Paul, the Viper, and the Barbarians #6

Friday, July 23, 2021

And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand. And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm (Acts 28:3-5 KJV).

What is the Holy Spirit teaching through this bizarre passage?

In Scripture, fire represents wrath. When fire drove the snake out to bite Paul, it parallels unbelieving Israel responding negatively to God’s judgment against them. Instead of converting to Christ under Paul’s ministry, they continued opposing the Lord’s will. Furthermore, they militantly resisted Paul’s apostleship—that Gospel of Grace being the very present truth that delayed Christ’s Second Coming wrath from falling on them!

Paul wrote during Acts: “For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath [Israel’s fall] is come upon them to the uttermost(1 Thessalonians 2:14-16). Not only was national Israel content in being dead in her trespasses and sins—refusing to be God’s channel of salvation and blessing to the Gentiles—her extensive unbelief caused her to outright hate and persecute Paul because Christ had sent him to preach to the nations without her!

In today’s Scripture, Paul is preaching amongst pagan idolaters—the very people to which redeemed Israel would have ministered had they accepted their King decades prior. The heathen citizens of Melita are taking care of Paul, but the viper (Israel) strikes to kill! Gentiles are surprised. Undergoing that much destructive hostility for 30 years, Paul should have been long dead. The Gospel of Grace should have disappeared decades earlier. Yet, it has endured, and Paul has survived….

Paul, the Viper, and the Barbarians #5

Thursday, July 22, 2021

And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand. And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm (Acts 28:3-5 KJV).

What is the Holy Spirit teaching through this bizarre passage?

The LORD God dealt with the world through Israel from Genesis chapter 12 (Abraham) into the early Acts period. Whether the 20 centuries prior to Christ’s earthly ministry, or Matthew through John, or the opening of Acts, Israel overwhelmingly refused to believe God’s words to her. Her people did not want to be His kingdom of priests in the Earth: they declined their privilege to go to the Gentiles. Eventually, they killed their King (Jesus Christ) and remained in unbelief into Acts. Having blasphemed (spoken) against God the Son in Matthew through John, they were forgiven; however, they were not forgiven when they blasphemed (spoke) against God the Holy Ghost in Acts chapters 1–7 (cf. Matthew 12:31,32). In Acts 7:55,56, as they are about to stone Stephen to death, he sees Christ standing—no longer sitting—at the Father’s right hand. Second Coming wrath, which should have occurred here (Psalm 110:1; Acts 2:34-36), was delayed!

“I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them” (Romans 11:11-14). Israel stumbled at Calvary, but did not fall. She stumbled and fell in Acts chapter 7, and she diminished for the remainder of Acts. Paul’s ministry began in chapter 9, but Israel refused to believe his Gospel message too….

To Savour the Flavour of the Saviour #5

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men (Mark 8:33 KJV).

What can today’s Scripture and its context teach us about Satan’s policy of evil?

“Savour” means “give oneself to the enjoyment of, appreciate to the full, set affection on, place interest in.” Jesus’ “flavour” was the “indication of His essential character;” that is, He had fully given Himself over to delighting in working with His Heavenly Father. When we savour the flavour of the Saviour, we are thinking in accordance with the Head of the Church the Body of Christ: after all, His mind should govern us! (Recall Romans 8:5, Philippians 2:5, and Colossians 3:2.)

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1,2). As the perfect Man, the Lord Jesus Christ exhibited this lifestyle during His earthly ministry. Consequently, Satan attacked Him by using the sinful world system around Him. In fact, the Adversary even used Peter, Christ’s chief Apostle of Israel. Never forget today’s Scripture!

Brethren, the application we can make here is quite simple. If we are working with our Heavenly Father in the “family business”—the grace ministry—we can be absolutely (!) sure (!) Satan will use whomever or whatever he can to distract, discourage, and destroy us. Whether fellow Christians (even beloved pastors and fellow grace saints!), spouses, sons and daughters, or dear friends, if they are not submissive to the aforementioned renewed mind; they will become Satan’s mighty vessels in causing us to stumble in sin (apostasy and/or carnality). Still, we follow Christ’s pattern in today’s Scripture. He was not sidetracked from the Father’s plan: “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:8)! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What does ‘noisome’ mean?

To Savour the Flavour of the Saviour #4

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men (Mark 8:33 KJV).

What can today’s Scripture and its context teach us about Satan’s policy of evil?

Go over to Matthew 16:23 and read it once again: “But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” We want to focus on two particular concepts—“offence” and “savour.” Since Peter did not believe God’s Word as just spoken to him, Matthew reports Jesus called Peter an “offence” (Greek, “skandalidzo”). Peter is unknowingly functioning as a scandal, a stumblingblock, an occasion to sin. Essentially, the chief Apostle of Israel declared, “Lord, while You assume You are heading to Calvary, You really are not!”

