming once Christ departs (verse 7). Through the Apostles’ preaching, He will “reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: [9] Of sin, because they believe not on me; [10] Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; [11] Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.” He enables them to proclaim God’s truth—especially facts from Christ’s earthly ministry.

Finally, Christ discloses how the Holy Spirit will pen our “New Testament” Scriptures: “[12] I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. [13] Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. [14] He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. [15] All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”

The Holy Spirit will take Christ’s words from His earthly ministry, expand on them, and then cause them to be written down so we can have them now. As He is the “Comforter” of the Little Flock, so He is our “Comforter,” strengthening God’s people regardless of the dispensational change….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Are the Jews supposed to still get circumcised in the Dispensation of Grace?

The Comforter #2

Tuesday, March 26, 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?

Today’s Scripture lies in the section (13:1–17:26) in which the Lord Jesus is in the upper room with His disciples at evening. They eat the Passover and then the Last Supper. In just a few hours, He will go out to the Garden of Gethsemane where He will be betrayed and arrested. Ultimately, the following morning, they will execute Him on Calvary’s cross. These chapters are thus His parting words to Israel’s believing remnant. He reveals to them things to come—both short-term and long-term. There is good news and bad.

The central piece of good news is the coming of “the Comforter” (first mentioned in today’s Scripture): “[16] And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; [17] Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. [18] I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you…. [26] But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

While the word “comfort” often invokes the thought of cheering up a sad person, there is a much wider meaning in this unit of Scripture. At the heart of “comfort” is “fort,” from the Latin term (fortis) meaning “strong.” “Fortitude” is the related concept. Tough times are coming for Israel’s Little Flock, heirs of God’s earthly kingdom (Luke 12:31,32), so they need power to endure. They will be endowed with Divine strength—“the Comforter!” The Greek word is “parakletos,” which simply means “called alongside, especially to help.” God’s Word defines “the Comforter” as “the Holy Ghost,” the third Member of the Godhead, who will enable Israel to work in Christ’s absence.

The strength will come about via God’s Word, the truth that “the Spirit of truth” speaks to these saints….

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?