Now, let us concentrate on “savour.” The King James (British) spelling of our American word “savor,” it is defined as “to give oneself to the enjoyment of, or to appreciate to the full.” In Greek, it is “phroneo,” as in “regarding, having set affection on, putting interest in.” Actually, the word is rendered the following ways elsewhere in the Authorized Version. “For they that are after the flesh do mind [phroneo] the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5). “Let this mind be [phroneo] in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). Set your affection [phroneo] on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2).

Although Christ delighted to accomplish His Heavenly Father’s will, while He “savoured” the things of the Father, Peter was opposed to such spiritual truths because he was too focused on human thinking and carnal preferences. Today’s Scripture again: “Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.Peter was not using his renewed mind (Romans 12:1,2)! Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc by making application….

To Savour the Flavour of the Saviour #3

Monday, July 12, 2021

But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men (Mark 8:33 KJV).

What can today’s Scripture and its context teach us about Satan’s policy of evil?

The Bible is always honest, even about its heroes. Peter the Apostle was a mighty vessel of the LORD—and will be throughout the endless ages to come! Yet, Peter was just a man like all of us. He had his faults, weaknesses, limitations. His faith wavered. Many times, he blurted out silly comments without thinking. He meant well, but he should have simply agreed with the Lord Jesus in Mark chapter 8 and Matthew chapter 16. When he learned of Calvary—Christ’s death—he should have responded, “Amen! So be it!”

Jesus Christ was undiminished Deity and full humanity. As a Man, there came days when He was reading His Hebrew (Old Testament) Scriptures, those Messianic prophecies, and exclaimed, “Hey, that is Me being described there! I need to fulfill these verses. My Father wants Me to do that—and I will enjoy doing it with Him too!” Let us be mindful of Psalm 40, a direct reference to Calvary: “[6] Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. [7] Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, [8] I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart(cf. Hebrews 10:5-10).

When the Lord Jesus revealed His impending suffering and death in the context of today’s Scripture, He was fully aware of the prophecies that had to be fulfilled (Psalm 22, Isaiah chapter 53, and so on). Yet, Peter was walking in the flesh, thinking like a lost man, encouraging Jesus not to fulfill Bible prophecy. Therefore, Jesus was prompted to reply most sharply to Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” (That is, “Move out of My way, Adversary!”) Indeed, Peter was inadvertently functioning as Satan’s spokesman….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why forgive ‘seventy times seven?’

To Savour the Flavour of the Saviour #2

Sunday, July 11, 2021

But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men (Mark 8:33 KJV).

What can today’s Scripture and its context teach us about Satan’s policy of evil?

Although certain individuals have great difficulty accepting the following truths presented in Luke chapter 2, we who follow the leading of the Spirit of God simply believe what the Bible says. “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him (verse 40). “And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man(verses 51,52). In these two opening chapters of Luke, Christ’s infancy and childhood are outlined. True to his major theme, throughout his Gospel Record, Luke underscores Jesus’ humanity.

In today’s Scripture (cf. Matthew chapter 16), Christ has been studying the Hebrew Bible (our Old Testament) for over a quarter-century. He is a Man of 33 years of age. His earthly ministry, underway for the last three years, is now finally drawing to a close. We remind ourselves of the Prophet Isaiah quoting Him over 700 years prior: “The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned. The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting” (Isaiah 50:4-6).

Like us, as a Man, Jesus grew physically, mentally, and spiritually. He listened to His Heavenly Father teaching Him. The more He learned from the Prophets’ writings, the more He realized His horrific death by crucifixion was imminent. It was His Father’s will for Him, and He would not be rebellious or turn away back….

The Judge—the Son of Man and the Son of God #5

Friday, July 9, 2021

“For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him” (John 5:22,23 KJV).

Why has God the Father committed all judgment unto God the Son?

Sinful man devises various and sundry “clever” excuses to free himself from all responsibility—or partly minimize his guilt. One such defense is, “How can Almighty God actually know what it is like to be a human? He has never experienced the pressures or situations in which I have found myself! How could that distant Deity fairly judge me? We are totally unalike!” Of course, the creature could never outsmart the Creator. Anticipating those excuses, the LORD God has already replied: “But [!] I [!] have [!] experienced the pressures or situations in which you found yourself! I can be touched with the feeling of your infirmities; but in all tempted like as you are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

At the Incarnation, when God the Son took on human flesh, He entered creation: once separate from it, He forever became part of it. In that instant, He became subject to the temptations of this evil world system currently besetting us (Galatians 1:4). As recorded in Matthew chapter 4, Mark chapter 1, and Luke chapter 4, He was tempted of the Devil. Although victorious (sinless) throughout, Christ Jesus nevertheless underwent the test that Adam and Eve, and rebellious Israel in the wilderness, failed. Hebrews looks forward to the test under the Antichrist.

John chapter 5 makes it clear Jesus Christ is both the Son of God (Deity) and the Son of Man (humanity). As God, He exercises supreme authority as to determining who is right and who is wrong, what His Father deems right and what His Father considers wrong; as man, He can fairly assess mankind concerning his failures. “You are without excuse! It was possible for you to overcome this evil world system! After all, I did it when I was on Earth! You could have relied on Me to have victory over sin too—but you did not!”

The Judge—the Son of Man and the Son of God #4

Thursday, July 8, 2021

“For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him” (John 5:22,23 KJV).

Why has God the Father committed all judgment unto God the Son?

In chapter 4, the writer of Hebrews penned: “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (verses 15,16). Also, chapter 2, verse 18: “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour [aid, comfort] them that are tempted.” Obviously, these refer to Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12,13; and Luke 4:1-13. Here, Satan challenged Jesus—or, better yet, where Jesus allowed Himself to be tested or proved as per the Father’s plan. “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:…” (James 1:13). Since God cannot be tempted, and John’s Gospel Record focuses on Jesus Christ’s Deity, John does not record Christ’s temptations.

As described in 1 John 2:16, Satan’s evil world system uses at least one of three avenues to entice us: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” The order of Christ’s temptations in Luke 4:1-13 follow this pattern: “the lust of the flesh” (bread, or “I want it!”), “the lust of the eyes” (kingdoms, or “It looks good!”), and “the pride of life” (angels, or “I deserve it!). It was also the configuration of Satan’s attacks on Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden: “good for food,” “pleasant to the eyes,” and “a tree to be desired to make one wise” (Genesis 3:6). Where Adam and Eve failed, of course, Christ triumphed. He was the perfect Son of Man, able to fairly judge other sons of men….

Confession Confusion #7

Sunday, June 27, 2021

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9 KJV).

Lo, the chief proof-text of the “short-account system!” (And how to look at it afresh, without [!] denominational eyeglasses!)

Contrary to popular belief, 1 John 1:9 is not written to any believers—Messianic Jews (Israel’s Little Flock) or the Church the Body of Christ. It is a Gospel invitation to unsaved Israelites in the prophetic program. Paul, “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13), never once taught in Romans through Philemon daily confession of sins was victorious Christian living. Whether Roman Catholic auricular confession to a priest, or Protestant confession directly to God, it is legalism (bastardized Judaism!) and not Christianity!

Through confession of sins, lost Israel expressed her understanding of the Law’s purpose: “We cannot be God’s people through our own efforts. Having been persistently idolatrous, we confess our violation of the righteous standards of the Law!” Once Israel sees that, she is delivered from all five courses of judgment (redeemed from the Old Covenant), Jesus Christ returns to ratify the New Covenant, and He founds God’s earthly kingdom promised to their father Abraham!

Brethren, we must “rightly divide the word of truth” concerning this and all other doctrines (2 Timothy 2:15). It is ever so important to distinguish between Law and Grace, Israel and the Body of Christ, prophecy and mystery, Earth and Heaven. Our relationship with God depends entirely on Christ’s finished crosswork at Calvary. Either He took care of our sins (Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 1:14; Colossians 2:13; Colossians 3:13), or not! Having trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, God will not “impute” any trespasses unto us (Romans 4:6-8).

Christ’s shed blood cleanses us from all sin… all unrighteousness” only once, whether believing Israel or the Body of Christ (1 John 1:7,9). We have permanent, total, perpetual fellowship with God—regardless of our performance. Confession of sins merely repeats what Calvary already took care of! We have already declared our guilt and admitted our sin problem by trusting the fact Jesus died for our sins, so it makes no sense to keep bringing up the past. Christ paid for all our sins at Calvary; leave them there and mature in grace, brethren (Titus 2:11-15)! 🙂

Confession Confusion #6

Saturday, June 26, 2021

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9 KJV).

Lo, the chief proof-text of the “short-account system!” (And how to look at it afresh, without [!] denominational eyeglasses!)

By the time of John the Baptist’s ministry and Christ’s earthly ministry, national Israel is still apostate (refusing God’s Word) but a believing remnant (the Little Flock) is confessing their sins and their forefathers’ sins. Recall Matthew 3:6 and Mark 1:5. Ever since Moses 16 centuries prior, Israel has failed to “do” “all that the LORD hath spoken” (Exodus 19:1-8). The Jews have been habitually idolatrous, violating their agreement with JEHOVAH God at Sinai. Experiencing the fifth course of judgment or chastisement (Leviticus 26:40-46), they must confess their sins so as to be delivered into God’s earthly kingdom and enjoy the Abrahamic Covenant! Yet, as previously noted, religious Israelites refuse to learn the lesson of the Law of Moses (see their sin problem). Regarding all other Jews “sinners,” they believe they have no sins to confess and thus refuse John’s water baptism (Matthew 3:7-9; Luke 3:7,8; Luke 7:29,30; cf. Matthew 9:10-13; Mark 2:15-17; Luke 5:29-32).

Today’s Scripture addresses these Jews who suppose themselves to be sinless, “good enough” in their works-religion: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:7-10). First John 1:9 is written to unbelievers in Israel! Now, look at 1 John 2:12: “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.” Here is Israel’s believing remnant, the Little Flock.

Having now established the context of 1 John 1:9, let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….